February 8, 1955

INQUIRY AS TO FLIGHTS FROM WINNIPEG TO COPENHAGEN


On the orders of the day:


PC

Owen C. Trainor

Progressive Conservative

Mr. O. C. Trainor (Winnipeg South):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to direct a question to the Minister of Transport. In answer to a recent question of mine the minister indicated that the reason passengers for Copenhagen are not allowed to embark at Winnipeg via Scandinavian Airlines is because there are no reciprocal arrangements with Scandinavian Airlines. Can the minister now say why such reciprocal arrangements cannot be negotiated when the convenience and financial interest of Canadians resident in the mid-west might be advanced thereby?

Topic:   INQUIRY AS TO FLIGHTS FROM WINNIPEG TO COPENHAGEN
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?

Some hon. Members:

Order paper.

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LIB

George Carlyle Marler (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. George C. Marler (Minister of Transport):

I suggest the hon. member might put his question on the order paper.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I understand it is the wish that this question be put on the order paper.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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INTERNATIONAL RIVERS

PROVISION REQUIRING LICENCE FROM GOVERNMENT OF CANADA TO CONSTRUCT, OPERATE AND MAINTAIN ANY IMPROVEMENT


The house resumed, from Friday, February 4, consideration of the motion of Mr. Howe (Port Arthur) for the second reading of Bill No. 3, respecting the construction, operation and maintenance of international river improvements.


SC

George William McLeod

Social Credit

Mr. G. W. McLeod (Okanagan-Revelsloke):

Mr. Speaker, in continuing this debate I wish to refer for a moment to a speech made in this house by the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge) and some of the statements contained therein. I have since had an opportunity to read this speech, and I have found in his remarks things I did not expect to find from a speaker from the socialist ranks. However, in a report of a meeting which he attended in the city of Revelstoke on the night of January 5 I found a very good

indication of what might be the socialist stand, and I would like to quote from the report of that speech:

The Kaiser dam would yield the B.C. government a million dollars a year for 50 years, plus some percentage of power developed. The C.C.F. party objected to the Kaiser company having this right, because it was a private company.

That is the kind of statement I expect to hear from a socialist, and I respect any socialist who stands up for his convictions and expresses what he actually believes. But I was certainly disappointed when the hon. member made no reference whatsoever in this house to this attitude and, in fact, I have come to the conclusion that he made a statement here that might well have come from the other side of the house. However, there is one statement he made in Revelstoke with which I am in full agreement. The report reads as follows:

"What is needed," Mr. Herridge said, "is a meeting of minds of the federal and provincial governments on this matter."

I agree with that 100 per cent, Mr. Speaker.

I now turn to the main features of this bill and some of the political aspects attributed to it in the press throughout the country. I have here a clipping from the Vancouver Province carrying the headline "Ottawa Will Stop It". Then follows the subheading "B.C.'s Kaiser Dam Project 'CockEyed', says Howe". The report goes on to say:

Trade minister C. D. Howe described the agreement between the B.C. government and the Kaiser interests in the United States for a storage dam without on-site power on the Arrow lakes as "a cock-eyed and improvement deal."

I do not like that word "improvement", and I believe possibly they mean "improvident"; but I am not going to correct the press, though it does not sound right. Nevertheless I cannot help but like that word "cockeyed". It shows that the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) is quite a human fellow after all, and that off the record and possibly on the spur of the moment he made this very human statement. However, I cannot agree with the thoughts behind that statement.

A little further on, discussing development projects in Canada with a newspaper man, he made it plain that this was one project which would not be realized in its present form if the federal government had anything to do with it. He also made it plain that Ottawa had a lot to do with it, and was confident that legislation now being drafted would block the Kaiser dam plan. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that this is definite proof of the claim I made that this bill is nothing more or less than a political measure.

International Rivers

I am also going to put on record a couple of cases which I think are similar, and in which the action was not questioned, or disallowed. In fact there seemed to be no reason why any action should have been taken by the federal government toward the British Columbia government of that day. When the West Kootenay Power and Light Company made application for additional storage of water at Kootenay lake, a part of the Columbia river system, the international joint commission agreed that this was desirable in order to firm up power downstream. In this case "downstream", of course, is in Idaho in the United States of America. In this instance the federal government, knowing full well that the province of British Columbia would get no financial return for the extra storage, -and I would ask hon. members to remember that; no financial return-endorsed the plan.

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LIB

James Allen (Jim) Byrne

Liberal

Mr. Byrne:

Would the hon. member permit a question?

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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Low:

Let him finish.

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LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order.

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SC

George William McLeod

Social Credit

Mr. McLeod:

The federal government endorsed the plan. With the Kaiser dam, built for the same purposes, British Columbia will be recompensed. Yet the federal government reverses its stand and says that British Columbia is "giving away her water resources".

There was yet another instance, Mr. Speaker. In the case of the Skagit river development for the benefit of the people of Seattle, also across the line, the international joint commission approved the flooding of British Columbia territory. The attitude of the international joint commission was to the effect that the Skagit project was desirable, subject to mutual agreement arranged and approved by the province of British Columbia and the city of Seattle, the only two parties at that time figuring in the transaction. According to the dominion government, as there was no objection they were the only two parties that had the right to take part in this transaction. Again it should be noted that the province of British Columbia received no material benefit from this development.

I can see no difference between the storage that will take place as a result of this Kaiser dam or Castlegar dam, call it what you will, and these two cases that I have mentioned. Therefore the only thing I can do is to ask this question: Why has this government reversed its stand on this particular occasion? Why are they objecting to a storage dam or to the raising of water for use downstream across

the line in this particular instance while they have been letting it go by and taking no action whatever in past years?

Since coming into this house this session- to deal a little bit more with the political build-up-I have noticed quite a few questions on the order paper seeking information as to correspondence and so on that has passed between the British Columbia government and the federal government in this connection. The whole idea seems to be to place the provincial government in a rather poor light. They are being put on the defensive. Yet, Mr. Speaker, I maintain that had there been any legislation making it necessary for the British Columbia government to come to Ottawa for consent before taking on this project the need for this bill would not exist. I am therefore making the statement that there was no reason for the British Columbia government to ask the government of Canada if they could do this because there was no legislation to prevent it, and because they had a precedent in these two other cases I have mentioned.

There is one other point that concerns me possibly more than this one. That is the matter of interference with provincial rights. In my estimation, Mr. Speaker, this is a further step in the centralization in the government at Ottawa of power and control over the destinies of the Canadian people from one side of Canada to the other. In this case it is true that it refers to only one natural resource. Many hon. members may wonder when we speak of water as being a natural resource, but in the case of British Columbia it is certainly our greatest natural resource. If we have a federal government that can interfere with a resource of this nature, which we believe is entirely the property of the people of the province of British Columbia and therefore entirely within the jurisdiction of the government put into Victoria by the people of British Columbia, let us just stop and think what further action could be taken at any time this central government should see fit to take it.

I maintain that the people of British Columbia are well able to look after their own affairs. They have proved it in the past. Governments have been toppled and governments again may be toppled, but I am going to say this: I believe that the place to fight out the merits or demerits of the Kaiser dam is in the province of British Columbia; and I believe that the fighting should be done by the people of British Columbia, not by any citizens down here in Ottawa.

I am strongly in favour of the settlement of disputes by conference. I mentioned that fact in an earlier debate in this house, and

I can only reiterate it at this time. In order to avoid this head-on collision which I mentioned here on Friday and which was prophesied by a minister of the crown, why is it not a logical thing for the representatives of the province of British Columbia and the representatives of the Dominion of Canada to get together and discuss this matter around the conference table? What I say is this. Forget political affairs. Divorce politics entirely from the question and put it on nothing more or less than a straight business basis.

In the past there have been difficulties over this matter of federal-provincial relations. We have an outstanding dispute going on at the present time. I am not going to interfere in that dispute because, as I said on that question a year ago, I believe the dispute between the province of Quebec and the government of Canada is strictly a family affair and it is up to the rest of Canada to keep out of it. I will say the same thing with regard to this particular dispute. I say that it is between the government of the province of British Columbia, administering the affairs of that province in the interests of its people, and the government of Canada; and I say that it is up to these two disputants to get together and iron out their difficulties.

As I said on Friday night-and I repeat it-I am positive that the premier of our province and his advisers would be glad to come to Ottawa. I do not think they would ask that the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. St. Laurent) come to a city in British Columbia. I am satisfied that they would come to Ottawa to discuss this problem in order to arrive at an amicable solution.

I think it was yesterday-I had been out of the house for a few minutes-when on coming in I found that the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) had the floor speaking in another debate. Honestly, Mr. Speaker, it seemed to me that he was presenting a much better argument against interference with provincial rights than I could, but I was rather surprised to find that he was not dealing with Bill No. 3 at all. However, I am going to quote a few of the remarks made in that debate by the Minister of Justice. As found at page 904 of Hansard of February 7 he said:

New members have not been in this house very long before they become acquainted with the fact that the mere relationship between the central government and the provincial governments in our Canadian federal system of governments are themselves notoriously difficult.

He was referring to the problem of superimposing a bill of rights and so on; and then, in speaking of the set-up that has been inherited from the constitution of Great Britain, he said that its main feature was the

International Rivers

sovereignty of its legislative bodies. He was referring to the provincial governments. I would respectfully request that the Minister of Justice take the rest of the cabinet ministers to one side and expound to them very thoroughly and clearly some of the statements he made in the house in favour of provincial autonomy and the sovereignty of provincial governments. Hon. members will recall that the motion then before the house was talked out, but I could not help but notice the words spoken by the hon. member for Portneuf (Mr. Gauthier) near the end of the discussion. These are the words-

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LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker;

Order. Is the hon. member intending to refer to a debate which was concluded yesterday or the day before?

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SC

George William McLeod

Social Credit

Mr. McLeod:

I should like to quote these words-

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

It is not yet concluded.

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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Low:

It is not concluded.

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SC

George William McLeod

Social Credit

Mr. McLeod:

-uttered by the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) when speaking at the United Nations. He said:

I wish to make it clear here . . . that, in regard to any rights which are defined in this document, the federal government of Canada does not intend to invade other rights which are also important to the people of Canada. By this I mean the rights of the provinces under our federal constitution.

In a few words our Secretary of State for External Affairs put forward as plain an argument as can be put, and I refer particularly to his words:

By this I mean the rights of the provinces under our federal constitution.

All I am asking is that the government take these words to heart and, before there is too much conflict of interest and ill will created over this flagrant invasion of provincial rights, do something to see that a serious head-on collision does not take place.

I should also like to say a word or two to every member of the house. This bill is more important than a lot of us think, and its tentacles are more far-reaching than any of us may envision. I ask every member of the house, regardless of party affiliation, to study the bill carefully, for I say it is the thin edge of a wedge that can be used in many ways to interfere in the internal economy of any province of Canada at any time the central government sees fit to do so. I would urge that that feature be given very careful consideration.

Finally I wish to refer to another statement that has been made with respect to this

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legislation. The hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra (Mr. Green) referred to this proposed legislation as a club at the head of the British Columbia government. A club in the hands of an adversary, Mr. Speaker, is a fair weapon. It is a weapon you can see, a weapon you can protect yourself against, a weapon you can do something about. But what can you do when the government of this country, setting itself up as the supreme authority, takes political action and endeavours to pass legislation that will take away from a province rights which we believe we are entitled to under the British North America Act?

This is something worse than a club. It is a political weapon-and I cannot help repeating that because it is so very important -being forged by the government to thwart the British Columbia government in the administration of its affairs and embarrass it in the conduct of its business. It is a direct infringement of the rights of the sovereign legislative body of the province of British Columbia.

I am not going into the mechanics of the proposed Kaiser dam, which has been mentioned in the debate so often. I can only say, as I said before, that I am satisfied that the people of British Columbia are able to judge the merits of matters that relate to them and to them only; and I believe if any government, whether it be Social Credit, Liberal or C.C.F., at any time thwarts the will of the people of British Columbia it will receive the same treatment which the late Liberal government of that province received in 1952.

On motion of Mr. Byrne the debate was adjourned.

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February 8, 1955