March 23, 1916

CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I know of no other

course he can take.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

The judiciary did not

make the hold-up; it was the officers of the Government of Manitoba.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The judiciary found

that the contention of the then Opposition was correct,, that the reserve was improperly taken, and that justice bad not been done to the Indian, and consequently, as a result of the finding of the judiciary, the registrar of the province refused to pass the title.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

He refused it first.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not know that he did; I do not think he did. But, if he did refuse it first, his action was determined to be right and proper by the judiciary. But I think my hon. friend is wrong; I do not think he refused it until after the finding of the judges.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROCHE:

And on the recommendation of Chief Justice Howell.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes, and on the recommendation of Chief Justice Howell. I need make no remark on the eminence of that member of the judiciary of Manitoba. So much for the charge that there was a political hold-up. After all is said and done in so far as this settlement is effected, the principle for which we have all along contended is vindicated. The Indian who has lost is the Indian who now benefits. His fund benefits to the extent of about $40,000. No one contends that $40,000 represents the amount which my hon. friends opposite permitted the men to get away with, but the $40,000 represents the amount As nearly as we can judge which we are able to get, and which will do a measure of substantial justice in the presence of the circumstances that have arisen, and which deny to us the possibility cf securing actual justice for those who suffered by reason of the action of hon. gentlemen opposite.

Perhaps I may explain before I sit down that the Bill doe? not force a settlement upon any one. Any one who feels that he has no right to pay this money may continue the litigation. I do not know that any will avail themselves of that opportunity, because, speaking frankly, the the amount is not high; but at all events it must not be understood that we are forcing this by way of a levy. We are simply saying to those who are ready to pay that the offer should be accepted, and to that extent that the land should be freed from the cloud and removed from the terrors of litigation.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Hon. WILLIAM PUGSLEY:

Have the Indians been consulted in regard to this proposed settlement?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Does my hon. friend

mean the 'Indians themselves?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Yes.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The Government of

Canada represents the Indians; the Indians are our wards, and we are making the settlement as their guardians.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

That does not answer my question. I would like to know whether or not the Indians themselves have been consulted with regard to this proposed settlement.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROCHE:

We have had many representations from the Indians approving of the settlement.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

My hon. friend knows perfectly well that, in regard to disposal of their lands, there is a mode of consulting the Indians. Notice is given of the meeting at which the Indians are allowed to assemble and the matter is brought before them, and they determine as to the action they should take. What occurs to me is that, according to the view which has been presented by the Solicitor General, and also, I think, by the Minister of the Interior, the surrender was void. If it was void, then the lands still belong to the Indians. One or the other must be true; either the surrender was good and valid, and the Indians parted with their property in a perfectly legal way, or the surrender was void, and, therefore, the lands still belong to the Indians. Now, I do not think that the Government really relies upon the contention that the surrender was void, for they propose to make a .settlement which would effectually take from the Indians any possible claim they would have to these lands. The Indians ought to have been called together and consulted in the regular way as to the' disposition which would be made of the interests which the Government contends they still had in the lands, notwithstanding the surrender which was alleged to have taken place. I understand the Objection to the alleged surrender on the part of this Government, and upon the part of the registrar in Manitoba, who was an appointee of the Roblin Government, was that the Indians were not properly notified, that they were not properly called together in council, ant^ did not, therefore, have a fair opportunity of considering the proposed surrender. But now the Government, notwithstanding that it is pretending to this House that there is no surrender; that the proceedings were wholly void, and that the Indians still remain the owners of the lan^s, is proposing, without consulting the Indians at all, and without calling them together in council, to ask this Parliament to completely and absolutely alienate their rights, whatever they may be. That is the position in which this Government stands. It does seem to

me that the Government is not in a position to say that the 'surrender which took place some years ago was void, because from its conduct it must be inferred that it is of the opinion that in law and in equity the Indians have no title to these lands, that they have surrendered their title. But, as there is an opportunity to obtain from those people who had bought the land and paid their money, an additional amount which they are willing to pay rather than be compelled to go to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and to incur large expenses of litigation, the Government is making that an excuse for settlement, and is now coming to Parliament and asking it to ratify the proposed settlement simply because it is getting an additional sum of $.1 per acre out of the purchasers of this land. More than that, the excuse that is made by the Solicitor General is that there are some people who are absolutely innocent, and there are some people who have been guilty of very grave wrong-doing. Yet, the Government is proposing to treat all alike on the principle that the sun shines equally on the innocent and the guilty. Does the sun of this Government shine equally, and with the same intensity, upon those who are guilty as upon those who are absolutely innocent of any wrong-doing? The result is that the innocent man, the man who has been guilty of no wrong-doing whatever, who acted in the most perfect good faith, who paid his money believing the transfer was altogether just, proper, and legal, in order to get his title, is compelled to pay the same amount of money that this Government is exacting from the man who, it believes, was guilty of very grave wrongdoing. Is that fair? Is there any principle of justice in that?

The Solicitor General puts forward another excuse. He says that they might appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and that the title of the land might be held to be void, but that it would take a long period of time to decide. This Government has been in power now for upwards of four years and an ordinary appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council takes, at the very outside, twelve months. Appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are disposed of rather speedily, and if the Government had chosen to bring this matter to the test of law within a reasonable time after it came into office, this Whole question would have been settled long ago. But after wait-

ing for four years, the Government comes now, and, for a paltry additional sum of $1 per acre-which it is not exacting in cash but which it is allowing the

4 p.m. grantees to extend over a period of years, and upon which they are paying 5 per cent interest-it is proposing to make this settlement by which those who are innocent of wrongdoing and those who are guilty are put in a position of absolute equality. If there was fraud, if there was wrongdoing, if the surrender was absolutely void, then the Indians own the land. If the land was worth $15 per acre, as was alleged some years ago so strongly by hon. gentlemen who are now occupying the treasury benches, this Government ought not to have compromised for the small sum of $1 per acre, but the Government ought to have carried the case to the highest court in the realm and had it settled long, long since.

There is one other consideration to which my hon. friend from Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) has referred. The official of the Roblin Government in Manitoba declined to recognize the transfer because the surrender was void and therefore the transfers were void. I would like to know how it comes that he afterwards recognized these transfers at the instance of this Government. If they were ever void they are void to-day. This Government, without legislation, has no power to make them valid, and how is it that at the instance of this Government the registrar of Manitoba has allowed to be recorded certain transfers which previously he had held to be absolutely void and which he had held he had no power to place on record? The Government is to-day seeking retroactive legislation to make legal what they say the registrar of Manitoba has done, and in order to validate what the Minister of the Interior did a good many months ago, and which he did, according to the Government's view, absolutely without legal authority.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The hon. gentleman is forgetting that action of this official in Manitoba of which he complains was committed by him as an official of the new Norris Government some months after that Government came in.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

By the new Norris Government? At whose instance? Was it the same official?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Certainly, but under

the instructions of the new Attorney General.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

If it was under the instructions of the new Attorney General, then that means that the new Attorney General of Manitoba believes that the surrender was absolutely valid and perfectly legal. That must be the opinion of the new Attorney General of Manitoba, and it is a proper opinion.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

You do not get the

reason there.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

But notwithstanding

that the opinion of the Attorney General of Manitoba is that the transfer was perfectly legal and valid, and that the people who paid their money have a right to have their deeds of transfer registered, this Government has threatened to carry the case to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council unless these people, innocent and guilty alike, pay into the treasury the sum, according to the Solicitor General, of $1 per acre, extending that over an unlimited period of time and paying interest at 5 per cent per annum. It does seem to me that the action of this Government in this respect is not defensible. Either that transfer was legal or it was illegal. If it was illegal, then the Indians are entitled to their lands; they are entitled to be consulted; they are entitled to be called together in the regular way to be informed of their legal position, and their rights should be guarded by this Government, which is the trustee for the Indians. I would like to know what right a trustee in an ordinary case would have to act as the Minister of the Interior is acting in this case in reference to these Indians whose trustee the Minister of the Interior is. Hon. gentlemen upon the other side of the House have alleged th|at this land was worth the very large sum of $15 per acre. They have alleged that fraud was perpetrated; that the interests of'the Indians were sacrificed, and that an average of ten dollars per acre was unlawfully taken from them. Yet, to-day, without consulting the Indians, the Government ask to have what they have done confirmed simply by providing an additional fund for the Indians of the sum of only one dollar per acre as compared with ten dollars per acre which they alleged the Indians were unlawfully deprived of in the past.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   ST. PETERS INDIAN RESERVE.
Sub-subtopic:   CONFIRMATION OF LAND PATENTS.
Permalink

March 23, 1916