Legislative Assemblies of Alberta and Saskatchewan, 6 December 1897, Alberta and Saskatchewan Debates over Confederation with Canada.


MONDAY, Dec, 6.

At 2:40 o'clock Mr. Speaker took the chair.
Mr. HAULTAIN moved that the House resolve into Committee of Supply, and made a speech of about one and three quarter hours duration,-a clear, plain, important and well-delivered statement of the financial position and prospects of the Territories and the policy of the Government of which he is leader upon the business in hand and upon some business which they propose to take in hand. (Only an outline—the tenor, so to speak —of the debate can be reported in THE LEADER this week, We hope we may later succeed in an arrangement to publish a verbatim report cf Mr. Haultain's address and generous synopses of the other speeches made on the occasion.)
In opening the Premier again explained the reasons for the change in the financial year, making it, necessay now to vete supplies for 16 months. They could absolutely estimate receipts only to 1st July, 1898 of, course they could hope that the Dominion vote for 98-99 would not be less than this year's, and could reasonably expect that it might be greater, but it would not be safe to vote supplies on the hope of an increase. So they had, to be counted upon with reas onable absoluteness, the grant voted this year, and a calculation of receiving for the last half of '1898 a proportionate amount, besides the local revenues for 1898 (from licenses, etc., which were estinated at $32,000 On 1st Sept , the beginning of he financial year, they had a balance of $98,080 remaining from the first half of the Dominion 97-98 grant. Calculating at the rate of this year's grant they would get for the two halves of 1898 $282,879. Add to this $32,000. estimated local revenues, and the total is $412,999.00 . They had already voted $30,260 in preliminary Estimates for three months salaries and current expenses. This left $382,649 to be voted now. The Esti mates brought down amounted to only $340955. The remaining $41,604 they proposed to leave to be voted in Supplementary Estimates at the 1898 session, which would be required for the cost of the session ($15,500) for provision for the general elections to immediately follow ($15,000) leaving in round numbers $10,000 for contingencies and making further provision for agricultural societies in the fall of 1898, etc. Any increase which they might procure in the Ottawa grant would also have to be voted next year in Supplementary Estimates.
This was the first time in their history that all the money expected to be available was really available. In nearly every prior year some portion of the sum had been withdrawn for sume purpose. For instance, one year $45,000 was taken for relief work which necessarily disorganized their finalices. This year there were no outstanding accounts, no old claims, no overdrafts, no district votes to be read: justed.
The Estimates were largely the same as in previous years, and necessarily so. They had to meet the same services, although they found some of them under new names.
After dwelling upon the change in organization, the Premier said the House would see that the pledge given at Moose Jaw, that the machinery would not be made dearer, was strictly observed. There were a few increases in salaries, which would have been made if there had been no change in organization. These were increases justified by new duties, increasing responsibilities, and more efficiency in the work done. Practically the only increases in staff were in the Public Works Department, where they provided one stenographer, who would do duty for several departments; and one official, who would be Clerk of Assembly and Asst. Secretary, and who was in reality only transferred from the office of the Lieut.- Governor (Mr. Gordon) He had been formerly appointed by Federal Statute, had been Clerk of Assembly, and Official Secretary of the Governor, and in reality held a position analagous to that of the Grand Vizier in an Oriental dominion. Practically this official was transferred to the Assembly, and the salary attached was also transferred.
Mr. Haultain said he would not discuss the Estimates in detail. Most of the items were familiar and could be discuss ed in committee. They would notice the vote for Administration of Justice, which vote carried a significance and emphasized the change in form of government— a change from Executive Committee to Executive Council. A necessary adjunct to any proper Council was a legal member, who was absolutely indispensable, and without whom no government could con duct its business. He was the personal legal adviser of the Lieut. Governor. The administration of the liquor license law came under this head.
The Premier made lengthy reference to the difficulty of securing enforcement of the liquor law, and the inability ef the Inspectors to prevent breaches. He in dicated that the Government were bound to have the law respected. He said he would not explain fully the course that was intended, but hinted very plainly that they had proposed to resort to the means that was found necessary in other provinces, and use the only tool that proved to be effective in this regard, namely detectives. He said that the Government, and himself, were determin ed to strain every resource to secure the observance of the law, and if, after using every known means, they failed,—if they found the licensees would not respect the privileges granted to them by the law, and could not be compelled to, then there would be no recourse but to cease to grant any privileges by law.
Mr. Haultain went minutely into the idea upon which the Government worked out the Public Works Estimates. They had quit the division between Electoral districts. Taking the whole Territories as the district, they attempted to meet the most immediate and urgent requirements. This system had been adopted by the House last year on the suggestion of those responsible to the House. Regarding the increase of staff—the creation of the Department—no apology was necessary. The Department was needed to take the place of the 29 Ministers of Public Works, engineers, surveyors, overseers, —each embodying the duties of all— whose valuable services they had been deprived of last year by the change in system of dealing with public works.
He touched on the party line question much in the same terms as in his Moose Jaw speach.
After dealing at some length with the question of Education, and touching upon the matter of Consolidation of the Ordinances, the Premier turned to consider the present position of the Territories constitutionally and financially, saying that the position was now more unique probably than ever before, and demanded most serious consideration. He said that the new duties, increased responsibilities and enlarged jurisdiction, involved much heavier financial burdens, and Parliament had always been more generous in extending the legislative jurisdiction than in extending legislative grants Constitutionally me have approached close to provincial basis, but financialiy we are a long distance from that basis. Still there had been progress that was not wholly unsatisfactory. In 1891 92 the grant was $158,000. In 1897-98, the grant is $282,900—an increase of $125,000 in five years, or an increase of 80 per cent since 1892,-not a small actual or proportionate increase. But we are entitled to far more. After pointing out some of the difficulties in the way of Territorial representatives at Ottawa, and the difficulties which the Government itself had to confront when they proposed to increase the grant to the West, Mr. Haultain said that no man would ever go on a mission to Ottawa with a very wel justified hope that he was going to get all he wanted and would ask for. So far as the present Minister of Interior was concerned, he said they had found him quite wiling and capable of entering into and comprehending the position of the Territories—he had appeared most ready to hear what they had to say, and to give all the encouragement in his power to give. The unfortunate attitude of Parliament was the principal reason which prevented the Territories getting what we are entitled to. It was to be hoped that the new developments—the Yukon advertisement, etc.—would tend to effect a change in the attitude of Parliament, and create a greater and more intelligent interest in the West. A good indication was the fact that leading newspapers, -  organs or both parties—were coming interested,
We have now a well-defined constitutional position and very large powers and responsibilities, but no fixed or adequate Income. Parliament had continued to manufacture law-making and administrative machinery without adding the money to carry it on. Last year the Assembly came to the conclusion that it was useless to hope for any increase on the present - basis, and passed a memorial asking Parliament to compute our grant on a Pro- . vincial basis—not to make a province but to make up the grant as the provincial subsidies are computed—so much per capita, so much for debt (to offset the portion of the interest of the debts of the old provinces which we contribute) so much for government, and so much in lieu of lands. On this basis we were entitled to $446,000.
The Executive pressed this Memorial at Ottawa. But they were met with the statement that the Dominion was paying for many ser vices in the Territories which were paid for in the provinces by the provinces, and were told that if they wanted to be treated on a provincial basis they should have to undertake all the services which the provinces carry on. That was certainly embarrassing, because no Member of the Executive or of the House, he might say, had ever gone minutely into the whole question,-and no Member was in a position to sit down at once, or in a week, and make anything like an accurate computation. They were thus forced back to, the position of making a statement of requirements, as a basis for the estimate of grant. they made a detailed estimate which came to just about the amount asked in the Memorial But the Gevernment was not prepared to go that length. The Memorial was more effective in regard to the powers asked. They were given practically all that was asked in that regard, excepting control of registry offices, and one or two minor things They did not particularly press for the registry offices, not knowing precisely what the effect would be financially. But they knew now, and they would follow up the Memorial, and he had every hope they would secure control of the registration system, to the advantage of the Assembly, and to the advantage of the people in the way of having the cost of tranfers reduced. They hoped also to be given charge of the irrigation system which is a matter purely of local and domestic concern.
The Premier went on to say that ad ditional grants, additional financial recog nition, were necessary. He said that if we could not keep up the development in the subsidy to keep pace with the development in power, there was only one alternative. The practical meaning of his statement was that if the Dominion refused to give the Territories as favor   able grants as are given the provinces, then the only alternative was for the Territories to take its position as a pro vince and obtain a proper financial standing. He made the plain declaration that if due financial recognition is not given, his Government are prepared to take the lead in a movement for the estab lishment of the Territories as a province. Hitherto we had received enough money to meet the necessary services, and pro bably, all things considered, were better off than if there had already been provincial establishment. But we have now reached the jumping off place, and can go very little farther without becoming a province as far as regards power, and must have adequate revenues to meet the enlarging burdens and responsibilities. If the arbitrary amounts voted by Parliament are to be based not upon present requirements but upon the worn-out estimates of earlier requirements, then he and his Government will go in for full provincial establishment in order to get financial recognition. He next proceeded to show that the question of terms is a very weighty and involved question. At present the Do minion is m eting what may be termed local or provincial services—Justice, Dairying, Public Works, Surveys, etc.— including the Assembly Vote, to the amount of $557,000,—a larger amount than was claimed in the Memorial. Yet that amount did not represent what the Territories are entitled to, and how to obtain our rights was the question. They had memorialized, and excursionized, and made representation after representation, and largely without avail in a compara. tive sense. When they started out for provincial establishment, there would be difficult questions to face, — questions serious enough to give sobering effect to any discussion. . There was no definite basis of calculation - no rigid arithmetical plan to follow. The subjects of debt and ands were purely political, and it really came down to a question of the amount of politcal pressure they could bring to bear. It was not a matter of paper and pencil. It was not a question easy of solution Take the matter of debt. How much does the Territories contribute to the increst of provincial debts and how much will the Dominion wish to change back as an offset to the amounts spent for opening up this country? How much is to be claimed on account of lands ? These were questions which could not be settled in a day. There were, however, only the two alternatives—go on and obtain larger finan cial recognition as we are, -and if we can not get it, take the only step open, and become a province—one prevince of the whole Territories as they stand today, not cut off in any portion, either in the north (Yukon) or in the east to the benefit of Manitoba, one strong province, with all the resources of its gold mines in the Yukon, and the golden wheat fields of Eastern Assiniboia, which if they do no yield nuggets, yet do yield 40 bus to the acre .


Regina Leader, 1896-1904. Digitized by Google Books.



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