House of Commons, 17 February 1896, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan

1871 [COMMONS] 1872


Mr. DAVIN. Mr. Speaker, the motion which I have on the paper is one that 1 hope the House will rcgard at this time as specially appropriate :
That it is necessary to (1) the prosperity and progress of the North-west Territories, important to the stability and progress of the Dominion, and of great moment to the Empire that the North-west Territories shall be treated on a different footing from that heretofore ; (2) That the self-respect of the people of the North-west, not less than the material interests of those vast territories demands that the Territories shall not be treated on a plane of inferiority ; (3) That the climate, soil and conditions generally of the North-west are different from those of other parts of Canada, and a policy specially adapted to its needs and resources is called for in order that the settlers shall be rendered prosperous and immigration policies be made effective.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). That is a vote of want of confidence in the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Daly).
Mr. DAVIN. My friend the member for Bothwell says this is a vote of want of confidence in the Minister of the Interior. I beg to say that it is nothing of the kind.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). The vote has not come yet.
Mr. DAVIN. Mr. Speaker, in the earlier clauses of this motion I refer to our treatment: of the North-west Territories ever since we had anything to do with them. I consider that we shall have to take the North-west Territories more seriously than we have done. We have seen in the papers —and it has even been brought before the attention of the Empire—evidence of the readiness of the authorities at Washington, on occasion, to put on, or pretend to put on, their war paint. A short time ago we had a reference made to the attitude of the people of the United States and to the position of England, and that reference has attracted widespread attention. When the people of the United States talk about difficulties with England, they are not thinking of petty disputes connected with bickering republics in South America. They are thinking of Canada, and when they think of Canada, they are thinking of the North-west Territories and of Manitoba. We have had, as I have stated in this House before, visits to the Northwest from prominent American statesmen; and the impression these vast territories, with millions of arable acres, has made upon them, has been such as to wake them from the indifference with which they have regarded Canada generally, especially the North-west. A Mr. Thompson has published an essay in one of the American magazines in which he gives an account of a visit he made to the Territories in 1895. He stopped at Regina, stopped at Calgary, went up to Edmonton, and made, if I may say so, a lit- early survey of the country ; and what did he do when he went back ? He quoted official utterances on the part of the United States officials as to the unimportance of the North-west Territories and Manitoba, and told his countrymen through this magazine, that they were entirely mistaken-that Canada had more than half of North America, and had to-day fertile regions stretching over the North-west Territories equal to seven or eight or nine of the greatest and most fertile states of the Union. Mr. Speaker, int eh " Evening Journal." published in this city, there appeared on the 15th instant a leading article, the writer of which copied a long letter from an American doctor. I think in Philadelphia, which appeared in the London " Time." This gentleman argues that it is for the good of humanity generally, especially for the food of this continent and its peace, that the United States should wake up from their indifference and take Canada in hand. Now, the same writer, Mr. Thompson, points out that the waste lands of the United States have all been taken up. They are no longer these vast extents of fertile territory which that country formerly had ; there are no longer fields for their restless spirits to go to, and they are becoming anxious ; and there cannot be the least doubt that it would be a solution of one of the most difficult problems that concern the United States at present, if, by any possible arrangement, they could get hold of the vast territory which we posses. The reason why I give so wife a bearing to this question is my belief that the future of the Dominion, and perhaps the strength of the whole Empire, is involved in our treatment of the North-west Territories. I say that the prosperity and progress of the North-west Territories demand that they be treated differently. They have been treated too much on this line- that all you had to do was to open up the country, send railways in there, dot it with post offices, five it telegraph and postal commun cation, and give it a large share of provincial government, and that would be sufficient in the past, and I am certain that it is not at present. There is one feature of our dealing with the North-west Territories which we shall have, in my opinion, to revolutionize. I mean the feature of immigration into these territories. The hon. member for Bothwell (Mr. Mills) has said that this is a vote of 1873 [FEBRUARY 17, 1896] 1874 want of confidence in my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Daly). When that hon. gentleman took charge of the Interior Department, he told us that he was going to give us a vigorous immigration policy ; and some people, both in the newspapers and out of them, have charged that the hon. gentleman's policy was not as vigorous as he promised and as we desired. But, Mr. Speaker, I am bound to say that the Parliament of Canada did not give my hon. friend the means of prosecuting such a vigorous immigration policy as we expected.
Mr. DAVIN. Yes, but he has a majority in Parliament.
Mr. DAVIS. My hon. friend from Ottawa County says that he has a majority in Parliament, but if he will look back to the debates in this House he will find—I do not know whether he was guilty in that particular or not—that hon. members on the opposite side have always denounced the amount of money that was expended on immigration.
Mr. MARTIN. Because it was wasted.
Mr. DAVIN. That is a point into which I cannot go just now : but I have heard criticisms in this House on immigration expenditure that did not bear on the question of waste at all, but were confined to the preposition that the amount put down in the Estimates was altogether too large a sum for such a purpose. What we want therefore—and I should like to know if my hon. friend from Ottawa. County (Mr. Devlin) will support me in this—is to have a far larger sum spent on immigration. My hon. friend the leader of the Opposition has frequently denounced the millions which he said had been spent within the last fifteen years.
Mr. MULOCK. But the more millions you spend, the less immigrants you get.
Mr. DAVIN. No, immigration is a business like any other. If you put capital into it and manage that capital properly, you will have results.
Mr. LAURIER. It has been very badly managed then.
Mr. DAVIN. I shall not go into that just now. because that would belong to more properly to a motion dealing with the administration of the vote for immigration, and that is not my purpose here.
Mr. McMULLEN. Nor anywhere else ?
Mr. DAVIN My hon. frlend from Wellington (Mr. McMullen), who has been very quite this session, remarks that it is not my purpose to do so anywhere else. I hope that we shall hear from the hon. gentleman in this debate. He. has been very quite. I rather think that his financial critical sphere has been narrowed by his leaders this session lest he might prove too injurious to them. Suppose we go on in the Northwest as we have been going on. Suppose we only increase there in the ratio we have increased ; the result will be that ten or twenty years will pass, and yet the Northwest will not have its farms of 160 acres each, each containing a family, and what would be the result? It would be that the North-west Territories will not be the, strength to Canada that they might be otherwise, nor the strength to the Empire which they should be. I lay stress on this. I say that if you are to fill up these Territories with an English. a Scandinavian, a Scotch and an Irish population. let us have them filled rapidly, and any vaporings about annexation may he laughed to scorn. In fact, I believe that any such vaporings may he laughed to scorn to—day. But, sir, there is a great opportunity before our Parliament and Government at present with regard to out North—west Territories. That opportunity is this. The English people are thoroughly awake just new to the importance of the colonies. The opinion which obtained some twenty-five years ago, that the colonies were of little importance, is now at a discount, the English people are thoroughly awake to, the importance of their colonies, and the notion of an Imperial Zollverein has undoubtedly made considerable progress. I believe that in the mood in which England is at present, you ought to be able to get the statesmen of England to join with the statesmen of Canada in a great immigration scheme. If you do this. if you turn the tide of immigration to the Northwest Territories, if you do not Confine yourself, to the stray efforts made by charitable associations and the scanty efforts that can be made on the small sums hitherto voted by Parliament. we would get a considerably larger immigration from England than we have had in the past. Then, Sir, if a larger scheme be entered into, we ought tohe able larger immigiation from Scandinavia than we have had and a far larger immigiation from Germany , and under those circumstances. I think that the first part of my resolution should commend itself to the House, namely, that it is of great importance to the stability and progress of the Dominion, and of great moment to the Empire. that the North-west Territories be treated on a different footing from that which has obtained heretofore. In 1891, or perhaps in 1890. I brought before this House a scheme for irrigation. Since my hon. friend (Mr. Daly) has passed an admirable Bill—he was notthen Minister ofthe Interior—dealing with irrigation, and the settlers of Alberta have made use of it. When I brought forward that scheme, I remember the then Minister of the Interior complained that I was casting doubt upon theNorth—west Territories as a fertile country. I need hardly say there was not much likelihood of my casting any doubt upon the North-west Territories as a 1875 [COMMONS] 1876 fertile country. But what I said, and what has since been proved in Alberta, and what has been proved up to the handle in the United States was that you can get no better result from any land in the world or by any system of cultivation than you get from that soil than by means of irrigation. Irrigation makes you independent of the variations of the seasons. In other parts of the North-west, in all parts of Assiniboia, where- ever we have had a partial failure of the crops, it has been due to drought. There is no part of the Territories where an abounding crop cannot be secured, year after year, if you have sufficient moisture. In India, among other systems, they have in the dry parts, far from rivers, a system of irrigation by means of wells. These wells are found to produce an enormous amount of fertility. In some parts of the, United States, also, a system of irrigation by means of wells, has been introduced. Windmills are employed to pump up the water all the time, the water being distributed in troughs, and thence, through smaller troughs, to all parts of the land. The proposition I made in 1891 was this— that the Government of Canada, which had great advantages because it had complete power, should take into its own hands the providing of means of irrigation where it was known that the land was fertile, but where it was also known that the rainfall was not sufficient. There are parts of Assiniboia where we have farms, the occu pants of which have to go great distances for water. Now, I hold that money appropriated for irrigation purposes could not be better spent than by providing water for these farmers. not exactly at their doors. but contiguous to their farms. If this were done, on every farm you would have a man sending letters abroad telling of abundant crops year after year, and of a condition of things enabling him to despise the mutations of the seasons. There is another point. one that, probably, would not commend itself to free traders or revenue tariffists, but that would commend itself to those of us who believe in protection, and who are not afraid of the sneers against " paternalism." I believe that there are parts of the Northwest Territories where we ought to aid the farmers, through helping little bodies of farmers in establishign creameries where they are not able to do so themselves. Some assistance should be given, but not exactly in the form I suggested before. Some assistance was given some years ago in one part of my own district, and the result has been most gratifying; it has been such as to justify the Government in the course they took at that time. The second clause of the resolutions is this:
(2) That the self-respect oi the people of the North-west, not less than the material interests of those vast territories demands that the Territories shall not be treated on a plane of inferiority.
I think it was in 1880 that I proposed that we should have full responsible government for the Territories; and what was done then was to pass a Bill—my late illustrious leader, the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald was leading the Government, and it was his Bill—which gave us a small advisory board. And now we have a financial committee. which has not the right to advise the governor on any subject but finance. The powers of the North-west Territories are, I think, with the exception of one or two items, coextensive with those of a province. But, for what reason, I never could make out, we hesitate to give full responsible government to the Territories. The result of giving full responsible government would be to set that giant, the North-west Territories, upon its mettle. It is just as important, for instance, as British Columbia—much more important from one point of view—
Mr. PRIOR. Query.
Mr. DAVIN. From one point of view. My hon. friend may be quite certain that I would not disparage the importance of any part of Canada to Canada at large. I know full well the importance of that magnificent province of the Pacific. But what I say is that there is no part of Canada so important at this hour to Canada as the North-west Territories, with their boundless fertile acres awaiting the plough of the immigrant. If provincial government be good for the provinces, why should it not be good for the North-west Territories ? We have a population—again to refer to the Pacific province—as large as that of British Columbia. That is shown by the last census. And we have more fertile land than any province or any two provinces in Canada. We have vast resources, mineral and agricultural, as well as resources of the forest, and the fishery. The same principle that leads us, as federalists, to give power to the province to deal with its own affairs, should lead us to give similar powers to the North-west Territories. Local self-government is based upon the principle that if you have Ministers on the spot who are closely interested in the local affairs, and have much better opportunities to manage those affairs wisely than persons at a distance, things will in a large sphere of civil government be better done. There is also the principle of the division of labour. We divide the work of the government in this country. We find that the provinces can do the purely provincial work better than it could be done here in Ottawa, and, of course, we are able to do the work that is allotted to us better than if it were scattered over five or six de partments. in five or six different parts of Canada. What we want, therefore, in my opinion, and in the opinion of the most thoughtful people in the North-west Territories, is that the last link be given; we 1877 [FEBRUARY 17, 1896] 1878 want to have the additional power that is necessary to cover the whole field of provincial functions, and we want to have the Ministers, as we virtually have at present. We have my friend Mr. Haultain, who is called the Premier ; he is chairman of the executive. He has got another colleague, paid as much as a Minister, and he is a member of the executive. These, with two other gentlemen, are a committee of the House chosen by the House, to advise His Honour on financial questions. The result is, that instead of having a little executive responsible to the assembly, and responsible to the people of the North-west, you have a committee appointed to spend the money that we give them a committee appointed by the assembly really to spend that money, as it is directed by the assembly. And what is the consequence of that? The consequence is, that the system of log-rolling still prevails. Now, Mr. Speaker, my friend Mr. Haultain, who is chairman of the executive, promised that he would get out of that : he promised that he would certainly give that up, and a step has been taken in the way of focussing the responsibility. But I cannot think that you can have the expenditure of money, say, for public works, placed in a satisfactory position, unless you have men as a body responsible to the assembly, and who shall hold that responsible position in face of the electors of the country. Under these circumstances, the result will be that you will have what seems to be necessary to our system of government, you will have the politicians, the people who take an interest in the affairs of that country, divided into parties. Nobody is more sensible than I am of the evils that can gather around party government But all things are capable of degenerating into abuses. We cannot find anything in our human affairs that cannot be abused, and I cannot see how it is possible to work our constitution without having paities. In fact, we see from the management of affairs up there, that, probably, there would be an economy there would be a real economy, if there were an opposition, if there were parties in the House, a regular ministry, and an opposition to criticise the conduct of that ministry, and criticise its expenditure. I may say, in passing, that I do not see why we should not, in the theory of our constitution, acknowledge patties. It may be a useful thing to recognize what the writers call fiction. But, Sir, no fiction that has become an absolute fiction can be useful ; in the nature of things it must cease to be useful. On the other hand, any real fact. anything that is a controlling fact, as ' party is, in the government of a country, it seems to me to be a great affectation on our part to refuse to acknowledge. Here we are, framing a constitution, and all the time ignoring one of the great wheels by which the country is governed. The third clause of this resolution is :  
That the climate, soil and conditions generally of the North-west are different from those of othe1 parts of Canada, and a policy specially adapted to its needs and resources is called for in order that the settlers shall be rendered prosperous and immigration policies be made effective.
Now, I forget who it was. when this motion was read—I believe it was my hon. friend from Queen's. P.E.I., (Mr. Davies)—who seemed to think the last part, especially, was a reflection on the immigration policy of my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior. What I meant was this : That, if you want to make your immigration policy effective, you must have the farmer in the North-west shaking hands, so to speak, and co-operating with your agent in England. If you do that, then, in my opinion, you will make that circle which will be one of the most effective and potent powers to secure your object. Not that I condemn in any way the immigration policy of this department, for I say that, so far as I have been able to judge, my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior, with the means at his disposal, has done as well in securing immigration as any Minister could possibly do. But, when I speak of making it more effective, I mean that whatever efforts are put for and by the immigration function of his department, should be seconded by a contented and prosperous yeomanry in our North-west Territories. Now, Sir, to effect all this you will have in my opinion, to make a new departure. In fact, peculiarities of the conditions in the North-west Territories are such that you may gain immense results, almost immeasurable results. if you only adopt wise, paternal policy. Such are the peculiarities of that country, and so different is it from most European countries, that it is not a country into whichyou may invite people accustomed to other conditions, and then leave them there without any further attention. Some of them will succeed when brought in in that way ; but what I say is, that the true policy wouldbe to exercise an interest in the settlers that go, into the Territories, to devise schemes for the amelioration of their condition, and, above all, to see that the conditions are supplied that will fit the land they settle on, that will fit it year after year for producing, to a certainty, a good crop. Now, Mr. Speaker, a great bugbear against the North-west Territories used to be the frost. Well, I lay this down, that the frost is a comparative trifle in the Northwest Territories. Give moisture, have moisture any year you like, have moisture in any part of the country you like, and, no matter how severe the frost, you will have results that will enable the farmer to prosper, that will enable the farmer to make money, that will enable the farmer to have his bacon, and his pork, and his flour, and to have all the conditions that are necessary to a contented and prosperous farm life. Well, how is it to be done ? I have indicated one scheme 1879 [COMMONS] 1880 that is, in my opinion. of absolute importance, and that is a scheme of irrigation by means of wells. That is not new in this House. I proposed it before, but it fell on deaf ears. In fact, the suggestion of irrigation at all, when I proposed it in 1889 or 1890, raised a certain amount of resentment in the minds of some of my hon. friends. I suggested at that time that we should have artesian wells. All parts of the country are not fit for artesian wells but these palts fit for artesian wells can be irrigated in that way most successfully. I remember I gave an instance of what I have seen in Dakota. I was riding and saw what seemed to be a lake. From the conformation of the country it was like tht driest prairie country we have, and I galloped up to where the lake was, and said   to a lad  who was attending some cattle: You have a fine lake of water there : where does it come from and where does it empty ? He replied that it was purely artificial. that it was from an artesian well, and he directed me to where the well was. I rode there, and saw a pipe emptying water into a vast tank, the overflow passing down the side of the hill and in one of the hollows making a fine lake, useful for the watering of cattle and also for purposes of irrigation. These are the courses which I think should be pursued. Let me make a general proposition. In the North-west Territories we have, according to the last census as large a population as British Columbia ; we have an area transcending that of any province of the Dominion by many multiples: we have that which at the present time is one of the most important possessions a country can possess, and that is vast fertile plains; we have a population that man for man will compare with the population of any province of Canada. What we say is this, and we feel very strongly about it—we do not want to be treated on any other footing than that on which the provinces are treated. We do not want, for instance, to have this kind of feeling: Well. we can treat the North-west in a different way from Ontario. Quebec, British Columbia or Nova Scotia. The North-west wants the same consideration, the same means of asserting itself in the federation, the same means of making its importance felt, and it wants also to be treated with the same respect, to have its citizens, the men who have thrown in their lot with it and identified their lives with its development and progress, treated precisely on the same plane as the men are treated who live in the older provinces. A wholly different sentiment from that pervades the minds of all eastern politicians, I do not care whether they belong to the Liberal or Conservative party, a sentiment that the North-west can be treated differently, and that something will do for the North-west that would not do for British Columbia, Nova Scoria, New Brunswick, Ontario or Quebec. We entirely object to that attitude we entirely object to that state of mind. We say that is not respectful to us, on the contrary it is quite offensive to us: and we say moreover, although that may be construed as a social or a civic sentiment merely, it is closely related to the material progress of those vast Territories on which so much can be built, out of which so much can be made for the Dominion of Canada, and out of which so much can be made for the Empire too. We say it would be a dangerous and bad thing, vicious in every possible way if the people of the Territories, now when public opinion is being formed there, were deprived of these conditions for the production of the sense of dignity which exist in other parts of the Dominion. The view too much taken in the past has been, and it is the view taken in this House—hon. gentlemen cannot make any party capital out of this—it is the view that has obtained in this House, and probably obtains here yet —is what I would call the greengrocer view, the view of trying to make so much out of it. When I hear hon. gentlemen speak about the amount spent on the North-west Territories and speak of the debt incurred for the Northwest Territories, they speak as though the Territories were not part of Canada, and that if the Territories have been brought into existence, and are now a great factor in the wealth of Canada, the North-west owes that to the Dominion ; but I say here that Canada owes more to the North-west than the Northwest owes to Canada. Eastern Canada. Ontario, Quebec and other provinces, have open ed up the country, and we thank them for that. And whom have we mainly to thank for opening up the country ? I think a good deal of thanks is due to the present Government, in regard to which it is said that this is a motion of want of confidence. But let it be considered for one moment as to what has been the result of the expenditure on railways going into that country, what has been the result of the expenditure in opening up that country. You have at the present moment areturn of over 50 per cent to the wealth of Canada for every $100 spent in that country. Take Winnipeg to-day. The assessed value of property there is over   $22,000,000, the assessed value of Brandon is $5,000,000 or $6,000,000, then there is the assessed value to Moosomin, Qu'Appelle, Wolseley, Regina, Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat, and Calgary right along the line, and leaving altogether aside the value of the farm,. you have in the wealth brought into existence in these towns more than 50 per cent of the amount that has been Spent in opening up the North-west. You talk about the debt. The hon. member for South Oxford (Sir Richard Cartwright) talks about debt. as though going into debt was some great evil. Going into debt and spending the money that has been obtained is no evil. Spending such money wastefully or squandering would be a great evil, it is true : but if you can borrow money at 3% per cent and invest it so as to yield 10, 15, 20 or even 50 per cent, 1881 [FEBRUARY 17, 1896] 1882 as some of our investments are yielding, this is one of the most advantageous results in the way of statesmanship the Government can accomplish. Let me say this about the debt, that if you will take the debt of Canada—and I will make this general statement as hearing on the North-west—for the time usually taken {or purposes of comparison. sixteen or seventeen years, if you take the difference between the debt at that time and the net debt to-day. and then take the amount of capital that has been brought into existence by the expenditure of that debt. I venture to say that the whole increase will be wiped out as with a sponge. and a large asset will still remain. All that is true in every detail in regard to the North-west. I must not refer to a past debate. and I need not, do so : but in the press and in other quarters I have seen some statements about the old sections in the North-west Territories and l have been asked why I did not take up a question like the settlement of the odd sections of the country. As early as 1885. before I was a member of the House. I proposed a plan to the Government. It is on record in the Library and hon. members have only to go there and they will see my plan. I proposed that' the Government should buy back all the land alienated to the Canadian Pacific Railway and open all those lands to settlement. The six million odd acres that were brought back, were, I think. bought back at $1.50 per acre. Now , suppose that same price were given for what remains. 
Mr. MULOCK. What quantity remains ?
Mr. DAVIN. I expect there are about 7,000,000 or 8,000,000 acres still remaining. probably more. I maintain that you cannot do better than to buy back these odd sections and open them for settlement. Here is my point : Suppose you open them for settlement, and a farmer comes in, and brings in his family of four, and they eat and drink and travel ; the railway company, instead of losing by alienating the lands which it was holding, at $3 or $3 an acre, would be the gainer. I must say, however, for the Canadian Pacific Railway, that they have been selling lands at a very low figure, and no complaint can be brought against them on that head. But, however low or however high they have been selling, they cannot get such a good return for their lands, as the return they would get by having a farmer settled there, whose wife and children and friends would travel, as well as himself. On the other hand, the Gov ernment could not invest money better than by buying back these lands, because they would have the revenue swelled by the indirect taxation on the farmer. Besides that, if every settler is worth $1,000, then every family of three or four on a farm, would add considerably to the wealth of the country.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I proposed this in 1885, and if my friend from Guysborough (Mr. Fraser) were here, I would suggest to him that he should remember that. I cannot. recollect that any member of the Opposition took the matter up when I spoke of it before ; but a thing has occurred within the last, two years that I am very glad of, and which has made a great change and a great improvement in the temper of this House. The hon. gentleman who leads the Opposition has visited North-west Territories. together with my hon. friend from Lincoln (Mr. Gibson). and my hon. friend from Oxford (Mr. Sutherland) and a number of leading men in the Reform party. The result of that visit has been most gratifying, and, in my opinion, most useful. In their speeches, whether in or out of this House, these gentlemen take a wholly different tone in regard to these Territories from what they were accustomed to. The fact is, that before visiting these Territories, they did not realize what they were ; and I have. never met a politician, whether of my own political thought or not, whoever would  say that he had any idea what these Territories were until after he had visited them. But after visiting there, he never again has any doubt as to what a significance these Territories have for the people of Canada. He knows well that there the battle of our national life will be fought and won, and that there, also, the greatest battle for the Empire can he fought and won. We are all of us-at all events in the party to which I belong-we are all of us in favour of what is called preferential trade within the Empire. That is nothing more than an Imperial Zollverein. Now, Sir, that idea was suggested, I forget how long ago, by Mr. Justice Byles, who, when he wrote his book. the " Fallacies of Free Trade," was not, I think, then on the bench, but was a thoughtful, able barrister, in London. Justice Byles pointed out how absurd it was for England, and how absurd it was for the colonies to remain apart, when by an Imperial Zollverein they could do the greatest possible good to themselves, commercially, aye, and especially for England, politically, as well I say here, that if Canada is to be to the Empire what Canada is capable of being, those Territories must be filled up. If they are not populated, Canada cannot be the right arm, as she is capable of being, to the Empire. After all, Mr. Speaker, Manitoba and the North-west Territories should be looked at as one. If you of to the Lake of the Woods, and run a diagonal line right up to the Yellowhead Pass, you will find that all south of that you have got a vast region of fertile land, and from five miles on this side of the Rockies, right to the foot of the Rockies, you have coal fields that are themselves potentialities to the Empire. We have the finest coal beds in the world in the North-west Territories, we have the finest lands in the world and the greatest amount of them in the North-west Territories, and these are greatly needed for the develop 1883 [COMMONS] 1884 ment of Canada. In fact, they are the great conditions to the development of a country like this.
Mr. GILLMOR. And you have them.
Mr. DAVIN. We have them.
Mr. GILLMOR. That is right.
Mr. MULOCK. Why do not the people go there to develop them ?
Mr. DAVIN. That is a very important question. and let me say in regard to that " why," if my hon. friend (Mr. Mulock) had visited those Territories as I visited them, in 1882, and wandered around those fertile fields, and dug down eight feet in the richest loam,—
Mr. GILLMOR. Eight feet ?
Mr. DAVIN. Yes, eight and nine feet of the richest loam you could dig there.
Mr. GILLMOR. It would never exhaust you in the world.
Mr. DAVIN. It would not be exhausted for many a year.
Mr. GILLMOR. You could not plough that ?
Mr. DAVIN. In the course of years you could.
Mr. GILLMOR. No, you would have to dig the top off before you could plough it.
Mr. DAVIN. My hon. friend employs words differently from what I do. I like to hear my hon. friend (Mr. Gillmor) speak. Unless when he speaks on the tariff, he is a man of a cheerful turn of mind, but when he speaks on the tariff, he is the Mrs. Gummidge of the Reform party. My hon. friend from York (Mr. Mulock) asks the question : Why are not these lands populated ? What I say is this : If you had visited these Territories in 1882 you would have thought, as we all thought, as I dare say my hon. friend from Winnipeg (Mr. Martin) thought, that these Territories were going to fill up ; in fact, that the population would flow into them. That was our opinion, and we were perfectly certain of it. And now take the calculations that were made by the hon. baronet, the Secretary of State, when he was Finance Minister. These calculations have been quoted here as though they were some reproach to him. Take the calculations made by my late right honourable friend Sir John A. Macdonald, as to how that land would fill up, how many thousands would be there in 1891, how much money would be got, and so on, and which calculations are quoted in the Liberal newspapers, and elsewhere as against the Conservative party. Sir, I say that the mistakes of calculation that were made were mistakes that were inevitable, looking at the conditions of the country at that time. No man, I do not care how pessimistic he was, how gloomy may have been his mental liver, how prone he may have been to take a jaundiced view of things—no man could visit those Territories in 1882 without believing that, in the course of ten or fifteen years, there would be millions of people there. As the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Martin) and the hon. member for West Huron (Mr. Cameron), who visited the Territories at that time, know, you could not visit any part of the world where the conditions promised more comfort or more prosperity for the farmer. Was it not natural. then. that sanguine men should make the calculations they did ? The attitude of mind that was shown by Sir John Macdonald. and by others at that time, was a natural one. It was sincere. They thought what everybody else thought. What made us go up there and invest what money we had in farm property ? We thought people would crowd in. homesteads would fill up, and then they would come and buy from us the railway lands we had bought. Men like Sir Charles Tapper, the Secretary of State, and Sir John Macdonald, men of sanguine mind, naturally made calculations roseate with hope. Now, let me say this. There was more power in such calculations—aye, and more truth—than in the gloomy and despairing views taken by the hon. gentlemen who opposed them. There were two things in these calculations. There was, first, power—steam—go-ahead; in the next place, they were more true to what has taken place since. I heard Mr. Blake, I think when he was a member of this House—I certainly heard him out of the House—calculate that the Canadian Pacific Railway, as it was built, was an impossibility. We know how, at Aurora he spoke of the impossibility of getting through the " sea of mountains." I say there was more consonance with the ultimate fact in the calculations of Sir Charles Tupper and Sir John Macdonald than in the somewhat gloomy vaticinations of those who opposed them. But, Sir, what form did the adverse criticisms upon their policy take ? Their opponents went about, saying that the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway would ruin the country. What was the answer ? The answer was: You will have such and such Wealth in return; lands will be sold ; and, as Sir John Macdonald pointed out—in 1891, I think it was—every cent of the cost of the Pacific Railway will have been paid. Well, Sir, every cent of the cost of the Pacific Railway has been paid, but not in that way.
Mr. LAURIER. Hear, hear.
Mr. DAVIN. My hon. friend laughs. not expect anything else. They belong to the spirit that denies. They are a party wanting in faith. They are a party of political unbelief. They have no confidence whatever in the future of anything, and they can only realize that it exists when it actu 1885 [FEBRUARY 17, 1896] 1886 ally comes before them. Well, Mr. Speaker, what I want to say is this, that the attitude taken by Sir John Macdonald, in consequence of these criticisms,continued too long. I remember when it was determined—I happened to be here in Ottawa at the time—determined, not by Sir John Macdonald, but by another gentleman, to close up the mile belt, and to close up Southern Manitoba; and a man whom we all honoured greatly. and whose memory we honour in this House, the late John Henry Pope. who was then Minister of Agriculture, told me of this, and said he thought it was a very serious step. I thought so, too, and I went to the Acting Minister and tried to argue him out of it: but I failed to do it, and Southern Manitoba and the mile belt were closed. It was a very bad policy. I commenced at once to attack the policy ; and in the papers down in the cast I was attacked for attacking the policy of the Department of the Interior of that day. To his honour, be it said, the late Sir John Macdonald, my leader of that day, wrote to me: " Don't mind these attacks upon you; you express the opinion of the country where you are, and it would be a most disastrous thing if you expressed the opinion of Ottawa; I have the utmost confidence in you—go on and express the opinions of the country where you are." And, when Sir John Macdonald was again taking charge of the Department of the Interior, I wrote to him in this language: "In the history of human ineptitude, there never was such a damnable—"
Some hon. MEMBERS. Oh.
Mr. DAVIN. Yes, that was the word I used—" such a damnable act of policy as closing up Southern Manitoba and the mile belt." We got them opened up, and I went and saw Burgess. I said, " Burgess, I think the old chief must have resented the language of the letters I wrote to him."—I wrote in strong language. He said, " Not at all. He brought out the letter in which you spoke of the damnable act of folly, and he said, " Burgess, when "Davin speaks in that way, something is wrong.' " I had broken away from my conventional and inveterate reticence, and I had talked in the large language of the earlier gods. What I say is, that the party and the government that I support have piled up such great services to this country that they can afford to have mistakes of this or that man referred to. The result of their closing up Southern Manitoba and the mile belt, in the teeth of the advice of the late John Henry Pope and myself— against my persistent protest—was, as everybody knows who has lived in Manitoba, that there was a great deal of discontent and a great deal of retardation in the country. The results of that act linger with us to-day. Now, why was that done ? The gentleman who closed them up spoke to me in this wise —and it illustrates what I want to strike. He said : " What is the value of land in Southern Manitoba to-day ?" I said, "I believe it is worth about $7 an acre: but what do you mean by asking me that question ? Do you mean that you would regard it as a private person would ? There is the greatest possible difference between a trading corporation or a private individual and a government. The government, by holding lands at $7 an acre, may make a stroke of policy most foolish, but an individual or a corporation, the more they get for their lands, the more money they gain. The proper way for a government to treat districts, lands and territories, is to consider the country as a family, and to consider that all which makes for the wealth and advancement of each part of that family adds so much to the wealth of the family. What I want, therefore, is to rid hon. gentlemen of the idea of looking to the North-west with the view of making money out of it or of getting an income out of it. The proper way to regard the Department of the Interior is not to regard it as a department from which to obtain income, but as the means of filling up the country with immigrants. The view of getting so much income out of the country is an entirely mistaken one. I hope that in these few remarks I have made my meaning clear. I mean that the development of these Territories is of vital importance to Canada and the Empire : I mean that they should be treated on the same footing of dignity as the other parts of the Dominion.
Mr. MULOCK. What do you propose to do ?
Mr. DAVIN. I suggest that a very small change be made and that the local legislature be placed precisely on the footing of a provincial legislature.
Mr. MULOCK. Hate it made into a province ?
Mr. DAVIN. Have it made into a province. I am glad my hon. friend referred to that. Now is the time to do it. We see the folly of having small provinces down by the Atlantic. We do not want petty provinces—  
Mr. MULOCK. No reflections on the maritime provinces.
Mr. DAVIN. I make none. But every statesman from the maritime provinces, with whom I have discussed this subject, has admitted it would be a good thing to have Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island all in one. It would be foolish to look forward to Assiniboia, Saskatchewan and Alberta being made into separate provinces. The only persons who will clamour for that are people who have moneyed interests in certain towns. You will get a few people in Calgary to clamour, for making Alberta a province, a few people in Regina to clamour for making Assiniboia a province, and a 1887 [COMMONS] 1888 few people in Prince Albert to urge that the Saskatchewan district be made a province. Everybody knows that you cannot expect to have in those Territories. for many a year, such a dense population as would justify the existence of three or four provinces there. I do not want to enter into particulars. l merely point out the way in which the North-west expects to be treated. Everybody understands how undesirable it is that I should particularize, but in every way we expect to be treated on a footing with the other provinces.
Mr. MULOCK. I ask the hon. gentleman to particularize to the extent of telling us what his proposed remedy is, and in what way the Territories are now treated different from other provinces.
Mr. DAVIN. Mainly this. At present the money voted is practically under the control of the assembly. Practically. the assembly controls it. although not technically. After this Government has handed it over to the assembly, the assembly is allowed to control it. Although this Government hold a certain control. yet that is never fully exercised. At present there are four gentlemen there. who are called the executive of the assembly. These gentlemen advise the Lieutenant-Governor as to the. expenditure, and they are chosen by the assembly. What I propose is that we should have a small local government, just as they have in Prince Edward Island. It will not cost more than the executive costs at present. Mr. Haultain and Mr. Ross will draw a sal ary as large as two Ministers will in Prince Edward Island. I propose that they should be in a position to take a responsible course as do the Ministers in other parts. I propose, also, that all high officials, now chosen elsewhere, should be chosen from the Territories. But I do not dwell on that, because that follows as a mere corollary. That is what I mean by saying that we should be treated on an equal footing with the other provinces. The subject is one which should be treated in more detail and at more length. in order to do full justice to it. But I think I have sufficiently explained my views in order that we should take practical action. A very slight change in the law would be sufficient, but, of course, I do not expect anything to be done this session. The matter would require more careful consideration and a carefully prepared measure, so that I do not expect anything to be done this session. All I desired to accomplish was to give expression to the opinion of my constituents, and of the whole Territory, as to the matters I have brought before the House. I have ventured to make a suggestion that will entail some more expenditure. My remarks on that particular may, I hope, influence my hon. friend the Finance Minister, when preparing supplemental Estimates. There are certain practical things that may he done for the Ter ritories in those supplemental Estimates. But what I wanted especially to clear from the minds of this House and of the Government is that the North-west Territories have in any way failed to give a good return for the outlay we have made there. The North-west at present, with its developed wealth, has so added to the assets on Canada that the amount of money spent in opening: it up is a very minor matter, in my opinion, indeed. If once we accept the view that the North-west has paid its way, that it has no large. debit against it, then, when the Council come to. consider the proposals of expenditure, they will not be so unlikely to take an illiberal view as they would if the notion that somehow money had been spent there which had not met with an adequate return.
Mr. DALY moved the adjournment of the debate.
Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned.


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



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