May 31, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal


I have followed this
discussion with great interest. The name of a certain gentleman has been thrown into the debate, and I regret that it has ever been suggested that those who oppose this Bill are protecting a certain Mr. Backus. I was not informed in regard to this Bill until I heard the discussion this afternoon and evening, and I do not know Mr. Backus. I have no interest in the Bill except the duty which is mine, in common with the other members of the committee, to do what is right. The name of Mr. Backus should not be considered at all. What I consider is the fights of the province of Manitoba in the matter. Every one admits that these waters are largely, almost exclusively- my hon. friend (Mr. Pardee) says wholly-* Ontario waters. Of course this Government, to use the language of my hon. friend from West Toronto (Mr. Hocken), as the custodian of the natural resources of Manitoba, has also an interest in part of these waters. The concurrent rights of the province of Ontario have never been denounced; they have been recognized by this Government and this Parliament during this very session. We have passed a Bill, No. 23, in which nothing is said as regards those waters or dams or other works connected with the waters being for the general advantage of Canada. The rights of the province of Ontario appear in every clause of that Bill which was adopted by this House at this session. The board that was to be appointed was appointed by both the Government of Ontario and the Federal Government. The rules which were to be made were

to -be so made by the Governor General in Council and the Lieutenant Governor in Council of Ontario. The expenses of the board were to be paid by the province of Ontario and this Government. The regulations were to be made jointly by the Exchequer Court of Canada and the Supreme Court of Ontario. This Parliament clearly admitted and recognized the rights of the province of Ontario, and this cannot be denied. An agreement had been made that a similar Bill to the one that we passed was to be adopted by the legislature of Ontario; but this agreement failed to be carried out, and such a Bill was not adopted,-I do not care for what reason. Does that justify the Government or Parliament of Canada, being one of the coowners, in confiscating or taking over the whole thing and exercising full control? Has the failure of the legislature of Ontario to adopt that Bill given the control or ownership of the Ontario waters to this Government or this Parliament? This question has only to be put to receive its answer. This legislation is high-handed as the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) said; it is arbitrary; it is quite in line with the legislative record of this Government. I am glad that my right hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) admits that I am right in my contention. Ontario has rights in those waters. This is not denied; this has been recognized by this Parliament and this Government, and I for one do not feel justified in voting for a measure which constitutes a confiscation of the rights of Ontario, without our bearing the other party, as the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. Bureau) said. As I said, I have no interest whatever in this Bill; I am not a citizen of either province concerned in it; I speak on this legislation merely and simply as on a question of principle, and I suggest that before we pass this Bill, it would be elementary justice to try to come to an agreement to continue negotiations. This is not an admission that the measure is good, as the hon. member for West Toronto says; it would simply be fair to the other co-owner, to the principle owner of the property, to try to come to an agreement with him before taking control and exercising a right which is not ours.

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