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

CON

Alfred Thompson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. THOMPSON.

Of course. These -regulations to which I have referred are operating iu the Yukon and are sent to our Gold Commissioner, who is head of our gold court there ; but I am just giving parliament the ideas of the miners themselves, in convention assembled, of the things they need :
It was considered the prospector should be allowed to take and hold ground for ninety days by prospecting continuously without recording.
The prospector is the man to whom we owe that $128,000,000 in gold. If he had not preceded the population, we would not have a Klondike or a Yukon, and it is necessary, in order that further discoveries may be made, to encourage the genus prospector. Unfortunately, he has, to a very large extent, left and gone to other fields. He is a migratory man always, in every country, but I am anxious we should do everything .possible to retain that class of men. He is a man who will take upon his back food for a few days, a frying pan, a shot gun, a little ammunition, and go out in the wilderness and prospect there day after day and week after week until his food supply runs out. Then he will come in for more and go out again. It seems to toe a fever ; there is a strange fascination for these men to go out and discover new gold districts. I am anxious that we should make things as easy as possible for the prospector and give greater inducement to him to go and discover new fields. For. in that vast territory, there may be a hundred IClondikes. It will be strange if there are not other deposits of gold there, because we are right in the auriferous belt, which runs from California to Cape Nome. Take a map of the western section of this continent and lay a ruler upon it, and you will he surprised to find that from California to British Columbia, to Yukon and Cape Nome, is almost a straight line due north, showing that we are really in the auriferous belt, and that further discoveries may he made at any moment in the Yukon. It therefore occurred to me that it might be possible for us to aid the prospector in this way. First, charge him no fees. Give him au absolute free claim from the time he stakes until he sells. Make the man who buys pay ; but so long as the prospect is held by the individual prospector himself, give him a free claim without royalty or fee of any kind. More than that, if the prospector should discover a new creek, that creek immediately becomes a revenue bearer to the government. Claims are staked on it. In

order fqr a man to .hold a claim he must first buy a license, which costs $5. To that we do not object. We ask the government to protect us, and are willing to pay for the protection. We do not object to the $5 for a mining license, and in order that a man may hold a claim he must have that license. But I would not have the prospector charged for fees or mining license or any royalty on his claims. All the other miners, however, who came after him and staked upon the creek he discovered would have to pay to the government the usual fees ; and I submit it would be good policy to give the prospector half those renewal fees for a term of years, or say until he has a bonus of $10,000. How would that work out ? At present that country which he is prospecting does not give the government a cent, but the moment he makes a discovery the government begins to get returns. Is it not fair then that the government should, for a term of years, divide those returns with the prospector who made it possible for them to get anything ? I am not wedded to this, but wish to do something that will induce the prospector to go out into the wilderness ; >and in the absence of anything else, I have thought out this scheme. The first year he gets nothing, the government gets -it all, because it might be a fake discovery, and I would not encourage that. Another thing, if a man holds a claim and has to put on his representative work and wants to renew at the end of the year, that costs $10. I do not object to that. The first year the prospector gets nothing ; the second year, if the claims are no good, these men who hold them will not renew them, but if they are good they will renew them, and the prospector would get half these renewals until he gets a cash bonus of $10,000. That is one method of helping the prospector and inducing him to go into the country and discover and open up large areas.
It was decided we need mining inspectors, hut that they bo elected by the miners on each creek, and that the Mounted Police do the desired work formerly done by the inspectors.
All the inspectors except two were discharged last fall, and the miners think that others should be elected. Their idea is to elect them as is done in Australia and some other country. These men get together and elect the man they think most suitable to inspect their claims. That is a matter I suggest in passing, to the government.
It was decided that all royalty or export tax be abolished and the British Columiba Hydraulic Lease Law should he adopted.
They are a unit on the question of abolishing the export tax. Formerly, where it bore only on the rich man who produced $5,000 and over, but now it bears upon the poor man. It bears upon every dollar you raise from the ground, and that is why it is so obnoxious. We would be willing, in anv event, that it should be remitted for a term Mr. THOMPSON.
of years, if not permanently. One of the things that occupy our attention in the Yukon individually and collectively is the lien law. iltn that country, where labour is valuable, a workable lien law is very desirable. We found it very difficult indeed to frame a lien law that would be workable. We did frame one and passed it through the Yukon Council, but the court decided it was ultra vires. The only thing for us to do then is to ask this parliament to pass a lien law which will be operative in the Yukon. The difficulty is this. As I understand the principle of such a law. it applies against the labour of a man who is working upon something and making it more valuable toy his labour. The product of his labour, so to speak, is attached by a lien law. But in the Y'ukon the thing is unfortunately reversed, and the man's labour decreases the value of land upon which be operates. These men work all winter, the dumps of gravel are washed up in the spring and their contents reduced to a very small quantity, and it is very easy to convey that from the claim. The consequence is the miner who had worked many weary months when he goes for his pay finds that there is no pay for him and that the claim perhaps does not even belong to the man for whom be worked. It is most unsatisfactory. A lien law which would enable- a lien to be put upon the gravel in the dump seemed to be the only way out of the trouble. We did that, but, as I say, the courts decided that it was ultra vires. The title we have from the government is only a lease-holder's title, and we could not attach a lien to this lease-hold, because it bad to be renewed year after year and at best was only a leasehold. I submit this to the government for their consideration, and hope that they will solve the problem for us.
Now, I wish to refer very briefly to one of the most important problems we have to face and that is the disposition of our gold. We have one product in the Yukon for export and that is the gold-absolutely we have nothing to export except the bullion. Therefore it is important to us that we should get the full value of our product when we market it. Gold fluctuates very little in value and its difference in value in different places is very little. Allowing for charge of transportation, it has the same value whether in the Yukon, in London or in South Africa. This being the ease, the miner should get as near that fixed value; as possible. He should not be under the necessity of selling his gold as if it were cord-wood, or hay or any commodity whose value fluctuates. At the present time, be sells bis gold to the banks ; and the banks make a profit on every ounce-and in some cases they make a fairly good profit. I do not want to say anything against the banks ;-they have done a good work for that country, but they are making too much money out of our gold. What do other

countries do ? They buy the gold. The United States government buys all the gold that comes to them ; and so does the British government and the French government. And I believe that Russia and Australia do the same. And Canada should do the same. There is no reason why our Canadian government should not buy every ounce of gold we produce in the Yukon. It is a pretty good thing to have a few millions of gold lying around, whether for a country or for a man.
Just in passing, let me congratulate Canada on the fact that she is going to have a mint. I do not know of any one thing that the Canadian government has done in the last decade which will have a more widespread or more beneficial effect upon the world at large regarding Canada and upon Canada herself than the fact that we are to coin our gold. I do not believe it is possible for a nation to do anything that more clearly gives it the stamp of nationhood than the issue of its own gold coins. I do not believe that the Transvaal republic did anything in the course of its career that did as much to give it a standing amongst the nations of the world as the minting of its own gold coins. Mr. Speaker, I shall never forget the moment when, in London, I saw for the first time an Australia sovereign. That coin told me more about Australia than a hundred bank notes could have done. It told me that Australia had a civilization ; that she produced her own gold, and coined her own money, -and stood upon her feet in financial affairs. I am sorry that Canada had not a mint years ago. I believe we would have had it years ago if the banks were not opposed to it. Of course, they are opposed to it. for every five-dollar gold piece in circulation means one less five-dollar note to put out by the banks. I am glad that the Finance Minister was able to tell us that the foundation for the mint was already laid and that shortly we shall have it in operation. In California to-day it is difficult to get paper money-I speak particularly of San Francisco. Go into a business house in San Francisco and ask for paper money, and they begin to wonder where you have come from. They say : We do not use paper money ; we are afraid of it : we have the gold. In England they have comparatively little paper money-the smallest is the five-pound note. The money of the common people is the gold. Let us have fewer five-dollar bills and in their place our own five-dollar gold pieces. I do not know how it is with others, but I certainly feel richer with a twenty-dollar gold piece than I do with a twenty-dollar bill. Australia had a mint in Sydney as early as 1855, and another in Melbourne in 1872 and another in Perth in 1897. And even Newfoundland has had a two-dollar gold coin for years. Yet, Canada, though the premier colony and the brightest gem in
the British crown has no gold coin of her own. Our mint is not yet ready. But we in the Yukon are ready ; we are producing $10,000,000 or 811JXI0,000 of gold a year. -and we have to sell it to the United States. Why should it not come here to Ottawa ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-HALF-BREED SCRIPT.
Subtopic:   YUKON TERRITORY.
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