I think the suddenness with which my hon. friend rises is evidence that I am following him too closely. I would ask the hon. gentleman and the House what we are doing in this case unless it is giving the land to the half-breed. Every acre of land which my hon. friend has spoken of as belonging to Mr. Macdonald, 25,000 acres of land as he says, is located in the name of the half-breed.
Mr. OLIVER, I say in the first instance there has been no change in policy on the part of the department in regard to the issuing of scrip. The policy is to give the half-breed everything that is coming to him and there has been no change in the matter of assignments of scrip, so that practically all the trouble that is in the mind of my hon. friend in that regard does not exist. The right of these halfbreeds to scrip was dealt with in the previous discussion. I think it is admitted that the half-breeds have a right to scrip and the demand has been made that the government should see that they get their right ; the eomplaint that my hon. friend has made here that the government while making a pretense of giving them their rights is not going on and further protecting them and insuring that they shall get the full value of the scrip as issued is I think a complaint that comes with very ill grace from my hon. friend or his friends on that side of the House especially in view of the arguments advanced by him during, the first discussion that the half-breed should not get the scrip at all, that it was gross injustice to the public at large and practically a robbery of the rights of the public that the rights of the half-breed should be recognized.
I have no recollection of arguing in that way. I argued that tl^e half-breed should get what was coming to him in the way that would most benefit himself, and I pointed out to the Prime Minister that it was not given to him in the best manner if it were done in the way of scrip. I advocated the giving of the actual land to him, the gathering in of the
The hon. gentleman thinks the half-breed is being defrauded by our insisting that the land shall be located as it has been in the name of the half-breed and that Mr. Macdonald or whoever he may be must get his transfer from the half-breed as the owner of the land and not from him as the owner of the scrip. I would like to know by what piece of legislation my hon. friend would provide that the half-breeds should never have the right to sell the land once he had located it. I am sure my hon. friend (Mr. Foster) understands the matter as I have stated it to the House, but I think the House at large did not gather that fact from the tenor of his remarks. In regard to Mr. Chaft'ey and Mr. Chaffey's plea on behalf of the half-breeds and his complaint that the government did not take action to protect the interest of the half-breeds on the representation of Mr. Ohaffey let me read the last paragraph in Mr. Chaffey's letter to the department and then the House can judge what credit is due to the representations of Mr. Chaffey. He says :
I therefore withdraw all claims whatever under and by virtue of said orders sent by me a,nd withdraw all protests lodged by me against scrip being issued under orders filed with the department by said Macdonald to which he now has -aDy claim or order.
He withdraws all protest against scrip being issued or orders filed by the department to Mr. Macdonald. Mr. Chattey is certainly a very desirable man upon whose word the department and the government should base its policy, a gentleman who in his previous letters specifically alleged fraud, alleges robbery, makes all the allegations which mv hon. friend has used with such effect to-day, and then withdraws them all as he does withdraw them. He is not the man upon whose representation this
government or this department could carry were disallowed,which have been allowed by on its administration. CSte, but which still stand as reserved cases.
We have to take the representations of others than Mr. Chaffey or others like Mr. Chaffey. The hon. gentleman has read a representation placed before the department by certain half-breeds resident in the Turtle Mountain district of the United States and these gentlemen allege fraud and misrepresentation against this man Macdonald. I may draw attention to the fact that from the day upon which this petition was received here, I would think that it is as fair to take the supposition which I take the opportunity of placing before the House as it is to accept the supposition which my hon. friend has placed before the House to-day, and that is that since the first discussion of the question in the House, when he very gingerly charged fraud and was told a specific charge would have to be made before action could be taken, that then, somebody, whether a friend or otherwise, hied himself to Turtle Mountain and got up this petition from the half-breeds and sent it in here.
I do not think we will discuss it any more. I think it is a case which only proves itself. However, I will just draw attention to this fact, that the friend of my hon. friend who gathered these names and prepared these petitions was not altogether careful in the signatures. An analysis of the signatures will show just how they stand. I find, on examination in trie department, that one petition signed in the beginning by Michel Demarais, Frank Delorme and others is signed by 39 names, almost ail of which are signed by a mark, - nd in the 39 only 4 are the names of those whose claims have been allowed. So that it comes to this, that a petition comes into the department in the terms read by the hon. member, with the names of 39 persons attached, all of whom by their signatures have stated that they are interested parties, whereas on examination it is found that only four out of the 39 are interested parties.
Might I draw my hon friend's attention to the fact that you may divide those into two classes ? There is here in a memorandum the statement that a certain number of these claims have been allowed by Cote, a certain number disallowed, and a certain number reserved for further evidence. It may quite be that some I of those claims are amongst those which
The case is at any rate that we have received statements from halfbreeds. We have not taken any notice of the representations made by Mr. Chaffee, and Mr. Chaffee's letter, I think, is a sufficient justification to the department for not doing so. But when these half-breeds, whose interests are not considered by the department, but whose interests the Prime Minister has .given authority to his friends throughout the country to loot-when these gentlemen come to the department, even by the road by which they have come, and even in the small numbers in which they have come, then certainly it is necessary that action should be taken ; and I can answer the hon. member's question by stating that as soon as I returned from that little tour to which he alluded a few days ago, I found certain papers in the department, and took action upon those papers at once. Authorization has been given for the holding of a commission of inquiry into those cases on behalf of the half-breeds, and notification has been issued to the different iand offices throughout the country to suspend action in regard to those cases until that investigation shall have been held. As the hon. member said, there is nothing in this to conceal. This department and this government have no interest but to see that the half-breeds get what is coming to them -that they get their blood right. Although it may cost some part of the public domain to give them their rights, we stand prepared to justify ourselves before the country, even against the very clever and I think somewhat doubtful arguments of my hon. friend, who would have us condemned in one part of the country for giving the land, and in another part of the country for not giving the half-breeds their rights. We stand prepared to give the half-breeds their rights, even at the expense of the public domain ; and we do not stand to protect any man, be bib name R. C. Macdonald or anything else, in any trespass upon those rights. The action taken, the papers before the House, and further papers which will be brought down if the hon. gentleman desires them, are evidence I think sufficient on that point.
Mr. Speaker, the statement which my hon. friend has made in reference to this transaction has had one good effect, at any rate.
I called it a fraud before. The right hon. ieader of the government took exception to that term, but I think it has been fully justified by the papers which have been brought down. What was tbs charge made by my hon. friend (Mr. Foster) ? It was this : that some time ago a commission made certain inquiries into half-breed claims in the Northwest, and reported that certain half-breeds who resided in the United States and had become wards of that country, and
were receiving sums of money and land from it, were not entitled to the same benefits from this government as those who remained in Canada. The government, however, decided, on further consideration, that that policy perhaps ought not to he carried out; and an Order in Council was passed, changing it, and providing for granting to those half-breeds certain lands to which they would not otherwise he entitled. My hon. friend did not object to that change of policv ; he simply stated the fact of the change. What he found fault with was that the promise of the government had not been carried out. That promise, which was made in this House, and on which the Order in Council was based, was this, that no half-breed would have the right to transfer his scrip to any other person whatever- that when he was granted the right to certain lands in the Northwest, he must locate those lands himself, after which he would have the right to transfer them or sell them to any other person. The half-breeds were not altogether in the position of wards of the government, otherwise the government might have prohibited them from transferring their lands for a certain number of years. I think perhaps that would have been a better course for the government to have taken. What my bon. friend objected to was that the change made by the Order in Council, although not known even to the half-breeds who were the beneficiaries under it, nor to others in the country, became known to a man in the Northwest of the name of Macdonald, who took advantage of it for the purpose, as is alleged by the halfbreeds themselves, of obtaining by fraud their right to their locations. My hon. friend complains that there was no inquiry into that; and when the papers come down, they prove conclusively that an Order in Council was set dside by a departmental order to the different agents throughout the Northwest. In a letter to one David Phillip, Esq., Main St., Winnipeg, who asked if any change had been made in the rules regarding the locating of half-breed scrip, the secretary of the department said :
I am directed to inform you that it has recently been decided to allow scrip granted to half-breed residents of the United States, under the Order in Council of the lUth August, 1904, to be located in the name of the grantee thereof by the holder of such scrip without requiring ' the grantee to appear personally before the land agent to make his entry.
What power had the department to give any such instruction ? There is an Order in Council which requires the half-breed to appear personally in order to locate his claim. By what authority could the department vary that order ? I am glad to hear the right hon. gentleman, upon the cases being brought before him, issued instructions not to carry out this departmental order.
(Mr. OLIVER. It was suspended pending investigation.
I understood that a commission was to be appointed to make inquiry, and that no action would be taken with reference to the half-breed scrip until the commission had reported. What does that mean, if not that the order is reversed ?
The order will be continued after the investigation, if no charge is found to stand. Let me just state the reason for the issuing of the order-not. that I issued it or am personally responsible. The halfbreeds covered by this Order in Council of August 13th are residents in the United States. Some of them, if not all of them, had become the wards of the American government, and were therefore not absolutely free agents in their movements; and in order that they might receive value for their scrip, it was necessary that they should be free to locate by agents instead of being required to locate personally. As the hon. member for Toronto (Mr. Foster) has pointed out, the direction is absolutely restricted to that particular scrip. And the reason is the one I have given. To insist that these half-breeds should locate that scrip in person would simply be an additional tax on the value of their scrip which they would have to pay, even if they could make the trip into Canada to locate. And if they could uot, they could not get any value at all for the scrip. That instruction was given therefore in the interests of the halfbreeds.
Then the order is suspended until the commission of inquiry ascertains whether or not there has been fraud committed, and the Minister of the Interior says that the order will only be suspended until such time as that inquiry is made. But the objection I make is a more serious one. What authority had the department to issue any such order ? None whatever. Any party who would act under such an order is liable to punishment. It is a fraud upon the people. There is an Order in Council which says you shall not do such a thing. By what power does the Minister of the Interior vest himself with authority to set aside that Order in Council without the sanction of the Governor General ? My opinion is that if it were not for the action of my hon. friend beside me (Mr. Foster), all the scrip would have been issued and located. There seems to have been some authority which is not brought down in these papers, some counteracting authority to the different agencies throughout the Northwest, since that departmental order was issued. Why are we not in possession of that 1 I do not see in the papers brought down that the departmental order in reference to this scrip has been acted on at all. We ought to have that information. This transaction looks at the first blush like a very disgraceful one, but we shall await until all the papers are brought down and we see what the action of the department is.