February 15, 1909

CON
LIB
CON
LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

I know my hon. friend would perhaps be the better of a little of it. I was trying to enlighten him, if I could. I won't say at this stage that I will undertake to satisfy my hon. friend that I am right, but if he will tell me where he can draw the line between what is international and what is not international water, he will give me some information that I would like to get. The Pigeon river is an international boundary,-there can be no doubt about that.

Topic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

George Halsey Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PERLEY.

For what distance is it an international boundary?

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LIB
CON
LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

Yes, the Pigeon river and the lakes in that water route extend from Lake Superior to the north west angle of the Lake of the Woods, a distance of nearly three hundred miles. If I understand correctly the argument of hon. gentlemen opposite, the question of jurisdiction would be a fair subject for legislation. I have read some newspaper articles in which it is declared that there is no more right in this parliament to grant a charter to deal with an international stream than there is to deal with any navigable stream. Perhaps some of the hon. gentlemen on the other side will enlighten us upon that point. I was referring to the Bill that passed this House in connection with the Rainy River Development Company-the Ontario and Minnesota Power Bill. That Bill did not afford sufficient protection to the public. Local interests petitioned parliament for and obtained sweeping amendments to the Bill providing for the distribution of electricity, for the outflow of the water through the waste weirs, for the establishment of the works on the Canadian side of the international boundary,-for if these waste weirs were not on the Canadian side of the boundary how could this government control the flow of the water? and how could navigation be protected below the dam if the company could hold back the waters for a week, or, as they might do, for months? For the area of Rainy lake is very great, and it would take a long time to raise its level greatly even though all the water were held back. By exercising this power, the

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company could destroy navigation on the river below. I do not need to argue that (question very much. But it is to the interest of a power company to hold back the flow of water until the period of low water, and then to draw the level down gradually so as to maintain their power at their power station. The result of this policy might be to make a difference of twelve or fifteen feet in the level of the lake-I am speaking of Rainy lake. I have seen differences in the level of that lake varying from six to twelve feet, the result merely of natural conditions, the precipitation and the nature of the season. These are matters that must sooner or later be provided for and dealt with by some authority; and I would ask hon. gentlemen opposite if they think the provincial authority has power to regulate it. I believe it has not, for it has no power over navigable waters. It is .said that because the province owns the land over which the waters flow they have paramount control.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

May I ask a question? Does the hon. gentleman contend that if, in a river three hundred miles long, there is a portion fifty miles long that is navigable, therefore the Dominion has control over the whole stream?

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

It certainly has control over that portion that is navigable. I am not going to draw so fine a line as the hon. gentleman (Mr. Sproule) has in his mind.

Topic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

This Bill takes over the whole stream.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

No, but one point on the stream. In my opinion ' navigable stream ' means not only the river itself, but also the tributaries back to the watershed of the river. For, if that were not the case, it would be an easy matter to dry up the stream. I can give the hon. gentleman a case in point. In the United States the control of navigable waters is in the Secretary of War,-as these waters may be needed for purposes of defence, they are put in control of that department. The Fox river, in Wisconsin, which is the outlet of Lake Winnebago, enters Lake Michigan at Green bay. It is in about a similar position to the Nipigon. The distance from the mouth to the source of the Fox river is 45 miles. There are established along this river at Appleton, combined locks and at other points, some of the largest pulp and paper manufacturing industries in the United States. These power companies, in order to secure water for their works, had control of the lake by a dam. They drew the water down to such a level as to destroy navigation. The wharfs at the villages along the lake shore could not be reached by boat because of the low water. The federal

authorities of the United States closed the outflow, and compelled these companies to maintain the lake at mean level. It is as inevitable as anything can be that this parliament must, some day, grapple with these questions. But these questions are not raised in this Bill. The hon. member for West Algoma (Mr. Boyce) says that this Bill was defeated in this House. That is not the case.

Topic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPBOULE.

He said it was defeated in the Senate.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

He said it was defeated in this House too. It passed the Senate two years ago, but did not come to a vote in this House. And the hon. member for East Grey (Mr. Sproule) knows very well the reason why it did not come to a vote- he obstructed it, and so the Bill was not reached. This is a very much improved Bill. I said that I did not propose to discuss the Bill on thi3 occasion. But I am willing to discuss it, and seeing that discussion is forced upon me, I will say a few words concerning it. I would ask hon. members, what is there in this Bill that interferes with provincial rights? I ask the hon. member who has already spoken and others who are yet to speak to answer that question.

Topic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Perhaps I may be permitted to say a word at this point. Suppose that on a certain stream, three hundred miles long, there is navigable water for a distance of fifty miles, and that on the rest of the stream there are many available water-powers. Now, these water-powers are regarded by the province as their asset,, and they propose to work them and control them. This Bill interferes with that right.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

The hon. member, (Mr. Sproule) is entirely mistaken. The Bill takes away no rights from the province. The river is not three hundred miles long, but about forty-five miles long, and it is navigable throughout its length except at the several falls. If my recollection is correct, there is a total fall of over three hundred feet on the river, and there are seven or eight points at which about 25,000 horse power can be developed. This Bill asks for but one. Hon. gentlemen must bear in mind that it is not in the nature of a monopoly. It has been so represented, and I fear, notwithstanding the explanation of the fact, it will be still misrepresented. But there are seven or eight other points on the river at which an equal amount of power can be developed, that is, the same volume of water and the same head can be obtained at different points. This Bill asks for one. Now I may ask, does the province own the stream? I am told by very eminent legal men that there is no ownership in water, and that if there is in this case, it Mr. CONMEE.

certainly does not belong to the province. As I stated a moment ago, it is more or less international in character, because it is a feeder of these international waters that divide the two countries; there can be no question about that. The Bill merely gives this company power to go on and construct works. If the province of Ontario own any land, any rights, if they own a water privilege, why, they must be paid for it; it cannot be taken for nothing; they will have to be dealt with and their rights satisfied.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

Is the hon. gentleman not aware that the Ontario government to-day is claiming jurisdiction over this very river, the Nipigon river, under its power law?

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

I am aware that the province of Ontario is objecting to all these Bills. They have an agent here and have had for the last four or five years, yet the Bills have gone through just the same.

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CON
LIB

February 15, 1909