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

CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

ing characteristics of our public life here. I am quite well aware that human society, even where at its best, is not utopian, but the officials in a frontier mining camp, the men who represent, or are supposed to represent, the Canadian government, should be above suspicion-pure and upright-because the law, which is the expression of the moral sense of the Canadian people.
The poison has permeated every department of our life; affects business, personal and public; so that the prevalent impression is that one has 'to be ' on the inside ' or must 'fix' some one before he can get even whait is hia right under the law. We may differ in our opinion as to the wisdom or unwisdom, the expediency or .inexpediency of a government's policy in given conditions.
But there can be no question about this: That under the policy adopted, righteousness, not influence, * graft ' or ' pull ' should prevail. You may ask me for specific examples, showing that the conditions of which I speak exist. That is not my business. I am not a detective; nor have I gone out of the way of my ordinary life to look for this condition. The people know it, act as if they knew it, talk as if they knew. I have heard the names of police and departmental officials used in connection with matters which belong only to the gutter. I would a hundred times have been angry, only that my anger was overwhelmed by sorrow at the truth of what was said.
You will permit me to speak in detail of certain things which are of vital interest to our people, and ought therefore to be of some interest to our government.
1. Hydraulic concessions.
He goes on to give his own opinion of hydraulic concessions and his opinion inclines to this at that particular time, that hydraulic concessions, concessions to people in large, should not be the policy of the government; that the individual miner and prospector ought to have the ground and that it ought not to be cut out from him by large quantities of this country being given over to the large holder, the speculator and, some time or other, the great hydraulic worker. He develops that and, in the course of it he says :
My blood boiled, when, standing on the Ar-kansaw Creek divide, I saw the great and beautiful river issue from the foothills, and remembered that it was in the grasp of capital, that the people had been disinherited; and that everything in this great rich district was to be food for the maw of a greedy government favoured corporation.
He was referring to the notorious Tread-gold concession.
I own no claims in this district directly or indirectly, and am therefore not personally interested. But I feel for the plain men who have to ^ compete in locating ground with a corporation which has unlimited money and no conscience; which, even when the miner has located, has a cinch on him through the iniquitous Klondike water privilege.
In more than one public meeting in the city of Dawson, it was stated in my hearing, and

958b
was not denied, that concessions such as the ' Bronson & Ray/ ' Philip/ &c.-
Said ' Philip,' I believe, having been the law partner of a Minister of the Interior.
-were granted on representations which were suggestive of perjury. This, at least, is I believe true, that perhaps with one exception no proper knowledge of the ground was had before the concessions, none of the conditions on which it was granted have been fulfilled.
I am convinced that men could stake and work, on any concession granted in the Yukon and that an appeal to the law would secure them in their claims; that all of them have been so loosely granted that they are void.
Last winter I went to the headwaters of the Stewart river on a missionary trip. On that great river a number had staked, and others were intending to stake in a district south of the McQuesten and Stewart rivers. Men who has prospected spoke again and again to me of the richness of the higher bars and the wooded bottoms of the Stewart. Three miles and a half below the police post at McQuesten, I found two of my old friends (Partridge an-1 Nelson) of the Teslin trail. They had the easiest mining proposition in the Yukon pan open cut from the river about ten feet deep, with drifts on either side. The dirt averaged a dollar a bucket, in a paystreak 280 feet wide. When I returned, the first item of news I got from one of our daily papers, was that five miles of the Stewart hanks, south of McQuesten, had been granted to one Wilson. I verified the report in the Gold Commissioner's office. It is an iniquity, whether granted in ignorance of the possibilities of the district, or because some one had a ' pull.'
This policy will depopulate the territory ere long. Let us keep hydraulic companies out and give the common people a chance, under the now more favourable conditions of living, to work the low grade ground.
Concessions have been granted, I am convinced, not only carelessly but iniquitously; the heritage of our people given to satisfy the greed of capital, without due consideration of the rights of the people in the ground, or of the character of the statement made to secure these concessions.
2. The laws against gambling, dance halls, and other immorality, are either not enforced | at all, or enforced so spasmodically that people know that there is a ' nigger on the fence.' Of course, we all know about the order from a deputy minister a year or so ago which was practically an order to the police to keep their hands off. But where the gamblers and their friends of the dance halls and whisky trust got their promised assurance, we do not know. As to the gambling: it was closed all winter, partly because there was nothing in it for the gamblers, partly because the police said it had to be closed. But when the clean-up began this spring, i. e., when the men who had ' gophered ' in hills and creek beds all winter, were about to reap their harvest, the vultures, evidently assured of immunity by some one, began their work. It was left to ministers and a few other cranks to see that the law was enforced. Our attempts to do so have taught us that we must choose between the alternatives of thinking that our lawmakers are incapable, or that our law enforcers are without conscience or moral courage adequate for the discharge of their duty.
The dance halls in which more men, some of them government officials, have been ruined than in any other of our protected dens, are run wide open. I wish the government would, for its own good name, either suppress these ' hells,' or at least take means to verify reports, current all over this camp, about officials who are their habitues. Prostitution flaunts itself everywhere; the abandoned woman (to say nothing of the abandoned man) is everywhere: beside respectable homes;
across the street from them; beside our grocery and dry goods stores; on first and second and third, and every avenue and road. Unless some one is robbed or injured in her house she is undisturbed. ,
ffe have 210 licensed bars for a population of about 20,000. On twelve miles of the Bonanza road

60 above to 60 below-there are three 'for every mile.
That is a pretty large allowance even the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) will agree.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Full View