Yes. There is another class of case. A great many of our settlers under the old act were settled on unsuitable, marginal land, and because of that fact were unable to meet their obligations to the government. I state these things because they show in a great many cases that "hard core" which the department speaks of, was caused by circumstances over which the soldier settler had no control, such as drought, sickness, unsuitable land.
Another factor which operated against the old soldier settler was lack of capital with which to break his land and bring it under
cultivation. The soldier settlement board made a certain allowance for the breaking of the land, but there was so much red tape that many settlers could not take advantage of it. I have letters here which, if I read them to the house, would prove definitely that the red tape which was attached to these loans often made it impossible for the soldier settler to take advantage of them.
Another factor has been the interest rate which was charged on the old loan, six per cent once the payments became overdue, and five per cent on the original loan. This meant that many settlers paid the original loan several times over. Here is a letter which illustrates that point. The writer says:
As you are aware, there have been several adjustments since the original scheme was introduced. The last adjustment was made in my case in 1939, under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act. and then my quarter was revalued at $1,800. although I had paid over $3,000 under the original agreement. Since then, although the price of wheat has been very low, I have been able to keep up my payments, but not when due. viz.. October 1. For the last two years it has been impossible, through restricted deliveries and quotas to make payments when due, but the board charge compound interest, which I have refused to pay. It sems incredible that the government should take advantage of this situation to make additional profits, but this is the case. I would point out that since 1939. not including due payment this fall. I have paid the board four payments of each $124.23, some $496, but you will notice I have not reduced the principal yet by $100-some $80 in fact. Surely this would appear to be heavy interest without charging compound interest on top.
That is the position in which many of these old soldier settlers find themselves, and I think it is only simple justice that we in this parliament should take action to relieve them. Under the new land settlement act we have provided much better conditions for the soldiers coming back from this war than were provided under the old act, and in simple justice this parliament should take action to relieve some of the suffering of many of these old soldiers under the old act.
There is another injustice under the old act, and while there are not many cases in which this has happened there are some where the soldier settler under the old act had two quarter-sections of land, one of which he bought through the board and one which he had as a homestead before going overseas. Later, when he came back the board took a mortgage on both pieces of land before they would give him stock and equipment under the act, and in some cases the soldier disposed of one of these quarters to another settler or another individual. Later, this particular individual made application under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement
Act to have his debt reduced and in some cases the board allowed the reduction. Strange to say that reduction was charged back against the old quarter of the soldier settler. That seems to me to be absolutely unjust, because under the old agreement, under the Soldier Settlement Act, the soldier was liable to the board for the full amount of indebtedness; he had disposed of one quarter and later on, perhaps three years after he had disposed of it, that quarter came under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act and the debt was reduced, the amount of reduction being charged back to the original quarter of the soldier settler.
I do not know how many cases there were of this kind but there were some. The fact that there is this old core of dissatisfaction under the old act is causing many of the younger soldiers, younger men coming back from this war, to hesitate about again entering into any agreement with the government in regard to land, and I think it would be to the advantage of the government to clear up this matter immediately and to start with a clean slate under a new act. If they do not do so it will simply mean a lot of grief and trouble to them later on, because in areas where you get a few old settlers who have a just complaint, and a group of new men coming in under the new act, invariably the older men will get in contact with the new men and tell their story and dissatisfaction will arise among the newer group. I am sure the new men who settle under the new act, seeing they are getting a better deal than the old soldiers received under the old act, would not use that as a pry to try to get some further consideration from the government as far as meeting their obligations is concerned.
I hope that the new minister will take this matter into serious consideration. As the hon. member for Battle River stated, a delegation came here over a year ago to interview the government. They were certainly given some encouragement by the government to believe their case would be considered after they had gone home, but they found, through the article which the hon. member has just quoted, and from what took place in the veterans' convention in Vancouver, that their case was being passed up as far as the government was concerned. They again came to Ottawa and placed their position before the government. I do not know what the result of the last interview was. I do not know whether they were given encouragement in that last interview, but certainly they have a just case, and I would urge the government to take that case into consideration and do
as suggested in this resolution-cancel the old debt that remains. It is a very small amount in comparison with the expenditures that are made to-day, and I am sure that any action along that line would be appreciated by the old settlers and would be an encouragement to the new men who are returning to settle under the new act.
Subtopic: SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic: QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944