House of Commons, 31 August 1896, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan



Mr. OLIVER moved for:
Copies of all memorials, resolutions or other documents from the legislative assembly of the North-west Territories for an increase of subsidy, and all correspondence in connection with the same.
He said: Mr. Speaker. I would ask the House to listen for a short time to an explanation of the object for which this motion is made. The motion is moved in order to afford information to the House on a subject of considerable interest to the House and to the country. It is a subject in regard to which efforts have been made for the enlightenment of the House in the past, or rather for the enlightenment of the late Government, but the information never reached the House, and it seems to me it would be well to take up a short time of this sitting in order to arrive at an understanding of this question. The motion relates to the financial condition of the legislature of the North-west Territories in its connection with this Government. The position occupied by the Territories at the present time is very similar to the position of a province, that is to say, the territorial government and legislature have all, or nearly all, the responsibilities of a provincial government or legislature. and at the same time they have much greater responsibilities than the government of any province, owing to the immense area of country they are expected to govern and the difficulties of carrying on that government. While the North-west government and legislature have almost equal power and greater responsibility than the government of a province, the government and legislature are confronted with the position that they have not adequate finances. and those finances have been inadequate for some years past. The area under the government of the North-west Territories is, roughly speaking, something like 600 miles square: it is very much larger than the settled area of all the eastern provinces of the Dominion, and settlement being scattered more or less over this great area, the expense and difficulty of carrying on the government are proportionately increased. It is not only that there is a great area over which settlement is scattered, but there is also diversity of interest. There is the wheat raising interest in the east. the cattle raising interest in the west, the coal mining in the mountains, and the trading interest in the far north—a diversity of interests that renders legislation and government in that country more difficult probably than in any province, or, at all events in any province having a similar population. The population of the Territories in 1891 was stated as 66,799. and the subsidies at that time derived from the Dominion Parliament amounted in 1892 to $211,200. Since that time the 413 [AUGUST 31, 1896] 414 population has increased, so that in 1894. according to the census then taken by the police, the population was 86,000 and taking the same rate of increase down to the end of the current fiscal year, it may be placed in the neighbourhood of 112,000. While the population has increased from 66,000 to 112,000, the subsidy on which the government of the Territories is based, has increased only from $211,000 to $242,000 : that is to say, that while the population has nearly doubled. the subsidy on which the government of the Territories is conducted. has only increased by 15 per cent : to be more accurate, while the population has increased 70 per cent, the subsidy has increased only 15 per cent. There was difficulty in governing those Territories in 1891 with the then subsidy, but the difficulty is much greater now, with not only a larger population, but a population that has gone into new portions of the country, while at the same time the Territories have receive comparatively less subsidy. The duties of the government of the Territories are much the the same as the duties of the governments in the older provinces, and one of the first charges on the treasury, both in the Territories and in the provinces, is the maintenance of education. In 1982 there were in the Territories 245 schools in operation ; in 1895 there were 395 schools in operation and in 1896 there are 489 schools organized, of which nearly all are in operation, so that in connection with that particular charge on the treasury there has been nearly a doubling of the expense. The cost of education in the Territories is now nearly double what it was a few years ago, while the grant out of which that cost has to be paid has only increased to the extend of 15 per cent. I admit that the grand in aid of education in the Territories is comparatively large. that is to say, the aid granted by the territorial legislature to the school districts in the Territories is relatively large. but it has to be large in order that education shall be carried on there at all. This is on account of the system of land grants which have prevailed in that country. It is provided that twenty sections out of every thirty-six, that is twenty square miles out of every thirty-six, shall be reserved from settlement. Instead of schools being supported by people settled on every quarter section in a township, they have to be supported by such settlers as may be on sixteen out of the thirty-six sections. The scattered settlement in that country, is what makes it more necessary that there shall be a large grant in aid of the schools. Without that large grant these schools could not be conducted, and without schools you cannot hope to attract settlement, nor can you even expect to retain the settlement you have. When a settler is not sufficiently interested in the education of his children to demand a school as one of his first requirements, the chances are that such a settler is no good to the country. The school expenditure which in 1893-94 was $97,000, has increased to such an extent that it will amount to $120,000 this year. These are the amounts that have been granted to schools out of the subsidies allowed to the Territories. It therefore will be plain to the House, that the grater proportion of the total subsidy voted to the territorial legislature by this Parliament, has been expended on education. Although at first sight the grant would appear to be large it will be found upon the inquiry that it is not larger than the case requires.
Public works are the second great charge on the revenues of the Territories. As we all know, in the case of the organized provinces, the greater part of the expenditure upon public works is borne by the municipalities, and the provincial legislatures bear only a small proportion of the cost of such works. In the Territories, owing to the scattered settlement of the country, and owing to the nature of the country, it is simply impossible to have such an organization as you have in the older provinces. and as a consequence the territorial legislature has to bear a larger proportion of the cost of works which is usually borne by the municipal organizations in the provinces. There is therefore a special charge upon the territorial treasury, which does not bear upon the treasuries of the provinces, and that charge exists because of the peculiar condition of the Territories. This peculiar condition in its turn is a result of the administration of this Parliament in holding in reservation from settlement such a large proportion of the lands. parliament having taken upon itself a certain responsibility in regard to that matter and having laid down a certain policy must certainly be held responsible for the results of that policy. When Parliament has absolutely. as may be said, prohibited settlement in the greater part of that country, it seems to me that Parliament must be prepared to make good the deficiency in the revenue necessary to carry on the proper business of the country. As in the case of schools it is in the case of public works, especially roads and bridges. These roads and bridges which would be kept up if there was settlement on every section, simply cannot be kept up when settlement is on less than half the sections. If we are to have public improvements in that country, the burden must be borne to a very great extent by the treasury of the Territories, which again must be supported by a subsidy from the Parliament. There are not only roads and bridges to construct and maintain, but there is also the question of the water supply throughout a great portion of that country. Without an improved water supply, which can only be secured by the expenditure of money, settlement cannot increase as it ought to or as it otherwise would. There are other special expenditures which have to be made, expenditures which 415 [COMMONS] 416 are not needed in any of the older provinces. For instance, during one year, $8,000 was paid for wolf bounty, in order to protect the cattle in the ranching country against wolves. This is an expenditure peculiar to the Territories, and it is one which has to be incurred in the interests of the cattle industry. There are also special expenditures in the wheat growing country, such as the money which has to be paid to try to keep down the gopher pest. This gopher pest exists chiefly by reason of the fact that there is so much vacant land. The gophers do not propagate on the cultivated land but on the land that is unoccupied, and the protection of the cultivated land from the gophers has cost $4,000 in one year. There is also the question of the relief of distress which has to be provided for by the Territories. There has to be provision made sometimes for the relief of distress, and to compensate for losses of crop by hail storms and otherwise. In the older provinces the municipalities take care of distressed persons, but in our country, on account of there being no municipal organizations, that must be done at the expense of the territorial government. The cause of humanity must prevail in the Territories as well as in the provinces, and people cannot be allowed to suffer or to die for lack of pecuniary assistance. We have also a number of hospitals which have to receive governmental assistance. These hospitals receive $4,000 a year. When that grant was made the idea was that each hospital should receive 40 cents per day for each non-paying patient treated. However, owing to the increase of patients and the increase of hospitals, the grant now only amounts to 27 cents per day for nonpaying patients. This is a charge that has increased from year to year and it is a charge that must be provided for. There has also been $3,000 paid out for the encouragement of the creamery industry, and this, I may say, is a most desirable policy and a wise expenditure. I allude to all these matters for the purpose of showing in the first place, the necessity for them, and in the second place, the advantage of the money being expended in the manner in which it is expended. The expenditure is not only of advantage to the Territories, but it is of advantage to the whole of Canada, for I need not remind hon. gentlemen that whatever assists the improvement and development of that country is also of advantage to the entire Dominion.
While large sums have been used for education and public works, and these sums have been on the increase from year to year, those charges which are for what you may call the running of the machine, have not increased in proportion to the increase of population. The grant for clerical assistance in 1892 was $16,701. and in 1895 it was $12,460 ; so that that expenditure has been decreased very materially under the present North-west administration. The cost of the executive, or cabinet, has stood at $5,500 a year for the last five years ; the expenditure on printing account, which was $6,000 in 1892, was reduced to $4,000 in 1895. So that, if a question is asked as to how the assembly expends the money which is granted by Parliament, I think it can be shown that the money is expended judiciously, both in matters of improvement and in matters of routine.
There are two grounds upon which the territorial government or legislature are entitled to an increased grant. One is that the territorial government is a creation of this Parliament. It was at one time merely a branch of the Department of the Interior, and money was provided through that department for the purpose of carrying on the business of the Territories. Now, Parliament, having created a certain institution in the North-west Territories, is in duty bound to provide the funds necessary to carry on that institution. On the other hand, the people of the Territories are entitled to stand in exactly the same position as the citizens of any province. They are citizens of this Dominion as much as are the people of the provinces. They contribute their share to the revenues of the country, as do the people of the provinces : and, having been granted control of their local government, they are entitled to fully as much subsidy for their local purposes in return for the amounts they have paid into the general treasury as are the people of the provinces. Calculating on that basis, I will give you a few figures to show that in asking for an increase on the moderate amount that has been granted during past years, they are not asking for more than they are entitled to. Taking the increase of population that occurred from 1891 to 1894, and assuming the same percentage of increase until the end of the present fiscal year, we would have a population of 113,000. In the case of Manitoba, the amount payable per head is based, not on the actual population at the time, but on the supposed or expected population, two and a half years in advance. that is to say, the subsidy per head is readjusted every five years, and the amount is fixed at what it would be on the basis of population when half the term of five years is up. Applying the same calculation to the North-west Territories, it would give us a supposed population of 141,000, which, at 80 cents per head, would entitle us to $112,000 a year. On debt account, the present actual population would entitle us to $156,000 a year. Taking the amount allowed to Manitoba for the cost of government, that is to say $50,000 a year, and an allowance on account of the land, such as given in Manitoba, say $125,000 a year, the Territories would be in a position at the present time to claim, in a readjustment of the subsidy, in the neighbourhood of $440,000 a year. Thev are not asking for that amount at the present moment ; but they are asking for a substantial increase in the amount 417 [AUGUST 31, 1896] 418 which has been granted in past years, so as to catch up to some extent with the present requirements. Let me say that the manner in which the subsidy has been calculated in the past has been this. The territorial government made up an estimate of what was required. The Department of the Interior granted either that amount or as much less as it saw fit. The territorial government was compelled to keep within the amount voted. When the territorial government, next year, sent down an estimate for an increased amount, the department here, I suppose, argued: " Well. you got along with so much last year; you can certainly get on with the same amount this year." So the amount has been kept at about the same figure for the last five years. This, it appears to me. is putting the matter on a false basis, which is neither in the interest of the North-west, in the interest of this Dominion, nor in accord with the dignity of this Parliament in its dealings with the institution which itself has created.
In regard to the grant on account of the land, I would say a word or two. The province of Manitoba has been granted $100,000 a year in consideration of its public lands having been administered by Parliament. In the Territories there is, I suppose, four or five times as much land as there is in the province of Manitoba : and, while it may be argued that the land is not profitable to the government, that the administration of it has not returned a financial profit to the Government, let me put the matter to you in this way. Parliament has seen fit in the past to grant off these lands to the Canadian Pacific Railway, which is a national work and not a Northwestern work simply, to the extent of 25,000,000 acres. I understand that that land has been bonded to the amount of $1.25 an acre ; so that its value stands. under these bonds. at something like $31,000,000, which, at 4 per cent, is equivalent to a million and a quarter dollars a year. This is not any fancy calculation, but a calculation on the basis of actual cash. So that when we say that the Territories are entitled to consideration on account of the amount of Government land there, we are not going beyond the mark when we say that we should be dealt with at least as favourably as the province of Manitoba, particularly when we call your attention to the fact that the province of Prince Edward Island has received a specieal grant of something like $40,000 a year, in consideration of the fact that at the time of entering confederation it had not any public land at all; and that the province of British Columbia has been granted $100,000 a year, in consideration of what is known as the railway belt, in which belt the province still holds the precious metals. which. I suppose, are really the most valuable part of the land. Now. a statement has been made by the local government, asking for a certain increase in the annual subsidy, based actual requirements. Not that they do not want a readjustment of grant on the basis of the provincial subsidies.
The papers I asked for are for the purpose of showing what is absolutely required for the carrying on of the government of the North-west Territories during the current fiscal year and not for the purpose of making a permanent arrangement. The government of the Territories, however, as will be shown by the papers, are prepared at any time to enter into an arrangement for a permanent subsidy on a provincial basis suitable to the special position and circumstances of the Territories.
Mr. DAVIN. I am glad my hon. friend has made this motion and brought the claims of the Territories before the House. I do not know whether I understood him to say that he was bringing these matters before the House for the first time.
Mr. OLIVER. I said that I understood that these papers have never been laid on the Table.
Mr. DAVIN. Well, I am exceedingly glad that my hon. friend has brought this matter before the House. As the House is well aware, I have annually brought before it the claims of the Territories, and made an argument in favour of an increased subsidy, somewhat in the line of that which my hon. friend has made. There cannot be any doubt that not merely now but, as I pointed out, either last session or the session before last, the North-west Territories were long ago entitled to far more money than was given them year after year, and in fact I think it was either last session or the session before last that I argued that there was something like a million dollars or more of arrears due the North-west Territories, bearing in mind what should have been paid, on the basis of the calculation made by my hon. friend in his able speech this afternoon and comparing that with the amount which has been given. In 1889, the legislative assembly of the North-west Territories submitted a memorandum to the then Minister of the Interior in which they submitted the argument that, with an estimated population of 150,000 as a basis to go on—and that was not too much even then, taking what had been done for Manitoba—the subsidy at the rate of 80 cents per head, which was allowed the provinces. would amount to $120,000. They further submitted that on debt account the Territories are entitled to 5 per cent interest on $27.77 per head on an actual population of 100,000, which would amount to $138,850, and that the specific grant for governmental purposes should be at least as liberal as that made to Manitoba, that is to say. $50,000. And they, further submitted that:
Owing to the vast area of the Territories and the widely scattered nature of the settlement, all the local business of the government is ren 419 [COMMONS] 420 dered mere expensive proportionately to population than in any of the provinces.
For these reasons they asked a specific annual grant for the five years term of $100,000, and claimed an aggregate sum of over $400,000. Any man who has listened attentively to my hon. friend this afternoon will agree that with the population they then had, and proceeding on the ratio that had been dealt out to Manitoba in 1870, the North-west Territories in 1889—that is several years ago—were entitled to a grant of $400,000. On the 27th February of that year, I made a motion in this House somewhat similar to that made by my hon. friend this afternoon. I moved for copies of all memorials addressed to the Government by the legislative assembly of the North-west Territories which had then sat recently at Regina, and I presented, as best I could, the claims of the North-west Territories, as set forth by the legislative assembly of which my hon. friend was then a member and had been for some time. As will be seen by reference to page 355 of the "Hansard" of 1889. I pointed out that the old council of 1887 petitioned for responsible government, and I stated what the memorial set forth, and I pressed for a subsidy very much larger than what had been given up to that time or than what has been given since. And I pointed out that we might take a leaf out of the book of the United States and follow the example set by that country in dealing with its territories. I pointed out that Minnesota, Wyoming, Dakota and Montana each got in lands, a large extent of territory for subsidizing branch lines. That is something which this Government has never contemplated doing for the government of the Territories, but I contend that the sooner we give the giant in the North-west its limbs the better. The sooner we give that North-west people, now far in excess of numbers of what Manitoba was in 1870, what it is entitled to, the better ; and as anybody will see who visits the giant, as the hon. Prime Minister did, at the time when the legislative assembly was sitting, the representatives in that assembly will compare well with the representatives of any assembly in the provinces. What is the reason this Government should keep that giant in leading strings all these years ? I appeal to the hon. Minister to cut those strings. He is fond of regarding himself as a breaker of manacles, let him break those manacles that are on the limbs of the North-west Territories, let him give the Territories provincial autonomy and the annual subsidy to which it is entitled by reason of its population, according to the calculation so ably set forth by my hon. friend this afternoon. I would go further than was done in the case of' Manitoba, and would give the young man, so to speak, when I set him up in life, all the implements of manhood. I would give him the means of building his own railways. Here is what hap pened in these Territories which have been very successful, as I need not say, below the line. Minnesota with 83,000 square miles (Assiniboia has 93,000 square miles) received land for subsidizing 1,800 miles of railway, and with the swamps, started in possession of one-third of the territory. What does that policy enable these Territories to do. I read from my speech seven years ago :
It gives them, while young, that nutriment and vital force, without which anything young cannot thrive. As the Right Hon. the Prime Minister is now acting Minister of Railways, I should like to call his attention to this fact. At this hour the government of Minnesota receives an income of $600,000 a year, 3 per cent on the gross earnings of the lines of railway that it chartered and subsidized since 1849, when it was organized. But it may be said : " Ah, but those territories were very populous." Not at all. In 1849, when Minnesota was organized, it had only a population of 6,000—
I think my hon. friend said our population in 1894 was 84,000, and it is more to-day.
—and the aggregate population of all the four territories at the respective dates of their organization did not equal by five or six thousand the population of the North-west to-day. That is the point which I submit as well worthy of the consideration of the Government, because I think we may err on the side of keeping the strings too much in our hands here in Ottawa, and not giving sufficient scope for the young giant, for which I plead here to-day, to develop his limbs. Now, it will be said to us, no doubt, you have got the mounted police. So we have, and we are very glad to have them ; but elsewhere you have batteries, militia, and military schools, and we pay for those just as well as you pay for the mounted police ; and before you knew where you are, I believe in the next five years, you will find we shall have a population in those Territories which will be subscribing to your military schools, and batteries, and militia just as much as you are subscribing to the Northwest mounted police. And remember that in any case the cost of defence would fall on the Federal Government ; so that you cannot fairly make anything of our having the mounted police.
Now what I point out there is of great importance—that the United States government, in dealing with territories is more generous than the Government of Canada. And as I repeat the argument, I repeat to the hon. gentleman opposite the appeal I made to the Government of Sir John Macdonald, and I say to him that not only will these facts justify him in complying with the demand made by my hon. friend (Mr. Oliver) this afternoon, but they will justify him in going further. They will justify him in giving to the Territories responsible government. They will justify him in giving the Territories not $260,000 as a grant, but $400,000 a year as a subsidy, and they will justify him in going still further—in giving them lands by which they will be able to build small local railways, so that in ten years from now, they may be in the position that Minnesota is found to be in to-day —drawing a large income from investments in these railways. My hon. friend very 421 [AUGUST 31, 1896] 422 properly pointed out that the government of the North-west Territories really has a more difficult problem before it than any provincial government. As he told you they have a great area—a far greater area than any province—they have scattered settlements and diverse interests. I was very glad to see that he is a supporter of a policy that, before I came to this House at all, I pressed upon the attention of the Government and which, since I have been in this House, I have on several occasions, pressed upon the attention of Parliament. I refer to what the hon. gentleman said concerning the odd sections which, as now dealt with, work a very great evil. They cause a scattered settlement; they enable, as my hon. friend pointed out, the gopher. 'to have a great hunting ground: and not only that. but to-day, half. a township minus four sections has to do the work of a whole township. For supporting schools, for making roads and bridges, for all the work of a township, you have not half a township, but only the settled even-numbered sections, minus the four sections, two for the Hudson's Bay Company and two school sections, I have advocated a radical change, and I am glad now to note that I shall have my hon. friend's support, or—which is the same thing to me, if he proposes the reform—he shall have my support. It is a matter of perfect indifference to me who proposes or who carries out anything for the North-west Territories, whoever proposes anything for the good of the Territory will have my strenuous support in this House ; and, if a proposition to deal with the odd sections should come from my hon. friend. he may be perfectly certain that he shall have my strong support. Now, Mr. Speaker, when the idea occurred to me of dealing with these odd sections. I went and saw Sir William Van Horne. then Mr. VanHorne. I told him what the conditions of the North-west Territories was and what I believed would be the advantage to the Territories and to Canada if these odd sections were thrown open to settlement. For I apprehend that nothing could be done so far as the land that has been granted to the Canadian Pacific Railway without the co-operation of that company. I pointed out to Mr. Van Horne that if he was ready to agree to reconvey these lands to the Government—or what would probably be the literal truth, if he were ready to forego selecting this land —it would pay his railway to do so even on a very small, or what might-seem a small, consideration. For it is palpable that if these odd sections are thrown open for settlement and if they are taken up by settlers the result' must be the Canadian Pacific Railway will get double the quantity of freight and double the number of passengers. And not merely that. Sir, but, as we know very well. if you had a whole township instead of half a township the increase in business would not be measured by the mere multiplication by two, as the business would become certainly much more than double what it has been. Sir William Van Horne, who, as we know here, is an enlightened and far-seeing man, and knows well what is for the benefit of his railway, said to me that the proposal seemed to him a good one, but he said I am, of course, in the hands of my directors. I ventured then to say what I think is probably the case, that if Sir William Van Horne advised his directors in a course that, in his opinion, would be for the good of the railway, the chances are that his directors and himself would see eye to eye. My idea was this, that the Government might buy back the lands for $1.25 an acre. and, if they did so, the money paid would be well spent by the Government, it would be a proper use of publiemoney. and it would be a profitable transaction to the Canadian Pacific Railway. Well, what happened during the late election ? One of the planks in my platform was the settlement of the odd sections, and the gentleman who was running against me, held me up to opprobrium. held me up to popular condemnation, because, as he said. I wanted to get the Government to give vast sums to the Canadian Pacific Railway for these odd sections. To my surprise, I found in many parts of my constituency, settlers who took the view that they did not want the odd sections thus disposed of. It is only fair that 1 should tell Parliament this. It would not be just to Parliament if I stated an argument in favour of the Government reassuming those odd sections, it would not be jusr to the hon. gentleman—and I could not be unjust to him—it would not be just either to the Government or to Parliament, if I stated an argument in favour of the Government assuming control of those odd sections once more, if I did not also mention the fact that I found, in going through my constituency that a number of settlers took a strong view against that proposal. Not only so, but a very prominent and active gentleman in the neighbouring constituency, Mr. Hawkes. has written, I think, to the Regina " Leader " a long letter, taking my hon. friend from Alberta (Mr. Oliver) and myself to task because of the views we are known to hold on this subject of the settlement of the odd sections. So my hon. friend who is at the head of the Government will be aware that a prominent supporter of his considers that it will be a dreadful course to take to expend vast sums to get hold of these odd Sections. However. that supporter is not in this House, and is not likely to be ; but the other supporter, who urges him here to-day to do something with these odd sections, is in the House. and his vote has to be considered, and I hope he will have more influence with the hon. gentleman at the head of the Government than any person who denounced the proposal when made by myself. It is desirable, as the House knows is my own opinion, that we should 423 [COMMONS] have a great deal more help than we have had in the Territories for creameries, and I think it is desirable that all that should be done by the local government. But how in the past, or how in the present, could the local government do it, when the grant to them is so contemptibly small and so utterly inadequate to the needs of the situation ? But if an adequate sum is given them, the local government, being on the spot, could attend to all needs. For instance, we know that in a vast area like the North-west Territories we may have good crops in one part extending over hundreds of thousands of square miles ; and in another part we may have a failure of crops. Now, the proper government to deal with that question is the government of the North-west Territories; but how could the government of the North-west Territories deal with it, when, up to the present, the amount doled out to them has been weighed, as it were, in an apothecary's scales with the utmost nicety, so as to measure it out as regards the admitted needs of these Territories ? Mr. Speaker, it was a great pleasure to me to hear my hon. friend's voice once again, and I hope that in this House he and I, while we are colleagues, whether for a long or a short time, will use our united efforts for the good of the Territories. and for the support of any proposal, come from whatever side it may, that will be for the good of the Territories, and let us not turn our efforts against each other at the bidding of either party or faction.
Motion agreed to.


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



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