If the hon. member enters into a discussion of the merits of this question, hon. members who desire to reply will have the right to be heard. That being so, I would submit that it is far better for the discussion to remain over till Friday, when the Bill will again come before the House.
It is on a question of privilege that I desire to speak. I do not want to remain under the imputation of being unfair. I want to explain to my hon. friend from Frontenae why I made the motion. I was informed this morning by the promoter of the Bill, Mr. Norman Guthrie-in fact, he came to me especially to say-that he intended to withdraw the Bill. I am informed there is a desire on the part of the petitioner to withdraw the Bill, and the hon. member for Middlesex has also so informed my hon. friend from Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe). Otherwise I would not have made the motion.
Unless the hon. member asks for the unanimous consent of the House, he is quite out of order in speaking at this stage, because there is no motion before the Chair. If the hon. member desires to ask for the unanimous consent of the House, he may do so.
committee that my remarks on this Bill will be of the briefest sort, but as the Bill presents some difficulty, I do not wish to cast a silent vote thereon. I am sorry the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Molloy) is not in his seat, because I wish to congratulate him most heartily on the very able speech he delivered on this Bill this afternoon. Was the question that which the hon. member considered it to be, I would say "Amen" most heartily to what he said. If the question to be debated in this committee was a conflict of interest between Mr. Backus and the citizens of Manitoba, I am sure there is no member, on this side of the House at least, who would not espouse with fervour the cause of the citizens of Manitoba. I have not the pleasure of knowing Mr. Backus, but from all I hear about him I should consider that he was a gentleman whose acquisitive faculties had been fully, if not over developed, and that his proceedings and manner of conducting business in this country did not altogether cause him to be a subject for emulation or to be followed. We do not desire any special privilege for Mr. Backus. Our desire should be to treat this question with the sole object of seeing how best this great actual and potential water-power, with its head-waters in one province, and a great part of its lower course in another province, can best be used, not for the benefit of the citizens of the one province or of the other, but to the best advantage of all the citizens of Canada who live within a distance sufficiently near to this water-power to be able to take advantage of it. That appears to be the question. How can this question best be settled? We have contradictory statements of fact by hon. members all of whom no doubt spoke with the utmost good faith, and with the utmost desire to enlighten, and not to confuse the members of this
committee. We have heard the hon. member for Port Arthur and Kenora (Mr. Keefer) state that to pass this legislation is to endanger the whole industrial life of northwestern Ontario. We have heard the hon. member for Provencher most eloquently state that it is most vital to the interests of the people of Manitoba that this should pass.
In connection with this subject we have had two Bills introduced and for ease in discussion I shall call them Bill No. 1 and Bill No. 2. Bill No. 1 contemplated the passing of concurrent legislation by the province of Ontario, and I am sure that it is a matter of deep regret to the committee that that agreement was not carried out, but that the province of Ontario fell down in their undertaking, and that by reason of that failure, we are here discussing this matter to-night. The Government thought they had arrived at an understanding with Ontario. They have found that Ontario has not implemented its agreement, and to-day the Government is pressing legislation against the strenuous opposition of Ontario, legislation which goes considerably further than the legislation on which the two parties had agreed. The legislation substitutes the will of one of the parties to the agreement to the will of the two parties to theagreement. For the spirit of cooperation, the Government feels that it has to substitute the spirit of force. Instead of insisting upon the bargain made with Ontario they insist upon legislation which goes considerably further. The question before the House is whether or not that is the best way to proceed. I consider it is not the best way, and as we are often, on this side of the House, asked to bring forward some constructive criticism, I propose to outline, with all respect, the course which I think the Prime Minister should follow in this matter. The first suggestion I would make is that this proposed legislation be abandoned on certain conditions. The first condition is that the province of Ontario should undertake, pending further negotiations, that matters should remain in statu quo,. and that no new franchises should be granted to Mr. Backus, or anybody else, while the parties are striving for settlement. While matters are in that state, the parties should remain in their present position. That is my first point, and I think it is in the interests of both parties to the dispute. The next proposal is that the Government should exhaust every possible means of arriving at an understanding with the Government of
Ontario. It is true that the Government had a right to feel somewhat annoyed at the Government of Ontario. The Government thought that they had made a bargain, and they find that the Government of Ontario has not implemented that bargain by carrying through the legislation which was contemplated at the time the bargain was made. I grant that; but I urge the Government to persist in a spirit of agreement and accommodation, and try to arrive at an understanding with the Government of Ontario. The hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Hocken), whom I see directly opposite, smiles.