Take, for instance, a company or an individual which has leased from the government water-power to run a saw mill or for any purpose other than the development of electricity. They have a perpetual lease, or a lease for a long period, but they have ceased using this power for mill purposes. Would they require to go to the government and get a new lease in order to entitle them to use that water-power for the development of electricity, and would this section apply to them?
It would depend upon the conditions of their contract. If their lease was limited to certain purposes, I suppose they could not go outside those purposes; or if they did, their lease might be cancelled or a new lease executed.
I explained when we went into committee that, owing to the very technical conditions arising and which will continue to arise every day with reference to powers that are being increased by public works, such as the building of the Trent canal, it is impossible, in some cases, on account of existing contracts, for us to apply this provision without interfering with these contracts. But in all new contracts where we at all have the power, we are putting this in.
Ordinarily speaking, this condition should go into all new contracts, but the minister explains that some contracts, which might be regarded as new, are in reality merely a continuation of old contracts, although the new contracts may give an increased amount of power. Then inasmuch as that description of new contracts merely continues old conditions, and as the old conditions include contracts already made between the lessees and other persons-for instance between a town or a village and its inhabitants-the minister has not found himself able to include this new condition in new contracts of that description for the reason that to do so would seem to interfere with existing vested rights under contracts created years ago. But except in those cases, this condition is included in all new leases or contracts for the use of water belonging to the Crown.
My hon. friend from Victoria (Mr. Sam. Hughes) inquired whether in these cases the lessee gets more power. I understand from the minister that, in some cases at least, he does. Inasmuch as a new contract includes the old power, which is already under lease to private individuals, he does not want to interfere with that contract?
It is a difficult situation to work out exactly. In a great many cases the policy we are trying to adopt is to take over the property altogether of these people and re-lease them certain powers. It is a matter of arrangement. Where they have subleases with which this provision would interfere, we cannot very well apply it, but in every new lease we do.
Here is a company which has the right to develop 100 horse power, but under the changed conditions, the water develops 1,000 horse power. Does that company get the 1,000 horse power for the same sum as it did the 100?
It might become possessed of all the power, but it would have to pay a good deal more. We take over its rights altogether and make a new contract, but we have to protect any contracts which are existing under the old lease.
Most of the leases are 'for twenty-one years and renewable. The conditions are generally retained when the leases are renewed, but the prices may be changed; and I assure my hon. friend that if I had a new lease to make, unless I were precluded altogether on account of existing contracts under the old lease, I would put this clause in the new one.
Take the case where a municipality has already, under lease from the Crown, acquired certain rights, such as the case of the town of Trenton. I can quite understand why the provisions of this Bill should not apply to the conditions existing under that old lease. But, if I understand the minister correctly, by the work that is going on in the Trent canal the power will be developed to a greater extent and the municipality of Trenton will be able to generate a greater amount of power than under the old conditions. While clause 1 of the Act should not apply to the municipality of Trenton to the extent of the power they developed under the old condition, why should it not apply to the extent of the additional power that is generated under the new conditions. In other words, the town of Trenton will be getting an additional amount of
power to sell to their customers-say in the city of Belleville or the town of Trenton-and they will be under no control at all. They can impose any terms they like, and having control of that power they can use it very much to the disadvantage of the people surrounding if they should be so disposed. It seems to me the clause might be made to apply to the extent of any additional power generated under the new conditions.
As I have explained several times to deputations, I have had it in mind that where we could assist the municipalities by giving them the power under a fair arrangement we were rather inclined to do so. I have never thought of putting any restrictions directly upon the municipality in dealing with its own power, particularly as Trenton has acquired rights there that we have to get before we can proceed with our work. Unless expropriation proceedings were taken in a great many of these cases, it has to be a matter of arrangement, and it is a good deal better for the department to make agreements than it would be to expropriate. The town of Trenton has acquired rights in the stream, and speaking from memory the arrangement is that we should take over all the rights they have and .re-lease to them at a certain rate the power that will be developed.
All the power, and mark you, we have to get the consent of the town of Trenton to release to us the title to what they now have. There are two sides to it; they concede us that and we concede to them the right to the use of all the power at a certain rate. In a lease of that kind it was not my intention to put any restriction on the municipality.
I agree with the minister and I approve of the Bill so far as the municipality of Campbellford is concerned. I do not think that any municipality isho owns the water-power, or has leased the water-power, or had any rights upon the Trent river previous to the building of the canal should be interfered with. I think these municipalities should be allowed to sell their power within their own limits at whatever price they sarw fit. With regard to developing a greater number of horse-power, we must not forget that the lessees are only entitled to the surplus water and we never can tell exactly how many horse-power will be developed because the waters in these rivers are not always the same height, and in a dry season there will be less water and less power developed than in another season in which there may be rain I agree with 36
the Bill in so far as it restricts the lessees of power from the Crown forming a combine as to price. Under this Bill they cannot combine to put the price up high, and therefore those making applications for power will not be prevented from establishing industries in a municipality. I approve of the clause which puts the lessees under the Railway Commission and I approve of the Bill as a whole.
Substituted section 372, semi-annual return of accidents.