May 24, 1960

RAILWAYS, CANALS AND TELEGRAPH LINES


Seventh report of standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines-Mr. Fraser.


COLUMBIA RIVER

REPORTED REFUSAL OF MINISTER TO DISCUSS FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS


On the orders of the day:


LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

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

I should like to ask the Minister of Finance whether he would care to comment on the reported statement of the premier of British Columbia that while in Vancouver recently he, the minister, had been invited to discuss federal-provincial financial arrangements for the Columbia river project and had not replied to the invitation which, no doubt out of respect for my hon. friend's favourite procedure, was sent to him by telegram.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   REPORTED REFUSAL OF MINISTER TO DISCUSS FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Donald M. Fleming (Minister of Finance):

If that is the report in the press it is not a completely correct report of what happened. I was in Vancouver last week on the Sunday and Monday. I had previously addressed a letter to the premier of British Columbia suggesting that it might be advisable for representatives of the department of the provincial treasurer of that province and of the federal Department of Finance to meet at a mutually convenient time to discuss any questions related to the financing of the Columbia river development that might be appropriate.

I was on a quite tight schedule on that trip west. I was due to leave Vancouver early on Tuesday morning. At a very late hour on Monday night-indeed, just when I was in the act of packing in preparation to leave Vancouver-I received a telegram from the premier suggesting that I should go on to Victoria. It was quite impossible, of course, to do so at that time, as I was due to speak in Winnipeg the following day. I proceeded to Winnipeg, fulfilled my engagement there and returned to Ottawa on Wednesday morning. On my return on Wednesday I addressed 79951-0-263J

a letter to the premier explaining the circumstances and why it was quite impossible, under the circumstances, for me to accept his invitation at that time, but suggesting that when he returned from his trip to the United Kingdom, on which he was to leave at the end of last week, I would be happy to arrange for such a meeting at a time that would be convenient to him.

I do not of my own knowledge know this, but I am told that having dispatched this telegram to me on Monday-apparently late on Monday-he went to the radio or made a radio statement within a day or so complaining that he had not received any reply to his telegram and that I had not gone to Victoria. Under the circumstances, if he made any such statement, it was obviously entirely premature. I think it would have been the part of fair play to wait until adequate time had elapsed for a response to reach him.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   REPORTED REFUSAL OF MINISTER TO DISCUSS FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

May I thank the minister for his reply and tell him I quite understand the difficulties of a tight schedule. Does he care to comment on the further statement made by the premier, namely that the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Green) had already informed the government of British Columbia some time ago that the federal government would pay 50 per cent of the cost of this project but that, in the reported words of the premier of British Columbia, they have been running away ever since from that?

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   REPORTED REFUSAL OF MINISTER TO DISCUSS FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinton):

To my knowledge, Mr. Speaker, my colleague the Secretary of State for External Affairs has not made any such statement to the government of British Columbia. There has been no running away from anything. It is not the practice of this government to run away from its positions, its statements or its responsibilities. I think this matter would be much better advanced, Mr. Speaker, to the mutual advantage of British Columbia and the rest of Canada if an effort were made to arrive at understandings of the positions of the two governments without rushing into radio or press reports, as apparently has been done in the quarter referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, and trying to make some political statement.

The fact of the matter is that there has been an exchange of correspondence on this subject with the premier of British Columbia. We have been quite clear in the statements

Inquiries of the Ministry we have made to him. The matter of the development and the sharing of cost has been discussed at the several conferences that have been held between representatives of the federal government and representatives of the government of British Columbia. At this very time a meeting is in progress at Washington at which both governments are represented in discussions with representatives of the United States administration on this entire problem.

Under these circumstances, Mr. Speaker, I think it is not inappropriate for me to say that there have been ample opportunities for discussion of this subject and that all the opportunities that are required will be afforded. There will be no running away from any responsibility on the part of the federal government. We simply ask that all those concerned approach this matter in the same understanding and co-operative attitude.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   REPORTED REFUSAL OF MINISTER TO DISCUSS FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. H. W. Herridge (Kootenay West):

supplementary question. May I ask the Minister of Finance that the government not run away from their responsibilities to protect the residents of the Arrow lakes.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   REPORTED REFUSAL OF MINISTER TO DISCUSS FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinton):

Mr. Speaker, the interests of the residents of the Arrow lakes area have been given due consideration at all times by the representatives of the federal government in the discussions which have been carried on.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   REPORTED REFUSAL OF MINISTER TO DISCUSS FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Erhart Regier (Burnaby-Coquillam):

Might I ask another supplementary question. I noticed that the premier of British Columbia passed within a few hundred miles of Ottawa the day before yesterday. Did Premier Bennett at that time make any effort to see the minister?

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   REPORTED REFUSAL OF MINISTER TO DISCUSS FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinton):

No. I have received no communication from Premier Bennett since Monday night, May 16, when I received a telegram at a very late hour, as I have said, as I was packing to leave for Winnipeg. I have had no communication from him since. He did indicate in that telegraphic message to me that he was leaving for England at the end of the week and would be gone for some time.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   REPORTED REFUSAL OF MINISTER TO DISCUSS FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Hon. J. W. Pickersgill (Bonavista-Twillin-gate):

May I ask a further supplementary question. Is this an example of those more harmonious relations which this government has established with the provinces?

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   REPORTED REFUSAL OF MINISTER TO DISCUSS FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinton):

Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   REPORTED REFUSAL OF MINISTER TO DISCUSS FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

If I may intervene, I suggest that the question is not an appropriate one to ask; it is an argumentative one, not one seeking information.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   REPORTED REFUSAL OF MINISTER TO DISCUSS FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
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AGRICULTURE

DEFICIENCY PAYMENTS


On the orders of the day:


LIB

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

Liberal

Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Laurier):

May I

direct a question to the Minister of Agriculture. In view of the denials by some leaders of farm organizations, does the minister wish to modify his statement made in the house last week that the federal cabinet had not received any alternative proposals to deficiency payments from farm groups?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   DEFICIENCY PAYMENTS
Sub-subtopic:   RESPECTING ALTERNATIVE PROPOSALS
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May 24, 1960