Mr. W. A. BUCHANAN (Lethbridge) :
The ground has been quite well covered by the mover of the resolution (Mr. Campbell) and the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar) but I desire briefly to emphasize a couple of points in connection with this question. The resolution asks that the western provinces be given their natural resources; there is no reference to subsidies, financial terms, or matters of that character. I feel that the attitude of the two great political parties in this country at the present time is an admission that the western provinces are entitled to their natural resources. The former government, led by the present member for King's (Sir Robert Borden) was committed to the return of their natural resources to the western provinces, and at the convention of the Liberal party held a couple of years ago, a plank was included in their platform admitting that the western provinces were entitled to those resources. In both cases, however, there were qualifications, and I think that it is those qualifications that will prevent the western provinces from obtaining their natural resources. My judgment is that the Federal Government should assume responsibility for granting the natural resources to the western provinces, and then if there are any adjustments to be made as regards financial terms or subsidies, it could be done later. I would say that the present Government and the existing official Opposition both admit that the western provinces are entitled to their resources. Then, why not give them those resources and settle other differences afterwards? In my opinion, if the matter is left, as at present, to settlement by the provinces, through their representatives, ' sitting down at a table and trying to come to an arrangement, there will be no settlement whatever. There will always be one
or two provinces that will stand out for better terms and will not consent to those that may be agreed upon by the other provinces. In that way we shall not be able to arrive at a settlement of this very important problem. I think it has been established that the western provinces, from the consideration that has been given to the historical facts of the matter, are entitled to their natural resources. All of the provinces in the Dominion, except the Prairie Provinces, possess their natural resources. Now, one of the provincial premiers, Premier Murray, of Nova Scotia, has been quoted this evening. I saw a statement in the Winnipeg Free Press the other day that Premier Murray, in 1913, in a communication to the then Prime Minister, declared that the question of the wisdom of giving the western provinces their resources was one between the Dominion Government and the western provinces. I believe that in that respect he is right.
I believe that he is right in that respect, that this is a question purely for the Federal Government to decide, and that if there are other questions, relating to subsidies or better financial terms they are susceptible of treatment at a conference between the provincial representatives. I believe that the Dominion should take full responsibility and decide whether the western provinces are entitled to their natural resources or not. Until they do that,' there can be no satisfactory settlement of this question.
Now what does this mean to the western provinces? Take my own province. Probably the only homestead area of any large extent that we now have is in the country to the north of the city of Edmonton. That country was opened up for settlement by the Dominion Government. People have gone in there in recent years and taken up homesteads. Traces of oil have been found in the northern section of the province of Alberta and there are also great timber resources there. The people who have gone in there to open up the resources, and the settlers who have gone in to take up homesteads, had to have facilities provided for them. They had to have roads, bridges, schools and also railroad facilities. The responsibility for opening up the country and bringing settlers in rested with the Dominion; but the responsibility for these other purposes lay with the province; and the province of Alberta, as a result, has undertaken great liabilities to provide transportation and other facilities for the people who have
gone in there. In spite of that, however, they are getting nothing whatever from the lands. They do not own the lands; the Dominion owns them and gets whatever revenue is derived therefrom.
Take the question of the coal resources of the province of Alberta. As has been pointed out, the coal resources there are as great as in any other province of the Dominion, if not greater. But those coal resources are in the possession of the Dominion and the royalties derived therefrom go to the federal power while the cost of the administration of the coal mines of Alberta rests with the Provincial Government. They provide inspectors and they have to provide other facilities for the districts where these mines are established. Yet the Provincial Government derives no benefit from that source. Again, if oil is discovered in Alberta new responsibilities will be imposed upon the Provincial Government, but no revenue will come to them from these resources. Naturally, the people of the western provinces, who are affected, feel they are not being- treated justly, they feel that there should he an immediate settlement of this matter and that it should be. settled satisfactorily to them.
Mention has been made by the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar) of the fact that criticism is offered on the ground that the West has been an expense to the East. The people who criticise the West in its demand for its natural resources, and claim that they should share in those natural resources, forget that they have been sharing in them and are doing so at the present time. All the revenue that comes to the federal power from lands, timber, and minerals in the West is shared by the other provinces, it is not confined to the western provinces. It is true that the Dominion itself inaugurated an immigration policy to populate these western. provinces, and that hundreds and thousands of people have in consequence gone into that country, but those people are an asset to the Dominion as a whole and not merely to Western Canada. What they pay in taxes, either direct or indirect, is apportioned throughout the whole Dominion, it is not confined to the western provinces, and so these people are an asset to the whole of Canada.
I recollect a speech that was delivered in this House, in a previous Parliament, by the then member for Brandon (Mr. Aikens) now the Lieutenant Governor of the province of Manitoba. He dealt with the
argument that the West had been an expense to the East and he met the argument by quoting figures for the financial year ending March 31, 1913. He gave the figures for all classes of revenue from the western provinces, and he also gave the figures for all classes of expenditure. He also gave the expenditure that was solely for the West and the expenditure that the West shared in as a province of the Dominion and he showed that in one year the West provided, by nearly $8,000,000, more revenue than the expenditure upon that part of the Dominion. He went further to show that if the customs figures at the head of the lakes, at the Pacific ports, and a certain share of the customs revenue in other ports of the Dominion which the western people were bound to share in some proportion, had been recognized and credited, the western provinces would have had a surplus to their credit of nearly $18,000,000. But the point I wish to emphasize is this statement by the then member for Brandon on April 17, 1914:
The Government of Canada have received from the sale and leasing of Dominion lands over $42,583,162. They have expended something in respect of surveys and necessary expenses of sale and the like of that, which would be paid out of the ordinary receipts from Dominion lands. But I venture to say that the $42,583,162 received from the public domain in these three prairies provinces will not only pay back what was paid to the Hudson Bay Company, $1,460,000, but will also pay for the whole administration of that domain with interest.
That was the statement of the then member for Brandon, and I think it combats the argument so frequently advanced that the West is an expense to the balance of the Dominion and that the other provinces should share in these natural resources. Let me make another point, and I am merely referring to these figures for the sake of refuting the argument that the West is not bearing its proper share of the expense of the Federal Government and is more or less an expense to the other provinces. I do not happen to have the figures in my possession at this moment, but I recollect the statement being made during the present session. The request was made for information as to the amount of income tax that had been paid by the respective provinces, also the amount that had been paid in income tax by the farmers of the respective provinces. I think altogether about a million dollars had been paid by the farmers of Canada, and of that sum no less than $900,000 had been contributed by the farmers of the three western provinces. I think that proves that the
men who have settled on the western plains, the men who have taken up homesteads and purchased lands there, are bearing their share of the taxation of this country.
This may be, and no doubt is, a difficult problem to settle so long as that settlement is left to a round table conference of provincial Premiers. I feel that this Government can only satisfy the demand for the return of the natural resources by assuming the full responsibility of giving those resources to the western provinces. It is admitted that they are entitled to them. The leader of the previous Government admitted that fact. The platform of the previous Government-I would not like to say that it applies to the present Government because I have not looked over it during the last few months to see whether the present Government gave recognition to the plank or not-but the platform of the previous Government and the platform of the present Opposition admit that the western provinces are entitled to their resources. If that is true why are not those resources given to the western provinces? Why not abandon the proposition that there should be a conference of the representatives of all the provinces and an agreement reached by them? Because that is an impossible proposition; the other provinces will not agree to what / is proposed and consequently the western provinces will not get their natural resources. Give the western provinces their natural resources, and then if there is any difference of opinion as to financial terms or subsidies, take up that .problem afterwards and settle it. Consider afterwards the amount of land that has been alienated and the amount of money that has been advanced to the western provinces as subsidies since they were created, and make some adjustment to settle the matter. Then there will be greater peace and harmony in Western Canada touching this particular question.
Probably the Prime Minister will speak on this question and will state his position and the position of the Government, but I believe that if I interpret correctly the correspondence that took place between him and the Acting Premier of Alberta within the last two months, the Prime Minister still adheres to the view that a settlement must be reached at a round table ' conference rather than by the Government assuming responsibility for giving the western provinces their natural resources. I say now, as I said before, that I do not think it will be possible to satisfactorily
settle this question on any such conditions.
It has been established to-night, I am sure, to the satisfaction of every fair minded man in this House that the western provinces are entitled to their natural resources, and if any adjustment has to be made it can very easily be taken up after that policy has been put into effect. But as the hon. member for Marquette has stated, there will be no satisfaction amongst the people of the West until this question is settled, and settled right. They look to the Government to settle it now once and for all, and then adjust these other matters between the provinces.
Subtopic: REVISED EDITION. COMMONS