March 5, 1912 (12th Parliament, 1st Session)


Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)



ing more and it promises nothing less. This Bill is made necessary in order that we might rectify a condition of affairs through which and by which a serious injustice has been done to the province of Manitoba.
The right hon. gentleman, dealing with this question this afternoon, has. gone over somewhat of the history of the conditions which prevail in Manitoba, but he did not undertake to tell the whole story to the House. He has not told the House that Manitoba occupied a position of inequality with every province in this Dominion; he has not told the House that during the past eight or ten years that province pleaded with him, as t'he leader of the Dominion government, to rectify the injustice and to remedy the adverse conditions of which she complained. We have, as was rvell said by the right hon, the Prime Minister two classes of conditions in respect to provinces in this confederation. We have provinces that own their own lands, their mines, and their natural resources, and we have the three prairie provinces that have been treated upon an entirely different basis. Now, when in 1901 the people of Manitoba presented their views as represented by a unanimous legislature to the right hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, then Prime Minister, we were told that we would have to wait for the terms and conditions which we were pleading for, until such time' as the new provinces would be formed out of the Northwest Territories. We regarded that answer as reasonable and we so accepted it in Manitoba. We in Manitoba waited in patience for the day and for the hour when it might suit the convenience of the right hon. gentleman to introduce the necessary legislation for the formation of these provinces, and, when that day and that hour came Manitoba was represented here pressing her claims. But, we very-soon found that we came here under circumstances well described by the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Bradbury) this afternoon; we found that our claims were to be treated by the then Prime Minister and by his government as a whole, as a political question. We came here representing a unanimous province and our first words to the right hon. gentlemen were in effect that a fair and just settlement of- Manitoba's claims would in no way effect either one party or the other. But, that did not seem to satisfy my right hon. friend; he did not think that such was the opinion of his own political friends in Manitoba. Presenting that case as strongly as was possible for the representatives of Manitoba to present it, it was necessary for my right hon. friend to make some answer and while he did not do the representatives of the province the honour of giving them a

direct answer upon that occasion, he made a statement from his place in parliament which was in effect: that Manitoba could not be treated with, that Manitoba's position could not be considered at the time, simply because he had sitting behind' him in this House a gentleman who represented that territory and who had entered an objection. And, when we made inquiry, as to why the hon. gentleman representing a small portion of that territory was objecting, we were told that the hon. member for the constituency of Mackenzie objected by reason of the fact that he was fortunate enough to secure a Liberal majority in that particular district, and, therefore, he did not want it to go to the province of Manitoba or to anywhere else. That is a sample of the treatment which we were receiving from the Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, at that time. It is true that the public press took some note of that statement and the right hon. gentleman found it necessary to meet that objection, and he prepared a Minute of Council about a month later and transmitted it ' to the province of Manitoba. In this minute of Council he undertakes to find another excuse. It is dated March 21, 1905, and the concluding paragraphs, set forth:
The committee are likewise of the opinion that the desire of the province of Manitoba for an extension of its boundaries to the shores of Hudson bay is not an unreasonable one, and they suggest that when the measures now before parliament for the formation of the two provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan are disposed of, the subject of such extension of the boundaries of Manitoba might profitably be considered. This committee think it possible that in this connection questions would arise which concern other provinces inasmuch as the territory lying to the north of the other provinces may be made the subject of requests of a character similar to that of the province of Manitoba in the present case. The committee, therefore, recommend that at a convenient date after the formation of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan the request of Manitoba for an extension northward be taken up with the object of coming to a speedy conclusion, and trust that this suggestion may be acceptable to the government of the province of Manitoba whose welfare and development the present ministry desire to promote in every way compatible with their obligations towards the other provinces of the Dominion.
Now, Mr. Speaker, you find here two excuses by the right hon. gentleman as to why the extension of the Manitoba boundaries should not take effect at once. The first excuse was that it might be necessary to consult other provinces in this matter. It is true that my right hon. friend undertook upon that occasion exactly the same course that he is taking to-day so far as the province of Ontario and the province
of Manitoba are concerned. He is disappointed to-day, in that it was impossible for him to make trouble between the province of Ontario and the province of Manitoba. I know that it is disappointing to the right hon. gentleman to see that the province of Manitoba and the province of Ontario have been able to effect a settlement which has been acceptable to both provinces and entirely satisfactory on every ground. My right hon. friend in this Minute of Council next told us-and I would remind you that this Minute of Council was dated in 1905-that he would endeavour to bring about a speedy settlement of Manitoba's claims. Well, what about that speedy settlement ? Here we are in this parliament seven years later proposing a settlement, and I am sure if the right hon. gentleman had been allowed politically to live, and finish his work, that the province of Manitoba would have waited seventy-seven times seven years before justice was rendered to her by him. The right hon. gentleman did not like the idea of that little province of Manitoba sending down to Ottawa eight or nine supporters of the right hon. Mr. Borden when in opposition as well as when in power. That is the only reason I can see why we did not get fair terms from Sir Wilfrid Laurier on that occasion. Now, the leader of the opposition takes objection to the fact that Manitoba is getting certain arrears in respect of the claim which she had from that date in 1905 down to the present time. In 1905, by virtue of that Minute of Council, Manitoba was obliged by the then government to meet in conference the other provinces and that no doubt, with the object oi delaying the settlement of Manitoba's claims. That conference took place in 1906, and in 1907 we were promised in the Speech from the Throne that a Bill would be presented to parliament by which this vexed question would be settled, but, the pledge of the right hon. gentleman as usual was not kept and no Bill was introduced.
It is true, a resolution was introduced in 1908, and in 1909, a copy of that resolution and of a Bill, as prepared by the right hon. gentleman, was transmitted to the government of the province of Manitoba for their consideration. The moment the government of Manitoba received that Bill, they sent representatives to Ottawa to discuss terms and conditions with the right lion, gentleman. When we arrived we complained that the boundaries provided for were not those to which the province of Manitoba was entitled. I am not going into the details of that matter, which were fully covered by my hon. friend from Brandon (Mr. Aikins), last night. But when the representatives of Manitoba found in 1909, as was stated to the delegation by the right hon. gentleman himself, that the Liberal members assembled

around him, as representing the province of Manitoba, had decided1 on those boundaries, and therefore, they were fixed, and finally fixed, as far as he was concerned, we felt that there was no other course open to us, under the circumstances, than to accept the boundaries as laid down, and they were accepted by us. Manitoba heard1 nothing more during the year 1910. During the year, 1911, we received an invitation to come and meet the right hon. gentleman, and his colleagues. That conference took place, lasting for two afternoons, and no settlement of any kind or description was reached, because the right hon. gentleman did not appear to be willing to treat Manitoba in the fair manner in which we believed she was entitled to be treated. But, worse than the conditions proposed, and the delay which was practised1 by the right hon. gentleman during his regime, was the policy by which he penalized and punished the province of Manitoba to such an extent that I want to say, from my place in this House, that no amount of money which this parliament could vote could compensate the province of Manitoba for the injury which was done her by the actions and the words of the right hon. gentleman.
Now, a good deal has been said during the course of this discussion in regard to the swamp lands of the province of Manitoba. If there was no other reason, this very question of the swamp lands furnishes a good and sufficient reason why the province of Manitoba has been at the door of the Dominion of Canada asking for a rearrangement of the terms which were made in 1885. If the terms which were then made, had been faithfully and loyally kept by the Dominion of Canada, there would perhaps have been less reason why the province of Manitoba should be here today asking for the changed conditions which she is asking for, and if there is one man in public life to-day who is more responsible than another tor the violation of that contract of 1885, in respect of the swamp lands, it is the right hon. gentleman who was the leader of the late Liberal government. Under the contract of 1885, between the government of Manitoba and the Dominion government, Manitoba was to receive certain swamp lands; and let me give you a sample of how these lands were dealt out to the province. Under that contract an arrangement was arrived1 at by which certain inspectors were to be appointed to go out and decide what sections or quarter sections were swamp lands and what were not. It was provided that the government of Manitoba would have the right to appoint one or more representatives on a commission for that purpose, and the Dominion a like number; and as soon as the government of the right hon.

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