March 17, 1938

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The existing

statute gives the governor in council power to issue a licence that is permissive. The first thing my hon. friends would have said, if the present government had granted the application of the Ontario government, is that the governor in council had taken that action either out of fear of or of favour for the administration at Toronto; that they had been afraid to leave the matter to parliament, notwithstanding they had declared as respects the earlier applications from Quebec to leave the matter to parliament. That is what we would have been hearing to-day. May I say to hon. gentlemen opposite that, as far as the Ontario government is concerned-and I have reason to know its mind in this matter-it would have much preferred to have had the old bill remain exactly as it is and to have had the governor in council grant a licence for the export of power with or preferably without the subsequent approval of parliament than to have the matter of its application referred, as it is being referred under the present bill, for approval to parliament itself. That, I believe, is the truth of the matter.

However, I was recalling the position taken by the leader of the Conservative party at the time the bill regarding export of power was introduced in 1907. Sir Robert Borden then said-and I think he was right in his contention-that the governor in council was the last body which should be expected to decide a matter of this kind. He gave his reasons; they were quite explicit and applicable to what some hon. gentlemen have been saying-that the governor in council is concerned with matters of policy; that council has not the opportunity to get the full and

Electric Power Export

exact information with regard to these matters enjoyed by other bodies, such as a committee of the House of Commons or the railway commission, which are able to bring before them the parties that make the application and to place on the parties themselves the onus of making good the case on their own behalf. Sir Robert pointed out that an administration would have to depend in large part upon the word of some official of a government department as to what it might be best to do with respect to any particular application. But he went a step further, and said there was another reason why the governor in council should not be trusted with this power, namely, that the council was actually and necessarily a partisan body, composed of members of one party. He did not think it right that members of one party should have it within their power to grant or withhold applications for licences to export power, which if granted might mean a great deal to their friends, and if refused for partisan reasons might mean a great loss to those concerned.

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

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

Those arguments did not

prevail in that case.

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:

Those arguments did not prevail in that case, but they are prevailing to-day. What I am pointing out to my hon. friends is that such is the argument we would be hearing from them to-day if we had proceeded in any other way than as we are proceeding. Let me ask the house this question: What would have been the attitude of hon. gentlemen opposite if we had retained the act of 1907 as it stands and, under that act, had either granted or refused the application of the Ontario HydroElectric Power Commission at the present time?

Let me say at once that, so far as this bill is concerned, I think that as a general act it ought to be considered wholly apart from any application for the right to export power. The government's decision with respect to having this question referred to parliament at this session was made before we had any knowledge whatever that an application would be forthcoming from the government of Ontario or from any organization connected therewith. The evidence of that is to be found in the written documents, the replies made to the Montreal Light, Heat & Power Company and to Aluminium Limited, wherein we pointed out that, in the past, parliament had been gradually taking the position that it should have more in the way of control over the export of power. For that reason, we were unwilling that the cabinet itself should grant further applications without

allowing parliament to express its view. We felt-which is the true sequence of the matter -that the bill which my hon. friend, the member for Leeds (Mr. Stewart), introduced in 1928, and which, in 1929, was given its three readings unanimously in this house, contained a principle with respect to which there could be no question at all at this time. If the house had been willing at that time unanimously to permit the export of power, subject to the approval of parliament, we felt that at the present juncture, with the added knowledge, and experience that has come with the years, it would be prepared to support a bill embodying a similar principle and indeed, if anything, rather strengthening that principle, namely, the principle of parliamentary control of the export of power.

Let me come back to the question of what would have been said to-day had we adopted any other attitude. After having stated in writing, to the Montreal Light, Heat & Power Company and to Aluminium Limited, the decision to submit the matter at this session before taking any action with respect to the applications, so that parliament might review the whole situation, suppose we had granted the application of the Ontario government. What would have been said by hon. gentlemen opposite? Why, we would have been told that what we had refused to do for the province of Quebec, we had done for the province of Ontario. We would have been asked, why had we refused in the case of Quebec what we had granted in the case of Ontario? And their answer would have been Because the government of Quebec was a Conservative government and the government of Ontario a Liberal government. Every hon. member knows that is what would have been said in the strongest terms by hon. gentlemen opposite. But they would have gone further. We have only to consider what the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. Rowe) said at Petrolia the other evening, and what he and several other hon. members have repeated in the course of this debate. They would have said there was yet another motive for the government's action-I do not care what motive it was. And that is the reason why we cannot escape in this discussion making some mention of the application that has been received from Ontario since the government's decision with respect to Quebec applications was made. Suppose we had said, "We will grant this application of the Ontario government and leave it to a resolution of the house," as the leader of the opposition says.

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:

No, not a resolution.

Electric Power Export

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:

Well, then, a bill, approving the action of the governor in council.

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:

Ratifying and approving the order in council granting the licence.

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:

Let us see exactly what the position is. My right hon. friend says that what we should have done was to approve that application.

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:

Or disapprove.

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:

And then we should have brought the order in council to this parliament and introduced a bill asking for the approval of the action of the governor in council.

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:

Or disapproval.

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

William Earl Rowe

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROWE (Dufferin-Simcoe):

You could have refused it.

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:

My hon. friend says we should have disapproved it.

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

William Earl Rowe

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROWE (Dufferin-Simcoe):

No; I said you could have refused it.

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:

Let us take both views.

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

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Then we would not have had a bill afterwards.

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:

Let us see where we would stand on either count. Assuming that we had approved, the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe, who has just spoken, would have repeated what he said at Petrolia the other evening; he would have said that the government had approved the application out of fear of the government of Ontario.

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

William Earl Rowe

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROWE (Dufferin-Simcoe):

Not if you refused it.

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:

But if we had granted the application.

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:

Subject to approval in this house.

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:

My hon. friend would have said that the government at Ottawa had been dragooned into approval by the government at Toronto, that Mr. Mackenzie King was afraid for his life of Mr. Hepburn; we would have had all that sort of talk. This would have been given as the reason why the application had been granted. And what would the leader of the opposition have said? He would have said, "What greater pressure could the government have put upon its following to support its action than to make a government measure of this matter? The government has granted the application and now it comes to parliament and says to its following that it must approve

its action by an act." Well, what would the government be saying, by implication, in such circumstances? It would be saying, "You have to support the act or the government will be defeated; if you do not support it you will be voting against the policy of your own administration." And then the right hon. gentleman would have added, "Under the circumstances, what freedom is there on the part of any member of this house to decide for himself, on the merits and to vote as he likes?" That is what he would have said.

Topic:   ELECTRIC POWER
Subtopic:   TRANSFER TO PARLIAMENT OF CONTROL OF EXPORT EXCEPT IN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY
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March 17, 1938