The Government and Produce Marketing Act Appeals
Originally the Tolmie government, while not enthusiastic, had been in a vacillating way willing to support the constitutionality of the Produce Marketing Act, but as more cases arose the Attorney-General's Department developed a case of cold feet for fear of the costs, and by July of 1929 the Deputy Attorney-General, O.C. Bass, was taking the stand that the Committee of Direction should bear all costs in cases relating to the Act. He asserted that the Act was unconstitutional and repudiated any responsibility or connection of the Department with counsel in an appeal then being heard, even though the lawyer had been engaged by R.H. Pooley, the Attorney-General.1 Thus the matter stood even while Premier Tolmie publically stated that "The Produce Marketing Act is the law of the land and we are determined that everyone must obey the law" and that "the Government is solidly behind the Committee of Direction".2
Before the year was out the volte face was complete. The Attorney-General's Department publically announced "that the onus of further litigation must fall entirely on the Interior Committee of Direction"3 and refused to be even nominally connected with any defence of the Act. The justication was the old claim that "the Act was especially drawn at the instigation of, and by Counsel for, the persons who were materially affected" and that therefore the responsibility for enforcing it lay with the representative of those people, the Committee of Direction; once again refusing to acknowledge that the measure had been produced by the Agricultural Committee of the House at the primary impetus of the Minister of Agriculture of the time.4
1 Copy of letter from T.G. Norris to H.B. Robertson, July 9, 1929, in S.F. Tolmie Papers, file 11-18 "Correspondence-General-Legislation-Produce Marketing Act".
2 Vancouver Province, Oct. 24, 1929.
3 Ibid., Nov. 27, 1929.
4 Copy of letter from R.H. Pooley, Attorney-General of British Columbia, to T.G. Norris, Jan. 16, 1930, in S.F. Tolmie Papers, file 11-18 "Correspondence-General-Legislation-Produce Marketing Act". This file contains correspondence showing the government's reversal of its stand between 1928 and 1930, copies of which T.G. Norris sent to the Premier.
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