June 19, 1948

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Richard Langton Baker

Mr. DIEFENB AKER:

The Minister of Agriculture within the last few days did give some information in regard to the South Saskatchewan river project; he said that $110,000 had been spent during the year on survey proceedings. The total amount of

Supply-Reconstruction and Supply

expenditure for the coming year,, according to the estimates, is to be $1,000,000. I should like to find out what projects particularly are in the mind of the government, how that expenditure of $1,000,000 is to be made, and how it is to be distributed.

The South Saskatchewan river project, according to the present views of the Minister of Agriculture, cannot be proceeded with for a period of two years. I think it should be proceeded with now. Extensive exploratory and engineering work has been done, but the government's attitude is that the work shall not go ahead. Is the minister able to say how much of the $1,000,000 will be expended, or is to be expended, this year?

I wish to bring to the minister's attention another project in Saskatchewan which, if properly developed and encouraged, would attract to that province many tourists who today are not coming in. I refer to Watrous lake, some ninety miles east of Saskatoon, a lake which for over two hundred years has been recognized by the Indians living on the plains as possessing peculiar medicinal qualities. In the last few years that lake has gone back because of drought and because the springs that ordinarily feed it have been covered over by an incrustation of chemicals resulting from heat and evaporation. Is that the type of project which the department of reconstruction would consider a proper one on which to expend moneys under this item? I am not asking for the expenditure of money on anything but self-liquidating projects, and I suggest to the minister that this is one that would pay large dividends in increased tourist traffic and in the numbers who would come from various parts of the United States for treatment in this lake.

About three years ago the minister stated that his department had plans ready for public projects and was prepared to go ahead on short notice. He said that particular attention would be given by his department to projects designed to develop basic industries and to press forward vigorously, improvement in transportation and the opening of northern regions. I would ask him what is being done to carry out the views he then expressed.

Today our only hope for the development of the north country is through the instrumentality of private enterprise. In Saskatchewan-and I am not entering into any controversy on the subject-no government can afford to invest risk capital in exploratory work for the development of our natural resources. In fact, as far as gas and oil development is concerned, that has been turned over by the government of Saskatchewan to private interests. We all realize that

governments, however great the potentialities in natural resources, cannot afford to risk the taxpayers' money on projects without knowing for certain that they will actually return dividends.

There is great risk in the development of these resources. Recently I noticed that the total amount of return to private companies in Alberta since the development of the oil resources in that province has been $55,000,000, while the total amount expended in risk capital since oil was first discovered there has been $65,000,000.

I should like to know what the government intends to do during the coming year to open up communications with the north country, so that opportunities will be available to private enterprise to go in and develop. We need in Saskatchewan, as in the other western provinces, the opening of roads and the development of power, which after all, in the northland, must be a matter of government expenditure-as in the Yellowknife district by virtue of legislation introduced the other day and now, I believe, passed by parliament.

What plans has the minister to encourage the development of the eighty-five per cent of our country which is largely undeveloped today? I do not think that any government can enter into that development but I believe that one of the responsibilities of the minister, as head of this department, is the surveying of the country. Indeed, he himself said three years ago that these were his plans, and then, a general survey having been made, funds would be advanced on behalf of the state to the end that opportunities would be made available to private companies prepared to risk their capital in the uncertain development of our resources.

My questions therefore are these: (1) How much will be expended this 3rear on the South Saskatchewan development? (2) Does a project such as I have mentioned, the one at Watrous lake, come within the purview of this estimate? (3) Will the minister give the country the benefit of his experience in the matter of the, expansion and encouragement of development of our natural resources, to the end that in our north country we shall give to private enterprise the opportunity which too often is denied it because of the costly expenditures private enterprise would have to undertake to make these resources accessible?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce; Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

This $1,000,000 refers to no known project at the moment. If the project were known, it would not be included in this vote but would be in a special item. This vote is to meet unforeseen conditions. The vote

Supply-Reconstruction and Supply

was originally 85,000,000 and was reduced to $1,000,000, because we have learned over the years that in times like these there are not many unforeseen situations that have to be met apart from those provided for through the normal estimates. The drawings on the fund have been small. We have started projects where some unusual situation made it imperative that no time be lost.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

How much was

drawn out of the fund last year?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce; Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I gave the figure.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Yes, but I am asking for it again.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce; Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

$591,000. Watrous lake is wholly in the province of Saskatchewan. Any development of the type indicated must be sponsored by the province. The same remarks as I made regarding the Red Deer apply to a dam on the South Saskatchewan river. It is a project which is being carried out by the P.F.R.A. Certain expenditures were made for borings last year, and money was appropriated from this account. But this year and in the future, appropriations will be in the estimates of the P.F.R.A.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

No part of the million dollars will be used on the South Saskatchewan project?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce; Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Not unless an emergency arises which indicates that it should be so used.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

What does the

minister mean by an emergency?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce; Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Some necessary and unforeseen expenditure that the government believes is sufficiently urgent to warrant an appropriation from this vote. The South Saskatchewan is one of the most difficult engineering problems that has ever been tackled in this country. Part of the problem is to build a high earth dam on material that has no known bottom. In building grain elevators in that country we used to drive all the piles we could get, of as great a length as we could get, build on it, load the elevator, say a prayer and watch it settle a few inches. You cannot do that with a dam. You must find something to put a da.m on in order to make .the project feasible. That is involved in the present exploration. It is no easy problem. However, it is being tackled by the best engineering skill that can be made available.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Do any of the engineers in the minister's department make reports on this matter?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce; Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

No.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Or make any

investigation?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce; Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

No. We do on occasion, but not on this particular project. It is too big a project for casual engineering. It requires a special Staff.

I think that answers the question. Was there another one?

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

What about the northern area? What is being done there?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce; Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Where the province has shown an interest in an area, we sometimes render assistance in opening it up. A case in point is the road from Alberta into the Yellowknife region. The road has been built, or is under construction, connecting Alberta with the Northwest Territories. That road within the Northwest Territories is being paid for by the federal government, and some assistance has been given to the Alberta section of the road. The federal government is just, completing a power plant in the Yellowknife area. A bill has been before the house at this session to set up a power commission. Ordinarily it is the job of each separate province to develop power within its boundaries. That is a job the provinces are glad to undertake because it is usually a profitable operation. But in the Northwest Territories the federal government is the government, and it is carrying out there the duties that would ordinarily be carried out by a province if that area were included in a province.

With regard to northern Manitoba, some important discoveries were made in the vicinity of Flin Flon. There again the government is giving some assistance to the province in building a road to open up the area. Certain assistance has been given to British Columbia in opening up certain areas.

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PC
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce; Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I cannot say offhand. It would not come from this estimate or this vote. The votes were made in the usual way. I cannot say which ones. The Department of Mines and Resources will be able to tell my hon. friend that.

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IND

Jean-François Pouliot

Independent Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Construction is made more difficult because of the difficulty in getting cement. Some builders have told me that last year the Canada Cement Company closed a manufacturing plant in Ontario, and that at least one million bags of cement would have to be provided from the province of Quebec in order to fill the gap. I wonder if that is true. I would ask the minister, who must know about the matter, for some information with regard to the closing of the

Supply-Reconstruction and Supply

Ontario plant of the Canada Cement Company and the possibility of securing cement by those who intend to build houses. At the present time it is most difficult for those who are building to put in the foundations of any building they are constructing. I would be grateful to the minister if he would give us some explanation about the matter.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF RECONSTRUCTION AND SUPPLY
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce; Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

The position of cement is vastly better this year than it was last. The addition to the plant of the Canada Cement Company in Montreal has been completed and is in full operation. The addition to the cement plant at Belleville is in full operation. The addition to the Exshaw plant is in full operation, I believe; in fact, I am sure it is by now. I think the capacity has been expanded-I hesitate to give the amount- by something of the order of a million barrels a year as compared with last year.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF RECONSTRUCTION AND SUPPLY
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June 19, 1948