June 26, 1925

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I remember the subject

being before me but very briefly some years ago. I have read the remarks of the minister in a previous debate and, as well, the address of the hon. member for Vancouver Centre.

I would gather indisputably from his words that he is strongly opposed to anything being done that would mar the natural beauty of this park by any power development at the Spray lakes. I am informed also that there has been considerable protest from other parts of Canada against the general principle of commercializing the parks, and possibly some of these protests have special reference to this site and this projected exploitation. Another factor that weighs with me is the fact, or so I am informed, that the head of the Parks branch, Mr. Harkin, has set his face against the utilization of these falls. On that account it is with some hesitancy that I venture to express an opinion. But finding the government in the position of having no policy it would be a shame not to assist them in any way that one could. I want to

Supply-Interior

say in this respect that their attitude is in no way unique. It is becoming an almost invariable habit with them to represent themselves as being without any opinion on any question that comes up and, as it were, waiting for instructions. Now, I venture the opinion that this country cannot set its face definitely for any length of time against the development of practical power sites in our parks. I do not think that can be done. If you have a big city with aspirations for industrial progress, and hungering for power as Calgary will be, though it may not be just yet, it certainly is assuming a ereat deal to stand a thousand miles away and to say, "Do not harness the power at Spray lakes because I and many others might like to look at the water falling down there. You should be good enough to do without the very life blood of industry in order that we may have that pleasure." I can recall years ago when the question of Niagara development was under review, not in this parliament but in Canada. At that time Canadian and American magazines were filled with protests, with splendidly written articles, and with all sorts of violent protests against the idea of commercializing this wonderful beauty spot of nature. Imagine the folly that would have been .perpetrated had these words been heeded! Just think of the suggestion of denying to the people of Ontario the comforts as well as .the wealth which Niagara development has yielded, in order that some tourists might be able to see more water flowing at a single spot over a hill. Perhaps it is not the same as respects the Spray lakes which are in a natural park. Nevertheless, though perhaps in a lighter degree, the argument applies. There is no province in Canada, unless it be Saskatchewan, which has less natural potential water-power than Alberta; and in that state of the province I do not believe that any government in the world can deny the claims of the people to utilize such powers as they have. Nor is it essential, I should think, that there should be any gross disfigurement of the natural beauty of the park as the result of power development. I know there could be.

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LIB

Charles Murphy (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

They get over that difficulty in Italy and Switzerland and they have great power development.

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

What the Postmaster

General has been good enough to interject is quite true. By the exercise of careful supervision, power development can be made quite presentable, and if I were in the Banff national park, I would prefer to see there some well executed, splendidly finished engineering feat

that had the purpose of giving to mankind the benefit of a great national asset, to having the mere, crude pleasure of watching the spray at a great height. Consequently, in so far as my advice is of any value to the minister, I would say: Just as soon as he is convinced that there is real use to be made of this power site; that it is really needed, then, subject to proper restrictions, subject to proper supervision, the power should be thrown open. I do not say it should be thrown open to the Calgary Power Company necessarily. It might be the part of wisdom to assign it to the province of Alberta, but I never would assume a dog-in-the-manger policy, and with an affectation for the beautiful in nature, presume to deny to our fellow-beings the use of a great natural possession and resource of Canada.

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

Certainly one cannot resist

the clear-sighted and logical policy enunciated by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen). I am sure if he saw some of the snapshots of that area, some of which I have under my hand, he would agree with me immediately that the area has not any very special significance as regards scenic value.

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
PRO
LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

The hon. member for Bow

River says, "hear, hear." He visited that area last year and saw it for himself. That particular variety of scenery can be duplicated in a thousand different places. The parks in Alberta total an area of approximately 9.000 square miles, and all of this, if advocates of park conservation are to have their way, is to be forever a closed area in which there shall be no commercial exploitation at all. Some advocates of park conservation or preservation agree with the view that the parks in Alberta are altogether too large. The present park area should be carefully surveyed so as to pick out the points of special scenic significance, and the rest should foe permitted to be commercialized where commercialization is proper and justified. With what the leader of the opposition says in regard to a proper development especially of this particular area, I find myself in accord. I happen to have a copy of the Manchester Guardian Weekly of Friday, April 17, of this year, and apparently there has been from time to time a great deal of controversy even in England with regard to the preservation of what might be called mountain reservoirs. I desire to read from this article one or two selections which will epitomize the situation:

Supply-Interior

Much cf the early indignation was probably due to a confused idea that new moorland reservoirs are what devout Calvimsts used to call "humanised abominations", whereas the lakes previously existing were intensely authentic and well-considered works of nature. In truth there are few things which nature makes sc arbitrarily and so accidentally as lakes, or by which she seems to set less store when they are made. As Playfair pointed out, before our large-scale reservoirmaking had fairly begun, a lake in nature is but a temporary condition, a mere incident, of a part of a river.

Further on, this article states:

Of course a corporation may disfigure a fine vallev by building ugly waterworks and houses, by forcing the banks into rigid lines, or by lining the margin with stone setts. But none of these mistakes is a necessary Dart of reservoir-making. They are merely bad reservoir-making. The very few buildings, roads, and fences that reservoirs need would serve their purpose at least as well if they were models of beauty. And this they ought to be-simply from public spirit in all cases, and also from enlightened selfishness.

My suggestion to the minister is that the application of the province of Alberta should be granted and that if necessary that particular area which has no special scenic value should be excluded from the park area. That can be done easily and readily, and subject to proper festrictiops as regards (development, having in view the preservation of whatever scenic values there may be, the government should not hesitate to grant a license to the province of Alberta if and when it makes application therefor.

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LIB

Clifford William Robinson

Liberal

Mr. ROBINSON:

I should like to ask

the minister a question concerning Fort Beausejour on the boundary line between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Does the government own any land there at present", and is it the intention of the government to expend any money there in the near future to preserve this historic site?

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

Yes. We

own about seventy-two acres, and it is the intention later on to develop this historic site.

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LIB
LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

Not this

year. Later on. I am told there will be some expenditure this year.

_ Mr. ROBINSON: Has the minister any

information about Louisburg?

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

We are acquiring land at Louisburg and putting up some tablets this year.

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

The minister has

spoken of how valuable an asset these parks are. In the park at Banff the largest hotel is owned 'by the Canadian Pacific Railway,

and undoubtedly the tourist traffic which is made possible there by the de-9 p.m. velopment carried on by this government brings in very considerable revenues to- the Canadian Pacific because of both the traffic on the roads and the hotel property. Has the minister any information as to the revenue derived by the Canadian Pacific through their hotel at Banff?

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

I have not that information. I do not know that it is published in any form. Undoubtedly, the hotel is a great attraction to tourists who have plenty of money.

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Is the hotel at

Banff taxed in any way by the Dominion government?

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

No.

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Does the minister

not consider that, since these large sums are being spent by the Canadian people to maintain this park and to attract touris s and since roads are built in every direction and wealthy tourists brought there from every part of the world, the people -who benefit financially might return something in the way of taxation for the privileges they enjoy by being placed in the very heart of the park?

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Do they not return a

great deal in the way of taxation? They are the largest taxpayers in Canada.

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

The question of municipalities in parks is a somewhat difficult one. We only lease the lands upon which the buildings are erected. We do not collect taxes. They tax themselves for educational purposes. Outside of the licenses we collect, very little revenue is gathered in from the municipalities. This is some hing upon which we must develop some policy in the very near future.

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

With an expenditure of over SI,000,000 of the people's money in connection with this park system, it would seem to be only a reasonable thing to expect some return.

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink
LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argen euil):

I think we get it.^ Of course the park is not all the attraction, but it is estimated that over $30,000,000 comes into Canada as a result of tourist traffic. The money spent in the country means a very profitable business. Those who reside in these parks are not taxed to nearly the same extent as they -would be outside.

Supply-Interior

Topic:   TRADE AND COMMERCE
Permalink

June 26, 1925