Referring to section 3, I have discussed this matter with the minister. Ever since it was proposed it has given me some trouble. I regard it as a most important and very dangerous step. I admit its merits. I know there are cases where without it considerable hardship would result, but let us see where we are going, to land if this section passes. If a man buys land or buys anything else he is liable on his purchase. If a man buys grain and pays a small margin, ten per cent just as he does on land, it would be a grand thing for him if, having bought a
hundred thousand bushels, he afterwards could narrow it down to ten thousand bushels and apply what he had paid to the ten thousand, and pay it up. Speculation then would have no terrors for anybody. He would risk virtually nothing and his chances of profits would be immense. In other words his chances of profit would be ten times his chances of loss. It is exactly the same with school lands, and it is the very same for the actual farmer as for the speculator. If men are to be allowed to buy school lands and afterwards to narrow down their purchase to a quarter section, and apply what they have paid to the quarter section, the element of risk is virtually gone. Take the case of the farmer purchasing. He buys a half section. His neighbour, or many neighbours, bid against him. This man was a little more venturesome than the others and he outbid them. He was taking the risk and he had a perfect right to any profit he might make; but now the minister comes along and relieves that man of his risk-relieves him of his loss. What is going to be the result in the future if this provision becomes law? Why a man making purchase will very readily outbid his neighbours. The speculator, in a word, will have a big advantage over the actual farmer, because the speculator knows that his chances of winning are ten to one over the chances of his losing, or whatever proportion the purchase bore to the quarter section of land, and the chances of the farmer are exactly the same. It seems to me it is a dangerous precedent. If you do it in this case, why not carry it further? Why not carry it into the soldier settlement scheme? Here is a soldier settler; why not relieve him of part of his obligation as well, and apply everything he has paid on a small part of it? He is just as much entitled to it as the school land purchaser. They have only got quarters, it is true, but it is a case of degree. If it is a case of degree, many of them would like to bring it down to forty acres, and have the payment applied on a small part; but if we begin this, where are we going, to end? In a word, it is a case of one
party to a bargain relieving the other party of his obligation. I know it
is the provinces who are mostly concerned. They are the beneficiaries of the school land fund but I do think that they have not very fully considered this matter before giving their consent to the legislation. I know that when I was minister of the department-and in those days the applications would not be anything like the number they are now, in the very much more difficult farming times-
Dominion Lands Act
the applications in many instances came from men who found they had got on the wrong side of the the bargain and wanted the government to assume the load instead of themselves. They came almost daily instead of weekly, but we had no power to grant any of their applications and we did not. The minister suggested he had the power. I do not know under what power he could do it. I know there are cases of hardship, but it is sometimes better to stand by a sane and sensible rule than to vary it under special circumstances, creating a precedent that is going to be very serious.
M(r. MORRISON: The conditions in which those farmers largely find themselves are due to a reaction from war conditions. When war was declared the cry went out, " Produce, produce, produce ", and the farmers got busy and assumed extra contracts, bought more land, and more equipment, dug right in, and produced beyond their means. Now no readjustment was made in their favour to enable them to successfully and permanently carry on. On the contrary, adjustments were made with the railways. The Crowsnest pass rates were set aside and they were allowed to raise the rates against the farmers who were urged to produce in the national interest. The banks had the laws adjusted to give them greater advantages, in the national interest, presumably, but it was in the banks' interest really. The Riordon people had a readjustment of their affairs, and they settled their tax account by the note route, which was an absolutely new process. Was that not readjustment in the interest of the individual or the company? As regards the manufacturers of Canada, the tariff was raised on farm implements by just seven per cent as a war measure, against those farmers who were urged to produce in the national interest. While we were producing, the other fellow was getting a good slice of it. .