February 3, 1938


James Samuel Taylor


Mr. J. S. TAYLOR (Nanaimo):

Mr. Speaker, to avoid vain repetitions, it is not my purpose to make any major comments on the address in reply to the speech from the throne, but in the manner somewhat of an intellectual Autolycus, a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, I want to make some special references to things which I have noticed.

The Bank of Canada, the central bank of our country, authorized by the government to be the custodian and guardian of the people's currency, has recently issued the bilingual notes. Canada is already a fully established commercial country, and the fine arts and printing industry is definitely and well established here, and can be said, I think, to be second to none. The British American Bank Note Company is probably able to produce as excellent a bank note as any other bank note company in the world. Then why is it, Mr. Speaker, that in launching these notes in a public issue they should be of such a nature as to cause considerable distress and demand continuous acuteness of attention because of their faulty identification? Since coming to the house this session I have already from the cash desks of the house received change for a two-dollar tender instead of a five-dollar tender. True, the error was immediately corrected, but it indicates that there is something wrong with the currency when one is liable in the rapid handling of money to make such mistakes. I think greater care should have been taken in the production of these notes, not only as to their colour but as to their type, and I do hope that in any future printings these same mistakes will not be repeated.


The Address-Mr. Taylor (Nanaimo)

A great many people in this country, a great many more than we are disposed to think, are colour blind as to one or more colours, and when you have your five's and your one's so closely related in colour, green and blue, it is not at all unlikely that in certain coloured lights mistakes will be made. Not only that, but the backing of certain of the notes is very confusing alongside the old issue. I think if the matter is carefully considered by someone in the interests of the currency issue, we shall soon determine that something should be done.

Another thing, in somewhat happier vein. I desire very sincerely to congratulate the government and everybody more particularly connected with the stone carving which has been executed on the front porch or entrance of this stately building. More particularly do I feel satisfied and pleased that the supporters are symbolic. I remember when I left here last session learning that they would probably be, if not Atlantes, then typical of our historic past. The choice of the symbolic supporters for the shields is in my mind more permanently acceptable and I think will prove to be truer to the heraldic significance. Especially was I delighted to discover that the eastern escutcheon is left polished and uncharged. May I hope and have faith that that is left there so that our neighbour whose destinies lie in the isle so long ago discovered by the doughty Bristol rover John Cabot will recognize our quality as a nation and join us and blazon his charges on that waiting shield. Again, let me express pleasure in the treatment of the bosses around the stonework of the building, and with particular reference to the delicate idea which placed the initials of Edwardus Rex and the Roman numerals VIII on the boss immediately over the foundation stone of the Victory peace tower. These things are worth remembering while we are struggling with our political issues, because they represent to us sermons being carved in stones as well as in the hearts of our people.

But there is another matter of an entirely different nature to which I wish to refer. It is almost exactly two years ago since the hon. member for Nanaimo stood in his place to make his speech in somewhat similar case as to-night. In those exciting moments he definitely proclaimed and orientated the political parties in the house and declared, with W. S. Gilbert, that:

Every little boy and gal

That comes into this world alive Is either a little Liberal

Or else a little Conservative.

[Mr. .T. S. Taylor. 1

Nor was he nonplussed at the obvious question: Where, then, is the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation? Let me read just a few words from that speech, on page 181 of Hansard, February 13, 1936:

If the house is composed of Liberals and Conservatives, where does this puny group of seven orientate itself? The answer is really simpler than the question. For the first time in the history of this august parliament we have come to a truly foundational opposition by a coherent group; and we, sir, are that foundational opposition and that small group, the outgrowth of the long continued and persistent efforts of our respected leader. . . .We are the scientific students of economics which in this day and age of the downfall and portending holocaust of capitalism must discover to the world the personal advantages, the national security and the universal brotherhood which underlie as foundation stones the social structures and the social culture and advancement of the system of society called socialism.

Nor was he to know that within five months of that night he would be placed on suspension by that coherent group and thrown into line for complete expulsion in February of 1937. And so, sir, to be consistent and honest, I say with the deepest regret that in British Columbia at least the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation is not a coherent group, nor does it represent any longer a truly foundational opposition to the existing so-called capitalist parties. Tragically, there has been lost to the cause of the constitutional and transitional development towards socialism the greatest mass movement which Canadian politics has ever experienced. I am not talking in spleen or in personal antagonism when I state those facts. I have been too closely identified with the very commencement of the movement in British Columbia to be in doubt of what I say. But I declare with sorrow that the ambitions and machinations of dogmatic and doctrinaire Marxian socialists brought about control of the British Columbia party's convention in 1936 and left no resting or abiding place for the socialists of a liberal structure of mind who would otherwise, in the enthusiasm of their desires, have provided added strength and intelligence to the new and greatly promising party. Whatever my personal thoughts may be, I shall not here lay blame on any particular person or persons, but I have little admiration for the intelligences that could conceive of the possibility of dominating one structure of mind by another without giving it even the opportunity of expressing itself or voicing its discontent. Of course this brings me to the unequivocal statement that the Cooperative Commonwealth Fed-

The Address-Mr. Taylor (Nanaimo)

eration is losing ground in British Columbia and, I would say, in every other province where the same or similar conditions obtain.

It must be apparent, sir, that if I am correct, and there are two structures of political mind, the Liberal and the Conservative, then these must be present in the interpretation of socialism as well as of capitalism. And they are, but not in the manner of the man in the street, who classifies the parties in their approach to socialism as conservatives, liberals, radicals, modern socialists, doctrinaire socialists, communists. The facts are that in capitalism we have the conservative and the liberal; in socialism we have the modern socialist and the doctrinaire or Marxian socialist. The liberal and the modern socialist have similar structures of mind. The conservative and the doctrinaire socialist have similar structures of mind. And if we want any verification of that fact, the obvious statements made by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) and remarked upon by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) will at least have some value in bearing me out.

It thus follows, and it can be proved by numerous examples, that the conservative turned socialist becomes a dogmatic and doctrinaire socialist, and, according to his cultural and ethical outlook, a potential communist. If I am correct, then it must be right to say that fascism is an excess in the cultural and ethical expression of capital conservatism, and evidences will doubtless considerably support me. Through all this, it will be observed, I give communism no place;

I give fascism no place in the intellectual structures of our political life. They represent excesses in the moral and ethical development of the conservative, just as unbridled freedom and licence, or, under other conditions, bureaucracy, might represent excesses in the moral and ethical field of liberalism. It matters not whether it be a big stick of wood or a big rod of steel, fascism or communism, it means excess and is to be condemned and despised as such.

Now always, the dogmatic doctrinaire Marxist is a pro-communist; and here lies the grave danger developing out of the separation of the elements in the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. Marx wrote the Communist 'Manifesto in German for the Germans in January, 1848, and Frederick Engels, who to my mind was very often his evil genius, made the following observations in January, 1888, in his introduction to Samuel Moores translation of the German Communist Manifesto published by Charles H.

Kerr and Company, of Chicago. With reference to the time when this was written, Engels says:

Whatever portion of the working class had become convinced of the insufficiency of mere political revolutions, and had proclaimed the necessity of a total social change, that portion, then, called itself Communist. It was a crude, rough-hewn, purely instinctive sort of Communism; still, it touched the cardinal point and was powerful enough amongst the working class to produce the Utopian Communism, in France, of Cabet, and in Germany, of Weitling. Thus, Socialism was, in 1847, a middle-class movement, Communism a working class movement. Socialism was, on the continent at least, "respectable"; Communism was the very opposite. And as our notion, from the very beginning, was that "the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself," there could be no doubt as to which of the two names we must take. Moreover, we have, ever since, been far from repudiating it.

Now let me read from the last few lines of the fourth part of the Communist Manifesto:

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.

In all these movements they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.

Finally, they labour everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries.

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the riding classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.

Working men of all countries, unite!

With such sentiments I will have no truck, nor will I blindly attach any adherence to them. Karl Marx I admire for his most excellent analysis of capital and capitalism

the capitalist economy of his day. His analyses were excellent, but his formulae for the most part leave me entirely unimpressed. Do I then fear the communists? No, save that they destroy everything and every organization to which they attach themselves. And they have attached and are attaching themselves with great assiduity and cunning to the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation.

Through sixteen years, from the meeting of the Third International in Moscow in 1919 until 1935, the Russian-directed communists throughout the world had attempted to foster and project internecine war in every country of the world. In June, 1935, when the International again met in Moscow at their seventh communist congress, they acknowledged having pursued the wrong tactics and declared that thenceforth they must penetrate all

The Address-Mr. Taylor (Nanaimo)

human, ethical, social and political organizations everywhere. And this the least observant individual is able to discover to-day. This was in June, 1935. By November, 1935, they were already able to boast of their successful general penetration of the Canadian Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, as perusal of the reports and speeches at the ninth plenum of the central committee of the communist party of Canada in November, 1935, will most abundantly demonstrate. Let me read three short extracts from this publication-and I choose three at random from probably a hundred throughout the book, wdiich it is extremely difficult to get hold of:

We Strive to Remove All Barriers.

On all of these things we have common ground with the C.C.F. How can we win the C.C.F. for common action on all of these issues? How can we open up every possible avenue towards unity of action and remove every possible barrier that stands in the way?

We declare that in the interests of unity of action we are prepared to affiliate to the C.C.F., retaining our freedom of independent action on the basis of genuine democracy and to sincerely work with all our strength to transform the C.C.F. into the broadest united front party, embracing all the trade unions and farmers' organizations and endeavouring to come to an agreement and understanding with the mass organizations of middle class people on the basis of a united front program of action for peace, for democratic rights and to ease the economic position of the masses by shifting the burdens of the crisis on to the shoulders of the ruling class.

Then again on page 50 I find the following:

Cadres Decide Everything.

Let me explain what is meant by " cadres." Three, four or five communists whose loyalty is not doubted are assigned to inter-penetrate an organization. By dint of great purpose of mind, by strict attention to their duties and by working together ultimately they secure positions on committees: possibly a secretariat; possibly a chairmanship; possibly a delegateship, and so on. They wait until all the men who are toilers have gone home, then push through resolutions in their own interests. It is not long before the organization so interpenetrated is directly controlled, with a lightly gloved hand, by the communists. Those are the cadres, and this is what is said:

The organizational commission that we have set up at this plenum is taking up the problem of cadres as the central key problem confronting the party to-day. At the seventh congress of the Communist International this question was placed before all the parties as the decisive key problem. Comrade Dimitroff stated:

" The problem of what should be the correct policy with regard to cadres is the most vital one of our parties as well as the Y. C. L's-

That is the Young Communist League.

-and all other organizations of the entire labour movement."

Comrade Dimitroff pointed out six basic considerations in respect to the problem of cadres: first of all, we must know our people. Secondly we must institute a proper systematic promotion of new cadres. Thirdly, we must use all of our people to the best advantage. Fourth, wre must properly distribute our cadres. Sixth, the party must care for the proper preservation and protection of its cadres.

In this connection may I state that one of the delegates to the 1936 national convention of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, coming from the Fraser valley, was an avowed communist. Again I quote from page 94, and this is the last quotation:

First of all, we want to make the Young Communist League an organization that will have in its ranks not only communists, but also young socialists and youth who are not as yet communists, even youth who may still be Christians,-

Let me emphasize those words, " even youth who may still be Christians."

-an organization which stands on a program of the defence of the economic and political needs of the young people, the cultural interests of the young people, that stands on a platform of struggle against fascism and war and for socialism, but such an organization will not necessarily take a position on soviet power. Such an organization does not fight for soviet power and the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is the task of the communists inside such an organization to convince and educate the young people inside the organization to agree to accept such a position.

I offer no comment, but I do say, after the most mature consideration, that the development of emotional adherence to new political parties and the sway of emotional political adherents by sectional dogmatism, are suicidal errors in political life. Based on this I declare the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation party in Canada to be already doomed as a constitutional transitional movement to socialism. It already, too, definitely represents, in British Columbia at least, doctrinaire and dogmatic socialism of the Marx-Engels- Lenin-Stalin type. Though I greatly respect the high quality and purpose of every one of its representatives in the house, I fear they are doomed to find themselves compelled by the body of their procession to march in directions differing entirely from those indicated by the signposts of the Cooperative' Commonwealth Federation.

So it is that while still a socialist I declare that I am essentially of the liberal structure of mind, and while my election in 1935 constrains me to call myself an independent for the time being I recognize the weakness to the country and my people in the stand I am constrained to take. I definitely believe that

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there are many not only potential but essential socialists in the Liberal and Conservative ranks, and I believe it would be to the advantage of the country and its progress if the leaders of the old line parties would declare their readiness to embrace all proper to their particular structure of mind, no matter how their intelligence and purpose may desire constitutionally to vary the country's present economy and economic social system.

In closing, and because I still have an earnest message to deliver, I must advise the government that I intend to vote for the amendment, not essentially because of its contents but as a definite protest against the continuance of orthodoxy in the treatment of the staggering problems of the country to-day.


Harry Raymond Fleming


Mr. H. R. FLEMING (Humboldt):

Mr. Speaker, I shall not attempt to follow the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Taylor) in his address in connection with the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and socialism.

In accordance with established custom and constitutional procedure the speech from the throne was presented by His Excellency the Governor General with the usual formalities that mark the opening of parliament. Its adoption was moved by the hon. member for Lotbiniere (Mr. Francoeur) and seconded by the hon. member for Renfrew North (Mr. Warren) in addresses that did credit to the occasion and to the house. The speech reviewed, as was its purpose, the situation that confronts the people of Canada to-day, and foreshadowed the more important issues in connection with which we may expect legislative action this session. It took due cognizance of the exceptional conditions under which the people of Canada are labouring at present and of the trying times through which we are passing. It sees problems that ordinarily would be national only in scope seriously complicated by world conditions and economic uncertainty, and it is to those more pressing of our problems that it directs our best efforts at this time.

Before proceeding with what to me, as a westerner, is a matter of paramount importance, I should like to pay tribute to the leader of the government (Mr. Mackenzie King), who represented us so ably and so creditably at the coronation ceremonies of their majesties last spring. All Canadians, regardless of party affiliations could not but feel a glow of pride in the fact that the senior member in the British Commonwealth of Nations was fortunate in having as its representative one so eminently fitted to fill such a difficult role. Tact and urbanity, the prime requisites in state functions, were not wanting in our distinguished Prime Minister

on that glorious occasion. Indeed, if the comment of the British press is any criterion, the Canadian Prime Minister deported himself with that dignity and diplomacy befitting the occasion.

To those of us who have followed his public career, and are familiar with his grasp of international affairs, it was not surprising to learn that he was able to enter so understandingly into the spirit of such an occasion, and favourably to impress all those who had so much at heart the success of that important event.

Bound together as we are, not only by ties of race and blood but by ties of common interest, the problem of every section of this great dominion becomes the problem of all. All our thoughts, all our hopes, all our inspirations and all our objectives were unified in that historic document which gave us national birth three-quarters of a century ago and which, throughout the years, has held us together in good report and in evil report, and has enabled us to discharge our national responsibility in a manner which has won the respect of the civilized world and commands the admiration of friend and foe alike.

When the supreme test came in the great war, it was through that test that Canada attained her majority and rose from beneath the wand of the Statute of Westminster to a proud place among the nations of the world. No true Canadian will raise issues which would divide section against section, or do anything to dim the lustre of that proud record. On the contrary. I am sure all with listen sympathetically and understandingly to each economic group as it pleads its case before the House of Commons. No section will discriminate against another on the ground alone of geographic location. Saskatchewan will listen to the maritimes as they present their fishing problem, to Ontario and Quebec as they debate their power issues, to British Columbia in her demands for better marketing conditions, and to Manitoba and Alberta as they offer a solution to the wheat problem. But all these provinces will in turn have to listen to Saskatchewan as she pleads in this, her hour of direst need, for that consideration which is due a people who gave with a lavish hand when they had it to give, and who come now as a member of that great Canadian family for temporary assistance, until the storm shall have passed.

She comes not as a stranger in quest of charity, but as an integral part of that great Canadian family, claiming the consideration which is due her. She stands upon her unquestioned right to temporary shelter within that home which she, by her pioneering spirit,

The Address-Mr. Fleming

has helped to rear. Discriminated against by transportation rates and tariff walls, under various federal administrations, she did not threaten secession, nor did she openly advocate the formation of any defensive alliances. On the contrary she relied on the goodwill and understanding of those sections of the dominion which had profited by the new market she had opened up to them.

It is upon that goodwill that she relies to-day, in her appeal for a permanent solution of her drought problem. I have studied the speech from the throne which was read in this chamber by you, Mr. Speaker, and in this memorable document one finds many commendable suggestions with respect to legislation which will be brought forward by parliamentary enactment for the betterment of the Canadian people. After careful perusal of that document I find the one problem which in my opinion is most urgent is dealt with in this manner:

The recurrence, in a more acute form, of drought conditions in certain areas of western Canada has unfortunately made it necessary to provide assistance on an unprecedented scale. The government intends to continue its activities under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act.

Drought, Mr. Speaker, for some time has been considered a national responsibility, financially and administratively. The drought area covers many millions of acres of all types of land. About forty million acres are occupied and about twenty million acres of that are improved; that is, that land has been used for crops or pasture. About a quarter of the whole area is semi-arid. It was so described by LaVerendrye the explorer, when he crossed the plains in 1733, because it was referred to as the great treeless desert.

Thompson in his Narrative of Explorations in Western America stated:

The great plains may be said to be barren for great spaces, even, of coarse grass. . . . Even the rivers that flow through the plains do not seem to fertilize the ground adjacent to them.

Also, Macoun, in 1879, in his autobiography states at page 184:

There were at least 400 miles from Moose Jaw where there were no trees and scarcely a shrub. ... In 1879 I found a parched surface, dried and withered grass. ... In 1880 there were numbers of dried creeks on each line of travel. ... In 1894 the country was drying up, the lakes were disappearing, and many of the settlers were leaving the land. At this time nearly all the lakes and streams on the prairie had ceased to flow. We found the country everywhere dried up and the grass crisp and brittle. ... In all my explorations so far we found the country extremely dry.

However, the railway was built through this region and people swarmed in. The land

was taken up as homesteads. It was broken up and produced wonderful wheat crops. That land would produce bountiful crops again, if only we had sufficient moisture. Mr. George Avery who won first prize in the durum wheat class at the recent International Grain Show in Chicago makes this comment in the Regina Leader-Post:

Give us some moisture and we will have bumper crops. The people who say the west is "through" are mostly people who have not been here long. I have seen wet years and dry years; this is but one of the dry cycles. This year has been the driest I have ever seen.

I am sure all hon. members are interested in the problem and wish to help. If phople are thoroughly to understand the grave and ever increasing problem confronting Canada to-day, a well marshalled campaign must be waged. The editor of the Sunday Dispatch, London, did not make a rash statement when some time ago he wrote in his paper:

Whatever solution is attempted, the world will shortly watch one of the most romantic passages in the history of any people and see again demonstrated that refusal of British stock to be defeated by nature.

It might be worth our while carefully to examine the tragedy of the prairies, to estimate the cause of our troubles and perhaps to lay out some definite future course of action. When we ask the simple question as to what causes drought the simplest and most obvious answer is lack of rain. You may say that is elementary, but as a general answer it is perfectly correct. There is no evidence to show that the climate is changing. All meteorological records go to disprove that the west is growing drier as the years go by. Drought has been known in the west before. The claim is made that it runs in cycles, and that this is the longest cycle since Saskatchewan has been settled. The west is amazingly resilient. Its optimism is proverbial. "A good crop next year and all our troubles will be over" seems to be the thought. However it is difficult to be optimistic after seven or eight lean years, with all the accompanying reverses.

From the beginning of the development of western Canada in the early eighties the necessity and the possibility of irrigation were the subject of study. History has revealed that for centuries the prairies have been subject to recurrent periods of drought of varying intensity and duration and there is no reason to believe that in this respect history will not repeat itself in the future. Recently an expert was quoted as stating that the west will always be subject to drought periods. It would be only rational to expect that we should take advantage of our experience of

The Address-Mr. Fleming

the past eight years and provide for the storage of available waste water as far as it is possible by means of agricultural engineering. This must be done since "drought is going to be a permanent problem," in the judgment of a western farmer now prominently engaged in an effort to solve some of Alberta's problems.

The use of irrigation as an aid to the growth of vegetation is a very ancient art. The paintings and sculptures of ancient Egypt show that it was in use at least 4,000 years ago. There are irrigation works in southern India which were built by the Hindus and which antedate the Christian era. In many parts of the western hemisphere, notably in Peru and in the southwestern part of the United States, there are to be found the remains of ancient irrigation works which are evidently centuries older than any historical record. In some countries irrigation has arisen and disappeared with the civilization of which it formed a part. This is true of the irrigation works connected with the civilization in the western hemisphere. There are evidences of prehistoric irrigation in the Hawaiian islands.

More land was irrigated for the first time in the last half of the nineteenth century than in all preceding centuries. The increase in the world's population, the higher standards of living, the improvement in methods of transportation and the opening up of new markets are combining to bring about the reclamation of lands hitherto neglected and * to increase the productiveness of lands hitherto cultivated. Irrigation is one of the most potent factors in both directions. The area irrigated along the Nile has been doubled in the last fifty years. Four million acres were irrigated from government works in British India in 1850; twenty million acres in 1900. Although irrigation in Italy dates back to the Roman empire, the area irrigated has more than doubled since 1848. The most significant extension of irrigation, however, has been in newly settled countries. In Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, irrigation in recent years has been an important factor in agricultural production. Statistics for 1930 give a total area of 19,547,544 acres under irrigation in the United States, and this has been greatly increased during the last long drought cycle. As to the beneficial effects of irrigation, the Toronto Evening Telegram had this to say editorially on April 2, 1935, with regard to Lloyd barrage:

A country about the size of England, peopled by agriculturalists, but practically without rain, and dependent for its water supply on a single river-that is the province of Sind in

India. Under British rule the primitive canals have been greatly improved and extended, and now the province has the largest irrigation system in the world, with a dam about a mile in length, pierced by sixty-six sluice gate openings, and seven great canals, every one bigger than the Suez.

In 1769 India suffered from drought. A large percentage of the population received drought relief through voluntary contributions. This condition has been removed by means of irrigation. Irrigation systems were built extending from the Himalaya mountains through northern India covering twenty-five million acres. To-day because of irrigation engineering systems in the Nile and in the Ethiopian mountains the British engineers have made Egypt the most productive agricultural country in the world. Why should such a system not be feasible in western Canada? Mr. O. R. Galbraith, secretary of the Saskatchewan-Alberta Irrigation Association says of the situation in the west:

There is no doubt about the need for irrigation in western Canada, and there is no doubt about its feasibility. We have the Rocky mountains covering a breadth of over 200 miles in which are located thousands of lakes which drain themselves back into the Pacific ocean. No effort has ever been made to divert some of that water down over the prairies and fill the innumerable river beds and lakes now gone dry, to provide a greater head of water in the Saskatchewan rivers and by means of dams provide sources of power and irrigation projects throughout the drought stricken areas; whereas a number of such instances can be shown throughout the United States.

I am aware that this is a view which is not shared by the Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture whose evidence before the Rowell commission in Regina on December 16 last was both interesting and illuminating. The Hon. Mr. Taggart is afraid that engineering difficulties are too great to be overcome. While I am prepared to concede that these difficulties are great, I am not willing to admit that they are insuperable. The old adage that necessity is the mother of invention is peculiarly applicable to Saskatchewan's drought problem. Assuredly the necessity is impelling enough to stimulate to action the best engineering skill the country has available. The drought situation in the dry areas of Nevada and California was a challenge that did not go unanswered. The wonderful engineering feats of to-day would in days past have been thought impossible. Will any one say that their necessity was greater than ours?

I refuse to admit defeat until the resources of our universities have been exhausted, until the whole problem has been thoroughly investigated, until every means that human

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genius can devise has been tried. I would respectfully suggest that a group of the best engineers on the continent be engaged to devise a scheme of irrigation that will effectively solve our drought question and that a supreme effort be made to implement their recommendations if the cost of the same be at all within the limits of our financial resources.

The very nature of wheat farming is production to the nth degree, it demands little and returns little to the soil. We find that after centuries these prairies are as fertile as when first formed and contain all the essentials necessary for growth-all they need is water. In this western country we have a soil that is far from being mined out; a soil that produces the finest type of wheat in the world; a country that deservedly bears the name of the bread basket of the world, a country that produces the best bread in the world; a country that year after year receives the prize for the best wheat grown in the world; a country that does not need any artificial fertilizers or the reinforcement of chemicals All that it needs is water, and water at the proper time. Why, therefore, should we hesitate to assist nature to overcome physical obstructions? Why not irrigate?

Statistics show the remarkable effect of irrigation on wheat yield. On a section of the Canadian Pacific railway a census of the yields obtained and the water used by a group of farmers shows that the average yield of wheat was 19i bushels per acre with an irrigation of four inches deep plus rainfall; with two four-inch irrigations, the yields were 30 to 35 bushels and with three four-inch irrigations the yields were as high as 43 bushels per acre. In this district the rainfall was 11-24 inches, of which 9-68 inches fell during the growing season.

Nature itself has created the necessity for irrigation in that portion of western Canada between the Rocky mountains in the west and the province of Ontario in the east, especially the western prairie section, where drought is more frequent than in the central and wooded areas. This region, which is characterized by scanty rainfall, is the northern terminus of a series of plateaux on the eastern side of the Rocky mountains which begins in Mexico, and includes much desert land there and in the southwestern part of the United States. It is frequently referred to as the Great Plains. That portion which is included in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan contain from 40 to 50 million acres. Though arid or semi-arid, the soil contains all the elements necessary for the production of abundant crops-all that it requires is water and water at the proper time.

After the completion of the Canadian Pacific railway in the early eighties there was

an influx of settlers to the western prairies, and it was then that Canadian government officials and engineers became interested in the necessity of irrigation. In 1893 a bill was introduced in the dominion parliament dealing with irrigation. In that same year J. S. Dennis, Chief Inspector of Surveys, was commissioned to visit the United States for the purpose of studying and reporting on the irrigation laws of that country. It was upon his information that the Northwest Irrigation Act was passed by parliament on July 23, 1894. To quote from Mr. Dennis' report to the government in 1894;

The existing climatic conditions, and the necessity for irrigation, have been frequently referred to in the reports of dominion land surveyors employed in surveying this arid region into townships and sections, but it is probably due to the lengthy reports upon this subject and to the persistent advocacy of the principle by Mr. William Pearce, Superintendent of Mines, more than to any other cause, that the public has at last recognized the necessity for irrigation and the benefits to be secured therefrom.

The quantity of water required for irrigable lands depends primarily upon such climatic influences as rainfall, temperature, sunshine and evaporation, and to a less degree upon such factors as time and quantity of application, and the character of the soil and crops.

In the great drought areas of western Canada, there is abundant opportunity for the use of every known method of irrigation that has been tried in the world.

The impounding of flood waters is especially necessary to compensate for deficient rainfall.

The Canadian Pacific Railway Company constructed the largest irrigation project in Canada, extending along its main line between Calgary and Medicine Hat. When the railway was built, it received from the dominion government, as part of the consideration, a land grant of approximately 22,000,000 acres in what now forms the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. This land was to be given in alternate sections, twenty miles on each side of the main line, and it was stipulated that the company might reject any land not well adapted to agriculture, making up the deficiency elsewhere. The company exercised its right by refusing the land between Moose Jaw and Calgary, and in the final settlement it was agreed that the company should take about 3,000,000 acres in a block between Calgary and Medicine Hat and construct an irrigation system upon it. As an indication of its value we find that some farmers who paid $15 an acre for their land have earned enough to pay for it from the sale of one crop. Some of the wheat crops

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average from 40 to 56 bushels per acre, and the farmers are also growing clover and alfalfa, and are raising cattle and hogs.

The Deputy Minister of the Interior in 1894 appeared very skeptical as to the feasibility of irrigation as contained in Mr. Pearce's report, and commented, " It will be a long time before settlement will reach the class of country to which Mr. Pearce's suggestions relate." However, it was not long until irrigation was a practical issue, and the next forty years saw the development of irrigation in western Canada. Sixty-three projects are shown as being in operation in 1894, ranging in area irrigated from seven to twenty-five hundred acres.

The most extensive irrigation project in Canada is the system constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway between Calgary and Medicine Hat. Irrigation development has not been so extensive in Saskatchewan as in Alberta, largely because of the absence of an adequate or readily accessible water supply. A large number of small schemes have been constructed in the southwestern part of this province, utilizing the run-off from the Cypress hills. They are mostly individual floodwater schemes, built at low cost in connection with ranching operations. Some of these date back to 1890 and earlier, but no accurate records seem to be available.

In 1935 irrigation was begun under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act. This Act was passed after we had had five years of the most unprecedented drought. The government provided funds for rehabilitation and irrigation to the extent of three-quarters of a million dollars per year. The present Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner), under whose department this act is being administered. has done wonders with the increased amounts at his disposal. He has given his time and energy, under adverse financial handicaps, to help in reclamation. We must take a long range view and plan for the future if we are to save the prairies for future generations.

Miss Betty Hudson, writing in the Winnipeg Free Press, states:

Sixty million acres and the future of millions of people are at the mercy of dust, wind and drought (if we do not do something in the line of irrigation). Who will be bold enough to say that some day desert sands will not bury Regina and Medicine Hat as they have buried the cities of Asiatic and African civilization?

Under this program there is conservation of water, for both stock and irrigation purposes. Engineering and financial assistance has been given to individual farmers for

building dug-outs, stock watering dams and small irrigation schemes. Under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, irrigation projects have been undertaken in Saskatchewan at Valmarie and Eastend, and scores of smaller schemes are in operation.

Of the work accomplished so far and that now under construction by the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Commission, Mr. T. C. Main, assistant chief engineer for the Canadian National Railway, has this to say:

I have nothing but praise for what has been done, and I hope the good work will continue. My only complaint is that not enough is being done and not enough money is being made available to have any considerable effect on rehabilitation.

In his report to the Canadian National Railway, Mr. Main suggests that:

-a board of capable technical men be appointed to investigate the whole drought problem. Such men should be free from political or other influence so that their recommendations should not be guided by political expediency. They would be an advisory body, so parliament would not be bound to carry out their recommendations; on the other hand, as their advice would be public property, it is very likely that those in control would carry out the policies recommended by these experts if such policies were favoured by the public.

Mr. R. O. Sweezey, a prominent engineer in Montreal and a man of whose resourcefulness we have much evidence, has made the suggestion that the government should undertake a huge 8400,000,000 irrigation scheme. His plan is to build thousands of ditches throughout the millions of acres of the drought area. He estimates the cost of such a project to be less than two years' losses from drought conditions.

Mr. Sweezey writes:

The drought situation in western Canada is one which can be completely and effectively cured by the artificial diversion of water through irrigation ditches, captured from the streams which now flow mostly into the Arctic regions. The project is gigantic, but simple and entirely feasible, at a cost which is probably only less than two years' losses incurred by the present drought conditions. This is a matter of engineering opinion based on facts. It is regrettable that the authorities in Ottawa, through the several departments concerned, have not yet completely compiled those facts in such a manner as to formulate definite engineering conclusions. It is also unfortunate that the technical men of the various departments have in the past exhibited only defeatist opinions, and they would seem to have been overawed by the suggestion that a giant engineering undertaking for the handling of water would overcome the then growing menace which has since developed to such an appalling condition.

Mr. Sweezey also suggests that a commission be formed, consisting of technical men

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and men with commercial and agricultural knowledge, and that this commission should first ascertain the truth about drought in western Canada and the feasibility of irrigation.

The question is, are we going to adopt a program of small irrigation or are we going to adopt a larger project? Whichever scheme is decided upon, money will have to be expended from the federal treasury. Would it not be much more feasible to finance some irrigation project than to spend large sums of money maintaining thousands of families on direct relief? Our universities failed us in not studying the Palliser report and the drought cycles. Our Research Council failed us in not doing work along this line. If that had been done, we would have obtained some information and we might have at least prevented a national disaster.

The Toronto Globe and Mail in an editorial comment in connection with Mr. Sweezey's huge scheme, states:

There is no doubt about the extent of the calamity, and there can be no doubt that huge expenditures are justified if the climatic hazards of the semi-arid regions in the south, and even in the north, can be evaded by intelligent forethought. There are at stake the lives and futures of the people settled on the largest continuous tract of arable land in Canada. There is no question that much of this land which is of high fertility is destined from time to time to have all the aspects of desert country if plans are not developed for conserving for future use excess water when it is available.

Think of the difference between $350,000,000 annual production in the prairie provinces in the drought years and a total of $1,000,000,000 in such a year as 1928. Think of what an important part in that difference a crop of 150.000,000 bushels in a bad year like 1937 makes when compared with a crop of from 400 million to 600 million bushels such as western Canada has produced in years of abundant moisture.

There have been no irrigation projects of vast extent in the world which have not been criticized in advance and during their construction by people who say that the money is being wasted and that the results will be negligible. There is now too much history on the other side for that argument to hold. Large parts of the fertile districts of California would to-day be desert but for irrigation. Many of the huge sugar plantations of the Hawaiian Islands would be impossible without irrigation.

_ Some will say that there is not enough water in the south and north Saskatchewan and other rivers to irrigate the vast extent of land involved. Assertions of that kind from nontechnical sources did not deter Australia from embarking on huge projects though her rivers are fewer and the rainfall much less dependable than in western Canada.

In 1857, that great Irishman Captain Palliser, as mentioned before, was sent out by the British government and he reported that the great plains of Saskatchewan were unfavour-

able for agricultural development owing to the dryness and lack of moisture in the soil, but years afterwards these same plains became the most fertile and productive grain growing areas in the world. It may be that after years of deficient rainfall in the west, a change for the better may be expected, but can we leave things to chance?

Like a great many people, I was rather skeptical of the truth of statements made regarding the drought of southern Saskatchewan. and I decided to get the information first hand. So, accordingly, I travelled over eight hundred miles of the dried out area and found that conditions had not been exaggerated. I found that practically the whole area I visited was a blanket of Russian thistle of unbelievable growth and unbelievable thickness. I did not see one field that would yield more than three or four bushels to the acre excepting a few acres of oats that were irrigated at Yalmarie. In the extreme south cactus plants, which frequent only the extremely dry regions, were flourishing. Soil was drifting and in some places had buried fences and blocked the road allowance.

The drought, which has been continuous for eight years, has given westerners a very pessimistic outlook and they are beginning to fear that the west will not be able to stage a real comeback. If this proves to be the case, eastern Canada will suffer a permanent loss from the result of economic disaster in the west.

The Montreal Herald on December 21 last contained an editorial, " What the West Means to the East."

Lest we forget what western Canada means to eastern Canada, and what the harmonious union of both means to the continued existence of British North America as the home of a people free to go about their peaceful avocations with none to make them afraid, let us look at Canada as a whole for a few moments.

First, look at it in the light of the land-hungry nations. What would Germany or Italy not give to gain possesion of the three prairie provinces of Canada. Provinces which not only constitute one of the choicest agricultural territories in the world, but are richly endowed in metals, coal and oil?

Now let us look at the history of these provinces.

In the first decade of this century the filling up of the west by agricultural settlement exerted a profound influence on the general development of the dominion. Vast amounts of capital were attracted to Canada for the construction of transportation and other facilities and the building up of such cities as Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton.

Where was this money spent? Largely in the east for materials-for the steel and rolling

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stock for the railways, for agricultural implements for the new farms, home furnishings and clothing.

This activity laid the foundation for an era of factory building that contributed greatly to the growth of population and prosperity in the eastern provinces.

What built the Angus shops in the east end of Montreal and contributed much to the activity of the Point St. Charles shops in the west end?

The trade of the western provinces.

What built up the grain ports of Fort William and Port Arthur, and made Montreal one of the world's greatest seaports?

The grain trade of the western provinces.

What for years has been the biggest single factor in our export trade?

The western wheat crop.

What has given the greatest amount of employment to men engaged in the inland and ocean shipping and railways centering upon Montreal ?

The western wheat crop.

What single product has brought more ready cash than anything else into this country to be spent on the products of industrial Quebec and Ontario ?

The grain crops of the western provinces.

Italy would love to include the western provinces in the Roman empire. Germany would revel in their possessions.

And, coming nearer home, there is a general feeling in the west that the United States would be ready to assume all the obligations of the prairie provinces in return for the privilege of making them the 49th state of the Union.

Yet here in eastern Canada are some who are talking as though the western provinces were a liability instead of an asset-some who would grudge generous help to these provinces to tide them over the troubles caused by a depression that hit these provinces harder than any other part of the dominion.


Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)



Order. The hon. member has already occupied forty minutes.


Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)


Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Go ahead.


Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)



With the consent of the house.


Some hon. MEMBERS:



Harry Raymond Fleming



Fortunately, there is still hope for the great plains of the west if engineering science is to be relied upon, and there is reason to believe that these years, so full of disappointment and misery, are passing into history, and a more cheerful story is about to unfold.

The rumblings which our demands in the west have produced in the east, the repercussions this question has already produced among men in positions of responsibility, would indicate that this matter unless faced in a spirit of goodwill and understanding might easily have serious constitutional consequences.

Saskatchewan is grateful for the assistance which has been given her by sympathizers from one end of the dominion to the other. Too much cannot be said for the kindness

and the generosity of the various welfare organizations that sent clothing and food in such quantities to the people of the stricken areas. The work of the government in the matter of relief has been splendid and Saskatchewan has no complaint to offer in that respect.

Her fear, however, is that her sister provinces and the people of the country as a whole are not sufficiently impressed with the necessity for a permanent solution of her drought problem. It is the conviction of the people of Saskatchewan that this is a national issue and one which should be faced and permanently disposed of.

The whole issue, as hon. members can see, is fraught with danger to the integrity of the nation and with peril to her economic future. Magnificent in the days of her prosperity. she is not cast down in the days of her adversity. The potentialities which were hers when she entered confederation over thirty years ago are hers to-day.

The spirit in which she was conceived is the spirit which has kept her unerringly on her course ever since.

Solve the problem permanently; reclaim her drought areas through a comprehensive program of irrigation, and Saskatchewan will return to the economic fold, in a manner that will restore the confidence she inspired, and once again we shall be able to say:

These are the gardens of the desert, these the unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful, for which the speech of England has no name, -the prairies.

On motion of Mr. Lapointe (Quebec East) the debate was adjourned.


At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Friday, February 4, 1938

February 3, 1938