May 28, 1940

LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

I am not a lawyer. Sometimes I thank heaven I am not.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Oh, don't say that!

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

You will have a greater chance of getting into heaven.

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

Consequently my opinion on the point raised by the hon. member for Broadview, whose legal knowledge I do not question, may not be very valuable. After all, however, this is simply a common-sense arrangement. To-day we have northwest territories which . are not part of any of our provinces, and are under federal administration.

There is no new principle in the bill, because already, for years past, judges in the superior courts of Ontario and the western provinces

have had jurisdiction over civil matters in that part of the northwest territories west of the eightieth meridian. This bill seeks simply to give such power in the territories east of the eightieth meridian. It seems to me there cannot be any question of contravention of the terms of the British North America Act in what is suggested in the bill with respect to the winding up of estates, the probating of wills and matters of the kind. I believe there can be no doubt that we can confer those powers on judges.

The amendments are proposed only to help administration. They have been approved and passed by the law officers of the crown, and I believe there can be no question of their validity. If some action of this kind is not taken the federal administration will probably be under the necessity of setting up its own courts in the northwest territories. Certainly at the present time that is neither necessary nor desirable.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

This

measure would seem to involve an extension of the principle already indicated in the Northwest Territories Act. There must be some provision made for civil procedure in those territories, and the bill seeks to divide the jurisdiction at certain geographical points for purposes of convenience. Paragraph 2 is new, and seems to have arisen from the growth of the population in the area affected.

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

It has applied to Manitoba in the past.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

That fact is not indicated in the explanatory note. I can see no objection to the passing of the bill; in fact it seems to me it ought to have the endorsation of all hon. members. I would suppose the minister would be good enough to call the attention of the law officers in the Department of Justice to the academic question raised by the hon. member for Broadview. That could be done before third reading. It is a question involving constitutionality, and the law officers might give some consideration to that phase of the matter. I say that because there is some point in what the hon. member has said, but I am not so sure that it is a practical one.

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

Is there any intention of turning over any portion or portions of the northwest territories to a province?

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

No, that has not been seriously considered. I believe that individuals in the provinces have written letters to the newspapers suggesting that the provincial boundary should be extended to the north pole, but, so far we have not seen any keen disposition on the part of the provinces to assume

Northwest Territories Act

the extra financial burden which would be involved in the administration of the additional territory.

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

The premier of British

Columbia on different occasions has mentioned that he would like to take in the Mackenzie River basin. Have any negotiations along that line taken place? What is the present situation?

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

I can say at once that no such negotiations have taken place.

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Section agreed to. On section 2-Confinement of insane persons in provincial institutions.


NAT

Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. CHURCH:

May I ask the minister if these insane persons are to be taken completely out of the control of the law courts and their care turned over to the minister? In other words, are those who are placed in these institutions subject to any regulation or control by the law courts of the land, and do they preserve their property and civil rights in the province, or is the liberty of the subject repealed entirely by the new section 75 which appears in clause 2 of this bill? It states:

The minister may, subject to the approval of the governor in council, arrange with the lieutenant governor of any province for the removal to and confinement in any asylum . . . of any insane person. . . .

As I pointed out a moment ago, in Ontario *the grand jury found that one person who had been confined in a mental institution was sane. As I read this section the minister is removing the law courts from control over these people and taking power to confine them, subject to the approval of the governor in council.

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

I think the hon. member is wholly mistaken. This legislation takes away no civil rights from anybody. All it does in effect is this: If to-morrow an individual in the Yellow Knife area north of Great Slave lake requires care in an institution we want power to arrange with Alberta to put him in an institution in which he can get proper treatment. None of his civil rights is taken away or interfered with. We have this right to-day in the territory adjacent to Manitoba and we simply seek to secure the same right in the territory adjacent to the other provinces.

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NAT

George Black

National Government

Mr. BLACK (Yukon):

May I ask who is meant by "commissioner" in the new. section 75, which provides that an insane person may be kept in custody until the pleasure of the commissioner is known? Is it the commissioner of the northwest territories?

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

Yes.

,

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NAT

George Black

National Government

Mr. BLACK (Yukon):

Who is the commissioner of the northwest territories?

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

Doctor Camsell, at the present time.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

As the act now stands the minister is empowered to " make such arrangements with the lieutenant governor of Manitoba as seem reasonable as to the compensation to be made by Canada to that province." I am wondering why that expression is not included in the new section 75 which is being substituted for the old section. It looks as though the minister is to be allowed a certain amount of dictatorial power.

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

No. It provides for making arrangements. We have to arrange for the placing of these individuals in appropriate institutions. We could not, for instance, take some person from Great Bear lake down to Edmonton and hold a pistol at Mr. Aberhart's head and say: You have to put this fellow in the asylum. No, we have to arrange the matter with him, and I hope that if the occasion should ever arise we shall be able to make a favourable arrangement with the premier.

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May 28, 1940