Legislative Assemblies of Alberta and Saskatchewan, 2 April 1900, Alberta and Saskatchewan Debates over Confederation with Canada.



Opening of the Second Session of the Fourth Assembly.


Address in Reply Adopted Without Opposition or Criticism, on Motion of Mr. Brown and Dr. De Veber — Mr. Sifton, the New Member for Banff, Takes His Seat Provincial Establishment Mooted.

MONDAY, April 2.
Mr. Speaker took the Chair at 2:55 o'clock.
Mr. G.W. Brown (North Regina) on rising to move the Address in Reply to His Honor's speech, was loudly applauded. He sid that he would preface the task with the remark that the unprecedented success attending these Territories, particularly within the past twelve months, and in great measure during the last three or four years, was certainly a matter of evident satisfaction to the House and to the country. The past year had been one of magnificent crops, and magnificent weather for the curing and marketing of the crops. It seemed as if at last
upon these Territories. Business in all lines and branches was lucrative and cheering; our own people were now possessed of confidence, and the people in the Eastern Provinces were gaining confidence in us and in this part of Canada. The North-West was no longer looked upon as a barren or dubious quantity. The people of the East, it ws no exaggeration to say, now looked on the Territories as the hope and the future mainstay of the industries and manufactures of Canada. That favorable feeling regarding the North-West did not always prevail in the East. There was a time not very many years ago, when Eastern people had smal faith,—when the Eastern Provinces had more than half an idea that the Territories were proving a big bill of expense with no very sure prospect of a return, and tht this country was simply a burden. All that is changed now. There is reason for the changed feeling. The returns compiled by the Agriculture Department show that whereas a few years ago our grain exports were the smallest of any part of Canada, to-day we are exporting grain measured by the millions of bushels annually. Dairying, which a few years ago was languishing and scarcely deserved the name of industry, so far as the North-West was concerned, is now in a thriving state of development, yielding handsome profits to those engaged in it and adding perceptibly to the bulk of our exports and to the name and
North-West butter, which a few years ago merchants hesitated to handle at all, is now becoming an article of standard value not only in the mining province west of us but as well in the markets of the British Isles. (Applause.) Within a few short years the Territories have advanced from the position of the provincial division having the smallest exports, to the position of the division having the largest per capita export of cattle. Looked at from all sides the development of the Territories could ont but be pronounced eminently satisfactory to the people of the Territories and to the whole of Canada. (Applause.) Our population was increasing rapidly. For the past year or two the increase in population of Manitoba and the Territories had gone on at a rate of at least 20 or 25 per cent., which was a ratio of annual increase heretofore unparalleled in the Territories or in any part of Canada. (Applause.)
But while in these respects our successs had been great, our development most encouraging, while faith in the country was becoming well established and our credit abroad was gaining a sure footing, there was yet one point of view from which could be seen reason for only chastened rejouicing. It was with sorow they were compelled to look at the comparative absence of increase of the revenue for the local governmentof the Territories. The revenue had not been increasing to any adequate extent. For the proper government of the country, to ensure the proper developmentof the country, to give sustained confidence to the pioneers who are here and who are coming in to help build up the country, it could be laid down as an unassailable proposition that it was absolutely necessary that
For several years past the local revenue has not been keeping pace with the local needs. What had been done to meet the case? What was done when the revenue became in a sense stationary while the needs kept on growing? This was done: The people consented to a reduction of the school grants, and consented to share in the prosecution and maintenance of public work by means of a Local Improvement system. In these ways the demands on the revenue were lessened. He believed the people had done and were doing all that it was reasonable to ask them to do, but again we are face to face with the problem of insufficient revenue. In this circumstance the Assembly and the people had a duty to perform. The problem must be met and dealt with; it must be dealt with in a way best for the interests of the Territories as a whole. (Applause.) There was possible the method of
We have the power and privilege of assuming the burden of direct taxation, but in the early stage of the development of the country, with the people still in the position, and for some years to come likely to be in the position of pioneers struggling and battling with primitive conditions and striving under many incident handicaps for the goal of permanency, he did not believe it would be adviable or in the best interest of the country to apply that method. What was the alterantive? Could we look for an adequately increased subsidy from Ottawa? That was a very important question. What answer could be given? He was convinced tht we could not look with any measure of hope for remedy from that source. He did not belive tht we need look to Ottawa for any such increase as the circumstances demand. The case had been pressed at Otttawa for years, and while some increases were obtained, every year shows a bigger disparity between the amount we get and the amount we require. Has our case not been properly presented at Ottawa? He (Mr. Brown) thoroughly believed that our case had been presented as properly, as well as as forcefully as it could be presented. The leaders of the Assembly, who understood the case at least as well as any men or collection of men alive, had gone year after year to Ottawahad in hand, as had been sid. He believed the federal Government understood the case now as well as it can be hoped that they ever wil understand it. On this subject he did not believe that Ottawa's action depended on whether a Conservative or a Liberal Government was in power. Any Government would do the best it could. Did the matter dependwholly on the Government, the cabinet ministers, probably we might expect adequate remedy from Ottawa, from either a Liberal or a Conservative Government. But it did not lie with them wholly. There were more than two hundred members of Parliament to be consulted, only four of whom were sent from the Territories. He did not want to convey the impression that the Eastern Provinces were hostile to us, or that Eastern members would not grant us what they thought was just and right, because he did not think that would be a true impression. The fact was that the Eastern men, not


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withstanding their increasing interest in and growing faith in this country; had no real understanding of its magnitude or needs, and could not be expected to have. He was not ranging in a speculative field. He was speaking of something that was well known to be the fact. The case was not new. Gur claims were not a matter only of yesterday. For years the deniand had been there. We have representatives in Parliament, some of them men who went there fresh from this Assembly, and who were as well acquainted with the claims as any men who could be sent to Parliament. The Territorial Press has been agitating the question, and the House knew that its leaders had constantly pressed the claims. What was asked was no list of supposed rights, but only enough for bare necessities. And what was the result Could anyone suggest a scheme whereby Parliament could be prevailed on to give an adequate subsidy? Were there any means or methods to be resorted to which had not already been used to all possible extent? Answering that question in the negative, what was to be done? There was just
All that was left was to ask to be put into the position to exercise provincial powers. If that were granted, would our position be improved? Certainly, declared Mr. Brown. The Territories would be in a much better position financially, because they would have control of rights and resources now controlled and held by the federal authority. The fundamental obstacle now, and which will exist until the provincial change comes, said Mr. Brown, is that vital questions affecting us await solution at the hands of a body of men who comparatively and practically have no particular interest in the question: and a change of Government or any other change at Ottawa did not change this condition one iota.
In the minds of many, pursued the speaker, a bugbear of expense hampers the question of assuming provincial status. The truth was that the Territories now have practically all the machinery of provincial government. Provincial government would not neccessarily mean any increase in our machinery of government. There was no need for us to inaugurate any extravagant policy of bonusing railways. He would totaly disapprove of railway bonuses, even if we had the power to pay them. There would be no need of the Territories loading themselves with a big public debt. We already have the power of direct taxation, but do not apply it. Simply because we secured the power to bonus railways and incur debt, would not be sufficient reason to use the power. The benefits to be reaped under provincial status would be the receipt of subsidy and control of provincial resources such as the public lands exactly as the older provinces receive and enjoy, neither more, neithe rless. Look at one incidental benefit. Take the case of excemptoin from taxation of millions of acres of railway companies lands. The probability was that the exemption question could and would be settled in the course of the negotiations with Ottawa; but, if not, the question would niot long await settlement once the Territorial Assembly had power to deal with it. Think of the 35,000,000 acres of corporation lands to-day enjoying exemption. So long as the question is a federal issue, there is small hope of its ever being settled, for the simple reason, as stated before, that of the 216 members of Parliament, only a bar half dozen are really and vitally interested in the problem. There would be a benefit from a larger direct subsidy, but it was questionable if the settlement of the exemptions question would not be a vasly greater benefit. Another point was that at present there is much unnecessary clashing of legislation. While the Dominion administers the lands, the Territories legislate on the subjects of property and civil rights, and it is found that Dominion legislation is constantly interfering with local Ordinances. The Assembly in this sphere ought to have the sole right and power, because it went without saying that the Assembly, every member of which body was intimately conversant with all phases of the subject, could more, satisfactorily deal with it than Parliament with its preonderating majority of members who know scarcely anything of the conditions of the country. It was purely a local subject and should be dealt with locally; and the only way to obtain the transfor to local authority was by assuming the state of provincehood. On this subject, as on others, it was hardly possible to expect satisfactory administration from Ottawa even if the entire western delegation in Parliament was an absolute unit.
Alluding more specifically to His Honor's speech, Mr. Brown said that the House would agree unanimously with the expression on the subject of the
That event could not be viewed otherwise than as a very regrettable one, yet the unanimous and grand and proud course and action which Canada had taken for the assistance of the mother country was such as had given Canada a standing in the estimation of not alone Great Britain but the world at large, that she did not occupy before. (Applause.) The courage and devotion of our brave Canadian volunteers had formed for us a new association with Great Britain and our sister colonies, and had given us a new and lasting legacy as a people. Nothing so surely created a national sentiment, without which no country could be truly great, as the graves of national heroes, and the monuments erected in memory of those who shed their blood for and in honor of their country, our country. (Cheers.) While we all regretted and deplored the death of so many valiant sons of Canada, we all felt the deepest pride in the fact that they died in a manner commanding the commendation of the watching world. (Cheers.) Mr. Brown moved the adoption of the Address in Reply, and sat down amid warm applause.
DR. DE VEBER (Lethbridge) seconded the Address, and was cordially aplauded as he arose to fulfill the task. At the outset he assured the House that there was no cause to fear that he was going to administer a long or nauseous dose of what was frequently termed "wind." (Laughter.) In any event, had he been possessed of any such dire intent, he was now debarred, because the nover (Mr. Brown) had touched all the salient points of His Honor's gracious speech, and had thoroughly Covered the ground. This system of inaugurating the business of a business body, be could only look upon as an evidence of the ineradicable character of old habits and customs. The formal Speech and its necessarily formal answer, were relics of antiquity. He could not tell upon whom to saddle the blame, not being as well versed as he ought to be in ancient history, but he imagined it waas Ceasar, or Cicero,or Demosthenes, or possibly Mephistopheles. (Laughter.) Turning to the speech, Dr. DeVeber said that the nature of his calling as a physician, prevented him visiting all parts of the Territories and personally witnessing the prosperity of the country, but judging from the generally disseminated information he had every confidence in the statement that prosperity was reigning. Nearly 50,000 new settlers arrived in Western Canada lasty ear, and he velieved that of these the Territories got a goodly share. At the sale of school lands in Indian Head district a few days ago, some 8,000 acres of land brought some $80,000, an average price of $10 per acre, while certain sections were sold for as high as $25 per acre. Judging from such facts and figures as these, and from the expressions of contentment on the faces of at least one or two fo the Members here (with a sly glance at Mr. McCaule, another at Mr. Cross, and still another at Mr. Shera)—(roars of laughter)—he felt sure there was good cause for congratulation. Of one quarter of the Territories, his own district, Lethbridge,he could speak from personal knoweldge. That district had exceptionl stimulus in the way of an irrigation project of great magnitude, the benefits to flow from which it was utterly impossible to estimate as yet. The scheme embraced a length of 60 miles of main canal, with many branches. One 20 mile branch enters the torn at Lethbridge. It is estimated that the system has a watering capacity of 500,000 acres. The secure the branch to the town, as the House knew, because it had given the necessary legislation, the town paid a bonus of $30,000 in return for which the Company had undertaken to expend certain sums within the town and put the undertaking in such shape that every householder in the town may avail himself of water for a garden. A class of settlers not having knowledge, would probably be a detriment, or rather with people ignorant of the science, the scheme might be a curse instead of a blessing. But the Company are procuring settlers who are used to farming with irrigation. The Company are paying the wages of the men employed on the ditch with land, and last year land was earned in this way to the value of $119,000. In a few years there was every reason to hope that the system would transform the treeless prairie into orchards and the pasture land into golden grain fields. (Applause.) As an indication of the wonderful develomentment occuring within that district, he might mention that to-day there are two communities, which will soon take the status of villages, Magrath and Stirling, with populations of 400 and 300 respectively, where last year there was nothing, and these villages have stores and business places that would grace any town. (Applause.) Referring to the war, Dr. DeVeber said that our love and loyalty to the Mother Country had before his been confined to word of mouth and scratch of pen. It was of course not hte first time that British soldiers and colonials had fought side by side, because there had been occasions in the past when most of the colonies had had their own wars, and on those occasions each colony separately was assisted by the Mother Country. But this was the first occasion that colonials and British soldiers had fought and died together, both away from home. (Applause.) The manner of the response of the Colonies ot the Mother's call,—the eagerness with which each Colony offered to assist, and pressed to be allowed to assist, must have shown to the world that the bonds uniting Great Britain and her now-powerful Colonies are daily growing stronge and tighter, and must have awakened the nations of the earth to the fact that the people under the British flag are in very deed an Empire. (Cheers.) He was sure that the House would concure in the grants made to the NorthWest Contingent and the measures to legalise certain municipal grants, not only unanimously but with cheers.
The fourth section, that dealing with the financial question, was, he thought the meat of the Speech. For years our financial demands had not been adequately satisfied. This year the House could congratulate itself upon a moderate increase of subsidy and a respectably large special grant. But these would only meet the difficulty temporarily,–merely relieve the tension for the time being. The problem was one that must be touched carefully, and handled gingerly. In seeking a solution, they should lay aside all party spirit, all sectional feelings, all personal aim:—(hear, hear)—they shoudl adopt a scheme and a solution apart from any thought of sectional benefit or any minor consideration:—(hear, hear)— they should rise superior to small ideas and aspirations and strive for a higher, truer and nobler conception of their duties on this question of tremendous moment and act unitedly for the best interests of the North-West Territories as a whole (Cheers.)
When Dr. De Veber has resumed his seat, Mr. Speaker and the House waited in expectancy for about three and a half minutes. It was the moment for the leader of the Opposition to arise in his might and smite the Government. No one arose. "Question, question," finally called Mr. Speaker to his feet. "Does the House agree to the motion?" The House unanimously agreed. Expectancy's thirst remained anassuaged.
Mr. Haultain moved second reading of Bill (No. 1) respecting Remission of Penalties. He states that heretofore the assumption was acted upon that the Lieut.-Governor-in-Council. It was questionable whether the assumption was correct, and the bill was presented to confer the power and provide machinery for its application.
Mr. Bennett (West Calgary) asked if the hon. the Attorney-General was aware of the high court decision which held that the power was inherent in the Governor. He believed the pardoning power had not been used by the Sovereign since the time of the last George, excepting on the advice of the Privy Council. But the judgement mentioned would go to show that the legislation proposed was unnecessary, and was conferring power upon the Government which was inherent in the Governor.
Mr. Haultain said he was quite aware of the rule and practice in England. The pardoning power rested with the Crown exclusively, but it was exercised, not on the advice of the Privy Council, as the hon. gentlemen from Calgary stated, but of the Home Secretary. There were many such matters in regard to which the Crown would find it difficult to revive the old custom of personal exercise of power, by the Sovereign. The rule in the Canadian Provinces was also well understood. By virtue of an Imperial Act—the B.N.A. Act—all the perogatives of the Crown in England are vested in the Governor-General and the Provincial lieutenant-governors. In Ontario without any doubt the power which the Bill before the House dealt with, was vested in the Lieut.-Governor exclusively,—theoretically; yet even in Ontario the Statutes contained legislation identical with this Bill. The Territorial position was different. Our lieut.-governor was not a representative of the Queen in the same sense as a provincial governor; he was a federal official, of course appointed under authority of the Imperial Act; and the position did not partake of the incidents of royalty except by analogy. It had been found convenient to follow many of the forms and ceremonies belonging to other places, "and in my belief," said Mr. Haultain, "to other times." But our governor's power was in reality limited to what was given him directly by Acts of Parliament and Ordinances of the Assembly.
The Bill was read a second time, and the House adjourned.
Mr. McKay (Prince Albert West) trusted that no immediate alarm would be caused in the east or elsewhere by this very commendable resolution. He regretted to see that in Parliament some romantic mention had been made of unrest in the Territories. No such unrest existed, and of course he knew that it was no expectation of any such trouble as was alluded to in Parliament that prompted the mover of the resolution. It was quite true that the North-West needed and had a right to militia organisation just as civilized communities. (Laughter.) But for the  native population, he was proud to say that they were in a most peaceful state. For one hundred and fifty years, declared Mr. McKay in ringing tones, there had been but one single occasion of acute trouble between the natives in the North-West under British sovereignty and the lawful authorities, and he believed that that occasion would be the last. He was glad to support the motion. (Applause.)
Dr. Patrick Yorkton was sorry that the resolution did more fully set out the reason why the militia system should be extended to the Territories. We should not lose sight of the fact that one main reason for a militia system, apart from the reasons well presented by the mover, was this: That ultimate enforcement of law rests upon armed forces. When government was first established in the Territories such a force had been sent into the country by the North-West Mounted Police. In considering the proposition before the House we should not lose sight, either, of the grand work of that magnificent body, which in the early days bore responsibility almost wholly for the administration as well as the ultimate enforcement of the law. (Applause.) In any consideration of the subject now it would be well to remember that those early conditions have passed or are rapidly passing away. The Mounted Police were sent at a time, and because there were no men in the country to organise an armed force. That time has surely passed. When the North- West is able to send five hundred men to South Africa, the country has surely reached a state when it can successfully deal with any matter of law enforcement at home. He was in hearty favor of the resolution, and wished to say that even before [?] Paul had dared to trespass against the rights and liberties of British subjects in British colonies in South Africa, the people of the town of Yorkton had prepared and forwarded a petition asking to be allowed to participate in the plan suggested last fall by General Hutton, the plan of raising a battalion of mounted rifles in the Territories. In his opinion the time had come when the enforcement of law and order in the North-West could safely be entrusted to armed forces raised within the Territories.
Mr. Haultain was glad to have heard the words of the member for Yorkton, which made it plain that the resolution was in no sense meant as a comment on the necessity or lack of necessity of the Mounted Police force. Certainly this Assembly would never overlook the work done by that splendid force, whose members had been the pioneers of settlement and the pioneers of civilisation in these Territories, and had not only successfully met the demands of arduous regular duties week in and week out, but also had coped successfully with more than one emergency. The justification of the resolution was the undoubed right of the people of the Territories to bear arms. It was a reflection almost that we have not the militia system already. It looked as if we were not considered,—it was certainly treating us as if we were not considered as equal with the people of the Provinces. There was another practical side, too, which might well be mentioned, the side which had in view the horse market. The raising of Mounted Rifles following on recent events was very likely to lead to the establishment of a re-mount station in the North-West. We can raise horses; the proof will be given, is being given, to-day in South Africa. He trusted that the resolution would be unanimously agreed to.
Resolution agreed to, and an address to His Honor the Lieut.-Governor was adopted, praying him to cause transmission to the Secretary of State.
Mr. McDonald asked: Has this Government made any proposals to the Dominion Government, or any Minister of the Government with a view to the Territories or any part of them being formed into a Province or has any proposal been made by the Dominion Government to this Government? If any such proposal has been made or received, when was it made and by whom?
Mr. McDonald stated that, evidently by a printer's error, the words "or Provinces" were omitted from the question. Those words should appear after the word "Province."
To each question the Premier answered, No.


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