Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Since I answered a question of the leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson) yesterday regarding the status of the discussions with reference to the construction of a highway to Alaska, a recommendation of the Canadian section of the permanent joint board on defence on this subject, which had been referred to the appropriate military authorities for examination, has been considered and approved by the war committee of the cabinet.
I am now therefore in a position to make a statement on the subject to the house.
The advisability from a military standpoint of constructing a highway to Alaska has been under review by the defence services of Canada and the United States. After final consideration by the permanent joint board on defence on February 25 and 26, a unanimous recommendation favouring the construction of such a road was addressed to the two governments. This recommendation has now been examined and approved by both Canada and the United States.
The recommendation of the defence board, which has been endorsed by the military authorities in each country and approved by the respective governments, is based on purely military considerations. The dimensions of the road, the type of construction and the route chosen have all been selected on this basis and this basis only.
The road as approved will start at Fort St. John in northern British Columbia and follow the general line of the airports which Canada has constructed at Fort Nelson, Watson Lake and Whitehorse; and thence via Boundary and Big Delta to Fairbanks. The highway will thus connect with the existing road systems of Canada and Alaska.
The United States government, appreciating the burden of war expenditure already incurred by Canada since her entry into the war, and in particular on the construction of the air route to Alaska, has offered to undertake the building and war-time maintenance of the highway. At the conclusion of the war that part of the highway which is in Canada will, of course, become in all respects an integral part of the Canadian highway system. This offer has been accepted, and its terms will be set forth in an exchange of notes which will be signed and made public in the very near future. Canada will, of course, provide all necessary facilities, including the right of way for the road. Meanwhile, United States engineers who have been selected to make the survey and to lay out a pioneer road have been authorized to commence work without further delay.
Subtopic: RECOMMENDATIONS OF JOINT DEFENCE BOARD- ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES