May 8, 1928

CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

That is exactly the

point; all this land will be still mortgaged. Our contention was that that advance was

for stock; his original holding plus the stock should have been enough security without mortgaging these homesteads, and these mortgages should be lifted.

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I can only say that there are three kinds of security, as I was trying to point out; there are three different sections, and they deal with securities in varying terms. Then along comes section 26 and gathers all the land together as security. This section does away with that so far as it affects property later acquired.

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CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

To a large extent I agree with the hon. member for Quebec South. I know he has had great difficulty in understanding this section, because earlier in the debate he said he had consulted ten or twelve lawyers before he really understood it. To me this section is about as clear as mud. I think the government have the right intention, as far as this Section goes; the intention of the committee was that the soldier should be relieved with regard to any land which he held in addition to the land previously mortgaged to the government. This has been more or less restricted by this section, since it does not apply to cases where men had homesteads before receiving a second loan, although in many cases the second loan was expended on the homestead itself. I am not opposed to protecting the government to that extent, but the main objection to the section is that it is not clear and distinct s'o that everyone can understand it without trouble. A second objection to the whole bill is that it does not go as far as the committee intended it to go. There was a special provision made by the committee, unless I am mistaken, providing that in cases where the assets of a defaulter or a man who had not made good on a farm were not sufficient to pay his indebtedness, he should be released from any future obligation to the government and that no further action could be taken against him. That is most important, because instead of homesteading land a man might purchase other land, and he would always have this claim of the government hanging over him no matter how long he stayed on the land or how hard he worked.

I think the act should be amended to include all the provisions recommended by the committee.

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

That was the way the report was put before me, and I was given to understand, and I am within the hearing of members of the committee from both 6ides of the house, that on further consideration it was

Soldier Settlement Act

thought that the repeal of the whole section would be going too far, in that it would wipe out the security for loans made for other purposes besides the purchase of land itself.

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CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

I did not question that point; I said I was in favour of that restriction which is now made. But there is the other point which has to do with a man being held liable for an indebtedness after he has been cleaned out.

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

The repeal of section 26 would wipe out the security not only for indebtedness in respect to land purchased from the board but also for loans for stock and equipment and for improvements, and it was thought that security should be retained provided that it consisted of land owned at the time the advance was made. I understand that my hon. friend does not object to that. With regard to the deficiency my hon. friend is right; I see there is a provision in the statute covering deficiencies, but I understand that that is never invoked except in cases of fraud, and I understand further that the committee reported themselves perfectly satisfied that this section should be invoked in those cases. That is a matter of practice, and I make that statement within the hearing of the minister.

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CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

We believe it should be in the statute rather than a matter of practice.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

That is what I was trying

to explain a moment ago. As my hon. friend says, it is quite true that the committee was of opinion that these deficiencies should be wiped out and that the man who made a failure should be allowed to start with a clean sheet, but my hon. friend will find that under the act that charge would have applied to lands. There is a charge in the act now which applies to lands which he may obtain after he has been cleaned out. Under the Soldier Settlement Act he cannot make a fresh start unless he first pays back everything he owed to the board, and in addition to that under his contractual obligations, even if he left the land and opened a shop in the city, the board could follow him. It was found very inconvenient to do that; in fact, it was found impossible, and no case has arisen where that action has been taken by the board. We could have easily wiped out the deficiency when there was a question of new land being taken up, and I think we have done that by the new section 26. Any land the settler may take up now will not be charged with his debt; he may take it up now or after he has failed

and has settled with the board. The man who goes into the city and opens a shop is not protected in any way by any of our amendments.

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CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

But the. settler who buys an adjoining farm to make a new start is not protected either.

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LIB
CON
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I think the hon. gentleman

is right, but when the settler obtains a patent that becomes his own land and is therefore private land.

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CON
LIB
CON
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I believe that is right, but

he is protected to the extent that the board will not sue him; it has not been the practice of the board to institute actions of this kind. Unless we pass legislation stating that the board no longer should have the right to enforce obligations under the act by appealing to the court, we must allow this section to remain in the statute. It must not be forgotten that we have to protect the government against fraud, and in view of the fact that it has not been the practice of the board to go before the courts to obtain judgment it was thought wise to leave with the board power to take this action in cases of fraud. If we placed an amendment in the act stating that this action could be taken only when there was fraudulent intent it would be necessary for the board to prove fraud, so we thought it best to leave these provisions in the act with the clear understanding that no soldier settlement board will take action except in cases of fraud, and in so doing I think the soldier is amply protected.

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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

May I ask a question? As I interpret the remarks of my hon. friend, they are to this effect: He leaves the section as

drafted in the act. The department can take the law in its own hands and retain the man's patent, or retain the man's interest in the land; the man has no defence. If the section is not there, it may be necessary at some time for the department to take action in the courts, in which case the man would have a defence. Leaving the section in as it is, the department coidd take the law in its owe hands.

Soldier Settlement Act

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LIB
CON

William Alves Boys

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYS:

I do not propose to repeat what I have said, but I want to read the explanatory note on another feature. This appears on the right hand side of the sheet:

It is also the committee's opinion that no deficiency which may remain on the resale of the lands or other property of a former settler whose agreement with the board has been terminated should be charged to or collectible from the said former settler, except in such cases where fraud or intent to defraud is shown.

It has been suggested that such a thing has never been done, and that such a thing never will be done. I do not think there is anybody in this house who has the right to speak for what may be done in the future. That will depend, no doubt, upon the contractual rights. What I rise to say is this: There certainly is nothing whatever in section 26 of this bill which in any way carries into effect the protection that is given the soldier by the explanatory note that I have just read. I might say further that I have been told that this particular bill was never considered by the committee as a whole, but that it was considered by a sub-committee. It does seem to me that the proper course to take is for this 'bill to go back to the committee for further 'consideration.

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LIB

May 8, 1928