Hon. A. B. AYLESWORTH (Minister of Justice).
Mr. Speaker, the debate on the motion for the tfiird reading of this Bill was adjourned two weeks ago with the statement by the hon. gentleman who has moved the amendment (Mr. Northrup) that, in his view, it would be desirable that I Should make some further remarks in reference to the scope of the legislation proposed by the Bill and the amendment. I had already, when this Bill was in committee two weeks ago to-day, expressed the views I entertained of the proposition which the hon. gentleman had made, but he thought he had not apprehended correctly the circumstances of the particular case in which he is interested, and that I was not appreciating the importance of the amendment he was proposing as applied to the circumstances of that case. I was speaking at that time with nothing to rely upon but my memory of what the hon. gentleman had said with reference to this matter early in February last, but since then I have taken occasion to read again, and to read with care, the observations which the hon. member for East Hastings made on the 10th February last in reference to this matter, and after having read again these remarks of my hon. friend, I am quite unable to understand in what respect it is that my hon. friend thinks my memory was at fault, or that I failed to appreciate the point he was endeavouring to make with regard to the particular company in which he has interest and the subsidy paid to it. I have substantially nothing to add to the remarks I made in committee with reference to this matter two weeks ago, certainly nothing of value. The matter presented by my hon. friend seems to me today exactly as it seemed to me then-a proposition to apply to the facts of a particular case, not a remedy so much as the creating of a new right of action. The proposition made by my hon. friend in this amendment is not limited to the special ease in hand, but is simply a proposition that in every case in which any railway company has taken over the line of another railway company, although there has been at the time of such taking over no charge or encumbrance whatever upon the line so taken over, the company which does so take over the line would be liable to make good any obligations which might rest upon
the other company In the way of operating the line so taken over. That would manifestly be to create a new right of action, a new claim, new obligations upon the company which so takes over the line of a company which is under an obligation of some character as to the operating of that line. It is not any mere new remedy that my hon. friend is proposing, but something of a much more radical character.
In that view it seems to me the proposition is one that ought not to commend itself to the House. The clause under consideration is a clause not giving any new cause of action to any person but simply giving a new remedy by application to the Board of Railway Commissioners. If any railway company has entered into an obligation and made a breach of that obligation it is liable to be pursued in au action for the recovery of damages. That liability to an action for payment of the damages caused by its breach of obligation is not touched in any way by the legislation now under consideration. That is a liability in the ordinary courts of the country and that liability will remain exactly as it has existed ever since courts were established, without reference to whether or not the clause in the Bill now under consideration becomes law. If the clause is passed it will afford a new remedy for such a breach of obligation. The person who suffers by reason of that breach of obligation, will not as at present be restricted to a suit to recover damages, but he may resort to the Board of Railway Commissioners under the provision in question and ask that the contract which he complains has been broken should be specifically performed by the company on which the obligation to perform it rests. That I take it is substantially the full scope of the legislation which is proposed by the Minister of Railways. It Is simply applying a new remedy for breaches of contract on the part of companies under some obligation to do some certain thing. To that, my hon. friend from East Hastings (Mr! Northrop) wants to add what I have described as something which is to create an entirely new sort of obligation and to impose that obligation not upon the company which has undertaken it, but upon some other company to which the undertaking company has transferred its property. To my mind that would be an altogether dangerous and inadvisable thing to do. In the remarks made by my hon. friend (Mr. Northrop) when this clause was last under consideration on the 17th instant, he seemed to put his case upon what to my mind was a new ground; a ground which if he had indicated previously he had at all events not at ail emphasized or made the strong point In his case; the ground, namely: That in this instance the money paid by way of subsidy had been fraudulently obtained.