export house that is operating in British Columbia to-day that does not have to have the approval of the Attorney General of British Columbia, and in many cases licenses were issued to those export houses situated in the interior of British Columbia where there was no possibility of their doing a legitimate export business. If they had been down at the coast where goods could have been exported to foreign countries, the matter would have been different. It was a standing joke in British Columbia that export houses were applying for licenses so that they might make illegitimate exports to the United States which was the only place where they could run their goods. These licenses were issued wilfully with the approval of the Attorney General of British Columbia, and it is idle for hon. members to pretend that in asking for this legislation he wants to prevent illegalities or bootlegging. It is only a sham fight that is being put up by British Columbia against bootlegging; it is one of their chief sources of revenue. I see no reason why this question should be dealt with in British Columbia on any basis different from that adopted in other provinces. When the people of other provinces desire a change in their liquor law they express that desire at the polls; but this question has not been voted upon in British Columbia. That is the principal objection to the bill; it is wrong in principle. This is a pointed case of establishing government by order in council, and that I should think would be the last thing that this government would want to encourage. There is no necessity for the bill. It is an encroachment on private rights and until we have some expression from the people of British Columbia that they want such legislation, I submit it should not be enacted.
It is said that there has been no plebiscite in British Columbia on this question, but that is not correct. There was a plebiscite and it carried by the largest majority ever secured on any question voted upon by the people of that province. The people gave the government
control over the liquor question and unless this legislation is passed that government will not have that control. The provincial government wants this legislation enacted and the people want it.
Absolutely no. As I say, both the government and the prohibition people as well as those who have the interests of the province at heart have demanded this legislation in order to put a stop to the traffic in liquor which is going on between the province and the United States. This traffic is creating a hard feeling between the United States and the people of British Columbia, and indeed, of Canada as a whole, and it is felt that this government is responsible for it. If this legislation is carried it will end the traffic, and as the people of the province are asking for it I see no reason why it should not be adopted.
Motion agreed to and the House went into committee. Mr. Gordon in the chair.
On section 1-Importation of intoxicating liquor prohibited.
amendment by inserting after paragraph (c) in subsection (2) of section 163 the following, as paragraph (d):
TIig importation into a province of any intoxicating liquor for sacramental or medicinal purposes or for manufacturing or commercial purposes other than for the manufacture or use thereof as a beverage.
This exception is contained in part four of the Canada Temperance Act. My hon. friend (Sir Henry Drayton) drew my attention to it the other day, and I think it makes it clear that the present law will not apply to liquor imported for the purposes here enumerated.
Will the government of British Columbia enforce this provision in respect of all importations except of liquors for the purposes just mentioned, or can the government differentiate between the private importer who imports for his own use and the import and export warehouse? Is this to be the interpretation of the provision, or will the prohibition apply to all?
Will the minister admit that the Attorney General of British Columbia has the power now to refuse to approve of a license to any export warehouse? Even without this proposed act the attorney general or the government of the province has to-day the power to refuse to approve of licenses for export warehouses and by means of that refusal they can put all export houses out of business. They do not require this legislation in order to do that.
by my hon. friend (Mr. McBride), the government can absolutely control the situation to-day; they are responsible for the conditions that exist. Why should we enable the government of British Columbia to bring certain legislation into effect, to cancel it, to bring it back into force again, and to switch it around any way they like, when they already have the situation absolutely in their control if they desire to take advantage of the power they now have.
The hon. member is working both ends against the middle. It is true that the attorney general of the province must give his consent before the license is issued, but that consent has reference only to the surrounding conditions, because he has not the power of absolute refusal. Anyone who wants a license gets it from this government and all that the attorney general of the province has to do with it is to exercise an advisory supervision, so to speak, over the circumstances in which the license shall apply. He may say that this is the wrong place, or that the circumstances are undesirable, and so on but he cannot positively withhold the license, inasmuch as it is this government that issues it. As regards the objection that the attorney general can already do what it is proposed to enable him to do, the hon. member (Mr. Clark) stated a few minutes ago that he did not want to see so much power put into the hands of that officer. Apparently he has not much confidence in the attorney general of the province, and when the Minister of Justice pointed out that it was not the attorney general but the government of the province that had the say, the hon. member transferred his distrust to the government. He suspects that proper use will not be made of the power which is being
enacted, because, he says, this has been the case in the past. Now, what is the objection to this legislation, which will absolutely prohibit by Dominion law the importation of liquor for export? It would appear to me that it is not going to do any harm if everything the hon. member has said is correct.
That is just where my hon. friend is mistaken. This is order in council legislation, and not until the government passes an order in council does it come into effect. To-day the Attorney General of British Columbia can positively stop the issuance of a license to any government export house in the province. The Minister of Customs and Excise (Mr. Bureau) has so stated in this House. All he has to do now is to withhold his consent and the license will not issue. The only additional power given by this legislation is to prohibit private individuals importing liquor.
Mr. Chairman, I quite agree with What t'he hon. member for Burrard (Mr. Clark) has stated. When the Attorney General of British Columbia refuses to give his consent to the issuing of a license, it practically puts an end to the efforts of any person to get a license here in Ottawa, and so far as I know the Customs and Excise department have never issued a license where the attorney general of the province has refused to give his consent either through whim or otherwise. He may object to give the applicant a license because he is bald-headed, redhaired, or anything of that kind.
It just shows how senseless this is, because sometimes a bald-headed man has as much inside his head as many others have outside. But I am afraid that when I refer to bald heads in this House I am treading on dangerous ground. That disposes of the question raised by the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill). Let us assume that this measure will be passed-and I am inclined to think that it will be-the government of British Columbia need never put it into force at all; it simply transfers from the federal authority to the provincial authority all federal rights. That, it seems to me, is giving that province more power than the other provinces, because the latter had to proceed by way of plebiscite. Hon. gentlemen have stated that three or four plebiscites were taken in British Columbia. But those plebiscites were only on the question of government control, and the Minister
Canada Temperance Act
of Justice admits it. The Quebec legislature has passed an act declaring that no one except the provincial government can traffic in liquor. If it is legal for Quebec to do this, why does not British Columbia take the same course? It looks rather strange, to say the least, that the provincial authorities there should come here and ask for ancillary legislation from this authority which the province of Quebec does not think is necessary. I believe in putting all the provinces on the same plane. Every province that wishes to carry on business in this particular way should take a plebiscite before it goes into the business. Why make a distinction in favour of British Columbia?