May 30, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)


Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)



Replying first to the question of the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Taylor), there is very little the government can do in the matter he has raised. We must approach a consideration of this question with the knowledge that all the forests are resources owned and under the control of the provinces. The federal government has no jurisdiction over what class of timber shall be cut, how it shall be cut, what shall be done with the wastage or the slash, or anything else; these are matters purely within provincial control. This fact has led to concentration of efforts by the federal administration on the particular areas over which it has control, namely, the national parks and the experimental forestry stations. In the experimental forestry stations and in the national parks we are endeavouring to study scientifically all the factors relating to forest growth, conservation, and utilization, and that information is prepared in proper form and is available not only to provincial forestry authorities but also to the private operators who are found in every province of the dominion.
I agree with everything that has been said with respect to this matter of conservation. The hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) stated the case reasonably and moderately, as did other hon. members who supported his view. In the past very little attention has been given to the conservation of this national asset. The subject did not exist in the thoughts and minds of many people ten or fifteen years ago. It was rarely one would find a person who would give even a casual thought to the need of conserving or reproducing our forests. A change is taking place in that regard, and to-day there is a growing interest throughout the length and breadth of Canada in the matter of protecting, preserving and conserving our forests. That is all to the good, and should be encouraged in every reasonable way. I was impressed with that thought a few years ago. I might say that the vote we are now considering, while it is small in comparison with an expenditqre which usefully could be made on the whole problem, will do good. Three or four years ago such a vote did not exist, because the work was not then being carried on. I believe it was only two years ago the first vote for this special purpose appeared in

the estimates. I am not necessarily betraying any secret when I tell the committee that I had to convince my colleagues as to the wisdom of the expenditure. I had less difficulty this year. I will take the committee sufficiently into my confidence to say that if I should be on the job again next year I shall endeavour to have the vote increased. I am glad to have the support of the committee this afternoon to that end.
In the present year, under the votes of the Department of Labour, a million dollars have been appropriated for general forestry work. It will give an opportunity for employment, we hope, to a considerable number of young people. They will gain experience in conservation methods, and we should expect some of them to be encouraged to go on and make forestry work their career. That will probably be the result. As stated by my colleague the Minister of Labour when his .estimates were 'before the committee, a portion of that vote has been transferred to the Department of Mines and Resources for purposes of administration. The work has already been pretty well planned for the present season. It will be carried on again in the parks and in the forestry stations, extending and enlarging the work we have been able to do under this vote and the vote of last year.
In public addresses I have endeavoured occasionally to emphasize to the people of Canada the importance of our forest wealth. It is encouraging to find to-day a much greater response to an appeal of this kind than would have been possible ten, fifteen or twenty years ago. We are travelling in the right direction. I confess that I believe we are travelling rather slowly, but it is only by building up public opinion throughout the country in support of these measures that we shall secure effective results in the future.

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