June 2, 1908 (10th Parliament, 4th Session)


George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. GEO. E. FOSTER (North Toronto).

Mr. Speaker. I propose this morning to lay before the House as briefly as possible, blit

yet somewhat in extenso, certain matters in relation to the administration of the Yukon, particularly as developed in correspondence which has taken place between the Rev. John Pringle, of the Yukon and various ministers of the Crown. It is a question of some difficulty sometimes to know just what a man is thoroughly justified in bringing before a parliament and in the mass of correspondence which has been laid before the House and which I have gone over very carefully, it is somewhat difficult to make a presentation of the question without going very extensively into the subject matter treated of. This, from its very nature in this case, touches individuals; it does not in any case touch individuals personally as individuals, but touches individuals as officials of the government in the Yukon, and officials appointed by and paid by this country. So that in placing this matter before parliament and the country I am to be taken as doing it in the public interest and from a public point of view. If it touches the individual in that way I cannot help it and I suppose the House cannot help it. The individual, if be is a member of the government or a member of the council of the Yukon or engaged in public office, has to take these disadvantages.
The Yukon for a long time has been a land of mystery, lying away off thousands of miles from the seat of government, with communications which in some seasons of the year are very spasmodic, always difficult'and at the best seasons of the year not very rapid or frequent. It lies so far from the seat of government and the centre ot interest that it is only by fits and starts that what occurs there catches the attention of the larger part of Canada and, in fact, is discussed in this House. It lies there chiefly in the charge of officials who are resident there. It is extremelv difficult for a member of this House to find out what goes on, mixed up as the administration is between the Yukon council, wnich has certain powers of its own, keeps its accounts and does its own business and the department here whose action is under the immediate direction of this government and with whose accounts our own accountants have first and chiefly to do. We find it difficult to get any connected idea or any connected run of what goes on. Inquiries for information which is asked for and which one thinks he ought to get quickly have to he referred to the Yukon and it sometimes takes many many months to get it. I he interest dies in the meantime and the ^ sequence of events is lost. From the time that this government took hold of the Yukon to the present time it has been subject to rumour, subject to suspicions and subject, as well, to actual information in the way of facts that have gradually come to be established. It was first the happy
hunting ground of the whisky perinitter and extravagant tales, I daresay, are told of the fortunes that were made and the peculiar manner in which they were made by the army of pioneers in that branch of the development of that country. Suffice it to say that there has been for years a very general impression that the whisky permits were scandalously managed and that they resulted in ill-begotten wealth and wealth too, in no small degree, to various parties implicated in connection therewith.
Rut, it is not my purpose at this present time to go particularly into that branch.
It has been the happy hunting ground of the royalty on mining inspection and it was with very great difficulty that here, at the seat of government, any connected idea could be got as to what was going on under the loose and far distant supervision of the particular persons or person who, for the time being, held that office. Out of that, as well, there have been strange tales and stories more or less founded which have come down to the present day. These things also I do not purpose to go into detail on at the present time. Then, there succeeded from the time that the early miners began to go in, the long, grinding, tortuous, mysterious dealings with mining claims, the history of which will, I suppose, never be written, the history of which, if written, would be a tale both of wonder and not unfilled with humiliating instances, I dare say, if they were ever properly known. I, myself. have known men of the greatest probity, men of the highest conduct, men of undoubted honesty, who have gone to the Yukon, have remained there and have come back and the tales that they have told in reference to the actions and doings in those early days are certainly wonderful and are not at all creditable, not a thousandth part of which has been placed upon the record and I suppose never will be. But, we know enough to know that if the history of that long series of years in which the mining areas and claims of the Northwest -were being thrown about like battledore and shuttlecock between the inspectors and the officials were written it would furnish a history that would be intensely interesting. and, as I remarked, with reference to something else, not very creditable to the administration of affairs in that distant part of the country. That, I do not propose to go into in detail at the present time. I suppose it will never he gone into in detail according to its merits, hut along with that there has been another and a more lurid illumination, so to speak, of the affairs of that far distant part of the country. It has had relation to the administration and the administrators and the results of_ the ad ministration in a social and moral point of view. Not until 1902 was any individual found who appeared to be strong enough, bold enough, courageous enough to make

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