Mr. Howard C. Green (Vancouver-Quadra):
Mr. Speaker, when the hour for private bills expired on Tuesday last I had finished pointing out benefits to the various parts of Canada which would follow the construction of a natural gas pipe line from the gas fields of Alberta to the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. I had just begun to deal with one other feature, namely the fact that one of the great weaknesses in the Canadian economy is the dependence of Ontario and Quebec on United States coal. I gave the figure for the importation of coal from the United States during the calendar year 1952, which was in excess of 24J million tons.
Hon. members will recall that along with shortages of oil, iron, steel and cotton, the shortage of coal in Canada was one of the main factors in bringing about our adverse exchange position in the year 1947. That exchange position forced the government to bring in what was known as an austerity program. Now, fortunately, the situation has changed to a large extent with regard to oil and iron ore because of the discoveries that have been made since that time. It has also been changed to a degree with regard to steel, and here in 1953 we have an opportunity with western Canadian natural gas to do something about this bad feature of having to import so much coal into Ontario and Quebec from the United States.
Dr. G. S. Hume, who I believe is the leading expert on oil and natural gas in Canada, made a speech in 1951, to which I referred the other day. It was entitled: "The Utilization of Natural Gas in Canada". In that speech he dealt with the effect that bringing
natural gas to Ontario would have on the amount of coal required. These were his words:
Thus, Trans-Canada pipelines-
As hon. members know, this is the one company which thus far has a plan to instal a pipe line from the west to Ontario and Quebec by an all-Canadian route. I continue:
Thus Trans-Canada pipelines, transporting 365 million to 500 million cubic feet a day, would deliver natural gas which, to the consumer, would represent a very large sales value and if efficiency in burning is considered, the pipe line, when operating at full capacity 500 million cubic feet a day, would replace the equivalent of about 25,000 tons of good grade coal a day.
That works out to over 9 million tons of coal a year which would be replaced by natural gas from the western prairies.
Objections have been raised to an allCanadian natural gas pipe line. One of them is that the distance is too great. It would be about 1,780 miles from Alberta to the city of Toronto, and another 325 miles from Toronto to Montreal, making the estimated total length of the pipe line to Montreal 2,105 miles. That does seem a long distance; but on the west coast the Fish Engineering Corporation are speaking of a line of about 1,400 or 1,500 miles, with which they hope to prevent us from getting our natural gas from the Peace river into the states of Washington and Oregon.
Hon. members may be interested to know that the Bechtel Corporation, which is one of the great pipe-line building firms of the world, and which incidentally is building the oil pipe line to the Pacific coast at the present time, has plans for a gas pipe line from Iraq to Paris, and eventually to London. I hold in my hand the issue of The Oil Forum for January of this year. It contains an article on this proposed pipe line. The distance to Paris would be 2,500 miles. The pipe line would have a capacity of 500 million cubic feet a day, which is the same capacity as is planned for the all-Canadian pipe line to Ontario and Quebec; and it would cost $425 million. There you have a much larger gas pipe line proposal by a thoroughly responsible company. I submit that one cannot question the plan for an all-Canadian pipe line on the basis that the distance is too great.
Another objection is that it would be preferable to have a system of exchange in gas; for example, that we should pipe our gas which comes east from Alberta down into the state of Minnesota, and then let Ontario and Quebec depend on natural gas being piped in from Texas or other parts of the United States. That of course would
Mid-Continent Pipelines Limited require an agreement between the governments. Pipe lines are installed by private companies, not by governments, both in the United States and in Canada; therefore it will be realized how difficult it would be to work out an agreement between the governments. We seem to be having a great deal of trouble getting an agreement between governments concerning the St. Lawrence waterway, and how much more difficult it would be to have an agreement with regard to natural gas pipe lines.
Then if there is an exchange agreement the result will be that Ontario and Quebec will be subject to the federal power commission of the United States. Under the natural gas act of the United States that commission must apply the test of public interest. It has been clearly defined on several applications to permit the piping of United States gas into Canada. I hold in my hand one of the decisions which gives the picture very clearly. It is a decision by the federal power commission of the United States on an application for leave to export gas to Ontario, and reads as follows:
Delivery of natural gas to Union-
That is the Union Gas Company of Canada, Limited.
Delivery of natural gas to Union shall be curtailed or interrupted whenever, and to the extent, required for the protection of deliveries of natural gas, either for immediate consumption or for storage, to any and all of applicant's customers in the United States. The authorization hereby granted shall not constitute ground or justification for any refusal by applicant to transport or sell natural gas to any person or municipality at any time during the term hereof, either for consumption in the United States by such person or municipality or for storage, or for resale for ultimate public consumption in the United States for domestic, commercial, industrial, or any other use, it being the intent of this authorization that at all times, persons and municipalities in the United States are to receive preferential service over that to Union.
And counsel of the federal power commission in this brief points out that by virtue of that decision the federal power commission has set its policy in the matter of export to Canada, giving priority to customers in the United States and in effect providing that deliveries of gas to Canada are inconsistent with the public interest unless it can be shown that there is no need for gas for resale or for direct use in the United States.
The province of Ontario has had the experience of being unable to get even the gas for which a permit had been given by the federal power commission. The governments of Ontario and Quebec know too that if they have to depend on gas from Texas, then there will be none available for the great northern portions of the two provinces. The premiers
of those provinces went on record last year as being in favour of getting Alberta gas, rather than being forced to depend upon United States gas.
I suggest that an exchange agreement is completely impracticable, particularly as there is a time element involved. We believe that 1953 is the crucial year. Just today we see a news dispatch from Alberta to the effect that Premier Manning stated yesterday in the Alberta legislature that his government favours export at the earliest possible date, and will do all it possibly can to facilitate the establishment of an adequate market.
There is the picture. In conclusion may I say that I believe it will be a great tragedy if this western gas is not used to supply Canada first. If there is a surplus beyond the requirements of Canada, then there is no reason why that surplus should not go to Minnesota. But certainly Canada should be supplied first. I believe that bringing gas east by an all-Canadian route is one of the most vital steps that could be taken at this time to strengthen Canada. Dr. Hume, in the speech to which I referred before, summed it up in these words:
The building of an all-Canadian natural gas pipe line from western to eastern Canada could be as important a national asset as was the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway across the preCambrian area.
Here is the best chance in our generation to further Canada's development into one of the leading nations of the world; and we must not let that chance slip through our fingers.