April 23, 1918

L LIB

Isaac Ellis Pedlow

Laurier Liberal

Mr. PEDLOW:

It is practically the same thing. Then what becomes of the Indian?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

He gets the benefit of all the cultivation that he has heretofore undertaken and the benefit of all the land that he has been using for grazing, and all the other benefits coming to the Indian under the law. Now we are providing an additional benefit by giving value to what had no value to him before.

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L LIB

Isaac Ellis Pedlow

Laurier Liberal

Mr. PEDLOW:

But will the Indian be

allowed to trap and hunt if the entire reservation is taken? If not, where will he go?

iMr. MEIGHEN: We will still leave him enough to trap on, but even if we did not thirty bushels of wheat to the acre is a lot better than a few squirrels caught by the Indian.

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L LIB

John Patrick Molloy

Laurier Liberal

Mr. MOLLOY:

Did I understand the

minister to say that the land would Joe leased for the purpose of raising grain as well as stock?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes.

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L LIB
UNION

Walter Davy Cowan

Unionist

Mr. COWAN:

The hon. gentleman does not understand the commissioner as well as I do, or he would not have made the statement which he has made. I have known the commissioner for thirty years, and I may say there is not a more competent officer. He will never permit any company, syndicate or individual to use the lands in any such manner as the hon. gentleman suggests. One reason why I support the Bill which the minister has brought in is because it gives Mr. Graham so much latitude. I know that the interests of the country and of the Indians will be properly looked afteT in his hands, and if there should happen to be any using of these lands in the manner suggested, he will quickly take the necessary steps to terminate the lease. I have been over a good many of the Indian reserves, and I know something about the hundreds of acres of land lying idle. I know that if any lease is terminated at any time for any cause hundreds of farmers would be only too glad

to take the lease and work the farm successfully. It is all veTy well to say you should give all this land over to stock-raising. If the land were suited for it, that proposition would be perfectly good, but unfortunately, there lare millions of .acres of land in "Western Canada in which grain raising is exclusively indicated and where ' stock raising would not be a success. A great deal of this land is of that nature. Therefore, I say, it is a perfectly propeT thing today to give a free hand to Mr. Graham, and let him use the land for grain raising, if it can be so used, and use such parts for stock raising that are as suitable. I have no hesitation in saying that this whole question of handling the Indian reserves is very properly placed in the hands of the 'Indian Commissioner, Mr. Graham, and it will be properly looked after.

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L LIB

John Patrick Molloy

Laurier Liberal

Mr. MOLLOY:

I did not say anything

regarding Mir. Graham, I know him by reputation but not personally, and I may say no better officer is in the employ of the country than Mr. Graham, but that does not affect what I said in regard to the renting of the land. He cannot control every man who uses that land. What would happen if he died? Somebody would have to take his place, and perhaps we would not get -as good a man as Mr. Graham. Another point is that this land could not be used for stock raising, because a great deal of it is only adapted for grain raising.. Any land that will raise grain will raise stock, but a great deal of land that will iraise stock will not raise grain.

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UNION

Richard Coe Henders

Unionist

Mr. HENDERS:

I have the honour to represent a constituency where there is a . large-sized Indian reserve, and a number of the Indians on that reserve already own their land. The farmers adjacent to the land owned by these Indians are renting the land [DOT] year afteT year and producing grain on it. I know further that that same reservation has a lot of the very best land in the country on it for grain purposes, hut it is not suitable for stock raising because the water is not available. In order to raise stock your land must be adjacent to water, but you can grow wheat where you have not the opportunity of obtaining water. I have great pleasure in endorsing this measure.

Mr. J. S'. REID: I congratulate the

Minister of the Interior for going as far as he has gone. I know a great many Indian reserves. In the province in which I live thousands of acres are lying idle, and

farmers having ranches alongside these reserves are only too glad to get leases of this land to raise grain and cattle. Perhaps there is a danger here that when we make an Indian a landlord and he rents out his land, he will sit back with his hands in his pockets and receive his rent, and it will tend to make him a little lazy. In regard to the land being polluted with noxious weeds, I do not think there need be any fear. That matter cap be attended to. As to production, we have many Indian reserves in Saskatchewan lying quite close to our railway towns, and I am sure this measure will greatly stimulate Droduction. J am very much in sympathy with the amendment to the Act.

Mr. 'CAHILL: If the onlv Durnose of the Bill is to deal with vacant land, there are thousands and millions of acres of vacant land throughout the West owned by large corporations, and why we should take from *the Indian his rights, where he is living on the land in his own way, to make way for settlers or renters, and leave to the large corporations their, lands which they are holding for profit, is a mystery to me. fl think if we are going to do any confiscating of land for the beRefit of the white plan, you should take the white man's land.

Mr. DuTREMBLAY: Under subsection

3, when these lands are rented or leased, is there provision for a tender?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Not necessarily, because there would not be time to tender in every case.

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. I. F. REID:

I do not wish to be misunderstood, and I may say I am not in favour of confiscating the Indian land, because I know by the last returns the Indian population is increasing, and there may he a day when the Indians will require all the land. But leasing and confiscating are different propositions.

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L LIB

Frank S. Cahill

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CAHILL:

It depends on how long you lease the land for.

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UNION

Thomas Mitchell March Tweedie

Unionist

Mr. TWEEDIE:

night it would be absolutely impossible for him to cultivate more than a small fraction of these lands. In regard to raising stock on all these lands, the Indians would be unable to do it. They would not be able to finance themselves. Some criticism has been made of the production of grain. Some lands are not suitable for growing grain and some are suitable only for that purpose. If a man can farm successfully in any part of the Dominion, he can do so on the lands of those Indian reserves. In the early days when they were set apart, they were not accessible by railway. In the southern portion of Alberta there is the Stony Indian reserve, through which the railway now passes. The railway runs within five miles of the Sarcee reserve. It also passes right on the edge of the Blackfoot reserve, in which there are some of the finest agricultural lands .in Canada. The Blood reserve *at Cardston is in close proximity to the railway.

If a man can farm and make a success of it in Alberta he can certainly be successful on any of these reserves. It is hindering the development of the country to have this land withheld from cultivation. What affects the West affects every other part of Canada. I am sure that what is being done by the Government this year in opening up portions of these reserves will assist very materially in, increasing the output of grain in these three western provinces. I think this amendment is entitled to the support of every member of the House, there being no question of the confiscation of Indian lands in it. [DOT]

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UNION

Fred Langdon Davis

Unionist

Mr. DAVIS:

May I make reference to one part of the section that has not yet been referred to? This discussion, so far, has been based upon the question of leasing, but if I apprehend the rest of this section, it goes to this extent that the commissioner may speculate with the funds of the band to the extent of making improvements. If there are proceeds from such improvements, the hand is ahead of the game, but if he has had the success that I have had as a lawyer in speculating in farming, makes a botch of it and loses money, the band would be out that much. I think this part of the section might more seriously concern the House than what we have been discussing as to leases. I am not much concerned about leases because they will bring in something, but when it comes to making improvements at the expense of the band it is something that must be considered be-

cause the band deserves the protection of this House.

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UNION
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I think the hon. member for Neepawa (Mr. Davis) is rather apprehensive. There is no idea of speculating with the Indian fund. Subsection 2 provides that the capital fund of the band may be used for the improvement of the Indians' property. There is no intention of going further than that. Already we can do that for purposes of drainage, surveys, etc. The Indian is the ward of the Government still. The presumption of the law is that he has not the capacity to decide as to what is for his ultimate benefit in the same degree as has his guardian, the Government of Canada. Consequently, it has been affirmed that the fund of the band should be, and can be, used, with or without his consent, for the purposes I have named. This only goes to the extent of extending the principle further and enabling us to use the funds of the band for the purpose

9 p.m. of making improvements to the Indians' property. That is all, and that clearly appears by subsection 2. In subsection 3, we have provided that we may lease and cultivate unused land. It may be that the hon. gentleman fears that, if we cultivate it, we may not cultivate it to advantage, that is. to say, that we may lose money. But the Indian gets the fair rental value of the land. We are not speculating with his property; we give him the fair rental value. Consequently, the Indian cannot complain; and the country cannot complain because this is an attempt on a sound basis to increase production; and I do not think, therefore, that the House should further hesitate.

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Mr. D@

I do hot think the people of the country would complain so

much if provision were made for tenders. As my hon. friend from Neepawa (Mr. Davis) pointed out .a minute ago, you could speculate with this land. Some friend of the Government may get some of this land. I think it is bad policy to depart from the tender system, and I do not think that the reason given by the minister a minute ago, that he had no time to do what wais suggested, is a good reason. If there is no time this year, this land should only be rented for one year. The rights of the Indians should not be interfered with unless there is grave reason for so doing. This is a drastic measure, and the reason for it given by the minister is not sufficient.

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L LIB

John Patrick Molloy

Laurier Liberal

Mr. MOLLOY:

Mr. Chairman, I have not the fear that some of my hon. friends have that the Indian will be interfered with. I believe, as the minister states, that the Indian will be better taken care of under some such system as this than he will be ifvhe is left entirely to his own resources. I come now to the hon. member for Macdonald (Mr. Henders), who swung all around and about what I said and then had to come back and admit the truth of my statement, that if you rented this land to first-class; practical farmers, it would be very much better. I would say, take all the Indian lands, leave the Indians enough for purposes of habitation, and pay them a rent for what you take. If you are going to rent land, if you are going to do it in a hurry, and if you are going to do it without tender-and it was done without advertisement only two weeks ago-you are going to see Jim, Jack and the other fellow take it up wrhile the prices of wheat and all grains are high, and then desert it, with the. result that the country will be the loser. 'I do not quite agree with my hon.. friend (Mir. IDuTremblay) when he says that the minister should rent the land ~ for one year. I do not think that is fair. Take, for instance, the case of a stock man. He probably takes a section of land, he buys up 500 sheep, puts them on the land and if it were proposed to put him off the land at the end of the year it would not be fair. Neither would it be fair to a man who is entirely a grain grower and who. with the best of intentions, would start in and buy up horses, tractors, binders and other things, if he were only allowed to keep the land for one year. The minister and the. department should take every precaution, as I am sure they will, to protect the people as well as the Indian. He should protect the neighbours of the people who are farming these lands as well as the people who are on the lands and, of course, the people of the country generally. I am satisfied that as far as Mr. Graham is able to do it, the work will be well done, but Mr. Graham is not infallible by any means any more than the rest of us. I am not opposing this measure but I am trying to improve it. It is a good move. The Indian, on the whole, will be better off; but, at the same time, let us see that the Indian, the department, and the people, are given every protection. 'There is no need of rushing into a thing and making a botch of it. If we are going to take it up let us do it right.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

As to tendering, I am sure that Mr. Graham would call for tenders in every case where there is time and where the circumstances permit. There are large reserves where there are certain rights already, where it may be found well to lease a certain permit or privilege over a certain section of it, or perhaps found well to rent part of it for grazing, and so on. Under conditions of that sort, it does not appear to me that tendering is possible. It may be that some of the land will be leased to friends of the Government. . In that very prosperous and intelligent country from which we from the West come they are all friendly to the Government, so that it is a contingency we cannot avoid. But it will be leased honestly all the same. I know there is a great deal in what the hon. member says, that land temporarily leased for cultivation and thereafter abandoned" is very likely to deteriorate through weeds. That consideration has prevented us leasing school lands, and I have had to stand a good deal of abuse of the opposite kind to that to which I have been subjected to-night because we refused for that reason to lease school lands. But in this case the lands leased are those oveT which we have a system and machinery of direct supervision. We have an agent at every reserve, with sufficient power in his hands to supervise the leasehold, and if it should be that the land should be under cultivation for a time, and then no longer under cultivation, at least we will have the benefit of the fencing in the meantime, and then we can apply the method of farming which the hon. gentleman suggests; we can put the cattle on after that, because the fences are there, and they will take care of the weed situation in very little time.

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UNI L

John Flaws Reid

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. J. F. REID:

I would like to ask in regard to - the leasing of Indian reserve land to farmers who will crop this land.

Will it be possible for the land so leased to come under the municipal law of the different provinces, so that the machinery of the municipal law will have effect?

Mr. MBIGtHEN: That question is more

than ordinarily difficult. iMy impression is it would not come under the provincial law.

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April 23, 1918