June 26, 1908

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

My hon. friend does not quite understand the case. The case is this. A man applies for an entry on a piece of land and he is given the entry. But another has entered into occupation without any authority and refuses to withdraw. The man who holds the entry, being a poor man, does not wish to be at the expense and delay of legal proceedings to eject the intruder. My hon. friend thinks that the government should assume that responsibility and suggests that we should exercise it summarily.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
?

Mr. R. L.@

BORDEN'. That the department should act as a sheriff ?

Topic:   190B
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

To some extent, yes. I certainly recognize that the intruder should be ejected, but the ordinary processes of the court are sufficient to enable the homesteader to eject him. If we go beyond that and say that we ought to assume some

responsibility, I say we should only assume it through the processes of the courts, and not undertake to eject summarily when the land has gone out of our possession and is in the possession of another.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
L-C

John Herron

Liberal-Conservative

Hr. HERRON.

The minister will acknowledge that those eases are rather frequent. They have been more frequent the last two or three years than formerly. Even if the process of arbitration be very expensive, in many cases the difficulty would be settled that way, but I do not know whether the decision would be a final one or not.

On section 13-time for perfecting entry.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
CON

Richard Stuart Lake

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAKE.

That matter of extension of time when a man has not perfected his entry within the six months, is a very fruitful source of trouble. The matter apparently has to be referred to headquarters, and the minister, I presume, adjudicates finally as to whether an extension of time should be given. In the meantime the person who has put in the cancellation is kept waiting, not knowing whether an extension is going to be given. An extension may be given up to the end of the twelve months, and in practice it is found that still further extensions are given for cause shown; and the person who has put in the cancellation has no means of knowing whether there is going to be a cancellation or not. The matter should be more positive. The person who has engaged to perfect his entry by permanent residence, should put in an application for extension before the end of the six months, and that application should be in the hands of the land agent, so that any one applying for cancellation would know that the matter was under consideration. Subsequently, after the decision of the minister, the person applying for cancellation should be notified how the matter stands in order that he may be able to recommence his cancellation proceedings. The clause reads ;

Provided that, on satisfactory cause being shown for an entrant failing to perfect his entry within six months from the date thereof. the minister may order that the entry shall be protected from cancellation for a further period of six months; but no entry which is not perfected within twelve months from the date thereof shall be protected from cancellation for any further period.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I am quite aware that as the demand for land increases in the west, there becomes a greater necessity to hold the settler more strictly to the terms of the Act. To a certain extent my hon. friend and I are agreed on that point. At the same time we must recognize that the underlying principle of the Dominion Lands Act is to provide for settlement by people of less rather than of greater financial resources. In our policy respecting settlement, we provide specifically that the set-Mr. OLIVER.

tier need not be on his land for more than half the year. The purpose of that Is to enable him to earn money with which to maintain himself and enable him to improve the land during 'the period in which he is required to reside upon it. The settler is expected to create out of the soil wealth without putting anything into it except his own time and labour ; but he must have implements, he must have live stock or he cannot be a successful farmer.

Therefore, unless we are restricting the occupation of the land to people who have capital to begin with, we must give the privileges which the Act gives. Then, if we give these privileges, it is reasonable, as they are privileges and given for a certain purpose, that they should be administered so as to, as far as possible, achieve that purpose. The purpose is not to get a man on the land for a period of six months, the purpose is to give the man an opportunity to make a farm of that land by his residence upon it during the six months. And so we have found it necessary and advisable, and sound public policy, not to adhere too strictly to the letter of the law in regard to the term of non-residence which should cancel the right of a man to his land. There is no doubt that the privileges thus accorded have been abused. There is no way in which they can be accorded and not be subject to abuse. And, as I said in the beginning, as time goes on, as settlement increases, it is right and proper that these privileges should be restricted; but I do not think the time has come, nor do I think that, while we are expecting to settle our country with men of limited means, the time will ever come, when we can afford to draw the line of cancellation at six months, in all cases. But the hon. member says : I do not want that, but I want the homesteader to notify the agent as to his intentions for the six months. We have all kinds of homesteaders; and the fact that a man is of very limited financial means, to a certain extent, presupposes that he has not had those educational advantages that would enable him to keep track of the letter of the law and therefore to comply with the letter of the law in his own protection. Many of the homesteaders are at work in the coal mines, or in the lumber woods, or on the river, or in callings of different kinds in far-distant parts of the country during the part of the year they are permitted to be off their homesteads. Now, if there is to be no leniency, no recognition of the conditions and circumstances, there is going to be a very effectual shutdown of homesteading under these conditions. I do not think that would be advisable; I do not think we have arrived at the point when we can afford to do that. That there are instances of abuse of the privilege there can be no question; but I think there is no question also that we

are restricting the privilege from time to .time as far as the circumstances of the country and sound public policy will permit. We are providing that there shall be no extension of the time beyond twelve months, unless there has been actual residence. That is an important provision, and I think it is one of the provisions that will meet, to some extent, the views of my hon. friend. Whatever the Act may have said in the past, there is no doubt that, some years ago, before settlement became as pressing as it is to-day, there were extensions given beyond the term of a year, but recently we have not been giving such extensions ; and we provide specifically in the Act that no such extensions can be given, unless there has been occupation of the homestead. Then, once a man has gone into occupation, has established the bona fide character of his settlement, we may give such extensions after that as the circumstances require. X am afraid that, if we accept the hon. gentleman's suggestion, the number of cases of hardship of actual settlers will far outnumber the cases of undue exercise of privilege under the Act as it stands and under the administration as it has been.

'Mr. LAKE. I realize that there is a great deal in what the minister (Mr. Oliver) says. But I would sooner see something more definite laid down than appears in this clause, knowing as I do, the way in which the privilege has been abused in the past. I would not stick absolutely to the suggestion made in the first instance. That might be modified to say that the minister might grant an extension of time after the first six months; but I think there should be a limit to the period within which he should give his decision with regard to that matter. There can be no doubt that there are a great many homesteads taken up and held by persons who have no intention of going on the land at all, but hope to obtain possession of it by some means-by some pull or otherwise-later on. When the bona fide homesteader goes and wants to get a particular lot of land, he should be able' to get possession of that land under the regular working of the law, and after the expiration of six months, which is all that is granted for the protection of the entry, he should be able to apply for cancellation and know exactly what time he shall have to wait before the matter is decided, and also exactly what has been decided after the decision is arrived at. I do not know if there is any provision for notifying the man who has applied for cancellation, of the fact that an extension of time has been granted on the land. I have had a good deal of correspondence at different times in regard to this matter of cancellation, and in no case have I seen a letter to the person who applied for cancellation

telling him what decision has been arrived at. I think that should be made a particular point. I would like also to make another suggestion: Presumably, under the circumstances mentioned by the minister, the homesteader may not put in his application for extension of time until after the six months have expired. I presume that then the course is to send notice to him to show cause within a certain time. That period of time should be limited, and, as soon as the decision of the minister is given in the matter, the person applying for cancellation should receive notice what decision has been arrived at. He will then be in a position to continue to wait for the opportunity of cancelling the land at the expiration of twelve months, or for the expiration of the time granted by the minister, or, if he finds it advisable not to wait, he can go on and look for other land. The men should not be kept hanging about hoping they will ultimately get the cancellation of the land and never quite know what their standing is in the matter. In regard to the case which I brought to the minister's attention when the Bill was first under consideration, the man was kept waiting, and waiting, because he never knew what his standing would be. After the expiration of the different extensions of time which were given to the homesteader, he went immediately to the office to make application for cancellation, but he was held off, and found subsequently that another extension of time had been granted. That is a very unsatisfactory condition of affairs. I think that people should know exactly what their rights are in the matter. It is not always the speculator who comes in and tries to cancel an entry; it is often the bona fide farmer who is anxious to get on that land.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES.

I understand the hon. gentleman to speak as if, in the case of a protection, an applicant for cancellation had to make a new application. As I understand it, an application for cancellation survives the protection, and takes effect only when the protection has lapsed.

iMr. LAKE. That appears to be the rule at the present time, I do not know whether it has always been so. At any rate, in the case I have in mind, the applicant for cancellation did not know how he stood in the matter at all. He simply discovered that an extension of time had been granted, and when he went to ask for cancellation he was refused, without any explanation being given.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF.

It must be borne in mind that probably more than one-half of the entries are made at a time of the year when it is almost impossible to go into residence on the land within the six months. Take, for instance, the entries that are being made in the present month, six

months after the date of these entries would bring them into the winter. I think the provision in the Act that allows for an extension for six months after the first six months is up, that is, a year from the date of entry, is a very good one, especially when it is provided that there can be no further extension of time until the homesteader has gone into actual bona fide residence. It seems to me that provision, when you take into consideration the fact that the six months in many cases bring them into the winter, is about as extreme a limit as you can make it. As the minister has pointed out, the majority of the homesteaders are men of little means. While there is now a big demand for land, and while we have to guard against too much latitude in the way of protection and extension of time, you must also bear in mind that a good deal of consideration is due to the new settler who is beginning under pretty hard circumstances, and he is entitled to as much consideration as the department can reasonably give him.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
CON

Richard Stuart Lake

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAKE.

I do not raise any objection to the provisions in this clause. I merely want a further provision in order to define more clearly the right of a man who wants to make an entry on land which is not being used, and to give a man who has applied for cancellation some definite knowledge * as to where he stands in regard to his application.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

The suggestion of my hon. friend that the applicant for cancellation should be notified if any extension of time has been granted to the homesteader, is perfectly correct. I am informed that has been the practice; if it is not, it ought to be.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
CON

Richard Stuart Lake

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAKE.

And further information given to any applicant for cancellation. If he is not in good standing, it should be thoroughly explained to him how the matter stands. If a man makes application for cancellation and there is somebody ahead of him, he should know exactly how that matter stands.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

If that is not done, it ought to be done. In regard to proceedings for cancellation, it may not be out of place to show what the regulations now are in the case of a homestead, protected either at the time or placed afterwards under protection, so as to show that the applicant for cancellation is not under the difficulty my hon. friend suggests.

Although an entry may he under protection by order of the head office, an application for cancellation must be accepted, and the cancellation will begin, or recommence, as the case may be, at the expiration of the protection period, unless the agent has evidence, which must be recorded, that the duties are being performed.

That is to say, if an application is made to cancel a homestead which is at that time Mr. TURRIFF.

under protection, the application must be accepted, although it is under protection.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

No, that has been in effect since last June, at least, it has been in published form since last June. If the ap-lication for cancellation is made, and die entry is put under protection after that application for cancellation, when the protection expires that cancellation retains its standing, it does not have to he renewed to entitle the applicant to his rights against that homestead. But if, in tile meantime, evidence is given to the agent that the homestead duties are being performed, that is to say, that the homesteader is not in default, then of course the application for cancellation falls to the ground and becomes of non-effect, the application to cancel is cancelled, and in that case only, I find that the suggestion of my hon. friend with regard to applicants for protection at the end of six months, although it does not apply there, does apply in the case of application for protection.

Such homesteader when granted protection is required to satisfy the. agent before the expiration of the protection period that he has complied with the regulations,_ failing which his entry may be cancelled without further notice.

That provision has been in print since October last.

When a homestead entry is cancelled, or proceedings are taken upon an application for cancellation, or when there is an application for cancellation prior to cancellation, the applicant for cancellation shall be given thirty days to make entry, failing which the land will be available to the first eligible applicant thereafter for the same.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
LIB

Wilbert McIntyre

Liberal

Mr. WILBERT McINTYRE.

I would like to call the attention of the minister to what I think is an omission in this section. The first part of the section gives the entrant six months before going on residence, and the third portion of the section also states that he may abandon while he is in good standing. Well, this condition of affairs may occur, and is said to have occurred, where a man simply files on a homestead as a matter of speculation, and at the end of five months and a half, applies for an abandonment. He secures the abandonment and refiles again on the same identical section. Then he becomes a new applicant, and is protected again for an additional six months. This may go on for some time. I would suggest that there should be some provision in this section to prevent that.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

That is a possibili y. If such a case as that occurs or is liable to occur it should be provided against, but I think it can be provided against in the regulations perhaps to better advantage than in the Act.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
LIB
CON

Richard Stuart Lake

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAKE.

The trouble is that the regulations do not get to the general public.

I was very pleased to see the regulations set forth as clearly and at such great length as they were in the last two issues, but they do not get to the general public. All the public have before them are the provisions of the Act. There are many of these regulations of the department of which the public are not aware. I think it would be advisable, if these regulations cannot be embodied in the Act, to give them more publicity, and I think it would be well that a copy should be given to every applicant for a homestead or for cancellation.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

As far as publicity is concerned, we are able to give a measure of publicity to the regulations that we are not able to give to the statutes. We have uow four editions of these regulations, and there are 20,000 copies of each edition issued, making 80,000 altogether. We try to keep them for distribution at every land agency and sub-land agency and place them in the hands of every homestead inspector. We use them in reply to correspondence. While it is impossible that everybody should have a copy or be aware of what is contained iu them, we give every publicity we can to the regulations. We publish them for that purpose. The regulations, being iu a more convenient form than the Act, and besides, being drawn in language which is not to be adjudicated ou in the courts, but in language which shall be a direction to the officials and to the public, are more easily understood than the terms of the Act which is drawn rather for the purpose of legal adjudication than as a matter of direction to the officers or of information to the iniblic.

Topic:   190B
Permalink
CON

Richard Stuart Lake

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAKE.

I think the minister should take into consideration the suggestion that I made that a copy of these regulations should be given to each applicant for a homestead or for cancellation.

Topic:   190B
Permalink

June 26, 1908