April 4, 1924

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I just want to say a

word or two on the general policy. I have always, in office and out of office, sought to reduce to the minimum scientific work of this character inside-what one might call more or less ornamental work. I have no objection to outside work at all, and I also acknowledge that a certain amount of inside work is essential, but I do think it is overdone-and the redundancy is not confined to the Department of Agriculture; there is some in other departments as well. But I have always thought that the enthusiasm of officials, the desire to extend the sphere of their own work, results in the creating of elaborate scientific departments here, there

I Mr. Motherwell.]

and everywhere, and great collections of dead bugs instead of killing the live ones. Besides, we cannot in this country hope to rival the other big scientific institutions in this matter. We will get on far faster by availing ourselves of the scientific results achieved' by great laboratories to the south of us than by seeking to plant in our own country pale, weak imitations of them. It seems to me that if we take advantage of the scientific results achieved in the big state institutions of the United States -and we get it all; it cannot possibly be kept from us-we can save a lot of money here at home and at the same time seek to get practical results in our own field. It is better to spend the money that way than in too much employment of scientific men in small laboratories in Canada.

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PRO

Oliver Robert Gould

Progressive

Mr. GOULD:

I was not so much interested in the $5,000 item which provided coffins for the dead bugs, although they would seem to be rather expensive. I wish to make one comment, however, with regard to the $11,000 item in connection with distribution of literature. I myself have been in receipt of many pamphlets from the Entomological department which did not particularly apply to the district in which I live. For instance, it was not particularly interesting, nor did I have time to study up, what might be the matter with the peach crop in Niagara peninsula. If the department is advised to send out pamphlets dealing only with matters indigenous to the parts of the country to which they go, I think we could save a lot of money. Is that item of $11,000 a smaller amount than was used for the same purpose last year?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Yes, and the same applies to the next vote. Replying to my right hon. friend's (Mr. Meighen) criticism regarding the tendency of the departments to extend, I may say that that is why we are trying to reduce these appropriations-to counteract that tendency. He further suggests that instead of taking care of the dead bugs we should be killing the live ones. Well, they have to be alive first; we have to kill the live ones to get the dead ones. These specimens are caught alive, killed and mounted. Here is the subdivision of the item of $5,880 that my hon. friend (Sir Henry Drayton) asked for: Cameras, $300; microscopes, $700 to $800; laboratory supplies, $1,000; steel cases, about $3,500. That is as close as we can get to the details. As I said before, the use to which this money is put in each subdivision will depend wholly on the nature of the conditions next summer, and those we cannot anticipate.

Supply-Agriculture

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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

May I ask if the minister has not got at the present time sufficient microscopes in the department. If I understood him correctly, he has an item .of from $500 to $700 for microscopes. That seems an extraordinary sum of money for that purpose.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I have never

bought any of this equipment myself, but I understand that amount will buy two or three instruments. This equipment is not for Ottawa alone, but for a number of laboratories all over the Dominion, some twenty in all.

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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

If the minister is reducing the work of the department surely they will require, if anything, less microscopes than formerly: Is there a

need for new microscopes particularly, or is this sum required for repairs?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I am afraid the

hon. member did not listen very carefully. We are not intending to reduce the outside activities with respect to ,the curtailment of insect ravages. We are endeavouring to maintain and operate the office in Ottawa a little more cheaply, to the extent of $3,000.

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CON

Simon Fraser Tolmie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TOLMIE:

Would the minister tell us what action he has taken in respect of the importation of plants from the Old Country by mail ? I understand there are some negotiations on whereby it will be possible to handle these through the post office.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Just a few days

ago we got through Council new regulation-permitting plants to be sent, through th.' post office. Formerly that was not p*i' mitted.

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CON

Simon Fraser Tolmie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TOLMIE:

Under what conditions

will the inspection be made in the Old Country, and what will the fee be for the inspection?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

All inspections

are made on this side, usually at the port of entry. The parcel will designate what it contains, of course. I jthink in the past all inspections have been made on this side. TTot all post offices, but any large post .office will be a medium through which the shipments can be made by mail.

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PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I understand there was an

item of $822 for cases last year. To an ordinary man it seems almost out of the question that so much money should be spent annually on cases for preserving the new specimens collected during the year.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

If I had not seen

this collection myself and the innumerable drawers and cases, I would have thought just as my hon. friend does. It would,take hours to go through them all. It is a national collection.

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PRO
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I understood from Mr. Gibson when I was there, that they are making a national collection for reference purposes. They are collecting not only new specimens, but are preserving all the insects that have been doing damage in Canada dating back for perhaps a quarter of a century. The collection is constantly being added to. Very frequently the specimens that were mounted formerly were not just as well preserved as they might be. It is a very delicate operation to catch these insects alive. They have to be carefully killed, and then they are mounted and preserved so that they appear in a natural condition. It takes quite a lot of money.

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PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I do not want the minister to misunderstand me. I realize that insects and different forms of fungus are perhaps the most dangerous menace we have, but the expenditure seems very large.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

It is expensive. The cases are of steel. I was reading up this question by an entomologist. I forget his name for the moment', and he made the prediction that the next great war would be against insect life and fungus growth. I do not know whether he will prove to be right or not, but I do know that as a community gets older, and particularly if you restrict yourself to the growing of one particular crop, providing food for one particular variet}- of insect, the insects will increase in number every year. We are fortunately exempt from many of the insects that infest the southern states, attacking almost every species of plant life in the farm and garden. We in this northern latitude are saved from a great many of those pests. Nevertheless, if we have a series of warm years, with an early spring, it is marvellous how new insects will pour into our country. The European com borer, for instance, was quite unknown in Canada about five years ago, but I suppose there must be thirty counties in Ontario affected by the corn borer to-day.

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CON

Edmond Baird Ryckman

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RYCKMAN:

What amount of the vote was expended last year?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

About ninety-five

per cent.

Supply-Agriculture

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PRO

Robert Milne

Progressive

Mr. MILNE:

It seems to me that this

development may not be exactly along the right line. I think that at this particular time we should get away from fads and fancies. We have insects and bugs that are of economic importance to agriculture, and I think it is to those that our entomologists should direct their attention. I think that in a good many instances the entomologists are inclined to fads and making a tremendous collection of bugs and insects that are of no economic value so far as agriculture is concerned. These steel cases are an indication of the line along which they travel. I notice from the Auditor General s report of two years ago that a sum of $2,000 was spent for cases, some steel, and some mahogany coffins for these bugs to he in. This year we intend to spend $3,500 along the same line. I am not prepared to say exactly what the nature of the work that is being done is, bu.t I am inclined to think that the entomologists are not directing enough energy upon insects that are of economic importance and are spending too much time on what might be called fads, such as that of getting collections together.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
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April 4, 1924