May 15, 1905

LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

That is what I wished to say ; and I thank the hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster) for giving me the right words. I think it will be agreed that that must be the effect of his remarks, so far as they have effect. I thought that the most regrettable feature of the argument was that which laid great stress on the assumption that the people of the west were deprived of their control of the timber, lands and minerals because these things were held in the ownership of the Dominion. The people of the west are citizens of the Dominion, and the ownership of these lands by the Dominion is not less ownership by the west than if that ownership rested with the provincial government. I think it is a pity that, in the stress of argument in this House, such ideas should be advanced, especially in the forceful, energetic and logical way which the hon. member (Mr. Foster) lias at command. It would he most unfortunate if the people of the west should be educated into the idea that in any way they were not citizens of the Dominion, sharing in all the liberties, all the rights, all the properties of the Dominion, as they certainly do. It matters not so much whether these properties are administered by the provincial or by the Dominion government, so they' be well administered, so the policy and administration is in the best interest of all the provinces. In this case it seems to me what is in the interest of the country must be in the interest of the province, and what is in the interest of the province must be in the interest of the country.

I have one criticism to offer on the point of view taken by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster). That point of view is the same that has been taken so persistently by our friends on the other side of the House. They insist on treating this question of ownership of the lands and dealing with the lands as a matter of revenue rather than of as a matter of development. Now, in my estimation that is where they are absolutely at variance with the whole spirit of the west. The spirit of the west is that, whether these lands are given away or sold, or whatever shall be done with them, the object and aim shall be the development of those resources, the bringing of those resources into active use ; the main object is not to derive a sum of money for their sale.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN:

If the hon. gentleman will permit me I would like to ask a question. I understood distinctly from his predecessor (Mr. Sifton) that the policy of this government was to make a revenue

from these lands. Argument was made and the policy distinctly announced by the ex-Minister of the Interior in the session of 1903. He said : We have 25,000,000 acres of land which will be readily disposed of, and we can sell them within ten years at $3 per acre, and in that way we can reimburse the country for more than its expenditure in connection with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I do not dispute the statement, but I do dispute the inference. If the leader of the opposition will make a comparison between the statement said to have been made by the ex-Minister of the Interior in regard to the sale of these lands at a low fixed price and the suggestion made a few minutes ago by the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) that the lands should be treated on the same principle as our school lands which are held for the purpose of squeezing the last cent of value out of them, he will realize the difference between the two policies and systems of adminis-[DOT] tration ; the difference between the idea held by the people out west and the idea so persistently advanced by hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House in this discussion. In one case the idea was that these lands should pass out of the hands of the Dominion and into the hands of the settlers. I think that idea was specifically stated in the remarks of the Minister of the Interior ; certainly, it was the intention ; and, inasmuch as that hon. gentleman mentioned a fixed price, whether that price should be adhered to or not, it was clear that the idea was absolutely contrary to the idea suggested by the hon. member for North Toronto.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Will the hon. gentleman allow me a word ? When the ex-Minister of the Interior (Mr. Sifton) sold for $1.50 an acre, part in money and part in scrip, a very large acreage to the Saskatchewan Valley Land Company, did he do it with the idea that the land should pass at the cheapest rate possible from the hands of the government into the hands of the settler ? Let my hon. friend say from the information that he has whether one single acre of this land which passed for $1.50 of money and scrip to that land company, has gone into the hands of the actual settler at less then from $5 to $10 per acre. There is a practical proof of what my hon. friend's predecessor thought with reference to it. Add to that the proposition explained by my hon. friend that 50,000,000 acres could be set apart and sold in order to reimburse the cost of the Grand Trunk Pacific, and you have both the proposition and actual thing carried out, and both are against my hon. friend.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I do not gather that the sale to the .Saskatchewan Valley Land Company is at all against the proposition I laid 192J .

down. The sale was made to the Saskatchewan Valley Land Company at a certain price per acre, as the hon. gentleman has said, a low fixed price per acre, on condition of the lands being settled. The company which got the lands at that low price were under contract, it was a condition of purchase, that they should place settlers upon the lands, and neither he nor I have any means of knowing to what expense the company was compelled to go in securing these settlers and placing them on those lands. The essential point is to get settlers on the land, and that is a point which our hon. friends opposite seem to miss. The land as land has no value, it is worth nothing, it is the use of the land that gives the value, it is the requirement of that land by the people that gives it value. That land may stand from now till doomsday, as it has stood from the creation until now, without being of any value unless settlers go upon it and make it of value by producing wealth out of it.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

My hon. friend must not carry that argument too far, because the instance I cited is directly against them. The land does have value given to it by the work of the labourer. The land has a value before the labourer has put his spade into a single foot of its soil. The land that was sold for $1 or $1.50 per acre had no settlers upon it, the land that was retailed out by the go-between company had no labourer's spade or plough put into it when it had increased in value from $1.50 up to $5 or $10, but it was the prospective idea that by-and-by the real worker would come in and would raise enough from it to enable him to pay the $10 that came to the go-between. But my hon. friend has no basis, financial or otherwise for saying that there is no value in the land until the settler goes to work on it, there is.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

Of course I do not wish to enter into an academic discussion with my hon. friend at this moment on the question between us. He must know that that parti* cular land was not worth anything until it came into the possession of the worker. The value that it had was because of somebody having worked the land and having demonstrated that it could be worked to advantage. The ultimate increase in the value or the land does depend, not necessarily on that particular piece of land being worked, but on the possibility of its production being demonstrated by the work on land there or thereabouts, and the demand for that land that comes by reason of the presence of the settlers The company who bought that land had to go to the expense of advertising it an d of bringing settlers there. I do not know, and he does not know what the expense was, and there is where our hon. friendc opposite altogether miss the point of how the value of land comes about. Our lands lay there for many years after they came under

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

I happened to be in the Northwest a couple of years ago, when the leader of the opposition held a series of public meetings throughout that country, and 1 must say that this question of the ownership of public lands attracted a great deal of attention at the different meetings, and if at these meetings the arguments advanced by the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) and those advanced by the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Oliver) in this House had been presented, I think that my friend from North Toronto (Mr. Foster) would have scored rather heavily on the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Oliver). As I understand it, and I have listened very carefully to the Minister of the Interior, he bases the claim that the Dominion should still hold the lands on two important points. The first one is the policy that more money was gained by the Dominion as a whole than by these provinces from the introduction of settlers into that country. Now, if that is a good argument, it is not one that was relied upou by the ex-Minister of the Interior (Mr. Sifton), for this reason, that a settler in the Northwest, if you are going to look only at what you get out of him in the way of customs duties, would be no more valuable than a settler in Ontario. I have here an atlas published by the Department of the Interior, ' Geography of the Dominion of Canada,' which deals largely with Western Canada. Out of sixty odd pages, nearly all are devoted to the Northwest country, and not a plea is advanced asking people to come into the old provinces other than the west. This is rather a reflection on the province of Ontario, because hon. gentlemen opposite will remember that when the Grand Trunk Pacific Bill was before the House one of the greatest pleas that was advanced for the taking up of that measure by this parliament was the fact that we had in Ontario a vast area known as the clay belt, which was one of the greatest assets in the whole Dominion, and the ministers from Ontario upheld their position by continually referring to that great asset of Ontario, and yet the ex-Minister of the Interior (Mr. Sifton) apparently in this atlas pays little or no attention to that, so that his view was that the asset which the country desired was not a settler from whom to draw customs duties, but rather it was that a settler should come into the country, become part of the country, raise grain and other products, send these out of the country and

in return bring back the money and spend that money among our own people, and I think that is the great basis of success, not only of this province, but of the whole Dominion, or any part or portion of it. The next point the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Oliver) .took was on the question of immigration, that immigration could be more successfully handled and induced by the department over which he presides than by provincial departments. It would be very easy for any province to imitate the methods which the Department of the Interior has employed to induce that immigration. In the first place, I think that if they had left politics out of this matter to a great extent it would have been much better. One of the greatest experiments for inducing settlers to come to this country from England was the sending of a number of settlers from Manitoba and the Northwest to the old country who lectured at different points and endeavoured to persuade the people that this was a desirable field for immigration. I have no fault to find with that; I think it was an admirable plan. These were men speaking from actual experience, and I believe no better system could have been pursued in the old country than that. It was asserted ,a.t that time that these lecturers were chiefly recruited from the ranks of hon. gentlemen opposite. Be that as it may,

I think that if the provinces had the handling tff a similar line of scheme they could do it better than the Dominion, but the fact is, as pointed out by the hon. member for North Toronto, settlement has gone in there and the government could not have prevented it. This administration have had, according to this atlas, about a dozen immigration agents in the United States I notice the names here of some gentlemen who were known to me personally. These were stationed at Spokane and at one point and another in the United States. We all know that years ago settlers went from Ontario to the Dakotas, and settled there and in Minnesota, and, the reports they made induced other settlers to go from Ontario to these states. I know that from the township of Tiny, in Simcoe county, where there is a large French Canadian settlement, a large number of men, twenty-five or thirty years ago, went to these states, and by reason of the fact that they were successful, they led others of their friends in the same direction. .

How much more difficult is it to attract immigrants from Ontario and the older provinces into out Territories, than to induce them to come from the Dakotas and the adjoining states. There was only an imaginary boundary between Canada and the United States ; these American farmers knew they had been successful in the States where conditions similar to those in Canada existed ; they knew their lands in the United States could be sold at a high price and they knew that the terms on which they

*6035

could acquire lands in Canada were easy. The greatest factor which has tended to the development of the Northwest has been the trips made through the country by newspaper men who disseminated their experience through the United States press. No fair man will deny that more has been done by this agency which cost us nothing, than by all the immigration agents this government has placed in the United States. I quote some samples of the literature published in the American press :

A special correspondent of the Chicago ' Tribune,' writing from Rosthern, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, on July of last year says: The American invasion of Canada is no more a figure of speech. The tide of emigration now setting in to the Northwest Territories is a movement of population comparable only to the great wave which for four generations swept into the United States from the Atlantic to the Rockies. The United States became for the first time a country of emigrants as well as immigrants, and is giving her northern neighbours experienced farmers, intelligent, trained iu western agriculture, good citizens, thrifty, progressive sons of the men who turned the rock prairies into an agricultural empire, and now seek new homes with a patrimony and experience which their fathers lacked.-Chicago * Tribune.'

A new nation is being born-under our very face and eyes. Things are shaping faster in Canada than most of us here in the United States realize ; indeed, faster than Canada herself realizes. The Northwest of Canada is rapidly filling up with a new life from eastern Canada and from our own Northwest. Farmers in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and the Dakotas are selling their valuable farms and are moving with their families, implements and live stock, up into this great harvest field, and are receiving a most generous welcome.-

' Saturday Evening Post ' Philadelphia, Pa.

The editors of the * American Agriculturist,' recently made a 4,000 mile tour through Manitoba, Assiniboia, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The report of what they saw, after referring to the adaptability of western Canada for the growing of small grains and to the excellence of the stock, says :

Among the settlers are many from the United States. Such rapid development as we saw is only possible in a country blessed with a fertile soil and a prosperous people. The future of western Canada is full of promise. Rapid and substantial development is certain. When the newer part of the United States was settled, it had much to contend with. There were no railroads, consequently no markets. With the settlers in Canada everything is different. Railroads have preceded them, furnishing at once a market and means of securing the comforts of modern farm life.-' American Agriculturist.'

This information and this advertising of Canada in the newspapers of the United States has tended greatly to help the cause of immigration into our Territories. It has been argued by my bon. friend from South York (Mr. W. F. Maclean) and others, that if these lands had been given to the provinces they had peculiar advantages to administer them wisely, and, they would Mr. BENNETT.

have had the opportunity to apportion them to railroads by way of bonuses if they so desired. There are cases in which The provinces can better- deal with these assets than can the Dominion, in the district of Nipissing in the province of Ontario there are large deposits of nickel and copper, which I believe will become of vast value to the province and to the Dominion at large, when by salutary laws the export of nickel in its raw state is prohibited.

Another case, which may by analogy turn out in the Northwest is the fact that the Dominion government-I am not now referring to either political party-neglected to place an export duty on logs, resulting in the closing of the saw-mills on the Georgian bay and Lake Huron. Millions and millions of Canadian logs kept the Michigan mills busy at the expense of Canadian mills, and mill owners after failing to impress their ideas on the Dominion government, appealed j to the government of Ontario. The government of Ontario bowed to public opinion In the matter and did w-hat the Dominion government failed to do, to the great advantage of the province and to the great advantage of the Dominion at large. Indeed so successful has been the result of this policy that no political party would dare to interfere with it to-day. I believe that the administration of the lands in the Northwest could be much better conducted by the local ministers of the Crown who are on the spot, than by the mere agents of the Dominion ministers who are of necessity twenty-five hundred miles away from the scene of operations. For all these reasons I believe that the administration of the lands should be handed to the provinces, and I believe further that if the provinces are to be tied down to a fixed annual payment, some day, perhaps in the not distant future, these provinces will be coming back to us asking for better terms. I believe that if the Minister of the Interior advanced before public meetings in the west the argument which he has advanced in this House to-night he would not touch a very responsive chord in the hearts of the settlers in the Northwest, who, I believe, are of the opinion that the provinces should have control of their lands, and not the Dominion government as this Bill proposes.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
CON

Richard Stuart Lake

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAKE.

The hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) has proposed one method at any rate under which it might be possible for the new provinces to realize to some degree the actual value of their public resources. I consider that the figures quoted by the hon. gentleman were not in any way too roseate. The member for West Assiniboia (Mr. Scott) made a very hopeful estimate of what the population of these new provinces might be in the near future, and if that estimate be correct it is not only possible but probable that the figures given by the hon. member (Mr.1

Foster) would be soon realized by the pro- | vinces should the public lands remain in their possession. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster) has shown further, that there is a way by which ample means would be placed at the disposal of the local administration without entrenching on their capital in the way of public lands. The Minister of the Interior in his reply did not attempt to criticise the figures given by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster). In fact he admitted there was a great deal in them when he stated that the effect of that speech would be to create dissatisfaction with the financial terms among the people of the west. That statement clearly proves to this House that the Minister of the Interior thinks that the people of the west will be satisfied that the suggestions made by the member for North Toronto are well within the bounds of probability.

The minister says the object of the sale of lands in the west should be to develop the country rather than to derive a revenue, and he has deprecated the policy which he says the members of the opposition would adopt, of squeezing the last cent of value that could be got out of the land, as lie claims has been done in the disposal of the school lands. The hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) very well called his attention to the sale of homestead lands to the Saskatchewan Valley Land Company a short time ago at $1 an acre. Surely the fact remains that in that particular case every cent is being squeezed out of the people who want to buy these lands. There is this bad feature about it also, that the proceeds of this squeezing goes into the hands of a private company, and not into the hands of the Dominion or provincial authorities ; and yet it seems to me that the Minister of the Interior approves of the policy which was initiated at that time, of selling a vast tract of land to a private company, with the intention of making that company an immigration agent on a large scale. I hold that if this policy is continued, as we may anticipate will be the case if the Minister of the Interior so highly approves of it, it will have a most pernicious effect upon the immigration into the Northwest. I have already seen, in the part of the country with which I am familiar, the result which the possession of these lands held for speculation by the land companies is having upon immigration. There are a number of homesteads in that part of the country, but it is impossible for the ordinary settler to get a homestead from the government. As a general rule, however, one of the land companies will be able to offer him for sale one of its pieces of land, and in some way or another procure for him the right of homesteading a piece of government land alongside of it. That is a matter of common report all over that country,, and persons have told me of it from their own personal experience. I wish to say a word or

two with reference to the arguments put forward by the Minister of the Interior in regard to the Dominion government having a greater interest in the establishment of settlers in the Northwest than the provincial government has. Talking of governments alone, I think that is perfectly true ; but I think the deduction he draws from that statement is altogether wrong. It appears to me that the Immigration Department will continue to be maintained on its present very elaborate basis ; but if you had in addition the province directly interested in the lands, you would have it also working for immigration. We have already had an explanation of the way the provincial government of Ontario is working for immigration on its own account. Reading the teport of the Minister of the Interior the other day, I noticed that the Dominion Department of Immigration was claiming credit for putting a large number of farm hands into the province of Ontario during the year. I was told that the provincial authorities rather objected to that claim on the part of the Dominion authorities, considering that they had had a very large share in obtaining those immigrants. At any rate, the efforts of the Ontario government must have been successful to a very large extent ; and I hold that it is better to have both the Dominion and the provincial governments interested in procuring immigration, for the more immigration agents we have the better for the country. I wish to put on record an argument which was used by the Northwest government when it was requesting the grant of provincial autonomy from the Dominion government and was requesting at the same time that full ownership of the public domain should be vested in the province. As this deals to a certain extent with the legal aspect of the question, I wish to see it upon Hansard :

The right and title to the public domain is m the Crown, but in the colonies directly established by Great Britain the beneficiary interest in the revenues arising from the sale or other disposal of the public domain las been surrendered by the Crown for the benefit of the people residing in such colonies. The Union A.ct of 1840 specifically provided that the territorial and other revenues then at the disposal of the Crown should be placed in future at the disposal of the province of Canada then being formed. Similar dispositions were made, either by statute or by the exercise of the royal prerogative. in favour of the other colonies in British North America. The British North America Act continued these arrangements for the benefit of the provinces forming the confederation and the sections of the Bill under reference provide for the extension of the principle to the province of which it purports to provide for the formation.

It may be noted that there has been no legislation or exercise of the royal prerogative transferring to Canada or otherwise, any right to enjoy the beneficiary interest in the territorial revenues of the Northwest Territories. The

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
LIB

Peter Talbot

Liberal

Mr. P. TALBOT.

I would like to take up a few minutes explaining the basis on which I reason out this matter from a practical standpoint. As nearly as I could estimate, the area of the two provinces will be about 300 million acres or perhaps slightly more than that. We know that the northern and eastern part of Athabaska and the northeastern part of the old Saskatchewan district will never be fit for actual settlement. I think it is a very liberal estimate to say that we have 200,000,000 acres of agricultural land in those two provinces. Now, since the Dominion government continues the policy of giving free grants to settlers or homesteaders, we actually in the provinces get half the land. We get the even-numbered sections just as thoroughly, just as completely as if we got all the land and were to continue the policy of giving free homesteads. That leaves then 100,000,000 acres of odd-numbered sections which will be retained by the Dominion government. We must remember that the odd-numbered sections 11 to 29 already belong to us by a previous arrangement. These are the schools lands. That will make 11,000,000 acres of that land which clearly belongs to the province, in spite of anything we can do at present. That leaves to the Dominion government really 89,000,000 acres, that is 89,000,000 of odd-numbered sections. But there have been alienated to railway and colonization companies some 30,000,000 acres of these odd-numbered sections ; that leaves a balance of 59,000,000 acres.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

This return which I hold in my hand only gives 25,000,000 of acres alienated, namely, Alberta, 13,000,000; Saskatchewan, 12,000,000.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
LIB

Peter Talbot

Liberal

Mr. P. TALBOT.

In addition to that a large amount was given to colonization companies, so that you may take 30.000,000 acres as about correct. That will leave

59.000. 000 acres in the hands of the Dominion government for the two provinces. So that when we made that calculation of

25.000. 000 acres for each province, we were not very far astray. If hon. gentlemen opposite will look into this matter carefully,

*

they will come to the conclusion that there has been a fair arrangement both for the provinces and the Dominion government. Our revenue will be at least equal to that of the other provinces in the Dominion, and I think it is fair to all parties.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

I confess that the figures given by the hon. member for Strathcona (Mr. Talbot) rather surprise me. In the statement brought down by the government giving the quantity of land vested in the Crown in these proposed provinces I find the following :

Lands vested in the Crown in the proposed provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan respectively :

Alberta, 129,556,903 ; Saskatchewan, 120,880,366.

These are certainly very far in excess of the figures mentioned by the hon. gentleman.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
LIB

Peter Talbot

Liberal

Mr. P. TALBOT.

Your estimate is 250,000,000, and I was estimating the whole at

300,000,000. The hon. member for North York estimated that there are 228,000,000 of agricultural land. I put it at 200,000,000 and I think I am more nearly correct. I claim that not more than two-thirds of the entire area is land fit for agricultural purposes.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

The figures 1 gave are the number of acres of land still vested in the Crown, not what is contained within the area of the two provinces. I am not dealing with that. I am aware that a considerable portion has been disposed of in a variety of ways, such as subsidizing railways, homesteads and so forth. That leaves us still nearly 250,000,000 acres in the two provinces. That is very far in excess of the amount given by the hon. gentleman.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
LIB

Peter Talbot

Liberal

Mr. P. TADBOT.

The hon. gentleman will surely not say that there are 250,000,000 acres of agricultural or arable land.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
CON
LIB

Peter Talbot

Liberal

Mr. P. TALBOT.

That portion of eastern part of Athabaska is of the same formation as the Rainy River, which is not arable land.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

Possibly not; but, of course, we have no information at handi to-night on that point.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink
LIB

Peter Talbot

Liberal

Mr. P. TALBOT.

Any good map will give a person an idea of what are agricultural lands, and that -is how I reach my conclusion.

Topic:   COMMOXS
Permalink

May 15, 1905