May 24, 1950

PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

For a copy of all correspondence between the government of Canada and the government of the province of Saskatchewan since June 1, 1949, and to date, in connection with the South Saskatchewan river power and irrigation project, and in particular concerning the division of financial responsibility in and for the construction of the said project as between the two governments.

Topic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   SOUTH SASKATCHEWAN RIVER PROJECT
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

Mr. Speaker, may I point out to the hon. member for Lake Centre that the same information as is sought by this motion was requested before and was brought down on April 17.

Topic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   SOUTH SASKATCHEWAN RIVER PROJECT
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

I am concerned only

with anything since that date.

Topic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   SOUTH SASKATCHEWAN RIVER PROJECT
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

There has been nothing

since.

Topic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   SOUTH SASKATCHEWAN RIVER PROJECT
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Dropped.

Topic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   SOUTH SASKATCHEWAN RIVER PROJECT
Permalink
LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Dropped.

Topic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   SOUTH SASKATCHEWAN RIVER PROJECT
Permalink

CARLETON COUNTY, N.B., RURAL MAIL SERVICE

CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

For a copv of all correspondence in the possession of the Post Office Department with reference to the establishing of rural free mail delivery routes for the communities of Holmesville, Mineral, Moose Mountain and Killowen, in Carleton county, New Brunswick, and the eliminating of the post offices at Mineral. Moose Mountain and Killowen, including (without restricting the generality of the foregoing) a copy of all correspondence, and any maps or charts referred to therein, exchanged between the Post Office Department or any officers thereof and Mr. D. R. Bishop.

Inquiries of the Ministry

Topic:   CARLETON COUNTY, N.B., RURAL MAIL SERVICE
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RADIO BROADCASTING

QUESTION AS TO REFERENCE OF CERTAIN ESTIMATES TO SPECIAL COMMITTEE


On the orders of the day:


PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Donald M. Fleming (Eglinton):

I should like to ask the Acting Minister of National Revenue if he will give consideration to having items 267 and 268 of the estimates, relating to the international shortwave broadcasting station, referred to the special committee on radio broadcasting for study and report.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   QUESTION AS TO REFERENCE OF CERTAIN ESTIMATES TO SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

Robert Henry Winters (Minister of Resources and Development)

Liberal

Hon. Robert H. Winters (Acting Minister of National Revenue):

I will take the question

as notice and give an answer later.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   QUESTION AS TO REFERENCE OF CERTAIN ESTIMATES TO SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink

ENEMY PROPERTY

CANADIAN CLAIMS FOR WAR DAMAGE


On the orders of the day:


PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. E. D. Fulton (Kamloops):

I should like

to ask the Secretary of State to be good enough to give the information I asked for on May 16 as a supplementary statement or explanation of an answer to a question I asked about assets of former enemies in the hands of the custodian of enemy property.

Topic:   ENEMY PROPERTY
Subtopic:   CANADIAN CLAIMS FOR WAR DAMAGE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO ANSWER TO QUESTION ON MAY 15
Permalink
LIB

Frederick Gordon Bradley (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. F. G. Bradley (Secretary of State):

I

have been in touch with the officials of the department, and a statement is being prepared.

The house resumed, from Tuesday, May 23, consideration of the motion of Mr. Fournier (Hull) for committee of supply.

Topic:   ENEMY PROPERTY
Subtopic:   CANADIAN CLAIMS FOR WAR DAMAGE
Sub-subtopic:   REFERENCE TO ANSWER TO QUESTION ON MAY 15
Permalink

FLOOD CONDITIONS

CCF

Alistair McLeod Stewart

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

Mr. Alistair Stewart (Winnipeg North):

Mr. Speaker, I have not time to give continuity to the remarks I was making last night by recapitulating what I said. My concluding words were that we had not yet received word from any senior government as to what financial aid was to be given. I shall deal with the provincial government later. At the moment let me deal with the federal government.

We have been told that aid will be given on the same terms as aid was given to those who suffered from the floods in the Fraser valley. I feel that that would be excellent, if it is correct. I am informed that a grant of $5 million was given to British Columbia in the case of the Fraser valley, which rather more than covered rehabilitation costs. An order in council, P.C. 2644, passed in June, 1948, declared the British Columbia flood to be "a national disaster so serious and pressing

Manitoba Flood

as to make it necessary for the good government of Canada that the government of Canada join with the government of British Columbia in taking relief and rehabilitation measures."

I know of no such statement being made so far about the flood situation in Manitoba. I know that the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) has called it a misfortune of the first order, whereas we in Manitoba are inclined to call it, on the basis of our experience, a national disaster. When the Prime Minister was in Winnipeg the other day he attended this by now notorious press conference. He was asked by a reporter if the government had formally recognized the flood as a national emergency. As reported in the Winnipeg Free Press for May 22, 1950, he replied:

I do not like the words "national emergency." When something happens to Canadians, then all Canadians are interested. Already there is ample proof of the widespread effect upon Canadians that this flood has had.

May I say that there is most widespread and generous proof indeed, but not yet proof from the senior governments. At a later stage the Prime Minister was asked if he had found the picture as black as it had been painted, and he replied, "Perhaps not". We are told on the front page of the Winnipeg Free Press that the Prime Minister made a four-hour tour of the dikes. One cannot hope to see the misery which prevails in the community in a tour lasting only four hours. The Prime Minister also said at the same conference that relatives of his had been affected by floods, that they had recovered and re-established themselves by their own efforts, and so far as they were concerned good luck to them. But the Prime Minister's relatives did not have the flood problems from which the people of Point Douglas in Winnipeg are suffering today. Working class people there have lost their homes and their jobs. Families have been evacuated to points all over the prairies.

In British Columbia the grant was for one phase of the flood. We do not know whether that is going to be so in Manitoba. In addition to the grant there was, however, another seventy-five per cent paid by the federal government toward the cost of fighting the floods, and for the building of permanent dikes. I should also like to point out that the commission which has been appointed has been requested to ascertain the cost of emergency precautions to guard against the recurrence of floods. We are not at all interested in emergency precautions. What we are interested in is something much more permanent. It is plain that the federal government must make its position amply clear so that the people of Winnipeg and Manitoba generally may know where they stand.

I think it only right that I should indicate in chronological order the sequence of events. Here I want to refer to the Winnipeg Tribune, a newspaper to which C have made uncomplimentary references in the past and to which I shall probably refer in the same way in future. I am retracting those references for the period of this crisis, however, for this newspaper has shown courage, vision and a consciousness of responsibility which I find heart-warming in a time such as this. On April 4 the newspaper reported that there were serious floods along the Red river in North Dakota. I believe the permanent officials of the provincial government knew of the situation long before that and that they advised their superiors; nevertheless no action was taken. On April 10 this newspaper warned the people that snow and cold would increase the city flood danger. No action was taken by the premier. On April 11 the Tribune warned the city that floods threatened its well-being; still no action by the premier. On April 12 the people of Fort Garry and East Kildonan, without any help, started to reinforce their own dikes; still no word from the premier. On April 14 an agreement was entered into with the Department of National Defence under which the province of Manitoba agreed to pay for whatever services were rendered; yet the services of the army, the navy and the air force were not utilized until May 6.

I can find no explanation for such a lack of action. It may have been a complete failure to appreciate the devastation which threatened. It may have been a matter of pettifogging parsimony; I do not know. I am only reciting facts as I know them.

On April 18 the Red Cross proclaimed that the floods at Grand Forks in the United States were a disaster; no word from the premier. On April 21 the river was over its banks in certain areas of Winnipeg; the premier was quiet. On April 24 the river was two feet under the 1948 peak; still no word from the premier of Manitoba. On the same date Elm Park, a residential area, was cut off; yet the premier was silent. On May 1, as hon. members will recall, members of all parties in this house discussed the matter of the floods in Manitoba, and we urged the premier of that province to declare it a national emergency. Still he was silent. During that week thousands of homes were evacuated; still there was silence. Thousands of people left the city; the silence continued.

Finally, on May 6, Brigadier Morton, G.O.C. prairie command, was appointed controller of flood relief; but let there be no misunderstanding as to the meaning of that word

"controller". It meant very little indeed; ior when I went to the dikes and asked people who was in charge, they said no one was in charge. They were doing the work themselves, without supervision or direction, in order that they might save the city. The army had no power either to requisition materials that were needed or to direct people to the areas which needed help most. During those days the Winnipeg Free Press was asking for some centralized control or authority that could give priority to the needs of the city, but to the best of my knowledge that action was never taken.

When I speak of Brigadier Morton, let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to the tremendous efforts of the men of the navy, the army and the R.C.A.F. to help save the city. In particular, my colleagues here from Quebec might be interested to learn that the men of the Vingt-deux regiment played a great part in building that forty-foot dike which today protects the city hydro power station from immersion.

Finally, on May 7, the premier of Manitoba asked the federal government to recognize the situation in that province as a national disaster. Only then did he make his request, but after that he resumed the lethargy which had characterized him up to that time and said nothing more, even though representatives of the city and municipalities went to him and pleaded for some statement as to what part of the cost the province would be prepared to bear. Still there was silence. A meeting of that kind took place only a week ago, and the only result was a wire from the premier to the Prime Minister of Canada asking him to visit the flood area. The premier would give no commitment to those people who were carrying on the battle against the flood. By his silence he piled indecision upon frustration. It is true that night after night he would go on the air to tell the people what he thought was happening. He told of the grand work the people themselves were doing, and of the committees that were going to be set up to help them, but there was not a definite word as to what assistance would be forthcoming to any municipality. Then, just about a week ago today, he told us that his conscience was clear. No one had questioned the clarity of his conscience. No one gave a continental red cent as to the condition of his conscience. A statement like that shows how fatuity has been heaped upon futility by the provincial government throughout.

Today the people are still doing the job that has to be done. Our citizens, without leadership, have shown that inner strength

Manitoba Flood

which comes to free people in times like these. They went out and provided their own leadership to do the job that had to be done.

My words of criticism of the leadership in the province should not in any way lead hon. members to think that the need for help is not great indeed. There are those who have travelled with tragedy; who, as far as practical offers of help are concerned, are still doomed to dwell in despair. What is the reaction of the premier to this?; Just a few days ago he broke his silence and said that, in cases of need, substantial financial help would be forthcoming. What he meant was that there would be a means test on misery; and that is precisely what is happening. Families have lost everything. There is a tension amongst those who know they have nothing left in the world. There is a tension amongst those who fear they may still lose everything they have; yet we have no leadership and no hope of leadership from the provincial government.

Now, what are the needs? Over 100,000 people have been evacuated. I hope many of them may be able to return to their homes very shortly. Many others will not be able to go back to their homes for several months. Here, then, is a terrific problem in social rehabilitation. How are those people to be kept away from Winnipeg? Who is going to pay the cost if they have to board in other areas or other cities? The Prime Minister says some 8,000 homes have been damaged. I do not think that is correct; I dispute it. The figure is over 12,000 or I miss my guess. Not only have homes been irretrievably damaged; whole city streets have gone. I know of one stretch in my own constituency, at Cathedral and Aikens, which has collapsed to a depth of four feet. Today the city is literally resting on water.

What is the condition of the homes? Take the place in which I used to live, for instance, where the water is right up to the ceiling. Obviously the plaster will be destroyed; and this applies to all homes of that kind. If there is stucco on the outside it will be ruined. If there is insulation it will have soaked up water right to the top storey. All that insulation will have to be torn out; and anyone who knows anything about houses will realize what a task that is. Flooring is completely sprung. Joists, sills and beams are swollen and twisted out of shape, because this water has not been there for only a few days; in many cases it has been there for three weeks, and may well be there for another three weeks. Electrical appliances and electrical wiring are ruined. All these things will have to be rebuilt. In effect new

Manitoba Flood

houses will have to be built; and that will perhaps give members an indication of the task which faces us.

I maintain that the very least we can do in the face of this disaster, a disaster which perhaps the insurance companies may term an act of God, is that there should be complete rehabilitation for the victims of these floods. I doubt very much whether the generosity of either this government or the provincial government will permit that to be done, because the damage is extraordinary. I would hesitate to hazard a guess, but if I say the damage amounts to $100 million I am sure I shall not be far out. If we are not going to have complete rehabilitation, then I suggest as the very minimum that all those who receive salaries up to $300 a month be put back in their homes as they were before the flood and without cost to them; all those who receive salaries between $300 and $400 a month might perhaps get ninety per cent, and all those between $400 and $500 a month might perhaps receive eighty per cent. All this, of course, would be subject to any payments made by insurance companies.

I suggest further that those who have lost money due to the floods be permitted to charge those losses against income tax next year. There is a commission to assess the damages which has been asked to give this house accurate data. It will not be possible for any commission to give this house accurate data in time for us to consider the report before the house rises. The best it can do is to give us a progress report, but even then the commission will have to be arbitrary. How will it assess the damages? Will it go around to each house, in each locality, and say that so much damage has been suffered? How can the commission state the damage when the damage will not be seen for months yet? There is only one thing which can be done, and that is to make the houses livable, to refurnish them as far as possible so that the owners may live in them. After that, we can find out the cost.

Let me say that the construction industry and the electrical industry in Winnipeg are more than willing to co-operate with civic authorities. They have already indicated they are at the disposal of the municipality in the tremendous task of rebuilding homes. The electrical industry, for instance, has said that a meeting would be held to decide what charges should be made for each particular item of repair. Flat rates would be set up, and there would be no profiteering by that industry. The building industry has to be mobilized, but what about the contractor who has contracts to build other houses? I do not

think this is the time for building new houses. There is too great a problem of rehabilitation, and in some way or other the contractors will have to be protected against suits for breach of contract if they do emergency work. There will be a great demand for skilled craftsmen, such as carpenters, electricians and plasterers. The Department of Labour must,consider this problem. There are not enough craftsmen of these types in Manitoba, so we may need a reserve of skilled labour upon which we can draw.

Those are just some of the problems which face us. I could continue enumerating them almost indefinitely, as I am sure other members could, but time does not permit. There is a job of work to be done. I can assure members that every contribution they make to the fund which is being raised in the house is going to be needed desperately. Every contribution which the people of Canada can make is going to be equally needed. It is not right that the people themselves should have to suffer because of the indecision of their leaders. In the final analysis, the collective responsibility of our society, and the financial power of our society, lies in the parliament of Canada. Our people are stricken. As I said before they are not out, and they never will be out; but they are grievously hurt. The federal government must be more positive than it has been up to the present. It must be more generous than it has yet indicated it intends to be.

May I suggest that at the moment the most practical thing we could do here would be to establish a minimum grant in aid, an interim payment as it were, of about $10 million, which could be given to the provincial government, so that it, in turn, could hand the money over to the municipalities to enable them to assume the responsibility which the provincial government has given up by default.

Topic:   FLOOD CONDITIONS
Permalink

May 24, 1950