Probably there were two or more fines. In any event, if I am not mistaken that case was prosecuted on the initiative of and because of pressure supplied by the federal authorities. In the instance that has been referred to by the hon. member for Huron North, the initial report by the commissioner is very damaging. I have had some information in regard to the matter apart from the report which would indicate a definite combine; and for the moment leaving aside the question of price fixing, there is clearly disclosed the other feature of restraint of trade. The operation of the combine, or of the associated members of the combine, has resulted in driving an independent competitor out of business.
May I suggest to the minister that a number of ways are open to him. One, and I suppose the most orthodox, would be to leave it to the attorney general of the province to take action. Another way would be to proceed, as the minister and the hon.
* member for Huron North have indicated the government have power to proceed, under the Customs Tariff. There is a third way,
I suggest; that is, under the Dominion Trade and Industry Commission Act. It is true that this commission is somewhat restricted because of the privy council decisions, but speaking subject to correction I believe certain parts of this act were declared intra vires, and I understand that the commission exists. As to personnel, of course, it is the same as the tariff board, but it exists as a commission under this act.
Let me assume that the attorney general is not disposed to take action. In that case there would seem to be no reason why the minister should not refer the report of the commissioner under the Combines Investigation Act to the trade and industry commission. That commission, while restricted as to mandatory power, at least could have a public hearing in the matter and thoroughly investigate it under section 23, which deals with unfair trade practices. Then, whatever may be the limitation of their power in issuing cease and desist orders, at least through the publicity given they could in all probability bring about some degree of remedy. My own feeling, however, is that where a case is made out, as I am confident a case has been made out in this instance, the federal authorities of their own initiative ought to insist on a prosecution. I do not see the Minister of Justice here, but any legal member of the house thoroughly acquainted with the law will correct me if I am wrong when I say that I do not think there is anything in the law which prevents the federal authorities from initiating such a prosecution. I know the law contemplates that this shall be done by the attorney general; there is no question about that, but I do not think the federal authorities are precluded from taking action when the provincial attorney general refrains from doing so.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR