My hon. friend has stated that certain intentions of the department in matters of administration are contained in the Act. They are not contained in the Act, and the omission does not interfere with the additional consideration that he suggests he is so ready to give to homesteaders. He takes away from the homesteader the fixed date upon which the homesteader knows by Act of Parliament that his rights begin, and he substitutes nothing for that, except the statement that he is going to administer the Act in a certain way.
Exactly. The hon. gentleman must take it that the Act will be administered by the officials appointed by my hon. friend's (Mr. Oliver) Government in the best interests of the settlers. The officials the hon. gentleman appointed during his regime are still administering this Act.
I am sorry to eay that that is not absolutely correct. I do not wish to enter into an argument with the minister, but that does not happen xo be true. The minister has told the House that he is [DOT]withdrawing from the Act, as it stands, that fixity of right which enables the homesteader to say: I began my residence on a certain day, or I made my entry on a certain day; my rights began then, and under the terms of the Act I aim entitled to my patent. By taking out these words, the minister can give or toe can withhold a patent just as. his officials see fit, and ll want to say that in the section I represent, where such a large portion of the people are homestead settlers, this is a serious matter, and when the officials of the minister take the political attitude they do. in connection with elections, it makes it a very much more serious matter. I did not wish to_ bring these matters up, hut I am anxious to secure, within the four comers of this Act, the guarantee of the rights of the settlers I represent. I am very much more anxious to get those rights defined in an Act of Parliament than I am to accept the verbal assurance of the minister that his intentions [DOT]are to give the homesteaders their lands *under more favourable circumstances than in the past.
sinister results, and it seems strange that in his interpretation of this Act, he sees .something that is going to result so disastrously to the best interests of the homesteaders land probably of his own. political party. I am not at all 'anxious to see any legislation passed in this Parliament that can in any way be utilized by any official to the detriment of the homesteader or even to the detriment of the hon. gentleman's political party. If it will meet his views any better, to have the matter more definite, I am willing to. incorporate in the legislation itself the four explanations that I have given, and to add to subsection (to) which reads in the present Act:
To have resided thereon at least six months in each of three years from the date of entry, or the date of commencement of residence.
The other two provisions:
Or six months' residence in each of three calendar years; or homestead year and calendar year combined, or otherwise shifting the date for the commencement of the term as may he most satisfactory to the settler.
I am willing to incorporate those two provisions within the Act itself, if that meets with the wishes of hon. gentlemen.
I do not see where the first two provisions that the minister mentions are contained ifi the Act, but if he does incorporate in the Act those four provisions that he has in the explanations, that will be satisfactory. We shall then know exactly where we stand and it will not then be a matter of discretion on the part of the administration at all.
I am not very well versed in the homestead law, but it occurs to me that some change should be made in the law or in the regulations so as to assist those returned soldiers whom we expect to take up this land. Those men will have largely to work together as a community.
Yes, but this has to do with the homestead regulations as they stand. If the soldier takes up land under the Bill which was passed last night, be is given a loan. Under this Act, however, he has to conform to the regulations as they appear. The law should be relaxed so that the soldier, if he is in a soldiers' community, may not have to reside on his homestead. The soldier may be a married man and on both sides of him there may be unmarried soldiers, and there should be some method by which those men can form a community, and residence on a man's own farm should not be essential, but he should be permitted to operate his farm and have residence within say one and a half or two miles from his farm count as residence. In that way you would have the soldier settlers in communities. Under the old law the settler was compelled to live on his farm and he was not allowed to go two or three miles away to work for another farmer. Under the present conditions of labour, if a homesteader works his farm and does his duty, he should be permitted to put in residence when assisting another farmer in the neighbourhood.
I know cases of young men who have gone out to the West and taken up homesteads and who have put in their three years' residence. By the time they got their patent, they were so sick of the whole thing that they would mortgage their farms and leave the place altogether. That is why there are so many vacant farms in the West. Some provision should be inserted in the Act to prevent men, when they get their patents, from leaving the community and selling out their farms to the loan companies. I know of sections in Upper Can-
ada where farmers took up land years ago and where they still have the titles vested in the Crown. They will not take their title over because they do not want the land mortgaged. The term of residence in the West is altogether too short, and the tendency is for the settler to get rid of the land and to turn it over to a loan company, which will buy it by way of a mortgage for about $2 an acre. The land lies fallow for years and after five or ten years there is a lot of good land unoccupied, and when any one wants to buy it, the loan companies charge $20 to $25 an acre for it. There is too much speculation. The land should go to the actual settler and he should be made to. settle on the land. Many young men who took up homesteads three or four years before the war did so in order to get a piece of land, and as soon as they completed their residence and got their patent, they sold the land and left the district. Those are sections of the western provinces in which the people do not want to live continuously daily on their land, and we should have some regulation whereby the soldiers will be permitted to live in small communities and work their land.
I want the soldier to live on the land, but every settler, for the first two years after he goes out to that country should be given a certain amount of latitude so that he can hire labour to assist him in the improvement of his farm. After those two years are up, and after he has hired help to assist him in getting his land broken up, he should be compelled to settle on the land.