House of Commons, 5 April 1875, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan

APRIL 5, 1875. 1081


Mr. ARCHIBALD hoped the House would permit him to ask a question, although no notice had been given, namely, whether any steps had been taken to prevent speculations in land on the line of the Pacific Railway in the Province of Manitoba and the North- West, and also whether the Hudson Bay Company had any lands along the route of the railway.
Hon. Mr. MACKENZIE—The only steps the Government have taken in connection with the Government lands is to pass an Order in Council prohibiting the sale or pre-emption of any lands on the line of the railway until the Government have time to consider the question of the final disposal of those lands in connection with the contracts; and that Order in Council embraces the entire route from Rat Portage westward to Fort Pelly. The Government thought it desirable that a very careful examination of the country should be had in the first place in order to ascertain where a town might be located, or where lands might be advantageously reserved, and to take such measures as would effectually prevent any land speculators from taking advantage of the location of the railway to the detriment of the public. With respect to the latter question, my hon. friend will find from the language of the treaty with the Hudson Bay Company that they have one-twentieth of the land reserved to them, and that they are entitled in the Saskatchewan country to choose land on the north side in preference to the south side in certain places that they desire it. We have considered the position they occupy relative to the Government with their lands. It is impossible that we can interfere with the rights they have under the agreement made and sanctioned by Parliament, but the Government have been considering and will consider further during the recess whether it is not desirable in these quarters, at least, to endeavor to extinguish the rights of the company to any of the lands.
Mr. PLUMB was glad to hear from the hon. the First Minister that the Government proposed to withdraw their land from sale, and that a full examination had been made. He hoped that when such examination had been completed the land would be put up for competition of which ample notice would be given—so that every one would have an opportunity of competing for the lands.
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL asked for explanations of the expression of the hon. the Premier in regard to extinguishing the claims of the Hudson Bay Company to the North-West lands.
Hon. Mr. MACKENZIE—We cannot of course force the land from the company ; but I have already taken the ground that it is extremely inconvenient to have a company the proprietors of a very large extent of land in the North-West, and if Parliament could make an arrangement for Canada to become the sole proprietors of the soil in that country, it would be of advantage. The question was one for Parliament to consider.
Sir JOHN MACDONALD said that while on the one hand, great dissatisfaction had been expressed at companies owning immense tracts of country, as was seen in the case of the Canada Land Company ; on the other hand, it should be remembered that the Hudson's Bay Company, 1082 HOUSE OF COMMONS. were a powerful body in England with large political influence and might become Emigration Agents for the settlement of the country.
Hon. Mr. MACKENZIE said that all those points would have to be considered by the Government, but the tendency of public opinion in Canada was wholly against land companies controlling very large portions of the public domain. He thought at the time the arrangement was negotiated with the Hudson's Bay Company, as he thought now, that it was not desirable that such a state of affairs should exist. It would be for the Government to consider whether any such advantage as the right hon. member for Kingston had suggested would be likely to accrue from the company owning large tracts of land in the North-West, and the Government would consider the propriety of submitting a measure dealing with the subject to Parliament at its next session.
Sir JOHN MACDONALD asked for explanations as to the arrangement with the Hudson's Bay Company in regard to the taxation of land.
Hon. Mr. MACKENZIE said the company were liable to taxation after they had taken possession of the land. The Government must first survey the land, and then the company must take them up, after which the land become subject to taxation, but only to such taxation as was imposed on lands owned by other proprietors.
Mr. D. A. SMITH remarked that one of the provisions of the deed of surrender expressly set forth that the Hudson's Bay Company's land should not be liable to any exceptional taxation.
The question then dropped.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1875-1949. Provided by the Library of Parliament.



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