May 25, 1951

LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

One of the working committees is actually meeting this afternoon.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

So far as I know the minister has not mentioned this very important subject of transport communications.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

Yes, I did. I said also that one of the working committees is meeting this afternoon.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

I mean the minister has not dealt with it in this debate.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

I dealt with it in my main statement.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

I do not think this committee has attached the importance it should to this matter.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

It is of great importance.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

Certainly its importance is not recognized. As General Worthington has said, all our defence preparations depend entirely and immediately upon the proper co-ordination of the transportation and communication systems.

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Supply-National Defence

I am glad the minister referred to the preparations being made in Alberta. In discussing this matter with cabinet ministers there I know that they are cognizant of the necessity of doing something and they have been working on this. Concrete results have been achieved. But I think we should know what preparations have been made in the other provinces.

For example, take the matter of air raid shelters. What preparations are being made in Canada in that regard? What preparations are being made in Ottawa to provide air raid shelters? I do not know of one. If we were attacked by atomic or other bombs, where would we go? It is all right to say that we are working on it, but an air attack can come suddenly. We know from experience that the enemy does not wait upon our convenience to attack. If an attack should come unexpectedly, where would we go in this city to seek assistance? There is not one place that I know of, and I do not think any other hon. member knows of one place. Those are the things that people should know if they are to avail themselves of the facilities which are supposedly there.

Every assistance should be given to the committee which the government has set up to co-ordinate the communications and transportation systems. It should also be made clear just exactly what progress has been made and what are the future plans.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

I know that the hon. member for Temiscouata has a rather important engagement so I should like to answer a question he asked which I should have answered more promptly. The hon. gentleman will appreciate that the matter to which he referred is one over which I do not have direct jurisdiction, nor has my colleague, the Minister of National Defence. I am sure that the Minister of National Defence and I will be most anxious to see that the effective representations made by the hon. member for Temiscouata are brought to the attention of our colleagues, the Minister of Defence Production and the Minister of Transport. We shall take great pleasure in passing on the information at the earliest possible moment.

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LIB

John Lorne MacDougall

Liberal

Mr. MacDougall:

Mr. Chairman, at this

time I do not wish to pick a fight with anyone who holds views with respect to civil defence which may be diametrically opposed to those which I hold, but I do feel that the discussions so far-

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An hon. Member:

Louder.

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LIB

John Lorne MacDougall

Liberal

Mr. MacDougall:

I was called to order the other day and berated for speaking too

loudly. I have modulated my voice this afternoon so that I shall not offend the sensitive auricles of various hon. members of the committee. In that regard I might say that it is not often that in a matter of this kind I disagree with my good friend the hon. member for Lake Centre. But it seems to me that in the matter of civil defence we are now speaking in terms of dollars and cents. Personally, I do not believe that is the proper tactic for us to adopt at this time. I think it will be more or less universally agreed by everyone here that there is resting on the individual member of the House of Commons a responsibility which is as great as, if not greater than, that which rests on the government.

Certainly our plan of civil defence at the present time is not complete, and it is not perfect. I do not think that anyone in his right senses would expect it to be. But I would imagine that, in the near future, with the vote which it is now stated is going to be given to civil defence preparations, certain things will be brought about with respect to information for every hon. member. Rightly or wrongly, it is my considered opinion that the preparation and the successful carrying on of civil defence, as far as we are concerned, can best be accomplished in the 262 federal ridings of the Dominion of Canada by the members who sit in the House of Commons, provided they will go back to their constituencies and tell them what is needed after we have more information than we have at the present time and when the plan has gone forward to a more complete state of fruition than it has reached now. We should individually and collectively make it our bounden duty to see to it that we stress the importance of what is needful with respect to an adequate civil defence.

I do not think that the most essential factor in civil defence is the granting of a lot of federal money; but I believe that one of the essential factors is that the people have some information about the potential destruction in the event of an aerial attack. Let us put it this way. We know perfectly well that the destruction from the Hiroshima bomb was colossal. We know now-it is no secret- that had the victims of the Hiroshima bomb had adequate medical attention within forty hours or forty-eight hours, the casualties resulting from radiation would have been cut by at least 40 per cent. We also know that when you have atomic explosions-this is also no secret, and I am not quoting from any book-if there is a warning that is understood by all the people, atomic casualties will be cut by another 40 per cent. In my opinion, therefore, it is logical to conclude that one

of the first things that should be done by the members of parliament and the government is the giving of consideration to a universal system of warning that will be the same in Newfoundland as it is on Vancouver island, in the province of British Columbia, and all the intervening terrain.

How can we best bring about a decrease of casualties? I think it is generally known that in all the industrial areas of all the provinces of the Dominion of Canada we have the nucleus of a volunteer service that cannot be matched in any other country in the world. I refer now to that great body of men and women who are fully trained and qualified in first aid. In my opinion they can and ought to be considered a volunteer nucleus from which can develop in each locality across the Dominion of Canada a tremendously important factor in the reduction of casualties. That force is completely and entirely voluntary. It will not cost the government of Canada a dollar to put that force into operation. I am convinced that every man and woman in that group would be delighted to tutor, maybe once or twice a week, various groups in his or her particular community who would be able to carry on any first aid work in a most adequate manner.

With respect to atomic explosions, we also know that in hospital areas and congested metropolitan areas the likelihood of casualties among physicians will, in all probability, go to fifty per cent. If that is true-and I believe it is-then every one of us must do something with regard to the education of his constituency in that matter. (Let us consider my own riding in the city of Vancouver. It has the largest hospital in the province of British Columbia; I refer to the Vancouver general hospital. We have there a tremendous area of hospitalization. Suppose an atomic bomb should hit close to or upon the Vancouver general hospital. The loss in professional services-those both of nurses and of physicians and surgeons- would immediately be at least fifty per cent.

A great deal can be said for decentralization of hospitalization; but the fact remains that we must deal with the situation as it now is. The. hospital is there, the facilities are there, and the personnel are there; and they are going to remain there unless something in the nature of a flood or a holocaust of some sort or other occurs without Uncle Joe pulling the string. We must face the facts with respect to this whole situation. Candidly, I believe that we are about to get a great deal more information from our civic defence authorities. At the present time there is no

Supply-National Defence one in any part of Canada or the United States who can say that we have the complete blueprint for security in the event of an atomic explosion. But as individual members of the House of Commons we at least have a duty to perform when we go back to our constituencies, namely to give to the people what, in our opinion, might be the potential of an atomic explosion anywhere in our district. That is something for each of us to do. Certainly the government can help by giving the necessary information; but whether it is an atomic explosion, a flood or any other holocaust a great deal of the aid given in the first instance will be voluntary, coming from your next door neighbour.

This afternoon there was some mention of couplings, and one hon. member said he did not mean hose couplings but hydrant couplings. I am not going to enter that argument-

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

There is no argument on that subject. Do not confuse the people.

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LIB

John Lorne MacDougall

Liberal

Mr. MacDougall:

We know perfectly well what happened at Rimouski not so very long ago. We also know what has happened in various parts of Canada during the last few years when great fires have occurred. The hydrant facilities in adjoining municipalities have not been co-ordinated. Certainly to standardize the threads on all hydrants across Canada would cost the taxpayers of this country hundreds of millions of dollars, and I do not think that expenditure would be justified. I do believe some consideration should be given, however, if it has not been given.' already, to the use of adapters that could be utilized on hydrants of adjoining municipalities where the threads are different. In many instances I believe that would reduce the number of casualties and would be a much cheaper way of giving adequate protection in the event of a large fire.

Furthermore, while I may be old fashioned in my ideas with respect to the response of the Canadian people in the event of attack, I think there is something in the spirit of the early pioneers on the prairies that could be adopted right across Canada in both rural and urban areas. On my way down to the opening of this session I stopped off in Saskatchewan to visit my brother. He has a huge barn, though I do not know whether it is as large as that of the hon. member for Springfield. As has been stated this afternoon, the farms across Canada have been largely mechanized, and many large barns are not used to anything like full capacity. I am as sure as that I am now speaking to you that in the event of any holocaust in Saskatchewan

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Supply-National Defence -and I use that just as an illustration, for I am sure the same thing would apply from coast to coast-the neighbourliness that has been born of hardship and experience would be a tremendous factor in providing aid and assistance to those in need. We also know that in a good bank barn you are perhaps as well protected as you could be anywhere. In my view the voluntary aspect of civil defence is far more important than the expenditure of a large sum of money for the purchase of equipment which may not be used this year or within the next five years.

So I leave this thought with you, Mr. Chairman, for what it may be worth. I do not believe the government should be too severely condemned because some people, perhaps without adequate information, feel that the appropriation for civil defence is not large enough. To me the voluntary part of the program is much more worthy of consideration than the pouring of millions of dollars into equipment that may or may not be used. We know perfectly well that Uncle Joe is not going to telegraph and tell us if and when an atomic attack is going to occur. So I conclude on a note very similar to that on which I opened. If we are to adequately meet the needs of civil defence it must be particularly by way of voluntary effort. I do say the government should give the lead, and I am thoroughly convinced that the minister will do so, and will give every member of this house the necessary information so that we may go back and impress upon our constituents the importance of civil defence and the part to be played by voluntary effort. If we do that I am quite sure the response of the Canadian people will be adequate to meet the need. I am also sure that if the minister finds it necessary to increase this appropriation you and I as taxpayers will have no objection at all. We should always remember, however, that in these matters the neighbourly feeling counts for much more than a terrific expenditure of money.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

I do not want to repeat what I have said already in my initial statement, but in the light of the discussion that has taken place I believe there are some things that will have to be said in the public interest.

I do not desire to shut off any hon. member, but I thought I should say now that I do intend to try to more or less close the matter and bring it to a head. If any hon. members wish to speak before I do so, they have a perfect right; I am just giving an indication of my intention. I believe many of the things that have been said have perhaps arisen because hon. members have not had an opportunity to really see what has been going on not only in Ottawa but in every province and [Mr. MacDougallJ

almost every major municipality. If anyone wishes to anticipate me, I am prepared to wait, but I should like to more or less summarize what I have to say in order to bring the discussion to a conclusion more readily than perhaps would otherwise be the case.

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PC

William Gourlay Blair

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Blair:

It is not my intention to speak on this subject at length. Last September I covered the different types of warfare as far as Canada is concerned. I dealt with gas and chemical warfare, explosive bombs, atomic bombs, and those things which might represent a danger to our country. I must say I was pleased last evening when the minister came out with a complete account of his expenditures. If we had been given that statement by the Minister of National Defence in the early part of the debate we might have been a good deal further along in the consideration of the estimates. For that part, I congratulate the minister. I was disturbed, though, last night by one part of his speech to which I should like to refer. He said, as reported at page 3387 of Hansard of May 24:

I am certain that as long as I am in charge of this difficult assignment I am not going to go ahead and build up an organization which in the event of disuse would rust and do more harm than good.

Further on he said:

We may make a big miscalculation; there can be no doubt of that possibility, but certain risks have to be taken in this matter. Those risks have to be borne not only by the armed forces but by everyone in Canada, for that is the nature of total war. No minister of the crown or anyone else can alter that unfortunate fact.

I said I was disturbed when I heard him use those words. I have read the statement several times this afternoon, and there seems to be a tone in the minister's speech which is suggestive of something like gambling. We are going to take a chance. In so far as the defence of this country and of our people is concerned, I do not believe we should ever take a chance. So far as money is concerned, let us compare the amounts allotted for this purpose. We are going to spend something like $5 billion on the armed forces for our defence, while we are going to spend something like $5 million for the defence of the people of this country. It is rather difficult to understand this, because the conditions of warfare have changed a great deal in the last twenty-five years. If we have to come to grips with an enemy-there is one enemy in our minds-the thing that would determine our success would be the large manufacturing and industrial capacity of Canada and the United States. If the war followed the pattern of the last war, in which we bombed the Ruhr valley which contains the manufacturing centres for war materials for

Germany, it would naturally follow that our enemy would bomb our industrial areas and the industrial areas of the great country to the south. That is something to be considered, because the bombing of those areas has become part of warfare as it exists at the present time.

We are striving, and other nations are striving, to put industries which manufacture war materials, such as guns, aeroplanes and that type of thing, out of business. For that reason, I believe it would be a possibility that this country and the country to the south of us would be bombed. For that reason I feel that, even as the hon. member who just spoke, while a great deal of the work done in such an emergency would be voluntary, yet there is an onus on the government to build up a very elaborate plan for the defence of this country. The same thing happened in England during the last war. During the bombing of the industrial areas the civilian population suffered, and suffered severely. Practically one-third of the houses were destroyed at that time, along with the casualties which existed at that time. The same condition could exist in Canada. I do not like that note in the minister's address in which he intimated that we are more or less going to take a chance. We are not going to build up an organization that is going to rust. Mr. Chairman, I do not believe the time will ever come when we should take a chance on this country or the people who live in it.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

I do not want to interrupt,

but I think this is rather important. I believe the hon. member would agree that I did not say we should take a chance. I said that there is a great risk involved, which is quite a different thing.

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PC

William Gourlay Blair

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Blair:

There is a risk involved in

not doing something, and that is the point I am advancing. We cannot afford to take that risk. If we can spend $5 billion on the army, navy and air force for our defence, which will probably be used outside this country because we hope the war will be as far from Canada as we can have it, $5 million seems a very inadequate allotment for the protection of the people living in this country.

I wonder if the estimates of the Minister of National Health and Welfare have been cut down in favour of the estimates of national defence. We must draw the line some place. So far as disuse is concerned, sir, we may do a great deal of this work by voluntary effort, and by the use of voluntary agencies existent in Canada at the present time. After all, a great deal of this work must fall on the government, and there will be expense. This afternoon we were talking

Supply-National Defence about hose couplings. There is no reason why the same type of hose couplings could not be in common use across Canada. We have had disasters in Canada before. In the last year we had to deal with one in the Fraser valley; we had a flood in Winnipeg, and we had the terrible fires in Quebec. Those things are happening and causing a great deal of suffering. This agency would not be allowed to rust in disuse because of the things I have cited that have happened in the last year or two. They may happen again in the future.

So far as the training of people in the care of casualties is concerned, that is not something that is going to rust. If the lessons in the care of casualties and first aid are well learned, people are not going to forget them. They can be of use at any time. The stockpiling of medical supplies and food are things that can be used at any time. The hon. member who has just spoken mentioned the possibility of hospitals being bombed. That shows us that arrangements should be made outside those areas to take care of casualties, because the hospital is just as apt to be destroyed as any other place. In his reply, I would ask the minister-after all he is at the head of this organization and it is a difficult assignment, but I am going to ask him these questions-to indicate what arrangements have been made in the matter of an air raid warning across Canada.

Let us suppose that by means of radar we are warned of the approach of enemy planes. Is there one warning that will be spread all across Canada? So far as sirens are concerned, I wonder how many municipalities in Canada have sirens that could warn the people? Some days ago we heard some noise from a new siren on the Hunter building. Then, this morning, I read in the newspaper that we are going to do some excavating and dig down about two floors below the parliament buildings to have some protection. Possibly there are some members who would like to crawl into such a hole during these debates. But this matter is not going ahead, and if this emergency should occur at the present time we are still taking chances. Will the minister tell us what has been done by way of keeping the water and food supply in Canada free from contamination. Are the large reservoirs of the cities protected? I doubt if any municipality in Canada is mounting a guard or taking any steps to maintain a proper water supply for the people.

As of now, how many of our people have been trained in chemical and germ warfare? Has this matter been brought before the people by means of booklets or pamphlets,

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Supply-National Defence telling them that something like this could happen? The average person feels that this is something one reads about. In looking at this whole picture, they feel that it cannot happen here. We are only talking about this. I wonder what surveys have been made in Canada for bomb shelters. I wonder how far the training has advanced in all the cities and towns of Canada where there are possible targets. How far has the training of people in the care of casualties advanced?

I ask the minister what has been done about stockpiling food and medical supplies, and whether these supplies have been placed in areas outside the large cities where they could be reached in the event of the city being bombed. Lastly I ask the minister this question: How far have we gone into the possibility of fire either from bombs or from fifth columnists? Certainly the fire brigades of every town or organized municipality in the country should be receiving training along that line. As p,art of their training the municipalities might like to have their own air wardens or their own fire wardens, apart from their fire system, because, as you will realize, in a city even the size of Ottawa, the present fire brigade would find it difficult to control the whole community.

In the last war in England they set up fire wardens who took charge of certain areas, and they had fire watchers. It was a good organization. These people stayed on; they worked for weeks, months and years. But I again come back to the minister's statement of last night which, while he has corrected the statement that I made, did smack somehow of a feeling that, well, we will take a chance. We are going to have to take a chance; there is no way out of it. We will just have to do the best we can.

It may be that out of the asking for more money in this debate today for civil defence nothing will happen, but I would like to believe that the minister, or any member of the government, if nothing happens in the next three years, will not say: There now, we knew there was no occasion to spend this money. We, your wise government, did not spend this money and inflict taxes on you because we felt nothing was going to happen.

I ask the minister now: Does he honestly feel that nothing can happen? If it could happen, why cannot we be prepared and fully prepared? The amount of $5 million that we are spending is only a drop in the bucket in comparison with the $5 billion we are spending for defence. Therefore I think the minister finds himself in the position

where he feels that he would like to do a great deal more than is being done.

I do realize it is difficult to establish an organization across Canada which would be adequate for the protection of this country. No doubt the size of the country and the population make the matter of civil defence a difficult question to deal with. But even with that, we have certain cities in certain parts of the country which would be vulnerable targets in the event of an attack such as has been visualized by some hon. members since the debate started.

Therefore in closing I feel that even if these things that we are doing for our protection-and I include the lot from air raid shelters to the training of civilians-even if these are never used, we should still go ahead and protect the people of this country, and, so far as the training is concerned, ensure protection against fire. That brings up the matter of hose couplings which has occupied a great deal of the time of the house. They could all be used at any time. Having suffered from disasters, three or four in the past year or two, we could still with advantage use the set-up for civilian defence in the time of an emergency, even if there were no enemy attacks.

Again I cannot help comparing the small amount set up for civil defence of this country with the total expenditure on defence, and drawing the minister's attention to the fact that in war as it exists at the present time, and looking back at the first war. civilians suffer, and they sometimes have been in more danger than the people in the army. It is part of present-day warfare; it is part of the strategy of the enemy air force.

This matter brought on, both last night and today, a debate in which I am glad to say a number of members were interested. But I say to the minister that the advice of the members and their feelings in this matter are expressed in an attempt to safeguard the people of this country and to help them in the event of a tragedy of this type coming to pass.

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LIB

Alan Carl Stewart

Liberal

Mr. Stewart (Yorklon):

Mr. Chairman, my remarks in connection with this debate will be very brief. I am inclined to agree with the speech made by the hon. member for Red Deer yesterday who said that in his opinion, in dealing with these defence estimates, the house had wasted practically four days. In that connection I have noticed that our friends in the C.C.F. party have not spoken in this debate, and I am presuming that they are more or less in accord with

government policy. There has been very little criticism from the Sociil Credit group; but we find the grand old Conservative party going to bat in connection with this debate, and we also find them not in agreement. The aged member for Nanaimo apparently has disagreed-

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Some hon. Member:

Oh, oh.

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May 25, 1951