July 19, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


Frank Broadstreet Carvell



We have had to face this question a good many times, especially the lawyers of this House. I have argued it to juries frequently. I am not addressing a jury now, and I am compelled to look at it from a broad business standpoint. In the .first place, we must remember this country could not exist without railways, and they are entitled to a great deal of protection. We must also remember that until electric dnergy is developed to a greater extent than it is at the present time the only known way of operating a railway is by fire; they cannot generate the power otherwise. They have to go through the country at a high rate of speed. I believe the railway companies are trying their very best to use all modern appliances to prevent causing fires. It never seemed to me fair that when a railway company is compelled to use such a dangerous thing as fire, and they cannot get along without it, you should practically put them in a position where they may be mulcted in very large damages for doing that which they are compelled to do, unless you can show that they have done it negligently. I have always felt that Parliament went pretty far when they adopted that clause providing that they were liable to the extent of $5,000 merely by proving the fact that the fire occurred. I hardly think it fair that this should be increased to $10,000.

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