May 12, 1922

LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

The province of Quebec last year erected buildings worth, if I remember aright, $20,000 at Roberval, and the department went fifty-fifty They took the buildings as the province's share, and they did the fire ranging for the province. Ontario paid $50,000 for her share, and British Columbia $20,000.

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LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

If this was worked up by the provinces, why do the Dominion authorities contribute anything to it? The provinces in some cases, are much better off than the Dominion authorities.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

It is one of these

peculiar situations where the federal Government participates, as it does sometimes in the matter of education. It is an experiment in collaboration with the provinces. The imperial authorities presented by the federal Government $5,000,000 worth of aviation equipment, and the work could not very well be undertaken by all the provinces unless they purchased their own equipment, so we gave it to them. The federal government undertook for a time to do this work. This year we have informed the provinces as well as the other departments of the Dominion government that if they want work done we shall be glad to undertake it, provided they pay the cost of doing it.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Is this reduction in connection with civil aviation, or with what might be described as the military branch?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Both. There is a misconception as to what the department really

intends to do with the Air Force. It was divided into civil and military. As a matter of fact, if Canada were in a position to enter largely into a field of this kind I should be rather inclined to leave the service as it was, under an air board attached to the department. But the force is comparatively small, and, in my opinion, must for a few years at least be in a merely experimental state. Consequently it and the Militia Department are being brought under the Department of National Defence. The Militia Department Is not absorbing any of these entities; the idea is simply to amalgamate the three services so as, if possible, to reduce executive expenses. There has been a considerable difference of opinion, and not without reason, as to whether it was better to keep the Air Force outside the military branch than to bring it into the Department of National Defence. If we had a large organization and anticipated a large expenditure and a great development in the Air Force, it might be as well to leave it by itself. But I take it for granted that we are not in a position to develop any considerable organization just now in Canada. Furthermore, when civil aviation has reached a certain point in its development, private companies will largely undertake this work. I may not be in accord with hon. members, but I do believe that the Dominion is not prepared to enter upon any large scheme of government-owned and operated civil aviation service. I think that we should rather, for a time, act as instructors, allowing private companies and the provinces to get into the business themselves and look after their own affairs. That part of the work will be carried on under the new arrangement precisely as was done previously, and we hope this year to carry on all the civil aviation work we did last year. We are asking, however, that the provinces and the other departments of the Government pay the costs of operation, and we can assure them that the work will be done just as thoroughly as heretofore.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

There are two changes, I understand. The minister purposes to ask for larger contributions from the provinces for the services they get, and' he also intends to assess the other departments for the benefits they derive from the organization. That accounts, I presume, for the substantial diminution in the estimates?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

It will account for some of it; the amounts are not overly large.

Supply-Air Board

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I hope the minister will not feel discouraged when I say that I concur in the attitude that he has taken towards this estimate, and I sincerely hope that my fidelity to the estimate will not alter his, and that we shall not find him coming back with another one later on. Very manifestly it would not be the part of economy, and consequently not the part of wisdom-because it would not carry with it efficiency-if all the provinces should commence individually air force organizations, at least while the science is in the experimental stage. You could scarcely conceive a greater waste of effort and money than would eventuate from such a course as that. The Dominion is the possessor of the equipment for this work. The work is almost wholly experimental, and undoubtedly can be done better by the Dominion Government in co-operation with the provinces than it ever could be done by the provinces themselves, each acting on its own initiative and separately. For myself, I have the utmost confidence-well, I will not say that, but at any rate I have some confidence-that very considerable results will be achieved, and that ere long, in the matter of forest fire protection. I may be wrong, but I think that in discussion of the estimates of the Interior Department this session the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Stewart) explained how a very considerable saving had been effected already on the timber areas in British Columbia by the adoption of this method of preservation. The department is therefore well advised as respects that matter, if there were nothing else to influence them, not to abandon the Air Force work. In regard to survey work for the Interior and other departments, although I am not sure that it has yet reached the point where it might be described as being a success, nevertheless it has not been brought to the point where failure is evident. There is in this connection also an opening for real service and real economy. For these reasons I ,'up-port the attitude of the minister and hope he will not abandon it.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

My right hon. friend

(Mr. Meighen) is right. I imagine it will not be very long before a good deal of the work on the ground in the matter of fire protection is done away with. Most of the work is done in the air; in the Winnipeg district that is the case at the present time. The department received a letter the other day from the engineers, who are preparing their report on the deep waterways, informing us that the air service had been of inestimable value to them in donig their work.

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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I understand that the High River station has rendered a great service in saving the Dominion forest reserve in that district, or at least in the vicinity, from destruction by fire during the past year. Is it the intention of the department to do away with this station at that point?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

We hope to bo able to do the work, to put it mildly, as thoroughly as it was done last year, and if possible to do more work.

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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I should like a more definite statement from the minister. I have had letters from the boards of trade, not only in my own constituency but in the constituency of my hon. friend from Macleod (Mr. Coote), protesting against any diminution on the part of the federal government of its activities in this matter. They are opposed to such a course for more reasons than just the preservation of the forest as such. The preservation of the forest is absolutely essential to the irrigation projects now under way in southern Alberta, and we protest most earnestly against any diminution on the part of the Dominion government of the good work that has been done in the past. I should be glad if the minister would state definitely whether or not that station is to be maintained.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I cannot for the life of me see how the report got out that the air station at High River was to be abolished. I received a great many communications myself, and delved all around the department, but without avail, to find any one who knew how the suggestion had got out. The station will be maintained, as I said before, and possibly more work will be done than was done last year.

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PRO

Donald Ferdinand Kellner

Progressive

Mr. KELLNER:

Did the minister say it was the intention to have the provincial governments pay for this work in the different provinces?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

We are asking the provincial governments to pay the cost of operation in connection with any work we do for them. They were informed last August of this decision on the part of the department.

Supply-Air Board

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PRO

Donald Ferdinand Kellner

Progressive

Mr. KELLNER:

It would not seem right that the provinces which have not got their natural resources should have to pay those expenses in the same proportion as the provinces which have.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Three provinces have

asked us to perform the work-Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, and I am afraid the question of natural resources does not come up in connection with these provinces.

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PRO

John Frederick Johnston

Progressive

Mr. JOHNSTON (Last Mountain):

How much of this work was done in each of the provinces last year, and at what cost?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

The cost of the operations at Vancouver was $63,958.

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PRO

May 12, 1922