April 1, 1937

LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

The commissioner acts

under the direction of the minister, and in the past it has been found that there is much to be said for a preliminary inquiry. It will be understood that sometimes vexatious applications are made, and it appears desirable that there should be a preliminary inquiry of this sort to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to justify a further investigation.

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

Ernest Edward Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

I see that; it is

quite evident. But would he not have power in any case to make some investigation before he started the inquiry?

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Before the minister answers that question I would ask him to look carefully at the language of the section: (a) the commissioner " shall on application made under the last preceding section" or (b) "on direction by the minister." I doubt the wisdom of that; I say so with all deference. I am not speaking in any personal sense but I doubt whether it should be for the minister, without anybody making an affidavit or a declaration, to say: Go ahead and hold a preliminary investigation regarding these people. And (c) " or may whenever he has reasonable cause to believe that a combine may exist." That refers to the commissioner. Surely that is not quite the proper way to put the investigating powers of this statute into operation. What we start with is the presumption that the public interest is affected. Six citizens have directed attention to a condition and given reasons for their belief that a combine exists, and then the

Combines Investigation Act

commissioner acts. Now we are adding a section which declares that when he does get that complaint he may make a preliminary investigation, and with that, as the member for Argenteuil (Sir George PeTley) has said, we are wholly in accord. But we add two other things. We say that the commissioner himself, of his own motion, may act, which is putting into the hands of one man a power that is certainly not consistent with our general conception of judicial fairness.

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

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

But the commission could do it under the existing act.

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes; but what I say is that now we are dealing with the act in the light of present day conditions and we should deal with it as of 1937. I say that it is not consistent with our general conception of judicial fairness that we should put that power into the hands of one man.

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

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

It is now only two years since 1935.

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes, but look what has happened; you are there and I am here.

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

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

There is something in that.

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

And according to the Minister of Labour a great public good has accrued. Be that as it may, I do not think it is sound to place in the hands of one man, whether he be a minister or anyone else, the power of his own mere motion, because he thinks that a certain condition exists, to start the machinery of investigation. I believe that the general principle that six citizens should make complaint is a sound basis on which to put the machinery into operation. 1 must say that I protest strongly against this method, despite the fact that it may have been adopted a year or two ago. I did not have leisure then to examine statutes as I have now, and I daresay the minister's experience will bear that out.

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

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

The previous section concerned a commission of more than one person, three or five, or whatever the number of members of the tariff board may be. It is altogether different to say that one person shall move in the matter. There is a great deal of difference between the action of one person and the collective action of three or five.

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Will the minister look at the difference in language between the old section and the one now before us. The old section provided that the commission should act " whenever it has reason to believe that a combine exists "; this section merely says " has reasonable cause to believe that a combine may exist." There is a distinct difference there. One was a commission of three, presided over by an ex-judge, and the other is one man without legal training, who will arrogate to himself the right to say that in his opinion there is a combine and then start the machinery of the law. He might do it for any reason in the world except the public interest; he might be annoyed about something.

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

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

He can act without the minister's knowledge or approval.

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes, just because he had a bad night.

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

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

In the past these preliminary inquiries have been initiated in the manner indicated; that is to say, prior to the setting up of the Dominion Trade and Industry Commission the minister did have power to initiate a preliminary investigation. I do think there is something to be said for the retention of that power of initiation on the part of the minister. It may not be possible at all times to find six persons who are willing to make the application. It is possible that evidence may come to the minister which convinces him that a situation does exist which calls for preliminary inquiry. In that case he must take the responsibility for instituting the inquiry.

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 governmental responsibility, which I fully understand.

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

Ernest Edward Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

What about the next part:

or may whenever he has reasonable cause to believe that a combine may exist.

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

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

That has been a power exercised prior to 1935 by the registrar under the combines aot, and not a few preliminary inquiries were carried out in that way. I might read section 12 in the act of 1923:

Whenever such application shall be made to the registrar, or whenever the registrar shall have reason to believe that a combine exists or is being formed, or whenever so directed by the minister, the registrar shall cause an inquiry to be made into all such matters, whether of fact or of law, with respect to the said alleged combine as he shall consider necessary to inquire into with the view of determining whether a combine exists or is being formed.

I think, as a matter of fact, that the use made of the machinery for preliminary inquiry has been very salutary. That is, it has in some cases avoided further inquiries which would not have disclosed that a combine actually existed. Probably the registrar, or in this case the commissioner, who is in constant touch with the act and its administration, would be better able to determine the wisdom

Combines Investigation Act

of carrying out a preliminary inquiry than anyone else. If it is done under the direction of the minister, then obviously the minister must take full responsibility.

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

Donald MacLennan

Liberal

Mr. MacLENNAN:

I am more apprehensive of the power placed in the hands of six persons under section 14. Possibly six competitors of some business firm may make application; then, by section 15, this preliminary inquiry must be instituted. The hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg (Mr Kinley) said that there ought to be a good deal of circumspection in regard to starting an inquiry into anyone's business. Suppose nothing detrimental to the public was found, the very fact of an inquiry being started does not look well for a firm or corporation. I prefer that the minister or someone responsible to the people should start an investigation rather than some six men who possibly are not responsible.

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

Mr KINLEY:

I think the preliminary investigation is for the protection of industry, and there should be no publicity connected with it. If six persons make an application, the minister will have a preliminary inquiry. No one is hurt much by a preliminary inquiry, but he is hurt by a public inquiry, because business is based upon confidence and credit, and there is always a certain stigma about a public inquiry. I think the preliminary inquiry is for the protection of industry more than anything else, so that trivial and vindictive reports may be thrown out-

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:

No preliminary inquiry has ever been held in public. I think that does bear on the point raised by the hon. member for Inverness-Richmond (Mr. MacLennan). I think there is something to be said for making it possible for a preliminary inquiry to be instituted by a commissioner. It is conceivable that you might have a minister who was not sympathetic to the administration of the act, and if his direction were required he might prevent preliminary inquiries which obviously were desirable.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY COMMISSIONER UNDER MINISTER OF LABOUR
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April 1, 1937