Now, Mr. Speaker, the work of the commission has imparted, I submit, a wholesome stimulus to the activities of Government departments engaged in the administration of natural resources. I am sure the right hon. gentleman will readily admit that the different departments of this Government connected directly or indirectly with the natural resources have been very forcibly impressed by the activities of the commission, and they have received from the work of the commission an impetus which was never known before. Ten years ago most of these dpeartments gave little or no attention to any work of investigation for conservation purposes. I think this will be generally admitted. Now, in some departments considerable organizations have been built up to do work of a character which prepares for, promotes and accomplishes conservation. A marked change has come over the attitude of the public towards conservation during the ten or twelve years of the commission's life. It has become sensitive and alert to anything which indicates indifference on the part of public authorities, or hostility by private interests, to the principles and practice of conservation. This is particularly noticeable in the case of water-powers. The public has begun to realize what a valuable asset water-power resources are to a community, and no Government would contemplate permitting the alienation of great water-powers to private interests without conditions to ensure economical and efficient service and other appropriate returns in the public interest.
A great deal has been said, Mr. Speaker, by the minister who presides, I think, over the Department of the Interior (Sir James Lougheed) and by the right hon. the Prime Minister this evening regarding duplication of work. Let me say that the charge brought against the commission that it duplicates the work of some departmental organization is based on misinformation. Least of all is there any excuse for such an accusation respecting work of the Research Council, which was established I think about six years after the commission was created. If there has been overlapping in the slightest degree as between the Research Council and the Commission of Conservation no responsibility for such overlapping can be attached to the commission. In regard to fisheries in particular, the commission has had no staff expert, and its efforts have been restricted only to educational work and to special studies of a problem which either had not been made the subject of departmental investigation,
or had been approached by the commission from an entirely different angle. The work done by the commission has been calculated to strengthen and not embarrass the departmental officials in promoting the economical development of Canadian fisheries. The minister in the Senate quoted the refusal-and I give only this instance-of the Editorial Board to sanction the printing of the pamphlet written by a certain Mr, Babcock dealing with the Fraser River salmon situation. This refusal is really due to friction, Mr. Speaker-and I know whereof I speak-between the provincial and the federal authorities, which the publication of the pamphlet would undoubtedly have helped to allay.
I do not desire to detain the House any longer, except to say that this charge of duplication or of infringing upon the prerogatives of some department has no foundation in fact. If the inter-departmental committee appointed to investigate this alleged overlapping had sought first hand information at the offices of the commission, it is safe to say that no such charges would have been made. The only work that the commission has done has been work that the departments were not doing, or were not doing completely. The plain fact of the matter is that the energy and vigilance of the commission have been of inestimable effect in stimulating the departments to deal with problems and conditions affecting the efficient use of Canada's natural resources which formerly received little or certainly no serious attention. If after the commission had demonstrated the utility of a certain line of study, similar studies were commenced by a regular department of the Government, the commission cannot be regarded as guilty of duplication. I doubt very much if the time has arrived when Canada can afford to dispense with such services as have been rendered by the commission in supplementing and stimulating departmental activities.
There is only one ground, Mr. Speaker, upon which you can rest the case of the Government at the present moment, and that is the urgent necessity for the strictest economy. But if on the one hand you abolish the Commission of Conservation and save to the country $140,000 a year, and on the other hand you provide $400;000 or $500,000 for the creation of a scientific research bureau-only for the erection of the building for that bureau-
I say that instead of effecting an economy you are launching into larger expenditure and very much along the same line.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I will bring my remarks to a close by reading a letter addressed to the assistant to the chairman of the commission, by Mr. Ross, who was formerly minister in the British Columbia Government. I think he was minister of-