May 31, 1921

?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Sure.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Oh, it is not from the lodges that this information comes; it is from the public press. The Prime Minister made a suggestion this afternoon that as to the right to control and as to the duty to control there could be no doubt. Now, if he uses the word "right" in the sense of power, I am with him, but if he uses it in the sense of justice and equity I beg to take issue with him, because I do not believe that this action ought to be taken ex parte and in such a drastic and highhanded manner as is proposed. It reminds me of the old Latin saying, ego nominor leo. Certainly the question of provincial rights is involved in this matter. If some question arose between New Brunswick and Quebec as to water rights, I as a resident of the province of Quebec would not like the Federal Government to come in and say: You fellows in New Brunswick are in danger; there is another Backus in Quebec and you are unable to look after yourselves; therefore we will take control of your waters. It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, like a drastic measure and that it

has in it a little bit of vengeance. As to the last clause of the Bill, it would appear that my right hon. friend is going to hold over the province of Ontario the threat of the spanking which is so dear to the heart of the Minister of Justice. He says: We are going to keep the strap ready for you; we may let you in if you are good. It will be observed that the word "may" is used, not "shall." It would seem as if the right hon. gentleman was keeping in mind the fact that Ontario would not pass the concurrent legislation and felt badly over it, and on that account was holding out this provision as a kind of penalty.

Well, Mr. Chairman, are we faced with a calamity? Is there any danger? I do not know the details of this matter, but from listening to the discussion I judge that the Norman dam is the thing which makes the people of Winnipeg subject to loss of their water supply. I put a question this afternoon as to whether this dam was built with the approval of the Governor in Council, and the answer was "No." I then said to the hon. gentleman who was addressing the committee: Well, then, you can tear down that dam; and the hon. gentleman replied: Yes, if it impedes navigation. But the law does not say that. In 1918 we amended the Navigable Waters Act so as to provide that any work built or erected in a navigable river the plans and location of which have not been approved can be torn down by order of the Governor in Council or the Minister of Public Works after the Governor in Council has so decided. Then it provides for the sale of the material and if the proceeds thereof are not sufficient to meet the cost of the action there is a claim against the person who built the work.

As an illustration I might mention a case which occurred in the riding which it is my privilege to represent. The Provincial Government and the various industries located at Shawinigan Falls undertook to build a bridge over the falls there. It could not hurt navigation very much because it would be very dangerous for a boat to go so near the falls, but they did not ask the permission of the Governor in Council; they did not make application to the Department of Public Works to approve the location. They took advantage of the ice in the winter to build their pier and false work. While this work was going on the town of Shawinigan got a notice from the secretary of the Department of Public Works saying that the work would have to be stopped. Well, there was no alternative but to take the

bull by the horns, and I as their solicitor advised them to go on, otherwise when the ice would break up the false work would be carried away and the whole thing destroyed. So in i918 we had to amend the law to provide that the Governor in Council could approve of works which had been built before a certain date. This shows the absolute control exercised by the Federal Government over any structures which are built in navigable waters. Any such structures, therefore, which have not had the approval of the Governor in Council may be torn down, and none can now be built except under such restrictions as the Governor in Council or the Minister of Public Works may impose.

As to the future, Mr. Chairman, there is no fear. This legislation is of an objectionable character, because it takes away powers from Ontario which that province should retain for itself. As to the argument with regard to the lateness of the session, that is the stereotyped argument which is always advanced in cases of this kind. I would call attention to the fact that last night Supplementary Estimates amounting to $23,000,000 were tabled, and the other day we were asked to consider another $14,000,000. We were to prorogue last Friday; now we talk of proroguing next Thursday. It is the stereotyped argument which is brought forward in a case of this kind, but as on previous occasions the fault-perhaps, I should say, the crime-is on the part of the Government itself.

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UNION

Donald Sutherland

Unionist

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

I have followed

with a good deal of interest the debate on this question, and I have endeavoured to arrive at an understanding as to what is the bone of contention in the matter. The question has been raised of provincial rights and of federal rights, and also whether Mr. Drury is really representative of the people of Ontario. The question I am most concerned about is who is going to control the rights of either the province or the Dominion in the interval between this session and the next session should some legislation of this kind not be passed? Are we going to permit Mr. Backus to have freedom of control and operations in the interval-because I think -that is exactly what his friends are endeavouring to secure. As to whether Mr. Drury is really representative of the people of Ontario, I think he himself has given sufficient answer. It is somewhat significant that his champions in this House on this occasion are hon. gentlemen who do not usually display

any great amount of sympathy for what they term the great province of Ontario. I was a little surprised that the leader of the self-styled Progressive party was not in his seat to-night in order to stand up for the rights of his colleague from the province of Ontario, Mr. Drury. Not a word on behalf of Mr. Drury from the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar); but the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux), the hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe) and the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. Bureau) are loud in their praise of Mr. Drury's attitude, and consequently they are condemning the attitude of the Government in connection with this Bill. I am going again to touch on a message that was received by the Prime Minister from the Premier of Ontario under date of April 28. After having agreed to introduce concurrent legislation, Mr. Drury goes back to the Provincial Legislature of Ontario, and introduces a Bill which he agreed to introduce in furtherance of an arrangement that had been arrived at with the Prime Minister and the Premier of Manitoba. He states:

In view of the fact that the Lake of the Woods Control Bill was opposed last might 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. In withdrawing the Bill I made the announcement that if then desired it would 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.

You have in this letter sent by the Premier of Ontario, evidence that he does not represent the people of that province. Instead of accepting the responsibilities that, under our system of government a premier and his government must accept, he admits that the opposition to himself in the House are running the affair and that, consequently, he can do nothing in the matter. You cannot have anything plainer than that. He endeavours to make it appear that he favours the legislation which was passed by this House; but by reason of the fact that he cannot control his House he is going to withdraw the Bill, and he will re-introduce it on a later occasion. The province of Ontario requires to be safeguarded in some way against Mr. Backus, and the people of Ontario will welcome some action on the part of this Government to see that Mr. Backus has not a free hand to carry on as he has

been carrying on. The concessions that have been granted to Mr. Backus in Ontario have already begun to alarm the people of that province, and it

10 p.m. is little wonder that Mr. Drury himself is becoming nervous in connection with the matter. The Dominion has certain rights, and it is justified in protecting those rights. This system that we have, whereby a government claim that they cannot control the House, hut that they must give way to the Opposition in its ranks, is surely a new departure under our system of responsible government. I rose merely to point this out in answer to the remarks that have been made, the question that has been submitted by the hon. member for Maisonneuve and the hon. member for Three Rivers: Does Mr. Drury not represent the people of Ontario? You have in this letter absolute proof of the fact that Mr. Drury does not represent the people of Ontario.

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UNION

Fred Langdon Davis

Unionist

Mr. DAVIS:

As I purpose supporting

the Bill and yet do not want to leave myself in the position of seeming to he hoodwinked by what has been going on with regard to the matter, I thought I would make a few remarks. First of all, it is a fact that the friends of Mr. Backus in the Ontario Legislature were not the Drury Government, but the combination of Liberals and Conservatives who defeated this concurrent legislation in that legislature. The fact is that the Conservatives put their men up to oppose that legislation, knowing what this Government would do with regard to it.

IVJr. MEIGHEN: Has Mr. Drury not a

majority in the Ontario House?

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UNION

Fred Langdon Davis

Unionist

Mr. DAVIS:

I do not believe he has without the support of certain Liberals.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Then he should hardly be there.

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UNION

Fred Langdon Davis

Unionist

Mr. DAVIS:

That is the position in

which he has found himself. The consequence is that the Conservatives now are able to say that they are the people who are defending the people of Ontario from the machinations of Mr. Backus. On the other hand, our Liberal friends in this House are able to say that they are in the position of defending provincial rights, and that Mr. Drury is the man who is favourable to the avoidance of the sacrifice of the rights of Ontario. The result is that this is simply a "slim" game of politics that is being played, and that is being capped by the Government in this House now. If this

Bill is to be put through by the Dominion Government, I am going to support the Bill, but I do not want to appear to be hoodwinked as to what has been going on.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The hon. gentleman

has made statements for which he has no justification at all in fact. I do not think they concern him at all. They are statements that, he thinks, will get him some applause from those immediately around him, but they are utterly foreign to everything in fact in relation to this Bill. No sooner had this Government and the Ontario Government agreed on this legislation and agreed to make it concurrent legislation, than, as the correspondence shows, Mr. Drury kept petitioning this Government to hold back the legislation. The hon. member knows that. Was Mr. Drury doing that at our instigation? Why does the hon. member make such insinuations as this? The correspondence that has been laid on the Table shows that, almost from the day that the Bill was introduced in the Senate, Mr. Drury besought this Government to stay its hand, to hold this legislation back, because, he said, interests who were concerned in it were petitioning against the legislation. Those are the reasons that he gave, and he persisted in that attitude right up to the time that he withdrew the legislation himself. It is true that he states in his letter -and I have no doubt that what he states there is a fact-that there were Conservatives who opposed the Bill; there were Liberals who opposed the Bill; but he also says that there were members of his own party who opposed it. Were they instigated by this Government? I spoke to only two members of the legislature; I besought both of them to support Mr. Drury in the stand that he took; and if my hon. friend asks either one, he will find that to be correct. It would become the hon. member to ascertain some of the facts before he rises to speak in this House. One of those gentlemen was the hon. member for Ottawa, Mr. Hill, whom I approached on the subject, and sought to argue with him to support Mr. Drury in his stand. I think I convinced him; I tried to do so at any rate; and if my hon. friend asks him, Mr. Hill will tell him what I did say. The only other gentleman to whom I spoke was the leader of the Opposition, and I spoke to him along exactly the same lines. With every one with whom I have spoken, I have spoken along the same lines. I should like to ask the hon. member: Upon what authority did he stand up in his place and intimate that we had played a game with the opposition in Ontario to get them to oppose this Bill.

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UNION
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Give the authority.

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UNION

Fred Langdon Davis

Unionist

Mr. DAVIS:

There was a combination

of Liberals and Conservatives against the Drury Government. I am not specially concerned with the Drury Government; but as I say, I can see what has been occurring, and, in consequence, though I shall vote for the measure which is now before the committee, I am satisfied that the friends of Mr. Backus are not the Drury Government in this matter, but those who made the legislation which the Premier decided to withdraw in the Ontario House.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Is that the best

answer which the hon. member can give for saying that that was done at the instigation of this Government? *

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UNION

Fred Langdon Davis

Unionist

Mr. DAVIS:

I did not say that it was

done at the instigation of the Government, but I said that was what had occurred.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The hon. gentleman intimated that that was done at the instigation of this Government.

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UNION

Fred Langdon Davis

Unionist

Mr. DAVIS:

I did not say so. I absolutely deny that I accused the Prime Minister of being a party to this.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The hon. gentleman did.

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UNION

Fred Langdon Davis

Unionist

Mr. DAVIS:

I said that that was the

aim of the two parties in the Ontario House in opposing the legislation.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The hon. gentleman has stated clearly that the Prime Minister had capped the game in this House tonight.

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UNION
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

If the hon. gentleman assumes I was not a party to it, how could I cap it? He stated a minute ago that he did not state I was. If he states I was. I want him to give his authority, and give it now.

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May 31, 1921