October 28, 1949

LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Yes, it would include ships of the Department of Transport, salvage vessels, fishing vessels and R.C.M.P. vessels.

On the west coast in 1948-49, there were 95 casualties, of which 62 required no assistance.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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Sub-subtopic:   DOMINION- PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. Maclnnis:

Mr. Chairman, would the minister explain what he means by "casualties"? It has a certain connotation, and when he says a casualty would require no assistance, what does he mean?

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Casualty does not mean the loss of life. It would include a ship that is stranded at sea by reason of engine failure or a ship that has been rammed by another ship.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. Maclnnis:

Then, "casualty" refers to ships and not persons.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Yes. Of the remaining 33 casualties in 1948-49 which required assistance, 32 were looked after by our ships and one by the United States coastguard. The same thing could be said of the east coast. By my remarks, I do not want to minimize in any way the value of the service rendered by the United States coastguard. I think on many occasions I have taken the opportunity to write to those who are in charge of this service in the United States, to thank them for the assistance they have given Canada. I can think of one particular occasion on the great lakes when they were of great service to us. I should not like anyone in the house to think that Canada is not extremely grateful for what is being done by the United States coastguard service. What

I want to bring to the attention of the committee is that Canada is doing something in this matter.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
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LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. Isnor:

Will the minister be good enough to put on record the figures for the east coast operations?

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Yes. On the Atlantic coast in the year 1946-47 there were 67 casualties, 55 of which required no assistance and 12 to which assistance was rendered-again by government vessels, by fishermen and salvage companies. In 1947-48, on the Atlantic coast, there were 98 casualties, 84 requiring no assistance and 14 requiring assistance, all of the 14 being looked after by our own vessels. In 1948-49, on the east coast there were 84 casualties, 53 requiring no assistance and 31 requiring assistance; 2 of the 31 were assisted by United States coastguard vessels. That completes the list to date for the Atlantic coast.

I think the problem is chiefly one of coordination. I think it was the hon. member for Comox-Alberni or the hon. member for Nanaimo who put his finger on the main point when he said that these facilities that we have on the east coast, on the west coast and on the great lakes might perhaps be brought together more than they are at the moment. Consideration is being given to the further co-ordination of these services, perhaps under the Department of National Defence, perhaps under the Department of Transport. I do not know which of the two departments is the better qualified. But in view of the seriousness of the problem a committee has been established by the government. This committee is composed of members of departments which are concerned, such as Mines and Resources, Fisheries, R.C.M.P., Transport and the three divisions of National Defence.

The object of this committee is to ascertain whether improvement can be made on what exists. I think the committee, for instance, will study what might be the maximum facilities, what would be the minimum, to meet the situation and what would be a middle position; and consider the possibility of coordination of all existing services under one head to establish responsibility for locating the vessels on the east coast, the west coast and the great lakes, for getting in contact with them, for keeping in contact with all government vessels, be they Transport vessels or those of other departments, and indicating to those vessels where a ship is in distress, and indicating how quickly the ship can be relieved, and matters of that kind.

To those members therefore who have interested themselves in this problem I can say that their efforts have not been in vain. I am not able to announce anything concrete

at this time but I think the committee will be pleased to know that an attempt at least is being made to study the problem and to see what the best possible solution is at this time.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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LIB

John Decore

Liberal

Mr. Decore:

I want to draw the minister's attention to the Canadian National Railway line which runs east from Edmonton to a point called Heinsburg. It so happens that this railway line runs through a thickly-populated farming area, but there is a gap of some 39 miles from Heinsburg to a point called Frenchman's Butte in Saskatchewan. The result is that the farmers' cost of production is considerably higher than it would otherwise be. I understand that the reason this line was not completed was the coming of depression years and the war.

Conditions have now changed. Quite significant developments have taken place along that line which I think are of importance to our Canadian economy. It so happens that along this line the famous Redwater oil field has been discovered. This is the largest field not only in Alberta but in Canada. Farther along the line there is a salt mine which has been developed only within the last year. The result is that there is quite a considerable strain on rail transportation. As the people in my constituency are affected, is the minister in a position to give us any information on whether the Canadian National Railway Company has any intention of completing this gap some time in the near future?

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I thank the hon. member for Vegreville for his interest in the unfilled gap between Heinsburg, Alberta and Frenchman's Butte, Saskatchewan. The Canadian National Railways have been giving some careful study to this line, not only in 1949 but in 1948 and 1947; and, I must tell my hon. friend, they have it fairly high up in their priority list. But the Canadian National Railways follow a careful pattern and put branch line construction in two categories: those which the management feels it should recommend on the basis of improving or rounding out the system and serving territories without service, which lines can be economically justified; and those which can be regarded as colonization or development projects. With regard to the latter, they would probably look for government assistance if it was felt that a line was justified.

This line evidently would not fall in the latter category; it would fall in the first category. Until the Canadian National Railways can recommend to the government that it is a profitable line from the point of view of revenue operation and so on, I do not think I would be justified in bringing it down. But 1 can tell my hon. friend that the discovery 45781-79J

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of the oil wells and the salt mines are two features which should add considerably to the chances of construction. They certainly should add to the economic advantages. The best I can say at this time is that the Canadian National Railways have the matter under careful review and that they have it fairly high up in their priority list.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

I should like to bring to the attention of the minister some of the gaps in railway lines that exist in my constituency and in areas adjacent thereto. It seems to me that in the past a pattern was followed of building branch lines out from the cities of Moose Jaw, Weyburn, Estevan and the town of Assiniboia and not joining those branch lines in order to give the best possible service to the people in that area. With the branch lines existing as they do, the result is a long freight haul for livestock going to market, with shrinkage in weight, and possible loss in grade. For the farmers along these lines who have to use them for that purpose, it is an expensive method of shipping livestock. It means, too, varied and inefficient passenger service. For instance, going from the town of Valmarie to the city of Moose Jaw, only some hundred and seventy-five miles away, one must spend two nights on the way to Moose Jaw. The territory that I represent seems famous for having many gaps between various branch lines. I mention the gap between Neptune and Radville, a distance of some sixteen miles, and the gap between Willow Bunch and Assiniboia, a distance of thirty miles. The people in that area have been promised that the Canadian National railway line would be completed and extended. They have been promised that for many years. There is a town of St. Victor which exists beyond the railway line, and which has no railway service. That inland town sprang up there because the people of the district felt that the Canadian National railway line would be extended in the future. I might mention also the gap between Cardross and Dunkirk, a distance of nineteen miles, the gap between Neidpath and Swift Current, a distance of thirty miles. The tracks have been laid between Neidpath and Swift Current, but the line is still termed "under construction", and there is no train service between these two points. I might also mention the gap between Minton and Big Beaver. I had representations from people in that area asking the government to do what it could to see that that gap is bridged. I want to mention specifically and especially the gap between Mankota and Valmarie, and bring that to the attention of the minister.

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A few years ago the Minister of Agriculture made the statement that it was his understanding that that gap would be bridged as soon as the Canadian Pacific Railway undertook branch line construction. In this house two years ago, the Minister of Transport himself said that that was his understanding; that that was one of the first programs for branch line construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It seems to me that the people in that territory have waited far too long for the bridging of that gap. I wonder whether the statement of the Minister of Agriculture will be fulfilled and that gap will be bridged.

Can the minister tell me whether or not the program will be undertaken at any time this year, ten years from now, or any time in the future to bridge that gap? The people in that area are getting pretty discouraged about the whole matter, and they would like some concrete undertaking, if possible, that that gap will be bridged.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
Sub-subtopic:   DOMINION- PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I can tell my hon. friend immediately that if he understood a statement of mine made two years ago to mean that this gap would be bridged he is entirely mistaken. I do not think I would ever attempt to make a statement of that kind concerning the Canadian Pacific Railway. What I did tell my hon. friend-and I speak now of course only from memory; I have not seen the record-was this, that I would take the matter of the Mankota-Valmarie line up with the management of the Canadian Pacific Railway, although I made it quite clear to the committee that no jurisdiction lay with me in so far as that company was concerned. I did take it up with them and I presume I wrote my hon. friend along the lines of the reply that I received from the Canadian Pacific Railway, which I think was to the effect that at that time there was no intention of filling the gap because they felt their main task was to rehabilitate existing lines and purchase new equipment such as box cars, diesel engines and the like. I do not know on what basis the Canadian Pacific Railway proceeds, whether it follow the same course as the Canadian National Railways or not. The Canadian National Railways proceed along the line I mentioned a moment ago; if a line is economically justified it is likely to be placed on a list where the railway will sooner or later recommend it. If it is not considered to be a profitable undertaking from a straight operating standpoint but there is great pressure for it, I think the railway would then ask if the government is prepared to assist. These are the two bases. But dealing with the lines mentioned by my hon. friend, in so far as the Canadian

National Railways are concerned, the position is just as I related it to the hon. member for Yegreville.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

If I might just make an observation in answer to the minister I would say that I am sorry-and I am not asking him to lay down the policy of the Canadian Pacific Railway-that he has to inform me that the Canadian Pacific Railway has no definite intention of building the line in the near future.

May I refer to Hansard of July 2, 1947, at page 4999 and read what the minister said:

I am informed by the officers of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company that just as soon as they begin branch line projects the Mankota-Valmarie line is one of those which will be considered.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

That is not what my hon. friend said. My hon. friend said that I had made the statement. How could I possibly interpret the Canadian Pacific Railway policy? I could not. What I did was to pass on to my hon. friend the information that the officers of the Canadian Pacific Railway gave me. I did that only as a matter of courtesy to my hon. friend because I have nothing to do with the Canadian Pacific Railway. It is clear that in that statement I was passing along to him what the officers of the Canadian Pacific Railway had told me.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

I accept the minister's explanation completely, and I did not mean to infer anything else. I am sorry that the Canadian Pacific Railway is not in a position to tell the people of the area that that gap will be bridged and that they will get efficient train service.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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PC

Frank Exton Lennard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lennard:

I rise to support hon. members who this afternoon have advocated a Canadian coastguard service. I am interested in the great lakes and in lake Ontario in particular. I might tell the minister, through you, sir, that so far as lake Ontario is concerned these facilities are available under another department. The only service that I know of at the moment is harbour patrols. I believe there is a harbour patrol in Hamilton and in Toronto, but these are only small vessels for lifesaving purposes. Under another department of the government we have stations at Hamilton, Toronto and possibly Kingston. There are ships and personnel available. With no great additional expense I believe that on lake Ontario at least we could have a coastguard service operated by the department of defence.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
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LIB

Andrew Wesley Stuart

Liberal

Mr. Stuart (Charlotte):

Mr. Chairman, this matter of a coastguard is of course of interest to many hon. members coming from the maritimes, the lake districts, and the west

coast. At the outset I want to say how much I was impressed by the words of the hon. member for Nanaimo. One of our biggest problems in this connection is the matter of co-ordination. If we could get several departments working in conjunction with one another in arranging this service we think that it could be much more economical than it is at the present time. I believe that it would give a much better service to those who are interested. I speak particularly now of the bay of Fundy district and of our fisheries and our lifesaving service. For quite some time the department has had under discussion the establishment of a lifesaving service on Grand Manan island. At the same time we must maintain a fisheries patrol boat there twelve months of the year. Although these men have busy times I believe there are many days when they can find little to do. But with two services and two crews the department is left open to criticism from many people. In fine weather there would be very little use for lifesaving equipment. At that time the same boat could do the fisheries patrol work. Then, in the stormy weather you would have two crews on one boat to take care of some very serious condition that might arise.

I believe that by combining the two services under the Department of Transport or under the Department of Fisheries we may expect much better results at a smaller cost. In his statement this afterinoon the hon. member for St. John's East has indicated that perhaps our fishermen in Canada were not treated as fairly in the matter of government services as are the fishermen in the United States. In the matter of a coastguard service that may be true, because I believe the coastguard service in the United States is better than ours.

However the hon. member has been here for only a short time. I believe if he would look over the situation carefully he would find that this government has done a great deal for the fishermen on both coasts. I would refer particularly to the breakwaters and wharves built on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and in the great lakes area. Today the cost of those wharves and breakwaters would maintain in Canada a lifesaving service second to none. If one travels down the coast of Maine or any of the other New England states he will travel hundreds of miles before he will find a breakwater built and maintained by the federal government of the United States. They just do not do that for their fishermen. On the other hand, down where I live I feel the department and the government have been more than good to our people in the matter of wharves and breakwaters. The government has been

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generous, and you may be sure those services are appreciated by the fishermen who use them. In addition to that we have cold storage and other services, and I believe the government has tried to be helpful to the fishermen.

I have heard the matter of lighthouses discussed on both sides of the border, and have travelled on the waters both sides of the border. They may have better buoys and lighthouses in the New England states than we have in Canada. However I believe we have done a good job on the bay of Fundy and along our coast line. It is being improved as time goes on, and we hope it may be improved to an even greater extent.

I feel that several departments have tried to be helpful, and have done much for our fishermen. Then, reference is made to lifesaving equipment by the hon. member for St. John's East. When he says that such equipment is of great assistance I would support him. However, in many sections of the maritime provinces our boats are not equipped with radio-telephone facilities; and without that equipment lifesaving equipment may be available within five miles, and yet that fact not be known. Before the service can be made to work effectively or the way in which we would like to see it work, our fishing boats must be supplied with radiotelephone equipment, in order that they may get in touch with one another.

I should like to refer to something that happened in my county last fall. A young veteran of the last war had his arm caught in a lobster hoist. He did not have radio equipment on his boat, but within hailing distance there was a boat that did have radio-telephone. They wired to Grand Manan, and when he arrived at North Head breakwater a nurse and doctor were in attendance. The young man was unconscious at the time. Without the radio-telephone service there is no doubt he would not be here today. Since that time he has been appointed to the customs service, and is getting along well on Grand Manan island.

I believe that radio-telephone in all branches of the fishing industry is one of the greatest things that could be installed, and would be most useful in a time of disaster. I believe if we could combine the two crews in one boat it would be more economical than having two boats and two crews. This could be under the direction of the Department of Transport or the Department of Fisheries, and if we had this service we would go a long way toward assisting fishermen on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
Sub-subtopic:   DOMINION- PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE
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LIB

John Hornby Harrison

Liberal

Mr. Harrison:

Mr. Chairman, I know there are a number of hon. members who wish t*

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speak in this debate, and they may be assured that I shall not detain the committee long in what I have to say. I shall be objective in my remarks, and conclude them as quickly as possible.

All hon. members are sent here for a purpose, and I recognize this item as one of the greatest importance to the people who sent me here. From the number of members who have spoken in regard to it, I would judge that it is of considerable interest to many constituencies.

The hon. member for Vegreville has just touched upon the Heinsburg gap, and I have noticed that the minister has some difficulty in pronouncing the name of Frenchman's Butte. That is in my riding and this particular gap is of special interest to me. In view of the discussion which has taken place I believe the minister's answer has covered the situation fairly well, and anyone who is interested either in my constituency or anywhere else may read in Hansard the exchange between the minister and the hon. member for Vegreville.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
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CCF

Wilbert Ross Thatcher

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

Mr. Thatcher:

It is still a gap.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
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LIB

John Hornby Harrison

Liberal

Mr. Harrison:

As the hon. member for Moose Jaw has said, it is still a gap, and we are keenly interested in its completion.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
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IND

John Lambert Gibson

Independent

Mr. Gibson (Comox-Alberni):

He knows all about missing links.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
Sub-subtopic:   DOMINION- PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE
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October 28, 1949