May 26, 1921

UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The functions of the Railway Commission are judicial.

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UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. FIELDING:

I mean the Canadian National railways. I am afraid the principle my hon. friend is laying down would not apply to the Canadian National railways.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

But they are responsible. .

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UNI L
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

They are not a branch of a department.

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UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. FIELDING:

Those were my right hon. friend's own words-" as a branch of a department".

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

But there is direct

governmental responsibility there. We appoint men to carry out those duties; we put them in the position of a corporation. There is no doubt that we are responsible for their work. We are responsible for the character of the men we appoint, and if they do not do their work properly it is our business to remove them. But I say I do not think it is consistent with our system of government that there should be a body for which no one is answerable and over which no one has any control, as is the case with this commission-in a word, a body in the position of a court but without the functions of a court. Consequently, reasoning from both those premises; from the premises that its functions are merely advisory, and from the premises that it

is wholly independent of any department of government and answerable to no one,

I think it should be assumed that the life of the commission was intended to be, or at least ought to be, temporary.

In working out the legislation creating it the commission has gone about in one direction or another, laying its hand on anything that looked alluring, anything that could be regarded as a possible field for its activity. It has invaded the province of one department of government after another, one branch after another, and necessarily it has duplicated services wherever it has so invaded. Where work was being done in this department or in that department which could be used by the commission for the purpose of amplifying in the general view the usefulness of the commission-well, it simply laid its hand on that work, and very soon the results of the activities of officers of the Government would appear in a very handsomely bound volume with the name of the Conservation Commission on the cover. Furthermore, the work of the commission has been most expensive, and one could look for nothing else in view of the irresponsible character of the commission. I do not say those words with any reference at all to the members of the commission; I say it with reference to the nature of its constitution. The Minister of Agriculture was, under the statute, the minister through whom the commission made its requests of Parliament. He, however, was merely the channel through which the commission reported-or, rather, through which the commission appealed to Parliament for money. There was no effective control over the commission's expenditures; it determined what its expenditures should be. Of course, it had to get the money from Parliament, but the commission's views were merely recited in Parliament by the minister; indeed that was the limit of the minister's power. The commission has cost the country an average, I think, of about $104,000 or $105,000 a year during the term of its existence.

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L LIB
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

In that regard I think it is worse, but in results it has been much less beneficial to the country. The Purchasing Commission saves money much in excess of its cost. As to this commission, I do not know what it saves. I do not say that its work has been useless, by any means. But I do say that through all these

years it has continuously tended, and more and more each year-it had to do so in order to do anything-to duplicate and overlap the functions of various branches of the different departments. That could be illustrated with reference to many departments. One might refer first to the commission's forestry activities. It set to work to tabulate the various forest resources of the country and to give a lot of publicity to its investigations in that regard. It has always been certain to publish those results in very expensive books, with a paper and binding that other departments could not dare to emulate. Its functions, as I say, were advisory in the first place, and once its advice was given, once it came to the work that was necessarily connected with the administration of the forests, it could not do anything, and rather than do nothing, of course, it actually got into the work that was necessarily connected with administration. It has continually pursued that work and, naturally, it has done so very much to the discouragement of the different branches that have had to administer the various government forestry services-branches which, in that administration, did precisely what the commission was doing; and very frequently the commission absorbed those services, or at least the credit for them. The same is true as to its overlapping the work of the Water Power Branch of the Interior Department. Of that

as well, indeed, as of the overlapping in connection with the forestry work-I myself have an intimate knowledge through my association with the Department of the Interior. Instances could be given-not one, but many-of its doing work that was being done by the Water Power Branch, work that the Water Power Branch had to do in order to carry on its administrative functions, and considerable public expense which could have been avoided has thereby been incurred.

The commission has even assumed responsibilities as regards external affairs; and here, I think, it has brought about a condition so anomalous that further argument will surely be unnecessary after that condition is explained. The External Affairs Department must, of course, receive advice from its responsible officers as to what should be done as regards certain of our resources-for example, as regards our resources in the waters of international rivers, both for navigation and for power. Matters have arisen in which the interests of the United States and of Canada were

concerned; for example, as regards St. Lawrence development. Such matters are judicially determined by the International Joint Commission. Canada must necessarily be represented before that commission and must state what is the policy pursued and what is the desire of this country as expressed by its Government in relation to the matters in dispute or the matters which are the subject of consideration by the International Joint Commission.

We have found ourselves appearing before the International Joint Commission to state the position of the Government, and. immediately alongside would appear the representative of the Conservation Commission who would also state the position of this country. If one can conceive of anything more anomalous than that, one's conception must be very lively. Surely it never was the intention that the Conservation Commission should determine what should be said before the International Joint Commission as representative of the views of the Dominion of Canada regarding the subject of international waters. If the Conservation Commission are the proper body to represent Canada, then the Dominion Government cannot do so too. If both can do so, what is to be done in case of conflict of views? The secretary of the Conservation Commission appeared in one case; he read before the International Joint Commission the names of all those who were members of the commission, many of them ex-officio members, made so by statute. Those names included the Minister of the Interior, another minister whose name I cannot recall,-I think it was the Minister of Mines, or possibly the Secretary of State, and after he had read that imposing list of names, it really looked as though he had the authority of all the members of the commission for appearing there and presuming to state the views of Canada on the question in dispute. As a matter of fact, in this case the commission had not been called, and if it had been called, it would not have been for its members to express what the attitude of the Government should be before the International Joint Commission.

That merely illustrates what is likely to occur when a commission, which was created merely for advisory purposes as respects different departments, as respects the policy to be pursued by the appropriate department or branch in relation to natural resources, created for that purpose, only and necessarily, I think, of a temporary

character,-when such a commission assumes that it is a permanent institution and competent to act on those lines permanently. It cannot act permanently unless it pervades and conflicts with the proper functions of branches and departments. I believe, the cost of publication of reports of its various investigations has reached a total of some $280,000. Last year the commission cost $155,771.31, and the cost naturally increases from year to year. It seems to me that the right thing to do is not to discontinue any useful work that the commission may be doing; but where the commission is overlapping, to see that that work is done only by one service, and that service the appropriate service under a minister responsible to this House; if it is performing any function that is not being performed by the appropriate department of Government and that should be performed, then to see that such service is performed by the most suitable department or branch. In this way, there will undoubtedly be a very considerable saving and, I think, a much more efficient service.

It is the intention, when vacancies occur, or where officers of the commission can be used to the advantage of the service in different branches, that those of the permanent service shall be used, but only where they can be used to advantage and where they can earn their salaries. But even were all so taken-and I do not think it will be necessary to take all

there will still be a very substantial saving to the public treasury, and there will also, in my judgment, be a more efficient and certainly a more harmonious service, because a great deal of money is wasted in duplication of travelling expenses. We will find a representative of the commission away up in the Northwest Territories, perhaps, looking into water-power resources there, taking stream-flow data and the like, and a representative very probably has to follow from the water-power branch, getting almost, although not exactly the same data, but getting data which the branch must have in all its details for the work which it has to perform. Similar travelling expenses are duplicated in connection with forestry and other investigations. There is necessarily overlapping as well of publications, all of which will be saved by the repeal of the Bill establishing the commission. I am not criticising the purpose for which the commission was originally established. I

merely say that its very purpose indicated that its duties would be performed within a limited period of years; that its duties could not be continuous in their nature and, consequently, the status upon which the commission was placed, the isolated position which it received, the degree of irresponsibility that was vested in it, all indicated that it could not have been intended that it should have any administrative or semi-administrative functions nor that it should have permanent existence. Therefore, the Government believe that the ends of public policy will be served, that we will get a more efficient and a cheaper service, and that very considerable expense will be avoided, by repealing the Act.

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L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Hon. H. S. BELAND (Beauce) :

Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to detain the House very long on this subject; but I desire, in a few words, to take exception to what was stated in the upper chamber and also to what has been stated this evening by the Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) in connection with the Conservation Commission. The remarks made to the House just now by the Prime Minister would leave on the public mind generally the impression that the Commission of Conservation was a fifth wheel to the car of state, if I may use the expression. I have been more or less constantly connected with the Commission of Conservation; I have belonged to it from its inception; I have followed its work, and I believe that it is, 'on the whole, rendering a great service to this country. It was originated, as stated a moment ago by the Prime Minister, in 1909, in pursuance of a resolution adopted at a conference called the North American Conference for the Preservation and Conservation of Natural Resources, held in Washington at the call of the then President of the United States, Mr. Roosevelt. At that conference the United States, Canada, and Mexico were represented. The Act creating the commission was passed by this Parliament in 1909. The commission was constituted for the purpose of conserving the natural resources of the country; that is to say, the main natural resources, man, our lands, forests, water-powers, minerals, fisheries, wild animal life and game.

As was stated by the Prime Minister, the commission is not an administrative body. Its functions are mainly advisory and consultative. The Prime Minister stated that the commission was responsible

to nobody. That statement, I believe, is a little outside the mark. The commission is responsible to Parliament; it could not be otherwise. Its constitution gives it power to take into consideration every subject which may be regarded by its members as relating to the conservation of the natural resources, but the results of the commission's consideration are, as stated before, advisory only. In a sentence, the commission is a body constituted for the purpose of collecting exact-I insist upon the word -exact information, and deliberating upon, digesting, and assimilating this information so as to render it of practical benefit to the country; also for the purpose of advising upon all questions of policy that may arise in connection with the administration of the natural resources where the question of their effective conservation and economic use is concerned.

The commission has been a pioneer in many lines and in many directions. It has been able to discover advantageous and efficient methods of utilizing our resources, and has carried on this work, I say, at an insignificant cost. The hon. the Prime Minister stated that the commission spent last year $155,000.

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L LIB
L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

He is a little overstating the case. I have the exact figures before me, and I find that last year the commission had a total vote of $140,000.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I think my figures are right. I have the details.

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L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

When an economical and efficient method has been demonstrated by the commission, the carrying out of such method is transferred to the administrative department concerned, which can conduct such operations on a scale forbidden by the organic Act establishing the commission, and by its limited financial resources.

The House would perhaps like to know the composition of the commission. The commission is made up of three members of the Federal Government, and one member of the Government of each of the provinces. There are twenty other members appointed by reason of special qualifications. All the commissioners, including the chairman, are debarred by law from the acceptance of any remuneration for their services. The commission had formed out of its membership a number of committees. I will mention the committees on forests, waterways and water-powers,

lands, fisheries, game and fur-bearing animals, minerals, and there are others.

Acting solely on an investigatory and an advisory capacity, the commission has been able to achieve results of far-reaching importance in promoting the conservation of our natural resources. It has studiously avoided any duplication, in spite of the accusation laid at its door, or in any manner encroaching upon the work which properly belongs to an executive department, but an examination of its record reveals that it has proven a highly efficient instrument in investigating our resources and in co-operating with every agency seeking their greatest and most economical utilization. If I insist upon this work of the commission, it is mainly for the purpose of offsetting the bad impression created throughout this country by the speech presented to the other House by a member of the Government in introducing this Bill or upon its second reading. The right hon. the Prime Minister did not go as far perhaps as the Hon. Mr. Loug-heed in minimizing the efforts of the commission and the results it has achieved.

I might say that much valuable assistance has been rendered to the Governments of the different provinces and to the municipalities of Canada by the commission, which has placed the services of its experts freely at their disposal. Frequently, it is neither possible, nor as an economical proposition advisable, for the provinces or municipalities to employ highly paid experts whose services may be required for only a limited time or for only a portion of the year. Again, the fact that these experts are officers of the commission carries weight with the man in the street, who is not in a position to valuate the services of expert professional men.

Let me go into some details of the work of the commission. Take statistics, for instance. The commission repeatedly called attention to the inadequacy of the statistics published from time to time, and prior to the organization of the present Statistical Branch, which is giving such excellent service, urged the creation of an efficient organization along these lines.

The commission also has acted, and still acts as a bureau of information, and furnishes much valuable data to investors, business men, farmers, and others interested in the development or utilization of our natural resources. The right hon. gentleman has referred to forests in particular. I believe that it is in connection with the conservation of the forest wealth of Can-

ii- [DOT]

I;

ada that the commission has accomplished perhaps the most commendable part of its work. The commission has devoted constant attention to the conservation of Canada's forest resources. The primary problem has been to check the enormous waste through forest fires. Investigations by the commission in the early years of its existence showed that forest fires started by locomotives constituted a very large percentage of the total number of fires occurring. For several years a propaganda to inform and enlighten public opinion as to the importance of this question was carried on, and the Commission of Conservation was instrumental-nobody will gainsay the fact -in securing legislation empowering the Board of Railway Commissioners to promulgate regulations for the prevention of forest fires along the railway lines.

In May, 1912, the board issued an order covering the railway fire situation very thoroughly and placed upon the railway companies, subject to the jurisdiction of the board, the responsibility for taking all measures necessary for the prevention and control of fires due to railway operation. This order obliged the railways to use the most efficient and most modern spark arresters and other protective devices, as well as to place fire patrols on dangerous sections of the lines in dry seasons. The result has been a great reduction in the damage caused by fires due to railway agencies. I wonder why, in the course of their remarks, both hon. ministers carefully avoided referring to this important part of the work of the commission. The results that have been thus obtained, if the Commission of Conservation had accomplished nothing further than this, amply justify all the money that has been expended by the commission since its organization ten or twelve years ago. The whole question of forest protection in Canada has been gone into thoroughly by the chief forester of the commission, and the publication of the results of his investigations has been of incalculable educational value. Now, while much has been done by the commission to prevent the destruction of forests by fires, a great deal has also been accomplished in taking stock of our forest resources, and making studies of the annual increase by growth. This may appear, on its surface, as a matter of no importance, but any one who will give a moment's thought to the subject will realize that it is most important that we should be made fully aware of the extent of the forest wealth of Canada. This work is being, and has been, done province by province, most of it through co-operation with Provincial Governments. The surveys of the forest resources of Canada being carried out by the commission have been heartily endorsed by the lumbering interests, who thoroughly appreciate the reliable information of the extent of raw material available not only to their industry but to the entire nation. The development which is now taking place in the pulp and paper industry is of such magnitude that every effort should be made to complete the surveys with the least possible delay.

There is another feature of the work of the commission in connection with the surveys of forests, and that is reforestation. In addition to pushing forward the survey of the extent and character of our forest resources, the commission is carrying out extremely important duties of the rates of production of commercial species on cutover and burnt-over areas. The commission is therefore engaged upon a very important series of investigations, as it has been for a number of years, of the conditions governing the reproduction and the rate of growth of pulpwood species. The investigations have already shown that it takes much longer than has hitherto been supposed for cut-over lands to become reforested under natural conditions. From the results already available, it is believed that instead of a period of thirty years, as was generally believed formerly, it will take from fifty to one hundred and fifty years, to reproduce merchantable timber. It is not too much to say that, to a large extent, the permanence of our pulp and paper industries will depend upon-the information obtained from the studies now being made and those that have been carried out in the past by the Commission of Conversation, and the use that has been made of the data obtained.

Now, let us look at the water-powers. This is more closely connected with the allusion made by the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen), to the alleged interference of the commission with external affairs. When the commission began its work in 1910, it found that only the most fragmentary information was available respecting water-powers. In 1911, the commission published a report on "The water-powers of Canada," but only as regards the area east of lake Superior was much data available. Concerning the western provinces, there was scarcely any information of a precise character. A series of field investigations was begun, to make good this deficiency, and after years of painstaking work, 'both in the field, and

among the Dominion, provincial and private records, reports dealing with the water-power resources of the Prairie Provinces and British Columbia have been published. Thus it came about that the first adequate and reasonably accurate estimate of the extent and character of the water-powers of Canada is due to the work of the commission. The House will remember very well that during the years from 1910 to 1913, what might be termed a veritable raid was made by private interests to get control of water-powers. One of the most notable of these attempts was the project to dam the St. Lawrence river at the Long Sault. The matter came up for hearing before the International Joint Commission, and that body asked thp Commission of Conservation to investigate the scheme and report upon it. It was not a move on the part of the Commission of Conservation for the purpose of interfering in external affairs; they were requested by the International Joint Commission to investigate and report upon the scheme. This report showed that Canadian interests were not given adequate consideration and that the safety of navigation was threatened. The report advanced the opinion that when the time came to develop the St. Lawrence water-powers it behoved the governments of Canada and the United States to undertake the work jointly, to divide the power equitably, and to supply it to their nationals at a price free from unnecessary tribute to private corporations. What was the effect of the commission's report? It resulted in the defeat of a Bill to incorporate a private company, and valuable water-powers on the St. Lawrence were saved from passing into the control of private interests. These things, I think, should have been stated fully in the Senate the other day, and I think that perhaps they ought to have been stated this evening by the right hon. gentleman. It is now proposed that the Long Sault rapids be developed by the Governments of Canada and the United States, but it should not be forgotten that but for the intervention of the commission, the title to this great waterpower would have been alienated and, 1 make bold to say, would now be controlled by the Aluminium Trust, one of the greatest trusts in North America, if not, indeed, in the world. If I should not delay the House at this late hour, I would quote an extract from an editorial which appeared two or three days ago in the Toronto Globe referring to this very subject, but [Mr. BSland.J . , j i,

I will not take up the time of the House by reading it now.

The principles laid down by the commission respecting alienation of waterpower have now been generally accepted by governments and by the people at large. These are: that no unconditional titles

shall be given and that every grant or lease of power shall be conditioned upon the development in a specified time, public control of rates, and a rental charge subject to revision from time to time. Now, I do not desire to absorb too much time, but I will just, en passant, refer in brief, to some of the work that has been done for the conservation of land.

To ascertain, as fully as practicable, the condition of lands under cultivation, and whether the systems and methods of farming were resulting in the conservation of fertility and productivity, the commission conducted for several years surveys of conditions on groups of farms in representative districts in every province. These surveys, the detailed results of which were reported upon in the published annual reports, revealed the fact that in many cases fertility was being reduced, weeds were becoming increasingly prevalent, and systematic courses of rotation of crops were not being followed. On the other hand, in every group of farms surveyed some farms stood out conspicuously as examples of conservation and at the same time as illustrations of profitable agriculture. In consequence one of such farms in each of the first groups surveyed was chosen by the neighbouring farmers in co-operation with the commission, as an illustration farm. The illustration farm was not in any sense taken over by the commission. The illustration farmer did not receive any salary or subsidy. He agreed to accept regular visits from the expert adviser sent by the commission, and to put into practice on his farm only such advice or suggestions as he considered would prove profitable to him. The commission at first gave direct assistance to encourage the use of seed grain of first-class quality and suitability, to encourage the sowing of larger quantities of clover and grass seeds per acre, and to bring about more effective methods of cultivation to suppress weeds. In fact, by the combination of expert practical and scientific advice with the profit-making practices of the farmer, each illustration farm soon became, to an ever-increasing extent, an illustration of conservation through profitable use to neighbouring farmers. Meetings were held on these

MAY 26, mi

farms to explain the system and methods and to demonstrate what these were accomplishing when applied, not on a government farm, but on one such as the farmers themselves occupied, and under conditions similar to those with which they had to do. The results were striking. The improvements were notable and numerous. There was a pressing demand for these illustration farms in other localities. But the commission, not being an administrative branch of the Government service and having accomplished its object in pointing to an effective means of promoting conservation-and profit-turned over the scheme to the Department of Agriculture. There is now an Illustration Farms Division of the Dominion Experimental Farm. I wonder why these facts have not been stated to the House, or to the Senate, or to the country.

Before illustrating the admirable pioneer work that the commission has done let me say that a department of the public service is loath to embark upon many lines of work unless it is obvious that such work is of commensurate value. The department fears that, if such work be taken up and fail to justify itself, it will be difficult or impossible to discontinue it. The commission, being an independent body, could undertake pioneer work. If the results achieved were not commensurate it could be dropped and it has, in some cases acted in this manner. If they proved of value the administrative department could carry the work on upon an adequate scale, and the commission could then devote its attention to other work.

I might also refer to the work done in connection with the conservation of the fisheries, of game, and of fur-bearing animals, but I will not delay the House much longer. In connection, however, with the fisheries I may say that the commission has given considerable attention to the Pacific coast salmon industry, particularly the valuable sockeye salmon, and its sustained efforts in making known the declining status of this most valuable fishery have done much to educate public opinion to the necessity for adopting conservation measures before it is too late, and to pave the way for the conclusion of an agreement between Canada and the United States, looking to the preservation and upbuilding of the salmon industry.

During recent months the commission has drawn Dominion-wide attention to the urgent necessity of guarding against the 251

depletion of our resources in fur-bearing animals. As a result of the remarkable advances in the prices of furs, the most vigorous exploitation of these resources has been induced, and the threatened extinction of valuable fur-bearing species has become a matter of gravest concern.

I will not resume my seat without making an allusion also to the work of the commission in connection with the surveys of the mineral resources of Canada. I may say that as an initial step in regard to minerals, the mining engineer of the commission, in 1911, prepared a general summary of the mineral resources of Canada and outlined the more pressing questions connected with the industry. A special study was also made of mine accidents, and a brochure on the subject was published and distributed among miners and government mining authorities. Later, much attention was given to coal resources and an exhaustive report on the conservation of coal was issued in 1914. The Government, represented by the Prime Minister, this evening took some exception to the fine appearance of these reports. But there is some justification for preparing the reports in such a manner. You want first to catch the attention of the reading public by the external appearance of a book. That is so true that a declaration was made in the Senate by a staunch supporter of the Government, that while he never read the reports of the departments on these subjects he always read the reports of the Conservation Commission. In the report referred to, the problem of utilizing the lignite and low-grade bituminous coals of Western Canada by means of briquetting was fully discussed, and later on a pamphlet on the subject was issued, reporting the latest progress in solving this problem. The most efficient use of our domestic fuel and power resources constitutes a national problem the gravity of which has been most forcibly impressed upon the Canadian people during the past year. The studies, made by the officers of the Commission of Conservation, of the different phases of this problem are of the greatest value, and have been admitted by the whole of the press of Canada without a single exception.

I will not say anything about public health. In view of the establishment of the Department of Public Health in Canada the activities of the Conservation Commission in this regard might be to a large degree discontinued.

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REVISED EDITION. COMMONS


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-


UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Lands and Mines.

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L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

Thank you. The letter is dated February 24, 1921. It deals in particular with the publication of a certain report on the water-powers of British Columbia, of which much mention was made by Sir James Lougheed in the Senate the other day as being a work that was mainly a duplication of what had already been done by some departments of this Government. This is the letter:

James White, Esq.,

Assistant to the Chairman,

Commission of Conservation.

Ottawa, Ontario.

Dear Mr. White,-

I duly received from your office a copy of "Water Powers of British Columbia" by Mr. Arthur V. White, consulting engineer, assisted by Mr. Charles J. Vick.

I have purposely delayed acknowledging its receipt in order that I might look through its contents so as to be the better able to form an opinion on its merits.

The subject dealt with so exhaustively by Mr. White is one with which I had much to do, and particularly during the formative stages of the present system of provincial water administration in British Columbia. This was one of the Important branches of the Bands Department over which I had the privilege of presiding in the years 1910 to 1916 during which period I was aible to be of some slight assistance to Mr. White in the assembling of his data. For this reason I have gone over the volume in its entirety, which has given me much pleasure as well as the satisfaction of feeling that one has contributed, even if in a small way, toward the splendid result which Mr. White has achieved in this volume.

I feel that the volume is an accurate, painstaking and complete textbook on the subject of which it treats and is one in which the Commission of Conservation may well take pride.

Mr. White is personally entitled to a very large measure of credit as well as thanks from the public of this province for the completeness of his research as well as for his method of compilation, which renders the contents of the volume so handy for ready reference.

Tours very truly,

(Sgd. Wm. iS. Ross.

Now, perhaps I may quote one or two extracts from papers published in British Columbia. The Vancouver Daily Province is a newspaper which, no doubt, my hon. ' friend who represents so ably that part of the country must know. Here is what the Daily Province says of the report to which I have referred:

An authoritative, comprehensive and scientific record .... The Commission has rendered the Province full justice in the careful and detailed research, and in clear and adequate exposition.

What does the Victoria Daily Times say:

A magnificent report .... An exceedingly valuable document and in its preparation the Commission of Conservation has performed a valuable service to British Columbia.

What does the Vancouver Daily World say:

A monumental work .... What it does not contain upon the subject no one need trouble about.

What does the Vancouver Daily Sun say:

A complete compendium .... The manner in which the information is presented, with adequate maps and handsome illustrations, is a credit to every one who shares the responsibility.

I quote from the Victoria Daily Colonist:

Is easily the outstanding work of its kind yet put out in Canada .... lifts the theme of water-powers to a new sphere of interest . . . There is no publication dealing with any resource of the Province .... which is so complete .... It will remain a standard publication and the most exhaustive authority on the subject for many years.

Then there are comments from the Canadian Engineer and the Electrical News, two technical journals, which I shall not quote. In a word, Mr. Speaker, the Commission of Conservation, in my opinion, and in the opinion, I think, of the great majority of citizens of this country, has rendered useful, efficient service. It has rendered service to the country that may not be fully appreciated at the moment but which will be appreciated more and more as time goes on and as the natural resources of the country come- to be more fully developed.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACQUES BUREAU (Three Rivers) :

Mr. Speaker, I do not think that the reasons brought forward by the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) are such as to justify the abolition of the Commission of Conservation, particularly when we have regard to the remarks made on this subject by the hon. member for Beauce (Mr. Beland). The Prime Minister mentioned three reasons in particular for the course which the Government has taken. He said that there had been overlapping, but he gave no instances. The hon. member for Beauce has pointed out that in many of these matter the cue was given by the Conservation Commission and the departments subsequently took them up.

This goes to show the ability and diligence of the commission in taking hold of these great questions affecting our natural resources. The second reason the Prime Minister gave was that on one occasion the secretary of the commission appeared before the International Joint Commission and that he read a list of those who formed the commission. Well, there does not seem to have been any great calamity involved in that; the Prime Minister has not shown that any disastrous results followed from the appearance of the secretary of the commission before that International Joint Commission. If the secretary of the Conservation Commission had done anything which was detrimental to Canada or anything which was not commendable, of course he would be subject to censure or to the loss of his position. The third reason given by the Prime Minister was on the point of expenditure. Well, if the services rendered are far greater than the expenditure incurred, then the expenditure is perfectly justified. But there seems to be something which has brought about this proposal to abolish the commission, some reason which has been suppressed. I think one of the senators may have stated the reason rightly, when he said he knew that the abolition of the commission was due to the-

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. I did not call the hon. member for Beauce to order when he made reference to the speech of a minister in the Senate, because of the exceptional circumstances and in view of the late stage of the session and the fact that the minister to whom reference was made is the head of a department. But it is a well known rule, and one which has always been very rigidly enforced, that there should be no reference in the House of Commons, to debates which have taken place in the Senate. I would ask the hon. member for Three Rivers particularly not to deal with specific references made by hon. gentlemen of the Senate.

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May 26, 1921