May 26, 1925

PRO

Alan Webster Neill

Progressive

Mr. NEILL:

The minister said:

It all goes to establish the fact that there is an actual reduction of sixty per cent.

That is plain enough-he ends up:

For that reason I move that the following words be added to the motion: "with the exception of paragraph 2 thereof".

Then he uses these words himself:

That means the acceptance of the balance of the report.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I myself

have a very vivid recollection of the episode of last session, I was equally convinced with the member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill), and indeed I have on occasion actually presumed to use the words of the minister himself in order to satisfy the soldier settlers 227i

that they were about to receive at least this meed of relief.

Of the general proposal of the bill before us I have no serious criticism to make, except that it does appear to me to be a breach of faith. There should not have been a reduction of from sixty to forty, and from forty to twenty, in the respective years. I urge that the minister might be well advised to consider the restoration of the original figures reported by the committee favourably to this House, and, as has been stated, recommended by the minister himself. But after aP, Mr. Chairman, how far are we going to get with this government and with these ministers? I am quite sure that they act sincerely, and perhaps say things unthinkingly, but if so they are open to censure because their words are regarded with considerable weight and looked upon as being important by the people of the country.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Some people.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Some

people. On May 14th last I asked this question in the House:

I9 the government prepared to bring in any legislation respecting the revaluation of soldier settlers' land, live stock and equipment?

Hon. J. A. Robb (Minister of Immigration): Yes.

I at once sent word out to my people that the happy moment had come, that the government was about to introduce legislation looking towards the revaluation of soldier settlers' land, and it is going to be a bitter blow to some of them when they find the minister rising in his place, just a few days afterwards-not an uncommon occurrence- and flatly contradicting what he had promised a few days ago. It may be that the minister-did not take into consideration the importance of his answer nor the nature of the-question, but I submit that he should have, and that he stands pilloried before the unfortunate soldier settlers of western Canada to-day as a man who just does not know his mind from one moment to another.

With regard to this question of land revaluation, I would be the last in this House to urge a general policy of land revaluation. I do not think it is necessary. I think what the minister has stated as a result 5 p.m. of the reports in his" department in connection with this matter is largely true; at least the evidence has convinced me that no general policy of revaluation is advisable. But I submit with ail the earnestness I have, that there are sections in this country in which revaluation is not only urgent but imperative if any of these

Soldier Settlement Act

men are to be salvaged. I will take the minister to the Soldier Settlement Board myself if he cares to accompany me and get the board to demonstrate to him as they have done to me that there are sections, such as the Slade lease and the district running along the Goose lake line and south of there, and all that district around Hanna and south of Hanna on the Canadian National, where revaluation is imperative. I say to the minister, if he earnestly desires to advance the prosperity of western Canada, to justify his immigration propaganda, and to give any hope to these unfortunate men who fought for him overseas, and who have come back and are trying to make a living in this country on the land, 'he will have to submit a measure of revaluation in order to take care of these people.

The method I have in mind would be quite a simple one. It would be a matter merely of amending your regulations in order to allow the board to say to any man who had a complaint: File your complaint; file what you think should be the value of your land, and if any deflation of land values has taken place, support your complaint by affidavit from the secretary-treasurer of your municipality or with such other proof as would be accepted by us, such evidence as the sales of land in that vicinity, and so forth. If the evidence sent in with the application of the soldier was such as to justify an examination, then I urge that the board should send an investigator out there to examine that man's claim and revalue the land on its merits. If that policy be adopted, I venture to say that seventy per cent of the present claims for revaluation could be settled without the necessity of any additional board, permanent or otherwise, being established.

I was somewhat amazed at the statement of the right hon. leader of the opposition. I took his words down: "The man who improves the land is the one who stays on it." Yes, there is no doubt about it; the man who improves the land is the one who stays on it. But it is ridiculous to suggest, as he unquestionably did suggest, that the man who leaves the land has not improved it. That would be an entirely incorrect inference for anyone to draw, and I trust that that was not the inference the right hon. gentleman wished the House to draw. As a matter of fact, many of these men who have been forced off the land by climatic conditions and other circumstances outside their control altogether did undoubtedly heavily improve their land-put up buildings, fencing, break the virgin soil, and make many other investments out of

their own pockets, in addition to loans from the board. It is a crime that these people should have to suffer in this way, especially when we find this very organization, the Soldier Settlement Board itself, now being turned into a colonization scheme, and revaluing the soldiers' abandoned lands or salvaged lands for fresh immigrants brought in here from the Hebrides and other places. That is a scandal. Why not revalue the land for the man who is on the land and is willing to stay there if he can get a revaluation? But only if a revaluation is justified. I do not ask anything unfair. I ask revaluation if the evidence adduced shows it is justified; that is all. Is the minister going to object to that? Surely that would be an extraordinary attitude for the minister of a Liberal government which made such wild promises to the soldiers in 1921 and subsequently to take.

I have in my hand here just one letter; I have files of them, 'and nothing would give me greater pleasure, if I were challenged, than to read every one to the House. Nothing would be more effective than if I were to do it, but I will read just one passage from the last letter I received:

One aspect of the case of the soldier settler is the fact that several of the farms in this locality have been revalued after the soldier has had to quit, and the same farms have been sold to fresh Hebridean and Irish settlers who will take years to become as efficient as the men they have replaced, and who have risked their lives for the good of the country and never boast about it. It looks as though the government are after "initial payments in cash" and are prepared to sell and resell the same places an indefinite number of times, as the C.P.R. are doing here near Lougheed with their burnt out clay lands, some of which are occupied by the third "purchaser" in four years.

I would be glad if you will do your little bit toward this matter.

Yours respectfully,

J. Bubkinshaw.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Does the hon. member disapprove of the government using ordinary business methods and selling the land when it comes back to them?

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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PRO
LIB
PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Not at all. I am urging that the necessity for abandonment should be obviated so far as it is possible, and I am urging business methods to prevent this land getting back to the hands of the board, and in order to leave the land in the hands of the soldiers. That is all I am trying to do.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

As I understand the tenor

of the letter, it is to this effect. That the

Soldier Settlement Act

government should revalue the land in order that it be not abandoned. If it has been abandoned, they must not have a resale to Hebrideans or anybody else, nor must they act in the way in which the Canadian Pacific Railway has carried on business so successfully in the west for many years.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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PRO
LIB
PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

My hon.

friend has not consulted any of the land people up there who are endeavouring to operate in the five million acre irrigation tract or in the burnt out clay lands. Their experience has not been such as to create tremendous congratulations on the part of the shareholders. Let me quote again the passage in the letter to which I referred:

One aspect of the case of the soldier settler is the fact that several of the farms in this locality have been revalued after the soldier has had to quit.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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LIB
PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

No

objection whatever. The only objection is that it was not revalued before the soldier did quit. That is the point I am trying to demonstrate to the minister: that the revaluation where it is justified should take place before the soldier has left the land, and it can be done if the minister is open to receive the suggestion.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Is it not a fact that all

the soldier settlers were supposed to know something about agriculture when they went on the land?

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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PRO
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Then why do they come

back and say they paid too much?

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I have

been farming in western Canada for sixteen years. It is not a very long time as years go, but it seems to me sixteen centuries. Let me inform the hon. member that the soldier settlers in my district have been driven to such conditions through causes absolutely beyond their control that I have been making appeals to the minister himself this session, with favourable results, for the granting of seed grain to them, which the board refused.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

But most of them received

seven or eight thousand dollar loans, did they not?

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Any man

who can measure a soldier's sacrifice in

dollars and cents is doing something which I could not do.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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May 26, 1925