October 1, 1945

CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WRIGHT:

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

Soldier Settlement

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

Soldier Settlement

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.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. G. DIEFENBAKER (Lake Centre):

In rising to give my support to the resolution moved by the hon. member (Mr. Fair), may I join with the hon. member for Melfort (Mr. Wright) in complimenting him for his persistence and consistency over the years in asking for what is requested in this resolution. I have had occasion to meet with soldier settlers, particularly those settled near the city of Prince Albert, where conditions have been such that they have been unable to carry on and to reduce their indebtedness. There they were settled in sub-marginal land for the most part, and many to-day are in a position that is little improved over that in which they were ten or fifteen years ago. Not only do they request consideration along the line of this resolution, but many soldier settlers with whom I come in contact, who are in the same position as the hon. member for Melfort and who have discharged their indebtedness, are asking, in the interests of the morale not only of those who to-day are still delinquent but also of those who are returning from overseas and are desirous of taking up land under the Veterans' Land Act, that consideration be given by the government to the cancellation of the indebtedness that exists.

There were 25,017 returned men who chose to go farming after the last war. Of that number twenty-five per cent remain on the land to-day, and many even since the beginning of this war are being forced, either directly or indirectly, to leave the land upon which they have been settled for a period of twenty-two to twenty-five years. The figures were given in a return tabled in this house, showing that as between the beginning of the war, September 1, 1939, and December 31, 1943, 2,418 settlers either left their land voluntarily, as it is said, or were actually removed as a result of the institution of the law in that regard by the board officials.

There have been reductions in principal and interest, but these reductions have applied not only to the soldier settler but also to the settler who has taken land under the act. The purport of this resolution has received the support of outstanding public institutions in the prairie provinces, including the wheat pool, the Alberta legislature, the Alberta farmers' union, the united farmers of Canada, and

the united farmers of Alberta. Whenever there is a legion meeting, a zone meeting, in the province of Saskatchewan, support is given to the request of these men. Therefore, as the hon. member for Melfort says, it is not a partisan matter. It is a matter that cuts right through partisan considerations and it merits and has secured the support of authoritative and responsible bodies all over western Canada.

What are the arguments that can be raised against it? One argument would be that it means the repudiation of the indebtedness of these men, and the cancellation of the terms of the contract. Well, Mr. Speaker, parliament has recognized the principle that where through drought or difficulty or poor prices the farmer is unable to carry on and to meet the indebtedness he may apply under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act for a reduction. As far as the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act is concerned its operation will not meet the needs of the soldier settlers and their peculiar problems.

Another matter which strikes me as of great importance is that while to-day there is a great modicum of their original indebtedness remaining due, there is still a very large expenditure being made in the collection of the accounts outstanding of soldier settlers. I was struck with the figures that were given in a return that was brought down on March 10, 1943, in answer to the question: "What is the cost of administration of the board during the years 1930 to 1942?" We find that in 1930 and 1931 the cost of administration a year was $1,300,327. It amounted to $757,507 for 1935-36, and for 1941-42, with a very small indebtedness proportionately to the amount originally outstanding still due, the government of this country had to expend the sum of $646,446 for administration. That is a very large sum, about $650,000 a year for the collection of an amount that has been reduced to a matter of only a few million dollars. I mention that for this reason, that only recently, in a desire on the part of the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie) to alleviate conditions under which these soldier settlers have been operating, extensions have been provided for whereby the indebtedness ha3 been amortized over a period of twenty or twenty-five years. The soldiers who served in the last war are approaching fifty years of age or over. Many will not live to see the day when their indebtedness will be discharged. The administrative expenses will have to be continued throughout those years. In other words, you can multiply twenty-five years more by approximately $600,000, which is the average amount expended in the last few years for

Soldier Settlement

administration, and you reach a total of $15,000,000 in all for the collection of an indebtedness but little more than that. There is a consideration that would appeal to the people of the country as a whole. We are simply, by amortizing the indebtedness, going to collect approximately the amount that in that period of time will have been expended in extra administration. On the basis of ordinary good business my submission is that this resolution deserves the support of the house.

There are other grounds upon which it could be supported. Some of them have already been mentioned by the hon. member for Melfort and by the hon. member who moved the resolution. These grounds were set forth in a memorandum that was delivered to the government by the committee of soldier settlers who were here on May 23, 1944. It will not benefit the house to re-read the grounds that were then advanced by these men for the cancellation of this indebtedness. They are known to hon. members. Repetition does not make them any stronger, nor does repetition make them any clearer. I believe, sir, that all over the prairie provinces-and in the main these settlers are in the prairie provinces- and without regard to political persuasion, there is a general agreement, in the interests of those men, in the interests of morale, above all in the interests of removing any suggestion that too often pervades the mind of the soldiers returning from the war just ended that the men of the previous war did not receive a fair deal, and also in the interests of good business, that this resolution should be supported, and I am supporting the intent of the resolution moved to-day by the hon. member.

I have not yet had an opportunity to do so on a previous occasion and before concluding I wish now to convey my best wishes to the hon. member for Rosthern (Mr. Tucker) in the honour he has received in being appointed parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs. With his record of service in two wars, with his interest in the welfare of the veterans of this country, with his capabilities as a parliamentarian, I, speaking for the members in this part of the house, say that we compliment him on his appointment, and we wish him well in the work that he will do on behalf of the veterans of this country.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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CCF

William Irvine

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WILLIAM IRVINE (Cariboo):

Mr. Speaker, I shall take just a few moments of the time of the house to add my views to those of the other hon. members who have preceded me on this issue, and if the opportunity affords itself, I shall also give my vote in favour of the motion which is now before us.

I cannot imagine any hon. member having very serious objections to the motion. It asks that the soldiers who have survived the economic conflict of the last twenty-five years or so shall at this hour be granted what I think they should have been given at the outset. The most important argument for correcting the mistake which was made at the very beginning is this, that it has cost the people of Canada perhaps more to try to collect the uncollectible than it would have cost us to have made a free gift of land to the soldiers who settled on it. That condition, as the previous speaker pointed out, still pertains. If we continue this policy we shall continue only to badger men who will not be able to meet their obligations, and it will be done at a very high cost to the nation. I believe that we are all looking forward to the birth of a new social order based on social justice, as has been mentioned in the speech from the throne. This is an excellent place for us to begin. If there is any justice in us it should be manifested first toward the men who fought in the first great war and who have, as I have said, suffered so much in the economic conflict which has taken place since then.

To some extent the history of the soldier settlement project has been given by the hon. member who introduced the resolution. Figures have been quoted as to the number of settlers who took advantage of the Soldier Settlement Act, and as to the number of those who were able to meet their obligations and who at last got their title, and the numbers who are still struggling in a vain hope of securing those titles. Figures have also been given as to the amount that has been paid by the government in administrative costs and in other ways. There is no need for me, or for any other hon. member, to take up the time of the house in further reiterating these facts; but I want to bring this to the attention of hon. members. I know they all know it, but it will not do any harm to remind ourselves of it again. Our soldier settlers bought their land and equipment under inflated prices, and they were compelled to sell their products, by which alone they could pay for their land and equipment, at deflated prices. In addition to that, they had to pay a very high rate of interest on their borrowings. It was just as impossible for them to do that as it was for a large percentage of the civilian agricultural population to do so, and they fell by the wayside just as many of their fellow farmers did.

Soldier Settlement

The returned soldier of the last war who fought for his country should have a little bit of it to call his own. I do not know of anyone who has a better right. I venture to suggest that the economic conflict which these farmers have sustained since their return has been more difficult to bear, more grievous, fraught with greater heart-burnings and despair, than the three or four years they fought in the trnches in Flanders, in France and in Belgium. Not only had they to fight the econmic battle, with the assistance of their wives and families, and watch their loved ones suffer deprivation which hurt them deeply; they also had to watch their families fighting with them a losing battle. It is true that four thousand of the twenty-five thousand or so came through, but that is true of every battle. A thousand men may go into a real battle. Four hundred may come through; three hundred may be killed and the remainder wounded. The four hundred were lucky to come through; and the four thousand who came through in this case, in the economic battle, were also lucky. Perhaps in some cases they were better farmers; the chances are they were settled in better communities; they were closer to markets, or they may have had better land. They may have missed the frost or the hail storm or some other hazard of agriculture, and so managed to come through. But there were a great many who did not come through this economic battle; they lost out, and have gone from the picture.

Now some six thousand remain. They are old men and unable to continue to put up the vigorous fight they have been carrying on during the past twenty years. In a great many cases their children, who have been helping them in the past, have grown up and left home to take up jobs and responsibilities of their own. So that these soldier settlers, who are now becoming old men, are being left pretty much alone. I wish to impress upon the minister that if these men in the vigour of youth and with the assistance of their young families have been unable to meet their obligations up to this time, certainly they will not be able to meet them from now on. In view of the fact that the actual cost to the people of Canada will be a paltry sum in comparison with what we have had to expand during the last five or six years, I would urge that these men be now given free title to the land they first strove so hard to win in Flanders and then worked so hard to hold in Canada, the country for which they fought.

Not only are these men getting old and losing the help of their children, who are moving into new pursuits and raising families of their own; we must not forget that the

health of these men, which in many instances no doubt was impaired by their service, is growing worse as they grow older. So that the problem becomes increasingly acute for them. It is true, as someone has said, that some are still trying to pay, but I wonder if we stop to ask at what cost they are trying to pay. I know some returned soldiers who would rather die than fail to meet their obligations, but I do not think we should demand the last drop of blood from these men even if they should be willing to continue to make the sacrifices they made in years gone by. As I have pointed out already, most of them never will be able to get clear title. Let us be magnanimous to them; let us remember their service to Canada and give them free title now to the land they have fought so hard to earn. It has been suggested that it would be against the sanctity of contract for us to do anything like that, but surely we have the right to alter a contract ourselves if we so desire. We are not asking these men to violate a contract; we are asking ourselves to draft a new one which will give them free title to their land. It has been said that some who have paid may object. I do not believe that will happen, and if it does there will be very few such cases. But even if it should happen, let it: let them object if they wish. This is a case where we have a right to act in spite of such objections and I urge, sir, what this resolution be passed and that the government act in accordance with the terms.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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CCF

Thomas John Bentley

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. T. J. BENTLEY (Swift Current):

Mr. Speaker, I hesitate to labour the point. I had expected a little more debate from other quarters of the house either for or against this motion, and left my notes upstairs intending to use them this evening. Consequently I shall be very brief in my remarks, but I should like to emphasize just a few things which, although they have been brought out already, have not been emphasized quite as much as I believe they should be.

The mover of the motion (Mr. Fair) made an excellent address, giving all the figures necessary to convince anyone who is open to conviction, so that there is no need for me or anyone else to recapitulate what he said. The next speaker, the hon. member for Mel-fort (Mr. Wright), gave a good picture of the actual position of the people outside the financial field. The hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) carried on from there, while the last speaker (Mr. Irvine) summarized what had been said previously.

Hon. members have been told already of the organizations throughout the country which have supported this resolution. These

Soldier Settlement

include the Alberta legislature, by no means all of whose members are returned soldiers. Hon. members have mentioned also the legislature of Saskatchewan, which is not composed entirely of returned men either. They have mentioned the Saskatchewan wheat pool, not all of whose 165 delegates are returned soldiers. They have mentioned also a very important body, the association of rural municipalities of Saskatchewan, which is composed of men who are councillors and reeves of rural municipalities, men who cannot be called softheaded or soft-hearted when dealing with the finances in their trust.

Hon. members have supported this resolution for a variety of reasons. One which was mentioned only once during the debate today-and was not then emphasized-is that the plight of these old soldier settlers has an emotional appeal. I should like to be able ;o draw a picture of conditions; if I were like an hon. member who sits opposite me, I would do so. I would describe some of the homes in which these people have had to live during the years, homes in which they have endured struggles, fighting climatic conditions and sickness in the families.

I should like the house to realize that those chaps went through a terrific strain many years ago. In the light of the war just passed, perhaps our little effort of 1914 pales into insignificance. But do not forget the boys who clamoured around the Glory Hole, the M and N trenches, the boys who were up around Sanctuary Wood, and Ypres, the boys who were down at Regina trench and other places on the Somme; the boys who were at St. Albert, Amiens, Passchendaele, and all those other places. They went through tough times, too. And they come home- many of them-not as vigorous as some might judge from outward appearances.

Those chaps settled on these soldier settlement farms. The percentage who now need assistance is not very great. The financial outlay will not be great because, as other hon. members have said, the cost of collection will use up a great deal of it, anyway. So that the necessity for spending the whole

87.000,000 in doing this is not going to be there. _ _

It has been said by some people, in private conversation-and I believe this statement has been attributed to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley), while in conversation with the delegation last spring-that these men should live up to their contracts, and that if they cannot they should apply for veterans' allowances, or should come under some scheme of that kind. People have said to me that that would be better-"Give the old duck his $60

a month, or whatever it will be under the veterans' allowances provisions, and let him live in comfort in some small village."

Well, maybe he would live in great comfort; but remember the necessity for human association. He has lived in his little log shack, or his small farm home. He may have raised a family. That is his home, and he does not want to come in under any veterans allowances scheme which would make him live away from home. While the soldier settlers are not all of one mind in these matters, yet I believe the great bulk of them are just like you and me. These are the homes they have lived in through all the years; surely now they have earned them.

Those men risked their Lives to get that land. Not many years ago in the history of this country a great organization risked money to build a railroad across the country. They got tremendous grants of land to take care, as they said, of the risk they were taking in case the venture did not turn out well. They did not risk anything in the way of life or death. True, there may have been a few shot at with arrows by some Indian who was a little bit too well-filled with fire water. They may even have had to dodge a few stones thrown by some exuberant workman on pay day when the Canadian Pacific railway was being built. However, the risk was not very great, and these people built a great transportation system. They did receive tremendous grants of land. Every soldier settler in the west, and many others besides, know that from the time they cut cordwood at $1.25 a cord, and put it into boxcars on the railway, they were making revenue for one of our great transportation systems. When they sold a pig or a cow or some cream or a few bushels of wheat, they made a further contribution to that transportation system. So, that, even though we gave them title to their land at the present time, we could not say we gave them everything, because they have made their contribution.

Many of them are now old. It has been pointed out that a twenty-year extension of their debt might possibly mean that much less extension on their hope of living, because the worry would probably kill many of them before the twenty years had expired.

I should like to hear other hon. members indicate their support. I realize that many of them are not close to this problem, and we cannot expect them to be as sympathetically inclined as we are. But I believe I can say for the four hon. members who have spoken that we would like other hon. members who are not so well acquainted with the problem

Soldier Settlement

to lend their support. We have spoken earnestly and sincerely on behalf of the soldier settlers this afternoon.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. A. J. BROOKS (Royal):

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member who has jyst taken his seat mentioned that he would like to hear some observations from other hon. members representing other sections of the country. The remarks to which we have listened thus far have been confined mostly to western Canada. May I point out that we who come from the maritime provinces face a similar problem, although our problem may not be as acute as it has been in the western provinces because we had fewer soldier-settlers.

May I take this opportunity to congratulate the hon. member for Battle River (Mr. Fair) who has so consistently brought this subject before the house, and has persisted in his efforts on behalf of the soldier settlers. His has been a worthy cause, and one which I am satisfied should receive the sympathetic attention of the house.

As I said, there are not many of those settlers whose farms are still unpaid left. One hon. member has said that only the hard core remains. I shall not repeat the arguments which have been presented this afternoon. All have been logical and sane, and I believe they will commend themselves to all members. I have known many of the young men who returned from the last war with high hopes of taking part in the farming industry of this country. As we know, many of them have been greatly disappointed. I have in mind three men in my own district who took up land not far from my own town. To-day those farms are abandoned. When this war came along these three men gave up hope of carrying on their farming operations. Some joined the veterans guard, and others found work around the camp at Sussex. They have had a difficult time, just the same as the men in the west.

As has been pointed out, these men bought their farms at very high prices, prices which were perhaps almost double what they should have been. That was a condition of the times. Then, when they bought their stock it cost them possibly twice what it should have cost. I believe that the men who are returning from the war which has just ended, and who are coming back to Canada with the intention of taking up farming, will find the same conditions their fathers found when they returned after the first great war. That will be the condition, if we do not watch very carefully.

For instance, cows are selling to-day for as much as $125 and $150. In a few years there

is no doubt that those cattle will bring much lower prices. Farm machinery is costing today twice as much as it did some years ago. These are the conditions which made it difficult for men who returned from the last war, and they are the conditions which will make it just as difficult for men who are returning from this war with the intention of taking up farming.

We must remember, too, that the men about whom we have been speaking this afternoon had to go through one of the worst depressions the world has ever experienced. I do not agree, as has been suggested on the floor of the house at different times, that that depression was due to the policies of any political party. Any man with ordinary common sense and judgment must know that it was not; it was a world-wide condition and Canada could not escape any more than any other country.

These men, burdened as they were, tried to make a success of farming under those conditions. However, they could not do so and they abandoned their farms. They were patriotic enough to go overseas during the last war. During the time they have been on their farms they have raised families and to-day their sons are coming back from this war. They would like to see some one of these sons continue on the farm. I was much impressed by the statement made by the hon. member who has just taken his seat that there is sentiment connected with a farm on which a man has lived for twenty-five years, on which he has raised a family, sent his children to school and tried to make a living. That place has become home to his children. These farms should not be abandoned, not only in the interests of the farmers but in the interests of their sons and the country generally.

Just lately I drove through certain sections of Ontario and I was amazed at the number of vacant farms. People are flocking into the towns and cities, a condition which should not be. These men would like to have their sons take up farming again, but they do not want to see them take it up under the burden of debt that they have at the present time.

In my province we have small school districts, and when two or three farms are vacated it becomes difficult for those who are left in the district to carry on. The district loses its taxes, the children are taken away from school, and there is in general a bad effect.

I do not think there is much more that I wish to say this afternoon. I am heartily in accord with the resolution moved by the hon.

Soldier Settlement

member. I feel there is much of justice in it. I have talked to many other veterans regarding it and some few say that we should treat the veterans who have paid for their farms the same as it is proposed these men should be treated. However, I believe if a census were taken of those who have paid for their farms, ninety-five per cent or possibly one hundred per cent would be willing to have justice done to these men who have struggled for so long to bring up their families and provide a home. For many years the hon. member has brought this matter before the house and I sincerely hope that it will receive favourable consideration and that justice will be done.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. R. PEARKES (Nanaimo):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to indicate briefly my desire to support this resolution. I do so, first, because I am a returned man. These men who took up farms under the soldier settlement board were comrades of mine in the first great war and I feel that justice should be done to them. Therefore I should like to express my support of this resolution which I believe indicates the road to justice.

Second, I rise because I represent another part of the country. I come from Vancouver island, at the opposite end of the country to that from which the previous speaker comes. On that island there are a large number of veterans who settled under the soldier settlement scheme. I know for a fact that these men have had a trying and difficult time. They have honestly done their best to try to make ends meet.

Farming conditions on Vancouver island are not easy. There are no large farms. There are a few dairy farms, but mostly they are fruit, vegetable and poultry farms. These farms are encircled by the forest, and unless the farmer keeps hard at work, day in and day out, nature encroaches on the small clearing that he has made. You see the bracken and the fern growing up very thickly in the pasture. It is not an easy life.

I noticed that when the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) was speaking the other day he called attention to the fact that eggs were the only farm product which was not selling at parity according to the definition of parity as given that night. A great many of these returned men are in the poultry business and, as one can see from that statement, they must be having considerable difficulty as far as marketing their produce at reasonable prices is concerned.

I also endorse the statement that was made that a large number of these men left their farms at the beginning of this war, either for

motives of patriotism or because of dire necessity. Many of them felt that they would have a better opportunity of making a livelihood from the grants and pay they would receive for their services to their country. Whether it was from patriotism or because of necessity, they joined up in such organizations as the veterans guard of Canada and they did faithful duty in that corps in the way of guarding outlying forts and prisoners of war.

I think I am correct in saying that these men are not entitled to any consideration under the new Veterans' Land Act because they are considered to be too old and therefore not a good risk. As I understand this resolution, it would put that class of men on a parity with the veterans who will be discharged from this war and who may want to take up land under the Veterans' Land Act. I hope most sincerely that the house will give sympathetic consideration to the resolution.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

After Recess

The house resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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LIB

Leslie Alexander Mutch

Liberal

Mr. L. A. MUTCH (Winnipeg South):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to take part in this debate I should like to declare at once that I am in sympathy with the resolution, if not with its wording, presented by the hon. member for Battle River (Mr. Fair). I would be happier in associating myself with this resolution if I did not find in the preamble, the introduction to the resolution, as one so often finds in resolutions presented in this house; namely, that a criticism applied to the original soldier settlement land scheme, a criticism which can be and has been justified by myself and by others, is by inference, or so it seems to me, intended by the mover of the resolution to imply the probability of the failure of the present Veterans' Land Act. The resolution says in its first paragraph:

Whereas veterans of great war I . . . have in many instances suffered severe hardships because of purchase of land, live stock and equipment at inflationary prices-

That is perhaps well merited as a criticism of the original scheme. The preamble goes on to say:

-and low prices received for farm products brought about by lack of adequate policy for agriculture.

Implying that policy or lack of it contributed to failure. I am perhaps unique in this house in that I have not in my constituency anyone who is a landowner or landholder, so far as I know, under the original

Soldier Settlement

scheme of land settlement. I fancy that the only constituents of mine who have had any connection with that scheme, if there be any, are those who decided that it would not pay and got out of it sooner or later. Because I have no constituents who come within the groups for whom relief is sought by this resolution I can speak freely and without any suggestion that I am addressing myself to them.

In its second paragraph the resolution says:

And whereas we are now embarking on another land scheme for veterans of the present war, under a government policy that does not guarantee cost of production, the success of which scheme may be jeopardized by the apparent failure of the former soldier settlement board scheme.

There again, I cannot see how the mover of the resolution hopes to win sympathy for those whose cause he pleads by introducing in the preamble to his resolution something which is an issue in current politics, apart from the cause of those whose relief he seeks.

I do not support the resolution with any thought that by doing so we in this house would be conferring any considerable favour, economically at least, on the 4,000 odd whom the member for Battle River described this afternoon as being still condemned to pay for their land. The reason I say that is this; I agree wholeheartedly with what hon. members opposite have said this afternoon about the ridiculousness of the prices paid for the land, and about the machinations of various agencies, civil and political, which resulted in soldier settlers being settled upon some of the least desirable of sub-marginal land at the time this scheme was initiated. That criticism has been developed and is well founded, but to suggest, and by inference it is suggested, that under those conditions had there been an agricultural policy-that agricultural policy is mot suggested but is hinted at-a large number of these people might have succeeded in paying for their land is in my own experience something which is open to grave doubt. I can remember farms being sold in that initial period to veterans of the last war who knew very little about farming, and sold to them when there was two feet of snow on the land. It was a good thing, too, for the seller because if there had been only one foot of snow the veteran would have been able to see the rocks. I remember also the inflationary prices that were paid for live stock to go on these farms often by men who hardly knew the business end of a cow. I remember investigations into land transactions in my own province and in other provinces which indicated all too conclusively that no proper selection was made either of the men who were to go on the land or of the land itself. I may be

pardoned, if I derive some little amusement out of the circumstances in which some hon. members are now hastening to add their voices to the chorus of those who would give to these settlers who have put a large chunk out of a lifetime on what was often submarginal and useless land. Some of them represent groups which were instrumental in permitting the lack of organization which made possible the present situation.

I am a little at a loss to understand why the hon. member who introduced this resolution should imply in his introduction that failure to clear up the admitted injustices of selection and placement; the admitted inflationary prices of that earlier period which have induced almost countless failures and which still contribute to the difficulties of those who as late as March, 1944, were, after repeated demands to give them relief still in arrears, I am at a loss to understand, I repeat, why he should now imply that their situation would have bad effects on the Veterans Land Act which is at present on the statute books.

I am very much interested in that angle, because I am one of those who believe that we have very largely profited from the mistakes of the past. Not only are we guarding against inflationary prices for the land which is to be distributed, but much excellent land has been secured and is being held for the returning veterans of this war at prices which are at least commensurate with the expectation of returns from the land. I am reminded also of the very considerable differences which exist to-day with respect to the selection of the personnel who will go on the land. Perhaps some will regard this as a minor consideration, but I am very much impressed with the fact that in the selection of soldier settlers who shall go on the land under the Veterans' Land Act a great deal of attention is being paid by the selection boards to the desires and opinions of the wives of the men who will secure farms. I should not like anyone to take from my remarks that I feel or have felt that ineptitude of the wives of the men who have not made the grade under the soldier settlement scheme was a major contributing factor in their failure. I know of many instances of women without experience, without any knowledge even of the physical conditions of the part of the country to which they were called upon to go, who have made simply heroic contributions in keeping with the best traditions of the pioneer stock of this country. But I do know something of the western prairies. I know something of the territory which has been settled very largely by these

Soldier Settlement

soldier settlers, and I know that any man's chance of success under the circumstances which exist are very considerably enhanced by having associated with him in that enterprise a woman who not only understands what she is to be called upon to do, and to endure, but who is wholeheartedly and enthusiastically behind the project from the beginning.

We are terribly prone, I think, to look to the period after the last war and to say, not only with respect to soldier settlement but with respect to almost every attempt which was made to do something for the returned veterans of the last war, that the whole thing was thoroughly bad. I am reminded that there are at present in this house and have been in the last few parliaments men who under the conditions which then existed did achieve success, so much so that their natural leadership in their own communities eventually brought them to this house. I am reminded, too, that it is not possible by legislation or by grants to take someone who has no aptitude for farming and, by virtue of the fact that society is grateful to him for the contribution which he made in another branch of the public service, namely, the armed services, to ensure his success.

I have not much regard for the sentimental arguments which are sometimes presented. Arguments which have been presented at one time or another when each of the various relief measures has been initiated in connection with the soldier settlement board. I am impressed with the practical nature of the present suggestions. Perhaps it is the Scots blood which flows in my Canadian veins, perhaps it is just a little practical common sense, but I am impressed with the argument that it is futile and silly to throw good money after bad. I am impressed and satisfied with the argument that there is no probability of redeeming those sub-marginal farms under the control of their present owners with profit to the state. I have no hesitation on that ground, if on any other, in supporting the resolution of the hon. member for Battle River in which he says:

That, in the opinion of this house, the government should take into consideration the advisability of giving clear titles to all soldier settlers who on March 31, 1944, held land under contract with the soldier settlement board.

I would support his resolution, I think, if couched in stronger language for the reason which I have given. I am not particularly impressed with the results which I have received from time to time when I have finally prevailed upon those in authority to give "serious consideration" to any matter. The phrase itself smacks of "brush off." However,

it is my privilege to stand here and urge with the hon. gentlemen who have done so that consideration be given. I do not believe that in most of the 4.000 odd cases which the hon. member cited this afternoon it will be possible under any other arrangement for men, most of them now in their late fifties, ever to get title to the property rvhich they now occupy. I doubt very seriously if very many of them will be able under present circumstances, and in view of the conditions under which they operate, to make anything even approximating an adequate living for the remainder of their days if we do give them clear title to the property which they now occupy.

I know, however, that there is something in the heart of man which responds to ownership of land. I believe it must be particularly true of one who through good season and bad season over a period of years, under adverse conditions, has striven and stayed with it for the length of time these gentlemen must have done to be still, nearly twenty-six years later, occupying the land which they originally took. I do not think we would be giving away anything. I think we would be bringing satisfaction to some of them, and perhaps we might be paying something in the nature of a tribute to them because they have played an exceedingly important role in the life of our country in the last few years.

It was my privilege to see a great deal of Canada, part of western Canada and all of eastern Canada, during the period of this last war. It was noticeable wherever one went, from one end of Canada to the other, that in almost every community the first man who tried to get into the army in this war was the chap who went through the last war; and right behind him was his eon and indeed eventually his daughter.

This country owes a not inconsiderable debt to these men in every community in which they live for the leadership which they showed when the war came and for the leadership which they showed within their communities during the period which some of my friends like to refer to as the hungry thirties. In times of dissatisfaction and stress as well as in times of national peril these men have been the hard rock centre in the community life of every part of Canada.

I promised when I began that I would not resort to sentimental appeals in this matter, and I submit that what I have just said is not a sentimental appeal but simply a statement of fact which will be recognized as such by everyone in the house who has had contact with these families during the last ten or eleven difficult years.

Soldier Settlement

I take it that, because of association of ideas, it is possible at this juncture to refer for a moment or two to the Veterans' Land Act as at present constituted in an attempt to show that a difficulty does exist beween the cleaning up of the soldier settlement board scheme and the present scheme. The hon. member for Battle River this afternoon said that 4,600 original settlers had completed their contract. I do not dispute the figure, but I realize that if to-day we are to go the whole way, for economic or for sentimental reasons, and give title to an almost equally large number who are still attempting to complete their contract, many of them in arrears, this or any other government will be faced with a problem of reconciliation and compensation. I do not agree with the hon. member who said this afternoon that in his view such a concession would not be questioned or resented by those who had completed their contracts. I do not think it is an insuperable barrier, but I suggest to this government, or to whatever government eventually carries out the undertaking called for in this resolution, that they be prepared with a logical and reasonable argument in order to be able to meet the objections that will be brought forward. I am perfectly sure that not only will those who have completed their contracts, but also some of those who were either released from their contract or who broke it themselves, feel, and with some justification, that they would be discriminated against. This situation can be met.

I would point out one other fact which I think must enter into the consideration to be given to this measure by this or any other government, namely, that we are at the beginning of what we conceive to be a bigger and better settlement scheme. The pitfalls and mistakes of the last scheme have been observed and have been reasonably well guarded against in the new scheme. I believe that whoever finally accedes to the request of this resolution should take particular care to establish what the hon. member for Battle River attempted to establish-and I think he did so-namely, that the old scheme was exceedingly unjust, and that in many cases, the circumstances under which those contracts were originally entered into were iniquitous. If that is not done we are going to begin a new scheme, which appears to have most of the elements which make for success, bedevilled with the now prevalent idea that over a period of time the settler may possibly be granted more than is in his original contract.

I do not now argue for the sanctity of the contract, as such, against all circumstances.

I do think it is exceedingly important that sons of farmer veterans, and those chaps returning to-day who wish to take advantage of this scheme, should be made to feel that everything which can be done in the way of security, everything which can be offered in the way of compensation for perseverance and persistence in the keeping of the contract should be offered at the beginning rather than at the end. Realizing as I do that inevitably the security of old soldiers becomes a problem of the federal administration, I also realize the inevitability of change.

I should like to think that the dominion is getting close cooperation from the provinces and from the officials of the provincial governments in the selection of land and in the selection of areas in which land can be bought. This was not the case twenty-five or twenty-six years ago. Some of the provinces are cooperating in that way to-day. Therefore, before I leave the problem of the effect of what happens to the old scheme in its impact on the new scheme, I should like for a moment or two to refer to some of the differences between the two schemes. I refer particularly to the section which permits the settlement of soldiers on small holdings. In my remarks on the speech from the throne a few days ago I said a word or two about the effect of settlement on small holdings near large urban populations. I was very grateful when I saw that in the present regulations the area in which people could take up small holdings had been reduced from one acre to half an acre. I have some knowledge of the amount of work required to cultivate one acre intensively enough to make it an economic asset no matter where the locality happens to be. I was one of those who felt that no one who held a job that was of any consideration at all would be capable of getting full development out of a larger acreage. Therefore it was a matter of pleasure to me-[DOT] and I think it will make for success of the small holding-when I saw that the acreage required under the plan was reduced to half an acre.

I should like to say one thing about the small holding aspect of this problem. There is a tendency in some parts of Canada and in some communities to hive the small holdings together. My conception of the rehabilitation of the soldier is to fit him once more into the communal life of the country with as little differentiation between him and his neighbours as is humanly possible. For that reason I am somewhat sceptical of the value of the veterans' communities in the small holdings programme. I realize the economic

Soldier Settlement

possibilities of that type of development, but if I may issue a word of warning based on experience with relation to the veterans of the first great war it would be to suggest that we walk warily in the establishment of veterans' communities, as such.

I have taken advantage of this resolution in the first instance to express my own personal view toward it and to give my reasons for supporting it, and also to inject into the discussion some other remarks touching on the present scheme. I do not know whether this resolution will be accepted at this time, but I venture to predict that we will not continue over the years to send good money after bad only to continue to make the declining years of these soldier citizens of Canada as difficult as they have been in the past.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. A. ROSS (Souris):

Soldier Settlement

great struggle, and they fought a great battle for us during those years. They are the type of citizens we should encourage in Canada if we want that national unity of which we hear so much in this country to-day. New settlers under the present Veterans' Land Act are given a clear grant of thirty-nine per cent of their total credit of $6,000, provided that they carry out their agreement for a period of ten years. I am happy to think I had the privilege of serving as a member of the committee which brought the present legislation into being. Perhaps it is not all we had 'hoped for, but I think it is an improvement over the old act, as a result of our experience under that legislation.

I believe these 6,153 settlers, who have laboured for the past twenty-five years and most of whom are now old men, should be granted clear title to their land by the government writing off the 29 per cent of the original debt still remaining. Surely these men are entitled to at least equal consideration, in virtue of their service to this nation, to those coming under the new legislation. This is a time of readjustment, both for nations and for individuals. Old settlers under the board should receive consideration equal to that being shown new settlers under the present act. I am one of those who believe that a proper adjustment for these settlers will mean a great deal to the young veterans now coming back, who are inclined to settle under the present legislation. I know some of these chaps feel a bit discouraged when they think of what their parents had to go through, what with the drought years, the depression and all the rest of it, and they are inclined to try almost anything but farming. I do not believe that is a healthy sign. Experience would indicate that a large portion of our population should be encouraged to live on the land, and that we should have decentralization as much as possible. In that connection the provision in the present act having to do with the small acreage settler, the man who perhaps has a position in a city but who wants to carry on gardening or a small poultry farm, is a very fine feature. In order to encourage the younger veterans to go on the land, and in order to diversify the citizenship of this nation, I believe the government should give immediate consideration to the problems of these 6,000 odd men who come under the settlement act. Apart altogether from sentiment, I believe it would be good business in dollars and cents for the taxpayers of this country, and on these grounds I support the resolution.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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LIB

René Jutras

Liberal

Mr. RENE JUTRAS (Provencher) (Translation) :

Before voicing these few remarks, I wish to join the hon. members who spoke before me in tendering you my most sincere congratulations and in assuring you of the confidence which I and the hon. members of this house place in you. Mr. Speaker, may I be permitted to express a wish, which is that the heavy responsibilities that devolve upon you may never take away the smile which has always characterized you and which has gained you such a host of friends.

(Text): I join with those who have preceded me, in asking for sympathetic consideration on the part of the government for those who settled on the land under the settlement board. Every hon. member is fully aware of the great difficulties they encountered and of the many reasons why they found it so hard to get along at that time. Economic conditions were not to their advantage. Also in many instances veterans tried to settle on farms, without having had any experience whatsoever before. I would presume that unfortunately all those have fallen by the wayside before now. Those with whom we are now concerned are the ones who in some way or another have survived the economic chaos of the depression and even the weather which for seven years worked against them, particularly in the prairie provinces. They are the ones who must receive our attention and consideration this evening. That is why I wish to support the suggestion that a special study be made of their case at this time, that this matter be given consideration in the light of conditions as they exist to-day, and that their position should be made as secure as possible for the years to come, even if it means writing off certain sums of money.

The hon. member for Battle River (Mr. Fair) presented his case well, and earns my commendation in that respect. He placed before the house a complete picture, and in his observations even anticipated the objections and answered most of them. I shall not weary the house by repeating what has been said thus far in the debate. I wish, however, that the hon. member for Battle River had worded his resolution somewhat differently, because I am afraid if it were accepted in its present form a wrong impression might leave this house, one which I feel sure would be to the detriment of the veterans.

When I first read the resolution as it appears on the order paper I felt that it conveyed a certain measure of defeatism, and that it may in some way, if misunderstood, harm to some extent the new Veterans' Land Act, which is

Soldier Settlement

now being put into operation. If hon. members will bear with me I shall read the first two paragraphs of the resolution as it stands:

Whereas veterans of great war I who settled on land under the soldier settlement scheme, as well as their wives and families, have in many instances suffered severe hardships because of purchase of land, live stock and equipment at inflationary prices, and low prices received for farm products brought about by lack of adequate policy for agriculture;

And whereas we are now embarking on another land scheme for veterans of the present war, under a government policy that does not guarantee cost of production, the success of which scheme may be jeopardized by the apparent failure of the former soldier settlement board scheme.

I know the hon. member did not want to convey the impression that the new Veterans' Land Act did not have a much better chance of succeeding than did the one which existed before. But I am afraid that that impression might be gained by people who would read or hear the resolution as it appears on the order paper. It -would be unfortunate indeed if that impression were gained, because I have great confidence in the land settlement act as it stands to-day. I suggest that every hon. member should guard his words and deeds so as to build up a still greater confidence in the new act as it appears on the statute books.

I have many reasons for that contention. First of all, agriculture to-day enjoys the confidence of Canadian citizens as a whole, something which I believe it did not enjoy after the last war. To-day it is recognized by all as a major industry of national importance, and by this I mean that Canadian citizens as a whole realize well that Canada cannot continue on an economically sound basis without having agriculture on an equally sound basis. That fact was brought to the attention of Canadians to a greater extent during this war than it ever was in the past. I feel that today there is possibly more public sentiment in the whole of Canada in favour of agriculture than there has ever been before, and there is the general feeling that agriculture should receive the true and sincere support of the whole nation.

I would hope that no hon. member would at any time say or do anything which would tend to hurt or possibly to destroy the public confidence we enjoy at this time. Further, we should do everything we can to encourage progressive young men with farming experience who wish to engage in farming. Let them begin their work with the greatest of confidence.

The Veterans' Land Act as it stands to-day offers a great many new advantages which veterans of the last war did not enjoy. It is 47696-41i

not my purpose this evening to review the operation of that act, because the debate is directed to the Soldier Settlement Act which operated following the last war. I would, however, point out a few facts which relate to the Veterans' Land Act, and I do so because of the bearing those facts may have on the resolution as it is now worded.

First of all, one of the chief reasons why many who settled under the earlier scheme-failed to make a success of farming was that they did not have the necessary experience,, and had not lived in the locality in which they settled. I remember the case of a veteran who settled next to my home. This man came from Ontario; he had never before lived in western Canada and had had no experience-whatsoever in farming. The result was that he-remained on the farm for only six or seven: months and then abandoned the project as hopeless, despite the fact that the land on which he settled was good.

To-day there are still a large number of very good farms in the Red River valley, and it is our hope that the young men of that district will avail themselves of the opportunity to begin operations on those farms. There is no doubt, however, that after having watched the operation of the Soldier Settlement Act which was passed after the last war, many of those young men have not any great amount of confidence in the new act which is now in operation. I take this opportunity to-try to point out to all these young men that they should avail themselves of the opportunity now offered to them. The Veterans'' Land Act offers them a good, sound business.. I believe the capital outlay will be smaller than that required- by any other enterprise in. which they might want to establish themselves.

As I pointed out before, they certainly have a reasonable chance of success on a farm to-day. There are many reasons why this is so. Unlike the veterans of the last war, they are not being asked to buy land at inflationary prices. Generally speaking, prices of farm land are very reasonable. I know of many pieces of land in the beautiful Red river valley from which I come. I know of several good farms-that are available at the present time at most, reasonable prices. But what is causing me concern is the fact that young people, even in that particular area, do not seem to be any too keen to settle down on farms at the present time.

These men will have a fairly definite assurance that prices of farm products will remain, at a reasonable level and to a certain degree

Soldier Settlement

their income will be more or less secured. If they wish to raise large families the family allowances will increase their security. I could go on and enumerate many other advantages, but I think it will suffice to say that to-day agriculture is in a far better position than it ever was. It is in a better position to-day than it was in the past when considered from the security point of view.

I hope that all young veterans who have been brought up on farms or who have had any experience in farming will settle on the land. But this time they should be careful in selecting the land, because that is one of the most important factors if they are to -make a success. They should try to settle on land in their own localities, on land that is similar to that upon which they have been brought up; in other words, on land that they know.

I am in full agreement that soldiers who settled under the Soldier Settlement Act should receive periodical consideration from the government. They settled on the land under most adverse conditions which were made worse at times by the weather. These conditions were aggravated still further by the economic collapse which occurred later on. They struggled through, and those who survived deserve a lot of credit and should be given immediate consideration. I feel sure that the minister concerned will try to give them his most sincere consideration and endeavour to see that they are placed in a secure position.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. THOMAS REID (New Westminster):

Mr. Speaker, the resolution before the house is a very important one. This matter has been discussed every year since 1930, when I first came into the house. [DOT] On many occasions it has been brought up by the hon. member for Battle River (Mr. Fair) and others. I have two reasons for rising to speak on this occasion. First, I had nine years municipal experience between 1922 and 1930, just when the soldiers were being settled on the land. Believing that with that experience I could add something to the debate, I thought I should do so to-night. Second, there are one or two things I should like to say about the present Veterans' Land Act as it affects the veterans of this war and there are one or two matters I should like to draw to the attention of the minister.

I should like to say to the mover of the resolution that I have always deprecated the fact that quite often a member will introduce a resolution or bring a matter before the house and not always place all the facts of the case before hon. members. On reading

the resolution, I was reminded that there are certain districts in Alberta and elsewhere that have suffered in part from the effects of drouth. However, if one reads the resolution he will find that a great deal of the blame if not all-is placed at the door of the government. The government should not and cannot be held responsible for what takes place in drouth areas. I may be wrong, but it is my opinion that if the present boards were in charge of placing settlers it is problematical if many of these dried-out areas would be settled.

The resolution is divided into two or three parts. I do not intend to take the time to deal with all of them. First, may I say that like most hon. members who have spoken I have every sympathy for the resolution proposed, which reads:

That, in the opinion of this house, the government should take into consideration the advisability of giving clear titles to all soldier settlers who on March 31, 1944, held land under contract with the soldier settlement board.

Anyone who listened to the stories told this afternoon and this evening by the hon. member for Battle River and others could not help feeling sympathetic, but I began to wonder whether a voice would be raised on behalf of another class of settler that I have in mind and that I feel sure every hon. member has some knowledge of. I refer to those settlers who in the early years of the soldier settlement scheme worked and battled their way, those settlers whose wives and families in many instances were oftentime denied some of the necessities of life in order that after a time they might obtain titles to their land.

I am not going to raise any objection to titles being given to those who have not been able to obtain them, but I certainly am going to put in a plea for those settlers who in past years have suffered and worked hard in order to get title to their land. What is to be done? Will no one say a word on their behalf? I could mention case after case where the settler, his wife and family have stayed at home, where they have worked hard, where in many instances they have gone without some of the necessities of life, but who now stand with the titles to their farms in their hands. Is nothing further to be done for that splendid class of settler?

May I make it clear that I am not going to object to titles being given to those who have been unable to obtain them because of circumstances which intervened, but I am going to voice a plea for those who have fought hard to get their titles and who in my opinion are just as deserving. This afternoon many instances were given of failures of the last

Soldier Settlement

scheme. Every member of parliament could regale the House of Commons with speech after speech on that subject, but conditions to-day are not similar to those of 1921 and 1922. The officials of the veterans land board to-day, from what I know of them in British Columbia, through the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie), know all that took place in those earlier years, and from what I can see they are not repeating the mistakes of those years. They have the benefit of those mistakes to go on, and consequently to-day are preventing many of the same mistakes from occurring. I well remember that in 1921 and 1922 there was a move by the government of the day to get men settled on the land as quickly as possible. I know men of that day who were also just as determined to settle on the land as farmers, some of whom called themselves farmers, and if anyone dared to dispute it they had to be ready for trouble. I remember one settler in particular who after he was settled on a farm was looking forward to the time when he might have to increase his dairy herd and he actually bought a young steer. Although his herd did increase, may I tell you, Mr. Speaker, that it was not because he had bought that particular animal. I know another man who was very angry when asked: Did he know anything about farming? He said: "I was brought up on a farm. My father and grandfather before me were brought up on a farm." Although the board of that day had set a price of $4,000 on a farm this man put up $2,000 more of his own for the place, and he was on it for only a month when he asked his neighbour if he had to plant potatoes every year. But it is no good going back and rehashing the failures.

One thing I do not like in this debate is that the impression may go abroad that all the settlers were failures. Nothing of the kind. True, many mistakes were made by the government. There was a lot of land and stock bought at high prices, and some land was purchased which in my opinion should never have been bought. While there are certain faults in the present scheme, it is a great improvement over the 1922 scheme.

What is one of the complaints being made to-day of the new settlement board in my district? By the way, I have the honour to represent a district with more soldier settlers settled under the last scheme than most of the other districts in British Columbia. What criticism do I get now? I hear farmers, yes, and real estate men too, saying that the government is paying too little for the land bought. Is that not a fine recommendation of

the Veterans' Land Act officials, that they are out protecting the men from being robbed by preventing them from paying the high prices of 1922? Let me give an illustration from my own district. I need not mention names, but I could if desired.

A father and son wanted to settle close to my own home two months ago. The father was a veteran of the last war and of this war, and his son had been in the air force in this war. The son wanted a place for which the man who was selling it was demanding $3,000. The Veterans' Land Act officials had 'looked over the property and said they would allow more than $2,000 for the place. After negotiating with the officials, the son came to see me and he was in a very high-strung frame of mind. The names he was calling the officials of the government for all the red tape, as he called it, were harsh. If he wanted to pay $3,000 for the farm, he should be able to do so, he said. I investigated the matter myself, and this is' what I found. I found that it had been purchased a year previous for $1,200, and the present owner was wanting this soldier settler to pay $3,000 for it. The Veterans' Land Act officials, realizing that the owner had made some improvements to the property, were willing to pay $2,000 for the property, but nothing more.

I mention that one instance because the complaints which I have heard under the present scheme are not that land is being bought at too high a price or that the soldiers are being robbed. The complaint is being made by farmers in the district that the land is being bought too cheaply. They feel that such reasonable prices might depress the price of property they themselves might want to sell.

I should liked to have seen, and I proposed this in the house last year, that the soldier be given the land as a gift, or at least without any interest charges. I should like to see that matter discussed when the special committee is set up. I was very glad indeed to note that the Minister of Veterans Affairs has a motion on the order paper to set up a special committee where all these matters can be thoroughly discussed.

I have one or two criticisms, and it might be as well for me to make them now.

I think we had better be, careful about where we place the small holder under the Veterans' Land Act. There is a tendency, I believe to settle the veterans on property which is a little too far out from the city and from transportation. Ini the constituency of New Westminster at the present time they are building in one comer of Richmond muni-

Soldier Settlement

cipality seventy-five homes, ten or twelve of *which are now ready for occupancy. These homes are each on one acre of land. I think the veterans' land board paid something like $850 an acre for the property. To my mind, one acre of land is far too much for a man to look after who intends to make his livelihood in industry. If he works eight hours a day in the shipyard or anywhere else he certainly cannot do much if any farming after his working hours. The odd one will be found who with the help of his wife and family may perhaps take on some extra work, but generally speaking, if a man is faithful to one master he will not be able to cultivate much on a small fruit ranch or on one acne of garden land. I would suggest to the minister that he review these plots of land, and I suggest that where they are close to the city half an acre of land would be sufficient. The minister has just intimated to me that that is being done, and' I am glad to hear it, because I raised the same objection last year and I know whereof I speak as to what the soldier settler can do in the Fraser Valley and in other parts of British Columbia.

I cannot agree with those in the house and many outside who are endeavouring and have endeavoured to place the industrial worker on the same plane with the man who has fought our battles overseas. I am very sorry if I cannot see eye, to eye with those who do; to me there is no comparison between the industrial worker and the man who offered his life and fought on the battlefront so that we here may have the life we have. And so I say to you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the house, that our first charge must be to rehabilitate. those who fought our battles. That at least is my thought and it is one of the thoughts I am leaving with the minister. While we shall probably not see what was witnessed in the last settlement under the Soldier Settlement Act, nevertheless we in British Columbia and particularly in the city of New Westminster have started something which, I believe, may be adopted by other cities. The city of New Westminster has the honour to have two men who won the Victoria Cross, and1 perhaps thinking of the days which followed the last war the citizens set on foot a scheme which, in my opinion is highly commendable. It is the first of its kind in Canada and has a great deal to merit its adoption by other cities. The citizens of New Westminster decided to grant annuities, at the age of fifty, to these two New Westminster boys who won the V.C., and in addition to that they have set up a fund for scholastic purposes to be known under the names of these two V.C. winners. The

response was extremely generous and the two holders of the Victoria Cross, one, Major Mahoney, V.C., and the other, Private "Smoky" Smith, will at the age of, fifty have an annuity of $100 a month for life, so that, never again,, so far as these two are concerned, will there be any fear of their looking for charity or even of seeking jobs as janitors or as a run-about in the House of Commons such as we heard about the other evening. What has been done by the city of New Westminster I commend to other cities which have the honour of having V.C.'a.

I am glad, Mr. Speaker, that a special committee is to be set up to discuss this and other matters affecting our ex-servicemen. I am not sure whether all the provinces have a scheme similar to that of British Columbia, but that province has set aside one million acres in the interior as a free grant of land in which each soldier will share who wishes to settle there, with the result that all soldier settlers who take advantage of that offer in British Columbia will be able to start in without a debt hanging over their heads and with a cash balance of something like $2,300, being a free grant. This is equal to what they would obtain under the dominion- Veterans' Land Act if they took up land elsewhere and stayed with the project for ten years, as called for under the regulations. There is no doubt that interest charges were a heavy burden on many if not all of the settlers who took up land under the old soldier settlement board scheme, and while there were many faults, nevertheless those faults have perhaps helped in large measure to lay the foundation for the present act. If the foundation has. been laid fairly well it can be still further improved, and I hope the minister will take note of all the suggestions that have been made.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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LIB

Loran Ellis Baker

Liberal

Mr. L. E. BAKER (Shelburne-Yarmouth-Clare):

I have been much interested in the remarks concerning veterans of the last war and have listened with interest to the hon. member for Battle River (Mr. Fair) and other hon. members who have spoken in this debate. What I am going to say I shall say without bias and it will be non-controversial from the political point of view, because matters concerning veterans are far too important to be put on any political or controversial basis.

I am a new member here and also a veteran of two days' standing, having received my discharge on Saturday. Therefore I do not know very much about veterans' affairs so far as men of the last war are concerned. I know quite a bit, however, about legislation

Soldier Settlement

passed with respect to men returning from this war, and I am particularly interested not only in what happens to our present veterans but also in what happens to the veterans of the last war. After all, we are all comrades in arms together, and I must speak without fear or favour, because in the final analysis, should I be called to the bar of that great body known as war veterans, I should have to acquit myself. Therefore I am careful of what I say now.

There is one thing of which I would remind the house. The other day, being a new member and being interested in these matters, I was pleased to hear certain, remarks that were made, as reported in Hansard at page 467:

Mr. A. J. Brooks (Royal): May I ask the

Minister of Veterans Affairs if it is the intention of the government to set up a special committee on veterans affairs at this session of parliament, and if so, at what time we may expect the committee to be set up?

Hon. Ian A. Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs): The reply is in the affirmative. The intention is at once to set up such a committee, and I shall be asking the various parties and groups in this house for their selections of names for that committee, probably in a day or two.

I think that is the right way to tackle the matter. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that these things should be worked out properly from the start. If it was not worked out properly from the start the first time-and I am not saying either that it was or that it was not-then more time should have been spent in working out the details. There are about ninety-five new members apart from myself, the majority of whom, I venture to say, do not know very much about the Veterans' Land Act or the Soldier Settlement Act, and therefore it would be a good idea to allow this committee to get down to work and come to some sort of conclusion, because they will have all the details at hand and the committee will be comprised of members from different sections of the house, so that it will be able to arrive at a satisfactory solution. I think, however, that it would be a very dangerous thing to vote in favour of this resolution to-night. Frankly, I am a veteran and I would not support the resolution because I do not know enough about it and the matter is too important. If we pass wise legislation in matters pertaining to veterans I feel sure that we shall have public support. If we do anything hastily and make mistakes we shall not have public support, and I think too much of the veterans and their future to support anything with which I am not thoroughly conversant.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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CCF

Gladys Grace Mae Strum

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mrs. GLADYS STRUM (Qu'Appelle):

I did not intend to take part in this debate. There seem to have been a great many opinions expressed and a great deal of information and data brought before this house. There are a few things that I as a new member fail to understand when we come to deal with this problem. It is very difficult for a new member to come to this house and find that all hon. members agree that something is desirable and yet nobody wants to tackle it. I think the hardest thing that a new member has to put up with in this house is frustration.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

The old members too!

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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CCF

Gladys Grace Mae Strum

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mrs. STRUM:

I do not think we need to have any more royal commissions to deal with what happened to the veterans of the last war. We have the evidence in every community, and anyone who has lived here since the last war, as I have, does not need any royal commission to find out what happened. I submit, Mr. Speaker, the thing that happened to the veterans is the very same thing that happened to everybody else in this country; they were the victims of a set of circumstances with which our governments failed to deal. There are a few things in the brief submitted to the Rowell commission by the Hon. T. C. Davis, who was the attorney general of Saskatchewan in 1937, that have not yet been mentioned, and I am going to bring them to the attention of the house for a few moments.

We have recently dealt with the problem of a floor price for agricultural products. I wish to draw the attention of hon. members to the fact that in the eighteen years between 1920 and 1937 wheat reached SI a bushel only six times. Only six times in eighteen years did those veterans get what we now say should be the floor price. I should like to draw the attention of the house to the fact that in those eighteen years cattle went as low as $18, $19, $20, $22 a head, and the highest price recorded was $59 a head. I wish to draw the attention of the house to the fact that those veterans who were selling eggs took, according to the report of the Saskatchewan government, as low as seven cents a dozen for the year's average, which meant that those eggs went as low as three cents a dozen when they hit the rock-bottom price in the summer months. I think, we must accept these figures; they are the figures submitted by a Liberal government to a royal commission, and I believe them. I lived through them, Mr. Speaker, and I know what they meant to the family income and to debt. These people have produced enormous quantities of wealth, huge surpluses and gluts,

Soldier Settlement

and the worst part of the whole picture was the price failure, not the crop failure. The result was huge burdens of unpaid interest that became principal and finally took the farms out from under the feet of those people who had saved us from the fate of the people of France and Belgium.

If I were a veteran coming into this country to-day and saw a parliament sitting here talking about what each speaker in all parts of the house has called simple justice; "simple justice" everybody says, and yet we sit here and do nothing. I have been warned that is what is called "talking it out." I have been warned that you can talk a measure out so that you do not have to deal with it, and then you do not have to account for your actions. I hope that is not what we are witnessing, although I have a horrible suspicion-if I were a veteran coming back to-day I would feel very jittery to think that the new government was that kind of a government, and that that sort of policy would affect my future in the next few years.

We hear references to family allowances, and that the family allowance is a means of farm security. I think the family allowance is a good thing; I never criticized it. The C.C.F. were the few people who talked about it in the last few years. I did not hear a popular demand in the country for family allowances aside from C.C.F. platforms, when we said that they had started them in New Zealand and that it would help the mother of a family-

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

They were first suggested by the Liberals in this house.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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CCF

Gladys Grace Mae Strum

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mrs. STRUM:

Perhaps in this house, but I first heard about them, not in Canada but in New Zealand when I visited there in 1939. But there is one thing that many people overlook, namely, that your children grow up; they do not stay under sixteen. And what are you going to do with the bachelors who are farming? What are you going to do with the married couples who have no children? The family allowance is not farm security. The family allowance will not buy underwear for the children, let alone take the place of a crop or decent prices. Therefore I hope that this house will not fail to deal with this thing which is just simple justice.

I am amazed at people talking about the weakness of sentiment. I want to ask the house, did we refuse to use sentiment in 1914, 1915 and 1916? Did we appeal to those boys on the basis of good business? Did we ask them to enlist because there was money in it, or did we appeal to them on the sentiments that were worthy of the occasion? The only

reason why I am in this house is that I care what happens to people. I am not interested in the dollars and cents angle of this business. I would not be here if I did not care about people, and the sentiments that move me are the sentiments that have to do with how people live and work, and how governments discharge their obligations. Therefore I move, Mr. Speaker, that the question be now put.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. RALPH MAYBANK (Winnipeg South Centre):

I thought for a moment-

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Question.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. MAYBANK:

I was in some doubt

as to whether I was in order when I rose. I did not understand that there had been any motion put before the house and seconded, and that the question which the lady member moved was not properly before the house. Have I the floor?

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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LIB

William Ross Macdonald (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

There is just

one motion before the house.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY-DISPOSAL OP EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES
Subtopic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Sub-subtopic:   QUESTION OF GRANTING CLEAR TITLES TO LAND HELD UNDER CONTRACT ON MARCH 31, 1944
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October 1, 1945