May 31, 1948

KIMBERLEY AND OTHER BRITISH COLUMBIA AREAS -QUESTION OP FEDERAL ASSISTANCE


On the orders of the day:


CCF

James Herbert Matthews

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

Mr. J. H. MATTHEWS (Kootenay East):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask a question of the Prime Minister, a copy of which I have addressed to him. In view of the terrible flood damage sustained by the town of Kimberley, British Columbia, estimated to be well over $1,000,000, will the government give earnest consideration to the granting of some financial assistance to those who have been rendered homeless and who have lost their all? I may say, sir, that I have received a telegram from the mayor of Kimberley asking if it is possible to get some financial assistance from the government.

Topic:   FLOOD CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   KIMBERLEY AND OTHER BRITISH COLUMBIA AREAS -QUESTION OP FEDERAL ASSISTANCE
Permalink
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. E. D. FULTON (Kamloops):

Before the Prime Minister answers, may I ask if when he is answering he will deal with the whole problem in British Columbia because there are other areas in exactly the same position, and I had intended to ask a somewhat similar question.

Topic:   FLOOD CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   KIMBERLEY AND OTHER BRITISH COLUMBIA AREAS -QUESTION OP FEDERAL ASSISTANCE
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, when I

received a copy of the hon. member's question I did have prepared a statement to give to the house respecting the government's position in the matter of dealing with flood conditions, and the like, which I shall read to the house.

I would however direct the hon. member's attention to the wording of his question. Judging from the text, it would appear to be more for the purpose of conveying certain information than of asking a question. I cannot take any responsibility for the accuracy of the statement that losses are over a million dollars, or that they are estimated as such. The question as to the government's being prepared to consider what it should do in a matter of this kind I shall be glad to answer. My answer, however, will relate rather to the general situation, as has been suggested by the hon. member for Kamloops.

I should add that on Friday last my colleague the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Fournier) dealt, I thought, rather fully with the situation when he replied to a question put by the hon. member for Fraser Valley (Mr. Cruickshank). I shall now supplement, if not repeat, what the Minister of Public Works said on that occasion.

The responsibility for assistance to those suffering from floods and similar disasters of nature lies with provincial governments and local communities, as well as with non-governmental organizations such as the Red Cross, to which voluntary contributions have been made for this purpose. The government has no reason to believe at this time that these authorities and organizations will not be able to discharge their responsibilities in dealing with the unfortunate sufferers from the disastrous floods that have recently occurred in British Columbia and elsewhere in western Canada. The dominion has not the constitutional responsibility for dealing directly with assistance to victims of local disasters.

I assume that if the situation is such that the provinces in which these disasters occur would feel the necessity of financial assistance from the federal government, the government would be so advised by the provinces themselves. I do not believe we would be expected to act on communications received from municipalities. Municipalities would communicate with provinces in the first instance, and our action would be taken in the light of representations that might be made by provinces concerned. **

Topic:   FLOOD CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   KIMBERLEY AND OTHER BRITISH COLUMBIA AREAS -QUESTION OP FEDERAL ASSISTANCE
Permalink
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

In the light of the statement the Prime Minister has just given, would he care to make further comment on a report which appeared in the press to the effect that the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe), who is now out in British Columbia, is reported to have said that the dominion gov-

Reclamation of Marshlands

eminent would put up dollar for dollar with the provincial government in providing relief for the flood victims. I wonder if the Prime Minister would amplify his own statement.

Topic:   FLOOD CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   KIMBERLEY AND OTHER BRITISH COLUMBIA AREAS -QUESTION OP FEDERAL ASSISTANCE
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

First of all, I have not seen the statement to which my hon. friend refers, although I have no doubt he has reported it correctly. I would wish to communicate with the Minister of Trade and Commerce himself as to what he may or may not have said before I would attempt to answer.

Topic:   FLOOD CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   KIMBERLEY AND OTHER BRITISH COLUMBIA AREAS -QUESTION OP FEDERAL ASSISTANCE
Permalink

MARSHLANDS

RECLAMATION AND DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE TO MARITIME PROVINCES


Right Hon. J. G. GARDINER (Minister of Agriculture) moved the second reading of Bill No. 328, respecting the reclamation and development of marshlands in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.


PC

Percy Chapman Black

Progressive Conservative

Mr. P. C. BLACK (Cumberland):

Mr. Speaker, I regret I was not in the house last week when the resolution was introduced. I was visiting Nova Scotia, the first opportunity I had to do so since Easter. Those of us who come from outlying sections of Canada are at a great disadvantage, as compared with those from central Canada, in the matter of visiting their homes and constituencies.

I appreciate greatly the action of the minister and the government in introducing this legislation and in making these proposals providing -for large appropriations for the reclamation and drainage of the marshlands of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. I also appreciate the sympathetic response the measure has had since it has been before the house, from all hon. members.

I had occasion to bring this matter up soon after I came to Ottawa in 1940, at which time I made a comparison of the negligible expenditures made in the maritimes with those which had been made in western Canada in connection with prairie farm rehabilitation.

No proposal had more wholehearted support from all members of the committee on reconstruction and rehabilitation than the proposal for the reclamation of marshlands in the maritimes. My colleague from Nova Scotia, the senior member for Halifax (Mr. Isnor) was so much impressed by the soundness of the proposal that he placed' on the order paper a motion recommending action in this regard. Expenditures amounting to about $25,000,000, beginning back in 1935 under a previous government, have been made in the west, with many millions -more for irrigation. Those expenditures have been made from year to

year by the present government under the direction of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner), but there has been very little for the maritimes.

I have had a number of discussions personally with the minister about the reclamation and drainage of our marshlands, and I have been satisfied from the beginning the project had his support. It also has the support of the deputy minister, the director of experimental farms, and the officials of the department. It has had the active support of the governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The premiers and the ministers of agriculture of those provinces came to Ottawa to make representations before the committee on reconstruction and rehabilitation. The committee made a favourable report to parliament which was adopted unanimously. We have been disappointed in the delay in making that report effective.

The appropriations which are being made on the definite recommendations of the provincial governments are generous, although they may not be sufficient in view of today's costs. (If the pioneer owners of years ago had had anything like this assistance in bringing their marshlands to a high state of fertility, they would not have believed it possible.

I have not had an opportunity to read the debate of Friday, nor have I had time to examine -the bill now before the house for second reading; therefore I shall not be able to deal with the details. It is recognized that the farm lands at the head of the bay of Fundy are the very basis of agricultural activity and prosperity in eastern Canada. This proposal will mean the reclamation of these lands. Many acres of uplands should be restored also to a high state of production, as in the past, as far as twenty miles from the marshlands.

Under this legislation a responsibility is being imposed upon the marshland owners. While they are receiving what would be called generous support from this government and the provincial governments, a responsibility still rests upon them. -Costs today are many times what they were a few years ago when the pioneers undertook the reclamation of these marshlands by the building of dikes and aboiteaux. Practically all that work was done by hand labour, but today it must be done by machinery. One of the necessities in undertaking this program is the designing and construction of the proper machinery for the handling of marsh mud. A committee has been doing such work in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but machines to make the smaller ditches have not been perfected.

Farmers and marshland owners have a responsibility to rebuild barns for storage pur-

Reclamation oj Marshlands

poses. There is on some areas only one storage barn today where there were ten or fifty years ago. The cost of building or restoring barns is much more today than it was when the former barns were constructed. This will mean a large outlay on the part of marshland owners. While they appreciate what is being done, there may be some who will not be disposed or able to take advantage of what is being done for the whole area.

I would say to the marshland owners that if they have not confidence in this program they should hand over their marsh properties to others who will work with the governments. If there are not enough men locally to undertake full cultivation, then the government should bring in immigrants from Holland, Normandy and other European countries. There are many people in the old country who have had experience in agriculture under conditions something like these, although they have not had to deal with the tides we have. I think it was said the other day that the tides run as high as sixty feet. That is an extraordinary tide, but the usual high tides run to almost fifty feet.

I suggest to the minister that the experimental farm should take over some new areas of average quality marshlands. They should take a block of at least 100 acres, bring it to a high state of fertility and show the public what can be done in the production of hay. It would be an example to the farmers as to costs and quality of crop in that area stretching from Annapolis county to the riding of the hon. member for Saint John-Albert (Mr. Hazen).

A large block should be put into pasturage, because this is the best type of soil for pasturage purposes. Another block should be taken over for experimental purposes in the production of cereal and root crops.

This area should be the best live stock and dairy district in eastern Canada. For that reason alone I am going to support the dairy interests in their stand against the manufacture and importation of oleomargarine. We should give the dairy interests every possible encouragement in order that this may be made the finest dairying section in all Canada.

I do not know that there is much more that I need to say. On behalf of the marshland owners and agricultural interests in the maritime provinces I express appreciation of what the minister and the federal government and the provincial governments are doing. I appeal to the marshland owners that they respond wholeheartedly, and I hope that it will revive agriculture in eastern Canada.

Topic:   MARSHLANDS
Subtopic:   RECLAMATION AND DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE TO MARITIME PROVINCES
Permalink
PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Broadview):

Mr. Speaker, I commend this bill to the house. In

the province of Ontario there is a very warm feeling in regard to the development of the maritime provinces, and there always has been, partly because there is such a large number of the Scottish race in our province.

In 1923 I brought in a bill for a national fuel policy, which would have been of great assistance to the maritime provinces. I urged the repairing of the dikes and breakwaters, many of which were erected by the early French settlers. I again urged this policy, which would have aided in the development of the maritimes, in 1916 when I saw the 75th battalion off at Halifax; I made an address there in which I urged a federal hydro policy, a national coal policy, reclamation of marshlands, and flood control.

This bill is limited to the three maritime provinces, and includes not only the reclamation of the marshlands but other benefits which are most commendable. I believe that such a policy is in the public interest for all the provinces as well as the maritimes. I hope that the work will be carried on expeditiously.

Topic:   MARSHLANDS
Subtopic:   RECLAMATION AND DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE TO MARITIME PROVINCES
Permalink
PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GORDON GRAYDON (Peel):

Mr. Speaker, matters affecting the maritimes should not be discussed only when we have by-elections or other situations which encourage people to make favourable statements to please certain parts of Canada. There is no such situation at the moment. I agree with the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church) that there is a very warm feeling in the province of Ontario toward the maritime provinces and a desire to help them where help can be given. I was one of those who went down to add my little weight, which turned out to be very small, in the Halifax by-election-

Topic:   MARSHLANDS
Subtopic:   RECLAMATION AND DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE TO MARITIME PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. ISNOR:

We were pleased to see you.

Topic:   MARSHLANDS
Subtopic:   RECLAMATION AND DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE TO MARITIME PROVINCES
Permalink
PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GRAYDON:

That was the trouble. I think you were glad to have me because you thought I might help your side. In any event I did not greatly help those I was trying to help, but I have always appreciated the hospitality that is so characteristic of the maritimes, and it was not lacking on that occasion. My hon. friend is fortunate in that he comes from a part of Canada which has that quality so well developed, and it is one of his own personal characteristics. At the time, as one coming from central Canada, I took a strong stand in favour of the development of the maritime provinces, and what I said was not prompted only by the occasion; because there has always been in central Canada a strong feeling, much stronger than our maritime friends sometimes realize, in favour of the development of the maritimes and doing what we can to see them get on their feet again.

Reclamation of Marshlands

It has often been said that prosperity in the world is indivisible, just as peace and war are indivisible. Certainly we cannot have a prosperous Canada if sections here and there are not prosperous. The disabilities under which the maritime provinces suffer have often been pointed out in this house, with much greater eloquence, perhaps with much more conviction, and certainly with more knowledge, than may be attached to my words. Sometimes I fancy the members from the maritimes are a little diffident about stating their disabilities, because they are a modest people and do not like to spread their woes and troubles across other parts of this land. Nevertheless the maritime provinces suffer from certain disadvantages, and I think this house ought to know that those who come from other parts of Canada are concerned in their problems and are prepared to help them in any practicable way. I realize that there are many obstacles, but we as a parliament and as a country ought to set our sights high in endeavouring to bring back the maritimes to what they ought to be-an integral part of this great dominion, flourishing and prosperous. The particular proposal in this bill cannot perhaps be regarded as a major factor in bringing the maritimes back to prosperity, but it is a step in the right direction. I would like to see more steps in this direction taken from time to time, because despite what has been said in the past, a goodly measure of support for maritime development will come from other parts of Canada, and this the people of the maritimes have perhaps not always expected.

As I went through the marshlands on one or two occasions I realized, as everyone must who sees them, the need for this kind of work. It seems to me that we should look upon it as just a beginning of a forward movement in the provinces down by the sea. I hope that this government and succeeding governments will take it as a precedent and will see that Canada throws its full weight behind many more such moves, to show that this country recognizes what the maritimes have done for Canada and that it is not going to forget those great contributions now.

While I cannot speak with the knowledge and experience of the hon. member for Davenport (Mr. MacNicol) or the hon. member for Cumberland (Mr. Black) with reference to this particular proposal, I would like the people of the maritimes to know that there are large numbers of people all over Canada who are greatly concerned in the advancement and promotion and return to prosperity of the maritimes. It is something we have very much at heart, and I hope that

similar assistance will be given to the maritime provinces in other directions, because they have many other problems; we should not stop with the reclamation of the marshlands, but go on from time to time in an effort to remove their disabilities so that they may enjoy the prosperity that many other parts of Canada enjoy. I am hopeful, Mr. Speaker, that in the days to come that will be done.

My sole object in rising was to lend support to this undertaking, because there are many who regard the maritimers as great people in our political, economic and national life.

Topic:   MARSHLANDS
Subtopic:   RECLAMATION AND DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE TO MARITIME PROVINCES
Permalink
CCF

William Scottie Bryce

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

Mr. WILLIAM BRYCE (Selkirk):

It is on very few occasions that I can rise in this house and endorse what a Conservative has said on this particular issue. On this occasion I do support the scheme that the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) has introduced in the house. I spent my boyhood days beside a tidal river, and perhaps I understand this proposal a little better than other hon. members who have supported it. I think I am quite safe in speaking for this group. I support the scheme and hope it will have all the success that the minister holds out for it.

Topic:   MARSHLANDS
Subtopic:   RECLAMATION AND DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE TO MARITIME PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

Clovis-Thomas Richard

Liberal

Mr. C. T. RICHARD (Gloucester):

Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to say anything on this bill, but after listening to the last three speakers I am glad to know that after so many years the economic situation of the maritimes is arousing a certain interest throughout the rest of Canada. I know that these marshlands can be made very valuable. I wish particularly to thank the two hon. members from Ontario for having said that the economic conditions of the maritimes are appreciated and understood, and that a solution of these conditions is looked for by people in other parts of Canada. I want to impress upon the house the truth of the words used by one hon. member when he said that what is good for one section of Canada is good for the whole of Canada.

This confederation of ours is just as strong as the weakest link. If the maritime provinces are weak, it will mean a weak confederation of provinces. We all know that the economic situation of the maritimes is subnormal, and that that condition has existed for years. In order to appreciate the situation one must go back to the remote past. Some writer has said that the present is intelligible only in the light of the past. In order to understand the economic situation of the maritimes today we must go back to pre-confederation days. The other day one speaker referred to the promises that had been made to the maritime provinces when confederation was consummated. It might be wise for some hon. members to read the

Reclamation oj Marshlands

speeches of the fathers of confederation, and to learn from those speeches what was the economic situation of the maritime provinces at that time. It was higher than anywhere else in Canada, but it fell on the consummation of confederation. We must ascertain the causes of that, and try to find a remedy. It will not be simple. In the maritimes we do not demand that certain public works be undertaken just for the sake of spending money. We want to bring the economic situation of the maritimes on a par with that of the other provinces. I think this is a beginning.

As one hon. member said a while ago, there are other projects which might be undertaken there. There is one right next door to this project of marsh reclamation, namely, the Chignecto canal. That could be studied. In the maritime provinces we have all contributed our share to public works in the development of the rest of Canada, and we want the rest of Canada to come to our assistance and to study our situation. There are other projects we might study. There is the question of the development of our coal fields, our ports and our fisheries. I am glad to hear, therefore, that hon. members from other parts of the dominion feel that the maritime provinces deserve special study with a view to bringing us up to the point where we can hold our heads high with pride and march along with the other provinces of Canada.

Topic:   MARSHLANDS
Subtopic:   RECLAMATION AND DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE TO MARITIME PROVINCES
Permalink
SC

Robert Fair

Social Credit

Mr. ROBERT FAIR (Battle River):

While those of us in the Social Credit group live a long way from the part of the country which is affected by this bill, we have great pleasure in supporting the views expressed by other hon. members. I feel that every part of Canada has its own particular problems. In the prairies we realize that we have problems which are not confronted in other parts of the dominion, and we know that in the maritimes they have their own particular problems. As the hon. member who has just taken his seat has said, we should all work for the betterment of Canada. To that end we in this group are certainly doing our utmost. [DOT]

Topic:   MARSHLANDS
Subtopic:   RECLAMATION AND DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE TO MARITIME PROVINCES
Permalink
PC

Norman James Macdonald Lockhart

Progressive Conservative

Mr. N. J. M. LOCKHART (Lincoln):

Mr. Speaker, I just want to add one word. I presume that the minister will have something further to say on this matter. When he replies I trust that he will explain to the house why this bill is so specific. The hon. member for Gloucester (Mr. Richard) referred to another project which was closely allied to the marshlands. I have in mind certain other things which might be included. I am thinking of all-embracing projects which might be of general benefit to Canada as a whole-fuel

supplies, and matters of the kind. Why is this legislation so specific? There may be a reason for it. When the minister replies perhaps he will cover that point.

Mr. JOHN R. MacNICOL (Davenport):

It certainly is very pleasant to my ears to hear hon. members from all parts of the house speak unanimously in favour of maritime reclamation. I have been preaching reclamation so long myself that I am glad to see others doing the same thing. I hope that the remarks made today will have a wholesome effect on some certain columnists.

On Tuesday last I made some remarks on another matter in connection with the maritimes, and hon. members and the press were generally unanimous in their support; but one columnist of our great papers failed to see that reclamation of the maritimes and reclamation of the west would mean prosperity for Ontario. I might say that it was not an editorial writer who expressed that opinion; it was one of the writers for the paper in question. I cannot understand that, because anyone who thinks for a moment- I mean a Torontonian, a Hamiltonian or anyone else living in Ontario-will know that prosperity in every other part of Canada means prosperity for Toronto and Canada. This particular writer did take quite a fling at me. I do not mind that; it is like water under the bridge. So long as I feel I am doing my duty, and can satisfy my conscience that I am right, I do not care a fig what anyone else thinks against what I say. I do the best I can.

This measure is being initiated by the present Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). As 1 said on Friday, I believe he is the first minister who has really put his teeth into the problem, and I have no hesitation in saying again that he deserves credit for the action he has taken. It has been talked about on many occasions in the house by the hon. member for Cumberland (Mr. Black), who has been persistent in asking for action in the matter.

Last October the hon. member for Cumberland took out his car after I had landed in his city and drove me over parts of these marsh areas, particularly through the part about which he was speaking today, where the agricultural college is situated. I have always been happy to support what the maritime members have said. They knew their problem, but they did not get very much attention paid to it. It is a delight to me to see them now all receiving support of what they have been fighting for for years. I should just ask if the minister will apply

Reclamation of Marshlands

similar reclamation measures to marshlands or flooded lands in Ontario. Recently I was in the onion area in Kent county, western Ontario, an area which the minister knows about. Some 2,000 acres of rich onion land in Kent county are threatened every day with flooding. I hope he will consider making sure that those rich lands in Kent county will also receive consideration.

One further word. The house will support a program like this, and it will support similar programs in other parts of Canada. It must be a comfort to the minister to know that when a reasonable proposal is brought forward, non-politically-and this is entirely nonpolitical-it will receive consideration. I presume that the reclamation departments or the public works departments of the three maritime provinces will co-operate in the whole program. When the bill is in committee I shall have some questions to ask about the organization which is to control the various projects. In New Brunswick considerable study has been made of the question of reclamation of marshlands. On Friday I referred to a bill which was passed last year, I believe. It was a good bill. If the minister has not a copy of it, I shall be glad to send one over to him.

Topic:   MARSHLANDS
Subtopic:   RECLAMATION AND DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE TO MARITIME PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I have it. Nova Scotia passed one, too.

Topic:   MARSHLANDS
Subtopic:   RECLAMATION AND DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE TO MARITIME PROVINCES
Permalink

May 31, 1948