April 27, 1922

LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil) :

I promise the hon. gentleman I will give careful consideration to the matter suggested by him. The officials of the department are on the way here. I have no knowledge of the question myself, and have no memorandum in regard to it, but when the officials arrive I shall be in a better position to make a statement.

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Item agreed to. Indians-Ontario and Quebec, $183,115.


CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

We should have the information that is usually given on the voting of the estimates as to the amount spent last year with respect to each of these items. I observe that in three of the votes for Indians there is a considerable increase, commencing with this item, and that in the case of the general vote and the vote for Indian education there are two decreases. The minister has contrived to make the decreases tally to a cent with the increases so that the total amount of all the items is the same as last year. Now apparently there is to be more expenditure in administration in Ontario, in the western provinces, and British Columbia by approximately $140,000 than previously, and in order to recoup the treasury the minister is going to take it out of Indian education. I do not know whether the minister believes in education or not. I expect that some of the reduction is owing to the contraction of the "greater production" work -perhaps I am wrong in that. Anyway my point is this: The Indian Department estimates expanded largely because of the increased cost of the supplies that we have to provide the Indians with. As prices increased the estimates expanded accordingly.

I have not the figures before me but last year, I think, we managed to make a little reduction. This year we have no reduction at all. But this is the year of rapid deflation of prices-perhaps I should not have said "rapid" but of constant, and undoubtedly of certain, deflation of prices- and with even an academic intention to retrench I think the minister could have found an opportunity in these estimates to make some reduction. But he comes before Parliament with the same figure as last year, notwithstanding the fact that there is undoubtedly an opportunity to reduce because of decreased cost. There may not be opportunity in relation to the salaries -it may not be possible to reduce them at all-but there are certain production costs where there would be an opportunity, and unquestionably there could be a very substantial saving in respect to material.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil) :

Repairs to roads and bridges and drainage are largely responsible for the increase. I am told by the officials that there has been rapid road development both in Ontario and Quebec by the municipalities and provincial governments and in many cases repairs have been needed to roads leading through the Indian reserves otherwise the continuity of the roads would be broken up, and requests have been insistent that the department should carry out its share of these needed improvements. I have no personal knowledge of the matter but that is the information the officials give me with respect to that particular item. Practically the whole increase is made up of expenditure of that character. Where it is not particularly needed for the benefit of the Indians themselves it is required in the interest of the general public who travel across the reserve, and the money is intended to complete road work undertaken by the province and by the municipality, I expect conjointly. The matter of education is one that I want to make some explanation about, because although through desire to keep down the appropriations the cause of Indian education appears to suffer, yet actually such is not the case.

I intended to make plain to the committee that while the estimates were prepared in that way, I find, on careful examination of the situation later, that that sum will be required for educational purposes, and that there will be a general increase, and the committee will have to pass it, because it will come up in the supplementary estimates for Indian Affairs. Had I been more familiar with the estimates

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this would have been provided for, but the matter did not come to my attention in time. My hon. friend has raised this point, but I intended to deal with it when we came to it, and inform the committee, so that we may not be accused of unfairness. In my estimation it should have appeared here, and we should have shown the increase in these general estimates. I shall be prepared to give an explanation of the matter. We shall require practically the same sum for educational purposes as last year.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The Government's proclaimed policy of retrenchment has been changed into a policy of increased estimates, with explanations.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil) :

I scarcely think that that complexion should be placed upon the matter. I have been frank with the committee, and I have stated what I would have done if I had known the situation. I have no desire that the estimates shall be misleading to the committee. That is the last thing in my mind. If it is objectionable to have this increase in the expenditure, we will have to discuss it from that standpoint, and give the explanation as to why these items appear. I have mentioned as to the item of $9,300 in the general expenses, and the memo I have in regard to that is-

Of this increase $3,300 is required to meet increases in salaries which may be granted under the Civil Service Act and the balance, viz. $6,000 is required to replace the steamboat formerly in use by the Indian Agent at Kenora, Ont., on the lake of the Woods for many years, but now no longer serviceable and unfit for further use. As the several reserves in this agency can only be reached by water, it is necessary for the Indian Agent to be provided with a suitable boat. Tenders for the construction of a gasoline launch are being invited and the cost estimated at $5,000. A boat house will also be required at an estimated cost of $1,000.

I do not know anything about that matter, except the fact that the officials are asking for it and the necessity appears to be great.

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LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

While we are dealing with this item I desire to call attention of the minister to the conditions at the Indian Reserve at Oka in the county of Two Mountains. An Indian Agent has been appointed there to attend to the business of the Indians. His name is Mr. Bertrand. He has been there for some time. There are complaints against him because he does not speak the language of the Indians. I do not know whether he can even speak English. That reserve is composed of Iroquois, Algonquins and a few Hurons. The Indians sent a deputation to Ottawa a short time ago, asking for the appointment of an agent whom they might. understand and by whom they might be understood. I presented the matter to the department, before the hon. minister took office, and nothing was done. With the permission of the House, I read a letter which I received from the chiefs of the Reserve:

Oka, Que., April 25, 1922 Mr. J. A. C. Ethier, M.P.,

Ottawa, Ont.

Dear Sir,-As chiefs of the Oka hand of Iroquois Indians, we beg to ask your assistance in bringing the claims of Mr. Joseph Perillard to the office of Indian Agent at Oka, Que., before the Civil Service Commission at Ottawa.

I thought it was proper to bring this matter before the House directly.

His qualification for the said office is unquestionable. He has served in that capacity in the past with satisfaction. His knowledge of the language of the Indians fits him for the office.

I would say that I know personally that Mr. Perillard speaks Iroquois, Huron, Algonquin and French perfectly.

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LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

How can the hon. gentleman say he speaks those languages perfectly?

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LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

I do not know that he

speaks them perfectly, but I heard him in court when he acted as translator when some of the Indians from the Iroquois were brought before the court at Ste. Scholastic que, district of Terrebonne. He acted as the official translator of the Iroquois language. He has been there ten or fifteen years as Indian Agent. He was there before 1911.

You would do us great service in pressing his claim. Mr. Bertrand is really not fit for the position, because he is utterly ignorant of the Indian language, and because he is not understood by the Indians, owing to his impediment of speech. Moreover, being engaged in business which is his first consideration, he is at a disadvantage to arbitrate difficulties between Indians for fear of antagonizing the goodwill of the people and thereby lose trade. Of course we do not wish to go into details of Mr. Bertrand's unfitness. We think we have pointed out clearly why we think Mr. Perillard's appointment would be for the good of all concerned.

We trust you will do all you can to further the interests of our people.

We remain, yours respectfully,

Chief Noah Corenthb,

Chief Peter Angus.

Representations in regard to this matter have been made to the department by the band. Their representatives have been in Ottawa. These Indians have an agent

Supply-Indians

there who is not understood by them. I am informed that in several cases when the Indians had dealings with the department they had to go to Mr. Perillard, to have their claims translated, and to come here on their behalf. It is impossible to negotiate with the Indians satisfactorily with such a man as Mr. Bertrand. I submit to this House and to the minister that, in the interests of the Indians at Oka, the man who is living there, who has been there about fifty years, speaks their language, knows their needs, and knows them personally, should be appointed as agent there. The agent of course should be familiar with their language, and the man at present in the position is not competent to deal with their affairs in that locality; and should be replaced for the best interests of. interested parties. The request made by these Indians should, I submit, be looked into very thoroughly and be given careful consideration by the minister and his department.

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Item agreed to. Indians-Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and North West Territories, $661,092.


LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil) :

There is a total increase of $74,282. One item of increase is hospitals, medical attendance and medicine.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Why?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil) :

The net increase is $34,810, which is accounted for as follows: Grant to the Dynevor Hospital, increased from $1 to $1.25 per patient per day.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Does the minister mean to say that as the cost of living goes down, the grant for medical attendance and medicine goes up?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil) :

Not exactly; the question is not one of the cost of living; it is a question of medical attention given to the Indians. I cannot say as to the future, but I understand that there has been a persistent request from those hospitals for increased grants for medical attention while Indians are inmates of the hospitals.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

There always will be; but the fact is that now that the cost of attention and everything else is going down, the minister is yielding to these demands and letting the cost of attendance to the Indians go up. We have always allowed so much a day, why should this time be seized to increase that allowance?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil) :

I presume my right hon. friend will agree that hospital expenses seem to be continually increasing, and I would personally think it rather a favourable arrangement, although I am speaking without knowledge as to the actual facts in this matter. Speaking without positive information, I think $1 per day would not pay full compensation for attendance upon an individual in the hospital, as I think my right hon. friend will agree. I understand that this hospital is maintained by private individuals. Perhaps I should not make the assertion, but I think that we have been trying to get off rather cheaply with the Indians who are wards of the Government. On a very superficial examination, I think that we have been delegating the care of the Indians very largely to private individuals and church organizations, when it seems to me that the responsibility is on the Canadian people. I am not suggesting radical increases, but I think, as I say, on a somewhat superficial examination, that we must increase some of the expenditures in connection with Indian affairs.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Certainly we employ and co-operate with church organizations and charitable institutions, and the Indians will never be properly taken care of without that co-operation. Those are the organizations that can do the work best, as time has proved and as history has shown, and we shall have to continue to co-operate with them. The minister's present contention may be stated in just so many words, that, in this work, the late Government carried its economy to the point of penuriousness.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil) :

I would be inclined to sayjdiat perhaps that is true; my observations would lead me to say that. I say that in no critical mood; I agree with my right hon. friend that this work can best be done by the organizations that are already doing it; but I think, in fairness to the organizations and private individuals, we shall, perhaps, be called upon to be a little more generous in our dealings with these various organizations.

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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

What provision, if any, is made for medical attention to the Indians on the Stony Indian reserve at Morley, Alberta? I may be misinformed, but I understand that no hospital provision is made at the reserve and that occasionally some medical practitioner comes from some particular place and makes a cursory exam-

Supply-Indians

ination. I should like to be assured by the minister that proper medical examination of the Indians will be not only made, but continued.

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April 27, 1922