Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)
The statement continues:
In others, the rights of the Indians in reserves are personal and usufructuary and their position may be similar to the Indians of Ontario.
It is realized that the situation is not at all satisfactory particularly in view of the fact that the development of the mining areas in Quebec is being extended rapidly and the time will soon come when we will be faced with the problem of dealing with the mineral rights. As soon as a definite opinion is received from justice department further steps can be taken as may be considered advisable.
It has not been necessary to give a great deal of thought to the dominion crown's title to minerals underlying Indian reserves in the maritime provinces. However the situation with respect to those reserves set aside prior to confederation is probably comparable to the case of Ontario. Certain reserves were purchased outright by the dominion and the dominion's title in these cases is absolute.
This is a lengthy statement, but I think it sets out the conditions as briefly and concisely as they can be set out at the present time. It is quite evident that there are varying conditions surrounding the titles to these reserves in respect to all that they may contain in the way of mineral wealth. The conditions governing vary in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec and between different reserves in these provinces. However, when I approach the Department of Justice to see if they could give me a statement that would meet the wishes of the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George, they said it was quite impossible to do so at the present time. Consequently I have fallen back on this statement that was prepared by the officers of the department and which I think outlines the situation fairly well.