February 27, 1976

PC

Frank Oberle

Progressive Conservative

Mr. F. Oberle (Prince George-Peace River) moved

that Bill C-264, to provide for the establishment of the Alaska-Yukon Highway Authority (Alaska Highway), be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

He said: Madam Speaker, it was an important decision on the part of the House of Commons to allow this bill to come before us in today's private members' hour, which was to be just about the last private members' hour in this session. I am delighted at the fact that even after this most important measure has been referred to committee it will be possible for other private members to bring other matters before the House which are undoubtedly equally important.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

And get the

same treatment.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
PC

Frank Oberle

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Oberle:

This bill is timely for another reason, because recently certain actions have been taken in the United States which have an effect on the subject which we are discussing this afternoon. The government of the United States has passed a bill, signed by the president, which concerns itself with this great and historic road link.

I have just received a report from my most distinguished counterpart in the U.S., Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska, regarding the federal action of the government of the U.S., which I would like to put on the record. It reads as follows:

The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973 ... authorizing reconstruction work on the Alaska and Haines Cutoff Highways, requires that prior to the expenditure of funds by the United States an agreement must be reached between the United States and Canada covering all conditions under which the highway is to be built. During discussions in January of 1975, Canadian officials advised U.S. highway representatives that

[The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Morin).]

Canada could not agree to hold the right-of-way for this highway forever inviolate. This requirement was contained in Public Law 93-87 authorizing the reconstruction project. All other provisions of the agreement were tentatively agreed to by representatives of the Canadian and U.S. governments.

In order to remove this restriction and get the project moving, legislation was introduced on March 19 which would require that Canada provide "all necessary right-of-way". The bill passed the Senate on September 4, was referred to the House and was passed by that body on December 1. On December 12, President Ford signed the legislation into law.

With this restriction removed, hopefully the tentative agreement between the U.S. and Canada can soon be finalized. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) reported that the agreement had been sent to Canada's Public Works Department. The agreement will ultimately come before the Canadian cabinet for its consideration.

FHA reports that the groundwork has been laid for the environmental impact study. Engineering plans for the project are also quite well along. However, until the agreement is finalized no funds can be committed and construction will continue to be delayed.

Why should the U.S. government be concerned about the Alaska highway? Later on in my comments I will touch on that briefly because, after all, it was the U.S. government which built this great road link in the first place.

The section with which the U.S. government is concerned at present is the section which would tie that portion of Alaska, which is known as the panhandle, with the other parts of Alaska. In other words, residents of Fairbanks, Cordoba and Anchorage will be able to travel to Juneau, and in order to do that they will have to travel through the Yukon territory and indeed through portions of British Columbia, through the constituency represented by the hon. member for Skeena (Mrs. Campagnolo). I have great hope that since my colleague, the hon. member for Skeena, is in the House today and, I understand, will be addressing herself to the subject, she will probably allow this bill to go to committee for discussion as I know that she also is extremely interested in achieving the goal which my bill hopes to achieve.

If you will allow me, Madam Speaker, I would like to give a brief history of the Alaska highway. The construction of the Alaska highway had been proposed for many years before the outbreak of World War II. However, it was not until the Japanese occupied some of the Aleutian Islands and threatened the air ferry supply to Russia that a highway was actively considered.

Construction of a pioneer road by engineer troops followed rapidly on the heels of the location crews. Speed was the-first consideration and this road detoured around swamps, gullies, rock knolls and other obstructions, resulting in a very crooked road with many step grades. Many of these crooks and crannies are still in the Alaska highway today.

After August, 1942, efforts were directed to getting the pioneer trail converted to a passable road at the earliest possible moment. This road disregarded the public roads administration procedures, where design alignment and grade would delay completion, and followed the path of least resistance. In March, 1943, instructions were issued to complete the work at the minimum possible cost and standards were reduced still further. Road construction ceased in October, 1943, but bridge construction continued until 1944. The resulting highway, while passable and providing a good gravel driving surface, had geometries of a varying but generally poor standard.

February 27, 1976

After the responsibility for the highway was transferred from the United States army to the Royal Canadian Engineers, the terms of reference under which they operated did not permit major road relocations. Temporary bridges were replaced by permanent structures at many locations and some exceptionally hazardous areas were reconstructed, but the alignment of the highway is essentially that of 1943.

In 1959-1961 the highway was paved to RAU 50 standard from mile zero to 84. This standard provided two 12-foot traffic lanes and 5-foot shoulders. The British Columbia department of highways has been responsible for the maintenance of the paved section since 1962. The other portions of the highway are still a responsibility of the Department of Public Works and they are having their difficulties with the contractors who have to maintain this road. Certain other commitments have also been made to reconstruct certain sections, particularly in the lower end of the highway.

Over the years the government has studied the possibility of doing major work on the highway and upgrading it to a national highway standard. A report was commissioned. In 1966 the Stanford report was prepared for the government. It recommended that any further action in respect of the highway be shelved for at least ten years. It is now 1976 and that ten year period has expired. That again is the reason why the bill before us is timely.

It was also recommended to the government that it should not be concerned about the development of our northland and the development of our resources since the highway is an outdated mode of transportation for the movement of goods and people today, when we have jet airplanes and other more up to date modes of transportation. The report said that the highway is old fashioned. I wonder who the consultants were who worked on that report. I am sure they must have been those consultants to whom we pay one billion a year.

I am not in conflict with that statement made in the report, particularly when one considers only the need to find, extract and exploit our natural resources, and does not consider the human factor, the people who live there, our first citizens and early settlers, and does not consider that even in that region, with all the modern facilities of transportation, people would be required to develop and to populate that area.

Let us look at the highway of today. It is a road link. Mile zero is at Dawson Creek, and it goes all the way through the great territory of the Yukon and into Alaska. There are stretches of 200 to 300 miles where there are no facilities of any kind. No one ever planned or considered that there would have to be service stations to help people in distress or to supply such amenities as gasoline, tire and vehicle repairs.

No one has ever considered that accidents can happen when people travel, particularly with the climatic conditions which exist in that part of our great country. No one has ever considered that we might have to evacuate injured people involved in accidents, and there is no provision for aircraft to land to evacuate people, or for first aid posts. There are no provisions to help people who travel

Alaska Highway

this highway to meet with the natives who have lived there all their lives. No provisions were made for rest stops, parks, tourist amenities or anything else.

My bill proposes to establish an authority which would consider all these things, not only on the Alaska highway but also along all the other roads which are planned in the north as we are opening up this great northern hinterland. The hon. member for Skeena will understand very well what I am talking about because just a year ago the first vehicle went through yet another great north-south connection on the Stewart Cassiar highway, and there are no facilities for anyone travelling that road. It seems just to be an access to exploit the natural resources and the people who have pioneered and lived there and carved out an existence for generations.

I am also concerned about industries already located in northern British Columbia and the Yukon territory as well as the plight of these industries through not having a proper means of transportation for the shipment of their products and for the maintenance of the work force in their plants. All the resources of the great region of the Yukon must be shipped, or are presently being shipped, by our outmoded transportation system to a port linked to Alaska, and they end up in ports strange to our land. I am very excited about the plans announced for the northern part of British Columbia with respect to the transportation network, and I am hopeful that the government will seriously consider helping industries located in northern British Columbia and the Yukon territory by providing proper transportation facilities.

As hon. members know, the government has never been too excited about doing anything about regional economic expansion in the province of British Columbia. The reason for that has been, unlike other parts of the country, that industry in British Columbia has never asked for any help.

However, it is entitled to expect from provincial, federal and municipal governments that access is provided to the areas in which industry locates, that the infrastructure is considered by these governments, and that a quality of life is established in these northern areas which is in some ways comparable to the quality of life which other Canadians enjoy. That means many things. That means that we will have to look seriously at not just transportation facilities but also the establishment of proper towns, however small they may be.

We must provide communications systems which are much different from the ones which are being extended into these areas now. We have to make it possible for people in those areas to have access to the electronic media. Of course in many of those areas that is not possible today. We must be able to provide them with the communication facilities, telephone and radio facilities which people in other parts of the country enjoy.

I am encouraged by the plans of British Columbia railways. The line has now been extended to Fort Nelson and is enjoying the harvest of that area. It is a paying proposition. Also, the BCR has extended, or is in the process of extending, the rail link to Dease Lake, again in the constituency of Skeena, driving into the resource areas. The great mineral reserves and the great wood fibre reserves in these areas are being opened up, and nobody is giving

21419 - 2614

February 27, 1976

Alaska Highway

any consideration as to how the traveller who wishes to go there, whether he is a tourist or a person looking for a livelihood, is to traverse these road links we are constructing.

An ambitious program to extend these lines is planned, and it is hoped that eventually the rail will tie up with some sort of railway in the Yukon and that the resources of the territory will be flowing through British Columbia to the coastal ports or to the eastern industries which are in need of them.

The emphasis on northern development in that region must not be concentrated around the extraction of our resources. Any strategy in respect of the development of that region must be related to the establishment of secondary industries as well. First of all, it must be geared to the development of our renewable resources, our great timber-lands, which so richly endow the region. The type of industry referred to will require people. It is not necessary to elaborate on the importance of the development of these industries or on the importance these industries will have in helping alleviate the unemployment crisis in Canada. Furthermore, an immediate result would be a great increase in tourist traffic, which is an industry of prime importance to that area. Traffic surveys, and many surveys which have been carried out by the Department of Public Works underline this statement.

As hon. members of this House will know, a great number of our neighbours to the south use this road link in travelling to the state of Alaska. This is why the American government has expressed interest in helping us with this project. The people visiting our country who share with us the vastness and the beauty of the area of which I speak take nothing home with them but memories of a unique adventure, and pictures which they might have taken en route. However, they are contributing to the western economy to the extent that the tourist industry in British Columbia ranks second only in importance to the lumber and wood fibre industry. I have lived in that area, and I have been involved with the tourist industry for the last 20 years, so I know a little about the highway in question, as I know about other highways as well.

We are concerned about northern development. It is essential that we develop a transportation policy, and a road strategy which does not yet exist in Canada. It would help if the proposed authority could develop this strategy and a general philosophy concerning northern highway travel. This is what this bill is all about. Many people who live in the north and many leaders there have voiced allegiance to the strategy. Some people living up there will have to take a stand sooner of later. They will have to tell the government soon that there should not be more construction of roads or highways and no more development of resources unless a philosophy is developed to protect the way of life they have valued for so many years.

So far as our native people are concerned, the first wars against them in Canada were fought for roads and railways-for the iron horse that traversed our country. Madam Speaker, I can see another battle shaping up.

I had the privilege this morning of taking part in the meeting when the people of the Northwest Territories met

with the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) and presented a brief on how they would like to see the north developed. They are impatient about the signs they have seen recently, and totally frustrated about the hundred years fumbling by a series of governments that have not addressed themselves to the needs and desires of people in the north.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Albanie Morin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Morin):

Order, please. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member but his time has expired.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Iona Campagnolo (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Liberal

Mrs. Iona Campagnolo (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):

Madam Speaker, this morning we were privileged, the hon. member for Prince George-Peace River (Mr. Oberle), myself and others, to listen to the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada as they presented their land claims to the government of Canada. The tender regard they have for the land they live in is none the less touching for it is the same feeling which we have for our part of our country.

The hon. member and I have the distinction of sharing between us the whole northern half of British Columbia; therefore the principle which he has placed before us today, the bill which would provide for the establishment of an Alaska-Yukon highway authority, is exceptionally important in view of the other aspects that we will be dealing with in connnection with transportation and communication in the northern half of British Columbia, and in the territory as well as the state of Alaska.

It is a rather strange thing that in our part of the world Alaska, part of the United States, seems to us somehow to be closer than the southern part of British Columbia which is, of course, the continguous part of the province we live in. There are often discussions between residents of the Panhandle and residents of our area in regard to road transportation, which are carried on at great length. At times it seems we forget that two countries are talking to each other about the mutual problems of access, information, and communication.

We have in northern British Columbia some magnificent resource bases that we are aware of, and of course we are not the only ones who are aware of them. Over the years we have seen an increasing interest displayed by the mining industry particularly, but also by the forest industry in development in the northern half of British Columbia. Access through this area in part is by the Alaska highway, which the hon. member referred to in his speech. I have travelled that highway many times-in a spirit of non-partisanship of course. I know that the hon. member will recognize that as I travel through what is basically his territory, that he makes up for it when he visits Skeena.

Having travelled this particular road I recognize that it is a vital link between the eastern part of British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, and of course links up with other transportation routes. I know when I have stopped to talk to people in Fort St. John or Fort Nelson their first comment generally is, "When is the Government of Canada going to do something about paving our section of the road?"

I think it would be interesting to state for the record just what the current situation is with regard to the Alaska highway. There have been 25 miles of paving

February 27, 1976

completed in the Whitehorse area, six miles through Watson Lake, and ten miles beyond the present pavement at Mile 83 is under contract. Construction of a major structure, the Mushkwa bridge, is estimated at $2,900,000. This is under way through the bridge replacement program. Under the program of reconstruction of substandard sections, a contract for Mile 206 to Mile 232 is under way. Approval in principle has been received for construction and paving for Mile 93 to Mile 317. This, of course, is subject to some conditions; it will be used as the basis for Department of Transport negotiations of the northern roads program, and as part of the northern roads negotiations an undertaking will be sought whereby the British Columbia government will take over and fully maintain each section of the Alaska highway as it is reconstructed and completed.

This is where the problem lies that the hon. member has exposed for the view of this House today. We are not only dealing with the government of British Columbia, we are dealing with the Yukon Territorial Council, and the Government of Canada; we are dealing with the state of Alaska and the Department of External Affairs which have reference through their contacts with the government of the United States.

When this bill was called today, Madam Speaker, it was rather interesting to see the result. It was given to me as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, but jurisdiction for this highway lies with the Department of Public Works. Naturally that caused some confusion because the Department of Transport also has interest in it. I believe the hon. member has brought forward a matter than can be considered. I think the imaginations of members of this House, not only of government members but all members, should be put to the test of finding ways of improving transportation communications in difficult situations such as this. There is no precedent under the British North America Act for this type of authority which would in essence point out that this is a highway which is essential to the good of Canada. That was not thought of when the British North America Act was drawn up.

We are dealing with a topic that is extremely sensitive. We have proposals for railway expansions that go from Prince George at the moment to Fort St. James, to Dease Lake. This will pass over the southern part of the area we are discussing. Hopefully, after preparations have been made and negotiations carried out on land claims in northwestern British Columbia, it will be possible for the CNR to go forward with their linkage to a place called Suskeena which I am sure many hon. members have never heard of. It is another of the tiny places with which the hon. member for Prince George-Peace River and I are familiar.

I sometimes think if it were not for the Oblate Fathers the hon. member and I would have no place to stop when travelling to visit our constituents. There generally are no hotels, no restaurants, no gas stations and no radio stations. Most parts of the area I am discussing do not have television signals. All of these things pertain to the midnorthern part of Canada which for so many years has somehow been overlooked.

As we met with the Inuit Tapirisat today I was considerably surprised to note that many of the non-Inuit people

Alaska Highway

in the room knew a good deal about what was happening in Pangnirtung or Fort Chimo, and what was going on in the northeastern part of Labrador. The names seems to roll off the tongue very easily, but if I were to say "downtown Telegraph Creek" or Iskut, I am sure people would wonder what on earth I was talking about.

I am discussing a land that is not part of the regional economic expansion textbook in the classic sense. We are not a deprived area; we are an area of the future. In the eastern part of Canada the exploitation of resources has taken its toll and these are now depleted in some cases so the government has put in place its successful DREE program, which has augmented the possibilities of economic enhancement of those areas, but in our area this part of the process has never begun.

The Department of Regional Economic Expansion recently announced that western northlands roads would receive $10 million for roads expansion in the area we are discussing, $5 million to be paid in this fiscal year.

In addition to these railway expansions there are dreams which go beyond present plans, dreams which will link places I mentioned such as Dease Lake with Whitehorse, and eventually Whitehorse with parts of the south so that we can utilize our own ports. Our Port of Prince Rupert is as essential to the people of this area as it is to the city of Prince George or to Edmonton. At the moment the Department of Transport is doing a very extensive review of the Pacific rim access which will make it possible for the people of this country to have a second trans Canada highway.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Iona Campagnolo (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Liberal

Mrs. Campagnolo:

That highway will be Yellowhead 16, which presently goes from Manitoba to the city of Prince Rupert.

I know that the glamour of the Northwest Territories has for long obscured the reality of mid-northern Canada. But we can no longer ignore the mid-north because, fortunately or unfortunately, as the case may be, we are the great storehouse of resources. It is a bank of resources which must not be extracted indiscriminately. Too often in the past they were extracted indiscriminately. The people of the area now insist on their being extracted with the greatest care. Before we can utilize them properly, a massive road and communication system must be built and an infrastructure established for the people.

There was a time in the history of British Columbia when the government of the day approached resource extraction this way: "You go in and take out the resource. If the operation is successful, you build a one-resource town, and ultimately put in the infrastructure, like schools, hospitals, recreational facilities, etc." That was the theory, but often the resource was depleted, the infrastructure did not materialize, and the town disappeared.

Now there is new hope. The people of the north are conscious of their environment. It will be to the everlasting credit of this government that it established the Berger commission. Mr. Justice Berger has done much good work in the north. The people of this country, espe-

February 27, 1976

Alaska Highway

cially the people of the north, insist on having a large say on how resources shall be developed.

Let me tell the House a story which may illustrate my point. When I was a small child and the Japanese threatened to bomb Dutch Harbour in the Aleutians, there was panic in northern British Columbia. The people moved out of their homes and took to the mountains. We were ready for the worst. But, out of that terror something happened which had been thought impossible: within a short time the Alaska highway was built, the highway which everyone said was impossible to build. That shows you what can be accomplished. Madam Speaker, the Alaska highway is built. We must improve it, and improve the network of roads to the north.

Let me tell hon. members a story about the Stewart Cassiar highway, the highway leading to the far north. I often drive on that highway. Once, when I was needed in Ottawa, the hon. member for St. Boniface (Mr. Guay) wondered what had taken me so long to come here. I explained that I had been caught between a mud slide and washout on the highway. Fortunately, I was able to get a small aircraft to land on a lake nearby. I boarded the aircraft and came back to Ottawa in time to please the Whip. That shows the adventure which can befall a member of parliament on that highway. We need small airstrips in the area. We need better tourist amenities along the highway to make it more attractive for tourists. But we are talking not only of tourists. We are talking about the utilization of Canadian ports.

At present it is economical to ship resources through the ports of Anchorage and Juneau. This situation could be altered successfully if there were transport access from the Alaska highway to the east and from the Stewart Cassiar highway to the south as well as a railway. Hopefully, access to a railway will transform the outlook for northern development.

One can say much about the area, much about its possibilities. The hon. member mentioned the coal in his constituency. If that coal were shipped through the port of Vancouver it would need to be hauled in a train pulled by ten locomotives, each of 3,000 horsepower. You could haul the coal to Vancouver, at great cost. But if the same coal were to be taken by rail to Prince Rupert, you would need only three locomotives, each of 3,000 horsepower to pull the train, and there would be a cost saving of one dollar per ton with regard to coal delivered at the port for trans-shipment to Japan. Such savings are worth-while. We must establish the infrastructure in the north which is necessary for development along the Alaska highway. I am glad the hon. member has drawn our attention to this aspect.

The Alaska highway itself has proved to be a boon. It has been greatly improved, and the improvements are continuing. Jurisdiction over the road was transferred from the Department of National Defence, which I forgot to mention as it is no longer in the picture, to the Department of Public Works has continued to improve facilities on the highway.

All of the mid-north, in which I include northern British Columbia, the northern parts of the prairie provinces, and even northern Ontario, although I smile when I hear people of northern Ontario calling themselves northerners

as most northern Ontario lies south of most of the communities I represent-all of the mid-north of Canada above the 53rd parallel and below the 60th parallel deserves more attention than it is being given now. We need more communications in the area, even though there is a plethora of communications services. We have the CN-CP wire, the B.C.R. wire and the RCMP wire crisscrossing each other but not always helping the non-official people of the area to communicate with each other. These are problems we must consider.

Although I cannot agree with the hon. member's position, I am glad he brought to our attention a significant problem. We cannot deal with it in a committee of this House because it involves many jurisdictions. For instance, we need to consider the position of the Alaska state government and, in the long run, that of the United States government. For this reason there may be difficulty in connection with the hon. member's bill. But I congratulate him most sincerely for bringing this matter before the House so that he, and I, can remind the people of this country what is happening above the 53rd parallel.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Eymard G. Corbin

Liberal

Mr. Eymard Corbin (Madawaska-Victoria):

Madam Speaker, evidently we are carrying on today consideration of Bill C-264 which, if I remember well, was discussed in the House in 1973. It is perhaps advisable to recall that the purpose of the bill is to provide for the development of the Alaska-Yukon Highway as a matter of national and international importance. The bill provides that a non-Crown corporation may be established to take over the development of that highway in Canada. The bill is aimed at providing a national character to the organization taking into account the regional, federal and provincial as well as international interests, to the extent that the United States are responsible for the development of part of the highway and that American representatives are appointed as associated members of the administrative board of the authority.

I will not deal, Madam Speaker, with the appointment of some present or future members of Parliament as members of the authority as suggested by the mover of the bill, but I would say however that such a proposal seems to me at first rather unusual under our parliamentary traditions and practices, whatever may be done in other jurisdictions. Still I might add that the sponsor of the bill seems to have devoted much time to its preparation and that I do not question at all his sincerity, his objectivity and his good intentions. For all that I do not think I am an expert in these questions, and I should be interested in the progress of the bill, if it does pass this stage today. I do feel that the final product will be quite different from the text now before us once the bill has passed through the usual parliamentary sieve.

I hope the sponsor of the bill and his colleagues will forgive me if I refer to the few remarks made in this House by the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State for Urban Affairs, who has come back to his first designation, namely the hon. member for Laprairie (Mr. Watson). As I said, I am not so much concerned with the specific value of the bill. I simply say that if the hon. members representing that area of the province attach enormous importance to it, I give them full marks because

February 27, 1976

after all they are here to defend their regional and provincial interests. But I was really startled, I reacted at first timidly, I should admit; I was very surprised by what the hon. member for Laprairie said in 1973 when he proposed as a solution to the problem of the Alaska-Yukon Highway a strange compromise, a strange exchange with the United States. For the information of my colleagues, I shall quote from the original speech of the hon. member for Laprairie; on March 9, 1973, as recorded in Hansard, he said:

My proposition, which I consider sound and has a good chance of success if we can convince a few more people,-

Perhaps the hon. member was referring to people like me at that time.

-involves encouraging the U.S. government to construct a four-lane, high speed highway across the top of the state of Maine, linking the eastern townships-

That is in the province of Quebec.

-auto route with a point in New Brunswick, possibly involving some part of U.S. Interstate 95,-

These are the key words:

-in return for the Canadian federal government spending an equal amount of money on upgrading and paving the Alaska Highway. The arguments in favour of this proposition are obvious. It would promote Canadian unity; it would bring Canadians closer together by reducing travelling time between central Canada and the maritimes by a minimum of five hours. I am not talking from the eastern Canadian point of view.

The hon. member for Laprairie continued:

In addition, it would reduce transportation costs between central Canada and the maritime provinces. It would make possible a large increase in tourist traffic between the maritime provinces-

It goes on and on. The hon. member for Laprairie advanced a number of arguments that, in my opinion, are more fancy than fact. I thought I would discuss that intervention here at this time.

And hon. members will forgive me if I consider quite unacceptable the trade-off proposition put forward by the hon. member for Laprairie (Mr. Watson) during the discussion of the question of the Yukon-Alaska Highway at that time. There was trading-off, Madam Speaker, since the hon. member for Laprairie wanted eastern Canadians to sacrifice their national interests for the benefit of the so-called national interest of western Canadians. As I said a moment ago in my remarks, there is no question of us in the east sacrificing anything whatever for the moment, for on all accounts our region is underpriviledged compared with the west. And I consider quite meaningless the proposition put forward in 1973 by the hon. member for Laprairie.

I consider that such a trade-off as the hon. member for Laprairie advocated in 1973 would require, as I said a moment ago, that we make immense sacrifices. Perhaps it would be fitting to say what would those sacrifices be.

I would mean that for all practical purposes we would abandon the idea of a national highway linking the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast, in exchange for what? In exchange for a highway which would cross a neighbouring state and divert all commercial, tourist and whatever

Alaska Highway

traffic which now uses the Trans-Canada Highway at Fredericton, through Edmundston, which crosses the Quebec border at Riviere-du-Loup, goes through Quebec City and along the St. Lawrence River to Montreal, divert all that traffic towards an American highway. It would be an exchange to thank the Americans, to pay for the construction of a highway in certain areas of British Columbia, Alaska and Yukon, and who would be the losers and the winners in all that?

Well, I can tell you who will be the losers, and I am talking on behalf of my constituency, of at least half of the province, and even the hon. member for Moncton (Mr. Jones) who is absent today. I know that he shares my concern in that regard because he already stated his position publicly on that subject. We would be taking money from our pockets to give it to the people of British Columbia. As I said a moment ago, I have nothing against British Columbia, and it seems to me the problem we have been advised of is serious and deserves to be solved. However it should not be solved on the back of another part of the country, the east, the area which I represent here in the House of Commons.

That is what I had to say today, Madam Speaker. I wish the hon. member and his bill good luck. I hope, as he and some of his colleagues do, that we will have the opportunity of studying the bill in committee. I should be willing to sit on that committee and have a chance to dissect it, look into its intrinsic value and, if possible, work with the hon. member towards finding solutions, monetary, administrative or otherwise. I trust that, in return, at a later date, he can give me a hand in the solution of the serious highway problems we have in eastern Canada. [English]

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Albanie Morin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Morin):

Is the hon. member for Laprairie (Mr. Watson) rising on a point of order?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Ian Watson

Liberal

Mr. Watson:

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of clarification because my bill which I have had on the order paper was referred to just now. Remarks which I made on an earlier bill were referred to by the previous speaker, who is a very capable representative of northern New Brunswick. I would suggest, however, that some of the views he has expressed in defence of his own area are slightly parochial, even though they may be well founded from his local constituents' point of view.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Albanie Morin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Morin):

Order, please. That is debate, not a point of order.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Eymard G. Corbin

Liberal

Mr. Corbin:

Madam Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege.

Madam Speaker, I feel the hon. member for Laprairie has enough experience in the House not to take advantage of a so-called point of order to attack me personally as he has just done.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Albanie Morin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Morin):

Order, please. I am afraid that this is far from a question of privilege.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Joseph Clifford McIsaac (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Regional Economic Expansion)

Liberal

Mr. Cliff Mclsaac (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Regional Economic Expansion):

Madam Speaker, I do not like to pursue the line of argument we have just heard from my two hon. friends from eastern Canada.

February 27, 1976

Alaska Highway

I want to compliment the hon. member for Prince George-Peace River (Mr. Oberle) on the bill that he has put forward for debate today. It is one that I know he sincerely believes in and on which he has obviously spent a good deal of time, not only in this debate but on previous occasions, putting forth the ideas and suggestions in this bill.

While I certainly support the thrust of his arguments and the objectives of his bill, I cannot support the manner and method in which he is trying to improve the highway in his part of the country. If my hon. friend would stop to think for a moment of the difficulties that we, as a nation, are continuing to have in repatriating our own constitution, he would realize that there are jurisdictional difficulties in trying to set up the kind of authority he is proposing here, involving provincial, territorial, and federal rights, as well as United States interests and so on. He could spend years trying to get the authority itself operational; in the meantime he would lose a lot of time and energy from the point of view of building and developing the highway. As I say, while I agree with the bill's objectives, I disagree with the route and manner he has adopted.

There are certainly precedents so far as federal participation in the construction of highways is concerned. While highways are a provincial responsibility under our constitution, they are going the route of many other services that have been primarily a provincial responsibility up to the last number of years. We can all think of examples. Social services, hospitalization, education, while under provincial jurisdiction, have received federal support and co-operation. In this respect highways are rapidly joining that particular club.

At the Western Economic Opportunities Conference of only three years ago, highways and other transportation needs were very much a priority item of the four western provinces so far as federal help and participation were concerned. I am sure the hon. member is well aware of the Northlands agreements which have been signed with the four western provinces, the most recent one signed through the Department of Regional Economic Expansion being the one signed in Victoria on February 9, earlier this month. The hon. member will have had the opportunity to see the press release that was issued and to appreciate that funds are going almost directly into his part of the province. I know he will be the first to say they are insufficient, and I agree with him, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

As a result of that agreement federal funds will be provided to continue improvements to highway 97 between Prince George and Dawson Creek, to highway 37 between Stewart and Watson Lake, and further assistance is being provided to other highways in the area. Expenditures on highway 16 between Terrace and Prince Rupert are also being made. So once again we are giving recognition to the need for highways in that province.

May I point out one other very important highway project involving his part of Canada as well as mine. One of the criticisms that I get when I go home is that we are continually funding programs in nothern Canada. My part of the country is not as far north as his, I realize, but nevertheless we require funds for development in mid-

northern areas, as the hon. member for Skeena (Mrs. Campagnolo) said. I think the hon. member was a member of the transportation committee that met a delegation from Edmonton, Winnipeg and other places-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Progressive Conservative Party; Deputy Whip of the Progressive Conservative Party)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Paproski:

The great Yellowhead route.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Joseph Clifford McIsaac (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Regional Economic Expansion)

Liberal

Mr. Mclsaac:

Yes, that is right; the hon. whip is aware of that. That is a route that has already received federal support, and this is one more example of the federal government's support for the kind of project that is being put forward by the hon. member for Prince George-Peace River.

As I say, Madam Speaker, I certainly appreciate the thrust of his arguments in seeking my support for highways and communications in general in that great part of Canada, but the route and method that he is proposing in his bill are not ones that I can support.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Ian Watson

Liberal

Mr. Watson:

Madam Speaker, may I ask the hon. member who has just spoken whether he would permit a question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Albanie Morin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Morin):

Would the parliamentary secretary allow a question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Joseph Clifford McIsaac (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Regional Economic Expansion)

Liberal

Mr. Mclsaac:

Yes.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink
LIB

Ian Watson

Liberal

Mr. Watson:

Would the parliamentary secretary undertake to ask his officials to study the economics, both of the propositions put forward in the bill we are discussing today as well as the possible trade-off of efforts in both east and west which would, as I have argued before in this House, provide highways for residents in Alaska, Yukon, B.C. and Alberta, as well as a highway that would be of enormous benefit to eastern Canada, despite what my hon. friend from New Brunswick has said?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY ACT MEASURE TO DEVELOP CANADIAN SECTION OF ALASKA HIGHWAY
Permalink

February 27, 1976