In any case it is not a matter of importance to my argument, because the ninety-seven persons who were specifically debarrrd by the Act of last year did not know until to-night that their rights were to be recognized. While I understand from the minister that he intends to recognize their rights in the proposed Bill, that will not be a fixed fact until the Bill has actually been introduced; so that these people are still practically without recourse, and are subject to disposing
of their scrip at any price they can get for it. I submit that the Government did not act fairly in the fall of 1911 or in the fall of 1912 by those who held scrip rights.
I remember distinctly that my hon. friend asked the Minister of the Interior whether in that proposed extension he intended to include those who were substitutes, and he told my hon. friend distinctly that he did.
I asked several times, but I am sure that time it was after the 1st of January. I may have asked the minister before the end of December if there was going to be an extension, but, I am sure when I asked about the substitutes that was after the 1st of January. When the Government on two occasions had allowed these scrip rights to lapse without providing for a renewal it was acting without due regard to the rights and interests of the men who were concerned, rightfully and properly, in the ownership and holding of that scrip. It was a wrong thing to do, it was done without excuse, it was an injury to a large number of citizens who had done nothing to warrant such injury being done to their interests, and I am pressing that upon the Government on this occasion in the hope and expectation that such action will not occur again and that in the Bill that is about to be introduced upon the basis of this resolution the wrong that was done by section 7 of the Act of last year will be remedied and these people will be placed, no matter what steps have been taken, in identically the same position as they should have been in from the start. If there is to be any further extension of the scrip rights- and I hope there will not be-that extension should 'be granted before the present right expires in order that every man who has rights may know what value he holds. It is not fair and it is not right that the matter should have been handled as it has been. I do not suggest that it has been handled in this way by design for the purpose of enabling men who had the ear of the Government to make use of their knowledge to their special advantage and to the disadvantage of other men, but certainly that is what has occurred and it is a very important consideration. The Government would be well advised to see that this does not occur again under the legislation that is about to be introduced. The minister informed me that there would be a six months' extension. That would be until the end of June. Now we are told it is to he until the 31st of October. That is identically in line with what occurred in 1911 and 1912; the word of the minister went out that the rights of selection would terminate at the end of June and men handled their scrip with that in view. Now we have an extension until the Mr OLIVER.
31st of October, and the man who held scrip or was in a position to buy scrip and knew or had reason to believe that this extension would be granted had an advantage in dealing with that scrip over the ordinary citizen of the country that was not fair or right and I hope that in any further transactions in connection with this scrip the Government will make due announcement before the termination of existing rights so that every citizen will be in a fair position and one man will he just as good as another in the ownership of scrip.
pointed out that certain actions that might have appeared unfair were taken by the Government in respect to the extension of time. If such action on our part is open to censure, then, of course, similar action upon the part of hon. gentlemen opposite is equally open to censure. As far as my knowledge of the circumstances goes, I was always opposed to any extension of time in connection with this scrip and did not hesitate to say so at any time or at any place and if my hon. friend will inquire he will find that during my reign as Minister of the Interior every letter that left the Department of the Interior under every circumstance made it clear that the Government did not intend at any time to give any extension, believing as I did that by taking this action the scrip rights would be settled and closed out before there would be necessity on the part of the Government for giving any such extension. I have not much to complain of in respect to the statements of my hon. friend except his suggestion that certain individuals ' in the know ' of the Government held their scrip. No man in any part of Canada who ever held a scrip, as far as I know, had any knowledge except what was addressed to the public throughout the whole length and breadth of Canada in respect of what action the Government was taking in this matter. No single individual, to my knowledge, in any part of the country had any information or knowledge of any kind or description that any special action was going to be taken or any special extension of time to be given by the Government because I believed then as I do now that it was undesirable to extend the time. Last year when the extension was introduced I endeavoured to keep out as many as I could. I kept out, as my hon. friend said, those who had registered their scrip and therefore were classed, as far as the department could understand it, as being speculators. It was my desire in reference to that ninety-seven, believing that they were speculators, to keep them out entirely. It turned out by the conditions that have developed since that these men apparently were not speculators and I presume that is why the acting Minister of the Interior is providing in this Bill that they should be treated similarly to the
others. That was the idea I had at the time and that was the sole and only reason why it was provided by the Bill that they should be kept out as far as was possible for us to do so. Extensions have been given from time to time in regard to this scrip and I think it has been a mistake. Nevertheless my hon. friend knows that there is always a certain pressure and a certain amount of reasoning and argument put forth that carries a certain weight and influence why an extension should be given. The acting Minister of the Interior is presenting a Bill to-night to extend it until the 31st of October of this year. If tne acting Minister of the Interior will follow my advice he will have no hesitation in pledging this House and this country that no further extension, even to the extent of an hour, will be given to anybody who holds this scrip because I do not think they are entitled to it. My hon. friend talks of scrip holders being treated unfairly. I think they have been treated most fairly by every Government and by everybody having anything to do with this matter, far too fair has the treatment been of the individual holders of this scrip and they should know and understand now and for the last time that they will receive no further extension at the hands of this Parliament, in so far as any holdings that they may have are concerned. They have the whole summer to locate their scrips, and if they do not take advantage of it they should not come back to this Parliament. If they do come back they should not be entitled to consideration at the hands of members of Parliament with respect to any further extension. That is my view of the matter, and if the acting Minister of the Interior will follow my advice, that is the course which he will take in dealing with it. The scrip owners have been treated absolutely fairly, and as Minister of the Interior I tried to treat them fairly, nothing more or less, and I gave no advantage to any one individual over the multitude of those who held that scrip at any time or place or under any circumstances. If the acting Minister of the Interior will follow my advice, he will have no hesitation in assuring this Parliament that no further extension will be given to any holder of this scrip. Let us have the matter closed once and for all, and let us be done with it.
I am very glad to hear this declaration from the hon. Minister of Public Works (Mr. Rogers), because he speaks as if he were sincere, and I am going to consider that he is sincere about the matter. The difficulty is that, when my hon. friend from Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) was Minister of the. Interior, he also stated that he was sincere, and the . Minister of Public Works a year ago acted as if he were sincere; but, somehow or
other, there is always somebody who has sufficient influence to break down the good intentions of the different Ministers of the Interior, with the result that these extensions are taking place. But I believe that the Minister of Public Works is sincere in the statement ne makes tonight, and if he is sincere in the frank statement he has made there is no need to review the facts. But the fact is that this whole business has been most unfairly handled by the Department of the Interior, handled in the interest of the speculator and taken entirely away from the real purpose for which the grant was made four or five years ago. We all know that this was a grant given out of the generosity of Parliament to the men who went to South Africa in the late war. It was intended, and I believe that the original legislation guarded it as far as possible, that this grant should inure to the benefit of the volunteer alone. My recollection is that at the first it was enacted that he could not even assign his rights, and that he must go and settle upon the land himself; but they got around that by issuing some sort of a document in blank. The ingenuity of interested parties got around the statute anyway. I know of my own knowledge of at least dozens of volunteers, and I think I could go up to the hundreds, especially in the maritime provinces, who believed the declaration of the Government in 1908 and tne statements contained in the Act, that they only had two years in which to locate their scrip. Not being able to go West and locate, and not being able to sell for any large amount, they disposed of their rights for $160. That went on for perhaps a year and a half. Then people got wise and saw that there might be an opportunity to have this time extended. It was extended once by my hon. friend the ex-Minister of the Interior (Mr. Oliver). Then the value of the scrip began to go up, and it soon became a matter of speculation. In the last two or three years it has been purely a matter of speculation. These rights have been very largely acquired by gentlemen who were looking after the matter of making money, and I find no fault with them, because they have a perfect rignt to buy these rights as long as they are for sale. But while we are extending the time we are forgetting the fact that this right which was given as a recognition of the services of the volunteers, has degenerated into a money-making idea pure and simple. However, after the positive assurance of the minister, the House can rest assured that this Bill puts an end to the whole matter.
Mr. Chairman, I feel, with my hon. friend from Carleton (Mr. Carvel!) who has just spoken, that we must
give credit to the Government of thW day for sincerity as we gave credit to the late Government for their intention not to extend the time. But my experience is such that I expect there will be applications for extension. I notice that the time limit is set for the 31st October. I would suggest that a date be set which will be within the sitting of Parliament. If there is to be a September session, the 31st October will be all right, but if Parliament is to sit in January, as I hope the practice will be in future, I would suggest that the time be made a year from now so that we can get away from this practice, which my hon. friend from Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) has referred to of allowing rights to go out of existence and bringing them into existence subsequently by Act of Parliament. I remember a scrip holder, by assignment, coming into my office and seeing .me before the 31st December, 1912. There had been no announcement of any intention on the part of the Government to give an extension. He told me that he had not been able to locate and he asked me what he was to do. I said: The only thing you can do is to locate the best you can, take somebody's word for it, because your rights go' out of existence on the 31st December. I have never seen him since. There is no doubt what I thought about it myself. This right should expire during the time Parliament is sitting so that before the expiration some announcement might be made. I would suggest to the acting minister that he make it the first of May next.
There is another point that I wish to bring up. While we started out with the idea that there should be no speculation in this scrip, we have to recognize not only the fact that there has been speculation, but the further fact that rights have been created altogether apart from the rights of the original holders and the speculators.
Yes, we wanted those who lived in the maritime provinces, who were not farmers, and who were not able to locate their land, to get the value and we allowed one assignment -believing that we had thereby shut out the speculators. But the assignments were made out in blank, and, as a matter of fact, there has been a Mr. McCRANEY.
great deal of speculation. Another element has entered in also and it has been the bonafida holder .apart from . the original volunteer and apart from the speculator, the man who has paid $500, or $600, or $700 and who expects to locate. That man has rights which I think we ought to view from a different standpoint from that from which we are viewing the matter tonight. I agree with the principle that we should put a time limit on the location of scrip. The Department of the Interior must clean up some time and I have made the suggestion that the time limit should be during the sitting of Parliament.
Yes, instead of the scrip. Our farmers are busy. If these scrips are worth anything to the Government they are worth $500 at any time. Any attempt (to fix a time limit is apt to bring about, perhaps not injustice, but possible hardship. One case about which I am corresponding with the department refers to certificate 6635 issued to Albert McVittey, endorsed to Abraham Funk, who is a German Men-nonite farmer living west of Rosthem in my riding. He did not locate the scrip and he now has no intention of doing so. There was a piece of land he thought would be thrown open. I think there were two or three scrips bought in the neighbourhood of Rosthem, each believing that the holder might be the fortunate locator. Mr. Funk has not located (the scrip yet and when he made application for the $500 after the 1st of January he was told that under section 8 his rights had expired. I want to point out to the minister that if it was worth $500 to get in that scrip before the end of December, it surely ought to be worth $500 to get it in now.
Yes, but my argument is that there need not be a time limit on the payment of the $500 where the holder does not locate and surrenders the scrip. Another case which has come before me is the case of scrip held by Mrs. Friesen, who died some time last summer. Her estate was involved, administration could not be obtained before the end of the year, and the estate is now the holder of that scrip, and until this Act goes
through it is worth nothing. I am very glad the Government is bringing in this amendment and I know that those who are benefited by it will be grateful. The circumstance in the . latter case is a thing over which no person had control, the death of the holder and the difficulty of getting administration. I would urge on the minister that while he may fix a time for the location of scrip so that he may clean up the lands in his department, he need not fix a time for the payment of money on the surrender.
time for the expiration of the right to get the $500. If the minister distinguishes between location of scrip on the one hand and the payment of money in lieu of scrip on the other hand, I would like to hear about it.
Under the Bill, as I understand it, a person holding scrip may surrender on the very last day of October next. He may not possibly get his money on that day, but does my hon. friend suppose the Government would refuse to pay him the next day?