April 11, 1945 (19th Parliament, 6th Session)


John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government


If my hon. friend will just possess his soul in patience, I shall come to that. I was trying to get to it as rapidly as possible. I am thoroughly familiar with Canada from one end of it to the other, and I try to leave out no portion of it when I am dealing with these matters. I hope that after the war, methods will be devised whereby a million and a half tons of Alberta coal can be brought to Ontario. My deskmate, the hon. member for Royal, who always stands up for his beautiful province of New Brunswick, asks about New Brunswick coal. Yes, New Brunswick too; when I speak of Nova Scotia coal I am thinking of the maritimes generally; they are pretty well together. I have used a lot of Alberta coal and Nova Scotia coal too. The Alberta coal is simply wonderful. The time has come for this government to establish a national fuel policy under which coal can be brought from both east and west faster and at a reasonable rate to the great buying province of Ontario, and, of course, Quebec too. I will confine my remarks in that regard to my own province, because in Ontario we buy several million tons of coal yearly. I am firmly convinced that our national coal policy should be designed to enable and induce Canadians to use Canadian coal to the greatest extent. Why do I say that? Because the trains bringing Alberta, Nova Scotia, or New
Brunswick coal to Ontario would take back products made by the working men and women of Ontario. Let me give an example of what I mean. Last summer I was up in the riding of the hon. member for Yukon. He took me to a very large store in the city of Dawson. Standing beside the tool counter I observed that the tools on sale had been made in Davenport riding by the Gray Tool company, on Van Horne street, Toronto. This company make excellent tools of great variety. I am happy to say that during the war they have played a very important part in providing the tools required by the Minister of Munitions and Supply and companies throughout Canada.
I have been making a survey of the Yukon in the hope-I cannot speak of it to-day, but I will do so later-of encouraging and assisting in securing an additional market for the use of Norman wells oil or Fort McMurray oil when the latter starts producing it in any quantity. They are producing a substantial amount now at Norman wells, and I have seen many men and women working there. I feel it is my duty as a Canadian to do everything I can to provide a market to keep the people working up there. My one thought was that if we could deliver oil and gasoline to the Yukon buyers at a price comparable to what they are paying for it to-day in the Mackenzie valley it would mean a large expansion of production in the Yukon. I mentioned that to the merchant in whose store I was, and he said to me, "Why, Mr. MacNiool, it will be wonderful if we can do anything like that." I said, "What would it mean to you?" He said, "I am now buying about five tons of tools a year, and it would mean instead of five tons of tools I would be buying perhaps twenty-five tons of tools a year." That would mean a lot more jobs in the Gray Tool company and the tool companies in Galt, Stratford, Hamilton and Montreal and other towns and cities throughout the east, and so on, with all the different lines of goods that company sold.
I cannot see any other way to make jobs than that the producers of goods and equipment receive orders. The only way they can get the orders is for those who send in the orders to have a demand in their immediate vicinity for that business.
May I come back to the question of coal? If Ontario bought a million and a half tons of coal from Nova Scotia and a million and a half tons from Alberta, where in the latter province they have, I believe, one-fifth of the world's coal supply, it would mean return orders to factories in Ontario and elsewhere in compensation for buying the coal of those
War Appropriation-Munitions and Supply
other areas. I cannot see how we can keep this country going unless we buy from one another. If we buy coal from the east and west they in turn will buy from us. This country must initiate national policies whereby Canadians will buy from Canadians everything that they can. This will create more employment. If the minister is returned after the election-if not we will have to supply a man to take his place from our side of the house- he will have to initiate programmes along those lines.
Some years ago I tried to set out how we could bring coal from Alberta to Ontario at a much lower rate. I have figured out the programme. If we had, I was going to say, what God might like to see us have, the Saskatchewan river in a position where it could again return to some of the glory of its early days as a transportation artery-and it could easily be done by the building of dams on the river -the coal could float down as far as Winnipeg and then be taken by special types of cars across the four hundred and fifty miles or more from Winnipeg to the minister's fine city, Fort William, where it could be loaded on boats and brought to Toronto. What I am suggesting to the minister is that if he has anything to do with it after the election he should try in every way possible to have coal brought from Nova Scotia and Alberta to the central provinces, the largest users of coal, more quickly and at lower cost; and if he remains the minister in charge I shall be glad to help him with what ideas I have in that regard.
The minister mentioned the matter of oil. If he has anything to do with coaching those who draw up the peace treaty, or if he is there himself, I hope he will make an effort to see that as part of what should come to us Canada obtains from Germany some of her wonderful hydrogenation plants by which, during the war, they have produced annually up to 250,000,000 or 300,000,000 barrels of oil from coal. Apparently they are away ahead of the rest of the world in that regard. If as part of our compensation the minister could obtain for Canada one, two, three or more of the German hydrogenation plants, one might be installed down in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick and one in Alberta, and the extra coal not shipped for use as fuel then could be turned into oil in both those provinces. It is well known that the Alberta oil fields, while very creditable, have not the capacity to supply this country with oil. But they have coal in both Alberta and Nova Scotia, and we were told in the reconstruction committee that in both cases the coal is suitable for the pro-

duction of oil. It might cost a little more, but we have to keep our own people employed. Anything is better than having men unemployed; work is better than relief. To-day it requires millions of dollars in exchange to bring coal into this country, and more millions of dollars to bring in oil. I would much rather see those millions of dollars spent on the erection of plants in Nova Scotia and Alberta for the production of oil to supply Canadian needs. In that way we would provide a great deal more employment. I agree with what a distinguished soldier said at a meeting I attended in Toronto last week-end, that the greatest word in the English language to-day, next to "win the war", is "jobs". Anything that will provide jobs should 'be looked into and assisted in every way possible.
In connection with oil I should like to say a word about the Norman wells; I am going to tell the minister what I would do if the * matter were under my control. I would do everything in my power to keep the Norman wells in operation. I went over that pipe line. It is small, of course; we all know it is not a commercial pipe line. But if we could get it for nothing there would be no capital cost, and perhaps even a four-inch pipe would do for the present to send oil across to Whitehorse and to supply the Yukon. I am not arguing for a moment that it is a commercial proposition, but it could become one if the demand were created. The engineers up there told me that when the demand arose a twelve-inch line would be ample for a very long time, and would provide a considerable surplus for shipment down the Pacific coast. So I hope the minister will consider the problem of keeping the Norman wells operating, and' at the same time look into the production of oil from coal in both the maritimes and Alberta, to supplement what we are now getting out of the wells which our engineers tell us will never be able to take care of the Canadian demand by themselves.
The minister also mentioned transportation, and I want to say a word about that. I hope whoever is minister after the war will make every effort to speed up transportation in Canada, and to cut down its cost. Look at the situation in the maritimes. There is that right, tight little island of Cape Breton, with perhaps some of the best coal mines in the world. I do not know their capacity; the hon. member for Cape Breton South knows all about that, but we are told there is a considerable quantity of coal there. Look at the trouble they have getting that coal to the mainland. When the coal trains arrive at the strait of Canso just see what happens; I have watched

War Appropriation-Munitions and Supply
them. Surely the time is past when a condition like that should be permitted to exist in this country. There ought to be a causeway or bridge to enable those trains to get quickly to the mainland from where the coal is produced. How can we compete against the world even in our own country unless we speed up and reduce the cost of transportation? The same observations apply to the west. I have often heard the hon. member for Vancouver South and others from British Columbia talk about the freight rates in that province. The time has come when this country, either through a national commission or otherwise, must make a thorough study into freight rates, with a view to cutting down the cost of transportation in order that Canadians may be able to compete in their own markets. To-day British Columbia is almost ostracized as far as freight rates are concerned. Look at the cost of getting things into and out of that province. It is no wonder that the people out there are indignant against the east. I do not believe they should be indignant against the east, but perhaps they are right because we do not raise our voices often enough, in this house or elsewhere, to assist them in their battle to bring down transportation costs.
I am ready at all times to support any reasonable programme that will bring about the more rapid distribution of the products of the outlying provinces; and by that I do not mean anything more than that they are far distant from the great purchasing centres of Ontario and Quebec. I am always ready to assist any programme that will permit the people of this great, rich, patriotic and heroic province of Ontario to deal more extensively with our good friends in the maritimes and the west. I know of no better way to promote unity in our country than by having greater trade between all parts of it, and cheaper and faster transportation. If my hon. friend remains minister in the next government-I am not prophesying that he will, or anything like that -I hope he will "take the bull by the horns" and do whatever is required to increase the speed and cut down the cost of transportation between one part of Canada and another.
In that regard a moment ago I mentioned the Saskatchewan river. I have gone over that river from its mouth to its source. It is a long journey, about a thousand miles. I have surveyed all its main branches, and every possible reservoir site in the Rocky mountains of any size where reservoirs could be built. That is another programme that should be undertaken. The P.F.R.A. administration has a fine map showing where these reservoirs can be built. They should be 32283-49
built. Nothing is as priceless to our western provinces, particularly Saskatchewan, as water. More than any other province in Canada, Saskatchewan must have water. It has little of its own; the water comes from the Rocky mountains, and runs away in the spring. I suggest that if the minister is still in office after the war he should see to it that the waters of the Saskatchewan river are conserved in each of its source branches. There are perhaps thirty-five to forty excellent sites for giant reservoirs, with the foundations available, in my mind created by God Almighty. I am a great believer in God Almighty, and see His handiwork wherever I go. He has created that large reservoir space, capable of serving in many instances up to a half million acre-feet of water. I think hon. members have heard me describe what an acre-foot of water is. The mouths of many reservoirs are contracted to a size not much wider than the length of this room, or at most two or three times that length, and right up against solid rock. My opinion is that it is a crime to allow that vast water resource to run away. Coming back to Alberta, it is even a greater crime to allow to take place in the Rocky mountains what has been taking place, and what the Alberta government has been praying that we help them prevent, forest destruction. I carefully examined the Crowfoot glacier and the Bow river glacier. The engineer who was with me told me that those two glaciers have shrunk to a much smaller size than formerly. I have forgotten the exact amount, but even if I remembered I would hesitate to give it or to accept it. There was originally a vast thickness, and they have shrunk as the glaciers have melted away. Glaciers are the source of Saskatchewan river water. One of the reasons given was the frightful destruction, through fires and otherwise, of the forests surrounding the glaciers. Those forests are in the foothills and mountains of Alberta and British Columbia. To neglect forest conservation is another crime, and one which will affect the destiny of this country, particularly our western provinces. I am as sure as I stand here, after making a survey, and through travel and examination, that this country cannot endure or continue to prosper unless the economy of the western provinces is maintained. It cannot be maintained unless the water resources of western Canada are rehabilitated and restored. This can be done by erecting dams along the Saskatchewan river, and those dams should be erected. In eastern Canada we have spent about $750,-
009,000, perhaps a billion dollars, on works of

War Appropriation-Munitions and Supply
one kind or another, including canals, harbours, deepening and dredging channels. It was our duty to do it and we did it. But in the west we have spent only a paltry $2,500,000 on the St. Andrew's locks. And that is another programme I suggest might well be considered by the minister who happens to sit in the next government. If my hon. friend is in office I know he will grasp the situation. Because of his engineering knowledge he will recognize the importance of the rehabilitation of the Saskatchewan river.
Do not make any mistake about it; it is a tragedy to think that a river with an average flow of 27,000 cubic feet of water per second, a maximum flow up to 100.000 cubic feet per second, and a minimum or low flow, near Prince Albert, of less than 500 cubic feet at lowest, should be neglected. It is a tragedy, and a menace and danger to the economy of the western provinces. In that process of restoration the government would be creating business and giving the people out there a chance to live, and a chance to have employment. While I love my own province of Ontario, and have deep affection for my own people, I always like to think I am big enough to speak a word for the people throughout the whole of the country. And while I know that Ontario has made a tremendous sacrifice in this war, yet I know that whole western areas were depressed such a long time that young men of military age enlisted en masse, to the point where there were no young men out there. They had come through a depression, a depression they should not have been forced to endure-ten years of it. And when war broke out they enlisted en masse, and have made a record for themselves over there in the skies and on the land of Europe and on the seas.
No matter what the experience of this country may be after the war, the western provinces should be given their chance to shine in the sun. In doing that they will provide a vast volume of business for every factory and every town in Ontario and Quebec. That means jobs-j-o-b-s. The}' will have to have jobs after the war. And they will have no trouble getting those jobs if we only see to it that the country is opened up as it should be.
I did mention Saskatchewan's need of a transportation route for heavy bulk freight such as coal and wheat. Is there any reason why there should not be a ten-million bushel elevator at Saskatoon? There should be one, too, at Riverhurst, one at Medicine Hat, and possibly one at Lethbridge. I could do it, if I had it to do. There is no reason why 500-ton barges loaded with wheat or coal should not

float down that river, just as they float down the Illinois and the Ohio rivers to-day as far as New Orleans. That is a distance a good deal farther than from Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Saskatoon or Riverhurst to Winnipeg. If that water transportation were used the freight trains could be used to handle other types of freight. Farmers of the west would receive more for their wheat, and they would buy more. They would provide a higher class of freight, and our railways would get more business. I strongly favour supporting our railway systems in any fashion we can.
The minister mentioned something about power. Well, we know that the old province of Ontario is the shining example of the use of power. In this province we find great manufacturing establishments which have developed largely as a result of our wonderful hydroelectric power system. Although I do not know the exact figure, I believe that system now produces a good deal more than 2,000,000 horse-power. Perhaps the figure is closer to
How can people in the west compete? I do not believe competition will hurt us down here. It would provide more business for us. The more the western towns and cities grow, the more business is provided for the rest of Canada. And barges at those grain elevators to which I have referred would be loaded with wheat at Saskatoon and the other places I have mentioned, and this would result in great numbers of jobs and considerable business. That is what we must do-[DOT] make jobs. Our men and women must have jobs after the war.
I read lately that there has been some talk of the three western provinces forming a committee to carry out a suggestion

not one that I alone made, but perhaps I was the first to make it in the house, two or three years ago. That is a suggestion which would place the Saskatchewan river under the control of a board. In my view it is imperative that that be done. It would not allow Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Alberta individually to do wha-t it wants, with the river. That river belongs to all three provinces, and because of that I would support this movement in western Canada, one which I advocated myself two or three years ago, for the setting up of a board after the fashion of the Tennessee valley authority. It could be known as the Saskatchewan river authoritj^. I should1 like to see an engineer from the federal government act as chairman, to see that each province gets what it is entitled to, and much more than it can possibly get under present circumstances.

War Appropriation-Munitions and Supply
The minister mentioned rubber. I spent five or six hours in that fine plant at Sarnia with which he had so much to do. I made a careful study of it, and inquired if it were possible for that plant to operate after the war in competition with Malaya rubber, and rubber from other places, provided that this country, which has invested $50,000,000 in the plant, would say, "There is the plant; you may operate it." How many are employed there now?

Full View