Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend from Labelle has raised a question to which my attention has been called on several occasions, that is to say, the northern counties, and particularly the constituency represented by the hon. gentleman, have no other communications with the markets than by the Lievre river, and from what he has stated, the passage of the river is obstructed by the works of a private company.
There is one thing I do not understand: why should that private company or any company whatsoever arrogate to itself the right of preventing the other lumber companies or the other citizens from using the river? A river is a public road. True, a company may possess exclusive rights; but, at least, that must be under a special Act granting a monopoly. There is nothing in common law that debars any one from the free use, without obstruction, of any river.
My hon. friend is a lawyer, a man of high standing at the bar and a patriotic member of this House. Let me remind him that in the case of Caldwell against Mac-laren, that question has been tried by the judicial committee of the Privy Council, and the law lords decided that Maclaren, who had built a dam, had no right to close, the river to Caldwell who owned limits further up stream. The lords of the Privy Council most emphatically declared that Caldwell had a right to use the river as a public road.
In the case referred to by my hon. friend, there is a position which I fail to grasp, and I would like to see the charter of the company. I cannot understand how that company can exercise such a monopoly. I do not know whether it is in virtue of a general statute passed by the Dominion or by the province, or even if it goes back to confederation.
The question deserves consideration. As I told my hon. friend who called the attention of the government to that matter, I hope that sooner or later and sooner than later, we shall be able to afford the settlers whom he represents here, the means of facilitating the carrying out of their work.
My hon. friend has stated that those people had applied for a railway charter, which they had been denied. I may tell him again, as I said before, that should a company be organized with a view to the building of a railway in that district, the government will be happy to grant them a subsidy.
Subtopic: SETTLERS' GRIEVANCES IN LABELLE.