House of Commons, 18 April 1902, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan

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Mr. SCOTT. Taking into the view all the circumstances, I believe this item is second in importance to no other that can be found in the estimates this year. The main part of the item which relates to the Northwest Territories is equivalent to the cash subsidies paid to the various provinces under the federal constitution. For a considerable time past the people of the Northwest Territories have been looking forward to the formation of that country into province or provinces. I took the occasion during my first session in this House last year to call the attention of parliament at some length to some phases of that matter. I did not deem it necessary then to argue that the time had arrived for granting full provincial powers to the people of the North-west Territories, because some time previous we had a statement from a member of the government to the effect that it was their intention in the near future to take up that matter and deal with it. I have to express my regret that a decision has been arrived at by the government not to deal with that question this year. I would not go so far as to say that the people of the North-west Territories unanimously regret the decision of the govern 3065 APRIL 18, 1902 3066 ment ; there may be a considerable number who hold the view that it is yet too early in their circumstances to grant full provincial powers. But I believe I express the opinion of a very large majority of the people when I say that the conditions have now reached a stage when it would be advantageous to those people as well as to the entire Dominion, to have this question settled without further loss of time. Some hon. members may be aware of the fact that within the past two weeks the question has been debated in the local legislature at Regina, and by a vote of 23 to 7, I think, in a House of 31 members, it was decided that it was a matter of regret that this question had not been taken up and an endeavour made to settle it this present year. Perhaps, as the House is now in Committee of Supply, it may not be a proper occasion for me to discuss the provincial establishment question at length, and there may be another opportunity of doing so before the close of the session.
But I want to point out that until provincial powers are granted to the people of the North-west Territories, the responsibility devolves upon this parliament of providing for the services which come within the purview of the North-west Assembly. Those services are much the same as the services performed by the various provincial governments, with a few minor exceptions. The services for which the North-west Assembly is responsible are the same as those of which the provincial governments have charge. We know that the various provincial governments have definite and final arrangements with the federal power as to the amount of money they shall receive from the Dominion exchequer yearly, and they are themselves responsible for performing certain duties. But with regard to the North-west Territories at the present time, that responsibility devolves upon this parliament, and especially upon the Department of the Interior. In reality the business of governing the North-west Territories is but a branch of the department in the charge of the Minister of the Interior. The services which the North-west Assembly performs in the Northwest Territories are just as important and possibly more so than any of the services that are performed by this federal parliament. The subjects of education and local public works are possibly just as important to the people up there as any of the subjects with which this parliament has to deal. As I said, the subjects of legislation in the North-west Territories are very similar to those dealt with by the various local legislatures of the provinces. I will mention a few of them. Public Works, for instance, for the management of which there is a special department as in the provinces. The Department of Public Works in the Territories has to deal with the construction of roads and bridges, with the building of dams, and with the matter of drainage in certain parts of that large country. They have to operate ferries where it has not been possible yet to make bridges. They have to undertake a certain other duty that is not required in any of the provinces, that of making fire-guards. During last year the local Department of Public Works in the territories constructed somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2,000 miles of fire guards. The administration of irrigation legislation too, comes under that department. This is the department which supervises and to some extent, administers the affairs of a large number of local improvement districts. These local improvement districts take the place of the municipalities which are to be found in Ontario and the other provinces. It has been thought wise in that country, where the population is yet sparse, and until the population becomes more dense, to have a simpler form of municipal organization than in Ontario or the older provinces, and a scheme for the establishment of local improvement districts was some years ago worked out and put in force—a very simple scheme suited to the conditions of the country, and the plan is administered, to a considerable extent, and is altogether supervised by the local Department of Public Works. There are, in some parts of the country, where the population is very spare, what are called large local improvement districts, and the administration of these is entirely attended to by the Department of Public Works. The department too, supervises and inspects the coal mines of the territories. It has a branch too, for the inspection of steam boilers. A very important part of its duties is in regard to testing for water. In some parts of that immense country settlers have found difficulty in securing water, and it has been deemed advisable to undertake a plan, and very good service has been rendered by the plan which the government undertakes, to provide well borers, drills, and angers, and to test in various localities for water. I do not need to say to this committee that these duties are very important to the people of that country, and when we look at the amount of the vote which has, in previous years, been given to the legislature to enable it to carry on these duties, when we look at the amount of the vote which it is proposed this year to grant to the legislature, and when we take into consideration the very large extent of country and the very great importance of these duties, some few of which I have enumerated. I think the committee can reach no other conclusion than this, at all events, that not too much money has been voted and is proposed to be voted to the legislative assembly to carry out such duties. The total amount in the item before us is $357,979. There are works which are needed in that country in the way of bridges— 3067 COMMONS 3068 single bridges—which if the legislature attempted to carry out and which would be of very great benefit to the people, would take nearly all the sum of $357,000. There are places in that country where works are needed and which would be a benefit to the people, and such works would take the entire vote which it is proposed to grant to the legislature, namely, $357,000. I need only refer to the matter of public works, a matter of very great importance, a matter which requires a very great expenditure in a country of the immense extent of the North-west Territories, some parts of which are of a broken character and having very large rivers. The subject of education is one of no less importance. In a country like the North-west Territories, where a very large immigration is coming in and where a very large immigration and an increasing population are expected, the subject of education is, to the people there and to the people of Canada, one of the very highest importance. As illustrating the need of an increase in the vote by this House for the purposes of the legislative assembly, I will quote some figures to show the way in which the school districts have been increasing in number. At the end of 1896 there were 436 public school districts. These had been organized since 1884, when the public school system was inaugurated. At the end of 1897 there were 459 school districts, being an increase of 21 districts in that year. At the end of 1898 there were 480, there being an increase of 23. At the end of 1899 the number had risen to 524, there being an increase of 44. At the end of 1900 there were 576, an increase of 52. At the end of 1901 the number of school districts which had been organized was 684, showing an increase during the last year of 108 districts. The expenditure of the North-west Territories upon education in 1901 was $204,000, being something more than half of the total grant made by this parliament for all the purposes of local government in the North-west Territories. I neglected to mention, in regard to the subject of public works, that the expenditure made last year was in the neighbourhood of $250,000, so that it will be seen that the expenditure on education and public works, on these two subjects, more than took up the whole of the yearly grant made by parliament last year for all purposes of local government in the territories. The local authorities find that these necessary subjects are practically all that they are able to undertake. Of course, there are necessarily some other expenditures, for instance, the expenses of the meeting of the legislature, and there are other incidental items which are necessary and which cannot be avoided. Last year, in addition to these items of public works and education, which took up a very large amount of the total appropriation, there was an amount of $80,000 for the yearly expenses of the local civil service and the meeting of the legislature a vote of $8,000 for the administration of local ordinances and civil justice, which comes under the purview of the legislature, and a vote of $20,000 to meet the expenses of the Department of Agriculture, which is performing some very important and necessary work. The Department of Agriculture administers amongst other things what is known as the Brands ordinance. In the ranching country the brand upon the animal is the chief evidence of ownership, and it is important that the legislation in regard to brands shall be carefully administered. During last year, I believe there were no less than 10,000 new brands issued by the Department of Agriculture. There was a vote of $15,000 for .the purposes of grants to hospitals and the maintenance of public health, and there was a miscellaneous vote of $5,000, making a total, outside the subjects of public works and education, of $128,000. I do not think it would be profitable for me, or for any hon. member of this House to make comparisons between the expenditures in one part of the country and in another, or between one,province and another, or between the North-west Territories and any of the provinces. Such comparisons might be made, and I may say that I think I could make them at the present time, and possibly convince the House by such comparisons that a very large increase might properly be made in the grant for the purpose of government in the North-west Territories, but I do not think it would be proper for me, or for any other member, to endeavour to make such comparisons. We from the North-west Territories, at all events, are not sectionalists, we believe in nationalism, we believe in coming into the House and advocating only that which will be for the general benefit of Canada. I hope the day will never come when I will be found here advocating anything which I have not proved to myself, at least, and which I have not some reasonable ground for believing I can convince the House is for the general benefit of Canada. While I am not going to endeavour to make any comparisons between the expenditures in one part of the country and in another, I am going to say, and I think this principle has been largely followed, that wherever any service seems to be advisable and necessary this House should endeavour to provide adequately for that service. I believe that is the proper principle, and I believe that if that principle be applied in this case, parliament will at the present session grant a very large increase in the vote for the purpose of governing locally the North-west Territories. Just to show what is the position of the local authority up there at the present time, I Will quote a few brief figures. In the year 1899 the grant made by parliament for government in the North-west Territories was $283,000, but the total amount expended that year by the local authorities was $414,000. There is, of course, a small local re 3069 APRIL 18, 1902 3070 venue which is year by year increasing to some extent. For four or five years it has amounted annually to $30,000 or $40,000, and it is expected that this year and from this on the local revenue will not be less than perhaps $80,000 or $90,000, which is largely derived from a small direct tax which has been placed upon land. But while the total expenditure in 1899 amounted to $414,000, and the total grant from this parliament was only $283,000, the explanation is that in that year the Yukon was still to a certain extent within the administration of the local authorities of the North-west Territories, and from the Yukon a revenue of about $160,000 was obtained. That local revenue enabled the North-west government with fair adequacy to meet the wants of the country for that year. In the year 1900 the grant from this parliament was increased to $424,000, and with the local revenue the Northwest government had $465,000 at their disposal. For the year 1901 the estimates which the North-west government presented to Ottawa amounted to $600,000. That amount, on a close calculation by the Northwest government was deemed to be necessary to cover the actual needs of local government. The grant which they received from parliament for that year was only $357,000, the same amount as we find in the present estimates. The local authorities of the North-west Territories represented to the powers at Ottawa that the needs of that country for the year 1901 demanded $600,000, and they received only $357,000. What was done last year by the local authority to cover the evident deficiency was this : The appropriation by this parliament is for the fiscal year from the 30th of June to the 30th of June following, but the financial year in the North-west Territories is the calendar year from the 3lst December to 31st December following. The vote made by this parliament last year was intended to cover the period until June 30th, 1902, but the local government found that unless they took the whole vote that was made here last year and expended it within their calendar year of 1901, they could not commence to properly meet the needs of the people of that country, the cost of education and the cost of necessary public works. The position in which the North-west government finds itself to-day is, that an ordinary vote does not put them in the same position as they were in last year, because last year they were compelled to anticipate the money that should ordinarily have gone to them in the first half of this present calendar year. Suppose we vote $357,000 for this present year, the consequence is that the North-west authorities will only be able to expend within 1902 one- half of it, or a little over $175,000. Now, if their needs this year amount approximately to $600,000. it will not take this committee long to comprehend that if a very largely increased appropriation is not made at the present time, the people in the North-west Territories who depend on the local government for their needs in the way of public works and education and local purposes generally, are going to be left in a very difficult position, and it will simply be impossible for the local government to meet these needs in any proper and adequate manner.
We had a discussion in the House yesterday upon the subject of immigration. It is unnecessary for me to say that at the present time the population in the whole of western Canada is increasing very largely. From a national point of view that is very encouraging, but from the point of view of the local government it is not an unmixed blessing to see hundreds of people literally pouring into that country daily, because every new settler means an additional tax upon the local governing authority. It means that increased expenditure will have to be made upon the construction of roads and bridges, because the greater the number of people in that country the greater the area settled, and it was found in practice last year that many of the new comers went upon areas which had not been before that time settled, and thus rendered necessary the construction of new roads and the building of culverts and bridges by the local authorities. Consequently, the local government of the Northwest cannot look upon this influx of immigration as an unmixed blessing from their point of view ; while from the larger point of view it is indeed a very encouraging circumstance that immigrants are coming into Canada to-day in larger numbers than they ever came in any previous time. In fact every newspaper one takes hold of from the western part of the country is half filled with accounts of new settlers coming in with large quantities of settlers' effects, bringing added riches to the country. I had a note a couple of days ago from a gentleman at North Portal, who stated that in the previous week no less than 186 cars of settlers' eifects had been passed through that port from the United States into western Canada. I had another letter this evening from a gentleman in Regina which is simply an illustration of what is occurring generally in that country. He writes me :
I wish you would impress upon the department the necessity of granting more assistance to the land agent here as soon as possible. The staff are over worked and still the work is getting further and further behind, so that when letters are written here for information the parties have to wait a week or two before they can get an answer, and you can imagine how annoyed at man would be who, a stranger in the country, has to pay a weeks hotel bill or more while he is getting an answer to his letter. I do not know of any qualified persons here whom you could appoint.
The condition of affairs in the country is becoming so prosperous that it is difficult to obtain people to accept positions in the public service.
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Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). What is the salary ?
Mr. SCOTT. I think I can assure the Minister of the Interior that if he grants the needed assistance, I shall be able to find a person who will take the position, notwithstanding the great prosperity that exists. This letter goes on:
The agent tells me that during the first week of April over one hundred homestead entries were made at the oiflee here. The rush of Americans in over the Soo line has assumed tremendous proportions, the railway company being unable to handle the traffic. It takes about a week for a car of settlers' effects to come from St. Paul to Moosejaw. There are not hwlf a dozen homesteads between Regin. and the Soo line, the only part of the south plain where there are any homesteads being 'along the Arcola extension and I don't think that there will be any there in three months.
As I say, nearly every letter one receives from the North-west Territories and nearly every paper that comes to hand, is filled with intelligence about hundreds of newcomers who are arriving daily in that country. The Winnipeg 'Free Press,' which came to hand to-night, states that on Wednesday of this week no less than 1,000 settlers arrived in Winnipeg, and a very considerable proportion of all the settlers who arrive at Winnipeg go to some point in the North-west Territories. This is a very encouraging feature of the times, and I thoroughly agree with what was said by my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior last night, that we appear to be at the dawn of a new day. The present prospect is more encouraging than it has been at any time at least in my lifetime, and I think the committee will agree that it would be too bad if any check were given to the tendency of the people towards that country, by parsimony on the part of this House in dealing with the local needs of the people. As has often been said, any effort that may be put forth by this government to promote immigration must be secondary in effect to the work which will be done by satisfied settlers in the country, who, as is often said, are the best immigration agents. For my part, I think one of the most important duties coming within the purview of the Department of the Interior with regard to immigration is to see that the local needs, in the way of public works, education, and other things, are properly and adequately met. For these reasons, for my part—and I believe I speak for every member from the North-west Territories, and I believe as well that our friends from British Columbia and Manitoba will support us unanimously in this—I think the House should very largely increase the grant to the local government of the North-west Territories.
Mr. OLIVER. I wish to support what has been said by the hon. member for Western Assiniboia (Mr. Scott) with regard to this vote for the government in the North-west Territories. It was with some considerable surprise that I saw in the estimates that the amount to be voted for this purpose for the coming year was no larger than the vote for the present year. 1 am at a loss to understand upon what basis of calculation this sum was arrived at. If it is necessary or desirable to meet the requirements of the public service in any part of the country, account must be taken of the increase of those requirements. Now, this whole country is ringing with a knowledge of the increase of population and therefore increase of requirements in the North-west, and that knowledge has produced no result in the way of meeting the requirements which necessarily arise. It may be said that the amount required for the purposes of the government of the North-west Territories is an uncertain amount. So it is. It is an amount which depends from time to time upon the requirements as they arise. With the increase of population, those requirements have increased from year to year. By reason of climatic conditions during the past year, those needs have been tremendously emphasized. By reason of heavy rains, bridges have been washed out by the dozen, and a very large part of the revenues of the territorial government which should have gone to extend the facilities of travel throughout new settlements in the country, has been used up in replacing the damage done by the floods in older settlements. It may not be altogether plain to membersof the House why an increase of population means an increase of requirements. The reason is that the territories have immense areas, compared to population. They are not at all on the same footing as the province of Manitoba, where the population is contained in less than one-third of the total area of the province, and the total area of Manitoba is not over one-fourth of the area over which settlement is scattered in the North-west. An increase of settlement in the province of Manitoba means simply a thickening up of the population. and does not require the opening of new roads or the establishment of new school districts, and does not increase materially the expenses of government; while an increase of population in the Northwest Territories means that people have spread out into new country, necessitating new roads and new schools and an increase in every way and materially of expenses of government. It is of course under our present condition a matter of arrangement or consideration of this parliament what shall be done from year to year to meet financial conditions. That is not the fault of the people or the government of the North-west Territories. The government of the North-west Territories has approached this government repeatedly during past years, and most formally during the past year, asking for a definite financial arrangement based on the terms of confederation, as applied to the different provinces of the 3073 APRIL 18, 1902 3074 Dominion. They are not here from time to time clamouring for unknown and unheard of amounts. They are asking simply that the government or parliament either meet the requirements of the case, as they arise from time to time, or else put the territories in the same financial position as the various provinces of the Dominion, so that they may enjoy as a right what they now must ask as a favour. I submit that the position is this: This parliament and government are required either to meet the conditions that exist by an adequate vote, or else to put the territories in the position of the various provinces of the Dominion as regards financial arrangements. Either one thing or the other, and the responsibility is upon the House and the government in the matter.
As to the amount that is demanded and the comparisons that may be made with regard to that amount, the vote for carrying on the government of the North-west Territories, which stands in the same position as a subsidy voted to one of the provinces— out of which provision must be made for the construction of public works of all classes throughout the Territories, chiefly roads and bridges, the requirements of education, and the administration of all the departments of government—amounts to only $268,000. That is the total amount provided for all the expenses of government of the Territories, which are, in the existing circumstances, necessarily higher proportionately than in any other portion of the Dominion. And it is to cost the country $445,000 in the coming year for the expenses to be incurred in endeavouring to bring people into the North-west. I claim, Mr. Chairman, that these two expenditures are not proportionate. I claim that if $445,000 be a reasonable expenditure to bring people into the country, $358,000 is not a reasonable sum with which to provide for all the needs of local government, both for the people who are in the country now, and those who are to come in as the result of this expenditure on immigration work.
I need not add to what my hon. friend from West Assiniboia (Mr. Scott) has said with regard to the effect that an inadequate provision for the needs of education, the opening of roads and the general matters of local government, must necessarily have on immigration into that country. The class of people who are going there in largest numbers are those whose first demand is for the facilities of schools and markets. They are an enterprising and an energetic people. who have built up the great country to the south of us, and who come over the line to build up a great country on our side. They will not be satisfied, unless they can have facilities for the education of their children and the ordinary advantages of civilization in due measure, as the circumstances permit. And now when those people are coming in large numbers, attracted by the desirability of our country, it would be the worst policy that ever was entered upon. to stint the means whereby they may be rendered satisfied with the country. Do not forget that we had a rush of immigrants to the North-west many years ago, and at that time people seemed to think that the rush could not be stopped, but it was stopped and it remained stopped for nearly twenty years. There is a rush on again, and I counsel members of this House to take such measures that it shall not be stopped until that country has been satisfactorily developed. Every one knows that the best immigration agent is the contented settler. Therefore, our best policy is to provide adequate means to give intending settlers those advantages of civilization, which they will demand, and which they consider of the very highest importance. It is because these people look for these advantages of civilization and prize them so highly that they are valuable settlers. It is because they want schools and roads and good government that they are good settlers. People who would not make those demands, to whom it makes no difference whether or not there are schools or roads or good local government, are not the kind of people we want at all. They are dear at any price, and it is the best thing that ever happened this country that the people who are coming in and filling it up now are imbued with those civilizing tendencies.
I hope that the present government will see that the public services of the Northwest Territories are not starved at this critical stage in our history. I hope they will provide for those services according to the requirements, or else place the territories upon a provincial footing, so that there shall be no question about our rights in the matter.
Mr. DOUGLAS. I only wish to make a few remarks in addition to what has already been said on this question. I would like to emphasize, if possible, in the mind of the committee, the statements that have been made by my hon. friend from West Assiniboia (Mr. Scott) and my hon. friend from Alberta (Mr. Oliver). This question of an increased subsidy is a very important one in the estimation of he people generally. We should have eir an increased subsidy or provincial autonomy. As far as I have given the matter attention, I think it would be much better for the country, in its existing circumstances, to receive an increased subsidy at present rather than provincial autonomy. I know that there is a tendency amongst many members of this House to say that we, the people in the west, are always clamouring for special advantages. They point to the early settlers of the older provinces in the east and tell us that we are looking to be spoonfed and ought to have the courage, endurance and hardihood of the early settler in Ontario and elsewhere. Let me say that the 3075 COMMONS 3076 people in the North-west, especially those who went in twenty years ago, have passed through experiences of hardship and endurance, which show that they really possess, in a large measure, those qualities of resistance, and patience, and have indicated by their persistent effort that they believe in the country and are willing to endure privation in order to make it prosperous. I do not think that the early settlers of Manitoba and the North-west are, in any sense, behind those of the eastern provinces. I can speak from experience, having lived in that country from 1883 to date. I know something about the hardships of the people in the early days of that country.
In reference to public works, it is quite evident that the sum at the disposal of the government of the North-west Territories is wholly inadequate. I can speak with special knowledge of that part of the country that I represent, the eastern part of Assiniboia. Take, for instance, the district lying north and south of the Qu'Appelle river. It is true, we have some steel bridges that are a credit to the territorial government that erected them. But even they are of little use in the spring season. I venture to say that to-day the great majority of the people living on the north side of the river are not able to cross the valley or approach the bridges to reach the market with a load of grain. That is a hardship. They have grain on their hands that they are anxious to get rid of and to settle their liabilities. But this they cannot do because the approaches to these bridges are in a state that altogether forbids their reaching the markets. Perhaps they will not be able to reach the markets till the end of May or the beginning of June. We have a local organization for the improvement of the roads, and this has been a step in the right direction. I think the system is even superior in point of organization to the municipal arrangements of the older provinces. The local improvement districts of the North-west Territories are doing good work and proving that the scheme will be a great success. Up to the last three or four years it has been largely in the hands of the settlers to help themselves in making roads to reach their markets, to call upon their neighbour, and they collect a number of individuals who voluntarily gave their work to make the road. But the government has organized the local improvement districts which entails a direct tax upon each quarter section for the improvement of the roads. And that certainly, as I have said, is a step in the right direction. But I have always felt that the sum that was given for the government of the North-west Territories was entirely inadequate. It is quite true that we have a claim upon the treasury of this Dominion, in common with the other provinces to a certain amount per head according to population. But it seems to me, in view of the rapid growth of immigration and of the population of that country that the future ought to be discounted by the present government and a very liberal allowance made for the increase, to enable the territorial government to make the provisions which the circumstances at present demand. The fact that we are spending more upon immigration than upon the government of that country is one argument for the increase of indemnity. There is another fact that I would like to point out to the committee. It may not be popular, perhaps, for me to call attention to it. We would not say that this Dominion is paying too much for the wards of the country and for our Indian population. I would not for a moment insinuate that the government is paying too much for the Indian youth of the North-west Territories. But it is a fact—I am not prepared to give the exact figures on the instant, but what I say can be verified— that we are spending more upon the Indian industrial schools of the North-west than for the whole government of those territories. Now, I would like to emphasize what has already been said that under existing circumstances something might to be done and a very liberal addition ought to be made to the subsidy of the North-west Territories, and that at the present session.
Mr. McCREARY. I desire to say a very few words on this subject, first, because this affects the prairie country, and I would like to endorse the sentiments of my colleagues, and, second, because this is one of the most important questions that is to come before this House in the near future— the subsidy of the territories, or provincial autonomy therefor. I have been reading what has taken place in the House in Regina with regard to territorial autonomy and I must say that I was struck with the force of the arguments. But my own impression is that, at the present time, there are good arguments why provincial autonomy should not to be given to the territories. I believe that within the next three or four years, if immigration should continue as at present, the population of the territories will have so increased and so tended to certain portions of the territories that probably the local jealousies that now exist as to whether there should be one or two or three provinces, and where the capitals shall be, will have disappeared. I sometimes think also that they have not considered the expenditure that would devolve upon them if they had to govern themselves. Take, for instance, the mounted police. I am not sure, but I suppose the number of police in the territories must reach from five hundred to a thousand. If the duty of policing the country devolved upon the local government, what a large percentage of the subsidy got from this government it would take.
I believe the older provinces of Canada have not looked upon this matter in the proper light. Some hon. gentleman here said—
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I think it was the hon. member for Alberta (Mr. Oliver)—that it is one thing to bring immigrants to the country and another to keep them here. I was one of the unfortunates who left this eastern part of Canada twenty-two years ago last month. I arrived in Winnipeg some time in March, got my ox and cart and started across the prairies with others. I shall never forget as long as I live some of the hardships 1 saw the settlers undergo. We met violent storms at Portage la Prairie, and further west where Brandon now is, and also about the locality of Rapid City. There were no towns there then. I have seen strong men shed tears when they saw their wives and children in water three or four feet deep trying to cross the creeks and ravines where there were no bridges. A large number of people left the country as soon as they could get out of it. I believe 85 per cent of those who came from the British islands in 1882 and 1883 left that country before 1885. In the first place, they could not get to a market or to a railway centre. They saw no sign of civilization. They had no company and they got lonely. There were no post offices, they could not get a letter or send one without going fifty or sixty miles. They had no schools, and their children were growing up in ignorance around them. That same condition exists in the territories and it will have the same effect if this government do not wake up to the facts. I know a family; I could give their names— I will give their names. Mr. Richard Lyons and his family, who settled in Manitoba, thirty-five miles from Swan River, in 1898. Mr. Lyons had eleven of a family and came from the north of Ireland. Although we have provincial government there, he remained there for fifteen months before he had a school or post office nearer than Swan River thirty-five miles away. He wrote me letters, and in one of them he said: I will leave this country in three months, unless I can get a school or post office. I wrote to the superintendent of immigration and finally succeeded in meeting his wishes. That is one example of the kind of thing that may happen in the territories.
Now, Mr. Chairman, when you think of $357,000, with, I think $40,000 the hon. gentleman said of local revenue, say $400,000 altogether, to supply all the municipal and other services required in that vast territory, I think any man who has had experience in municipal matters must wonder how it has been done. Most of you who live in cities and towns in Ontario probably know the condition here in Ottawa, as I know the condition in the city of Winnipeg. The revenue of the city of Winnipeg is some $635,000, of which $135,000 is paid yearly for schools. The revenue of the city of Winnipeg, a town of 50,000 inhabitants, is nearly double the sum with which they have to govern that whole territory 500 miles by 400 miles. I ask if that is fair. I say it is great credit to the Hon. Mr. Haultain and his colleagues that they have been able to administer the affairs of that government as economically as they have done during the last ten years. I do not believe there is a province in Canada where the same amount of money has yielded so much benefit to the people as has the money spent by the territorial government.
Hon. gentlemen from the east may think this is pecularily a western question. Now it is not, it is more an eastern matter. A great many gentlemen on the other side of the House live in cities and towns which are manufacturing centres. For instance, we have three members from Toronto, none of them here to-night. I would ask those gentlemen in the city of Toronto who understand the Massey-Harris people, what a good settler is worth to the Massey-Harris people every year. I ask them what every new family who goes into the territories is worth to the manufacturers of eastern Canada. They are worth nothing to western Canada in that way, we have no manufacturers, we have no implements, no cloth, woollens nor cottons, no fruits—everything these people have to buy must come from the east. Every settler you put there increases the wages of your artisans, increases the population of your cities and towns in Ontario. It does not help as half as much as it helps you people here, and I think it is your duty to wake up to the fact that the more settlers you get in there the larger your towns will grow, and the higher the value of your lands will become in older Canada. I say this is a matter of gigantic importance. I believe that in the supplementary estimates to be brought down this session a very large sum of money should be granted in aid of the people of the territories. Bear in mind also that while the population that is going in there now very largely comes from the United States, Europe and Great Britain, a considerable percentage, in fact I should imagine 30 or 40 per cent, are your own brothers, and sisters, and sons from the eastern provinces. Are you going to allow them to endure the hardships that your forefathers had to endure here in the Ottawa district, and other districts of eastern Canada ? I say times have changed, and those people should have enough money to support their schools, to build their bridges, and to make the necessary improvements to keep pace with the advancing population. I may remark to the Postmaster General, as I remarked the other day to his deputy, that he should not expect to get, in a new country like that, sufficient revenue to run the post offices. In Ontario where your farmers are settled on 50 to 100 acres of land, it is quite easy to have a post office where there is no settler further than three miles from the post ofiice; but out there where the settler has got to occupy 320 acre: of land to make it pay, you cannot expect, at least for some 3079 COMMONS 3080 time, that the post offices are going to pay. You have got to charge up any deficiency in your postal department to some other appropriation. You can charge it to immigration if you like. But I say post offices ought to be given to the people out there without any regard to whether there is sufficient revenue to make them pay. I think that in the subsidies to be brought down at a subsequent period of the session, there should be a sum of at least $200,000 or $250,000 to supplement the grants already made to provide for running the territories.
Mr. INGRAM. Hon. gentlemen from the North-west Territories have referred to this matter as being of interest to eastern members, and I take the liberty of discussing it from that point of view. I listened with a great deal of attention to the remarks of the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Scott), and of the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat (Mr. McCreary), who represents a Manitoba constituency. The point these gentlemen from the territories made was that a provincial government should be granted to the people of the territories. The hon. member for Selkirk says it should not be given to the territories owing to the friction that exists there at the present time.
Mr. McCREARY. I did not say that.
Mr. INGRAM. I took down his words, and I think that is what he said. Now, I would like to ask my hon. friend, and the minister too, if there is friction now, and we all know there is more or less, how is it going to be avoided if you create the territory into a province ? Doubtless these gentlemen have perused the report of negotiations that have taken place between the authorities of the North-west Territories and the Dominion government ; they know full well that for some years past a strong agitation has taken place there with a view of forming those territories into a province. Why ? Because the people find that the immigrants coming in there in large numbers have changed the conditions, and entail additional expense on the government of the territories, and that the amount at present given by the Dominion government is insufficient. Therefore they are agitating for a provincial government so that they may be put on the same footing as other provinces.
Now, I think the Minister of the Interior said in his letter to the Hon. Mr. Haultain that the population in the North-west Territories was too sparse, that was one of the reasons why the government of Canada refused to organize the territories into a province. The next reason given was that the increased population going into those territories was changing the conditions, and that the government of Canada did not think it wise at present to organize a province, as it might soon be necessary to have more provinces than one. The Minister of the Interior, in his letter of the 21st of March, 1901, admitted that this question was of the utmost importance to the people of the North-west Territories. I think he suggested that the authorities of the territories should meet the federal executive with a view of arriving at some conclusion on the matter. I think these are three of the points in that letter sent by the Hon. Mr. Sifton stating why the Dominion government did not grant their prayer. Now, we are in Committee of the Whole here and my hon. friends from the North-west are in a position to speak more than once on this question. Let me ask them, do they differ with the Minister of the Interior in his conclusion, and if they do, will they say so ? They must know some thing of the facts in the document brought down in the North-west Assembly the other day. Do they consider that the territory there mentioned should comprise one province or more ? If they think it should comprise more than one province I think it is their duty to say so in this House. The people of Canada should not be kept in the dark on this subject. It is in the interest of the people of the east as well as of the west to know whether there should be one province or two, and whether the territorial government is at present administered in the interest of the people of Canada as a whole.
There is another question and it is whether the present machinery of the territories can be extended cheaper than creating new machinery. The question is whether there is any justification for refusing to organize these territories into a province. If we go to the far eastern provinces of Canada we find that the population comprising what is now the province of Prince Edward Island was much less when it was organized into a province than the population of the territories to-day.
Mr. McCREARY. It had a much smaller population.
Mr. INGRAM. Yes, a much smaller population. We find also that the territories today have as large a population as British Columbia when British Columbia was brought in as a province.
Mr. SCOTT. Quite a bit larger.
Mr. INGRAM. Yes, quite a bit larger. Now, let us make a comparison with the area of the North-west Territories with that of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. If the territories are brought in as they are proposed to be, I believe the area of the new province sought to be organized would be about 302,000 square miles. British Columbia has 383,000 square miles, Ontario 222,000 square miles, and Quebec 228,000 square miles. I find that so far as area is concerned, the people of the North-west Territories are as much entitled to be organized 3081 APRIL 18, 1902 3082 into a province as are these other provinces which I have named and so far as population is concerned they are in a better position than Prince Edward Island and British Columbia. If the people of the North-west Territories are, organized into a province I hold that they would be able as local authorities to understand their requirements very much better than we could as members of this House or as members of the Dominion government. I say that it would be better in the interests of the. local government that the request should be acceded to and that the reasons given by the hon. Miniister of the Interior are not sufficient why these people should be refused to be organized into a province. Some better reason should be given why these people should be refused that which they believe to be in their own interests. Let as take another point : I recognize that there are some very ticklish questions that come up in the different provinces. I recognize that the British North America Act gives each province certain rights as to the administration of its own affairs, and we know as a matter of fact that the residents of the North-west Territories of all classes and of all creeds will be alive to their interests, and that once you undertake to organize them into a province and give them rights under the British North America Act they will be very jealous of these rights and may be. hard to please. Is that the chief reason why the government refuse to organize these people into a province? It strikes me after considering the whole question as carefully as I can, that there is really more in that objection than there is in the reasons given by the hon. minister who represents the government in this matter. I do not desire to take up more of the time of the committee, nor do I wish to advocate an expensive form of government. but. taking the viewS of the representatives who come. from the Northwest Territories. who have expressed themselves in favour of the organization of these territories into a province. I for one, feel that if they can do that without imposing any additional burdens on the people of the country they are justified in advocating that course.
Mr. McCREARY. Leaving to one side the question of provincial autonomy for the territories at present, leaving that question to be settled by the territorial government at the next general elections, we will say, taking the situation as we find it may I ask the hon. gentleman if he will endorse the government in increasing the subsidy by say $200,000 a year ? Let him commit himself upon that point.
Mr. INGRAM. The hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. McCreary has not been long enough in this House to get an answer from me to a question of that kind. I have been too long in this House to answer any questions of that kind. If the members of the opposition occupied seats on the government side of the House, I would be very glad to hear the leader of my party answer that question.
Mr. OLIVER. In consequence of the suggestion thrown out by the hon. member for East Elgin (Mr. Ingram), it may be thought by members of the committee that there was some question as to the position taken by the government of the North-west Territories on this subject of provincial organization. There is no question whatever on that point. The North-west territorial government has gone so far as to lay a proposed Bill for the establishment of the territories into a province before the government
Mr. INGRAM. Does the hon. gentleman (Mr. Oliver) approve of that Bill as he finds it ?
Mr. OLIVER. I think, if the Bill is agreed to in all its provisions. that it would be a very satisfactory arrangement, but, of course, whether I would agree to the formation of a province or not would depend entirely on the terms of the agreement. I hope the hon. gentleman will understand that, but I think that I would be perfectly safe in endorsing the Bill as it is prepared. If a province can be secured on those terms I think it would be a satisfactory arrangement to the people of the territories. What I wanted to particularly point out was that the people of the territories are not responsible in any shape or manner for coming to this parliament and making any indefinite demand. They came and made a definite demand and if that definite demand is not accepted, then, we say the only alternative you should take is that you should ascertain what their requirements are and meet these requirements. I wish to add to what the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. McCreary) has said in regard to the making of expenditures in the territories. I had the honour to be a member of the local assembly for a number of years and without going into details I will back up the broad assertion made by that hon. gentleman that there is no province in this Dominion and there is no country in the world, where every dollar of revenue goes as far in meeting the actual requirements of the public service as in the Northwest Territories. That is as has been and that is as it is.
Mr. INGRAM. I would like to ask the hon. gentleman (Mr. Oliver) a question. The hon. gentleman has not answered the point raised by the hon. Minister of the Interior representing the government. He said that organization having been refused he is prepared to take the alternative of increasing the subsidy as the next best thing, but the point that the hon. gentleman who represents the North-west Territories should make clear is this: Does the hon. gentleman approve of the ground and steps taken by the hon. Minister of the Interior. repre 3083 COMMONS 3084 senting the government? Does he think the reasons given by the hon. Minister of the Interior are sufficient reasons for refusing the North-west Territories organization into a province.
Mr. OLIVER. When a Bill on the subject is presented to the House and the hon. minister gives his reasons I will be prepared to discuss them.
Mr. INGRAM. The minister has given his reasons.
Mr. OLIVER. In the words of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Ingram) I have been too long in the House. The question under consideration at the present time is, the vote of certain moneys, and that is what we are to discuss now and not to answer all questions under the sun.
Mr. INGRAM. Here is the statement made by the Minister of the Interior to Mr. Haultain :
Respecting present financial requirements the question of an increase in your subsidies is now receiving consideration, but the result cannot as you are aware be communicated until the estimates are brought before parliament. This, I have reason to hope will take place in a very short time.
Here are the estimates now, and instead of an increase there is a decrease of $10,000. Last year there were $435,359 and this year they are $425,359.
Mr. SCOTT. What I spoke about was the vote of $357,000 which is in reality the subsidy granted to the North-west Territories. There are some other items included in this vote, but that is the subsidy, and it is the same as last year.
Mr. INGRAM. And those other items appeared last year in the vote, and the fact remains that the vote for the North-west Territories is $10,000 less. The minister should tell us why this vote is not increased, and whether he intends to increase it or not. The member for East Assiniboia (Mr. Douglas) told us that this question was second to none in importance before this parliament, and if that be so; and hon. gentlemen from the North-west Territories being friends (if the government they have the public documents at their disposal in the departments, and they should be prepared to come to this House and tell us whether they endorse the action of the government on that question or not. They have not done so, and it appears they are not going to do so. As an eastern member of this House, I say that the three objections raised in the letter of the Minister of the Interior are not sufficient to warrant the government in refusing to give an increased subsidy.
Mr. OLIVER. We are now discussing the vote for the North-west Territories and the hon. member (Mr. Ingram) ought to be satisfied that we have placed ourselves thoroughly on record on that point.
Mr. BOYD. I wish to say a few words on this question, and principally for the reason that last winter I had the pleasure of attending a public meeting at Indian Head in East Assiniboia, where about 1,000 people were gathered to discuss this very question as to whether the territories should or should not have their own provincial government or governments. Whatever doubt Mr. Haultain may have had previous to that meeting, there was not the slightest doubt that the people present there were quite unanimous on the question. I could not help smiling when I heard the members for the territories speaking, and when I watched the only three or four ministers present and how they acted. The Postmaster General and the Minister of Finance were industriously reading their newspapers; the Minister of Agriculture was busy with his letters; they were all very indifferent, and they thought the question of so little account that they took the first opportunity to get up and slide out of the House. They have left the whole thing to the Minister of the Interior. It is true that he has told the people of Manitoba and the North-west that he assumes responsibility and is to be held responsible for the management of that country, but if he were to tell us what he thinks to-night—I do not expect he will for he has been too long in the House for that— he would tell us that he really believes that he would give the people of the territories what they want. The objection raised by the hon. gentleman for Selkirk (Mr. McCreary) is not a good one. He tells us that when the country fills up with people we will be better able to know whether it is better to have one or two provinces—
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. Might I interrupt my hon. friend to ask him what he refers to when he says 'what the people want ' ?
Mr. BOYD. What the people desire. In reply to the statement of the hon. member for Selkirk, I may say that every one knows that this question can be settled with a great deal less difliculty now than it can years hence, when the population becomes larger. The gentlemen who represent the North-west Territories know that very well. They know that the larger the population the more diversified will be the opinion. and the greater the difficulty in settling that question as to whether it shall be one province or whether it shall be two provinces or three provinces. The meeting at Indian Head was equally divided as to whether it should be one or two provinces. I am speaking now, frankly as a man who viewed the proceedings there impartially.—
Mr. SCOTT. Will the hon. gentleman permit me to interrupt him ?
Mr. BOYD. Yes, all you like.
Mr. SCOTT. What evidence has the hon. gentleman that that meeting was equally divided in its opinion ?
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Mr. BOYD. The applause that was given to each of the speakers. How would you judge the feeling of a meeting, except by the sentiments expressed by the people in front of you. Now then, I say that the government might just as well face the question at once. If we knew the truth of the matter I believe we would find that this is one of the questions that the cabinet is fighting like blazes about, because has not the Minister of Public Works told us that they frequently fight like blazes on different questions ? If the truth were known, it is one of the questions which is causing trouble to this cabinet, formed of the ex-ministers of different provinces. It is not a question of finance or a question of the division or the territory, that is causing the delay. The government might just as well admit that the delay is caused by the question of the schools, and the question of the language, and don't think for a moment that the people in the North-west are not pretty well aware of that. You might just as well face the question now, and the less people you have in the territories the more easily it can be dealt with. At the Indian Head meeting the complaint was that the territories were not able to aid railways, were not able to do what they would do in the matter of transportation, and what they would do if they had their provincial government. That is the important question that is now agitating the people of the territories. I agree with my hon. friend from East Elgin (Mr. Ingram) that the gentlemen representing the territories should speak out frankly on this subject. I understand the difficulties of supporters of a government. I have been over there. But if they would speak out frankly and say whether or not they approve of the action of the government in this instance, they would be giving much more satisfaction to their constituents than they are doing by the little by-play which we have had here this evening.
Mr. DOUGLAS. If the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat draws his conclusions from the meeting at Indian Head, he is very gravely mistaken as to the state of feeling on this question in Eastern Assiniboia. I think I can safely say that not one-tenth of the people there are in favour of provincial autonomy in the immediate future. They know that it must come and that we must prepare for it; but it would saddle additional burdens on the people. They feel that under existing circumstances they could not carry out even a complete municipal organization because of the sparseness of settlement. There may perhaps be a few people or a considerable number of people about Indian Head who desire provincial autonomy, who have the opinion that it would enable them to get more support for the development of the country in the way of building railways. I remember very well the argument of Mr. Haultain, the premier of the North-west Territories. He argued that there should be only one province, because the larger the province the greater its facility in raising money to build railroads; but if that is an argument, then it is better that the Territories should remain under the supervision of the Dominion government, which has better credit in the money markets of the world than any province could possibly have. Therefore, under existing circumstances and for some years to come, I think we are better as we are than we could possibly be with provincial autonomy. We know it must come, and no progressive settler would desire to retard it unduly; but just now it would certainly impose additional burdens on the people, and, voicing the sentiment of Eastern Assiniboia, I would state decidedly that as far as I can interpret the feeling of the people, they are not in favour of provincial autonomy immediately.
Mr. BOYD. As the hon. gentleman has been a long time in the country, I would like to ask him how long a time would it be before it would be ready for provincial autonomy? I am very glad he has placed himself squarely before his people on this point.
Mr. DOUGLAS. Quite so ; we do not hesitate at all. In meetings where we have opportunities to test the feelings of the people, they do not support the immediate formation of new provinces. I am not prepared to say how long it should be. If the population goes on increasing as it has been doing of late years, it may come in the near future; but certainly, under existing circumstances, I am not prepared to advocate the immediate organization of the country into provinces.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). Would not the question of additional burdens depend altogether on the terms under which the Northwest Territories were formed into a province? And are not the hon. gentleman and his friends arguing now that the subsidies should be increased? If the subsidies were increased and the territories were formed into a province, what difference would it make? I do not understand the logical conclusion of the hon. gentleman's remarks.
Mr. DOUGLAS. We are asking an increase in the subsidy not as a matter of charity, but as a matter of right, in view of the increased population and the growing demands on the funds of the territorial government, because it is found that they cannot possibly overtake the work which is brought under their notice, retain the population, and minister to their comfort and consolidation in the country without an addition to the subsidy. As I understand, a certain amount has been granted in each province per head of the. population. This the government has been 3087 COMMONS 3088 pleased to grant in past years, and sometimes they have discounted the future, and at periods of some ten years have drawn on the fund in favour of the province or the territory. What we wish them to do in this case, in view of the rapid increase of population, is not only to give us the proportionate grant per head that is given in the other provinces, but to discount the future and enable the government of the territories to overtake the work which is piling up in their hands.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). Perhaps I have not made myself clear to my hon. friend; but certainly he has not made himself very clear to me. I asked him how provincial autonomy could possibly increase the burdens of the people if adequate terms were given to the North-west Territories, which I understand perfectly are being asked, not as a matter of charity, but as a matter of right. I did not suggest that they were asked as a matter of charity. Whether or not the territories are formed into a province cannot possibly affect the burdens of the people, if a subsidy which the Northwest Territories regard as adequate is given to them when they are formed into a province ; and we know that such an adequate subsidy is being asked now. Then, how can the establishment of provincial government in the territories result in any additional burdens on the people?
Mr. DOUGLAS. I think I can answer the hon. gentleman's question. The burdens I have reference to are simply these: If we have two provinces, or probably three, we shall require three separate sets of buildings, three sets of organization, and a large body of officials all over the country, which at present we do not need. It is one thing to speak of one of the older provinces maintaining municipal organization to the full extent to which it is enjoyed in Ontario and Quebec, and quite another thing to deal with a country where the people live four or six or eight miles apart, and where you may have a stretch of fifteen miles with nobody living upon it. Hon. gentlemen need to know the country, the immensity of the area, and the necessity of this area being filled up, in order to maintain and carry out with comfort and success municipal organization. So that we believe the burdens of the people would be very largely increased, and the taxation would became much higher than it is in any of the older provinces. Hence we say it is better to delay somewhat the organization of the country into provinces, and to wait until it is more fully settled.
Mr. INGRAM. I take it, from the remarks of the hon. gentleman, that in the constituency he represents the feeling of the people is not in favour of provincial organization. I understand that the majority of the local representatives coming from his constituency support Mr. Haultain's government. I find that at Yorkton, which I think is in the hon. gentleman's constituency, Mr. Haultain made this statement— I am quoting from the hon. member for West Assiniboia :
Before the local elections in 1898, the Hon. Mr. Haultain spoke at various points throughout the territories on this subject, and I shall quote from the language he used at one place to show that even three years ago this change was looked forward to and that the present legislature of the territories was in reality given a mandate to open up negotiations with respect to the subject. Speaking at Yorkton, the Hon. Mr. Haultain said:
If the financial question is capable of other solution, I will be satisfied to remain as at present. The only thing there seems to be to do is to think at least of negotiating for provincial establishment. I feel convinced that it will be the principal work of the new legislature before the end of its four years' term to enter into such negotiations. With the greater development that now seems assured, the needs in respect of schools and improvement will certainly develop. Outside of direct taxation, there seems no possibility of a solution except by provincial establishment.
That language was used, I take it, all over the territories during the contest previous to 1898. Then what do we find ? When these very same representatives went to the North-west Territories legislature, this document, with several other sections was passed unanimously by the representatives of the North-west Territories. And here is a sample of these several clauses that passed unanimously in the North-west Territories legislature, that deals with the question of provincial organization :
4. And Whereas, in the said address it was represent-ed to Her Majesty as a reason for the extension of the Dominion of Canada westward, that the welfare of the population of these territories would be materially enhanced by the formation therein of political institutions hearing analogy, as far as circumstances will admit, to those which existed in the several provinces then forming the Dominion.
That was passed unanimously with the other clauses in this resolution. That shows that the people of the territories are in favour of provincial organization, and the sentiment in the constituency represented by the hon. gentleman must be strongly in favour of that course. That being the case, I cannot understand how he can oppose that policy here. I can understand why he personally should be opposed to it. Take, for instance, the tax levied now for school and road purposes. Is it not a fact that it is fairly high in the territories just now' Would it be reduced if they had provincial organization or increased ?
Mr. DOUGLAS. Increased.
Mr. INGRAM. That being the case, and the hon. gentleman being a large landholder, I can understand that he might object to the formation of provincial government for the reason that it would interfere with him directly.
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Mr. DOUGLAS. Oh, no. 
Mr. INGRAM. It might cost him something. I do not say that that is the case, but where a large landholder might find his taxes increased were the territories given provincial organization, that might be a justifiable reason for his opposing such a policy. I do not charge him with being actuated by such a motive, because of course it is not his personal interest that he is considering, but the interests of his constituents.
Mr. SCOTT. If the fears which the hon. gentleman attribute to my hon. friend from East Assinaboia (Mr. Douglas) have any basis in fact, the same cause would no doubt prompt every person in the territories to oppose our being given provincial powers.
Mr. INGRAM. Then they should not support the resolutions in favour of provincial autonomy
Mr. SCOTT. The hon. gentleman from Elgin (Mr. Ingram) was not frank enough to answer the question put to him. Very properly, in connection with the item in the estimates to provide a sum to enable the North-west government to carry on its administration this year, a straight question was put, and he declined to answer it. I shall be more frank than he was. I notice that he had last year's 'Hansard' before him. He has been quoting from the remarks I made last year on the subject of autonomy. and probably does not need to be told what my answer is to the question he asked North-west members to answer. I said that I believed the time had come when the question of giving the territories provincial rights should be taken up and dealt with. As far as I am concerned, I believe that the people in the territories in general are ready to accept provincial autonomy. Of course they are not unanimous, and I think that if the powers at Ottawa wait until they are, they will wait until Kingdom come, because neither on that or any other question will the people of so large. an area ever entertain one opinion. It is a fact, as has been stated by my hon. friend opposite, that the population of the territories now is vastly larger than was that of Manitoba when that part of the country was formed into a province. It is probably 600 or 700 per cent greater, and if the population of the North-west Territories is not as large to-day as that of the province of British Columbia with a smaller area, it will be before the close of the present year.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). What is the population of the territories and British Columbia respectively ?
Mr. SCOTT. According to the census of a year ago, the population of the Northwest Territories was in the neighbourhood of 160,000 and that of British Columbia a little less than 200,000; but we received in the territories last year a very large im migration, the exact number of which cannot be stated. To-day, however, I think we have a population of between 180,000 and 190,000, and probably before the end of the year it will have swelled to 220,000 or 230,000. I have stated my own opinion very positively, but at the same time there is a large number of people who are very much of the opinion expressed by my hon. friend from East Assiniboia (Mr. Douglas), and as has been stated by Mr. Haultain, the premier of the territories—whose remarks were quoted a moment ago—if a sufficient grant were made annually by this parliament, there would be no cry from the territories for provincial establishment.
Mr. DOUGLAS. Hear, hear.
Mr. SCOTT. Year after year, however, the local authorities in the territories have been obliged to come to Ottawa for an increase in the grant. In some years they obtained an increase fairly satisfactory, but the position taken by the Northwest government to-day is that which I am supporting. If my hon. friends in this government would agree to an increase perfectly satisfactory for this year, still it would be better for the territories that the question of provincial establishment should be taken up and dealt with, because next year we will find our needs again largely increased, and the Minister of the Interior would have a difficult task in obtaining from this House the increase required. Even if he were able to provide this year the necessary increase, one which would be perfectly satisfactory, the position next year would be just as it has been heretofore.
The testimony which has been borne by my hon. friends from Selkirk (Mr. McCreary) and Alberta (Mr. Oliver) to the character of government which the people of the territories have been enjoying for years past, is a fair argument which can be urged in favour of their being granted provincial autonomy. I am willing to join in the assertion which has been made that better government than has been enjoyed in the last ten years by the people of the territories has not been enjoyed by the people of any province in the Dominion. We have as able, shrewd, judicious and careful men at the head of our government as are at the head of government in any province of the Dominion. We have an educational system, which was framed by Premier Haultain, and in which my hon. friend from Alberta had a hand, when he was a member of the legislative assembly, which has not a superior anywhere in the Dominion. We have in the matter of education, a system as satisfactory as that which now prevails in Manitoba, and we have arrived at that position without any of the turmoil which was created before the Manitoba system could be brought to its present satisfactory state. But we are getting a little beside. the question. I did not intend this evening to give rise to any lengthy discussion upon 3091 COMMONS 3092 the question of provincial autonomy. We are dealing now with the grant to the North-west assembly for the purpose of carrying on their business this year, and it would not do our people any particular good this year if the House were to decide that full provincial powers ought to be granted and at the same time allow the vote for the present year to remain as it is, and leave us, in some measure, in a state of starvation.
I think we should direct our attention, as I endeavoured to direct my remarks in the first instance, to the question of the vote and to providing this session for a considerable enlargement of it. Possibly, it would not be out of order to make the comparison of the vote for this service, a service for which this parliament is entirely responsible, and the votes for other services. My hon. friend from Alberta (Mr. Oliver) did make a comparison in one particular. I have taken the pains to copy the total figures devoted to some services voted for by parliament. I may say that, for fear some of our friends might say I was introducing sectional questions, I have taken votes which apply to one part of this country as much as to any other. For penitentiaries, we spend a total of $491,490, considerably in excess of the amount deemed to be sufficient for the whole purposes of the government of the North-west Territories. Legislation costs $446,290, entirely apart from the.indemnity paid to the members of parliament. This is the amount it costs to manage these parliament buildings and supply the printing in connection with the work of parliament. To the Agriculture Department we vote about $400,000, apart from the vote for the taking of the census. Then, as my hon. friend from Alberta (Mr. Oliver) pointed out, we spend almost half a million dollars on immigration. That is, we spend fully as much to bring people into the North-west Territories as we spend for all their local needs after we get them there. Fisheries inspection costs $337,000, or almost as much as this Whole vote to the North-west Territories. The expense of looking after the Indians is considerably in excess of a million dollars. And, as the hon. member for Eastern Assiniboia (Mr. Douglas) remarked, we spend $417,000 for the education of Indian children, much more than we spend for the whole cost of education and all other punposes as well in the Northwest Territories. 0n the North-west mounted police in that territory, one single service, we spend $400,000, and, on the mounted police in the Yukon $450,000. The Yukon government vote, which is exactly similar to the item under discussion and which applies to a country where there is not a population, probably, of more than 25,000, costs $250,000. There is voted this year for superannuation, $328,000. almost as much as the entire vote for local government in the North-west Territories. I wish to say that I am not taking the slightest exception to these votes. Speaking more particularly to my hon. friends in the government, and to my friends on this side, I may say that it has been a matter of pride to us that the general services throughout the Dominion has been so well looked after since the Liberals came into power. Under the government's policy of a revenue tariff—
Some hon. MEMBERS. Oh, oh.
Mr. SCOTT. Whatever dispute there may be about the name, there is no question that it lives up to the name of a revenue tarilf, for under it Canada has been getting a sufficient revenue. And it has been a matter of pride to us that every service that has required looking after has been generously, properly and adequately looked after. But, unless a very considerable increase is made in the vote for the North-west Territories there is one item in which we shall be obliged to admit that there is no cause for pride.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). I am glad, that, in one respect the education of my hon. friend (Mr. Scott) is improving. I think he is one of the gentlemen who were not able to understand the meaning of the word 'adequate' in a resolution lately moved in this House. I have noticed that in the various addresses with which he has favoured the House, he has used that word at least fifteen or twenty times this evening. It is evident that during the period intervening he has made excellent use of the dictionary. I trust that some hon. gentlemen who laboured under the same difficulty have been employing their leisure in the same excellent way.
Mr. SCOTT. I have been trying to learn the resolution by heart.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). I am glad my hon. friend's endeavours have had such excellent results. There is a good deal of food for reflection in what the hon. gentleman has said. I, for one, am convinced that the administration of the government of the North-west Territories must have been carried on in a very excellent way in order to have given the people any semblance of provision for the public service, seeing they have what seems to me a very meagre sum, considering the large number of people and the enormous territory that has to be dealt with. It does seem that this service cannot, out of such a subsidy, be provided for quite as well as the people of the North-west have a right to expect having regard to the interests which have been mentioned by hon. gentlemen opposite. I am still not quite clear as to what my hon. friend from East Assiniboia (Mr. Douglas) means when he says that provincial autonomy would increase the burdens of the people. There are certain services to be provided for in the North-west. They must either be provided for by the people in that country themselves, or they must be provided for by all the people of the 3093 APRIL 18, 1902 3094 country, that is, through the Dominion government. I do not see how the adoption of provincial autonomy will necessarily affect the question one way or the other. It is entirely a question of the terms upon which autonomy is established. My hon. friend who has just taken his seat (Mr. Scott) has brought to the attention of the House certain services upon which a good deal of money has been spent in this country. We on this side might add to the illustrations he has given. I might point out to the hon. gentleman that the bringing down of a contract with respect to the building of a railway in the Yukon eight days before the meeting of this parliament has resulted in a claim against the government which will probably cost this country nearly as much as the whole grant to the North-west Territories in one year.
Mr. SCOTT. That was the fault of an out of date Senate.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). I would be inclined to think it was the fault of a government that was not able to wait for eight days until the parliament met and the matter could be dealt with. Of course, these are different points of view. Another thing I would call the attention of the hon. gentlemen to is that this government spent, I think unnecessarily—and I think anybody who fairly examines the evidence will say unnecessarily—in the purchase of the Drummond County Railway, enough to double the subsidy to the Territories for five or six years. The same remark is true of the contract this government made with regard to the Grand Trunk Railway and also with regard to a great many public works in respect to which, during the past five or six years, enormous sums of money have been, as I believe, spent unjustifiably and extravagantly. I have no doubt that if a proper system of administration had been adopted with regard to a great many of these works, the amount granted to the Northwest Territories might have been increased 50 per cent during the past five or six years without increasing the burdens of the people of this country by a single dollar. As my hon. friend has brought some illustrations with regard to this subject, I thought it only right to remind him of this, because he has given me some food for reflection in the sensible remarks he has made, and I desire to give him food for reflection with regard to these matters, and I trust he will take my remarks as much to heart as I have in all sincerity taken to heart the remarks he has addressed to the House on that subject.
Mr. ROCHE (Marquette). At last we have had one member from the North-west Territories on the other side of the House coming out and expressing himself as strongly opposed, at the present time at any rate to provincial autonomy being granted to the territories. I think he is the only member from the North-west Territories who has had the boldness to come out and in explicit terms to take that stand. But that hon. gentleman, I think, when he was elected in 1896, came to this House as an independent, he came as representing a patron organization, and he rather scorned the average Conservative or Liberal who came down here to be caucused with the rest of the members, and to respond to the party lash. I notice that he is now just as servile a supporter of the government as you will find on the other side, and he does not think it any disgrace now to be caucused with other members, and to respond to the party lash with the best of them; so much so, that he is willing to give credit to the government for having taken a stand that will displease the people of the territories, in refusing to grant them provincial autonomy at the present time.
Mr. DOUGLAS. May I ask a question ? The people of the west have not asked for provincial autonomy, and the 'member for East Assiniboia (Mr. Douglas) is not advocating nor opposing provincial autonomy. He has only stated that in his judgment the time has not fully come when it ought to be given, but it must come in the near future.
Mr. ROCHE (Marquette). Now the hon. member for East Assiniboia has stated that the people of the North-west Territories have not asked for provincial autonomy. I would like to know who their government represents. Does not the government represent the people? Do they not voice the sentiments of the people, and has not the territorial assembly asked this parliament to grant them provincial autonomy? You may just as well say that this government do not represent the people of Canada at the present time, as in many things I grant they do not. But the member for East Assiniboia stated in his remarks that he did not think the time had fully come when it would be wise to grant provincial autonomy. I do not know what he means by that qualified statement. Probably next session, if the government comes down with a Bill granting provincial autonomy, he will be the first to get up and give them credit for it, stating that he is very glad to see them do it, and I have no doubt that had they taken that stand on this occasion, he would have been equally ready to give. them credit for so doing. That shows what a good party man he is. Now after the declaration of the Minister of the Interior he falls in with the views of the government and says he believes the people of the territories do not desire provincial autonomy at the present time. One reason, he says. is that it will increase the burdens of the people. I think the question asked by the leader of the opposition was very appropriate. and I could not see exactly what the member for East Assiniboia meant in his reply. As the leader of the opposition has said, it rests en 3095 COMMONS 3096 tirely with the two governments as to whether the burden of the people will be increased or not, according to the terms that will be made. I agree with the members from the territories that the present subsidy is not adequate; and by the way, the leader of the opposition took the words out of my mouth when he jollied the member from West Assiniboia (Mr. Scott) on his education having been advanced to that position that he understands that word adequate far better than he did when the budget debate was on.
Mr. McCREARY. Probably the hon. gentleman will be a little more definite on this point than he was on the tariff, and say what an adequate amount will be.
Mr. ROCHE (Marquette). I will reply to the hon. member in the words of the leader of the government when he was in opposition, that is time enough to prescribe when you are called in. I hope the hon. gentleman will agree in the opinion of his chief. I admit that the subsidy granted at the present time to the territories is not sufficient. and if autonomy was granted to those territories, as a Manitoban I would be quite agreeable to see better terms granted to the new province, for then we would have a lever to get a little better terms ourselves. The member for West Assiniboia says that at the present time, if the subsidy was increased, the people of the territories would prefer not to have autonomy. I do not agree with that sentiment. 1 think there is a feeling in the average elector of the west that the subsidy should be increased.
Mr. SCOTT. Does the hon. gentleman attribute that opinion to me ?
Mr. ROCHE (Marquette). The hon. member said a few minutes ago that if an additional subsidy was granted to the Northwest Territories the people would not ask for provincial autonomy. If the hon. member looks in the 'Hansard' to-morrow he will find that statement.
Mr. SCOTT. If I said that, I said some.thing that I did not mean to say.
Mr. ROCHE (Marquette). I took down the hon. gentleman's words, and I think he will find that declaration in the 'Hansard.'
Mr. SCOTT. I think I said that, even if the subsidy for this present year were made entirely satisfactory, I would still think there was good reason for asking for a final settlement, because next year. with the increase in population, and the increased needs for an additional amount of money, the Minister of the Interior would be in the same difliculty as has been experienced in the past in obtaining the increase annually made necessary by increasing population and needs.
Mr. ROCHE (Marquette). The hon. gentleman should thank me for having drawn his attention to his statement, as it has given him an opportunity of setting himself right, and to-morrow he will have an opportunity of revising his speech in the 'Hansard.' I think the people of the west, notwithstanding that there might be an additional subsidy would still be in favour of local autonomy. They all desire to manage their own local alfairs, and even an additional subsidy would not long quiet them. Now the reasons given for refusing provincial autonomy by the Minister of the Interior I do not think were sufficient in themselves, certainly they were not satisfactory to the government of the North-west Territories. Mr. Haultain had been led to believe that this government would take into immediate consideration the question of granting provincial autonomy. The Minister of the Interior, in writing to him, said that no doubt it would not come as a surprise to Mr. Haultain that the government at the present time had decided not to grant autonomy ; but Mr. Haultaln was surprised. These are the words used by the Minister of the Interior when he refused provincial autonomy to Mr. Haultain:
It is the view of the government that it will not be wise at the present time to pass legislation forming the North-west Territories into a province or provinces. Some of the reasons leading to this view may be found in the fact that the population of the territories is yet sparse.
I think that is an argument that will not hold water very long. As has been pointed out by some hon. members, the population is not as sparse as it was when Manitoba was created a province.
That the rapid increase in population now taking place will in a short time alter the conditions to be dealt with very materially; and that there is a considerable divergence of opinion respecting the question whether there should be one province only or more than one province.
I think that objection in itself is very weak. it is, as has been said, one that will always exist. There will always be a difference of opinion on that subject. There is one thing I can tell the hon. member for East Assiniboia, and that is, if only one province is granted, a great many of his own constituents will favour annexation to Manitoba. But most people. I think, in the territories are favourable to two provinces. However. that is a question of detail. as Mr. Haultain said. that could be left in abeyance.
Respecting the present financial requirements, the question of an increase in you: subsidy is now receiving consideration, but the result cannot, as you are aware, be communicated until the estimates are brought before parliament. This I have every reason to hope will take place in a very short time.
Well, the estimates have been placed before parliament and no increase in the subsidy has been thus far announced, though the hon. minister may later on in his supplementary estimates. and I trust he may, 3097 APRIL 18, 1902 3098 bring down an increase in the subsidy. There is a reply made by Mr. Haultain which shows that he was surprised at this declaration by the hon. Minister of the Interior. He quotes a portion of the minister's letter addressed to him sometime previously, in 'which it was stated:
Without at the present moment committing myself to any positive statement I am prepared to say that the time has arrived when the question of organizing the territories on the provincial basis ought to be the subject of full consideration. It would appear to me that the better way of bringing the matter to a more definite position would be to arrange for a conference upon the subject between the representatives of your government and a committee of council representing the federal government.
From that declaration on the part of the hon. Minister of the Interior, Mr. Hanltain was led to believe that this conference which was suggested by the hon. gentleman would result in granting immediate provincial autonomy to the North-west Territories, and he thus expresses himself in his reply to the hon. minister :
These opinions and the long delay that followed. in order to choose a convenient time for that 'mature and careful consideration of the various and important subjects which will require to be debated and settled in connection with the establishing of the territories as a province or upon a provincial hasis,' led us to suppose that when the subject was finally taken up it would be taken up with a view to immediate settlement.
These were the views expressed by Mr. Haultain, and I think the reasons assigned by the hon. Minister of the Interior for not acceding to their demands, are poor reasons, and surely there must be something else behind these which, if the hon. gentleman would be candid enough to admit it, have influenced his position in refusing the territories autonomy at the present time.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. Mr. Chairman, the discussion which has taken place on both sides of the House has, I think, been a desirable discussion because of the fact that it has placed before the country and before hon. members from the eastern part of the country—I am sorry that there are not more of them here this evening—a very fair and moderate statement of the position of affairs. I can find no fault with my hon. friends from the North-west Territories for the manner in which they have stated their position, although hon. members in the committee will see that they, themselves, are not agreed in regard to what ought to be done. This is no particular discredit to any of the members who have expressed their opinions, because the circumstances are of such a character that there is plenty of room for a difference of opinion. It would be a very strange thing if, amongst men who have formed their opinions themselves, there should not be differences of opinion in regard to a matter of such importance, where all the circumstances are of such an unusual character. It does not very often happen that any legislative assembly has to deal with a question involving the constitutional status of a territory such as that which we are now discussing. The committee, perhaps, handly realizes the fact that we are discussing the questions of the financial and constitutional status of a territory which has almost as much fertile land as the continent of Europe, and which bids fair, under existing circumstances to be an enormously important factor in the development of the business, not only of Canada, but of the north American continent before very many years pass away. When I speak of the extent of that territory, I am not speaking of the extent of its superficial area. but of the number of acres which are actually fertile and are capable of producing in such a way that they are fairly and reasonably equipped for settlement in the ordinary sense of the word. I do not know that it is necessary for me to go into a very lengthy or detailed discussion of the matter, but, I would say to the committee, that I think I am justified in taking the position that the North-west Territories have not been badly treated during the last five years. Immediately upon assuming office, I was met by the members of the territorial government, and they made a proposal to me in regard to what they thought they ought to have in the way of subsidy for the next four years. If I remember rightly, this took place in the fall of 1896, before I was sworn in, and before I had actually assumed the performance of my duties in this place. I indicated to the members of the government what I thought, under the circumstances, I could recommend. and I was led by these gentlemen to believe that the amount which I was disposed to recommend would be satisfactory for the next three or four years. The amount which I recommended was added to the subsidy of the North-west Territories at the next session of parliament, and I think, under the then existing circumstances, I had the right to believe that in the opinion of the members of the executive at the time of the conference that for three or four years the amount thus added would prove a satisfactory addition to the subsidy. Then circumstances changed, and demands were made upon the government here for increases and additions to the subsidy of the North-west Territories, to some extent. inconsistently with the understanding which was reached at that time, although I am quite prepared to admit there was nothing of a binding character, but at the same time, it was of such a character that I had reasonable grounds for believing that they had succeeded in getting the government to deal satisfactorily with the position as it then existed. Population began to flow into the territories, and as an hon. member from the North-west has properly and pertinently' explained to the committee, the expenditure 3099 COMMONS 3100 necessary on the part of the territories has been to a very considerable extent affected and affected unfavourably in the sense that the expenditure has been increased to a very considerable extent owing to the fact that there has lately been a series of wet seasons which have resulted in making a very much larger demand on the resources of the territorial government for necessary public works and for the construction of roads and bridges. That increase, having been made, was continued. A still further increase was made a couple of years ago, and when last year the members of the territorial government waited upon us and explained that, owing to the floods which had taken place in the northern part of the territories, many of their bridges had been washed away and that renewals were an urgent necessity, a very large additional amount was voted for the purpose of assisting them in making these renewals.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). May I ask the hon. Minister of the Interior a question ? Was the amount of the subsidy based in any way upon estimated population or on what was it based ?
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. No, it was arbitrarily fixed. Every year the premier of the North-west Territories sends down a detailed estimate. When I say it is detailed, I should explain that it is not detailed, as it is not a detailed estimate in the way in which our estimates are detailed, but an estimate generally stating what is required for each service, and giving a certain amount of detail in connection with the moneys that are asked for. As I said, last year or the year before, $100,000 was voted for the purpose of enabling the territorial government to renew bridges and public works which had been destroyed by the floods which had taken place the previous year. On the whole, therefore, I think we have been, in a fair and reasonable way, endeavouring to meet the wishes of our friends in the North-west Territories, and therefore, I do not think that the members of the territorial government feel that we have treated them illiberally, or that we have been disposed to turn a deaf ear to their representations. I may add that in the first year after the government took office, we extended to the North-west Territories what they had been vainly seeking for years before, a system of responsible government. But I remember very distinctly that the day I brought that Bill into the House, the late Mr. Davin stood up and expressed agreeable surprise at the Bill being brought in, declaring that he had been trying to get the Conservative government to introduce a similar Bill for the previous ten years. Great progress has been made in the North-west. We have in the last five years established in that country a system of responsible government, we have increased their subsidy largely and we have reasonably and fairly endeavoured to meet them in their demands of a financial character. I am free to say that in the last year or two circumstances have changed rapidly, and the march of events has been quicker than in former years. That is due to the rapid increase of the population and the prospect of a still more rapid increase in the future, I do not suppose that my hon. friends would think that the situation were so urgent if it were not for the fact that the population has increased with great rapidity. I believe the subject is one that requires the greatest of consideration, and I fully agree with the members from the territories who say that it would be a national disaster if we neglected to provide for the public service of the territories, so that the people would go in there and become dissatisfied, and that the tide of population which is flowing in that direction should be turned back as it was turned back some fifteen or twenty years ago.
But I venture to say, Mr. Chairman, that there is no such grievance existing in the North-west Territories at the present time as, within the next year at least, renders it in the smallest degree probable that any such disaster would take place for the reason indicated. I think during the next year the territorial government will be somewhat strained in their efforts to meet their obligations if some increased assistance is not given. I indicated in my letter to Mr. Haultain that the subject of an increased subsidy was under the consideration of the government. If I recollect aright the main estimates had been brought down on the Table of the House at that time. I may say for the satisfaction of my hon. friends on the other side, that the estimates to which I referred were the supplementary estimates which have not yet been laid upon the Table.
Some hon. MEMBERS. Hear, hear.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. In regard to what will be done or what can be done, I shall not be able to say anything until the supplementary estimates appear, and they will speak for themselves. As to the criticism which has been made on the action of the government with respect of the application for provincial autonomy—
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). Before the hon. gentleman leaves that point, might I ask him: Has the government of the Northwest Territories any independent source of revenue apart from that which it derives from this grant ?
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. Nothing substantial. The local revenues of the North-west Territories are of a very trivial description. I think they amount to not more than $30,000.
Mr. SCOTT. Last year they amounted to $80,000, and possibly this year they will 3101 APRIL 18, 1902 3102 amount to $100,000, derived from the local land tax.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. Respecting what has been said in connection with the conduct of the government upon the application of the territorial government for provincial autonomy, let me say I do not think that in respect to that application, that as yet at least there is any serious, reasonable grievance existing on the part of our territorial friends. The settlement of the constitutional and financial status of that vast territory is surely worth a little consideration. The time to consider the question, even in the opinion of the most urgent friends of provincial autonomy, did not arrive until a year ago. It was not suggested until about a year ago that the subject should be seriously considered, and if hon. gentlemen will remember how long it takes to settle questions of this kind and to settle them satisfactorily, I think they will admit that rash haste with regard to a question of such vast importance—a question which must be satisfactorily settled if settled at all- rash haste would not at all be conducive to a settlement which would be satisfactory in the long run to the people of the territories. I would not feel that I was taking an unreasonable position before this House if I said : That if the people of the Northwest Territories get a reasonable and satisfactory settlement, a settlement that the people of Canada and the people of the territories particularly will regard as a good settlement; a fair and reasonable settlement promising permanency; promising lack of agitation, and difficulties, and applications for re-opening of the case in future years—if they get such a settlement within three or four years I should feel very well satisfied indeed, and I should feel that we have accomplished that result in a comparatively short time. In saying that, I am not at this moment indicating any view I have just now as to when this question will be finally and definitely settled.
I wish to say in answer to my hon. friend for Macdonald (Mr. Boyd) whose face I see wearing a smile of a somewhat critical character—I wish to say a few words in regard to what he evidently has in his mind. He evidently has in his mind the idea that we are deterred from dealing with the constitutional question relating to the North-west Territories by the possible difficulty of the separate school question being raised in connection with that constitutional settlement. I think some of his friends are under the impression that the reason why we have not dealt with it at this session of parliament is, that there is some political game to be played, and that the party with which the government is identified hopes to gain something politically by reason of the delay. I am bound to say Mr. Chairman, so far as I am concerned and so far as I know, there is no political advantage to be gained by either party in connection with the settlement of this question. I know of no political game that can be played, and so far as the separate schools are concerned my own view is that the school question is settled so far as the North-west Territories is concerned. I understand that the settlement at which they have arrived—and I am very happy to be able to express that opinion- is a satisfactory settlement, and that the Roman Catholic people on the one hand and the Protestant people on the other, feel that they have a satisfactory compromise and that there is no necessity for difficulty or agitation upon the question.
Some hon. MEMBERS. Hear, hear.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. Therefore, I think we may possibly be able to look forward to a settlement of this constitutional question, at least when it is proposed by the government to this parliament, being carried out without any acrimonious discussion upon a question of that kind which might be a most difficult and unpleasant one to have to decide, if there were any contention upon it.
I gave certain reasons in the brief letter which I wrote to Mr. Haultain as to why the government did not feel disposed to deal with this question at the present time. Now, I have lived a great many years in the western portion of Canada and I think I have some little understanding of our people there. I sympathize with them, but I know that when they get an idea about a thing to be done they generally have an idea that it should be done right off. They are not disposed to allow the march of events to proceed very long without having a final settlement of what they claim ought to be settled. They are not generally desirous to listen to counsel which goes in the direction of delay. My hon. friend from Alberta (Mr. Oliver) has possibly been the clearest exponent of that principle which is generally followed by western people, and he puts it very well. He says: We have asked you for certain things and if you are not prepared to do just exactly what we say, why pay the shot and pay as much as we ask. My hon. friend (Mr. Oliver) forgets that he takes for granted the whole of the discussion and all the points involved in the discussion because he says: We are entitled to what we ask in the first place, and if you do not give us what we ask we are entitled to fix the amount you will give us. I think the House of Commons will hardly admit that that is the case, because we shall have to take the position, however much we sympathize with our friends in the North-west Territories, that there are two parties to the question of their financial status, and two parties to the question how much they ought to have. These questions cannot be settled by a logical proposition such as 3103 COMMONS 3104 my hon. friend from Alberta (Mr. Oliver) puts with such clearness. A good deal of thoughtful consideration will have to be given to the details.
I want to say a word on two phases of the question—what the position of the territories is, and whether it is desirable for them to have provincial autonomy at the present time. I am bound to say that I think the view expressed so strongly by certain gentlemen representing the territories is not justified by the facts, although there is considerable difference of opinion on the subject. They express the opinion that the financial difliculties of the territories would entirely disappear if they had provincial autonomy. Now, it has been pointed out—and it might be pointed out more in detail if it were necessary—that there are services performed by the government of Canada in the North-west Territories at thepresent time which are of an exceptional character, because of the exceptional position of that country. We maintain a large police force there; but let not our friends think that that police force is maintained solely for what may be called Dominion purposes. Not at all. We require to maintain a force of some kind for Dominion purposes; but at present we maintain it not only for Dominion purposes, not only because it is desirable to have a military force in so large a territory, and where in former years at least there were a considerable number of Indians who were somewhat hostile in their tendency, but at the present time we maintain a large number of those policemen scattered about the country, singly or in groups of two or three, for the purpose of performing the duties of local constables; and if we undertook to remove one of those constables from the neighbourhood where he is placed, such a storm would arise as no minister would care to face. There is a stronger demand for local police in the North-west Territories than in any other part of Canada. I will not be so uncharitable as to say that it is so strong simply because the Federal government has to pay the shot; but the demand is there, and there is some reason for it, because at the present time and for some years to come the population will be so sparse that they will not be able to form themselves into local communities and by small local taxation give themselves the police protection which is provided in other parts of Canada. When the population of the North-west Territories increases to five of six hundred thousand, circumstances will be different. The people will be closer together, municipalities will be formed, we shall be able to collect our police force into military companies for military purposes, and the people will look after their own police protection. But that time has not 'come yet, and that is one of the things that are to be considered in connection with this question. The territorial government would not be prepared to undertake any such ex penditure for police purposes, and if we withdrew that police force from local service, they would have to come back to the Dominion government and ask us again to undertake that kind of work.
There are other circumstances which I think might well lead the House to take a year or two to consider the questions which have to be settled. We have in the Northwest Territories a vast extent of country, and if you will take the trouble to note the discussions which have taken place, you will find that the people who live in the district of West Assiniboia are almost unanimously in favour of immediate provincial autonomy and of the territories being constituted into one province, whereas in the neighbourhood of Indian Head, where the meeting was held to which my hon. friend from Macdonald (Mr. Boyd) refers, there is not that same amount of unanimity of opinion. My hon. friend said he was at a public meeting, where 1,000 people were present, and where there was a very unanimous expression of opinion ; and, if I understood him rightly, he said that he judged of the view of the meeting by the applause given to the speakers. I was not at the meeting, but I read a very full account of it made by a shortland reporter, to the effect, which I think was not disputed, that the meeting was a large and very intelligent one, that they gave a reasonable and courteous reception and applause to the speakers on both sides, and assumed the attitude of intelligent men who had come to listen and consider the arguments that would be presented to them; and it can hardly be said that the people at that meeting, which assembled to hear Mr. Haultain on one side and Mr. Roblin on the other side of the question, whether the territories should be formed into one province, or that portion of the territories should be united with the province of Manitoba, fully made up their minds on the question that evening. There is still some difference of opinion among the people. There is some sentiment in favour of that district being united to the province of Manitoba; but the prevailing sentiment is that it should remain a part of the Northwest Territories. If you go to the district of Saskatchewan, you will find an entirely different sentiment prevailing among the people there. They are not in favour of the territories being formed into one province, and they are not in a hurry for provincial autonomy; but when it comes they do not want their district to be united with the territory to the south. At the present time you have a vast territory there containing about 200,000 people. The census showed about 150,000 in the organized territories; there are perhaps 10,000 or 12,000 in the country to the north; and with the increment caused by the immigration of last year, there are at the present time approximately about 200,000 people. The analogy as to the number of people who were in Manitoba when it became a member 3105 APRIL 18, 1902 3106 of the confederation, or as to the number in British Columbia, does not hold at all, because those provinces were brought into confederation by way of a necessity which existed at that time. It was not in the deliberate exercise of the discretion of the parliament of Canada, thinking that it would be an ideal or desirable state of affairs to have 17,000 people constituted into a province, that the province of Manitoba was formed. It was formed because the necessity arose. There were people there who demanded local powers, and the peaceful settlement of the country could not have been effected, and that territory could not have been brought under the rule of the Dominion of Canada, without those terms being granted at that time. Hon. gentlemen will remember that there was a rebellion, and it is possible that the trouble arose only on account of the belief that was created by interested persons that the government here did not intend to give them provincial autonomy or to treat them fairly. They had to be treated in that way, because they were insisting that the existing status should be recognized, and it was recognized as a matter of necessity. British Columbia came in as a sovereign colony under a bargain made with the people of Canada, and the people of Canada had no choice in that respect. But that is no reason for saying that when you get 17,000 people in a territory in any part of the Dominion of Canada, you are to form them into a province. That is not justified by common sense or by the precedents cited in favour of it. I think what parliament will be disposed to do will be to treat this question on a fair and liberal basis; but they will desire, when they come to deal with it, to have before them sufficient data to enable them to feel that they are working out a settlement which has in it the element of permanency. And 1 think parliament would be rather prepared for two or three or four years to vote sums of money, which might be reasonably arrived at as approximately what the territories actually require for their immediate necessities, and let us get more information with regard to what the position will be and what the necessary requirements of the territories will be, so that when we do arrive at a settlement, it shall have some of the elements of finality. At this late hour, I shall not undertake to discuss the various details which will have to be considered in the formation of a province in the North-west. If hon. gentlemen will look through the Bill presented for our consideration by our friends from the territories, they will see at once that there are items in it quite suflicient to make any government take a little time for their consideration. We have in this Bill a provision that all mines, minerals, timber and royalties, belonging to the Crown, situated or arising in the territories, and all sums due and payable on the 1st of January, 1903, for such mines, minerals, timber and royal« ties shall belong to the province. In addition to other matters relating to the finances, which were supposed to be dealt with somewhat on the line, that has been taken in the other provinces, and as to which possibly no serious objection would be taken, there is a provision that the province shall be entitled to receive, by half- yearly payments in advance from the government of Canada, interest at 5 per cent per annum on the sum of one dollar per acre for every acre of land granted by the Dominion otherwise than as homesteads or pre-emption. I see some hon. members smiling, and I think I have convinced the committee that there is sufficient material in that Bill for a year's consideration. When I said that it was desirable that we should take a little time to consider, I do not think I was asking anything unreasonable. I did not discuss with premier Haultain the details of the Bill. I desire to say, in all frankness, to the committee, that I did not think it desirable to discuss the details. I do not think it desirable, in a matter of such vast importanece to the people of Canada generally and of the territories in particular, to unnecessarily rush the government of Canada into a record on these questions. They are questions upon which a good deal of light may be thrown by further discussion. The circumstances during the last year were not propitious to a complete discussion of the question with the members of the North-west government, and perhaps that is one of the most important features which I ought to bring before the House.
Mr. INGRAM. Did the delegates of the North-west Territories come down over a year ago to discuss the question with the hon. gentleman ?
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. No, but it is pretty hard to make a categorical statement about what the members of the territorial government did come down to discuss. The hon. gentleman will appreciate that difliculty. I suppose that there has been no time when I have met the members of the North-west government—and I have met them every year since I have been Minister of the Interior—that I have not discussed with them, in a casual manner, the question of provincial autonomy.
Mr. INGRAM. I understood Premier Haultain and Mr. Ross were here a year ago and discussed this very question with the hon. gentleman.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. The point which I want to convey to my hon. friend is this, that during the last four or five years, on every occasion when I had the pleasure of meeting the members of the territorial government, there has perhaps not been a meeting at which, in a casual way, the question of the time when, and the circumstances under which, pro 3107 COMMONS 3108 vincial autonomy would be given the territories, has not been more or less discussed. But as to any meeting for the purpose of taking up the question of provincial autonomy, in the sense of a serious discussion of the terms upon which we would contemplate forming a province of the territories, there has only been one discussion in that sense of the word, and that is the discussion which took place during last year, after Mr. Ross went out of the government. There was a preliminary talk about a year and a half ago, and of course some correspondence followed, and it was arranged that there should be a discussion when we would atempt to come down to details. And let me say that until the discussion of this last year, 1901, it was not understood, either by myself or the members of the territorial government, that we were at close quarters upon this question. We were simply discussing it as a thing which would come in the future, but no attempt was made to fix a time for discussion when any settlement would be arrived at. Last year it was arranged that a discussion should take place, and our friends of the territorial government did urge that it should take place earlier. But the Minister of Finance was obliged to go to England immediately after the session, and a discussion in his absence would of course have been impossible, he being one of the members of the government whose presence would be absolutely necessary in addition to the Prime Minister and myself. So that until the Minister of Finance returned from England, it was impossible altogether to arrive at any arrangement, as to when the conference should take place. When the members of the government who were away in England did come back, the happy event of the visit of the Prince of Wales occurred. That engaged the attention of everybody some little time, and the result was that it was impossible to give any time for the discussion of this question until after that event took place. Two members of the territorial government came down just about the time His Highness was leaving. We proceeded to get together to discuss the question on two or three occasions, and go into the details as fully as possible. From time to time members of the government gave the various phases of the question consideration, and the conclusion I arrived at was that notwithstanding a case, strong in some respects, was made out by our friends in the territories, it was better that the matter should be laid over for the present, and I am bound to say that the more I have thought of the matter since that decision was arrived at, the more strongly I am convinced that it was a wise one. I am not desirous of binding myself this evening to any expression of opinion, as very rapid changes are likely to take place in the position of the territories in the next year or two, and it would be most unwise for us now to undertake to settle a question of this character, the settlement of which must largely depend on the amount of population in the territories. Why, one of the first things we would have to deal with would be a per capita allowance according to the population, upon the assumption that the cost of government is to be based to some extent on the number of the population. We were asked to fix a per capita allowance based on a population of 250,000; but if our anticipations turn out to be at all correct, it will increase very rapidly, and our estimate of the number of people upon which the per capita allowance should be based might prove to be wholly inadequate and erroneous within two or three years.
The suggestion was made that we should take frequent censuses. But, there are unusual features about that; and, moreover, we would have to face another difliculty, as to what the limit would be upon which the per capita allowance would be granted, because there is a limit in the cases of the other provinces. So, the House can see at a glance, that if you take this enormous territory which is six or seven hundred miles long and runs from the international boundary to north of Prince Albert—speaking of the territory habitable in the sense of being useful for agricultural settlement, and consider that people are likely to go in it at the rate of 50,000 a year and that quite probably those places where settlement is now the thickest will be the thinnest in that respect in a few years, for unquestionably, settlement will go in places where it has not been hitherto—taking these things into consideration the House will understand that rapid and great changes will take place in the territories within a few years, and it would hardly be the part of wise statesmanship to make arrangements that would so completely lack the element of permanency. The House will understand that there would be no advantage in giving provincial autonomy to these people and having them come down here every year for better terms. Every province has had to come to the Federal government for better terms. I was a boy in Manitoba when the representatives of that province had to come every year for better terms. Every year they made their pilgrimage to Ottawa, for this purpose. This was because the elements of permanency and finality did not exist in the terms between Manitoba and the Dominion. The arrangements were made at a time when population was so small and the circumstances were of such a character that nobody could understand what the financial arrangement of the future needed to be. There was constant agitation going on in the province as to what better terms were acceptable. And there was constant difficulty over these questions between the provincial and Dominion governments. We should bring upon ourselves exactly the same condition of affairs in the North-west Territories. If any settlement were made which it would be possible to get this House 3109 APRIL 18, 1902 3110 to ratify, within twelve months you would have the territorial government asking for better terms and for a re-opening of the financial situation. From my experience in the west, I venture to say that that is what would happen. I feel confident that if some hon. gentlemen who have agitated for autonomy, will quietly think of the matter, they will agree with me that this would probably be the result. So, we should not be in a better position if they were given autonomy. We have already given them responsible government. To all intents and purposes they have the advantages of provincial life, except that they do not look after the administration of justice, registry office or the police force. This is a great financial relief to them. One or two things like the registry office we would be prepared to hand over to them if they desire.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). Would my hon. friend (Hon. Mr. Sifton) be good enough to inform the House what the exact status would be if the provincial autonomy were granted. I am not as familiar with the legislation as the hon. gentleman.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. They have responsible government, but the jurisdiction of the government is defined specifically by the Act of this government. There are, as I have said, certain departments in which they have no jurisdiction, one being the police, another the administration of justice and another the registry office. This last is a small matter, as I say, which might be turned over without discussion. We get a little surplus revenue out of the registry offices, but it might readily be admitted that they might have it. These are the three principal subjects with regard to which they have no jurisdiction, which occurred to me at the present moment. My hon. friend will see, without provincial status, they have no power to incur debt, and I am not sure that that is an unmixed evil. Let the House consider that a moment—
Mr. SCOTT. Is there really any difference with regard to the police in the state of the territory and the state of the provinces ?
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. Speaking from recollection, I think there are only two clauses in the constitution under which the police jurisdiction of the provinces arises. The province has control over municipal institutions, which has been held in some cases, I think, to give a certain amount of police power. In addition, the province has power over the administration of justice. That is in reality the clause in the constitution which gives the provinces the power to do and to control police work. The North-west Territories have not the power under the present condition of things, that power being held by the government here.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). This government retains control of mines and land and minerals ?
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. Of all the Crown lands.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). In that respect the position differs from that of a province.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. From the position of the original provinces. The only two portions of Canada where the Crown lands belong to the Dominion are the province of Manitoba and the North- west Territories, including, of course, the Yukon. The control of the administration of justice and police by the Dominion government brings upon this government very great expense, caused very largely by the present peculiar circumstances of the case. The proportionate expense would be nothing like the same if there was a large population in the territories. The position would be very substantially changed if there was a reasonably large population in that district. On the question of the power to incur indebtedness, I speak with some deference. I do not wish to express the idea that the people of the North-west Territories are not as competent to conduct their own affairs as the people of any other portion of Canada, for I think they are. But it must not be forgotten by a body like the House of Commons who are responsible for what may happen in the future, that you have there a very sparse population of about two hundred thousand people situated in a vast and very rich territory. If they had the power to mortgage that territory for all time to come, which they would have if they were granted provincial powers, it might be mortgaged for very unwise and very unnecessary purposese. In saying this, I wish to guard against the imputation of saying that the people of the North-west Territories are not as capable of taking care of themselves and doing their own business as any others. But I say it is a fair subject for consideration for this parliament whether the time has come when power should be given to the people of the Northwest Territories to incur indebtedness.
Mr. INGRAM. The hon. minister has stated that if the government entered into any financial arrangement with the Northwest Territories to form it into a province, the financial arrangement that the government would make would not last long, that the new province would be here in a short time, asking for better financial arrangements. Here is what they say, if the hon. gentleman will allow me :
A subsidy of $50,000 and 80 cents per head on the estimated population of 250,000 is asked for at the outset, with an increase at the same rate until paid on a population of 1,396,091, which is what the province of Ontario is paid on.
3111 COMMONS 3112
Now, coupling that agreement to be entered into with the statement made by the hon. gentleman that the increase of population will be so vast that he thinks it is necessary to delay this whole matter, I want to pointi out that when the territories start in with $50,000 at the outset, and 80 cents per head for every additional person coming in, the subsidy will increase very fast until they come to the limit of the sum paid to the province of Ontario.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. I think my hon. friend will not find that his inference is justified by the facts, if he infers that the result of the increase in population would enable the people of the Northwest Territories adequately to discharge, their financial responsibility by an allowance for government fixed simply upon the number of population arrived at in the way suggested by Mr. Haultain. Mr. Haultain's confidence in the ability of the Northwest Territories to discharge their financial obligations is, I think, derived much more largely from certain other clauses of his Bill, the clause, for instance, which suggests, that they should have control of all the mines, timber and royalties thereon, and the clause which suggests that $1 an acre should be given them for all the land grants in the North-west Territories. I think if those grants were provided for they would be able to get along very well.
Mr. INGRAM. Supposing the hon. gentleman entered into an arrangement to grant every prayer they asked, does he intimate that they would not be satisfied with that arrangement, and that they would be back in a short time for additional money ?
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. No, the hon. gentleman misunderstood me. I did not say that if they got everything they asked they would not be satisfied, I had no idea of suggesting that. On the contrary, I think if parliament were prepared to give them all they asked in that Bill, they would be willing to stay away for quite a while. I think if they got an allowance of a trifle over a million dollars a year it would be a very adequate allowance.
Mr. INGRAM. I will put it in another way. Supposing this government and the North-west authorities entered into an agreement, agreed upon by both parties, does the hon. gentleman mean to say that that agreement would be broken within a short period, and that they would be back here for an additional amount ?
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. The experience of the government is that in governmental matters you cannot make a bargain, agreed to by both parties, that will bind people not to come back again if it does not meet the necessities of the case. If it does not enable them to discharge their financial responsibility, then they will come back. It does not make any difference whether you make a bargain with them or not, they will come back any way.
Mr. INGRAM. The hon. gentleman says that if they did enter into an agreement with them they would come back in a short time.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. The question whether they would come back for further assistance depends upon whether you make a permanent arrangement which will enable them properly to discharge the functions they have to discharge. My hon. friend will see that my argument has been to show that circumstances are changing so fast that the wisdom of man cannot devise any arrangement, such as this parliament would sanction, which at the present time would enable them to discharge the financial requirements of their position.
Mr. INGRAM. The longer you wait the more difficulties there will be, I suppose.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. Not at all. I think for the next few years circumstances will change very rapidly in the North-west Territories, and I think that when they acquire a population of 600,000 or 700,000, which may not be very far away, then we shall have arrived at a position of affairs in which parliament can fairly understand what is ahead of the territories, and can fairly address themselves to the question of permanently settling the financial status of those territories.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). The Minister of the Interior has referred to the very explicit statement or demand by my hon. friend from Alberta (Mr. Oliver), with regard to the amount of subsidy. I will mention to him, however, that the views of my hon. friend from Alberta with regard to the granting of provincial autonomy to these territories, do not seem to be quite so clear ; because, so far as I was able to understand that hon. gentleman, he said that if we passed a Bill for that purpose such as exactly suited him, it would be entirely satisfactory to him. That is about as near as he could get the hon. gentleman to commit himself.
Mr. OLIVER. Was not that clear enough?
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax). I admire my hon. friend's caution. Now with regard to the details of the Bill, with which I am not at all familiar, as I have not had an opportunity of seeing it—I do not think those details have much to do with the question. It is a question which will have to be dealt with by this government, it is a question, of course, which should be dealt with in a manner satisfactory to the territories for the time being. But because the government of the territories submits a Bill which this government does not regard as satisfactory, that of itself is hardly a sufficient reason for putting off a settlement of this question 3113 APRIL 18, 1902 3114 for four or five years. I would like to say to the Minister of the Interior, that some of the reasons which he has advanced for not dealing with this question at the present time seem to be reasons for never dealing with it. He speaks of the question of population. Now we do not apprehend that population in the North-west Territories is going to stand still after the expiration of four or five years. It will probably continue to increase, at least we hope it will, at the rate of 60,000, 70,000 or 80,000 every year, and that for many years to come. My hon. friend suggests that the question should be put off four or five years, or until the population attains 600,000 or 700,000 people. Well, is there any particular reason why the people of the Northwest Territories, when they have attained the number of 200,000 or 300,000, should not be entrusted with the government of their own territory ? My hon. friend refers to the fact that they have a very rich country, a country of great resources. Is it not true that we may place the same confidence in the people of that country as we place in the people of other communities in Canada ? Is there any special reason to suppose they will unduly mortgage their future? There is not a province in Canada that is not capable at this very moment of abusing its borowing powers so as to make itself hopelessly bankrupt, not one ; and why should it be supposed that these people are any more likely to abuse their borrowing powers than the people of Ontario, Quebec, or the maritime provinces ? I am glad to note that my hon. friend regards the school question in that country as satisfactorily settled, and I trust that it is so. With regard to his view that if terms were made with that territory now these gentlemen would come again year by year, I suppose that is more an argument of convenience, from the standpoint of the government, than otherwise. It does not seem to possess much value, even from that standpoint, because the people of the North-west Territories are coming every year, as it is now, and if they should continue to come it will occasion no greater inconvenience to the government than it has in years past.
I do not see that the financial question, or the question of making an arrangement on a per capita basis, if it is an adequate reason now, will not be an adequate reason in the future for preventing these territories from having self-government. My hon. friend says that it is difficult to arrange it upon a per capita basis and that even the proposal which has been suggested of holding a census at frequent intervals is not sufficient. How will my hon. friend deal with it at the expiration of four or five years ? Will not exactly the same difficulty present itself then to the government that presents itself now ? We do not suppose that the population of the territories will not continue to increase by leaps and bounds after the next four or five years, and will there not, therefore, always be the same difficulty that exists now ? My hon. friend did not make himself very clear to me on that point, because I do not see, if there is a certain difficulty now existing which the government has to face, that it will not present itself in the future if the settlement is delayed for four or five years. There is, it seems to me, a strong reason for lending an ear to what these people demand in this respect, and it is that the people of the North-west Territories will be more adequately represented in respect to local matters if they possess provincial autonomy than they are at present. Certain branches of their government are dealt with here as my hon. friend has stated in his speech. If provincial autonomy were granted to them, if they had the right of provincial self-government, then, such matters would . be dealt with in their own legislature by gentlemen who are more familiar with the wants and necessities of that country than the majority of the members of this committee. I feel, here, that the great majority of the members of this House are not adequate—if I may be pardoned for the use of the word—to the discussion of these subjects because they do not understand the country, because they do not understand the people, or their wants, or necessities as well as the people who live in that country, or as well as hon. members from that country. In that respect it would be a very important advance in the government of that country if these local matters, which are ordinarily assigned to provincial governments, should be dealt with by the people of the North-west Territories themselves, through their representatives in their own provincial assemblies. I do not pretend to have given this subject sufficient consideration to make my remarks of any great value. What I have said is merely my impression gathered from what has been placed before the committee to-night so fully and ably by my hon. friends on both sides of the House from the North-west Territories, and from statements which have been made by the hon. Minister of the Interior ; but, having regard to the information which I have derived from these hon. gentlemen, it does seem to me that the hon. Minister of the Interior is inclined to unduly postpone the granting of provincial rights to the people of the North-west Territories in stating that it is not a matter which can be properly or reasonably considered until the expiration of four or five years from the present time.
Mr. BOYD. Mr. Chairman, I rise to correct a wrong impression which the hon. Minister of the Interior derived from my remark about the Indian Head meeting. What I wished to convey to the committee was, while the meeting was divided as to whether the boundaries of Manitoba should be extended into the territories, or whether they should have provincial government in 3115 COMMONS 3116 the territories as they are now known, if I could gather anything from the meeting at all, it was that there was the greatest possible unanimity that some form of local government should prevail.
The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR. It is time for a change.
Mr. BOYD. Apparently that is the way they viewed it. I think we must admit that it is an unfortunate thing, after the experience which the hon. gentleman, now the head of his department, has had in Manitoba, if an arrangement cannot be arrived at which will be satisfactory. There might have been some excuse in the years gone by with the government that preceded the present government in total ignorance of Manitoba at that time, but I think that it is unfortunate, to say the least, that at this time and with the experience that these men have had of the west, we are not able to agree on some form of government here. I am pleased that this debate has brought out something that it is quite evident was not known at the time of the Indian Head meeting. I heard many of the people say after the meeting that they were pleased to have Mr. Haultain placed in such a position that they could understand where he was. It is evident that Mr. Haultain has not been able to ascertain exactly where the hon. Minister of the Interior stood. However, I think that this debate has brought forth very clearly the fact that he, for the present, at least, is not prepared to say that they should have provincial government in the west for the next four or five years. It is quite clear that has been brought forth and also it has been brought out that the form of school legislation that they now have would have been satisfactory to him. I, for my part, trust that it may be and whatever will satisfy them will satisfy me. We have also had brought forth in the debate the fact that the hon. member for East Assiniboia (Mr. Douglas) is not in favour of a provincial government.
Mr. DOUGLAS. You are mistaken.
Mr. BOYD. Not at the present time. The hon. gentleman wants four or five years delay.
Mr. DOUGLAS. I did not define.
Mr. BOYD. He is not very definite. We know where he stands. We know where the hon. member for West Assiniboia (Mr. Scott) stands, but we are not so fortunate as to the hon. member for Alberta (Mr. Oliver). He will probably tell his constituents all about it. I am quite free to admit that if the government are not going to give the people of the North-west this form of government I will support a proposal to increase the amount of the subsidy to them. While I do not suppose it would affect the action of the present government, I do not mind telling hon. gentlemen what my position is in regard to the form of government in that country. I believe we should have two provinces in that country. The experience which we have had in the country from which the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Fielding) and the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax) come, I think, shows us that a multiplicity of governments is not the wisest or the best thing to have. But, in the west, I do not think it would be wise to have three or four small governments. Nor do I believe that the people of that country, or the members of this House will be satisfied if you say to them : We propose to form one government in the North-west Territories and to constitute a province comprising 1,250,000 square miles alongside of another province with 250,000 square miles. I do not think that the people of the western country will be satisfied with that; at least, I do not believe the people of Canada will approve of it, nor do I think the people of Canada will look upon it as a fair distribution of the territory, but I do think that if it is fairly discussed and laid before the people of Canada, they will agree that there is room for two large and prosperous provinces in that country. That will be extending the boundaries of Manitoba a reasonable distance, and that each of them shall be in that way sufficiently large. I do not hesitate to say that this is my view, and the government is welcome to the benefit of it ; not that I expect they will give attention to any opinion that I may express on the subject.
Mr. SCOTT. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Boyd) has endeavoured to explain the reference he made to the feeling expressed at the Indian Head meeting. I understood him to say that the people were divided there on the question as between one or two provinces.
Mr. BOYD. Yes.
Mr. SCOTT. The question as between one or two provinces in the North-west Territories on which the people are divided, is as between two provinces or one province to be made up out of the present organized territories. The Indian Head meeting was called to hear a discussion between the premier of the territories and the premier of Manitoba on the question as to whether the North-west Territories should be formed into a province, or whether part of the North-west Territories should be placed in the province of Manitoba, which is an entirely different question. My hon. friend the Minister of the Interior stated that there were various opinions amongst the people of the territories, and that in certain parts of the territories there was a feeling in favour of a portion being placed in the province of Manitoba. I would bring to the attention of the House that within the last few days this matter was voted upon in the legislative assembly at Regina, and by a practi 3117 APRIL 18, 1902 3118 cally unanimous vote the representatives of the people in the legislature there decided that they did not wish any part of the North-west Territories to be placed in the province of Manitoba. There may be a few people scattered here and there who would not object to the annexation of some part of the territories to the province of Manitoba, but the opinion as expressed by the representatives of the people in their assembly was unanimously against division of the territories, by taking away any part lying to the westward of Manitoba and adding it to that province. I do not know that this debate upon provincial autonomy in all its phases is appropriate to a discussion of this item, but let me say a word with reference to certain 'demands,' it we may call them so, or, suggestions that were made by the responsible people representing the North-west Territories. The Minister of the Interior has quoted a clause in which they practically demand—or in which they suggest, at all events—that the public resources should be handed over to the local authority. The hon. minister also said that he doubted whether any agreement which the House of Commons at the present time could be got to accept, would be such an agreement as would not compel the Northwest Territories to come back here within one or two years. That simply proves to my mind that the demands or suggestions made by the government of the North-west are not unreasonable. It may be that to a majority of the members of the House of Commons at the present time, they might seem unreasonable, but if, unless these suggestions are adopted, the position is going to involve a lack of permanency in the arrangement, then we must come to the conclusion that there is reason in the suggestion made by those who represent the North-west Territories.
I dealt at some length last session with this phase of the question, devoting myself not to an argument in favour of the proposition that the time had arrived, but to some phase of the terms which I thought ought to be arranged. I say now, as I said then, that I do not believe that any arrangement will have the basis of permanency, or that any arrangement will ever be arrived at that would be satisfactory to the people of the North-west, except an arrangement by which the public resources shall be handed over to the local authority, and that they shall be placed upon the same basis as are the people of the other provinces of Canada, except the province of Manitoba. Leaving that phase of the question, and turning to the item, it is evident that the people of the North-west Territories are not going to be granted provincial autonomy this year, and that being so, the local authority needs money to carry on this year's business. I accept what has been said by my hon. friend the minister, and I am glad to have the intimation that there will be an increase brought down in the supplementary estimates. But with regard to the reply he made to my hon. friend from Alberta (Mr. Oliver) respecting the fact that there were two sides to the question, even with regard to the estimate; I do not know that it would be fair to adopt that statement with too great positiveness. As I endeavoured to explain at an earlier stage, this in reality at the present time, is simply one of the ordinary services which parliament is in duty bound to provide for. With regard to every other department of government, the minister has the advice of officers who are directly responsible to him, as to the money he asks the House of Commons to vote; but with regard to this particular service the Minister of the Interior has no responsible officer who is in a position to declare whether the estimates that are submitted by the Northwest government are reasonable estimates or not. I therefore say that the demand that is made by the North-west government has in a great measure to be accepted as final. The North-west authorities are the people who make the estimate: they are responsible to the electors there for the amount of the estimate which they present, and therefore this service is in a different position from probably any other service that the House of Commons has to provide for. The authorities there have this year stated that they need an amount approximating $600,000. As a matter of fact, estimates were brought down in the House of Assembly at Regina last week appropriating about $600,000. I accept with pleasure the intimation of the Minister of the Interior that an increase will be provided in the supplementary estimates, and I wish again to impress upon him as strongly as I can the real necessity for a very large and substantial increase.
Mr. HENDERSON. It is early yet, only two minutes past twelve, and we have a large subject before us. Possibly we cannot do better than discuss it fully even at this late hour of the night. To my mind we have a very serious problem to settleinthe Northwest. I look upon this question as one that will require the very best consideration this government can give to it. A new population is coming in to the North-west Territories; coming in from various countries, and no doubt that population will demand increased rights. To my mind, so long as the people of the North-west Territories consider themselves only as wards of this government, no spirit of self-reliance will ever assert itself amongst them. They will realize that they are dependant on us for the little bit of money we choose from year to year to dole out to them, and instead of becoming a great people, they will feel that they are simply the wards of the rest of the Dominion. Now, I would regard that as a matter of considerable importance. The sooner these people realize that they stand on the same basis as all other portions of the Dominion, the better it will 3119 COMMONS 3120 be for Canada. Who has a right to say when provincial autonomy should be given to the North-west ? I do not claim that we here have any right to dictate to those people or coerce the North-west Territories to any form of government. When confederation was brought about we obtained our charter from the parliament of Great Britain ; but the parliament of Great Britain did not pass the British North America Act until the people of Canada asked it to do so; and when that parliament was asked by the people of Canada to crystallize into law a constitution for the untied provinces, it did not hesitate to do so ; and it framed that constitution, I believe, entirely on the basis which we desired. Now, we stand in relation to the North-west Territories very much in the same position that the parliament of Great Britain did to the old provinces of Canada ; and to my mind, when the people of the North-west demand provincial autonomy, this parliament had better not hesitate one minute, but give them what they desire. I believe that will be better for the Dominion as a whole, and materially better for those people, more especially for the new population who are coming in, and who will join in giving effect to the new form of government which will be permanent ; and there will be a greater spirit of independence among the people. They will realize that they have their rights, that they are Canadians in the true sense of the word, and they will become better citizens. For my part, I would not for a single day withhold provincial autonomy from those people after we learn that they desire it. There seems to be some difference of opinion amongst the hon. members who come from that section of the country as to what the people of the North-west do desire. One hon. member says that in his section they are opposed to provincial autonomy, and other members say that the people in their sections take the opposite view. To my mind the best guide we can get is the government of the North-west Territories. Mr. Haultain, the Prime Minister of those territories, is certainly more immediately in touch with the requirements of that country and the sentiments of the people on the question than hon. members representing that country in this parliament. I find, in a letter which he has written to the hon. Minister of the Interior only within the past few weeks, he says :
I am prepared to say that the time has arrived when the question of organizing the territories on a provincial basis ought to be a subject of serious consideration.
Mr. Haultain, we are told, is a good ruler and administrator, has economically handled every dollar handed over to him, stands high in the estimation of the people, has been kept in power for a considerable length of time, and seems to voice the requirements of the country. Therefore I am disposed to attach considerable weight to what he says.
We are told by our friends from the Northwest Territories that there would be no cry if a sufficient amount of money were given by this parliament to the North-west Territories to meet their expenses. I am not sure that the whole thing is a matter of money. I think there is some sentiment above that. Those people realize that they are simply the children of the Dominion, being taken care of by the rest of the Dominion, that they have no such status as we have in Ontario, in Quebec or in the small province of Prince Edward Island. They feel that they are the wards of the nation, like the Indians, that we give them so much money and send police out to look after them. In that way they feel that they are not citizens of this great Dominion to the same extent as the people of all the other provinces. I have no objection to vote more money to the North-west Territories. I think the present allowance is too small for their growing needs, and I do not think the government will meet with any opposition if they increase the grant. At any rate, we cannot afford to have those people feel that they are not treated fairly. We shall have to submit very largely to what they determine to be best in their own interest, and if we can satisfy them more readily by giving them provicinal autonomy than by giving them a larger grant. I would say, give them provincial autonomy, and let us satisfy them in the best way we can. But if hon. gentlemen stand out and say that the time has not arrived for provincial autonomy, and that further demands must be made on the treasury of this country, in order that adequate assistance, as we are told, may be given to them to meet their requirements, the best thing they can do to obtain that adequate assistance, is to join in giving adequate protection to the industries in the east where a large part of this money comes from, and then they will have better hope of fulfilling their expectations. Hon. members from the west must sink some of these small ideas which they have, and become men of broad minds ; and when they want to get an adequate sum to carry on the affairs of their country, they must deal on adequate terms with the rest of the Dominion, where a large part of the money is raised.
I hope the day is not far distant when we will realize that another great province has been added to the Dominion. If there is the slightest fear that there is going to be trouble in the west over the question, I hope that the government will at once take the matter into their most serious consideration. They should not have allowed the simple matter of the Finance Minister having to go on a pleasure trip to England, or the visit of a royal personage to Canada, or any reason of that kind to prevent their taking up this question. Let us have the question settled before any trouble arises which might perhaps cause another rebellion in the North-west.
3121 APRIL, 21, 1902 3122
Mr. TAYLOR. I think we might very well now adjourn. In any case there is no quorum, and considerable business has been done.
Some resolutions reported.
On motion of the Minister of Finance House adjourned at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.


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



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