I am told that the brother-in-law of the hon. member for Wetaskiwin (Mr. Jaques) lost his farm the day before yesterday. In the particular district in which I live the dike is holding. My own farm buildings are above the high-water mark, and cattle have been brought there from the surrounding district. They are on my high land today, because they cannot be left on the lower ground. Farmers have moved their stock out of the buildings to places behind the second remaining dike.
I wish to impress upon the house the seriousness of this matter. On Friday last school children six or eight years of age and upwards worked in filling sandbags in an endeavour to hold the water back.
A few weeks ago hon. members of the opposition held a convention in Ottawa, upon which occasion a friend of mine, the former provincial president, came here from Agassiz. His drug store is now flooded. I know the hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. Fulton) has just returned, and he tells me that the water is adjacent to the railway. As I say, I do not know how much money has been lost, or how many cattle have been lost. I do not think, however, that that is the important point. When even one life is at stake in Canada, this house must give the matter serious consideration.
The reason for the flood this year is exactly the same as it was in 1894. We had heavy snowfalls this year in the mountains, and a very late spring. Ordinarily we have a gradual run-off, the high water averaging about 17 feet. Measured this morning it was up 22 feet, due to the cold and late spring in British Columbia, and the fact that the run-off came very suddenly.
I wish to point out, through you, Mr. Chairman, that in my opinion-and I am expressing the opinion of the people of my riding- there would have been no damage if the great Fraser river channel had been kept clear. Opposite Matsqui islands, where the large river boats used to come up, and where the river was about three quarters of a mile wide, any time now at low water you can throw a stone across. The sandbar has filled it up. The water cannot get away. Even if we have a normal run-off, the sandbars are there. The only protection we have is one dredge forty years old. This one dredge cannot even keep the mouth of the river open. That is why I think the federal government comes into the matter.
We cannot afford locally to finance the damage that has been done. We cannot afford to finance the protection that is needed if in the next forty-eight hours, or
*maybe within the next week, the ports of Vancouver and New Westminster have to be protected by keeping the two railways running.
One of the ministers is now out in British Columbia. We are now asking the dominion government to assume its responsibility because it is not a matter which concerns only the Fraser valley or British Columbia. It is a national matter, and the economy of Canada is affected.
I wish to say we have every confidence in the engineer who is in charge in British Columbia, but we are suggesting it is not a local matter, and that the government should send out there immediately either a deputy minister or the chief engineer. I would also suggest that the Minister of Agriculture should send out a responsible representative of his department to check on conditions as they affect agriculture, in order that they may, in co-operation with the minister now on the spot, give to the matter the serious consideration which must be given at once to protect the economy of the Fraser valley and of the whole dominion.
I am about to fly out there, because I believe it is my duty under these conditions to be in my own constituency. If I can be of any assistance, that is where I should be. I believe that is where any member should be when it is a matter of assisting his constituency. I hope that some farm member in the opposition will see that I am protected while I am away. I have enough confidence in hon. members to feel sure that that will be done.
I want to impress upon the government, upon the Minister of Public Works in particular, upon the Minister of Agriculture and upon the Minister of Finance, who is not here, that this is not now a Fraser valley matter; it is a national matter which must be attended to, and at once.