March 23, 1916

LIB
LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

Hon. gentlemen are not showing very strong evidence of it. I have no doubt that the minister regards this discussion as, to a large extent, wasted time. I do not regard it as a waste of time, because if it has not done anything else it has given some gentlemen on the other side of the House an opportunity to talk economy, which they did not practise for fifteen years while their party was in power At that time they never thought of the word economy; for fifteen years it was not in their dictionary. So we should rather regard it as a good thing for the country, in a way, that hon. gentlemen opposite have had an opportunity of making use of the word economy. I think it would be extremely foolish for the Minister of the Interior to take the advice that has been offered by hon. gentlemen opposite. It would be very foolish for him to take the advice of the hon. member for St. John. In fact, I may make the general statement that it would be bad for the Minister of the Interior at any time to follow the advice of the hon. member for St. John. The last man in the world who ought to talk economy is the hon. member for St. John, the exMinister of Public Works. The man who had the record that he had when he was Minister of Public Works is the last man who ought to try to make the country believe that he is sincere in his desire for economy. And the hon. member for Assini-boia, who has backed up every sawdust wharf transaction that this country knew, and who had a very close interest in a good many deals, I believe, in the western country-the Merwin deal, the North Atlantic Trading Company, Saskatchewan iand deals, timber and that sore of thing-is a gentleman whose remarks with regard to economy we would be justified in taking with a large grain of salt. What is the use of having immigration agents while the war is on, the hon. gentleman says. The answer comes from the Minister of the Interior that in the fiscal year 1914-15 over

40,000 immigrants came from across the seas to this country, and war was in progress during eight months of that fiscal year. We find also that during the same year some 11,000 came to the Maritime Provinces, and, in the first ten months of

the year, 5,198 came to the Maritime Provinces. It appears, therefore, that even with the war in progress, we may get some immigrants from Great Britain. I venture to say that they will be a better class of immigrants than we would get from the United States. For that I have what hon. gentlemen opposite would probably consider to be the best authority in this House, that of the right hon. leader of the Opposition. Speaking in the debate on the Address this very session, the right hon. gentleman informed the House that the reason why so many Americans left the Northwest and went back to the United States was-not the reason given by the hon. member for Assiniboia-that they desired to escape the possibility of being called upon to go to war. I do not know what they are going to do now, when the United States is at war with Mexico. They will not dare to come back here for fear they will have to enlist, and they will not dare to live in their own country for fear they will have to fight Mexico. Th*ere will be no place for them, unless it be China or some country of that kind. One reason why I think it would be very unwise to cut down the immigration vote is this:

The immigration figures show that since the outbreak of the war the number of immigrants coming to this country has fallen off considerably, that in the first year of the w^r a number came to Canada, notwithstanding the war. But as the struggle became more strenuous and more severe, the number of immigrants lessened. Now, what will happen when the war closes? As has been said, no person can tell when the war will end. It may end in a few months. Does any person suppose that, the moment peace is declared, all the men who are at present in the army will at once return to their former occupations? Not at all. It will take months, even after peace is declared, to bring our own soldiers back to this country. But the thousands and hundreds of thousands of men who are in the armies of England and France at the present time, when peace is declared will be looking around for a suitable place to settle, and I think their attention will naturally be directed to Canada. It does seem to me then that, as soon as peace is declared, as soon as it becomes apparent that the more strenuous part of the war is over, that the testing time has passed, and that the services of many -soldiers can be dispensed with, it will be the part of wisdom to have our full organization of im-

migration staff on the other side of the water in order to see not only that Canada gets its share of the men who are quitting war for peaceful occupations, but that we have trained officials there to make our selection of the best men and get these men to come to the country. The matter of a few thousands of dollars, seventy-eight thousand, or one hundred thousand dollars, us a small thing compared with the interest that the agriculturists of this country have in this vote. The farmers of the Dominion of Canada to-day, especially in the older provinces, are up against a shortage of labour, and they are very deeply interested in the bringing into this country of even a few thousand immigrants. Go Where you will in the rural sections of Ontario and ask the farmer what his chief trouble is to-day, and he will tell you it is -a shortage of labour, that he cannot get the necessary assistance to cultivate the land. Hon. gentlemen opposite say, as do the members on this side, that we must have increased production. But the trouble on the farm today is that you have not the men to produce the crops. I maintain, that in the interest of the agriculture of this country, we should see to it that our staff of immigration officers is maintained, that the organization is kept up in order that at the earliest opportunity we may have all the necessary machinery to bring to this country the assistance of which the farmers of the country are so much in need.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

There seems to be an

attempt to create the impression that something went wrong with the immigration to this country when war broke out. The figures I have show that there was something wrong before war broke out; that while we were increasing our expenditure from year to year the number of people we were getting on the land from year to year was decreasing. In 1911 the immigration vote was $915,000 and the homestead entries 44,479. The next year the expenditure was $1,276,000, and the homestead entries 39,151. In 1913 the expenditure was $1,520,000 and the homestead entries were 31,899. For the year ending March 31, 1915, we spent $2,103,000 on immigration and we got 24,088 homestead entries.

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LIB
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

We got 384,000 immigrants. For the current year our Estimates for immigration are $3,150,000, and it is estimated

that we will have 20,000 homestead entries in this year.

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CON

William James Roche (Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of the Interior)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROCHE:

I beg the hon. gentleman's pardon, hut he is leaving a wrong impression upon the House. He states that for the current year the Estimate for immigration is $3,150,000. Now, in that vote is included for seed grain advances, $1,275,000.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Very well. If you subtract $1,275,000 for seed grain advances, that will still leave approximately $2,000,000 for the current year as compared with less than $1,000,000 in 1911, and with 20,000 homestead entries in this year as against

44,000 in 1911, leaving the seed grain out of the question altogether. I submit that we have not been spending our money advantageously or we would have been getting more satisfactory results in the settlement of the land. The returns show that increase of immigration expenditure, if not wisely made, does not produce satisfactory results. It proves exactly what is being urged from this side of the House to-night, that the money voted for immigration has not been wisely spent, and it will not be wisely spent if it is spent in maintaining agencies where there is no possibility of securing results from them. One would imagine, from what our friends on the other side of the' House have said, that public office was a private snap, and that a man who once had the good fortune to be employed by the Government of Canada thereby had a pension for the term of his natural life. Every business enterprise, I fancy every province, certainly every municipality, has found it necessary to retrench during the past couple of years. I know that in the city from which I come they have had to cut down their current expenditures by the amount of approximately half a million per year. They have had to do that by reducing the number of employees. When times were good, a man was engaged by the city and. he had his living assured. But when times became hard and money to pay these .salaries had to come out of the pockets of the tax-payers, then, in response to the call to reduce the expenditure of the city, the expenditure was reduced. And may I say that the reduction of the expenditure by the city of Edmonton improved the credit of the city, very much to the city's advantage. (Now what is true and necessary 'in regard to a city is just as necessary in regard to this country of Canada. The Government has seen fit to add, by increased taxation, to the burdens

of the people in the past two sessions of Parliament, a sum of $50,000,000, .and they propose to add in this session of Parliament a further burden of $25,000,000. We suggest that where these enormous additional burdens are being made upon the people there shall be exercised due economy in the expenditure of the money in the Department of the Interior, in the branch of immigration, and all along the line in the Government expenditures.

Amendment (Mr. Pugsley) negatived:

yeas, 19; nays, 31.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

The minister has made

great progress. We have put through about $4,000,000, and that is pretty good work in these hard times. I congratulate him on being surrounded by such a strong force of followers to-night. I do not think I have seen any minister have such strong support in putting through his Estimates at such a late hour as this. It is a good thing we had this vote, because a number of members took part whom we do not often see at this time of night. It is a good thing to have a variation and to see some strange faces. Some of us are here every night till this hour, and it feels lonely to see empty chairs. I congratulate my hon. friends opposite upon staying with us so late. Item 64 might go through as there seems to be no possibility of inculcating the minister with the necessity for a reduction at this time, and then we might adjourn.

Progress reported.

On motion of Mr. Hazen, the House adjourned at 11.59 p.m.

Friday, March 24, 1916.

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March 23, 1916