Mr. Speaker, this Bill is a somewhat elaborate and comprehensive document, and if I were to give to it the time which it deserves, my explanation would probably keep the House here over the Easter recess. As hon. members are aware, there is no Bankruptcy Act in Canada. In that respect, Canada differs from practically every other civilized country; and it is proposed by this Bill to put Canada in line with other countries. As the House is aware, bankruptcy is within the purview of the Federal authority. No province can legislate with regard to bankruptcy, because of the fact that that subject is particularly declared in the British North America Act to be-like banking, railways, and so on-within the purview of the Federal authority. Of course, in the absence of any Bankruptcy Act, provided by
the Federal authority, the provincial. authority has done what it could to correct the anomaly which now exists.
The main purpose of a Bankruptcy Act, as I understand it, is to see to. it that a debtor in certain cases obtains a discharge *from his creditors. Now, we have not since 1880 had anything of the kind in this country, and i-t is high time that a .measure of this kind should he passed. It is usual in these days for ho.n, gentlemen, in .introducing Bills to state that they are merely introduced as war measures. That seems to cover a multitude of sins-anything iwhioh you can declare to he a war measure receives the attention of this House. I think I can claim for this Bill that it is essentially a war measure at this particular time. We must be prepared, when the war comes to a close, to be able to' handle the .situation which is bound to arise in this country as a result of the long-continued struggle and of the readjustments that will have to. be made. Our legislation will have [DOT]to be sufficiently elastic to take care of the [DOT]situation. Many people will find at the end of the war that it will be necessary for them to reconsider their position; .'and it is only right, I -submit, that the necessary legislation should be provided for that purpose.
At present no distinction whatever is made as between the honest and the dishonest debtor in the matter of obtaining a discharge; they are all thrown into the discard. By this measure it is proposed that the courts shall carefully scrutinize the business dealings and the business relations of traders, and shall make a distinction- shall separate the sheep from the goats. (When- the court is. of the opinion that a debtor has been obliged to' assign through misfortune, he .should be given, the necessary relief. If, on the other hand, it should .be found, in scrutinizing his .affaire, that he wrecked his own business wilfully, then, of course, he should receive no- relief whatever. That is the crux of every 'bankruptcy law, and it" is for that reason that I have introduced this Bill for the consideration of hon. members.