Mr. F. L. DAVIS (Neepawa) :
Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member for Lethbridge (Mr. Buchanan), I rise not to debate the whole question, but merely to emphasize two or three points in respect to it. All parties now agree that these natural resources should be returned to the prairie provinces, but some of them make conditions as to that return. That is not a satisfactory situation so far as the prairie provinces are concerned. They base their claim to these resources primarily upon the fact that, treated as they now are, they are regarded as the illegitimate children of Confederation. In a sense that is true. The Manitoba Act of this House which created the province of Manitoba was beyond the Dominion's powers. It was by that Act in the first place that these lands were reserved for the purposes of the Dominion. That legislation was recognized to be ineffectual, and the Imperial Act of 1871 was passed for its legalization and confirmation. It was in the second section of the Imperial Act that the Dominion was first given the power out of its great Rupert's Land domain to create new provinces.
Now, that Act of 1871 was in terms a confirmation of the Manitoba Act for all purposes whatsoever. I have said already that the Federal Act had reserved these lands. But, Sir, the point in the matter is this. Primarily the British North America Act recognized but one species of province -a province severeign within its own limits. The Dominion had certain powers allotted to it, but it was a landless Dom- . inion. Consequently, if a province of the status contemplated by the British North America Act was created-and there was no right to create any other kind-then that province must have its lands. But in the same Act that created the province those lands were withheld from it illegally..
When the confirming Act was passed the situation was peculiar. The province of Manitoba was born in the shame of insurrection, land the fear at that time was that the engagements of the Imperial and Dominion Governments with the Hudson's Bay Company would not be implemented by a legislative assembly elected in Manitoba, where at that time there was bitter feeling againt the Company, which was thought to have betrayed the settlers of Manitoba. So for that temporary purpose the Dominion retained those lands; but what was intended as a temporary retention has developed into the fifty years usurpation which we are now discussing.
If this Act of 1871 is analysed a dilemma is presented. Either it created a province of the description which the British North America Act contemplated, in which case the province has all the powers incident to its status together with the possession of its lands; or else it must hang upon the other horn of the dilemma, that the lands were properly withdrawn from the province. Then what kind of >a province was created? There is legal opinion of respectable authority which claims that if this question were brought before the Privy Council necessarily it would hold to the first of those two positions, that is, that the only province which could be created was a province endowed with all the powers which the British North America Act first proposed; and that the other position-which, it is true, was recognized by the Imperial Parliament, but for a merely temporary purpose because to do otherwise at that time would have been to discredit the Dominion Government in the case of an insurrection-was unconstitutionally enacted, and therefore null and void. That would perhaps place this matter in the position which the Prairie Provinces ask as a basis for any negotiation.
There is another question which I think should be dealt with at some length. It is this. There has been settlement after settlement apparently of the claims which the western provinces had. The first one came about, I believe, in 1883 or thereabouts. Up to that time we had received . in Manitoba nothing in lieu of these lands. Look how the question was then presented to us. We were getting per capita grant up to that time. Then we were offered a little less than $27,000 more provided we would do away with one branch of our legislature. See how one evil step was leading on to another. The Dominion was determining the form of the constitution of the province, something which it had no
right to do, and which to-day if attempted in any of our provinces would bring about a very strained feeling.
After that we made settlement after settlement. But what was our position in all these matters? Practically that of an heir or a beneficiary whose trustee was unfaithful. There have not been bestowed upon us the powers, the rights, the authority, the dominion which belong to our conditions as a province. Indeed, the grants made have been referred to as probably suitable for the keeping up of a seaside hotel, but not such as are requisite to the keeping up of a state, an authority, the administration of a province. Again and again we had to come back here and ask for a portion of our domain or something in lieu of our domain in order that we might carry on.
Now, it may be argued that we are in the position of an heir who has come of age, has condoned the past and made settlement in regard to it. But we have never arrived at our majority, and we cannot do so until we have control of these resources. Not until that time comes shall we be free from pressure. Not until then shall we be free agents to deal with this matter. Oujr necessities have been such, not having the control of the resources to use as required in the development of our provinces, that we have been obliged to accept what was offered. I think Sir Wilfrid Laurier said when the Saskatchewan and Alberta Bills went through that $2,000,000 would be the maximum amount which would be derived yearly from the grants that were then made and the provisions for increasing the grants as population increased. Would the great province of Ontario, the natural resources of which, I venture to say, cannot compare with those of Alberta, be content to take $2,000,000 a year in lieu of her natural resources? She would not think of doing it; she could not be persuaded to consider it for a moment. But such are the terms imposed upon Alberta, because that province is not yet in a position to deal with the matter as equal with equal.
It makes one think of the old Bible story of Joseph and his brethren; when they had sold him into slavery they wanted to divide his coat of many colours among them. That is our position in respect to the claims made by Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for a portion of the natural resources which belong to us. If these other provinces want to be on an equal footing with us, let them surrender their natural resources to the Dominion; that would be an interesting proposal to submit to them. That,
however, is what they ask us to submit to now. Put the shoe on the other foot, and it will very quickly be found that no such arrangement would appeal to them; yet they ask us to accept that position.
Now, finally-for 1 think I have made the two points I wanted to make-let me say that no question is settled until it is settled right. Already in the West such words as " gross " and " villainous " are applied to the deprivation of these provinces of their natural resources. We cannot have within a great state or confederation provinces of different status. It is impracticable; it is fraught with danger. Now is the time to get to a settlement of this vital question within our body politic. I have been a resident of Manitoba for forty years, and during that time there has never been a year when Manitoba has not had a grievance against the Dominion Government. Is that a healthy state of affairs? Is that a healthy condition between a province and a Dominion which is interested in all our affairs? Now, it will never be settled as I say, until it is settled upon right principles.
I cannot think that the other provinces have any right at this stage to intervene. The question is strictly between the Prairie Provinces individually and the Dominion Government. I grant that out of the settlement there may arise certain injustices, but look at what we are getting to-day. We are getting less than $800,000 a year in lieu of these lands in Manitoba. Over 18,000,000 acres of our lands have been disposed of by the Dominion for the purposes of the Dominion. That is less than five per cent upon a valuation of one dollar per acre. Does any man believe that they were worth but one dollar per acre, or that we should ever have disposed of them for any such sum as that? That is the character of the settlement; on the other hand we are told that the Dominion has spent somewhere around $86,000,000 upon the administration of these natural resources and has received only some $44,000,000, leaving $42,000,000 as an adverse balance. That is not taking account, I am free to say, of lands which have been given away for railway purposes- 100,000,000 acres of land in the western provinces have been set aside for the promotion of railways. The lands for purposes of that character were parted with in vast areas. These accountings may have to be settled, as has been suggested, by the Exchequer Court or some other impartial tribunal. There is but one way to
settle this question, and that is to recognize that the western provinces must have the same status as the others; that their resources must be restored to them. Once we accept that principle; once we realize that nothing must prevent that, then we can go into the accounting.
Subtopic: REVISED EDITION. COMMONS