I may say to my hon. friend that extra efforts were made to prepare this return in order that it might be brought down as soon as possble. It was found that if only one man was kept at work on it. it would occupy him eight hours a day for Mr. R. L. BORDEN.
When may I expect a reply as to my inquiry concerning the liberation of Agnes B.'Kun, of Sydney. The Prime Minister will remember that I directed his attention to the resolution of the council passed about three weeks ago, on the 7th of May.
I saw what was said in ' Hansard ' in regard to the matter and I have really nothing to add to what my hon. friend the member for the riding (Mr. .Johnston) stated on that occasion. The resolution which was then read to the House by the hon. gentleman was forwarded to me shortly after it was passed by the municipal council and 1 replied pointing out to the council some considerations which it seemed to me had been overlooked in the preparation of the resolution. I have not sinoe Friday last referred to the papers to ascertain exactly the date upon which I wrote, but I am nuite sure it was a few days prior to the date mentioned by the hon. gentleman as that upon which lie had been communicated with. The circumstances, however, are fully set out in the resolution and in the letter which I sent in reply to it, which letter, according to my hon. friend from the county (Mr. Johnston) has been published in the newspapers there.
Mr. Speaker. I propose this morning to lay before the House as briefly as possible, blit
yet somewhat in extenso, certain matters in relation to the administration of the Yukon, particularly as developed in correspondence which has taken place between the Rev. John Pringle, of the Yukon and various ministers of the Crown. It is a question of some difficulty sometimes to know just what a man is thoroughly justified in bringing before a parliament and in the mass of correspondence which has been laid before the House and which I have gone over very carefully, it is somewhat difficult to make a presentation of the question without going very extensively into the subject matter treated of. This, from its very nature in this case, touches individuals; it does not in any case touch individuals personally as individuals, but touches individuals as officials of the government in the Yukon, and officials appointed by and paid by this country. So that in placing this matter before parliament and the country I am to be taken as doing it in the public interest and from a public point of view. If it touches the individual in that way I cannot help it and I suppose the House cannot help it. The individual, if be is a member of the government or a member of the council of the Yukon or engaged in public office, has to take these disadvantages.
The Yukon for a long time has been a land of mystery, lying away off thousands of miles from the seat of government, with communications which in some seasons of the year are very spasmodic, always difficult'and at the best seasons of the year not very rapid or frequent. It lies so far from the seat of government and the centre ot interest that it is only by fits and starts that what occurs there catches the attention of the larger part of Canada and, in fact, is discussed in this House. It lies there chiefly in the charge of officials who are resident there. It is extremelv difficult for a member of this House to find out what goes on, mixed up as the administration is between the Yukon council, wnich has certain powers of its own, keeps its accounts and does its own business and the department here whose action is under the immediate direction of this government and with whose accounts our own accountants have first and chiefly to do. We find it difficult to get any connected idea or any connected run of what goes on. Inquiries for information which is asked for and which one thinks he ought to get quickly have to he referred to the Yukon and it sometimes takes many many months to get it. I he interest dies in the meantime and the ^ sequence of events is lost. From the time that this government took hold of the Yukon to the present time it has been subject to rumour, subject to suspicions and subject, as well, to actual information in the way of facts that have gradually come to be established. It was first the happy
hunting ground of the whisky perinitter and extravagant tales, I daresay, are told of the fortunes that were made and the peculiar manner in which they were made by the army of pioneers in that branch of the development of that country. Suffice it to say that there has been for years a very general impression that the whisky permits were scandalously managed and that they resulted in ill-begotten wealth and wealth too, in no small degree, to various parties implicated in connection therewith.
Rut, it is not my purpose at this present time to go particularly into that branch.
It has been the happy hunting ground of the royalty on mining inspection and it was with very great difficulty that here, at the seat of government, any connected idea could be got as to what was going on under the loose and far distant supervision of the particular persons or person who, for the time being, held that office. Out of that, as well, there have been strange tales and stories more or less founded which have come down to the present day. These things also I do not purpose to go into detail on at the present time. Then, there succeeded from the time that the early miners began to go in, the long, grinding, tortuous, mysterious dealings with mining claims, the history of which will, I suppose, never be written, the history of which, if written, would be a tale both of wonder and not unfilled with humiliating instances, I dare say, if they were ever properly known. I, myself. have known men of the greatest probity, men of the highest conduct, men of undoubted honesty, who have gone to the Yukon, have remained there and have come back and the tales that they have told in reference to the actions and doings in those early days are certainly wonderful and are not at all creditable, not a thousandth part of which has been placed upon the record and I suppose never will be. But, we know enough to know that if the history of that long series of years in which the mining areas and claims of the Northwest -were being thrown about like battledore and shuttlecock between the inspectors and the officials were written it would furnish a history that would be intensely interesting. and, as I remarked, with reference to something else, not very creditable to the administration of affairs in that distant part of the country. That, I do not propose to go into in detail at the present time. I suppose it will never he gone into in detail according to its merits, hut along with that there has been another and a more lurid illumination, so to speak, of the affairs of that far distant part of the country. It has had relation to the administration and the administrators and the results of_ the ad ministration in a social and moral point of view. Not until 1902 was any individual found who appeared to be strong enough, bold enough, courageous enough to make
ing characteristics of our public life here. I am quite well aware that human society, even where at its best, is not utopian, but the officials in a frontier mining camp, the men who represent, or are supposed to represent, the Canadian government, should be above suspicion-pure and upright-because the law, which is the expression of the moral sense of the Canadian people.
The poison has permeated every department of our life; affects business, personal and public; so that the prevalent impression is that one has 'to be ' on the inside ' or must 'fix' some one before he can get even whait is hia right under the law. We may differ in our opinion as to the wisdom or unwisdom, the expediency or .inexpediency of a government's policy in given conditions.
But there can be no question about this: That under the policy adopted, righteousness, not influence, * graft ' or ' pull ' should prevail. You may ask me for specific examples, showing that the conditions of which I speak exist. That is not my business. I am not a detective; nor have I gone out of the way of my ordinary life to look for this condition. The people know it, act as if they knew it, talk as if they knew. I have heard the names of police and departmental officials used in connection with matters which belong only to the gutter. I would a hundred times have been angry, only that my anger was overwhelmed by sorrow at the truth of what was said.
You will permit me to speak in detail of certain things which are of vital interest to our people, and ought therefore to be of some interest to our government.
1. Hydraulic concessions.
He goes on to give his own opinion of hydraulic concessions and his opinion inclines to this at that particular time, that hydraulic concessions, concessions to people in large, should not be the policy of the government; that the individual miner and prospector ought to have the ground and that it ought not to be cut out from him by large quantities of this country being given over to the large holder, the speculator and, some time or other, the great hydraulic worker. He develops that and, in the course of it he says :
My blood boiled, when, standing on the Ar-kansaw Creek divide, I saw the great and beautiful river issue from the foothills, and remembered that it was in the grasp of capital, that the people had been disinherited; and that everything in this great rich district was to be food for the maw of a greedy government favoured corporation.
He was referring to the notorious Tread-gold concession.
I own no claims in this district directly or indirectly, and am therefore not personally interested. But I feel for the plain men who have to ^ compete in locating ground with a corporation which has unlimited money and no conscience; which, even when the miner has located, has a cinch on him through the iniquitous Klondike water privilege.
In more than one public meeting in the city of Dawson, it was stated in my hearing, and
was not denied, that concessions such as the ' Bronson & Ray/ ' Philip/ &c.-
Said ' Philip,' I believe, having been the law partner of a Minister of the Interior.
-were granted on representations which were suggestive of perjury. This, at least, is I believe true, that perhaps with one exception no proper knowledge of the ground was had before the concessions, none of the conditions on which it was granted have been fulfilled.
I am convinced that men could stake and work, on any concession granted in the Yukon and that an appeal to the law would secure them in their claims; that all of them have been so loosely granted that they are void.
Last winter I went to the headwaters of the Stewart river on a missionary trip. On that great river a number had staked, and others were intending to stake in a district south of the McQuesten and Stewart rivers. Men who has prospected spoke again and again to me of the richness of the higher bars and the wooded bottoms of the Stewart. Three miles and a half below the police post at McQuesten, I found two of my old friends (Partridge an-1 Nelson) of the Teslin trail. They had the easiest mining proposition in the Yukon pan open cut from the river about ten feet deep, with drifts on either side. The dirt averaged a dollar a bucket, in a paystreak 280 feet wide. When I returned, the first item of news I got from one of our daily papers, was that five miles of the Stewart hanks, south of McQuesten, had been granted to one Wilson. I verified the report in the Gold Commissioner's office. It is an iniquity, whether granted in ignorance of the possibilities of the district, or because some one had a ' pull.'
This policy will depopulate the territory ere long. Let us keep hydraulic companies out and give the common people a chance, under the now more favourable conditions of living, to work the low grade ground.
Concessions have been granted, I am convinced, not only carelessly but iniquitously; the heritage of our people given to satisfy the greed of capital, without due consideration of the rights of the people in the ground, or of the character of the statement made to secure these concessions.
2. The laws against gambling, dance halls, and other immorality, are either not enforced | at all, or enforced so spasmodically that people know that there is a ' nigger on the fence.' Of course, we all know about the order from a deputy minister a year or so ago which was practically an order to the police to keep their hands off. But where the gamblers and their friends of the dance halls and whisky trust got their promised assurance, we do not know. As to the gambling: it was closed all winter, partly because there was nothing in it for the gamblers, partly because the police said it had to be closed. But when the clean-up began this spring, i. e., when the men who had ' gophered ' in hills and creek beds all winter, were about to reap their harvest, the vultures, evidently assured of immunity by some one, began their work. It was left to ministers and a few other cranks to see that the law was enforced. Our attempts to do so have taught us that we must choose between the alternatives of thinking that our lawmakers are incapable, or that our law enforcers are without conscience or moral courage adequate for the discharge of their duty.
The dance halls in which more men, some of them government officials, have been ruined than in any other of our protected dens, are run wide open. I wish the government would, for its own good name, either suppress these ' hells,' or at least take means to verify reports, current all over this camp, about officials who are their habitues. Prostitution flaunts itself everywhere; the abandoned woman (to say nothing of the abandoned man) is everywhere: beside respectable homes;
across the street from them; beside our grocery and dry goods stores; on first and second and third, and every avenue and road. Unless some one is robbed or injured in her house she is undisturbed. ,
ffe have 210 licensed bars for a population of about 20,000. On twelve miles of the Bonanza road
60 above to 60 below-there are three 'for every mile.
That is a pretty large allowance even the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) will agree.
No, but I think that the reverend gentleman, having this knowledge, might certainly have exercised his power in another way. He could have found local authorities to deal with the matter rather than bring it to Ottawa. And, perhaps I may be permitted to remark that it seems a rather strange thing that the hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Thompson), who knows all about the conditions there, sat here for many months and never alluded to this matter, and also that my hon. friend (Mr. Foster) only brings the matter up after the hon. member for Yukon has gone away.
I am glad the hon. minister has put in these words. It is the same poor, old, wretched excuse. When such things as these are being brought to light, when the attention of ministers is demanded, the only answer is to make not very nice insinuations against Rev. John Pringle, and they throw the blame on others
If the hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster) will permit me: I do not desire to make the slightest imputation against the character of Rev. Mr. Pringle. If the hon. gentleman drew that inference, let me say that I had no intention of saying anything that would justify it; and, if what I said was capable of conveying that impression. I withdraw it at once.
It would have been better if it had not been made. It is exactly the same insinuation that one F. Tennyson Congdon made in reference to Mr. Pringle in a memo, that I shall have the pleasure of reading a little later.