An hon. MEMBER:
Subtopic: ABOLITION OF APPEALS TO THE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL
Bill No. 8, respecting The Quebec Railway, Light and Power Company.-Mr. Parent (Quebec West and South).
Hon. C. H. CAHAN (St. Lawrence-St. George) moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 9, to amend, the Supreme Court Act. He said: Mr. Speaker, I have a very short explanation to make with regard to this bill, which is different in some respects from the bill I introduced a year ago. This bill is entitled an "Act to amend the Supreme Court Act." The Supreme Court Act was first enacted in 1875, and section 47 of that act now appears without any change as section 54 of chapter 35 of the revised statutes of Canada, 1927. This bill proposes the repeal of section 54 and, by way of its amendment, the substitution of a new section in a modified form. In the earlier colonial period the governor of each of the British American provinces and the members of his council, who were selected and appointed by the governor, were constituted a court having supreme appellate jurisdiction in the province. Governors in council then exercised both political and judicial functions and an appeal from their decisions was allowed to the king in council, who then exercised political and judicial supremacy over all possessions and dependencies of the crown. Appeals from the governor in council of a colony to the king in council at Westminster were regulated by a statute enacted by the parliament at Westminster known as the Judicial Committee Act of 1833. By the regulations made by the government at Westminster under the terms of that act appeals from the governor in council to the queen in council were restricted in commercial matters to cases in which the judgment appealed from was £500 or more. In 1841, in a Prince Edward Island case, Samuel Cambridge, to obviate a multiplicity of suits, petitioned for leave to appeal from a judgment of a lower court of the amount of £135, although under the governor's instructions an appeal from a judgment of that amount did not lie either to the governor in council or the king in council. The judicial committee, Lord Brougham, then Lord Chancellor, presiding, declined to entertain this appeal and rendered its opinion that the appeal of Cambridge from the judgment of a lower court in the colony, other than the king in council, could not be entertained by the judicial committee under the terms of the Judicial Committee Act, 1833. Thereupon Lord Brougham introduced and the parliament at Westminster enacted a bill which has since then been known as the Judicial Committee Act, 1844. This act provided for the admission of appeals to the judicial committee from any judgment of any court of justice within any British colony or possession abroad. It thereby allowed appeals direct to the judicial committee from any minor court in any province or colony. The fourth of the Quebec conference resolutions of 1864 stipulated that the general parliament then proposed for Canada should have power to make laws for: The establishment of a general court of appeal for the federated provinces. Section 101 of the British North America Act, 1867, subsequently enacted that: The parliament of Canada may, notwithstanding anything in this act, from time to time provide for the constitution, maintenance and organization of a general court of appeal for Canada. During the parliamentary session of 1875 the Supreme Court Act was enacted, constituting such a general court of appeal for Canada. This act, in the section which I am now proposing that this parliament should amend, declared that the judgment of the
Abolition of Privy Council Appeals court, that is of the Supreme Court of Canada, "shall in all cases be final and conclusive." That declaration is again affirmed in the amending section now proposed. But the judicial committee at that time took umbrage at the declaration of the Supreme Court Act that the judgments of the court should in all cases be final and conclusive, and prepared and submitted to the government at Westminster a memorandum in which they declared that to abolish this controlling power and abandon each colony and dependency to a separate court of appeal of its own would obviously be to renounce the last and most essential mode of exercising the authority of the crown over its possessions abroad. Thus it clearly appears that eight years after the enactment of the British North America Act, 1867, Canada was still regarded as a colony, dependency and possession of the crown, over which her majesty's most honourable privy council, that is, the government of the United Kingdom, should continue to exercise dominion and supervision, although even then there was in Canada a growing consciousness of nationhood, which demanded that within well defined limitations the prerogatives of the crown should be exercised in respect of Canada by his majesty on the advice of the king's privy council for Canada. Since then changes have gradually been effected in the constitutional powers of this dominion until the statute of Westminster, 1931, enacted that, except as to the provisions of the British North America acts, the powers of the parliament of Canada shall include the power to repeal or amend any act of the parliament of the United Kingdom, or any order, rule or regulation made thereunder, in so far as the same is now part of the law of this dominion. In the exercise of the power then conferred this bill now proposes the repeal of the Judicial Committee Acts of 1833 and 1844 and of all orders, rules and regulations made under the said acts, in so far as the same are part of the law of Canada, in order and to the end that the judgments of His Majesty's Supreme Court in Canada which are rendered in the name and on behalf of his majesty, may, instead of the judgments of a committee of his majesty's government at Westminster, be and be deemed to be the final and conclusive exercise of his majesty's prerogative in all legal and constitutional controversies arising in respect of Canadian affairs. As all such legal reforms should be effected without undue haste and with due regard for the public interest, the second section of this bill provides that the proposed act shall come into force upon a date to be fixed by proclamation of the governor in council, published in the Canada Gazette. Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.
On the orders of the day:
Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, hon. members of the house will, I am sure, regret to learn that the Hon. John Campbell Elliott has thought it advisable for reasons of health to tender his resignation as Postmaster-General. Mr. Elliott's resignation has been accepted by His Excellency the Governor General. I am glad to be able to say that Mr. Elliott has told me that once relieved of the responsibilties of office, he hopes to be able again to take his seat as a member of this house and to continue to serve in that capacity.
I should like to lay on the table the correspondence which has taken place between Mr. Elliott and myself with respect to Mr. Elliott's resignation. Perhaps hon. members will allow the correspondence to appear in Hansard and thereby avoid the necessity of reading it at the moment:
Postmaster General Canada
Ottawa, Dec. 31st, 1938.
Right Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King, P.C.,
Prime Minister of Canada,
My dear Prime Minister:
While I have regained a good measure of my former health I feel as mentioned in a recent conversation that in the public interest I should not longer look forward to being sufficiently restored to strength at an early date to again actively assume full responsibility for the administration of the Post Office Department, and that before entering on another year, I should ask you to accept my resignation as Postmaster General.
In reluctantly requesting you to relieve me of the duties of the portfolio with which you entrusted me over three years ago I should like to express to you my sincere appreciation of your kindness and cooperation during the years that I have been a member of your government and the pleasure it has been to have been associated with you and all my other colleagues.
It is a real satisfaction to have been in the government during the time that the various
The Ministry-Postmaster General
trade agreements which have been made during this parliament were effected. I confidently hope that they will have a highly beneficial effect upon the trade and business of this country and upon the success and happiness of the Canadian people.
It will always be a source of pride to me to have had the privilege of serving under the leadership of one who will rank in history among the greatest upholders of democracy and whose public services have so materially strengthened the structure of the British commonwealth.
It is my sincere hope that you will be spared to give to this country the benefit of your guidance for many years to come.
With best wishes for the New Year,
J. C. Elliott.
December 31, 1938. The Honourable J. C. Elliott, M.P.,
Postmaster General, Ottawa, Ontario. My dear Elliott: I have just received your letter of to-day, in which, for reasons of health, you ask to be relieved of responsibility for the administration of the Post Office Department, and tender your resignation as Postmaster General. As you are well aware, I have all along shared the hope that the impairment of your health would prove but temporary, and that, with rest and change, you would be in a position to continue to administer the affairs of the Post Office Department over which you have presided since the administration came into office in 1935. I am delighted that your health is so much improved. I agree, however, with you that, instead of continuous improvement in your physical condition, you might encounter a setback were you, either immediately or in the near future, to attempt to resume the duties and responsibilities of a minister of the crown. In your own interest, therefore, as well as in the public interest, I feel you are right in asking to be relieved of the duties of your present office. I shall accordingly, early in the New Year, recommend to His Excellency the acceptance of your resignation. I shall be deeply sorry to lose you as a colleague in the government. For over twelve years we have been together in the House of Commons, and, of that time, for more than seven years have sat together at the council table. I cannot be too grateful for the loyal and helpful cooperation which you have given me as leader of the party and of the government during the course of those years. I should be distressed indeed did your retirement from the government mean your retirement from public life. Happily, the reverse. I believe, will prove to be the case, and that the restoration of your health will be much accelerated by freedom from the duties and responsibilities of office. This, I trust, may mean for you many years of continued public service. I thank you warmly for the much too kind personal references of your letter. I need not tell you how deeply they are appreciated, coming as they do from so close a colleague, and so old and true a friend. May I add that my regret at losing you as a member of the government will be shared by every one of our colleagues. All, however, will rejoice that our association in the House of Commons is to continue, and we shall all hope for the early complete restoration of your health. With every good wish for the New Year, Believe me, as always, Dear Elliott, Yours very sincerely, W. L. Mackenzie King.
Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, His Excellency has to-day been pleased to appoint as a member of the King's Privy Council for Canada and as Postmaster-General, Norman Alexander McLarty, K.C., member for the electoral district of Essex West.
His Excellency has also been pleased to appoint James Angus MacKinnon, Esquire, member for the electoral district of Edmonton West, a member of the King's Privy Council for Canada and to be a member of the administration and minister without portfolio.
Hon. R. J. MANION (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to
offer my hearty congratulations to the two hon. gentlemen who have been admitted to the King's Privy Council for Canada. I have not the honour of knowing at all well the hon. gentleman who has been made Postmaster General (Mr. McLarty). I know a good deal more of the hon. gentleman who has been appointed minister without portfolio (Mr. MacKinnon). I am sure that so far as within them lies they will do very good work as members of the government, and I heartily congratulate them and wish them well.
I am very sorry that Mr. Elliott's health makes it impossible for him to carry on his heavy duties as minister, and I wish him a full recovery to health.
.ARREST OF SINGLE UNEMPLOYED MEN IN TORONTO On the orders of the day:
Hon. R. J. MANION (Leader of the Opposition):
On Friday last I asked the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) a question about a number of single transient unemployed men in Toronto who were to come up for trial last Saturday. Since then I have
Arrest oj Single Unemployed Men
been informed, and I presume the minister has had the same correspondence, that these young men have been remanded for a week, in which event they will come up for trial next Saturday. As the matter is so urgent I am bringing it up again to-day. The letter I have received states that there are some five hundred single unemployed men in the category of transients in Toronto, and as the Minister of Labour is to speak in the debate to-day, if he does not wish to answer at the moment. I would ask him in his remarks later to inform the house what responsibility the dominion government takes in respect of this very serious situation in Toronto.
Hon. NORMAN McL. ROGERS (Minister of Labour): My information with regard to this matter corresponds with that just given to the house by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Manion). The commissioner of welfare of the city of Toronto, Mr. Laver, was in Ottawa on Saturday, and brought certain information to me with respect to the transient situation in that city. I have since communicated with the Hon. Eric Cross, minister of public welfare in Ontario, and hope to be able to make a further announcement within a short time.