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


Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)



I think it might be interesting to hon. members to hear something of the steps that are being taken in this connection by the Department of National Defence, which has been in close touch with the situation. I did not anticipate the discussion that has arisen this afternoon and

Reclamation oj Marshlands
therefore I have not a full report, but since the discussion began I made some inquiries and I can speak briefly on what we are doing.
Rear Admiral Mainguy, commanding the Royal Canadian Navy on the Pacific coast, sent a signal to H.M.C.S. Discovery at Vancouver: "Render any assistance", and also to all ships on the Pacific coast: "All power boats are to be brought on short notice to assist in flood emergency on Fraser river; above boats to be fuelled, watered and provisioned". A navy tug was dispatched to New Westminster. All these boats are furnished with emergency and life-saving equipment. Yesterday the signal service took over the ordinary Canadian National railway service of telegraphs through some of the flood areas, which was interrupted because the poles were down. The air force is dispatching one or more Dakotas from No. 12 group of the northwest air command, carrying sandbags to Cranbrook for use at Kimberley. At Chilliwack we have the engineers' school and training establishment, which is working full-time assisting in flood control. Also at one or two localities reserve units have been put on active service at the request of the local authorities, and instructions have been given to all three services to do everything that can be done, and that is necessary, in co-operation with the provincial and local authorities.
I should add that the Canadian armed forces, as I think hon. members know, are not equipped in the same way as are the United States forces, because in the United States the army engineers do a large part of all public work. That has never been the practice in Canada. Perhaps we should do more of this work in order to gain training experience; but whenever it has been possible to put at the disposal of local authorities such facilities as the armed forces have, we have done that as a work of national service, and also because it is of direct value in connection with training. But here in this case we have a direct and immediate interest because our own establishments are endangered by reason of the flooding. Other steps are being taken. I have given instructions that everything possible be done.

Full View