June 21, 1950

LIB

Joseph-Alfred Dion (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

In some circumstances it is permitted. The hon. member may continue.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

I will give the name of

this clergyman if the minister wants it, or if the hon. gentleman wants to interview him. He is Rev. William Bonney, of Calgary, who says:

They feel that the bill is not fair to the Indian and therefore they are protesting to the minister and others not to rush the bill through until the Indians themselves have had a chance to study and make recommendations.

That is the attitude of Indians throughout the province of Saskatchewan. I have representations from Indians in six reserves in northern Saskatchewan. They are asking why it is that the representatives of the great white father, the Prime Minister of Canada, indicated we were going to have this opportunity. The minister will say that the bill has been sent to the Indian agents. All I can say is this, Mr. Speaker. The Indian agents have been studying the bill but those affected by it, the Indians themselves, have had no opportunity of studying it and considering it.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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PC

Arza Clair Casselman (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Progressive Conservative Party)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Casselman:

The same as the members of the house.

Indian Act

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the Indians are asking parliament not to lay on their shoulders burdens beyond what they already have. They are asking why it is that the recommendations which were made by the committee are not being carried out. They are asking why it is that, while we give high-sounding support to their claims under treaties, we deny them the opportunity, except with the permission of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) or of the minister, of proceeding in order to establish their claims. Indee.d one section, which was referred to this afternoon by the hon. member for Calgary East (Mr. Harkness), denies the Indian the right, without the consent of the minister, to raise any funds with a view to asserting his rights, protecting his privileges or taking proceedings on behalf of his band. The minister indicates that such is not the case. I refer him, if I may do so, Mr. Speaker, to section 100. Without the consent of the minister the Indian cannot assert his rights if he is alleged to have committed a wrong-

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Harris (Grey-Bruce):

That is a wholly incorrect interpretation of section 100; but let us leave it to the period when we can discuss it in committee.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

All right, I will. I am referring the minister to section 100, and I leave it for discussion when we get to the committee. Section 100, which I will read without observation, provides as follows:

A person who without the consent in writing of the minister receives, obtains, solicits or requests from an Indian or a band any payment or contribution or promise of payment or contribution for the purpose of raising a fund or providing money to advance any claim that the Indian or the band has or is represented to have, or to recover money for the benefit of the Indian or the band, is guilty of an offence and is liable upon summary conviction to a fine of not less than fifty dollars and not more than two hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two months, or to both fine and imprisonment.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
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PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

That is as plain as the nose on your face.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

In other words, at a time when throughout the world freedom is being challenged, when the very nature of democracy is being challenged, we have before us a bill that places shackles on a large part of the population of our country, numbering about 125,000. For three years that committee sat. Now the mountain brings forth a mouse. Here we have not what was recommended by the committee but what apparently meets the desires and the wishes of the administrative officials. In its present form this bill is a perpetuation of bureaucracy over the Indian. It is a denial of his rights. It places him in the position of being a second-class

citizen under law. It denies him freedom except with the consent of the minister or with the consent of some officials of the Indian department.

Magna Carta for the Indians! As I read this bill and re-read it-and I have read every line of it-I ask myself this question: What advantages that he has not today will this bill give to the Indian, except to provide for the opportunity of enfranchisement? There are changes in routine and in procedure but the Indian remains a second-class individual, not equal before the law- and parliament is asked to place its approval on that fact-controlled by the desires of a bureaucracy administering the act, when and if members of that bureaucracy decide that any Indian within the reserve shall be denied his rights or his privileges.

I care not what others may do about this bill. Some say there are worth-while provisions in it, and there are. In certain sections there are changes that are beneficial. But in order to secure those two or three advantages I personally will not vote for the second reading of that bill. I will take no part in the passing of a bill that goes contrary to the desires, the wishes, and the recommendations of a committee of this parliament. A Magna Carta for Indians! There is a redrafting of some sections, and a change in their numbers: but behind it all and through it all runs the thread of a subservience which I for one, knowing Indians and having acted for them on several occasions, will not join in supporting in this house, no matter what other members may do.

On three or four occasions I have had the privilege of acting for Indians and of carrying their cases to the court of appeal. I have done that because I believe that a counsel's duty is to represent these people who are denied many of our privileges. I have done it, as would any other counsel, without any consideration of payment. I would be false and recreant to the trust they have placed in me over the years if, in the dying days of a session, I were to join in the passing of a bill that will impose on these people the subservience of a second-class citizenship and a lower grade of right than the rest of us have. That type of legislation has no part in a world in which freedom is challenged and in which nations today, in order to maintain freedom, realize that you cannot build and preserve democracy on the basis of the inequality of any person before the law.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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CCF

Owen Lewis Jones

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

Mr. O. L. Jones (Yale):

Mr. Speaker, I

should like to make one or two observations and possibly a suggestion. One hon. gentleman mentioned the fact that we are dealing not with a subservient people or with slaves but with a nation. I fully realize that we

are dealing with a nation. But fortunately it is a kindly nation, and one that is tolerant and patient. The Indians have been tolerant and patient with white people for many generations; and they have been particularly tolerant of our reluctance to give them full freedom and to make them full Canadians. If the Indians were given an equal opportunity with all other Canadians, I am satisfied that they would hold their own with the best. In my riding, in the Inkaneep district, there is a small group of Indians. They were taken in hand some years ago by a teacher, and he was quite keen as he wanted to prove, as he did, that Indians could respond to a little bit of tolerance and patience in their education, with the result that he has in that district now a cultural group which sets a standard that could be attained by all Indians throughout Canada, given the same patient, tolerant education.

The British people have prided themselves for generations on their attitude toward minorities, and I take it we Canadians follow their steps. We have always fought for minorities, for fairness and justice to minorities. England has gone to war on the principle that minority rights were being violated in certain countries, but at home we are reluctant to do that. We are prepared to go to war with other nations for doing what we are doing.

Other nations have challenged our sincerity in regard to our own racial problems at some of the international conventions that have taken place in recent years. Our failure to accept our own Indians as full citizens has been thrown in our faces and will be thrown in our faces until we accept them as full citizens.

On the other hand, I would compliment the minister for bringing this bill down. It is a step in the right direction, but I do think it is a hasty step. It is a step which has been foisted upon the Indians without consultation with them, and on the house without proper opportunity to discuss the bill. I would appeal to his fairness, to his sense of justice, to hold this bill back until next session in order to give both the Indians and the members of the house an opportunity to consider it, particularly the members who go back to their ridings in which Indians reside. They can visit the tribes or settlements and discuss their problems and the bill with them. It would take a little time, but I am satisfied that every hon. member is interested enough in the problem to devote that time freely.

I would suggest to the minister that the bill be now turned over to a representative body of Indians, selected by the Indians themselves from each tribe or from each

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province to form a body composed of all of their different branches, whether farmers or artisans, it does not matter. They would be the representatives of the Indians in Canada.

I know we have paid tributes to their advances in education, and to their ability to govern. Let us act on that. Let them feel that we mean what we say. Turn this bill over to them and say to them: This is our attempt to place you in a higher status of society so far as Canada is concerned. What do you think of it? Mull it over. Come back with suggestions and let us know what your proposals are. Otherwise it is an imposition on people, whether Indians or whoever they may be, to say: Here is our bill; take it or

leave it. This is what you have to live under for the next generation, or maybe longer, because it has been a long time since the existing act has been changed.

By that method we deny them the right of self-government, or a part in the government of the dominion of which they are the original members. Indians governed this country long before we came here, and they governed it pretty well. They conserved more of our natural resources, particularly wildlife, than we are capable of doing. They also governed their own people through their own courts, their own tribal courts. Probably they were rough, but they were fair. Here we are assuming the right to set up separate white judges to try the Indians, without giving them the opportunity-which they always had before we came here-to try their own people in their own way. I believe they could still set up their own courts of justice and give justice to their own people.

The modern Indian is quite capable of determining his own economic future if given an opportunity. I suggest that when this bill is turned over, if it is turned over to them, they be asked to send back recommendations. If they would prefer to prepare a totally new bill, giving their own point of view and their desires for their future, let us accept that bill and discuss it around the table and come to some definite conclusion that we are going to be honest and decent with the Indian, and that we are going to make him a full-fledged Canadian as quickly as we can in all sincerity.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. H. W. Herridge (Kootenay West):

Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to detain the house long-

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

I notice that the rookery on the opposite side has begun to caw, as I have begun to speak. I am in a unique position in this matter, Mr. Speaker, because I represent one reservation and one Indian.

Indian Act

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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?

Mr. Coie@Matapedia-Maiane

You mean to say you are half and half.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

There is another tribe in my riding, known as the bareskin tribe, which is composed of about 1,500 people who are commonly known as the sons of freedom. I shall not discuss them.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

We will have a full dress debate on them.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that where that one Indian resides today a few years ago hundreds of Indians resided and led a happy life. They have departed because of the coming of the white man.

When we are considering this bill tonight, Mr. Speaker, we should recognize that this legislation-springing, shall I say, or supposed to spring, out of recommendations of the parliamentary committee of 1946, 1947 and 1948 *-is our opportunity to do in this parliament the justice that has been so long delayed.

In opposing the passage of this bill at this time and in supporting the remarks made by the previous speakers, particularly the eloquent remarks of the hon. member for Calgary West (Mr. Smith) and the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker), I do so because I believe that if we pass this bill we are failing to carry out our moral duty toward the Indians of this country.

I have had a limited experience with Indians. I have only had what you might call a book knowledge of the Indians of Canada except for those who lived in my own district. I remember when I first came from England, some 45 years ago, there was a small tribe of Indians living on the Upper Arrow lakes known as the Arrow Lake Indian band. There were twenty-four members in the band at that time. It had declined greatly in numbers since the first coming of the whites after the discovery of the Columbia river by David Thompson. But research by the Smithsonian Institution in the district indicated that prior to the coming of the white man hundreds and possibly thousands of Indians lived contented lives in that area. They were a peaceful people; they hunted, they fished, they grew a little corn. After we came what did we do for them?

History records that these people offered a friendly welcome to the white man. They assisted David Thompson in the discovery of the Columbia; they trapped for the Hudson's Bay Company many years and produced hundreds and thousands of dollars for that company. They acted as pilots on the first river steamers on the Columbia in Canadian

territory. In fact they were the ones who guided those first steamers through the narrows and through the swift waters.

I remember, Mr. Speaker, in my boyhood days these twenty-four Indians. They lived in wigwams. As a boy I played with them. I went to the first primitive school established in that district. The students of that school were eight or nine Indian children and eighteen or nineteen white children. I saw those boys and girls grow up and take their places in the community. I saw the boys begin to work on the steamers as young men. I saw the women begin to work in various houses as young women, and on the farms in the district, and so on. Then the first war came on. What was my experience in that connection? During the first great war I was a member of the 54th Kootenay battalion. I would be failing in my duty tonight if I did not oppose the bill. I remember one occasion at St. Eloi in 1916, when a platoon was taking part in a raid and was likely to be completely wiped out. The reason the majority of the members of the platoon were able to retire, and their lives saved, was that one Indian member in that platoon volunteered to stay in a German trench and hold the German attackers back, single-handed. That has been my experience with Indians.

Since that time one by one those Indians have died of tuberculosis. Some years after they became of age, on the advice of the Indian affairs branch they entered small frame shacks. These shacks were very poorly constructed, and the result was that after entering them tuberculosis became prevalent, and they died one by one. Today there is only one survivor of the Arrow Lake Indian band, one old Indian squaw. We, the white men, have destroyed that peaceful band of Indians. That is an illustration of the effect of white civilization on a small group of Indians in a limited sphere or district.

To a certain extent that has happened in other parts of Canada. Surely our knowledge of the past, and our treatment of the people who owned this country originally, should cause us to take this opportunity, not to pass the bill but to draft one that would remedy to some extent the injustices of the past and be a credit to the members in this parliament who profess to believe in democracy.

The Indians are opposed to the passage of this bill. I believe that is evident from communications which have reached hon. members, and from the general information available at this time. Not only are the Indians opposed to the measure, but large

and representative bodies in Canada are opposed to it. I am convinced that the great majority of right-thinking Canadians, on being truly informed of the facts, would be opposed to the house passing this measure at this time.

I received a communication today from the Vancouver civil liberties union. I shall not take the time to quote it, but I believe a copy was sent to the minister, and I see he nods his head in agreement. I hope he will study it closely, because it indicates a close study of the bill and an understanding of its deficiencies. It is sufficient to say that in the brief time I have had to read the memorandum I have found that the bill fails completely to give consideration to at least fourteen of the recommendations made by the parliamentary committee that studied the Indian question in 1946, 1947 and 1948.

Therefore, like previous speakers, I am opposed to the consideration of the bill at this time, and shall vote against its passage. Surely in view of the attitude of the Indians, in view of the history of the past, and in view of our moral obligation to these people who have suffered injustices since the white man came to Canada, this parliament can defer passage of the bill until the next session, and then pass one which would be a credit to all.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. F. Higgins (St. John's East):

Mr. Speaker, I shall not delay the house long, nor shall I delay the minister in making his reply. I understand however that no member from Newfoundland has spoken in the matter thus far.

I would draw the minister's attention to the fact that, as he is no doubt already aware, we have Indians in Newfoundland and Labrador. There are two tribes, the Montagnais of Labrador and the Micmacs of Newfoundland. However they are not the original Indians who were in that country. The original Indians, who might be described as the first owners of the country, were the Beothucks. They were a very fine tribe of Indians, indeed. The history of the Beothucks reflects no credit upon the white man, because there is not a single Beothuck alive today-indeed, there is very little trace of them.

It is on that theme that I address my few remarks to the house this evening. So far as I know this bill has not been given study. Unfortunately there are no Indians in my own riding, and it might be said that I have no business joining in the debate. The only Indians, I believe, in Newfoundland proper are in the riding of the hon. member for Burin-Burgeo (Mr. Carter). The other

Indian Act

Indians, namely, the Montagnais, are in the riding of the hon. member for Grand Falls-White Bay (Mr. Ashbourne), in Labrador.

After all, we have an obligation to these people. They were there long before we were in the province of Newfoundland, and we do not want to have happen to the Indians who are now there that which happened to their predecessors. This bill may be the best that could be devised; I am not prepared to say it is not. But, speaking for myself, until I have had an opportunity of reading it and digesting it properly I am not prepared to vote for it as it stands. I would prefer, of course, to have the views of hon. members from both the districts I have mentioned. They are now in the house, and they represent the Indian populations in their district.

However I would make the plea at the present time that there is no great urgency in this matter. From what I have heard, listening to the speeches of hon. members in whose constituencies there are Indians, it would appear that all kinds of representations have been made to them not to have the bill passed at this time. I cannot see anything to be lost by deferring the matter so as to give hon. members an opportunity really to understand what the bill means.

It is because of what has happened to the Indians in Newfoundland that I now ask that the passage of this bill be deferred until all hon. members understand the measure presented to them.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. E. D. Fulton (Kamloops):

Mr. Speaker, the bill now before the house is entitled an act respecting Indians. I feel that in that title we find the only respect that the government seems to be paying the Indians, because the bill itself does far less than justice to those people who were the first inhabitants of Canada. It does far less than justice to the recommendations of the committee which worked so hard for three years and whose recommendations have been laid before the House of Commons.

In my constituency are a large number of Indians. I do not know exactly what their collective attitude is toward the bill. I know they have not had an opportunity to let me know how they feel about it. The wide dispersal of the Indian bands and the difficulties presented by the terrain have made it quite impossible for them to have had any joint deliberations in connection with studying this bill. I have too much respect for the Indian people who live in that part of the country, and the other Indians throughout Canada, to be willing to pass a measure which is as ill considered as this one.

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Indian Act

The Indians of this country are worthy of more respect and of more consideration than the government is permitting the house to give, when we are asked to pass this legislation at this stage of the session.

I do not claim to have an intimate or thorough knowledge of Indian lore and tradition, but I do know of many of the fine characteristics of these people. I recall a former chief of the Douglas Lake tribe, now dead, who had an outstanding reputation as a great Canadian. Chillihitchie was presented to His Majesty the King, George V, at Buckingham Palace, to whom he presented a thoroughbred horse. That was only one incident in his lifetime. Anyone who achieved that recognition does not deserve the short shrift that is being given to these people in this legislation.

Many detailed criticisms of the bill have been made already and I shall not delay the house by repeating them. I might mention that in my constituency is the largest residential school in Canada and I should like to pay a tribute to the work being done by the churches on behalf of the Indians. There are those who think that religious residential schools are not the answer to the Indian problem. I believe that whatever educational system is devised the Indian must be given full opportunity to obtain religious as well as other education. The Indian must be given the opportunity to prepare himself for citizenship; he must be granted equality with the other citizens of Canada and not condemned to a permanent second-class position.

An educational system must be devised which will enable the Indian to compete on a basis of equality with the white citizens of this country. I believe they can do that. If we have a proper educational system to include the Indians I have no doubt that they will be able to compete and equal, if not in many cases to outstrip, the white citizen. Like the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge), recall the contribution made by Indians in the armed services during the war just concluded. They were our equals then in every respect. We did not ask them to assume a secondary role or undertake obligations of a lesser nature than we assumed ourselves. We did not have to ask them to do what they did. They assumed obligations and duties equal to if not greater than those assumed by the white soldier. I fail to see why they should be asked by this legislation to assume a permanent role of inferiority as second-class citizens with lesser privileges than those granted to white Canadians.

I am not saying that they should be placed on an equal footing or asked to compete on an equal basis immediately or overnight. I do not think that would be possible or proper, but our legislation should lay the groundwork for a program which will enable them in a measurable space of time to assume the place which I know all hon. members and all Canadians would want them to assume. It is because I find in this legislation no provision for such a program that I am opposed to it.

Most of those who have spoken this afternoon have said that we should be given an opportunity to study this legislation and that the Indians should have time in which to make their representations. It is urged by the government that this legislation is an advance over what we have had in the past and therefore government supporters perhaps will find themselves unable to vote against the bill on a straight vote yes or no. This bill has been four years in the making. The committee sat first in 1946 but the bill was not brought in until a week or ten days ago. It would be improper for us to pass this bill at this time with the limited consideration that can be given to it.

In order to meet the views of those who feel that they cannot vote against the bill on a straight yes or no basis and in order that more time may be given to the Indians, to other interested parties and to the members of this house to consider the legislation adequately, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Calgary East (Mr. Harkness):

That the bill be not now read a second time, but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I was paired with the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Ross). Had I voted I would have voted against the amendment.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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PC

George Stanley White

Progressive Conservative

Mr. While (Middlesex Easl):

I was paired with the hon. member for Middlesex West (Mr. McCubbin). Had I voted I would have voted for the amendment.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   CONSOLIDATION AND CLARIFICATION
Sub-subtopic:   FUNDS AND EXPENDITURES, ETC.
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June 21, 1950