Will stock be allowed to graze within the areas contained in these forest reserves? Has any complaint been made to the minister personally with reference to sheep being driven into that locality under consideration?
As set out very clearly in clause 2, there will be no homestead entries within the forest reserves. There will be no ownership, no alienation of surface rights. With regard to grazing, it is contemplated that grazing will be allowed within a forest reserve, where it is thought that such a right may be granted without prejudice to the special purpose of the growth of timber. We have not yet, however, arranged any policy in that connection. Complaints have come to my personal attention that too many sheep were being driven into the foothills for grazing, but I have also had demands from the owners of the sheep to be allowed to drive them into the foothills for that purpose. That is one of the nice little questions in the same class as the question of settlers timber, and a good many others. There are two sides to it, and each one thinks that his side is the only one. My hon. friend may be sure that the men who do not want the sheep among the foothills, and those who do, can be depended on to bring their claims and alleged rights to the attention of the Interior Department.
We have not yet decided upon any regulation regarding , grazing within these park reserves. Sheep at present have no right to graze within the area covered by this Bill. Under the law certain portions of the pTairie country are set apart as sheep grazing areas, and sheep are ailowed to graze on public lands within these areas, but none of them are in the Rocky Mountain district. Any sheep grazing in the mountain or foothills are outside the protection of the law.
It will be in the right of the minister or the Governor in Council to provide regulations under which, if it is thought wise, sheep may be allowed to graze within that area. As I have said, no decision has yet been reached. We do not feel that we have enough information on the subject to warrant us in formulating a policy as to grazing within that area. But once the Bill is passed, if it is passed, we will undertake, of course, to go into the matter very fully and decide what is to be done.
Is it only by order in council that certain areas may be used for sheep grazing? As I understand it there is no authority given in this Bill to allow the department to use these as sheep grazing areas. I would like to know where the minister has his contemplated authority.
Then, I will leave the discussion of that until we come to the section referred to. I consider it very important, if the minister so understands it, that the matter should be carefully considered in this House. Speaking for myself, I have very strong objections to leaving with the minister or the Governor in Council such powers as these. It is a great liberty for the minister to exercise, to say who shall and who shall not use the public domain for his individual advantage. What I claim is that regulations of that kind should be general and every man should have an equal right.
The objection of my hon. friend (Mr. Goodeve) does not lie especially against this Bill, but against all the law regarding the administration of land in all the three prairie provinces, for, at the present time, the disposition of grazing rights is a matter of regulation by the Governor in Council throughout the total area. This Bill does not change the existing conditions, but merely carries it on.
That is the reason I asked my first question, as to whether the government would have this right under the present Bill. Apparently, according to the minister, we are giving him that right. It is to guard against it that I raised the question, but, as it does not come under this clause, I will reserve further discussion on the matter.
What does the government propose to do with timber leases within the territory covered by this Bill? One method of granting these rights was what might fairly be regarded as a perpetual lease, which I think is a radically wrong principle. There was a provision in the lease to the effect that the lease should be renewable from year to year as long as there was merchantable timber standing on the tract. It is only necessary, then, for the holder of the limit to leave a few trees of merchantable timber here and there to secure a renewal of his lease. Is there any provision either in this Bill, or elsewhere that would enable the government to cancel that lease? In most of the leases it provides that if the land is needed for settlement it may be taken, but I am not sure that there is such a provision in the leases to which I have referred. If part of these areas is covered by leases of that kind, what does the government propose to do with them?
As I have already said, it is not the intention of the government to interfere with rights existing at the time Mr. OLIVER
of the inclusion of a certain area within a forest reserve. If a man has a homestead right, he holds it
even if he is a squatter before survey, he holds his right. And the timber-limit holder keeps his rights to his limit as if the reserve had not been created, with this difference, that under the Act, in the handling of his business on his limit he must conform to the special regulations which the government considers it desirable to enforce within the forest reserve. Otherwise, there is no interference or intention of interference with the rights held by a party before the reserve was made.
I understood that the government contemplated taking over some of these timber reserves and converting them into parks. That is what we were told in the discussion of a Bill some years ago, and I presume that there would be a similar clause in this Bill. Is it the intention of the government to take over any of these old timber reserves and keep them for park purposes, allowing no cutting of timber to go on?
We have no present intention of interfering with licensees beyond the point I have mentioned-to require them to conform the conduct of their affairs on the limit to the regulations of the reserve. We do not desire to interfere with what may be called their vested rights. If we did, it would simply mean a burden upon the public treasury, which, at the present time, with so many responsibilities in connection with forest reserves we hardly think we would be warranted in imposing.
One word with reference to the point raised by the hon. member for East Grey (Mr. Sproule) that the license holder by leaving a few trees on a limit or part of a limit could make his lease perpetual. I may say that there is also a clause which says that the department may give the licensee notice with regard to any portion of the reserve on which there is only a little timber that he must take the timber off within a specified time. This done, the government has the right to withdraw it. So, the licensee cannot retain the lease of an area on which there is practically no timber if the department does not wish him to retain it.
I remember putting the question directly when these were under consideration before, and the answer I got from the government was that as long as there was merchantable timber there they could not cancel the lease, making it practically perpetual. I think such a lease is one of the most absurd business transactions a government could perpetrate, to the injury of the people. We have example
after example in the province of Ontario of leases given thirty, forty and fifty years ago; the original leaseholders have died and the family own them still, gracti-cally holding them for ever. Timber has gone up in value six or seven times, but the royalty to the Crown is just the same as it was forty or fifty years ago. I regard it as piracy, it is little less than highway robbery of the people's property, and it is improper and wrong for any government or Governor in Council to grant leases in that way. There are leases in that country, according to the interpretation of that law by good lawyers in this House, grazing leases, held practically forever. There are timber licenses which will be held practically forever, as long as there is merchantable timber on the land. That any government should give leases of that kind is contrary to reason and common sense.
It leaves it optional, and I do not know that we can make it any better. What is wanted is a man who knows when a fire starts and knows how to stop it. If we can get such a man, who is willing to do the best that is in him, we are doing as well as it is possible to do. The country is getting good service from such men. Our difficulty is to find such men, even without any restrictions. Under the present circumstances, the less restriction there is upon our freedom of appointment, the better men we are likely to get.
Nearly all the universities in the country have, forestry departments, and are turning ouP trained foresters. It would be a great advantage to the government to have as forest rangers men who have some knowledge and training in the science of forestry. A man may have ever so good an intention, he may be honest and all that, and yet be of little service as a firefighter because of lack of training. In certain conditions in our forests, a man requires to have a considerable amount of knowledge to be a good fire fighter.
On section 11: Act does not apply to land to which Crown has no title.