August 14, 1958

HOUSE OF COMMONS DEBATES

OFFICIAL REPORT


Thursday, August 14, 1958


COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE


Eleventh and twelfth reports of standing committee on miscellaneous private bills.- Mr. McCleave. Ninth report of the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines.-Mr. Fraser.


ATOMIC ENERGY

STATEMENT ON UN REPORT ON EFFECTS OF RADIATION

PC

Jay Waldo Monteith (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. J. W. Monteilh (Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Mr. Speaker, further to the statement made by the Prime Minister in the house yesterday, I should like to make a few comments on the report of the United Nations scientific committee on the effects of atomic radiation which, as you know, was made public last Sunday. This report is of the greatest concern to me as Minister of National Health and Welfare, dealing as it does with matters of importance to the health of the people of Canada.

A great deal of interest has already been expressed in some of the conclusions of the report, and I should like to read one paragraph in particular of the general conclusions:

The exposure of mankind to ionizing radiation at present arises mainly from natural sources, from medical and industrial procedures, and from environmental contamination due to nuclear explosions. The industrial, research and medical applications expose only part of the population while natural sources and environmental sources expose the whole population. The artificial sources to which man is exposed during his work in industry and in scientific research are of value in science and technology. Their use is controllable, and exposures can be reduced by perfecting protection and safety techniques. All applications of X-rays and radioactive isotopes used in medicine for diagnostic purposes and for radiation therapy are for the benefit of mankind and can be controlled. Radioactive contamination of the environment resulting from explosions of nuclear weapons constitutes a growing increment to world-wide radiation levels. This involves new and largely unknown hazards to present and future populations: these hazards, by their very nature, are beyond the control of the exposed persons. The committee concludes that all steps designed to minimize irradiation of human populations will act to the benefit of human health. Such steps include the avoidance of unnecessary exposure resulting from medical, industrial and other procedures for peaceful uses on the one hand and the cessation of contamination of the environment by explosion of 57071-3-222

nuclear weapons on the other. The committee is aware that considerations involving effective control of all these sources of radiation involve national and international decisions which lie outside the scope of its work.

These conclusions were based on scientific information obtained from world-wide sources and Canada, as a member of the 15-nation committee, subscribed to the report as a whole. Technical information available to the government does not lead it to dissent from the above conclusions.

The report observes that present information about radiation levels and effects is inadequate for an accurate evaluation of all hazards. Notwithstanding this great uncertainty it is evident that hazards to health cannot be dismissed. On the other hand, in the determination of government policy concerning the use of radiation sources for various purposes, it is proper that the health hazard should be considered in the light of all other pertinent factors.

The United Nations committee has pointed out that industrial, research and medical uses of radiation are controllable by means of appropriate protection and safety techniques. My department has been active in radiation protection since 1949, when a section that is now known as the radiation protection division was set up. This division provides technical advice on the health and safety aspects of the industrial, research and medical uses of radioisotopes and X-rays. In this regard it works closely with the atomic energy control board and other agencies concerned with this matter.

For a number of years the division has also carried out measurements and studies concerned with the possible effects on health of environmental radiation exposures. Further programs of measurements and biological studies are planned with the aim of providing answers to some of the major gaps in our knowledge concerning the biological effects of radiation.

The importance of scientific research and the collection of information on the effects of radiation have been clearly pointed out by the United Nations scientific committee. With particular reference to this subject the committee, on the basis of scientific experience, "confidently expects that continuing research on an increasing Scale will furnish the knowledge urgently needed to master those risks which we know to be associated with

Effects of Atomic Radiation the development and scope of the uses of nuclear energy for the welfare of mankind."

I can assure hon. members that this government will continue to emphasize and support a progressive program of radiation protection in Canada.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON UN REPORT ON EFFECTS OF RADIATION
Sub-subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF TESTS
Permalink
LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Leader of Ihe Opposition):

The minister's report on this matter, based upon the report of the United Nations scientific committee, emphasizes its vital importance. The United Nations report points out what we are sometimes prone to forget that sources of radiation danger can lie in civilian activities as well as in the explosion of nuclear weapons. While perhaps these non-military activities are dangerous and do not easily lend themselves to international control, or in some cases to national control, nevertheless we can certainly do something on an international basis about the danger from nuclear explosions, as was pointed out by the Prime Minister yesterday.

The report of the minister also emphasized once again the necessity of putting an end to tests of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. While the Prime Minister quite rightly said yesterday that there should be developed international machinery for the enforcement of such a ban and the detection of violations, and while the conference now proceeding at Geneva has apparently shown that such an end could be achieved without too much difficulty by means of international agreement, nevertheless if we cannot get an international agreement of that kind, and if this conference at Geneva also shows-as has been indicated by experts in the United States and other countries-that no country could violate a ban of this kind without that violation being detected by national mechanisms in other countries, then bearing in mind that with all these implications a violation could not take place without detection, we should perhaps give consideration to the banning of tests of this kind at least for a period of time even if we do not have a system of international inspection.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON UN REPORT ON EFFECTS OF RADIATION
Sub-subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF TESTS
Permalink
CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Hazen Argue (Assiniboia):

I think the comprehensive statement of the Minister of National Health and Welfare points up very vividly and very accurately the great danger to the world of a continuing build-up of atomic radiation. While most of us think of atomic explosions and the danger they constitute as something in the nature of a sudden calamity for the people of the world, nevertheless such a calamity might be just as serious if it results from a continued buildup of atomic radiation.

(Mr. Monteith (Perth).]

The Prime Minister said yesterday that the U.S.S.R. had announced it was ending its series of atomic tests. This announcement followed a large number of such tests made within the U.S.S.R. and therefore, the Prime Minister said, this is a very convenient time for the U.S.S.R. to end its own tests. This is no doubt correct and is one of the major reasons why the U.S.S.R. has decided to cease tests at this time. Even assuming that to be the fact, which no doubt is the case, it would seem to me that the western world could now take a forward step by a real act of faith, namely announcing that the west, too, will cease nuclear tests in the hope that this would mean a permanent end to nuclear explosions.

I think the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition was very significant, and I hope it will be taken up by Canada at the United Nations and elsewhere. We in the C.C.F. say to the Leader of the Opposition: we welcome the support you are now giving to the stand which the C.C.F. has taken for some considerable time, that nuclear tests should be ended forthwith.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON UN REPORT ON EFFECTS OF RADIATION
Sub-subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF TESTS
Permalink

VETERANS INSURANCE ACT

AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AMOUNT PAID TO BENEFICIARY AS ANNUITY, REMOVE RESTRICTIONS, ETC.

PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. A. J. Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs) moved

that the house go into committee at the next sitting to consider the following resolution, which has been recommended to the house by His Excellency:

That it is expedient, in the proposed measure to amend the Veterans Insurance Act, Bill C-34, now before the house, that clause 1 be deleted and that the following be substituted therefor:

1. (1) Paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) of section 3 of the Veterans Insurance Act are repealed and the following substituted therefor:

"(a) with a veteran, at any time on or before the 30th day of September, 1962; or

(b) with any of the following persons, at any time on or before the 30th day of September, 1962,

(i) the widow or widower of a veteran, if the minister has not entered into a contract of insurance with the veteran,

(ii) the widow or widower of a person who died on service during the war,

(iii) a member of the regular forces who has not been released from such forces and who was engaged in service during the war,

(iv) a merchant seaman who received or was eligible to receive a bonus pursuant to the merchant seamen special bonus order, or a seaman who received or was eligible to receive a war service bonus pursuant to the merchant seamen war service bonus order, 1944,

and

(v) any other person who is, under the Pension Act, in receipt of a disability pension relating to the war."

Topic:   VETERANS INSURANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AMOUNT PAID TO BENEFICIARY AS ANNUITY, REMOVE RESTRICTIONS, ETC.
Permalink

Motion agreed to.


BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

NOTICE OF PROPOSED LEGISLATION IN "VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS"


On the orders of the day:


LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Laurier):

Mr. Speaker, may I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Again I note in today's Votes and Proceedings notice of a measure appearing in the name of the Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys which I do not think was mentioned by the Prime Minister when we discussed these things in the house some time ago. In replying to me the other day he said he had made one omission. This appears to be a second omission. May I ask if this is now all the legislation we will have between now and the end of the session?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   NOTICE OF PROPOSED LEGISLATION IN "VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS"
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I note the remarks of the hon. gentleman. In so far as this amendment to the Maritime Coal Production Assistance Act is concerned, it is absolutely necessary if what was undertaken earlier and brought to the attention of the house is to be carried out. It is one of those things which will not bring about a measure of controversial debate, as I understand it, and I am sure that the hon. gentleman, representing the official opposition, would be the last to desire that action in this regard should be neglected at this session. I take it that would be his attitude.

With regard to any further legislation, I have referred to the probabilities in connection with some legislation which might be necessary under the agricultural program. I am sure that in this regard, there being no serious controversial issues to be raised, the hon. gentleman, representing the opposition, would be the last to desire to do anything to prevent the introduction of agricultural legislation which would be of benefit to this country, and which must necessarily receive attention at this session if it is to be appropriately applied within the next few months. I share with him the desire of hon. members to have a completion of the program, but when a government is desirous of being of assistance in meeting the needs of Canadians as a whole, matters necessarily arise that have to be brought in at the last moment. I reiterate what I stated the other day, that I am hopeful that the program as set forth is final.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   NOTICE OF PROPOSED LEGISLATION IN "VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS"
Permalink
LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

It is being added to

continually.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   NOTICE OF PROPOSED LEGISLATION IN "VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS"
Permalink

August 14, 1958