April 2, 1918

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William Alexander McMaster

Mr. McMAOTER:

It may be western, but it is not good English. I would, ask the minister to agree to. that change. I should not like to be a member of a legislature which talks about " shifting" 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 am agreeable to the change.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

The old section provided that only in the case of unsurveyed lands could the date of residence be computed as before entry. When a settler went on a piece of land that was not surveyed and made entry after it had been surveyed, he had the privilege of having his entry computed as from the date of his commencing residence.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is provided for in another section. That is the law.

Sections 3 and 4 agreed to.

On section 1-declaration as to improvements prior to entry, and valuation by homestead inspector:

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I beg to move, inasmuch as from a date about two weeks ago, purchased homesteads and pre-emptions cannot be entered for, that section 1 should have these words in lines 7 and 8 omitted:

For a homestead, a pre-emption or a purchased homestead.

The clause will then read:

A person applying for entry shall declare.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

The word " entry," I suppose, covers everything in accordance with the interpretation section at the beginning of the Act?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes.

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Amendment agreed to. Section 1 as amended agreed to. On section 5-absence on military or naval service, and for three months after discharge, to be counted as residence:


L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

This adds the naval service and service with the Allies, which were not in the old Act?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes. Under the old Act any one engaged as a member of a military force enrolled under the authority of the Minister of Militia and engaged as a member of that force in the suppression of an outbreak or insurrection in any part of the British Empire, or in the defence of the British Empire against a foreign power, is

entitled to the benefits therein set out. He is entitled to count as residence the time during which he was so engaged and also three months after his discharge. This amendment extends those benefits to members of the British and Allied forces, and it also includes within the scope of the section-holders of purchased homesteads or scrip locations. Not only are homesteaders so entitled, but men who are in the position of having purchased homesteads, and purchasers of South African scrip locations, are also included.

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UNION

Ira Eugene Argue

Unionist

Mr. ARGUE:

I would like some information with regard to our soldiers who are at present overseas. Last week I received a letter from Major Cameron who enlisted in the city of Swift Current, and I know many other men who went from there who, before they went away, were given to understand that their time of enlistment would apply on their homesteads. Some of them entered for their homesteads before they enlisted; some of them entered after they enlisted. Major Cameron informs me that the time of those mien in his company who entered for a homestead after enlistment does not apply on their homesteads. I do not see why such a distinction should be made. I do not Gee why the time of a man who entered for a homestead yesterday and enlists to-day should apply on. Hie homestead, while the time of a man who enlists to-day and enters for a homestead to-morrow is not permitted to apply on his homestead. Both men are fighting for their country. They may be men from the same place, perhaps even boys on neighbouring farms, and they may have enlisted in the same battalion the same day. One man- on. his return will receive the title to his homestead, while the other is told he cannot have it unless he puts in eighteen months' homestead duties. Is that the meaning of this section?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is not the meaning of this section at all, but speaking gen' erally, my hon. friend's statement of the law is correct. What we aTe doing ie simply amending and extending the benefits of section 22 as it has always read. I may, however, answer what my hon. friend asks. Under the ministry of my predecessor that rule was adopted, and personally I find no fault with it. At first sight it appeared to me to be an arbitrary distinction, but I think it is founded on a sound principle. It is, indeed, the principle recognized in this section as it has always existed. A man who is a bona fide homesteader and who

then enlists in Hie Majesty's forces, or in an allied force, if he has been a resident of Canada, is entitled to credit in his residence duties all the time occupied during his enlistment. There was a body of opinion that urged that the same advantage should be given to the man who homesteaded after his enlistment; that he should also be allowed to count the time occupied during his enlistment as residence on his homestead;, but I think a few moments' serious reflection will show that that would open the door to a very great abuse of the homesteading privilege. If that were to be granted, then it would only be reasonable to expect a flood of entries from every one who enlisted, who did not, perhaps, intend to become a bona fide homesteader at all, but by the mere act of entering after enlistment,' he, if he were enlisted for three years, would be entitled to a free grant of land, merely upon having certain improvements done. In that way the whole settlement provisions of the Act would he obliterated. The whole spirit and purpose of the Homestead Act would be so aihused as to ibe practically wiped out. It is true, when you come to distinguish, as my hon. friend does, between the case of a man who homesteads the day (before he enlists and the case of a man who homesteads the day after he enlists, the distinction appears very arbitrary, because between those two there is virtually no distinction; but the line of demarcation must be found 'between one case of a ibona fide homesteader and the other, and that is the only place I know of to locate the line. In the case, however, of those who have homesteaded after enlistment, consideration has been shown. They have been granted protection of their homesteads while they are on duty. That land is reserved for the soldier so long as he is on active service, and will be reserved for a sufficient length of time to enable him to locate on it after he returns. That will be his homestead, entirely irrespective o:f his right of entry under the Soldiers' Settlement Board.

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UNION

Ira Eugene Argue

Unionist

Mr. ARGUE:

According to the minister's ruling, it would seem that all that is required to make a man a bona fide homesteader is that he go on his homestead one day before he enlists.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is the extreme case.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

I notice that the

soldier is allowed three months after his discharge to go on his homestead. The question arises in my mind whether that period is quite sufficient- When the war is

[Mr. Meighen.1

over we expect there will be a great dearth of shipping, and in the case of a Belgian or French reservist discharged in Belgium or France, there might be a delay of several months before he could get passage home. Has the minister considered that point?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Under this Act we can give him as much time as we wish in which to take up his residence duties. All that this Act fixes is that the time during which he is absent on military duty shall count as residence on his homestead plus three months more. I do not think it would be well to extend that three months. I fancy that in the great majority of cases it will not be necessary, because the residence duties will already be done.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Has the minister considered whether it might not be advisable to extend this privilege to any man serving in the forces? I see that it is provided that the minister may "permit him to resume his residence upon his homestead, preemption, purchased homestead or land located by him under any land warrant or scrip," and it says that the time "may" be counted as residence. Why not use the word "shall" if this provision is solely for the benefit of the entrant?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The word " may " is almost invariably used in association with the conduct of the minister, and in this case I think it is the better word. There may be an exceptional case where it would be deemed justice not to apply the rule at all.

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UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. NESBITT:

,1s there a provision that the wife can take over the homestead in the case of the husband's death?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

In case of death the

patent is granted forthwith and in the name of the deceased soldier. This has been done by Order in Council ever since some date in 1915, and we are now making statutory what is now law by virtue of the Order in Council of that date. If a man is so disabled as not to be able to resume his duties his patent is granted to him. If he is killed the patent is granted in his name just the same as if he had lived.

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April 2, 1918