May 29, 1935

LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

Mr. Chairman, I have been in this house for twenty sessions and this is one of the most extraordinary statements that I have heard made by the Minister of Justice who is piloting a bill through and inviting the house to pass it. He has no confidence in it himself. I can see that, and apparently the gentlemen who were asked to give him advice have about the same confidence as the minister has.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
LIB
LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

Now is it right for the minister to invite members of the house to pass this legislation when we are told on the face of it that it practically is worthless? I cannot understand the attitude of the government at all. I remember the Prime Minister making the statement earlier in the session that the recommendations of the price spreads commission, when they finally made their report, would be backed up by legislative enactment but he presupposed, I am sure, that it would be within the jurisdiction of parliament to enact the legislation. Surely the Minister of Justice when he presents this bill as he does, with a black eye cannot expect us to pass it. It would be an affront to parliament to ask us to do this thing in the face of the opinions expressed by these learned counsel, by the Minister of Justice himself and by the law officers of the crown. I think the Minister of Justice would be well advised to ask the permission of the committee to withdraw this bill.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

No, Mr. Chairman, I will not ask the permission of the committee to withdraw it at the present time. As I stated when the bill was originally presented to the house, it was drawn with the intention of complying as far as we possibly could with the recommendations of the price spreads commission. Had the opinions that we have obtained been definite opinions removing any doubt on the question that these clauses were invalid or ultra vires I would agree with my hon. friend. We have a report from a commission definitely recommending certain amendments to the criminal code, and rudely to brush them aside without presenting them to parliament would not be I think proper action on the part of myself or of the government. But as they are of only doubtful validity I thought I would submit them and have them discussed by this house and I stated so originally when I introduced the bill.

Criminal Code Amendment

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
LIB
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I do not think it has been discussed yet. It can stand a lot fuller discussion.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

We have the opinion) of the Minister of Justice that he thinks it is worthless.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I have not said so. Please do not put words into my mouth. I have said they are of doubtful validity. If these clauses are examined it may be the opinion of this committee that until they are attacked in the courts they should stand in the bill. I do not say that is my opinion.

Some lion. MEMBERS: No.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

But I am giving the committee an opportunity of passing an opinion on the point. I think myself that they would be very inefficacious even if they were passed. I do not believe you could ever support a prosecution on them because you never could prove your case. But the commission has made very definite recommendations in regard to the matter and I felt it my duty unless-

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Does the minister consider the government bound to follow the recommendations of this commission or any other commission appointed by the government?

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Not in, a case which is definitely beyond our powers; I would say no.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
LIB

Samuel Factor

Liberal

Mr. FACTOR:

Where did the commission recommend that the clauses respecting unfair trade practices be embodied in the criminal code?

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Just a moment, I think I can tell my hon. friend.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

No government I ever heard of held itself responsible to carry out the recommendations of any commission.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Replying to my hon. friend, from Toronto West Centre (Mr. Factor), I refer him to page 135 of the commission's report, dealing with certain industrial relations, policies and practices, and recommending that permitting employees to work beyond the maximum hours fixed by law, the falsification of any employment record, child labour and so forth be made a criminal offence. Then on page 246 of the report the

'Mr. Guthrie.]

commission recommends an amendment to the criminal code in regard to false and misleading advertisements. There may be other references in the report but I (mention those.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
LIB

Samuel Factor

Liberal

Mr. FACTOR:

I do not think there was anything in the recommendations of the committee along the lines of section 6 of the bill or recommending that these so-called unfair trade practices be embodied in the criminal code. We did suggest the establishment of a federal trade commission which would issue orders to desist from such practices, and in default of obeying such order we recommended a penalty under the criminal code.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I just

want to support what the hon. member for Cartier (Mr. Jacobs) has said. I must say that in my very limited experience of five years I have never seen such a miserable exhibition as we have had in this house this afternoon. Here is the hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie) with a tremendous parliamentary experience, the legal and constitutional adviser of the administration, submitting to this parliament and to this committee legislation two or three sections of which he himself admits are of doubtful validity. Advised by his law officers to that effect, advised also by two eminent outside counsel to the same effect, yet he comes here and asks us in the free exercise of our judgment to make a mockery of that judgment and support sections which he himself tells us are of doubtful constitutional and legal validity. Mr. Chairman, I venture to suggest this, that if this same procedure had been adopted by this administration in response to our requests and our protests earlier in the session, if they had called in these two same eminent legal counsel from the outside, as we asked them to do, inregard to other legislation that has beenbrought down to the house, they would havereceived the same opinion exactly in regard to its unconstitutional features and I am certain the same proviso would have been inserted in the other bills which have passed the house during the present session, I do not want to use too strong language but in my humble opinion it is an insult to the intelligence of parliament for the legal

advisers of the crown to ask this committee to pass this measure. As a result of agitation from outside or as a result of pressure within their own ranks, the government through the minister is asking us to pass a measure which the minister himself informs us is of doubtful validity.

Criminal Code Amendment

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
LIB
LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

The

hon. member for West Lambton (Mr. Gray)

says that the minister said that we could not enforce it. Why present such legislation to this parliament and make a mockery of parliament? The government is leading the public to bdieve that legislation is being passed which will be effective in remedying certain grievances. Every hon. member, no matter to what party he belongs, is desirous that the grievances which have been brought to light should be remedied. I believe every hon. member of this committee has a sufficient appreciation of the functions of parliament and the duty of every hon. member is to repudiate absolutely this practice of swallowing four, five and six clauses which the minister himself tells us are absolutely unconstitutional and of doubtful legal validity. What are we here for? The legal advisers of the crown tell us that these three sections are useless; I believe the minister knew that but because of an agitation within the ranks of the party the government is making a mockery of the public of Canada. The public is being deceived. I would much rather pass something which was sincere and which would give results than this mockery and insult to the intelligence of the people of Canada.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink
UFA

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. KENNEDY (Winnipeg):

I should like to make a few observations in connection with this section. It provides that everyone is guilty of an indictable offence who (a) employs a person at a rate of wage less than the minimum wage rate fixed by law or any competent public authority; (b) permits an employee to work beyond the maximum hours fixed by law or any competent public authority; (c) falsifies any employment record required to be kept by law or any competent public authority; (d) punches a time clock with intent to deceive. All these clauses deal with different phases of the one matter, that is, deliberately cheating an employee in one way or another by an overt act. I shall not take the time to quote the evidence given, but it was to the effect that many employees were paid a wage less than the minimum wage fixed by law. There may be a minimum wage law in a province which says that a girl shall receive $10.50 per week. An employer may know that and by cajolery or other means he hires a girl for less, say at $7 per week. He is stealing $3.50 per week from that girl.

Again, an employer may permit an employee to work beyond the maximum hours fixed by law. This would be another evasion.

He may pay an employee the minimum wage of $10.50 per week and then insist on the employee working overtime. The evidence shows that employees were sometimes asked to work until the early hours of the morning. This is another evasion of the law; he is stealing the time of the employee. A minimum wage act may require an employer to keep accurate records in connection with his employees. The evidence showed that in many cases these records were falsified. This was another means of cheating the employee and evading the law. Then the evidence disclosed that in some cases a superintendent of a factory, with the full knowledge and consent of the head of the factory, would punch the time clock for all the employees at the hour of quitting but the employees would continue to work sometimes for an hour, an hour and a 'half or perhaps return again at night. This was stealing their time.

It would be a criminal offence for one of these girl employees to go into a store and take a loaf of bread. It would be a criminal offence and she could be sent to gaol for taking a muffler or any other article of wearing apparel. We have the jurisdiction to pass laws to deal with such matters and to put such people in gaol, but when it comes to a question of making it a criminal offence for a man in authority to steal the time of his employees, at once the constitutional question is raised. With great passion the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Mackenzie) tells us that this is a miserable exhibition. I want to say to him that if there has been any miserable exhibition in this house, it is that of always invoking the constitutional question.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Permalink

May 29, 1935