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


Gordon Benjamin Isnor



I should like to speak briefly on the resolution, but before doing so, as a member from Nova Scotia, our extreme eastern province, I am sure I am expressing the thought of every maritime member when I extend our sympathy to the people of British Columbia who find themselves in such difficulties today because of floods. We in Halifax have gone through two explosions. We know what an emergency is, and the hardships that follow; therefore we can appreciate the plight of the people of British Columbia in the circumstances in which they now find themselves.
My first words in respect to the resolution, which deals with assistance to the maritime provinces in the reclamation and development of the marshlands, must be to express, on behalf of all maritime members, our appreciation and thanks to the minister. I think perhaps the Minister of Agriculture deserves more credit in this matter than any other single member of the cabinet. He has been very sympathetic to our representations over a period of years. I recall that in 1937 or 1938 I was a member of a committee which waited on the minister in this connection. As I recall it, the hon. member for Westmorland was chairman of the committee, which included Mr. Purdy, former member for Colchester-Hants, and certain senators.
Since that time various committees have been set up, and the suggestion has been given strong support by all members of this house. The hon. member for Cumberland has been very active. The hon. member for Saint John-Albert and other hon. gentlemen on the opposition side, as well as hon. members from all parts of the maritimes sitting on the gov-5849- 286J
ernment side, have given their strong support. On all occasions we have been courteously received by the minister. Later more definite representations were made by the premiers of the three maritime provinces, who recently placed certain proposals before the minister.
I am hopeful that as the outcome of those representations a bill will be introduced, founded upon this resolution, which will provide the necessary assistance to bring about the results for which we have been working for these many years.
While I am on my feet I wish to add the name of another friend of the maritimes. I refer to the splendid representations which have been made, not once but on many occasions, by the hon. member for Davenport. The other evening we listened to the hon. gentleman deal with the development of the maritimes in regard to the production of coal. That was just one more example of his friendly feeling toward the maritime provinces, and I know he will join with those of us who come from that area in supporting this measure and giving credit where credit belongs, in this case to the Minister of Agriculture.
For the benefit of western members, more particularly those coming from the prairies, let me say that while our Nova Scotia farm production is small in comparison to theirs, it has shown a steady increase. In 1938 our farm production amounted to about 817,700,000. By 1945 it had increased to over 826,000,000, and by 1946, the last year for which I have figures, to about $42,000,000. If this development takes place in connection with our marshlands, particularly in Nova Scotia, we believe that production will be greatly increased. In my province of Nova Scotia we have 33,000 farms, representing a population of 150,000 people; so you see we are very much interested in the industry of agriculture. That also applies to dairying. Our production still is not what we would like, but we do produce seven million pounds of creamery butter per year. It is because we need these marshlands for the further development of the production of butter, dairy products and feed for our cattle that we have been asking for so many years that some action be taken.
The dikelands of the maritimes bear a relation to agriculture there similar to the relation the prairie lands bear to agriculture in western Canada. While the acreage of the prairies is vastly greater, the dikelands of the maritimes are equally essential to the basic industry of agriculture.
I said I was going to speak briefly. I believe the majority of hon. members are familiar with our dikeland conditions. They have been written about in fiction and history, and have
Reclamation oj Marshlands

been referred to time and again on the floor of this house. We need reconstruction in a big way in the maritimes. We have, roughly speaking, 80,000 acres which will come under this reclamation scheme, if carried out as requested. It is because of that, and the conditions in which we find ourselves, that we are particularly interested in the bill which will be introduced.
Surveys have been made. I have correspondence covering a long period of years, and while I am not familiar with the details of the bill which the minister will introduce, or with the various points which will be set out in the sections, I know there were three definite proposals placed before the minister in respect of the manner in which this could be carried out. One involves a fairly modest amount, and a second one would run into several millions of dollars.
We are hoping that this will be a permanent undertaking, one which will have a lasting effect upon the development of agriculture in the maritime provinces; not just an emergency measure to tide us over or to satisfy us for the time being.

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