May 28, 1948 (20th Parliament, 4th Session)


Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)


Mr. FOURNIER (Hull):

If I might intervene, this is an old question, as the hon. member knows. We have had engineers making surveys in the Fraser river valley to try to avoid the conditions described by the hon. member for Fraser Valley, right down to where the river flows into the ocean. Listening to the hon. member for Kamloops, it occurred to me that he seems to know a lot about rivers and streams and dams, and the measures to take to avoid floods. But the reports we have to date are not conclusive. They are to the effect that it is very difficult to deal with conditions in the Fraser river valley. When I wrote that letter we had in mind the constitution of a board consisting of engineers appointed by this government, by the province and by interested municipalities, to make a study and survey and report to the different governments. I can tell the hon. member-without giving the exact date, which I cannot recall-that the government did authorize me to get in touch
with the province and municipalities and help to constitute this board. I believe that one of the outstanding engineers of my department will be a member of the board, which, if I remember rightly, will also have representatives from the departments of fisheries and agriculture. I have not the details, because I was not expecting this debate to come up today, but I know that British Columbia and the municipalities have agreed to appoint representatives. I am not sure whether the surveys have yet been started. The object of this would be to try to devise means to relieve the actual conditions incident to floods in the spring, and also to do what work is necessary at the mouth of the Fraser river, to be carried out by my department each year, in the effort to remove the sandbanks that impede or form an obstacle to navigation. But we take part in these studies only because navigation comes under federal jurisdiction, and we do not shirk our responsibility. As I listen to hon. members in the house speaking of flood conditions, they seem to think that this is a federal problem, and I am simply trying to explain to them the status of the matter. They are not addressing themselves to the right person. I have never said a word against the other bodies which are responsible for the works in connection with these conditions, and I am trying to co-operate. I would ask these hon. members, when the session is over, to get in touch with their friends in their provinces and make to the governments there the same representations that they make to our government, which is the last one to have responsibility in the whole matter.

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