April 5, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)

CON

John Barr

Conservative (1867-1942)

Air. BARR.

I must of course, bow to the will of the House. I should not attempt to address the House ou this subject, did
I not think it was my bounden duty not to give a silent vote on this Autonomy Bill. In voting, as I intend to do, for the amende ment of the leader of the opposition, I dO not wish to be understood as being opposed to giving to the fullest extent provincial rights to all the great lone land of the Northwest. But before entering upon the! remarks I intend to make on the Bill itself, I desire for a short time to follow my hon. friend who has just sat down. I was pleased to learn that the hon. gentleman is not a lawyer, because I naturally supposed that he would take pains to steer clear of the constitutional question which has taken up so much of our time. I think we might well leave that question to be threshed out by the lawyers who, so far as we can judge, will leave it just as hazy as it was when they entered the discussion. And after we shall have heard all the learned arguments advanced by the gentlemen of the legal profession on the one side or the other, I have no doubt that we shall come back to the same conclusion which has always prevailed in the past, and that is that it is their duty to make black appear white and right wrong. And as that is part of their business, I am glad to know that I am not a lawyer, but a doctor. But there is one thing which I presume every hon. gentleman will admit, and that is that it is the duty of this House to make laws, and that, on the other hand, it is the duty of the courts to interpret them, and whether we arrive at the conclusion that this Bill is ultra vires or otherwise, I presume the end will be that it will have to go to the Privy Council. And as that court is composed of human beings who are also lawyers, the probability is that they will give a decision according to the temper in which they are and according as their digestion is good or bad. We shall therefore have to wait for their decision to decide whether this Bill is legal or not. But I venture to say that the free and independent elector, the ordinary man, as he reads the 92nd clause of the British North America Act, will have no hesitation in concluding that so far as education is concerned, that is a question!, which has to be left to the province, with, the exception that this parliament has the right to pass a remedial law in the event of any province not carrying out the law as it is in the statute-books.
My hon. friend has said we should live in peace and harmony. We all agree with that, we would like to live in peace and harmony with all men in all parts of this fair Dominion of ours, but in order to do that we have rights and we have privileges which we must guard and guard safely. We must remember that the majority have rights which they should exercise just as freely as do the minority. My hon. friend attempted to make a point against the lead-

er of the opposition (Mr. R. L. Borden) and although not a lawyer he endeavoured to insinuate that we on this side have not succeeded in our argument and that the leg'al argument of the leader of the opposition had been a failure. I shall not follow that up beyond saying that we are all proud of the leader of the opposition. We feel that we have one man here who is not only able to take care of himself, but able to sustain the combat on any question that comes before this House, legal or otherwise, and to hold his own with any hon. gentleman on the opposite side. He has proved this to be the case in the past, and I venture to say that he will continue to show in the future that it is still the case. Then we have the member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) whom I have no hesitation in saying hon. gentlemen opposite have dreaded in the past, but never more than at the present time. This is shown by the very fact that in the past on two occasions when he was defeated, they put forth every effort of the government, not only by their voice and by means that are not too clear or too fail', but they put forth their money bags, which they sent to all parts to accomplish the work to an extent that is detrimental to the best interests and to the morality of this country. My hon. friend who has just sat down (Mr. Belaud) tried to make a point out of the fact that they are more liberal in Quebec than in other provinces. They may be, looking at it from a religious point of view, but when we look at it from a political point of view we must know that there are some reasons why there are only 12 Conservatives from that province. The Conservatives have about
100,000 votes in Quebec while the Reformers have only about 130,000, and notwithstanding that there were only 11 Conservatives returned and 54 Reformers, proving beyond a doubt that there was some work going on behind the scenes that was not of a religious nature. I might point to the liberality of Ontario. In the Conservative government of the province of On-ario, one of the strongest governments the province ever had, there is for the first time as Minister of Public Works a French Canadian, and we have as Minister of Crown Lands a Roman Catholic, both men worthy of the positions and we the Conservatives of the province of Ontario were pleased beyond degree when we saw the choice which the present premier, Hon. Mr. Whitney, had made. I ask you to point to such liberality under any other circumstances and I venture to say that if I had the vote here it would be found that so far as their representatives are concerned the Roman Catholics have received a fair share of the vote according to their numbers in the province of Ontario, particularly in connection with the Conservative party. In looking over the votes we find that in all cases they have had a larger representation in the Mr. BARR.
Conservative ranks than they have had in the Reform ranks, proving beyond a doubt that the Conservatives on all occasions have been more liberal along these lines than the Reformers have been in the past.
I was rather amused to see my hon. friend (Mr. Belaud) endeavouring to make a point against the hon. member for South York (Mr. Maclean). He struggled hard, he read 'Hansard,' and read it with all the ingenuity of one well up along that line. He read 'Hansard' to prove beyond a doubt that my hon. friend was opposed to provincial rights, but he did not tell you what the gist of that argument was. He did not tell you what question was being discussed at that time, and of course we all know that there are questions in connection with the,rights and privileges of the Dominion and those of the provinces which on many occasions have overlapped; they have not been well defined and great injustice has on many occasions been done in consequence. Look, for instance, at our railways, look at the conflict of jurisdiction in regard to charters for joint stock companies, &c. Here they are running from one parliament to the other obtaining charters of different kinds when the jurisdiction of the different parliaments in that respect should be well defined. We find that hon. gentlemen were discussing matters in connection with these grievances and that the discussion had nothing to do with equal rights such as we are discussing here to-night. I shall not follow my hon. friend further along that line, but I shall dwell now for a few moments upon the great question of the Bill which is before us and I might say that while the educational question is one of the most important dealt with in this Bill, there Is great danger under existing circumstances that the attention of the people of Canada will be diverted from the other great questions which must affect that country in the future by the consideration of this one clause, and it may not be until after this becomes law, it may not be until it is beyond remedy, that we will have discovered mistakes which will then be beyond recall. I look upon the question of the number of provinces as one of great importance and one which cannot be too carefully considered. It is my opinion that it would have been much better for these provinces if we had two provinces instead of three. It would have been much better if the province of Manitoba could have been extended either to the north or west or east, and then we would have had one province west of that, making two in place of three. *There is no doubt that Manitoba as she is constituted to-day will be at a great disadvantage in the future. It is a small province of 73,000 square miles, against two provinces of 150,000 square miles each. I submit that Manitoba is not receiving justice and before I have finished I shall endeavour to show why this injustice is being done to her. I believe it would be

better to have two provinces in place of three. We know that the more populous a province is the more expensive its administration becomes. At the present time in those two provinces there are only half a million people, surely not more than enough for one province. It has been said before, and I will say it again, that we are very much over-governed in the Dominion of Canada. We have more representatives in every legislature than are required. We have too much legislative machinery. So I say that if there were only one province instead of two in the Northwest one-half less machinery would be required. Perhaps there would need to be a greater number of representatives. but only one parliamentary building would be required. We must remember that to-day we are laying the foundation of what will probably become the two greatest provinces in this fair Dominion of ours. Although they have only 500,000 at present, in less than two decades, certainly in less than a quater of a century, there will be 10,000,000 or 20,000,000 in that vast country, people who have come from many parts of the world and from, many nations, mingling together and forming probably the brightest and most intelligent people in this fair Dominion. Under these circumstances it is all important that the foundation should be strong and well laid and that no mistake should be made. As for the capitals of the two provinces, whether they are to be Edmonton or Calgary or not, it is well to let the people settle that question for themselves.
Now with reference to the land in those provinces. I do not agree with some lion, gentlemen opposite who have spoken on this subject. I believe it would be to the interest of those provinces that they should have control of the public lauds, and I believe it would be to the interest of the Domiuion of Canada to leave the land with the provinces. Quebec, Ontario and all the other provinces except Manitoba have control of their public lands. Manitoba has not, because circumstances were very different when she was created a province, there were only about
12,000 souls in the territory now forming Manitoba, and they were not in a position to manage their own affairs. But here we have 500,000 people, very intelligent, and comprising among them able men such as have composed their legislative assemblies. I freely admit that the Dominion has dealt liberally with them, we have given on the whole to each province, $1,124,125. That is a large sum indeed, larger than the revenue which the Dominion will get out of the land. At the same time it is not sufficiently large to carry on the administration of public affairs as it should be carried on. I have made a calculation of the sums we are giving those provinces. For the support of the government and legislature, $50,(X)0 ; 80 cents per head on an estimated population of 250,000, $200,000 ; interest at 5 per cent on 125
$38,107,568, as a set-off against the debt of the other provinces which the Dominion assumed when they entered confederation, $405,373. We are also to pay them by [DOT]way of compensation for public lands, $375,000 yearly, and we give them annually for ten years $92,750 to provide for the construction of the necessary public buildings. That will be increased as the population increases. AVhen the population reaches 800,000 the two provinces will have an income of $4,415,750. Now I submit that it would be better for the provinces to keep their land, the Dominion of Canada will not make that much money out of the land, and the payments we are making to those provinces will be a burden on this Dominion which will be felt for many years to come. I contend that it would be better for the province to keep the land because it would be administered much better and much more economically than it is at the present time. Take the land offices in the Northwest Territories, I submit that many of them are perfect cesspools of corruption, and I speak whereof I know, as I have had some dealings through agents and otherwise with these land offices, and my conclusion is that they are not conducted in a proper manner. For instance, they are surrounded by heelers, by those who have claims upon the government, and the result is that when an actual settler goes there, when he has picked out his land and desires to place his name upon it, invariably he is told that it will require some consideration. Now if the business was properly conducted, they would be able to say at once to that man : You can have it, or : It is sold. But that is not the course pursued. He is annoyed, and, in many eases, he has to settle with the claims of some other parties. The result is hardships to the actual settler, to the immigrant coming in to make his home there. Many of them do not get the land after they have gone to much trouble in picking it out. Whilst that is the case with the actual settler, it is much worse with the prospector, of whom .there are many, they are the most important class of the community. I speak from knowledge on this subject. Prospectors are numerous there, they travel all over the country, hundreds of thousands of miles exploring the land, digging down into the bowels of the earth to see if they can find anything that is worth taking up. When they make application to the land office, in almost every case, I venture to say in ninety-nine cases out of a nundred, they are told that it is impossible to decide whether that land is taken up or otherwise, and they will have to wait a few days.
The prospector perhaps spends a large sum of money in locating the land which he desires to obtain. He comes back in a few days and finds three or four bogus claims made, and if he obtains the land by paying two or three rake-offs he is more fortunate than the great majority of pros-

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT IN THE NORTHWEST.
Full View