I should say 150 miles or more. Supposing we were dealing with the Ottawa river, it would be similar to attempting to regulate the Gatineau river and the Blue Sea and other lakes thereon through the Federal Government.
Under the conditions referred to and the representations which our member, P. H. Keefer, will no doubt make to you.
I only got their telegram this morning. They are acting of their own motion.
We ask that our petition be granted fullest consideration and our interests protected as asked for. Thanking you in anticipation of same.
Now, these people are quite anxious about this matter. They do not understand the necessity for the proposed action, and unless it is of paramount importance I think it would be wiser not to press this Bill through, Is it necessary that we should proceed in this way? The proposal can hardly be justified on the ground of fulfilling international obligations. In fact, we are violating international obligations because we have raised the level three feet and we are holding it there without authority. If we can get the United States to adopt the report of the International Joint Commission, that would be a different matter. In that case the report itself will be sufficient authority for legislation of this kind, because it recommends two boards of control, one international and the other domestic. In the meantime we are proceeding, at the request of the interests down the river, to pass legislation to control the water-powers above.
The Bill is based upon the principle of "the most dependable flow." Now, that is a technical term; let us understand the difference between dependable flow and natural flow. The natural flow of a river is that which takes place when there are no obstructions; you will have high water in the spring and low water in the middle of the summer. The dependable flow is brought about by placing artificial obstructions in the river, raising the minimum flow up and thus at certain periods securing more water, and taking away the increased flow naturally resulting from spring freshets and holding it for use during the summer when it may be most needed. That is a very proper thing to do, but it is an artificial state of affairs. Under the common law a man is entitled to the use of the water in its natural condition as its flows by, so long as he does not obstruct it or, by holding it up, prevent the people below from using it. But this legislation sweeps away that common law right and makes everybody take the dependable flow. If the Winnipeg powers would take up the question of dependable
flow out of both lakes there would be no difficulty, but here they are taking up only the question of dependable flow out of the one lower lake but not out of the upper. The time will come-and it is not very far off-when all the waters in the Winnipeg river will be needed for power purposes, and everything that can be done to increase the flow of water there is desirable. Then will come the time when there will be a desire to expropriate the flowage on the upper lake, to raise, as the commission's report suggests, the waters in the upper lake still higher. If that action is deferred the cost will be much greater than if it were done now and the cost should be apportioned among these different interests in the ratio of the benefit therefrom. But Winnipeg says: "No; we have nothing to do with that. You built in this upper place for your own benefit. You have increased storage there. We will benefit by that but will pay nothing towards it and when the time comes that we want some more we will take this thing up together." Here we find the origin of the dispute-and I am simply trying to give the facts to the committee so that every hon. gentleman will be able to vote intelligently in the matter.
By using these words "dependable flow" you affect the rights of any person having a power plant on the Winnipeg river who finds it advantageous to use the natural flow. In the case of some plants it is advantageous to use the natural flow; in the case of others, it is not. I can understand a street railway or an electric lighting plant wanting to have dependable flow, because they are running all the time. I can understand that some other large industry might want to use the spring waters, having them go through their wheels instead of being wasted through sluice-gates. There are such problems involved in industrial operations, and you strike at the rights of these people when you use these words "dependable flow," unless there is some agreement or else provision for compensation, and nothing of that kind is contemplated in the present Bill.
Now, what are the facts about dependable flow? If hon. members will refer to plate 125 in the book of plates of the International Joint Commission they will see that for 75 per cent of the time under natural conditions more water than the dependable flow comes down the river and that for 25 per cent of the time less water than the dependable flow comes down the
river-the dependable flow being estimated at 11,500 cubic feet per second. I am not speaking now for any one in particular;
I speak merely from a sense of justice.
If any person who owns a power plant on that river wants to use the water in its natural condition, are you willing by arbitrary legislation to force him to take the dependable flow? The man above should not be allowed to interfere with the man below in any wrongful way. The old common law maxim is absolutely true: "So use thine, own as not to injure another." But does not that apply with equal force to the people down the river? Why should they be entitled to say: "We want to use our own to the detriment of you who are up above " Why, they could establish a little auxiliary steam plant if they wanted to, under ordinary flow conditions, and get more power during the 75 per cent period than the dependable flow. The point I want to make is that the fight in this case has been between these rival power interests on that word "dependable flow." The rival powers of Winnipeg want to get the benefit of private capital that has been invested in the Rainy lake by getting the resulting dependable flow without paying for it, and yet on the lake of the Woods force the greatest dependable flow with or without concurrence. To me that is not fair. I hold no brief for Mr. Backus in bringing out the situation.
Topic: REVISED EDITION. COMMONS