June 7, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)


Alfred Thompson

Conservative (1867-1942)


All these regulations are made here at Ottawa, and before I sit down here I am going to submit that this parliament should give us the right to make our own mining laws. At the present time Mr. THOMPSON.
they are made here in Ottawa. We have no power in the Yukon to make or to change those laws. To show you how jealously this privilege is guarded by other provinces which had the status of provinces previous to their entry into confederation, I shall refer you to the provinces of British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Do you suppose that when British Columbia entered into confederation she would give to the federal parliament one jot or tittle of her right, to make her own mining laws ? Not much. Do you suppose that when Nova Scotia entered confederation she would give this federal government one right, even the smallest right to change her mining laws ? No, Sir. She jealously guarded these for herself, she kept them and she has evolved year after year a system of mining laws which is suitable to her but which might not be suitable to this province or to Ungava or to Mackenzie or to British Columbia. The point is that every province and territory has distinctive conditions which make it imperative that mining laws should be made for that territory or province and for it alone. There may be great principles that underlie the mining business, but in de- , tail the laws must be worked out for each section of the country. This is not a political question with us in the Yukon. Every man in the Yukon, whether Conservative or Liberal, is unanimous upon this question, that these laws should be incorporated finally in an Act of parliament and made unchangeable except by parliament. Previous to their final passage they should be taken to the Yukon and submitted to the people there who were earning their living by taking gold from the ground. They should be submitted to these people and their best opinion with regard to what is best for that territory should be obtained. A few days ago I had the opportunity of speaking here with the premier of Nova Scotia, the Hon. Mr. Murray, upon this question. I knew that in Nova Scotia they have some good mining laws, and I said to him : How did you evolve this system of laws ?
His answer contains exactly the germ of the idea which I have in respect to the people of the Yukon Territory. Speaking in regard to the coal mining industry, which I will take for the purpose of the illustration, he said : It has taken us years to evolve
these laws and to bring them to a condition in which they are satisfactory to the coal miners of Nova Scotia. I said : How did
you do it ? He said : We asked the coal
miners to meet us in convention ; that is to send their representatives to meet us- speaking of the government-and we would send our representatives to meet them, and they would sit at a table and discuss this question, exchange ideas and come to some general understanding which would be incorporated into an Act of the legislature. Now, Mr. Speaker, I submit to you that that is sound, that there is no better method of arriving at the best

ideas to incorporate into a mining code than that very same method and that is what I am asking this government to do-to send a man to the Yukon Territory. Let me say that I have discussed this question with the right hon. Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laur-ier) and he has entered into the spirit of it. X feel that in this matter I have a duty to perform and I wish to discuss this and other questions in the fullest and freest manner. What I want the government to do is to send a man to the Yukon Territory, there to investigate the conditions underlying this industry, who will consult the men producing gold, who will get their ideas, who will consult with the members of the Yukon Council, our legislature there, and from all these sources compile information which he can bring down here and incorporate into a set of laws which will be passed by parliament, which will stand for years to come for the Yukon Territory and which will more than anything else help us to get capital to develop the industries of that country. So much for the mining laws.
Mr. Speaker, there is another question that affects ns and affects us very materially in the Yukon, and that is the export tax on gold. Originally we had1 to pay ten per cent royalty to the Canadian government on every dollar's worth of gold over $5,000 which was produced by any individual in the Yukon Territory. That was an exorbitant tax, so great a tax that there are few industries and few countries in the world which could live under it, and rich and all as was the Yukon, it became in time too great a drain. The government reduced it to five per cent, cut it in two, with the same exemption of $5,000. This went on for some time and then, when my predecessor the Hon. Mr. Boss was commissioner, or shortly after, the royalty was removed and an export tax of 24 per cent was placed on the output with no exemption. Every dollar of gold that is now produced in the Yukon pays 21 cents to the federal government.

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