July 18, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)

LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Air. SINCLAIR:

I sympathize with the views of the hon, member for Carleton, N.B. (Air. Carvell) and the hon. member for North Oxford (Mr. Nesbitt) and I voted against this clause in committee. I am still of the same opinion. I am especially opposed to that part of the section which . has a retroactive effect. I agree with the minister that a city ought to have control of its own streets. But when we go back for ten years for the purpose of. taking away from a company right, which they acquired in a proper and legal way from this Parliament, and which they have exercised ever since, I think we do something for which there is no justification. Their title to the rights which they claim was sustained by the highest court in the Empire, the Privy Council. We are undertaking in the latter part of this section to take away and nullify the rights that were given the Toronto and Niagara Power Company under a decision of the Privy Council. That is confiscation. While I agree with the minister that in the future the city ought to have the right to control its own streets, and while I would vote for that, I

do not agree with him that we ought to put this retroactive clause in because it would mean taking away a right that was given to this company by an Act of Parliament, and a right which has been sustained by the decision of the highest court in the realm. There is no doubt that it is confiscation. A letter explaining the position was written to the chairman of this committee which I do not think has yet been placed on Hansard. It is as follows:
National Trust Company, Limited,
Toronto, May 26, 1917i Joseph E. Armstrong, Esq., M.P.,
Chairman of Committee sitting on Revision of Railway Act,
Parliament Buildings,
Ottawa, Ont.
Dear Sir,-
We are trustees under a bond mortgage dated March 1, 1903, securing an issue of bonds of The Electrical Development Company of Ontario, Limited, maturing in 1933. The total amount of this issue now outstanding is $9,669,500, and of this amount approximately $2,500,000 were issued directly to the British public, and an additional $5,014,000 is held by the British. Empire Trust Company, Limited, of London, England, as security for the debenture stock of the Toronto Power Company, Limited, which debenture stock was issued to the British public. The practical situation, therefore, is that the loss which would be occasioned by any impairment of the security for the bonds of The Electrical Development Company of Ontario, Limited, would primarily fall upon British investors.
As trustees under the said bond mortgage, we hold here as part of the mortgaged premises the whole of the $1,500,000 of bonds and practically all of the capital stock of the Toronto and Niagara Power Company. By reason of these holdings, the bondholders of the Electrical Development Company are entitled, as one of the most important parts of their security, not only to the benefit of the physical assets of the Toronto and Niagara Power Company represented by its present and future transmission and distribution lines and other properties but also to the benefit of all its franchises, rights and corporate powers.
The Toronto and Niagara Power Company is a Dominion company incorporated by Chapter 107 of the Statutes of Canada, 2 Edward VII (1902). We are advised that under its Act of Incorporation'the Toronto and Niagara Power Company has, amongst other rights:
(a) The right to supply hydraulic, electric or other power by means of cables, machinery or other appliances;
(b) The right to acquire, construct, maintain and operate works for the production, sale and distribution of electricity and power for any purpose for which such electricity or power can be used ;
(c) The right to construct, maintain and operate lines of wires, poles, tunnels, conduits and other works In the manner and to the extent required for the corporate purposes of the company, and to conduct, store, sell and supply electricity and other power and with such lines of wire, poles, conduits, motors or other conductors or devices to conduct, convey, furnish or receive such electricity to or
from any person at any place, through, over, along or across any publie highway, bridges, viaducts, railways, water courses, or over or under any waters, etc., and
(d) To erect poles, construct trenches or conduits or do other things necessary for the transmission of heat or light as fully as the circumstances of the case may require, provided the same are so constructed as not to incommode the public use of streets, highways or public places, or to impede the access to any house or other building erected in the vicinity thereof, or to interrupt the navigation of any waters, the company, however, being responsible for all damages which it causes in carrying out or maintaining any of its works.
The powers of the Toronto and Niagara Power Company including those above mentioned, may be exercised without the consent of any municipal corporation, the right of the company to so exercise them having been, as we are advised, affirmed by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council In the case of the Toronto and Niagara Power Company v. Corporation of the Town of North Toronto, 1912, A.C. page 834.
"We have been apprised that your Committee is now considering Bill No. 13, an Act to consolidate and amend the Railway Act, certain provisions of which, if enacted in the form in which they appear in the copy of the Bill which we have seen, would seriously limit and impair the rights, powers and privileges of the Toronto and Niagara Power Company, and would correspondingly affect the security for the bonds of The Electrical Development Company of Ontario, Limited. *
It is, of course, obvious that the value of the undertaking of the Toronto and Niagara Power Company depends wholly on its ability to market the power which it transmits from Niagara over its transmission lines, and an impairment of its ability to effect such distribution would, therefore, result in serious loss to the holders of the bonds of the Electrical Development Company.
As trustees for the bondholders of the Electrical Development Company of Ontario, Limited, under the circumstances above set out, we beg respectfully to submit that the provisions of the draft Act to consolidate and amend the Railway Act, above referred to, should be so amended as not to impair or limit the charter rights of the Toronto and Niagara Power Company, or that the Toronto and Niagara Power Company, should be excepted from their operation, so long as any of the bonds of the Electrical Development Company of Ontario, Limited, remain outstanding.
Tours faithfully,
Trust Officer^
I have no brief to act for any of these parties. I never had any consultation with any of them. I never heard anything in connection with this question except what I heard publicly before the committee. My objection is that we are confiscating a right to which this company is legally entitled. I am surprised that the minister is making such a proposal to the House. I have great faith in his fairness, and I was able to agree with him on nearly everything in connection with this Railway

Act white we were considering it, excepting this one thing. I cannot make up my mind to agree to the course pursued by the minister in regard to this matter, and I want to put myself on record as opposed to it, and to vote against it.

Topic:   P520 COMMONS
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