December 14, 1926 (16th Parliament, 1st Session)


Michael Luchkovich

United Farmers of Alberta


Mr. Speaker, my fondest wish at the present time is that my voice could be as great as the province from which I come, and that my eloquence might be as lofty as the mountains which skirt the western part of that province. I could then voice the sentiments of the inhabitants of that fair province in a manner befitting its greatness and the important part it is bound to play in the affairs of Canada. Being a new member, however, and never having run the gauntlet of Liberal and Conservative criticism, I feel that I am taking a chance of being heeded or even given a favourable hearing. I feel, however, that I am speaking as a citizen of a great country, to whom has been given the honour of representing one of its constituencies, and as such I hope this, my maiden speech, will be the beginning of a truer Canadian citizenship, a citizenship which I hope to impart to the people in my constituency, especially to those whose origin was 32649-6i
in a foreign country. As it happens, I do not belong to a group commanding a very large membership, but that will in no waj prevent me from doing my duty as a good citizen; on the contrary, I believe that only in this group can I do my duty conscientiously and faithfully.
During the past three days I have noticed that there are different stages to the debates in this House. There is the jollicose stage; then we have the bellicose stage, and finally the comatose stage. I saw evidences of the comatose stage this afternoon, when in looking at the other side of the House I saw and heard two or three hon. members vociferously snoring. We are now dangerously near bedtime, and I do not wish to speak at any great length; in other words, I do not wish to put any hon. member into the comatose stage.
In the speech from the throne there was brief mention of a substantial increase in immigration. The views of individual men are different on this subject. As a matter of fact, one hon. member has said that it is useless to spend a million dollars bringing settlers to the farms when that money could be spent more advantageously otherwise, but no matter in what light we view this subject, immigration is always before us, and it has been a policy of every government in Canada since confederation. I understand further that immigration from northern and central Europe has been urged, or at least looked upon with favour in certain quarters. In my constituency there are many immigrants of Scandinavian and Slavic descent, and I can vouch for the success attained by those men. They have, under the most trying circumstances, made good, and are now from every point of view first class citizens. I do not mean to say that I advocate bringing in immigrants only from Scandinavian countries and from countries of eastern Europe. There certainly must be a leaven of British in this country so that we can retain our institutions and our ideals as we have always had them in Canada. Individuals, however, differ very much as to the merits of an immigration and colonization scheme. Some would like to follow the United States in her "partly-closed policy", and stem the tide of agricultural people from eastern and central Europe. Apprehension is being felt for the safety of this country if this influx is not stemmed. It is based on a fear that the foreign stock resident in Canada would soon be out of a safe proportion to the native stock; that the Canadian farmer would be menaced with an agricultural over-production. These conditions really do not exist in Canada and in view of our present state of under-development,

The Address-Mr. Luchkovich
therefore, such an apprehension is absurd. The United States followed for a century the open door policy. Her population now is actually over the hundred million mark, and she is thus in a position where she can quite readily overtake human wastage from natural increase. In such a case a limited immigration is quite justified. But to Canada, in her undeveloped condition, the same argument cannot be applied.
A few weeks ago I met a man on the train coming down from Alberta to Winnipeg and he asked me why it was that so much of the comparatively poor land in Alberta was occupied by the peasant class, by Ukrainians. He thought that some of the farms would be the last place he would settle on. This friend of mine unconsciously gives us the keynote to the whole situation. About one third of the arable land of Canada is alienated and occupied. It is almost safe to presume that most of this area of arable land already occupied comprises the best land. The remaining area of unalienated arable land would be either medium or inferior. Here we have our problem. It is these medium and inferior lands that we must try to colonize successfully. How are we going to do it? These lands can only be reclaimed by intense human labour, and this involves clearing, the digging out of stones, drainage, and breaking. It involves years of patient industry, self sacrifice and self denial. No one but a pioneer of great sturdiness and endurance could successfully create for himself a home on such land. That type, I believe, can be found in the central European peasant. He has shown us in the past that he is quite capable of surmounting the difficulties incidental to pioneer farming, and that he possesses all the virtues and qualifications essential to such a task. Of course it is quite understandable why an influx of settlers from European countries should be a cause for alarm from a patriotic standpoint. British sentiment, ideals and institutions might be endangered. I do not think so. Take the United States for instance. For a hundred years immigrants have been coming into the republic from every European country, but her institutions are just as strong to-day as they ever were. It is a very significant fact that the children and grandchildren of those immigrants are just as loyal to the country of their adoption as the native born are. Our problem will not be helped at all by discrimination, or by making the foreigner the goat of all our social unrest. To discriminate means to alienate, and alienism only leads to a worse problem. What is needed primarily i3 clear and sane thinking. I do

not see what we have to fear in the peasant. It is true that when these people first came here thirty years ago they were somewhat unobtrusive so far as taking part in civic affairs is concerned. They did not seek to exercise a directing influence in the affairs of this country because they were too busy establishing homes for themselves. But to-day, after the lapse of all those years I can safely say that they are beginning to make an intelligent contribution both to our social and political life. Aa evidence of this we have hundreds of their children in the professions, and some are serving a political representative capacity. Measured by all standards they are quite susceptible to Canadian ideals and influences. As far as they are concerned the question of citizenship is bound to arise, but it will come best if allowed to come in a natural manner. That course has been followed successfully in the United States, and there is no reason why the same success should not be encountered in Canada. The process of amalgamation is, I think, inevitable.
In dealing with this question I am reminded of the remark of an Irish politician, who, in speaking of immigration, said: "Don't worry about the foreigner. In about ten years he will get out of the skinned class into the skinners, and he will then be as patriotic as any of us."
Some day it is hoped our province will get control of its natural resources. At the present time Canada is very much underpopulated Here again we differ from the United States The latter country has sufficient area and resources for its people and enough people for the development of its resources. In Canada our resources are plentiful but the population is insufficient for their development. There is in Canada, also, another peculiar condition. Our agriculture and manufacturing production, our railway mileage and commerce, and all our other industrial enterprises are far out of proportion to our population, as compared with most other countries. I believe that by bringing in immigrants animated with a genuine pioneer spirit this condition could be amended.
I notice also in the speech from the throne that those government measures which passed the House last session, but which failed to become law, will be reintroduced. For one thing it is sincerely to be hoped that the Canada Grain Act amendment will be brought in again. In the next place legislation on rural credits if enacted will not only be of assistance to farmers and workers already

The Address-Mr. Church
located here but will be of material benefit in connection with an immigration policy.
There is also .the question of railroads. A country that produces the world's best wheat and oats, such as the Peace River district, must offer unrivalled opportunities for settlement. It is a region of marvellous productive ability, with many thousands of acres of cheap land awaiting the settler's plough. A great immigration movement could be started in that direction. The only thing necessary to bring that about is an announcement that the Peace River district will be given an outlet to the Pacific coart; without delay.
Another railway which would be heralded with great joy by settlers in northern Alberta south of the Saskatchewan river, is the new railway which the Canadian Pacific is building from Out Knife, Saskatchewan. The influence of the government in speeding up construction on this line would be greatly appreciated in that part of the west. As it is now many of the settlers there, and the district is very well settled, have to haul grain as many as forty or forty-five miles to the nearest point of transportation.
It is also to be hoped that the government will not discontinue grants to B-circuit fairs. Such fairs are of immense educational value to the communities in which they are held. A discontinuance of such grants would kill all interest in such fairs, as the committees in charge depend largely on these grants to finance their undertakings. It is said by some that it would be better to give grants to fairs in cities like Toronto. I think that even cities like' Toronto get most of their exhibits from small country places as Vegreville and other towns of its size.
This morning I received a resolution from the Town Council of the town of Tofield, which reads as follows:
Resolved, that whereas Cooking lake forest reserve contains much arable land and land suitable for the raising of live stock, and while it is at present being used by the Blackfoot Stock Association to some extent for the ranging and pasturing of cattle, this town council is of the belief that this land could be best utilized, and would become of the greatest use to the greatest number if it were thrown open for settlement and homestead entry.
We therefore suggest to the hon. Minister of the Interior, for his consideration,' that that portion of the Cooking lake forest reserve lying south of the Edmonton-Mundare highway be thrown open for homestead entry with the right of pre-emption, or purchase at a reasonable figure, of a further quarter-section.
I happen to know this Cooking lake reserve. It contains about 66 sections of land, and if it were settled on the basis of one settler for each half section, about 130 settlers could be
placed on it. I think it would be a far better scheme to place these settlers on the reserve than to have the reserve used as it is now by the Blackfoot Stock Association for the ranging and pasturing of cattle. I think it would be of greater advantage not only to that community itself but to Canada as a whole if this land were thrown open to settlers. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that the government will take cognizance of the remarks I have made.

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