May 26, 1925

PRO
PRO

William John Ward

Progressive

Mr. WARD:

An Ihon. member.

-and after having secured figures from the various departments, I found that this condition prevailed in my constituency. There had been-I use the term "had", because I do not contend that the same amount is invested now-invested in that constituency through the Soldier Settlement Board, $2,750,000. Of that sum, on the 30th September last, abandonments had taken place to the amount of $600,000, of which the government or the board had been able to salvage only 18 per cent. If abandonments should continue for another two years at the same rate at which they have taken place during the last twelve months, we shall have lost all the returned soldiers but 15 per cent.

I will prove a little later on that this has all come true. I secured from the Soldier Settlement Board a few days ago information as to the number of abandonments that have taken place in the last twelve months, and I find that 1,217 have taken place in that time. Therefore, hon. members will see that what was said then has just about come true. Let me follow that up a little further.

That is the situation in my constituency. Therefore, if the abandonments continue at the same rate for another two years, we shall then be in exactly or almost the same position as we would be if we cancelled the entire account to-day. I am not, however, asking for cancellation of the entire account, I am asking for revaluation. Two years ago when a special committee sat considering these matters, I was one of the few members of this House who strongly advocated revaluation then.

The point I wish to make is that in another twelve moniths from mow, owing to abandonments that have taken place, practically the entire soldier settlement of -that constituency will have disappeared and gone heaven only knows where. Following that up, I should like to read a letter just received from a returned soldier in my constituency revealing some further situations in that constituency:

I am sending along some Soldier Settlement Board sale bills.

I will exhibit these in a minute.

I would like to have got a bill of another sale in Ste. Rose about a month ago. Jake Heesaker of Million was out. He told me there must have been the stuff of ten different settlers sold. So I was thinking if Major Barnett was giving another glowing report on how well the soldier settlers were doing and how much they were able to collect, you might feel inclined to ask him "how come?"

The same settler who sent that in forwarded a number of these bills, and I notice in looking over them there are ten sales advertised on these bills. One is for -March 30, another for March 26 and another for March 17. It will be recalled that a year ago when this question was under discussion, a number of questionnaires were submitted to the House. I think it was the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. 'Garland) and -myself who got together, prepared a questionnaire, and had it submitted to a large number of returned men through-out different -constituencies. In that questionnaire w-e asked what had been paid for the land originally and at what they valued the land at the present time. In neatly every case the land was valued at from one-quarter to lone-third of the 'original price. I have lived in the Dauphin district for almost thirty years. I settled -on a homestead and I know something of what it means to clear uip rough land. I say frankly that the average farm that was bought throughout that -constituency -alt about S3,000 is, from a productive point of view, mot worth m-or-e tio-day than twenty-lfive per cent of that amount. The leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) described in better words than I could use the situation along lake Manitoba which probably is the second largest soldier settlement district in- the Dominion. In view of 'the situation that he pictured there, can the -minister not see tire absolute necessity of bringing about some form -of physical revaluation? I worked out with the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Stewart) on-e day last week -a plan Whereby I think this -could be effe-ctled at little or no cost whatever to the board. We have in every district

and the districts are quite limited

a local supervisor. In addition we have what is known as a. district supervisor in each -province. I suggested to him -that we ask the Union of Municipalities in, each province to appoint -a third who would be a farmer iof long experience, a -man whose judgment was above question, and who would be made chairman of this revaluation board. The local supervisor knows the situation very well. In each district he knows every road, every settler and the best way to reach that settler, and he can

Soldier Settlement Act

put his finger exactly on ithe spot why that settler has failed. We are paying these men in any case. I am convinced that such a survey could be made of Manitoba in one summer with practically no additional cost except the employment of this chairman. If revaluation does not take place, I am convinced that in another two years we shall have -only about five or ten per cent. The sum of $2,750,000 has already been invested in that one district, and according to the figures secured last year only eighteen per cent has been salvaged from the sales. If this continues as it has in the laslt two years, in another twelve months 'or so we shall have practically lost that amount of $2,750,000.

I should like also to reply to another matter that the minister dealt with in respect to resale of farms. I know the minister is sincere and honest, but I am sure if he had been in possession of the real facts, he would never have made those statements at all. There is an odd good farm here and there in the district, and it is only farms of this kind that are sold. The minister gave us the number of these resales in the last year and they were .about one-fifth of the number of abandonments; which proves .that it is only the odd good farms that are sold. In my own district the few farms that have been sold are just as likely to revert to the government; in fact I think they are more likely to do so. The fact that there is a change in tenants does not assure success.

I a,m sorry to prolong this debate, but I do not think the minister should persist in refusing to withdraw this motion and to reconsider the matter. I again impress upon him that a physical revaluation of the * land is not the problem which be thinks it is. It is a very simple thing and it would be to the advantage of .the government to have this done.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

Surely the

hon. member would not suggest that there should be a reduction in the investment to the extent of 75 per cent.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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PRO

William John Ward

Progressive

Mr. WARD:

Absolutely. I have proven

that in my own district-and the same is true throughout the whole Dominion-only 18 per cent was salvaged in the resales. Let me give the result of one sale I attended before leaving for Ottawa. In this case stock and equipment that were valued at $2,500 brought $375.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

This may

be true in one or two districts; it may be true in the hon. member's particular locality.

And for that reason it is difficult to accept the suggestion made by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen), because you cannot approach the matter from that standpoint. But if we are required to make a 75 per cent reduction all round we might as well abandon the whole thing.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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?

Paul Vilmond Savard

Mr. AVARD:

If we continue as we are

doing now the situation will be still worse. We have been able to salvage only 18 per cent from the sale of chattels, and I can assure the minister that he will find in the lake Manitoba section that the lands have not resold for 25 per cent of their original cost. The only salvation for the settlers in such districts is to bring about a physical revaluation, and I have endeavoured to point out how this can be done at a minimum cost, and indeed at practically no cost at all.

There is invested in my constituency about $2,750,000, and we had already lost a year ago $600,000 of that. To-day we can easily add $400,000 to this loss, bringing the total up to about $1,000,000. We are therefore losing in any case. In the municipality of Lawrence, which is in the very heart of the lake Manitoba section, of sixteen schools last fall only four were open. I believe the province has adopted a very progressive policy in the matter of education and has now opened nearly all these schools; nevertheless the reason why all these schools were closed was that the soldiers had moved away leaving no one to maintain them. In districts where before there were between twenty and twenty-five families there are now left only four or five families to carry on; and the burden is becoming more and more oppressive. The situation is so serious in this particular municipality that it has got into the hands of the receiver; and there is a large section between that and the lake which is unorganized and is in a most deplorable condition. I think it was the hon. member to my right (Mr. Manion) who referred to men who had succeeded here and there. Well, in some sections you will find they have succeeded to the extent of 90 or 100 per cent; but when you go into Selkirk, Neepawa and1 Dauphin you find that they have failed almost 100 per cent. The reason is that the potential value is not there; it was not in the farms in the first instance. The minister himself admitted a few minutes ago that the Dauphin section became the victim of inflation to an extent that did not exist in any other part of the Dominion, and this is due to the fact that this was the first section to be settled; it was here that the first application was made.

Northwest Territories Act

A number of more or less unscruplous land companies owning large tracts of land got the ear of the inspectors and were able to unload upon them at handsome prices large sections which were in turn unloaded on the soldiers. Many of these parcels are still held by the soldiers, and I contend again that there is only one hope for these men. Let us write them all and say, "For God's sake get out of there and go where you can make a living"; or else let us do something practical in their behalf. I once more implore the minister to reconsider this matter to see whether we cannot find a means of helping the soldiers in the way I have suggested.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

When the report of the committee was submitted last year it was pointed out that the country would sustain a loss of some $38,000,000 under this scheme; and as I pointed out this afternoon we have made remissions to the soldiers amounting to approximately $12,000,000. This afternoon we submitted to the House a resolution based upon which the government would bring in a bill to provide as a further rebate:

Forty per centum of the purchase price of all live stock advanced to the settler and purchased prior to the first day of October, 1920;

Twenty per centum of the purchase price of all live stock advanced to the settler and purchased on or after the first day of October, 1920, and prior to the first day of October, 1921.

We have been considering this resolution all day and it is now approaching midnight, and as we have had some of the officials here in readiness to go on with supply, I move that the committee rise and report progress and ask leave to sit again.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

When the minister

takes this matter up again will he inform the committee how much has been paid in full on the farms under the 10 per cent initial payment; how much has been salvaged; what the total collections have been in the past year-and the cost of administration.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

I shall take a note of the

questions.

Progress reported.

The House in committee of Supply, Mr. Power in the chair.

Civil Government-Indian Affairs-salaries, $149,570; contingencies, $18,000.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Have we been in Indian

Affairs before?

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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LIB

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

Liberal

Hon. CHARLES STEWART (Superintendent General of Indian Affairs):

No; we gave

notice to-day.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Mr. Chairman, I understood that the hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Coote) was very anxious to discuss a certain matter under this vote.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT, 1919, AMENDMENT
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

We are

going to report progress.

Progress reported.

On motion of Mr. Graham the House adjourned at 11.35 p.m.

Wednesday, May 27, 1925

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