March 8, 1912

CON
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

Because it has not the jurisdiction over the question that the provincial government has.

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CON

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY.

Do you not think that the good roads policy of the present government will have the effect of draining a lot of these lands?

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I do not think it will. If the conditions in Manitoba were not as extreme as they are no doubt the building of roads would have some effect-no doubt it will have some effect-but, in so far as actual swamp lands are concerned, it is. absolutely necessary for the government to consider a provincial drainage policy which will involve large expenditures in order to secure the reclamation of those lands. Everybody knows that it is in the provincial government that the authority rests to deal with matters of civil rights; and for the Dominion government, without jurisdiction, to go into the province of Manitoba and undertake to carry on a drainage policy would certainly bring on complications, as between the provincial and Dominion governments, 149

that I do not think this present Dominion government has the faintest idea of. The settlers who were hoping and waiting in March, 1910, on the authority of my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior, are going to he left to hope and wait indefinitely because of his action in the fall of 1911.

What is the consideration for this radical change in policy, admittedly to the detriment of the province of Manitoba and particularly, on the authority of my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior, to the detriment of the people who are now settled in the vicinity of these swamp lands and whose prosperity and welfare depend upon the drainage of these lands? The consideration, as set down in the Bill before the committee, is a cash payment in excess of the amount now received from the Dominion treasury as to land of $313,000 a year. In consideration of the receipt from the federal treasury of some $313,000 a year, more than it is now receiving on land account, the province foregoes its policy, hands back the land to the Dominion and the settlers who are now without drainage simply sit and wait for it to come. I quite appreciate the possibility that the province of Manitoba, like many a settler in the country, is hard up for money. Many a settler, as soon as he gets his patent, mortgages his homestead worth from $5,000 to $10,000, for a few hundred dollars. I can appreciate that the province of Manitoba, under the administration of its present government, is probably in that veT.y position and is so far behind in its ability to meet its present requirements that $313,000 of extra cash a year is more important to it to-day than the carrying out of the policy of reclamation by drainage which is the proper policy for any government of that province. It is a pity if that is the condition, but it is not the fault of this government if it is the condition. A payment of $313,000 in cash per year for the abandonment of the policy of draining and reclaiming 7,000,000 acres of swamp land in Manitoba, is, to all intents and purposes, no consideration at all. It is not a consideration, it is an insult to the province.

Let us step aside now from the question of the policy of drainage and its results to the progress and prosperity of the province and let us consider this matter simply as a cash transaction. Let us consider the swamp land as simply having a certain value and let us see whether the arrangement contained in section 5 'is a good arrangement for the province of Manitoba or not, put on the lowest possible ground, on the ground of cash received on the one hand and the value of the cash given on the other. There have been several estimates of the value of this swamp land at $3 an acre. The average price of the swamp land which has

been passed over to the province and, by the province, sold to private individuals, something over 800,000 acres, has been placed at $3 per acre. The hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Bradbury-) assured the House that it was the choice land that had already been sold and that what remained to be sold would not bring nearly so much money. But, in looking through the records again, I noticed that on this same 4th March, and in connection with the same debate in the Manitoba legislature, that the Minister of the Interior gave some information to the legislature as to the value of these lands sold. I find that he told the House at that time that in the district of Makinaek-that would be in the constituency of Dauphin-in township 2115, certain swamp lands were sold at $8 per acre; in township 22-15, $6.50 per acre; in township 26-15, $10 per acre; in township 26-15 W. $0, $15 and $30 per acre.

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CON

William D. Staples

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STAPLES.

Will the horn. gentleman (Mr. Oliver) tell the House what was the average price per acre of the St. Peter's reserve land sold by himself.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I would if I had time, but the House on former occasions has heard a great deal about the price of the land of the St. Peter's reserve. The government of which the Minister of the Interior was a member, saw fit to issue a Royal Commission to investigate that claim, and it will be for the Minister of the Interior to tell the hon. member (Mr. Staples) everything in connection with it when the opportunity occurs.

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CON

William D. Staples

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STAPLES.

The hon. member (Mr. Oliver) sold the lands for less than $5 an acre and it is -only twelve miles from Winnipeg.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

The land on the St. Peter's reserve was sold by auction and it. brought- all it was worth at the time.

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CON
CON

William Henry Sharpe

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SHARPE (Lisgar).

Was it all sold by auction?

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LIB
CON

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY.

You gave the Indians

21,000 acres to give away.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

We gave the Indians certain lands that were adjudged to be theirs and they sold them as they had the right to do. My hon. friend (Mr. Bradbury) discussed this matter in the House frequently and a Royal Commission was issued by the government of Manitoba and that Commission has reported, and when that report is laid on the table of this House we will discuss it at the proper time.

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LIB
CON

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY.

That commission reported that my contentions as brought before this House with regard to St. Peter's reserve were correct and that the contentions which the hon. member (Mr. Oliver), is responsible for were not correct.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

My hon. friend can wait until the records are laid upon the table and then we will know whether his statement is correct or not. I am bound to say that my reading of the record, so far as I have seen it, is absolutely to the contrary of what the hon. member (Mr. Bradbury) has stated.

I was going to say that in township 26, range 15, two sections of swamp lands-were sold at eight dollars an acre, and in township 24, range 16, certain swamp lands were sold a't six dollars per acre. I have, I think, established very thoroughly that so far from three dollars per acre being the maximum average price it must in the nature of things have been very much below the average price of these swamp lands. As a matter of fact in the budget speech made by the provincial treasurer of Manitoba to the legislature in February, 1910, he stated that the average value of the swamp lands sold in the year with which he was dealing was $5.48 per acre. Now, I am not going to value this land at $5.48 per acre; I am not going to value it at six dollars, eight dollars or ten dollars, which the Minister of the Interior boasted in the House the land brought, but I do-say that the evidence that was placed before the Manitoba legislature by the present Minister of the Interior and by the provincial treasurer on that occasion, is ample proof that when the general valuation of three dollars per acre is placed upon the swamp lands of Manitoba, it is below the actual cash value at the present time. Taking then the value at three dollars an acre, we find that in the statement made by the Hon. Mr. Armstrong, provincial treasurer, on the 22nd of February, 1910, that the province held at that time-not that they were going to hold, but did actually hold-1,425,712 acres of land, valued at $4,277,136. This statement goes on to say that there were to be turned over by the Dominion government to the province, 4,000,000 acres of land, which in his budget speech he valued at $3 an acre or a total of $12,000,000. That represents four and a quarter millions for land owned by the province that was unsold, and $12,000,000 for lands to be turned over to the province and to be sold bv the province, or a total of over $16,000,000 which the provincial treasurer of Manitoba, delivering his budget speech to the legislature declared to be the actual value of the swamp lands of that province. Now, Mr. Chairman, it does not take very

much figuring to show that $16,000,000 at 5 per cent interest yields $800,000 a year. On the one hand, by this bargain the province of Manitoba gets in cash $315,000 increase in regard to land, and it gives away property which at the valuation placed upon it by the treasurer of the province is worth $800,000 a year. Mr. Chairman, I do not know how our friends hope to justify this feature of this Bill to the people of Manitoba. They have made merry in the House because it has been argued that the terms were too generous to the province of Manitoba, and at the same time that they were not generous enough. This is not generosity; it is a question of policy looking to the development of the province. But if you bring it down to the basis of a cash transaction, the province is a loser (in the face of the statement made by the provincial treasurer of Manitoba on his responsibility as provincial treasurer to the legislature of the province); the province is a loser by the difference between $315,000 and $800,000 a year.

But, it may he said, that the province is getting an increase on its debt account, and is getting a bulk sum as arrearages. and it does not make any difference whether it gets it on land account or debt account or any other account, the transaction is better for the province in money than the offer made by the Liberal government less than a year ago. Let us ^ee how that works out. Under this pre-, sent arrangement the province gets an increase of $202,000 on debt account; it gets an increase of $315,270 on land account; and if the arrearages and building allowances are capitalized and interest is allowed at 5 per cent, which I claim is a fair calculation, the province gains $119,013 per annum on arrearages account.

That is, the province makes a total gain over the present subsidy of $634,283. But if that is compared with the offer made by the Liberal government, $200,000 must be deducted from it. So that the account stands thus: The province is better off

by the Bill now before the House to the amount of $434,514 in cash than it would have been if the government of Manitoba had accepted the offer of the Liberal government made last spring, and it is something over $800,000 worse off in cash value as the result of this present offer-$400,000 to the good on the one hand, and $800,000 to the bad on the other hand.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

How does my hon. friend explain that the Manitoba government are perfectly satisfied with it?

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I explained that in the beginning of my remarks. I said that many a homesteader who has secured his pa.tent, has mortgaged a farm worth 1491

$10,000 for a few hundred dollars; and the government of Manitoba is in exactly that position. Having gone behind in their provincial finances, they need the money, and when this government offers them $434,000 in cash per year, their financial position is such that they are compelled to take it rather than realize on the property, according to the figures of their own Provincial Treasurer delivered only two years ago. There is no way of escaping from the results of these figures, which are the figures given by the government of Manitoba itself. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I desire to move the amendment which I have placed in your hands.

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CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROGERS.

The hon. member for Edmonton has sought to convey a wrong impression of certain conditions of this Bill. He has said that this arrangement will be detrimental to the Dominion in view of the fact that the province of Manitoba undertook to drain the swamp lands belonging either to the Dominion or to the province. I want to tell my hon. friend that such has never been the case. We have in the province of Manitoba a Drainage Act under which it is possible for any individual who owns a certain tract of land which he considers to be swamp land and desires to have drained, to file a petition with the government of the province for that purpose. Then the government issues bonds or debentures to the amount fixed by the engineer, who makes an estimate of the necessary cost of carrying on the work. The government simply acts as trustee for the people who own the land or control it, and never has undertaken to do any drainage work on the lands which the province of Manitoba owns as swamp lands. M.y hon. friend moves an amendment which is simply a copy of the proposition which was made by the late government to the province of Manitoba on the 7th of March of last year. In case the House is not aware of the fact, I would like to state that when that offer was made to Manitoba, the legislature of the province unanimously rejected it. The resolution rejecting the offer was moved by Mr. Roblin, the Premier of the province, and was seconded by Mr. Winkler, the chief whip of the Liberal party, and was supported by every member of the legislature. It was as follows :

And whereas it appears, by a minute of Council, approved of by His Excellency in Council on the seventeenth day of March, 1911, that, after frequent urgings, a proposal is made by the federal authorities that the limits of the province be extended eastward and northward to the Hudson bay, to comprise an area of 106,304.000 acres, and that there shall be paid to the province annually, in

lieu of public lands, mines, minerals and royalties in the said territory, the sum of $200,000 until the population thereof reaches 100,000, the sum of $250,000 until the population, reaches 150,000, and thereafter the sum of $300,000; _ _ .

And whereas it is the opinion of this House, after due and careful deliberation, that the said proposal does not recognize the principle of equality as aforesaid;

Therefore, be it resolved, that this House firmly but most respectfully declines to accept the proposed addition of territory upon the terms offered in the minute of Council of His Excellency in Council, as hereinbefore set forth, and reiterates and reaffirms the request of the province, as a constituent portion of the confederation of Canada, for equality of treatment with either the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick or the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, that is to say;-

(a) The control of all the public lands,

mines and minerals in the said proposed territory, or _ _

(b) Financial and other considerations of a character similar to those given or to be given to the said provinces of Saskatchewan or Alberta.

Either of which propositions this legislature is willing to favourably consider.

Now, Mr. Speaker, to accept the amendment of my hon. friend would mean the renewal of the refusal on the part of a unanimous legislature in the province of Manitoba. It would be idle for this House to undertake to adopt that amendment, and make a proposition such as my hon. friend has suggested, knowing full well that the same could not, and would not be accepted by that province. I am sure that my hon. friend understands very well the conditions in Manitoba province, and he is well aware that it would not accept this proposition.

I would like to correct my hon. friend in another statement which he has made in respect to this arrangement being necessary because of Manitoba's financial conditions. I would be sorry -and I am sure my hon. friend did not intend to throw out such an idea-if the statement were to go broadcast, that the province of Manitoba was in any sense in financial difficulties. I want to tell my hon. friend that there is no province in Canada whose credit stands higher to-day than does that of Manitoba. Sir, that is true notwithstanding the fact that we have suffered in respect to this matter of swamp lands as a result of the administration of my right hon. friend (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) opposite. The hon. gentleman makes a calculation of the amount of swamp lands that we got, and that we were entitled to, like my hon. friend, I think from South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) who last night made the statement that Manitoba had been in possession of 20,000,000 or 30,000,000 acres of swamp lands for some years Mr. ROGERS.

and that the province was now wishing_ to return them. I want to draw attention to the fact that one of the grounds of complaint registered by Manitoba time and time again was in respect to this very matter of swamp lands. It is true that the Liberals were not in power in Manitoba in the year 1900. A Conservative government was then elected in that province, and we came to Ottawa at that time and presented our claims in connection with the swamp lands. Although we pressed these claims as strongly as we possibly could, we were only able to secure in the first part of the year 160,000 acres, and in the latter half of the year 33,000 acres more. The following year we were not able to obtain a single acre, but the next year again we got 160,000 acres in the first half of the year, and in the second half 20,000 acres more. Let me tell the ex-Minister of the Interior, as he knows well, that from September, 1909, down to the day he left office he did not hand over to Manitoba a single solitary acre of swamp lands. That was the treatment of which we complained.

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LIB

March 8, 1912