December 14, 1953

LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. Pouliot:

-and I thank all members of the House of Commons, and I realize once

more that it is not useless to speak common sense in the House of Commons.

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SC

Alexander Bell Patterson

Social Credit

Mr. A. B. Patterson (Fraser Valley):

Conservation

provincial governments, some plan will be evolved to bring about a permanent solution.

Some suggestion has been made that it appears as though the provinces and the municipalities expect the federal government to do everything. We do not expect that. We are only requesting that assistance be granted and co-operation given so these problems will be solved for the betterment of the people of our riding, and consequently the betterment of the people of Canada as a whole.

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PC

Agar Rodney Adamson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Adamson:

Mr. Speaker-

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I am a bit confused at the moment, because just before my deputy left the chair he led me to understand that the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Philpott) was to be given the floor for a few minutes. I do not know in what order members have been called, but does the hon. member agree to yield to the member for Vancouver South?

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PC

Agar Rodney Adamson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Adamson:

Yes, I gladly give way to the hon. member for Vancouver South.

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LIB

Elmore Philpott

Liberal

Mr. Elmore Philpott (Vancouver South):

I

had hoped, Mr. Speaker, to be able to give general support to my good friend the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge) on all except one detail of his proposal.

Before I do so I really should take issue with the hon. member for Royal (Mr. Brooks) on one point he made. Surely it would be very poor conservation policy for Canada to cut down on the amount of newsprint available for newspapers in Canada or the United States, simply for the purpose of saving the pulpwood in our forests. After all, we conserve our pulpwood and we conserve our forests for use, either in building homes or for other purposes. Surely if we are looking at our democratic civilization today we can say there is no higher purpose or greater need in a democracy than the education of the people. The education of the people requires exactly the kind of newspapers that we have in the democratic world, without any kind of limitation whatsoever.

So it seems to me that perhaps the time we spend on these debates on conservation is very well worth while, and that we bring out not only the things we should do but also those things we should have liked doing. Altogether apart from the fact that newspapers are the poor man's university, the university of all the people of a democracy, I think the pulp and paper companies of British Columbia, or the pulp and paper companies of Ontario or of Quebec or of New Brunswick, would take a very dim view of that kind of conservation that would cut

down the amount of newsprint that could be exported to newspapers on the other side of the boundary line, or sold to newspapers on this side.

I must say, however, that it does give me a great deal of pleasure to support the general purpose behind the resolution of my good friend from Kootenay West. We in British Columbia are often divided in politics and in other ways; but I think all of us are proud of the hon. member for Kootenay West, and of the long and sustained fight he has put up for this very fine purpose, that of conserving our natural resources.

We are also proud of him because he practises what he preaches. On his own very admirable tract of country up in that beautiful lake country he has a small, model administration of what the conservation of natural resources ought to be. And, Mr. Speaker, if I were going to trespass into another field, I would say he has a most marvellous stand of potential flagpoles up in that part of the Dominion of Canada.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

But you fellows voted

against the flag.

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LIB

Elmore Philpott

Liberal

Mr. Philpott:

On the general question of

conservation, in connection with my profession it has been my great privilege to travel throughout a great deal of this world. One thing I have noticed is that wherever one sees a country in which a mighty civilization once flourished but where that mighty civilization no longer exists, he always sees certain signs. In every case one would see the slaughter of the forests, the destruction of the soil, the neglect of irrigation works.

Those of us who were taught the Bible in our younger years were taught that the land described in the Bible as the holy land was a land of milk and honey. Yet anyone who will visit that land today will see a terrible desert, and will have great difficulty in convincing himself that it could have been a land of milk and honey. Then the traveller may go next door to that wonderful country of Lebanon where, in ancient writ, we read that the king of Tyre sent the tall cedars tc the builders of the temple in Jerusalem. Yel if we go to that same country of Lebanon today we see only waste and destruction where at one time those magnificent cedar forests stood.

Then if the traveller would go over into Mesopotamia, or whatever one might wish tc call that area, he would think of those ancienl days when Mesopotamia was a comparatively greater wheat growing land than Saskatchewan, Manitoba or Alberta in our owr century.

I think, Mr. Speaker, we do need to labour the point that when civilizations go down, the first things that begin to go down are the natural resources. I am not particularly concerned about the old question as to which came first, the hen or the egg. I am not concerned particularly about whether those countries allowed their natural resources to decline because their governments had previously declined, or whether it was the other way around. The tact remains.

When I come to this country, one of the pleasures I have in returning to eastern Canada where I was born and brought up is to see that in the 20 or 25 years I have been away-but not, I hope, because of that -considerable progress has been made. Progress is being made in many directions in connection with the conservation of our natural resources. In the debate in reply to the speech from the throne we heard our good friend from Waterloo South (Mr. White) tell of the progress being made in conservation in the Grand river valley. I am happy to learn that the treasury of Canada puts up 37i per cent of the cost of that and similar works. When I go to my boyhood haunts, along some of those rivers which now flow into lake Ontario, I am glad to see that in those river valleys there are the beginnings of these conservation measures that mean so much to this Canada of ours.

I think the hon. member for Kootenay West is right when he expresses concern on behalf of British Columbia and says that those of us who live in western Canada in general, and British Columbia in particular, do not want to see in western Canada a repetition of some of the mistakes made in eastern Canada. The very fact that we are now having to undertake these very costly remedial works in an effort to reforest valleys like the Grand river valley must be an indication to us of the heavy expense involved in any attempt to redeem our mistakes of the past.

We do not want the same mistakes in western Canada; and I think it is very much to the point that we should have the most urgent conservation measures in British Columbia. One such measure that I think could be applied without waiting around for any conference-because I may be wrong, but I am not a great believer in conferences -would be to extend into British Columbia the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act. All I know about conferences is what I read in the paper-and I believe one was held today- but I think it is hard enough for even two governments to agree, without expecting the government of Canada to agree with the governments of the ten provinces.

Conservation

I believe the enactment of legislation extending the operation of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act into British Columbia would do untold good for that province. It has done a great deal for the prairie provinces which for a long time past have not had the same brand of government that has been in office at Ottawa, but when it came to the matter of getting handouts from the government here have been the white-haired boys. I think we in British Columbia would take it as a measure of long overdue justice if the provisions of that act were extended to apply to us on exactly the same basis as for a long time they have applied to the prairie provinces.

We are proud to see many conservation measures going on. We heard some debate this evening as to what is the proper name for the government in Alberta. Well, let us just call it the government of Alberta; but it is worth noting that under federal grants a very comprehensive scheme is being carried out on the east slope of the Rocky mountains. I should think it would be well within the purview of parliament to consider similar measures for the benefit of the west slope of those mountains, and in the not too distant future.

As I have said, except as a last resort I do not believe in these general dominion-provincial conferences, or whatever name one may apply to them. They are difficult to arrange. I would point out, however, that as need arises we have these conferences all the time. The latest of them was held this very day in this very building. But I would give all the support I can to the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge) when he stresses the urgent need for strong decisions on matters of policy in connection with the Columbia river conservation plan.

It is going to be necessary in the next few years to make certain decisions in regard to the Columbia river valley. For instance, it will be necessary to decide whether we are going to build dams near the United States border or whether we are going to build dams and great artificial lakes up in what is called the Big Bend. It will be necessary to make these policy decisions. Unless they are made in time it will not be possible to properly plan our national highways system.

May I conclude by once again congratulating the hon. member for Kootenay West upon bringing this matter to the attention of the house on behalf of the people of British Columbia, regardless of party. While I personally cannot agree with him on the small detail that a dominion-provincial conference

Conservation

would be the only way or the best way to further this great aim, I think we on this side of the house take second place to none in our desire to achieve the same purpose.

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PC

Agar Rodney Adamson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rodney Adamson (York West):

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Philpott) who has just spoken has referred to newspapers as being a form of education. I can well understand his view in that regard as he is a well-known columnist and no doubt he regards newspapers as such. I wish there were more columnists who would regard newspapers in the same way.

I think he misunderstood the point made by the hon. member for Royal (Mr. Brooks) about newsprint. The hon. member for Royal was not contending that we should not be producing newsprint-we should, because newsprint is one of our major exports to the United States-but the hon. member was deploring the waste of newsprint which went on, and this has been particularly obvious in the happenings subsequent to the newspaper strike in New York. I thought that should be corrected and that the hon. member should correctly understand the intent of the hon. member for Royal.

Those of us who have been here before and heard the problems of the Fraser valley spoken about must agree that we are hearing them tonight in a somewhat more temperate form. I think if the debate today has shown one thing, it is the value of history. As there has been considerable discussion about dominion-provincial rights, I would submit that the axiom of dominion-provincial jurisdiction as it affects this matter could be stated as follows. The provincial governments have complete jurisdiction over their natural resources; the federal government has a valid interest in conserving and developing those resources, and can properly give assistance in doing so provided it is under agreement with the governments concerned.

I think that sets out the difference in jurisdiction as between the provincial and federal governments. I do not see anything in this resolution which transgresses that fundamental precept. However, rivers, erosion, rain, pestilence, fire and drought unfortunately do not recognize the authority of the British North America Act, and therefore are no respecters of provincial boundaries.

I should like to refer briefly to a report that appeared in the New York Times of today, by Professor Sears of Yale. I think this brings into sharp focus the whole problem we are faced with in the conservation of our natural resources in Canada. A recent

bit of research by Professor Sears and the Yale geological school by means of drilling in the dried-up lakes of New Mexico has shown that that area had been a site of a vast forest. They were able to trace the transition from spruce to pine and from oak to alder as the forest cover, and that that showed the progressive drying up of the area.

The research showed that the continent is becoming drier and warmer at an ever-increasing rate and, owing to the growth of population and other causes which are still not perfectly understood, not only are we accelerating our pace as far as industrial and technological growth is concerned but actually we are accelerating our climatic changes. The transition in climate and precipitation which used to take hundreds of years may be expected in the near future to occur in from two to three generations.

We are seeing that in Canada. While our rainfall is reasonably good, there are areas that have drought today which never had drought before. Even the forests of the coast range of British Columbia which at the turn of the century never knew a fire hazard now must be closed for weeks at a time because of lack of precipitation. That is an example of the change that is going on, of what we might almost call the speed-up of climatic change on the North American continent.

There is never much interest in conservation because it does not become a matter of political combat. If I were to say that the Prime Minister had webbed feet and that his ability to learn to swim this summer was due to that fact, it would immediately become a matter of controversy and the right hon. gentleman might have to take off his shoes and socks. But if I say that the water table in southwestern Ontario has fallen 14 feet in the last twelve years, that is not anything new. The fact that it has fallen, however, may produce drought conditions in that area which will have most serious repercussions, not only on our generation but on the two generations to follow immediately.

We discuss conservation; it comes up annually in this house, and this debate is a pattern of what we have heard before. Practically no interest is taken outside this house in the debate because there is no personal combat in the debate, and it is as effective in curing the situation and preventing the future waste of our natural resources as the efforts of a small boy on the Lions Gate bridge in Vancouver spitting into Burrard inlet would be in causing a tidal wave in Japan.

We talk about it; we have this pious debate; we are all agreed that something must be done about conservation, and we are all in favour of doing everything we can. But like Mark Twain and the weather, we talk about it and none of us do anything.

I propose to do everything I can during this session to see that the committee on mines, forests and waters is called, for as far as I know-and this is my fourth parliament- even going back to the first world war, this committee has never met. If we are really serious in trying to combat this problem of conservation we surely need the help of people who know what to do.

The debate today has shown a vast variety of different opinions, all expressed honestly and genuinely by members of parliament, all of whom know one or two facets of the problem, but none of us I venture to say are really competent to speak on conservation in its scientific sense.

I humbly submit through you, Mr. Speaker, to the government that if we are serious in wanting to do something about conservation, then this committee must be set up so those people who know the problem and know what should be done can come before a committee of this house and tell us what the problems are.

There are no votes in conservation. It is like sin and the clergy. Everybody is against sin and everybody for conservation, but nobody does anything about it except to have one debate every year when everybody shouts "Hurrah, we are all in favour of conservation; we are all in favour of stopping erosion; we are all in favour of stopping forest fires and seeing that the world is a better place to live in", but we don't do anything about it. I humbly submit that we do not do anything about it because we do not try to get those people who know what should be done to come and talk to us.

There are one or two further aspects of this problem that I wish to deal with, and the first is metals. In the last ten years- and I am referring to 1942 to 1952-the world has used up more metals, with the possible exception of one or two, than were used up in the entire history of the world up to the beginning of the last war. The replacement of these metals through the discovery of new deposits has not been going on at the pace it should. The United States, which was probably and rightly considered the most integrated colony the world had ever seen, certainly up to the end of the first quarter of this century, is now deficient in every single metal with the exception of magnesium and molybdenum. The United States is deficient 83276-58

Conservation

in all fuels with the exception of coal, and coal is becoming more and more the product of the chemical and steel industries.

Canada today is the greatest storehouse of these metals and that fuel, and we must think not in terms of five or ten years but in periods of a quarter or half a century at a time. We have been entrusted with these vast resources, and we cannot say they will do us until the next election, that they will do us for the next five or ten years, or that they will be sufficient even for our lifetime. Our responsibility to this country is so great that we must endeavour to have a long-term policy not only in the twentieth century but long after that.

Hon. members may say, that is a geologist talking. Canada is the country where geologists must talk because we are moving at such an increased pace and our natural resources are such that every single pound of metal we have must be preserved.

Another matter I wish to deal with is that of atomic energy. Atomic energy gives hope for power but it is unlikely that the price per unit of energy, at least for a great number of years, will be competitive with the price of energy obtained from falling water. I have the figures for 1950; these are the latest I could get. The per capita use of energy expressed in tons of coal was as follows, and these are international figures: United States 8-1; Canada 6'6; United Kingdom 4-5; France 2-3; South Africa 2-3; Soviet union 1-7; Japan -4; India -1. Today the Canadian figure has increased and the gap between us and the United States has greatly narrowed.

Our prosperity, as I have said before, is based on a cheap source of power, a cheap source of electrical energy; and this means that we are able to produce manufactured goods and such things as aluminum, which require great sources of energy. The cheaper we can have the energy the cheaper we can produce metals, and the less ore will have to be left in the ground because of the economic process of producing and selling the finished metal. If your costs of mining, smelting and milling-which are largely or at least in some way dependent upon power -can be reduced, then rock which was waste rock becomes ore; and that, Mr. Speaker, is conservation of our natural resources in the best form.

Every year we hear of thousands of acres of topsoil which are washed out to the sea. The river and its entire basin should be considered

Conservation

as a unit. We cannot merely consider rivers as sites on which to put hydroelectric plants or power dams. Unless we consider the entire river as a unit our power dams, it there is erosion or if there is silting, will become useless. Boulder dam today is silting up. The Boysen dam on the Big Horn river which was recently built-only three or four years ago-I believe has an expected life of just 50 years because the reservoir will be filled with silt. This means that this great source of energy will become useless because the river and the whole drainage basin were not considered as a unit.

In that regard I think there must be a new concept. These drainage basins must not be considered purely as a provincial concept, because they cross and recross provincial and international boundaries. As I have said before, rivers, drainage and rainfall have no respect for provincial boundaries.

To give you another example of what has been happening in the United States because of the destruction of soil, let us consider the weed halogeton which is the evil weed and which kills cattle. It destroys whole ranges of cattle and sheep because of its excretion of oxalic acid. It makes the whole range barren; not only is it barren, but it is a death trap for any cattle or sheep which try to graze there. That weed can get root only if the soil is destroyed. We North Americans have been terribly guilty in destroying our soil.

Then let us consider another aspect of this matter, namely pollution of streams. This capital city of Ottawa thinks nothing of dumping raw sewage right into the Ottawa river, thus polluting the whole river below us for miles and miles. We do not complain. Raw sewage is dumped right into the Ottawa river. That is a disgraceful situation.

Industrial wastes, without any thought being given to the matter, were dumped into the streams of old Ontario. All the rivers which are tributary to lakes Erie, Ontario and Huron were once limpid streams full of fish. In my grandfather's time the Don, the Humber and the Credit were salmon rivers. They were not destroyed by sewage; they were destroyed by industrial wastes. I believe that is a problem which we cannot allow to go unsolved. The treatment of industrial wastes which are being dumped into the rivers is something that becomes a responsibility of all of us in order to see that the generations to come have a country of which they can be proud.

I do not want to keep the house too long. I started late. I have an amendment. If the house will bear with me for just a couple of minutes longer, I want to speak of two

other problems. One is forest cover. By those who know, it is considered that a 14 per cent forest cover is necessary to keep the proper balance of the soil with regard to humus. Today we have less than 5 per cent forest cover in what is known as old Ontario. In other words we have about one-third of what is necessary. Consequently water tables are being lowered and ground water is disappearing, with resultant drought. Rivers are drying up, wells are being depleted and the farm economy is suffering. In areas such as mine where you have large, growing municipalities, the problem of municipal growth is complicated because of the water problem. I hate to think of the cost to the average new house owner in order to provide water.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to move an amendment and I have just one thing to say before doing so. I think I can finish before ten o'clock.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

It is now one minute after ten.

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PC

Agar Rodney Adamson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Adamson:

I want to restate our previous stand on the matter. The function of government is not to own or to manage but merely to see that those who own or manage do so without destroying our national heritage and our resources. Our policy can possibly be stated in the sentence, "Develop but do not destroy". The function of the dominion government is as far as possible to see that at least we know what to do. At present, while we may care, the debate today at least has shown that we do not know. I therefore ask the government to see that the committee on mines, forests and waters is called in the 1954 part of the first session of the twenty-second parliament.

I wish to move, seconded by the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell):

That all the words after "policy" be deleted and the following substituted therefor:

under a system of free enterprise and in close association and collaboration with the provinces that will:

(a) promote and develop all the country's natural resources for the benefit of the people of every part of Canada:

(b) protect and conserve our forest, mineral and other resources from undue depletion or exhaustion;

(c) expand the use of our resources for industrial production in Canada and thus create greater opportunities for the employment, advancement and security of all Canadians.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Perhaps I should refer the

hon. member to citation 315 of Beauchesne's third edition, which reads as follows:

A modification of a notice of motion standing upon the notice paper is permitted, if the amended notice does not exceed the scope of the original notice. A new notice must be given in the Votes and Proceedings, under standing order 45, when a material change is to be made to a notice of motion before it is taken up by the house.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker-

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. As it is now ten

o'clock, the house will stand adjourned until tomorrow at 2.30 in the afternoon.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, do I understand-

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I have not ruled on it. I

have just asked the hon. member to look at that citation, and I want to give the matter a little further thought myself. Perhaps later we can discuss it. In order to make the procedure regular, I should put the amendment. Mr. Adamson moves, seconded by Mr. Macdonnell:

That all the words after "policy" be deleted and the following substituted therefor:

under a system of free enterprise and in close association and collaboration with the provinces that will:

(a) promote and develop all the country's natural resources for the benefit of the people of every part of Canada;

(b) protect and conserve our forest, mineral and other resources from undue depletion or exhaustion:

Business of the House

(c) expand the use of our resources for industrial production in Canada and thus create greater opportunities for the employment, advancement and security of all Canadians.

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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we

shall continue in committee on the amendment to the Customs Act; then second reading of the bill to approve the financial agreement with the United Kingdom; then second reading of Bill No. 7, an act respecting the criminal law, on the understanding that it will only proceed to second reading and that the committee stage will remain until after the recess. Then we will take up second reading of the bill to amend the War Service Grants Act; then the bill amending the Canadian Forces Act, and then the amendments to the Northwest Territories acts.

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It being five minutes after ten o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order.



Tuesday, December 15, 1953


December 14, 1953