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Conflict And Struggle

The Point Reached
Mr. Haultain Makes An Important Announcement At Yorkton
At The Jumping-Off Place

Regina Leader
October 26, 1899. p.2

The First Shot in the Provincial Establishment Campaign Fired by the Territorial Prime Minister at Yorkton on the 7th October--Definite Proposition to be Laid Before the Assembly at Next Session.

The deciding battle of the campaign for responsible government in the Territories was fought at Yorkton in the bye-election in the fall of 1892 which resulted in the return to the Assembly of Mr. F. R. Insinger. And the first gun was fired at Yorkton on the 7th October this year in the campaign for provincial establishment.

Premier Haultain made a most important speech at Yorkton on the above date, a full report of which is contained in the last issue to hand of The Enterprise. The speech was in part as follows:--

It was an unpleasant fact that the most important thing the government had to say to the people of the Territories was that it had got to the end of its tether so far as the financial position was concerned. There were roads and bridges to build and to be put into proper repair here as they well knew, and the same state of affairs prevailed in all parts. This had been an exceptionally rainy season, the rivers had more water than every know, and bridges had been swept away. Roads had been impassable all the year and would be more so next year. All the money had been spent and not one quarter of the work done, so that next year things would be much worse, which was a bad outlook for a public man to have to predict. The growth of population from a financial point of view had been embarrassing; not being a family man he did not realize what a man felt when a little one came for which there was no provision, yet that was exactly the present position in a public sense. Every new settler cost money, because he wanted schools, roads and bridges, but did not contribute one single cent towards the income. He did not propose in discussing local affairs to trench on Federal politics, but had to say where the trouble lay and if necessary suggest who was the cause of the trouble. He had not a single word to say against the character of our immigrants and was not in favor of indiscriminate abuse of any body of men, either because undesirable men were found in a certain community, or because a community set up a high standard and did not live up to it. They should not judge harshly, because when they examined closely what was called “white” communities they found persons who fell short of what was desirable; and he did not want what he said to be regarded as an attack on the immigration policy of the Government. But as the whole burden and brunt of administering local affairs and supplying the needs of new settlers was thrown upon the local authorities, some consideration should be given by the Federal Government when it was told session after session that the subsidy was inadequate; and if no more money was given some consideration might be shown in the location of settlements. It usually happened this way: The Interior Department sent word that some thousands of people were being sent to a certain place and wanted roads and bridges to get to the nearest town. It would be much better if these people were put where there were roads and bridges and schools. The school policy of the government was good because it gave every child an opportunity of obtaining an education and when these thousands of people came in, the government was met with the question of how the grunts were going to be paid. Next year the immigration would be tripled and the population increased some fifty or sixty thousand. The eyes of the emigrating world were upon the Territories and the harvest had been watched to see if the crop would be saved. The crop had been saved and would bring population which would intensify the gravity of the position. The problem was how to face grants for roads, bridges and schools next year with this increase of population when there was not enough money for present needs. The money available would be less next year. This year there was a balance of $70,000 from the year before from a little business which was done in the Yukon. Next year would be begun with $100,000 less than this year, which was 25 per cent. of the current year’s income; and with this decreased sum there would be more public works called for on account of the rainy season and this new population to serve which meant a new demand. Schools would have increased something like 100 and meant #30,000 or $40,000 more. School grants to country schools must be kept up. He was in favor of spending less elsewhere to keep up the standard of the schools. Next year there would be $300,000 for all purposes of government. Schools would take something like $190,000; then there were the ordinary expenses of government, the meeting of the Assembly, the carrying out of ordinances, the public service, hospital and agricultural grants, which would leave about $60,000 for public works and agriculture. This year $170,000 had been spent between these two departments, and this $60,000 would have to provide sums for roads, bridges, boring of wells, destroying noxious weeds, and grants to hospitals and agricultural societies. The position was absolutely hopeless.

It was better to take the people into their confidences and ask them to aid in a solution of this position. There was direct taxation which would not be received with favor. He did not believe in this form of raising money and the government had no right to ask the people of the Territories to bear more than they were doing at the present times in schools and local improvement taxation. Other means must be sought and their rights obtained from where these ought to come before they burdened themselves by direct taxation. The present institutions were sufficient for the needs of the country and he was in no hurry to get into the provincial state, but should prefer to develop slowly and surely. The present institutions were good enough if there was sufficient money to carry them on. Could anyone devise a scheme to raise this money to do the work necessary for next year he would be glad for that person to propose his services to the Territories. The government had come to the point where they found it impossible to devise any financial scheme for overcoming the present want of money. The country was unable to stand taxation. The country could no longer expect to go on year after year and get sufficient money from Parliament, because it had not been got in this “growing time” when $60,000,000 had been voted in the federal Estimates. The Federal Government knew very well that there was a “growing time” in the Territories and if ever there was a time when an increase should have been made it was now. The government would have to meet the legislature before Parliament met and he did not propose to look for what Parliament would give. The alternative was to undertake those institutions which have associated with them proper and fair financial terms. That was a large jump to take, still he had no hesitation in taking it. They had come to the jumping-off point. They would have come to it two years ago but for the Yukon venture. Under the present arrangement they had no right to say what amount they would receive. As a province they would have a right to a per capita grant and other provincial resources. They would have the right to the lands, minerals and forests in the country, for when the Territories became a province it should become a province under proper terms. He would object to enter into Confederation on the same terms as Manitoba, which were unjust and unreasonable. When the time came for him to ask them to unite for the purpose of asking for provincial rights it would be to demand every cent, every stick and every straw which belonged to the Territories, and only on those conditions would he be prepared to say the time had come to enter Confederation. There was an account between the Territories and Canada, as the latter stood in the relation of a trustee to the former. They had heard of eastern people saying “we bought you;” “we own the Territories;” “you have nothing to do with it.” He wanted to say that the people who came from other provinces did not lose their rights as Canadians. Our fathers helped to pay the purchase price. But in reality Canada never bought the Territories. It paid a million and a half dollars for the extinction of a title, but because a trustee paid a bogus claim that was no reason why the Territories should be mulcted for that amount. Yet since that sum had been paid it should be charged against the Territories when a balance had been made out. On the other hand it should be taken into consideration that on certain interests the people of the Territories were paying more than other parts of the Dominion, whilst indirect taxation would press a little more heavily here than elsewhere. They were helping as much as any portion of the Dominion to pay off burdens which had been imposed on the country by successive governments. Take the railway question. There had been millions and millions voted for railways since Confederation and these when built in the provinces were not charged against the provinces but against Canada. When railways were built in the Territories lands were taken away, and for these lands credit must be given. They could fairly say when Parliament had voted away millions of acres of lands and had despoiled our splendid heritage, the cost of these railways should not be charged against us, but only our equal share in the capital expenditure. He had heard it said that the Dominion owns these lands. He again asserted that these lands were held in trust--and this being so our right to the lands was not only a moral right but a legal right which could be enforced and settled by law, and settled if needs be by an appeal to the foot of the Throne. (Loud cheers.) He might be rash. He was undertaking a large thing in making that statement, but he thought a legal claim could be established to these Crown Lands. When what had been taken away was accounted for, a province in the Territories would start out better than any other province began, and he would enter with a light heart with these conditions, and these conditions only would he accept. Anything less than this the people would not accept. They might be pitchforked into a province under fairly adequate terms, but they would kick until just terms were obtained.

There was the question of the size of the province--one province, two provinces, or three provinces. He had heard it suggested that a large slice of Eastern Assiniboia be added to Manitoba and the other parts of the Territories formed into provinces. He believed in one province. It was said that one large province alongside of Manitoba would make Manitoba look small and make the map lack symmetry. To be carved up to suit symmetry in the minds of cabinet ministers did not suit the west. He was in favor of lines drawn where people had been living under a distinct government; and to make a division for any other reason would destroy the equilibrium of our institutions and good government, nor was there any line within the Territories where it could be said that one system of government could start and another end. He would contend that there should be one seat of government, one civil service and one province. Upon that he proposed to go to the country. As yet they had no mandate from the people but it was the duty of the Legislature to educate the people on the question of entering Confederation. In response to a question, Mr. Haultain said that he would take every acre as far as the North Pole into this province and would oppose the annexation of any part to Manitoba, in fact in his opinion such annexation would be illegal.

Mr. Haultain then turned his attention to Federal politics and its bearing on the Assembly and remarked that local affairs were not affected by the larger questions. A member might be sound on a local question and not quite certain on the tariff or hold a diverse view on matters in the Yukon. Local questions were too important for a division and a waste of energy on Dominion politics. When he came before them with local questions he might as well be a Republican or Democrat, as a Liberal or Conservative as far as it affected Territorial questions. He was a Conservative. One of his colleagues, Mr. Ross, was a Liberal yet they worked together. Mr. Ross had been a loyal colleague and a personal friend and they were united on questions of local policy. Would it be reasonable, asked Mr. Haultain, for him to say to Mr. Ross, “You have been a loyal friend and colleague to me, but unfortunately you are a Grit and I’m a Tory and we can’t work together.” Could he appeal to them for support against Mr. Ross on such a fallacious plea? No! He would meet with the defeat he deserved and be told to go to Ottawa, the place for Federal politics. He was altogether opposed to jeopardizing important local questions for the sake of the party. Questions had to be settled at Ottawa whether Liberals or Conservatives were there and a strong feeling against spending money in the west had to be met, which influenced any federal government. He had got as little satisfaction from one as the other. This was a time when the people of the Territories should fight shoulder to shoulder to obtain their own. If Federal politics were introduced the forces which could be used in support of provincial terms would be divided and it was not a time for division. All forces should be united for pressing towards these terms of entering into Confederation. At the next meeting of the legislature the attention of the government would be devoted to bringing these questions before the people. The government had no mandate from the people to plunge them into a province. It was the government’s duty to consider and discuss interests which affected the Territories, and at present he deemed it to be the government’s duty to investigate and devise the terms that should be demanded and then say “will you send us to power to ask for those terms?” It was the duty of the legislature to prepare the people for this great question and he hoped it would be considered with that absence of party feeling and with that liberality of view which had hitherto prevailed in the North-West Assembly and without which no proper, no fair, no satisfactory solution of these questions would be arrived at. (Cheers).