June 3, 1938

LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is the only practical question at issue in this bill. It is the whole question, because each case will have to be decided on its merits. It may be found when the minister is dealing with an Indian reserve in one province that the conditions of the original grant creating the reserve are such as to vest a claim in the crown in the right of the province and not of the dominion.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

That would not apply to the prairie provinces.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is a point about which I am not entirely clear. There are some appropriations of land which stand on a different basis from the original treaty arrangements; in other words, the boundaries of the reserve have been to some extent modified from time to time, and it may well be that in particular sections conditions are different from those in reserves in parts of what was the northwest territories. But broadly the right to mines and minerals in what was the northwest territories should belong to the crown in the right of the dominion.

The suggestion I make to the minister in respect of this clause, in view of what is happening in the western development of oil, is that these leases should be disposed of by public tender or public auction. I am not saying that because there happens to be in power a government which I am not supporting. Some years ago a former lieutenant governor of Manitoba while a member of this house gave considerable attention and consideration to that phase of our public administration. His attention had been directed to* certain conditions, and my attention had been directed to certain conditions. He had investigated certain matters and he discussed them with me. I am inclined to think it would be very helpful to the minister, to the department, and certainly to the Indians-inasmuch as we are only trustees, because that is all we

Indian Act

are; we are administering this Indian property in trust-if the leases should be disposed of only by public tender or public auction. The granting of a lease to search for oil or precious metals is a matter of very great importance to the Indians, and the Indian has become, shall I say, somewhat suspicious in connection with the administration of his affairs. I am constantly having these matters brought to my attention; sometimes I see Indian chiefs in the summertime, and they tell me they are not satisfied about this particular thing or that. While in many instances the alleged grievance is wholly groundless, I believe it would be in the public interest if we provided that these leases should be disposed of by public tender or public auction. In the United States, they now provide that leases of this kind shall be disposed of by tender, and I am inclined to think that if the minister would so provide, he would do a real service to the Indians. At the same time lie would render his own lot somewhat easier, because no one who is familiar with the history of this country during the last forty years in respect to the alienation of our timber limits and mining reserves and matters of that kind can be ignorant of the fact that there is always a disposition on the part of those who support the government of the day, regardless of party, to obtain if possible benefits by reason of that support, claiming that it entitles them to more favourable consideration than they would otherwise receive in connection with applications for leases and many other matters. The records of this country contain striking evidence of the success of those efforts, and my profound conviction is that in dealing with the Indians for whom we hold these lands as trustees it would be very much in the interests of all concerned if we provided that their disposition should be by public tender.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

The suggestion of my right hon. friend is certainly interesting, but I am fust wondering whether or not it would retard development.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It might have once, but it would not now, clearly.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

Take a reserve, for the sake of illustration, where the geological formation might be favourable to minerals. A prospector comes along who has studied the geology of that particular reserve, and wants a permit to prospect. Now if the conditions were such that we were required to advertise before he could prospect, I doubt if you would find people interested in the matter. But suppose he carries on his orospecting and makes a discovery. It is at

that point that he has to interest someone else, and quite clearly I think the place where the principle of public tender would come in would be in the initial stage, in the right to prospect. The fear I have is that the principle which the leader of the opposition has stated, and with which in general practice I wholly agree, might not, in a particular instance such as I have outlined, work out to the advantage of the Indians but rather to their detriment by retarding or preventing development. The conditions surrounding prospecting for minerals and developing mineral property are quite different from the conditions surrounding the sale of pulpwood or timber-

Topic:   193S
Permalink
CON
LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

-or petroleum. In those cases I think I am safe in saying that the public auction principle should be recognized in the disposal of the surface rights. I recall very well that on the St. Peter's reserve, about thirty-five or forty miles north of Winnipeg, an old reserve, part of which was surrendered, there is still a substantial portion left which is marsh or hay land, and every year the right to cut the hay on parcels of this land is put up by public tender or auction to the neighbouring farmers. That principle I think is very generally recognized in connection with such matters, but I am afraid that in mineral development it would work to the detriment of the Indians rather than to theii advantage. In the matter of prospecting for oil, I am not so sure. We had a request within the last year, if my memory serves me rightly, in connection with the Sarcee reserve.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Many years ago a company I know of had a permit to operate on the Sarcee reserve.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

I believe my right hon. friend is correct. When the permit is given a certain charge is made, and there is a time fixed within which those taking out the permit have to do certain work, failing which there is a penalty which they have to pay, or abandon the work. If the development proceeds to the point where drilling takes place and oil is discovered, there is a provision in the regulations with respect to royalties. But I shall certainly give attention to the point raised by my right hon. friend, which might be covered in the regulations so far as it is practical to do so.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
IND

James Samuel Taylor

Independent

Mr. TAYLOR (Nanaimo):

I should like to stress that general recommendation. When we are dealing with sub-surface resources we are dealing with something that is definitely wasting, and any expenditure of energy and

Indian Act

money on the development of these resources tends only to lessen them. So that the generations to follow will have that against us; unless we are very careful to assure something to our Indians which represents compensation for the wasting of their resources, in symbol if not in actual value, they will have something to say about it. I visualize the time when we shall do that with all the mineral resources of this country. At present we throw them open to anyone who chooses to come, but the time is definitely coming when we shall demand from those who prospect and mine for mineral resources some portion of that which they mine and which they recover.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I would suggest that as a

matter of accuracy it would be better were the section to read:

The governor in council may make regulations enabling the superintendent general to issue leases on Indian reserves. . . .

According to the way the subsection reads now, he might lease a piece of my home farm. The old subsection 2 read like this:

The governor in council may make regulations enabling the superintendent general without surrender to issue leases for surface rights on Indian reserve.

Apparently we have abandoned that; we have just given them power to issue leases which may be anywhere, but I think that is rather an important thing. I suggest that the minister look into that. Nowhere in this section as it now reads is there any suggestion that the leases are to be on or connected with an Indian reserve.

While I am on my feet I should like to bring up another matter. I do not know that it has strictly to do with this section, but the minister introduced it, and T suppose it is arguable that it is in order; you cannot deal with the minerals on the reserve unless you have that reserve. He alludes to the McKenna-McBride agreement. If I remember aright that was negotiated in 1912. I remember the express urgency of getting the matter adjusted at that time; the government had chartered a steamer at a cost of SSOO a day to take the commission around. That is twenty-five years ago, and they have not got it adjusted yet. There was a report made in 1916, I believe. I gathered from the minister's statement to-day that about 1919 they agreed upon a form of conveyance, and the interdepartmental report did not deal with the trouble between the two provinces. As far as my knowledge extends, because I have asked about this matter in years gone by, it arises from the fact that the province is not willing to cede the land

it agreed to cede with a clear title; it wants to reserve the minerals and water rights. It must be quite evident that, whatever the terms of the agreement were, as I understand it it was to be a completely free deed by both parties. The dominion government wished on behalf of the Indians to get more reserves, generally small ones which had been omitted in the survey many years ago-mostly fishing stations in the district I represent. On the other hand there were some bigger reserves where it was patent that the Indians did not and never would require the whole area, and it was agreed that they should give up those portions. I think in one case it was a matter of a couple of hundred acres or something of the kind. But the whole thing is held up now; the land to be given back from the reserve cannot be touched because ' it is in this condition of tentative sale; it cannot be used. That is rather a nuisance in some respects, even to the Indians themselves. On the other hand the dominion government has not the title to these other reserves which it ought to have and which it may need now in the case of negotiations for mineral rights with the white people in (he vicinity and so on. The minister says he has had conversations or negotiations with the premier of British Columbia. Did it not develop in those conversations just what the trouble was? -because it is so many years now. Either we have these rights and can make this agreement and should have the agreement, or we have not. Just what is the trouble as the minister knows it?

Topic:   193S
Permalink
?

Mr CRERAR:

I do not know that I am

in a position to state precisely the reason for the delay.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I think the minister said he could not get any action.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

It has been difficult to get action in the department concerned. It is not my place to criticize the methods of the administration of another government. Our departmental officers are of the opinion, and I agree with them, that the matter is quite clearly set out, and it should be settled. But it takes two parties to reach a settlement. So far we have not been able to prevail upon British Columbia to carry out the agreement in the terms as we understand it, and we think our judgment is right as to what those terms mean.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
IND
LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

I hope that we may get somewhere with it in the next few months.

Indian Act

Topic:   193S
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

During all the years I have been in -the house the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill) has always interested himself very keenly in these matters affecting the rights of the Indians in the province of British Columbia, and I am not paying him any compliment when I say I think he is more familiar with the situation than most of us. But there is this to be said, that -the province of British Columbia under the terms of the McKenna-McBride agreement were to convey to us certain definite areas, and there is no limitation imposed upon the terms of the grant, but they now insist upon restrictions which are not within the agreement. That is the story as I understand it. The minister -has very properly said that he and his department decline to give effect to the provincial view. It may have to be the subject matter of a reference to the courts or -to an action of some kind before it is finally determined. So I suggest that inasmuch, as the minister very properly said, one does not want to criticize another government, especially a friendly member of the family as referred to in 1935, it might well be that the premier of British Columbia would not be ill disposed to lobby the matter before the congress of the United States, and they -might be willing to arbitrate our differences and adjust -them, either on the terms of a new military road or some other scenic attraction: possibly something of that sort might be done.

But leaving that for the moment I think if the minister will look a-t the section he will see that-I do not want to use a harsh term- it is rather loosely drawn. I confess that I do not think the second subsection means anything. If I might have the attention of the minister just one moment with respect to it: (a) contemplates grants being made by the crown of rights to prospect for, mine, and take away minerals under the surface of an Indian reserve after it has been surrendered to the crown. That is clear; only, as the hon. member for Comox-Alberni points out, unfortunately when this bill was drawn somebody, it is quite obvious, was thinking in terms of a half million dollars, and he got that in and forgot to put in the provision that should have been included, that it applies to an Indian reserve. The section that it supplants or replaces provides, of course, that it deals with Indian reserves. There is nothing here to show that it deals with an Indian reserve. It might, for all we know, deal with one of those new sites acquired by the Minister of Transport for the broadcasting corporation, or something of that sort. The minister will note on the opposite page the old section. Of course it refers to surface rights on Indian

[Mr. Crerar.l

reserves. This section does not refer to rights anywhere. What does (b) mean? Let us read the section:

The governor in council may make regulations enabling the superintendent general to issue leases upon such terms as may be considered proper in the interests of the Indians and of any lessee or licensee,

(b) Without surrender, to any person authorized to mine any of the minerals in this section mentioned, of surface rights over such area of any land within a reserve containing any such minerals as may be necessary for the mining thereof.

Surely the matter is not connected up in such a way as to make clear what that means. Another thing I find difficult to understand is, our sudden solicitude for the lessee or licencee. Our primary duty is to the Indian and the Indian only. I always thought the lessee was able to look after himself. But now we are adding to this section the provision, "upon such terms as may be considered proper in the interest of the Indians-" and these words underlined, "and of any lessee or licencee." Why should we be considering him? Our concern is the Indian. We are the lessors. The superintendent general is really the lessor in this case. I hope the minister will not regard me as unfair, but I cannot but think it is loosely drawn.

Topic:   193S
Permalink
CON

June 3, 1938