February 19, 1915 (12th Parliament, 5th Session)


William James Roche (Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of the Interior)

Conservative (1867-1942)


No, we are granting assistance of the character referred to by reason of the exceedingly dry season in certain districts in Alberta and Saskatchewan, which has deprived settlers of their crop almost in their entirety. It has been the habit to a limited extent each year for some years past for the Department of the Interior to come to the relief of settlers de7 prived of their crops who were resident on their homesteads and not the owners of the land. The reason is that we have encouraged immigration and we look upon those people, until they become the owners of the land, as in a certain sense wards of the Government. In the past owners of their land who have been deprived of their crops through drouth or otherwise have been provided for by the provincial governments, but the provincial government felt themselves unable to cope with such a huge proposition as presented itself this year and we have arranged with the Provincial Governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan that we would look after the seed grain of those who were deprived of their crops last year, while, the governments have agreed to pass legislation at the next sessions of their legislatures giving priorty to our liens over those mortgages for our advance of seed grain. Wherever we have advanced provisions for people who are actually in need of food, either for themselves or for their stock, we have secured a promise from the provincial governments to give our lien against the crop priority in the same manner as they are giving priority to our liens in connection with mortgages against land for seed grain. Petitions along much the same lines have been presented to me from the northern provinces of Ontario, and I have referred back these petitions with the statement that the people should apply to the provincial government, which has handled

this matter iri the past, and is in the best position to give aid to them. The difference between the western provinces, in which farmers are receiving aid, and the eastern provinces, in which a certain number of settlers appear to be in need, is that the provinces of Quebec and Ontario are the owners of their natural resources, whereas the Dominion Government is the owner of the natural resources of the western provinces. In consequence of that we feel under an obligation to supply those of our homesteaders who are in need.

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