May 19, 1961

PC
PC

Jacques Flynn (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

The Chairman:

The hon. member for

Chambly-Rouville has raised a point of order.

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PC

Paul Léo Maurice Johnson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Johnson:

Yes, Mr. Chairman. The hon. member for Laurier is making all kinds of statements-if the hon. member would kindly resume his seat, I would continue. He is making all kinds of statements, but he did not refer to the exact text; I said, and I repeat it here:

Why has he not seen to it then that the authorities of the St. Lawrence seaway consider the problem of the Richelieu waterway, while it was time, that everything was organized to make a full study of it, and especially economic studies?

He was a minister at that time, and he had the right to insert such a provision in the act, but not to restrict the powers of the St. Lawrence seaway authority. Let him set the facts straight, then. Let him put the question as it should be and he will be able to provide an answer. He has no right to accuse me of being unfair and ignorant.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Mr. Chairman, I shall answer the question of the hon. member who is asking me why I did not have the matter of deepening the Richelieu looked into in my capacity as chairman of the St. Lawrence

seaway authority. It is because the authority was not empowered to do so; under the boundary waters commission's report, this project was not to be considered before completion of the St. Lawrence seaway. Now, the seaway was completed late in 1958 or early in 1959, and since that time, a Conservative government has been in power. It is up to the present government to study the project.

I do not hesitate, therefore, to tell the hon. member for Chambly-Rouville, who is a lawyer, that either he does not understand the law and the responsibilities provided under it, or that he is being unfair. It is either one or the other.

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PC

Paul Léo Maurice Johnson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Johnson:

I have passed real law examinations, not mere prestige ones.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Moreover, Mr. Chairman, he asked several times who claims that this project is not feasible?

Well, if he takes that stand, I am convinced that the voters of his riding are going to wonder if he is really in favour of the Richelieu waterway or not. After all, when one wonders if a project is feasible, it shows that one doubts whether the project is even practicable. That is obvious. Another thing is that we, on this side of the house, have only asked for an engineering board to study the economic aspect of the project. That is all we have asked for.

Why is it that in the United States a similar agency is already operating? Why is it that the U.S. Corps of Engineers has already undertaken its investigations and, I am told- but I may be wrong here-that this same corps has made certain studies in Canada?

If I am correctly informed and the person from whom I got this information is a responsible engineer, why is it that Canada is not putting aside a few thousand dollars, let us say $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000 in order that the project may be investigated?

It is not by assigning this task to officials of the transport department that we will get satisfactory findings. Not because these officials are not qualified engineers, but because they are overloaded with work in the department.

This matter is of the utmost importance for the people in the area and it is therefore essential that it be studied as would, I hope, the deepening of the Ottawa river. To establish whether a project will be profitable, one must study it, a technical committee must be instituted. One can-

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?

Some hon. Members:

You could have done it.

Supply-Transport

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

You can hear them say, Mr. Chairman: You could have done it.

I have just given the reasons why we did not do so, the act was the obstacle.

Do you think, Mr. Chairman, that this will stop the member for Chambly-Rouville or the member for Joliette-l'Assomption-Mont-calm who is now behind me from uttering the same stupidities. Not at all. In spite of the law, they will continue to repeat in this house and outside that we' should have done it when we were in power. It just shows the stuff they are made of.

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Some hon. Members:

Quite true.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Mr. Chairman, we could not do it under the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority Act. Moreover, we could not do it because of the decision of the boundary waters commission. It is obvious that those people lack good faith; otherwise, why do they not set up the engineering commission so that the question may be looked into and we may know whether the project is economically feasible, to what depth the river should be dredged and what traffic volume would be required?

Then, do not, by your speeches and cheap politics, impede the development of a project which means so much to the province of Quebec.

(Text):

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PC

Robert Hardy Small

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Small:

The hon. member made reference to Mackenzie and Mann, but I should suggest to him that it was not the Borden government which started the railway. That was something which originated under the Laurier government. I am not suggesting he did not bail the railway out in respect of the $10 million, but it is something he inherited.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

The Canadian Great Northern Railway was not begun during the regime of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

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PC
LIB
PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell:

There were guarantees and more guarantees provided. I do not want the impression left unchallenged that the Borden government plunged into a whole new railways system. It was the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific that loaded us up with additional railway construction. I did not attempt to blame this on one government. I said it had been done by both sides. However, hon. members opposite have tried to

Supply-Transport

suggest that the Borden government was responsible for all this; they are either misrepresenting the situation or do not know what they are talking about.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I understand the hon. member for Greenwood has some knowledge of this question regarding the $10 million.

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PC
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Perhaps the hon. gentleman would tell us exactly what the position was, because that happened before I entered the House of Commons and, if I am wrong in the statement I made earlier, I should like him to correct me.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell:

I am trying to correct the suggestion that nothing was done before 1911 by the government to stimulate the railway building that occurred at that time. That is a wrong suggestion.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Mr. Chairman, on a question of privilege; I did not suggest that at all. I wrote down what I said and I shall repeat it. There can be no doubt about what I said. It was only a very short sentence. I said we were determined, in the former administration, to prevent a situation arising in air lines such as arose under the Borden government, with the railways, when too many transcontinental lines were built and none of them could pay. Then I went on to say that Mr. Borden had to bail out Mackenzie and Mann for $10 million, which was a great deal of money in those days and I added that perhaps the hon. member for Greenwood could tell us something about this.

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May 19, 1961