Legislative Assemblies of Alberta and Saskatchewan, 20 April 1903, Alberta and Saskatchewan Debates over Confederation with Canada.



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MONDAY, April 20th.
The House did not sit over an hour today but in that space of time considerable business was transacted and the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne passed. The Speaker took the Chair at 2.45 p.m. Petitions were presented as follows:—
By Dr. DeVeber asking for amendments to the Ordinance incorporating the Galt Hospital; also asking for amendments to the Municipal Ordinance to enlarge the powers of Lethbridge.
By Mr. Shera asking for the incorporation of the Bishop of the Russian Greek Catholic Orthodox Church.
The following Bills were introduced and read a first time:—
By Mr. Young –To incorporate the Western Canada Historical Society; to amend the city charter of Calgary; to amend the Ordinance to incorporate the Calgary General Hospital.
By A. S. Smith—To amend the Ordinance incorporating Moosomin.
By Premier Haultain—Respecting Foreign Companies; Voluntary Winding-Up of Joint Stock Companies; to Secure Uniform Conditions in Policies of Fire Insurance; respecting Mutual Fire Insurance; to provide for the payment of Succession Duties in Certain Cases; respecting Notaries Public.
By Mr. G. W. Brown to amend the Ordinance incorporating Regina Hospital.
Before the Orders of the Day were called Premier Haultain laid on the Table of the House the correspondence with the Dominion authorities relating to the Memorial of the Assembly of May 2nd, 1900, upon the financial and constitutional position of the Territories; also the report of the Attorney- General's department with reference to liquor licences.
The Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne was then moved by Mr. Finlay (Medicine Hat). After touching briefly on the King's illness and Coronation, the general prosperity of the Territories and the consequent increase in responsibilities devolving on the Assembly, the speaker referred to the efforts made by the Territorial Government to secure provincial autonomy and failing in that, a largely increased grant. He declared himself as being strongly in favor of provincial autonomy and stated that he could not understand why the Dominion Government should persist in refusing to give it. He would not uphold the Government in doing wrong. He was there as a North-West man to uphold the rights of the North-West. The Dominion Government was doing a great injustice to the North-West by not granting what was their due. They had by giving the Territories ten members in the House of Commons acknowledged that there was a population of 250,000 in this country, and why then, asked the speaker, do they not grant us provincial autonomy; why not give us a larger grant? After touching on the question of transportation, the public domain, tranfer of the land titles offices, etc., Mr. Finlay declared in conclusion that he would be thoroughly independent in treating all questions and he hoped the House would continue to carry out that inde pendent spirit which it had maintained to the present time.
Mr. MacNutt (Saltcoats) in seconding the Address in Reply said he would not deal with the many questions referred to in the Speech as in the later discussions in the House these would be fully dealt with. On the subject of provincial autonomy, however, he expressed himselt strongly, and said that the sessions of the Territorial Assembly should not be dependent on the sessions of Parliament at Ottawa. The correspondence which had been laid on the Table of the House showed the strenuous efforts made by the local Government to secure autonomy and he believed in keeping up the correspondence until the Dominion Government became so weary of it that they would grant the request. It was an injustice for the Dominion Government to send in immigrants from all parts of the earth by tens and tens of thousands and not provide the wherewithal to give these people educational, transportation and other facilities necessary in the country. On the question of transportation Mr. MacNutt said the natural resources of his part of the country could not be taken advantage of for lack of the necessary facilities.
Premier Haultain was the next speaker. He said that under ordinary circumstances he would not be addressing the House just then. The usual procedure was for the leader of the Opposition to follow the mover and seconder and make what criticisms he had to offer on the policy of the Government, and then the leader of the Government spoke in reply. He took the absence of any such speech from the leader of the Opposition, or his representtive, as significant, and as implying that as the Speech from the Throne outlined subjects of such overwhelming importance to the Territories the Opposition were going to join with all the other Members in trying to come to some united action, on those important subjects. (Cheers.) This condition augured well for the successful meeting of the difficulties of the unfortunate position in which they found themselves at present.
The Premier then congratulated the mover and seconder on the able manner in which they had performed their duties and went on to speak of the King's illness and Coronation. He dwelt on the significance of the latter ceremony and amid hearty cheers spoke eloquently of Britain as a free land for a free people. While it had been a great year in Imperial events it had also been a momentous year for the Territories. In speaking of their growth and added responsibilities they did not do so in a pessimistic or hopeless spirit. All they asked was that they should be in a position to meet those responsibilities, and he believed they were fully as capable of doing so as the people in any other portion of Canada. This was in fact the burden of the Speech from the Throne. It would be an unfortunate thing if the people, and Government and Legislature of the Territories should have to approach the Government of Canada with the methods of the unfortunate widow, as referred to by the hon. member for Saltcoats. It would be unfortunate for the Dominion Government to be placed in the position of the unjust judge, forced to recognise the widow's rights by reason of her importunities. More forcible means than those employed by the Territorial Government to gain these rights could not have been used than were used. They had resorted to everything short of force.
The financial question, said the Premier, is one of the immedite present. We have a plain duty to the people at the present time. In the financial statement we submitted to the Federal Government we took the ground that the point we had reached had been arrived at largely through the want of consideration paid to our requests made in previous years. The financial position has been growing more aggravated and difficult for the past ten years and our needs have been growing rapidly year by year. In our negotiations with the Dominion authorities we set forth that it was absolutely necessary in order to carry on the work for this year, that is the Dominion fiscal year beginning 1st of July next, that we be given the sum of $880,000 and $250,000 as supplementary to meet the expenditures for the current year to June 30th next. New settlers are coming in, largely through the efforts of the immigration movement, and it would be unfortunate to meet them with a large tax bill on their arrival. We pointed out that unless the Government provided for the necessary roads, bridges, schools, etc., the people must pay additional taxes.
I saw the other day in THE LEADER, continued the Premier, a telegram announcing in general terms the action to be taken by the Government. As yet we have not been officially informed what action the Government propose to take. In THE LEADER, however, I saw that a supplementary amount would be voted to meet the overdraft for this year, and that instead of a larger grant being granted we would be given something on capital account. I would like to inform the House and country that the Territorial Government did not ask for anything on capital account. (Cheers.) The suggestion of a capital advance runs through all the correspondence on this subject for a great many years. We have pointed out that the whole burden of capital expenditure has been thrown on the current revenues of this country, which we claimed were inadequate even as revenue. But we did not ask for an advance on capital account. It is bad enough to have to try to meet expenditures which are purely capital expenditures out of revenue but it would be still worse to have money which really belongs to us as revenue chargeable to capital.
With regard to the provincial question itself, we have stated it as clearly as possible. We are not theorists,but sincere, practical men making a practical proposition with regard to a practical question. We stand on the principle that this country must mange its own affairs. In a letter to the Minister of the Interior, dated 31st January last, I said: "We demand that system of government under which we shall have as full opportuniies for the exercise of our citizenship as our fellow-citizens in the provinces. The local Government and Legislature should have full and free scope of action left to them on many subjects which relate to the prosperity and happiness of the country and the North-West will not be satisfied until this is granted."That, said Mr. Haultain, is the position we take.


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



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