March 23, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)


The hon. member says "Hear, hear." Maybe he made a better point, but I will do the best I can. In the Speech from the Throne reference is made to the handing back of their natural resources to the Prairie provinces. It is stated in very general language, and as the matter is so important I shall read the statement:
The long standing question of granting the control of the natural resources of three Western Provinces to their respective Provincial Governments has engaged the attention of my Ministers. Sympathizing with the desire of the authorities of these Provinces, which have now advanced to maturity, to have the same control and management of their resources as is possessed by the older Provinces, my Government have made a proposal to the Governments of the several Provinces concerned, which it is hoped may lead to a satisfactory settlement of the question at an early date.
That, Mr. Speaker, is not very explicit, and the Prime Minister was asked by the
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leader of the Opposition to give a fuller explanation. On March 13, as will be found at page 45 of unrevised Hansard the Prime Minister explained that portion of the Speech from the Throne in these words:
May I read from the letter which I sent to the Premiers of the different Provinces. The opposite paragraph is as follows:
"If, however, the Governments of the Prairie Provinces would not be satisfied with such an arrangement-"
That is the one similar to the offer that had been previously made.
"-but would prefer an accounting between the Dominion and the Provinces from the beginning, by an independent tribunal, we would not object to such a plan. In any agreement that might be come to along these lines it would be, of course, necessary, that adequate provision be made for crediting the Provinces with all money received by the Dominion and charging to the Provinces all outlay by the Dominion, directly or indirectly in relation to the management of the resources. Any award duly made by the tribunal should be binding on both sides. Any sums found to be due by the Dominion to a Province or by a Province to the Dominion might be capitalized and interest adjusted in connection with the annual Provincial subsidy."
Now, Mr. Speaker, there are very few questions of greater importance to the Prairie provinces, and there are none of more importance to the other provinces, than the relationship of those provinces to the Dominion with respect to their natural resources, with respect to the land which has been alienated, and with respect to the various cash contributions which have been paid from time to time; and if there is an objectionable feature in what is now contemplated it is the proposal under which the Government of Canada, the federal authority, proposes to enter into a direct and separate transaction with the Prairie provinces in complete disregard of the rights and claims of all the other provinces. I submit to hon. members here that that policy is not only unfair and unsound, but is calculated to accentuate the differences which already exist between the several provinces. I propose to show, Mr. Speaker, that the proper course and policy to be pursued on a matter of this kind is the one which, when it settles the rights and claims of the Prairie provinces, will also settle the rights and claims of the other provinces of the Dominion who voluntarily came into Confederation; and surely it would not be right for the federal authorities to deal with the public domain to the disadvantage of those provinces who when they entered Confederation pooled
their resources with the public resources of Canada. Take for example the Maritime provinces. They have on a number of occasions expressed their claims. They say they want compensation and an equivalent for lands reserved for school purposes for Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. They also claim compensation for the cash subsidies paid to Manitoba and Alberta purporting to be in lieu of lands, and they also want compensation for the lands granted to the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in which the people of the Maritime provinces, in common with the people of the other parts of Canada, have a proprietary interest. In short, they claim that they have contributed large sums of money to make and develop Canada; that there were placed in the hands of the Dominion Government, as trustees of the Canadian people, certain great areas of land, certain resources, in which these original provinces have a proprietary interest, and they declare that the Federal Government acts in a fiduciary capacity in that regard for the people of Canada. Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that these claims advanced by the province of Nova Scotia and other provinces have a great deal of merit. Under the circumstances, is it fair for the Dominion Government, in total disregard of such claims, to enter into a separate and distinct transaction with the Prairie provinces? The same question may be asked, as I think I can show conclusively to the satisfaction of hon. members, with respect to other provinces in the Dominion.
When Confederation was formed the six original provinces contained an area of approximately five hundred million acres. In addition to these five hundred million acres, there was a vast area of two billion acres which constituted the common domain of the federated provinces of the Dominion. But in 1898 and 1912 the Dominion Government increased the grants of natural resources and of lands to the province of Ontario to the extent of 115 million acres thus making Ontario's total 261 million acres, or in other words practically doubling the original area of the province of Ontario. When we come to the province of Quebec we find that its original area was 124 million acres, but subsequent grants in 1898 and 1912 increased the total acreage of Quebec and her territory now consists of 452 million acres, so that that province to-day is four times the size it was at the time of Confederation. Today when the provinces of Ontario and

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Quebec, which exercise a great political influence in Canada say: " No, the Prairie provinces cannot have back their natural resources; we have a proprietary interest in them and we want an accounting tor the money they have received"-surely when that takes place the Prairie provinces can say to Ontario and Quebec: "We have a proprietary interest in 440 million acres of the common domain given to you since Confederation, and we are also entitled to an accounting." The point I wish to make is simply this: Any province which desires to make a separate transaction between the Dominion Government and that province without at the same time taking recognition of the proper claims of the other provinces-any policy of that kind is unsound and narrow and is calculated, as I said before, to increase rather than diminish the differences that exist between those provinces.
Now, what do the Prairie provinces say: They say: "We want back our natural resources, we want an accounting for the land that has been alienated, and we want the original annual subsidy of $562,000 that we received for several years past." And they repudiate the right of other provinces in connection with their claims for proprietary interest in their domain. In other words, the Prairie provinces ask for the original grant of lands within their boundaries which the original provinces of the Confederation got at the time Confederation was entered into.
Now, Sir, it would be an oversight on my part if I did not speak upon the very just and very moderate claims of the province of British Columbia, a matter which has been one of great concern in our province for many years. Many hon. members will remember that Sir Richard McBride fought for a long time to bring about an adjustment of this question, and I deem it well to quote a few lines from one of his speeches, towards the end of his career. Speaking on the subject of better terms on 19th July, 1907, he said:
I say again, ladies and gentlemen, this is not a party question. I am not talking as a Con

servaf ivi: to .Conservatives. but as _a Canadian to Canadians, I say to the people of British Columbia that they should legitimately follow up their grievances and carry them to Ottawa.
Mr. Speaker, hon. members from British Columbia are to-day, once more, presenting the grievances of their province on that question. But we do not want those grievances settled apart from the rights and claims of other provinces; we want
to eo-operate with the other provinces and decide upon a policy which will bring about a fair and proper adjustment of all these claims at the same time. When our province joined Confederation, one of the terms of union was-
And the Government of British Columbia agree to convey to the Dominion Government, in trust, to be appropriated in such manner as the Dominion Government may deem advisable in the furtherance of the construction of the said railway, a similar extent of public lands along the line of railway, throughout its entire length in British Columbia, not to exceed, however, 20 miles on each side of said line.
At the time of Confederation the province of British Columbia had a proprietory interest in those lands, and conveyed a belt 40 miles wide and 500 miles long to the Dominion Government in trust, Mr. Speaker, to be appropriated for the purposes of railway construction. The point I wish to make is that the trusteeship has failed. Those lands were never used for railway construction, and, the trust having failed, we are entitled to a return of the lands because we had the reversionary interest in them. In that area there is something in the neighbourhood of $35,000,000 worth of timber alone, taking the price of $1 a thousand. A few days age the hon. gentleman from Cumberland (Mr. Logan), told us that the province of Nova Scotia came into Confederation also under the terms and understanding that they should have a railway. The province oi Nova Scotia got the railway, and paid nothing, but the people of Canada paid $100,000,000 for it. In British Columbia we had a distinct pact, but the Government of Canada, on account of other influences, failed to carry out that pact. Before we got our railway we had to give the Dominion Government what is known as the Peace River block, three and a half million acres of land, conservatively valued at $35,000,000. We had to give a vast quantity of land on Vancouver island, which we should not have been obliged to do under the terms of Confederation. That land was conservatively estimated at a value of $25,000,000. Then, unlike some of the other provinces, British Columbia, since ' Confederation has contributed to the Dominion Treasury the large sum of $40,000,000 in excess of what it has cost the government. So that when you add together the value of those lands, the cash contribution, and the timber in the railway belt you find that British Columbia, in order to have the Canadian Pacific railway-a national and imperial railway-constructed
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across the continent to Vancouver, has paid in lands and money the enormous sum of $130,000,000.
I ask you for a moment, Mr. Speaker, to contrast British Columbia with the other provinces. A moment ago I mentioned Nova Scotia. They got their railway and the Dominion Government paid $100,000,000. Ontario secured an area of land out of our common domain double her original size. Ontario has received an appropriation of money grants for canals and things of that kind from the Dominion Treasury, far in excess of $125,000,000. Quebec is to-day four times the size she was in 1867, and has acquired natural resources of great value-timber, mines and lands. Quebec has also received large appropriations from the Dominion Government. The claims of British Columbia are these: we say that the railway belt, given in trust for railway purposes, and not used for such purposes, should be given back to the province. We have paid enough without that. We say that the 2,000,000 acres on Vancouver island should be handed back or that we should have an accounting. We claim that the Peace River block, still intact and of great value, should be returned to us. A large quantity of Indian lands were also conveyed by the province of British Columbia, when she was a Crown colony, to the Dominion Government in trust for the Indians, to be taken care of by the Dominion as guardian for the Indians. We claim that large portions of those lands, which have been practically abandoned by the Indians, should be handed back to British Columbia. On that point I would like to quote a few words from the terms of Union, section 13:
To carry out such policy, tracts of land of such extent as it has hitherto been the practice of the British Columbia Government to appropriate for that purpose shall from time to time be conveyed by the local government to the Dominion Government in trust for the use and benefits of the Indians.
Therefore, we claim that, the trust being at an end we are entitled to a reversionary interest in those lands.
Now I ask the hon. gentlemen to turn their attention for a moment to the question of subsidies. We find that Ontario, as of the 31st March, 1921, received annually $2,400,000; Manitoba $1,470,000; Saskatchewan $1,753,000; and Alberta, with a population of
582,000, has received a subsidy of $1,162,000. British Columbia, with almost the same population as Alberta, received the sum of $623,000, about one-third of what

each of the Prairie provinces received. Hon. gentlemen will surely see that the policy of a government which makes a separate and distinct transaction with the Prairie provinces, and neglects and ignores the claims of other provinces, is not one which is calculated to meet with the approval of the public of this country. We are told that the Prairie provinces, unlike the province of British Columbia, have cost the Dominion of Canada since Confederation something like $40,000,000 in excess of what they have received. British Columbia, on the other hand, has contributed the sum of $40,000,000 in excess of what the province has received. I desire to draw to the attention of those who, perhaps, have not travelled in British Columbia the fact that we have also important physical disabilities. We have great expense for our administration, for the police, for government agencies, for schools, for roads, trails, bridges and for other things-an expense which other provinces do not have to face. The province of British Columbia perhaps may not interest all hon. gentlemen present, but, so far as the policy of the government is concerned, I wish to repeat, and I hope the hon. ministers will remember this -and I am sure that my views are shared by every member from the Prairie provinces-that any settlement of this very important question of provincial rights and of better terms must be made in a broad national way, all at one time, and not piecemeal as has been proposed by the Government.
I trust and hope that when the policy of the Government in this matter is announced in detail, we shall find manifested that spirit of co-operation by my hon. friends to my left, the Progressives, which they profess in their speeches, and which I am sure they will practise in this parliament; and even though they may have the advantage of securing a separate deal with the government, because of their strategic position politically, that in the spirit and understanding of the ideals which they have professed in their eloquent speeches during the last few days, they will be consistent and will refuse to accept from the government the temptation of their natural resources, to the prejudice and the injury of the other provinces of this Dominion.

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