Inasmuch as I am going to vote with the Government on this matter, I feel that some explanation is
required. The name of Mr. Backus has been brought into this debate to some extent. It has been argued by hon. gentlemen on this side of the House that he has no bearing on the case. I am not quite of that opinion. Less than a year ago the Government of Ontario advertised a large area of limits for sale. As I have been a lumberman and have done some business in Ontario, I received one of these notices. There was a whole string of conditions attached to the sale, and if I recollect aright one of the conditions was that the successful bidder for these limits was bound to construct certain works, and amongst them, I believe, was the building of a very expensive dam. In fact, the sale was hedged around with so many conditions set forth in the advertisement-the building of a mill in a certain place, the building of dams, and so on-that it was practically impossible for any other person to bid, and I came to the conclusion right off that Mr. Backus had some controlling power. Another feature was that the time between the notice of the sale and the time the tender had to be in was so short that nobody who was not already acquainted with the limits had any chance to examine the location. To my great surprise, a short time afterwards it was announced that the limits had been sold to Mr. Backus for the amount bid, and there was a bonus of $50,000', if I recollect aright, in addition to the regular Government fees. That to me seemed a mere bagatelle compared with what the limits were really worth. Of course, it may be all right. It has been said by some people on this side of the House, and perhaps by some hon. gentlemen opposite, that these limits belonged to the Ontario Government and the Ontario Government could do what it liked with them. But I would point out that there is a possibility of giving away not only rights that belong to the Ontario Government but to the Province of Manitoba. Another of the conditions of the sale, if I remember aright, was that a very expensive dam had to be constructed.
It was understood at one time that the Dominion Government and the Ontario Government were trying to come to terms, but the Ontario Government have withdrawn, and nothing in that direction has been done. Now suppose-I do not know whether this is right or not-that Mr. Backus holds an agreement whereby he is to make a certain development. Suppose he spends $1,000,000 or $2,000,000 in developing these dams and other works. Would it not then be considered a little
late for this House to tell Mr. Backus at the next session of Parliament to cease this work? Is it not better to say that now. If the Government of Ontario are prepared to give a guarantee that neither Mr. Backus nor anybody else will make any expenditure towards developing this water-power until next session, I think we might wait until then, but unless a guarantee of that sort is given I think the Government are justified in taking steps to protect the rights of Manitoba. Otherwise, Mr. Backus or somebody else might go ahead and spend a large amount of money in making improvements that would eventually be condemned. I am not so very sure but that the great province of Ontario owes something to Manitoba anyway. If you take up a map and look at the boundary line drawn between these two provinces and see the right of way that- is given to the province of Ontario to the sea-board in the province of Manitoba, I think you will come to the conclusion that probably Ontario owes something to Manitoba anyway; but that has nothing to do with this question. I believe that Mr. Backus holds an agreement with the Ontario Government whereby he undertakes to spend a certain amount of money in constructing a mill and other works. If that is going to interfere with the rights of Manitoba or the flow of water on these rivers I say that this Government should take steps to protect the province of Manitoba, or to stay these works until next session when both parties may be able to come together. I believe in conciliation, but if we cannot have conciliation, let us at all events protect the rights that are involved.
I had intended to take part in this discussion before six o'clock, but we had several long speeches on the subject and I did not have an opportunity.
I understand that my right hon. friend the Prime Minister has expressed some surprise that the committee has not heard from me. May I say that I have been absent for the past two hours attending the inauguration meeting of the League of Nations Association in Canada. I think that is important work, and I can assure my right hon. friend and the committee that my absence was not from any desire at all to evade participation in this discussion.
I may say frankly that I am in sympathy with the legislation proposed by the Government. I would be the last one in
this House to do anything that would invade the rights of any province in the Dominion. I think it is a matter of regret that this question has not been settled without the necessity of the legislation that we are now considering, but that, I am bound to say, is apparently no fault of the Government. The Legislature of Ontario, for reasons, doubtless, which it considered good, refused to pass legislation concurrent with that already passed by this House.
This is largely a legal question and I shall not attempt for one moment to discuss the legal aspect of the case, but it seems to me there are certain features that we can look at in a commonsense way. I know the position of Manitoba in the matter.
I know the fear of Manitoba and the city of Winnipeg as to what may happen if this legislation is not passed, and I can assure the House that the people of Manitoba have no desire whatever to infringe the rights of Ontario or any other province. But they are faced with a very practical difficulty. My hon. friend from Lambton (Mr. Pardee) this afternoon made an argument which led me to the conclusion that he was not entirely familiar with the real question at issue in the matter. He spoke about Manitoba desiring to interfere with vested interests of Ontario, and stated that we, by this legislation, were enriching the province of Manitoba at the expense of Ontario. That is not the case. All that the province of Manitoba asks is that it be protected in the flow of water in the Winnipeg river. That is necessary for the carrying out of the works that have been established in the Winnipeg river in the province of Manitoba, works established not only by the Street Railway Company of "Winnipeg, but in far greater degree by the city of Winnipeg in the development of its city light and power. It is quite clear that if there is no authority to control the level of the Lake of the Woods, if there is no authority to regulate the flow of water into the Winnipeg river, the flow of water may, temporarily at any rate, be shut off and during that period the turbines on these power plants will not turn and electricity will not be generated. It is said that there is no danger of that. My hon. friend from Port Arthur (Mr. Keefer) argued this afternoon that there was no possibility of this taking place. He argued that the Government had already the necessary control over these levels. It nevertheless is a fact that the Norman dam is controlled by private interests today, and within the levels fixed by the International Waterways Commission these private interests could interfere with the level of the Lake of the Woods and the flow of water into the Winnipeg river, if they chose to do so. That is unquestionable.
It is true that the Lake of the Woods Control Board which has been in existence has, in an advisory capacity, regulated that in the past. But it has no power by legal right to do that to-day, and if it is left to private interests alone to regulate this matter, one can readily imagine what might possibly happen. The Lake of the Woods and the Winnipeg river are not purely provincial waters. The greater portion by far of the waters flowing into the Lake of the Woods, and from the Lake of the Woods through the Winnipeg river into Lake Winnipeg, originate outside of the province of Ontario altogether. No one will argue for a moment that the province of Ontario would have the right to divert the whole of the waters of the Winnipeg river in that portion of the river that lies within the province of Ontario. Surely some authority .must be exercised in respect to it, and the proposal put forward by the Government, in the failure of the legislature of Ontario to pass the concurrent legislation, is not unreasonable. It is not intended to hurt any private interests; I cannot conceive where this legislation will interfere with the legitimate rights of any concern, the town of Kenora, or anyone else. It is necessary, and I think only just, that the city of Winnipeg, which has already spent many millions of dollars in developing its power plant, on the Winnipeg river, should be protected in the flow of water necessary to carry on its work. That is all that is asked for, and that would have been achieved had the concurrent legislation been passed. Since that concurrent legislation has not been passed, -and it has not been passed apparently for the reason that Mr. Backus used his influence in the Ontario legislature to prevent its being passed-it is necessary, I think, that something should be done. It is regrettable that this matter could not. have been satisfactorily arranged without the necessity of this legislation. Let me repeat again that the province of Manitoba, the city of Winnipeg, and I am sure my hon. friend from Provencher (Mr. Molloy), and other hon. members from Manitoba who have spoken in favour of this legislation, do not desire to interfere with provincial rights, particularly the
rights of the old province of Ontario, and I do not see under this legislation that we are doing so. To my mind it is necessary, under the circumstances, and I think the House will be well advised in giving assent to the measure.
say is purely in the interests of Canada. A good deal has been said about Mr. Backus, and the Backus interests. Well, I think one may safely say that Mr. Backus overrides towns, provinces, legislatures, and even federal laws of the United States when they conflict with his interests. He is a man of indomitable courage and outstanding business ability, and he never allows anything to stand in his way. He will not be turned aside in his pursuit of any object, and there was never a firm of lawyers in the United States smart enough to make any contract which they could get Mr. Backus to sign before he had considerably altered and amended it to his own taste. He would erase, eradicate, add to, and re-write anything if it did not meet with his approval. I know that this is an advertisement for Mr. Backus, but I wish that this Canada had men of his kind. He owns great territory in the United States, and he even overrides the assessor and the tax-gatherer. I think he has the brains to override the Prime Minister of this country, the premier of Ontario, the Premier of Manitoba, and problably the leader of the Opposition.
a good deal, but Mr. Backus is undoubtedly a very able man, and so long as I find that the Backus interests are invading Canadian territory, I shall stand up in defence of our rights. Mr. Backus has enough influence to get us into international troubles, and if he had his way, he would dam up the lake of the Woods and conduct its waters into Minnesota. Mr. Backus drives triumphantly over everybody and everything in order to attain his end, and I must warn the Government against this far-seeing magnate of the United States.
Section agreed to on division: Yeas, 90, Nays, 41.
Sections 3, 4, and 5, agreed to on division. On section 6-enforcement by Exchequer Court of Canada.
equal representation even on this board. As I stated in one of the too many speeches I made, the Government intends to appoint the same board which has acted all along under the Order in Council, two of whom were named by Ontario. We purpose to give the same Ontario men the appointment, so the same board will operate and perform the statutory functions called for by this Bill.
We intend to nominate them. If the Ontario Government did that these men would have no powers from Ontario as there is no Ontario law. We intend to appoint these two men although they may refuse to act.
Seeing that the board is to consist of four members, is there not the possibility of a deadlock? Would it not ^ be well to make one of the members chairman and give him a casting vote in the event of a deadlock taking place?
deadlock and they have acted since January, 1919, two and a quarter years. Of course, under the Orders in Council provision was made in case of a tie. We would just as soon not have it here because we do not want to take any advantage of the province of Ontario in the matter.