June 3, 1921

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE


On the motion of Hon. R. W. Wigmore (Minister of Customs and Inland Revenue) for the third reading of Bill No. 211 respecting the Department of Customs and Excise:


UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Hon. W. S. FIELDING (Shelburne and Queen's):

Mr. Speaker, this Bill passed through the committee stage at three o'clock this morning, and the moving of the Bill to its final stage at this moment; simply illustrates the condition into which the public business has fallen. I am obliged to object to this motion and to register a protest (I know it will be ineffective) against the scandalous manner-the adjective is not too strong-in which parliamentary business is being conducted today under the direction of the Government. We are told that the Prime Minister desires to go overseas to attend the Prime Ministers' Conference. We all realize that that is the right hon. gentleman's duW, and I do not think there is any desire on the part of anybody in this House to delay him. But, while I admit that it is the duty of the right hon. gentleman to go, I cannot admit that that is a reason why we should conduct the public business with the indecent haste that has been exhibited during the past week. The right hon. gentleman will not be the first Prime Minister to go overseas to attend to Imperial business; there have been others, and they have left under somewhat similar circumstances. They have gone to perform their public duty with the good-will and blessing of the Parliaments they left behind them, but they have delegated the conduct of the business to their colleagues, and the business of the House has been closed decently and in order.

The business of this Parliament is not being done in a decent and orderly manner to-day, and we are having evidence of it in many ways. My right hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) is really acting like a slave driver in conducting the business of the House. Yesterday, this House sat eleven hours, including seven hours consecutively at night, finishing our work at 3 o'clock this morning. The right hon. gentleman is making Parliament meet morning, afternoon, and night, and at every stage we find business pressed forward with undue and unreasonable haste. In this Bill noiw before us we have a matter of a very important character. It introduces legislation entirely new, it imposes enormous taxation, much more than many people imagine, and is well worthy of grave Consideration, but it is pressed forward in the way I have described. If you want further evidence, look at what occurred to-day in regard to the Bill relating to the dairy industry of this country. I have no particular knowledge of that industry, and I speak with deference to the views of hon. gentlemen who are familiar with it. We have had for the first time a discussion to-day on that Bill, and hon. gentlemen on the Government side have declared that the matter is not only one of grave importance, but one hon. member, representing an extensive farming district, declared that it might mean the ruin of the dairy industry of this country. Yet the measure was brought forward today practically for its first discussion and rushed through its several stages to be sent to the Senate, and the two Houses are expected to deal with the Bill in twenty-four or thirty-six hours. Will the people of Canada think that proper treatment of a question dealing with the dairy industry of the country? Will the farmers believe that their interests are receiving due consideration? I express no opinion on the merits of the Bill, but I do say that the forcing through of legislation of this kind at the last moment is entirely to the discredit of the Government and of the House. I do not think it is necessary that there should be this indecent haste in order that the right hon. gentleman may get away. I must offer no opinion as to the ability of his colleagues to conduct the public business, but I would say that it would be far better that, the right hon. gentleman should proceed to the conference and leave ^ the business of the House to be wound up in a decent and orderly way.

This is the King's Birthday. By a statute of Canada the birthday of the reigning sovereign is declared to be a public holiday. The people of Canada are expected to pay, in one form or another, due respect to the occasion. We require by law our banks to close. But while we do that and while we expect the people of Canada to honour the day, we have Parliament' sitting here on the morning of the King's Birthday up to three o'clock, meeting again at eleven o'clock, and again at half-past two, and sitting again to-night until God only knows what time. I say without the slightest hesitation that that manner of conducting the public business is not likely to lead to Parliament having the respect which it ought to have from the people at large.

As a further reminder, I want to say that last session we voted ourselves a very generous indemnity, and the ground upon which the vote was placed was that the duties of Parliament were so exacting and the sessions were becoming longer. Now, this is not a long session. We have been here only a little more than three and a half months. I believe it will be found, with the growing importance of this country, that you will not be able as a rule to do the business of this Parliament in less than four months. I do not think that four months at any time hereafter will be deemed a long session. And yet the business has been rushed through in this way.

I think the least we can do for the generous indemnity we are receiving is to stay here and attend to the business of the country. For myself at all events-and I speak for myself only-I respectfully offer this protest, and I say that the manner in which the public business is being carried on is not a credit to the Government, nor is it a credit to Parliament. We have large sums of money yet to be voted, including the Estimates of the Post Office Department, one of the most wide-reaching departments of the Government, involving large sums of money and involving interests which come close home to every hon. member. I believe we have not yet touched those Estimates. Some time to-day or tomorrow we will be asked to pass them.

These things have only to be mentioned to make the impression which I hope they will make on the public mind, and I do say without the slightest hesitation that this rushing through of the business of the country in the last few days of the session is a discredit to the Government and to Parliament.

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Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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UNION

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

Unionist

Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, my first remark is that I consider that the speech of the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's (Mr. Fielding) delivered under these circumstances, is most unfair to the Administration-I ihad almost said unfair to myself. There has been no attempt of the Government whatever to rush the business of Parliament. There is the natural attempt of both sides towards the end of the session to have as little delay, as little irrelevant discussion and as little obstruction as possible, because at all stages of a session

mostly from the Opposition, naturally; sometimes even from the Government side -there is discussion of the nature of irrelevant matter or of obstruction.

What has the Government done that is "indecent" and "out of order"? I have made the statement that I felt it my duty to attend the session of this Parliament until the work is over. I feel it my duty still. If either on one side or the other there is a substantial feeling that it is too early to prorogue to-

What has been the subject matter that has been dealt with so rapidly and with such utter disregard of the interests of the country? Has any one observed, in the disposition of any Bill so far before this House, scant consideration of its provisions? If so, I do not know when it was. There has been consideration for hours at a time, very frequently late, it is true, because hon. gentlemen towards the end of the session, particularly when committee work is over, are prepared to sit late, and it is then that we exert ourselves to the uttermost and consideration is given to public business at the expense of great physical and mental effort on our part. That has been the history always as regards important legislation towards the end of a session. All measures that we have to do with are important; some not

as much so as otheTS, and much of that character is being considered just now. There is some that we have (not been able to reach, not because we did not want to, but we have not been able to get to it sooner owing to prolonged discussion on other matters.

Now, as to rushing business because we commenced business this morning at eleven o'clock and sat until three o'clock last night, let me remind the hon. member of this fact, that this is the first session, I think, in the history of our Parliament, that the holding of forenoon sittings has been left to as late a date as this. The Government has not suggested that Parliament sit in the forenoon except for the last two days of the session, and only for approximately a week have afternoon sittings commenced at two o'clock. It is true that we have had two or three late sittings, but I would like to know when Parliament did not sit late at night towards the end of a session when committee work was over. I say again that we have deferred morning sittings longer than ever before. Certainly never since I have been in the Hoiuse-and this is my fifteenth session-have we waited until the last two days before asking the House to sit in the forenoon. I do not think there is any precedent for waiting so long ibefore sitting on Saturdays as we have waited this session.

Now, my only statement is this. We have sought to act in harmony with the Opposition in this matter, and therefore I consider the remarks of the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's directed against the Government as entirely unfair and uncalled for, and I am surprised at his making them. Let me repeat, while I might be justified in leaving the conduct of the House and go overseas when there is nothing left for discussion of an important character, nothing over which there may be serious contention, I do not think I would be justified, merely to get away on Monday, in leaving this House before its prorogation, with important or contentious matters left over. But there is nothing of a dire character going to happen if there should be delay, and although we have had a general understanding that we will endeavour, if we can with justice to public business, close on Saturday, let me say again there is no more desire on the Government side than on the other side, to prorogue then, and we are quite willing to co-operate with the Opposition in a friendly way and meet

with them next week if it is necessary for the due and proper discharge of business.

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Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. MICHAEL CLARK (Red Deer) :

I rise with some reluctance to present a view which is presented on my own account only and which differs from that of my hon. friend from Shelburne and Queen's (Mr. Fielding). I do this with the more reluctance because on many subjects I have admired the position taken and the ability displayed by my hon. friend and have been more than pleased to support him. Indeed, some of us in this part of the House have suffered, I think, misunderstanding along that line because we have been put under his wing by a very august personage in this Chamber for good and all. However, that personage, I am sure, will forgive me for breaking out from under the wing on this particular occasion.

It is true, Mr. Speaker, that we have been only three months and two-thirds in session and that there has been a good deal of business done in the last two weeks. But I imagine, as the Prime Minister has said, that that has been quite usual in all the sessions of Parliament, at least that I have participated in. I personally have not been able to impress my views upon the majority of the Chamber, but it has not been because I have not had the opportunity of presenting those views on almost every topic, and especially upon the trade question, in which I take a vital interest. I think the whole House will admit that I have at least been able to keep up my end and to keep my views before the public and before the House of Commons. That my views have not impressed more members is a matter of very deep regret to me, but it is because of the perversity of the human understanding and of the human heart. As I look back over this session, having missed but two days of its sittings, on each of which two days I was delivering a speech outside the House, I am bound to say, Mr. Speaker, that it ir my deliberate opinion-speaking, as I say, purely for myself-that no public interest of any moment has suffered during this session from want of reasonable discussion. That being my impression, I feel bound to state it. I am exceptionally placed in regard to leisure-my little business interests do not call me away; I am in yery good health, and I could stand another month in Ottawa. But I very much question if the public interest would gain anything compared with what it might conceivably lose by the Prime Minister of this Dominion having to fail to keep arrange-

ments which he has entered into with the concensus of the majority of hon. members of this Chamber. I hold this view strongly, and I am almost certain that it will impress the majority of the members of the House. We hear a great deal about members of Parliament not earning their indemnity, and about "generous indemnities,!' and that sort of thing. Well, I can only say that when my hon. friend from East Peterborough (Mr. Sexsmith) was talking this morning of milking being work of very great drudgery, I had the honest feeling in my breast that to milk six or eight cows before breakfast and again in the evening and to do a good deal of farm work between times was, on the whole, play for the body and the mind compared to the drudgery of public service in this House, and more especially in the administration of the country at this time. I have not been, I think, in the course of my career in Canada too prone to pay attention to passing waves of opinion anywhere in the country, and I want to say on behalf of hon. members of this House of all varieties of opinion that they are just as good as the rest of the people of Canada; they are fair representatives of Canadian manhood and Canadian opinion; they do their work honestly and well, and I resent any opinions that are presented to the contrary, whether in this Chamber or out of it. I repeat, Mr. Speaker, that in my judgment my hon. friend from Shelburne and Queen's has not been well advised to make this protest and that in my opinion no public interest has suffered from want of discussion during this session.

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Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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?

Right Hon. S@

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Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

In the meantime, I desire to remind the House that the motion before the Chair is for the third reading of Bill No. 211.

Topic:   CUSTOMS AND EXCISE
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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Motion agreed to, and Bill read the third time and passed.


JUDGE SNIDER'S REPORT

UNION

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

Unionist

Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Prime Minister) :

Mr. Speaker, is it necessary

for me to have the unanimous consent of the House that we may return to motions in order that a report may be laid on the Table?

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

The Prime Minister

does not require unanimous consent to move that the House return to motions. It is quite within his competence to make the motion, but I am sure the House would consent without a formal motion.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

After the inquiry of

the hon. member for Russell (Mr. Murphy) this morning regarding the Snider report, I made investigation. The hon. member was under the impression that an Order in Council had been passed authorizing an inquiry and that, upon that being made, another Order in Council was passed authorizing a further inquiry into some distinct matter connected with the same affair. I thought there was only one Order in Council. I find that we were both, in a measure, right and both, in a measure, wrong-or rather I was right in substance and my hon. friend was right in form. There were two Orders, but they were both passed before any investigation.' An interim report was made; hut as explained in the House, the interim report was not laid on the Table, the intention being to await the final report, as there might he danger that the interim report would do injustice to men referred to therein, in respect of whom the effect* of the interim report might possibly be modified by the final one. At noon to-day I spoke to Col. Biggar who was of counsel prosecuting the investigation, and he delivered this letter to me this afternoon:

Answering your question of to-day, no evidence has been given before His Honour Judge

Snider since the date of his interim report (10th March) which would affect the conclusions therei-n or render it unfair to anyone to publish the interim report without the final report. The evidence necessary for the preparation of the latter is now complete and I think His Honour intends to send in the report as soon as the notes of the evidence (of which the last was taken on Saturday last) have been extended.

Faithfully yours,

(Sgd) O. M. Biggar.

I am also advised by Col. Biggar-and I rely on the correctness of his advice- that the interim report has been submitted to His Excellency, and, therefore, I lay the interim report on the Table.

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FURTHER SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES


A message from His Excellency the Governor General transmitting further Supplementary Estimates for the year ending March 31, 1922, was presented by Sir Henry Drayton (Minister of Finance), read by Mr. Speaker to the House, and referred to the Committee of Supply.


INSURANCE ACT AMENDMENT, 1917


On the order that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole to consider a resolution to amend the Insurance Act, 1917-Sir Henry Drayton.


UNION

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

Unionist

Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Prime Minister):

In view of the fact that we have not been able to reach this order as soon as we had expected, and of its importance, I beg leave of the House to withdraw it.

Order discharged.

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PATENT ACT AMENDMENT


Right Hon. Sir GEORGE FOSTER (Minister of Trade and Commerce) moved the second reading of Bill No. 140, to amend the Patent Act.


UNION

Samuel Francis Glass

Unionist

Mr. S. F. GLASS (East Middlesex) :

I will endeavour, as quickly as possible, to state my objections to this Bill and to offer suggestions by which I think it can be improved [DOT] and made more acceptable to some hon. members. The basis or need for this legislation is primarily, as I understand the matter, to carry out the international obligation of this Gov-

3 p.m. ernment pursuant to the adoption of the Versailles Treaty. In that treaty an arrangement was made by the parties who were signatories to the treaty, that certain rights and privi-

leges under the Patent Acts of various countries which patentees had forfeited by reason of not having paid fees or carried out the requirements of the Patent Acts, should, in view of the long duration of the war, be reinstated for a period after the war. After the matter had been given most generous consideration this Article 307 was inserted in the Treaty of Peace of Versailles:

A minimum of one year after the coming into force of the present treaty shall he accorded to .the nationals of the High Contracting Parties, without extension fees or other penalty, in order to enable such persons to accomplish any act, fulfil any formality, pay any fees, and generally satisfy (any obligation prescribed by the laws or regulations of the respective states relating to the obtaining, preserving, or opposing rights to, or in respect of, industrial property either acquired before August 1, 1914, or which, except for the war, might have been acquired since that date as a result of an application made before the war or during its continuance, but nothing in this article shall give any right to reopen interference proceedings in the United States of America where a final hearing has taken place.

All rights in, or in respect of, such property which may have lapsed by reason of any failure to accomplish any act, fulfil any formality, or make any payment, shall revive, but subject in .the case of .patents and designs to the imposition, of such conditions as each allied or associated power may deem reasonably necessary for the protection of persons who have manufactured or made use of the subject matter of such property while the rights had lapsed. Further, where rights to patents or designs belonging to German nationals are revived under this article, they shall be subject in respect of the grant of licenses to the same provisions as would have been applicable to hem during the war, as well as to all the .revisions of the present treaty.

I understand that this gives the right to patentees to revive a patent in their own country within one year of the passing of this Act by the payment of any fees which might be required. The date on which this Act went into force was January 10, 1920. Therefore, the right to pay fees with a view to reviving a patent which had lapsed expired on January 10,

1921, but where one bad paid his fees in order to .revive a patent which had elapsed provision was made that he might not be required to manufacture it within the country till a period of two years from that date, which would carry it to January 10,

1922. In January last a Bill was introduced into the United States Congress, known as the Nolan Bill, the purpose of which was in part, to allow patentees in the United States to revive patents which had elapsed within a period prescribed under the Act. I shall read only a few sec-

tions of the Bill which bear on this discussion. The Nolan Bill enacts:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the rights of priority provided by section 4887 of the Revised Statutes, for the filing of applications for patent for inventions and designs, which rights had not expired on the 1st day of August, 1914, or which rights have arisen since the 1st day of .August, 1914, shall he, and the same are hereby extended until the expiration of a period of six months from the passage of this Act in favour of the citizens of the United States-

Mark this:

-or citizens or subjects of all countries which have extended, or which now extend, or which within said period of six months shall extend substantially reciprocal privileges to citizens of the United States, and such extension shall apply to applications upon which patents have been granted, as well as to applications now pending or filed within the period herein :

By section 3 of that Act it is provided:

That no patent granted or validated by reason of the extensions provided for in sections 1 and 2 of this Act shall abridge or otherwise affect the right of any citizen of the United States, or his agent or agents, or his successor in business, to continue any manufacture, use, or sale commenced before the passage of this Act by such citizen, nor shall the continued manufacture, use, or sale by such citizen, or the use or sale of the devices resulting from such manufacture or use constitute an infringement.

That is, protection given to any person who during the period of the war had commenced to manufacture or to make actual use of the patents which had elapsed. In the Bill now before the House similar legislation is enacted. There is one other section of the Nolan Bill which I think it is very necessary I should quote in this discussion. Section 6 of that Act provides:

That where an .invention was made by a person while serving abroad, during the war, with the force of the United States, civil or military, the inventor thereof shall be entitled, in interference and other proceedings arising in connection with such invention, to the same rights of priority with respect of such invention as if the same had been made in the United States, and where an application became abandoned or forfeited, during the time the applicant was serving with the forces of the United States, by reason of his failure to take action or pay a fee within the time now required by Jaw.

Apparently the purpose was primarily to protect the interests of men who had been serving overseas and who by reason of such service had been unable to pay the fees and revive the patents.

In order to fulfil our obligations under the Versailles Treaty, it was provided and understood that any foreign patentee in

this country who desired to revive his patent, by the payment of the fees required, which had been allowed to lapse since the first of August, 1914, should have the right to exercise that privilege up until January 10, 1921. If he had exercised that right and revived his patent by the payment of the fees, he would not be required under the provisions of the Act to manufacture the article within this country, until a period of two years after the passing of the Act. That would carry him up until January 10, 1922.

Naturally the question will arise, what is my objection to this Bill. It is this. First of all, the fundamental object of this legislation is to carry out and ratify international obligations. I have not one word of objection against that, because we all agree that to the full limit of our ability it is our duty to discharge every obligation under that treaty to which we are a party. But the United States Nolan Bill, requiring reciprocal legislation, only requires on our part that we should give a quid pro quo for their Bill so as to enable their patentees in Canada the right to revive patents which may have lapsed since August, 1, 1914. We are going beyond that in this Bill. The Bill before the House proposes not only to reciprocate the privileges extended to citizens of Canada by the United States, but to go them one better and extend the time within which a patent may be revived until one year frofn the date of the passing of this Act.

My fundamental objection to this legislation is on the ground of a patent which was recorded by a French chemist .in the Patent Office of Canada in the year 1913, a patent which, to my mind, is of very great national importance. It is not so much that I want to deprive that man of any right he may have, for under our treaty obligations he has had over eight years within which to revive that patent. I have the figures here as to the proportion of patents that are revived, and they are the latest I can get from the Commissioner. I find that last year 11,000 patents were extended for the first period of six years. Only 2,500 of these patents were revived or extended for a further period of six years, and out of the whole 11,000 only some eight per cent y/ere extended for the whole period of eighteen years. In London, Ontario, we have a firm of manufacturing chemists, who for five years have been energetically trying to solve a problem which is of great national importance to this country-and my hon. friends will not be surprised when I say

that that problem is an improvement in the retting of flax straw. This firm has made such progress that last summer, in company with the Director of the Experimental Farm, I visited their laboratory, and we were shown some samples of flax straw retted under this new process, which were pronounced in tensile strength, colour, and in every other respect, superior to anything done under the process of dew retting. The chief of the fibre department was so impressed with this important discovery that arrangements were made for this man to come to the experimental flax station here at Ottawa, to ..demonstrate, by the use of a 4- or 5-ton lot the commercial possibilities of this new process. This patent that has been registered by this French chemist directly conflicts with the experiments that have been carried on by these men, entirely apart from any knowledge they may have had of the patent registered. This man is trying to sell the patent and wants to control its use here, which he would practically have a right to do for eighteen years longer. I do not care about that so much, but when men, in an honest endeavour, have been working for five years and have made important discoveries, if we have to go outside of international obligations and by some super-magnanimity extend to United States patentees advantages that are uncalled for, I submit that the passing of this Act in its present form will not be in the national interest of this country. I do not object to the principle of the Bill, because I think it is good, and it is quite possible to make an amendment to it in committee that will fulfil every obligation we owe to internationals by extending the right to persons to revive patents to January 10, 1922. That is one plan. Another plan I had in view, but which is not so desirable, although it would be better than passing the Bill just as it is, is an amendment to the Bill to provide that all patents revived under it should be held to operate in the future under section 44 of the Patent Act. Either of these would be acceptable, but I strongly urge upon the minister that if we fulfil our international obligations to the limit by passing reciprocal legislation, we have complied with every necessity of the law, and have not reached the point of injuring any individuals in the matter. An opportunity will come for discussion of this matter in committee, but in this general debate I desired to lay these matters before the House so that we may have an intelli-

gent grasp of their purport as affecting the interests to which I have called attention.

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June 3, 1921