June 6, 1946

PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

Yes, I say that. He stood up like a major-general this afternoon and defended a principle-and it takes backbone to defend a principle, at any time.

The population was badly dislocated, and those two provinces, both Saskatchewan and Manitoba lost .heavily. The result was that the government anticipated that it had friends who would reach out and try to grab or to hold on to the seven seats which they would not have, if redistribution proceeded on the present basis. The government expects support from that quarter.

If one examines the census returns of 1941, what does he find? He finds that Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia are affected one way or another. In looking through this census I direct the attention of the house particularly to the age groups of 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39 and 40-44, the groups from which the working men are taken, or from which people were dislocated and came to Ontario, British Columbia or elsewhere. What does one find in these groups. He finds that of the four western provinces, British Columbia continued to advance rapidly, not in the aggregate, but in proportion to the other three provinces. For instance, in 1941 in the age group twenty to twenty-four years British Columbia had 69,247; Alberta had 78,358; Saskatchewan had 85,097 and Manitoba had 69,273. In that ratio British Columbia had the lowest number, but when you consider all those age groups you find that British Columbia had the highest number of the four provinces, that it had adr%nced more than any other of those four provinces in the age groups forty to forty-five, thirty-five to thirty-nine and thirty to thirty-four and it was only exceeded by Saskatchewan in the age group twenty-five to twenty-nine. What does that mean? It means that a great number of people in those age groups had left the prairie province, either to go into the armed services or to work in the factories of Ontario or British Columbia. The number of people working in factories increased considerably in those two provinces.

It is wholly unfair to have a redistribution that will so seriously affect the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. WTe should not base redistribution on a census taken when so many of their men either were working in war factories or had entered the armed services.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

They were in Ontario voting socialism.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

I will give you Ontario by itself. What was the result there? In 1939, prior to the war there were 400,000 unemployed in Capada, but in 1941 the number of those engaged in war work alone was 1,021,000. That showed a great change in what the populace was doing. As I said a moment ago, many of those workers came from the western provinces, particularly Manitoba and Saskat-

Redistribution

chewan, which provinces would stand to lose seven seats. I maintain that it would be wholly unfair to have a redistribution based on that situation.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) asked about Ontario. As the minister knows in his city of Welland, and as I know in the city-of Toronto, large numbers from those provinces came to work in our industries. However, the population of the province did nob go up as much as one would have thought it would considering the ingress of people from-outside. The fact is that Ontario had 145,000 in the armed services, which was 40 per cent of all those in the services in 1941; Quebec-had 17 per cent, and the other provinces had lower percentages. Because of the dislocation? of population caused by those working in war-industries and the dislocation of population through enlistments it would be unfair to redistribute seats on the basis of the census of 1941.

At. one time our American cousins were in the very same boat. This is not a new thing because they have gone through the same experience. However, they handled it in a different way. They took a census in the United States in 1920, and had reapportionment of congressional seats taken place at that time it would have resulted in a number of states losing some of their representatives in congress. They refused to reapportion their seats, and I should like to quote what was said before a committee of the house of representatives which was set up to deal with the apportionment. This shows why reapportionment did not take place in 1920. One of the senior ranking investigators said this:

Mr. Rankin: Let me make this statement for

the benefit of members of the committee. I do this because I, more than any man alive, am responsible for the failure to reapportion congress in accordance with the 1920 census. That census was taken in the winter time, which was the first time such was done. At the time, it was taken many of the farmers were more or less scattered, it was hard to find them, and therefore the census, in my opinion, was incomplete.

That is just the situation that prevailed when our census was taken in 1941; many had moved away.

Again, it was taken when we were just emerging from the world war and when hundreds of thousands of former soldiers had not returned to their homes.

As a result, if we had reapportionment according to that census, many agricultural states would have lost a portion of their representation, and a very large portion.

That is the same thing we are up against here. Because of the war two western provinces lost a large part of their populations.

Following what they did in the United States, we should not have redistribution. They did not reapportion until after the 1930 census and in the meantime the population of the United States had increased by 30,000,000 from 1910. Were they unfair in not reapportioning? They did not think so. They had some consideration for those men who had not yet returned home by 1920 when the census was taken following the great war. They had consideration for the farmers who had gone to work in war factories.

Everyone in this House of Commons can read that the number employed in war factories was 1,021,000, according to "Canada at War", for 1945. Those people came from everywhere. I know that many went to the United States, because in 1941 that country was not at war and they paid higher wages.

I am trying to show the house that we had the same condition here that prevailed in the United States when they refused to reapportion their congressional seats in 1920. They waited until 1930 before they did that. 1 consider that that was fair play; that was the right thing for them to do.

Someone asked about Ontario. As I said, the enlistments from Ontario were 145,000 in 1941, and this materially affected Ontario's population. Otherwise we would have advanced much more. These men were followed by many of their wives and, in some cases, their families and that affected the population of the province. It is for these reasons that we should not go on with redistribution.

As was said so well this afternoon by the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefen-baker), so much so that I do not need to say much about it, if the government proceeds with this they will be opening the door for other violations of the constitution if and when some rabid majority gets into power, as may some time happen, and determines to change the British North America Act. Supposing such a majority wanted to change section 92, subsection 12? Subsection 12 of section 92 deals with:

The solemnization of marriage in the province. The provinces have control of that now, but there has been agitation for the Canadian government to have more control over marriage. Marriage is a contract. Can you change it just as you like?

Section 95 pertains to agriculture and immigration. It says:

In each province the legislature may make laws in relation to agriculture in the province, and to immigration into the province.

Redistribution

The provinces are doing that now. But that could be changed. This government could take to itself of everything pertaining to immigration.

Section 98 says.

The judges of the counts of Quebec shall be selected from the bar of that province.

That is a special privilege. That also might be changed.

Section 133 pertains to the English and French languages. That might be changed too. I am one of those who believe that all these provisions in the British North America Act should be inviolable. I believe that these sontracts which have been entered into with the province of Quebec and other provinces should not be changed. I do not believe that the province of Quebec would have come into confederation if they had thought that these contracts would be so lightly changed. I am a supporter of this clause preserving the use of the French language and of any other clause pertaining to the province of Quebec. But if you open the door wide to change, then, no matter what anyone else says, each and all of these provisions can be changed if you change the cornerstone and copestone which is section 51. Violate that and all the rest can be violated just as easily. I agree with the hon. member for Lake Centre that you have to go very carefully in making changes. It is a serious thing to violate the main clause of the British North America Act.

Representation by population has been mentioned in this debate. I am in favour of representation by population, if fair. I see that my hon. friend the member for Nipissing (Mr. Gauthier) is having a good laugh. But the premier of Quebec has announced his opposition to this bill, so that I am in pretty good company in opposing the bill.

So far as representation by population is concerned, are you going all along the line with it if you pass this bill? Let me give some figures to show how alleged representation by population is actually working at the present time. I think Canada is conspicuous throughout the world as one state where representation by population is not observed the least so far as the constituencies are concerned. I know no place in the world where there is less representation by population than in Canada. In Nova Scotia four constituencies have more than the quota of representation, and eight are under the quota. The highest number of people in any constituency in the province is 85,000, and the lowest, 27.000. You would not call that representation by population.

In New Brunswick there are three constituencies over the quota, and seven under. The highest number of people to any constituency is 78,000, and the lowest, 24,000. Lou would not call that representation by population.

In Quebec twenty-seven constituencies are over the quota, and thirty-eight below the quota. The highest number of people to any one constituency is 93,000, and the lowest,

22.000. It does not seem fair to me that it should require 93,000 people in one seat to balance 22,000 in another seat.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

That is why we want more members.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

That has nothing whatever to do with the matter. In Ontario there are thirty-four constituencies over the quota, and forty-eight under. The highest number of people to a constituency is 113,000, and the lowest, 19,000. There is little representation by population there.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
LIB

Léoda Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. GAUTHIER (Nipissing):

Which constituency has 113,000?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

That is Nipissing. My hon. friend knows that because I told him that. That is why I often said that his predecessor should be given double the indemnity for having so many people to represent. It was not the fault of the last government. I did my best to provide Nipissing with two members, but for reasons that it is not necessary to go into now that was not done.

Manitoba has five constituencies over the quota, and twelve under. The highest number of people to a constituency is 71,000, and the lowmst, 23,000.

Saskatchewan has three constituencies over the quota, and eighteen under. The highest number of electors to a constituency is 59,000, and the lowest, 33,000.

Alberta has five constituencies over the quota, and twelve under. The highest number of people to a constituency is 58,000, and the lowest, 26,000.

British Columbia has nine constituencies over the quota, and seven under, and the highest number of people to a constituency is

77.000, and the lowest, 25,000.

Nipissing is the constituency in Canada which has the highest number of people,

113.000, and the lowest is also in Ontario, with

19.000. There are ninety ridings in all Canada that are over the quota, and 150 below the quota. You will not find a situation like that in any other democratic country. We now have a chance to make a proper redistribution.

Redistribution

In Australia they work on a basis of five, seven and nine. That is, there are five voters in a widely extended riding like Cochrane, seven voters in a riding like South Ontario, and nine voters in the city ridings. Those nine voters in a city riding are considered equal to seven voters representing a riding that is partly urban and partly rural, and equal to five voters in a widely extended riding. I do not believe that we should change from such a basis in Canada at present, but after 1960 this country should get down to a more equitable redistribution. .

In the United States their quota is 304,000 per seat, and they adhere to that as closely as they possibly can. Practically every riding in the United States is within measurable distance of the quota, a little above or a little below. The same applies to the main states of the union. They have no situation like we have in Canada, where one riding will have 113,000 people and another riding 19,000. Nor will you find that in England, where the quota is 70,000. I looked over the first 220 seats in the British parliament and they were comparably close to the 70,000. We have little like that here. So that we have a lot of work to do yet to give a reasonable measure of representation by population in the ridings.

In the United States they are drastic against gerrymandering. We have had a lot of ridings gerrymandered here. In the United States the federal ridings are determined by the states, not by Washington. The state governments appoint a committee which draws up the boundaries for the various federal seats and then they have to be approved by the supreme court of the state. It is shocking to think of what has happened in Canada. We have a great disproportion of representation in this country. How we are going to overcome it, I do not know. But that is one thing we should do.

I read an interesting bit of information about the state of Massachusetts when I was studying this question. I am not in favour of what they do in: Massachusetts; I do not think we should do it their way. They base their representation on the voters' list. I had an interesting time in computing the results in the provinces of Canada if representation were reapportioned on that basis. As I say, I do not favour it because I do not believe it w'ould give us the result we desire, although it would provide the same number of seats as the government proposes, namely 255. However, it was interesting to observe that other jurisdictions have troubles beside our own. Our difficulties arise largely from the way our seats are laid out. There is not much fairness, as I pointed out a moment 63260-1434

ago, in a system which creates such a great disparity between the numbers of people residing in various ridings. A letter on this subject which I received from Pennsylvania indicates that they are not gerrymandering over there. The assistant director of the bureau of elections writes:

It is my personal opinion that the legislature of Pennsylvania will be unable to favour one type of area over another type-

That is, they want the seats to be relatively the same population.

-in the matter of representation in the legislature or in congress. I feel that such apportionment would violate both the federal and state constitutions.

By that he means that, as between a seat which has a population of 113,000, as Nipis-sing has, and one with only 22,000, like Argen-teuil, there is such a disproportion in the value of each elector's vote that it does not seem defensible. As I have said, I am not in favour of a change which would cause a great deal of disharmony, but I believe we could reapportion representation on a basis of 5-7-9; that is to say, five voters in a wide open rural area to seven voters in a semiurban and rural area, to nine in a city. At the present time we are altogether out of proportion.

I believe this matter should stand over until after the next census. What would we lose by it? The Northwest Territories would, lose a seat, and I believe they should have one; how we could give it to them without redistribution I do not know. But there would not be very much change in the rest of Canada. If we go on with the bill what would be the result? Some of the western provinces will lose anyway. That Ontario will have one more seat is neither here nor there; that is a mere bagatelle. As far as I am concerned I am ready to accept what comes as a result of redistribution.

Much of the talk this afternoon seemed to me like an attack on Ontario. Well, we have not violated the constitution. We took what the constitution gave us. We were reduced to eighty-two seats and we have not made any fuss about it. Previously we lost ten, and we did not make any fuss about that; Ontario used to have ninety-two seats, but upon redistribution our representation in comparison with that of Quebec had to be reduced; it fell to eighty-six and then to eighty-two. That was in accordance with the constitution. Now, to avoid complying with the constitution, the government proposes to violate the British North America Act.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

Not violate it. Just

change it.

Redistribution

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

It is a violation of the crown and pinnacle of the constitution, section 51, a straight violation of the British North America Act, and the main clause of that act, section 51.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

An amendment, not a

delation. There is quite a difference.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

It is a violation when you cannot amend it, and I do not believe the government have authority to amend it. To support my statement, I will read what Lord Atkin said. The quotation is as follows:

No one can doubt that this distribution is one of the most essential conditions of the interprovincial compact to which the B.N.A. gives effect. If the true position of Lower Canada alone were considered, the existence of her separate jurisdiction as to property and civil rights might be said to depend upon loyal adherence to her constitutional right to the exclusive competence of her own legislature in these matters.

Lord Atkin says that the British North America Act was a compact. Well, if it was a compact between the four original provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec, by what right does this government violate it? This proceeding is nothing short of a violation. If, of course, this bill or resolution is submitted to the provinces and receives their endorsement, I shall have nothing more to say about it; there would be nothing to dio but go on with the programme as outlined. But until the government obtain the consent of the provinces I maintain that they are violating-I use that word again-what is the cornerstone of the whole act, that is section 51, having to do with representation in this house. I say to my hon. friends from the province of Quebec that I had expected everyone of them to rise and take a stand such as the premier of Quebec is taking.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

He is one of your good friends.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

I know nothing about his politics.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

He is the premier of Quebec, at present in charge of that province; he recently won a by-election, and I believe he will win the one which is pending. Evidently he represents the people of the province, or he would not take the stand he has taken.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Oh, no.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
LIB

Frederick Primrose Whitman

Liberal

Mr. WHITMAN:

Elected on a minority vote.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

So I say that the government's action is a violation of the British

{Mr. Lalonde.]

North America Act, by which violation Quebec has more to lose than any other province.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

You have said that so often you must be sure of it.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink
PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

I can repeat it many times and still be sure of it, because I believe it is true. ,

I feel the time has come to do a number of things which could be considered when, in due course, we are in a position to go into this whole subject. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition should both receive acclamations. It would be a good thing for the country if they did not have to fight a battle in their ridings, as the present Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) had to do at the last election; they would then be free to go around the country and enlighten the public as to their policies. Another matter which we might attend to is to rearrange our seats on a much fairer basis than at present, as they do in the United States. In many other ways we could usefully amend our present ways and methods of conducting our elections in Canada. The way many of the seats are laid out to-day is nothing short of a gerrymander, and it will not provide fair representation in this house. Therefore, I again say to the government, be careful. I say to the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent), since he is fathering the bill, be careful too. I ask him to follow the path that was so well laid out by the hon. member for Lake Centre this afternoon in the quotations hd gave from other ministers of justice and leaders in this country, who, in regard to this particular section, kept their hands off the British North America Act.

By amending this section of the act you are opening the door to anything that might come along. It will serve no useful purpose to go much farther at the moment. In reorganizing our Canadian elections I was going to suggest that we might follow one good thing the province of Quebec has done. I do not know whether it was done by the present or the previous government; but when they call an election they appoint a deputy returning officer in each riding and the opposition party names the clerk. I think that is an amendment we could adopt. That, together with the reconstitution of our seats on the basis of five, seven and nine, or as closely as we could follow it, would result in a great improvement in Canadian political affairs.

Mr. F. W. TOWNLEY-SMITH (North Battleford): The discussions on this resolution and the subsequent amendment have been interesting so far, but they have been somewhat

Redistribution

philosophic or legal, or in some instances slightly prejudiced because of the home pro'v-ince of the individual who happened to be speaking. May I be allowed to crave the indulgence of the house to go a little further into the north country and deal with a part of our dominion which does not come in the public eye very often unless something extraordinary happens. I refer particularly to that part of Canada knows as the Northwest Territories.

There are four constituencies in Saskatchewan which run a long way north; mine happens to be one of them. It runs up to the sixtieth parallel, which is a long way north. Beyond that there is quite a large territory, possibly larger "than many of us realize. As a matter of fact, it comprises 42 per cent of the total land area of Canada.

So far as this resolution goes, we are more particularly concerned at the moment with the number of seats which we may or may not get in our own particular province. That huge area of land in the Northwest Territories is [DOT] represented in this house by just one member, and the people up there feel, and say, that they should have more than one member.

That great area is divided into four districts, namely, the Yukon, which is already represented in this house, the Northwest Territories which, in their turn, are again divided into three large districts, known as Franklin, Kee-watin and the Mackenzie district. The Yukon district comprises something over 205,000 square miles. It is the smallest district in the north country. The Franklin district is 546,000 square miles in area; Keewatin, 218,000 and some odd square miles, and the Mackenzie district, 493,000 square miles. The total area of that northwest country is 1,463,593 square miles, or 42 per cent of all the dry land of Canada.

The Yukon has 1,730 square miles of fresh water, Franklin has 7,500 square miles; Keewatin, 9,700 square miles, and the Mackenzie district, 34,265 square miles. These figures are all taken from the Canada Year Book. I am dwelling on this because I want hon. members to realize just how much land there is in that northern part of the world. The area of that territory is twelve times that of the United Kingdom and one-half that of the United States. I repeat, that huge territory is represented by one member, the hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Black). According to the Canada Year Book, this member of parliament first took his seat in 1904. In 1940, 2,097 votes were polled out of a possible 4,914. The rest of the' territory has a population of some 12,000, but has no representation. The people are now asking for at least one other member, who should represent the Mackenzie district.

A tremendous amount of wealth comes out of that area which we have possibly regarded as being arid, snow-covered and icebound. In 1941, a total of $9,500,000 was taken from that country in minerals, gold, silver, oil and other minerals, or $486 per capita. There is only one other province in Canada which approaches this figure, namely, Ontario, with $551 per capita. In that area they pay a yearly amount of something over $3,000,000 in salaries and wages. Over $3,500,000 were taken out in fur in 1943. Only three other provinces in Canada exceeded that figure. There are two huge lakes in that country, the Great Bear, and the Great Slave lakes, each of which is half as big again as lake Ontario. The uranium deposits on the Great Bear lake have given that district world notoriety. It may well be that that area can be and probably is, if we only knew it, the most important district int the whole world to-day, because our information is that there is only one other place where uranium, the metal which is so valuable and. so important in the minds of all peoples to-day; can be obtained.

The Northwest Territories are governed by a commissioner, a deputy commissioner and four councillors, who are appointed and who have their seat in Ottawa. These men are assisted by various departments of government, but they do not live in the Northwest Territories, and only occasionally do they get up there. Another significant thing is the fact that the stipendiary magistrate, the chairman of the board of trustees, the dominion land agent, the timber berth agent, the registrar of deeds and the mining recorder are all the same man. The residents of the Mackenzie district are not very happy about this; they feel the time has come for a change, and they certainly believe they should have representation in this house.

Another grievance is that they are taxed- of course everyone has that grievance-but they are not given representation, which is not supposed to be a good idea. They also claim that their exemption is no greater than that in force in other parts of Canada, though their living costs are greatly in excess of costs elsewhere. They say that living costs in the Northwest Territories are anywhere from 75 to 300 per cent higher than in other parts of the dominion. They also complain about fuel. In that country, where there is no wood, of course oil is important. When you get up to about 63 degrees north latitude you get pretty well out of the wooded belt, so that oil becomes of great importance, for fuel. My information is that the Canol wells have been closed down. Apparently they now belong

Redistribution

to Imperial Oil, and the residents complain [DOT] that there has been a severe shortage of oil * in that area for the last two years. .

In reference to transportation they complain that the roads are quite inadequate. There is one road in the making, the Grimshaw-Hay River road, which they do not expect will be [DOT]completed until 1947, and in the meantime no provision has been made for linking existing roads with the Alaska highway. The waterways, such as they are, require dredging from time to time. They particularly mention Slave river and Great Slave lake as being in great need of dredging operations. Air transportation is apparently a monopoly of C.P.A., and they claim their rates are the highest in the country. For example, the single fare from Edmonton to Yellowknife is $126.50, which they complain is entirely too high. The postal arrangements will also bear some looking into: three days a week by air. They claim their position is unique in that parcel rates are higher than letter rates. There is no parliamentary franchise in that country. Though certain letters and papers may be sent from this house to other countries free of charge, if you want to send them to the Northwest Territories you have to pay for them. As I have' mentioned, mining operations are going on up there, and they have a further complaint in connection with mine wages. They say that the federally owned Eldorado mine-and I hope the minister concerned will listen to this-pays the lowest hourly rates underground of any mine operating in that country. Negus, they say, pays $50 for a 48-hour week, while the surface and millworkers are paid a little less. My information also is that the mine managers are hostile to labour organizations.

As far as health and welfare are concerned, their hospital arrangements are inadequate. They have one 15-bed hospital at Yellowknife, with one doctor. Dental service is inadequate and expensive. The Dog Rib Indians, who live in that territory, are said to be poverty stricken. They are at a very low level of culture indeed, and apparently the government is doing very little to look after them.

I have gone through this outline rather hastily just to give a general picture of the situation up in that north country. They are asking for more representation at Ottawa than ihey have at the present time. They are mentioned very casually in the resolution. Apparently some thought has been given to joining the Yukon with the rest of the territories or any parts of the territories which do not belong to a province, and arrangements

are to be made to provide one member for such district when it is set up. They consider this to be entirely insufficient, and ask that the government, and particularly the minister in charge of this resolution, give serious thought to providing a little more consideration for these people living in the Northwest Territories.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
Permalink

June 6, 1946