Hon. JAMES MURDOCK (Minister of Labour) :
Mr. Speaker, in proceeding further with the discussion of Bill No. 54, I would like to refer briefly to what would appear to be a studied campaign which has been carried on in various parts of Canada during the past few weeks to discredit the provisions of the bill. Almost invariably hon. members who have discussed this measure from the opposition benches have, in respect to claims and contentions made, found refuge in that campaign of, I think, entire, but I hope not deliberate, misrepresentation. I want to refer to some of the statements that have been made in that connection. Here is one coming
from the jurisdiction of the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. McQuarrie) which says:
The Criminal Code of Canada, in one of its sections, has penalties which fit the crimes, known as trusts, mergers and combines, whenever these are in restraint of trade, and does it in a much simpler way than the Premier's bill, as well as providing heavy penalties. It should be sufficient for the purposes without the enactment of legislation that will handicap trade and make burdensome interference with the conduct of private business. The great objection to his bill is that it is wholly inquisitorial, and that "any person resident in Canada of the full age of twenty-one who is of opinion that a combine exists, or is being formed," may start an investigation which, on mere suspicion will subject business men to no end of trouble and expense.
There is a wholesome truth in the old saying that a half truth is worse than a falsehood. Then, we come to another one from the jurisdiction of my hon. friend for London (Mr. White), which says:
One curious clause makes it illegal to fix a resale price.
It is not true, but it gets over in an editorial just the same.
In other words, a manufacturing firm which does a national business and advertises from end to end of Canada its products at one price could not fix this price.
Nothing in the bill suggests the accuracy of that statement, unless it could be conclusively shown that the fixing of that price was a detriment to the public, to the consumer, to the producer. Then, this same article pays me a compliment by saying:
That bold trust-buster, Hon. James Murdock, the Minister of Labour, has machinery he needs now if he will only make use of it.
An absolutely unqualified misstatement of fact, as every hon. member familiar with the legislation which has for some time been on our statute books, knows. Yet that kind of bunk gets over from the Opposition press, and, may I say without disrespect, is parroted by hon. gentlemen from the Opposition benches.
Then, we have another one. Listen to this: It comes from not very far distant:
The process, too, is simple, the laying of an information before a competent magistrate puts the accused on their defence, creates the opportunity for bringing out the facts, and if there has been guilt, provides adequate punishment. The government bill is' of a type that appeals to those who confound fuss with efficiency and noise with progress.
That listens very nicely, to the uninitiated, but it does not fool any hon. member or any other citizen of Canada? Who ever dreamed for a moment of the feasibility of his approaching some magistrate and suggesting that there was a combine detrimental to him or to other consumers or producers, and then
getting proper redress at the hands of the court? All hon. gentlemen know how far he would get. One thing these editorials and various others that might be quoted overlook is the fact that the provisions of the criminal code dealing with combines have been useless since the days when my right hon. friend and his colleagues took good care to make the Combines Investigation Act moribund and of no effect. It has been impossible, therefore, to use the provisions of the criminal code, section 498, in dealing with the most dreaded or contemptible combine that might exist in Canada.