February 26, 1937

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It is proposed to do away with the director of public prosecutions?

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

This does not affect that section of the Dominion Trade and Industry Commission Act.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Is that proposed to be done?

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

That is not provided for in the present bill. Provision is also being made to increase the maximum penalties which may be imposed on combinations acting to the detriment of the public.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Chairman, one can only say that this does involve additional expense in the setting up of another organization. While the report of the price spreads commission did not provide for the appointment of a director of public prosecutions, this was provided for by parliament. It was to be a similar position to that established in Great Britain. Although this official would have no power to prosecute, he was to cooperate with the attorneys general to see that violations of federal statutes were properly dealt with. As the minister knows, one of our difficulties has been in the efficient and effective administration of our criminal laws, especially that phase of our statutory law which has to do with the enforcement of purely federal statutes. For instance, every session we legislate and then we provide that under certain circumstances a certain penalty

Combines Investigation Act

shall follow, and the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) knows that complaints are always being received as to the ability to enforce the law. It was thought in 1935 when the statute was amended and provision was made for a director of public prosecutions that the commissioner of combines should be attached to the tariff board, the members of which were named as commissioners to administer the federal statute and conduct investigations in connection with fair trade-I am using the term in a very non-technical sense-fair trade in the large sense. Just why it is found at this time necessary to amend and consolidate the combines act and to pass a new act, I do not know; because it will be recalled that the present act was decided to be intra vires by the privy council some considerable time after it was enacted.

There are great difficulties in connection with ex parte investigations, and it is not without justice that people complain that to have an ex parte investigation carried on by an official, without affording any opportunity for the other side of the case to be heard, is not the best way in which to lay the foundation for a prosecution. The most noted of all cases that we have had in this country, as the minister will perhaps recall, was the one in connection with the fruit combine, in which the commissioner made investigations in all parts of Canada. The attorneys general of the provinces afterwards took proceedings against the fruit company concerned, and it was fined very large sums of money. That was many years ago. Why it is necessary to amend this act does not at the moment appear to me clear, in view of what the minister has said, unless indeed it is to create another branch of the Department of Labour, which I should not think the minister would find essential for the purpose of supplying him with adequate material upon which to act from time to time. But it does add to his duties and obligations.

It is quite clear that until we see the bill it would be premature to express an opinion on the questions to which the minister has referred. At the moment I do not think any adequate explanation has been given why at this time we should modify the existing conditions with respect to the investigation of combines. The government, however, in its wisdom thinks it is desirable, and has asked the house to adopt that view. The government is able, of course, to see its view enforced, but until such time as more complete disclosure has been made in respect of the matters dealt with by the bill than what has been made by way of explanation to-day, I confess I find it difficult to see the necessity for the proposed amendment.

[Mr. Bennett.!

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Mr. Chairman, in accordance with wThat I understand to be the established practice I had proposed to give on the second reading a much more extended statement in support of the objects of the bill. This, as the leader of the opposition understands, is merely a resolution preceding the introduction of the bill; it does not enter into specific details as to the legislation itself. I might say this, however. He has suggested that apparently this would only result in adding to the expenses of conducting investigations of this kind, but he will remember that the price spreads commission did propose the setting up of a separate board to deal with such matters. Parliament in its wisdom decided otherwise-

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

To save expense.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

and placed that responsibility upon the tariff board. I am quite sure the leader of the opposition will agree with me that the tariff board under the existing legislation, and particularly in view of the important duties that have been imposed upon it, has quite enough to do within its own functions as a tariff board without undertaking the additional responsibilities which pertains to the trade and industry commission.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The two things are very closely allied.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

At the same time no investigations under the combines act have been carried out by the tariff board in its capacity as Dominion Trade and Industry Commission.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Because the statute was

under review by the privy council.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

That was in part the

reason. I might add that a number of applications have been pending. I feel sure that the members of the tariff board would themselves readily acknowledge that their functions as a tariff board are sufficient to occupy their time very fully and very usefully. I shall be glad to give further reasons in support of the bill when it is before the house on second reading.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Chairman, I think it only fair to say that one of the reasons that induced the administration to introduce the legislation in the form in which it was, arose from the fact that many charges of monopoly were closely allied to charges in connection with excessive tariffs, and matters of that sort; and to save expense and at the same time provide for the appointment of a body well qualified to deal with these questions the

Combines Investigation Act

tariff board was selected as the instrumentality to give effect to the recommendations of the price spreads commission. On the other hand, it was realized that there should be some one person charged with the responsibility, and as Mr. McGregor had previously been attached to the Department of Labour, he was detached from that department when the change was made and attached to the tariff board, so that he would be able to make the investigations which I understand are contemplated by this resolution and report on them to the members of that board in their other capacity as, so to speak, fair trade supervisors. He would thereby furnish information that might be available bearing upon any questions which the administration might be concerned about with respect to tariff matters; for as the minister knows, many of these matters, in fact practically all of them, have an intimate relationship with allegations in connection with the tariff itself, and it was believed that a useful purpose would be served by placing the two under the supervision and control of one body, with the commissioner in the position that he occupied. I should have liked to see it worked out in practice, but since the legislation was under review by the privy council, the opportunity to see how well it would have worked out in practice has not been afforded, and if this bill passes it will be impossible to do that because it is proposed now to dissociate the two. I take it that the members of the tariff board will still be left in the positions which they occupy under the fair trade statute. You do not touch that, as I understand it, by this change?

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

There are certain sections of the Dominion Trade and Industry Commission Act which will be repealed by the legislation to be brought down.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is the first time the minister has intimated that.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

It will appear in the bill.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Then it should have been in the resolution. When you are amending a statute that has not to do with the statute that is being consolidated the resolution should indicate that it is so proposed.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Perhaps I might explain. I have said that certain clauses of the Dominion Trade and Industry Commission Act will be repealed by the legislation which will follow this resolution. One of those sections is the section which places the combines act under the administration of the Dominion Trade and Industry Commission.

Another is section 14 of the Dominion Trade and Industry Commission Act, which has been declared ultra vires, and there is one other section which is touched upon.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I think the privy council said that section 14 was all right. The supreme court said it was bad; the privy council said it was good.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

My impression is that the privy council in that respect upheld the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
Permalink

February 26, 1937