May 30, 1939

CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Is any provision made

under this item for the treatment of epidemic diseases that afflict spruce, pine, cedar and other evergreen trees in our parks?

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

Yes. Studies of the kind are carried on in conjunction with the entomological and botanical branches of the Department of Agriculture and considerable progress has been made in checking the ravages of some of these pests.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

About four or five years ago a blight struck the trees in the Banff and Yoho parks and it was easily discerned. Vast areas of evergreens began to turn brown and in course of time they died. Last year I noticed a similar blight had crossed the Selkirk range, whether infected from that area I do not know, and some fine stands of commercial timber on the western slope of the Selkirk range were attacked. It was creating havoc in a certain district. To any lover of the forest and of nature, who also appreciates the value of our trees as a national asset, these things are extremely disturbing. I suggest therefore that, first, with a view to the preservation of the beauty of our parks, and secondly, for the purpose of helping to save commercial timber, our national parks offer a unique opportunity for work of this kind, and I urge upon the minister that he give this suggestion some study.

With reference to the devastation caused by forest fires, I am not critical of the minister's remarks, but I can speak from personal observation. I have watched the progress of events in British Columbia for forty-five years, and I can show hundreds of square miles in many districts where magnificent timber was swept clean away, leaving the mountain bare. These patches have not been reforested. There is growing up on them an inferior type of timber following fires of that kind. Actually hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of timber has been destroyed by forest fires. Very little has been done by any provincial government in the last forty years

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to cope with the fire menace, apart from fighting the fire when it breaks out and keeping a watch for any outbreak, and once a fire occurs, with the draught which it naturally develops its spread is usually rapid, so that the only thing that can be done is to confine it as far as possible within the area. Almost invariably' considerable damage is done.

With regard to the question. of reforestation, I suggest to the minister that the national parks branch, together with the Department of Labour, should study the advisability of establishing large nurseries in the parks or in areas that could be assigned to the parks branch for work of this description. Mention was made of what the provincial government was doing. I have no desire to reflect upon the provincial government, but the work it is doing is so infinitesimal as really to amount to nothing. When you talk about a million seedlings it sounds big, but actually it is extremely small. The problem must be approached from a national point of view. There are large areas in the parks of Alberta and British Columbia-Yoho, the Glacier park, Kootenay, Banff, Jasper and many others-which are under the direction of federal authority, and they are all suitable for reforestation. There is therefore a great opportunity for work in that direction. It is a growing asset, and no money would be lost in such work. This money that we are spending may result in some scientific knowledge, but we are not so making use of that knowledge as from now on to build up an asset which fifty or a hundred years hence would abundantly repay us. Instead of merely spending a couple of hundred thousand dollars in an assumed discharge of our responsibility, we should in conjunction with the Department of Labour approach the problem with an eye to the future, looking ahead twenty or thirty years. We should follow a program over a number of years.

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

With a definite objective each year.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

With the definite object

of supplying work and training foresters, because many of these young men who go into that business will remain as expert foresters. If the problem were taken hold of in that way we should be justified in capitalizing the work done, so that we should not call it money paid out in the form of a dole for the relief of unemployment; it would be an investment in the forestry life of this country. I view with alarm the course w'e have been following. During the first session I was in the house, now twenty-eight years ago, I brought this subject up. I talked to the provincial

governments, the late Mr. Sloan when he was minister of lands in British Columbia, and the present premier of British Columbia, who is a very charming gentleman; but there has never been an effort to grapple with the problem. We have been exporting from British Columbia to Norway and Sweden, where they use it in planting tree nurseries, tons of seed of pine, fir and spruce. In Sweden a year or two ago I was taken into forests which were almost ready to cut-in fact, preliminary cutting was going on-grown from British Columbia seed during the last thirty or forty years. This seems to me a challenge not only to the intelligence but to the sense of duty of those of us who are in positions of authority to preserve an asset we already possess or to create one that will in time become of great value to the country. The opportunity is there; the need is there. Under this national parks policy, which is a splendid thing, we could give a great service in that respect.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacINNIS:

The subject matter

touched upon by the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) cannot be overemphasized. In British Columbia the forest situation is becoming very serious. The chief forester for the province at the last two sessions of the legislature made reports which were disturbing to say the least. He pointed out that at the present rate of commercial cutting, without taking into consideration at all the fire loss, the commercial timber in British Columbia will be exhausted in sixteen to twenty years. It is a serious situation for a province in which so much of the public revenue during the last thirty years has been derived from its timber resources. British Columbia has been living on its capital and expending very little of the forest revenue on forest preservation. The minister mentioned the smallness of the fire hazard there. I believe there was a time when in certain parts of British Columbia it was almost impossible to start a forest fire. I was told that, when I went to British Columbia over thirty years ago. But that time is gone. With the continual cutting, the slash being left on the ground, fires are as general in British Columbia forests and as easy to start as they are anywhere else in Canada. And possibly because of the contour of the province they are harder to deal with when started.

I gather from this vote that what the dominion government is largely doing is research and experimentation. The item is called "forest conservation," but I do not think much conservation is carried on under it. I remember reading in the press a little while ago of a forest expert from Norway visiting

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Canada, He came to British Columbia and, speaking I think .in Edmonton, was asked if he had learned anything new in regard to forest conservation while in British Columbia or in Canada as a whole. His reply was striking; he said he had not learned anything positive, but he had learned a number of things not to do. We are faced with a condition in Canada, particularly in British Columbia, in respect of which something must be done. We must safeguard our forests. Anything the minister can do to help in that province and to cooperate with the provincial government will be appreciated. I hope he will make the necessary overtures to the province to deal with forest preservation.

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I wish to endorse everything that the last two speakers have said, and their statements should have the more weight because they approached the matter without the least political bias. Almost every year logging camps on Vancouver island have to shut down for one to three weeks on account of the danger of fire. It is so readily started and so difficult to control. One fire which did considerable damage was caused by the breaking of a wire cable which flew back and coiled around a dry stump; the friction set the stump on fire, and although all hands were there at once, it was weeks before the fire was put out. This indicates how dangerous the condition is. Last year the camps were shut down for over a month, and a very heavy loss was sustained and a still greater one threatened.

Dealing with another aspect of the matter: this vote is for conservation. Let me suggest another form of conservation-beginning, so to speak, at the other end-which should commend itself to the government because it would not involve any expenditure. The minister may say it is not in his department, but after all he is a member of the government and he can make recommendations as to policy. If the government prohibited the export of logs, it would extend the life of the forests we now have until we could bring in some system of reforestation. It is a reflection on our common sense that we allow this condition to prevail. It does not matter really whether the shipping out of the logs is done by white men or by orientals, although the thing comes home to us more strikingly when it is done by orientals. They come to British Columbia and buy from private individuals large areas of timber. They cut it and ship it out as logs, employing their own nationals exclusively, except the one or two white men they are compelled by law to employ. The wages paid benefit the country to a slight

extent, but it is so little. The logs are cut and taken to the water, sometimes without even being barked; they are shoved into a vessel and taken to Japan, where the necessary sawing and manufacturing facilities are operated. It is a matter of common knowledge, I believe, that they do that in the fulfilment of a deliberate policy of buying timber abroad while they can get it as cheaply as they can in British Columbia, thus preserving their own forests. Perhaps the ordinary traveller visiting Japan does not see much timber, but I believe on one northern island, the name of which I have forgotten, there is a very considerable area of growing timber, and they preserve that as a matter of deliberate policy while 'buying their timber cheaply in British Columbia. They are more far-sighted than we are; they are preserving their own timber against the day of trouble, and meanwhile we are letting our heritage go for a mere song, for this trivial amount of wages expended in cutting it and bringing it to the water. If the government would put into force a prohibition against the export of logs, except in manufactured form, it might take us longer to devastate our forests, or clean them out- and that would not be a bad thing for British Columbia or Canada. It would certainly give more employment to people in British Columbia and would to some extent check the drain that is going on now. The hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis) pointed out that the chief forester for British Columbia had suggested that in a matter of sixteen or twenty years the commercial timber would be wiped out. Surely now is the time to begin to do something. And it does look particularly bad for us, when we talk about protecting our resources, and about tariff protection, that we should let one of our biggest assets disappear, for a mere song, or for the expenditure of the very smallest possible amount of labour. I do suggest that this matter should be taken up. Possibly it does not come under the department of the minister, but I suggest this matter of conservation might be taken up by him with his colleagues.

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IND

James Samuel Taylor

Independent

Mr. TAYLOR (Nanaimo):

In earnestly supporting all that has been said about this matter I wish to draw attention to another feature of conservation. In British Columbia, and in fact all along the Pacific coast, there is a valuable tree which is indigenous, namely the cascara tree. It thrives in the forests, but the moment those forests are cut down the ruthless deforestation destroys the cascara tree. There is quite a process connected with the collection of the bark, a process which

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is understood by those who have practiced it for some time. The tree is easily taken care of, but the people who ruthlessly destroy the resources of our country should be prevented from carrying on their nefarious, destructive work. Has the minister anything to say about what is being done with respect to the care for the cascara tree?

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

Replying first to the question of the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Taylor), there is very little the government can do in the matter he has raised. We must approach a consideration of this question with the knowledge that all the forests are resources owned and under the control of the provinces. The federal government has no jurisdiction over what class of timber shall be cut, how it shall be cut, what shall be done with the wastage or the slash, or anything else; these are matters purely within provincial control. This fact has led to concentration of efforts by the federal administration on the particular areas over which it has control, namely, the national parks and the experimental forestry stations. In the experimental forestry stations and in the national parks we are endeavouring to study scientifically all the factors relating to forest growth, conservation, and utilization, and that information is prepared in proper form and is available not only to provincial forestry authorities but also to the private operators who are found in every province of the dominion.

I agree with everything that has been said with respect to this matter of conservation. The hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) stated the case reasonably and moderately, as did other hon. members who supported his view. In the past very little attention has been given to the conservation of this national asset. The subject did not exist in the thoughts and minds of many people ten or fifteen years ago. It was rarely one would find a person who would give even a casual thought to the need of conserving or reproducing our forests. A change is taking place in that regard, and to-day there is a growing interest throughout the length and breadth of Canada in the matter of protecting, preserving and conserving our forests. That is all to the good, and should be encouraged in every reasonable way. I was impressed with that thought a few years ago. I might say that the vote we are now considering, while it is small in comparison with an expenditqre which usefully could be made on the whole problem, will do good. Three or four years ago such a vote did not exist, because the work was not then being carried on. I believe it was only two years ago the first vote for this special purpose appeared in

the estimates. I am not necessarily betraying any secret when I tell the committee that I had to convince my colleagues as to the wisdom of the expenditure. I had less difficulty this year. I will take the committee sufficiently into my confidence to say that if I should be on the job again next year I shall endeavour to have the vote increased. I am glad to have the support of the committee this afternoon to that end.

In the present year, under the votes of the Department of Labour, a million dollars have been appropriated for general forestry work. It will give an opportunity for employment, we hope, to a considerable number of young people. They will gain experience in conservation methods, and we should expect some of them to be encouraged to go on and make forestry work their career. That will probably be the result. As stated by my colleague the Minister of Labour when his .estimates were 'before the committee, a portion of that vote has been transferred to the Department of Mines and Resources for purposes of administration. The work has already been pretty well planned for the present season. It will be carried on again in the parks and in the forestry stations, extending and enlarging the work we have been able to do under this vote and the vote of last year.

In public addresses I have endeavoured occasionally to emphasize to the people of Canada the importance of our forest wealth. It is encouraging to find to-day a much greater response to an appeal of this kind than would have been possible ten, fifteen or twenty years ago. We are travelling in the right direction. I confess that I believe we are travelling rather slowly, but it is only by building up public opinion throughout the country in support of these measures that we shall secure effective results in the future.

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

What about an export duty on raw logs?

Mr. CRERAR; I would hesitate to express any opinion upon that matter to-day. There may be much merit in the suggestion of the hon. member for Comox-Alberni, but I can also foresee a good deal of opposition to it. This is not a matter that comes particularly under my direction. I think we could do something more in educational work, particularly in the public schools-the way is opening up for that. I am certainly pleased with the trend of the discussion this afternoon.

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IND

James Samuel Taylor

Independent

Mr. TAYLOR (Nanaimo):

I believe the cascara tree is making its last stand in British Columbia, because it has been destroyed in California, Oregon, and to a great extent in

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Washington. The bark takes about three years to cure before it is ready for the chemical market. The importance of the growth of this tree should be considered by the conservation branch of the department.

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Item agreed to. Lands, parks and forests branch. . 017. Land registry-Amount required to reimburse the government of Saskatchewan for one-half the loss suffered on account of unpaid relief advances made by municipalities under joint guarantee from the dominion and the province, $90,000.


CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacINNIS:

Why is this item under mines and resources?

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

This is a matter which

originated some twenty years ago in connection with granting assistance for relief purposes in Saskatchewan. Where advances had been made by the banks to municipalities for the purchase of necessary relief, an arrangement was made under which the provincial and federal governments would share equally in any loss that might arise.

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?

George Halsey Perley

Mr. PERLEY:

The minister states that this matter has been outstanding for some time. Why did it not appear in the estimates of other years? I know something of the financial condition of Saskatchewan, and I do not think that government would allow an item of this kind to run so long.

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

This covers advances made for the purposes I indicated a moment ago, under agreements entered into in the years 1919 to 1922. I am informed that this amount clears up the losses which have been established definitely up to the present time.

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?

George Halsey Perley

Mr. PERLEY:

Has this account been in dispute and carried along without settlement?

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

It has not been in dispute. It has simply been carried along by the banks as an amount owed to them.

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CON

Harry James Barber

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARBER:

How does it come under this department?

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

At that time the lands and resources of Saskatchewan were under federal control. There were a large number of homesteaders who were recipients of this assistance.

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May 30, 1939