Three hundred miles is in Alberta and eighty miles in the Northwest Territories. It is expected that the province will be calling for tenders for the provincial section in a few weeks and active construction work will commence early next year. It is anticipated that the road will be completed by the end of the year 1947.
Has there been any increase in the population of the Northwest Territories? Perhaps the minister can tell us what the possibilities are of employment in that area for men who are being demobilized from the forces. Is any information available for these young men about their chances in the territory? I feel sure that Canada is not doing what she could do to develop that country. One has only to observe what is going on the other side of the north pole to learn that Russia is building large cities in an area which, I believe, has about the same climate and much the same resources as the Northwest Territories. Is the government taking any steps to try to develop northern Canada in the same way that Russia has developed northern Siberia?
About 1,500 people more in the Yellowknife district. That may be increased considerably elsewhere. However, that is the increase reported at this time, and it is expected that there will be considerably more in the near future. So far as employment is concerned, the companies operating there are in touch with the department for the employment of men. The employment of returned soldiers is of course part of the rehabilitation plan and they will get the preference. There are many projects to be dealt with so far as the Northwest Territories are concerned. I *realize, as the hon. member has said, that Canada is looking to the territory as one of the great hinterlands which must take care of
many of our problems in the future, more especially in connection with employment. All of these matters are being dealt with in the dominion-provincial conference. Our department realizes the seriousness and significance of development of the Northwest Territories from the point of view of all Canada. If I am strong enough to get a larger vote for next year I shall provide more funds in the next estimates for these particular purposes.
I do not wish to say anything which might be misconstrued elsewhere. Our department has been making inquiries with regard to the matters of which the hon. member speaks, with not very great success in getting information.
Before the item carries I want to compliment the minister on what he has said. It will give a great deal of hope to the people up in that country. A few days ago I received a copy of the Blade a Yellowknife newspaper. I am sure that when I send the editor of that newspaper the copy of Hansard containing what the minister has just said it will help to allay the fears of the people in that country. The population of the Northwest Territories is now about 10,000 in the whole area around Yellowknife, Fort Smith, and the territory north from Fort Smith and down to Norman Wells and Aklavik. The paper is called the Blade. It is published by a vigorous editor, and I hope he gives the minister praise for his programme. Here is what the Blade says on its first page, November 20, 1945:
Northwest Territories Association
As announced last Saturday, the Northwest Territories Association is in process of formation.
This is potentially a great and growing section of Canada but its present potentialities and all hopes for its future may be destroyed if the Ottawa administration is not aroused from its comatose condition.
We must show those swivel-chair northerners-by-proxy that we must have a say in our own affairs.
I am sure that when the editor, John Murray McMeekan reads the Hansard which I will send him by air mail, he will see that Ottawa is now alive to the situation.
I think, perhaps, to keep Hansard right, I should add something to what the minister stated about the Grimshaw road. I have been over it, from Grimshaw to Notakewin, so I know what I am talking about. The end of the present hard gravelled road is Notakewin. From Notakewin up to Hay river, or
Supply-Mines and Resources
rather to Alexandra Falls on Hay river, is a winter road, a tractor road made during the last two or three years, thanks mostly to the Alberta government. They will be pleased, I know, that this government is now going to cooperate with them in making that a hard surface road, as it should be. At Alexandra Falls the road will divide like a V; one goes off to the right to the mouth of the Hay river, from which point, in the winter time, tractor traips will go across the Great Slave lake to Yellowknife. That is the reason it is being built. The other part of the V will go to Mackenzie river, to Mill's lake on the Mackenzie river and across the Mackenzie river on down to the town of Norman Wells. I hope the minister will keep before him the Norman Wells area too, because that is part of the Northwest Territories. I am sure he is interested in the welfare of that part of the country and in making winter transportation possible where there is none now. His participation in any such effort will allay the feelings of the people there about separation, or whatever it may be called, because I could read further articles out of this paper referring to the time of the American revolution and suggestions about this being the time for them to organize and get busy.
The reason for that road from Grimshaw is the fact that the Great Slave lake freezes solid, so much so that after the Mackenzie river opens in the spring there is no steamer transportation through Great Slave lake for two and three weeks later, because, the boats cannot get through Great Slave lake into the Mackenzie river. It is felt that when the road is completed', tractor trains going north from Grimshaw will take large quantities of supplies to Mill's lake on the Mackenzie river, and in the spring the Mackenzie river boats will take freight down the river perhaps a month earlier than they otherwise could if they had to go through Great Slave lake. The same would apply in the fall of the year. When the boats are coming up the river they cannot go through Great Slave lake because of the ice, but they could unload at Mill's lake and ship by tractor train through to Grimshaw on the Peace River road.
I wish to ask the minister a question in regard to YeUowknife, but before doing so I think I ought to make this observation. After listening to the member for Davenport, and in view of the experience he has had and the knowledge which he has brought to the discussions in this house, I suggest that there are many people across this country who have been awarded a fellowship in the Royal Topographical Society for much less than the hon. gentleman has done in the interests of developing the natural resources of Canada. What I had in mind was this. Yellowknife is becoming one of the large centres in the north. The people there were disfranchised in the last general election. As I understand the situation, by reason of their location they are being denied the right to exercise their vote. I know that strong objection has been raised by the people, and I trust that between now and some time in the next feiw months when electoral changes are being made the minister will bring to the attention of the appropriate department the necessity of doing something to remove the unfairness that now exists.
Mr. GiLEN: The hon. gentleman is referring to electoral representation?
A townsite has been formed in that district and they have a council, three of whom are elected by the people and three appointed by the commission of the Northwest Territories and council. The whole matter of representation will have to hi taken care of in the very near future rather than over a long period, because it is expected that there will be a large inflow of people as that area develops. NaturaUy the whole question will have to be considered in the. light of government policy.
In Yellowknife settlement itself there are about 1,500, and in the remainder of the Mackenzie district, there are about 2 500 white people. But people are coming in and are likely bo come in in much greater numbers in the future. The original townsite of Yellowknife was built upon rock, there being no ready facility for sewage disposal, but there happens to be a piece of land, near the present site, which is covered with good earth, and we have been able to create a townsite which has been surveyed. The people will live there in a reasonable degree of comfort. Altogether we are fuUy aware of the situation. We are seized of the fact that considerable expense will be involved in the future development of that district. All encouragement must be given by the department for the development of that district, because if one believes all the fairy tales one hears, it is apparently an Eldorado.
I do not wish to retard the progress of these estimates, but I want to go back to the question of the national park at Riding Mountain, because it involves policy and is a matter of great importance. It involves the handling of the natural resources of the country. I think the minister should make a better statement than he has given us. He is familiar with the situation, since the park happens to be in his own riding and next to mine, so we both have a great interest in it. I would ask him why it was that the Northern Trust company could get a contract for two limber berths wherein they could cut lumber at a price of $1 per thousand, while settlers living around the park, if they could get a permit, which is difficult, had to pay a higher price. I do not know what the exact price is at the present time, but we have some indication from a return here which gives the names of two persons who received contracts. These were Mr. Dewitt and Mr. Proskin of Sandy lake, and the contracts were entered into in 1940. They paid $4.35 for the lumber they cut, while the Northern Trust company has cut over seven million feet of lumber at a price of $1 a thousand.
Before this item carries I would like to know when these timber berths were contracted for originally and for what period of time. The minister has told the committee that the contracts were made before the area became a park and therefore nothing can be done about it now. I do not want to criticize him. He is new in the department, and no doubt there are some things which he intends to straighten out when he can. But I would point out to him that this is certainly one of the things that should be straightened out very soon, and the reply that nothing can be done about it is not at all satisfactory. After all, the forest is contained in a national park and is the property of the people of Canada. There is therefore no reason why a contract made some years ago at the ridiculous price of $1 a thousand for lumber should continue in perpetuity. I do not know how long the contract has still to run, but I suggest that the minister should move immediately to make an adjustment. If the local settlers who need the lumber badly-and they need it worst of all-cannot get a permit in some cases to cut for their requirements, why
should some big corporation have the privilege of moving into a national park and taking out seven million feet of lumber in the last five years which they sold at a very handsome price for the building of airports near Dauphin.
Some of it was probably exported. They got it for SI a thousand. Because I think it is important and pertinent to the argument
I should like to put on the record some of the figures. To make it perfectly clear I shall quote some of the figures which were given to me in the return dated September
II of this year. I shall include only one of the timber berths, No. 571. This berth was contracted for by the Northern Trust company. The figures are as follows: In 1940-41 they took out 2,889,606 feet at a price of $2,852.26. The committee will note that that works out. at $1 a thousand feet. In 1941-42 they took out 1,185,510 feet at a price of $1,187.16. In 1942-43 they took out 421,781 feet at $415.79. I wonder how many people tried to buy lumber in those years and. what price they paid for it. In 1943-44 they took out 507,900 feet at $507.90. In 1944-45 they took 908,839 feet at $908.82. The other berth is 551-D, and it ran at the same price.
In August 1945 I had occasion to write to the Department of Mines and Resources in behalf of some farmers who came to see me. They were seeking a permit to cut timber in an area described as Buck lake. I have the reply of the minister here and I shall put on the record that part of it which is pertinent to this discussion. He replied as follows:
I have your letter of the 4th instant, to which was attached a petition from fanners in the vicinity of Gilbert Plains, asking that some 200 acres of mature timber southeast of Buck Lake be opened up for cutting.
This matter is being taken up with Superintendent Heaslip, and as soon .as a report has been received from him I will advise you further.
I would assume that the report was not favourable and this area was not opened up. There may have been some reason for that, but in view of the fact that this company has been taking out timber for many years-I know for five years-at $1 a thousand, timber which belongs to the people of this country, and the settlers who live alongside of the park have not been able to get any. I think that a great injustice has been done. I do not think that the reply of the minister that this contract was entered into before the area became a park is good enough. The farmers who applied to get a few thousand feet of lumber will not be satisfied with that
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answer. We cannot shrug it off and pass the buck, even though it is in connection with Buck lake.
Does the Minister of Mines and Resources approve the contracts which were made with the Northern Trust company? It is important that we know whether this same policy will be followed in the future. Does the minister approve selling the resources of this country at SI a thousand feet to large corporations at a time when the farmers who are living next to the resources cannot get permits to cut timber at all?
Another thing that should be brought to the attention of the committee is that the Northern Trust company do not cut the timber themselves. They have not set up a saw mill; they have sublet this contract to a saw mill which is doing the cutting, and there you see again the whole operation that has taken place repeatedly in connection with our natural resources, especially the forests. Some big concern comes along and takes out a contract on a large berth of timber at a ridiculous price compared with what people have to pay for lumber. A dollar a thousand is a ridiculous price. It is throwing our resources away.
Even then they do not go to the trouble to employ people directly to do the work, to to bring the timber out. They sublet it to saw mills. They let them do the work. They let the local people go in and get the timber out of the woods and bring it to the saw mill, and then those same people have to go to the lumber yard to buy it. A great injustice is done there.
Does the Minister of Mines and Resources intend to make an adjustment in this contract? If not, does he intend to give this committee a statement as to how long this contract with the Northern Trust company has been in force? What is the total amount that has been taken out of the national park at Riding Mountain? Will that contract be continued for any considerable length of time? I feel strongly about this; I feel sure that a great many members of this committee feel as I do. The resources of this country belong to the people, and where we cannot share them all equally we can at least give fair and equal treatment to all in making use of them. If there is any preference at all it should be given to the farmers and settlers who live next to the park and who wish to go in and take out the timber under their own power. It is a crying injustice to allow a big corporation to go in and
take out timber at $1 a thousand when local people are denied the cutting of a few thousand feet for their own use.