May 31, 1921

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Before this discussion is ended, I should like to say just a few words to my right hon.. friend (Mr. Meighen) with a view of uging him to consider carefully the position into which not merely hon. gentlemen on both

sides of the House, but this Parliament, is being forced, by the manner in which he is rushing this legislation through at the present time. It has been pretty clearly pointed out that, as regards the 9 p.m. necessity of regulation and control of certain water rights and. powers, there is no difference of opinion between the two sides of this House. We all admit that the waters of the Lake of the Woods in so far as they affect the rights of the people of Ontario and the rights of the people of Manitoba, must be subject to regulation and control. We are not debating that point at all at this moment. The whole question at issue is: -How shall that control be exercised? Shall it be exercised with the goodwill of both provinces, or shall it be exercised in such a manner as to leave one province under a feeling of permanent injustice and wrong, thereby raising a question as between provinces, which need not be raised at all if the Government will but adopt a conciliatory method of dealing with this important issue?

Let me read just one letter from Premier Drury, which sets out the position of Ontario as it is at the present time. It is the letter in which Mr. Drury informed my right hon. friend that he was unable to carry through the legislation which he had expected to be able to. It is dated, Toronto, April 28, 1921.

Rt. Hon. Arthur Meighen,

Prime Minister,

Ottawa, Ont.

In view of the fact that the Lake of the Woods Control Bill was opposed last night in the House by the Liberal opposition and the Conservative opposition as well as from the Government side, it was found inadvisable to press second reading under circumstances that pointed to the probable defeat of the measure.

Let me here draw the attention of hon. gentlemen opposite to the different parties that are named by Premier Drury as being opposed to this measure. He speaks, first, of the Liberals in the Ontario House, next, of the Conservatives in the Ontario House, and in the third place, he speaks of the members of his own immediate following; so that so far as the legislature of Ontario is concerned, men of every party are now opposed to this legislation.

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UNION
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Exactly, men of all parties in the Ontario House are opposed to the legislation. They want to have opportunity of conferring with the Dominion Government in order that legis-

lation which may be passed will be fair and also in the interest of the province. What does Mr. Drury then say?

In withdrawing the Bill I made the announcement that if then desired it tvould be reintroduced next session. I respectfully urge that in the meantime the present control arrangement be continued, and assure you of the thorough co-operation of this Government to ensure the best results for all the interests involved.

What Mr. Drury as Premier of Ontario says to the Federal Government is virtually this: In representing this measure

to the legislature I have not had an opportunity, nor has the Legislature, of considering this question in all its bearings. We need time. You have at present an arrangement which is satisfactorily controlling questions of water rights and water-powers; continue that arrangement until the next session, and in the meantime count on the absolute co-operation of the Government of Ontario in this matter. We will co-operate with you, and next session we will bring in a Bill, the result of an arrangement which may 'be come to with your Government, and endeavour to get it through the Legislature of Ontario.

That is what to-day we here ask of the Prime Minister in order to avoid raising an issue of provincial rights. Let me say, Mr. Chairman, that I think nothing could be more unfortunate than that out of what may be simply a matter of controversy between certain private interests we should create an entirely new issue, namely, the issue of rights as between two provinces of this Dominion. We can avoid raising that issue if the Government will give to all parties concerned an opportunity to be heard before this Bill is finally passed. Let my right hon. friend clearly understand I am not expressing an opinion as to the rights of either of the parties in respect to these powers. I do not say for one moment that Manitoba may not be wholly in the right but there ought to be opportunity for all of us in this House to know that, from representations which can be made to us here. What I say to my right hon. friend is this: If we can avoid

raising this question of provincial rights, if we can avoid giving to the people of Ontario the feeling that they are resting under an injustice through an autocratic and arbitrary act on the part of this Government, by all means let us avoid it.

Let me quote one other telegram which has been received, to show the justice of the request we are making, but before reading it let me draw attention to the fact that

the Bill which was first presented to this House dealing with this question, Bill D, was passed by the Senate on the 9th of March, and by this House very shortly afterwards. That Bill received the approval of members on both sides of the House, for what reason? For the reason that it required concurrent legislation and that we were assured by the Prime Minister there was no danger of Ontario's rights being invaded in any particular because this Bill would not become operative unless Ontario consented to it. Let me read my right hon. friend's words to show how strongly he presented Ontario's case, and on his own words I would rest the plea that I am making to him at the present moment. In this House on April 20, my right hon. friend said

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

I must draw the attention of the hon. member and of the committee to the fact that he is about to quote from a previous debate in the same session. As the matter relates to practically the same subject, I might ask for the hon. member the unanimous consent of the committee to read from the previous debate. Otherwise, he will not be in order. Is it the unanimous consent of the committee that the hon. member shall have leave to quote from the previous debate this session?

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I thank my right hon. friend, and you, Mr. Chairman.

I would not have attempted to quote had I not regarded this debate and the previous one as, to all intents and purposes, one and the same. This Bill has been introduced, of course, simply because the other Bill did not become operative owing to the failure of the Ontario Legislature to pass concurrent legislation. After presenting the Dominion side of the case, my right hon. friend, very fairly, I think, stated the case of Ontario as follows:

I have stated to the committee what is the interest of Canada federally in this matter. The interest of Ontario arises because they are the owners of the power properties of the water in that province. We are the owners and administrators of the power properties farther down in Manitoba ; that is still a third derivation of our duties in the matter. But Ontario is the owner so far as its interests are concerned ; consequently it is not right that the exercise of this control should be carried on without reference to that province. That is where the joint legislation is necessary.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My right hon. friend says '%ear, hear." I would ask him,

how can he justify taking certain properties that are in the province of Ontario, that belong to the province of Ontario, and deliberately declare those properties to be for the general advantage of Canada as a whole without giving Ontario an opportunity to be even heard as to whether those properties are hers or not?

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The properties are not the properties of Ontario. Declaring them to be for the general advantage of Canada does not make them our property. That was the view of the hon. member for West Lambton (Mr. Pardee). If declaring a property to be for the general advantage of Canada makes it ours, then we are the owners of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My right hon. friend may play upon words. I am speaking of the controversy in the matter of control. Of course, we know that these properties are in the province of Ontario, and we contend, as my right hon. friend has said, it is not right that the exercise of their control should be carried on without reference to that province.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

We have made reference to them, and sought by every means to do .it jointly with them, but because they run away and, in the language of the school room, beat it, we should not do the same.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I think I can show my right hon. friend that Ontario has had no opportunity whatever of expressing any opinion one way or the other.

an interest, as in the case of the W innipeg and the English rivers.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The question as to whether this proposed legislation is identical with the legislation previously before the House, need not be decided on the word of my right hon. friend or of myself. We have Bill D which passed the House, and which 'speaks of concurrent legislation by the province of Ontario, and Bill A 6, which is the one brought in since, and which contains clauses that are not to be found in Bill D. What are these clauses, and why are they inserted? It was on April 29 that Mr. Drury notified my right hon. friend that he had been unable to get concurrent legislation put through the Ontario House, and asked for further time. On May 6, some time after, my right hon. friend received this telegram from Mr. Norris, the Premier of Manitoba.

Winnipeg, Manitoba,

May 6, 1921.

Hon. Arthur Meighen,

Ottawa, Ont.

Mr. A. B. Hudson now in Ottawa representing province of Manitoba city of Winnipeg and Winnipeg Electric Railway Company is authorized to make application to your Government requesting that steps be taken as follows first expropriate Norman Dam second a declaration that all works now or hereafter to be erected in the waters affected by Hake of the Woods Control Act shall be and be deemed to be works for the general advantage of Canada I desiire most respectfully to urge consideration at your

hands of the

forego i-ng.

T. C. Norris,

Premier of Manitoba.

To which my right hon. friend replied: Ottawa, Ontario, May 7, 1921.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The Ontario legislature prorogued after refusing to pass the legislation, or after Mr. Drury 'had withdrawn it. Ontario thereafter could do nothing; they could not co-operate unless we were willing to wait until next winter, and where would Mr. Backus be in the meantime?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

If my right hon. friend wished to be fair, he would confine the legislation, which he now asks us to pass to the matters he discussed with Mr. Drury, and which that gentleman endeavoured* to have pass the Ontario House.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It is confined to those matters; but if we are to exercise control, it is part of the policy to declare these works to be to the general advantage of Canada. If ever there were constructions that should be declared to the general advantage of Canada it is constructions in which the different provinces have so clear

near ivir. xnuiuud,

I have your telegram of the 6th May. Mr. Hudson has already seen Sir James Dougheed and I am to see himself to-day. The question in which you are interested Will receive the most careful consideration.

Tours faithfully,

Arthur Meighen.

The Hon. T. C. Norris,

Premier of Manitoba,

Winnipeg, Man.

My right hon. friend had these communications before him but gave no intimation whatever of their contents to Mr. Drury, nor did the Ontario Government, or any member of this House from Ontario, so far as I am aware, have any knowledge that the Government intended in this Bill to do what Mr. Norris had requested only after the previous legislation had been introduced and had failed to pass in Ontario. What do we find? In the present Bill, the one before us now, the clause which we are discussing at the moment, gives effect

to the request of Mr. Norris and not a line of it is to be found in the previous legislation.

2. All dams, structures and other works iof whatsoever description which have heretofore been or may hereafter be constructed in, upon over, about or across-

(a) any outlet of the Lake of the Woods,

(b) the Winnipeg River at or above its June-tion with English River, or

(c) English River at the outlet of and below Lac Seul,

which do or may or can in anywise control regulate or affect the outflow of water from the said lakes, or either of them, or the natural levels of the water in the said lakes, or either of them, at any time, or the natural flow of the water i-n the Winnipeg River or in English River, at any time, are and each of them is declared to be for the general advantage of Canada.

I ask my hon. friend from Toronto (Mr. Hocken) does he think that the citizens of his city will view with satisfaction an arbitrary act of this kind on the part of the Government, in not affording him, or any one in the province of Ontario, an opportunity to be heard as to whether these works should be declared to be for the general advantage of Canada? that is arbitrary, autocratic procedure that cannot be justified anywhere. It may be perfectly right that this should he done; it may be that the claim of Manitoba is in every respect right, and I am prepared to stand up and defend Manitoba if Ontario tries to do her an injustice. But I do say that the province of Ontario has a right to have its case presented to this Parliament, and to be heard before we are asked to pass permanent legislation of this kind. But the Bill goes further. There is another clause which is not in the previous Bill, it is in the last section:

10. If the necessary legislation of Ontario referred to in the preamble of The Lake of the Woods Control Board Act, 1921, be enacted by the legislature, the Governor in Council may, by proclamation published in The Canada Gazette, repeal or suspend this Act and the regulations made thereunder at any time when or after The Lake of the Woods Control Board Act, 1921, shall come into force.

This says that the Governor in Council may allow the proposed legislation, which we are now enacting, to be suspended once Ontario concurs in the old legislation. I think it ought to say "shall," and then the two Acts would stand on the same level. But the clause goes further as respects the matter in connection with which Premier Norris made a special request. This section goes on to say:

Provided that notwithstanding any repeal or suspension of this Act in the manner provided by this section the works and each of them hereby declared to be for the general advantage

of Canada shall remain and continue to be works for the general advantage of Canada.

In other words, it does not matter what Ontario does now in the way of passing concurrent legislation, my right hon. friend by an arbitrary Act, without allowing Ontario to be heard, or giving its representatives time to consider the qqestion carefully, proposes to wrest the properties for all time to come out of the control of that province. Now, Sir, that is only raising a great issue in this country, namely, the violation of provincial rights; it is but stirring up enmity and jealousy between two sister provinces when there should be the fullest amity and concord. It is not just; it is not right; it is not fair; and, for my part, while I am prepared to do anything to see that Manitoba is secured in her full rights and that no injustice shall he done her-I see hon. gentlemen opposite smiling. I do not know the reason.

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UNION
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I am quite prepared to let every one smile who wishes to do so, if there is anything to provoke mirth in the statement that we should safeguard provincial rights. However, let me repeat what I was about to say. I am prepared to fight just as strenuously for Manitoba as for any other province. As a Liberal, when it comes to an issue between the provinces and the Dominion, I take my stand every time in the defence of provincial rights, and it is on that ground that I stand now. My right hon. friend has raised an issue between the Dominion and the provinces and he has given the province of Ontario no opportunity to be heard. That is the first of all rights, the right to be heard; to have one's case presented, and I propose to stand squarely for provincial rights in that regard.

As a Liberal, I must also say that there is something even profounder than the question merely of rights in dealing with questions that affect the provinces, and that is the obvious desirability of avoiding anything in the nature of strife and enmity as between different parts of the Dominion. If by conference and agreement, if by conciliation, if by the adoption of amicable methods we can settle questions between the provinces in a manner which will leave no ill-feeling and at the same time will do justice to all concerned, I say that we should adopt such methods and shun every arbitrary act that is calculated to create a sense of permanent injustice and leave a bitter feeling in the breast of a single province. If we

can prevent such an unfortunate state of affairs, it is the duty of Parliament so to do. ,

I wish to say again to my right hon. friend that I hope he will not press this matter at the present time. He knows that no interest can suffer between now and next session under the arrangements that exist at present. He has the assurance of the Government of Ontario that they are ready to meet him, and I am prepared to give him the assurance of hon. members on this side of the House that we shall assist him at the next session to get matters satisfactorily settled with regard to the interests of both provinces. I ask him, therefore, not to let this discussion proceed to the point where, out of what is a faction fight between private commercial interests, there may be raised a great question of provincial rights, calculated to stir enmities and jealousies between the different provinces to the possible injury of Confederation.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I think the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) has done right in stating his views on this Bill. It is an important measure, and while I am not able to harmonize some of the views he advanced, I am glad to have witnessed his vigorous attempt to express his opinion anyway. I think the committee is entitled to the same from the leader of the Progressive party (Mr. Crerar). This measure very distinctly affects the province of Manitoba; in fact, no province is more vitally interested in it than the province from which the hon. member comes. The measure is a most important one; let none of us seek to deny that. It seems to me but right that we should have the views of that hon. gentleman as to the propriety of the course pursued by the Government in this regard. I have spoken twice already and I want to confine my remarks now to certain views urged with force by the leader of the Opposition. He thinks it most unfortunate to bring this measure in now; and the hon. member for West Lambton was simply amazed at the autocracy of the Government in bringing in so important a measure so late in the session. He said we should have brought it in sooner. We have had one experience that is common to every session and that is that when hon. gentlemen opposite want to oppose any legislation the one stock phrase that is always on hand is "this is the wrong time to do it." The time is never reached when the legislation does suit. Well, we brought this legislation in much earlier in the session-we

brought in a measure which this_ House considered right but which the friend of hon. gentlemen opposite in the province of Ontario refused to pass. We brought the legislation in and carried it through this House and through the Senate, and it became law. All who have taken part in this debate agree that that was the right and the proper course to pursue. We now bring in this Bill and hon. gentlemen opposite say we brought the wrong measure in first and the right measure in last. We could not bring this measure in until the other measure had failed of effect, and it failed through no fault of ours. Immediately it did so we had referred to us the question as to what we were going to do. Were we going to let the session go by, were we going to leave unsettled this matter in which we have a direct and vested interest and a great responsibility, not only to Manitoba but to the whole country, a responsibility which will fall upon us in a very, very crucial and perhaps pointed form later in the history of this Parliament-were we to run away and leave that responsibility and its discharge to the very varying cogitations of the Premier of Ontario or to the very interesting amiability of Mr. Backus? I do not think that was our duty. Having that question put before us we brought this measure here just as soon as we could work it out. It is true representations came in its favour, strong representations, and nothing came against the measure except from Mr. Drury and the town of Kenora-that is all.

Now the leader of the Opposition asks " Why has not Ontario a chance to be heard here; why should the strong arm of power rule? You walk in and you actually declare works of public construction on these rivers as works for the general advantage of Canada." Why, he said, it is autocracy and high-handedness to do that without giving Ontario a chance to be heard. Well to begin with Ontario has had a chance to be heard, and in the next place Ontario has been heard. ^ I have been placing on the table of this House from time to time correspondence with Mr. Drury representing his views a3 Premier of Ontario. In relation to this Bill Ontario has been heard through lnm. He is asking to be heard again. We cannot follow his reasoning, we cannot follow him, we cannot follow the course he would have us pursue. In the next place, how is it we must always give a hearing -in this House, or in committee, or somewhere-to the province affected before any

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

If my right

lion, friend will permit me. He is asking why did they say that. Did my right hon. friend ever discuss with Mr. Drury this ciuestion of having these works declared as for the general advantage of Canada?

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May 31, 1921