House of Commons, 15 June 1897, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan

[JUNE 15, 1897] 4110


Bill (No. 114) further to amend the Acts respecting the North-west, was read the second time, and the House resolved itself into committee.
(In the Committee.)
On section 2,
2. The paragraph lettered (c.) of section 2 of the said Act is hereby repealed and the following substituted therefor :—
"c. The expression ' Lieutenant-Governor in Council' means the Lieutenant-Governor of the Territories, by and with the advice and consent of the Executive Council of the Territories, or in conjunction with the Executive Council of the Territories, as the case may be."
Mr. FOSTER. 'What is the difference ?
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR (Mr. Sifton). We are simply bringing the definition of Lieutenant-Governor in Council in the Territories into line with the definition of Lieutenant-Governor in Council in the provinces.
Sir CHARLES TUPPER. You are taking away the personal action of the Lieutenant- Governor and making him act with his Council.
4111 [COMMONS] 4112
On section 8,
8. Subsection one of section six of chapter twenty-two of the statutes of 1891 is hereby amended by striking out the words " at any time in force in " in the fifth line thereof, and substituting in lieu thereof the words " declared to be applicable to."
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. I move in amendment to strike out the words " subsection 1 of " so that the clause will read " section 6 of chap. 22 of the statutes of 1891." At the time the Bill was introduced I explained that one of the provisions was we should strike out the limitation in the Act relating to the Northwest Territories, preventing the legislative assembly legislating with regard to insurance companies. The clause was accidentally omitted to have that effect, and I beg to move the amendment which will effect the intention explained at the time the Bill was introduced. The Act at present in force gives the legislative assembly authority on certain subjects, among which are the following :—The incorporation of companies with territorial objects with the following exceptions "—and among the exceptions are " insurance companies." The amendment that I move would strike out this exception of insurance companies.
Amendment agreed to, and section as amended agreed to.
On section 9,
9. Section eighteen of chapter seventeen of the statutes of 1894 is hereby repealed and the following substituted therefor :—
" 18. No person holding any office, commission or employment to which an annual salary from the Crown is attached, shall be eligible as a member of the Legislative Assembly, or shall sit or vote therein, during the time he holds such office, commission or employment; but nothing herein contained shall render ineligible any member of the Executive Council of the Territories, by reason of any salary, fee, allowance, emolument or profit of any kind or amount attaching to such membership, from being a member of the Assembly, or shall disqualify him from sitting or voting therein : Provided he is elected while holding such office, and is not otherwise disqualified."
Mr. DAVIN. I think that the old section No. 18. passed in 1894, was quite right under the circumstances, of that time :
No member of the Executive Committee of the Territories shall, by reason or any salary, fee, allowance, emolumen't or profit of any kind or amount attaching to such membership, be disqualified from sitting or voting in the Legislative Assembly.
As I understand the new clause it simply provides that when a member of the Assembly accepts office he will have to go back for re-election.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. Yes. that is the usual clause ; it provides that members accepting office shall go back to the people for re-election.
On section 10,
Section forty-nine of the said Act is hereby repealed and the following substituted therefor :—
" 49. The court shall sit in banc at such times and places as the Lieutenant-Governor in Council appoints ; the senior judge present shall preside, and three judges of the court shall constitute a quorum."
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. I understand that there is some objection to that section and I am prepared to move that it be struck out.
Amendment agreed to.
On section 11,
11. Subsection one of section fifty-six of the said Act, as amended by section eight of chapter twenty-two of the statutes of 1891, is hereby repealed, and the following substituted therefor :—
" 56. For each judicial district the Governor in Council may appoint a sheriff and the Lieutenant- Governor in Council may appoint a clerk of the court and may respectively name the place at which such sheriff and clerk shall reside and keep an oflice ; and the clerk of the district within which the seat of Government of the Territories is situate, shall be registrar of the court sitting in banc."
Mr. FOSTER. Who appoints the sheriff ?
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. The law now is that the Governor General in Council appoints both the sheriff and the clerk of the court. Under the proposed arrangement the Governor General in Council will still appoint the sheriff while the local Government shall appoint the clerk of the court.
On section 12.
12. Subsection one of the section substituted for section sixty-four of the said Act by section seven of chapter seventeen of the statutes of 1894 is hereby repealed and the following substituted therefor :—
" 64. The Lieutenant-Governor may appoint justices of the peace for the Territories, who shall have jurisdiction as such throughout the same; but, until the Legislative Assembly otherwise provides, no person shall be appointed a justice of the peace for the Territories, or shall act as such, who is not the owner in fee simple for his own use and benefit of lands lying and being in the Territories of and above the value of three hundred dollars over and above what will satisfy and discharge all incumbrances affecting the same, and over and above all rents and charges payable out of or affecting the same, and who has not resided in the Territories for a period of at least three years."
Mr. FOSTER. He may not be able to read and write.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. The only change is that the words " until the Legislative Assembly otherwise provides," are inserted in the 12th and 13th lines. The effect is that the qualifications of justices of the peace remains as it was, so far as this Parliament is! concerned, but we give the Legislative Assemblies power to 4113 [JUNE 15, 1897] 4114 legislate in regard to the qualification of justices of the peace.
On section 14,
14. Subsection four of the section substituted for section sixty-four of the said Act by section seven of chapter seventeen of the statutes of 1894 is hereby amended by striking out all the words after " years " in the fourth line thereof.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. This has to do with the qualifications of the police magistrates. The law as it is now provides that no person shall be appointed a police magistrate unless he is admitted and has practiced as an advocate, barrister, or solicitor in one of the provinces of Canada for a period of not less than three years, or is a magistrate of not less than three years of standing in Canada. This has the effect of striking out the latter portion of that clause, because it is believed a man should not be a police magistrate unless he has been a practicing barrister for at least three years.
On section 15,
15. Subsection one of section eighty-eight of the said Act is hereby amended by striking out the words " Lieutenant-Governor" in the third line thereof, and substituting the words " Legislative Assembly" in lieu thereof.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. In this section I desire to move an amendment which has been suggested by Mr. Justice Wetmore, of the North-west Court, and concurred in by the Department of Justice respecting the definition of larceny. By section 66 of the North-west Territories Act, the jurisdiction of the judges of the Supreme Court of the Territories is defined, and under subsection "A" of this section authority is given to the judges to try any person charged with having committed or attempted to commit larceny, embezzlement, or obtaining money or property by false pretenses or feloniously receiving stolen property in any case in which the value or the whole property so stolen, &c., does not, in the opinion of the said judge, exceed the sum of $200. The Criminal Act has abolished the use of the term larceny and the technical distinction formerly known to the Criminal Law by which stealing was denominated larceny and certain technical words used to describe the offence. The definition is a simple one, the act being defined as theft or stealing.
The distinction between a misdemeanour and a felony was founded on the old rules of the criminal law, and as the law exists at present a question might arise as to whether the judges of the Northwest Territories had jurisdiction to try for theft. In accordance with the suggestion or Judge Wetmore. I move in amendment that the word " larceny " in the sections I have read, be changed to " theft " and that the word " felonious " be struck out.
On section 16.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. The eifect of this is to abolish the omce of clerk of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, and put the office under the jurisdiction of the legislative assembly. We have a clerk there whom we pay $2,000 a year, and I do not see any reason why we should have such an officer there when the legislative assembly can employ their own clerk for a much less sum.
Mr. DAVIN. I think we ought to put in something to save the officer. The present occupant of that office is a Dominion officer. and he has been a most effective officer. I can safely say that at the time he became an officer of the Government, his qualities and talents were of the greatest advantage to the North-west Territories. I may say as regards the politics of this gentleman, Mr. R. B. Gordon, that I believe his politics are of the neutral tint; however, if he had any, he never manifested them. But I think that when we have had a man there in our employ, giving him $2,000 a year, and when we are about to amend an Act which will give another body power of either retaining that man or dismissing him, I think we ought to limit the power of appointing a clerk to the time when, either by death or by retirement, Mr. Gordon ceases to be clerk.
Sir CHARLES TUPPER. I think that is a matter that may be left safely to the parties who are to be clothed with power to deal with it. I am afraid that the suggestion of my hon. friend is not practicable.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. Gentlemen who have been doing official business with this officer for years past, I understand, are on perfectly good terms with him.
Mr. DAVIN. Quite so.
That after the word " territory " in subsection one there be added the following words - " Subject to any right which may have been acquired under letters patent issued previous to such transfer."
The object of that amendment is, to avoid the Government being compelled to transfer a trail, without having regard to the fact, that a patent might have been issued before for a certain part of the trail.
Amendment agreed rto.
On section 20,  
Mr. DAVIN. Why is it that the Minister is getting rid of subsection 2 of section 21 ? Is it no longer necessary ?
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. It applies to any transaction. and it is necessary, it will be there.
Mr. DAVIN. 'But under this section you would repeal it ?
4115 [COMMONS| 4116
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. There may be something in the point raised by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Davin), and I will amend the section to meet his views.
Mr. BERGERON. Do I understand that the intention of this Bill is, to give the Territories autonomous government like the older provinces ?
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. The Bill will give the people of the Territories a government which shall not have the full powers of a provincial government, but in so far as they have power to deal with subjects, they shall do it in the same way as the other provinces. They will have Ministers who are responsible to the legislature, and the rules and precedents that apply to the provincial governments will apply to the government of the Territories.
Mr. BERGERON. Then the Territories will be constituted under one legislature, and I presume this Government will have to pay them the necessary expenses. Will this Bill increase the present expenses ?,
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. De facto, they have this kind of government now. They have an executive committee of the assembly who are the responsible advisers of the Lieutenant-Governor. It is a practice which has grown up, but the constitution does not provide for it in the proper form.
Mr. BERGERON. I do not see that there is much object in this Bill. I believe that as soon as we can, we should constitute the North-west Territories into a province, and give them responsible government in a complete form.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. That is what we are doing.
Mr. BERGERON. Not at all.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. The Bill goes in that direction.
Mr. BERGERON. This Bill will make very little difierence to them, except that I believe it will increase the expenses to us. Let the Territories have their own government, and pay for their own expenses, and let us get rid of them as soon as possible in that way.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. The objection of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Bergeron) is that we are not going far enough.
Sir CHARLES TUPPER. I must say a single word in qualification of what my hon. friend (Mr. Bergeron) has stated. I am sure that no one wants to get rid of our friends in the Territories.
Mr. BERGERON. I meant in the way of getting rid of paying their expenses.
Sir CHARLES TUPPER. On the con trary, we want to steadily do what I think this Act does, and the time has come when such an Act was required. It gives them power to deal with the local business of the North-west Territories to a greater extent than they were able to do before; but I do not think it is calculated to increase the expenditure. It rather increases their legislative power in accordance with the wishes of the people.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. It would undoubtedly increase the efficiency of their administration.
Mr. DAVIN. Hear hear.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. The principle upon which I acted is this. I met the representatives of the territorial government, and they explained to me—as of course I knew before—that there has been in the Territories for some years, an agitation in favour of what they called provincial autonomy. Now, it is a subject with which it would be extremely inconvenient to deal until it takes some shape in the public mind. I fancy that any Government that undertook to form an organization there, without something more defined to go by than we have at the present time, would find very considerable difficulty. But I said that if they wanted something of a practical character which would assist them in carrying on their business, no doubt their wishes in that respect could be met. They suggested, therefore, that a Bill such as I have presented to the House would, for the present, meet the views of the people ; and I have not thought it advisable to go further at the present time. but to allow matters to develop. At a future time the House may be called on to deal with the question of the organization of a provincial constitution.
Mr. BERGERON. I am sorry that the hon. leader of the Opposition did, not understand me. I know that for some years it has :been the ambition of the people of the North-west to have provincial autonomy, and I think upon that depends largely the hope of the future prosperity of the country
Sir CHARLES HIBBERT TUPPER. Who will now enact the school ordinances? Are they in the power of the Governor in Council or of the legislative assembly ?
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. There is no change in that respect. The legislative assembly in conjunction with the Lieutenant-Governor.
Bill reported, as amended.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR moved that the Bill be now read, the third time.
Mr. DAVIN. I want to say a few words which I did not sayjbefore. lest I might delay the Bill. I am exceedingly glad to see this Bill go through. In 1888, when the 4117 [JUNE 15, 1897] 4118 Right Honourable Sir John Macdonald sat where the Minister of Trade and Commerce now sits, he brought down a Bill to amend the North-west Territories Act, and I gave notice of an amendment to that Bill that would have introduced then precisely the change which my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior has now happily introduced, and I congratulate him. I may, as a little piece of history, say what occurred. The leader of the then Government (Sir John Macdonald) resented my action, and withdrew his Bill, and brought down another Bill, with a clause in it which will be found in the Act of 1888. by which he introduced into our government what was called the Advisory Council. I would not then speak on the Bill, as there was no use trying to pass my amendment, and my respect for my great leader would not allow me to comment on that clause and pour on it the ridicule it deserved ; but I said to a friend of mine, when he asked me why I did not comment on it, " It is a mere toy," as it turned out to be. In consequence of pressure brought by myself on the Government, we had a few years afterwards an amendment, which introduced a different state of things—which introduced a committee of four to aid the governor ; but that committee of four is a very inconvenient piece of machinery, as the hon. gen tleman knows, because, instead of being chosen by the Government, it was chosen by the legislative assembly. My hon. friend here (Mr. Bergeron) and, to some extent, my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior, are. under a complete mistake in supposing that there has been any agitation amongst the people of the North-west for responsible government. There is not. In this House, whenever I advocated it, I found the members from the North-west Territories opposing me. If the debates of 1888 are looked at. it will be found that Mr. Macdowail, and others, got up in the House and said that the Territories did not want responsible government; and in Regina, at the instance of a certain individual, a meeting was held at which resolutions were passed to prevent my action in this House being successful. I can say that the most thoughtful people in the Territories have always held the views that I have held ; but at the same time there has been no agitation and I have battled for this thing single- handed. I believe it would have been a good thing for the Territories if we had had this legislation in 1888 : and subsequently, in 1891, when another change was made, it would have been much better for the Territories if this change had been made; so that, instead of having a nondescript government, hampered in many ways, and with more power than a government should have, more irresponsible than this Government, which we now create will be, we should have had at once a stronger and more re sponsible government, and my belief is that we should have made more progress than we have done. I am very glad to see this Bill launched to the third reading, and to see that we are going to have responsible government in the (Territories.
Motion agreed to, and Bill read the third time and passed.


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



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