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REPORT Submitted to His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor by the Hon. Chas. Wilson and the Hon. R. F. Green… British Columbia. Legislative Assembly 1904

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 Ed. 7 Report of Second Delegation to Ottawa. G 15
Submitted to His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor by the Hon. Chas. Wilson and the
Hon. R. F. Green on their mission to Ottawa as a Delegation from the Province
of British Columbia.
By Command.
Provincial Secretary.
Provincial Secretary's Office.
4-th January. 1904-
To His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor in Council :
May it please Your Honour :
The undersigned have the honour to submit the following copies of correspondence as a
report of their visit to Ottawa in July, 1903, to interview, as instructed by you, the Dominion
Government on the subjects referring to the relations of the Province of British Columbia and
the Dominion of Canada.
Upon arrival in Ottawa interviews were had with Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime
Minister, and other Members of the Dominion Cabinet; also with Members representing British
Columbia in the Dominion House of Commons, during which the various matters authorised
by you for consideration were fully discussed.
(Signed)        Charles Wilson,
10th August, 1903.
R. F. Green,
Subjects   for   Discussion.
Ottawa, July 16th, 1903.
The Right Honourable
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, G. C. M. G., Prime Minister :
Dear Sir Wilfrid,—In order that we might not unnecessarily weary you or consume
your time, we did not, on the occasion of our interview of the 14th date, go into details of
several of the matters connected with our mission to Ottawa. Moreover, you and your
colleagues are already familiar with the representations of our predecessors, as contained in the
Reports of 1901 and 1903 made to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council. These Reports, copies
of which we are leaving with you for reference, present the matter so fairly that we can add
but little to enhance the force or enlarge the scope of the arguments. We desired, however,
to emphasise the importance of the contentions raised by the Government of British Columbia,
and for this purpose it was only necessary to bring them again formally to your attention by
a brief enumeration of the main topics discussed on former occasions and repeated now. They
are as follows :—
Readjustment of financial relations between the Province of British Columbia and the
Dominion of Canada; G 16 Report of Second Delegation to Ottawa. 1904
A subsidy from the Dominion Government in aid of the bridge at New Westminster;
The right of the Province to share in the fishery revenues paid to the Dominion and the
settlement c f the fisheries question as between the two Governments;
The participation of the Province in the revenues arising out of the Chinese Restriction
The readjustment of the Indian reserves generally in the Province;
The obtaining of the legislation to enable British Columbia securities to be included in
the scope of the "Colonial Securities Act" ;
Immigration of Japanese into British Columbia.
You were kind enough to request that we should furnish you with a memorandum as a
record of what occurred during our interview. This we have pleasure in doing, and in order
that the document may be a complete record and a convenient summary of the claims made
on behalf of the Province, we have taken the liberty of elaborating some of the statements
then made. As already intimated, our desire was to spare your time as much as possible, by
avoiding a detailed exposition of our case, which would have taken hours to present.
In connection with the memorandum we wish to say, Sir Wilfrid, that we are well aware
of the demands which at present are being made upon your attention and the attention of your
colleagues, and while we have no desire to unduly press for an immediate consideration of the
several matters to which we have invited your attention, may we, with the utmost respect, be
permitted to point out that some of these, notably the readjustment of the financial relations
between the Dominion and the Province, were placed before you by the Delegation that had
the honour of conferring with you in January, 1901.
In the absence of any communication from you, if, as remarked during our interview, we
should later on remind you of our desire to have an answer, we trust you will not regard our
importunity as arising out of any disposition to worry you. Though from your standpoint,
dealing, as you have to deal, with the wider affairs of the Dominion, you may doubtless have
many matters demanding consideration that weigh heavy in comparison, yet from our stand
point the matters to which we have called your attention are of the utmost importance and
magnitude, and it is the desire of the Government, and we believe of the whole of the people
of British Columbia, that they should have your consideration earnestly and soon.
So far, as already intimated, we have had no reply from your Government with respect to
a number of the matters in question. We have, in fact, had no indication in any form of your
disposition to deal favourably or otherwise with the representations made by our predecessors.
We feel sure that this has arisen out of the greater demands upon your attention imposed by
considerations, to your Government, of wider import.
During conference it was suggested that the competency of the Dominion and Provinces
to deal with the readjustment of their financial relations was open to question upon the ground,
as we understood, that the Terms of Union being embodied in " The British North America
Act," it is not competent for either the Dominion or any of the Provinces to make any
arrangement varying those terms.
A doubt of that kind, expressed by the Prime Minister, is entitled to the most serious
consideration. But off-hand we ventured the opinion that, it being purely a matter of finance,
it was well within the powers of the proposed parties. The matter was not pressed, as we were
not prepared, without consideration, to give any competent opinion on the subject. Further
reflection and consideration enables us to support the opinion then expressed, and we venture
the following reasons in support of our views :—
It is submitted that the object of Parliament in embodying the Terms of Union in "The
British North America Act" was not for the purpose of making those terms unchangeable,
save at the discretion of the Imperial Parliament, but for the purpose of guaranteeing the
Treaty, as it then stood, by Imperial legislation.
The whole legislative field in the Dominion of Canada being, however, by the Imperial
Act, apportioned between Federal and Provincial authorities, and the question involving
simply the payment of money by either one to the other, it is submitted that legislation in
respect of such a matter, if passed by both, could not well be questioned. In our opinion, it
could only be questioned by the King in Council disallowing the Act.
Not having the advantage of any discussion on the subject, we can only anticipate the
possible argument in favour of the doubt. It would perhaps be that each Province was a
party to the Treaty with all the other Provinces, and that without the consent of all or that
of the paramount authority, the Imperial Parliament, no change could be made in the Term
s 3 Ed. 7 Report of Second Delegation to Ottawa. G 17
of Union in any of the Provinces; and further, that their rights were affected by what might
be termed favoured legislation, and the means at the command of the Dominion for Federal
purposes, in which they would share, would be reduced by any amount granted to the Province.
If this should be the argument, as to the first branch, it would seem inaccurate as a matter of
fact, and, as to the second, it might briefly be answered that the Dominion Parliament, in
which each Province was represented by its proper quota of members, had assented to the
proposed readjustment.
We further ask ourselves by whom could such legislation be assailed 1 Before what
tribunal 1 By what process 1 The Dominion Attorney-General would certainly not interfere,
as he would be one of the Members of the Government responsible for the Federal legislation.
His Excellency's advisers might, however, if any doubt still remained before giving effect
to the legislation, deem it prudent to take the opinion of the Supreme Court on the subject.
There is one precedent in Dominion Legislation that we think we may usefully cite—
Chapter 5 of the Dominion Acts of 1882, "An Act Passed for the Express Purpose of
Increasing the Subsidies to Manitoba for Ten Years." It is true the preamble recites the
reason—doubtless just. For the moment we are directing our intention to the competency,
not to the justice, of such legislation, and we believe this Act has never been questioned.
We have been informed that in 1869 the then Law Officers of the Crown gave an opinion
on this subject, and that this opinion was contained in a despatch from Lord Granville, dated
23rd August, 1869, to the Hon. the Secretary of State. Some time has been spent in searching
for this opinion, and the delay in sending this letter is accounted for in that way, as we were
desirous of fortifying our views by authority. We have to thank the Officials of the Department
for their courtesy in aiding our secretary in his unfortunately fruitless search for this despatch
Yours truly,
(Signed)        Charles Wilson.
Memorandum  of Interview between British  Columbia  Delegates and
Sir Wilfrid  Laurier.
Present: Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister, Hon. Mr. Fielding, Hon. Mr. Prefontaine,
Hon. Mr. Fisher, Hon. Mr. Templeman, representing the Dominion Government, and Hon.
Mr. Wilson, Hon. Mr. Green, representing the Government of British Columbia.
The members of the delegation were introduced by Mr. Templeman.
Mr. Wilson, on behalf of the delegation, addressed the members of the Dominion Executive. He reviewed the subjects discussed in former reports of the delegations to Ottawa and
discussed in addition :
The possibility of some effort being made to secure the disallowance of "Bill No. 16,"
ratifying the cancellation of land grants to the Columbia and Western Railway Company.
The matter of obtaining a subsidy to assist in the erection of the bridge at New Westminster.
The obtaining of legislation to enable British Columbia securities to be included in the scope
of the " Colonial Securities Act."
The following is a statement in respect to the matters discussed and to be submitted to
Sir Wilfrid Laurier for his information, and as a record of the interview in question :—
It was pointed out that it was not intended that the financial relations existing at the
time of Confederation and adopted as a basis in connection with the distribution of revenues
should be unalterably fixed for all time to come; or, at least, it was not such an arrangement
as should always exist. Conditions have changed and the development which had occurred,
more especially in British Columbia, pointed to the equity of a readjustment from time to
time. The desirability of periodical readjustments was suggested. As pointed out in the
Report of the Delegates of 1903, the probable outcome of Confederation, under the terms of
union with British Columbia, could not possibly have been foretold. All the evidence to be
gleaned from the debates in Parliament, both at Ottawa and at Victoria, at that time, goes to
show that the matter was not understood. The predictions then made in both Houses have
not been realised, and an entirely different state of affairs has come to exist from what was
anticipated at Ottawa. The members of the delegation submit that the position of British
Columbia in the Union was greatly prejudiced as a consequence. Instead of remaining a
drag on Canada and a financial burden, the Province has become, from a revenue-producing G 18 Report of Second Delegation to Ottawa, 1904
point of view, the best asset the Dominion has, and has contributed far more to the Dominion
Treasury, in proportion to population, than any other Province of the Dominion, the ratio of
per capita contribution being three to one, compared with the whole Dominion. It did not
follow that periodic readjustment would always result in the payment by the Dominion of
increased subsidies to the Province.
Reference was then made to the reasons which actuated the framers of " The British
North America Act " in adopting a strongly constituted form of central Government. The
question of State rights in the neighbouring republic, so recently fought out and with such
lamentable consequences, had caused them to place the residuum of authority in the Federal
Government, and to otherwise strengthen Federal authority and advantage. When the constitution of the Australian Commonwealth was being founded, the framers sought to find a
model for themselves, and investigated the condition of things in the only two great commonwealths in which complete responsible self-government on the Federal plan had been wrought
out, and they at once saw the position in which our Provinces had been placed in their financial relations with the Dominion. In order to conserve the rights of their States in retaining
a reasonable share of moneys contributed to the central treasury, they stipulated an amount to
be devoted to general purposes and for a return to the States of all in excess of those required.
It was submitted that it was a mistake that some more equitable arrangement than the present
had not been made in Canada at the time of Confederation, and that there was not provision
for a logical adjustment of financial relations in the way the Australian people had done.
The resolutions which had been passed by the recent conference of Provincial Premiers at
Quebec were then mentioned. It was stated that proposed increase of subsidy for certain
specific purposes, as set out on pages 37 and 38 of the report of the British Columbia Delegates, 1903, to $140,000, would be very welcome and be approved of as a recognition of the
principles just stated. The delegates endorsed the resolution of the Quebec Conference in
question, so far as the principles set out are concerned, but do not accept them as going far
enough in the case of British Columbia, inasmuch as its physical condition and financial
requirements are not comparable.
The Hon. Mr. Fielding asked in this connection if any legislative action had been taken
in British Columbia in confirmation of the Quebec resolutions. It was replied that they had
not come before the Legislature.
There are two important considerations which support the claims made on behalf of
British Columbia for a readjustment of the financial terms of the union :
One is that since Confederation British Columbia has contributed to the Federal Treasury,
in a variety of ways, as shown in the public accounts, the sum of, in round numbers, $45,000,-
000, and has received back during the same time only about $30,000,000. The balance in
favour of the Province of British Columbia, as compared with other Provinces, is very great.
In fact, while the surplus on account of British Columbia is so large, the liabilities of the
whole Dominion have increased over $230,000,000, showing clearly that the rest of Canada
has not paid its way in actual returns to the treasury. This is discussed on page 565,
" Report of Delegation to Ottawa, 1901."
The other consideration is that, in view of the great extent of country to be governed and
its physical character, the local sources of revenue provided under the constitution are not
sufficient to meet the cost of administration. This is shown clearly in the " Statement re
Financial Relations " contained in the report of the British Columbia Delegates of the present
year, page K. 6 et seq.    The peculiar conditions which affect the Province are :
1. The cost of administration, owing to the physical character of the country ;
2. The extreme position of isolation of the Province, which adds largely to the cost of the
consumer on account of freight rates from the East';
3. Distance from markets of the world in which British Columbians have to sell their
These conditions have in the past placed the Province in a position of disadvantage, as
compared with other Provinces, and have prevented the development of its immense resources,
which would have otherwise been possible.
As some evidence that the sources of revenue in the power of the Province are insufficient
for its requirements may be stated the fact, during only one year since Confederation took
place has the revenue of the Province been equal to the expenditure. There has been an
invariable annual deficit since the outset, and the net debt of the Province, as a consequence,
is now about $12,500,000. 3 Ed. 7 Report of Second Delegation to Ottawa. G 19
The development undertaken by the Province has never yet recouped the Treasury for
the cost, but it has, on the other hand, been productive of large returns to the Dominion.
The people of British Columbia is largely made up of a consuming population, and they thus
contribute so materially and disproportionately to the Dominion Treasury.
Constitutionally, we believe the Government of British Columbia is entitled to consideration, and that the Dominion authorities are bound in equity to consider and, if possible,
adjust the state of affairs which has arisen out of our relations with the Dominion.
Our proposal to the Government of Canada is, and we believe it to be an absolutely fair
one, to leave the settlement of the details of the readjustment to a Committee of experts,— a
Commission composed of appointees of the Province and Dominion, with a final arbiter chosen
by the Colonial Secretary. In other words, the Government of British Columbia is so well
satisfied with the justness of its claims that it is willing to leave them to an independent
arbitration. There is just one condition we would impose in connection with such a proposal,
and that is that the Commissioners should familiarise themselves with the physical conditions
of the Province by a residence of several months, during which time they should travel from
place to place and observe for themselves the actual conditions which exist.
Attention was invited to the bridge which is being built by the Government of British
Columbia over the Fraser at New Westminster, and assistance asked for in that connection.
In addition to what was then stated on this subject, the Delegates now refer to letters, copies
of which are enclosed, which had been sent by our predecessors to Sir Wilfrid Laurier and
Hon. Mr. Tarte, then Minister of Public Works, in which it was pointed out that the circumstances were such as to merit special consideration for this project. It is true that in the past
the Dominion has not assisted any bridge undertakings of a Provincial nature, but it is submitted that the distinction between a bridge undertaken by a private corporation and by a
Government is slight, with considerations of public policy in favour of the latter. In this
case, a large area of country south of the Fraser River has been without direct access to the
Cities of New Westminster and Vancouver, and practically without railway communication.
As the district was not sufficiently developed to warrant the undertaking by any private
corporation, or even by a railway for its own use, the Government was urged to build it for
foot and vehicular traffic, and as a common highway for all railways coming from the south.
Owing to unexpected difficulties in regard to the bed of the river, the first estimates of cost
have been greatly exceeded, and the structure will cost nearly $1,000,000 before being
It was urged that the matters in dispute between the Province and the Dominion with
respect to the fisheries should be settled with as little delay as possible. It was pointed out
that the Province of British Columbia was entitled to participate in the revenue arising from
licences paid to the Dominion Government, and that proportion had not yet been agreed upon.
The case of the Province had been ably and exhaustively dealt with in the memorandum
submitted by the British Columbia Delegates in February last, and which appears on page
K 14 of their Report, 1903. The revenues in^the past arose entirely out of the licences in
connection with the salmon fishing in inland waters. This had, in the aggregate, exceeded
$400,000, while the amount expended in connection with that industry had not exceeded
$200,000. That it was not the policy of the Government to obtain a revenue from fisheries
in the same way as from railways or post offices was evident, from the fact that Canada as a
whole, in the past fourteen years, had expended $6,350,000, while the revenues from taxation
amounted to only a little over $1,000,000, nearly one-half of which was derived from British
In reply to Hon. Mr. Templeman, it was stated that the present Government had not yet
had time to consider or formulate its policy with respect to foreshore leases for the purpose of
trap fishing. It was remarked that undoubtedly the Province had the right to deal with the
foreshores, but that regulation, which would include the right of trap fishing, belonged to the
The British Columbia Delegates have this to remark in connection with the subject of the
right of the Province to participate in the revenues arising out of the Chinese per capitation
tax. For years the Legislature and Government of British Columbia have urged their right
to three-fourths of the revenue collected by the Dominion, on the ground that the evil arising
from Chinese immigration was purely local, being altogether confined to the Province of
British Columbia, the admitted reason upon which, in the first place, a return of 25 per cent,
was based.    The Government finally recognised the force of that contention by increasing the G 20 Report of Second Delegation to Ottawa. 1904
amount of return to the Province to 50 per cent. That return, however, is only made
applicable to a period subsequent to June, 1902, and when the increase of the poll tax to $500
per head was in contemplation, which, of course, will rightly render immigration practically
prohibitory. If the principle recognised be a just one, it should apply to all the time during
which the restriction has been in force.
The matter of the bringing of British Columbia securities within the scope of the
" Colonial Securities Act," by action on the part of the Dominion Government, so as to permit
of investment of trust funds in Great Britain in British Columbia inscribed stock. Sir
Wilfrid Laurier and the Finance Minister kindly made a note of this for the purpose of
consideration, and we trust that there will be found time during the present Session of the
Dominion Parliament to give effect to our representations.
The readjustment of the Indian reserves, particularly the control by the Province of the
base minerals contained therein, was briefly touched upon.
On Bill No. 16 being mentioned, the Delegates were assured that it would not be disallowed without the Government of British Columbia being heard on the subject.
Upon the subject of Japanese immigration being mentioned, Hon. Mr. Fisher, who had
recently returned from Japan, gave assurance of the good faith of the Japanese Government
and their desire to comply strictly with the arrangements made for the restriction of immigration to Canada.
The Delegates finally suggested that a transfer to the Province of the lands given to the
Dominion in 1883 would be acceptable, in lieu of some of the demands on the Dominion
Treasury, and that the Minister of Finance might look with favour on some arrangement of
that kind.
Further Correspondence.
Russell House, Ottawa, 18th July, 1803.
Hon.  Clifford Sifton,
Minister of the Interior :
Dear Mr. Sifton,—In the short time we had to interview Sir Wilfrid and the other
Members of the Executive who were present on Tuesday last, we did not more than refer to
the matter of the readjustment of the Indian Reserves in the Province of British Columbia.
It is understood that when the last Delegation from the Government of British Columbia
was in Ottawa you sent for Mr. Vowell, Superintendent of Indian Affairs at Victoria, for the
purpose of discussing the subject with him. Since then no intimation has been received from
you as to the steps you propose to take in this matter.
When you are less pressingly engaged than at present, we should like to hear from you
Yours faithfully,
(Signed)        C. W'ilson,
ii R. F. Green.
Minister of the Interior's Office,
Ottawa, 21st July, 1903.
Dear Sir,—I have your leter of the 18th instant. Mr. VowelPs views, as expressed to
me, were not favourable to the contention raised by the late members of the British Columbia
Government. I shall, however, be happy to look into the matter and see if there is anything
further to be said on the subject, as soon as the Session is over. I am afraid I cannot promise
anything better than this, as the business of the House keeps me from taking up any questions
of this kind at present.
Yours faithfully,
Hon. Charles Wilson, (Signed)        Clifford Sifton.
Russell House, Ottawa. 3 Ed. 7 Report of Second Delegation to Ottawa. G 21
Russell House, Ottawa, 18th July, 1903.
Hon. J. Raymond Prefontaine,
Minister of Marine and Fisheries, Ottawa :
Sir,—You are aware of the negotiations which have been carried on betweon your Department and the Government of British Columbia, looking to the determination of the respective
rights and duties of the two Governments in relation to the fisheries, including a return to the
Province of the revenues already received in excess of expenditure. This matter is dealt with
very fully in the Report of the Delegates of February last, copy of which we have pleasure in
sending under separate cover. We trust that these matters will have your earnest consideration at an early date.
We have, etc.,
(Signed)        C. Wilson,
ii R. F. Green.
Minister of Marine and Fisheries,
Ottawa, Can., 22nd July, 1903.
Dear Sir,—I beg to thank you for your communication of the 18th instant, and for the
copy of the Report of the Delegation from British Columbia on the matter of the Provincial
Fisheries, and I have pleasure in saying that I propose to hasten the steps which I think may
effect a satisfactory mutual adjustment of the fisheries question as affecting your Province.
Yours faithfully,
Hon. Charles Wilson, of Victoria, B. G, (Signed)        R. Prefontaine.
Russell House, Ottawa.
Russell House, Ottawa, July 18th, 1903.
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Ottatoa:
Dear Sir,—I am instructed to call your attention, for the purpose of reminding you, to
the subject of the interview you were kind enough to afford the Hon. Mr. Green, of British
Columbia, and myself, respecting the arrangements for the payment of the gentlemen sent by
your Department as judges of fall fairs. The Minister of Agriculture of British Columbia is
desirous of having an early reply, so as to be able to advise the various agricultural associations
who desire to utilise the services of the gentlemen in question.
Yours truly,
(Signed) R.  E.  Gosnell.
Russell House, 18th July, 1903.
Col. F. Gourdeau,
Deputy Minister of Marine and, Fisheries, Ottawa :
Sir,—With reference to the fish ladder at Quesnel, which formed the subject of an interview between Professor Prince and myself, I am instructed to request from your Department
an expression of the policy it intends to pursue with respect to this matter. The fishway at
present existing there is totally inadequate for the purpose of allowing the fish to reach the
spawning grounds above the dam. Very few of the fish find their way through, dying in great
quantities as a result of their ineffectual efforts. As the upper reaches of the canal form the
most important spawning grounds of the Province, tributary to the salmon runs of the Fraser
River, such a condition of affairs demands attention from either one Government or the other.
It was proposed that the Government of British Columbia should build a proper fishway at
that point, but there is a strong objection to the Province undertaking, at a large expense,
what is held to be the duty of the Dominion Government, more especiall}7 as no assurance has
been received from the latter that the claims of the Province with respect to fishery matters
are to receive consideration.
Your obedient servant,
(Signed)        R. E. Gosnell. G 22 Report of Second Delegation to Ottawa. 1904
Russell House, Ottawa, 18th July, 1903.
Hon, R.   W. Scott,
Secretary of State, Ottawa :
Sir,—During our stay in Ottawa we had occasion, for the purpose of dealing with a
possible objection to the readjustment of financial relations between the Province and the
Dominion, suggested by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, to look for a despatch, dated August 23rd, 1869,
stated in a speech by Sir John A. Macdonald, discussing in Parliament the terms of the Nova
Scotia settlement, to have been sent by Lord Granville to the Hon. the Secretary of State for
Canada. This, after diligent search in several Departments of the Government Buildings
here, we have been unable to find. As it contains a report by the Law Officers of the Crown
on the competency of the Dominion Parliament to deal with the readjustment of financial
relations without reference to Imperial authority, it is a most important document in connection
with our present mission; and we beg to request that you may be pleased to obtain a copy of
the despatch in question from the office of the Right Honourable the Colonial Secretary in
London, England.
We have, etc.,
(Signed)        C. Wilson,
m R. F. Green.
Minister of Finance, Canada,
Ottawa, 20th July, 1903.
Gentlemen,—I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 18th instant,
enclosing copy of letter from the Minister of Finance of British Columbia to the Secretary of
State for Canada on the subject of the position of the stocks of the Provincial Governments
issued in London. I shall be glad to give the matter further consideration, though I must
frankly say to you that the inquiries which I have made in London lead me to believe that
the difficulties in the way of bringing the Provincial stocks within the Trustee List are exceedingly great. It was only after many years of agitation that the Dominion stocks were allowed
this  privilege.
Yours faithfully,
Hon. Charles Wilson, (Signed) W. Fielding,
Hon. R. F. Green, Minister of Finance.
Russell House, Ottawa.
Office of Marine and Fisheries,
Ottawa, July 23rd, 1903.
Sir,—In reply to your letter of the 18th instant, I beg to say that the departmental
officers are of opinion that no fishway at present designed is adapted for the ascent of immense
schools of salmon which the Quesnel dam obstructs. Hence, the only course seems to be to
remove from the west or left side of the dam sufficient of the timbers, etc., to make ample
passage for the fish, and this suggestion is under the consideration of the Minister.
I am, etc.,
R. E. Gosnell, Esq., (Signed)        F. Gourde au,
Secretary British Columbia Delegates, Deputy Minister of Marine and Fisheries.
Russell House, Ottawa. 3 Ed. 7 Report of Second Delegation to Ottawa. G 23
Premier's   Letter   to   Sir   Wilfrid   Laurier.
On the 24th day of December, Hon. R. McBride, Premier, addressed the following letter
to Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister, Ottawa :—
Victoria, B. C, 24th December, 1903.
Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, G.C.M.G.,
Prime Minister, Ottawa, Canada.
Dear Sir Wilfrid,—By reference to the memorandum submitted by the delegates who
waited on you several months ago, I observe that you were requested to take into consideration
their representations, and those of previous Governments, respecting the claims of this Province
in several important matters, after you were relieved from your Parliamentary duties. I
hesitated for some time to call your attention to the matters contained in that memorandum
so soon after the close of an arduous and protracted session of the House of Commons; now,
however, as the British Columbia Legislature has been in session, and will be again very soon,
it is the desire of the Government that we should have an expression of your views on the
proposals made, looking to readjustment of financial relations between the Province of British
Columbia and the Dominion of Canada, and also the decision of your Government in respect
to several departmental affairs which have been the subject of correspondence and personal
Prior to the general elections, which have recently been held in the Province, there was a
strong and somewhat general desire to make the question of better terms an issue at the polls,
and to some extent the matter was discussed on the hustings and in the press ; but the Government, as a Government, refrained from incorporating it as a plank of their platform, in order
that when negotiations were resumed the rights of the Province and the merits of the dispute
involved might not be prejudiced by partisan considerations. I have from the outset, and
when in Opposition as well, looked upon it as a question which should have the unbiased
consideration of all parties. Whatever phase it may assume in future campaigns, of course,
will depend to a large extent upon the attitude which the Dominion Government may hereafter assume; but for the present we prefer to deal with it, and with the Dominion Government with respect to it, from a purely non-partisan point of view. It is a Provincial question
as between the Province and the Dominion; and its settlement should not be dependent upon
the political character of existing administrations. Up to the present all the representations
that have been made to you have been conceived and couched in that spirit. Either they are
worthy of consideration and definite reply or they are not. If no reply be forthcoming, they
must perforce become the basis of an agitation, and will, in that event, undoubtedly enter the
arena of partizan debate very soon.
In the main the claims of the Province for increased recognition have been before your
Government for nearly three years. It is nearly a year since the then Premier, Colonel the
Hon. E. G. Prior, and the then Attorney-General, Hon. D. M. Eberts, presented additional
arguments, based on the physical conditions of the Province. So far, your Government has
given no indication of its disposition to deal with the matters discussed, either favourably or
unfavourably ; and it is for the purpose of having some definite pronouncement on your part
that I am again calling your attention to them and to the importance which is attached thereto
by this Government.
My colleagues, who waited upon you in the month of August last, made a proposal to
refer the whole matter to an independent commission of enquiry, not, as I understand it, for an
award of final settlement as by arbitration, but for a report as to the merits of our claims, and,
also, if agreeable, to suggest equitable and practical lines of adjustment. It was proposed that
two Commissioners be appointed by each Government, a fifth to be selected by the Hon. the
Colonial Secretary ; and that these men should spend some time in the Province to familiarise
themselves by residence and investigation with the conditions—physical and political—and the
resources of the Province. This proposal which, I may add parenthetically, was made without
reference to other members of the Government, I regard not only as eminently fair, but as an
earnest of our faith in the bona, fides of the Provincial contentions. It removes the question
from all considerations of a partizan nature that might interfere with unprejudiced treatment
by both Governments concerned. It would, in fact, be a judicial and not a political review of
our case, in which would undoubtedly be considered most carefully the constitutional difficulties
that have been suggested, and the relations of the other Provinces to the dispute. G 24 Report of Second Delegation to Ottawa. 1904
There is a disposition among many Eastern public men, and their views have had expression
in the editorial opinions appearing from time to time in the newspapers, to hold that there was
an intended finality in the compact entered into at the time of Confederation, which it would
be extremely undesirable, if not dangerous, to disturb. This is a view of the question towards
the acceptance of which I wish most emphatically to protest. This Government subscribes fully
to the views of the members of the Quebec Conference in 1902, set forth in resolutions at that
time passed and subsequently formally presented to your Government, that it was not possible
for the Fathers of Confederation to have foreseen the results of development under the terms
of the British North America Act, and that, therefore, it could not have been contemplated
that subsequent adjustments should not take place from time to time as incongruities, inequalities and injustices became apparent.
It has been pointed out, and, in our opinion, it has been proven most conclusively by the
published reports of proceedings of both Parliaments, that in the case of British Columbia
the conditions were imperfectly understood on one side, and on both sides the probable outcome of the arrangement to be entered into was not adequately foreseen or provided for. The
prediction made in the House of Commons at Ottawa when terms were being discussed has
not in any sense been verified. In other words, the terms granted to this Province were based
on assumptions which events have shown to be unjustifiable and altogether prejudicial to
British Columbia. Under such circumstances, to claim that the Federal Treaty represents a
finality is an attempt to indefinitely perpetuate an injustice to the Province. To maintain
inviolable in spirit the equity of a sacred compact, which is constitutionally involved in the
free, voluntary union of self-governing, responsible colonies, with a federal body representing
the whole group in certain governmental functions, it is essential that there should be from
time to time, as shown to be necessary, an adjustment of financial relations conformable with
new or altered conditions.
In the case of British Columbia, which was almost wholly undeveioped and gave but
imperfect indication of what its future would be, the Legislators of the day could not foretell
the results of Confederation. With them it was largely an experiment and a leap in the dark ;
moreover, owing to the circumstances of the Province at the time, they were practically in the
hands of the Dominion and powerless to enforce better terms. They were not and could not have
been in a position to understand the requirements or consequences of future development. What
the latter has been our Provincial delegates in their several missions have endeavoured to
point out to you. In the main they have been in au inordinate degree, as compared with
other Provinces, profit to the Dominion, and an undue burden of responsibility cast upon the
Province in respect to the administration of its internal affairs.
In regard to the amount of revenue contributed to the Dominion by the Province as
compared with the return in the way of expenditure from the Federal Treasury, the accuracy
of the statement presented to you in 1901 has not been and cannot be disputed. It is
sufficiently suggestive in itself not to require comment; and while its force must be apparent,
if not absolutely ignored in the past, it has not been recognised. In regard to the expenses
of internal administration, as compared with the sources of revenue provided under the
Constitution, we do not think that the conditions of the Province are understood; and,
therefore, it is difficult to realise the importance we attach to this phase of the question. It
can only be understood by careful investigation, involving a protracted visit to the Province
and the examination of a great volume of evidence, afforded by personal observation, of
physical and industrial conditions. These conditions are such that, even if it were true that
British Columbia did not contribute so largely out of proportion to the other Provinces to the
Dominion Treasury as she does—even if she did not contribute her share—her claims to
increased subsidy would still hold good.
A former delegation from the Government of British Columbia, while pointing out the
disparity of revenues contributed by the Province to the Dominion and the expenditures in the
Province made in return, urged the justice of a greater assistance on the part of the Dominion
to railways to open up the Interior and develop our resources that were not otherwise possible.
While this is a matter of great importance and must commend itself to the judgment of all,
there is this consideration to keep in mind, that the benefits of all such development accrue
much more largely and directly to the Dominion in immensely increased customs and excise
imposts, than to the Province. To the Province comes, with development, increased responsibilities in the way of roads, bridges, educational facilities, the administration of justice, etc.,
which in  this Province—owing to the physical configuration and long distances between 3 Ed. 7 Report of Second Delegation to Ottawa. G 25
settlements—involve expenditures quite out of proportion to the revenue reasonably to be
anticipated and possible to be easily obtained. It is on such grounds that we ask largely
increased subsidies from the Dominion, in addition to any assistance to railway or other
development that may come from the Dominion, in order that the Province may be able to
amply maintain the responsibility of administration and development imposed by the Terms
of Union, towards which the present local sources of revenue are insufficient.
There are also other matters quite apart from the question of better terms which have
been before you. These include the control of our fisheries and the right of the Province to
share the fisheries revenue in a definitely fixed ratio; assistance to the bridge over the Fraser
River at New Westminster; the re-adjustment of Indian Reserves in the Province ; and the
participation of the Province in the revenues arising out of the Chinese Restriction Act.
I understood from the press some time ago uhat the Hon. the Minister of Marine and
Fisheries was about to come to British Columbia to inquire into fishery matters, and that he
would endeavour to settle all outstanding disputes in respect to the fisheries with the other
Provinces at the same time. It would appear, however, if the press reports are to be relied
upon, that the Dominion general elections are about to be held—a fact which affords but
little prospect of the matter having consideration at an early date. This is to be deplored,
as the interests involved are too important to permit of prolonged delay.
We again urge the right of the Province to consideration in connection with the New
Westminster Bridge. It is true that there are no exact precedents for granting a subsidy to
a bridge constructed by a Province ; but there are very striking instances—such as at Ottawa
and Quebec—in which the distinction is merely technical. The Inter-Provincial Bridge at
Ottawa was constructed out of funds contributed by the Dominion, the Provinces of Quebec
and Ontario and the City of Ottawa; the same is practically true of the bridge at Quebec, as
between the Province and the Dominion Government. There is no principle at stake which
cannot be better defended in the case of a Province than as a nominally private enterprise.
In the matter of Indian Reserves, re-adjustment need not necessarily apply generally;
but there are a number of cases in which the Indians are comparatively few and only occupy
a very small portion of the reservation set apart. When the question of Indian Reserves was
settled between the two Governments there was an understanding as to the relation which
land should occupy to the number of Indians in a tribe; and now it ought to be a comparatively easy thing, under the terms of the convention, to compare the Indian population by
tribes, in certain more flagrant instances, with the land still held by them. There is an
exact census of the Indians on their reserves in the Indian Department, and if the agreement
referred to is not to remain a dead letter, steps should be taken to give it effect wherever
The Province has received for the fiscal year 1902-3 fifty per cent, of the revenue arising
out of the operation of the Chinese Restriction Act as amended in 1902, to the receipt of
which was attached certain conditions agreed to by this Government. The observation to be
made in connection with this is, that if the Province be properly entitled to a refund of fifty
per cent, as a compensation for local evils and disadvantages arising out of Chinese immigration, it is entitled to the whole sum remaining over after the expenses of administering the
Act have been met. The evils of Chinese immigration are entirely local and not at all general
throughout the Canada. Moreover, if the Government be now entitled to fifty per cent, of
the revenue arising out of the Act for the reasons in question, it is also entitled to have that
or any other percentage fixed upon for the whole period during which the Act has been in
operation. Logically, there is no good reason for making the date of the refund begin with
the 1st of Jul}', 1902, more especially as the Province agitated for an increased refund for
years, and still more especially as you have made the Province responsible for the maintenance
of Darcy Island leper station for all past years; and desire us to assume the same indefinitely
for the future.
Trusting that these representations will have your earnest consideration at once,
I beg to remain, &c,
(Signed)        Richard McBride, Premier.
Printed by Richard Wolfenden, I.S.O., V.D., Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.


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