March 6, 1951

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

Yes.

Section as amended agreed to.

On section 29-Inquiry and appointment of investigator.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I should like to say a word or

two with respect to some of the statements made by the minister at a press conference which was recorded yesterday and broadcast last night. I am not going to go back to a general discussion of the bill, but the two subjects on which I want to make broad inquiry are related particularly to section 29. According to a press report of the minister's statement which appeared in the Montreal Gazette of this morning the minister said that the government could not create a system of price control without first suspending the Combines Investigation Act.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

That is a press report of what

I said. It has nothing to do with this act in any way. I said there were certain cases where it would be desirable to get relief from the threat of prosecution under the Combines Investigation Act, that is, where a group of producers was called together for the purpose of holding down prices. The group would not come together under the direction of a controller for such purpose unless they were relieved from that threat. It is illegal, as you know, for members of an industry to combine to set fixed prices. Whether they are low prices or high prices does not matter. There is nothing in this act that deals with that situation. That would be dealt with through the Department of Justice.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

What I was wondering was

whether the minister pretty well has the power under this act to set prices. I would imagine he would do so by suggestion first and compulsion later. I wondered whether he had in his own mind any doubts with respect to the Combines Investigation Act as to telling a number of industries that they would produce a certain commodity at a set price, the same price as each other industry. I mean he thereby eliminates competition, and he also has power here to send in an investigator, which seems to me to be closely related to the same matter, and to determine costs of production, whether fair books are being kept, and so on. It seemed to me that his statement that it would be difficult to administer a control system as long as the Combines Investigation Act was in effect

Defence Production Act would have some bearing on this section because of the power to set prices at which articles would be produced.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

I was being asked questions by six or seven reporters. I have no clear idea of exactly what I said, and I do not remember the exact question I answered. I have not seen the Canadian Press report and I did not hear the broadcast. Therefore I am in a rather difficult position but I will be glad to make a statement with reference to the subject matter we are discussing which will set out my position, and I am in agreement on it with the Minister of Justice.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

You had better get a record of it and take it home.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

I think we can get it recorded here. The government has no thought of suspending the Combines Investigation Act in the sense of proposing a measure to declare that the act will not be operative during any specified period. I assure the house that no such thing was on my mind when I answered a question in the course of a press conference yesterday. I had in mind a situation where it might be necessary in the public interest, and by reason of the defence program, to invite a number of industries to take part in arrangements which would ordinarily make them suspect under the Combines Investigation Act, and where it would be necessary to give them some assurance, limited to the particular case, that their actions would not be so construed. If and when such a situation arises it should be defined and placed on record under the provisions of the Emergency Powers Act. Any industry before entering into such an arrangement will do well to see to it that its position has been so defined because otherwise it will be amenable to all the processes of the Combines Investigation Act.

I can give you a specific instance. Those in the oil industry are very particular not to have anything to do with each other. I think perhaps the lead in that regard is taken by Imperial because the Standard Oil Company have had experience with a similar act in the United States. They will not sit in meetings with other oil producers where prices are discussed. It is very difficult to discuss prices in such circumstances unless all units in the industry are willing to sit down together. In a case like that, with the co-operation of the Minister of Justice I think we can assure the industry that nothing arising out of these meetings would make members of the industry suspect under the Combines Investigation Act.

Defence Production Act

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Coldwell:

Under the Emergency Powers Act would) you not have to place it on the records of the house?

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

It would be placed on record with the Department of Justice and with the industry.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

It will be placed on record that you have passed an order in council exempting this group of industries from the operation of the Combines Investigation Act?

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

That is not the thought. It is to place on record the fact that the industry was brought together by the minister for the purpose of discussing prices, and that if a price policy arising out of that meeting is followed there should be no prosecution under the Combines Investigation Act.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Coldwell:

Was the act not amended so that any regulation made under the Regulations Act would be reported to the house? Would this not properly fall under that? Would it not be wise to have such a decision placed on the records of the house when the house meets?

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Mr. Chairman, I think this is the position. The Combines Investigation Act is of general application, and where you have different industries agreeing with one another to fix prices, no matter at what level, it is contrary to that act. With respect to defence production, in a certain specific case it might be advisable to call, we will say, the different companies in the oil industry together and say to them that in order to hold the line it is desirable to drop the price of petroleum products by two cents a unit. That agreement entered into quite openly, and with official blessing, would still constitute a prima facie breach of the Combines Investigation Act, and that is known to the legal advisers of these concerns. Therefore, unless they can get a direction under appropriate legislation from the minister responsible, they just will not enter into that type of arrangement. If they entered into it under a mere direction in the absence of any authorizing legislation the question would arise under the Combines Investigation Act as to whether that was in the public interest. That would leave them in the position that if they should be subsequently prosecuted they would be deeply concerned as to whether under all the circumstances they could substantiate some time later on that this agreement was in the public interest. Therefore, in the interests of the proper administration of the Emergency Powers Act on the one hand and the Combines Investigation Act on the other, it is very desirable that any of these arrangements of this kind that are entered into under direction

should be covered by a regulation or an order which will be recorded with the combines investigation commission, and would, I presume, likely take the form of an order that would be tabled in parliament. Certainly we would have to be answerable for it.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Can the minister say whether that would be made under the Emergency Powers Act which we have just passed?

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Yes.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Then it would have to be tabled.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Let me clear up my hon. friend's point-not under the Emergency Powers Act itself but under a regulation to be passed under the Emergency Powers Act.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Under and by virtue of the powers conferred by the Emergency Powers Act.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

But remember that act was amended so that it is now required that any regulation as defined by the Regulations Act must be tabled. It is not just orders in council; it goes further.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink
LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

That is quite true. That act has been amended, and anything that was done pursuant to that act would have to comply with the provisions thereof.

Topic:   DEFENCE PRODUCTION ACT
Subtopic:   CREATION OF NEW DEPARTMENT
Sub-subtopic:   MOBILIZATION
Permalink

March 6, 1951