I have been on timber lands, I believe, as much as has the hon. member for Royal. When they bulldoze the trees they usually push them off to one side in order to get their trucks in. That is exactly what they were doing there. Along the sides of these roads were spruce trees which were four, five and six inches at the butt, pushed over. The roads were cut back and forth through these holdings. In fact I would say that in many cases 15 per cent of the area would be bulldozed roads when they were through.
I am very much in sympathy with the suggestions that have been brought before the house today by the hon. member for Kootenay West. I believe it is one thing we should all be greatly concerned about. I am going to suggest again that it is utterly hopeless to try to do anything in the province of New Brunswick until our provincial legislature- be it one government or the other, there has never been any difference that I know of in regard to crown lands-make up their minds that they are going to enforce some sort of restrictions that will give some protection to this heritage that we should like to have for our children and our children's children.
Subtopic: PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the motion of the hon. member for Kootenay West. I would ask that all hon. members of this house give careful consideration to the principles which are involved in the motion. The basic principle only involves stating that in the opinion of the house the government should consider the advisability of calling a dominion-provincial conference on conservation with a view to the establishment of a national policy on soil, forest and water conservation and land use for Canada.
I cannot conceive of any member of the house not being in favour of any action that will bring about a joint meeting and understanding with a view to establishing a basic national policy with respect to the natural resources of Canada. I am particularly interested in that part of the motion which refers to the establishment of a national policy. It should be evident now that it is an immediate requisite for Canada that we should have a national policy on the development and conservation of our resources.
Under the constitution of Canada parliamentary jurisdiction is divided between the federal parliament and the provincial legislatures, which in turn pass on some of their jurisdiction to their children, the municipalities. But basically jurisdiction is divided
between the federal parliament and the provincial legislatures. Under the constitution property and civil rights are allocated to the provincial legislatures. I am certain we will all agree to that. But there is one factor in the allocation of jurisdiction that I am also certain we cannot overlook, namely that the prosperity of Canada and the revenue of the federal government depends upon the development and conservation of our resources even though within provincial jurisdiction; and that their protection and conservation, even though within such provincial jurisdiction, necessitates action to see that potential development will be left for those who follow after us.
That being so, it is my contention that even though there is divided jurisdiction, even though the basic natural resources come within the jurisdiction of the provincial legislatures, the government of Canada has a major interest in the development of industry and resources and the conservation of our natural resources. We have reached a period in the growth of Canada when, if there is one factor more outstanding than any other, it is that we should establish a national policy. To me it seems rather difficult for a province to ask the federal government for a joint conference to establish a national policy on the development of our resources and their conservation. It seems only logical that leadership should come from the federal government, or directly through an expression of opinion by the House of Commons.
This matter came very much to my attention only this year. Last spring it was my privilege and honour to be the leader of Her Majesty's most loyal opposition in the province of British Columbia, and at the spring session of the legislature a bill was introduced by the Social Credit government for the appointment of an advisory board on the Columbia river basin. On second reading of the bill it was emphasized by the premier of the province that this was being done at the request of the international joint commission. In view of the importance of the bill, as emphasized at that time, it went through very speedily; but though its importance was stressed when it was passed last March or April, no such board was appointed in British Columbia until the last two weeks.
Furthermore my understanding is that the board appointed to deal with the third largest river on the North American continent is composed of cabinet ministers and representatives of those interested in the development of power in British Columbia. It is most interesting to note that three of the
appointees under the bill passed last March or April are officials representing power interests, the British Columbia Power Commission, British Columbia Electric, and West Kootenay Light and Power. Apparently no consideration has been given to the fact that matters having to do with the third largest river on the North American continent go beyond the question of power. They involve the inundation of land, agriculture, forestry and highways.
This matter is of additional importance on a national basis because on many occasions in considering the development and conservation of resources in Canada we become involved in the split jurisdiction between federal and provincial governments, and also become involved with a foreign government, namely that of the United States. When you have a situation with respect to policy that involves the federal government, a provincial government and a government outside our borders, it seems only logical, and evident to me, that it is necessary for Canada to give a lead in calling a conference for the establishment of a national policy; especially if a foreign government is concerned.
Because of the introduction of the bill to which I have referred in the British Columbia legislature last March, I had to make a very intensive study of the matter of the Columbia river basin. In my studies I came across startling information. In the archives of the British Columbia government I found the record of a treaty between the United States and Great Britain in 1846 which outlined an agreement that the Columbia river was to be open for navigation from its headwaters to the sea in perpetuity. I have not been able to find that that treaty has ever been revoked. Yet for years the Columbia river on the United States side of the border has been dammed, with the result that we have lost the right contained in article II of the treaty of 1846 to have the right of navigation on the Columbia river from British Columbia open to the sea.
To the best of my knowledge this matter was at no time ever raised or considered when Canada agreed to the damming of the Columbia river. Let that situation be as it may. It is now evident that for some considerable time the question of damming the Columbia river within the borders of British Columbia, at the request of the United States, has been under consideration. This would entail the flooding of thousands of acres of land. If my information is correct it would entail the flooding of between 16 and 20 miles of the Big Bend highway, which has
been declared a section of the trans-Canada highway. This, in turn, would mean the rerouting of the trans-Canada highway.
I raise this as a particular instance, both from the viewpoint of existing treaties- some of which have been in effect for over a hundred years, and to which there has not been adherence-and from the viewpoint that one cannot draw any clear line of demarcation between provincial and federal responsibility. In view of this fact there is a necessity, first of all, that there shall be a policy established in the national interest of Canada on such matters as rivers, highways, fisheries and forests. In addition we should have a policy, provincially and nationally, which would enable us to work out arrangements with foreign powers on our borders so that the interests of Canadian citizens and Canadian resources are fully protected.
I make this statement also in view of the action taken by the British Columbia government within the past ten days to establish an advisory committee, under a statute of the British Columbia legislature, on this most important issue of the Columbia river basin. This action has been taken on a political and power basis and not on the basis of representation of engineering, agriculture, forestry and water power interests. I have no hesitation whatever, Mr. Speaker, in saying that although this question may appear to be of a strictly provincial nature, basically it is not. The federal government has to give the provinces a lead, and at this time the government should give a definite lead on something we have never had before, something which we need now as we have never needed it before, a national policy for the development and conservation of our resources.
It is my sincere hope, Mr. Speaker, that because of the importance of this matter and the principles involved, because every one of us here, irrespective -of our political affiliation, is interested in Canada, in the development of our resources and the protection of our rights, hon. members will consider this motion from the broad viewpoint of Canadian citizens, from the broad viewpoint of members of parliament for Canada and not on a political basis. If hon. members do that they will then support what is, in my estimation, one of the most important resolutions on the order paper, which expresses the opinion that we should have a conference on these matters. Who could disagree with the provinces and the federal government getting together for the purpose of establishing the basic principles of a national policy in the matter of forests, water conservation and land use in our dominion?
Subtopic: PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
support the general principles and purpose of this resolution, Mr. Speaker. From the long-term point of view of the welfare of the people of Canada I think there is nothing more important than the conservation of our soil and water. I must, however, disagree with the minister when he suggests this is not the opportune time to get started on a national plan in order to make sure these resources are properly conserved.
Coming from western Canada, which is an area that is particularly vulnerable to erosion, I am seized with the importance of more being done as soon as possible in the matter of soil and water conservation. The hon. member for Queens (Mr. MacLean) cited what had happened to what were once extremely populous and fertile regions in the old world. He cited particularly North Africa, but history is full of instances where areas which once supported extremely large populations in a prosperous state are now deserts. A good part of Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor-in fact a large portion of the interior of Asia-which is now desert or semi-arid land at one time nurtured large populations of aggressive people. Many of those areas are now almost completely depopulated, or else they carry small populations living under difficult conditions.
The plains area of western Canada is particularly vulnerable to the same fate. Unless proper measures of conservation are taken, that area could be converted easily into a desert. Some years ago we passed legislation to set up the eastern Rockies forest conservation board which, in conjunction with Alberta, sought to maintain the forest cover on the eastern slopes of the Rocky mountains. This board has done extremely good work. Most of the work to date has consisted of cutting access roads into these areas to make it possible to fight fires successfully. Before this project was started fires destroyed a large part of the forest cover in these areas. If one drives along some of the roads that have been built one can see hundreds of square miles of blackened stumps and a small amount of new growth, which convinces one of the necessity for forest fire protection and the work done by the eastern Rockies forest conservation board.
I have a copy of a report from that board which shows that out of a total of 5-5 million acres of land under their control during 195253, only 8-5 acres were burned over; that is a remarkable achievement. I believe the 8-5 acres were burned over by about twelve odd fires. I do not see the exact number of fires here, but I believe there were some twelve fires started which were confined to this extremely small area. Had it not been
for the access roads and the fire-fighting service maintained there, I am sure we would have lost many thousands of acres of valuable forest land.
This is only the start. The western rivers which flow through the prairies rise on the eastern slopes of the Rockies. They have been fed in the first place by glaciers in those mountains. It is an unfortunate fact that in the last 60 years these glaciers have been gradually retreating. In other words, within the memory of some people still living in those areas the glaciers have retreated as much as a mile or a mile and a half. They are rapidly disappearing; and with the disappearance of the glaciers there is also disappearing the source of all our prairie rivers. When these glaciers have either disappeared completely or become much smaller than they are today, it will mean that, except in the spring or after heavy rains, in many cases the rivers will be either dry or almost so.
The basic problem on the prairies is not that of building irrigation dams, although we realize that they are necessary. It is a problem of ensuring that there is sufficient water in the rivers to fill the irrigation dams and thus provide water for purposes of irrigating the land. This can be assured only by extending the forest cover.
In their natural state the forests extended out from the mountains for some considerable distance; indeed, they reached almost a line north and south of Calgary at the present time. There were of course some fingers of prairie land running considerably farther west than Calgary, just as there were fingers of forest land running farther east. However, I have indicated the general line. Going to a point 50 or 60 miles north of Calgary one reaches a parkland area, at which point the forest cover extends farther to the east, and where spaces with clumps of poplar and willow extended out right across the country.
With settlement, however, the forest cover has been pushed back to a considerable extent. The conservation board having control of the eastern slope of the Rockies deals with areas which extend only a short distance east of the Rocky mountains. In other words the activities of the board are pretty well confined to the mountains and the immediate slopes thereof. In my view the scope of its activities should be extended to the east. In other words there should be an effort to stop the constant cutting down of the forests and the resulting reduction in the forest cover on the eastern slopes of the mountains.
Much of the land from which the forest has been cut and which has been brought under cultivation is not of good quality,
and I do not think the crops grown on it have justified its conversion to agricultural uses. It seems to me that in any agreement between Alberta and the federal government the scope of the board should be extended to the east, and some of the land now in agricultural production should be returned to a forest state. The board should put a stop to the constant westward movement of the process of establishing farm lands, with the consequent destruction of the forests.
Only by extending the forest cover will we be able to compensate for the retreat of the glaciers. We know that the rivers are fed by the melting glaciers, but they are also fed by the moisture which has soaked into the forests and which gradually runs out as the snow melts in the spring. This keeps the rivers in a fair state of flow.
As an example, I know that only 60 or 65 years ago there were river boats running along the North Saskatchewan river from Edmonton to points east. In the last several years during the summer months one could walk across the river at almost any point. This gives some indication of the extent to which the flow has been reduced. There can be no doubt that if this process continues, the building of large irrigation and power dams will, to a large extent, be a waste of money.
I am in favour of building as many as possible of these dams because they serve to catch the spring run-off, which at the present time goes down to the sea and is lost. In the building of a dam an artificial lake is created, thus raising the water table in the land for a considerable distance around the lake. This ensures the growth of crops in dry years when, otherwise, nothing would grow.
This matter of taking definite steps to prevent further denuding of the eastern slopes of the Rocky mountains, to restore the forests by replanting, and to take out of agriculture some lands now being used for that purpose, does not brook delay. If our western economy is to continue in a healthy state, and to be such as to support an increased population, then the sooner definite conservation measures are taken the better it will be not only for those of us on the prairies but also for all the people in Canada and, indeed, the whole world.
Reforestation, so far as I know, is the only method available to conserve the moisture required to maintain the flow of the streams. In connection with reforestation one must keep in mind the matter of planting trees as windbreaks on the farms. Much of this has been done on farmsteads and around farmers' fields.
All these developments require publicity. More people must be told what they can do and how they can do it. Definite examples should be given to them of the value they may derive as individuals. I am convinced that the only way to bring this about is by a proper program of publicity. If this is done we will have not only a proper conservation scheme, but I believe each individual will be prepared to carry out conservation measures.
Subtopic: PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
Mr. Speaker, whatever happens to this resolution, the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge) deserves the gratitude of each of us for having brought it to the attention of the house. I personally have high regard for the hon. member, and it is with considerable regret that I find I am not in a position to support the resolution he sponsors today. In the light of this fact I feel I should place on record my reasons for not being able to do so.
The resolution is in these words:
That, in the opinion of this house, the government should consider the advisability of calling a dominion-provincial conference on conservation with a view to the establishment of a national policy on soil, forest and water conservation and land use for Canada.
We find, upon analysing the resolution, that it contains two specific ideas, the first being that there should be a national policy of conservation, and the second that the federal government should take the initiative in bringing it about. Underlying these two specific ideas is the general thought of the importance of conservation of our resources, and the urgent need of a practical program to carry this out.
With that general idea there can be no disagreement. Of all the provinces of Canada I suppose none has suffered as much as the one I represent from the lack of a good conservation program.
In that province no riding has suffered more than the riding I represent. Early settlers on the coast of my riding knew nothing about conservation. They needed wood for fuel, for the building of flakes and boats and for a number of other uses, and it was natural that they should cut down the trees at hand. The result is that the whole southern coast of the province has been almost completely denuded of soil. The crown lands starting three miles in from the coast, which were reserved for the use of the fishing population, have been practically depleted. Only recently our minister of natural resources, Hon. F. W. Rowe, expressed concern lest the forest resources of our province be depleted much faster than they are being replaced.
I have no quarrel with the general idea that there is a need for conservation. The only question that arises in my mind is the best method by which it can be carried out. This resolution proposes a national policy. Earlier today the minister pointed out that the chief objection to the resolution was the fact that it proposed a violation of provincial responsibility. Under our constitution the provinces have been made the trustees of our natural resources, and they are the governments which enter into agreements with private enterprise for the leasing of resources.
The point that concerns me most is that this is another instance of pushing responsibility over on the federal government. Since I came to this parliament in 1949 I have been amazed at the constant pressure from all quarters to evade responsibility and shift it to the federal government. I think the time has come when the federal government must resist that kind of pressure. If it does not the final result inevitably will be that it will find itself responsible for everybody and everything and no one else will be responsible for anything at all. But that is a trend I deplore, and it is one that should be resisted at all costs.
This resolution proposes that the federal government go out and initiate a conference with the object of taking over further responsibility which belongs rightly to the provinces. That is a very unhealthy sign in our national life. The question that comes to my mind when I consider this resolution is, first, whether a national policy is possible.
I think most of us have a great deal of difficulty in appraising the vastness of this country. We are apt to forget that Canada constitutes the third largest land mass in the world, that only China and Russia have a greater land area than Canada. With a country so vast, stretching from the Atlantic 4,000 miles to the Pacific, from subtropical areas to the north pole; with a country possessing such a variety of topography and geography, I have great doubt whether a national policy is possible.
If a national policy were possible, then what about the cost of carrying it out? I was interested in the argument put forth by the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue), who contended that the provinces were unable to provide the money required to conserve their natural resources. In his opinion that was the main reason the federal government should undertake this responsibility. If the federal government undertakes this responsibility it must find the money. It must obtain that money either by cutting down expenditures to which we are committed already or by taking more money out
of the pockets of the taxpayers. If money is going to be taken out of the pockets of the taxpayers I think it would be better and fairer that the provinces should do that rather than the federal government here in Ottawa.
The next question that comes to my mind is that even if it were physically and financially possible, is it advisable? I do not see how we can initiate a conference with the idea of taking over provincial responsibility without implying that there is criticism of the way in which the provinces are discharging that responsibility. We must say to them, "We are not satisfied with the way you are doing the job," or we must be presumptuous and say to them, "We can do this job better than you are doing." I do not think that is a very good position for the federal government to take in its relations with the provincial governments.
Apart from this tendency to push everything onto the federal government, another thing that has concerned me since I have been sitting in this house is the idea that all we have to do is to pass a law in Ottawa, to issue a decree and, presto, something is going to happen and automatically everything will be taken care of. The conservation of our resources is largely in the hands of the people, the people who live in the provinces and the municipalities. Whatever decree we may make and whatever line of policy we may lay down, the ultimate results rest with these people. Whether the fruit is going to be good or bad depends almost entirely on the people themselves, and that in turn depends on how well they are educated as to the need for conservation and how well they recognize that conservation is in their own interests.
I was interested in the remarks made by the hon. member for Queens (Mr. MacLean) about farmers not fertilizing their soil properly and thus destroying its fertility. Surely the answer to that is to educate the farmer so he realizes that it is in his own interests to take a more enlightened approach to the farming of his land. The business of educating the people can best be done on the provincial and municipal level. I have here a little pamphlet containing the annual report for 1953 of the Newfoundland forests protection association, and it tells a very thrilling story about a program carried out by the provincial government in co-operation with the papermaking companies and the general public in educating people as to the heritage that has been handed down to them and as to their own responsibility in preserving that heritage for the generations yet to come.
As regards the provincial governments, I do not think we should imply that they are
not doing a good job in this regard. We have a very good provincial department of natural resources in Newfoundland, and we have a very progressive minister at its head. We are now beginning to see the fruits of an enlightened policy, and we can see developments which in due course will assist a great deal in preserving our resources. We cannot repair all the mistakes of the past, for in some cases the damage has been beyond repair; but starting from where we are I believe the provincial government is doing an excellent job.
That raises the question whether the national policy proposed by this resolution is preferable to the one we now have which, as the minister outlined it, is one of co-operation with and assistance to the province and special assistance in special cases, depending on the merits of the case.
It is my belief that, having regard to the vastness of our country, to the variety of conditions with which we have to contend, and the need of co-operation from the people themselves, that sort of program is far better than the one proposed in the resolution whereby we would lay down a national policy without knowing anything about costs or special local conditions, and with none of the local knowledge enjoyed by provincial and municipal authorities.
I commend the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge) for focusing our attention on this problem at the present time, but for the reasons I have stated I regret that I am unable to support the resolution.
Subtopic: PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague deserves credit for bringing this resolution before the house. He made an excellent speech. May I also congratulate many of the other speakers who have taken part in this debate. There were one or two things said with which I did not agree. My hon. friend from Queens (Mr. MacLean), who certainly did a lot of work on his speech, gave us a quotation which was rather peculiar, and I wrote it down. "Civilization", he said "contains within it the seeds of its own destruction." May I say, sir, that is not the way I understand that quotation to read. Perhaps my hon. friend might like to look it up. He might gain some enlightenment.
Again, I did not agree with my hon. friend the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Mclvor). He appeared to think that the matter of conservation depends largely on the individual, and he referred particularly to soil conservation on the farm. He said this was a matter for individual farmers to look after. I will admit that the individual
farmer can do something about it if his farm is not already run down, as are so many farms in Ontario and elsewhere, but it seems to me that where the profit motive is concerned people are not too careful of any of the natural resources upon which they are able to lay their hands, particularly when these natural resources belong to the public domain. I think governments have an interest in this as well as individuals.
I shall flatter my hon. friend from Burin-Burgeo (Mr. Carter) who has just spoken, or perhaps flatter myself by saying that I do not agree with anything he said at all except when he said he had the greatest esteem for the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge). However, despite this esteem he finds himself in a position in which he cannot vote with him.
I wonder if the position of my hon. friend from Burin-Burgeo has anything to do with the minister's statement to the effect that the government for the time being was opposing this resolution. His argument seemed to me to be nothing more or less than the belief that we should have ten little countries instead of one big one, and with that I do not agree. I also do not agree with his position that provinces which are unfortunate, like his own, in the matter of having more rock in their area than good soil, should not be assisted by the rest of Canada, and that the government should not come to the assistance of that or any other province in certain circumstances, for instance in regard to social services.
It is not my understanding that my friend's province has been starved in that particular respect. Surely if this Canada means anything to us it means a united nation with ten provinces whose jurisdiction is of course defined; but we should not be too sticky about that jurisdiction. I think surely to some extent we should be expected and willing to bear one another's burdens whether it is in matters economic or in the field of social services or anything else. As far as I am concerned I would be prepared to contribute my share, and I do not see why provinces which are wealthy and strong should not be able to help provinces which are weaker and poorer.
In this matter of conservation of natural resources I thought as I listened to some of the speeches, what an inconsistent people we are, not as Canadians but rather as human beings. I am sure the thoughts of many members of this house have been concerned with how in the world we are going to get rid of great surpluses of agricultural products. Now we have this bill introduced with the idea of getting people to come to
see how we can conserve our resources, particularly the soil, by which we can grow greater surpluses of agricultural products and all the rest.
I do not want to be misunderstood on this particular point, because I am certainly all in favour of conservation. I am all in favour of production. I am in favour, if you like, of overproduction-and I will go on record to that effect-so we may do some of the things I have just suggested to my friend the hon. member for Burin-Burgeo (Mr. Carter) that we should do; that is, that we would be able to help those who are not so well able to help themselves as are we.
We must preserve our resources. I have often been struck by the haste with which we try to turn our resources into immediate money gain, and that at the expense of posterity. I suppose it is true in the matter of timber, particularly. It has been true certainly in the matter of soil and the other things that have been mentioned here today. I think our first consideration should be not our immediate gain but rather to see to it that the people who occupy these lands enjoy the use-and I say "use" advisedly-of the things that properly belong to them or, in my opinion, should belong to them.
Unfortunately a good many of our natural resources which I think should be in the public domain have already been exploited and destroyed by those who were more interested in their own gain-perhaps legitimately enough-than they were in the matter of public gain. I am not suggesting that my friend the hon. member for Burin-Burgeo is one of those people but he certainly talked like one, or gave me that idea.
I might point out also that these supplies are not inexhaustible. The day is coming, and coming fast, when we shall discover that fact. For instance, we have a water table which has been going down gradually but appreciably. The matter of our timber has been, up until some years ago, I would say a national disgrace or, as my friend the last speaker said, a provincial disgrace; he prefers that expression. I am pleased that his province is taking steps, as is my own, to remedy that situation.
We out in the central prairies are not as abundantly blessed with natural resources as are many of the other districts represented by my hon. friends. Our first great asset, of course, is the top six inches of soil; I use the expression "six inches" not as an accurate measurement. I remember travelling on the train with an old gentleman from the province of my hon. friend who has just preceded me. We were going out through the Portage
plains, and we came to a place where there was a dug-out and there were six or eight or nine feet of black soil there. My old friend said to me, "You know, I come from Newfoundland. I am going out to see my son at Flin Flon, and I just cannot get over this vast expanse of beautiful black soil." He said, "You know, in my backyard we like to play horseshoes, but when I take out the axe to pound in the peg, I cannot get the peg to stick in the ground because it quickly strikes rock." It is the top six inches of the soil that is important. Easterners are amazed at its fertility and, I am afraid with some justification, they are often amazed at how much we can abuse our land and how it will come back and reward us for that abuse rather than punish us for it.
It is fortunate that we have now discovered farming methods by which some of that soil or that humus at least can be preserved. In the old days we simply blew the straw into great heaps on those wheat fields, stuck a match to it when the first snow came and there was nothing left but a pile of ashes. With the new methods of farming both the rubbish and the stubble are left on top of the soil, through the fact that it is chopped up by the combines; and a method of tillage is used upon it which works it gradually into the soil. The fact is that that rubbish- which looks terrible to the eastern farmer who is accustomed to nice, black, neatly-plowed fields-preserves the soil from drifting; and drifting is one of our great enemies. It makes a mulch which is conducive to the holding of moisture when and if that moisture arrives. It is a much better system. There has been a great improvement in that respect.
Another resource in which we are interested is that of our trees. I suppose many hon. members think of Saskatoon as being fairly far north in the province of Saskatchewan, but it is actually in the south; and we think of those vast timber lands which are to the north as one of our great resources. The old system, of course, was for the private enterpriser to get a limit, go in and cut, slash, burn and take from the country what he could get; and for the rest of the people there were left the stumps. Some condition like that has been described by my friend the hon. member for Charlotte (Mr. Stuart) here this afternoon.
In the discussion between the hon. member for Charlotte and the hon. member for Royal (Mr. Brooks) there was some question as to whether this exploitation was on public or private land. I do not know whether you remember, Mr. Speaker, the case back in
1945 or 1946 which was brought to the attention of the house by the then hon. member for Dauphin who, I am glad to say, is again the hon. member for Dauphin (Mr. Zaplitny). He brought to the attention of the government the example of a timber limit being let even in Riding Mountain national park in the province of Manitoba. When we asked the government when this lease would run out they said, "It is a perpetual lease as long as there is anything on it worth cutting". So they got down finally to cutting fence posts three and four inches thick.
Mr. Speaker, I see that you are getting uneasy and I know I am getting hungry. May I call it six o'clock?
At six o'clock the house took recess.
. AFTER RECESS
The house resumed at eight o'clock.
Subtopic: PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
dinner recess I was talking about what we conceive to be a national scandal, in that private interests were allowed to cut timber in Riding Mountain national park, Manitoba. I think I had reached the point of saying that when we inquired about the matter from the government we were informed it was a perpetual lease as long as there was any timber there that was worth cutting. However, I am glad to say that situation was remedied. Of course it is true that the company did not leave anything for the people of the nation except stumps, not a very profitable situation.
That brings me to the matter of trees and lumbering in Saskatchewan. A great many people do not realize to what extent the northern part of Saskatchewan is wooded. When the hon. member for Burin-Burgeo was speaking this afternoon he mentioned the steps his province had taken to preserve their timber, and I was very glad to hear that. I should like to say that we have also done something like that in Saskatchewan. I do not want to be political about this, but I think it is a matter of record that by 1944 all the decent timber so far as saw-wood was concerned had been taken out of the bush in the northern part of Saskatchewan. A good many people made their fortunes out of it, and I think perhaps some of them were put in the other place as a reward. However, let that go.
I might point out that the need to take care of timber is much greater, of course, in proportion to the dryness of the particular province. In Saskatchewan we have not the precipitation that the people of the east
have. However, a definite plan has been put into effect in the province in co-operation with the dominion government, I am pleased to be able to say; and although the supply of merchantable sawlogs has been exhausted and has not had time to grow again since 1944, we have a great potential there in pulp and softwood. I am glad to say that negotiations have been under way, and I think an arrangement has already been made for the use of some of it. If these negotiations prove to be successful we expect to be able to cut 20,000 cords of pulpwood each year for the next ten years without in any way damaging the timber crop.
When I say "crop" I use that word advisedly, because it has been discovered that timber can be harvested as a crop. With proper marking and selection of areas there is no reason in the world why the timber should get any less with cutting. In fact the supply will become greater if the cutting is judiciously done and proper precautions are taken with respect to fire prevention and so on. Surveys and research in timber work have been done in northern Saskatchewan, and in that regard I must pay tribute to the Canadian Forestry Association and the provincial and dominion governments, which have rendered assistance.
Another thing that has helped is that Saskatchewan Government Airways, by going into that northern country, have made large tracts accessible which were inaccessible before. Taken in conjunction with the fire prevention precautions, that sort of forest management can and will guarantee perpetual yield in that province. Another important aspect of having trees in the northern part of the province is that it helps the tourist industry. We have so few industries in Saskatchewan that we like to preserve those we do have. My city of Saskatoon is certainly interested in keeping inviolate, if I may use that word, these northern playgrounds.
I see the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Mclvor) is in his seat. I should thank him for the kind words he had to say today about the members of this party, particularly with reference to the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue). May I say that I agree with the hon. member for Fort William when he said that my colleague would make an excellent minister of agriculture. I hope the day may come in the not too distant future-
Subtopic: PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
opportunity to prove that both the hon. member for Fort William and I are correct in that estimate.
I now come to water. I think eastern members have some difficulty in realizing the importance of water so far as the people of Saskatchewan and Alberta are concerned, and to a lesser extent in Manitoba. On Sundays and holidays we go to the nearest water, which sometimes is unfortunately far distant. People come in crowds to sit by the river not far from my house and watch the muddy water run by. I fancy they are thinking that water should be used for something instead of simply letting it run down to swell Hudson bay and the Atlantic ocean, where there is plenty of water already.
That brings me, naturally, to the Saskatchewan dam which the hon. member for Assiniboia mentioned. I was interested in the little bit of minister-baiting indulged in by the hon. member for Assiniboia. I have no intention of indulging in that tonight, because I am well aware that I would probably get the worst of it. The hon. member for Assiniboia has more agility and, may I say, more practice in that regard.
Subtopic: PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
I do know that the people of Saskatchewan were bitterly disappointed with respect to the dam. I do know that, even after they were categorically told by the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) on one or two occasions that at the estimated expense that would be involved in constructing the dam they simply would not be getting it, our agile Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) still made speeches about it previous to the election. He had different schemes and ways as to how he thought it might be managed. I fancy those were in existence at least until after August 10, but I am not so sure that the people of Saskatchewan took them all in the spirit in which they were offered.
I will not trouble the house with long quotations, but I have a rather nasty little one from the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix of April 29, 1953. I wish to read the final paragraph of a long editorial-I do not know which editor it was at that time-in which the editor had this to say:
Mr. Gardiner cannot escape announcing a federal policy for the South Saskatchewan river by raising additional questions. The reception which the people of Saskatchewan gave to the report of the royal commission should have been enough to tip him off that the people of this province are in earnest about getting some irrigation development started long enough before the next drought to do some good. Moreover, the Saskatchewan river development association is not leading a delegation to Ottawa this week to be confronted with a new set of conundrums designed to get Mr. Gardiner or the federal government off the hook. We want to know what the federal government proposes to do about the Outlook dam. And we are not inclined to accept more questions as a substitute for action.
I think the people of the province of Saskatchewan, particularly in the dry area, are still largely in the mood indicated by that editorial. The water, as I said, is now going to waste and could be used for a useful purpose.
Water preservation, of course, has a good deal to do in these dry areas with something that is even more important, human resources. I am now referring of course to the retention of population in these areas. I think it is a well known fact even in the east that the farms of Saskatchewan are getting larger and larger. As the farms get larger and larger the machinery gets bigger and bigger, and as the machinery gets bigger and bigger the farms get bigger. The man who has a $6,000 combine thinks that he might as well have another quarter or half section. Then he has to have a larger combine, and away we go.
I say in all seriousness that the greatest problem in Saskatchewan today, and perhaps to a lesser extent in Manitoba and Alberta, is that of farm population or, if you like, the problem of population of any sort. As the farms get larger and larger the farm population becomes less and less. Then, it is rather rugged to live out in the centre of a stubble field all winter, so people who are reasonably well off decide to give their children the advantage of an education and the social advantages to be found in the smaller towns. They buy a house in town and then proceed to live there. As a matter of fact, in a good many cases their families live there the year round. From the standpoint of efficiency, an old man and a boy using the new machinery take off more wheat from a farm than 25 men did when I was a boy.
One of the problems of the new area is the tremendous mileage of roads to be built by a very small number of people. The same thing is true with regard to our educational and other services. I believe that is probably the chief trouble in the middle west today. The problem can only be solved, as I see it, by bringing in industry of some kind. I am driven to say, and I am proud to say, that our own government-I am not speaking from a political point of view at the moment-has seen to it that we have a start in industry in Saskatchewan. Capital is coming into the province as oil is being discovered, and through the uranium in the north. I need not go into the long list of those things. The fact is that there is a slight tendency, in spite of the mechanization of the farms, toward a desirable increase in population. We hope that will continue.
You might wonder how I am going to connect all that with the water resources. If one looks at the country around Lethbridge I think one can see what irrigation can do. There is no doubt in the world that if a part of Saskatchewan were irrigated, we would
have a larger population. The farms would be smaller. People would go in for raising sugar beets, growing vegetables and small fruits. There would be a tremendous increase in the cattle feeding industry and in dairy products, and that would be all to the good. It would give us more taxpayers. It would give us more population. It would give us more of the social amenities, and it would produce a condition the opposite of the rather barren one which I have just described.
Now, sir, I think that is about all I want to say on the matter. When I addressed the house before, Mr. Speaker, you personally were not in the chair.
Mr. Speaker, I do not often have the opportunity of speaking French since, where I live, we all speak English. However you will not be surprised if I use your mother tongue to congratulate you on the honour bestowed upon you when you became Speaker of this house. I would like to extend to you and to the Deputy Speaker (Mr. Robinson) my best wishes for all possible success in the discharge of the important duties you have been called upon to perform. I say this with all the sincerity at my command.
Subtopic: PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
I listened to this interesting debate this afternoon, Mr. Speaker, and I wish to congratulate those who have taken part in it. In the past we have heard a good many debates on this subject, and they have all been very interesting. Conservation is a very old subject. In his excellent speech this afternoon the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Balcom) said that we in the maritime provinces have been carrying on conservation for the past 300 years. I imagine that is as long as any province in Canada has been doing it.
I did not intend to have anything to say in this debate until I listened to the hon. member for Charlotte (Mr. Stuart) this afternoon. I must say that I agreed with many of the statements he made. The forest lands in New Brunswick are very important, as everyone knows, to the economy of our province. Lumbering is the chief industry of our province, with the exception of fishing.
I agree with the hon. member when he says that in the past there has been notorious misuse of our forested areas in the province. However, I believe the same thing can be said of every province in Canada. We had what were known as lumber barons in New Brunswick years ago. I have heard also of the lumber barons of the Ottawa valley and the lumber barons of the other parts of Canada, including Quebec.
We all know that in the early days the people were robbed by these so-called lumber barons. I think I can say, sir, that for the past 30 years at least, and probably longer, the administration of our forest lands in New Brunswick has been conducted as capably as in any other province. We have good regulations and we have a good act. I am satisfied that we have had conscientious men administering that act. As a matter of fact the hon. member stated that he thought, so far as political parties were concerned, they were both guilty. As I said, they were guilty years ago, but for the past 18 years or more the administration of our forest lands in New Brunswick was under a Liberal administration. I knew the different ministers very well. I knew Hon. Mr. Gill, who was the minister of lands and mines in the recent McNair government. I know he was a hard-working and conscientious minister.
I know, too, that the officials who worked under Mr. Gill over a long period of years in administering the act were capable people. The present minister of lands and mines in New Brunswick, Hon. Mr. Buchanan, who comes from Charlotte county, my hon. friend's constituency, is an outstanding young man. He won the Military Cross on two occasions in the last war, and is recognized by all who know him as an able administrator. I see in the house here the hon. member for Restigouche-Madawaska (Mr. Boucher), who was a member of the McNair government for a number of years. I am certain that the hon. member for Restigouche-Madawaska does not agree with the hon. member for Charlotte.
So far as crown lands are concerned, many of them have been under lease to the pulp and paper companies. These companies built large pulp mills at Bathurst, Dalhousie, Campbellton, Edmundston and other places in New Brunswick. These mills were built with the idea the industry would go on for many years. It is my understanding that, as a rule, the operators of these mills cut just the normal annual growth of timber on the land which they have under their control. It would seem to me, and I believe to most of the members here, foolish for these people to destroy the timber lands upon which the operations of their mills are based.
So far as private lands in New Brunswick are concerned, practically every farmer in the province has what is known as a small woodlot. Those woodlots are to him just the same as money in the bank. The farmer does not allow his woodlot to be cut indiscriminately. Each year most of these farmers go out and cut a certain amount of lumber for themselves. As I say, it is a constant source of revenue.
I will agree with the hon. member for Charlotte that there are certain lumber operators who buy up small holdings 'of private lands and who do cut indiscriminately. They strip the land of all the timber on it. They leave the refuse on the ground so that it becomes a fire hazard, and in this way they injure lumbering operations to that extent.
I should like to refer this evening to the indiscriminate cutting of pulpwood that we had a few years ago. Hon. members will recall that the price of pulp went away up. Large sums were paid for pulpwood; the result was that everyone in the community got into the pulp business. Tens of thousands of cords of pulpwood were cut in my own province. For about a year the price remained high. Cutting continued, however, and as we all know the bottom fell out of the market, with the result that many thousands of cords of pulpwood were left in the woods and could not be sold. This was a definite loss to the people who had cut it, as well as a great loss to the future of the province.
The pulpwood just rotted in the woods. If it had been left standing it would have grown, into logs, and in the future would have been a great revenue producer for the province. Frankly I believe that if we had had some federal-provincial organization these pulp operators would not have been permitted to encourage people to cut so much pulpwood. This would have been a good thing for the industry, and would have helped conserve our lumber resources.
I disagree with the hon. member for Burin-Burgeo and some others who said that the conservation of our forests is definitely a provincial matter. My own province of New Brunswick has very limited revenues, and I know it would be impossible for that province at the present time to look after the conservation of our forests.
This afternoon the minister mentioned that we had had in New Brunswick an infestation of budworms, and that thousands of acres of spruce forests had been affected, with the result that the province had appealed to the federal government. Following this action the federal and provincial governments, as well as the private operators about whom I have spoken, combined to fight the budworm. Two or three years ago a fleet of aircraft was sent down to the province, and has operated each year since that time. I have been pleased to learn that the budworm infestation is now fairly well under control.
If this had been left entirely to the province of New Brunswick I doubt very much if it would have been able to combat this
very dangerous tree disease. As a matter of fact it would not have been a provincial problem at all, because we know that the province of Quebec and the state of Maine adjoin New Brunswick. We know, too, that the budworm does not recognize either provincial or international boundaries. The federal government therefore was wise in deciding that this was a matter which concerned it just as much as it did the province. I should like to express my appreciation for the assistance the federal authorities have given to New Brunswick in this connection.
May I take this opportunity to say that I agree with those hon. members who have said that we in Canada are probably the most wasteful people in the world. I remember that upon returning from overseas after the first world war this fact was strongly impressed upon my mind. I went through forests in France and Germany, and I noted that nothing was wasted. The area beneath the trees was almost as clean as the carpet on the floor in this chamber; no twig or branch was left to go to waste.
I learned, too, as was pointed nut this afternoon by the hon. member for Charlotte, that in the old country there is supervision over the cutting of timber. A man is not permitted to cut timber below a certain stumpage; this is all controlled by the central government. To my mind this is one further argument in favour of some kind of central control.
In Sweden, Germany and those other countries where they have been successful in the matter of conservation, there is only one control, whereas in Canada we have ten governments and ten controls. I am not saying that the federal government should take over the responsibility of looking after our forests, but I do believe that if we had a conference of federal and provincial governments some organization might be set up to bring about uniformity of control all across Canada in matters of this kind.
Then there is another matter to which I drew attention some few years ago. I refer to the very great amount of lumber used in the production of newspapers, and not necessarily only in this country. I believe as a matter of fact that it obtains in greater degree in the United States. I am not referring to the Canadian daily newspapers but rather to the Sunday issues, some of which weigh three or four pounds. I am told that it requires the pulp from one to two hundred acres of Canadian forest land to produce one of these issues. Surely this is a great waste, and I believe the time will come when we will realize that this production has been used wastefully. One
buys lumber to put up a building or a house that will last for many years. On the other hand the lumber used in the production of these weekly newspapers is a complete waste, once the newspaper has been read. It is, to use a common expression, gone with the wind, and there is nothing left to show for it.
I agree entirely with the resolution presented this afternoon by the hon. member, and I feel it is something to which we should give serious attention. As has been suggested, our people should be more educated in the conservation of our forests, as well as of our soil and water resources, and the wildlife throughout the country. I believe a good job is being done in our schools where we teach our young people the great necessity for locating and putting out fires, as well as the necessity for observing the game laws and protecting the animals; in general, looking after the welfare of those gifts with which we have been so blessed.
Subtopic: PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
Mr. Speaker, first I should like to congratulate the sponsor of this resolution. He has given us an example this afternoon of how one can look after the conservation of the natural resources in the area where he lives. He deserves a lot of credit for that and I think he will succeed in being acknowledged the successor of the late John MacNicol, the former member for Davenport, who was a great explorer and who did much to publicize our natural resources. He urged the conservation of our natural heritage.
A debate like this does credit to the House of Commons. Each hon. member who has spoken has shown that he is taking this matter seriously. Valuable suggestions have been made by all those who have spoken this afternoon and evening. I am particularly happy to offer my congratulations to the Minister of Resources and Development (Mr. Lesage) upon his appointment and upon the way he deals with matters which come within the jurisdiction of his department, as well as with similar matters that do not come within his department.
The distinction is easy to make. Because of the principles laid down in the British North America Act it is easy to draw the line of demarcation between provincial and federal jurisdiction. In this case the sponsor of the resolution suggests that the government should consider the advisability of calling a dominion-provincial conference on conservation.
In the first place, is it for this parliament to suggest a dominion-provincial conference to deal with matters which are entirely under provincial jurisdiction? I submit that the reverse should be the case. At the present
time all resources are under provincial jurisdiction. The Minister o f Resources and Development has jurisdiction over national parks, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories which entail the districts of Mackenzie, Keewatin and Franklin. That is the only area over which the minister has jurisdiction. He has jurisdiction extending into the far north to the north pole, including all the Arctic territories.
It would be difficult for this parliament to call a dominion-provincial conference to include people who do not live within a province. The Yukon is a constituency, not a province, and the same is true of the Northwest Territories. If we abided by the constitution, if we remained within our own jurisdiction, the conference would be held only for those people who come under the Minister of Resources and Development. It would be people from the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, the Eskimos of the north; and a dominion-provincial conference on conservation would exclude the ten provinces from Newfoundland to British Columbia.
I could understand a province, say British Columbia, writing to the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) to ask for a dominion-provincial conference; I could understand such a move by any other province, but I cannot understand the reverse. I do not see how this parliament can take the initiative in inviting the provinces to discuss matters which are under their exclusive jurisdiction.
I believe when the sponsor of the resolution thinks this over he will realize that there is more to it than he thought at first. I do not want to tell him anything that is new to him, but I do want to remind him of what he knows in order that he does not forget it. That is the point I am going to make tonight.
I do not think there is any unanimity among the provinces in asking for intervention in a matter like this. For those who are touchy about autonomy there would be no request for intervention by the government of Canada in provincial affairs. It is a very delicate matter. There are agreements with only some of the provinces, not with all. Therefore how can we expect unanimity among the provinces to meet here in Ottawa to discuss with the dominion government matters which are under their own jurisdiction? They would be more likely to say, "Mind your own business; you have nothing to do with it''.
Does the hon. gentleman who sponsored this resolution have a power of attorney from the province of British Columbia to make that suggestion on behalf of his own province?
If so, how is it that the premier of that province was reluctant to get in touch with the Prime Minister of Canada about that very matter? It was not for the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge)-for whom I personally have great admiration, for he is in fact one of our most popular colleagues-to take the initiative and say, "Let us call a dominion-provincial conference."
In the first place, a dominion does not exist any longer. It is a federal-provincial conference, and I use that expression because I read it in his resolution. Now he takes it upon himself to substitute himself for the premier of British Columbia and move a resolution in the house here which theoretically may sound well but which in practice is absurd because it means an infringement upon the rights of the provinces.
I could understand Premier Bennett of British Columbia writing to the Prime Minister of Canada and telling him, as is usually done: "My dear Prime Minister, I would be very thankful if you would call at my request"-he would say-"a dominion-provincial conference"-he would use that very expression-"at the earliest possible moment to consider the conservation of our natural resources." Any other premier could write that, but I do not see how the premiers of the provinces who have made no agreement with regard to the conservation of natural resources could start by asking for a conference on the subject.
There was one agreement with the province of New Brunswick, but that was all. There was no other agreement with regard to conservation with that province, but that was at least one kind of agreement, and there are provinces with no agreement at all with Ottawa. They will surely be shocked to see that an hon. member has assumed that he has the power to speak on behalf of the premiers of the provinces. If those gentlemen feel as they might about it, the hon. member might be shown letters that would not be gratifying to him or to those on whose behalf he is supposed to speak, but without any authority whatever to do so.
It is a good thing to discuss these matters on the basis of at least a rudimentary knowledge of our constitution. There are some members who have visions; they have a dream; they imagine it would be a good thing if this or that should be done, and they take for granted that it will be done through them and then they proceed with resolutions of every kind which they put on the order paper, forgetting as they do that the basis of the argument is the most essential thing. They are discussing these matters in too light
a manner. They should be-I would not say ponderous, because many of them are-but I would say they should be more serious. I am not speaking of anything new because they know all that though they seem to forget it as soon as they rise to speak in the house.
My earnest praise goes to the new Minister of Resources and Development for the way he spoke this afternoon about the respect by Ottawa of provincial rights. He deserves to be commended for that. I may call him a young colleague, because I was here a long time before he came, but he has done exceptionally well and what is to his credit is that when he speaks in the house he never forgets fundamentals. That may seem obvious, but he deserves a lot of credit for it.
I am very sorry to have to disagree with the hon. member for Kootenay West in practice although I agree with him in theory. I agree with him in theory because of discussions I had with an old uncle of mine, a civil engineer, who was very much interested in conservation, and in the successful efforts of Clifford Pinchot, who was appointed by Roosevelt to look after the conservation of water and forest resources in Pennsylvania and who was governor of the state of Pennsylvania when he died.
But, according to the notes I have taken, my hon. friend complained that there was some trouble suffered by the municipality of Trail and the neighbouring area, and he said that was due to the negligence of Ottawa and of the government of British Columbia, if I understood him correctly. That is his own problem and I am very sorry that everything is not rosy and that the government of British Columbia has not satisfied the expectations of my hon. friend. But I know that when there was a terrible flood in the Fraser river valley the government of British Columbia sent an SOS to Ottawa and the SOS was answered by the government which came to the rescue of that province.
I want my hon. friend to know this, although I think he already knows it. The British Columbia government said to the Ottawa government, "We had a disastrous flood and it is ruinous for our people. It is destroying the finest and richest land in British Columbia. We cannot build the dikes to prevent any further flooding, and we want you to help us." The dominion government, as my hon. friend calls the government of Canada, rightly agreed to assist. But as soon as there was a call from the government, I remember-and those of my hon. friends who were in the house must remember- there were complaints that the King government was late in doing this and that. The
reason was obvious. The British Columbia government had not moved any more than it moves now.
Subtopic: PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
My hon. friend is not serious. I summarize the discussion that took place in this house. I do not suffer from amnesia. I remember very well what occurred then. The matter was this. There were some members on both sides of the house who were complaining about the tardiness of the government in rescuing the victims of the flood in British Columbia. I remember the Prime Minister-whether he was Mr. King or Mr. St. Laurent is immaterial; he was the leader of my party-saying this: "I cannot do anything before I receive an SOS from the British Columbia government, because I do not want the government of Canada to infringe upon the rights of any provincial government." That is true. That is something. Let my hon. friend cross the fence and speak to the "Socred" premier of British Columbia and tell him this: "Although I belong to the C.C.F. party, I hope this time, in spite of the fact that you are 'Socred', my dear premier, you will move on, do something and speak to the Prime Minister of Canada."
Subtopic: PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY