Mr. H. W. Herridge (Kooienay West) moved:
That, in the opinion of this house, the government should consider the advisability of calling a dominion-provincial conference on conservation, with the view to the establishment of a nationwide policy on soil, forest and water conservation and land use for Canada.
He said: Mr. Speaker, this is the fifth occasion on which I have moved a similar motion in this house. I take advantage of the opportunity provided by the rules of this house to bring this important question to the attention of the chamber. I do so with undiminished zeal and in the hope that the minister will finally be convinced of the soundness of our arguments, of our pleas and of the urgent need for our proposal and the public support behind it throughout the country. I trust that this afternoon the atmosphere of the house will be such that we will be able to imagine falling water, the sough of wind in the firs, and the smell of the good earth.
I never rise to speak on a resolution such as this without remembering the many occasions upon which the former member for Davenport, the late Mr. MacNicol, spoke on similar questions. I remember his interest in this matter and the travelling he did throughout this country to promote public interest in the principles of conservation.
I rise also because the policies of this group are based fundamentally upon reverence for life and reverence for creation, and in that spirit we in this group are constantly advancing suggestions for the conservation of human and natural resources.
I do not wish to exaggerate the importance of the problem. The solving of the conservation problem alone is not going to save this country or save the world. Political, social, educational and other measures are indispensable, but unless the conservation of natural resources is practised generally throughout this country in the near future our efforts in other directions will fail. In my opinion a government concerned with economic and political problems cannot ignore the necessity for the conservation of natural resources. If it does it is attempting to erect a national structure without sound foundation and it will simply not stand the test of time. In my opinion the most imminent danger is that we shall not realize how very short we are of that one unrenewable natural resource, time. If we delay until the next year or the next decade or the years to come, we shall be wasting just so much valuable time.
Other peoples and other civilizations suffered the consequences of ignorance, ineptitude, inaction and delay, and there is no reason why that experience cannot be repeated in Canada if we continue to procrastinate.
Our national health requires first of all that our renewable natural resources-those are the resources with which we are dealing this afternoon-be used to produce as much wealth as possible on a sustained yield basis throughout the years. We dare not exhaust those national resources to a dangerous point, because there are no substitutes.
As I said previously, this is not a partisan question. There is support in all political parties for the principles of conservation, and there is an opportunity in practising the principles of conservation for public ownership, for co-operative ownership and for private initiative. In my opinion, we shall require all three working together if we are going to solve this question satisfactorily.
There is an increasing recognition of the importance of conservation of our resources. More and more people are expressing their concern and their support for those principles. I wish to deal momentarily with just a few. I read recently that Lord Alexander of Tunis in a speech said this:
The forests of Canada are one of our greatest national assets and their conservation and use for the benefit of Canadians, present and future, is of great importance to all citizens everywhere.
On May 4, 1953, as reported on page 4764 of Hansard, the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) had this to say in speaking in a similar debate:
We recognize, as do all other hon. members, that the natural resources of Canada are a heritage' to be developed and conserved for the purpose of providing the greatest possible measure of opportunity and security for all Canadians.
On February 16, 1955, as recorded on page 1205 of Hansard, the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Lesage), speaking on a similar resolution, said this:
I agree with him, however, that conservation of our natural resources is undoubtedly one of the most important subjects that can be discussed in this house.
Then we have in the Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys (Mr. Prudham), a min-nister who I know is interested in conservation of natural resources and who practises what he preaches. I was told recently that last summer when he was on his summer vacation he was out fishing with a party that caught a considerable quantity of fish. After using all they could in the camp that evening, they had a number left over, and then the instinct of the minister in support of the principles of conservation began to work. Do you know what the minister did?
He had heard many times about artificial respiration of human beings and the minister said: "Why not practise it on fish?" The minister practised artificial respiration on a number of fish, brought them back to life, put them in the water, and they went away to be caught another day. That is a true story.
Subtopic: PROPOSED CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER NATIONAL POLICY