What about the Magdalen Islands?
Subtopic: ALBERTA-REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE IN PEACE RIVER DISTRICT
What about the Magdalen Islands?
Well, Mr. Speaker, I could tell my good friend about the Magdalen Islands and he would be surprised at the honesty and intelligence of the people there who, during the election campaign or at any other times, live as a close group, because there are no outsiders and they all know one another. Naturally, since the matter is now sub judice, I cannot refer to it, but, in due course, I should like to reveal some extraordinary things which would make the hon. member blush and also his colleagues in the Rallie-
ment creditiste, who think they can destroy the reputation of honest people. You cannot sling mud and not expect any in return. Beware, because we are keeping our eyes open on this side of the house, especially as regards certain Quebec ridings.
[DOT] (5:30 p.m.)
I decided to speak about ARDA because the hon. member talked about "blueberry patches". The hon. member for Roberval does not like the kind of "blueberry patches" the Quebec provincial government is submitting to the federal government for its approval. In fact, he stated:
Under ARDA $3 million were spent to destroy tens of millions of dollars' worth in forest resources.
Here are the facts, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member for Roberval has been referring to the "blueberry patches" of lake St. John and Roberval county so often now that I feel I want to set the facts in their true light. The planting of "blueberry patches" in the province of Quebec was done under ARDA and, in this matter, the initiative has come from the province. Hon. members have already received, in either French of English, the report of the federal-provincial convention on rural redevelopment for the period 1965-70, and as reported on page 9, this report states:
Unless otherwise specified in this agreement, the province will organize and carry out the approved plans and projects.
It is therefore the province, either the province of Quebec or any other one, which takes the initiative and submits projects for the approval of the federal administration.
Before starting the operation of a blueberry patch, a group of experts, including forestry engineers and agrologists, survey the lands where blueberries can be grown. They determine the condition of the forest, as well as the farming possibilities, and they provide an estimate of the cost for clearing and burning. This preliminary work is made at the request of regional unions of blueberry producers. As for the planning, it is done by members of the union, under the supervision of the staff of the district office, Colonization Branch, Department of Agriculture and Colonization.
When the work is completed, the annual maintenance costs fall entirely on the blueberry producers' unions.
The crown land used for setting up blueberry operations is, in most cases, low yield wood lots which offer very little possibilities
February 2, 1966
from a farming standpoint. Let us take the case of the blueberry farm at St. Augustin, 5142-1, located in the riding of Roberval. The experts of the Department of Agriculture and Colonization-experts from the provincial department-gave the following opinion:
The annual yield from these young lots at maturity range between $8 and $10 per acre, whereas as blueberry farms we can expect for 1966 a crop of at least one thousand pounds of blueberries per acre, that Is an income of approximately $130 per acre.
An income of $8 to $10 is expected from those wood lots as they stand now, but turned into blueberry farms, they can give a return of about $130 per acre. In general, these woodlots bring in only $10 to $20 an acre whereas it is possible, thanks to blueberry growing, to produce a crop which brings in between $90 and $130 per acre. When the crop is good, it can bring each family between $500 and $1,000 per season. Unfortunately, because of unfavourable weather conditions in 1965, the blueberry crop was considerably less this year. On the other hand, the cost of blueberries was much higher.
During the 1962-1965 period ARDA spent $1,163,479 to set up 16 blueberry farms in Quebec. The federal government contributed half that amount. The hon. member says that we spent $3 million, that is almost three times as much as we really did.
During the same period ARDA spent in the county of Roberval, $561,000 or 48 per cent of the amounts earmarked for the development of "blueberry patches" in Quebec. These payments were used for the development of 10,800 acres of land into "blueberry patches," in the county of Roberval.
The hon. member is reproaching us for trying to find a solution in his riding to the very serious problems besetting rural areas. But then, what else can we do? Should we reject projects concerning his riding and submitted by the provincial government, under the pretext that the hon. member for Roberval does not like this type of enterprise, because of his retarded social philosophy? That is the main reason why he refuses to admit that the ARDA projects or the ARDA Act itself have any value. I have reread all his speeches and I do not intend to discuss his harebrained philosophy. What I know is that all the people of the Lake St. John and Chicoutimi areas favour this type of enterprise and ask us to carry on.
We are considering development projects for the area, such as tourist centres, model farms, etc. A series of projects is being planned, not only for the area but for the rest of Quebec and Canada as well.
I find it unthinkable that a member representing an area of the province of Quebec where, as a result of historical events or past situations, there is a group of low income families, I find it unthinkable that a member such as the one for Roberval should discredit in the house legislation which is bound to accomplish something. Obviously, it will not settle all problems-nobody said so, neither I, the member for Qu'Appelle nor other members, but at least it is a worthy endeavour.
The member for Roberval says:
We are still awaiting grants for drainage.
I think he has never read the numerous documents we sent him since 1963.
Had he done so, he would have found that of the $10 or $11 million that the province of Quebec devoted to ARDA in the course of the three first years of the program, 47 per cent of that amount, or $5,600,000, was earmarked for drainage in the province.
How is it that a member whom I consider as serious enough to win an election, is heard in the house uttering ineptitudes and trying to deceive us on a social and economic inquiry on the blueberry patches and on the drainage projects. I could point out another of his statements which is to be found on page 554 of the official report of the House of Commons and which reads as follows:
If those millions had been spent on cold storage plants or potato cellars or secondary farm industries-
Yet, the hon. member is unaware of what goes on in his own constituency and area. Why has he been elected? He does not know that a study is being done presently on the economic feasibility of a project for freezing and storing blueberries in the province of Quebec. He is also unaware that the government of the province of Quebec had a study made of the freezing and storing of blueberries and that it is now due to recommend the approval of a vast project for a cold storage plant.
Mr. Speaker, I am sorry if I had to rise this afternoon not to speak about the whole of ARDA, of its plans, of its achievements, of what has been done and what remains to be done, but to reply to a member who has
February 2, 1966
systematically criticized ARDA and its operation in a partisan and unacceptable manner because he is ignorant of the act and of the facts-
[DOT] (5:40 p.m.)
May I say before closing, that of all the provinces of Canada for the period ending March 31, 1965, that is the first three years of ARDA, the province of Quebec shared the most in the ARDA programs and projects. The federal government has spent $11,859,000 for 179 projects. Next to Quebec comes the province of Saskatchewan which spent nearly $7 million.
Besides, ARDA is one of the measures which the Quebec provincial government wanted to support, as well as all the other provincial governments, during a federal-provincial conference which took place in Montreal in November 1964.
The Quebec government, as well as those of the other provincial governments, have made firm commitments for the next five years.
That is why, when the ARDA agreement I mentioned earlier was signed last year, I announced that the federal government had decided to spend $25 million a year, for five years, that is $125 million, to which the provincial governments could add an equal amount. Moreover, we put a resolution on Votes and Proceedings indicating that we proposed to ask the house that a fund of $50 million to be set up toward the social and economic development of special rural areas. This means that, with respect to the fight against poverty in rural areas, the federal and provincial governments could spend at least $300 million to help some 500,000 families, that is two million people who are living in a state of poverty we must not tolerate. That represents approximately 42 per cent of the rural population, which depends on agriculture or other means for a living. The government of Canada, the Canadian parliament particularly, are aware of the fact that every possible effort must be made to eradicate poverty from rural areas.
I should like the hon. members who belong to the same party as the hon. member for Roberval to support us in our war against poverty, to make recommendations on ways and means of improving the administration of this act or to offer positive criticism.
We do not claim that, out of the thousand projects we have realized or are about to realize since the inception of ARDA, we have made no errors.
Of course we have made mistakes, but we think that, on the whole, we are on the right course. ARDA is one of the legislative measures which can best fight poverty in rural areas, because the provincial and the federal governments want to do something and the people of Canada in general are ready to support considerable efforts to eliminate poverty in rural areas.
Hon. Martial Asselin (Charlevoix):
Mr. Speaker, would the minister answer a question?
Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I know that the Department of Forestry, in co-operation with the province of Quebec, has instituted several projects in the region of Quebec, especially on the south shore.
Has the minister considered also setting up a pilot project for rural communities in the area of Charlevoix which is constantly waging war against poverty?
Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member for Charlevoix knows that it is up to the province of Quebec and other provinces to submit to federal authorities projects or programs of rehabilitation for a given area.
We cannot, on our own initiative, tell a province that it should do this or that.
There are frequent meetings at technical and ministerial levels concerning ARDA and its application. Relationships are excellent. But the provinces must make the first move, for the kind of suggestions you have in mind.
Mr. P. V. Noble (Grey North):
Mr. Speaker, the matter of highway safety deserves immediate attention. The federal government has failed to take the necessary steps to fulfil its obligations in fighting public enemy number one, the constantly increasing death toll on our highways. We are all aware of the appalling increase in highway accidents but it would seem these are being treated in some quarters as a course of events that should be expected. Something must be done and there should be no delay.
In my opinion, help and assistance would be readily available if this government would
February 2, 1966
take the initiative and launch an all-out crusade to face up to this monster once and for all. They should pull out all stops, make the breathalizer test mandatory and increase the grant to the Canadian Highway Safety Council. A conference should also be called with provincial representatives, automobile manufacturer representatives and, in fact, representatives from all organizations willing to get together in a drive to bring about improvement in the situation.
Responsibility in highway safety has been ignored too long by all governments. Our laws and regulations have not kept pace with the times. Uniformity of laws and regulations, as well as of penalties, should apply to all provinces. Traffic signs and driver testing or any other feature having to do with our highways or driving on them should be the same.
Periodical vehicle inspection should be compulsory. Signboards, radio and television should be in constant use in an effort to keep all our people alert and aware of the need for extreme caution on our streets and highways. No doubt if the people I have suggested were brought together to set up a framework or a pattern for greater highway safety, many worthwhile ideas would be brought to light.
Automobile manufacturers have shown favourable response to highway safety through their willingness to supply cars for student training and supply them in abundance. Their designers are constantly investigating safety features and quite a number have been included in car equipment with satisfactory results. Perhaps the automobile people could be persuaded to go quite a lot further by way of extensive research on some of the recently suggested safety devices.
I suggest that in the not too distant future legislation will necessarily be passed to make anti-smog equipment a requirement. There is no way of assessing the injury being inflicted on us by carbon monoxide. However, we do know that any element that causes irritation in the lungs is a potential contributor to lung cancer. We know too that carbon monoxide is deadly when confined and may even be the cause of some highway accidents.
I take this opportunity to compliment the Canadian Highway Safety Council for their excellent effort over the years which has not been in vain but has been terribly handicapped by the lack of funds. The people who have kept the Highway Safety Council alive and active are all voluntary workers. Most of these people hold other quite responsible
positions in the business world so that work on the council is extra responsibility. Moral and financial support should be spontaneous and adequate. Instead, we find the council has run into frustrations in fund raising. Take this government, for example. The council has been unable to promote an increase of its grant from $25,000 per year for all types of safety, a problem that involved the death of
5.000 Canadians last year on highways alone.
By comparison, lung cancer killed less than
3.000 Canadians in 1964; yet this government spent almost $250,000 on an anti-smoking campaign. The council receives three times more support from industry than from the government. The casualty insurance industry, through the All Canada Insurance Federation, in support of one project alone, driver education, provides more funds than does the government of this nation. Another department of this government spent almost $100,000 for the production of a film on ballet dancing. There is no suggestion that these things are not worth while but it is abundantly clear, Mr. Speaker, that the grant to the Highway Safety Council is far out of perspective in comparison.
I mentioned before that 5,000 people were killed last year on the highways, and in addition 160,000 people were injured, many permanently. The net economic traffic accident loss to Canadians last year was approximately $4 billion.
I am most anxious, Mr. Speaker, to see the government give every aspect of this problem their very serious consideration. I feel they are duty bound to take immediate action. The people of this country are anxiously waiting an aggressive move and it must come from the top. As an illustration may I relate an experience I had last session. I asked two questions on motor vehicle safety. One was put on the order paper and the other on orders of the day. It so happened both were answered in Hansard on June 16. The one put on the order paper was as follows:
Has the government given consideration to introducing legislation making it compulsory to equip automobiles being sold in Canada with all safety devices currently proven practical and efficient?
The answer was given by the Minister of Industry (Mr. Drury), who said:
It should be emphasized that the provincial governments have the responsibility of drafting and enforcing regulations pertaining to the operational standards of motor vehicles. A great deal of work has already been undertaken by various groups to determine the areas where improvement in design or vehicle construction could lead to
February 2, 1966
greater safety which would be useful In the preparation of a safety code. It would, of course, be necessary to obtain the agreement of the provinces before a uniform safety code could be established for motor vehicles. The Department of Industry would be happy to co-operate with the provinces in the preparation of such a code.
Now, Mr. Speaker, owing to the tact that the provinces were so prominently mentioned in this answer, I took the liberty of writing each provincial minister having jurisdiction over highway responsibilities in his respective province and asked for his deliberations on the matter in respect of my questions. Of course, I enclosed a copy of Hansard for June 16. Before parliament prorogued I had replies from six provinces indicating their willingness to proceed along any progressive line for more safety on our highways. These replies left no doubt in my mind as to the response that would be forthcoming if the senior government would show the way. In fact, several provinces in recent Throne Speeches have indicated they would make traffic law improvements. The following are excerpts from newspaper reports relating to Throne Speeches. First, from Ontario:
Ontario will almost triple the number of compulsory highway spot checks this year in an effort to reduce the traffic death toll, it was indicated Tuesday in the Throne Speech.
The government promised to operate compulsory motor vehicle inspection at 80 "floating" locations, an increase of 48 from 1965.
Instead of using fixed locations that motorists can easily avoid, mobile lanes for safety checks will be carried in trucks, and the locations changed regularly.
Deputy Transport Minister A. G. MacNab said the accelerated program will provide wide coverage of the province.
"With the motorist not knowing when and where he'll be checked, our hope is that all motorists will keep their cars in better shape," he said.
Then, from British Columbia:
The British Columbia government plans legislation for compulsory testing of motor vehicles and the ruling of impaired drivers off the road.
It also plans a royal commission into automobile insurance.
The speech gave no indication as to how impaired drivers would be dealt with. But it was learned authoritatively that a maximum level of alcohol in the blood would be set by law beyond which a driver would not be permitted to drive and it would be up to the driver to prove his non-intoxication by some sort of test. The type of test was not disclosed.
In May of this year the annual conference of the Canadian Highway Safety Council will be held in Calgary. This would be the logical time for the federal and provincial governments to launch a highway safety crusade which would embrace all interested people
and organizations with a view to making some realistic progress towards greater highway safety. However, it does seem to me that this government must take one major step previous to this meeting. I refer to clearing the deck on the alcoholic problem by an amendment to the Criminal Code making breathalizer tests mandatory.
Statistics bear out the fact that at least 50 per cent of all traffic accidents are caused directly by someone under the influence of alcohol. Many prominent people feel very strongly about this problem and here are some of the thoughts they have expressed as a result of their deliberations. These are the views of Mr. George B. McClellan, Commissioner of the R.C.M.P.:
Where are the civil rights of the family whose breadwinner has been cut down by some drunken sot in a high-powered car? What system exists to provide free legal advice to the widow who may have a legitimate civil claim for damages? Who moves in to rehabilitate her children, find them jobs, give them career guidance, feed them and clothe them? Who, indeed, but cold charity, and local welfare organizations?
But the drunk who drove the car, if convicted, is entitled to all these things when he becomes a ward of the state-
What about the right to insist that driving on our highways should be a reasonably safe pastime and not a competition to stay alive? It should not be necessary to spend every minute you are driving an automobile in endeavouring to outwit the nuts, the fireballs and the drunks who drive on every highway today without the slightest regard to life, regulation, safety or their fellow men.
This is what the Hon. Gordon Taylor has to say. He is the Highways Minister for Alberta, one of the ministers from whom I received a letter.
One drink before driving may soon be against the law, predicts Hon. Gordon Taylor, Alberta highways minister. The problem of drinking drivers is getting so bad it might get to the point where it will become an offence to drink at all and drive.
Under present legislation a drinking driver cannot be convicted unless police can establish impairment. Anti-drink-and-drive legislation will have to get stronger. At a conservative estimate, at least 50 per cent of today's highway accidents are caused because at least one person involved took a drink.
The minister said penalties against impaired drivers in Alberta are now among the highest in Canada.
Here is an opinion from Dr. Morton Shulman, Chief Coroner of Metropolitan Toronto.
More than half the drivers killed in Ontario car accidents between last November and this June had enough alcohol in their blood to be legally impaired, Metro Chief Coroner, Dr. Morton Shulman, said yesterday.
February 2, 196G
Urging that all drivers involved in accidents be given breath tests and that spot checks with breath testing machines be made. Dr. Shulman said only these steps would stop the slaughter on our highways.
Because forcing an individual to take the test might be objectionable to many, he recommended that applicants for a driver's license be required to sign a waiver allowing for tests. Such a system worked successfully in New York and other states, he said. If such a driver subsequently refused to allow a breath test, his license was cancelled.
The need was urgent, he said, because the people being killed were those in the prime of life. Quoting figures to emphasize the problem, Dr. Shulman said alcohol was involved in 50 per cent of all accidents producing fatalities. When one eliminates child pedestrian deaths, the alcohol factor may be as high as 80 per cent.
Dr. Shulman said he was suggesting the liberal use of breath tests in the hope that they would deter drivers from taking to the road after drinking, rather than in the hope more would be caught after doing so.
Chief Justice McRuer expressed himself as follows:
By logic these drinking drivers should not be judged by the results of their condition, but by the condition itself.
And that puts it on the basis that those who are impaired should all be treated severely. If we applied common sense in our society, that's precisely what would be done.
Anyone who drives on the highway in an impaired condition is a great menace to human life.
We wouldn't tolerate a man operating a crane on a construction job while his ability is impaired. He'd be dismissed at once. So would the impaired locomotive engineer on the railroad.
But in the public mind, impaired driving on the highway is a matter to be treated lightly. So that shows how illogical the public mind can be sometimes.
There's too light a value being placed on human life. All the focus in criminal auto accident cases before the courts is on the accused. The person whose life is destroyed is viewed very much as a mere statistic.
All of us are apt to have momentary lapses, to be thoughtless at times, to have our attention distracted. But that's quite different from undertaking to drive a dangerous thing like an automobile while under the influence of liquor, drugs or anything like that.
It is being accepted as a way of life, but I do not think it should be. I can't write the prescription to cure it, but if all segments of the public stirred themselves I think something could be done. The highway toll is not something we have to put up
with. If people obeyed the law accidents would be cut in half because most are due to people disobeying the rules of the road.
The alcohol problem was brought home to me forcibly a little over two weeks ago when within a few miles of my home a family of five people on their way home from church were all killed by a driver who had been drinking. This man received only minor injuries.
It is my hope that the government will not delay in introducing the necessary amendments to the Criminal Code respecting drunk driving. At this time I also bring to the attention of the house the lack of courtesy and indifference displayed by car drivers at the gates of this very building. I refer to the traffic coming off Metcalfe street on to Wellington. When the green light comes on many drivers do not wait for the pedestrians to cross but drive out and dodge through the people crossing the street. A start could be made at our very doors.
Mr. Deputy Speaker:
Mr. Speaker, could I have permission to finish this one page?
Mr. Deputy Speaker:
The hon. member does not have unanimous consent. It being six o'clock it is my duty, pursuant to special order made Friday, January 28 last, to interrupt these proceedings and put forthwith the motion now before the house.
Motion (Mr. Sharp) agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Batten in the chair.
Order. Pursuant to special order made Friday, January 21, 1966, the estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1966, of all departments of government are now deemed to have been first taken up and entered for consideration.
It being three minutes after six o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order.
Thursday, February 3, 1966