April 20, 1953

INDIAN ACT

AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.


The house resumed, from Monday, April 13, consideration in committee of Bill No. 37, to amend the Indian Act-Mr. Harris-Mr. Beaudoin in the chair. On section 1-Loans to Indians.


PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Is the minister going to make a statement in connection with this bill?

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Mr. Chairman, the amendments are quite simple and can be explained very briefly. Section 1 has to do with adding to the powers of the department the power to grant loans to Indians for the clearing of lands, an authority which the department does not have at the moment and thinks we should have in order to encourage the Indians to break up the lands and put them into production.

Section 2 has to do with adding a section number, that is 92, to the section which gives authority to seize goods which are illegally taken from the reserve. This was a typographical error on our part in not having this section mentioned in the bill which went through the house two years ago.

Section 3 has to do with another legal difficulty. I think I explained to the committee when we amended the bill two years ago that, in some cases, we had found that orders in council had not been passed by the governor in council as required according to a decision of the supreme court at that time, validating the surrender and sale of land. The amendments in the bill at that time provided for the conditions which are now in subsection (a) of section 124. At the time we overlooked the fact that there were still some sales of land which had been made some time before but which were only evidenced by agreements for sale, that is the money had not yet been fully paid, and when the letters patent would be granted eventually they would not be covered by subsection (a). Subsection (b) is, therefore, added in order to validate these sales which may take effect from time to time when the final payments are made and the letters patent granted.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

So far as any improvement in the welfare of the Indians is concerned, I think the first of these clauses is the most important. I am very glad that loans will now be available to the Indians for breaking up the land. As a matter of fact, I should like to see the department handling loans to Indians for farm purposes undertake a more vigorous program which would enable the Indians to make a better livelihood. So far as I can make out, that has not been done in the past.

I am informed that a large number of Indians have had difficulty in getting loans for the purpose of buying machinery and other things which would enable them to

carry on farm operations more efficiently and thus make a better living. I would ask the minister at this time how many loans are now in effect under this particular section of the Indian Act, that is for agriculture and other allied purposes.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Mr. Chairman, I am not in a

position to give that information. I had expected to do that on my estimates. I might say, however, that I discovered last year the situation which my hon. friend mentioned, namely that the revolving fund which we had voted for the purpose of making loans was not in use to the extent I had expected it to be. My recollection of the figures is that not much more than half of the amount voted was in use. I explained to the officials of the Indian affairs branch that parliament intended that money to be used if the circumstances were at all justifiable and that if the security looked to be reasonable they need not necessarily look for the last ounce of security in order to aid an Indian. Since that time there has been a liberalization of the terms on which loans are made. However, if my hon. friend would not mind, I would prefer to give the details on my estimates.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

That is agreeable, Mr. Chairman.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

There is a question or two

which I should like to ask the minister. While there may be some reservations with regard to some of the amendments contained in the second section of the bill, on the whole I think there is no reason not to support this legislation and, as has already been said, to ask that it be further implemented. I should like to ask the minister whether he is aware of the situation which surrounds another bill, known as Bill Z, which was introduced in the Senate, which has been read the first time, and which received its first reading about the same time as did the bill we are now considering, and was ordered for second reading in the other house. I have not been able to find any record of its having been proceeded with further. If it were passed, I think it would undo a considerable amount of what the government has been trying to do, with the support of this house, in connection with the conditions of Indians. I should like to ask the minister whether he can advise the committee whether that bill has been proceeded with or whether it is anticipated that it will be proceeded with at this session. I hope it will not be proceeded with.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Mr. Chairman, that was a

private bill introduced by one of the hon. members of the other house. I would have

Indian Act

no control over its future except in so far as I might take a position on it here.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

It has not received second

reading there, has it?

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

No.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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LIB

George Matheson Murray

Liberal

Mr. Murray (Cariboo):

In extending loans to the Indians, I wonder whether the minister would consider the encouragement of the credit union as a vehicle for carrying on this work? I notice a steady progress among the Indians in my part of the country, as a result of the great attention being paid to them by the minister and the officers of his department. In many cases we find them becoming quite self-supporting in agriculture in engaging in the cattle industry and the operation of saw mills and in the shipping of produce. There is at Pemberton in the adjoining riding a co-operative which is composed largely of Indians who grade and ship seed potatoes and do so very profitably. As I say, I know of groups of them working in the saw mill together successfully, manufacturing and delivering lumber and sharing the profit in the usual way. The way they could be encouraged would be to set up credit unions throughout the country where large sections of the population are Indian. They have a strong sense of responsibility. I think that it would be a step forward to initiate these credit unions and to encourage them to do their own banking and their own borrowing-always, of course, with the support and encouragement of the department.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

The last time I discussed

Indians with the minister I think he informed me that the Indians in the province of Newfoundland were more or less being taken care of by the provincial government. I do not know whether that statement still applies or whether this act will have any application to them or not.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

All we are doing with respect to the Indians of Newfoundland at the moment is to grant them welfare through the provincial government, and through the Department of National Health and Welfare certain action is being taken with respect to their health and the like. The situation is precisely as it was in each of the last three years that my hon. friend has asked me the same question.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

Will this bill apply to these

Indians in Newfoundland or will it not?

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

My recollection is that the Indian Act, when proclaimed, was proclaimed for the whole of Canada with perhaps the exception of the mainland of Newfoundland; but I would have to check that matter in order to be sure.

Indian Act

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

If that is so, there is only one

suggestion I would make to the minister. It is that the term "fishing equipment" might not be sufficiently extensive to apply to sporting equipment such as canoes. If that is so, and if there is any doubt about it, I suggest that the words "sport fishing equipment" be used.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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LIB

George Taylor Fulford

Liberal

Mr. Fulford:

Some years ago the Indians at the Caughnawaga reserve did me the great honour of initiating me into their tribe.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS, SEIZURE OF GOODS, ETC.
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April 20, 1953