June 27, 1935 (17th Parliament, 6th Session)


James Shaver Woodsworth


Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North 'Centre):

Mr. Speaker, this is largely but not solely a legal matter and there are other aspects which should be considered. Personally I should like to see the constitutionality of this legislation upheld. I am almost inclined to think that British Columbia is getting what is coming to her but I cannot see that this is a proper way to handle this matter. Either this legislation is intra vires or it is not and it seems to me that the courts

Farmers' Creditors Act
should decide the matter. If the courts have the authority as the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) has said so frequently they should have, I cannot see why this matter should not go to them to be decided. By means of an injunction British Columbia will not 'be receiving the benefits of this act and there is no need for haste with regard to the matter. The Prime Minister has stated, if I understand him aright, that the action, of the courts might leave some doubt as to the constitutionality of the legislation but I am rather inclined to think that to settle the matter in this way will leave considerable doubt as to the constitutionality of the legislation as it affects all the provinces. Such action may affect this and other acts, not merely in British Columbia but throughout the whole of Canada. It must be remembered that British Columbia has taken this action only because she wished to safeguard her provincial rights in certain cases and if this legislation is proceeded with by this government it will undoubtedly penalize the farmers of British Columbia who might need the benefits of the act. Under these circumstances I do not think it is fair to press the matter at the present time.

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