May 26, 1913

CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. T. W. CROTHERS (Acting Minister of the Interior):

Mr. Speaker, this matter was before the House about a month ago, and there was an answer given at that time to some observations made by my right hon. friend (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) and also to some made by the hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver). In face of the explanations that were then given, my right hon. friend asks the question now as to whether the Government were consulted as Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

to this surrender. Did they agree that these Indians should be paid a quarter of a million for property that is worth $2,000,000? All that was answered a month ago, but I do not mind repeating it now; it will not take very much time. I told my right hon. friend then that we had not been communicated with at all in respect to this matter. I told him then that we had not given our consent and I can only repeat that now. I quite agree with him that the Indians have no right to dispose of their interests without the consent of the Government.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

How is it

that their homes were burned over their heads?

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

Not over their heads. They went to another reserve. I do not know whether their homes were burnt over their heads. -

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

That is said in the report.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

The Government did

not consent in this matter. The whole question will be taken up by the commission which has been appointed to investigate. They were instructed to investigate this whole matter and report. What is the use of asking these questions again, amdi charging the Government with wrongdoing when we have appointed a commission to inquire into the facts?

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRIED LAURIER:

Do I understand that the Government are proposing to fold their arms, that they do not know whether the Indians have been dispossessed or not, that they do not recognize that they have any duty towards these Indians?

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

Those questions will

arise when we know what the facts are.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

There are the facts reported by the commissioner.

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CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. ROBERT ROGERS (Minister of Public Works):

I would like to say a word or two in connection with some of the statements that have been made. The right hon. leader of the Opposition would seek to leave the impression that the Government are blameable for not having taken certain action. He undertakes to point out to the House that before this transaction could be carried out there must be consent on the part of the Government of British Columbia, on the part of the Indians and on the part of the Indian Department.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Hear, hear.

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CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROGERS:

The fact is that the Indian Department have not dealt with this matter, if I understand it, in any particular, and my right hon. friend and the hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) appar-ently-*seek to present, even in the vague

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manner in which they have done so, to this House and the country, that the Indian Department have been responsible or negligent in the discharge of the sacred trust that is imposed upon them in dealing with the Indians. That is a statement to which I wish' to direct a few observations. We absolutely deny negligence in respect to this Indian reserve or to any other Indian reserve in Canada. The acting Minister of the Interior has made clear that no consent has been given by his department, and that consent will not be given until we have the report of the commission now sitting in British Columbia to investigate the Indian titles in that province.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

In the meantime the Indians have been dispossessed.

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CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROGERS:

What, apparently is true, is, that the British Columbia Government have followed the example of the manner in which they were able to deal with the Indian trust under the administration of my right hon. friend. The Prime Minister made it clear that in 1910, when the Song-hees reserve was being similarly dealt with, the position taken by the right hon. the leader of the Opposition, then Prime Minister, was: well, if the Indians are satisfied we are satisfied and we will carry it out under the Indian Act.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I draw attention to the fact that the arrangement in regard to the Songhees reserve was brought down to Parliament for the sanction of Parliament.

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CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROGERS:

It was made in the first place without any sanction of Parliament. According to a telegram from Sir Wilfrid Laurier to the Premier of British Columbia, the arrangement was made in the first place and probably the British Columbia Government have gone on thinking that the same manner of treatment of the Indians would be allowed to-day. But the acting minister has made it clear that this Government is not doing business as did the late Government in connection with the sacred trust of the guardianship of the Indians. We will protect that sacred trust. I protest against the right hon. the leader of the Opposition and the hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) making the implied insinuations they do. It ill becomes the hon. member for Edmonton and members on that side of the House to talk of the sacred trust of the Indians and the manner in which the Indians are being dealt with to-day, in view of the manner in which they dealt with that sacred trust when they were in power. How did the late Government deal with that sacred trust in western Canada when the hon. gentleman was Minister of the Interior? He dealt with it by peddling the Indian lands out to the liberal organizers and

his liberal friends in Saskatchewan. The public records show that contrary to the Indian Act, contrary to the practice, the lands that were surrendered by the Indians on the specific terms that these lands should be sold by public auction were sold by private sale and peddled out to liberal organizers and the liberal presidents and their friends in Saskatchewan, in defiance of the terms of surrender made by the Indians themselves. That was the manner in which the Indian sacred trust was dealt with while the liberals were in power. To give you an idea of how the sacred trust was regarded by my hon. friend (Mr. Oliver), let me read this extract from a letter:

Yorkton, Sask., July 29, 1910. Frank Pedley, Esq.,

Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs. Ottawa, Can.

My Dear Mr. Pedley,-

I am enclosing some correspondence re a* portion of the surrendered portion of the Cote Indian reserve.

Some of our friends at Kamsack, together with myself, are very anxious to obtain some of this land for the Dixon families. There are quite a number of them, all good farmers, fairly well to do, possessed of families, and friends of ours, and it seems a shame that outside parties are capable of having this land held up, thus preventing settlement and getting desirable parties to improve and settle on these lands.

That letter is signed by Dr. Cash. Here is another letter which I may read:

Yorkton, July, 27, 1910.

Frank Pedley, Esq.,

Deputy Superintendent General, Indian Affairs, Ottawa, Ont.

My Dear Pedley,-

I herewith enclose to you a letter and draft for $96,000. The enclosed letter will tell you what I want, and I certainly think you should make an effort to let Mr. Dixon have this land, as he will be a benefit to the country. There are quite a number of them, and they therefore would also be a benefit to ns in the future.

I think if Mr. McBrady has only made application and not paid for this land, the enclosed application should be considered. Kindly let me hear from you at your earliest convenience, and ablige.

Yours very truly,

(Sgd.) E. L. Cash.

According to the memorandum of the department, Dr. Cash had something like over one hundred quarter sections of this kind at his disposal to peddle out by private sale to his friends in that portion of the territories, notwithstanding that these gentlemen to-day talk about the sacred trust of the Indians. That was the manner in which the Indian trust was being dealt with by hon. gentlemen opposite and they undertake now to try by implication to reflect discredit upon the management of

the Indian Department under the present Administration. It ill becomes hon. gentlemen opposite to make any reflection upon the manner in which the Indian Department is being carried on by the present Administration. I might follow this up further, but I do not propose to do so today, and I might show from the records of this House that even hon. gentlemen who sit upon that side of the House have been peddling these quarter sections themselves, in order that they might make profit, in defiance of the surrender as made by the Indians stipulating that the lands should be sold by public auction. And yet these gentlemen stand up to-day and talk about the sacredness of the trust of the Indians, and make implied insinuations that something has been wrong in connection with this particular reserve. The Prime Minister and the acting Minister of the Interior have made plain the position the Government occupies in this matter. We have given no consent; we purpose giving no consent until the commission now in British Columbia has properly investigated this matter, and we will see that the sacred rights of the Indians are protected in this particular Indian reserve, as in all other reserves in every part of the Dominion.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

The hon. member (Mr. Rogers) made a very special reference to my administration, and I wish to say-

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

There is no motion before the Chair.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I have only a word to

say; it is not controversial.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN:

All right, go ahead.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

The lands my hon. friend *(Mr. Rogers) spoke about had been offered for sale at an upset price. The auction did not yield the upset price. The lands, therefore, remained in the hands of the Government, and were sold afterwards by private sale at the upset price.

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May 26, 1913