Legislative Assemblies of Alberta and Saskatchewan, 14 September 1898, Alberta and Saskatchewan Debates over Confederation with Canada.



Boundaries Straightened Out, and Two New Districts Created.

The Printing Contractor Made a "Blotch" of the Bill–Some Items of Estimates Threshed Out in Committee—Brands and School Law Amendments – The Question of Companies' Untaxable Lands—The Government Promises to Issue the Brand Book—The "Boundaries" Resolution Was Hard Hit-Game Laws Further Amended—No More

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 14, 1898.
[...] of the present number? If the expense  was the chief consideration, why not dispense with the House, and have simply one great district represented by one member? or perhaps two districts, Macleod and Moose Jaw? In supporting the bill Mr. Dill said he was carrying out the wish of his constituents whose wish was reasonable and they were entitled to have it granted. As hew as not a candidate he could not be accused of attempting to make things safe for himself. And Mr. Gillis, whose district was affected, had been opposed to the change when it was first proposed. Mr. Gillis finally admitted the justice of the change and reluctantly consented to it.
Mr. Gillis said that his district was affected, and in a way which did not please the people who were by the change to be taken from Whitewood and put into the new district of Grenfell. But he had to admit the necessity for increased representation. The additions proposed by the bill amounted to an increase of seven per cent. in the representation. Surely the population had increased more than that in four years. Personally he had no desire for the change as affecting his district, but he couldnot oppose it in the fact of its evident necessity. The change places Broadview with a somewhat light population on the eastern side of the Grenfell district. The people of Broadview fell that politically they will have little weight, and they feel it keenly. Mr. Gillis said that he felt it too, but saw no other course open. He referred to the word "gerrymander" upon which Mr. Mowat arose and denied that he had made any accusation of "gerrymander."
Mr. Gillis disclaimed the idea that there had been any caucusing, or per- arranged meeting of the East Assiniboia members.
Mr. Mowat said there was a chairman and he heard a motion put.
Mr. Page - Oh, no.
Mr. Gillis thought Mr. Mowat was mistaken. He concluded by declaring that he did not believe the Government in proposing the changes were actuated by any view as to their own safety, as there was certainly no advantage for them in the bill.
Mr. Page said he was at the meeting referred to by Mr. Mowat as a caucus. It scarcely deserved the dignity of the term "meeting". It had been a purely casual and informal discussion. Mr. Page questioned Mr. Mowat's figures. If they turned up the public accounts and took the expenses of legislation, the average cost per member would be found nothing like Mr. Mowat's calculation. As concerning the work of a member, he said that South Regina was not a good criterion. All the business in that district practically centered in one town. A scattered rural district with a number of market places made very much work for a member. Mr. Page thought that history might lead to the belief that Mr. Mowat would not resent the suggestion of the member for Wolseley for only two members. With a member fro mCalgary Mr. Mowat had at one time been willing to take the responsibility of governing the whole Territories. Mr. Tims said if Mr. Mowat had followed the pubic prints -- the Free Lance, the Plaindealer, the Bulletin, -- he would know that there had been an outcry for increased representation. Victoria in 1896 had 1150 votes, and at least 200 more have been naturalized since, besides 200 families had moved into the district this year. The other northern districts had been growing in equal degree. Again the area of those districts was very great. No one man could attend adequately to the business arising in those districts. The economy cry might be a good campaign cry in some parts, but in this conection it would be useless in Northern Alberta.
Mr. Macauley reminded Mr. Mowat that there was such a thing as being penny wise and pound foolish. To take any step which would lead to the encouragement of people to come into this country and be satisfied was economy of the best kind. Into the area which was to be erected as the district of Wetaskiwin at least 400 families had come this year. The northern members had not taken their petitions to Mr. Mowat; they took them to the Government. In the new district there were the four flourishing towns of Lacombe, Poneks, Leduc, and Wetaskiwin - all market towns. To look after the interests of a district with so many commercial centers was no light task. The people wanted the increase, and would be pleased that the Government proposed it. The lines were drawn straight. No gerrymander was attempted. The increase was wise and in the best interests of the Territories as a whole.
Mr. Maloney said that his district was only slightly affected and it had a right to ask still larger representation. However, with the very great interest Mr. Mowat had been showing in the district, and with due economy in other districts, Mr. Maloney hoped that St. Albert would be fairly well attended to. It was his intention if all went well to move at the end of the next term for another alteration of lines to give Northern Alberta what its population entitles it to. St. Albert showed 1800 voters in 1896. Such a district ought to have two members and he hoped hereafter to get less abuse for asking only one-half of what the people of his district deserved. Mr. Maloney said the word "gerrymander" should be left in the east. This bill proposed no monstrosity. It was the North West habit to increase the representation commensurately with development. South Regina was a district which a mn could go through in a day. Mr. Ross had travelled straight ahead for six consecutive days in St. Albert and had then seen only a part of the district. Mr. Maloney regretted that Mr. Mowat would not be in the next Assembly to continue to assist in giving prominence to st. Albert.
Mr. Agnew said that Saskatchewan was satisfied with its number of members. The population there was not large, but the areas of the district were tremendous. Large areas made widespread interests and more work for the members. The district of Mitchell was now filling up rapidly, and likely by the end of next term would require division. The change made now by ratifying the Green Lake settlement as in Prince Albert West was no advantage to him. Green Lake did not vote for him last time, and he had no reason to expect that it would vote for him next time. Shell River was put back in his district. It belonged there naturally, and the people had asked to be put back.
Mr. Ross closed the debate. he said that representation by population was a good principle, but in a new country it could not be followed absolutely. He would instance battleford, whose population alone did not entitle it to a member when the district was erected. But its area and comparative isolation did entitle it to representation. So with Medicine Hat when that district was erected, and with several others. but in the increases which the Government now asked the House to make, rep. by pop. was the guiding principle. East Assiniboia was not large in area, but it was comparatively thickly populated. Moosomin comprises only 28 townships, and at last election polled 1000 votes. In the present proposition the Government were not going in the dark. There was no guess work. They had the facts, and during the year had gathered information through that organisation of many-sided usefulness, the Statue Labor Districts. The proposed district of Wolseley had reported 1059 male persons over 21 years of age. Mr. Ross gave the figures by townships from all that had been organised, and gave calculations for townships which were not organised. His calculations and actual returns showed 2,800 voters in the present districts of Whitewood and Wolseley. The two districts comprise 11 ranges. The bill proposed three districts with four ranges in each Grenfell and Whitewood, and three ranges in Wolseley. This would still leave Wolseley with slightly the larger population. As the average number of voters in all the districts was between 600 and 700, he said the increase was nothing but fair. One advantage in the case of both additions was that the changes would do away with a certain friction which had existed between the towns of Grenfell and wolseley, and Red Deer and Wetaskiwin. This advantage was not the object of the bill, yet it was not a bad incidental advantage. As to the increase in Northern Alberta the Government had not been able to procure the same definite statistics as in the other case, but everyone knew that in that part of the country there had been a larger increase of population than in other parts. Then again the map showed that the present Red Dee district was very large in area, containing, as Mr. McCauley had shown, a large number of market towns, which made the work of its representative exceedingly onerous. With the conditions prevailing there, the question of area had to be considered, and with due regard to area and to population that portion of the country was well entitled to an extra member. The bill gave no chance for any accusation of gerrymander. The new map would show that the present bill straightened several peculiar lines; -- a number of jogs were taken out, and the whole bill had been framed totally regardless of its effect upon any member. They had been actuated by a single motive, to do justice to the different portions of the country. Mr. Ross said the members did well to refrain from any remarks as to the East versus West or North versus South. But lest any person should be inclined to say anything from such a point of view, he would point out that a calculation based on the respective votes polled in 1896 election would show the representation to be very fairly divided as between Alberta and Assiniboia. Alberta would now have 11 members, and East Assiniboia 10, and that proportion fairly represented their strength as shown in 1896. He thought all wants were met by this redistribution. Northern Alberta was entitled to the increase, and the new district had been arranged in the proper place. It would be composed of parts of the four present districts all of which had been growing in population. Even with the addition, all those districts as well as the new district contained voters in excess of teh average, taking the Territories as a whole. In regard to Saskatchewan Mr. Ross pointed out that the Assembly did not arrange its representation. Saskatchewan had been given six members, regardless of population, and to some extent properly so, by Parliament before the subject was entrusted to the Assembly. Parliament had deemed it wise to give Saskatchewan six members, and whether Parliament was right or not, he at least thought it would be unwise for the Assembly to diminish that representation. The area was now filling rapidly, and it could be hoped that by the end of another four years Saskatchewan will have population entitling it to more than six members. As already explained some changes were proposed in the lines between the districts in Saskatchewan. Large rivers in some cases formed natural boundaries, and in some cases they found townships lying on one side of a river, with their interests all on their own side of the river, but still attached to electoral districts on the other side. The Government in the bill before the House endeavored to make the boundaries consistent with the interests of the settlements. He did not know what effect the changes would have upon any members, nor did he care in that sense. It was fair for him to say that much. It was not the Government's duty in framing a bill of this kind to look after the particular interests of individuals. They had considered local conditions and endeavored to mete out justice to every locality and to the country as a whole. The map would show no attempt at gerrymander. They did not resort to that class of political scheming and he hoped that in the Territories they would long be able to maintain regular electoral boundaries, and that it might never be said of our districts as Joe Rymal had said of certain eastern divisions, that they could safely be worshipped because they were like nothing in the heavens above, nor in the earth beneath, niegher in the water under the earth.
Second reading carried.
Dr. Patrick moved second reading of his boundaries resolution which had been amended in, and reported by, the committee of the whole on the previous day. He said again that the resolution was not designed to affect internal relations, but external relations. It was designed as a club to be put i the hands of North-West representatives in Parliament to be used in behalf of the Territories.
Dr. Brett thought the resolution was inexpedient, unnecessary and inadvisable. He failed to see any need for us to gratuitously offer to give away territory to Manitoba and British Columbia. The resolution was inconsistent with the one adopted by the House a year ago, which declared against any diminution of area. Now for no reason we are asked to give away territory which one day might be a very valuable asset. Why offer only territory to the north of Manitoba and to the north of British Columbia? Why not offer a slice to the west of Manitoba and to the east of British Columbia? Why limit this generosity? Dr. Brett said the time was already anticipated when we would haveto make provincial settlement, and we should keep out territory intact at least until that time. Those remote portions would then count as an asset, - possibly as an equivalent in some respects. By all means it should be kept until we are compelled to part with it. The first clause of the resolution asked for out bounds to be defined. It was news to him to hear that our limits were not defined. Of course the limits of any province or provinces to be hereafter erected are not defined, but certainly the limits of the Territories are defined. No definition which we can get so long as we remain as Territories will be any more fixed that the present definition. It was unnecessary to define what is defined. As to the closing part of the resolution, by which the House was asked to commit itself to the principle of one province for the whole Territories, Dr. Brett thought it unnecessary to raise that question now and seek to commit the House. We all could see the danger of disintegration. That disaster had already overtaken us so far as related to the Yukon. There was teh fear that a portion might be annexed to Manitoba. That was a disaster we were trying to avert, and the danger of which, in his opinion, would be increased by the committal of the House to the principle of one province. The whole resolution was unique. Here we were beggin to be relieved of territory. Was it an encumbrance? Was it not very rich in timber and minerals? He believed it was very rich. Dr. Brett proposed to move an amendment to refer the resolution back to committee with instructions to strike out all the paragraphs except the first two, and to strike out a clause in the second paragraph. The resolution would then read: -
"Whereas it is expedient that the "boundary lines between the North-West "Territories and the other provinces and "terriotries should be finally determined "at an early date; and whereas this "Legislature denies the right of the Parliamment of Canada to increase or diminish "or otherwise alter the limits of the "North-West Territories, without its "consent, because it claims for the people "it represents equal rights with the people of the Provinces in this respect."
Dr. Brett moved the amendment accordingly, seconded by Mr. Bannerman.
Mr. Haultain- What is the resolution? The hon. gentleman proposes no conclusion.
Dr. Brett- Yes, that will be the conclusion- the end of it.
Mr. Haultain said the amendment would make the resolution mean nothing. Did the hon. gentleman wish it to mean nothing, or was this simply his method of shunting the matter? He would leave two bare recitals followed by no conclusion: Whereas so and so, and whereas so and so, and there he stopped. Surely the hon. gentleman was not serious. Such an inconclusive resolution would be simply nonsense, to apply no stronger language to it. The original resolution had occupied considerable of the time of the House; it had been considered in committee, and definite conclusions had been reached. Surely they were not to be seriously asked to adopt such an amendment which would knock out those logical conclusions and suggest no substitution. Perhaps the hon. gentleman had heard of the celebrated English poet, Coleridge, who was famed as a conversationalist. A peculiarity of his conversations was that they started anywhere and ended nowhere. Dr. Brett was apparently trying to gain similar celebrity by a resolution which would transform the proceedings of the Assembly into a farce.
Dr. Brett suggested that if the matter was referred back to committee, the committee would reach its own conclusions.
Mr. Mowat, seconded by Mr. Tims, moved in amendment to the amendment, that the resolutions be read six months hence.
Dr. Brett withdrew his amendment.
The six months' hoist motion was defeated on a division, eleven supporting the resolution to ten against. The division was as follows:-
For the Resolution—Messrs Mitchell, Haultain, Ross, Page, Knowling, Boucher, Macdonald, Eakin, Dill, Gillis, Patrick.
Against—Messrs. Mowat, Tims, Neff, Maloney, Bannerman, Brett, Macauley, Simpson, Agnew, Lineham.
The resolution was read a second time and concurred in.


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