Mr. A. M. Nicholson (Mackenzie):
Mr. Speaker, as the constituency of Prince Albert adjoins Mackenzie for about 150 miles I should like to say to my next door neighbour, congratulations on the splendid achievement of June 10. I have known the Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) longer than most members of the house. When I knew him years ago he was a very well known criminal lawyer in Saskatchewan. During the time he has been interested in politics I have seen his party led by Messrs. Bennett, Manion, Hanson, Meighen, Bracken and Drew. The present Prime Minister is the seventh and had he not had long experience as a criminal lawyer I am sure it would not have been possible for him to take the leadership of the Conservative party and become Prime Minister. In my view he has performed a great public service 96698-15i
The Address-Mr. Nicholson in having demonstrated to the Canadian people that they could get rid of a government that had lost touch with the people.
After listening to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. St. Laurent) the other day, it appears as if it has become established now that there is really no fundamental difference between the members on the government side now and the official opposition sitting on this side. We will look forward to establishing the right to become the alternative to the present government when, as the hon. member for Springfield (Mr. Schulz) said, the people will not be prepared to give them 22 years to look after the affairs of the country.
I was interested in the speeches delivered by the mover (Mr. Smith, Calgary South) and the seconder (Mr. Arsenault) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. I cannot recall any other first two speakers in such a debate admitting that Canada had a serious agricultural crisis. They should be commended for facing up to that fact at the very first opportunity. The hon. member for Calgary South comes to parliament with a name that is highly regarded here. During the time I have been here very few members have had as many good friends and as few enemies as his father had, and I am very glad to hear the hon. member speak out boldly at the first opportunity and say, as found at page 21 of Hansard of October 15:
In assessing farm income there appears to be only one real question of debate and that is the question of urgency. I would suggest that if you examine one province, as an example Alberta, you will recognize that this urgency is indeed verv real.
I must congratulate the hon. member for including this reference in his speech. Likewise, the hon. member for Bonaventure in rising for the first time referred to the fact that year after year the percentage of the rural population is declining. He went on to say that their agricultural organizations had hoped to prevent a second dispersal of their Acadian sons but that, alas, the exodus of young farmers and settlers who are forced to go elsewhere to earn a living is on the increase. As found in the English translation of his speech he said.
How many boys and girls of my constituency have scattered all across the country and even across the border! They have not definitely quit their native village for they still hope that better conditions may allow them to come back home.
Therefore I am very glad that at the beginning of the session the first two spokemen for the government have pointed up the fact
Mr. Nicholson that all across Canada we have a serious agricultural crisis. I intend to devote most of my time to discussing this matter but before dealing with it from my particular angle I should like to mention that since the election I have visited some of my Indian friends in my constituency. I have been honoured to represent over 3,000 Indians in the parliament of Canada. I think hon. members should remember that one of the highest honours conferred on the Prime Minister was his election as an honorary chief, and I am hopeful that he will never forget that the Indian people of Canada are looking to him to do something better than has ever been done before.
At Cumberland House, Pelican Narrows, Sandy Bay, Beaver Lake and Deschambault I find that the Indian people are facing new problems as the population increases. As the result of improved health services and family allowances the birthrate is increasing and infant mortality is decreasing. But we have forced the Indians farther and farther back and have made it more difficult for them to make a living. When I visited Pelican Narrows for the first time some years ago there was no school at all. For the first time in Canadian history the federal and the provincial governments reached agreement in connection with providing an education for Indian children, metis and whites and established a one-room school at Pelican Narrows. That school has grown to five rooms.
The principal of the school is a young girl, Stella Easton, who was selected by the superintendent during her last year at teachers' college. After one year in the north she was persuaded to take over the principal-ship of this five-room school. I wish hon. members could appreciate the tremendous responsibility we place on many of these young people. The Pelican Narrows hospital is managed by a young nurse who is employed by the federal department of health. When you consider that there are no doctors within several hundred miles of some of these centres, it becomes apparent that we must accept our responsibility and provide better medical and educational services for our native Indians in these northern communities.
At Cumberland House I met an old college mate of mine, the Rev. Mr. Parker. He married an Indian girl who taught school some years ago and he has given more than 30 of the best years of his life to looking
after the needs of the people at Cumberland House. There is a great contrast between his parishioners and the parishioners of some of the churches that hon. members attend in the city of Ottawa. I appeal, therefore, to the Prime Minister to keep faith with the Indian people of Canada who have conferred such a high honour upon him.
Coming to the problems confronting the majority of the people I represent, the farm people, I should like to tell the members of this house that the situation is even worse than that described by the hon. member for Springfield this afternoon. The conditions in my constituency are worse. As I mentioned previously, the Prime Minister's constituency and mine have a common boundary for about 150 miles. Before coming to Ottawa I visited some 15 rural municipalities and local improvement offices in the constituency to secure first-hand information regarding tax arrears. While these are only figures to many people, I should like, in a few minutes' time, to deal with a few cases which those figures represent.
As I said, there are 14 rural municipalities and one local improvement district. In the last five years the arrears of taxes have gone from $775,421 to $886,755, then to $1,439,612 and then to $1,810,343 and $1,873,957. There is one municipality that is partly in the Prime Minister's constituency and partly in mine, Moose Range. The arrears in that municipality have gone up from $89,526 to $306,205. I am sure the Prime Minister, as well as I, realizes that farmers in those areas have not allowed this situation to develop for fun.
I also visited the larger school unit offices such as Sturgis, Nipawin, Tisdale, Wadena, Canora, Kamsack and Hudson Bay. These school unit offices have owing from taxes $2,149,000 and they are paying on bank loans of $1,223,000. Let us look at the larger unit of Nipawin, which is chiefly in the Prime Minister's constituency but partly in mine. In 1952 the Nipawin school unit had owing from these municipalities $272,000. Last year Nipawin unit had owing $545,000, from the municipality and they are paying interest to the banks on loans which amounted at the end of last year to $226,000.
Hon. members might be interested in knowing that it is necessary to have posted in the elevators a list of farmers who have not been able to meet their taxes. The elevator agents are required to notify the farmers that they will have to make some adjustment for the payment of their taxes before they can have any cash for themselves from the sale of their wheat. You see in
all the elevators in Saskatchewan, and I presume the same thing applies in Manitoba and Alberta, these lists posted when the grain is ready for market.
Let us take as an example local improvement district No. 949 in northern Saskatchewan and I shall cite two examples from the list. I shall not mention any names. Here is a farmer who owes $1,637. This farmer fought to make the world safe for democracy between 1914 and 1918. He settled in northern Saskatchewan on the bushland in that area when they were able to get 160 acres of fine bushland for $10. Then when world war II broke out he still was not too old to do his bit and he spent four years in the second world war. He now owes $1,637. Mr. Speaker, if hon. members could visit the homes of these people and see what they are like they would realize something of what it is like to fight in two wars and then be in a position where your tax arrears have grown to such an extent you are forced to conclude that perhaps you had better walk out.
Here is another veteran. He also fought in world war I and in world war II. He owes $1,138. I saw him a few days before I came away and he said, "I will soon be 60; after fighting in two wars and after trying to build up an equity in a farm, I guess I had better pull out and take to the city or do something else."
Just today I wrote to the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Brooks) about one of these veterans who is in the same position. He thought he could take some temporary work without losing his war veterans allowance. He wanted to do something about those tax arrears. When the Department of Veterans Affairs got word he had taken work at 80 cents an hour they cut off his war veterans allowance. I hope that these regulations can be changed so that a war veteran is not in that position. This particular war veteran was a sergeant with the present Minister of National Defence (Mr. Pearkes). I am sure the Minister of National Defence will agree that the economy of Canada should not place an old veteran in a position where he cannot earn a few dollars to try to bring his taxes under control.
Hon. members who live in big cities like Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver find it difficult to place themselves in the position of these veterans. Before I leave these lists I mentioned, here is someone who is in arrears and who is living in London, Ontario; someone in Edmonton, someone in Brandon and someone in Field, British Columbia. These are farmers who have pulled up stakes and
The Address-Mr. Nicholson
gone elsewhere hoping that conditions will change and they may be able to come back some time and do something about it. Hon. members will find it difficult to believe that the 45,000 people living in Mackenzie now have not a dentist available to them. There was a time when we had five dentists to look after the needs of the population.
The first time I was in the penitentiary, some years ago-
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY