The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume XII


8 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

8 Nov., 1926.

The Lord

Sir John Simon

Mr. Macmillan

p. 797

a Province would automatically deprive the Indians of their right. If I may address Lord Haldane, with very great respect, it is a point, I think, which sometimes has a little pressed him, so perhaps I may repeat myself : the argument has often been put against me here as though including some area, which was an Indian Reserve, inside the geographical boundary of a Province would deprive the Indians of their rights. Well now, of course, my Lord has pointed out in another connection that really could not be so. The radical title, as my Lord has said in a very classical judgment, is, of course, in the Crown, and the Indians had something in the nature of a usufruct for the time being in their area. But their area might be inside a Province or it might not, and if you wanted to know whether the Indians were going to be protected in their rights, the thing that mattered was not whether their hunting grounds were within the geographical boundaries of a Province, but whether the authorities were at liberty to give their hunting grounds away to private settlers. And in view of the fact that the Government of Newfoundland as we know, on Labrador, was a Government which was not to do so, save under very stringent conditions, it follows necessarily that even if you are to assume, irrespective of the number of families of Indians there, that some were up there at the back of my coast, they do not suffer any sort of harm, because the area is geographically included in Newfoundland. It does not touch the point. The thing that matters to them is not whether there is some Provincial Governor who has authority over an area which includes their hunting grounds, but whether or not the authorities who are administering the neighbourhood are free to make grants of soil to people in terms which will dispossess them. You see, of course, an illustration of that in the history of the boundaries of Quebec. When Quebec was my slate coloured lozenge, the yellow area which was outside it was not within the jurisdiction of the Governor of Quebec ; and it was not, very largely, of course, because it was Indian hunting grounds. But when you enlarge the Province of Quebec to include these things, that did not mean that you deprived the Indians of every hunting ground, it merely meant that the provincial jurisdiction was exercised over a wider area, though inside that area there would be Indian hunting grounds or Indian Reserves existing there, as there are in Canada to this day. For those reasons, I submit it will be found, when you look at this thing rather more in detail, to show the relation between these documents of 1763 and the reservation of Indian territory, that the case for Newfoundland really is perfectly well founded in reason and in history.

Viscount FINLAY : Are there any documents which show the effect that this Proclamation, and the passage in it to which you particularly referred, had upon the Indian tribes ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord, there are some passages.

Viscount FINLAY : I mean, upon the Indian tribes from whom danger was apprehended.

p. 798

ir JOHN SIMON : I have some passages which will bear on that ; I have some, but not many.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Have we now reached a point on which it is possible to form some idea as to how much longer this reference will last ?

Sir JOHN SIMON : My Lord, I propose to deal, when we resume, with the Hudson Bay boundary from the point of view of deciding whether the height of land was a late invention, or whether, on the other hand, it was not inherent in contentions and descriptions from quite an early period. That will not take very long, but I have a compartment which I am anxious to use, because your Lordships have heard again and again the suggestion that it only arose in 1814. Then I must deal with this Indian matter by chapter and verse, I daresay all the more briefly because I will confine myself to documents and will not make merely general assertions. I am anxious to elaborate a little bit the calendar of 1763, to show the exact relation of the documents, because I think I can now fill up all the gaps, and there are one or two new facts which I do not think have been observed or noted, and lastly, I have got to go through the maps down to 1763. Those are the matters I have to deal with, and I am afraid all that material may carry me through the whole of to–morrow ; but I am quite confident, my Lords, that my own part of the matter ought not to extend more than a very short time beyond that. It may be that I shall be able to concentrate and shorten those matters, so as to finish to–morrow. I should very much like to be able to give your Lordships a confident assurance that I should finish to–morrow, but it is difficult to be quite sure.

Mr. MACMILLAN : I do not know whether it will be any inducement, but I will undertake to finish on Friday if my learned friend finishes to–morrow afternoon.

(Adjourned till to-morrow morning at 10.30.)


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