June 5, 1941


Hon. N. A. McLARTY (Minister of Labour) moved that the house go into committee at the next sitting to consider the following resolution: That it is expedient to introduce a measure to amend the Labour Department Act to provide for the appointment of an Associate Deputy Minister of Labour. He said: His Excellency the Governor General, having been made acquainted with the subject matter of this resolution recommends it to the consideration of the house. Motion agreed to.


ST. LAWRENCE WATERWAY ADDITIONAL DIVERSIONS AT NIAGARA FALLS- PROCEDURE IN INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS


On the orders of the day:


LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

My hon. friend the member for Davenport (Mr. MacNieol) asked a question yesterday concerning the matter of diversions of water above Niagara. I was not in a position to give him an exact answer at the moment, and my hon. friend said he would bring the question up again, possibly on going into committee of supply. But as the Speaker leaves the chair without question being put, on going into supply both to-day and to-morrow, I have thought I should give my hon. friend immediately the information he desires and thus perhaps avoid the necessity for debate. I will summarize first the facts relating to diversions [DOT] and then discuss procedure.

In article V of the Boundary Waters treaty of 1909, Canada and the United States agreed not to divert more than a specified amount of water from the Niagara river above the

[Mr. Church.)

falls. There was no change in the amount of diversion until November, 1940, when, by an exchange of notes, the United States agreed not to object to an additional temporary diversion at Niagara by Ontario of water equivalent to diversions which Ontario was to make into the great lakes basin from the Albany river basin. This exchange of notes was tabled in the House of Commons on November 12, 1940.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin agreement signed on March 19, 1940, which is expressly subject to approval by the parliament of Canada and the United States congress, has two provisions affecting diversions at Niagara.

Article VIII of that agreement authorizes each country to use for power purposes any water diverted by it into the great lakes system. Article IX provides for the construction of remedial works at Niagara and for the subsequent additional diversion by each country of 5,000 cubic feet per second in excess of the amount specified in the Boundary Waters Treaty. These articles are, of course, not yet in force.

The exchange of notes signed on May 20, 1941, which was tabled in this house on May 29, provides, as a temporary measure in view of the present emergency, for an immediate additional diversion of 5,000 cubic feet per second by the United States and for an immediate additional diversion of 3,000 cubic feet per second by Canada. The temporary nature of this arrangement is made clear by provisions in the notes. The arrangement is expressed to be for the duration of the national defence emergency and, in all events, is subject to reconsideration by both governments on October 1, 1942. Furthermore, it is provided that the arrangement will be subject to the provisions of article IX of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin agreement when that agreement comes into force.

The reasons for this emergency arrangement were explained in full by the hon. the Minister of Mines and Resources when he tabled the notes on May 29. It is not necessary to repeat these reasons, which lead to the conclusion that war needs make the increased diversion essential. As explained on May 29, the advisers of the Canadian government and representatives of Ontario and Quebec are satisfied that the increased diversions will not be detrimental or harmful to Canadian interests.

Turning now to the constitutional question of the proper procedure to be followed in

Diversion oj Water

such cases, as indicated in my reply of yesterday, under the British and Canadian constitutions, the crown enjoys the sole right of conducting all foreign relations, which includes the making and, if necessary, the ratifying, of international agreements of all kinds.

In the United Kingdom, it is a rare thing for the government to ask the approval of parliament or of the House of Commons before making or ratifying treaties, even formal and important ones.

In Canada, without derogating from the legal rights of the crown, a custom has developed different from that in the United Kingdom. On June 21, 1926, this house adopted a resolution which I moved, the final paragraph of which reads that the house considers that:

. . . before His Majesty's Canadian ministers advise ratification of a treaty or convention affecting Canada, or signify acceptance of any treaty, convention or agreement involving military or economic sanctions, the approval of the parliament of Canada should be secured.

On April 12, 1928, in the course of the debate on the International Sanitary Convention in this house, I said:

I submit that the day has passed when any government or executive should feel that they should take it upon themselves without the approval of parliament, to commit a country to obligations involving any considerable financial outlays or active undertakings. In all cases where obligations of such a character are being assumed internationally, parliament itself should be assured of having the full right of approving what is done before binding commitments are made. I would not confine parliamentary approval only to those matters which involve military sanctions and the like. I feel parliamentary approval should apply where there are involved matters of large expenditure or political considerations of a far-reaching character.

Since 1928 the custom in Canada, both under the government of Mr. Bennett and under the present government, has moved even farther away from the United Kingdom practice in the direction of more parliamentary control of international agreements. The present practice is that, except in the case of very unimportant agreements or in the case of great urgency, the Senate and House of Commons are asked to approve formal treaties, conventions and agreements, before they are ratified by or in respect of Canada.

However, while the practice has developed in this way in the case of formal agreements requiring ratification, it has never been the practice in Canada to ask parliament or the House of Commons to approve agreements which are in the form of exchange of notes. Generally speaking, agreements are made in the form of an exchange of notes either

because they are too unimportant for a formal agreement, or because they are intended to be of a temporary character.

In the opinion of the government, it would be a mistake to change the custom still further by asking parliament or the House of Commons to approve exchange of notes.

Following the principles which I have outlined, parliament was not asked to approve the exchange of notes of November, 1940, which authorized a temporary additional diversion at Niagara by the province of Ontario. So far as the question of procedure is concerned, there is no ground for distinction between that exchange of notes and the one signed on May 20, 1941. There was no reason to follow any different procedure on this occasion.

It might be pointed out that neither of these two exchanges of notes requires legislation in order to give them effect in Canada. The only thing which the Canadian government has promised to do in the notes of May 20 is to refrain from objecting to an additional diversion of water by the United States.

The United States government for its part desired to have the approval of the United States Senate before being bound by the latest exchange of notes. It would not be appropriate for me to attempt to explain the reasons for this decision. The constitutional provisions and practice of the United States in the matter of international agreements is, as I have said, not the same as that of Canada. It would not seem desirable that Canada's treaty procedure should be altered solely because the United States Senate is being asked by the United States government to approve this particular exchange of notes.

While it is not the practice in Canada to ask for parliamentary approval of exchange of notes, it is customary and desirable to table any such which are of importance or interest. The purpose of tabling them is not merely to inform the house, but' also to provide a basis for debate, if so desired, at the appropriate time.

Topic:   ST. LAWRENCE WATERWAY ADDITIONAL DIVERSIONS AT NIAGARA FALLS- PROCEDURE IN INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

For purposes of information may I ask whether the proposal immediately under discussion is not in effect a departure from the treaty itself? That is my understanding of it.

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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 may be correct; but certainly, as I have indicated in what I have stated, what is being attempted is simply of a temporary nature to meet an emergent situation, and the whole principle involved will come up for discussion when we are dealing with the treaty itself.

Diversion oj Water

Topic:   ST. LAWRENCE WATERWAY ADDITIONAL DIVERSIONS AT NIAGARA FALLS- PROCEDURE IN INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I understand that is the theory on which the exchange of notes has been made, but it is a vain hope. Once this water is diverted it will never come back and therefore the diversion is not of a temporary nature. One more question. If my recollection is correct, the Prime Minister has stated the trend of policy and practice in Canada. But have we not in one important event at any rate departed from that practice, namely, the joint defence board?

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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:

I should like

to give a little thought to the question which my hon. friend has just asked.

Topic:   ST. LAWRENCE WATERWAY ADDITIONAL DIVERSIONS AT NIAGARA FALLS- PROCEDURE IN INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS
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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

As I raised the question

I should like first to thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) for his remarks to-day. I shall consider them thoroughly and perhaps not make a decision until early next week. That is, I will not interfere with the estimates as they come in to-day and tomorrow, but after reviewing the matter I may say something on Monday or Tuesday, because I am concerned about the principle involved.

As the.amount of water now referred to in the notes will raise the total diversion at Niagara Falls to I believe some 69,000 cubic feet per second, it is a matter of major importance to this parliament, and perhaps a brief statement on Monday or Tuesday might clear the air a little.

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NAT

Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. CHURCH:

This very same matter,

the diversion of 5,000 cubic second feet, was before the house in 1929 and was debated on a proposed treaty which grew out of the Ship-stead act; then 10,000 cubic second feet diversion was to be given to each country for additional power from the Niagara river for power purposes. The matter came up in a debate in which I participated over a period of two days. The matter was then made the subject of a proposed treaty between the two countries. Half the power in the surplus water wa's to be given to Ontario, in accordance with the decisions on the various waterway cases before the privy council. Ontario owns half the river bed and the banks and rapids and the water for power purposes in half the river. The surplus waters in boundary waterway streams subject to navigation rights belong to the provinces and states. Under the 1929 treaty which grew out of the bill introduced by Senator Shipstead at Washington, Ontario was to get its half for public ownership under the Ontario hydro electric power commission. The treaty would have become law in 1929 but for the opposition of New York state which wanted to give its share to private ownership. Canada by that

proposed treaty consented to distribute one-half of the extra flow of this 10,000 cubic second feet which belonged to Ontario for public ownership; New York state wanted the other half for private ownership. For this reason the treaty was not adopted, though validated over here. I fear for the scenic beauty ever being preserved except by additional remedial works in the river. The levels are lower now than they were then.

I would ask the Prime Minister if, having regard to the decision of the privy council on the waterways, this can now be accomplished over the head of parliament as a war measure and not, as in 1929, by treaty. I suggest that he read the briefs and the debates which took place here in 1929 as to this new procedure. There is a great principle involved and all papers and plans should be tabled. If the executive can in this way part with public and private property over acts of parliament, then if the procedure is carried to its logical conclusion it could give away the whole country for a few pounds of Boston tea.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Air. MACKENZIE KING:

My hon. friend has asked me about half a dozen questions, I think. I shall have to look at the record to see exactly what the points are upon which he wishes to be informed. I will seek to give him an answer in due course.

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UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

METHOD OF PAYMENTS BY EMPLOYERS UNDER THE ACT


On the orders of the day:


NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition):

I desire to direct a question

to the Minister of Labour. I have not given him notice, but I am satisfied that the minister will be able to answer-if not now, perhaps at a later stage in the day. Has any decision been reached by the unemployment insurance commission which will require all employers whose employees come within the scope and operation of the Unemployment Insurance Act to pay such employees weekly? If so, under what authority has this decision been taken? It is quite apparent that this would mean a substantial amount of increased cost. I have no doubt it would be a great convenience to employees. I am wondering whether this was the principle upon which the decision was reached, if it has been reached, or is it for reasons of administration; but particularly, under what authority is the action taken?

We know that most big corporations pay fortnightly, and that makes for permanency of employment. It no doubt would be a great convenience to employees to have wages paid

Wheat Shipments to Far East

weekly, but this would be upsetting the whole present modus operandi for most of those concerned.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   METHOD OF PAYMENTS BY EMPLOYERS UNDER THE ACT
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LIB

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. N. A. McLARTY (Minister of Labour):

As the leader of the opposition

stated, I had no notice of his intention to ask this question. The very suggestion comes to me as a considerable surprise, because I believe that the commission has been working with such organizations as the railway companies to arrange the most convenient way in which payments may be made under the Unemployment Insurance Act. However I assure the leader of the opposition that I shall take the matter up at once, although offhand I must say that I do not believe the suggestion given to him is correct.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   METHOD OF PAYMENTS BY EMPLOYERS UNDER THE ACT
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REPORTED SHIPMENTS FROM BRITISH COLUMBIA TO THE FAR EAST IN JAPANESE BOTTOMS


On the orders of the day:


NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition):

I desire to direct a question to the Minister of Trade and Commerce, of which I have given notice. I have been informed that there is now being loaded 4,000 tons of wheat, approximately 144,000 bushels, for Japanese account. It is further reported to me that the total sale by the wheat board is for 14,000 tons, or about 500,000 bushels, that 10,000 tons remain to be loaded in other vessels, and that the grain is being shipped in Japanese bottoms. Furthermore it is reported to me that the wheat is being loaded in sacks, which method is wholly unusual, to say the least, and lends support to the theory that the ultimate destination of this wheat is not Japan but other countries of the axis.

I should like to know from the minister whether this report is true; whether the Canadian wheat board is dealing with the Japanese government and Canadian wheat is being exported to that country, and whether inquiry is being made as to the ultimate destination of this wheat.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister and Secretary of State for External Affairs):

Perhaps this is a question which as Secretary of State for External Affairs I should answer. I was told last evening that a press dispatch had come from Vancouver to the effect that shipments of grain to Japan were being made there. I immediately requested my office to issue a statement to make clear the nature of the shipments that were taking place, and the following communication was given to the

Canadian Press as a release and appears I think in the papers of to-day:

It is announced from Ottawa that the wheat that is at present being shipped to the far east from British Columbia was under firm order before the present export permit requirements came into force. The authorities state that practically all of this grain is destined for north China for consumption there.

In accordance with their policy with respect to the export of all commodities under wartime conditions the government are carefully watching shipments of wheat.

I might particularize a little in reference to that statement. Orders had been placed on the part of Japan for the wheat in question before any export permit requirements respecting wheat shipments had come into force in Canada. Shipments were actually stopped at the time because of export permit requirements coming at that moment into force, but on careful consideration of the whole matter it was felt that as the order had been placed before this requirement came into force, those particular shipments should be allowed to proceed. That course, I may add, is in accord with international usage.

My hon. friend referred to the shipments taking place in Japanese bottoms. I might explain the situation governing that aspect. As my hon. friend knows, all British bottoms are being requisitioned at the present time for use by the British empire, and in order to enable these wheat shipments to go forward it was thought best to require of the Japanese government that the shipments should be made in their own bottoms.

My hon. friend also asked as to the part of the wheat board in the transaction. I am informed that the wheat board had no part whatever in this transaction. It was a private firm transaction.

As to the loading in bags, I am informed that shipment by bag is the usual method where elevator unloading facilities are not available. I might add that inquiries made in Japan itself by our legation, and also inquiries that we have made of the Japanese minister here, give us every reason to believe that these shipments of grain are to go to north China. As my hon. friend is aware, the Japanese government control a large part of that area at the present time, and I understand that the people there are in a more or less famished condition. These shipments are, I understand, to serve the needs of those people.

Topic:   REPORTED SHIPMENTS FROM BRITISH COLUMBIA TO THE FAR EAST IN JAPANESE BOTTOMS
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June 5, 1941