March 9, 1909

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

In consequence of a paragraph in the press yesterday, I beg to ask whether it is the intention of the government to bring down any legislation with regard to the Grand Trunk Pacific at this session, and, if so, at what time we may expect the announcement of that legislation?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Hon. W. S. FIELDING (Minister of Finance).

Any legislation of that nature that may be contemplated will be put upon the Order Paper almost immediately.

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SUPPLY-SOUTH AFRICAN BOUNTY ACT.


Mr. FIELDING moved that the House go into Committee of Supply.


CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. LENNOX (South Simcoe).

Mr. Speaker, before the House goes into Committee of Supply I wish to direct the attention of the Minister of the Interior to one feature of the South African Bounty Act. The Act provides that a land grant shall be made to the volunteer or in the event of his death between the date of his enlistment and a certain other date, to his legal representative. I have been inquiring in the department as to the issue of certain land warrants and there seems to be some confusion in the matter. I think that probably the regulations could be improved. The first intimation sent out to the parties making the application, as I understand it, is that there must be either probate or administration in the case of deceased persons. In the majority of instances these persons have no estate, they are generally young men and have absolutely no estate and in many instances they have made no will. In Ontario there is a provision of course for administration, but in the province of Quebec I am told there is no provision, no law by which there can be, in the ordinary sense, administration of the estate. In the case of a vacant possession, where there are no heirs at all, I am told a person called a Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

curator may be appointed who will take charge of the estate. In the case of ordinary heirs who are of age, they take charge of the estate themselves, and in the case of infants a tutor is appointed, but there is no such thing as administration in the ordinary way. I was speaking of a case that comes from Montreal the other day, and I was informed by an officer in the department that that condition arises in reference to administration in the province of Quebec. He had informed the party there would have to be administration but found in the meantime there could be no administration.

The point to which I wish to call the minister's attention is that where a person under twenty-one years of age who was killed in South Africa, had no will and no estate, it seems to be an unnecessary expense to put the parties to that they should have to apply, say in Ontario, for administration in a case of that kind. In fact there is a good deal of difficulty about getting administration, because as a matter of fact there could only be administration of an estate and there is no estate to be administered. Of course we can get around it by saying he had his clothing or something of that kind, but practically there is no estate. My suggestion is that in cases of that kind, where a person who would be entitled to a grant died before the Act was passed and so the land that he was to get did not even tentatively devolve upon him, the grant ought to be administered from first to last in the department. That an affidavit should be filed as to the parties entitled to that estate and the grant should be made to those parties or as would happen in the majority of cases that they would all transfer their rights to one person, four or five brothers would release their rights to another brother, or a father or mother and let the grant be made to that person. It seems to me to be absolutely unnecessary to put the parties to the expense of getting administration where they could administer the grant themselves. I was told by a gentleman in charge that in one instance a mother and son came in to the department and represented that they were the only parties entitled to participate in the grant, but it afterwards transpired that there was a son, another brother, living in the United States. That, however, would be easily liable to occur if administration was demanded, they would just as easily deceive the Surrogate Court judge as the departmental officer. What I urge upon the minister for the purpose of getting directly at the matter and avoiding expense, is that where the person dies before the passage of the Act and the Act therefore gives it not to him but to his legal representatives, where these legal representatives are of the full age of twenty-

9!m.

one years the matter should be dealt with without their being called on to obtain administration. I have no doubt the minister has been endeavouring to get it into the best shape possible and doubtless he has had some difficulty in working it out. I thought it desirable to bring it up in the House so that if anything should arise by which there might be a case of making a false affidavit or anything of that kind' the department could not be blamed if they adopted a suggestion of that kind made in the House.

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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I am very glad the hon. member has brought this matter to the attention of the House. Although the instances to which he alludes are not numerous still they exist and have to be dealt with. It is true that for the protection of the department it is our rule to require that the responsibility of deciding who are the heirs shall rest upon the local courts or the legal authorities rather than upon ourselves. I think it is well for all parties concerned that, within reasonable limits, we should continue to take that view. At the same time, no doubt, there are some cases such as my hon. friend has mentioned, where to insist upon that view is really a hardship. I would not wish my hon. friend or the House to think that it is the desire of the government to impose any hardship, or to allow anything that can be avoided to stand in the way of those who are entitled getting the fullest possible benefit. I am glad the hon. member has seen fit to mention this matter in the House, so that the House may be aware of the difficulties that have to be met; and that when we think it is in the best interest of those who are entitled that we should administer directly, we may have the support of the House in doing so, or in doing the best we can under the circumstances.

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CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. D. HENDERSON (Halton).

I am glad my hon. friend from South Simcoe (Mr. Lennox) has referred to this matter. I had occasion a short tim ago to present an application to the Department of the Interior of a somewhat similar character to that which the hon. gentleman has referred. A young man went away from my county and joined the forces to go to South Africa. Unfortunately he was taken ill and died there, and is buried in South Africa. He left a father and mother, and five brothers and sisters. On making application I was informed that letters of administration would have to be taken out. The father has since died and the remaining relatives are living, all of age. It seems to me that if the brothers, sisters and mother should all assign to one member of the family and that member of the family should be the one to make application, the department would have no difficulty, no

trouble, and no risk in dealing with him.

If necessary, a statutory declaration could be made by some one to the effect that these were all the members of the family.

I think it a pity that the department should insist upon putting the relatives of these veterans to the cost and trouble of procuring letters of administration. It all costs money, and the indemnity that is granted to the veterans is not so very great after all, and if you reduce the value of it by insisting on letters of administration, you are doing what, to say the least of it, is absolutely unnecessary. If the government chooses to make a gift to the relatives of a veteran who has sacrificed his life in the interest of the empire, I say give it to him, but don't make it any more expensive for his relatives to get it than is necessary. I hope the minister will revise what I understand is a rule of the department to insist upon letters of administration in every instance, and that where matters are made clear and the evidence can be furnished without doubt, he will not insist upon letters of administration where there is no will. Sometimes it is difficult. A young man goes out perhaps and leaves no estate behind him, nothing on which to base an application for letters of administration. The grant of land coming to the heirs cannot be used as a basis of application for letters of administration, consequently there are difficulties in the way. I think the minister should make the rule flexible, and deal with each case on its merits, instead of laying down an absolute rule to govern all cases.

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?

Mr. J. W.@

DANIEL (St. John City.) I would like to support the remarks of the hon. member for Simcoe who brought this matter up. It has been my fortune during the last week or so to take six or seven cases to the Department of the Minister of the Interior, where the legal representatives were called upon to take certain action in order to obtain the warrants. One of the worst features about the cases to which I refer was the fact that the parties who were endeavouring to get these applications put through, were left from the month of October last I think until within eight or ten days ago without any knowledge coming to them as to

wliat the department required them to do in order to establish their claims. After I saw the deputy minister, I may say, there was no further trouble and word was sent to these people that letters of administration would have to be taken out. As has been stated this afternoon, many of these men are not in a position to take out letters of administration. I understand that

in the city of St. John it costs at least $40 to take out letters of administration, and that applicants have to pay

that amount in order to fulfil the requirements of the Department of the Interior. I am not a lawyer, and therefore I cannot make any suggestion as to what course should be adopted. But the minister has a legal staff in his department, and I think he would be doing only right- and dealing justly by these men, if he would make such regulations as would relieve them from the expense of $40 in order to go through a probate court and get out letters of administration. I think he would be doing justice in that way, and make it much easier for a deserving class to get what they are entitled to.

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LIB

Hugh Guthrie

Liberal

Mr. H. GUTHRIE (South Wellington).

There is another^ thing I would like to draw the attention of the minister to in regard to the regulations which have been isued under the Volunteer Bounty Act. I do not refer to a deceased volunteer, but to volunteers who were so seriously wounded in the South African war that they are unable to comply with the homestead requirements which are necessary under the present Act and the present regulations. I have in thind the case of two volunteers who reside in the constituency I have the honour to represent, both of whom were seriously injured in Hart's river, one, Sergeant Wilkinson, losing his right arm and his left eye, and the other, Corporal Minchin, having been shot through the lung and otherwise seriously injured. Both of these men are to-day physically incapable of performing homestead duties. Now, of course, it may be said that they have the option of selling their warrant, or of taking scrip. No doubt they have, but if it becomes known that these two men, or men similarly situated cannot perform their homestead duties, they are bound to sell, and to sell at. a great sacrifice. What I would suggest is that volunteers who have been physically incapacitated through wounds or disease in South Africa should be entitled to get their land without performing homestead duties upon it. I think that it would be a very laudable and very proper thing to do, and I trust the regulations or the Act may be so amended as to permit its being done.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. W. CROTHERS (West Elgin).

There is another matter to which I think the attention of the minister should be directed. It seems to be the practice of hi3 department in the case of a homesteader, that probate of his will or letters of administration should be issued from the judical district in which the land is situated. I have a case in point where a homesteader had fulfilled all the requirements to obtain his homestead, but he died in the province : of Ontario, where he left an estate, and i where he made his will. ,

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CON

John Waterhouse Daniel

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DANIEL.

The will was probated in one of the surrogate courts in Ontario. He was notified by the department that it would be necessary to file an exemplification of the probate or the original probate itself. I think that was a mistake according to the practice of the department . However, he was notified later that it would be necessary for him to engage a solicitor at Saskatoon to prove, in the district where the land is, a will that has already been proved in the court of the province of Ontario. I cannot see any good reason why that should be required. It seems to me that the evidence of a court in the province of Ontario that a man has made a will, which will has been proved devising the land to his son, ought to be sufficient to warrant the department in issuing the patent to his son, assuming that all the settlement duties have been performed and I believe that satisfactory evidence has been submitted as to that. I do not understand why it is necessary to put the man to the expense of re-proving the will in the district where the land is. There might be some justification for it if the government of the province were issuing the title, but it is the government of the Dominion that gives him the title, and the evidence of the court in one of the provinces ought to be sufficient that the will was made and the proof of that fact ought to be sufficient to entitle the devisee to the patent for the land.

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L-C

John Herron

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. J. HERRON (Macleod).

I do not wish to repeat the statements that have been so well made by the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) with reference to the South African volunteers, but I wish to acquiesce in the statements that he has made. I have one or two cases in mind where men have been totally incapacitated from doing homestead duties on their land and I believe that this government would be adopting a prosper course and one which would commend itself to the people generally if they would grant these men their patents without requiring them to perform their homestead duties. I believe the people of Canada would uphold the hands of the minister and the government in doing that.

I would like to see a regulation adopted which would enable men incapacitated as a result of their service in South Africa to secure their homesteads without being compelled to comply with the homestead regulations of the departments.

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CON

George Henry Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. H. COWAN (Vancouver City).

I wish to direct the attention of the minister to the fact that the restrictions of the Volunteer Bounty Act are so numerous and so onerous that, taken alone, the name of the Act is almost a misnomer. I wish to draw the attention of the House and the

minister to the fact that the department has added to these restrictions. Take, for example, section 2 of the Volunteer Bounty Act which provides that the grant may be of Dominion lands available for entry. Turning to the Dominion Lands Act, section 3, you will find that the lands available for entry are lands in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, together with three and a half million acres in the Peace river district in the province of British Columbia as well as the land in the territories. But we find, on turning to the regulation of the department, that volunteers otherwise entitled to the benefit of the Act are not permitted to enter for lands in the Peace river district in the province of British Columbia, notwithstanding the fact that section 3 of the Dominion Lands Act, taken along with section 2 of the Volunteer Bounty Act, gives them that right. I think that the restrictions of the Volunteer Bounty Act are sufficient without the department adding further restrictions. The effect of that departmental regulation is that a volunteer a resident in British Columbia is bound to expatriate himself from British Columbia before he can get the benefit of the Act. It was surely never intended that that should be the case. It was surely intended that volunteers resident in British Columbia should be permitted to enter for Dominion lands in British Columbia. It is true that by a section of the Dominion Lands Act the forty-mile belt is not included as land available for homestead entry. It seems to me desirable that this too should be included and, at any rate, it is exceedingly undeeirablej that (volunteers, resident in BritL'b Columbia and having their occupations there, should be obliged to give up these occupations and go beyond the bounds of their own province to get the benefit of the Act, especially when the Dominion has a large tract of three and a half million acres in the Peace district and the forty-mile belt on either side of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Again, by section 4 of the Volunteer Bounty Act, it is provided that:

The volunteer, or his substitute, may select or enter for the land on or before the 31st December, 1910, and shall perfect his entry within six months after the 31st December, 1910.

But along come the regulations of the department and say that he shall be obliged to perfect his entry, not six months after the 31st December, 1910, but six months after entry. I think again that the department is imposing unnecessary restrictions upon the volunteer, especially in view of the fact that the intention apparently of the Act was that it should grant him a bounty. Away back in 1871 we know that the volunteers of the provinces of Ontario

and Quebec who had served at that time were given a grant of land each without actual residence being required. Here the homestead duties of the volunteers are almost exactly the same as those of an entrant under the Dominion Lands Act and they are more onerous in many respects.

I cannot help thinking that in view of the way this Act is being administered by the department the name of the Volunteer Bounty Act is a misnomer. It would be better for volunteers resident in British Columbia to abandon their rights under the Act and enter for homesteads under the Dominion Lands Act.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Am I correct in understanding that in all cases where a volunteer entitled to this land grant dies, his heirs will be obliged to take out letters of

administration before they can take advantage of the bounty ?

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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

That is the way we are administering the Act at the present time.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Then, I should be inclined to agree with the suggestion of the hon. member for South Simcoe (Mr. Lennox) that the department should, by regulation or otherwise, provide for the acceptance of proof without putting the heirs to the trouble of taking out letters of administration.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. S. HUGHES (Victoria).

Now that this matter is up, I think it well to bring before the House a matter which has been engaging the attention of some people for a considerable time. Under the present regulations, each volunteer, in order to settle upon his land, must personally visit the land office in the locality in which he purposes selecting his location. But certain persons have purchased large numbers of these land warrants, and, as I understand it, under these same regulations, these persons can locate these lands without this formality. The purchaser of land warrants has no intention of becoming a settler himself-he is a mere speculator. But the volunteer who proposes to settle on his land himself must personally locate his land. Many of these intending settlers, in order to get in early, are going up already, and others will go within the next few weeks. Each of them will have to incur an expense of $200 or $300 in selecting the land, making the location and paying the necessary travelling expenses. I appeal to the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Oliver) and the Minister of Militia (Sir Frederick Borden) if it would not be better and fairer to allow the warrant to locate the land instead of the man. The Minister of the Interior, some years ago, abolished and very properly-the old blanketing system which had worked such injury to the northwest, the system under which any person, through

an agent, could locate a homestead. That system was greatly abused. But the minister, in his desire to prevent the recurrence of that abuse, went to the other extreme and made every applicant personally go to the land office. Thus, a father who wanted to locate land for himself and his sons was unable to locate except for himself. Every one of the sons had to go to the west personally and locate his homestead. The minister did change the regulations so as to provide for such cases as this. In the case of these land grants to volunteers, a regulation should be passed, or, if necessary, an amendment to the Act should be made, so that the volunteer who holds a land warrant might be put down for his chosen location, or, if this were found to be located, he could be notified and be given an opportunity to select another. Many of these men have friends in the west, who would pick out lajjd for them. I think the hon. ministers to whom I have referred will see the justice of the claim that the warrant should be the identification and not the person. Those familiar with affairs in the northwest know that the location of halfbreed scrip was not attended with these restrictions. The speculators who held the warrant were not going to try to bring to the land office the particular half-breed in whose name the warrant was issued, and who might be living somewhere up near the Arctic circle. Any half-breed would do

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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES.

Does the hon. gentleman say that that system of locating halfbreed script has existed within the last two years?

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. S. HUGHES.

I did not say so. But it did exist in previous years. If the hon. gentleman wants them, I can give him particulars.

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March 9, 1909