May 24, 1950

LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

That is right; it was a great airlift job, which would have been impossible if proper provisions had not been made in advance to take care of it. One of the things that they had to take care of was the obvious need for drinking water throughout the flooded area. It had to be moved in by tank car. Provision for that was made by the department of health and public welfare. Then, free vaccine had to be provided against typhoid for 125,000 people, and a reserve sufficient for 60,000 people had to be built up. In meeting this need all the supplies of vaccine in Canada were exhausted, and it had to be flown in from places as far away as New York city. Plans have already been organized and worked out for health control at municipal level during the return and rehabilitation of the evacuees. I am informed that at every place in the flooded area where there is what they term a beachhead, there is a representative of the health and welfare department on hand to take care of the people as they move back.

The member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Stewart) was rather harsh in his criticism of the two governments for not having used this magic term "national emergency".

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CCF

Alistair McLeod Stewart

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

Mr. Stewart (Winnipeg North):

My complaint was that it had been used in the Fraser valley flood, but not in this case.

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Yes, that is right. I should like to think, Mr. Speaker, that some magic existed in these words, but I must confess I have not been able to find any support for that idea. In these cases it seems to me that the principle is quite clear. If I am a farmer and suffer from a hail storm when I have not provided hail insurance, that is my misfortune. If the disaster is municipality wide, there is some foundation for moving-it is largely on the basis of public opinion-the municipal corporation to make some provision at the expense of the general body of

Manitoba Flood

taxpayers for those who have suffered the misfortune. When the disaster gets beyond municipal competence, then it is necessary for the province to step in to aid the municipality. When it gets beyond the competence of the provincial government, which in the case of both the Fraser river valley and the Red river valley flood was the set of circumstances with which we were faced, then the federal government has to step in to help the provincial government and the municipalities. It is done in somewhat the same way, although this is not perhaps a good analogy, as the matter of relief during the thirties. I wish to make it clear at once that I do not think that is the proper way to handle relief. In respect, however, of matters which in the first instance come under municipal and provincial authority, that is the method of handling them, as my hon. friend knows. It has always been done in that way. It is the facts of the case, rather than the magic of the words used, which determine how the cost is to be divided between the governments.

The thing to be done in the present case is to ascertain the facts, and then on the basis of the facts to make claims. But in saying that I admit, and that is one of my criticisms of the Manitoba government, the psychological value of using the term "national disaster". It makes an appropriate conces-' sion to a state of mind, but so far as the final disposition of the matter is concerned nothing turns on the use of the term.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

You used the words "national disaster" in the order in council relating to the Fraser river disaster, and you omitted those words from the order in council respecting the Red river valley disaster.

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Yes, that is correct; but there are reasons for that. I believe that in the British Columbia case the term had been used in the negotiations, and carried over into the order in council. The actual basis is, as I am sure my friend agrees from his knowledge of the principles that are involved, where the disaster goes beyond the financial or administrative competence of the province, the federal government, having a responsibility to the same body of citizens, has to step in. In this case it was beyond not only the financial but the administrative competence of the Manitoba government. No provincial government, no matter how efficient and capable, has a staff available to deal with a disaster of this sort. All the existing staff of that government are doing jobs they are supposed to do, and the army is the obvious organization to take care of the matter.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Will the minister permit a question, in view of his most interesting

Manitoba Flood

recital and his statement that the omission of the words "national emergency" from the Red river order in council has no significance. This simple question will remove any doubt as to his meaning. In effect the federal government paid 81 per cent of the cost of rehabilitating the property that was damaged in the Fraser flood, and building permanent dikes to prevent a recurrence. Is the same course going to be followed in the Red river valley?

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

I think if my hon. friend reflected upon that for a moment he would not ask the question. Precisely the same course cannot be followed because there are no dikes in Manitoba comparable to those in British Columbia. As my hon. friend knows, in British Columbia the larger portion of the federal contribution was to rebuild an elaborate set of dikes along the Fraser river. What has been said in the present case is that the principle of the Fraser valley settlement will be applied-to what?

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PC
LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

There is no limitation upon

the extent. I am sure the hon. member will agree with me when I say that, as a lawyer, he knows you apply principles to-what? You apply principles to facts, and it is not yet certain that the facts of the Manitoba disaster have all taken place as yet. If we have another two days of rain, as we had a while ago, we shall have more facts to deal with than we have right now.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

It will become a greater national emergency, that is all.

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Right. Then when those facts have been ascertained, the two governments will get together and apply the principle of the Fraser valley settlement. This government of Canada has not arrogated to itself the responsibility or privilege of finding all the facts. A fact-finding board has been set up by the two governments for this purpose. I think I should say a word or two about it. I believe the member for Souris (Mr. Ross) is under a misapprehension, as is the member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Stewart). There is this difference between the Fraser river valley board and the one that has been set up in Manitoba. The one set up in Manitoba went into a situation that was already under the direction of the army, the Red Cross, the government and so on. The administrative end of it had already been taken care of. One of the first jobs of the Fraser valley board was to start this administration. The sole task of the Manitoba two-man commission will be to ascertain, as quickly as possible, all the facts and report them as promptly as possible to the two governments.

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PC
LIB
PC
LIB
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

May I ask this question? It is such a simple thing. If responsibility has been accepted by the dominion government, does it intend to do what it did in British Columbia, namely, accept 75 per cent of the financial loss, the 25 per cent to be allocated as between the province and the municipalities?

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

I do not think I should spend too much time discussing this Fraser river valley thing with my hon. friend. He has not the facts straight.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Oh, yes. I have the Free Press here. I was reading it a moment ago.

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

I am not speaking from the Free Press. I am speaking from the documents themselves. The settlement in connection with the Fraser river, as my hon. friend knows, consisted of two things: one, the payment of 75 per cent of the cost of rebuilding the dikes, and two, a lump sum settlement of $5 million which was based upon a set of facts.

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PC

May 24, 1950