House of Commons, 20 September 1891, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan

6325 [SEPTEMBER 30, 1891.] 6326


Mr. DEWDNEY moved second reading of Bill (No. 178) further to amend the Acts respecting the North-West Territories. He said: This is an amendment which I explained yesterday, and its object is to equalize the representation of the several provisional districts of the North-West Territories. It has been found since the census was taken that the arrangement we had made does not give a fair representation to the different provisional districts. The population of Alberta, for instance, is 26,123, of Assiniboia, 30,285, and of Saskatchewan, 11,146. By allowing six representatives to the Saskatchewan district, it gave one representative for each 1,857 inhabitants. By giving twelve representatives to Assinihoia, it gives them one to every 2,523. In Alberta eight representatives gives one to each 3,640 inhabitants; showing that Alberta really suffers more than any of the other districts. It is proposed to take one from Saskatchewan which would then give a representative to a population of over 3,000 and equalize it to that extent.
Mr. LARIVIERE. I have no doubt that there is, perhaps, some arguments in favour of basing the representation strictly on population; but I believe there are other considerations that we must remember, there is a territorial representation to be con sidered as well. Now, it is true that Assiniboia has a larger population than Saskatchewan, but the territory of Assiniboia is a great deal smaller than that of Saskatchewan, and though the population of Saskatchewan may not be as large, it is more scattered, and perhaps requires a great deal more attention from the representatives than more thickly settled districts. I am sorry that in order to give Assiniboia an increase of representation which I would not deny, as they are perhaps entitled to it—we should be asked to deprive Saskatchewan of a division which has only been granted to it a few days ago. We knew at the time we made these new divisions, what the census was, and it was for those who were responsible to call our attention to this fact, if that was an argument strong enough to require us to make the alterations that are asked to-day. I do not see why, after agreeing to these electoral divisions in the district of Saskatchewan, we should now be called upon to stultify ourselves in making a re-arrangement of those divisions. I am aware, and the House is aware, that the passing of this Bill a few days ago has had the effect of leading the people to select candidates for those divisions we have already created, and those candidates have already begun the campaign for an election which will take place in a short time. Now, these people are greatly dissatisfied and when the rumour was set afloat that such a change was to take place. I, for one, received several telegrams from interested parties, asking whether such changes were going to be made, and why the people should be made mere playthings of by this House, and whether, after creating the electoral divisions for them, we were going to take them away after the people had already begun to act in accordance with the law that has been passed. I, therefore, hope that while this measure may grant an additional electoral division to Assiniboia, to which I do not object, it will not be to the detriment of Saskatchewan. Add another division, if you like. but do not rob Peter in order to pay Paul.
Mr. DEWDNEY. I do not think any great harm would be done to any one, even if the Bill was allowed to remain as it came from the Senate. It certainly would do Saskatchewan a little good, because it would then leave for that territory the members which it was understood they were entitled to, and the people there had already made arrangements, I believe, to select members to represent the districts which we had created. I may say, in regard to Saskatchewan, that since the completion of the railway a large immigration is going in there. During the last few years I have had application to send a surveyor to subdivide two townships, in order that the families who are there waiting may be located on the land. Therefore, in anticipation of a very large immigration into that district it is very desirable to make provisions for a large representation. The hon. gentleman who has spoken knows that in that district a portion of the inhabitants would consider it a hardship if we did not make a re-arrangement. An understanding was come to between the hon. member for West Assiniboia (Mr. Davin) and myself that this change should be made; but of course we cannot go on with the Bill without the unanimous consent of the House, and if the hon. gentleman feels so strongly that we should not do so, of course I can do nothing but withdraw the Bill.
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Mr. LARIVIERE. I only object to one clause of the Bill, that is, the second clause, taking away from one district what is wanted in the other. I do not object to the other clauses at all.
Mr. LAURIER. The hon. gentleman will see that this is a matter which has just been disposed of. It should have been brought up earlier in the session. It is impossible to say whether the new divisions or the old divisions are right. It is impossible for any man in this House, except perhaps the Minister or the hon. members from the North-West, to give it sound judgment on the matter.
Motion agreed to, and Bill read the second time.


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



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