July 20, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


Frederick Pemberton Thompson



I do not know what the Government think of the suggestion of my hon. friend from Edmonton, but I think it would be well to give power to

the commissioners to expropriate land where they see fit, or let the Government do it themselves. I presume the minister is so well acquainted with conditions in the West that it rs unnecessary for me to 'remind him of the tremendous amount of vacant land that is held out there-and more so in Alberta and Saskatchewan than in Manitoba-for speculative purposes. The owners buy this land without any intention of working it, in the hope that as the surrounding land is cultivated their property will increase in value. Now, although every citizen is entitled to some consideration, I do not think very much consideration should be shown to a citizen who does that. I think his land should be expropriated. I think there is a great deal in what my hon. friend from Edmonton says on this point.
Let me add this: there is a public interest to be served as well as the interest of the returned soldier. All of us in this House realize, I think, that at no time was the world ever so close to starvation as at present. Our crop reports for this year are not very encouraging, and that does not promise well for next year, because whenever there ris a great shortage one year, conditions are unfavourable for the following year. On the virgin prairie a man could get a crop the first year, even if he only started to cultivate his land in the spring. He could groiw oats and flax at least, particularly flax, and that would relieve the situation to a great extent; I admit that he would not be able to grow wheat successfully. Of course, it is now too late for this legislation to be of any assistance in bringing land under cultivation and increasing production this year. That would help for next year's crop, because there is any amount of land actually lying idle on which returned soldiers might be placed, and so help out the situation, not only for themselves and for*Oanada but for the whole world. We who have some experience with western conditions know that the farmer feels he should have -more than a quarter-section for a successful farm. He feels he should have at least a half-section, and from my own observation and experience in farming I believe that is right. A farmer to carry on his work in the most successful manner should have 320 acres to work on

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