March 12, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)



I am not saying that at all. Here is the conclusion of the report of the Hon. J. H. Gray in 1871:
But there can be no doubt that an excellent practical coda of law, simple in its language, easily understood, expeditious and economical in Its administration, could be found by a judicious selection of the best of the laws of each of the provinces, by men who were severally acquainted with them.'
In this preliminary report to the then Minister of Justice, Mr. Gray sets forth the essential differences which exist between the statutory laws of these three provinces-The hon. gentleman who has moved this resolution has expressed his surprise that since that date no serious effort has been made to bring about uniformity, and he attributes that-not in this House, but in a lecture he delivered before the Dominion Bar Association-he attributes that to what he calls the vis inertiae of our parliamentary system. I would attribute it rather to the fact that no serious inconvenience, no real grievance existed. When I use the word ' grievance,' I do not mean the embarrassment which must result to the members of the Bar in the exercise of their profession, but I refer to grievances which result to the provinces themselves. I am confident that those provinces are jealous of their civil laws, and rightly so. They form part of the customs of the people, aud as the Minister of Justice has said, if any legislation would give over to this parliament the control of the civil laws in the provinces,'then the usefulness of the provinces would be at an end.
There is another consideration. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Russell) has said that section 94 would apply only to the provinces of Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Therefore, if the other provinces did not come under the provisions of section 94, we would have the western provinces, Manitoba and British Columbia-and later on the North-west Territories-and we would have in the east Prince Edward Island and Quebec with their different laws. Therefore, from a geographical point of view, at any rate, the uniformity which the hon. gentleman aims at could not be obtained. There is a still further consideration. Supposing that the parliament of Canada would enact uniform laws for these three provinces and that the provinces would sanction these laws, then the local requirements in each province would require amendments to be made. These amendments may meet the requirements of one province only and not of the other two provinces. What would the parliament of Canada then do, and what would become of the uniformity of civil laws in the three provinces of Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. The hon. gen-

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