I should like to say that we in this group are glad to give our support to this measure. I remember that, when the reconstruction committee of this house was sitting, we made a review of history of the conditions in this area, the history of the building of the dikes, how they had been allowed to deteriorate and how the marshlands have been developed. At that time we came to the conclusion that the problem was one which was altogether too great for the province to handle. Therefore we made a recommendation that reclamation of the marshlands be carried out as a national project. At that time we felt that it would help to increase the wealth of the dominion and could well be regarded as a self-liquidating project.
It was quite evident from the history that was given to us that deterioration of the area of the marshlands had come about largely during the depression times. It was explained to us that, owing to the depressed condition of agriculture, the farmers had not been able to afford the cost of maintaining the dikes, the cleaning of the ditches and so on. It is just another example of the heavy cost we pay in times of depression, and for some time in what we might call a deflationary period. We perhaps do not realize at the time the high cost we pay. It is only at a later time that we realize that the cost of a deflationary period may be much greater than the cost of inflation that we are constantly having brought before us.
I would also say we are glad to see that steps are being taken to give immediate help in the Fraser valley. Then, of course, the next question is this. What is to happen afterwards in regard to the people who have lost a great deal of their property, whose stock maybe has been destroyed, and who will have to be given assistance? One hon. member mentioned that it is a new idea that the
federal government should accept responsibility for damage from floods. I do not think it is a new idea at all, because back in 1937, when we had the terrible droughts in the west, the federal government in part accepted that situation as a national responsibility. The federal government gave the prairie provinces a great deal of help in regard to drought conditions, and in bringing in feed. While flood may be the opposite of drought, nevertheless it is a condition that may absolutely bankrupt the farmers. Just as we accepted as a national responsibility the need for help in relation to drought, so I think we should accept the need for help in regard to damage from floods. We shall also have to accept that as a national responsibility and, when the damage can be reviewed, provide measures by which assistance can be given to these unfortunate people.
Subtopic: RECLAMATION AND DEVELOPMENT-ASSISTANCE TO MARITIME PROVINCES