April 10, 1934

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is the point I was endeavouring to make. Assume they pass an ordinance of the type or character of the Milk Act which was declared to be ultra vires; we would have no way of dealing with that under the constitution except under peace, order and good government, because it it not a statute; it is an ordinance which is not subject to disallowance like a statute is subject to disallowance within a certain period of time, after having been certified by the Secretary of State and gone forward to the Minister of Justice who makes a report upon it, and the statute is then disallowed or left to its operation, as we say. But having no power to disallow an ordinance, if there is not a clear understanding by the province of the limitations imposed by the constitution upon the exercise of the power, the executive might enact ordinances that not only were not within section 92 of the British North America Act, but which contravened section 91. It would not be the first time that has been done by legislatures. Almost every province at one time or another has passed a statute which the courts of the country have declared to be invalid. I am putting a case in which to await the decision of the courts might bring about a very grave disaster. It is a lawyer's point and one which unfortunately I cannot perhaps make very clear to my colleagues who are not of the legal profession. I am only pointing out a contingency which might arise, and which we are endeavouring to meet before it happens.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

The Milk Act to which the Prime Minister referred was not disallowed by the federal government but was allowed to go in the natural course to meet its Waterloo in the privy council. Could not that be allowed to happen with these possible ordinances?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Quite so, but the distinction between the statute and an ordinance is at the basis of the whole argument I have made. In the one instance there is the exercise of powers conferred exclusively upon the provincial legislatures under section 92 of the British North America Act and the other case is that in which the legislature has delegated to the cabinet or the executive all the powers which the legislative assembly has and as the result of the orders in council being termed ordinances to leave them to the operation of the law. If they went as far as they conceivably could, my view of the statements ' that have been made would be that you should not wait that long to take the appropriate measures by the federal authority to deal with them. That is all I desire to say. I do not say that it will arise but I say that we desire to be placed in that position. I am not expecting that when they sit down and calmly consider the matter they will pass ordinances so at variance wdth constitutional practice, but if they do so, I should like to be in a position to correct the difficulty.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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LIB

Wilfred Hanbury

Liberal

Mr. HANBURY:

Would it be correct to say that the present provincial government in British Columbia had greater powers through their ability to promulgate ordinances than their parliament, which can act only through statutes?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I am bound to say no

to that question, but I should like to say this, and I do not say it in any offensive way. Does the hon. gentleman not think it is highly desirable to protect this parliament in the exercise of its powers from usurpation by a delegated authority especially in the light of the fact that it has seen fit to disregard constitutional practices with respect to veto and matters of that kind by delegating-it is no longer delegation-by substituting for the assembly itself? Where any legislature confers these powers upon an executive that desires to take them, the federal authorities should place themselves in position where they can meet any difficulty that might arise. I have tried to make clear that I do not suggest that the government will do it, I only say that if it does I am going to be forearmed. That is the all-important thing. I have not suggested that legally the executive has greater powers

Relief Act, 1934

than it has as a legislature. In my poor judgment and for what it may be worth a statute which confers these powers is illegal and the exercise of powers under an illegal statute might well be illegal. I must be able to protect the functions of this federal parliament from usurpation.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

A sort of competitive arming.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

No.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

Would it

not be the logical thing for my hon. friend to disallow?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The British North

America Act says that the statute may not reach us for one year and within that time all this harm may be done. Undoubtedly it would be logical to disallow a statute of that kind but ever since the days of Mr. Blake, parliament has declared time after time that the question of the validity or invalidity of a provincial statute should be left to the operation of the courts. I think that has been the rule with but two exceptions. One was the instance dealt with by my right hon. friend in connection with the gypsum lands in Cape Breton, in which case the provincial statute was disallowed, I think under the advice of Mr. Lapointe, as.Minister of Justice. The other was in connection with a provision of the Companies Act, in which I think the advice was tendered by Sir Allen Aylesworth. The matter will have to be considered in due course when the statute is received, but it need not be received for a year. It has to be transmitted and that is an act over which we have no control.

An illustration used quite often is in connection with the Florence Mining Company. This was an Ontario statute and Sir Allen Aylesworth left it to its own operation and did not disallow. In that case a mining claim claimed by one man was declared by statute to be the property of another and it was provided that the one man should have no recourse to the courts. The case went to the privy council and although the committee may not be at all interested I might state that Sir Robert Finlay told me that he was doubtful as to the soundness of the decision. The decision was that the statute was within the legislative competence of the legislature, and its validity was upheld. The result was that by an act of the legislature of Ontario a mining claim was taken from one person and declared to be the property of another and as a result of that legislation he was declared to be unable to go into the courts for the

purpose of asserting his claim. That legislation was held to be valid and the then Minister of Justice, Sir Allen Aylesworth, did not disallow it. He left it to the operation of the law although my memory is that he made a report which indicated that he thought it was very unsound. But he did not substitute his views for those of the legislature which had validly exercised its powers.

I could give the committee other instances but I hope I have indicated to hon. gentlemen some of the thoughts which are in our minds with relation to a matter of such serious moment as that to which I have directed attention.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

A moment ago I made an interjection which I am not quite sure the P-;me Minister heard. In connection with a discussion which was then taking place between the right hon. gentleman and an hon. member on this side, I stated that it might be competitive arming for legislative and executive powers. I should like to point out the force of that remark as it indicates where we can get to in matters of government once executives begin to take autocratic powers to themselves. The federal government at Ottawa has had this power to legislate with respect to peace, order and good government when parliament is not in session, and apparently that power has alarmed the provincial government. The provincial government has said: If we are going to have to bargain, we must have equally strong autocratic powers and be free to do what we wish. Notwithstanding all the laws and statutes, they took to themselves the power, when their legislature is not in session, to deal with such matters as the lieutenant governor in council deems best. Another province does the same thing, then another and another. Then the Prime Minister comes along and says to this house: Now that the provincial governments have taken these powers, I must be doubly sure of having authority to act with respect to peace, order and good1 government in case- I have to disallow some of this legislation or if there is a dispute, to be able to meet it. It is a sort of competitive arming with respect to legislative and executive power. This is where we find ourselves when we depart from what parliament stands for, namely, a forum where matters can be settled, not as the result of an appeal to power, whether legislative or any other kind, but as the result of an appeal to reason. I think that is as strong an argument as can be put forward against the adoption of these powers which, when parliament is not in session, override the function which parliament itself is expected to perform.

Relief Act, 1934

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LIB

Wilfred Hanbury

Liberal

Mr. HANBURY:

I should like to ask the minister a question in connection with a situation existing at the present time in British Columbia. A number of men in the lumbering industry are on strike and many are being maintained on unemployment relief. An effort is being made through the promulgation of fair wages, hours and conditions of labour to bring about a minimum wage bill. If a minimum wage bill is adopted in the province and there are some who will not accept work when it is offered, I should like to know whether this government will furnish part of the funds necessary to maintain such men on relief.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
CON

George Gordon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

It is difficult for anyone

to prophesy what might be done if certain events occurred, but I may say that in the situation outlined by the hon. member I would be a party to a contribution with a great deal of reluctance. If fair and proper wages are offered to a workman under proper conditions and such workman, able to work, refuses to do so, I should need a very great deal of persuasion before I would expend any of the taxpayers' money keeping him.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LIB

Wilfred Hanbury

Liberal

Mr. HANBURY:

I should like to have

a little more assurance from the minister than he has already given. The premise of my statement was that the conditions were to be fair, while men continued to refuse to work and were being maintained by the state in that condition. The particular reason why something is necessary not only in British Columbia but throughout Canada is in my opinion that at the present time there is in Canada a very large body of agitators whose business it is to see that men do not work, regardless of conditions. I think there are men in Canada to-day going among the labouring men, and if these men had ideal conditions they would still be urged not to work, and the agitators would still stir up strife. I will not say that is the condition in British Columbia at the present time, but I do say that we should have from the minister a definite assurance that if necessary the conditions in British Columbia should be investigated and if those conditions are found to be fair then a definite statement should be made that no relief would be given these striking men.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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CON

George Gordon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Let me answer the question this way. Relief might be given to men who would not work under the conditions the hon. member has outlined, but so far as this government is concerned, if the

wages and conditions are reasonable and fair and a man who is able to work refuses, this government will certainly not contribute to his upkeep.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. MacINNIS:

I am rather surprised

that the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. Hanbury) should try to force the Minister of Labour to give an answer to a hypothetical question of that kind. There are difficulties as to who will be the final arbitrator on the question whether wages and conditions are fair or not. That is the difficulty in the British Columbia camps at the present time. The strikers have asked for a certain wage which they believe to be fair, but the logging operators are opposed to this. The question resolves itself into this: Who

will be the final arbitrator as to whether the wages offered and the conditions that exist are fair or not? So long as we are under a system of private enterprise those who are going to have the final say in the matter will have to side with the private interests or they will have to side with those who must sell their labour. This is where the difficulty comes in, and I am not prepared to leave it even to the Minister of Labour to say whether the conditions are fair or not. I think the workers in industry have just as much right to have the case decided in their favour as to whether the conditions they ask for are fair or not in the premises. Do you not understand that in a class society you cannot have fairness and reasonableness except the reasonableness of the dominating class in that particular society?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LIB

Wilfred Hanbury

Liberal

Mr. HANBURY:

I might undertake to

act as Minister of Labour for the moment in answering the hon. gentleman.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Coming events cast their shadows behind.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LIB

Wilfred Hanbury

Liberal

Mr. HANBURY:

I would point out to the hon. member for Vancouver South that we have a Department of Labour in British Columbia. That department hear representations from employees and employers, and on the representations made to them they decide what in their opinion are fair wages and conditions. That is tlhe basis which I suggest to the Minister of Labour is the proper one on which to formulate a policy with reference to the giving of unemployment relief. In connection with the unemployment situation, has the government been giving consideration to the housing problem in the various cities and towns in Canada ?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
CON

George Gordon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

The government has given a great deal of consideration to housing construction and matters of that kind, but it

Relief Act, 1984

will be borne in mind that the building of houses and works of that sort are purely provincial and municipal. There was of course in force at one time-and it might be regarded as in force again-what was known as the Housing Act of 1919. The experience of the various municipalities under that act, even when times were normal, was not altogether a happy one; I am not unacquainted with its provisions and also with the methods employed to get the money over to the builder of the houses, and so on. Yes, the government has given a great deal of consideration to that matter, not only here but in conjunction with representatives of the provinces. Nothing along that line has materialized, and I am not in a position to say that it will.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LIB

Wilfred Hanbury

Liberal

Mr. HANBURY:

Probably this would be more apropos of expenditures of the government for the construction of public works, but I would suggest to the minister that the government give very serious consideration to the matter of housing in Canada, and in connection with the provinces and municipalities. The minister is no doubt thoroughly familiar with the very large number of people who are engaged in the construction business during a normal period, and as a matter of fact, if we were in a normal construction period, we should have very few unemployed in the dominion to-day. I think the minister will agree with that statement to some extent. I do not think that the construction of large public buildings will put to work as many people as would the construction of smaller homes and repairs. I suggest to the government that they consider loaning money to municipalities for the purpose of housing construction. At the present time, as the minister is aware, it is almost impossible to procure money under mortgage by virtue of the financial situation in Canada. If money were available under mortgage a great deal more construction would already be taking place. I suggest to the government that if they would see that money is made available at a low rate of interest to the provinces and the municipalities, for which money the municipalities particularly would become responsible, to encourage the construction of smaller houses and even repair and painting work, that would put many more people to work than would be the case through any general scheme of large building construction for federal or provincial purposes. I would be glad if the minister or the Prime Minister would give consideration to that suggestion when the bill in connection with public works is brought down.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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April 10, 1934