March 10, 1938

CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

They did not put it in just that crude way.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

They said that if the application were granted, the users would get cheaper power.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

That is true; but sometimes, if we put these statements in, let us say, the vernacular they are more clearly understood. Let that company lower its rate and see how rapidly the use of its power will increase; probably they will find that any surplus they have will be rapidly taken up, so that the people of Montreal will have the advantage of the lower rates, the company will have the revenue, and the country will retain the power within the province. That is the answer I would give them.

Let parliament study how we can increase the use of electrical energy. That is real business. Look at what has been done in Ontario by the Hydro-Electric commission. I am not concerned in the squabbles and

Electric Power Export

quarrels about this, that and the other thing relating to the Hydro-Electric commission. I have driven through Ontario and seen what hydro-electric energy, administered by the commission, has done for Ontario within the scope of my own memory. I can remember very well, when I wras a boy, the first street lights that were installed. The town I lived in was lit with gas, and I recall the time when electric lights were put in. From that day to this the history of hydro-electric development in Ontario is one story of continued progress and good administration, on the whole, with, no doubt, some mistakes. Let us see if we cannot do something for the back country of these great provinces-the villages of northern Ontario, where certainly they have hard enough times, and the villages of northern Quebec. Reflect also upon the difficulties that have to be faced on the prairies. Let us consider how we can get this hydro-electric energy to the people of this country; let parliament bend its energies and its brains to constructive effort rather than to the evasion of responsibility. The Prime Minister will, I hope, take it kindly from me when I say, with great earnestness, that in this section 4 he is evading responsibility, and he is failing to include in the bill the safeguards which from the very inception of legislation on this subject, from the time of the earliest act, a copy of which I hold in my hand, have been provided-safeguards as to prices, the question of surplus, of revocability, and so on. At the least, let these things be put in the bill; let it provide some protection.

I am opposed to the principle of this bill because in my opinion it dees violence to the prerogatives of the federal house. It aggravates the differences of opinion at present existing between the provinces and the dominion. It will be recalled that much of the trouble in the last few years regarding trade and commerce is due to the fact that the federal authorities do not occupy the field of control of local trade, although they are empowered to do so. We have surrendered powers here and there to the provinces, and then we wonder why after a time they claim these powers as a right. This bill is just adding one more aggravation to the problems which already exist in that respect.

I therefore shall oppose the bill-not that I am opposed to bringing to parliament the matter of the control of the export of electrical energy, but because I believe this is a retrograde move and inimical to the best interests of the people of this country.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. A. A. HEAPS (Winnipeg North):

I am sure the house will have been very much interested in the statements that have just been made by the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens). However, I do not wish to pursue the line which both of the previous speakers have followed in discussing the question of whether it is wise or unwise to export power. I do not believe that, so far as this particular bill is concerned, that is the issue. When such a bill comes before the house, the position that my colleagues and I will take will be taken without hesitation.

If I understood the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) this afternoon, the purpose of the bill is to give to parliament the right to decide whether power shall be exported or not. From the statements made by the Prime Minister it appears that the government had three choices in mind. First of all, there was a question whether there should be appointed a public utility commission to decide upon matters of this sort. Personally I am much opposed to any such matter being decided by such a commission. Then they had under consideration the question whether the matter should be referred to the railway commission. I am also opposed to a matter of this kind being [DOT]referred to the railway commission. The railway commission is a rate-fixing body, and in my opinion it could not give a more intelligent answer to questions of this kind than parliament can. I have a greater objection, however, to both of these suggestions. I have always objected to the delegation to others of powers that should be exercised by parliament. In a matter of this sort parliament is the body which should decide whether power should be exported or not.

If, as stated by the Prime Minister this afternoon, the main purpose of the present bill is to give the house an opportunity, under the auspices of a private bill, to state whether it is in favour of the export of power, then I am in favour of a bill of that kind. Far too long have I claimed that too much power has been vested in the cabinet or the governor in council or through the medium of administration by order in council, and I am pleased that the government, even at this late date, for the reasons stated by the Prime Minister and probably for other reasons, has seen fit to bring in a measure of this sort. Now that the government has extended, so to speak, the sphere of activity of this house and its right to determine certain matters which previously have been determined by

Electric Power Export

order in council, I trust that this principle will be further applied to other matters which at the present time come almost exclusively under the jurisdiction of the governor in council.

For these reasons I am going to vote for the second reading of the bill. I shall do so, however, with the proviso that some of the matters raised here to-day will be gone into in greater detail when the bill is before the committee, because I believe, with the hon. member who preceded me (Mr. Stevens), that there are certain ambiguities in the bill itself. But I hope that they will be cleared up satisfactorily before the bill is given its third reading.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition):

The government is to be congratulated upon having accepted the principle which this house unanimously adopted some years ago. It is obvious that when the house unanimously accepted the measure which was proposed by the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Stewart), it had in mind that parliament rather than the governor in council should deal with this question, and in furtherance of that principle this measure is submitted to the house. I differ entirely, however, as to the method to be pursued for the purpose of giving effect to the principle which is being adopted.

The hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) contended that the bill did not contain reference to the conditions. Of course, he is entirely in error in that, because it provides that the private bill shall contain the conditions and terms under which the licence shall be granted. That is exactly the provision which exists to-day; only to-day the terms and conditions are settled by the governor in council and not by a private bill. In one case the parliament of Canada will deal with it; in the other the executive deal with it under the full authority entrusted to them under delegation of powers from this parliament. To attain the end which the Prime Minister had in mind, it was only necessary to provide that there should be an amendment or addition to the existing statute. That is all. It was not necessary to go further than merely to continue the existing legislation and add to it an amending provision, that any licence granted under the provisions of this act should not become effective until approved by parliament. This would mean that a bill would be introduced into parliament ratifying and confirming the granted powers contained in the licence. It would then pass this house and the senate and be assented to by the crown.

That, I submit, would be the proper method of dealing with the matter. It would involve, of course, what was intended, that the question of policy should be settled by the government of the day; for there is no possible way of avoiding or evading what it does appear to me must be taken for granted, namely, that any question which affects export is a matter of policy on the part of the dominion government and of this parliament. This government has at all times to command the support of a majority of the members, and a question of policy must be always determined by the government and submitted to the house for its consideration. When you are dealing with a question of export you are dealing with a matter of policy over which this dominion alone has jurisdiction. It is not a question of what might be thought by the province; it is a question of the central power, the Dominion of Canada, the entity called Canada having control over export. And that central power having that control over export, that power must be exercised, not having regard to the peculiar interests of a little community or locality, but from the point of view of the national good, the broad general outlook of what most affects the Dominion of Canada, and of all that concerns its well-being and the prosperity of its people. That is the question which must be settled; it is not a matter of what may be thought by this or that interest.

I say that because it appears to me perfectly clear that, having approved the general principle, as this house has done, parliament should determine the question of the issuing of licences for the export of power from this country; and that power should be exercised by a very simple method, namely, by providing that any licence issued should become effective only when approved by parliament. That is not an unusual procedure. In the United States certain appointments are subject to ratification by the senate, and in various other countries there must be approval by parliament.

Now there arises another question, a question of a private act. It seems to me intolerable that it should be thought that in this free parliament a corporation, a group of individuals or a community should be able-to lobby parliament into the granting of licences. It seems to me monstrous that such a suggestion should even be made. I wonder if hon. members have given due consideration and thought to the principle involved in that part of the bill. Any bill by means of which parliament is to be asked to deal with this important matter

Electric Power Export

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Do what they are told.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Oh, thank you. Do what they are told, but by whom? That is the point, by whom? By the private interests or by the government of the country? By the lobbyists, by the private bill, by the introducer of the private bill, or by the government of Canada, which alone has power to deal with the export of power? Which is it to be? I am glad my hon. friend put it, "Do what we are told."

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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LIB

Ross Wilfred Gray (Chief Government Whip; Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. GRAY:

One of your friends.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Oh, I thought it was one of the hon. gentlemen opposite speaking the truth for once.

Now let us go a step further. Does the house realize the principle that is involved? Remember, the control of export is one of the highest functions of government. Does the house realize that it affects revenue? I doubt the constitutionality of a private bill that authorizes and licenses the export of power. I doubt the power of any private member, under the British North America Act, to introduce into this house a bill that provides for the export of anything. Why? f Because it involves revenue. The very speech made this afternoon shows how it touches revenue, and not only the revenue of this government. Mark you, we get a fee under the statute. We get revenue under the statute. So do the provinces, but we do also. It is not the provinces alone; we have been getting revenue. Now for the first time, Mr. Speaker,

I am told that a private member con introduce into this house a bill that deals with the revenues of Canada. At the appropriate time I propose to point that out and to ask whether or not it is within the constitutional power of a private member to do so.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

He does not propose the

expenditure of money.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

He proposes the collection of it, and that involves expenditure as well; for there can be no licence issued that does not involve inspection. However small the expenditure may be, if it is a charge upon the taxpayers for fifty cents or fifty thousand dollars the principle is the same.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Very far-fetched.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Not far-fetched at all; it is a fact. No man knows that better than the minister who has just spoken, because in his department every year he asks us to vote the sum of $750, and sometimes more, with respect to that matter. In the estimates appears a provision for this very expenditure, and if expenditure is involved how can a private member, under our constitution deal with the matter? There is expenditure; there is collection of revenues, and you are going to have a private member deal with it, a private member whose legislation is not that of the government. Terms, conditions, provisoes, limitations-all these things are to be fixed and determined. Now what are you going to do about that?

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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LIB

Donald MacLennan

Liberal

Mr. MacLENNAN:

That is a lot for a private member.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

On reflection probably the hon. gentleman will realize that this touches the piovince of Nova Scotia and the island

Electric Power Export

of Cape Breton. Anything that affects export, be it small or large; be it pulpwood or power; be it any of the products of this country; whatever it may be, cannot be dealt with under our constitution as thus far interpreted in our history except through governmental action. Did anyone ever before hear of anyone introducing a private bill to deal with the question of limitation upon exports; or to grant a power to break in upon a general act of prohibition and destroy its value for the purpose of making an exception to the general rule? Mr. Speaker, as old as some of the oldest statesmen in England you have this provision: Whenever duty and

interest conflict there is bound to be loss to the body politic unless the greatest care is exercised. On the one hand there is our duty: Follow the constitutional practice and look to the government to enunciate a policy which we can vote for or against. On the other hand there is the interest of the private concern. I pointed out this afternoon the significant fact that those who had applied for the licence to which the Prime Minister referred had withdrawn their application in November, and that was the time when this device to circumvent the provisions of the refusal under the statute was first heard of. That in itself is a significant and serious fact. If you will look at the white paper you will find it. There it is.

I shall content myself, Mr. Speaker, merely with saying that I am in favour of what we unanimously resolved to do some years ago, namely, to permit this parliament to exercise its power with respect to the granting of licences for the export of power. Second, I submit that the proper method to exercise that power would be to provide that no licence should become effective until such time as it had been approved by parliament. Then you would have the government submit to the house a measure ratifying and approving the action taken, if a licence was issued, and of course declining to do so if no licence had in fact been issued. Third, I submit that this bill contravenes evei-y established precedent in leaving in the hands of a private member the determination of the destiny of this country and its people.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Parliament has control over it.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Not parliament; a private member.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

It does not follow that his bill is going to carry.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Why, of course not. The hon. gentleman has just said what I was desirous that he would say. The initiative that makes it possible to determine any question arises from a private member, and when a private member exercises initiative upon a question which determines the destiny of a country you are violating the well established principles of our constitution.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No, no.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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March 10, 1938