February 16, 1955

PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE, ALBERTA

SC

Mr. Quelch:

Social Credit

1. How many farmers received payments under the Prairie Farm Assistance Act in subdivisions

Conservation

Nos. 1, 2 and 3 of special district number 3, in the province of Alberta, for the crop of 1953?

2. What were their names and the location of land on which payments were made?

3. What was the amount of payment and average yield per acre in each case?

4. What was the cause of crop failure in each case, drought, hail or frost?

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE, ALBERTA
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CONSERVATION

PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY

CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. H. W. Herridge (Kootenay West) moved:

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.

He said: Mr. Speaker, in 1952, 1953 and 1954 I moved a motion identical with the one which I am moving today. In view of my own conviction and belief that action along the lines I suggest is urgently needed, I return to the fray with undiminished ardour in the knowledge that there is growing support for this resolution, not only in this house but in the country, growing support for the calling of a dominion-provincial conference such as that which I suggest to deal with this extremely important question.

Before proceeding, Mr. Speaker, I should like to say that, in my opinion, the question of conservation of natural resources is not a partisan problem. It is a problem that concerns us all in this house and all in the country, regardless of our political or economic theories. In my opinion conservation offers ample scope for the application of public ownership, co-operative ownership, private ownership and private enterprise. I therefore judge, Mr. Speaker, that in discussing this question we are meeting it as Canadians facing a question that must be dealt with in the very near future if we are to arrest some of the erosion and loss of natural resources that are going on today.

While in recent years provincial governments and the federal government have given effect to some measures designed to heal the scars in our land caused by the exploitation of our natural resources over a period of many years, in my opinion the pace is too slow and the actions of governments are too unco-ordinated and too unrelated to meet the situation effectively.

In previous discussions on this question I dealt at some length with the historical aspects of the problem of conservation and outlined in detail some proposals I put before the house concerning the objectives for a sound national conservation policy, and it is

not my intention to repeat those arguments today. My argument today will be directed principally to three points. The first is that many years ago there was a recognition in this house of a measure of responsibility by this parliament for conservation as a national problem. The second is that because of the success that has resulted from federal and state co-operation in the United States, experience clearly teaches us that dominion-provincial co-operation would bring much greater results than have the activities in this field by federal and provincial governments to date. My third point is that if we are to spend the sums of money that will be required to develop a national conservation policy, before spending that money efficiently and satisfactorily we certainly require a federal-provincial conference to lay down a national policy accepted across Canada.

I have taken the opportunity to discuss this question with a large number of people who are interested in the problem. Last year it was my privilege to attend the public conference called by the Canadian Forestry Association in association with the Agricultural Institute of Canada and the Engineering Institute of Canada for the purpose of restating a long-range policy for the management of our renewable natural resources. At that conference I repeatedly heard the opinion expressed that we are moving too slowly in the direction of the conservation and development of our natural resources and in the development of policies to meet the situation effectively. While governments may continue to pay lip service to the principles involved in conservation, their actions are too limited and often too unrelated, in my opinion, to turn the tide of continued exploitation and neglect.

I might say in passing, Mr. Speaker, that I was sorry there were not more provincial cabinet ministers at that conference. It was a conference that was called at considerable expense and it was well organized. But as far as I can remember, there were only one or two members of provincial cabinets present at that conference. I realize the difficulty inherent in this question. While I say that this parliament and the federal government have a responsibility in the matter of conservation of natural resources, for the calling of a conference and so on, I know that we cannot get effective action unless we get cooperation from the provinces in this respect. I recognize the difficulties that are entailed.

While it is repeatedly brought to our attention when dealing with this subject that the provinces have control of their natural resources, a reading of the debates of this house years ago indicates to me that parliament and

both old-time parties in this house have recognized the fact that the federal government has some responsibility with respect to a national conservation policy. In support of that contention, Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of the house the fact that on February 1, 1909, the late Sir Robert Borden moved the following resolution in this house:

That In the opinion of this house it is advisable to appoint a select standing committee on natural resources who shall have authority to inquire into and consider and report upon all matters appertaining to the conservation and development of the natural resources of Canada, including fisheries, forests, mines, minerals, waterways and water powers, and to whom may be referred from time to time any report, document or matter touching the subject which they are appointed to consider.

I think the introduction of that resolution into this house by such an important gentleman as the late Sir Robert Borden who was then leader of the opposition indicates the recognition that some responsibility rests with this parliament and the federal government for the consideration of conservation on a national basis.

When speaking in this debate Sir Robert Borden had this to say. I quote from column 356 of Hansard of the session of 1909:

We have had a great many stimulating addresses throughout the country on the importance of these great resources. One might expect that the parliament of Canada would be one of the great forces in awakening public interest in our resources, and the consideration of means by which the development and conservation of these resources should be carried out.

Then later on in his speech Sir Robert Borden said:

So, while men everywhere in Canada are lifting up their voices for the conservation and development of our natural resources, it seems to me that some initiative should come from parliament, and that the members of parliament, without regard to party, sinking for this purpose all partisan considerations, should take up this work and endeavour to accomplish something for the good of the country.

In my opinion we should all be able to endorse the words spoken by the late Sir Robert Borden on that occasion. 1 certainly believe that we should expect the parliament of Canada to be one of the great forces in awakening public interest in our resources in this country.

Then later on in the same debate the then prime minister, the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier, rose to express his support for the principle of the motion in the following words which are found at column 371 of Hansard of the same date:

I am happy to say that I have no word of dissent to express regarding the principle involved in my hon. friend's motion.

By that it will be seen that Sir Wilfrid Laurier quite agreed that this parliament

Conservation

should appoint a committee-which was later appointed-to consider the question of resources on a national basis in Canada.

To illustrate further the necessity for cooperation between federal and provincial governments in the matter of conservation, in further support of my argument I wish to quote from a message to congress by the president of the United States in 1909 when referring to the work done by the national conservation commission in the United States. I might say that it seems, from reference to the record, that there was a great surge of interest in the early days of this century in the question of conservation not only in Canada but in the United States; but since that time there has been a great lag, a great deal of inertia and a great lack of interest on the part of this parliament and succeeding federal governments.

This is what the president of the United States on that occasion had to say in part:

The principle of the community of interest among all our people in the great natural resources runs through the report of the national conservation commission and the proceedings of the joint conference.

These resources, which form the common basis of our welfare, can be wisely developed, rightly used, and prudently conserved only by the common action of all the people acting through their representatives in state and nation. Hence, the fundamental necessity for co-operation. Without it we shall accomplish but little and that little badly.

That has been our experience in Canada. In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, because of the lack of co-operation between the federal and provincial governments with respect to the pressing problem of conservation, we have accomplished but little and in many respects that little badly. As the result of the interest in parliament and in the country at that time an act was passed by the house in 1909 to establish a commission for the conservation of natural resources, and by an order in council of September 3, 1909, a national commission was appointed. There was a different attitude to the whole question in 1909 from what we find today in the government and in the house. It is evident from reading the reports of the commission-I have read them through completely and they are well worth studying-that the commission made a very comprehensive study and review of the whole situation with respect to renewable natural resources in Canada. Unfortunately it was abolished by an act of parliament in 1921, and since that time successive governments have dealt with the problem of conservation on a piecemeal basis.

A tremendous amount of material and information were gathered by that commission, and in my opinion a great deal of the good

Conservation

work that the commission did was wasted by the dropping of the question by the government of the day. I wish to quote from the Globe and Mail of Saturday, March 13, 1954, an article entitled "Ottawa's Conservation Help Niggardly" by J. Bascom St. John. I quote it because it is an excellent article which deals with this subject with knowledge and clarity and is most informative. Out of respect for the person who wrote the article I think I should quote it rather than paraphrase it. I like to give credit to those who express their ideas in such a clear and excellent manner. The article reads in part as follows:

No comparison of Canadian and American government expenditures produces more dramatic contrasts than those on conservation. The two governments take completely different views of the matter. The United States spends lavishly on a widely varied program. This has been a fundamental element of its national policy since 1908.

That is the reason for the success of the conservation programs in the United States. I continue:

The Canadian government, on the other hand, has no discernible policy on conservation. It does spend money for this purpose, but its activities are largely determined by political factors, and in almost all cases are on a project basis. In nearly every instance, comparable expenditures by another authority are required.

I am not underestimating our efforts. There has been a great deal of good done by various federal government agencies but in my opinion their efforts have been too piecemeal and too unrelated to provincial programs. The writer goes on to say:

Canada's failure to pursue a consistent national policy on conservation is all the more strange in that 45 years ago this country was in the forefront of the conservation movement. In 1907 a commission of conservation was set up under the chairmanship of the Hon. Sir Clifford Sifton, and included a large number of representative Canadians. The commission's function was chiefly fact-finding and research. It pursued an active publication policy, and while it functioned, conservation and related matters such as town planning were kept strongly before the public. In this writer's view, a great mistake was made when the commission was abolished in 1921.

I agree with the writer. I think it was a backward step to abolish that commission in 1921. I quote one more short paragraph:

The Canadian government sometimes suggests that it has no specific obligation to support conservation because natural resources were made a provincial responsibility by the British North America Act. The projects it does accept it claims to regard as having "national interest". So far as can be judged by the record, this is a somewhat capricious standard. But since virtually all the taxable wealth of the country derives from natural resources it is clear the dominion government on its own terms has a primary interest in maintaining and developing them at the most productive level possible. If anything is a national obligation to the present and future generations, this is.

[Mr. Herridge.l

I want to make a few comparisons between what has been spent on over-all conservation policies by the governments of the United States and Canada. In 1953 the government of Canada spent approximately $30 million on what could be termed conservation projects. Just think of it-six-tenths of 1 per cent of the national budget in that year. I am going to compare this expenditure with the amounts spent by the United States government in the same year.

The United States government spent $1,122 million on the conservation of land and water resources in 1953. In the same year it spent $107 million for the conservation of forest resources. It spent for fish and wildlife resources $34 million in the same year and for the survey of various other resources $25 million. In addition, the production and marketing division of the United States department of agriculture spent $308 million on various projects of conservation development, and the soil conservation service spent another $66 million for conservation projects.

In total the United States government spent in one year on conservation programs more than $2 billion. I wish to point out that if a Canadian government spent in proportion to its population and national wealth it would spend about $180 million on conservation projects this year. In fairness I must recognize the fact that the United States is forced to spend considerably more in proportion to the expenditure in Canada on the conservation of natural resources as the process of exploitation and destruction of natural resources in the United States, because it is an older country, is much further advanced than it is in Canada.

However, Mr. Speaker, I firmly believe that with a national conservation policy established as the result of co-operation between the federal and provincial governments we could well afford to spend five times the amount we are spending at the present time. As I said before, I have no hesitation in paying tribute to the good work done to date by the federal and provincial governments and by some sectors of private industry. There are certain industries in the country, particularly certain sections of the lumber industry, strangely enough, that are leading the way in the practice of conservation policies. I pay tribute to their efforts and also to the work done by such organizations as the Canadian Forestry Association, the Agricultural Institute of Canada, the Engineering Institute of Canada, a multitude of other organizations and many individuals who have been interested in the problem of conservation for a long time.

However, there is increasing evidence that the provinces and interested organizations and individuals are coming more and more to recognize the need for a national conservation policy with some leadership on the part of the federal government. The experience of the United States is in my opinion conclusive proof of the beneficial effects of cooperation between federal and provincial or state governments in this field. In the light of their experience I think we would be well advised to proceed along the lines I suggest.

Under our constitutional circumstances the role of the federal government must necessarily be that of a co-ordinating agency willing to supplement the efforts of the individual provinces when necessary from the national treasury in order to give effect to a national policy on conservation. The relationship between the federal government and the provinces calls for a dominion-provincial conference on this question with sound planning, good will and a determination to succeed. I say again that this conference is necessary to decide on a major policy with respect to conservation in Canada before you can satisfactorily expend money in the development of any policy.

I am not taking a great deal of time today because I know there are a number of other members who want to have something to say on this question. Before concluding I want to quote from an address given by Mr. F. H. Kortright, president of the conservation council of Ontario, at a meeting held in Ottawa on November 22, 1954, at a preview of the film known as "Proud Land" which was sponsored by the Agricultural Institute of Canada. Mr. Kortright has taken a great interest in this question throughout the years, and in a very few sentences I believe he gives expression to what is a common sentiment across this country at this time. This is what he had to say, in part, in concluding his remarks:

Yet it is to government that we must turn for leadership in conservation action, if we are to enjoy, to the full, long-lasting abundance from natural resources.

In this wonderful Canada of ours, still a land of comparative plenty, there is no reason why, given the will to do so, we could not become a nation dedicated to the conservation and wise use of renewable natural resources. This could be a national project for the spiritual, moral and physical well-being of the people of this land, and, by example, for all other people of the world.

This is not a starry-eyed notion. It is not an impractical idea. But it implies leadership. Our federal and provincial governments have an opportunity today that they will not have 50, or even 25 years hence.

Any government announcing such a national policy, publicizing the facts which dictate it to be necessary policy, and giving continued leadership, 50433-77

Conservation

would be performing a service of supreme importance, not only to Canada, but to mankind. . . No policy would do more for the national economy of Canada. No policy would give greater assurance for the well-being of our children and grandchildren.

I feel that Mr. Kortright has expressed the sentiments of the members of this house in excellent language and in excellent form. I said when I rose that I was returning to the fray with ardour and continued hope. My hopes were not only further stimulated because of the great interest in this subject in the house and in the country, but by the fact we have a very alive, alert and active Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Lesage). Last fall he made a trip into British Columbia and I can assure him that a number of the people with whom I have talked were very pleased in having him visit the province and were pleased with his keen interest in the problem of natural resources.

I am very optimistic, as a result of the introduction of this new blood into the department, that we shall possibly make some progress with this resolution in the near future. I urge the government to translate its awareness of this problem into effective action by calling a dominion-provincial conference with a view to the establishment of a national policy on soil, forest, water conservation and land use for Canada.

In conclusion, in our opinion, the overriding interests of the nation and the immediate interests of the provinces must be harmonized by some action along these lines if we are to conserve and develop our renewable natural resources to the advantage of this and future generations.

Topic:   CONSERVATION
Subtopic:   PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Hon. Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources):

At the outset I wish to thank the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge) for the compliments he has paid to me, and under those circumstances I am sorry I shall have to disappoint him this afternoon by telling him I do not believe the time has come yet to accept the principle of his resolution. I agree with him, however, that conservation of our natural resources is undoubtedly one of the most important subjects than can be discussed in this house. For a number of years the hon. member for Kootenay West has provided an opportunity for such discussion by placing on the order paper a resolution similar to the one we have before us today.

1 certainly welcome, in common with many hon. members, I am sure, the opportunity afforded to discuss this very important problem of the conservation of our natural resources. As you can imagine, Mr. Speaker,

Conservation

I have read the debates of the past several years and I am sure all hon. members will agree they have been very much worth while. I heard the hon. member for Kootenay West refer to the resolution which was moved by Sir Robert Borden in 1909, the principle of which was approved by the then prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. He has said that since then such a committee has been established, and as a matter of fact it still exists. There is a standing committee of the house on resources, but it has not sat during the past few years. I hope it will sit this year to consider at least one of the bills that I will sponsor at this session.

The last time there was a discussion of a resolution similar to the one we have before us was on December 14, 1953. At that time I reviewed in some detail the actions taken by the federal government over the past few years to further the cause of conservation. I do not intend to repeat what I said at that time. The action taken by the federal government has included the passage of such important measures as the Canada Forestry Act; the Canada Water Conservation Assistance Act; the Eastern Rocky Mountain Forest Conservation Act; and this year we are currently studying the international rivers bill, which is a conservation measure. It has included also works performed under these acts and others, a good many of which come under my colleague, the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner), such as the Maritime Marshland Rehabilitation Act and the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act.

Generally speaking, the federal government is carrying on an extensive program in so far as the conservation of natural resources within the fields for which it is responsible is concerned. Part of the program is devoted to surveys and research of many types in the fields of agriculture, forestry and water resources. In so far as surveys are concerned one can see in this year's estimates that the amount to be spent for hydraulic surveys of the Columbia basin has been greatly increased for the benefit of the international joint commission studies of that basin. In the field of forestry research an amount has been provided in the estimates of my colleague the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Winters) for the building of a new forest products laboratory on the campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Plans have been made also to build a new forest products laboratory here in Ottawa, and a site has been chosen on the Montreal road. A contract has been let for the expansion of the forestry experimental station at Petawawa to provide additional facilities for research and for the research workers. Part of the program, sir,

is directed towards assisting the provinces financially with conservation work. That is a provincial responsibility. It is generally of such great importance that I agree with the hon. member for Kootenay West that provisions for assistance by the federal government are warranted. However, I must repeat something which has been said time and again in the house, that we must be ever mindful that the prime responsibility for the conservation of resources rests with the provincial governments.

I know the hon. member has already said that when I mention this I am repeating an old argument. However, I do not believe that the age of the argument weakens its strength, because it is a fact that the prime responsibility for the natural resources rests with the provinces. There now exists continuing co-operation between federal and provincial governments in many conservation fields, and I have no doubt that this co-operation has been of substantial benefit to Canada. It seems to me, however, sir, that the responsibility for initiating a conference such as the resolution proposes rests primarily with the provinces; and if this initiative is taken on a sufficiently broad basis I am sure the federal government would be prepared to consider the matter most carefully.

The hon. member for Kootenay West has asked that leadership be given by the federal government in the domain of conservation, and has said that we could act as co-ordinators of the policies of provincial governments in that field. Sir, we have no objection to giving leadership; we have no objection to acting as co-ordinators; but it seems to me that first we should be asked to co-ordinate by those whose activities would be co-ordinated. It seems to me that the suggestion that we act as co-ordinators should come from those whose activities would be coordinated by us.

I do not believe we can take upon ourselves the responsibility for deciding that policies of conservation in Canada, despite the fact that these matters lie primarily with the provinces, are going to be dealt with by the federal government and parliament, and that the provinces should have uniform policies. I do not believe we can do that. It is my belief that if we are to take any action by way of co-ordination we must wait until we are asked by the provinces to co-ordinate their activities. And since I have occupied my present office I have not been asked by any provincial governments to try to co-ordinate their activities in that field.

Another reason why I cannot accept the resolution is that I have grave doubts as to the success of a conference called for the

purpose of discussing the problems connected with all the renewable resources, as is suggested in the resolution, even if land use, forest, soil and water conservation are closely allied subjects. I suggest any such congress or conference should be preceded by individual meetings in the specialized fields, before any co-ordinated effort could be made by way of a joint congress.

This is one aspect of the matter which was clearly indicated as a result of the resources conference held in Ottawa in April of 1954, and to which the hon. member has referred. As he said, this conference was sponsored by five of Canada's national organizations, one of which was the Canadian Forestry Association. The hon. member for Kootenay West was there, and I was there and addressed the meeting. But, a number of provincial forest authorities declined to send representatives to this meeting which, they suggested, dealt with the conservation of too many resources. The reason they offered was that it involved a discussion of too many resources at one time. A number of papers were delivered at the meeting but, so far as I know, no published resolutions have resulted. Of course, valuable publicity favouring conservation generally came from the meeting; but I am led to believe the sponsors found that the whole field of renewable resources was too large an order for a conference of that kind.

As a result of this experience the same five organizations are now being asked to consider a proposal to sponsor the calling in 1956 of a conference to deal with forestry alone. It seems to me that the experience of last year must leave in one's mind grave doubts as to the possibility of covering in one meeting the field of all renewable resources in Canada.

It is for these reasons, Mr. Speaker, that at this time I must oppose the hon. member's resolution.

Topic:   CONSERVATION
Subtopic:   PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. D. S. Harkness (Calgary North):

Mr. Speaker, I have two regrets so far as this debate is concerned. The first is that it happens to come on a Wednesday when we will have debate for only half a day instead of a full day. I know there are many members who would like to take part in this discussion, but I am afraid some of them will not have the opportunity.

My second regret is that the minister is opposed to the general principle of the resolution. I had hoped that this year he would be prepared to support it. There is no question in my mind that the basic and most important matter with which as a country we must deal, from the long-term point of 50433-774

Conservation

view and having in mind the welfare of our people and the building up of a great nation, is the conservation of our soil, our forests, and our water and mineral resources.

That fact being accepted, I think there is no question that all of us should be prepared to take any means possible to further conservation measures. Certainly the general principle of the resolution is in those terms, with a view to having something definite in the nature of a scheme to bring about the conservation of these most essential resources, upon which our lives are built.

As to the importance of the problem, I would direct the attention of hon. members to a headline which appeared in this morning's issue of the Montreal Gazette, where it says "Quebec Lumber will Last Fifty Years, Roos Predicts". Many people who do not read more than the headlines might draw the conclusion that that is a satisfactory condition: but so far as I am concerned it is alarming to think that in the great lumbering province of Quebec, according to this article, there is lumber sufficient to last for only 50 years more. The article says:

At present rates of consumption Quebec's lumber resources will last for more than 50 years, K. O. Roos, president Canadian Lumbermen's Association, said here yesterday.

The article goes on to say that provincial authorities have-

-warned that if the present deterioration of white and yellow birch continues the hardwood industry will have difficulty in maintaining its present scale of operations after the next 15 or 20 years.

Mr. Roos called for closer collaboration between tne industry and the federal and provincial governments.

This is an indication that the people concerned with the forest industries, including the lumbermen and those who are doing the cutting are alive to the necessity for co-operation between federal and provincial governments to conserve these most important forest resources. They are important from the point of view of the lumber they provide, but are obviously more important from the general conservation point of view, the maintaining of proper water levels, the preventing of spring run-off, soil erosion, and so on.

The minister brought up the matter of provincial rights in connection with this problem. That cry of the infringement of provincial rights in regard to what might be done from the dominion point of view in the matter of conservation has been frequently raised; but I should like to point out that soil erosion by wind and water, forest fires and other things of that kind which destroy our resources, are absolutely no respecters of provincial boundaries or of the British North America Act. In other words, we have a practical situation, as far

Conservation

as conserving our resources is concerned, with which we have to deal. To raise the cry of provincial rights in regard to this matter is completely begging the question.

I thought the minister was extremely coy in regard to this matter. He said he had not been asked, and therefore he did not think he should take any action until he was asked.

Topic:   CONSERVATION
Subtopic:   PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

I admit that. But, may I go farther and say that last year when I was discussing forestry in one province at a luncheon I was told later that I should mind my own business because forestry was a provincial matter. I was told that by none other than the premier of the province.

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Subtopic:   PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

However that may be, Mr. Speaker, I do not think it takes away from the general proposition that a lead in this matter has to come from some place, and the natural place that it should come from is the dominion government.

The minister took what I would call an old-maidish attitude in connection with this: "Nobody has asked me." That seems to me to be hardly in character with the hon. gentleman's usual way of going after matters. However, in spite of the discouragement he may have had from one provincial premier, I would hope that he will not let that stand in the way of instituting a system of conservation. There is no question whatever that the proper handling of conservation measures involves the co-operation of two or more provinces and the dominion government. In many instances there is just no question about it. May I give one example of that as far as the western prairies are concerned? All of the rivers which flow through the western prairies, with some minor exceptions such as the Milk river in Alberta, take their rise in the eastern slopes of the Rocky mountains in Alberta, and then they flow on through Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. A proper handling of these water resources, upon which the whole prosperity of the three prairie provinces depends, is not a matter for Alberta because they rise there, or a matter for Saskatchewan as far as the waters in the rivers of Saskatchewan are concerned. It is a matter which has to be dealt with in co-operation with the whole three prairie provinces, and there is no question that it has to be co-ordinated by the dominion government.

Western Canada is a good example because of the fact that it is particularly subject to and in danger of soil erosion. We have already had a great deal of erosion on the western prairies, particularly in the southern parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan and in southeastern Manitoba. This has been mostly

wind erosion. A great deal of land was broken up there which, in my opinion at least, should never have been put under the plow. As a result, during the dry years, a great deal of the top soil has blown away.

As far as maintaining the water level is concerned, which of course is one of the main things that prevent this soil blowing, the maintenance of the flow of these western rivers is essential, because as long as you have that flow your water table is kept up, you have the water there which you can dam by creating artificial lakes. The south Saskatchewan dam, about which we have heard so much, is really entirely dependent on the flow of the south Saskatchewan river. As a result, as I said, it is a matter which has to be dealt with by the three provinces, or by some central authority acting with and for them.

A considerable amount has been done in regard to preventing soil erosion out there by the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act. It is one of the most worth-while things that have been done in western Canada. The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act succeeded in taking a certain amount of very dry land out of cultivation and getting it regrassed, and so forth, and it has been responsible for building a large number of small dams and thus conserving local supplies of water as well as larger dams for irrigation purposes.

The work of P.F.R.A. of course is a federal responsibility. The federal government carries it on. They work in conjunction with the provinces. I do not think the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) will say that he has ever had any difficulty with the provincial governments out there in regard to carrying on those P.F.R.A. activities. I think it is a perfect example, which disproves what the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Lesage) said about the fact that the provinces had to move first in the matter, they have to ask us, and so forth, before we take any action. Here is a definite example of where the dominion government does take action, of where it has accomplished an extremely worth-while thing through giving leadership in this matter.

I do not want to take too much time in regard to our particular western problems, but from the conservation point of view they are our most important and essential problems. I should like to emphasize that. I would hope that the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources would consult with the ministers in the cabinet from the west, particularly the Minister of Agriculture, and become convinced of that fact and thus be more prepared to go ahead with those essential conservation measures.

As far as a conference of the provinces and the dominion is concerned in order to consider the setting up of a national plan of conservation, there are several very important matters, definite matters, which can be and should be considered. First of all, there are definite schemes which are needed immediately, which should be considered and a priority set up, and arrangements made as to how costs should be shared, and so forth. One of those conservation measures is a matter which would concern largely the dominion, and they should bear the major portion of the cost. In other cases it would be a matter which concerns chiefly the provinces, and the provinces should bear the major portion of the cost. That is one of the things on which a conference is essential in order to settle just how a particular scheme should be proceeded with and how the cost should be borne.

Then, there is the matter of future schemes, the long-term point of view. A definite plan should be worked out with respect to those schemes which are not needed immediately or urgently at the moment, but should be started and gone ahead with and how they are to be put into operation.

Then there is the very important matter of research. One of the most essential parts of the whole conservation picture is determining and finding the best methods of carrying on conservation of those different resources. There is the matter of education and publicity, both tied in quite closely together.

In order to get really widespread and general acceptance not only of the cost but of the methods which in many cases would perhaps be resented by certain individuals, a very wide use of publicity and education is necessary, and the dominion government is the only body that could possibly direct the publicity and education, and co-ordinate it.

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SC

George William McLeod

Social Credit

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

Mr. Speaker, I must commend the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge) for his persistence in bringing this matter to the attention of the house. At the same time I cannot help but commend the minister who replied for making the same excuse for paying no attention to the request that has been made for so many years. His excuse has been that the time has not come as yet. They want to wait and see what is going to develop. I think that this government will go down in history as one of the greatest wait and see governments that this country has had for a good many years.

Another remark that came from the hon. member was that the responsibility for a

Conservation

conference of that type rests with the province issuing the invitation. If I heard him correctly he said that as yet they have not been asked. That may be quite right in so far as all the provinces of Canada are concerned, but I am satisfied that a request has been made by the province of British Columbia for a conference with the federal authorities. I would refer the minister to the brief which was presented to this government on December 14, 1953.

He mentioned some plans that they had in mind. There is one especially which I hesitate to refer to, but in the light of what has been said to the effect that the federal government should be asked before they take any action I would like to ask the minister if they were asked to carry out this conservation of which they speak so highly and which is embodied in the bill for the control of international rivers. I should like to ask the minister if they were asked by the government to bring in that legislation.

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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

Since I have been asked a question I assume I have the right to reply. In the case of the international rivers bill we have acted because that is our constitutional responsibility.

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SC

George William McLeod

Social Credit

Mr. McLeod:

To carry on with the question under discussion, I am glad to see that some action is being taken by various departments of this government. The Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources is spending over $1 million in forest research. This is a step in the right direction. I have heard a lot today about co-ordination. I prefer to use the word co-operation, although it does not make any material difference. I would think that if we had a conference between the various interested parties which would co-ordinate, if you want to use that word, the efforts of the provinces and of the dominion, much more would be accomplished.

I am glad to note that the Department of Public Works is spending quite a sum for flood and river control. These are important things, especially in British Columbia, and we appreciate it very much.

Coming back to forestry, I am sure you are all aware that the forest industry in British Columbia is our greatest asset. A wide program is required for fire protection and reforestation. In this connection it is interesting to note that the provincial government will spend upwards of $4 million this year for that type of work. It is also interesting to note that the government of British Columbia is making earnest efforts through the issuance of forest management licences to control cutting and avoid wastage

Conservation

of our forest products. Under the provincial legislation the holders of permits in the province are allowed to cut only the natural growth in any one year on their limit. This is certainly a forward step in controlling the wastage of this asset.

I am deeply interested in another problem, that of water storage. I do not mean water storage for power, I refer to water storage for irrigation purposes. A few nights ago we heard considerable talk in this house about water storage. The hon. member for Okanagan Boundary (Mr. Jones) told us that if a sufficient amount of water were made available to the farmers in the interior of British Columbia they could double their acreage. I agree wholeheartedly with that, as I know it is a fact. Therefore we are most anxious that some system of controlling water for irrigation purposes be inaugurated and that the province of British Columbia and the federal authorities get together on this.

We of course are thinking of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act. We are not saying for one minute that the huge grants made to the prairie provinces should not be made, but we do note that $7 million of the taxpayers' money will be spent this year for the storage of water for irrigation purposes. Unless I have passed up something in the estimates for which I was looking most earnestly there will not be any money spent in British Columbia. In fact, word has come to the government of British Columbia that the faint tie that existed between our province and the federal Department of Agriculture in connection with P.F.R.A. may be severed completely.

I regret this very much because, as I said, irrigation means so much to us. We have to have controlled water. We have to have water, but I do not imply that there is any scarcity of water. We have ample supplies of water but it must be controlled and made available for agricultural use.

Reference is made in the house quite often to the three western provinces, but I would remind the house that there is another province a little further west. I do not see why it should not be the four western provinces. I understand that a conference of Department of Agriculture officials and ministers from the four western provinces met a few short months ago and agreed unanimously that the provisions of the P.F.R.A. should be expanded and extended to include the four western provinces. I can assure the house that there is no jealousy or desire on the part of the three western provinces to retain P.F.R.A. exclusively for their own benefit. There has been unanimous approval for the extension of the act to British Columbia. I think that that is long overdue.

I just wanted to put myself on record as supporting the measure that has been asked for by the hon. member for Kootenay West and to bring to the attention of the house the need and the urgency for the province of British Columbia being given thorough consideration in the matter of forest conservation, flood and river control and in the extension of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act.

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CCF

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

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

Mr. W. M. Johnson (Kindersley):

Mr. Speaker, the subject under debate at this time is one of the most important ones ever to come before the house. It is a subject which cannot be ignored because the civilizations of today will thrive or perish, as have those in the past, depending on our foresight and planning in conserving our resources of today for the use of the generations of tomorrow. Lord John Boyd Orr in his book "The White Man's Dilemma" stated as follows:

There are two great issues facing mankind, one political and one material. The political issue is whether the so-called ideological conflict between the group of governments headed by the United States which thinks that communism must be destroyed and the group headed by the U.S.S.R. which thinks that capitalism must be destroyed, will end in a third world war. The material issue is whether the earth can be made to supply sufficient food for its rapidly increasing human population. These two issues are merely different aspects of the question whether the enormous new powers of science will be applied in war, for the destruction of our civilization, or applied in peace, to the development of the vast potential resources of the earth and provision for the physical needs of every member of the human family.

Mr. Speaker, development of potential natural resources is related to the necessity of every nation of the world adopting the terms of this resolution which requests on the national level a policy of conservation for soil, water and forest resources and a plan for land utilization. It was in 1930 that the late President Roosevelt said:

There are so many people ill fed, ill clothed and ill housed that if we set out to supply their needs there would be work for every man and woman willing to work.

The very fact that that same statement can be made with equal validity today is proof of our failure, both nationally and internationally. The fact that we have over

500,000 unemployed in Canada today is proof of the failure of this Liberal government to follow the objective of supplying human needs.

At the conclusion of world war II the nations of the world which had united for war gave the promise of freedom from want for all men in all lands. Is this statement just idle mockery or is it still our objective? Surely we in Canada can show our faith in

our promise by passing unanimously the resolution now under consideration.

The most dynamic argument for conservation and utilization is based on the relationship of world population to world food supplies. We must be aware of the fact that world population is increasing by some 26 million to 32 million a year. The birth rate ranges from that in India of 1 per cent a year which, based on their population, gives them an annual increase of 4 million, to that of the Latin Americas which have a birth rate of 2 per cent per year and Japan with 1 [DOT] 4 per cent whereas Canada and the United States in the period from 1940 to 1949 had a birth rate of 1 [DOT] 4 per cent. The birth rate in those countries is now among the highest in the world.

We must be aware that world population has doubled in the last 100 years. In 1850 the world population was 1,171 million. In 1950 it was 2,400 million. With developments and improvements in health and disease control I think we can expect that the world's population will double within the next 50 or 60 years, within the lifetime of many of the members of this chamber.

On the other side of the ledger, Mr. Speaker, is the shocking fact that there is less food per head of population in the world than there was in 1938. The food supplies kept pace with the increase in population during the last century by the development of nearly 22 per cent of the world's cultivated land, that on the North American continent. This is coupled, of course, with the advance of science related to agriculture. Except for areas where there is really intensified cultivation, we find that production per acre has declined. For example, in Chili in 1911 the production was 10-4 quintals per hectare. In 1939 it had dropped to 7-1. India since 1910 has had an average yield drop of from 10-1 quintals to 8-8 quintals per hectare. Coming closer to home, we find that in my own province of Saskatchewan the average yield in the period from 1905 to 1914 was 18-6 bushels to the acre and for the period 1943 to 1952-a particularly profitable period as far as the weather was concerned-our yield was only 17-9 bushels per acre. In considering this matter of conservation we must be aware of the fact that there are 8,000 million acres under cultivation in the world but there are 12,000 million acres of desert in the world, the greater part of which was man-made. Professor Toynbee points out that 21 civilizations have prospered, and then perished through lack of conservation. We must turn ourselves to thinking in terms of a solution to these problems. In some of the

Conservation

Asiatic countries-I think in India in particular-they are attempting to promote birth control as a means of limiting the population. This project has many difficulties and it is not working too efficiently. I do not think that we for one minute can assume that the greatest asset some of these Asiatic countries have is their high death rate. In this troubled world of today it appears that one means of controlling the world population might be the weapons that we are producing in such a mad furore. In this morning's Globe and Mail I noticed a report that one hydrogen bomb is capable of killing everyone in a 2,800 square mile area. I do not think for one minute that any member of this house would advocate that system; I think there are few in the world who would do so. It looks as though we should perhaps be talking in terms of conserving the human race rather than in terms of conserving the food supplies of the world.

In addition to the matter of food supplies, we must consider the fact that the earth is not made of rubber; it cannot be stretched. Every nation is limited by the number of acres it possesses. As the human beings increase in number, the relative amount of productive earth decreases. If agricultural science were applied to the land already under cultivation, I believe that the food supplies in the world could be doubled. This would include such things as chemical weed and insect control, mechanization, plant development, irrigation and all that the ingenuity of man could devise to improve the productive capacity of the world. But the matter finally resolves itself into one solution. That solution is conservation. As I pointed out, we cannot rely on vast uncultivated acreages in the future. We find that in Canada we have 96-8 million acres of cultivated farm land of which 71-8 million are in the prairie provinces, or 74 per cent of the total. It is estimated by Mr. A. M. Thomson, the director of the lands branch in the province of Saskatchewan, that we cannot increase the cultivated acreage in that province by more than 2 per cent, or somewhere around

200,000 acres.

We think in terms of domestic potential on the one hand, but true perspectives can only be gained in terms of both the international and domestic potential. When we think in terms of the international situation, we usually think of what the other fellow is going to do or has done. Too little do we think about what we are prepared to do ourselves, and can do, before circumstances force us to do something, and perhaps something not of our choosing.

Land, forest and water are indivorcibly married in their relationship. With depletion

Conservation

of the forests, the hydrologic regime is dislocated. As has been pointed out by the hon. member for Calgary North (Mr. Harkness), it is estimated that the forest resources of the province of Quebec are only expected to last another 50 years.

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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

Who said that?

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CCF

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

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

Mr. Johnson (Kindersley):

The hon. member for Calgary North.

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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Mr. Roos said that.

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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

That is not what he said. I was there.

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CCF

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

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

Mr. Johnson (Kindersley):

It was pointed out in the Country Guide, and I quote:

Unless the area is saved by rain or snowfall, a dust bowl worse than that of the thirties may develop this spring in the great plains area of the United States. Only a near miracle will prevent the widespread soil blowing on 26 million acres in a ten-state sector which extends from west Texas to the Nebraska panhandle.

This, Mr. Speaker, is in spite of the conservation program of the United States and in spite of the fact, as the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge) has pointed out, that the United States is spending up to $2 billion a year for conservation. Coming closer to home, Mr. D. A. Brown, assistant superintendent of the Brandon experimental farm, has stated:

If dry weather and high winds combine next spring in western Manitoba, we could have a worse soil drifting situation than we had in the worst of the thirties.

I should like to relate this problem to my own province where there is at the present time an apparent surplus of wheat. As we go back in history we find that over any extended period in the history of the world there has never been a surplus. The surplus today exists only because of a lack of policy to store the wheat for future use and to dispose of it at that time. The surplus is due to weather conditions and not to any plan or policy devised by the government. In view of the population of the world and food statistics, we must gear ourselves to maximum production. We must utilize every means at our disposal to conserve and utilize our land, water and forest resources effectively. As found at page 872 of Hansard of February 4, the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) said:

As I have said before, in recent years we have begun to realize that water is not a limitless resource, nor is its development purely a local problem.

In the light of this statement let us look at a proposed undertaking which will enable Canada to play her part in supplying the world with food. It could be said that every drop of water that runs to the sea

(Mr. Johnson (Kindersley).]

without rendering a return to humanity is wasted. Therefore we cannot allow ourselves to waste the opportunity of putting in storage 4 million acre feet of water. I, of course, am referring to the South Saskatchewan river development project. In terms of world population and food supplies I do not think that there is a moment to lose. In my opinion the jockeying and procrastination practised by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) in delaying this project is nothing short of shocking.

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?

An hon. Member:

Read on.

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CCF

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

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

Mr. Johnson (Kindersley):

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February 16, 1955