Alan Webster Neill
I wonder if the minister would give us some information in regard to this matter. There does not seem to be a section with respect to the title on which we could discuss the general principles of the bill, but perhaps he will allow me to ask him some questions under this section. In moving the
Soldier Settlement Act
first reading of the bill the minister indicated that it was to be done at the request of various municipalities-rural municipalities-and inferentially we gathered that it was going to help the settler. I would ask him however wherein this act would do the one or the other. The municipality is not going to be put in the position, as we thought it was, of getting taxes from the government, but merely the land, which it does not want. Possibly the minister will reassure us by intimating that it is the intention of the government to pay the taxes, although it does not state so 'here.
The other point on which I should like some information is this. Under the third section, on the municipality instituting proceedings, which is rather an indefinite way of expressing it, the settler's contract of sale with the soldier settlement board is automatically rescinded. Is not that going to work a serious hardship on the soldier settler? The government have the right to-day to rescind the agreement upon non-payment; but they have recognized from time to time, and quite properly, that when times are very bad and farmers who own their land, free of any debt or mortgage, cannot make a living on it, then the settler certainly cannot make annual payments, and the government have made reasonable allowance in cases of that kind. They do not rescind so long as there is any reasonable hope of the man being able eventually to make good. Under section 3 however it is automatic; there is no preference. The very minute the municipality finds that its taxes are not paid, and takes legal proceedings-advertising and so forth-then it is automatically rescinded and the government cannot help themselves even if they wish to. I submit therefore that it is certainly going to work an increased hardship on the soldier settler. I do not think that the statement made on the first reading and sent out to the settlers concerned conveyed the true impression. I do not believe that the settlers gathered the impression that the moment their taxes were not paid they would lose their whole equity in the land. The government may have an equity of a couple of thousand dollars and the soldier an equity of a thousand dollars. I do not know whether the government will drop their $2,000; it is optional. They may pay the taxes, although it is not so stated here; but will not this automatically lead to the rescinding of a lot of agreements which to-day are behind but which the department, owing to economic conditions, are not enforcing?