It is up to the railway companies to keep their smoke stacks in order. If damage occurs, they should pay all damage over the insurance, provided it is proved that they are responsible for the fire. I do not see why any private individual should lose on account of that fire. I do not think the burden of proving that a smoke stack is not in order should be placed on the individual.
When the hon. member for Compton (Mr. Cromwell) spoke to me about this matter I thought, perhaps, we would be justified in increasing the amount. After listening to those hon. gentlemen who have been discussing the question, and after reading subsection 7, which reads:
Nothing in the last two preceding subsections shall prevent or prejudice any action or claim against the company for failure to use modern and efficient appliances or for other negligence-
I can readily understand that action can be taken against a company for any other negligence as well as for inefficient appliances, and I am satisfied now that the claim made by the hon. member for Compton is fully covered by subsection 7.
A railway company is a very big corporation, and an individual is at a disadvantage in contending with it. He might not think it worth his while to take action against a large corporation, and, perhaps, be the loser. The individual who sustains the loss should be protected and should not have to take into consideration the fact that he is up against a big corporation. The Government should see that the individual losing through a fire, whether caused by a big corporation or by a, small corporation, should be protected.
I am just a little interested in this matter. Although it has never happened in my own immediate locality, I have heard of great damage sustained by individuals who were not in a position to prove where the damage had originated. We knew from the circumstances of the
case that it had originated with the railway company, but it was impossible to prove exactly where, and the company took advantage of this fact. We knew, and the company knew, that they were responsible for the damages, but because the man could not produce the evidence necessary to fix it on the company, he had to sustain the loss. I think when the proof is sufficient that the railway company is responsible, they should be made to pay the damages.
The difficulty is to prove where they are responsible. Several companies were using the same line. During the night several trains passed, and the damage was caused. The individual could not prove to the court nor to the committee which had the matter in charge which com-'pany was responsible, and had to sustain the loss himself.
Perhaps my hon. friend was not following the change made by the hon. membeT from St. Johns and Iberville (Mr. Demers), and accepted by the committee. He suggested a change which provided that the company which operates the railway over which the locomotive is being used is responsible for the damage.
I cannot see how it would be any disadvantage to the railway companies to place the sum at $10,000 instead of $5,000. We are operating a railway ourselves, and if we do any damage we have no disposition not to settle for the damage. The people of this country have given charters to the railway corporations, and I do not see any reason why those railways should not be responsible. It is only a matter of protecting the individual who is living close to the right of way and who may be in.danger of fire.