April 2, 1918

UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Under clause A.

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZTE:

Do I understand the

practice to be that if a man goes in and takes an entry on land, and fails to comply with the regulations, and is either ejected- I believe there is a process Of that kind sometimes-or abandons the place, but has made some improvements before abandoning it, the Government still recognizes his right to be paid for his improvements? In such event how is the value ascertained?

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

We do not recognize

it as a right, but the minister has had [DOT]power-at all events he has exercised the power for many years-of transferring the value of these improvements as paid by the new entrant to the old entrant if he could -be found. It was not always done, but virtually always. It-was not paid to him as a right, he could not have sued for it, but as a matter of course, the value was given to him. He had improved the land to that extent and it was felt to be his money. The value is ascertained on the [DOT]basis of an inspector's report, and the entrant has to make a declaration as to what he deems the value should be. If the amount is too low he has to pay the balance before the entry is completed. If the amount is too high then he gets a repayment. If the man makes a false declaration he will not get the entry at all,

Mr, BUREAU: Are these powers exercised by the minister himself?

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes, not by the Governor in Council. .

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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L LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURTER:

Does not the minister think the clause is too severe altogether? The law which it is now sought to amend reads'as follows:

A person applying for entry for a homestead, a preemption, or a purchased homestead, shall declare, before being granted entry, what improvements, If any, there are upon the land with respect to which his application is made, and shall pay the value of such improvements,-

Should he fail to make such declaration his entry shall be liable to cancellation in the discretion of the .minister. . Now, as I understand the amendment, the party who seeks to make entry is bound to declare what improvements there are upon the land, and to pay at once what charges there may be upon it. Would it not be preferable to wait a little while before exacting a payment? The entrant may he a poor man, and if you require him to at once pay whatever charges there may be on the land he may not he able to do so. On the other hand, if you allow him to work his homestead for a few years his circumstances may be improved to an extent that will enable him to defray whatever charges have to be met. I am afraid that if yon compel an entrant to pay these charges immediately upon applying for entry on the land which has been deserted by its previous owner you will possibly prevent him from making entry, whereas if you allow him to work the homestead he may get more firmly on hie feet and obtain that improvement in his circumstances which will make it easier for him to pay the necessary charges. Of course, the Government must have sufficient protection in cases of this kind.

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The applicant has always been compelled to pay at once the value of the improvements, it being recognized, doubtless, that he got the benefit at once of the existing improvements. For example, if there was a house on the land be got the advantage of that house and w-as thus able to enter upon and cultivate the land more quickly than he otherwise could, and therefore enjoyed greater benefit by reason of the fact. There has been no hardship in the past in collecting the value of the improvements. My right hon. friends' remarks mtay have greater weight with regard to the case of seed grain, fodder, and other relief. The new entrant does not get the benefit of that; the former entrant gets the benefit of the seed grain,

fodder, and other relief. So far as we have carried out the practice which will be here made law. We have not -given anything -to any one abandoning a homestead where there was a seed grain mortgage against it unless he paid the amount due. It may be worth considering whether or not the minister should noit have the power to grant an entry subject to the payment of the amount of the seed grain mortgage, in so far as it exceeded the amount of the improvements, such amount to be paid prior to the issue of the patent. I would rather have the legislation go through in this form because these seed grain mortgages have b.een due since the spring of 1915. We have not been quite as successful in collecting them as we had hoped. Approximately half have been collected, but there would seem to be no reason why more should not be collected. However, the utmost efforts have been made to get them in, and all concerned are most anxious to exert every possible pressure to attain this end. By "all concerned" I mean the farming communities and organizations themselves. The farmers' organizations and loan organizations are most anxious that these liens be removed as rapidly as possible. While liens against abandoned homesteads may have to be taken up by homesteaders who have a little money, it seems to me that the advantage we get is well worth that discrimination, if you call it such, in their favour. We will get the money in, whereas if we let it stand until the man gets his patent, he may postpone the getting of his patent a considerable time, and cause us to be out of our money that much longer.

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION

James McCrie Douglas

Unionist

Mr. DOUGLAS:

Has any provision been made for the collecting of taxes which may be due on a homestead, which has been abandoned, for the municipality or school district in which the land is situated?

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I have not looked into that point, but my belief is that the homesteader's interest in the land is taxable, but once his interest is gone and tne land reverts to the Crown, the right of the municipality to that tax lapses.

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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Section agreed to. On section 2-cancellation and compensation for improvements:


L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

What is the difference between this and the similar clause of the old Act?

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Under the old Act compensation could be paid to the former en-

trant, but now power is taken to pay it to any dependent. There are some cases where a homesteader -abandons his land and his wife and family at the same time. Under the old Act we had power, if we could find the man who had skipped out and was the least deserving of all, to give the money to him. We could not give it to those who were most deserving of it and who had been deserted.

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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L LIB
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes.

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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Section agreed to. On sections 3 and 4-requirements for homestead letters patent; computation of period for performance of requirements.


L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

Does the word " residence " in this section mean from the time that the man takes possession, or from the time that he begins to reside on the land?

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Begins to reside on the land.

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

That means he must

have a house and live in it before he is a resident?

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes.

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

I do not like the word "shifted" in line 42; I think the word " changed " would be a better one. We do not shift dates.

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I brought this matter to the attention of the draftsman, who informed me that this clause was before a committee of Parliament last session and was approved in this very language. I believe also that it is the language that was used prior to 1908 when the same principle was invoked. In 1908 stricter rules were adopted as to computation of residence, and it is now desired to come back to the more lenient rule. Cases of great hardship have arisen. Under the rules as amended a man might reside for thirty-five months on his land and still not have covered the necessary eighteen months in occupation of the land. In fact it was found to toe impracticable to be fair and just to homesteaders and at the same time follow strictly the rules laid down. The proposed change gives a wider scope; it enables us to compute the residence years in one of two different ways, or part in one and part in another. In every case, of course, a man has to put in six months of residence in each of three separate years. I do not know why the word "changed" would not do just as well as the word " shifted," though per-

ihaps "shifted" is a little more comprehensive.

Topic:   DOMINION LANDS ACT AMENDMENT.
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April 2, 1918