Alexander Duncan MCRAE

MCRAE, The Hon. Alexander Duncan

Personal Data

Conservative (1867-1942)
Vancouver North (British Columbia)
Birth Date
November 17, 1874
Deceased Date
June 26, 1946
farmer, lumber merchant

Parliamentary Career

September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
  Vancouver North (British Columbia)
September 4, 1931 - May 30, 1930
  Vancouver North (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 23 of 23)

March 9, 1928

Mr. McRAE:

No; I have been listening

for two years to you fellows and I want you to listen to me for forty minutes.

I might point out to the government, however, that Providence cannot do this job for them. The success of such a large proposal is entirely a question of management, organization and administration. Worked out on a unit basis, this plan can soon be built up to locate 25,000 or 35,000 families a year.

It should be borne in mind, however, that once a good immigration movement gets under way it rolls up like a snowball. People will come along on their own and make their own arrangements. In a big movement probably not over 50 per cent of the immigrants would have to be provided for under the project I am suggesting. The others, attracted by the development and consequent prosperity, will locate themselves throughout the Dominion. If we handle 200,000 people a year under this government colonization program a total immigration may be anticipated of easily twice that number or equal to the maximum immigration the country ever enjoyed.

The settlement of the unoccupied lands adjacent to our railways is quite a different matter from the settlement of the crown lands with which I have been dealing. The title to the land adjacent to railway has passed

from the crown to private ownership. With a big colonization movement under way the best of these lands being near railways would be taken by incoming farmers with money. However, most of the acreage is the residue after years of settlement, and some other method must be adopted if they are to be colonized within a reasonable time.

The co-operation of the provinces is essential to settle these lands. It would be unwise to adopt any scheme by which the government would purchase them from the present owners. The practical method of colonizing them is under the crop payment plan, which gives the new settler a chance to pay for the farm out of the crop.

Two things are essential, first that the price be reasonable and that the settler have a few years to get considerable acreage under crop before being called upon to divide with the owner. Three years might be a reasonable time to grant him.

The provinces can do much to popularize the crop payment plan by passing legislation which will protect the owner of the land and relieve him from the necessity of sitting on the job when threshing time comes around. Absentee landowners cannot do this. A system of government supervision might be inaugurated in this connection.

In the second place as an inducement to encourage the owner to list his land for sale at a reasonable price, the province might well offer to waive the unoccupied land tax for those who listed their land for sale at an agreed price on the crop payment plan.

The province should work out some arrangement with the municipalities whereby these new settlers would be relieved of all taxes on their land for the first five years, thus putting them on a par with the homesteader. The prospect of being relieved from having to pay taxes on his land would also go a long way to make the scheme popular with the owners. This is a small price for the province to pay for a solution of its unoccupied land problem.

A well devised crop payment plan worked out in co-operation with the province is the only logical way of settling these lands by newcomers who have their wealth in brawn and muscle and not in cash.

New settlers need help and guidance when settling in their new home. The practical and inexpensive method, the one which proved so successful in the western United States a decade ago, is the organization of community clubs. The government should encourage these local associations by an allowance based on the number of new settlers located in their

The Budget-Mr. McRae

area. The compensation should be sufficient to enable the community club to maintain a paid secretary where the number of new settlers arriving justifies it. The community club can look after the needs of new settlers in their district very much better and cheaper than government inspectors. Experience has shown that these clubs develop into real colonization agencies. Enthused by the work, their members soon become active in soliciting immigration from their old homes. Something like this is necessary now that there are no longer large land companies at work keeping up interest in the community. The government might well make use of the enthusiastic residents of the towns and villages throughout the west along this line.

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March 9, 1928

Mr. McRAE:

When Canadians manage

the world's greatest transportation system, the Canadian Pacific Railway; when we own and successfully operate the Canadian National Railways, with the largest mileage of any railway in the world; when we have in this country huge, successful, industrial enterprises in many lines of business, need any hon. member fear that we have no man in Canada big enough to give effect to the program for national development which I have outlined?

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March 9, 1928

Mr. A. D. McRAE (Vancouver North):

Mr. Speaker, I feel impelled to take up the time of the house this afternoon because so little of a constructive nature has been brought forward by the hon. Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Forke) either this year or last dealing with the very serious question of population, that I fear the country at large and even some of the hon. members might reasonably conclude that this, the greatest issue before parliament, cannot be successfully solved.

My good friend, the Minister of Immigration, in the committee on agriculture yesterday expressed his great disappointment that we on this side of the house had not put

forward definite proposals for him to consider. His sincere expression indicates to me his despair,-after two years, of getting any real suggestions from his own associates. His appeal has not fallen on deaf ears.

In response to his request, I propose this afternoon to disregard all political strategy and run the risk of criticism in submitting for the consideration of the hon. minister and this house a program which I believe will restore our immigration to the favourable figures we enjoyed in the years immediately preceding the war.

The limited time at my disposal-forty minutes-permits me to submit only a general or skeleton outline of the development which I think the government should undertake I will be prepared, however, as opportunity offers to support the practicability of my proposals.

Hon members treat our population problem as a dual one-immigration and emigration. As a matter of fact, we have only one problem. Give us satisfactory immigration and we will have no emigration to worry about. In 1913, when 400.000 immigrants entered Canada, 139 000 of them came from the United States. That year only 14 165 of our people went to that country. We gained

125.000 on them in 1913. We will do it again when we get a real immigration movement under way.

In order that they may enjoy a higher status in life, over 185,000 Canadian boys and girls attended high school last year;

65.000 students were registered in our universities and colleges. Our universities are not turning out farmers. Higher 'education is taking our boys and girls off the farms. If they cannot find useful employment in the business structure of their own country they can always go to the United States. There- thanks to the sterling qualities they inherit from their forefathers-they receive a preference over others and are welcomed as new citizens in every city from New York to San Francisco.

I will confine my remarks to-day to the development of our unoccupied lands-our greatest natural resource. A steadily increasing agricultural population will demand and support a growing national business structure. More people on farms necessitates a corresponding increase in our cities and towns resulting in a demand for more business and professional men and women-more employment for labour of all kinds. Only in this way can our young people find the opportunities they must have if they are to remain in Canada.

The Budget-Mr. McRae

Let us be practical in these matters. We must have some one to do the basic work of the country if the boy or girl of this or future generations who graduates from our educational institutions is to find congenial employment at home.

I entirely agree with the policy of confining our immigration efforts to prospective farmers and domestic servants. It is my humble opinion that we should not encourage the immigration of men or women only qualified for city life. The drift to the cities, which is one of the things we will have to contend with, will supply our city population for many years to come. In common with the United States our problem of the future will be to keep our people on the farms

Our immigration records clearly show that we must provide employment for our incoming immigrants to assist them to get on their feet. From 1881 to 1885, when we were getting very satisfactory immigration for those days, the Canadian Pacific was under construction. Hon. members will recall that when we enjoyed our greatest prolonged period of successful immigration, from 1903 to 1913, we were carrying on a tremendous program of railway construction in this country. The National Transcontinental and the then Canadian Northern were built from coast to coast.

There is no big construction program before the country at this time. Something must be attempted if we are to take care of a large immigration. The question is what development program can we undertake which will be safe, sound, and ultimately pay the interest on the capital invested-which will not add unduly to the present burden of taxation and will at the same time afford the necessary grub-stake for our incoming settlers.

I suggest that the only program available is the development of the land on which we propose to put these new settlers, and the work which will inevitably follow such as the building of branch railways, roads, schools, villages, and the many other capital expenditures which accompany the march of settlement.

I propose that the government inaugurate on a large scale a program which will bring about the settlement of the more or less scrub and lightly timbered land which we have in such abundance in our three prairie provinces -land with wonderful, almost inexhaustible soil, and easily reached by branch railways. In provinces like Manitoba, large areas easily drained might also be included. A most conservative estimate of this character of land easily available would be 10.000.000 acres capable of supporting 65,000 families, or roughly a quarter of a million farm population. This does not, of course, include Peace River. Here there is a minimum of 30,000,000 acres, even more fertile and more easily cleared that awaits development. The Peace River can and eventually will accommodate 175,000 families or nearly three-quarters of a million farm population greater than the entire population of the province of Alberta to-day. When considering these huge figures in connection with farm settlement we must add at least one-third more for the city, town, and village population which such development will necessitate and support.

I am sure that hon. members have in mind that we should first attempt to settle the 10,000,000 acres of vacant lands adjacent to our existing railways, and with this I agree.

I will deal with it later. For the moment, suffice to say that these lands when settled will add an additional 250,000 to our farming population and will mean much to the towns and villages on the existing railway lines where all modern conveniences now exist and where no new towns are necessary.

Summing up my proposal, hon. gentlemen will see that it contemplates the ultimate settlement of 50,000,000 acres of land by some

250,000 to 300.000 farmers. These, with their families, and the urban population which will be required, and the consequent developments which will follow will add 2 000,000 new people to the prairie provinces. I propose we start out to double the present population of the west. Do this and the rest of Canada will grow and prosper.

The title to the scrub lands I have referred to rests in the crown. This affords an opportunity to again advertise free homesteads. There is no inducement which compares with this: " One-hundred-and-sixty-acre farm free."

I suggest that these lands be given as homesteads to new settlers, free from all taxes for the first five years and subject only to ihe cost of clearing and the building of modest farm buildings.

I propose that only 80 acres, the easiest half of each homestead, be cleared leaving the balance to supply the needs of the farmer for building and for fuel. This he can clear himself later as opportunity offers. He will, however, to begin with, have 80 acres under plough, sufficient to support himself and family.

As to the cost of clearing, I have made careful enquiry into this question. It is no longer practical to clear land in the old fashioned way. The grub hoe must give way to the heavy steam breaking plough which walks through ordinary brush and scrub like so much

The Budget-Mr. McRae

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March 9, 1928

Mr. McRAE:

I am surprised that the

hon. the Minister of Immigration and Colonization-a very successful farmer himself- has not seen fit to make use of the outstanding successful farmers throughout < the west as colonization agents, instead of the impractical brigade he now has on the pay roll. I say "impractical" for if my information is correct, many of his men have never lived on a farm, and others have never seen the district they are trying to settle. Compare their efforts with that of a successful practical farmer, sent back to his old home to solicit immigrants among his former neighbours, asking them to come and locate in his district. Many men in the towns and villages throughout the west are qualified to make equally competent colonization agents.

Picture these men as colonizers, with definite information of the available land in their community, the people, climate and conveniences, and what is even more important, a thorough understanding of the psychology of their old neighbours. Their word would be accepted, and well it might be. There would be no misrepresentation as frequently happens in colonization work. Hon. members will appreciate there is no comparison between the effectiveness of these practical men and the immigration agent from the city who either writes from his office or at most makes only an occasional trip into the country.

This is not a new idea. We employed it in the land business in western Canada years ago. It worked then. It will work now. The present chief land commissioner of the Canadian National Railways was this kind of a farmer colonizer when he was taken off the ranch twenty-five years ago.

It should be possible to send several hundred of these colonizers to Europe and the United States every fall. Most western men

have little to do in the winter. They would welcome an opportunity to visit their old homes. The cost would be small compared with the results-probably $1,500 each. Returning in the spring with their new settlers they would not only actually locate them on the land they had arranged for in advance but would continue a fatherly interest in them.

Here we have the real selection of immigrants. What chance has a ne'r-do-well to get over with this practically colonizer who knows his "no-good" friend would be sitting on his door step as soon as he got to Canada? This method of selecting immigrants is particularly applicable to those countries in Europe which do not welcome or permit our government to maintain an immigration office -countries we are now leaving largely to transportation companies. I have discussed this matter with Canadians, formerly Scandinavians, who assure me that they can go back to their old homes and bring out on an average twenty-five men, many of them with families, to settle on farms in the west.

It should not be difficult to get at least 300 of these colonizers at work every winter. Costing $1,500 apiece, it would require to finance them, less than half a million annually. These men should get at least 10,000 farmers a year including families, a total of probably 25,000 added to our population.

Hon. members should bear in mind that we now maintain all the staff that is necessary to instruct, supervise and direct these new colonization agents and to look after transportation for this increased immigration. Our principal trouble to-day is that we lack real practical men possessing the knowledge which is so necessary to get satisfactory results. Successful colonization is now an individual matter and must be conducted on that basis.

Referring to the question of provincial and federal co-operation in immigration matters, I suggest, Mr. Speaker, it is high time that our efforts in London were co-ordinated. Federal and provincial colonization officers acting on their own, competing with each other, do not make for the best results. Neither does it always place the new settler in that part of Canada Where he is most likely to succeed. Not a few of our immigrants fail because they have been misplaced in this far-flung Dominion.

It has always appeared to me that our High Commissioner in London should take a much more active part, and in fact should be the overseas head of our immigration and all other overseas work. Provincial immigration agencies, if necessary or advisable, should be

The Budget-Mr. McRae

housed in the same building as our federal immigration office. The High Commissioner should see that all our immigration work is harmonized and that Canadians are not unduly competing with each other.

One of the great problems in our immigration is practically disregarded. I refer to our unbalanced population-the excess of men over women-a situation which is rapidly growing worse. Immigration since the war has brought to us 170,000 more males than females. In the three prairie provinces in 1921 there was 185,000 more men than women. To-day it exceeds 200,000.

Anyone who travels through our prairie provinces; sees the desolate looking bachelor shacks by the hundreds from Winnipeg to the mountains, if he notes the adjacent more prosperous-looking homes of the farmer with a family, will realize what this unbalanced population is costing the country. On the farm one married settler is worth to the community as much as three or four bachelors- and I disclaim any intention to depreciate the honourable bachelors in this House. It is much more important to-day to bring a hundred thousand women to the prairie provinces than it is to bring in 100,000 men. Of course, it is more difficult. Nevertheless, a real effort must be made to get more women immigration.

So far no satisfactory scheme has been devised to meet this situation. A few domestic servants are brought in but not in numbers worth talking about. I suggest to the minister that he work out a real comprehensive plan and so far as humanly possible balance our immigration. He need have no fear of overdoing it.

The local colonizers I have suggested can bring back as many women as men and easily place them in their community. This, however, will only balance their effort and not help out on the 200,000 discrepancy which now exists.

I suggest to the Minister of Immigration and Colonization that he might with adequate1 financial assistance induce the Daughters of the Empire to take up this great work. They have chapters in almost every hamlet throughout Canada. What nobler effort could they be engaged in than transplanting throughout the Dominion, ten per cent of the two million surplus of their sex, now languishing in the British Isles. The necessity of this migration should particularly appeal to those who fear for the maintenance of British supremacy in the W'est. Give us British mothers and we need have no worry about the loyalty of our future generations.

Ever since the war we have discussed the problem of Imperial migration. So far little indeed has been accomplished. The London Morning Pest, a very conservative English paper states the case well. They say "Very little is done, and that the situation is a standing reproach and perpetual danger to the Dominion of Canada."

They express the willingness of Great Britain to take her share in schemes for Imperial migration but that the main responsibility for doing the greatest possible service to Canada, and to the empire, is upon us, and that matters cannot rest where they are without serious consequences. Quoting from the editorial, they say:-

An adequate scheme of settlement would involve considerable sums of money. But it is perfectly possible to solve these and other formidable difficulties when once the Dominions resolve to make it a part of their national policy to develop their resources with men of the British race.

Migration was doubtless the subject of much discussion at the last Imperial conference. Perhaps the Prime Minister will tell us why in this respect the conference has been so barren of results.

It should be possible to work out an adequate Imperial colonization scheme, when we have millions of acres of good land we want settled, and Great Britain has available both men and money.

I suggest to the government that no place in the British Empire affords a better opportunity for a big successful British migration than the Peace River country.

I want hon. members of this house, particularly from the east, to get an idea of the magnitude and the desirability of that great empire. In length it is about the distance from Windsor to Montreal with an average width of a hundred miles. In fertility and productiveness the soil is unequalled in any similar sized area in North America. The summer climate over a period of twenty years, is identical with Edmonton. The long summer days in the Peace River make it a safer crop country than much of the province of Saskatchewan already under cultivation. As for ;its winter, suffice to say that the hon. the Minister of Interior (Mr. Stewart) will, unless settlers interfere, soon be the largest rancher in the world. His buffalo, which roam the park-like country north, of Fort Vermilion, have increased to eight thousand and I am informed had a natural increase last year of twenty-five per cent. There need be no fear of the winters in a country where 'buffalo and their calves can thrive throughout tlhe year.

The Budget-Mr. McRae

1 fear, Mr Speaker, that many hon. members do not appreciate the proximity ol this country to the sea, which accounts for its climate. With good direct railway service, the heart of this district would be little over a calendar day's ride from the city of Vancouver. The Peace River country has been unfortunate in that two provinces undertook to provide it with transportation facilities. Neither of them completed their program and the country has been allowed to stagnate.

Railway facilities for this vast empire should be undertaken with a view to its ultimate development. Do not let us make the mistake we have made so often in the past, of building only with a view to the very near future. Peace River wants a trunk line to the sea-not a branch line outlet. We should broaden our vision. With a million people, the Peace River country will require not a single track to tide water but a double track railway to carry the product of its farms to market. Supported by proper development, the railway enterprises of both western provinces are worthy of completion.

I suggest to the government that in cooperation with the Imperial government and the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia the Peace River be developed as a great Imperial settlement.

Alberta and British Columbia together could furnish the land required for homesteads, thirty million acres The Dominion government could finance the cost of clearing the land and erecting the necessary buildings on the basis 1 already proposed. Great Britain as its part in the undertaking should finance the temporary requirements of the settlers, which it does now in part.

It would be a reasonable proposal for all partners in this British migration scheme to w'ork out. on some equitable basis, a joint guarantee of the interest for a period of twenty years of the bonds which our national railways would have to issue to enable them to take over and carry to completion the railway program of both Alberta and British Columbia including the branch lines which would be later required as settlement progressed. This would relieve the national railways from any danger of a deficit on account of this railway construction for a generation to come.

I share with my friend the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. Clark) his great confidence in the British race, and his belief that they can and will make good fanners. I believe, however, that the preliminary training of these Britishers should be done at home so that the misfits would be largely eliminated there. To this end the British government

might see fit to transfer some of their dole funds as bonuses to induce farmers to train these prospective migrators.

Under an arrangement of this kind, almost a million men now on the farms in the British Isles could be made available for Canada. The lure of free homesteads, in a country British to the core, would attract them in large numbers.

It is not easy to establish a settlement of this magnitude, but this is the day of big undertakings. Many difficulties will arise, but the two great races who share this great Dominion have iD the past solved problems much more formidable. Peace River, with all its advantages, supplied with proper railway facilities, affords us our best opportunity for development. Have we the courage to undertake it? Where are our nation builders-the worthy successors of the Macdonalds, the Cartiers, and the Lauriers of yesterday?

An article appearing in the Financial Post as of March 2nd, indicates the probable immigration program of the government for the next few year3. Hon. members will see that the "Three thousand family scheme." is to be given a new dress and is to be known as the "Pioneer land settlement scheme." What hope would there be in this revamped plan with a government that has failed to complete the movement of only three thousand families in three years under the present scheme? How long is it going to take them at this rate to bring in 20.000 families as proposed? To appreciate the feebleness of this new effort it is only necessary to note that although the British wanted to send us five hundred families this year the Canadian government was unable to take care of them, and their movement is posponed until 1929. Let us be done with camouflage and makeshift. I appeal to the government to bring in an immigration program in keeping with the needs of the country.

The countries from which we will accept immigration have been dealt with very fully by hon. members during this debate. I want to say, however, that I believe it is the inherent right of every nation to decide its own racial status. I believe it is our bounden duty to posterity and to the fathers of confederation to see that, in the melting pot from which our future Canadians will be moulded, the blood of no race is allowed to enter which might undermine or weaken the blood passed down from our forefathers. Canadians must maintain the high standard they now enjoy. Ours is the right to choose; ours is the right to barr, and we should not hesitate.

The Budget-Mr. Senn

In his speech earlier in the session, the Prime Minister expressed a fear that if we prohibited Japanese immigration we might interfere with the development of our trade in the far east.

Mr. Speaker, I am supposed to be a business man. interested in trade, particularly in the orient, but I have not yet reached the stage- and I hope I never will-where I am prepared, in the interest of trade or commerce, no matter how important, to jeopardize the racial status of the Canadian people. I want to see all undesirable races absolutely barred, let the price be what it may.

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