Legislative Assemblies of Alberta and Saskatchewan, 27 September 1904, Alberta and Saskatchewan Debates over Confederation with Canada.



The Important Feature of Last Week's Sittings of the Legislative Assembly.

Tuesday, September 27th.
The Legislative Assembly got down to business to-day and in the course of an hour and three-quarters disposed of the Address in Reply to the Speech of His Honor, the Lieutenant Governor. After the presentation of a couple of petitions, and the adoption of the report of the Committee on Standing Orders and Private Bills Mr. Greeley, (Maple Creek), moved that "a humble address be presented to His Honor, thanking him for the gracious speech with which he open ed the Session."
A Question of Taxation.
The speaker expressed his regret at the intimation in the Speech that it was not the intention of the Government to bring down any very large measures and stated his willingness to stay there a while longer and thresh out some of the important legislation which had been promised. He referred more particularly to the question of municipal organisation and taxation. They all remembered the work done last session and he regretted to say there did not appear to be anything foreshadowed in the Speech to lead them to infer that this question would come up this session. The people in this district did not care particularly for any large municipal system but the question of taxation was one that re-interested them deeply and required some attention.
There is, said Mr. Greeley, considerable dissatisfaction in some districts, more particularly the stock­ growing sections, in regard to taxation. This comes particularly from the smaller landlord, who feels that they are not being quite properly dealt with, perhaps, in the matter of taxation. The range conditions are somewhat peculiar. It appears to me there is no law nor any reason why anybody should own anything but stock. The condition of affairs is that a man may go unto that district with from 100 to as many thousand head of cattle as he wants to and go elsewhere and carry on his operation and by not leasing land prac tically pays no revenue into the Territorial treasury. He receives the benefits of roads, bridges, fire-guards, etc., that are being paid for by the small property owner who does not own very many head of live stock and these small property owners naturally feel that their taxes are not being fairly distributed. Very many of the large companies are paying quite substantial sums into the Territorial funds, but there are a large number of people who contribute practically nothing to the maintenance of district needs and who should be in some way got at. I had hoped that this municipal legislation would come up this session and result in placing these matters in a more satisfactory position than they now are.
Adequate Money Grants.
I am very glad to note that the Parliament of Canada has seen fit to give us, approximately at any rate, adequate grants. (Hear, hear.) After all, while we have got an increased vote this year, we also have an increased number of people coming in and a strong demand will be made on that vote. I do not think this increase is anything to crow about. (Laughter.) While we are all pleased to know there is an increased grant yet it had been held back for a long time and much of it will be required to meet accumulating necessities. I do not consider the mere fact of receiving a few dollars more or less is any reason why we should be denied the exercise of the right of self government by the people of this country. We all agree in the expressions of regret that the establishment of the Territories on the provincial basis has not been materially forwarded during the past year. I feel sure the House will press for it until we reach that status. I see no reason, nor have I heard any argument advanced why we should not become a province.
Mr. Bennett — One or two provinces ?
Mr. Greeley – I will say why we should not receive provincial rights—
Mr. Bennett — Hear, hear.
Mr. Greeley – If that is satisfactory to the hon. gentleman. I am myself in favor of provincial autonomy and the people of this country as a whole are in favor of it. It seems to me that all the evidence goes to show this. Every agitation for enlarged local powers in the local improvement districts, in towns desiring to become cities, etc., are only applications for provincial rights, for after all what is a province but a large improvement district. (Cheers.)
Mr. McIntyre Seconds the Motion.
Mr. A. D. McIntyre, (Mitchell), in seconding the motion said:—
Mr. Speaker,—It is with pleasure that I rise on this occasion to second the resolution moved by the Honorable Member for Maple Creek to express the sense of appreciation the House has of the gracious speech with which His Honor, the Lieutenant Governor opened this session of the Legislative Assembly of the Territories on Thursday of last week. I understand that this occasion marks the commencement of His Honor's second term of office and I am sure I but give utterance to the feelings of the Members of the House when I say that we all trust that His Honor may be granted health and strength to perform the duties devolving upon him in his high office with that unfailing courtesy and graciousness which we have all experienced from time to time.
We can all join with His Honor in thankfulness at the continuation of the prosperous era which has marked the history of the Territories dur-­ ing the past few years and we may hope for its continuance for an indefinite period. Hard times will no doubt recur, and seasons will come in which the climatic conditions will be such as to cause disaster and loss to our crops, as, I regret to learn from His Honor's speech, has been the case in a few localities this year, but "hope
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We were all glad to learn that the Dominion Government has recognized the necessities of the Territories in the unprecedented increase to our grant, which for the first time is the full amount asked for. There is no Member in this House I feel safe in saying who has not time and again, felt the pinch of poverty in our public finances. I do not suppose that the present remarkable increase will anything like meet all the requirements of the country, for as usual the "supply" will create a "demand." But I think we should all recognise one fact evidenced by the large increase in our grant. We have all heard the small grants we have had in the past attributed to the difficulty met with by the Dominion Government in interesting Members of Parliament from Eastern constituencies in western affairs. The fact that such a large grant has been given for this year without any criticism shows, to my mind, that that difficulty has been done away with. Though we have not been successful in obtaining provincial institutions, yet I am hopeful from the fact that I have just mentioned, that we are within a reasonable distance of it.
Mr. Speaker, it is with much pleasure I second the resolution before the House.
The Opposition Leader.
Mr. D. H. McDonald, leader of the Opposition, followed.
Received Full Amount Asked For.
I quite agree with the Government in expressions of pleasure that this year we have received all the money we asked for.
Dr. Patrick — Possibly they did not ask for enough.
Mr. McDonald — Well, then it is up to them.
Taking up the question of provincial autonomy, Mr. McDonald said he sincerely hoped that when they next met together, whether at a legislature of the North-West Territories, or as a provincial legislature, that at that time the provincial question would be settled. I believe, said the speaker, that we should have this question settled by this time. (Hear, hear.) I am sincerely in favor of getting autonomy, but I understand this Government has made it a consideration that there must be one province. As you know, we of the Opposition do not agree to that. I believe a majority of this Legislature is now getting to that way of thinking. All we have to do today is to keep plugging at the Government and they will come around on this as they have done on many things. I do not believe there is anyone in Canada who believe that the whole North-West will be formed into one large province. This is a matter in which we are not the only people interested. When we become a province or provinces we enter into confederation with the other provinces and they will have something to say about our size. During recent years we have been growing in population, our representation in the House of Commons has been increased, and we now have a larger force at our back and should therefore be in a position to obtain better terms than we could four or five years ago. I do not know, therefore, but that we have been actual gainers by the matter of provincial autonomy being postponed for a few years. However, I believe the time has come for the granting of provincial institutions and I hope the Government will have better success before the House meets again.
Poked Fun at Bennett.
Although not informed officially, we have reason to believe that a number of Members in this Assembly are endeavoring to secure seats in the House of Commons and, we trust, if any are successful that they will represent the views of this Assembly. (Hear, hear.) I have always thought that it would be a very good thing if certain Members of this Legislature were in the House of Commons. (Laughter.) Of course there are some Members you cannot recommend for that position. (More laughter.) But I think we all ought to be agreed that if any man resigns his seat in this House and attempts to secure a seat in the House of Commons and is defeated he should not endeavor to come back here. (Loud laughter, during which Mr. R. B. Bennett interjecting some remark.
Mr. McDonald — I am sorry that I have hurt the feelings of the Member for West Calgary, but he has given up all idea of ever securing a seat in the House of Commons. (Laughter.) Aside from political considerations it would be a good thing if some of the Members of this Assembly were amongst those representing us at Ottawa.
Mr. McDonald in referring to the Governor General, said he would prove a good friend of the North- West and in bringing our great agricultural resources before the people of Great Britain would do us a great service as, after all, it was to the mother country we looked for the great number of people we expect to have in this country.
Member for the district, and that if the Government had not sufficient confidence in the Member they should send an engineer in to investigate and report. Mr. McDonald resumed his seat amidst applause.
The Premier's Reply.
Premier Haultain was received with hearty applause on rising to reply.
We have received a
Very Substantial Increase.
to our Parliamentary vote and I am very glad that such is the case, and we will have no difficulty in knowing where to put it. This increased vote will be, as one of the speakers said this afternoon, only a temporary alleviation of our position and will only go to meet accumulated needs which have increased from year to year under insufficient grants.
So far as the provincial question is concerned, we in this House are one on that. I regret that the leader of the Opposition sounded even the one discordant note this afternoon of one or more provinces. The deciding of that question rests with Ottawa. What we want is provincial instiutions and the right to manage our own affairs. I have opinions, and others have strong opinions possibly, as to the area within which these institutions should be put in operation, but I consider that an unimportant item in any discussion raised in this House. We should drop that and be united on this question so far as possible, and I believe we can continue to be united so far as we have been in the past, that is to say that this coun try should have provincial institutions. We have required them for the past three years and if we required them then, we require them much more to-day. (Cheers.)


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



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