May 15, 1923

UFA
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

If my hon. friends will just keep quiet for a little while I shall be able to satisfy them. I have been very patient with them and have enjoyed myself as much as, possibly more than, they have. I want to make an appeal to the entire House with regard to the question of natural resources. It is a time-honoured question in the West. There is never an assembly out there but what that stereotyped resolution is on the order paper All three of the western provinces got a splendid bargain from both the Liberal government and later on from the Conservative government in the form of subsidies in lieu of their natural resources. Those resources now, Mr. Speaker, are actually becoming a liability on the Dominion to administer. Out in the West we are beginning to feel that while we did get a good bargain in that respect, we are sufficiently ambitious and optimistic to think the time has come when we can administer those resources much better ourselves than they can be possibly administered from Ottawa. All the interest that Ottawa has is to administer these resources efficiently so as to get enough revenue to meet the expenditures involved; and that is barely what they are doing. As a matter of fact the revenues are not meeting the expenditures.

Now, why should we not administer our own natural resources? If we are going to be a happy family of nine in the confederation surely we should as nearly as possible be all on an equality. I have pointed out that we cannot be on a footing of equality so long as we have a protective tariff; I do not care how modest it may be it will bear unduly on the West. Then why aggravate that inequality by continuing a condition of affairs which puts three of the nine provinces in an unfair position with regard to their natural resources, particularly when these resources are administered by the Dominion at a loss' How do I know that? I have gone into the Department of the Interior and examined the accounts. I knew the natural resources of the prairie provinces were barely carrying themselves. I am not going to give these figures in detail, I am merely going to show the results of the last 18 years. The total includes immigration and also the Dominion parks, but their inclusion will not affect the total to an appreciable extent. British Columbia is also included in these figures, but the small amount of natural resources there and the difference between the expenditures and the revenue is so little that it will not affect the result either. However, we will knock off several millions on this

account if you like. We find the total expenditure for the four western provinces since 1905-that is when the three prairie provinces were erected-has exceeded the total revenue by approximately $?7,500,000. That is to say, it cost the Dominion that huge total to administer the natural resources of the western country over and above the revenues received. If we knock off "7,500,000 for Dominion parks we find the Dominion is still out to the extent of 820,000,000. That is the liability on the Dominion n respect of the administration of these natural resources.

Now why wait until this liability becomes so much heavier that the provinces will want even greater subsidies in lieu of their administration of these natural resources? That is what is going to happen. Look at the province of Manitoba. It costs in that province

85,000,000 annually to administer the natural resources, and you will not get a million and a half out of it. That is the condition that will soon prevail in Saskatchewan when the instalments for lands that were sold during the boom are all paid in. In Alberta their natural resources are gradually going to bring in more revenue. They are more fortunate than the other two provinces in regard to the permanency of their revenue-producing natural resources, due to their wonderful coal deposits and, possibly, oil deposits. I have discussed this matter not only with my colleagues but with private members, and they are imbued with the idea, that if we get the balance of the natural resources we should give up the subsidy. On the face of it that looks logical, but the fact is that any balance that is left is so small that there is no revenue in it for anybody at this time. Why, not, seeing that this is a liability to the Dominion, pass it over to these three western provinces and make that equality to exist that should prevail among all the members of confederation? Give them the opportunity of converting this liability into an asset to the various provinces. Make the subsidy terminable at some particular time, if you like; the right of that subsidy will then have been purchased by this Dominion forever.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

To whom is the hon. member appealing to do this justice?

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Would it not be a good idea to bring in a bill?

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

It takes two to

make a bargain-the provinces and the Dominion. There has never been anything done between the provinces and the Dominion on

The Budget-Mr. Motherwell

the question of the resources except by consultation or by conference. Suppose we could get a bill through this House, the provinces might not accept it.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Could the hon. gentleman not succeed in making terms with the government of Saskatchewan that he junt came out of?

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

The government of Saskatchewan knows when it has a good thing in this bargain and it is not likely to give it up. A year ago last autumn there were suggestions that the natural resources should be given plus three years' subsidy; I believe that offer was made to the three provinces. A flat rate basis of that kind will sooner or later have to be arrived at, but the provinces would not accept the three years' subsidy. They might accept ten; I do not know. It was tentatively talked about. I know that my right hon. friend, as former Minister of the Interior, is familiar with this question and interested in it. It must have some finality-unlike the tariff. I am satisfied that a settlement of it would remove a lot of the grievance on the ground of inequality of treatment through the western provinces not having control of their natural resources. You may say, why should we take over a liability? Well, we believe we can convert them into an asset at some time or other; and they are getting to be more and more of a liability administered where they are. I appeal to every hon. member of this House, those

the oppositions included, to get this involved, knotty, long-standing question solved and put off the order paper.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

If the hon. minister will allow me, he knows the terms that he asked for when he was a member of the government of Saskatchewan, and he knows the terms that the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Stewart) asked for when he was Premier of the province of Alberta. May I ask why this government does not grant these terms? Has he now come to the conclusion that they were unreasonable?

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I do not know that any government has ever got as far as to offer the terms that we did at the last conference.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I mean the terms the provinces asked for, that the minister himself asked for when he was in the government of Saskatchewan. Why does he not now grant the terms that he himself asked for?

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

It was never my fortune to be in the conference. I always had the impression-

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The hon. gentleman

asked the terms.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I know, and I take the responsibility for doing so. But nobody knows better than my right hon. friend the ramifications involved in settling that question by an accounting. I cannot conceive of a body getting at that in less than ten years.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I tried to convince the hon. minister of that when I was in power, but I could not convince him.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Better late in getting wise than not at all. I was under the impression that this government was the first government-speaking from recollection-that had made a straight flat rate offer.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
CON
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

And trimmed it off with all these conditions. I am only speaking from memory, of course.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Oh, no. The hon. minister is about ten years late in that.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I am glad my right hon. friend did think up something that was right during his regime. I am appealing to my right hon. friend's good nature. I see that he is in good humour, and I do not want to put him otherwise.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink

May 15, 1923