March 7, 1927

LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

I believe the

first were filed in 1907. In the first place the charter was for a canal of nine feet. Then it was raised in succession to twelve feet, eighteen feet, twenty feet and twenty-two feet, and to-day they are asking for a canal of twenty-four feet. The last plans I believe are with the department but have not yet been o.k.'d by it. Therefore a company could not go ahead and construct the canal until its plans have been o.k.'d by the government. Now my -hon. friend (Mr. Thorson) has said that some 300 miles will be cut off the voyage of a ship to Port Arthur and Fort William by the construction of this canal. I believe that is correct. And as freight rates are based to a great extent on the time it takes to carry freight from one point to the other, that fact would naturally make a large saving in the cost of transporting commodities from central or middle western Canada to the ocean ports.

In connection with this point may I read a paragraph from a report issued by the United States Department of Commerce, entitled Great Lakes to Ocean Waterways. The paragraph in question is to this effect:

For vessel costs a 7,600-ton, dead weight, oilburning, cargo vessel may be taken for illustrative purposes. The fixed charges and operating costs of such a vessel are approximately $700 a day.

Now if the construction of the Georgian bay canal will cut off thirty-six hours between Montreal and Fort William on the return trip that means 72 hours or three days, or $2,100 on a cargo ship of 7,000 tons, which saving in time will materially reduce the freight rates.

I believe that we should have a full discussion at the present stage of the bill, a full discussion in committee, and a full discussion after the bill gets back to the House,

Georgian Bay Canal Company

because if this canal is built it will mean a great deal to the whole of Canada. As my hon. friend from Fort William (Mr. Manioc) said this afternoon there would be some eighteen states in the adjoining republic affected by it. The report from which I have quoted gives the names of those states, and as a matter of fact I believe there are more than eighteen of the central and western states in the country to the south affected.

In going through the report referred to I found that taking thirty-four of the export commodities and thirty-four of the import commodities of the United States, and if there were a great lakes to ocean waterway large enough to accommodate ships of from six to seven thousand tons, forty-four per cent of the trade of the United States would go out that way, and twenty-five per cent of its imports would enter by the same route.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Does the report from

which my hon. friend is quoting support the Georgian bay canal?

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

The report says

absolutely nothing about it. It was prepared by a committee of gentlemen, most of whom were from the United States, with some representatives from Canada, but they were mainly interested in the St. Lawrence great waterways, or in the Hudson ship canal. As a matter of fact, they would not be interested in seeing Canada build a Georgian bay canal at all, because if it were built and in operation, a great deal of the commerce of the United States would come through Canadian ports and Canadian territory, including as I have already said forty-four per cent of their exports. That surely would be a big thing for Canada. We hear our hon. friends opposite every once in a while saying that we are being bled white because our wheat goes through Buffalo. Now if it cost from two to three cents less to carry that grain through the Georgian bay canal than it would via Buffalo, what would happen? All Canadian grain would go through the Georgian bay canal and most of the American grain also. The effect would be to build up cities such as Montreal and Quebec, to build up cities that would compare wdth New York, Boston, and other United States ports, because they would benefit by the trade of some forty millions of people whereas to-day they are only enjoying the trade of from five to ten million people.

There is one thing in connection with this canal project. My hon. friends opposite are much exercised over the fact that a private corporation is seeking to build the Georgian bay canal.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. M ANION:

No, we are exercised

because they will not build it.

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

Well, provide

proper safeguards, and if they will not build the canal take away from them the right to do so.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANTON:

They have had thirty-three years to start it.

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

But remember

there is an alternative at the present time, and that I think is what hon. gentlemen opposite are more exercised over than anything else.

It is that at the present time, and lapsing on the first of May as in the case of the Montreal, Ottawa and Georgian bay canal charter, there is a lease of the Carillon power on the Ottawa river, not owned by the public but by a company known as the National HydroElectric. They are in possession of some horse-power to-day, and if the Georgian bay canal bill is killed then in all probability the National Hydro-Electric will put forward its claim for the use of power at the point referred to. I submit that all power schemes -no matter whether it be the Ottawa and Georgian bay canal or any other enterprise- on navigable rivers in this country should be brought before this House and considered carefully in committee. We should not do what was done a few months ago when the government of t'he Right Hon. Arthur Meighen gave a lease to the National Hydro-Electric of the Carillon power for, I believe, a term of eighty years at a very small rental. If my information is not correct I should like to be corrected.

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CON

George Halsey Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

I thinik the hon.

gentleman is somewhat mistaken as to that. There was an old lease for the development of power down there which was given some ten or fifteen years agp, but which was extended from time to time. An endeavour was made last summer to effect an arrangement between this company, the Hydro Electric of Ontario, and the government of Quebec with respect to this .power. The only way in which we can ever hope to get that matter settled and have the power developed is by an arrangement between the two provinces and the Dominion.

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

My understanding is, and I happen to have read the sessional papers which were laid on the table, that this lease was renewed for eighty years. When this government came back into power I understand they cancelled the lease but recognised the old lease up till the first of May this year. Personally I do not believe that this government or any other government should be allowed, by order in council to hand over to

Georgian Bay Canal Company

any private concern the water-powers of this country. Therefore any such bill should come before this House, go before the proper committee, be ' looked into thoroughly and be passed by the House of Commons. That is why I say that this Georgian bay canal charter should go before this committee and if proper safeguards cannot be put into a charter for a private enterprise, we in this House should lay down the principle that neither the government nor anyone else can give away these powers until we have said so.

\\ hat will happen if we refuse to renew the Georgian bay canal charter now? If we do not grant the dharter, in all probability the canal will never be built, because, as different hon. members have said, it is too costly a proposition if the sale of power is not included. Some people ask: Why should the sale of .power help to carry the load? If you hand that power over to any private enterprise which has not built the canal, will it charge the people of this country one cent less than it can get for that power? Not if I know private enterprises in this country. They have never done so yet.

M hy are the National Hydro Electric, the International Paper Company, the Montreal power people, worrying about this deal? I think I can give the House one reason. In the charter as it is now before the House and assuredly as it will come out from the committee, there will be certain safeguards. Someone-I think it is the railway commission in the present canal charter-have the right to fix the tolls that shall be charged on the canal and the price that shall be charged for power. The International Paper Company, who have a great deal of horse-power right across the river from where we sit, and the Montreal interests, have nobody at present fixing the price for their power. But if you establish in this country a charter in which is fixed by government control the price that can be charged per horse-power when sold to the consumer, then you fix a price with which these other companies must compete. That competitive price will hold the price of hydroelectric power at the price which the railway commission sets until such time as there is a greater demand for power than can be supplied by the Georgian bay canal proposition and the other power interests. Then let us say that the private corporations will raise their price. Does any one mean to tell me that after the railway commission have gone publicly into the cost of that power and have set their price on that, the consumers of that electricity in this country will stand for private enterprise securing an exorbitant profit out of natural resources which actually belong

to us and which are only leased to them? That is one of the chief reasons why our friends from Montreal and some other parts of Canada are opposing this bill.

I want to see this bill go to the committee. I want to see the Dominion of Canada properly safeguarded as regards not only this canal scheme but all canal or power schemes in the future. We cannot to-day tell how far we may go with this thing. There may come a day when our .canals will go much farther into the centre of Canada. Some people will ask: How? There are rivers, even the Saskatchewan, that some day .may be used. I do not say that the Saskatchewan river will be. That is a far thought. But years .ago in this country just after Laurier came into power one of the ministers of the government stated that in a few years there would be a hundred million bushels of wheat grown on the prairies of western Canada and there would be a hundred thousand people in the city of Winnipeg. He was practically laughed out of this House of Commons in 1897. 1 Great things are possible with waterways in this country. If this committee does not see fit to grant a charter to the Georgian Bay Canal Company, they should certainly safeguard us so that nobody will be able to develop the water-power in the Ottawa river and in that territory through which the Georgian bay canal goes for private enterprises, thereby shutting us out from ever having a waterway that, when built, to my mind will be one of the greatest boons to this Dominion of Canada.

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CON

Thomas Herbert Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. H. LENNOX (North York):

Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding the fact that I am wholly and unalterably opposed to this bill,

I rise to speak with some degree of reluctance.

I do this because the gentleman who was my opponent in the recent election is apparently very deeply interested in the passage of this particular bill, and I fear that some of my hon. friends might be so unkind as to suggest that my opposition to the bill is actuated by personal reasons rather than in the interest of the people of this country. I am glad to be able to say that my late opponent, Mr. Sifton, and I are very warm friends, and it is a pleasure for me to say to-night that at the consummation of the campaign we were greater friends than when the campaign commenced. I am quite sure that Mr. Sifton will entertain the same feelings towards me notwithstanding the stand that I take in my remarks to-night.

I listened with a great deal of pleasure to the observations of the hon. member for Nipissing (Mr. Lapierre) and I have no

Georgian Bay Canal Company

quarrel whatever with any statement that was made by him. The whole gist of his speech was in favour of the construction of the Georgian bay canal, and I do not suppose there is in this House or out of it anyone who is opposed to the construction of the Georgian bay canal. The hon. gentleman pictured to this House the tremendous benefits which would be derived by the northern part of this province if that canal was constructed. With that I entirely agree, and I sincerely hope that the day may come, perhaps not in the near future, when the Georgian bay canal will be constructed.

I wish to confine my remarks very 'largely to the bill itself and I promise not to detain the House at any great length. I will not, if possible, repeat what has been said by previous speakers In the first place I notice that there is no obligation to spend any money before the expiration of three years and that upon the expenditure of $50,000 the company are under no further financial obligation for a period of six years. In other words, under the terms of this bill, if it be adopted, upon payment of $50,000, which will be returned if the canal is not constructed, this company is getting a charter to build the canal and to develop the water-powers for a period of nine years. The company has enjoyed that same option for thirty-three years without the payment of a single dollar. I ask hon. gentlemen here to-night what they think the hon. members who were responsible for the adoption of the bill would have done, how the bill would have been treated by them, if the company had asked for an option for forty-two years upon the payment of $50,000? Thirty-three years have passed in which nothing has been done and as far as we know not a single copper has been expended. Nine years more would bring the period up to forty-two years in which they will have held the option upon the payment of a mere $50,000. If we adopt this bill we endorse that principle. We come necessarily to the conclusion, then, that those members who in 1894 were responsible for the measure would have given an option to these people for forty-two years; and I submit that there was no one in the House or in any other house at the time who would ever think of tying up under those conditions the Ottawa river and these other waters for a period of forty-two years.

Mr. Sifton has stated in the press that it is the intention of his company to build this canal, and on that account he appeals to hon. gentlemen here to support it. I have no doubt that upon every occasion when the promoters

of this company appealed to the House for-an extension of time, the very same promises and the very same representations were made to hon. members in order to secure their support. Those who are prominently associated with the present company are new members of it, so far as we know. Their names were never associated with the Georgian Bay Canal Company until perhaps within the last year or two. They do not even possess the virtue of having spent a single dollar or made a single effort to carry on the construction of this canal. So that so far as they are concerned they are entitled to no consideration from this House, and I have no hesitation in suggesting that, having purchased an interest in this antiquated charter, shrewd, keen business men such as Mr. Sifton and those associated with him have made provision that if the bill be defeated they will suffer no monetary loss.

The hon. member for Nipissing (Mr. Lapierre) read to the House two cablegrams in which it was stated that Sir Robert Perks and the original applicants or shareholders were still interested in this bill. If that be the case they are entitled to no consideration or sympathy from this House. For thirty-three long years these men-who, the hon. member for Nipissing said, were still associated with and are shareholders of the company-did nothing whatever to construct this canal. Having defaulted on thirteen different occasions over a period of thirty-three years, surely they cannot complain very much if the House now says to them, You have had thirty-three years in which to make at least a start with the construction of the canal; you have done nothing in that period, and you have suffered no injustice. I repeat that certainly no injustice could be done to them in view of their action, or lack of action, during that period.

Here we have a company which has received every possible indulgence from this House. Perhaps in no house of parliament has any company been treated with such generosity and fairness as this company has been treated with respect to the bill now before us. Are we going to encourage applications of this kind from time to time, not only from this particular company but from all companies who are in default? Are we going to put a premium on the company that defaults, that fails to carry out the obligation it undertakes when a bill of this kind is asked for? In my opinion, if the House adopt this bill, it is putting a premium on companies that default.

Georgian Bay Canal Company

I said a moment ago that this company had no reason to complain. Whether they are members of the present company or whether they are the original shareholders, they have no reason to complain of the treatment they have received from the different governments during the last thirty-three years. Let us see just for a moment if they have any complaint. The charter was issued in 1S94. This is the year 1927, and not a single dollar has been expended by or on behalf of this company during that period. They have done absolutely nothing; they come to us and have to admit that they are no further ahead today than they were in 1894, and they ask us, notwithstanding the fact that no development has taken place, that no construction has been made, and that until within the last year no plans or location were filed, to forget that they have failed to carry out the obligations which they assumed when the original bill was passed with its amendments; and they ask us now to give them a further Lease of life.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I notice that in the letter from the secretary of the Company which appeared in The Globe a few days ago he tries to explain the cause of the delay and states that in 1907 certain plans were deposited with the department. For the moment let us assume that to be true. The charter was granted in 1894. Not until thirteen years later, in 1907, was the first step taken to carry out the purposes of that charter. That is admitted by the secretary of the company. From 1907 until 1914, the first year of the war, no effort was made to get in touch with the department and file plans. From 1914 to 1918 nothing was done, and there should be no censure for this inaction because those were the years of the war when it would not be expected that such an undertaking would be proceeded with. However, the war concluded m 1918 and nothing was done in the way of filing plans until 1926-a period of eight years was permitted to elapse without any action being taken. The company remained idle, did nothing whatever to give to the people, whom to-day they are so solicitous to serve, the canal which my friend from Nipissing, (Mr. Lapierre) says would be of such benefit to northern Ontario. I cannot understand his being deluded and beguiled by this company any longer. One would think that after a period of thirty-three years without anything bfeing done towards building the canal, the very purpose for which the charter was granted, no man, certainly no member of parliament. could be fooled any longer as to the real intentions of the company. But

apparently it does not make any difference to my hon. friend. To my surprise the member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Thorson) is still willing to give credence and support to the professions of the company, notwithstanding what has taken place in the past, although it is true that he appeared rather uncomfortable during the course of his remarks.

As I said, the first move iby the company was in 1907, when certain plans were filed with the department. It is significant that that date synchronizes with the creation of the Ontario Hydro Electric Commission. When that commission began to function the company apparently realized that its franchise would become valuable by reason of the development of power along the route of the canal. But let us assume for a moment that the company really intends to build this canal, let us give it the benefit of the doubt, notwithstanding that the original members are still connected with it, notwithstanding the thirteen defaults that have occurred. Assuming that, do hon. gentlemen consider it good business to place in the hands of any private company or group of individuals the waterway along the Ottawa, the French and the other rivers? Can it be argued that it is in the interests of the people that a private company should have control of this canal and should be able in perpetuity to impose tolls for its use? Personally I do not approve of such a course. In the light of present day conditions no one can convince me that the people of this Dominion are in favour of, or will benefit by, placing this water-way in the hands of private individuals.

But. Mr. Speaker, supposing that the original bill with the amendments which have been made to it from time to time were now for the first time being introduced, would any hon. gentleman in this house have the temerity to support the bill? Well, we are practically in that position, and 'having the opportunity, why not regard this as an original application and deal with it from that standpoint? If hon. members are willing to do that, there is no doubt as to the destiny of this 'bill.

Going back to 1894, Sir, may I ask, what was then in the minds of the members of this house who were responsible for the adoption of the bill? Was it to build a canal, or was it to develop power, or to do both? I think I can safely say that thirty-three years ago such a thing as the development of power, on any large scale at least, was never within the contemplation of the members of this house or of the people generally. The whole objeot of the bill must- have been to construct a canal. That was thought to be feasible at

Georgian Bay Canal Company

the time, and it was not until the Hydro Electric Commission of Ontario began to function that the members of this company, realizing what a valuable franchise they had, began to concentrate their energies upon the development of power. I have no hesitation in saying that the present extension is asked for solely for the purpose of exploiting the waterways of the country for private profit.

I may be asked the reason for this statement.

I say this, first, because of the very long delay that has taken place since the charter was granted in 1894. Furthermore, there was no obligation in the first bill for the building of the canal under a period of nine years, within which time the company had only to spend $50,000. all of which money might be devoted to the development of power; and if perchance the $50,000 was not expended in connection with the construction of the canal no loss would be sustained by the -company, because under the terms of the bill that money would be refunded in case of default

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LAB
CON

Thomas Herbert Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX:

The original bill. I repeat, I have no hesitation in expressing the opinion that the renewal now asked for is for the purpose of exploiting our waterways in order that this company may make money. Mr. Sifton and the gentlemen associated with him are not to blame if they are able once more to hoodwink the majority of the members of parliament. It is perfectly legitimate for them to secure if possible the passage of this bill; they are behind it to make money. But hon. members are here for one purpose amongst others, and that is to protect the public domain against exploitation by private individuals. If therefore the House fails in its duty, we cannot blame my good friend Mr. Harry Sifton if in the end he succeeds in getting the bill through.

Let me read an interview given by Mr. Sifton to the Toronto Star under date January 10, 1927. He says:

If the government approves the plan of the canal company a start shall have been made to give Canada the Georgian bay canal. The water-powers on the Ottawa river will be developed and available. The immensely expensive and valuable canal will be constructed without the expenditure of one dollar of public money.

Then in reply to a despatch to Ottawa published on the morning of January 21, Mr. Sifton said, after telling about this expensive canal:

In this connection I would say that in my opinion the profits from the power on the Ottawa river will not pay for the cost of the

canal. The great cost of the canal will be a heavy load to the power company which may onlv be lifted by the completion of the canal from one end to the other, thus giving the company an opportunity to collect tolls.

What does that mean? Mr. Sifton admits that the cost of the construction of the canal is going to be quite excessive. He freely ad-mitis that the profits derived from the water-powers will not be sufficient to pay for that construction and that it will be necessary for a time to collect tolls. Upon the latter part of his statement I am not going to dwell at the moment, but I want to call the attention of the House to the first portion of his remarks. Admittedly the receipts from the development of power will be very large but they will not be sufficient to enable the construction of the canal. It is admitted that from one million to one -million five hundred thousand horse-power can be developed on the river. There are at least ten water sites that can be utilized by this or any other water company that wishes to develop power along this route. Just think what these people are asking for: they are asking us to give the-m the right to develop more potential power than is being generated to-day and used in -the province of Ontario; they are asking us to give them, without charge, from one million to one million five hundred thousand horse-power. It may be contended that they will have to build the canal, and the hon. member for Winnipeg North Cen-tre (Mr. Woodsworth) asked the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Thorson) what guarantee there was that the canal would be built. Let us see what guarantee there is. The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre was unable to answer the question, but perhaps I may be permitted to do so. I repeat, if this bill passes, we are going to allow this company the right to develop more power than is generated in other parts of Ontario to-day. Is it possible for anyone to estimate the money value of -the one million odd horse-power now under the control of the Hydro Electric Commission? Suppose the Ontario government became dissatisfied with public ownership and decided that in the interests of the people of the province it would be well to transfer this enterprise to the management of a corporation. How much money do you think the Ontario government would ask from a private corporation for the horse-power which is being generated in that province at the present time? It would be a fabulous sum beyond conception. It is of such value that no person could begin to estimate what that electric power is worth, but notwithstanding that we are asked to give this company for no consideration at

Georgian Bay Canal Company

all a quantity of electrical power which will in time bring in more revenue than is being collected in other portions of Ontario to-day from electric power generated theTe. This is a serious thing; it is not a question of politics; it is not a question on which we should divide along political lines. It is a business transaction, and if I am able to show before I conclude my remarks that there is no guarantee for the construction of the canal, it must mean that we are giving this corporation electric power which will be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to them in a short time.

If I may digress for just a moment, let us assume that a private company should take over the present hydro-electric system of Ontario; how would it affect the consumer of power in Ontario? At present every consumer receives his power for light and industrial purposes at actual cost, but the moment a private company took hold, if such a thing could happen, what would . occur? Not only would the consumer not get his power at cost but he would have to pay the private company at least a legitimate profit. That is exactly the position in which the users of electrical power in eastern Ontario will find themselves if this .power is developed by a private company.

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LIB-PRO

John Millar

Liberal Progressive

Mr. MILLAR:

May I ask a question? Is the hon. member equally opposed to granting this privilege to any private concern?

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CON

Thomas Herbert Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX:

Yes, very much so, and

with your permission I will deal with that very shortly. When my hon. friend asked the question I was pointing out, Mr. Speaker, that if a private individual secured control of the power generated by the Hydro Electric Commission it would increase the cost of that power to the consumer. It is admitted that in order to make money a private corporation must receive more than the actual cost of production, and it follows that if this power is developed by a private company there will be discrimination as between the users of that power in the eastern part of Ontario and those in the western and central parts. Is it fair; can it be justified to place the eastern consumers in that position? Can any reason in this world be advanced for that? Because I live in the eastern part of Ontario and because it is necessary for me to get my power from the Ottawa fiver, is there any justification for my paying more for that power than the man who lives in the western or central portion of the province? If there is no justification this bill should not pass, because being a private corporation it necessarily

follows that power cannot be supplied at cost, and to whatever extent their profit goes the eastern consumer will suffer. But I see that Mr. Victor Sifton, in the Star of February 28, 1927, referred to this question.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I suppose

he is of the same family?

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CON

Thomas Herbert Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX:

Yes, a brother. In dealing with this question he pointed out that the charter of this company provides that the rates charged for the sale of power and the tolls charged for navigation shall be directly under the supervision of the Board of Railway Commissioners for Canada. That is all very well, but I ask hon. gentlemen now why we should put ourselves in the position of having to go before that railway board in order to fix the price that shall be charged for this electrical power. If an application is made or if any objection is taken to the price charged, what takes place? The company appears before the board and shows the amount of capital invested, the expenses which have been incurred asid the cost of carrying on. They have that within themselves; these figures are known only to them and it must necessarily be upon that basis, upon the figures presented to the railway commission, that the railway commission will be forced to name the rate, and no matter what it is they must be allowed a reasonable profit. We give the company the right to develop; we say to them, "You shall have full control of the development of these water-powers along the Ottawa river." If this bill is passed we also say, "You shall charge for the power, but if there is any dispute or if any complaint is made that you are charging too much, you must go to the railway board."

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

May I ask a

question? Would they not be in a better position then than they are to-day in regard to the power which they are buying for the Ontario government?

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CON

Thomas Herbert Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX:

If my hon. friend will just permit me a moment longer, I will deal with that shortly. I say that the railway board will name tlhe rate upon representations made by this company and whatever that rate may be, whether too large or too small, there is no appeal. As I asked a moment ago, can anyone advance a legitimate reason that will appeal to the people of this Dominion for putting ourselves in that position? What reason is there for it? We do not have to do it. We are in a position now Where we can say to these people: We will not renew your charter. The moment we do that it will be

Georgian Bay Canal Company

quite unnecessary to trouble the railway board to fix the rates. My hon. friend from Moose Jaw (Mr. Ross) asked if that was not more favourable than the conditions as they exist at present? Well, I am speaking for the province of Ontario and I am glad to say that by reason of the policy enunciated in 1906 by the late Sir James Whitney there is no necessity to go before the railway board to fix any rates for the consumers of Ontario. My hon. friend asks if it is not better to have them fixed. How in the world is it better to do that, when the law in Ontario provides that the Ontario Hydro Commission must supply electric power to the consumer at actual cost.

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

My hon. friend did not understand me correctly. The Ontario Hydro Electric Commission is to-day, I believe, buying power from the Gatineau Power Company or the concern that controls the Gatineau power. Can my hon. friend tell me how they will fix the rates at cost there?

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CON

Thomas Herbert Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX:

My hon. friend asks me how they will fix the rate there. Let me point out to him that the hydro policy was first inaugurated in 1906. Though it is a public ownership scheme it was found at that time necessary to purchase or lease the first 100,000 horse-power. The commission have the power either to purchase or to develop. They purchased that amount of horse-power, and that was the nucleus of public ownership with respect to power in the province of Ontario. My hon. friend asks what guarantee there is that they will get power at cost from the National hydro. I am glad my hon. friend asks the question. Just let me say this: Under the Georgian bay charter the Hydro Electric Commission has no power to do anything. It is contended by Mr. Sifton and his associates that under their charter, if it is extended once again, the province of Quebec or the province of Ontario would have nothing whatever to do with the water-powers on the Ottawa river. They take the ground that Ontario has no interest in the matter, and that the . only way in which it may be protected at all is by reason of the provision made with respect to the railway board. Now let me point out to my hon. friend the distinction between, the position of this company and that of the National hydro, and bear in mind that I .am not here holding any brief for the latter company; I am just as strongly opposed to the National hydro having any concessions or any rights on the Ottawa river as I am to the Georgian Bay Canal Company having them. But there is this distinction : the Georgian Bay Canal Company got their right under an act of parliament. Such being the case they claim to be absolutely supreme and to act in defiance of either the Quebec government or the Ontario government. On the other hand-and I Shall deal a little further with this point later on- the National hydro company have no such rights. They have only a lease which was granted to them many years ago, but subsequent to the passing of the bill of the Georgian Bay Canal Company in 1894. They have a lease from the government which was put through by order in council. Now the National hydro realize that they cannot develop power until they enter into an agreement or lease with the governments of Ontario and Quebec. With that object in view they have entered, it is said, into an agreement with t'he Quebec government. Negotiations have been going on between the Ontario government and National hydro for one moiety of power. Unless the terms are agreeable to the Ontario Hydro Electric Commission these men cannot develop one single horse-power-not a single horse-power. And the moment they begin to charge or to ask for excessive rates, then the Ontario government, or the hydro commission representing it, need not deal with them but may develop this power itself.

Topic:   MONTREAL, OTTAWA AND GEORGIAN BAY CANAL COMPANY
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March 7, 1927