July 20, 1917

LIB

Frederick Pemberton Thompson

Liberal

Mr. LEVI THOMPSON:

I do not know what the Government think of the suggestion of my hon. friend from Edmonton, but I think it would be well to give power to

the commissioners to expropriate land where they see fit, or let the Government do it themselves. I presume the minister is so well acquainted with conditions in the West that it rs unnecessary for me to 'remind him of the tremendous amount of vacant land that is held out there-and more so in Alberta and Saskatchewan than in Manitoba-for speculative purposes. The owners buy this land without any intention of working it, in the hope that as the surrounding land is cultivated their property will increase in value. Now, although every citizen is entitled to some consideration, I do not think very much consideration should be shown to a citizen who does that. I think his land should be expropriated. I think there is a great deal in what my hon. friend from Edmonton says on this point.

Let me add this: there is a public interest to be served as well as the interest of the returned soldier. All of us in this House realize, I think, that at no time was the world ever so close to starvation as at present. Our crop reports for this year are not very encouraging, and that does not promise well for next year, because whenever there ris a great shortage one year, conditions are unfavourable for the following year. On the virgin prairie a man could get a crop the first year, even if he only started to cultivate his land in the spring. He could groiw oats and flax at least, particularly flax, and that would relieve the situation to a great extent; I admit that he would not be able to grow wheat successfully. Of course, it is now too late for this legislation to be of any assistance in bringing land under cultivation and increasing production this year. That would help for next year's crop, because there is any amount of land actually lying idle on which returned soldiers might be placed, and so help out the situation, not only for themselves and for*Oanada but for the whole world. We who have some experience with western conditions know that the farmer feels he should have -more than a quarter-section for a successful farm. He feels he should have at least a half-section, and from my own observation and experience in farming I believe that is right. A farmer to carry on his work in the most successful manner should have 320 acres to work on

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CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BURNHAM:

Is not intensive farming possible out there?

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LIB

Levi Thomson

Liberal

Mr. LEVI THOMSON:

It may be possible later on, but I think my hon. friend will agree with me that intensive farming is

not just the thing for a new country. Intensive farming is proper and advisable where the land is scarce and dear. There are other conditions in older and more settled districts which make intensive farming very successful. My hon. friend lives in the province of Ontario, and knows that intensive farming is practically confined to the raising of potatoes and other vegetables. The market in the West is very limited and uncertain for that class of produce. If my hon. friend means by "intensive farming" that a man's land should be farmed in such a way as to yield heavier crops, I agree with him that it should be done, but I do not see how we can deal with that phase of the question.

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CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BURNHAM:

You certainly cannot encourage it by advocating farms of 320 acres instead of 160.

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LIB

Levi Thomson

Liberal

Mr. LEVI THOMSON:

I will not enter into a long argument on the point, but if I had an hour or so with my hon. friend I think I could convince him that I know a .little more about the subject than he does, and perhaps persuade him that he is quite wrong and that I am quite right. I believe the hon. minister (Mr. Roche) will agree with me that the most successful farmers in the province of Saskatchewan are the men who have about 320 acres. That being so, let us suppose we have a man prepared to take 320 acres; 1 am afraid the amount suggested will not be sufficient, if he has not a fairly large capital to start with, unless the Government advances him the necessary funds on the security of a second mortgage, and I am not in favour of that. Whatever power may be given to the board with regard to the lending of money, I think the Government should have a first mortgage unless there be some very exceptional circumstances. It may be a very serious proposition to say that the amount (Should not be limited to $2,500, but I think the board might be allowed to exceed this figure, or it might be arranged that there should be a limited sum for a quarter-section, and a proportionate increase for a half-section.

The matter of wooded lands is another important subject which should not be lost sight of. I have already spoken to my hon. friend personally about this, and he was very ready to consider any suggestions. This is a question, however, on which it is hard to miake intelligent .and useful suggestions. About a year ago I had occasion to examine some land along the Saskatchewan river, directly north of Tisdale. On the south side of the river was practically bare prairie land, although I .saw some very fine pieces of wooded land left. The north side of the river was almost entirely covered by the finest growth of poplar I ever saw. I was told that the land on the .south side was very heavily wooded some years ago when the homesteaders went there first, and in the natural course of events the homesteader had gradually burned it clear. I should be very sorry to see the poplar on the north side of the river destroyed, because it is extremely valuable, and I think it would be advantageous if some means were devised *by which say one-half or three-quaT-ters of this land could be burned or cleared for homesteading and' leave the balance in wood as it is. I have not a very clear suggestion to offer to my hon. friend as to just how it could be done, but I would like to see the board given sufficient power to deal with it.

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LIB

William Roche

Liberal

Mr. ROCHE:

That is one of the benefits of having the Act administered under regulations which may be changed from time to time, according to the judgment of tiie commission.

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CON

William Wright

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WRIGHT:

May I .ask whether it is

the intention to acquire land in .the different provinces of the Dominion under these regulations? No doubt the attention of the Government will be largely directed tow.ards the West for the settling of soldiers on the land. At the same time, I would like to- point out that there are large stretches of territory in the other provinces which, while they might not be quite as desirable as some p.arts of the West would 'be equally .as desirable as the wooded lands spoken of by the hon. member for Qu'Appelle ('Mr. Thomson). In the northern part of Ontario, for instance, there are large stretches of land, not very valuable, financially speaking, but- which could be used to great advantage by returned soldiers. In the districts of Mmskoka, Parry Sound and Nipissing, and down through the east, they have large stretches of land which the farmers find it almost impossible to work because a great many of the young men had gone off to the West and the few that were left have been drawn off to the army by the recruiting officers. The old men and women who are left upon the farms have not, for the most part, the means of getting help, and they cannot work the farms. These old people

- would like very much to dispose of their lands and to join their young folk in the West or in the cities. The lands may not be as desirable, but

they can be acquired at a moderate price and can be used to very great advantage for the production of dairy produce, sheep, cattle or anything of that kind. They will produce enough feed for large numbers of stock and make equally desifable homes with anything in the West, or anywhere else, for the average comfort of life. There is plenty of fuel, and work all through the winter, while prices for all produce are equal to those in Ottawa or anywhere else. I hope that these sections will not be overlooked in connection with the settlement of soldiers. We require more settlers and more farm help, 'and the settling of soldiers on these lands would be for the benefit both of that section of the country and of the soldiers. We can make good, comfortable homes for them with a small investment of money.

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CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BURNHAM:

If this were merely a question of farming in the West, I should perhaps not venture to enter the discussion. But there are two elements connected with it which perhaps justify my saying a word upon it. In the first place, this is a matter of the expenditure of public money, and therefore it is open to discussion by all members. In the second place, I have listened this afternoon to a repudiation of intensive farming, something that I must confess has amazed me. Intensive farming, of course, is not truck farming, it is farming; it is making the land grow twice as much as it did before by introducing the equivalent in nitrates or general fertilizer. The growing of crops of various sorts on land spread over a large area entails a vast amount of work. It does nothing whatever to relieve the help problem, and, in addition to that, it means the tying up of a vast lot of capital in the purchase of land which otherwise might be used for other purposes. If, for instance, a man, instead of having 300 acres of land and presently raising from 15 to 18 bushels an acre-and in many cases, after a few years, less-had 100 acres and raised 35 or 40 bushels an acre, he would be doing vastly better and would very likely be able to farm his land, and' we should not hear these complaints. But, in any event, speaking upon general principles, this extensive farming has ceased to be considered reasonable and sensible farming in any well settled country. The Americans have abandoned it, and we find that in Belgium, before the war, the people were devoting themselves to enriching the land and raising large quantities of produce upon it. They were not attempting to run all over the face of the earth raising

sparse crops and complaining about help and wondering where they ,conld get money to buy more land. That kind of thing is out of date and I certainly hope that the minister will take into consideration advanced or scientific farming and not this commonplace style of spread-eagle farming of which we have heard so much and which, very strangely, has been so advocated this afternoon.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

My hon. friend reminds

me of the late Mark Twain who on one occasion explained that the less he knew of a subject the more fluently he could speak on it.

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LIB
LIB

William Roche

Liberal

Mr. ROCHE:

It is a loan. They have no free lands there. Their public lands are the property of the State, not of the Commonwealth, and the State Governments supply the lands on the long term lease or by saile. The Commonwealth Government borrows -money and -lends it to the State Government who in turn lends to the soldiers, charging cost price of the loan with a reasonable amount added for working expenses.

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Amendment agreed to. Resolution reported, read the first and second time, and concurred in. Mr. Roche thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 116, entitled "An.Act to Assist Returned Soldiers in Settling Upon the Land, and to increase Agricultural Production." Motion agreed to and Bill read the first time.


SUPREME COURT AND EXCHEQUER COURT ACTS AMENDMENT.


On the motion of Hon. C.J. Doherty (Minister of Justice) Bill No. 98, to amend the Supreme Court Act and the Exchequer Court Act, was read the second time and the House went into -committee thereon, Mr. Blain in the Chair. On section 1-Crown entitled to costs notwithstanding solicitor, etc., is -salaried officer.


LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Will the hon. minister explain this?

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

The purpose of this section is to place the litigant who has litigation with the Crown in the same position, with regard to liability for cost, in the case where the Crown conducts its proceedings through the law officers in the Department of Justice, who are all salaried officers, as in the case where outside counsel are employed. As the law stands at present, where the cases are conducted by lawyers outside the department, and the Crown is successful, costs are always taxed, of course, against the losing litigant, in favour of the lawyer conducting the case, and include fees to that lawyer. Where, on the other hand, the Crown conducts its case through the law officers of the department, it has been held that, inasmuch as these officers are salaried officials, and the Crown does not pay special fees for the particular case, they are not entitled to have their costs taxed. It seems anomalous that the position of a litigant, with regard to liability for costs, should be different, in the case where the Crown conducts its business through its own officers, from the case where the Crown retains counsel specially for the purpose. I think it will be acknowledged that it is desirable, as far as possible, and it certainly is in the interests of economy, that the cases on behalf of the Crown should be conducted by the law officers regularly employed. That, of course, takes their time away from other duties, and the Crown pays them for that work, through their salaries. Where their time is so occupied, and where the Crown succeeds in its litigation, it seems but fair that the unsuccessful litigant should pay the costs, just as he should pay them if we employed some other lawyer. I do not think it is desirable that the unsuccessful parties, who, in many cases at all events, are conducting the litigation quite without foundation, should escape from the ordinary penalty that attaches to the unsuccessful litigant with regard to the liability for costs.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

If this be not intended to add to the salary of the official of the department who acts as counsel, I can see no very serious objection to the proposed change.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

It is not so intended.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

But if it is intended to add to the fee, or salary, or remuneration of the officers of the Crown, I think it will be very objectionable.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

It provides that the money so paid shall go into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Canada.

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July 20, 1917