Inasmuch as I am going to vote with the Government on this matter, I feel that some explanation is
required. The name of Mr. Backus has been brought into this debate to some extent. It has been argued by hon. gentlemen on this side of the House that he has no bearing on the case. I am not quite of that opinion. Less than a year ago the Government of Ontario advertised a large area of limits for sale. As I have been a lumberman and have done some business in Ontario, I received one of these notices. There was a whole string of conditions attached to the sale, and if I recollect aright one of the conditions was that the successful bidder for these limits was bound to construct certain works, and amongst them, I believe, was the building of a very expensive dam. In fact, the sale was hedged around with so many conditions set forth in the advertisement-the building of a mill in a certain place, the building of dams, and so on-that it was practically impossible for any other person to bid, and I came to the conclusion right off that Mr. Backus had some controlling power. Another feature was that the time between the notice of the sale and the time the tender had to be in was so short that nobody who was not already acquainted with the limits had any chance to examine the location. To my great surprise, a short time afterwards it was announced that the limits had been sold to Mr. Backus for the amount bid, and there was a bonus of $50,000', if I recollect aright, in addition to the regular Government fees. That to me seemed a mere bagatelle compared with what the limits were really worth. Of course, it may be all right. It has been said by some people on this side of the House, and perhaps by some hon. gentlemen opposite, that these limits belonged to the Ontario Government and the Ontario Government could do what it liked with them. But I would point out that there is a possibility of giving away not only rights that belong to the Ontario Government but to the Province of Manitoba. Another of the conditions of the sale, if I remember aright, was that a very expensive dam had to be constructed.
It was understood at one time that the Dominion Government and the Ontario Government were trying to come to terms, but the Ontario Government have withdrawn, and nothing in that direction has been done. Now suppose-I do not know whether this is right or not-that Mr. Backus holds an agreement whereby he is to make a certain development. Suppose he spends $1,000,000 or $2,000,000 in developing these dams and other works. Would it not then be considered a little
late for this House to tell Mr. Backus at the next session of Parliament to cease this work? Is it not better to say that now. If the Government of Ontario are prepared to give a guarantee that neither Mr. Backus nor anybody else will make any expenditure towards developing this water-power until next session, I think we might wait until then, but unless a guarantee of that sort is given I think the Government are justified in taking steps to protect the rights of Manitoba. Otherwise, Mr. Backus or somebody else might go ahead and spend a large amount of money in making improvements that would eventually be condemned. I am not so very sure but that the great province of Ontario owes something to Manitoba anyway. If you take up a map and look at the boundary line drawn between these two provinces and see the right of way that- is given to the province of Ontario to the sea-board in the province of Manitoba, I think you will come to the conclusion that probably Ontario owes something to Manitoba anyway; but that has nothing to do with this question. I believe that Mr. Backus holds an agreement with the Ontario Government whereby he undertakes to spend a certain amount of money in constructing a mill and other works. If that is going to interfere with the rights of Manitoba or the flow of water on these rivers I say that this Government should take steps to protect the province of Manitoba, or to stay these works until next session when both parties may be able to come together. I believe in conciliation, but if we cannot have conciliation, let us at all events protect the rights that are involved.
Topic: REVISED EDITION. COMMONS