If I may be permitted, I should like to call the attention of the Minister of Justice to a decision lately given by the Court of Appeal of Ontario. I see in the papers this morning is reported the appeal of the case of the Wholesale Grocers and the Attorney General of Ontario. The Court of Appeal has held unanimously that the Dominion criminal legislation, section 498, is ultra vires. The disastrous consequences of such a verdict, if it is to remain undisturbed, are manifest.
The Chief Justice of Ontario bases his judgment upon the late finding of the Privy Council in the Board of Commerce case, and distinctly states that had it not been for that finding, that is to say, had his judgment been given prior to that finding, he would have held that section to be within the competence of the Dominion parliament. I do not presume to comment on the finding of the Privy Council except to say that I think it was most unfortunate. It was unfortunate that there should have been an appeal on that portion of the Board of Commerce and Combines and Fair Prices Acts. It was prosecuted by the province of Ontario, and I think by the province of Quebec as well, but chiefly at the instance of the Attorney General of Ontario.
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I am not presuming to give an opinion, only to say that in the judgment of the Privy Council there is no language so decisive and so final as would make an appeal from the judgment of the Ontario Appellate Court a futility. One would think from reading it that the Privy Council never intended to undermine the whole basis upon which section 498 of the criminal code rests. I have it firmly in my mind that the jurisdiction of this parliament to enact such legislation must be upheld, and I earnestly hope the minister is considering taking immediate steps to see . that the judgment so given does not become the law of Canada.