I would like to suggest to the committee and to the minister an amendment which would come in as section 247a of the Code. Section 247 reads as follows:
Every one who has in his charge or under his control anything whatever, whether animate or inanimate, or who erects, makes or maintains anything whatever which in the absence of precaution or care, may endanger human life, is under a legal duty to take reasonable precautions against, and use reasonable care to avoid such danger, and is criminally responsible for the consequences of omitting, without lawful excuse, to perform such duty.
Under that section and some other analogous sections in the code, there is a recognition of the obligations on the part of the Dominion parliament to protect life against undue risk arising from the introduction of anything whatever which, in the absence of precaution and care, may cause injury or death. The proposed amendment reads as follows:
Section 247 of the Criminal Code is amended by adding thereto section 247a.
Every person w;ho transmits, or is a party to the transmission of electrical current of a higher voltage than 50,000, otherwise than upon a right-of-way not less than 60 feet wide, securely fenced on both sides, and under the exclusive control of such person, shall be guilty of a criminal offence, and in the case of a corporation shall be subject to a fine of not less than $10,000.
Provided, however, that this section shall not apply to crossings of railways, public highways, waterways and farms and other necessary crossings if reasonable precaution and care are used in making such crossings.
This amendment is intended to give some measure of protection against this increasing danger of people being killed or in jured on coming into contact with electric wires. On the 6th of May last, a man was killed near Beamsville as a result of coming into contact with a live wire on one of the transmission lines leading to Toronto, and a few days previously a boy was kill-
ed in Niagara through touching the live wire of a temporary transmission line running across the poles of a company whose works had been disarranged by the ice jam on the Niagara river, and we hear of other accidents from day to day. According to the best electrical experts, no proper device has yet been secured to guard against this great and growing evil. It is a danger which is especially serious during thunder storms, because the lightning is attracted by the strong current along the wires. The only practical safeguard suggested is that where high voltage is used it shall only be transmitted- over a private way properly fenced. Then the only element of risk is the imprudence of people who attempt to get upon such a way. It has been suggested to me that some such amendment as I have proposed would be a very proper one in the public interest.
I may say that the hon. member foT Welland (Mr. German) had intended to introduce this amendment, and I am doing so rather at his suggestion. I would ask the Minister of Justice and the committee to think it over. It seems to me to be one essential in the public interest.
Topic: SUPPLY-INTERNATIONAL WATERWAYS COMMISSION.
Subtopic: CRIMINAL CODE-AMENDMENT.