Mr. Howard C. Green (Vancouver-Quadra):
Mr. Speaker, when this debate was adjourned on Friday last I had just come to the point of making certain suggestions to bring about the objective which I feel sure the great majority of the members of this house have in mind. That objective is to make it absolutely certain that the passing of this bill and the subsequent actions of those who are sponsoring the bill will not interfere with the construction of the much greater project, namely the natural gas pipe line from Alberta across Canada to the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
I had pointed out that the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) had one suggestion to offer. I think it was a good one, though I doubt whether it meets the need. He suggested that in the standing committee there should be written into the bill an amendment to the effect that it would not come into force until an agreement had been signed between Niagara Gas Transmission Limited and Trans-Canada Pipe Lines Limited and that agreement had been filed with and approved by the board of transport commissioners.
My first suggestion is that Trans-Canada Pipe Lines Limited build this pipe line from the centre of the Niagara river to the city of Toronto. They already have a charter which is broad enough to enable them to undertake that work. If they actually build the line and own it, there can then be no doubt that Consumers' Gas Company of Toronto would not be in a position to interfere with the larger project. If the pipe line were built by Trans-Canada Pipe Lines Limited there would then be no need to pass this private bill because Consumers' Gas Company would then not have to build a pipe line. I place that suggestion before the government and before those members who will be on the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines, as one way of making dead sure that Consumers' Gas Company cannot interfere with the construction of the Trans-Canada line.
My second suggestion is that the government give consideration to taking power to control the import of natural gas into Canada, just as they now have the power to control its export. As hon. members know, there is in existence a statute known as the Electricity and Fluid Exportation Act. It is chapter 93 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1952, and it provides for effective control by the Department of Trade and Commerce of the export of electrical power or energy and also of
petroleum, natural gas, water or other fluid, whether liquid or gaseous, capable of being exported through pipe lines or other like contrivances.
In that statute there is the clear-cut power to control exports. I think this new development is of such a nature that consideration should be given to taking similar power over imports. If that power were in existence there could then be no possibility of Consumers' Gas Company blocking the Trans-Canada project by piping in this gas from the United States.
The Americans have power to control both export and import. I have here their natural gas act. Section 3 reads as follows:
After six months from the date on which this act takes effect no person shall export any natural gas from the United States to a foreign country or import any natural gas from a foreign country without first having secured an order of the commission authorizing it to do so.
The reference, of course, is to the federal power commission of the United States. The section of the act continues:
The commission shall issue such order upon application, unless, after opportunity for hearing, it finds that the proposed exportation or importation will not be consistent with the public interest. The commission may by its order grant such application, in whole or in part, with such modification and upon such terms and conditions as the commission may find necessary or appropriate-
Then there is this further power which I would point out to hon. members:
-and may from time to time, after opportunity for hearing, and for good cause shown, make such supplemental order in the premises as it may find necessary or appropriate.
It is under that last portion of the section that the federal power commission of the United States can shut off the gas which is being exported to Canada if it can be shown that in their own country there are people who need that gas. I therefore suggest that the second way of making sure that the Trans-Canada project is not interfered with by the importation of United States gas would be by amending the Electricity and Fluid Exportation Act.
So much for suggestions as to what could be done. I now wish to make a suggestion concerning the manner in which this bill is dealt with in parliament. There is coming from the other place another bill which amends the charter of Trans-Canada Pipe Lines Limited. In view of the fact that both these companies are involved in this question, I think it would be wise to have those two bills considered at the same time by the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines. The members of that committee can see that the various witnesses are called, the two bills can be studied
together, and in that way we can go much further in making sure that the smaller project is not going to kill the larger one.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, there is one feature I should like to point out to the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) because the Pipe Lines Act comes directly under his jurisdiction. This bill now before us is not one asking for incorporation. It is a bill merely giving to a company, which has already been incorporated under the Ontario companies act, power to construct pipe lines. All the other pipe-line bills that have been passed by parliament have been bills granting charters. They have been in complete form, so the members could amend the charter and the Companies Act of the dominion applied.
Here we have not that situation at all. These people went to the registrar of companies in Ontario and merely obtained registration there. Now they come to this
parliament and ask for a bill authorizing them to construct a pipe line. The whole intention of parliament in dealing with these pipe lines was that there would have to be a charter granted by a private bill. As I say, that procedure has been followed in every other case. The minister himself made it quite clear that that was his idea as to the procedure under the Pipe Lines Act, when he put through the amendment to the Pipe Lines Act in December last. I am now quoting from page 621 of Hansard. I had asked him a question and he had this to say:
As I understand this amendment, it is still necessary for extra-provincial or interprovincial pipe lines to seek authority from this parliament by way of a special charter in order to apply to the board of transport commissioners for its location.
That is exactly what has not been done in this case. As a matter of fact this company was incorporated on the 11th of September, 1950, over a year after the Pipe Lines Act had been passed. Therefore the Consumers' Gas people must have known of the requirements of the Pipe Lines Act, but rather than come here to get a charter they formed their company under the Ontario companies act and now they are merely coming here to seek passage of this very short bill which gives them power to go ahead and construct a pipe line. That means that if they can get away with that, anybody else can. It would mean that a company could be formed under the British Columbia companies act and take the power to construct pipe lines, and then it would only need to come to this house and get a skeleton bill passed such as we have before us today.
I am quite sure that such a procedure is against the intent and the spirit of the Pipe Lines Act. I think the minister should inform
Niagara Gas Transmission Limited us whether he approves of a course of this kind being followed rather than having a proper charter approved by the Senate and the House of Commons in the shape of a proper bill.
I have nothing further to add. I place my two suggestions before the house. They may not be a solution. On the other hand, I think either one of them would meet what we all desire, and perhaps the government will see fit to take action along at least one of the lines suggested.
Subtopic: NIAGARA GAS TRANSMISSION LIMITED