May 16, 1911 (11th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Charles Alexander Magrath

Conservative (1867-1942)


Yes. I say 1 cannot conceive how the Canadian representatives could have failed to recognize the true situation. I repeat that if we wish to deal fairly with our neighbours and to be dealt fairly with by them, there is no reason why Alberta interests in Canada could not have been permitted to take advantage of the principle that is to apply in future cases. If this were done there would be no criticism from me. Now, I previously stated-or intended to state-that this settlement is a settlement suggested by the American representatives. If hon. members will look at a return brought down at the instance o'f the leader of the opposition they will find there a copy of the letter addressed by Secretary of State Root to the then British Ambassador at Washington, dated January 15, 1907, in which a suggestion is made as to the division of the waters and that suggestion is substantially the settlement arranged in article 6 of the treaty. That is, the suggestion was made by Mr. Root two years before the treaty was negotiated. I stated also in explaining article 2 of the treaty that the fourth feature deals with navigable streams. I have seen steamers operating on the south Saskatchewan river; I have seen steamers operating on the Missouri. They are not to be .found on either stream to-day. But that is no Teason why they should not be found there in the future. I am aware that the South Saskatchewan river is near the vanishing point in regard to navigation. I believe that by the withdrawal of half the waters of the St. Mary's river which enters that stream, that stream will pass out of the class of navigable streams into that of unnavigable streams. I would 'like to know to what extent the Canadian Commission- ' ers considered that feature, because if they did, and if my contention is right, then the St. Mary's river should not be disturbed, because it is one of the principal sources of supply of a stream which is today navigable. Now, the right hon. gentleman is not here. In discussing this matter in May, 1909, he spoke at considerable length, and I am quoting from him now at greater length, on account of his absence, than I really require to do in order to avoid any charge of attempting to garble his *statements. On ' Hansard ' 6640 of 1909, we find the right hon. gentleman saying:
The St. Mary's river is not a large stream comparatively, but is much larger than the Milk river. This treaty, if it comes into force, will join them, that is, power is given under the treaty to join the two rivers into one Steam which will flow together in the bed of the Milk river and enter the United States. My hon. friend (Mr. Magrath) has asked why we should have agreed to such a disposition as that, why we should have permitted a stream that flows into Canada to be made to flow into the United States? The reason is such that I am surprised that my hon. friend does not appreciate it; I was more than surprised, was more than sorry, I was even astonished at the criticism he made of that disposition.
Well, Mr. Speaker, I do not think that those remarks require any statement from me. As a sample of rhetoric they appear all right; otherwise they are absolutely wrong. The right hon. gentleman went on to say:
The United 'States reclamation service have undertaken large works upon these waters, and they contemplate still larger works. They contemplate first to tap St. _ Mary s lake through which the St. iMary's river flows and to divert it into their own country. If this had been to the injury of a river flowing into Canada we would have protested against anything of the kind being undertaken.
Well, it appears this is the psychological moment for me to express some surprise and regret that any one should be found in this country possessed of so little appreciation of the value of water as to suggest that by the withdrawal of one half the

water from the St. Mary's river, which has been flowing into Canada for all past ages, the same would not be to the injury of the river and of the interests along it in this country. The right hon. gentleman went on to say:
Whether we would have protested successfully is a matter as to which I am not quite sure, because the United 'States claim that they have the right to divert any river, even if the river flows into Canada or into a foreign country, so long as they tap it within their own territory. They assert that their sovereignty with regard to a flowing stream is absolute, even though that stream flows into a neighbouring country. I am not quite sure that as a matter of international law the position is well taken. .My view, on the contrary, is that the principle of civil law would apply to international law, and that there is a strong authority for that contention, but whilst it is a contention, the Americans have held to a different construction, and they assert that they have the right to exercise sovereign power so long as the work in question is within their own territory, even though the water flows a foreign country. There was a source of difficulty.
Well, I was pleased to hear the right hon. gentleman state that he felt that we had some rights under international law. It would have been much more agreeable to me if we had some evidence that he had called in the services of legal experts who have _ been dealing with inter-state water questions, and a great number have existed in the western states. I am also awaTe of the claim made by some of our American friends to their sovereign power over waters within their own territories. I know this, that we have sovereign rights over the St. Mary's river in Canada, and we need not give them up unless we get what we think is fair and reasonable compensation. The right hon. gentleman continued:
But, putting that aside, the Americans contemplate establishing at the head of these streams large reclamation works, that is to say, putting up an immense reservoir to store the waters and keep them for the whole season. Under the present conditions my hon. friend stated this afternoon that with a committment of two thousand feet of water they never could develop more than eight hundred.
I fear the right hon. gentleman misunderstood me, because that is not what I intended to say. I intended to say what I have said to-day, that the Canadian company, while having a right to two thousand cubic feet of water at the time the negotiations were in progress, it developed its right to the extent of 800 cubic feet per second. The right hon. gentleman further said: [DOT]
Wihy ? I speak under correction, because I bave to get my information from other sources, and I am not familiar with the country. But I understand that in a very short that section of the country the spring waters are Mr. MAGEATH
exhausted, and that in the summer they have a very small amount of water, whereas, if they had these immense reclamation work* which are contemplated by the American reclamation service the water would be stored and would be available during the whole summer, and, therefore, my hon. friend from Alberta and his constituents would have the benefit of the storage of that water all summer. I know that I speak with absolute certainty when I say that the reclamation service cannot join these two streams into one, as contemplated under this treaty, unless they construct these immense reclamation works which are now proposed. Therefore, these reclamation works being established, Canadians will have the benefit of them, and will have a store of water to draw from all the long summer, whereas at the present time they can only have it in the spring and fall months.
I draw attention to the next clause:
That is the reason we have agreed to this diversion of the St. Mary's river into the Milk river.
There then is the price that this country was to pay to the United States for performing certain services for us. That country was to establish immense reclamation works in Montana so as to conserve the total flow of the St. Mary's river; to hold back the winter flow, and to control the spring freshets, and allow Canada's share of water so stored up to pass down, in the language of the right hon. gentleman : ' to my constituents during the long summer months.' Now I come to an astonishing letter which is disclosed in the return laid on the table of this House.

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