March 14, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)


I do not think the hon. member's argument is very strong, especially in view of Canadian history. We know how individuals have become possessed of many of these waterways, even from the Crown, without the Crown realizing anything in return. Now if we had a declaration from the government as to what their policy was, if we had regulations by which the public would own what was got out of these water-powers, and upon what terms they wouid be alienated, then we would understand it, and we could provide against any dangers happening in future, similar to those that have happened in the past.
Now, the hon. gentleman who spoke previously (Mr. Carvell) said they cannot get control of this by expropriation. In what other way could they get control? There are many other ways, but one way is that they may get control of it secretly from the government at a low rental, not to the advantage, but to the disadvantage, of the country. The hon. gentleman made reference to the incorporation of the Burrard Inlet Tunnel and Bridge Company. He says that the members of the opposition are not consistent because., they were willing to allow that Bill to pass. The hon. member for North Lanark (Mr. Haggart) gave, to my mind, a very satisfactory answer to that, and that was that the right to get control of water-powers must be according to the law of the province and, therefore, it is plain and open to the world, but to say that there is any comparison between that Bill of the Burrard Inlet Tunnel and Bridge Company and this Bill, is to say what is not justified by the facts. What is the situation there? There are three corporations, they want to have a highway between these corporations, which highway must pass over the water or under it by, tunnel, and they have joined, not for the purpose of private speculation by any means, but for the purpose of accommodating these three great cities. It is true that it was put in the name of private individuals, hut these individuals were satisfactory to these corporations and were acting for them, and they do not desire to go into this undertaking for the purpose of making personal gain for themselves but for the purpose of accommodating these cities. Therefore, the committee went farther than they would have done had they been dealing with private individuals in giving the rights which they did under this Bill, There is no reasonable comparison between the two Bills. But in reference to this other Bill, I have it before me here, and it says that they are to acquire these rights under section 247 of the Railway Act, but they are not to have the right to expropriate. Of course, my hon. friend from Lanark says what is strictly correct, that they cannot expropriate what belongs to the Crown, but they can get it sometimes privately from the Crown for very much less than it is worth. If the government in future would lease all these water-powers at a reasonable rental, it would be a very good policy in the interest of the country. We should lease them and get a return for the country. If it is the federal government that own them, the return would come to the federal treasury; if it is the provincial government, the provincial government would get the rent. That would be a wise policy, and I have wondered for years and years why the government never gave the House any inkling of its desire to conserve what belongs to the people so that they could get the benefit of such water-powers rather than that they should be handed over to enrich private corporations. We want to know what the government intend to do with these water-powers, because almost every week during

the session we have some Bill that seeks to acquire some rights of this kind. We have to view these Bills in such a way as we deem to be proper, because the government have not yet laid down any wise policy or rule to guide us in dealing with these questions. It would save the time of the committee and of this House if they did so, it would as well preserve to the country a beneficial interest in what belongs to the country, and it would put a stop to the practice of giving these water-powers to private individuals without a fair and reasonable return to the country.

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