February 11, 1927

LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

There have been remarks, Mr. Chairman, about the past history of this measure, and I thought it worth while to get the facts. We are all relying on our memories in connection with a rather hectic period last, summer. I find that the then acting Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment in the person of the present member for Fort William,, introduced this measure on its being returned amended from the Senate, and Hansard of last session very clearly sets out what was the attitude of 'hon. gentlemen opposite, who then composed what has since been described as the "shadow government", towards this principle of permitting the Exchequer court to be the deciding factor, and also towards the general principles of this legislation. It is interesting to note that the concluding exercises in connection with this particular measure last session consisted of a further effort on the part of the Acting Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment to get the House to pass the bill as it came from the Senate, and he was met with the objection by my right hon. leader that we on our side of the House had not yet had time to consider fully the changes proposed by the Senate, and we asked for time, at least until after the six o'clock recess, to look into the proposed changes. It is interesting to note that this matter never came up again. Other very important matters came up. Now, Mr. Chairman, we on this side of the House have had time to consider the effect of the changes proposed last year by my hon. friends opposite, and we now come here and say we agree. Coming here in a spirit of agreement, we now find our hon. friends opposite have changed their minds again, and they want something different.

So far as the Exchequer court is concerned, if it were to be used as a court in the city of Ottawa to adjudicate on the value of soldier settler lands, of course that would be an

Soldier Settlement Act

expensive and impossible procedure for the soldier to take. But my understanding is, and this was the explanation made a year ago with regard to it, that it is possible for the Exchequer court to name individual officers of the court in various parts of the country to act for them in adjudicating matters of this kind, and it was on that assurance from my hon. friends opposite that I was willing last year to accept 'the Exchequer court.

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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

Will the minister read that clause? That is what we have been trying to get information about, but all we get is, as somebody says, a scolding from the Minister of Railways and the Minister ,of Finance. All we want is information. Perhaps the minister will read that clause. It may be an admirable one that we would be willing to accept, but at the present time we do not know what it as.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I have not the particular clause before me. I simply have the information that last year one of my hon. friend's leaders, with whom he was perfectly satisfied, a colleague at that time of the hon. member for Vancouver Centre and the then leader of the Conservative party, a member of the government so-called at that time, considered this matter with bis colleagues, and they reached the conclusion that the legislation which we now put before the House was the proper thing. We came here expecting to meet hon. members opposite in a spirit of goodwill on this matter, because we were offering to the House precisely what they themselves offered after the bill had been returned from the Senate.

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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

Why not give us the

information if you are meeting us in a spirit of goodwill? We want to assist the passing of this legislation. We are the ones, I believe, who want this legislation, and I begin to question whether my hon. friend the minister wants it at all. Otherwise he would be courteous and frank enough to give this side of the House the information when it is courteously requested.

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CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

This seems to be a

remarkable exhibition on the part of the government. They come here with a resolution for which they are certainly responsible, no matter what its origin may be. We ask for information, and there is nobody on the government side that can give it. The Minister of Justice gets up and says that the law officers of the crown drafted it, and therefore it must be right.

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LIB
CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

The Minister of Railways gets up and says that the hon. member for Fort William, who was at one time Acting Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment, accepted it, and therefore it must be right. Some other member gets up and says that this is a product of the Senate, -and therefore it must be right. But not a single member on the government benches can get up and argue the resolution on its merits, and they ask this House to accept a resolution that they d>o not know 'the meaning of themselves. It ds a ridiculous exhibition.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

You are repudiating your own Child.

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UFA

William Irvine

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. IRVINE:

I do not rise to offer any

suggestion to the law officers of the crown as to how to draft this resolution, nor am I particularly impressed with the argument of the Minister of Railways that because he has proved that another government introduced a measure equally innocuous, we ought to let this one go through as it as. I wish to pass on to the minister in charge of this resolution suggestions which were made to me by the soldiers who are on land under the Soldier Settlement Board in my own riding. I understand that the purpose of the resolution is to give an opportunity to discuss the principles which will be at a later date embodied in the bill to be presented to parliament, and therefore I presume that what I have to say will be in order, 'as it deals (with the principle of the bill.

I assume that it is the intention of the government in bringing in this legislation to give immediate and effective relief to the soldier settlers. The soldier settlers at the present time are rather afraid that the process of arriving at a revaluation is going to be so cumbersome and so difficult to attain, and perhaps so expensive, as to nullify the beneficial effects of the legislation, and accordingly many soldier settlers are of the opinion that it would be better not to attempt revaluation as it is suggested in this resolution and as was provided for in the bill of last year, but rather to make to all soldier settlers now on the land, a flat percentage reduction in the purchase price. It is not my intention to argue that now, I merely pass the suggestion on to the minister in the hope that he will give it consideration before he finally drafts the bill. I think it is clear that no legislation can possibly meet every case. It will be absolutely impossible under any proposal to give relief to everybody, but if we

Soldier Settlement Act

have a 'bill which provides for a very difficult process of revaluation, it may be that many who could get relief under the simple proposal of the soldiers to have a flat percentage reduction wild not get any relief at all. I offer this suggestion to the minister, and I hope that he will give it his serious consideration when he prepares the legislation which is to be based on the resolution before the committee.

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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

I take it for granted-and

if I am taking too much for granted I hope the Minister of Immigration and Colonization will say so-that the bill will be brought down and introduced in the same spirit as it was presented a year ago; that is, thait the minister is willing to consider any changes which members of the House may suggest when they have the bill before them. At the present time I am very much concerned with reference to the proposal to accept the amendment which the Senate proposed last year, of having the valuation in some cases referred to the Exchequer court. Many soldier settlers feel that their cases are practically hopeless if they have to go to such a body as the Exchequer court of Canada, situated, as they are, two thousand miles from Ottawa. The hon. member from Dauphin made a splendid suggestion-and I hope the minister will accept it-thiat when the bill comes down it be sent to a special committee, or one of the select committees of the House which is capable of dealing with the bill in a satisfactory manner.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

It would

be regrettable if in the matter of legislation regarding soldiers the government should take the position that they would not consider any suggested changes. That was not our attitude last year, nor the attitude of any party in this House; but rather that the House should endeavour to reconcile the differences as nearly as they could with respect to this particular measure and enact legislation that would be mutually beneficial, or beneficial to the soldiers themselves. I want to assure hon. members opposite that the same consideration will be given to suggestions as has been given heretofore. I can quite understand the difficulty that my hon. friend experiences. This revaluation is long overdue, and many men have been forced to leave their land who, if the revaluation had taken place two years ago, would now be farming on it. We want at this session of parliament to pass a bill that will provide for a revaluation of the land and play fair with the men still on the land. I think we can surely approach this question in that spirit. I can foresee that a lot of argument made last year is going to be introduced again this year, but there is no harm in that. That is what this body is for. I hope the outcome will be that the suggestions made will be beneficial to the soldiers and that we will enact a measure that will be of real value to the men who are fighting their way along on land that was valued too high, or sold to them at a high price. Do not forget that many of these men were fortunate in their selections and that their land is now worth more than when they purchased it. I say that to show how impossible the suggestion made by the hon. member for Wetaski-win would be. We havg gone over all that, and when hon. members know the circumstances surrounding these cases they will realize that some of these suggestions would not be beneficial. As one member of the government I hope the discussion will continue in the way it has hitherto been conducted in connection with soldier settlement matters and that we will arrive at a proper conclusion.

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CON

Leslie Gordon Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL (Hamilton):

A few minutes

ago the Minister of Railways told the House that according to Hansard of last year the hon. member from Fort William had asked the House to adopt the bill as it came back from the Senate with the proviso that appeal should be made to the Exchequer court. I do not think the minister stated in what portion of Hansard that reference is to be found. Would he give us the reference to the date and the page of Hansard, which I happen to have before me? If he is correct, the advantage is all with him, and if he is incorrect I should like to know it, and I Should like the House to know it.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

In the last volume of

Hansard it is shown that on two occasions the present member for Fort William presented the bill as it came from the Senate. I wanted it to be quite clear that it came from the Senate with the Exchequer court provision in it, and the hon. member for Fort William, then Acting Minister of Soldier's Civil Re-establishment, presented it to the House in that form. If my hon. friend has Hansard before him he will see that on the first occasion the hon. member from Fort William indicated that he had not had sufficient time clearly to grasp the matter himself, or something to that effect.

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CON

Leslie Gordon Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL (Hamilton):

Will the minister be good enough to give me the reference?

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I sent it back; it is

not before me now. But I can find it if my hon. friend will lend me the Hansard.

Soldier Settlement Act

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CON

Leslie Gordon Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL (Hamilton) :

I will not only

lend it to the hon. member, but I will give it.

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LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I have the exact wording

as it came from the Senate.

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CON
LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

This is the bill as it came

from the Senate.

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CON

February 11, 1927