though, I do want to suggest to our Frenchspeaking colleagues that they should not consider, when those of us who do not speak French fail to make the effort, that we are in any way being disrespectful to the French language or to the rights of our fellow French-speaking Canadians.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
It is diffidence on our part and I am afraid that the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and others who have expressed the hope that eventually this will become a bilingual chamber will have to rest content with the fact that the majority of their non-French-speaking colleagues are inescapably uncivilized and barbaric and that we shall never learn to use the French language effectively.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few moments in the discussion in order to fulfil a task entrusted to me by the blind of the province of Quebec and which 1 accepted willingly because for several years I have been associated with their group, namely the Friendly Society for the Blind, Societe Amicale des Aveugles, which has its headquarters in Montreal. The honorary patrons and directors of this society are well known in philanthropic circles and the group is also proud of its sound executive. Its managing director, Mr. H. A. Meilleur, who is well seconded by his wife, lost his sight in an accident when still young. He is for the society a living inspiration of courage and perseverance.
For several years I have been placing on the order paper of the House of Commons a resolution recommending the abolition of the means test in the case of blind persons, but it has not had the honour of being thoroughly discussed. As have some other members, I have often called the government's attention to this matter and although many welcome amendments have been made to the act in the last few years, the blind still consider that the means test should be abolished for the simple reason that it paralyses their productive possibilities and greatly limits their initiative.
I have before me booklets containing the signatures of 1,289 members of the Friendly Society for the Blind, all of them blind persons, from nearly 500 cities and villages of the province and which I intend to pass on to the government. These booklets, prepared by the blind themselves, need no further explanation than their title, "A petition from the blind to the federal government of Canada for the abolition of the means test in the case of blind persons".
The blind of Quebec have gone further. They have tried to show that on the provincial level public opinion endorses their request and each one has agreed to obtain in his own locality the signatures of at least 25 people, including those of the parish priest and the mayor. They have achieved the difficult task of gathering in the other volumes which are before me the signatures of 40,000 people, which represent a clearly expressed opinion. If the blind had set out to obtain a million signatures, they would easily have succeeded, for no one can remain indifferent to the physical and moral hardships of the blind; most of us recognize that sound health and a good eyesight are among the greatest blessings of life.
The signatories of the petition declare that the means test has the following adverse effects: (a) It reduces the blind's desire to work and makes them increasingly idle, (b) It forces the blind and their families to adopt a lower standard of living than any other group in Canada. (c) It interferes with the family life of the blind because it encourages husband and wife to live under separate roofs in the fear of seeing their pension reduced. (d) The blind man becomes a permanent burden on the state notwithstanding the fact that, being normally gifted and capable, he could, if he were granted blindness compensation, earn a greater part of his own living as well as contribute to the welfare of his country.
I believe, as so many people have said before me, that there is no greater disability for a human being than blindness. Indeed, at least 80 per cent of human activity depends upon the precious gift of sight. Work normally requires sight, as do reading and travel to perfect oneself. There is not one moment of the day when to move about, to make a living, to amuse ourselves as well as to protect ourselves against the danger of modern life, we do not count upon the so strong and yet so delicate organ of sight which gives us light instead of darkness.
True, blindness does not deprive the individual of all his faculties or productive possibilities, but only too often it paralyses or neutralises them. Precisely because his
life is spent in darkness the blind must always rely on the help of someone. No wonder that, in this endless night, he should sometimes give in to discouragement. That is why it is so important not to snuff out the human ideal in his heart, but on the contrary to revive it constantly.
I am proud that my country looks after the blind. I say with great pleasure that my country is taking care of the blind by increasing allowances which enable them to meet their basic needs. The blind are certainly satisfied with that, but the means test is becoming in their view, and I feel that they are right, an injustice which they think should be corrected.
Personally, I do not like the word "pension"; I would rather have used in the case of the blind the words "blindness compensation" which, I think, would be much more appropriate. So it is important that the blind do not suffer from an inferiority complex toward those who can see. It is important to raise their sense of human dignity, to give them a social rank, and to free them from the unbearable thought that they are a burden for their families and society.
The blind person is a human being: like every one of us he has a family and his home obligations are heavier than ours because of his blindness. His cost of living is higher than ours. His normal living expenses are much higher. He cannot benefit from sales because he cannot be aware of them and when he goes shopping he needs a helper whom he must pay. If he wants to commute, to go to church or to see a doctor, or even to earn a living by soliciting or by selling certain articles, he has to have a guide to whom he must pay a salary. Being sightless he finds himself more than others involved in mishaps which entail higher expenses for his clothing and the maintenance of his home. Because he is blind he will even be abused in some quarters. And since blindness is often a cause of ill health he has to pay higher bills for medical supplies and services.
As far as family life is concerned there is no doubt that blindness is the cause of higher expenses. There are very few blind people in Canada who earn enough to take care of themselves. Most blind people cannot live on the monthly allowance they receive, and they must of necessity do some other paying work. Do not think that by abolishing the means test you would make the life of the blind much easier. No, sir. Because nowadays, even if in some cases industry employs blind people, the blind person is not normally expected to work in a factory. He can only perform certain manual tasks which involve no accident hazards, inside duties which are
The Address-Mr. Bertrand mostly routine or certain work of canvassing which he cannot do without the help of a guide or a companion. That is what he does, not the year round but during certain periods depending on whether the kind of article he deals in or from which he draws an income can be marketed. If he is in receipt of the pension he must always make sure not to earn more than the few hundred dollars allowed under the act, for if he goes over the maximum amount of allowable income his pension is lowered and often withdrawn altogether. The few hundred dollars that a blind person' may earn annually only means the difference between want and comfort.
It seems inconceivable that a blind single person is able to live on a total of $18.45 a week-$480 he is allowed to earn and his pension of $480. It is inconceivable that the wife of a blind man, who is the mother of several children and who is working to feed her family, should see the pension of her husband lowered as soon as she is earning $21 weekly and totally cancelled as soon as she earns $30 weekly. It is inconceivable that a man whose wife is blind should see her pension lowered as soon as he is earning $21 weekly and totally cancelled as soon as he is earning $30 weekly. It is even more difficult to understand when you consider that in such a case the law makes it compulsory for this husband to pay from his own salary wages to someone who can see to take care of his wife and his home while he is away.
Thus the blind person has continually some cause for concern. If he has worries about his pension we will not even be in a position to defend his cause by himself. And inspection will always be for him a perpetual nightmare, something awful to bear. I have in this respect statements which leave no doubt.
I can see only one solution: the abolition of the means test. This might result in a few hundred thousand dollars of additional compensation. Nowadays, as soon as he is 70 years old, the blind can draw his old age pension and then he is not subject to any investigation whatsoever. I am told that some 400 blind people pass every year from one law to the other. According to statistical figures, in 1955 some 8,000 blind persons were receiving a blindness pension, which meant an expense of $3 million for the federal treasury and of $1 million for the provinces.
There are in this country some 10,000 blind persons who could benefit from a national law or on whose behalf could be made the helpful gesture of giving them a full life. No more restraint. The blind would have ahead of him a wide open road
The Address-Mr. Bertrand to his endeavours. He can produce, He would no longer be a useless piece of machinery with limited activity. He would earn more, which would be one worry less. His earnings would be better, which would mean comfort for his family and for himself a revenue producing hobby. He would thus contribute to the progress of his country and the remuneration which he would receive could be considered to be a tribute paid by the nation in order to enable him to be useful to his country like every other citizen, in spite of his handicap.
At the international workers conference held at Oxford in 1949 and at which were represented all the countries in the world except those from behind the iron curtain, and notably competent representatives from the United Nations and UNESCO, the following resolution was adopted:
Special economic provisions should be made for blind people in order to give them work and to allow them to contribute in every way to the economic and social life of the community. Every nation should provide its blind citizens with at least a minimum subsistence standard, equal in every case, so as to compensate for the increased cost of living brought about by blindness.
In November 1956 the Canadian Catholic conference, of which all archbishops and bishops in Canada are members, made the following statement:
In so far as material prosperity is concerned the state must not be expected to continue forever the payment of various subsidies or grants. Rather it should be expected to create those economic conditions whereby every citizen could be assured of an opportunity to provide for his own needs and those of his family.
I therefore think that the state should provide the blind people with a blindness compensation, leaving them entirely free to earn their own living and to become useful citizens. When the government notices that the mining industry, agriculture or any other segment of the national economy is in danger it provides for grants and subsidies to set matters right. In the case of blind people the state should provide them with an opportunity of producing, of contributing in this way to the progress of the nation instead of leaving them in depressed circumstances. This situation is so distressing that they are asking the authorities to put an end to it by putting an end to the means test which, in the case of the blind, is almost condemnable.
I know that the present government has done everything to help the low salaried classes, the poor and forsaken members of our society. It is proud of its record, and justly so. Another opportunity is provided now for the government to help one class of people which, to my mind, is the most unhappy of all. The representations which I have just made on behalf of the blind people
of the province of Quebec are similar to those which other groups in other provinces and even in the national field have made, I am told, directly to the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin). All I am asking him to do is to look once more upon this side of the question. Everybody in this country knows how fair the Minister of National Health and Welfare is in dealing with problems of social security and how anxious he is to complement what is already being done in this field. Here is another opportunity along that line. I have confidence in him. I have confidence in the government and I know that these recommendations will not fall on deaf ears.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, first of all, I wish to join with previous speakers in extending heartiest congratulations to the mover and to the seconder of the address in reply for the manner in which they have acquitted themselves of their tasks.
The member for Edmonton-Strathcona (Mr. Hanna) certainly deserves special congratulations on the magnificent effort he made during his speech when he spoke in my mother tongue for several minutes. He made himself perfectly clear and would with a little practice no doubt become fully bilingual.
As for the member from Gloucester, who, with the greatest of ease, switched from one of Canada's official languages to the other, he certainly proved to the house and to the whole country the importance of bilingualism for all Canadians, and perhaps more particularly for members of parliament, its absolute necessity. I offer him my sincerest congratulations.
It is now my duty, Mr. Speaker, and a most pleasant one at that, to pay my respects to my new leader, the hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Diefenbaker), and to offer him my respectful congratulations upon his elevation to the leadership of the Conservative party to which I have the honour to belong. I sincerely hope that with the help of Providence he will long retain the strength, the health and the vitality for which he is known. His undeniable talents, his forceful personality, his recognized experience, his deep sincerity and love of work which have characterized his already fruitful public career have led him to the position of great responsibility which he is now assuming with the dignity and efficiency that all members
of this house have long since recognized. In short, he is well qualified for the heavy task entrusted to him.
As leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition for the last few days and leader of the great Conservative party for about a month, he has already asserted himself before the Canadian people as a statesman of great stature, as a national and international figure respected by all and one who will no doubt become the next prime minister of Canada after the forthcoming general election.
I wish to express to him publicly my deep admiration and to congratulate him ardently on the excellent manner in which he expresses himself when he speaks in my native tongue. Now that he has overcome his timidity and in view of the success he has achieved when speaking in French-
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
-he can without fear converse with my French-speaking fellow citizens who I am sure will give him a hearty welcome and strong support.
Mr. Speaker, I do not at all propose to deal today with all the subjects contained in the speech from the throne. I shall therefore confine my comments to the international situation, to the strike of the C.P.R. employees, certain parts of our social legislation and the desire expressed in the speech from the throne, to increase grants to universities. In regard to university grants, I shall have the privilege of discussing them when the bill is before us.
The free world horizon, Mr. Speaker, is still heavy with dark clouds which may at any moment give off a destructive and deadly rain. International communism has not given up its infamous schemes for subduing, by the most revolting means, those who still believe, and rightly so, in liberty and democracy. The recent tragic happenings in Hungary, which have struck horror in the hearts of all Canadians without exception, and all peoples of the free world prove to what extent world freedom is threatened by communist imperialism. The nameless atrocities wrought upon the Hungarian people, and its tenacious and heroic stand against a powerful aggressor, we should take as a salutary lesson. It is our duty to resort to every legal and democratic means at our disposal to stop, in our own country, the expansion of a fiendish ideology which means the slow but certain death of all freedom.
If there is a steady increase of applications to enter Canada from people imprisoned behind the iron curtain, it is because Canada
The Address-Mr. Dufresne is being recognized as the promised land, the country of the future, where until now the words freedom and democracy have kept their real meaning.
It is absolutely necessary that we legislate in such a way as to preserve, before the other nations of the world, the enviable reputation we have acquired. The present apparent difficulties in Canada's communist party are a mere pretext for the reorganization of that nefarious movement. It seems evident that this reorganization will lead to a more extensive and efficient propaganda. Those traitors to their country will be more active than ever; they will try to introduce, right here in Canada, the improved methods of the Kremlin, to overthrow the democratic regime which has been set up by the will of the people.
In the face of the ever-threatening danger that lies in wait for us, efficient measures must be taken and the lawmakers whose responsibility it is to protect the people whom they represent should do all that is required to provide for all contingencies.
We have no right, in the face of that very real danger, to indulge in apathy or indifference. We owe it to ourselves to take action.
Therefore, I suggest to this government to enact, at this session, even before going to the people to solicit a renewal of their term of office, an act to prevent the spread of the subversive doctrine which is called communism.
In my opinion, there is only one real and efficient way to deal with this constant threat and to check Moscow's fiendish ambition to conquer the whole world and reduce it to slavery, and that is to outlaw communism. When all countries which still honour the democratic way of life have understood their duty in this respect, Moscow will have to change its attitude, and no longer will we have to pity the lot of those who, every day, are victims of those traitors, those turncoats, and I will even say of those murderers.
Our main concern should be to prepare Canada's future by guaranteeing to those who will come after us that priceless heritage which is freedom.
Mr. Speaker, I should like now to make a few suggestions and recommendations regarding the recent strike in the Canadian Pacific Railway, which, over a period of ten days, has cost to thousands of workers a loss of more than seven million dollars in wages, and to the company itself about 14 million dollars in revenue.
I believe that the government did not discharge its duty when it failed to establish, in its Department of Labour, an organization
The Address-Mr. Dufresne designed to devise appropriate methods to meet that modern trend which is called automation, and to protect workers against the loss of their jobs.
The problem of automation did not come up only two weeks ago, for diesel engines did not suddenly appear from a clear sky in yards or on trains.
Little by little a change has been taking place, and for several years we have seen the old steam engines disappear to be replaced by diesels.
About 800 diesel engines are operated today by the Canadian Pacific and three or four years from now, according to experts in this field, the 2,500-odd old steam engines will have completely vanished.
Progress cannot be fought or halted, I am sure; but what has the government done in order to avoid the disastrous consequences that have been felt during the recent strike of the Canadian Pacific, which has fortunately been stopped, though it is far from being finally settled.
It is high time that the government consider this serious problem of automation, which has also come up on the National Railways. As a matter of fact, I read a few days ago in a Montreal paper that 112 employees of the Canadian National Railways in Newfoundland would be laid off because of the change-over from steam to diesel engines.
So, Mr. Speaker, these so-called experts of the department concerned should be put to work without delay, and these out-of-date methods which have been used for every problem which has cropped up in the last 15 years should be set aside. The time has come for a reform in the Department of Labour. Times have changed. Machines have been improved and modernized, and it is time too, that the government modernize its negotiation and conciliation machinery in order to do justice to all concerned.
A policy of wait-and-see and non-interference such as that followed by this government is out of place in a country like Canada which is advancing with giant strides.
Mr. Speaker, last November the cost of living index in Canada reached an all-time high for this country. And, at a time when the Canadian people are still hard-pressed to balance the family budget, the government is piling up huge surpluses. There is something wrong there indeed. In his forthcoming statement the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) will most likely tell us that not only has the government managed to balance its budget, but that it even has a surplus of several hundred millions. This will be indeed an optimistic statement on the eve of a general election.
Everyone will recognize however that if the government is able to announce surpluses of several hundred millions, it can only mean that it has been levying on the people of Canada, in other words on the taxpayers, so many more millions than were actually needed for the administration of the affairs of our country. If, as some rumours have it, the government has no intention of relieving the taxpayer from the heavy taxes that are imposed on him, it is its duty to return to the people, in some manner, those amounts it has overcharged in the form of taxes.
It is said that taxes are levied upon the people to be returned in some other form, which is a very fundamental of a true democracy. A government is not a business which has to pile up profits.
Indeed, in the face of such a situation, and on the eve of general elections, the Liberal government will no doubt want to attract the vote of the electorate.
It is more than ever time that the government pity the lot of what we have closest at heart in Canada, our human capital.
Since I have been sitting in this house, Mr. Speaker, I have not let a session go by without advocating a substantial increase in old age pensions and family allowances. Unlike the members who sit on the other side of the house, I did not wait for the last session of parliament to make those requests.
I wish to say again that the amount of $40 paid to our senior citizens who have no other income, is clearly insufficient in view of the high cost of living. It is quite impossible for a person eligible for this pension and who has to manage with nothing else but that meager allowance, to get shelter, clothing, and food, and to avail himself of the medical care which is usually needed at that age. This contention is true not only in the case of those whom death has not yet separated, but also in the case of those men and women who, because they have no relatives, seek shelter in our religious institutions which so generously devote themselves to the safeguard and upkeep of the older people who are homeless or who have no relatives. For those religious institutions, as well as for every Canadian citizen, the cost of living has been ever increasing, and it is only through numerous privations and sacrifices that they manage to avoid bankruptcy. This disaster would have certainly occurred in the case of several of them, without the generous grants made by our provincial government.
I trust, Mr. Speaker, that by drawing from those huge surpluses, it will be possible to alleviate the burden of our older citizens,
who have so largely contributed during their lives, to the expansion and prosperity of Canada.
The same thing applies to family allowances. I repeat what I have said so many times, either in this house or outside. At their present level, and in view of the fact the cost of living has been increasing ever since they were set up, family allowances no longer perform the function for which they were created, and it is more than ever time to proceed to a just and fair adjustment.
In asking for these adjustments I voice more particularly the wishes of those who elected me as their representative in this house and who, for the most part, are members of large families. I say that by protecting the family, which is a sacred institution, we will be protecting the whole community.
Mr. Speaker, there is not a member of this house who does not know that, due to the increasingly centralizing policy of the federal government, our municipal governments, especially in these last few years, have been facing great financial difficulties.
As a rule, I am against a system of grants from the federal government in exchange for services rendered by the municipalities. I believe that the government should set an example and discharge its responsibilities in the same way as any other taxpayer living in a municipality. I am therefore opposed to grants. I favour especially the payment of taxes by the federal government to municipalities on the basis of the municipal assessment. Besides, that is the law which applies to all the ratepayers of my municipality, and those of all municipalities in Canada.
I should thus like to underline the situation of the city of Quebec which comprises the constituency I have the honour to represent here. During the financial year 19531954, whereas any ratepayer paid $1.50 per hundred dollars of assessment, the federal government held buildings and properties in Quebec city which were assessed by the municipality at $26,158,584.
In other words if, at that time, the government had paid at the same rate as every other taxpayer, it would have remitted an amount of $392,378.76 by way of municipal taxes.
However, until this year, the city of Quebec has received only the sum of $47,000 from the federal government by way of municipal taxes, or grants, as they are called by the federal government. Some time later, a block on the site of which I hope the new post office of Quebec will shortly be erected, was destroyed by a fire, and the town thereby lost the $45,000 in municipal taxes it had received until then. In other words between
The Address-Mr. Dujresne the $47,000 paid in grants by the federal government to the city of Quebec, and this sum of $45,000 which has been a total loss to the municipality, there was just $2,000 left for the city treasury.
Mr. Speaker, the amounts I have just mentioned cover only the municipal assessment, that is the tax that any other citizen has to pay; they do not at all include services such as snow removal and water-works. The federal government still owes the city of Quebec a sum of $200,000 for snow removal, that is $1.60 per $100 of municipal assessment.
How is it that the federal government puts itself in a privileged situation when it should be setting an example to the citizens of this country? How is it that religious institutions and church councils pay the snow removal tax to the city of Quebec while the federal government consistently refuses to discharge that obligation. In fact last December-at the end of December if I remember correctly-the Quebec municipal council decided to take proceedings against the federal government to recover the said amount of $200,000 to which it is entitled.
The strangest thing about it, 'however, is that for many years the city of Quebec has been providing federal government buildings with regular municipal services and supplying water to the National Harbours Board. The National Harbours Board resells that water to different maritime companies, in Quebec harbour, at 50 cents a thousand gallons. Yet, it is said that the National Harbours Board, another government institution, owes more than $900,000 to the city of Quebec (almost one million dollars in water rates) a sum which it consistently refuses to pay. Moreover, everybody-at least everybody living in Quebec-knows that proceedings have been instituted for the collection of that sum.
That is the fine example given by the federal government to the rest of the country. It is supplied with water for its own buildings in Quebec city; the National Harbours Board uses the water of the city of Quebec, for which it refuses to pay and, even worse, it resells that water to navigation companies whose ships come into our port. And the National Harbours Board loses no time in taking proceedings against navigation companies which do not pay.
I can hardly understand such an attitude on the part of the federal government when the government of the province of Quebec, which also has buildings in the city, pays taxes and pays for waterworks and snow removal. In fact, I believe that the last bill
The Address-Mr. Dufresne paid by the provincial government to the city of Quebec for snow removal amounted, for this year, to $108,000.
This condition is not limited to the city of Quebec; the same situation exists in the little town of Quebec West, which I have the honour of representing. They have tried, by every means at their disposal, to get paid for snow removal and for other services offered by the city to the federal government but the federal government has consistently refused to pay. Today, probably for the purpose of compensating this heavy debt owing to the city of Quebec and to Quebec West, the federal government speaks about increasing the grants already given.
I want to be fair and I should say that for the past two years, as of 1954, federal grants to the city of Quebec, which formerly amounted to $47,000, were increased to $80,000, but that amount hardly represents a fifth of the municipal assessment of the various buildings belonging to the federal government in the city of Quebec. If the federal government was assessed on the same basis as any other ratepayer of the city, it would pay more than $400,000, because the assessment has gone up since 1954 and, according to the assessment roll for the financial year 1956-1957, its buildings and properties have a total value of $27,775,000.
Mr. Speaker, I hope the government will realize the need for helping the city of Quebec, the capital of my province, and at the same time all municipalities which, as a result of that system of grants invented by the federal government, are faced with dire financial difficulties.
The Quebec government recently made a yearly $250,000 grant to the city of Quebec in order to help it to balance its budget over the next ten years. To this grant must be added the taxes which it pays to the city of Quebec, plus the cost of snow removal, plus the water tax, which it also pays. By way of comparison let us point out that the federal government has been paying about $80,000 for the past two years whereas, to be exactly on the same footing as every other taxpayer in Quebec, it should be paying over $400,000 yearly.
Those are the few observations that I wanted to offer today, Mr. Speaker. I have done so in all sincerity and I hope that the government which is still presiding over the
destinies of this country will understand the need for helping the municipalities to the extent that they must be helped.
Mr. Speaker, I thank all my colleagues for the particular attention they have paid me, and I hope that the government will receive in the spirit in which they have been given the representations and recommendations which I have had the honour of presenting to the house today.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, in opening my remarks I wish to join so many others who have extended felicitations to the mover (Mr. Hanna) and the seconder (Mr. Robichaud) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne upon the very excellent manner in which they discharged their duties. I know it is more or less a recognized custom, followed, I think, generally by all parties, thus to congratulate the mover and seconder of this address; but I base my congratulations, Mr. Speaker, not upon any custom or tradition that may attach to the matter but upon the fact that each of those hon. members acquitted himself admirably and made a very real contribution to this debate. Since they come from widely separated parts of the country, the hon. member for Edmonton-Strathcona from the west, and the hon. member for Gloucester from the east, they have shown clearly by the excellence of their addresses that there is an amplitude of talent among the younger Canadians-I use the term comparatively, of course-in public life today who will be the leaders tomorrow. I think that is something that augurs well for the future of this country.
It is, I know, Mr. Speaker, a matter of real regret to all of us that the Hon. George Drew, after years of arduous public service, has been compelled for reasons of health to retire from the leadership of his party and from his membership in this house. I should like to wish him well in the future and I think we shall all join in that wish.
I take this opportunity, however, to offer my congratulations to the new leader of the official opposition upon his elevation to that responsible post. Whether he is, as his new followers proclaim, and as the previous speaker in effect so confidently asserted a few moments ago, the long awaited genuine Moses who will lead the party out of the
political wilderness into the promised land is, of course, quite another matter and I am afraid that that is very much dependent upon whether he has the ability of the original Moses to work miracles. I know he will undoubtedly attempt some vigorous smiting upon the rock of Canadian public opinion which has proved so singularly obdurate to the efforts of his predecessors; but I gather from the latest Tory platform he will be using very much the same old rod.
One feature of the speech from the throne, it seems to me, is that it demonstrates that we are advancing steadily along the path of full national maturity. The establishment of a Canada Council for the arts, humanities and social sciences, to give a new impetus to the development of Canadian-and I hope distinctively Canadian-scholarship and culture is a strong indication of this. And I approve wholeheartedly the proposed substantial increase in grants to Canadian universities. In this day a country which neglects its institutions of higher learning will inevitably consign itself to national weakness and obscurity, and it may well be to national ruin.
In this connection I should like to make just two observations. First, I hope that the system of allocating these grants according to the respective provincial populations will be abandoned in favour of an allocation based upon the number of university students in each province. In my own province of Nova Scotia a widespread regard for learning and a deep appreciation of its worth bring a relatively high percentage of our population to our universities. In addition, however, the fine reputation which those universities enjoy draws large numbers of enrolments from beyond our borders, so that the proportion of students to the total provincial population becomes, of course, correspondingly greater and in effect, therefore, the current system of allocation of grants among the provinces, based, as it is, upon the total populations of those provinces rather than upon their relative student population, it seems to me, has the effect of penalizing our Nova Scotia universities for those very standards of excellence which are their pride and which they should be most strongly encouraged to maintain.
My second observation in this field ought properly to be addressed to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) who is absent at the moment. In fact, it arises indirectly out of a speech delivered by him at my alma mater, Acadia University, some months ago. Although I was not present I am informed that the minister very eloquently stressed the
The Address-Mr. Lusby value of higher education and pointed out the need to foster its pursuit.
The high level of employment opportunity obtaining in this country under the beneficent policies of the present government enables many young Canadians, whose parents would otherwise find it difficult or impossible to meet the expense, to attend college by working during their vacations and in numerous cases by taking part time employment during the term. By and large students with the ambition and energy to do this are of the most desirable type and deserve every encouragement in their efforts.
The student is subject to taxation upon his earned income in exactly the same manner as anybody else but in addition, if he earns $750 or very slightly more in any one year, a modest enough sum today, a parent assisting him through college loses the benefit of even the small taxation exemption of $400 of income allowed that parent in respect of the student.
A friend of mine who is engaged in assisting his sons through college happened to hear the minister speak at Acadia and suggested to me at a much later date that the tax situation I have outlined calls for a generous revision to provide a stronger incentive for such young people to attend college and for their parents to send them. My friend added that it gave the minister an excellent chance to practise what he had been preaching. I accordingly recommend this matter to the careful and I hope sympathetic consideration of the Minister of Finance.
The proposal contained in the speech from the throne to renew on a revised and increased basis the federal program of grants to provincial governments in aid of technical and vocational training is a thoroughly commendable one. The training of skilled workmen is essential for the continuing development of this country and indeed it is forecast in the preliminary report of the royal commission on Canada's economic prospects to which I shall make further reference that the present shortage in this connection is likely to continue indefinitely. Thus the recipient of such training stands in a strong position with regard to employment opportunity, a position infinitely stronger than that of the unskilled labourer.
Let me say here, Mr. Speaker, that in my opinion there is a very real need for a vocational training school in my home town of Amherst, a leading industrial centre of the maritimes. If such a school were located there it would serve not only that town but all the
The Address-Mr. Lusby other communities in my constituency. Although the location of these schools is primarily a matter for the provincial government I hope the proposed increase in federal aid for technical and vocational training may in some measure hasten the establishment of such a school in Amherst.
As the speech from the throne noted, parliament met under the shadow, now removed, of the railway strike. I shall say nothing more concerning this than that its speedy settlement with no element of compulsion is a signal tribute to the tact, patience and fair-mindedness of the Prime Minister in pursuing, successfully as it has turned out, every reasonable avenue toward a peaceful and voluntary solution. It is unfortunate, of course, that now we on the government side of the house shall never know what the members of the official opposition really wanted by way of that direct governmental action for which they so stridently clamoured at the beginning of the session. However, I do not think they know either.
The speech from the throne stated that the preliminary report of the royal commission on the economic prospects of Canada, the Gordon commission, would shortly be laid before us, and it is now in our hands. In general it forecasts for Canada as a whole that great and brilliant future which we all hope and pray she will enjoy. The prophecies for 1980 including a population of over 26J millions, a gross national product triple that of today, an average individual income two-thirds again as much as at present, must gladden the heart of every Canadian. However, I need hardly say that the section of the report to which I turned with most interest is that dealing with the Atlantic provinces and their special problems.
I gather from what certain speakers have let fall in this debate that they consider the report, in so far as it deals with the Atlantic provinces, unexpectedly pessimistic. I do not regard it in that light; I think rather that it is a frank recognition and preliminary appraisal of problems and difficulties which we all know, or certainly all of us from the Atlantic provinces know, have confronted our section of the country for many years.
It is not news, for example, that although real income per capita in the maritimes over the past 30 years has increased at a higher rate than the average for the other provinces of Canada, the average income in the Atlantic provinces remains less than it is in the other six provinces. It is not news that the Nova Scotia coal industry so vital in the economy of the province in spite of a degree of improvement during the last two years faces a
difficult and uncertain future; that our agriculture, as indeed agriculture elsewhere in Canada and abroad, has failed to attain the level of prosperity enjoyed by other sectors of the economy; that for the Atlantic provinces the problem of freight rates and transportation is a thorny and formidable one. None of these things is news. But I think the report by implication at least places squarely before us and clearly emphasizes the fact that the problems of the Atlantic provinces are not merely the concern of those provinces only; they are properly the concern of all Canada to be grappled with accordingly. How bright can the whole Canadian picture be if a substantial part remains in shadow?
At the time of confederation and for a considerable period thereafter, the maritime provinces were fully as prosperous as Ontario and Quebec. For this reason, perhaps, the founding fathers failed to envisage a situation in which the general economy of any one region would begin to lag substantially behind that of the remainder of the country, and failed to devise and embody in the British North America Act any specific provisions to cope with such a situation if it should occur. When it did occur, as it began to do well before the turn of the century, it was only slowly and fitfully that the realization dawned that there was a definite responsibility upon the Canadian nation as a whole to try to correct, in some substantial degree at least, any serious economic imbalance of its various segments.
Such measures as the Maritime Freight Rates Act, the coal subventions, the assistance in moving feed grains from west to east, the adjustments in provincial grants-these were and are indications of a gradually awakening sense of that responsibility; but it cannot yet be said that that responsibility has been elevated, as it should be, to the status of a comprehensive and permanent national policy. This preliminary report of the Gordon commission, in its discussion of the Atlantic provinces and their peculiar problems, indicates, to my mind, that the time has come for the adoption of precisely such a broad national policy. Without a wider measure of federal participation in the solving of their problems, the Atlantic provinces can hardly hope to launch any really satisfactory offensive against those problems.
Does not the report in its optimism with regard to the rest of Canada and its future show clearly that now, far more than ever before, the economic, financial, and industrial resources of the country as a whole are or are imminently becoming entirely adequate for the task, admittedly not a light one, of implementing such a broad policy as I have
mentioned? I ask the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe), that pre-eminent and much maligned architect of Canadian economic expansion, a man who never thinks in small terms, if, having read this report, they do not believe that the resources of the Canadian nation are fully equal to this task, without undue strain upon or injustice to any of the more favoured provinces.
If Canada is to achieve a true and balanced greatness that task must be not only undertaken but accomplished. It must be undertaken in the light of the statement on page 99 of the report, that what is required for the reduction in the differential between living standards in the Atlantic provinces and those in the rest of Canada-the report points out that it is in everyone's interest to reduce this differential-is not ad hoc projects and handouts but a positive and comprehensive approach to the problem of the Atlantic region. With that statement I agree, subject to the reservation that there are numerous specific projects in the Atlantic provinces which although their benefits might not extend equally to all parts of the region or might even affect only a small area could and should properly be undertaken as part of a sweeping program of improvement for the whole region.
I think the tenor of the report regarding the approach to the problems of the Atlantic provinces is consonant with certain remarks made by the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) to the Canadian Congress of Labour in April last, I believe in Toronto. On that occasion the Prime Minister said:
In some areas, particularly in the Atlantic provinces, efforts on what we might call economic redevelopment seem to be desirable. During this past year in meeting with provincial governments I have been impressed with the readiness of representatives from other parts of the country to realize that special measures should perhaps be taken to improve the economy of the Atlantic provinces.
This merits and is receiving attention from many of us; however, the initiative and the ideas, the energies and determination to accomplish this redevelopment cannot originate in other parts of Canada, they must come from the Atlantic area itself. It will then be for us elsewhere to co-operate and help to make such ideas and efforts fruitful in providing better opportunities for workers in those areas.
I believe that those statements of the Prime Minister if properly considered and acted upon can be taken as a first brief draft of a new economic Magna Carta for the Atlantic provinces. That the initiative, the ideas, the energy and the determination should come from those provinces themselves is entirely reasonable, but I suggest that the various provincial governments should not be regarded as the only channels for proposing
The Address-Mr. husby action. Such a body as the Atlantic provinces economic council, which is already showing itself capable of rendering signal services to the Atlantic region, might well be made, perhaps with federal representation added for the purpose, an official clearing house for the appraisal and evaluation of projects laid before it from any source and the recommendation or otherwise of such projects for attention in the proper operative quarter. Any broad program such as I have mentioned for the strengthening of the economy of the Atlantic region must certainly have among its major objectives the improvement and stabilization of the Nova Scotia coal industry and of agriculture.
When I speak of the Nova Scotia coal industry it is with the realization that our national life consists of far more than the stolid economic facts which reports such as the one I have been mentioning necessarily make their chief concern. My thoughts turn to the great and tragic calamity which befell the town of Springhill in my constituency at the beginning of last November when a shattering and fiery explosion in one of the two coal mines which are the chief and only important industry of the town brought on a disaster ranking among the worst in Canadian mining history. The story is well known across the country because it received great publicity, but nonetheless I think it is only fitting that in my first speech in this chamber during this session I should make reference to it and express the emotions of shock, horror, sorrow and sympathy which I shared in common with everyone in Cumberland county and Nova Scotia and, I am sure, with all other Canadians at the news of the disaster and ultimately the loss of some two score lives.
Very vividly I remember those days, first when it seemed that not a miner of all those in the pit would emerge alive and later when, through the desperate, death-scorning exertions of the rescue crews and the resourcefulness of the trapped men themselves, the greater number of those below finally reached the surface in safety.
Courage was the common attribute, among rescued and rescuer alike. I have had the honour, as have others, of making representations to the Department of the Secretary of State concerning the recognition of outstanding feats of leadership, daring and determination during those dreadful hours. It is my sincere hope and expectation that fitting awards will be made. They will honour, not only those on whom they may be personally bestowed but the many others who took part in the stirring rescue, and indeed all the citizens of the stricken and valiant town who
256 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mr. Lusby so uniformly revealed in the face of catastrophe and grief the most admirable qualities of composure and unwavering fortitude. I add only that these people are Canadians, the finest of Canadians, who, in the struggle to maintain that industry upon which their livelihood depends, merit fully the attention and assistance of the government of this vast, rich and rapidly developing country, which is their country also.
The special study on the Nova Scotia coal industry, which is to be published separately for the Gordon commission, I assume will set forth in much greater detail than is done in the preliminary report the difficulties facing the industry as well as all the available and feasible means of combatting them. Later in the session there will no doubt be an opportunity to discuss the subject at length in this chamber, presumably on the estimates of the dominion coal board. At the present time I wish to pursue it only to the extent of placing on record my approval of the recommendation in the preliminary report that special subsidies be made available for Nova Scotia coal used to generate thermal power in the Atlantic region. This is not a new proposition; it has been vigorously advocated in the maritimes. In my opinion a reasonable scheme of subsidization for Nova Scotia coal so used would mean a substantial increase in the available market for such coal as well as cheaper electric power for the whole region, which is an urgent need.
I realize of course that even the maximum possible enlargement of this outlet for Nova Scotia coal would by no means provide the complete answer to the industry's marketing needs. Obviously it would not, and there must be no relaxation of efforts to assist the industry to maintain or increase its outlets beyond the Atlantic region, whether in central Canada or elsewhere. Nonetheless, a significant expansion of the market for Nova Scotia coal for the generation of thermal power in the Atlantic region would be of substantial assistance to the industry.
I am the more interested in the recommendation I have mentioned because if it were carried out in conjunction with the proposal contained in the Christie report, published a couple of years back, for an interprovincial grid system covering most of the maritimes, the town of Springhill, being near the geographical centre of the whole area concerned and producing steam coal of excellent quality would, it seems to me, be a natural site for a central pithead power station.
With regard to agriculture, Mr. Speaker, the Senate committee which was envisaged in the speech from the throne to consider
what should be done to make better use of land for agriculture ought to accomplish distinctly valuable results. I assume that its inquiry will include not only the question of making better use of land for agriculture but also the question of taking entirely out of agricultural production marginal and submarginal lands which are fundamentally unfit for efficient farming. I recall that in the budget debate of last year I raised this point with regard to the maritime provinces, stating that the logical course there would be in most instances to apply such lands to reforestation, and I suggested joint federal-provincial participation in a program directed to that end. I should like to say now that I think my suggestion is worthy of serious consideration by the proposed Senate committee.
I wish to make one more point regarding agriculture, Mr. Speaker, before I resume my seat. I should like to submit, as I have done frequently in the past, that the assistance afforded by this government in the movement of feed grains from the west to eastern Canada, and particularly to the Atlantic region, should be given the status of a permanent national policy. I should like further to submit that in view of the rise in freight rates the assistance provided should be made such as to restore in full the benefit it originally gave.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. J. A. Menard (St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville):
Mr. Speaker, in rising to take part in this debate I would like to join with other honourable members in offering my congratulations to the members for Edmonton-Strathcona (Mr. Hanna) and Gloucester (Mr. Robichaud) who have respectively moved and seconded the address in reply to the speech from the throne. Their views were expressed objectively and brilliantly, and we must congratulate them on having spoken in both official languages of this country.
Now, I would first like to offer my respectful compliments to the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent). As a Canadian, I express the wish that for many years to come he retain his health, an assurance of peace and happiness not only to the Canadian people but to every nation in the world who owe so much to the eminent part he has played on the international scene.
It is with great pleasure that I take this first opportunity to congratulate the Prime Minister on the success obtained by him in helping to solve the Canadian Pacific strike. I must also congratulate the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) on the great part he has played at the United Nations during the Suez canal crisis. Can-
ada's intervention on this occasion will go down in history. The Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin) is also entitled to his share of congratulations for the goodwill journey he has just accomplished in Asia.
Looking upon Canada's ever growing prestige throughout the world one cannot help noticing that this prestige has been increased by the extremely wise foreign policy followed by the present government. In the event of a crisis such as the Suez canal crisis of last fall, it is comforting for the whole people to be able to count on the devotion and statesmanlike qualities of those who are at the head of the Canadian Liberal party.
I must say that I am happy to be a supporter of such a dynamic and enterprising government, a government which is desirous of favouring, by every means at its disposal, the perfect development of our natural resources which, at this time, still have an unlimited value.
In my own constituency, which comprises the counties of St. Jean, Iberville and Napier-ville, I think that we have widely benefited from the prosperity which our country generally enjoys at this time. If the gross national product now exceeds 29 billion dollars I am happy to say that everybody in my constituency, producers, manufacturers, tradesmen, farmers and workers have contributed more than their share in attaining this very high figure which is the envy of every other nation in. the world. Mr. Speaker, at this time the construction of a new post office which will be named the Alcide Cote building is well under way. I hope that the opening or blessing of this building will provide an opportunity for members of the cabinet and other honourable members to visit my constituents who, I am sure, would be greatly honoured by such a token of consideration.
Since the opening of the College Militaire Royal at St. Johns by His Excellency the Governor General, great progress has been accomplished.
At this establishment a number of new buildings are almost completed. I am also aware that other improvements and additions no less important will be carried out in the near future.
Ever since my election to this house, I have endeavoured-and still do-to make this new bilingual school for officers of all arms an institution which will be a credit to the whole of Canada, by the quality of its training as well as by its material aspects.
Aware of the rich military record of the St. Johns area, and wishing to maintain that 82715-17
The Address-Mr. Menard special character to the area, our government acted wisely in establishing there the preliminary training school for all establishments of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Thus, all young people of both sexes enlisting in the R.C.A.F., must make a stay of at least five weeks at the St. Johns station before being posted to other Canadian training or service bases. That training school has its own airport where a private company is entrusted at the present time with the repairs of motor aircraft. Because of the adoption of the turbo-jet aircraft, whose number increases constantly and which in the not too distant future will replace the ordinary piston engine aircraft, I believe that the extension of the runways at St. Johns airport is now a must, in order to allow that company to continue carrying out repairs and maintenance of the latest aircraft models in St. Johns. Incidentally, I wish to point out that we have in my constituency expert and skilled labour. That progress is illustrated by the fact that in the past ten years this important company, one of the best equipped in the country for that type of work, has increased its staff from 40 to 460 employees.
Moreover, from a strategic point of view, military authorities recognize St. Johns airport, because of its proximity to the city of Montreal, like the base at St. Hubert, as indispensable to better protect the island of Montreal. All the more reason then to carry out the extension of the runways so that aircraft of all types may have access to St. Johns airport.
I am pleased to point out that the property sold to the city of St. Johns by the federal government about ten years ago, is already occupied by two industries employing more than 350 people. Part of the property is taken up by the arts and trades school. A municipal stadium has also been built there and a large area reserved for a civic centre.
I therefore thank sincerely those who have co-operated directly or indirectly to all this progress in my constituency; they have all my gratitude.
Mr. Speaker, among several important projects, there are two in my constituency which I have particularly at heart. One concerns the dredging of the Richelieu river channel to a depth of 14 feet. That project was put under way back in 1938 through the building of the dam at Fryer island, which was carried out that same year. It seems that the last war was the main cause of the interruption of the works, but I believe that it is time now to continue and complete this important undertaking.
The Address-Mr. Menard
As regards the other project which I favour, it has to do with the building of a canal of a total length of about 14 miles to connect St. Johns and Laprairie as well as the St. Lawrence seaway with the Richelieu river.
This new waterway would allow ships to travel between New York and Montreal, or the great lakes, and thus avoid a distance of more than a thousand miles. I am convinced that the construction and maintenance costs of such a canal would be perfectly justified since heavy shipments of all kinds of goods could be carried through that new waterway.
At the national level, I believe that the two greatest achievements of this government have been the construction of the trans-Canada pipe line and the St. Lawrence seaway project. By themselves, these two undertakings show in no uncertain way that our present leaders are eager to achieve national economic unity.
In all fields, Canada is asserting itself more and more among other older and more populated nations. One cannot emphasize too much the creditable achievements of Canadian delegations throughout the world, for the enhancement of Canada's prestige.
This country, which certain people were pleased to refer to as "a few acres of snow", has had a phenomenal expansion through the unceasing work of our hardy pioneers, explorers, technicians and enlightened businessmen. Let us thank Providence for so many blessings.
From the Atlantic to the Pacific, throughout our country, and even up to the confines of the Arctic, this intense development has been made possible through a systematic organization of transport and communications by land, sea and air. Very few countries, in proportion to their population, can boast of such achievements. The economic future of our country is now secure thanks precisely to the efficient policies advocated by the Liberal government, strengthened by the confidence and the sincere support of all classes of society.
Thanks to the efficient leadership of our Right Hon. Prime Minister, the St. Lawrence Seaway project will very soon become a reality. This gigantic masterpiece of engineering will bring us a new potential of electrical energy which will promote the development of the surrounding districts. Navigation facilities on the rivers and the ocean will now be extended right to the heart of our country.
Is not our Prime Minister himself, by his dynamic personality and his sense of organization, a true symbol of energy? His personal energy could well be compared to that
new source of energy made possible by and resulting from the St. Lawrence Seaway project. One can rightly give him a large part of the credit, since he is responsible for this undertaking.
Let us rejoice at having as leader of the Canadian government a man so eminently qualified to guide the destinies of this country. May God give him long life so that Canada may benefit for a long time from his broad experience. I also wish that he will be able to keep counting upon his present valuable and devoted colleagues, in the best interests of the Canadian nation.
When listening to the speech from the throne, I have been very happy to see, Mr. Speaker, that the Canadian government which has done much for our farmers in eastern Canada, proposes to establish a senate committee for the purpose of increasing, through scientific means, the agricultural output of this area.
I wish to assure my friends, the farmers of St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville, that I am going to follow very closely the most important work of this committee, so as to make all possible benefits available to them, because no one has a keener desire than I have of seeing them happier and more prosperous.
I also wish to join the hon. member for Iles-de-la-Madeleine (Mr. Cannon) who, in his speech of January 10 last, urged the government to increase family allowances. The young people we are helping today are the men of tomorrow.
Before resuming my seat, Mr. Speaker, let me once again express my sincere thanks to my electors for the honour they have conferred upon me by choosing me as their representative in this Canadian parliament. (Text):
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, I should like to congratulate the hon. member for Edmonton-Strathcona (Mr. Hanna) and the hon. member for Gloucester (Mr. Robichaud) who initiated this debate by moving and seconding the address in reply to the speech from the throne. Representing as I do a constituency adjoining that of the mover, I was naturally glad to hear him make favourable reference to and acknowledgment of the accomplishments in our community of Edmonton and in the province of Alberta generally.
Let me begin, Mr. Speaker, by saying what an inspiring task it is for us to be able to rise in our places in this chamber and, without any fear or hindrance, conscientiously express our opinions. That is something I intend to do. I think it is good that we should contemplate this freedom, because
it sums up very well the purpose of parliament and the history and destiny of this nation. There is conclusive evidence that in the world struggle between our way of life and the regimented way of life the greatest advantage we have is our political freedom. This advantage, I am sure, has restrained many of the uncommitted people in the world from giving credence to the charge that our democracy acts only for the few and that parliament does not represent the will of the people.
This consideration leads me to conclude that we as members have an outstanding task ahead of us. A complete awareness of our responsibilities as members means more than giving lip service to humanity. It means showing our practical concern for the advancement of those political concepts held by our people, and providing our country and all sectors of our society with well-being. Unfortunately this is not the case today.
Perhaps all this sounds like the obvious, but I say it for this reason. It seems to me that much of what has been said thus far by government supporters consists of complimentary remarks with respect to the past accomplishments and record of this government. Mr. Speaker, the people of Canada are not interested in platitudes. Of that fact I am sure. They are too greatly concerned with the bread and butter issues which dominate their daily life. That being so, they insist that we, their representatives, do something and come to grips with these problems.
I am not accusing individuals or this government of being indifferent to this concept, but why have we not read in the speech from the throne or heard from government spokesmen what policies this government proposes in order to resolve the acute problems of burdensome taxation which the people of Canada have been carrying for such a long time; inflation; the ever-increasing costs of living; the insecurity and frustration which face our aged, the handicapped, the blind and the veterans? What about our debt, personal, municipal and national? What about the problem of the municipalities pressed to the wall by acute financial problems? What about the discriminatory freight rates which hit hardest at the province from which I come and which inflict hardship on everyone located there? What about the dilemma in which the working man finds himself in his efforts to provide security for his family in the face of ever-mounting costs of living? How about the farmer's problem and the dilemma of the small businessman?
The Address-Mr. Holowach
Of course, limitation of time will prevent me from discussing all these problems in detail. However, I am sure that many of my colleagues will elaborate on them. I therefore propose to speak on the need for solutions to those problems that are upon us at this time with terrible urgency. We live in challenging times, and there are very serious problems that face this nation and our people. What about the heavy tax levies with which the people of Canada are burdened? Our present taxation polices make it virtually impossible for people to save. Our present taxation policies make it impossible for people to pay cash for the things they need in order to sustain a proper standard of living. Our present taxation policies are paralysing the incentive and the initiative of our people.
Is it any wonder that instalment credit buying in our country has reached an alltime high? What is instalment credit buying if not a symptom of insufficient purchasing power in the hands of our people, much of which has been arbitrarily removed by the taxation policies of the Liberal government, necessitating the people plunging themselves into debt when they buy. At a time when there is every evidence that some tax relief is essential to offset the credit squeeze the present government persists in denying such tax relief.
The point I make is simple. The continuation of high taxation will result in decreased production and a continuation of inflation. In addition, Mr. Speaker, we all know that when taxes become burdensome, as they are today, they become inflationary. The heavy load of the various taxes incorporated into the prices of goods has raised those prices to an all-time high. In my opinion hidden taxes are a major source of our inflationary problems. In this connection may I quote from an editorial which appeared in the Winnipeg Tribune of June 12, 1956. It is entitled, "Hidden Taxes Rob us Blind".
Loudest wails by the taxpayers are usually reserved for the amounts they have to cough up in personal income tax, but the truth is that indirect taxes take nearly twice as much from them during the course of a year.
The 1955-56 breakdown on federal revenues showed a total of $1,180 millions from personal income tax, and a return to the government of $2,028,400,000 from all indirect taxes.
Writing in the current issue of Liberty magazine, Fred Edge, a Toronto newspaper man who sometimes corresponds for the Tribune, points out that Ottawa's tax bite goes on everything from diaper pins to coffins. He gives some examples including $450 excise and sales taxes on a $2,600 automobile; $3.16 for provincial and dominion governments on a bottle of Canadian-made rye that is worth 84 cents; $87 on a $350 electric range and 17 cents on each package of cigarettes, or $62.05 a year at the rate of a package a day. In his article Mr. Edge makes a number of points that the Tribune has hammered home for several years-for example,
The Address-Mr. Holowach he advises retailers to show the amount of hidden taxes concealed in a selling price so that the blame may be assigned to the government rather than to the merchants, and he complains about the viciousness of tax on tax and cites the case of a new suit made of imported material on which there is a $5 customs duty. As the suit passes through various hands in reaching the customer, there is a 10 per cent retail sales tax on a 10 per cent wholesale sales tax on a 10 per cent excise tax on the $5 customs duty charged on $30 worth of imported material. Mr. Edge comments: "Besides this pyramiding of the original customs duty, each successive sales tax pyramids similarly on preceding sales taxes."
The statement is made that hidden tax revenue is higher now than ever before in Canada's history, and one of the most revealing statements with which most taxpayers are familiar by now is that the automobile industry in Canada turned over $172 million to the dominion government in sales and excise taxes on new cars-taxes paid by the customers-and yet the total payroll of the automobile industry was $154 million, which is $18 million less than the taxes total.
All this is going on, Mr. Speaker, at a time when the federal government is raking in a huge budgetary surplus. The article goes on:
Under the present Liberal-socialist government there is no escaping these heavy taxes, direct and indirect, and there is certainly no demonstrated application of economy by a government that is heavy with 20 years of power. As Mr. Edge wound up his article: "The government last year pocketed roughly $1 million on the hidden sales tax on coffins."
No fair-minded Canadian resents paying a fair share of taxes to enable the government to function properly, but taxing all of the people all of the time has become a habit of the Liberal government. Tax, spend and be re-elected; get in and stay in; never mind the little taxpayer. That is the motto of this government today. The jungle of taxation has invaded every single field of human endeavour and resulted in the greatest centralization of power the people of Canada have ever had. Income tax, corporate tax, excise tax, sales tax, direct taxes and indirect taxes-the ruthlessness of this taxation system is seen in the fact that last year the government hauled in hidden sales taxes on coffins a sum totalling $1 million.
The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that every single Canadian, every labourer in Canada, works several months each year to sustain our oversized government. Of course, the question arises, but where are we going to get the money to pay for the expenditures of the federal government? The answer is simple; by economizing and instituting stringency and frugality into every government department. Is it morally right that the experts in the financial department of this government should cry to the high heavens that it is immoral for people to spend more than they earn, yet this government does nothing about
trimming its own colossal spending spree? One of the most fallacious arguments of the orthodox financiers is that the government can obtain high revenues only if it has high taxation. A law of economics provides, and there are many examples, that as long as there is improved consumer demand for goods and services in our country, and this is the case today, the government can obtain high revenues with reasonable taxation by reason of the turnover created by this very consumer demand.
Let me just illustrate my point. In 1954 the United States government slashed taxes by some $7 billion. Did that result in a depression? Did that result in insufficient revenues to the government so it could not function properly? On the contrary, it resulted in the greatest spurt in the economy of that country. It resulted in added revenues to the government. Incidentally, much of that prosperity in the United States spilled over into our economy by way of capital investment in our natural resources development. Suffice it to mention the remarkable recovery of the republic of West Germany. A few years ago she stood among the bankrupt nations of the world, amidst the rubble of bankruptcy. Today West Germany stands as an example of economic stability. The lesson to be learned is that by economizing and making drastic cuts in the taxation laws Germany has achieved this enviable position. The need for substantial tax reductions is widespread and acknowledged.
In a news letter issued by the department of economic development of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in December reference is made to a poll conducted by the Canadian institute of public opinion. I quote:
To check on the mood of the people In a preelection period the Canadian institute of public opinion asked this question on taxes:
"Do you consider the amount of federal income tax which you have, or your husband has, to pay as too high, about right or too low?"
The answers showed that across the country 62 per cent of Canadians felt that federal income taxes were too high at this time. Thirty-three per cent said they were about right and 5 per cent were noncommittal.
Sir, we Social Crediters in parliament have consistently advocated and we shall continue to propose that a complete overhaul of our taxation system and its laws be undertaken immediately. We urge clarification of the interpretation of many of our existing laws respecting taxation. We urge that those taxes which are restrictive to consumption and productive free enterprise be reduced or abolished as a stimulus to greater consumption and production.
What about the mounting debt of our nation? Canada's gross national debt stood at
$3,710,610,592 as of March 31, 1939. It rose to the colossal figure of $17 billion as of March 31, 1952. In 1956 it reached the staggering figure of over $19 billion. Mr. Speaker, is this not a matter of serious concern to every Canadian and to the members of parliament? If we add to this gross national debt the personal debt of our people, the municipality and provincial debts, we have a debt picture such as no other nation of 16 million has ever had in its history.
In all fairness, the people of Canada ask, is this an example of the businesslike efficient management which the people are entitled to have in their senior government? It is a situation, I believe, which should alarm even the most unwary. Clearly it is a situation which alarms every thoughtful Canadian, when he learns that between the fiscal years 1868 and 1953, $8,045,608,184.29 of his taxes went to pay the interest charges on the national debt. The source of my information is page 1067 of Hansard of January 13, 1954, where a question appearing on the order paper in the name of the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Johnston) was answered officially. To comprehend the implication of such a huge debt is to consider that approximately $500 million of the taxpayers' money is required yearly to pay the interest charges alone. I tell you, Mr. Speaker, that if any private enterprise, any private business in Canada, imitated even remotely the fiscal policies of this government, it could not very long survive.
Well, what should we do? We have not to look very far for an answer. Look at what is being accomplished in the province of Alberta under a Social Credit administration. In 1935 Alberta stood in the midst of a depression and was actually economically bankrupt. The treasury was empty. Previous Liberal and U.F.A. governments left us an inheritance of $167 million of debt. A population of fewer than a million was left with that debt. At that time it took 51 cents out of every dollar collected by our treasury to pay the interest on the debt; and to add insult to injury Ottawa declared our province credit unworthy. We were financially boycotted.
What were we to do? We started putting our affairs in order by implementing the Social Credit principle that a nation cannot tax or borrow itself into prosperity. We accepted the precept that the establishment and preservation of justice and equity for all men calls for a stop to the strangling power of debt. Armed with this belief, and with the most careful type of economizing, we overcame the difficult situation. Today
The Address-Mr. Holowach Albertans point with pride to the fact that we are the only province in Canada that in 21 years has not borrowed one cent. In addition we have repaid the major bulk of that debt, and for all practical purposes today we are virtually debt-free, another first for Alberta.
Sir, Social Credit members have consistently pointed to the need for a progressive reduction and eventual liquidation of the public debt. There are, of course, many other areas of national importance in which progressive thinking is required at the federal level. What is the present government doing to alleviate the precarious financial position of municipal governments throughout the country?
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
I will tell you right away. On November 23, 1956, the Canadian federation of mayors and municipalities urged the federal government to call a federal-provincial-municipal conference to discuss acute problems in municipal finance. In their brief of 25 pages they pointed out the financial plight of municipalities as being, and I quote-
-a matter of national concern and as such should be regarded as a matter of national importance.
Are we to take it that the proposed legislation outlined in the speech from the throne is the Liberal answer to this serious problem, a proposal which says that the Liberal government has finally agreed to pay municipal taxes on crown property in certain municipalities?
One of the most erroneous concepts that is being spread is that the financial problems of municipalities are local problems or provincial problems. Let the provinces solve them. That is passing the buck. That is a concept from the dark ages. Inasmuch as the federal government constitutionally has jurisdiction over monetary policies, the problem connected with municipal finances can only be resolved by a realistic monetary policy at the national level.
During the discussion on the tax rental agreement we fought for a more generous return to the provinces of their own money not only in order to restore stability to them but to enable them to give municipal aid, ensure a proper balance among the three levels of government, to promote decentralization; but no, the federal government is not happy unless it retains 75 cents out of every dollar collected in taxes. I referred to the need for a more equitable distribution of the national revenue. In The Ensign of
The Address-Mr. Holowach
March 24, 1956, there appears a reprint of an article from the Toronto Telegram. I quote:
The plain fact is that while the federal government's needs and costs have increased, provincial and municipal governments have been receiving less and less of the tax dollar. In 1930 the dominion government took 40.5 per cent, while provincial governments received 20.2 per cent and municipal governments 39.3 per cent. Compare this with 70.9 per cent for the dominion in 1951, 17.2 per cent for the provinces, and 11.9 per cent for the municipalities.
Today the Liberal government at Ottawa collects over 75 cents of every tax dollar in our country, leaving only 25 cents of that tax dollar for the provincial and municipal governments. We Social Crediters resent these problems, not only because there is no valid excuse for their existence in our wealthy country but also because we are concerned that if they are left unresolved they will whittle away the independence and incentive of our people. Because they have been left unresolved, these problems little by little are undermining confidence in our way of life. They are forcing our citizenry more and more to accept dependence on an all-powerful central government here at Ottawa.
In spite of these serious problems, Mr. Speaker, the government continues to drum to the country the theme of unprecedented prosperity. "You never had it so good," they say to the people. "Why look at the gross national product; it has reached the $30 billion mark". So what? Naturally we are glad that production is on the increase in Canada, but what difference does it make whether our gross national product reaches the $30 billion, $50 billion or $100 billion mark? The acid test of real prosperity and an enlightened civilization is the financial distribution of that increased wealth. The government has not succeeded in doing this.
What about the aged, the blind, the veterans and the handicapped? Are they sharing in this increased wealth? I refer to these people because if there is any element in our population deserving of special consideration it is our aged, our handicapped and our veterans. In 1951 when their security pension became operative, our gross national product was over $21 billion, and in 1955 it rose to over $26 billion. Today it is close to the $30 billion mark. Why have these people not shared in the increased wealth? What about the dilemma which faces our farmers, who are penalized by uncertainty and reduced incomes for having produced great abundance? What does the government intend to do to correct this basic ill?
What about the small businessman in our communities? The present tight money squeeze deliberately designed by the government to curb expansion has hit him the hardest. This credit squeeze, the hoisting of bank interest rates, has dried up the last available source of bank credit to small businessmen. Previously a small businessman could not borrow all he needed even at high rates of interest, but at the present time with credit slammed shut his case becomes practically hopeless. Canada needs to expand and requires capital with which to do so. We urge that aid to the small businessmen be increased, not destroyed or entirely removed.
What about the coal miners of Nova Scotia and the textile workers who have been suffering chronic unemployment? What about the lumbermen who are facing a similar problem? Are they sharing in our increased prosperity? The truth is that a difference exists between progress and real prosperity. Our present prosperity is artificial; real prosperity results only when the now splendidly rising trend of production is made financially available to all those who need it within our country and abroad.
At this time, Mr. Speaker, I wish also to call attention to a situation which has aroused the people of my constituency and every fair-minded Canadian in the country. I refer to the fact that treaty Indians are now being ordered off the Hobbema reserve in Alberta. This has occurred elsewhere as well, and can result only in untold hardship for these native people. Last session I had occasion during consideration of the estimates of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to speak of Indian affairs, and at that time I emphasized the fact that Indians should be given a new deal and that this government should do something new and live up to its obligations to the Indians. We all know the Canadian Indians are not only the most poorly fed, poorly housed and poorly clothed of any people in Canada but as demonstrated by the evictions to which I referred they are also the most insecure even on their own reservation. It is time for the minister and his department to show responsibility and take substantial action to amend or change the present laws which permit the expulsion of Indians from their sanctuaries.
Does it make sense that innocent men, women and children are asked to pay the penalty for acts committed by their fathers
or grandfathers? What we have demonstrated in these heartless expulsions is nothing less than a blind insensibility to the human needs of these Indian people. Is it not thought-provoking that on the one hand we welcome Hungarian refugees to this country -and may I add that we are glad to have them with us, because Canada can absorb many people-yet on the other hand evict these native people from their reservations? We welcome the newcomer but evict the old comer, as it were. It is my sincere hope that the minister will recognize this injustice and will act favourably to change the law in order to prohibit further evictions.
Before concluding my remarks I wish to make a brief comment concerning the subamendment moved by the leader of the C.C.F. (Mr. Coldwell) and seconded by the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis). That amendment reads as follows:
That the amendment be amended by inserting therein, immediately after the words "the rights of parliament'' the following words:
"and by reason of their failure to announce legislation establishing a comprehensive and nationwide program of health insurance, with provision for provincial participation."
We intend to support this amendment. We do so because of the importance of the subject with which it deals. On many occasions Social Crediters have emphasized their conviction that there is no greater asset to any nation than the health of its people. This being so, every effort must be made individually by our citizens and collectively through government programs to achieve the highest national standards of health and wellbeing. [DOT]
As we see it, the national health program should have as its objective making it possible for every citizen of Canada, irrespective of means, to obtain hospitalization, dental and optical services, coupled with a sound health education emphasizing preventive measures. Such a health scheme would develop rapidly and become broader as production and national development make it possible to widen its scope in order to avoid an avalanche of taxes, and without plaguing the nation with embarrassments which would arise from the implementation of such a scheme before adequate trained personnel, hospital and clinical facilities were available.
On the basis of what we read and hear respecting a national health insurance program as envisioned by the C.C.F. party, let me emphasize that the Social Crediters differ
The Address-Mr. Simmons on the basic fundamental approach to this vital undertaking. We oppose the centralization of control. Our approach and our program recognizes (1) a fair share of individual responsibility; (2) that emphasis must be placed on preventive medicine, that is keeping people well; (3) that patients should have a choice of doctors and the program should guarantee no regimentation of medical personnel or hospitals; (4) that the program must be devised by joint co-operation of the municipal, provincial and federal governments; (5) that the administration should rest with the provincial and municipal governments and (6) that adequate federal subsidies must be available in order to keep costs down.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, at the outset I wish to congratulate both the mover (Mr. Hanna) and the seconder (Mr. Robichaud) of the motion upon which this debate is based. They both carried out their responsibilities with distinction to themselves and with credit to their respective constituencies. May I just add the comment that the excellent address of the hon. member for Edmonton-Strathcona might have been improved to an even greater extent if he had referred to that land of greater opportunity on which the future prospects, prosperity and growth of Edmonton will largely depend, namely the Canadian north.
I know that hon. members of this house regardless of party are glad to join in welcoming back the Minister of National Health and Welfare, who has just returned from a most successful tour of 15 countries in Asia and Australasia. Accompanied by Mrs. Martin and a capable staff the minister accomplished a strenuous and challenging diplomatic mission in masterful fashion. All must agree that the minister's conduct everywhere reflected great credit on Canada and on what this nation represents in world affairs. I am sure also that Canadians appreciated the very able press coverage of the entire journey provided by the Southam news service through its correspondent Douglas Leiterman.
The Minister of National Health and Welfare upon his arrival in Ottawa was quick to admit that his good-will mission was made much easier by the visits made to Asian countries by the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for External Affairs and the Minister of Fisheries. Canadians are respected everywhere, not only because of the high calibre of public men who travel to these important parts of the world but also because it is realized that Canada has no selfish ambitions, that Canadians want peace and have shown
The Address-Mr. Simmons themselves to be trusted mediators in disputes between large nations or powers.
I wish to commend also the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for his tireless humanitarian efforts to find sanctuary in this country for as many valiant Hungarians as this country can absorb. His mission to Austria by air before Christmas caught the imagination of all Canadians, and impressed the country with the energy and ability of this young cabinet minister. In this connection I want to draw attention to the splendid work of the officials of his department in welcoming and placing in employment those Hungarians who have been transported thus far to Canada. In particular I wish to pay tribute to Mr.. Bird, the district superintendent of immigration at Vancouver, and his assistants who worked night and day, faithfully and diligently, to encourage and rehabilitate these deserving newcomers to our country.
I want to take advantage of this opening debate of the session to deal with some of the pressing transportation problems in the Yukon. Before I do so I think it would be appropriate to say something about the transportation situation nationally. I am sure all hon. members of the house rejoiced that a formula had been found by which the Canadian Pacific Railway strike was brought to an end. The Prime Minister and Minister of Labour are to be commended upon their mediation efforts to bring about a settlement without having to resort to any kind of compulsory arbitration.
At this critical time in the opening up of the Canadian north the royal commission on Canada's economic prospects has chosen to ignore in its preliminary report the very existence of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. No mention whatever is made by the Gordon commission of any transportation problem, whether it be railway extensions from British Columbia or Alberta, additional highway facilities, or other assistance to the mining industry in the north. Even in the case of national population figures the two northern territories are definitely excluded, just as their problems and possibilities are excluded from the report itself.
Surely no Canadian can look upon this preliminary report and feel otherwise than that the commission has failed to discharge its primary duty and obligation. With the eyes of the world fastened at the present time on the potential greatness of our northern areas it is obvious that the Gordon commission by its silence on this subject has shown a wilful lack of that sort of vision and understanding which made possible the creation and growth of Canada itself. May we still
cherish the hope that the commission's report in its final form will remedy this fundamental weakness and correct what appears to be a total disregard of an area which may well be the future economic salvation of the continent.
In any event the federal government should not hesitate to prove to the rest of the world that Canada does not neglect her northern areas and her northern heritage. I might say that the people of the Yukon have the utmost confidence in the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources. I want to commend him for his constructive and understanding approach to the many and varied problems which come under his jurisdiction.
I know the minister realizes that the people residing in the north are pioneering the country and paving the way for additional development, and are entitled to the best service, assistance and encouragement the federal government can provide.
To get back to this matter of northern transportation, a glance at the map of northern Canada will serve to show the great benefit and value of an all-weather road from the Yukon across to the Mackenzie river delta and the site of the new Aklavik. I propose to dwell upon the subject of roads in the north, because if the resources of the territories are to be developed it is surely the duty of the federal government to use all possible means to build and maintain proper road communications. Up to the present time the federal government road program in the north has been far from adequate, and has been steadily lacking in awareness of the vital necessity for the accelerated construction of roads which will assist in opening up this important part of Canada.
In this connection I may say that the federal government has seen fit to establish a new road policy in the Yukon to take effect from April 1, 1957. I understand that under this new policy the entire cost of construction of development roads in the territory will be borne by the federal government, and in addition 85 per cent of the cost of the maintenance of those roads will be the responsibility of the federal government, the other 15 per cent to be borne by the territorial government.
Just at this point I might say that the previous financial agreement between the federal government and the territorial government will expire on March 31 of this year. A new agreement will then come into effect. The agreement presently in force has most certainly failed to meet the present needs of this fast-developing territory because of the
shortsighted, penny-pinching attitude of those people in the department who formulated the policy contained in the agreement when it was drawn up about five years ago. It is to be hoped that improved vision and better understanding will be displayed in connection with the drafting of the new fiscal arrangements.
It is imperative that this new arrangement be not passed strictly on population figures, as is the case with similar agreements with the provinces. In the case of the Yukon it should be based on a different formula, one more applicable to the special conditions in that area.
It is obvious that in a part of Canada where the land area is so large and the population is so small and scattered as in the Yukon it is neither a sound nor fair basis for these payments to be measured by the population yardstick only. Undoubtedly it should be the sole responsibility of the federal government, not the territorial government, to provide all capital expenditures required to maintain and advance our economic position in the north, when one considers that the federal government receives all the revenue now derived from the exploitation of the natural resources in the territory. The territorial government has its hands full to take care of its own administrative problems with the revenue it now receives. One thing is certain. The federal government will eventually reap the future benefits of any investments they make in the north at this time.
Again on the subject of road transportation in the north, Mr. Speaker, in the Yukon Territory we have seen how the Alaska highway, the Haines cut-off road, the Atlin road, the roads to Mayo and Dawson and the Canol road have made the southern half of the territory accessible to prospectors and developers. As a result many important deposits of nickel-copper, silver-lead-zinc and asbestos and other minerals have been discovered, which undoubtedly will add greatly to the wealth of the Yukon Territory and of Canada and provide a livelihood for many workers in the future. In the last few years the prospector and the exploration companies have advanced into the northern half of the territory with most encouraging results. I might add that the northern part of the Yukon Territory and the adjoining part of the Northwest Territories are considered by those people who know these things to be very favourable for the deposition of oil and gas as well as other minerals.
It should be remembered that the first oil field in Canada, apart from the pioneer production in southwestern Ontario, was discovered at Norman Wells, which is in this 82715-18
The Address-Mr. Simmons favourable area adjoining the northern part of the Yukon Territory. I have no doubt that the persistence which these oil explorers are known to possess, their skill and the money which they are willing to venture will lead to the discovery of further oil fields in this area.
This all leads to the point of my talk, which is that we should do everything possible to assist this northern development and exploratory work. The essential way in which this can be done is by improving the transportation facilities. In recent months we have heard much about the distant early warning line and what an important part the Arctic areas of Canada are playing and are going to play in the defence of North America. Judging from stories which have been published in the press, I think it is safe to say that a considerable tonnage of freight is being and will be required in the construction and maintenance of these defence facilities.
At present freight can be taken into the Arctic only by water during the very short navigation season, either down the Mackenzie river or around Alaska by the Bering sea. Much of it has been taken in by airlift, and this is very expensive. Some can be taken in overland when the ground is frozen. The latter two methods are very expensive or more difficult than would be the case if we had an all-weather road to the Arctic coast.
Aklavik on the delta of the Mackenzie river in the Northwest Territories is only about 750 miles by road from tidewater and a 12-month port on the Pacific coast at Skagway, Alaska, or Haines, Alaska. About 350 miles of this road are already built. The first 110 miles is covered by the White Pass railway from Skagway to Whitehorse, or it is 259 miles from Haines, Alaska, to Whitehorse via the Haines cut-off and the Alaska highway. The next 260 miles is covered by the all-weather road from Whitehorse to Mayo or Dawson.
A further glance at the map will show that Aklavik is almost due north of Skagway, Haines, Whitehorse, Dawson, and Mayo, and that the Peel river which rises in the northern part of the Yukon Territory cuts through the Mackenzie mountains before it joins the Mackenzie river at the delta near Aklavik. We thus are provided with a natural pass from the Yukon Territory to the Mackenzie river delta by means of the valley of the Peel river. Once through the Mackenzie mountains the road might swing over to Arctic Red river where it could cross the Mackenzie river and thence on to the new site of Aklavik.
The Address-Mr. Simmons
A road starting from a suitable point on the Whitehorse-Mayo-Dawson road at or near Dawson City or Mayo, depending on the results of a survey to determine the feasibility of these routes, and proceeding to Aklavik via the Peel river would assist materially in the exploration and development of the mineral resources of this part of Canada and in providing the quickest, cheapest and most dependable all-weather transportation route to the western Arctic coast.
I think the government of Canada should take note of this fact and begin to assemble further detailed information on this route at once. I strongly advocate that a sufficient sum of money be placed in the estimates of the northern affairs department to cover the cost of a location survey to enable early commencement of actual construction to be made without wasting any more precious time. A preliminary aerial survey should be undertaken as early next spring as weather conditions permit.
According to my information, the proposed route of the road starting at or near Dawson City or Mayo would traverse one of the most highly mineralized areas on the North American continent including oil and gas. Several years ago a geologist working in the north gave me his opinion that the greatest reservoir of oil on this continent is to be found in the area stretching between Dawson and Aklavik. In his view the major producing oil fields in Alberta of Pembina, Leduc and Redwater were merely fringe or marginal pools compared to the possibilities of this northern reservoir.
It is obvious what great benefit such a road would bring to the people residing in the Mackenzie river delta, as well as providing the necessary facilities for the maintenance of the distant early warning line. In addition, such a road would afford the people of that area year-round access to a port at tidewater on the Pacific at or near Skagway or Haines, Alaska.
The peoples of the delta naturally need to stockpile their food, provisions and other material for many months each year, and to provide heated storage and so forth to carry them through the long winters. As every hon. member will realize, this means an added burden inasmuch as it increases substantially the cost of living in that area. The proposed all-weather road would enable merchants and others to bring in necessary provisions regularly, and would largely do away with the need to stockpile. The road would be one of the most important projects that could be undertaken to promote the economic
welfare and stability of the northern Mackenzie river district, as well as the northern Yukon areas. In fact it would be nothing less than culpable neglect on the part of the government to sidestep further this highly significant and very practical measure.
During the past few years a considerable sum of money has been spent on oil exploratory work by the Peel Plateau Exploration Company in the Eagle Plain area north of Dawson City in the vicinity of the Porcupine river. Supplies are taken into this area by tractor train from Dawson City during the winter months, following the proposed route of an all-weather road through the valley of the Peel river to Aklavik, Northwest Territories. To foster and encourage mineral exploration along the route suggested, I think it is only fair and reasonable to expect that the federal government will assist the exploration company in maintaining a winter tractor road to Eagle Plain. If our north country is to be opened and developed in the way it should be, the federal government should assist the companies and individuals who are willing to risk capital in such ventures, especially in areas which are favourable to mineral development.
The new policy of the federal government to provide development roads to promising mineral areas is a good step forward, but all depends upon how such a policy works out in practice. Heretofore the federal slogan has been, "You show us that you have a producing operation and we will provide a road". Properly to open the Yukon, road development in the territory is of prime importance. Development of its mineral resources has been retarded throughout the years by the lack of roads, the result of a lack of administrative vision.
In the case of the Vangorda creek base metal deposits along the Pelly river, Prospectors Airways Company alone has expended approximately $900,000 on developing this project in the initial stages. During the past three years the federal government has expended about $5,000 for the maintenance of the Canol road from Johnsons crossing to the Pelly river, and approximately $50,000 for the survey of a projected road from Carmacks to the Prospectors Airways Company property and on to Ross river. I am told that a portion of this $50,000 was spent in an unsuccessful attempt to provide temporary access roads from the property to Ross river, a tributary of the Pelly river. The road provided was useless for the purposes intended because a temporary road was not completed, and the project appears to have been shelved.
I would therefore suggest to the minister that early consideration be given by his department to the commencement of construction of this vitally important road as soon as possible, as I firmly believe that the Pelly river-Canol road sector has reached this stage. The initial development gamble has been taken by Prospectors Airways Company and Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company. Developments of sufficient magnitude as to be classed as ore bodies elsewhere have been found, and it is now up to the federal government to encourage the continuous exploration of this area, as well as other areas, by providing adequate development roads. If advantage of this opportunity is not taken at once while hope runs high in this promising area, new ventures may not develop because of strangling transportation costs. Timing is extremely important in any financial venture, and it is especially pertinent to mine financing.
It might be well to point out at this stage to those not too familiar with mineral exploration that the most difficult money to raise in any development program is the initial expenditure to test a promising geological speculation. A high element of risk is involved, and most financiers want some tangible proof before they enter the picture. If the showing proves to have promise as a mineralized deposit, no lack of development capital exists nowadays to turn the potential into profit.
The arrangement with the federal government on the Canol road promised a maximum of $2,500 a year for maintenance, provided the company expended $2,500 a year. When it is considered that this sum was to provide for the maintenance of 150 miles of gravel road, including 21 timber bridges and 40 culverts, it can be seen how niggardly this assistance is. The Canol road is considered by company geologists and mining companies to be one of the most important mining exploration roads in the Yukon Territory. It not only provides the only eastern access to the large Pelly-MacMillan-Hess river systems, but is the only road that cross-cuts from east to west the large northwest trending mountain belts which contain the most potential mineral and fuel resources in the Yukon.
During the past three years, five important mineral finds have been located at Vangorda creek, Big Salmon lake, Ketza river, Quiet lake and the Northwest Territories-Yukon boundary. It is doubtful if any of those deposits would have been located if it had not been for the access provided by the Canol road. The rehabilitation of this road is a must for the mining development of the eastern Yukon. The indifference of those responsible for the maintenance of this asset 82715-184
The Address-Mr. Simmons is difficult to understand. Here is an invaluable development road built at a cost, I understand, of $30 million, which was presented free to the Canadian people by the American government 11 years ago. As far as is known, no maintenance has been provided by the federal or territorial governments during that time with the exception of the paltry sum I have previously mentioned. For the lack of a few thousand dollars a year spent in upkeep during the period, large sections have been rendered useless to wheeled traffic by water damage to bridges and culverts. Prospectors Airways Company has kept the first 150 miles from the Alaska highway to the Canol road barely passable to wheeled vehicles by the expenditure of approximately $10,000 during the past two years. All this amount was spent on bridges and culverts. The Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources has reimbursed the company for half this sum.
It is reported that a recent estimate was prepared at the instigation of the present Yukon commissioner for the rehabilitation of this section of the road, and the sum of $100,000 was recommended. This and similar sums for its continued maintenance should be a charge on the people of Canada as a whole for the development of their natural resources. It should not be a stop-gap or emergency measure doled out as a sop to this or that mining company. It should form part of a long-range program for the development of the north. It is useless to argue, as has been done in the past, that the road is a territorial responsibility. The territory's meager funds are not sufficient for such work and are urgently needed elsewhere.
The people of the Yukon would like to know why the federal government has refused in the past to recognize the existence of the Canol road, if only to correct the impression that it was a wartime mistake, that it came from nowhere and goes nowhere, and that it should best be officially buried. A quick glance at a map of Canada should convince anyone of the strategic importance of the road as well. It is the only road that connects two of the largest river systems in Canada, namely the Mackenzie and the Yukon. With the accent on northern hemispherical defence it might serve as an important supply line to D.E.W. line stations as well.
I wish to refer for a few minutes to the important matter of the Haines cut-off road. This road was built at the cost of many millions of dollars by the United States during the second world war and was handed over to Canada at the conclusion of hostilities. The road is 159 miles in length and extends
268 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mr. Simmons from Haines, Alaska, at tidewater to Haines Junction, Yukon, where it connects with the Alaska highway at mile 1,016. This is a first-class gravel road with the exception of 40 miles on the Alaska side, which is black-topped. The Canadian portion of the highway is maintained in excellent condition for approximately seven months each year by the northwest highway system. This particular road is of vital importance to the future development of certain sections of the Yukon and Alaska.
My understanding is that representations have been made to this government to keep the road open during the winter months. From what I have gathered it is estimated that the cost of capital equipment required to maintain the road in winter months would be approximately $300,000. It seems to be the opinion of those responsible for keeping the road closed during part of the year that it would be difficult to keep it open. To me this seems utter nonsense. Heavy snow conditions along this road actually obtain for a stretch of between 14 and 16 miles only. This portion extends from mile post 40 as far as mile post 56. On the Valdez road in Alaska the snowfall is about twice as heavy as that along the Haines cut-off road, yet no great difficulty has been experienced in keeping open the Valdez road. I have talked with officials in charge of this operation and they feel that, in comparison, the Haines road is a minor snow removal problem.
If the resources of the north are to be developed it is surely the duty of the federal government to employ all possible means to construct and maintain proper road communications. Official thinking here in Ottawa has in the past fallen far short of meeting the real problem. There has not been the necessary vision on the part of officials to grasp the requirements of the situation. I realize there has been some opposition from certain quarters, but it is opposition that is dictated entirely by selfinterest. The only way to open up this north country is by competitive routes which will be conducive to development.
I should like to ask the minister now-I am sorry he is not in his seat-why is the government ignoring the wishes of the people whom this important road will serve? Surely both governments can get together to solve this pressing problem by assuming their respective shares of the costs involved. The costs are not large, but the returns eventually will be great, as it will be as much to the advantage of the Yukon as to Alaska.
On this same subject of transportation I want to say something about air freight rates
and their application to the Yukon and to the north generally. This age in which we live is the air age, and no country in the world stands to gain as much as Canada from efficient and economical air transport. In Canada no part stands to benefit so much from air transport as the Yukon and Northwest Territories. But what is the actual story? In 1937 Canada was carrying more air cargo than any other nation in the world, and most of this was carried in the north. By 1951, however, Canada accounted for no more than 1 per cent of the world's total volume of airborne freight.
What is the reason for this tremendous decline? In my view the main answer is that air freight rates are prohibitive. As stated in an article appearing in the Globe and Mail last year:
Canada's air cargo is a service designed more for carrying small and precious merchandise like cut flowers, caviar and mink.
We can never hope to fully develop a country by imposing air freight rates that are exorbitant. This fact has been amply demonstrated in other parts of Canada, and in other countries as well. It is evident that what we need is more competition for the available air traffic dollar. We need more men who are air minded, opportunity minded and competition minded.
Canadian Pacific Airlines, I may say, has given good service into the Yukon and is anparently prepared to lower rates between Whitehorse, Mayo and Dawson provided that landing facilities at Mayo and Dawson are improved to provide for the operation of heavier aircraft. By making use of larger aircraft the company reasons that air freight rates into the Yukon can be lowered substantially. In spite of the fact that I have brought this matter to the attention of the appropriate government departments here on many occasions, practically nothing has happened. The present landing fields at Mayo and Dawson are hazardous to use, and only good fortune has prevented the occurrence thus far of a disaster to planes using these fields. Several years ago sites for new airfields were surveyed at Mayo and in the neighbourhood of Dawson, but this represents all the progress that can be reported to date.
I have devoted some time to this matter of air and road transportation. Important as these factors are to the fullest development of the north country I want to emphasize, nevertheless, that there cannot be completely satisfactory results without railways and other improved communications. I have mentioned on various occasions that the ferries along the Whitehorse-Mayo-Dawson road operating over the Yukon river, Pelly river and Stewart
river should be replaced by permanent bridges as soon as possible. The existing ferry services are clearly inadequate and form a distinct bottleneck for traffic along this route.
I am convinced that the construction and maintenance of highways and bridges in the Yukon territory most definitely should be the sole responsibility of the federal government. Heretofore the policy has been that the territorial government, as well as the mining companies, were required to participate in these costs. In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, this was a ridiculous situation. It was nonsense to expect anybody other than the federal government to assume these capital outlays. I am pleased that the minister took cognizance of this fact when the policy relating to highway and bridge construction was recently formulated. This was, most certainly, a step forward in the right direction.
While on the subject of bridges, I trust the minister will give favourable consideration to placing in the estimates a sufficient sum to finance the replacement of the Crooked creek bridge at mile 209 on the Whitehorse-Dawson-Mayo road, so that actual construction can commence this spring or early summer. Surveys and investigations should be instituted at once to determine suitable sites for permanent bridges over the Yukon, Pelly and Stewart rivers along the Whitehorse-Mayo-Dawson road to expedite early construction of these most urgent projects without undue delay. The 60-mile road from Dawson to the Alaska-Yukon border is of the utmost importance to the Dawson district. Can the minister tell me whether or not this road will be constructed according to the same standards as those which apply to the Whitehorse-Dawson road? This road connects with the Taylor highway at the Alaska boundary which highway, in turn, connects with the Alaska highway at Forty Mile, Alaska.
I travelled over this highway last fall and found it to be very scenic. If this road were constructed according to the same standards as the Whitehorse-Mayo-Dawson road I am sure it would attract many tourists to Dawson City, one of the most historic and interesting spots on this continent. This project should receive every consideration from this government, as it is a tourist attraction of the first order.
I also wish to say something, Mr. Speaker, about the Alaska highway. One of the great hazards on this road is the dust problem. This hazard has resulted in a considerable loss of life. The highway is maintained in
excellent condition by the northwest highway system at a substantial cost. I believe the time has come now for the immediate black-topping of this road, especially in places where the road does not need to be rerouted. Such action would result in a great increase in road traffic and reduce the cost of maintenance to a point where the government would get a return on its investment.
There is another matter of great economic significance to the mining industry of the Yukon to which I wish to draw the attention of the government, particularly the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources. I 'refer to the unnecessary and unjustified gold export tax in its application to the Placer gold mining industry of the Yukon. This is an imposition that at its present rate fastens a heavy and unfair burden on this important northern industry. At one time, about the turn of the present century, there may have been some sensible basis for imposing such a tax, but conditions since those days have drastically changed. Gold output is down, costs of mining have greatly increased, while the price of gold has remained for years at $35 per ounce in U.S. funds. I am not asking that this tax be abolished. As I pointed out in my remarks to the house on this same subject last June 11, the gold export tax should be reduced in line with the royalty rates obtaining under the Yukon Quartz Mining Act. In this connection I want to bring out the following points:
1. The change in this tax rate that I am proposing should be made will not require any legislative enactment but merely a change in the regulations under the act.
2. If the tax rate is maintained it is liable to result in a serious curtailment of placer gold mining in the Yukon.
3. By bringing the placer gold export tax into line with the levy on quartz mining, the government would be giving practical encouragement to an industry which provides important employment to Canadians in our most northerly communities.
Once again I urge upon the government that remedial action be taken on this matter at the first opportunity.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, may I say that if the federal government gives leadership and assistance along the lines I have mentioned the Yukon Territory will offer a vast area of challenge to pioneering enterprise seeking new mining frontiers in Canada. Other and older nations may be ahead of Canada in the matter of population and economic development, but there is one fundamental difference distinguishing their
The Address-Mr. Nicholson present position from that of this country. It is that we in Canada still have frontiers to roll back as well as untouched areas to develop. Nothing gives such a dynamic drive to national progress anywhere as the prospect of new land to be opened up to settlement and development.
In Canada our great remaining frontier is in the north. We who are particularly close to the north, who have lived and grown with its people and its problems, are convinced of its wonderful opportunities and of the fact that the Canadian north is a vast storehouse of energy sources and mineral wealth. There can be no finer career for any young Canadian today than to take an active part in the development of our northern territories.
At one time the lure of the north was the special attraction felt by some for faraway and lonely places where life could be lived close to nature, free from many of the problems and distractions connected with living in large centres of population. To some it was an opportunity to get away from it all. That is not so today. In these times the lure of the north is something quite different. It is the lure of discovering new mineral assets in one of the few remaining unexplored areas of the free world. The lure of creating new communications, new communities, of building roads and industries and working cheerfully and constructively with fellow Canadians to bring into being not only a new land but a new way of life is a work that will add immeasurably to Canada's resources and to its greatness as a nation.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, at the outset I should like to express my sympathy to the hon. members for Edmon-ton-Strathcona and Gloucester for being confronted with a speech about which so little could be said. It ignores the basic problems of such a large percentage of the Canadian people that it is not easy to understand why we have to be confronted with such a speech in this important year. However, the hon. members were honoured by the Prime Minister in being selected to move and second the address in reply, and I am sure both of them did the very best they could under the circumstances.
I would like to confine my remarks to the problems confronting our farm people in Canada. The Gordon commission preliminary report points up the problem which has been developing for some years, but which has been ignored by the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Trade and Commerce in particular. This report indicates that since 1946 our farm population has dropped from 25 per cent of the total population to just over 15 per cent, and the forecast is that
during the next 25 years the farm percentage of the population of Canada will drop to 7.6 per cent of the total.
Although I have a farm background, I am prepared to accept the fact that fewer people can produce more food, but I think it is very disturbing that in this day and age, with one billion people in the world who have never had one good meal, it is proposed that we should place a fence around Canada. We will allow in only a trickle of immigrants, and we will refuse to produce additional food for starving people throughout the world.
The commission assumes that the present government is going to continue in office for some time; that there is not likely to be any change in the policies of this government regarding responsibility for hungry people throughout the world. Since there is not to be any change in the policy, it is proposed that we are not going to do anything about the building of the Saskatchewan river dam. The commission suggests there is no point in producing more food if we are not going to dispose of it. Apparently it is not expected that any real effort is going to be made to move Canadian foodstuffs into other countries where people are going hungry, where they are willing to accept Canadian foodstuffs in return for goods which they can supply. Therefore I say it is disturbing that in the year 1957 we apparently have a government that is ignoring the needs of a very large sector of our people, except for the fact that they are going to be starved off our farms and people from the maritimes might get a little help in coming to central areas of Canada. The farmers in the other parts of Canada will just have to stay and starve it out.
We have had a good deal of discussion in this house from time to time regarding the general position of agriculture. The Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Trade and Commerce have argued that the Canadian farmer is very prosperous. The Minister of Trade and Commerce gives the impression that any farmer who wants to can drive a new car; he can have all his debts paid; he can have a year's supply of grain on his farm without worrying about cash advances. But the opinion of Liberals throughout the country is not unanimous. I notice that the hon. member for Rosthern (Mr. Tucker) was at a convention at Viscount last fall, and the farmers who were at that convention apparently did not accept the point of view of the Minister of Agriculture. The hon. member for Rosthern gave them some pretty foolish advice, as follows:
Walter Tucker, M.P. for Rosthern, who addressed the meeting, said that he believed the resolutions,
to be submitted to the provincial convention in Regina, would prove much more effective if they adhered to established Liberal principles.
But the advice of the hon. member for Rosthern apparently did not have any effect on the people who were there, because immediately they proceeded to pass a resolution asking that an interim payment of at least 10 cents a bushel on the 1955-56 crop be made to the farmers at the earliest possible date. That was last October. It was not in keeping with traditional Liberal policy. Here we are into January, and still no action has been taken. The next resolution was significant:
The convention also urged the federal government to seriously consider adopting and enforcing policies to give the farmers a fair share of the national income.
Well, certainly the farmers out in the Rosthern constituency were not convinced that they were getting a fair share of the national income.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY