May I point out, Mr. Speaker, that it would be far more impressive if the government took some practical steps to turn such talk into deeds. For example, why could not the government bring in a bill right away to waive the interest on the United Kingdom loan? The Prime Minister was asked about this on January 11 as reported at page 120 of Hansard. The question was:
Could he tell the house If the government has made any undertaking with regard to the proposed waiver of $22 million in interest charges due by the United Kingdom?
The Prime Minister in his reply pointed out that under the agreement between Canada and the United Kingdom the United Kingdom was entitled to a waiver of the interest on this loan under three conditions. One was that it was found necessary, having regard to the gold and foreign exchange reserves of the United Kingdom; second, that the international monetary fund certified to certain
specified conditions regarding United Kingdom balance of payments statistics; and the third, that any other country which has made a loan with similar conditions is also waiving the interest agreement which of course referred to a loan made about the same time by the United States. The Prime Minister went on to say:
Early in December of last year the United Kingdom formally requested a waiver of the interest which would be due on the 31st of December, 1956.
He intimated that the question was under consideration by the government but concluded his answer with these words:
In the meantime the United Kingdom has paid the instalment of principal amounting to ?15J million which was due on December 31 and has, I understand, set aside in an account in the Bank of Canada the amount of interest, this to be held by the Bank of Canada until a decision has been reached whether or not there will be a waiver of interest granted by all those who have similar loans.
Now, the United States have found that there is some defect in the agreement they have with the United Kingdom, as a result of which that government must get further authority from congress before a waiver of interest on the United States loan can be put into effect, and apparently Canada is once again just tagging along behind the United States. There is no reason why Canada could not act independently. The government could bring in a measure to waive the payment of this interest if it saw fit to do so. Probably there is little doubt that eventually the United States will take such action and then the Canadian government will have to act and will waive the interest under the agreement. Why on earth could not a step of this kind be taken right now without waiting for a lead from Washington? Such action would be the sort of thing that would encourage the United Kingdom. It would encourage not only the government but also the people and it would give some hope to the people of Canada that this government is not pursuing its policy of criticism of the United Kingdom.
The Vancouver Province carried an excellent editorial concerning this very question on December 6 and I am going to quote the final paragraphs because they sum up the situation very clearly:
Twenty-two million extra Canadian dollars in the British treasury would not, by themselves be enough to stave off bankruptcy.
But if Ottawa were to leave them there, by waiving the interest payment off its own hook, without waiting to see what Washington was going to do, there would be other benefits.
One would be a boost for British confidence,- and there is psychology involved in every financial crisis as well as economics.
The Address-Mr. Green
Another would be to set an example to the United States Congress, which is all too likely, in the present mood of American opinion, to be reluctant to do anything for the British, even when it is in the clear interest of the United States.
The editorial concludes:
In fact, why shouldn't Ottawa lead instead of follow?
Other actions that the government could take would be to express openly some concern and a degree of understanding with respect to Britain's difficulties in such places as Cyprus and Aden. The Canadian government failed to do that over the seizure of the Suez last summer, taking the position that what happened in the Suez was none of our business. One direct result is that today about one-fifth of the troops actually in that area are Canadians. Canada was very directly concerned last summer but the government refused to acknowledge it.
Then when the British and French moved into the Suez the blow that hurt the most came from Canada. When I refer to a blow I mean the statements made by government leaders and the actions of Canada in the United Nations and the speech made by the Prime Minister in this house at the emergency session. The Canadian people would have acted very differently, Mr. Speaker, and would have at least withheld judgment. The Canadian people were and they are today entitled to have a stand taken by their government on questions like this, just as on other questions, which reflects their beliefs and their aspirations. This government has been in office for so long and is so arrogant that the ministers think they know best what Canadians should believe.
The ministers pursue their own pet ideas. Let me give an example; the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for External Affairs rushing to side with the Asian members of the commonwealth on the Suez issue. The Canadian people would not have done that, although having the most friendly feelings for these fellow nations of the commonwealth. Had the Canadian people been making the decision at that time they would not have rushed to side with the Asian nations.
Just the other day the Secretary of State for External Affairs again tried to leave the impression that such action had saved the commonwealth. I was rather surprised that he should take that stand again because I think it shows he has a guilty conscience and is trying to justify the actions taken last fall by making the claim that they helped to save the commonwealth. Prime Minister Nehru was here last month and had something
The Address-Mr. Green to say about the suggestion that the commonwealth was in danger of breaking up. I quote from a dispatch of December 5, 1956 as follows:
The commonwealth, Mr. Nehru emphasized, had suffered a severe shock in the Middle East crisis and has survived it.
"This," he said, "did not lead us to think that the commonwealth association was not good enough or should be broken. I never thought so in spite of the grave differences of opinion."
The prime minister of Ceylon was quoted on December 2, 1956 as having said at the United Nations:
Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike of Ceylon, Interviewed at the UN, said he thought Mr. Pearson's commons statement was "rather an exaggeration." He said that there is more than mere sentiment linking the commonwealth countries together, as they were linked by a common way of life, the democratic way.
There has never been any doubt as to where Pakistan stands in the commonwealth. I point out to the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent), his Secretary of State for External Affairs, and other members of the cabinet that these Asian members of the commonwealth would have far more respect for Canada if Canada had taken a stand such as would have been taken by the Canadian people themselves rather than to try to curry favour with the Asian nations by running along with them. So much for that particular subject.
I should like now to say a word about the speech from the throne, more particularly about what we do not find in that speech. It mentions about ten measures which are to be brought in and apparently they are the only ones the government considers to be of importance at this session; at any rate the only ones the government feels must be dealt with by the house this spring. I think all will agree with me when I say that it is a very light legislative program. In the 21 years I have been here I do not remember any program which was as light as the one we now have before us. It is evident that the government is coasting instead of endeavouring to deal with difficult problems.
This would seem to be another sign of their arrogance. It shows the low value they place on parliament. It shows that the ministers believe they are the masters of the Canadian people rather than their servants. As an example, I would mention four prob [DOT] lems which should be dealt with.
In the first place, a policy should be adopted and legislation brought down to enable the government to co-operate with the provinces in the development of power and other resources which might be considered as self-liquidating projects. This
could be described as a joint investment program. One example is the development of power on the Saint John river. For a long time New Brunswick has been suggesting to the dominion government that it should back the provincial bonds or give similar financial support in order that this project might proceed on a large scale rather than the small scale which has been undertaken by the province alone.
The Saint John river is an international river, as is the Columbia. The Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Lesage) will be expecting me to refer to the Columbia later on. Two years ago the government took a licensing control over international rivers and I believe it has some responsibility for helping to bring about development on these rivers.
The Gordon commission report contains a recommendation along these lines. I am not going to read the extract in full, but it commences at the foot of page 103 and is to be found in the section dealing with the Atlantic provinces. The commission point out that there are a number of problems which require substantial capital expenditures, and the report continues.
These include the provision of additional power resources in New Brunswick and the various suggestions for improving transportation facilities which have been referred to previously. In part at least, some of these might be self-liquidating.
Mr. Gordon and his fellow commissioners go on to say:
. . . the desirability of granting some measure of capital assistance towards the construction of public projects, including improved transportation facilities, in the Atlantic provinces is apparent. Specifically it is suggested that the federal government should agree to contribute a fixed sum per annum for capital assistance for a term of years, on the understanding that the initiative in the actual allocation of these funds, including the determination of priorities should come from the Atlantic provinces themselves. Under this proposal, some kind of joint capital projects commission would be established with an appropriate staff.
There are plans for large developments on the Columbia river in British Columbia and, as the minister knows, the ultimate cost of these undertakings will be about $1,000 million. The main development consisting of a dam and power plant at Mica Creek could be commenced if it were known just how that work is to be done.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY