February 15, 1951

CCF

Wilbert Ross Thatcher

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

Mr. Thatcher:

I must differ; what are the

facts about this irrigation project? The provincial government has always maintained, as I think most Liberal speakers have maintained until the C.C.F. came into power in Saskatchewan, that this irrigation project was primarily a federal project. We heard very little until about a year ago about the fact that the provincial government would be expected to pay a large portion of these costs.

In discussing his estimates on October 14, 1949, the minister made this statement, as reported in Hansard at page 812:

We must have assurances from somebody that an organization will be set up to utilize the water, and that they are going to contribute a share of the cost sufficient to ensure that they will take some responsibility for seeing that the work is carried on.

In other words, he went on to point out that the provincial government would have to pay a substantial share of the cost. We felt that this was not in the best interests of the nation, first of all because provincial revenues are so limited and, secondly, because the federal government has had such huge surpluses since the end of the war. It seemed obvious that the federal government, because the project was national in scope, should be able to proceed more satisfactorily. However, the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) has refused since that time to discuss the subject, except on the basis that the province would pay a substantial amount.

Finally, two weeks ago the minister went to Regina, I understand, and met the Saskatchewan government. They told him, in effect, that they still felt it was a federal responsibility. However, in order to get the project started, and in order to try to get the work under way, they were reluctantly prepared to bear a share of the costs. They asked for specific information as to what was involved.

410 HOUSE OF

The Address-Mr. Thatcher

I understand that the province was told it would have to be responsible, first, for $19 million to build a distribution system; secondly, for an estimated $6 million for levelling the land-the water owners would pay part eventually-and, thirdly, for $8 million to instal hydroelectric installations. The federal government would pay $68 million for the dam. In others words, the federal government was asking the government of Saskatchewan to pay the staggering sum of $33 million. The Minister of Agriculture certainly threw down a challenge when he asked them to find that amount of money.

However, the provincial government was so anxious to see the work started that after much consideration, even though the costs involved were so heavy, even though they still thought the matter was a federal responsibility, and even though their revenues were limited, they decided they would proceed on the basis of the figure that was outlined to them by the Minister of Agriculture and his departmental officials. The premier of the province has made this specific commitment to the minister, as he mentioned in a letter a moment ago:

As soon as the federal government has announced its intention to proceed with this undertaking we are prepared to negotiate and sign an agreement on the basis of the allocation of costs outlined above.

In other words the provincial government is prepared to raise $33 million. How they will do it I do not know, but they are ready to go ahead with the project. They have agreed to the proposal, even though they think the terms are very severe. They are going to go along with it because they have to; they have accepted the minister's challenge.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

What the hon. member should be concerned about, as a federal member, is finding the $68 million.

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CCF

Wilbert Ross Thatcher

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

Mr. Thatcher:

What we want to know is this: In view of this commitment, when can the project be started? The Saskatchewan legislature is meeting at the present time, and I suppose the project would have to be endorsed, by that legislature. If so, why not without delay send the agreement out so that it can be ratified? I believe it would be passed unanimously. I know every C.C.F. member of the legislature would support it, and I presume it would have the support of every Liberal member there.

I suggest that the international situation is such, and the defence situation is such, that we should try to diversify our industry in a way that the building of this dam would

make possible. I would remind the house of what the Minister of Agriculture said a few years ago:

Development of irrigation and power on the South Saskatchewan river by means of the Outlook dam would mean industrial and agricultural development of western Canada similar to the Essen country of Germany.

Today we are facing the problem of inflation. We need greater production. Let us make an Essen in this part of western Canada, as the minister suggested. I believe that the citizens of Saskatchewan, whether they be Liberal, Conservative, or C.C.F., will be bitterly disappointed if, because of the international situation, the government decides to postpone this much needed work for a further period of time. I believe there is no major project needed as much in Canada today as this irrigation scheme, and in that statement I include the St. Lawrence seaway development.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. A. Ross (Souris):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to refer to some of the inaccuracies in the speech delivered yesterday by the hon. member for Maple Creek (Mr. Studer).

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

You have not time for that, surely.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ross (Souris):

I will just refer to it, because it is not the chief subject about which I rose to speak. The hon. member is reported at page 361 of Hansard as saying:

If members of the House of Commons were in agreement with the British wheat contract, then every agreeing member of the House of Commons signed.

I have at no time agreed with that contract. Then, later on he says:

Some people estimate that the loss has been fifty cents a bushel, but I have not heard one member say what the world price of No. II wheat would have been if the 1,400 million bushels of grain sold under the British contract had been placed on the open market.

I am amazed that we have a member of parliament from the prairie provinces who does not know more than that about the contract-because most ordinary farmers do know more. I think it is realized that under that contract 600 million bushels were to be delivered. The balance of 1,400 million bushels was sold-at least much of it-to consumers in Canada. I am amazed that that there is any member in any party from the three prairie provinces who would even imply that the farmers of the prairie provinces should subsidize the consumers of Canada as well as of Great Britain. I thought the hon. member would have known more about the terms of the contract than he indicated in his speech yesterday. I have great respect for him; I think he is a great orator, and he

gave us a most entertaining fifty minutes yesterday when he began naming the public officials of several nations-and did not pass up the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Ross), saying that he should be named Mr. Grain Exchange. I want to thank him-and I would say that I think he must have been in bed at some time with the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson), because certainly he is imitating the minister's technique. When he is out on any of the rural hustings in his native province of Manitoba he always goes out of his way to link the name of the hon. member for Souris with some of his friends of the Winnipeg grain exchange. The hon. member was so like the minister that I wished to refer to the fact in passing. I think if the hon. member would discuss in detail this wheat problem and many other problems concerning his farming constituency with his deskmate, the hon. member for Moose Mountain (Mr. Smith), he would find it very beneficial. Because while the hon. member for Moose Mountain, who has been a neighbour of mine for many years, may not be the windy orator that the hon. member for Maple Creek is, still he is a good, sound and sensible type of farmer, and understands the problems of his constituency very well. I would advise him to confer with the hon. member for Moose Mountain before making statements such as he made yesterday, and especially when they concern the British wheat contract. What he has said does not do the hon. member justice in his own riding-and may I say he represents a very fine riding.

However, I rose at this time to speak about the subamendment, because I am greatly concerned about it. First of all I want to endorse wholeheartedly the principle set forth so eloquently by my colleague, the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Pearkes). I thought he spoke as a great Canadian.

I believe I can speak with some knowledge of the subject. I say, with some degree of humility, that I have had a little experience with the reserve forces in this country. In my very early teens it was my privilege to serve as batman to an officer in a reserve unit. I want to pay tribute to the officers and N.C.O.'s and men of the reserve forces of Canada at this time. They give a very great deal of their service and time in a worthwhile effort. I know how beneficial the reserve forces were in raising men for the armed services during the first war. They were most helpful, as they were again in the second world war.

Then, following the first world war, it was my privilege to serve in almost all

The Address-Mr. J. A. Ross phases of a reserve unit, and to serve finally as O.C. Without detracting in any way from the splendid service those people perform, I wish to tell the house that this subamendment is the most impractical piece of

well, I will not say "nonsense", but I will say that I do not understand the meaning behind it at all. I want to tell the house that I have great respect and admiration for the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Low), the leader of the Social Credit party, who moved it. But in my opinion, and from my experience, it is most impractical.

Before I forget I should like to congratulate the Canadian Legion. I have been a member of that great organization since its inception. It was my privilege to attend their convention at Winnipeg last fall when this whole matter was discussed. I want to tell hon. members that the matter upon which they will be called to vote now is not the motion which was voted on at the Legion convention last fall. I should like to make that quite clear as people have quoted portions of this "operation preparedness" pamphlet.

I endorse the principle of this pamphlet. I certainly am in favour of national registration. I am in favour of mobilization for industry, for agriculture; the mobilization of our manpower. But to endorse this subamendment would be a retrograde step. Reference was made yesterday to the N.R.M.A. during the last war and the difficulties that were encountered at that time. I do not think anybody was at all happy about those experiences. I am sure that if we endorsed this subamendment it would create a much worse system. I say that with all respect for and pride in the reserve forces of this country.

Let us see how this would work out. There are many areas in this country where there is not a semblance of a reserve force organization. I know some constituencies where there is no organization whatever, no armoury, no equipment. If we were to have what was advocated this evening by the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch) then this is what would happen in certain districts in Manitoba. Young chaps on the farm doing their daily work, doing the chores that are necessary such as milking cows, feeding hogs and other things, might be called upon to drive as far as 200 or 300 miles to do their training in the evening. Is that feasible or possible or practical? To me the thing is just absurd.

In fairness to some of the members of the executive of the Canadian Legion I think I should say that perhaps they got a little ahead of themselves in this third paragraph.

The Address-Mr. J. A. Ross I am well acquainted with some of these chaps and I know that when you speak to them now they will point out that even though the reserve forces may be well organized in cities like Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver, there would likely be difficulties under compulsory service. I can picture the officers under compulsory service with their orderly parades and faced with the problem of absenteeism. I can see them trying to check at the homes of the men to find out why they were not on parade. It just does not make sense, even in the cities. It certainly would be most detrimental to the industry of this country and to agricultural production.

Talk about equality of service and sacrifice. It would only add to the inequality of service and sacrifice at a time such as this. Remember, this is not for front line, active service; this is for the reserve forces. You have the cart before the horse. I feel keenly about this. Another pamphlet has been issued which is a compromise since the convention held in Winnipeg last September. On the first inside page the following appears, and remember this is the Legion talking:

We have reason to believe that the chief obstacles in the way of implementing the Legion's demands are a serious shortage of ships, planes, equipment, and even boots and clothing, and the admitted absence of adequate trained personnel, accommodation, and other facilities necessary to any immediate appreciable expansion of the reserve forces.

That is the very issue we are confronted with by the subamendment. That is set forth in that paragraph in the latest pamphlet published by the Legion. They have made a survey across the nation and they know it is not feasible. I ask you in all frankness to be fair about this.

I am not satisfied about our manpower situation today. When I spoke the other night following the extended remarks of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) I pointed out that to have our services on a comparative basis with the United States of America-our requirements should be somewhat similar-instead of having 148,000 men in the services three years from now we would have to have 318,000 personnel in the armed services of this nation. That would be necessary in order to compare on a per capita basis with what the United States expects to have by June of this year.

It is not satisfactory. Their objective is greater than the objectives we have in mind. The Legion point that out in this pamphlet which I think has been mailed to most members of the House of Commons as well as having been freely distributed throughout the country.

[Mr. Ross (Souris) .1

When I make these remarks I am not unmindful of the fact that I probably shall have to account to the people I represent. I would remind the house that during the last great war my constituency probably had as great a per capita enlistment rate as any constituency in Canada. When the plebiscite was held, I think in 1942, that constituency registered the greatest "yes" vote of any rural riding in Canada. The only riding to exceed Souris was the riding of Eglinton. It will be seen that these people are quite patriotic and are prepared to make sacrifices in the defence of this great nation.

As I have pointed out before, the government possesses avenues of information not open to us. Before I came to Ottawa I was asked some embarrassing questions by the people of my riding. They wanted to know where their money was going and what the manpower situation was. The members of this group, as well as members of the other opposition groups, have put up a concerted effort to get information on this subject. We have had to ask for information from the ministers who have their staffs and other avenues of information.

The Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) said the other night that if this was not satisfactory he would be prepared to bring in all-out conscription for active service. That is away ahead of what we are asking for right here. I do not know how we can do anything else but take him at his word for the time being. I appeal to everybody to be practical about this thing. I do not know why the .subamendment was brought in. I have said that I have great confidence in the hon. member who introduced it, but as one who has had rather considerable experience in the reserve services I think it is most impractical. It is nothing but a retrograde step. If we make any move, let us be sure it is something worth while for this nation.

I am prepared to explain to the people whom I represent that I have endorsed this brief of the Legion asking for total preparedness. I am wholly in accord with national registration in order to see where we are at. I think that must go ahead of everything else. I am in favour of total mobilization for industry and agricultural production. The Legion themselves admit that this subamendment will not work. At this time let us be practical. Let us put Canada first and do what we think is best in the interests of this country and of the great United Nations.

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Hon. Brooke Claxion (Minister of National Defence):

Mr. Speaker, at the present time I am going to deal only with the subamendment moved by the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Low). For the reasons which were

admirably and objectively stated by the hon. member tor Nanaimo (Mr. Pearkes) and several other hon. members, the policy proposed in the amendment to the amendment is not acceptable to the government.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. C. E. Johnston (Bow River):

Mr. Speaker, I want to have the opportunity to say a few words on this subject. I have been somewhat amused at the concerted efforts of some of the Conservatives to throw their arms around the Liberals so far as this subject is concerned. I have never heard better Liberal speeches on any subject since I have been in the house-and I have been here for fifteen years-than those made by some of the Conservatives in praise of the government program. I was also somewhat amused at the remarks made by some members when they referred to the deplorable conditions that existed during world war II. They spoke of the contemptible way in which our armed forces were called to service, and those of us who were here can well* remember that. Nevertheless nearly all the Conservative members and the C.C.F. members who have spoken to date would condone the government carrying on that type of policy.

I say "that type of policy" for the reason that they are willing to put their trust in the hands of the same party that conducted the last war, and in fact in a government with almost the same personnel. Unless they have had a great change of heart-I would not go so far as that-the results must be the same. I was rather pleased when I heard the remarks of the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) in speaking during this debate. He was very much agitated-and I thought rightly so-because of the poor preparations being made at the present time for the defence of our country. I listened to his speech, read it over carefully, and I want to refer to one or two parts of it. The leader of the opposition said certain things that I think were outstanding and I want to put them on Hansard. At page 21 of Hansard for February 1, he said:

Many alarming details have come to light within the past few weeks. It was with astonishment that those who were aware of our shortage of weapons learned that a government arsenal, which could have been making modern weapons, was making shotguns to be sold for sporting purposes.

Listening yesterday and today to some of the Conservative speakers praising the government for its effort, one would not think that it would be doing such a thing as that. Then the leader of the opposition went on to say:

It was with equal astonishment that we learned it was necessary to send Canadian forces to the United States to train, although we have been spending so much money on the many large military camps across Canada. But details of that kind

The Address-Mr. Johnston are in themselves not nearly so alarming as the statement issued a few weeks ago by the conference of defence associations.

The leader of the opposition is pointing out that these are alarming things, and he is emphasizing their importance. Nevertheless the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Pearkes) got up the other day and said he had confidence that the government would carry out the suggestions which they have made. How contradictory can they be? Let me continue with what the leader of the opposition had to say about the conference of defence associations.

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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

On a question of privilege, I never said any such words as the hon. member is putting into my mouth. The very fact that our party has an amendment which might be interpreted as a want of confidence motion is evidence that he has misunderstood my remarks.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

I do not think I misunderstood at all the inferences and implications of the hon. member for Nanaimo. His point was very clear. I was going to say that in my estimation he was trying to ride the fence but I suppose he would object to that term, so I will not use it.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

Read his speech; it is in Hansard.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

I will before I am through.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

We will just see what you can understand.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

Some people did not seem to understand what their own party stood for when the leader of the opposition was speaking because they have so readily changed their minds. Now they are about to throw their arms around the government. As one expressed it, they are afraid to be on the spot on this particular question. They would be if they faced this problem fairly and squarely, but I would rather face it squarely than try to sit on the fence when the welfare of the nation and our very existence is dependent on our preparation. The leader of the opposition does not think we are very well prepared. Make no mistake about that. He pointed that out quite clearly. He went on to speak about the conference of defence associations. He placed some reliance on what they had to say, and I should like to put it on the record so that we all can see. He went on to say:

To appreciate the importance of their statement, we must recall that this annual conference of defence associations brings together senior officers appointed by each of the military associations which represent all the different services of the Canadian army. These are the men who are actually serving in our reserve forces. These are the men who are in close contact with our permanent forces as well. These are the men who are largely

The Address-Mr. Johnston responsible for interpreting the opinion of those who are in uniform. That conference represents the highest possible authority in regard to the actual state of training of our reserve forces, upon which the land defence of Canada or our participation in any collective plan must still in the main depend.

Recognizing the special position they occupy, and the absolute impartiality of the views they express, let me quote from the statement presented to the government less than a month ago by the conference of defence associations.

I am not going to repeat all the passage that he has quoted. I shall take one section of it which reads:

To say that the reserve force is 40,000 strong, and to give the Canadian people the idea that it has 40,000 men who could quickly be ready for action, is a travesty of the facts. There are few, if any, reserve units in Canada that could be ready to function in action under a minimum period of six months. This includes AA . . .

That is a pretty sorry condition for our defences to be in. Nevertheless the hon. member for Nanaimo said that he thought the Legion would not have made that statement, or issued their manifesto, if they had waited until the government had put their plan forward. I do not think it would have made any difference to the Legion. We have not got very much information from the government so far about what they are actually going to do or when they are going to do it. The hon. member for Nanaimo must remember that the Legion has not forgotten the subject even up to this time. We are still receiving telegrams and communications from the Legion despite the fact that this subject is before the house and the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) has given us his plans. Apparently they are not satisfied.

Then the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Pearkes) went on to say that the Legion might have given this a little more thought, might have taken a little more precaution in the timing, might have waited until the government brought down its platform and so on. Does he realize that the Conservative amendment was moved in this house before the announcement was made by the Minister of National Defence, just as the Legion program was announced before that program was brought down? Yet I have not noticed the Conservatives withdrawing their amendment. Let me read the part I want to refer to.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

Oh, oh.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

Well, 1 can put it all on Hansard. It was moved by your leader.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

Read it all so we can understand it.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

Very well; if you cannot understand it from reading it, I will read it for you.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

You only read snatches of it; that is why you cannot understand it.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

Of course I have to judge the mental capacity of those to whom I am reading. The amendment reads:

We regret that Your Excellency's advisers have failed

(1) to give this nation leadership in the face of the present grave danger:

To hear some of the Conservatives speak now, especially the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Ross), you would not think we were facing much of a danger.

(2) to bring into being forces necessary to enable Canada to defend itself and discharge its international obligations:

(3) to take effective measures to combat inflation and the rapidly rising cost of living.

Let me refer to the second paragraph again: "to bring into being forces necessary to enable Canada to defend itself." It is obvious that the forces are not here to defend us. That was in almost the same words used by the Legion, and it was put on Hansard before the minister made his statement. So if the Legion is wrong the Conservative party is wrong, and they should withdraw their amendment rather than embarrass some of their members by having them vote for it.

Some of us in this house apparently do not view our unpreparedness with the sense of alarm felt by others. I want to refer to an article that appeared in Maclean's magazine of February 15, 1950, in regard to the danger we face, written by Nicholas Ignatieff, of whom they have this to say:

The author is a trained engineer who knows northern Canada intimately. He went overseas in 1940 as a lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Engineers. Because of his knowledge of the Russians he was seconded to the British war office for intelligence duties to assist in plotting the probable actions of our Russian allies, who volunteered little of the information so vital to our own strategy. He became head of this section of intelligence and was decorated by the British and Americans. He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1947 and is at present warden of Hart House, University of Toronto. Ignatieff spends the summer at his homestead in northern British Columbia near the Alaska highway-which, he points out in the accompanying article, may be on Russia's doorstep if war comes.

This is what he has to say, after referring to the Persian oil fields:

Their next major objective, I believe, would be to tie down North American forces in the defence of North America. Because they are unlikely to be capable of a major invasion of this continent by sea or air, their actions would be primarily directed at creating maximum alarm and confusion in the hope of provoking a public outcry against sending troops abroad and war material abroad. To achieve this they would probably send a considerable force to Alaska, accompanied by bands of tough Siberian troops landed by air in the Canadian north.

Their object would be not only to keep America worried and guessing as to the real scope and direction of Soviet intentions but to keep large American forces tied down in hunting these bands over the immense expanse of our northland.

Another objective would be to infiltrate saboteurs among our heterogeneous population to conduct planned and controlled sabotage through a series of blows at widely divergent points.

The forces in the north could act in a wireless-liaison capacity with the soviet G.H.Q. and might even hope to pass supplies to saboteurs. They could probably spare a major effort for Alaska and, unless communications with that area are much improved, the Russians would tie down a considerable part of our air strength in fighting and supplying the battle for Alaska.

For these operations the soviets could rely on a large native population in Siberia; many would be almost indistinguishable from our Eskimos and Indians. These people and Russian Siberian troops composed some of the toughest divisions in the red army and had wide experience in winter warfare in world war II.

I ask you to call it eleven o'clock, Mr. Speaker, and I move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion agreed to and debate adjourned. PRIVILEGE

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February 15, 1951