March 31, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)

LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. WALTER SCOTT.

When you left the chair at six o'clock, Mr. Speaker, I was commenting upon the violent difference between the purport of the amendment moved by the hon. member for Carleton (Mr. R. L. Borden) and the direct suggestion contained in his speech. The proposals of the government contemplate a payment in lieu of the public domain to these two new provinces aggregating $750,000 per annum at the beginning; as the population of the provinces increases, this payment is to increase to an amount in the future of $2,225,000 per annum. The gentleman from Carleton (Mr. R. L. Borden) objects to these proposals and suggests instead that the public domain should be transferred to the management of the provincial governments, but with the proviso that those provincial governments shall be limited in their management of this public domain, the suggestion being, if I understood my hon. friend accurately, that the homestead lands should continue to he given away as they are now given by this government as free

His financial terms will bring upon him every province in the Dominion. Take it on any ground you like, and by the proportions which you have meted out to the Northwest, you have gone beyond the financial conditions of every other province of this Dominion.
Wliat clid the hon. gentleman mean V There is no difference in the item, grant for government. No one will contend that that is a better grant than the other provinces are drawing. There is no substantial difference in the per capita subsidy. There is just one province, Nova Scotia, up to the present time, exceeding the limit of 400,000 souls. Their population now is 460,000. But, except in that case there is no difference at the present moment in the per capita arrangement made for these provinces and the arrangement at present in existence with other provinces. There is no difference in the debt account ;-no other suggestion would be listened to with regard to the debt. The only meaning that can be attached to the hon. gentleman's words is that too much money is being paid to these provinces in lieu of their public lands. The hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) gave expression to this sentiment on March 23rd :
I would like to point out, as a member from the province of Quebec, that it would be a great calamity indeed if the Minister of Justice and the government did not arrive at a conclusion that it is necessary to modify that section which has regard for instance to lands. . . . As to us in the province of Quebec, why, Sir, we have twenty-five million acres of good land for settlement, which we are trying to settle, which we are doing our best to settle. Instead of devoting all our energies and all our moneys and public resources to settle the lands in our own province, under the terms of the constitution, we are going to pay this enormous indemnity. these millions of dollars to keep a hold on the lands of the North-west.
It is evident from these expressions that our hon. friends in the Conservative party, if they had the making of these proposals, would not have granted as good financial terms as we have now, would not have granted the amounts which are stated in the Bills to be paid to these uew provinces. Now I find, in looking up the public records, that in pursuit of a proper and wise policy of settlement and develo) >ment, this government has derived practically na profit from the Crown lands in the Northwest Territories since the Dominion first acquired them. From 1870 to 1SS0 Jlie administration of Crown lands in' Manitoba and the Northwest cost - $1,244,499.34 in excess of receipts. In the years 1881-1890 the accounts show $753,570.53 in excess of expenditure. In the years from 1891 to 1900 there was again an excess of expenditure amount Sng to $184,398.95. In the years from 1901 np to 1904 there has been an excess of expenditure over receipts of $11,733.49. Taking the whole period from 1870 up to date, therefore, the administration of lands in the Northwest lias cost this Dominion $687,-Mr. SCOTT.
055.25 in excess of receipts, to which must be added refunds amounting to $329,950, making a total of $1,017,005.25. But if we take into account certain lands granted in redemption of scrip issued for rebellion services, half-breed claims and other purposes, amounting to $3,758,490, there is shown a favourable balance of $2,741,484.75, or an annual average of $78,328.13. As has already been stated, the Dominion profit from the policy so wisely pursued has to be looked for in other quarters,-from the customs and other receipts and from the generally improved conditions throughout Canada. The total revenues of Canada have increased in the last seven or eight years by about 100 per cent. In 1896 the total revenue was $35,000,000 or $36,000,000, last year the total revenue was over $70,000,000. We have been spending money in administering the lands, not for the purpose of making direct profit, but, on the other hand, we have brought about an exceedingly favourable result, in seven or eight years doubling the total revenue of this Dominion.
. The particular benefit to the provinces in the plan that is being adopted as opposed to the plan of transferring the public domain to the local governments, is found in the fact that we have from the start an assured revenue ; whereas, if the lands were transferred to the local governments, and if no change of policy were put into effect by them, they would have great difficulties, in the initial years of their provincial experience, in getting enough revenue to carry on the affairs of government, Moreover, their financial position is assured in the far future years, fifty or one hundred years hence, as long as this confederation lasts ; whereas, on the other hand, and in the case of some of the other provinces fifty or one hundred years hence, the Crown domain cannot be worth very much to those provinces so far as concerns their revenues. The principle of the provincial right to a beneficial interest in the land is recognized in the most substantial manner, and I am pleased to be able to say, because I believe it to be the truth, that the people of the Northwest aye emi nently satisfied. I venture to say that there is scarcely a man in the Northwest, who is not actuated by partisan sentiment, but has stated, either to himself or to his neighbours, that this is a better proposition than would be the proposition to turn over the lands to iocal management. I may be permitted to give to the House some actual expressions of opinion on this point. So far as possible, I will not give partisan opinions. The ' Standard ' newspaper of Regina, published by a gentleman of independent tendencies, neither Conservative or Liberal, since the publication of the terms of these Bills, has written :
It is difficult, at the present stage, to pass judgment upon the terms proposed in the Autonomy Bills. It is. however, quite evident that

the Dominion will retain control of the Territorial public lands. Perhaps, under the circumstances, this is best for all concerned. The two great needs of the new provinces at first, will he population and railway development. To secure the former, the inducement of free homesteads must continue to be offered, and to secure railway extension, lands, or the proceeds of lands are usually granted. Thus, we see, that if the new provinces owned the unallotted lands they should have practically to give them away. At the same time the cost of land administration would have to be borne. The duties of the Immigration Department, too, would follow the land. The new provinces could not be easily equipped for these onerous duties. It took the federal authorities many years to bring immigration work up to its present status. They have it now in a state of high efficiency, with experienced agents at work in various parts of the world It is important that the good work shall continue to go on undisturbed. A handsome equivalent, either in cash or in interestbearing credit, will suit the new provinces much better than the extra responsibilities which are involved in the ownership and control of the public domain.
The circumstances of the old provinces were altogether different. They had railways and population long before confederation, and they also had the lands and their respective land departments in full organization.
By all means let Saskatchewan and Alberta have each an adequate allowance ' in lieu of lands,' but let parliament take due heed of the full import of the term ' adequate ' as it applies in this instance.
I tlo not think, Mr. Speaker, I could find any better authority on this subject than Mr. Haultain. In that famous letter of protest which Mr. Haultain directed to the Prime Minister, and which, it strikes me, was merely a formal protest in that regard, he stated at the conclusion :
But I am not unwilling to admit that an immediate income, increasing with population and certain in amount, may in the long run prove quite as satisfactory as any probable net income resulting from local administration of the public domain.
Now, I am going to read to the House a portion of a letter which came to me from a gentleman in' Regina, dated February 2*th, three days after these propositions had been presented to the House and had been reported in Regina. This letter was not sent me for publication, or with the idea that its contents would ever reach any person but myself. I think a letter of this kind is the best sort of evidence to show the actual situation as it struck the gentleman who wrote the letter :
So far as the feeling here is concerned, it could hardly be stronger in favour of the government's propositions.
Such pronounced Conservatives as C. E._ D. Wood, S. B. Jamieson, W. B. Pocklington, Nor-v man Mackenzie and James Brown voluntarily expressed not only their surprise at the generosity- of the terms but their complete satisfaction with them. Mayor Laird stated to me. that as to the lands what the people wanted 115*
was money and if they received from the Dominion as much as they would realize by handling the lands themselves there would not be the slightest complaint.
All these gentlemen whose names are here contained are well known Conservatives. Mayor Laird is a gentleman who took a very prominent part in the campaign of last fall. .

Topic:   PROVINCIAL AUTONOMY IN THE NORTHWEST.
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