July 10, 1903

THE ROYAL ASSENT.

LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I have the honour to inform the House that I have received the following letter :

Ottawa, July 9, 1903.

Sir,-I have the honour to inform you that His Excellency the Governor General will proceed to the Senate Chamber on Friday the tenth instant at five o'clock p.m., for the purpose of giving assent to certain Bills which have passed the Senate and House of Commons during the present session.

I have the honour to be, sir,

Your obedient servant,

F. S. MAUDE, Major, Governor General's Secretary.

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THE POST OFFICE SAYINGS BANK.


The MINISTER OF FINANCE moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 220) respecting the Government Post Office Savings Bank. He said : This is the Bill of which I made mention , some time ago. It is composed of a single clause, and provides that there shall be a reserve of 10 per cent in gold or guaranteed debentures on the amount of the deposits in the government savings banks. Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.


INQUIRY FOR RETURN.

CON

Thomas Earle

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. THOMAS EARLE (Victoria, B.C.).

Before the Orders of the Day are called, I would like to ask the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries if that correspondence has yet been brought down which was asked for some two months ago, and which has been promised to me on several occasions ?

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES (Hon. Raymond Prefontaine).

I really thought it was on the Table of the House, because I signed the papers about six days ago. I will see about it.

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SUPPLY-THE BARR COLONY.


The MINISTER OF FINANCE (Hon. W. S. Fielding) moved that the House again go into Committee of Supply.


CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. E. F. CLARKE (West Toronto).

Mr. Speaker, before you leave the Chair, I wish to draw the attention of the hon. Minister of the Interior to a statement which was made in the North-west Legislative Assembly some days ago by the Premier in respect to what are known as the Barr colonists. In view of the very large immigration which is taking place into this country, I think it is of the very highest importance that when serious statements are made respecting mismanagement and the non-fulfilment of pledges on the part of those who promote large immigration schemes, it is the duty of the government to make an exhaustive examination into them. Especially is this the case in the matter to which I desire to draw the attention of the hon. minister, because, if my information is correct, the statement which was made is a very serious one, and it was made by a gentleman who is well and favourably known throughout the country, a gentleman who has had a good deal of parliamentary experience, and who, I am sure, in making the statement, has kept well within the mark. The Barr colony is one of the first large bodies of English immigrants who have been induced to come and settle in the North-west Territories. That class of immigration is a most desirable class, and it would be a great misfortune indeed if, because of incorrect or untruthful statements or unfulfilled promises, the hopes of the immigraijts were not to be realized. It is a notorious fact that many statements have been made in Canadian, as well as in British, newspapers, by those who profess to be of the Barr colony, expressive of their dissatisfaction with the treatment which they have received. I think statements of that kind ought to be discounted to some extent ; but when a responsible gentleman like the Premier of the North-west Territories makes such a statement as 1 propose to present to the House, I think it is the bounden duty of the government to make an exhaustive examination into it, and to lay the facts before

tlie people as quickly as possible. I will not take up the time of the House, but X will merely read the statement which has been handed to me, and which is taken from the Regina 'Leader' of July 2nd. The matter was evidently being discussed in the territorial legislature, and this is the report of Mr. Haultain's remarks in closing the discussion :

Mr. Haultain closed the debate in a few words. Referring to Mr. Clinkskill's speech with reference to Mr. Barr, the premier said he did not wish to use his position in the House to make charges against Mr. Barr when the gentleman could not be present to reply. At the same time, he thought some remarks on the subject ought to be made, and had very properly been made. From conversation he had had with members of the colony on the trail between Saskatoon and Battleford, he was convinced there had been some gross mismanageemnt in connection with the colony, and something worse than gross mismanagement in certain financial dealings with it. The Dominion government by allowing Mr. Barr to reserve a certain number of townships had to that extent recognized the scheme, and it was the duty of that government to have all the charges cleared up by a thorough investigation. He said this was in the interests of the territories, and in the interests of some of the best immigrants that ever came into the country.

If this is a correct report of the statement made by Mr. Haultain, I think there cannot be two opinions as to the advisability of having some person make an exhaustive examination into the charges alleged. I think it is due to Mr. Barr, who is at the head of the colony ; it is due to the government, who set aside certain townships for the use of the colonists ; and it is due to the country, because if the allegations which are made are not disposed of satisfactorily, they will prevent that tide of immigration coming from the old country which we all sincerely desire. I wish to ascertain from the hon. Minister of the Interior what has been done, or what he intends to do, to clear this matter up. He is aware, of course, of the statements which have been made in the papers in the old country by members of the Barr colony expressing their dissatisfaction with some of the arrangements made.

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The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR (Hon. Clifford Sifton).

Mr. Speaker, the statement which was made by Mr. Haultain in the North-w'est assembly, and to which my hon. friend has called attention, has not been brought to my attention before to-day. The relations between the department and Mr. Barr of the Barr colony, are extremely simple. Mr. Barr conceived a scheme of inducing a large number of people to settle in the North-west. He represented to the department that there would be difficulty in carrying out the scheme unless the department agreed that it would hold available for homestead entry by the persons whom he would select a certain amount of land for a certain number of Mr. CLARKE.

months. That has been done in some other cases for some other people, generally with results that were not unsatisfactory, although at present, owing to the largely increased influx of settlers, it is a practice which the department may not be able to follow in the future. There did not seem, however, to be any difficulty in making this arrangement with Mr. Barr, but the only arrangement which the department had with that gentleman was that it would hold a certain amount of land a certain length of time, for the purpose of granting applications for homestead entries within that tract to those whose names Mr. Barr would furnish, subject to the reservation that the applications should be on bebalf of bona fide persons desiring to settle. That arrangement was continued at the instance of the Deputy Minister of the Interior who was in England. The department saw difficulties in carrying the scheme into effect, but the House will understand that in matters relating to immigration, where you have to deal with human beings, who think they know best, and are not always willing to accept advice, we very often have to do what we ourselves would not have suggested in order to avoid losing a considerable amount of immigration. In this case we would have preferred that these settlers had come to our officers in London and put themselves in their hands. Had they done this, they would have been handled better and with less trouble and there would have been no dissatisfaction. They, however, would not do that. The Deputy Minister of the Interior was in London at the time, and after considerable correspondence by cable, he advised that it would be better in the long run to give way to their proposition, because if we had refused, we would, in all probability, have been advertised as discouraging settlement, and this would have had an injurious influence on intending emigrants. As I felt considerable doubt of the ability of Mr. Barr to handle these people, I gave Instructions to the officers of my department to make precisely the same preparations to handle tiiis colony as if Mr. Barr had nothing to do with it. The people who undertook to handle that colony were not sufficiently experienced, they did not know what had to be done in the North-west on the arrival of a large party of that kind, and I instructed the officers of my department to take the same steps as if these people were depending on the government officials solely to look after them. My officers did so, but of course they could not interfere until the colonists made up their minds to abandon Mr. Barr. Our officers stood aside until called in, and then they did whatever was necessary. I have not had before me any complaints whatever regarding the nature of the services granted by the officers of my department. On the contrary, I think it was generally admitted that they showed zeal

and efficiency, and under all the circumstances were very successful. Tents were planted at regular distances and every attempt made to prevent unnecessary suffering, but of course one could easily understand that, in the case of a large number of people coming from England, who had previously no experience of hardship of any kind, they would necessarily have to go through what they would 'consider hardships, hut what the average Canadian or what members of this House would endure cheerfully tuid not think twice about it. So far as financial relations are concerned, there were none between Mr. Barr and the department. Our arrangement simply consisted in the fact that we held a certain quantity Of land for a certain length of time at the disposal of these colonists. We have no knowledge whatever of any financial relations which did exist between them and Mr. Barr. They made their own arrangements with Mr. Barr, in London, England. Any of them who took the trouble to consult the officers of my department in London were told that there was no necessity to employ Mr. Barr or anybody else, but that they could make their applications directly without charge, except the ordinary government fee, so that the financial arrangements, if any, between the members of the colony and Mr. Barr were voluntary arrangements made in London, without the co-operation of the officers of the government of their knowledge as regards details. We know at present nothing whatever about Mr. Barr's financial arrangements except that it has transpired, in the course of correspondence, that he received a commission from the steamship companies. lion, members will, therefore, see that there is nothing before the department to justify any investigation at present. It is somewhat difficult to see how an investigation can he held into the financial arrangements made in London, England, by this colony with Mr. Barr, especially in the absence of Mr. Barr, who, I understand, is not now in the colony.

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CON
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The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR.

It would be difficult, under the circumstances, to make a satisfactory investigation. I quite recognize what my hon. friend says that if there are distinct allegations of impropriety in connection with the financial relations between the members of the colony and Mr. Barr himself, it would be well that these should be cleared up as fully as possible, but whether the facts which can be brought before us will be sufficient to justify our going into an inquiry, I could not say at the moment. I will undertake to procure the debate, if it is reported, to which my hon. friend referred, and endeavour to find out upon what specific facts and allegations, any charges of impropriety are based, and then determine whether I can properly go on with an investigation

or not. Possibly I may have that information before my estimates are through.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. LENNOX (South Simcoe).

This matter is one of more than ordinary importance because it involves very largely the question as to what kind of immigration we shall have in the future. It was announced that this settlement of Barr colonists was the most satisfactory scheme of immigration which we had up to that time, and that they were the best class of colonists who had ever come into Canada. I do not think that time has led us to change our opinion in that regard, but just in proportion as they were a superior class of immigrants, the attention of the public, both here and at home, was directed to this scheme. And it is all important that, whatever we may do, we shall make it clear to the people of Great Britain that the representations made to immigrants in Canada will be substantially carried out, that whatever prospects are held forth to people coming to settle in our great west will, in the main, be realized. Now, this matter, of course, might have taken the position of being quite unconnected with the government. But, as Mr. Haultain points out, it does appear that the government was to some extent connected with it. And it further appears, by the statement of the Minister of the Interior, that that was the fact. Mr. Haultain says that the Dominion government, by allowing Mr. Barr to reserve a certain number of townships, to that extent recognized the scheme ; and so it was the duty of the government to have all the charges cleared up by a thorough investigation. I understood the Minister of the Interior to say- though I am sorry to say, I cannot at all times hear at this distance what is said- that probably he would determine upon an investigation. I understood him to say also that there were difficulties in the way of investigation. It will appear perfectly clear, I think, from this statement of the'minister, that, although the department did not get complete control of that colonization scheme, it was so far connected with it as that it must be held to a large extent responsible for the success of the scheme. And, whether they are held in the strict sense responsible, whether it would be fair for the people or the members of this House to hold that government strictly to account in this matter, I think the hon. minister in control of the department will recognize, as a matter of public interest, as a matter affecting the settlement of the west, that in the future it is essential that the government and the department should take such active measures as will make it clear that whenever immigrants come from any land, particularly when a superior class of immigrants come from Great Britain, if there is an error at all, it shall be an error on the side of pay-

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CON

Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. C. BELL (Pictou).

I suppose that what is said by the Minister of the Interior that he has no precise knowledge of the relations between Mr. Barr and the colonists, and particularly of their financial arrangement, must be accepted as a very strong reason why there is not ground at this moment for an investigation. At the present time the matter of immigration is of such great importance, perhaps the most important matter we have engaging our attention, that it will excuse a certain amount of solicitude on the part of the members of this House in seeing that nothing whatever should be done to prejudice what is by far i the most desirable class of immigrants we

could hope to receive in this country. Of course, the House, perhaps, knows even less than the Minister of the Interior as to the financial arrangements made between Mr. Barr and the persons whom he induced to come to this country. But from statements I have seen in the press, I would infer that there must have been something unsatisfactory in the financial arrangements made by Mr. Barr with them ; for if I am not mistaken, I have seen it recently stated that Mr. Barr, in arriving at a settlement with these colonists at Saskatoon, or some point in that neighbourhood, had refunded to them, or to some of them, certain sums of money which he had no doubt received from them. Now if that be the case, there must have been some ground for dissatisfaction on the part of these immigrants, as apparently their reasoning prevailed so far with Mr. Barr, the promoter of this movement, that he found it expedient to refund certain moneys that he had received at their hands. That being the case, it seems to me the government, or the department over which the hon. gentleman presides, should at once make it their business to ascertain as quickly and as completely as possible if there was anything improper in the relations which existed between this gentleman and the immigrants whom he induced to come to this country. The great care that is being taken by the government, and in which they are supported, I think, by every one wishing well to Canada, and hoping to see the growth of Canada made as rapid as possible in the future, would show how exceedingly important it is that we should do nothing whatever to prejudice any one of British birth or nationality, who may be looking forward to leaving his home, against coming to Canada. Now the proportion which we are to-day receiving of British immigrants is very satisfactory, we are apparently gaining at a very rapid rate in the proportion in which our immigrants of British origin bear to immigrants who are at this time going into the United States, and, of course, the United States is our great rival for that class of immigration which we consider so very desirable.

There is one thing which apparently the British immigrant, when he goes abroad, is exceedingly prompt to take advantage of, and that is the columns of the British press. In the mother country we find that journals of the very highest class, the London 'Times' and other first-class journals, seem to look upon it as a duty to open their columns to anything whatever in the nature of a complaint that may be offered by any British subject who has recently gone abroad. It would seem to be quite characteristic of these British immigrants to resort very promptly to this means of ventilating any grievance, either real or imaginary, which they conceive to exist. The consequence is of course, that, having this habit of appealing to their fellow citizeus at home through the press, and through the most respectable journals of that country, one or two dissatisfied immigrants coming into Canada are capable of doing an enormous amount of harm in prejudicing the people of the British islands against Canada ; they are capable of doing an enormous amount to nullify the great and proper efforts being made by the Department of the Interior, for the government of Canada, to secure the confidence of the British people and to turn the feet of intending immigrants in this direction. I think we ought to pay the greatest possible attention to anything that may even unwarrantably excite suspicion or dissatisfaction in the minds of immigrants. The Minister of the Interior has very properly, to my mind, observed that difficulties or comparative hardships that may be looked upon by our own people as trifling matters of every day occurrence, might be regarded by people coming from the old country, and by a class which perhaps never had occasion to rough it, as great hardships. No doubt a short acquaintance with Canada and a short experience in our western country has already taught these people to look with comparative indifference upon circumstances and upon features of apparent hardship which perhaps to them at first seemed very disagreeable indeed. The main point is this, that while receiving their first and early impressions at a time when they have not acquired such experience as would enable them to judge carefully and to speak impartially, they are prompt to speak without waiting to acquire that experience or that maturity of judgment ; they become so dissatisfied that they are at once placed in a position in which they become capable of exciting a strong feeling of dissatisfaction and suspicion on the part of the great mass of people in the mother country who, we have reason to believe from time to time, are thinking about changing their homes and coming to this country.

Now it would seem to me that, with the very large and well organized machinery which the government has instituted in the mother country for the purpose of reaching the ears of intending immigrants, a machinery which covers to a large extent the whole of the British islands, there is no reason why any gentleman should be allowed to take a position in connection with immigrants to this country which Mr. Barr seems to have taken. I would imagine that the middle man, the organizer of such an expedition, is entirely unnecessary at this moment in handling the immigrants who are looking towards Canada. In fact it would appear from what has transpired in connection with the Barr colony that there is a great and real danger that the interference of such a person is misehievi-ous, and that the immigrants would be in

better bands if they continued to place their confidence in, and to receive their advice from, the officers of the department. For that reneon I think it would require great caution on the part of the government before they entered into any arrangement whatever with Mi\ Barr, or any other gentleman who undertook to do what lie seems to have done in this case, in the direction of assigning to him any portion of the homestead lands of our country, as in this case was done by setting apart certain townships. It would appear from the whole history of this expedition that whatever purpose might have been intended by setting apart these townships so as to keep the Barr colonists together, and to form an all British settlement, it was to a very serious extent at least defeated by the result of the experience of these colonists. If I am not mistaken, a very large portion of the party which set out for Canada under Mr. Barr's leadership, did not eventually settle down in that part of the Dominion which was assigned to them by the Department of the Interior. I understand that only a comparatively limited portion of the party finally took up the lands in the townships which had been allotted to them. If I am not mistaken, I think quite a considerable portion of them found themselves quite as well suited and made settlements at some points some hundreds of miles on this side of that portion of the Dominion which had been set apart for their use.

There is another point in connection with the Barr colonists that seems to be of very great importance and that is the fact that quite a considerable number of these immigrants, instead of proceeding to the lands which were set apart for them and homesteading there, adopted what I think is the much wiser course of going into the employment of farmers already settled in Canada whereby they would have the advantage of acquiring a knowledge of the ways of the country and of acquiring that experience without which no man in the west can hope to be a successful farmer. It seems to me that instead of locating lands in certain portions of the country upon which large bodies of immigrants might settle down in compact bodies of all British settlements it would he much more important and) more likely to conduce to the advantage both of the immigrants and of the country if the opposite course were followed and if an effort were made, instead of placing these men in compact settlements, to scatter them about as much as possible among older settlers who have acquired an experience of Canadian conditions and have learned how to make a success of farming in this country. That process of settlement which seems much more desirable than the one adopted by Mr. Barr is one which would entirely exclude gentlemen like Mr. Barr from this work of colonization. It would be a work which would be more Mr. BELL.

properly done through the Department of the Interior. That department, with all its machinery and with its officials in the mother country and in Canada, could deal with the immigrant individually when he came to this country and it could place him upon a farm where he would have the advantage of Canadian neighbours with a large acquaintance of Canadian conditions, and'better still, it might, if possible, induce him to accept employment with a farmer in this country as a hired man and thus enable him to acquire a knowledge of Canadian conditions which would practically guarantee success when the time came that he could take up his work as a farmer in Canada. The fact which I mentioned in my first remarks tfiat representations had been made that Mr. Barr has refunded certain sums of money to the members of his party would seem to show- that there ivas really something in the contract or arrangement made between Mr. Barr and the colonists which was faulty and it is unfortunate that this was accomplished by Mr. Barr in consequence of the standing and position he secured with the department, which so far endorsed his scheme as to set apart and put into the hands of this gentleman a large amount of Canadian territory for the exclusive use of his party. There cau be no doubt that a gentleman, when he went to a party of intending immigrants, would have a better chance of procuring their consent to his proposal if he went with the endorsa-tion of tiie Department of the Interior and of the Canadian government, and were in a position to say : I have so far acquired

the endorsation of the Canadian government that they have seen fit to interfere with the ordinary course of their methods in settling the lands of Canada by assigning to me certain townships in tlie western portion of the country. It does seem to me to be of the last necessity that the government should never in any case at all set its seal upon arrangements of this character, which, as the lion. Minister of the Interior has very properly observed, are to the last degree unnecessary. There is no occasion for a gentleman like Mr. Barr, with his very limited knowledge of our country, to go into this transaction with the impression that he can better organize a party and better conduct it to homes in the west than the officials of the Dominion government. The facts of this case would seem to argue that the interference of persons of this character is to say the least of it mischievous and that the government, instead of encouraging anything of that kind, would rather be serving the interests of the country if it would discredit the efforts of gentlemen like Mr. Barr, and confine the work of immigration largely to the officials of the department to work with their sanction and consent and for whose actions the government would be held responsible to the people, to this House and to the immigrants themselves. The

whole circumstances would seem to apply the necessity that the government should as soon as possible acquire absolute knowledge of this transaction. There may be very little ground whatever for the statements that are being made, but the fact that they are being made and circulated in the mother country is an important fact, because it is interfering with the success of our immigration system, a system upon which the people of Canada are spending a large amount of money and a system to which they look with a great deal of confidence to fill up Canada with a British population. I do not think I need say anything more beyond this that these irregular immigration agents like Mr. Barr should be discouraged and that everything done with the consent of the department should be done by the officials of the department so that the control of the movement will be in the hands of the government and the government will be responsible for any miscarriage or bad result.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN (Halifax).

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The MINISTER OP THE INTERIOR.

Will my hon. friend send me the interview; I have not seen it.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I will give it to the hon. minister as soon as I have concluded. That statement purports to emanate from Mr. Preston and as published in the Westminster ' Gazette ' it seems to Indicate that Mr. Barr in the first place made all his arrangements with the Canadian government and then went over to start liis propaganda for the purpose of Inducing this immigration movement; And, that Mr. Barr from the first was practically indicated by the Canadian government as a special immigration agent for the purpose of bringing these people to western Canada. I do not know whether that is a fact or not-of course I do not know if Mr. Preston made use of these words, but that is the statement of the case as presented to the representative of the Westminster ' Gazette ' if the words of that representative are to be believed; and that is the statement that appears in the Canadian ' Gazette ' of the 28th of May. I would have thought that under these circumstances it would have been the duty of the government to make the fullest possible enquiry into the character, capacity, and ability of Mr. Barr before lending himself to a movement of that kind and before allowing him to superintend such a large immigration as that of 2,000 people from the British Isles. I do not know whether or not the Minister of the Interior or his officers made any such investigation or inquiry, and I do not want to do Mr. Barr any Injustice because he is not here to answer for himself; 'but we know that there have been reports repeatedly circulated through the press of this country which would seem to indicate that the government In giving to Mr. Barr the control of this expedition had not made a careful

investigation into his record or into his cnnacity to conduct a large movement of this kind. Then the interview proceeds with something that seems to me to be very much more significant than what I have read. Mr. Preston continues as follows :-

Arrangements were made with the Elder-Dempster Line, by which Mr. Barr was to receive a commission on the bookings of his party, just in the same way as any other booking office would have acted towards any emigration agent. Under this arrangement he will probably receive 25s. per emigrant. He made no secret whatever to the Canadian government that he was to be remunerated in this way. In granting this concession to Mr. Barr, our government had no intention to divest itself of any responsibility in connection with the constituent elements of the party. It was specially laid down that they were all going out to engage in agricultural pursuits. In point of fact the emigrants paid their entrance fees for their homesteads through myself.

The statement is made here, that under an arrangement with the Elder Dempster line to which the Canadian government was a consenting party, Mr. Barr was to receive a commission of twenty-five shillings per immigrant. I can hardly believe myself that any such arrangement could have been made or that the Canadian government was a consenting party to it.

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The MINISTER OP THE INTERIOR.

There is nothing at all to indicate that the Canadian government had anything to do with the payment of a commission by the Elder Dempster Company; we had absolutely nothing to do with it. When I was making my statement I said that we were informed that the commission had been paid.

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July 10, 1903