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


Alfred Thompson

Conservative (1867-1942)


But exported into Canada as it should be and as I am going to show. That is the point ; it must be exported to Canada. Why should we pay duty on gold going into Canada ? How'ever, I will discuss that later on. This export tax is 21 per cent and it covers the whole product. Now, Mr. Speaker, a few' years ago, when we were producing from $20,000,000 to $22,000,000 annually in gold, when the camp was prosperous, 2j cents on every dollar's worth of gold produced was not excessive; the burden was easily borne, and if these conditions existed to-day the people would
not object, but unfortunately, times have somewhat changed. Our output has fallen to $10 000,000 a year and yet an output of $10,000,000 a year is producing more gold and more wealth per head than any industry is producing in any other country in the world. But, I say that this export tax is pressing to-day a little more hardly upon us than it did four or five years ago. We in the Yukon do not object to taxation. We know it is necessary to be taxed in order to keep up our government, but I submit this proposition that in view of what the Yukon has paid to the federal treasury since 1S96, in view of the advantage to Canada of the Yukon to-day in the way of a market it would be wise and expedient for the Canadian government to remit for a term of years this tax of 24 per cent on every dollar of gold taken out. T have asked the Prime Minister to abolish it completely and he says he cannot ; but if you will not abolish it completely, remove it for ten or even five years until the enterprises there begin operating and until our gold output is on the up grade again which it will be in a very few years. At the present moment, although we are producing this $10,000;000 a year, these, comparatively speaking, are lean years, and it is during these lean years that we require relief. Bemove it for three years if you like and it will be an assistance. Last year this tax gave the government $250,000. We produced approximately $10,000,000 in gold. What is a quarter of a million of dollars to a government like ours whose income is $60,000,000 a year and whose income very shortly will toe. $100,000,000 a year, because there is no doubt in my mind that the progress that we have started on in Canada will not stop until the income of the government is away beyond $100,000,000 a year. Here is a territory that is struggling along and while a quarter of a million does not make much difference to the government of the Dominion it makes an enormous difference to the people of the Yukon, and so I ask, that, if this tax cannot be abolished, it be remitted for a term of years or until we get on the up-grade again in the output of gold. What do they in the great republic to the south of us ? Do they tax gold ? No. And remember we are lying side by side w'ith the district of Alaska, the people of which are engaged in the same business we are in, in placer mining, and their government does not put one cent of a tax upon the output of gold. Further than that they give a larger claim in Alaska than we do. The result is that we find that our miners are being drawn off to the district of Alaska where they can get a larger claim and where they can mine their gold without a cent of taxation. You all can understand how that will militate against the progress of the Yukon.
We have very nearly paid our way since 1896. If the Yukon field force charge and

the Mackenzie & Mann charge were taken from the charges against the Yukon up to the end of June, a year ago now-I am speaking from memory and I am not quite sure of the facts-our accounts would very nearly be square. If I remember correctly at that time we had overdrawn, so to speak, or we had cost the federal treasury more than we had paid in $1,200,000. It cost the Dominion government $750,000 to put the Yukon field force there and it cost $450,000 to settle the Mackenzie & Mann hill. Add these together and they make $1,200,000, and I think I am correct when I say that If you remove these two items up to that time we had almost paid our way. It may be asked how the government would be repaid if this tax were removed. Well, they would be repaid in the very best manner possible for Canada ; they would be repaid in trade and commerce. We would have in that country, instead of the few thousand people that we have to-day, with some of these restrictions removed, a large influx of miners. The country would go ahead, we would consume more Canadian products which would be a good thing for Canada, and although the government would not get the direct taxes that are paid today, indirectly, Canadian producers would get larger prices and sell larger quantities of Canadian goods in the Yukon.
If that is not done I have another proposition to make and it is this, and I submit to the people of Canada that it is a reasonable one. My hon. friend (Mr. Foster) asked a moment ago if that was an export tax. Strictly speaking, this tax of 2J per cent on our gold is not an export tax, because the gold should not be exported out of Canada but it should be brought here to Ottawa.
If you will not take the export tax off the gold going out of the territory, then put it on the gold going into the United States, so that all our gold will be retained in Canada, instead of going across the line to build up American cities, as it is doing today. Of the $120,000,000 of gold produced in the Yukon Territory since 1896, I venture to say that not more than $20,000,000 has been left in Canada, while $100,000,000 has gone to the United States. That gold should be kept in this country.
Another obstacle, though rather a small one, to the progress of this work, is the assessment work required on the claims. At the present time a miner has to do $200 worth of work on his claim to keep it for a year. He does not object to that; but in addition he has to pay the government $2 to get from the government official a certificate that the work has been done. This is only a small matter, and yet it retards the industry that much. I would ask the government to let the requirement of $200 of assessment work stand as it is, but to remove this $2 certificate fee ; and if it is necessary to have a certificate, let the gov-Mr. THOMPSON.
ernment official go to the claim and give the miner a certificate there, instead of requiring the miner to come to the government office, as he has to do at the present time, and take two witnesses with him, to have the assessment work recorded.
Before I left the Yukon I called a convention of the miners, and asked them to give me as nearly as possible a statement of some of the more essential things which they thought were required for the Y'ukon, and they did so. It was held at Gold Bottom on the 11th of February, four days before I left. This is one of the things they asked : that the certiefiates of work fees be abolished, and that license fees be reduced to $5. This refers to the abolition of these certificates. The license fee at that time was $7.50. 1 am glad to say that when I submitted this to the Prime Minister, who was Acting Minister of the Interior when I arrived, with other things which I submitted to him in a memorandum, he saw the force of this suggestion, and at once had this fee reduced to $5, something which the people of the Yukon appreciate very much. It was also decided that creek claims should be increased to 500 by 2,000 feet, hillside claims to 500 by 1.000 feet, and all others 500 by 500 feet, with four jjosts. These are larger claims than we have in the Yukon at the present time. We have claims of 250 feet up and down the creek. The gold is usually found in creek bottoms, which are from 50 feet to a quarter of a mile or more in width, and the hillsides adjoining the creeks very often contain deposits of gold. The present creek claim is 250 feet by 2,000, 1,000 feet on each side of the base line. The miners ask that it shall be 500 feet by 2,000 feet, double the size. That may seem, to gentlemen acquainted with placer mining, rather large ; and on a rich creek it would be large. But we have creeks that are not as rich as Eldorado and Bonanza, creeks on which machinery has to be placed before the gold can be extracted ; so that if a man has a claim of only 250 feet, all he has after his operations is his mining machinery and a small bank account, if he is not in debt. If he had 250 feet more, in many instances he would have a comfortable nest egg left. The reference to four posts is to obviate litigation, which has been the curse of that country. Fractional claims have cost that country perhaps more than any other one thing in connection with the delimitation of claims. If a man has to place a post at every corner of his claim, there will be no doubt where the end or side lines are, and a great deal of the litigation of the past will be obviated, I hope, in the future. In regard to leaseholds, it was decided that the present system is good enough, with the addition of the absolute right to renew. This shows that we do not kick at everything. At the present time the gold commissioner, who is the head of our mining court, may

under the regulations, though I do not know that he has ever done it, refuse to a man the right to renew. In the matter of grouping, it was decided that the requirements of representing the groups should be that the representation work must he such as will work to the development of the whole group. The law now allows us to group eight claims and do the work on any one.
I think as a principle that is very good ; but the work done on this one claim should be done with a view to develop as much as possible the whole eight. A miner was considered as entitled to have the right to abandon one claim and resume all rights upon that creek or in that district. That is, if he locates a claim, and finds, after prospecting, that it is no good, he wants to have the privilege of giving that claim back to the government, to whom it -would probably be of more use than to him. The Yukon regulations regarding tailings, tunnelling, drainage. &e., should be amended to include the British Columbia laws of 1901, section 48. I am a layman, so far as -the legal profession is concerned, and I am not prepared to discuss this question from a legal standpoint ; but men who have studied them say that they have good regulations in British Columbia in reference to this, and I think it would be wise to incorporate them in our code. It was decided to adopt the^ Northwest Territories Irrigation Act. Water is the great desideratum in the Yukon. It is necessary to have water and at low cost, to mine'these gfavels. Our water is gradually being pre-empted by speculators applying for water rights. I am not very well acquainted with the Northwest Irrigation Act; but, as I understand it, it is this. Where water is available for irrigation purposes, a man is not given the right to take water from a certain stream to irrigate a certain piece of land, unless he proves to the Minister of the Interior that he is a bona fide investor, that he has the capital to carry out his scheme, and that when it is carried out, it will be not only good for him, but good for the surrounding country. What we really want in the Yukon is to make it impossible for these speculators to get these water rights and hold them.

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