June 19, 1948 (20th Parliament, 4th Session)

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Richard Langton Baker

Mr. DIEFENB AKER:

The Minister of Agriculture within the last few days did give some information in regard to the South Saskatchewan river project; he said that $110,000 had been spent during the year on survey proceedings. The total amount of

Supply-Reconstruction and Supply
expenditure for the coming year,, according to the estimates, is to be $1,000,000. I should like to find out what projects particularly are in the mind of the government, how that expenditure of $1,000,000 is to be made, and how it is to be distributed.
The South Saskatchewan river project, according to the present views of the Minister of Agriculture, cannot be proceeded with for a period of two years. I think it should be proceeded with now. Extensive exploratory and engineering work has been done, but the government's attitude is that the work shall not go ahead. Is the minister able to say how much of the $1,000,000 will be expended, or is to be expended, this year?
I wish to bring to the minister's attention another project in Saskatchewan which, if properly developed and encouraged, would attract to that province many tourists who today are not coming in. I refer to Watrous lake, some ninety miles east of Saskatoon, a lake which for over two hundred years has been recognized by the Indians living on the plains as possessing peculiar medicinal qualities. In the last few years that lake has gone back because of drought and because the springs that ordinarily feed it have been covered over by an incrustation of chemicals resulting from heat and evaporation. Is that the type of project which the department of reconstruction would consider a proper one on which to expend moneys under this item? I am not asking for the expenditure of money on anything but self-liquidating projects, and I suggest to the minister that this is one that would pay large dividends in increased tourist traffic and in the numbers who would come from various parts of the United States for treatment in this lake.
About three years ago the minister stated that his department had plans ready for public projects and was prepared to go ahead on short notice. He said that particular attention would be given by his department to projects designed to develop basic industries and to press forward vigorously, improvement in transportation and the opening of northern regions. I would ask him what is being done to carry out the views he then expressed.
Today our only hope for the development of the north country is through the instrumentality of private enterprise. In Saskatchewan-and I am not entering into any controversy on the subject-no government can afford to invest risk capital in exploratory work for the development of our natural resources. In fact, as far as gas and oil development is concerned, that has been turned over by the government of Saskatchewan to private interests. We all realize that

governments, however great the potentialities in natural resources, cannot afford to risk the taxpayers' money on projects without knowing for certain that they will actually return dividends.
There is great risk in the development of these resources. Recently I noticed that the total amount of return to private companies in Alberta since the development of the oil resources in that province has been $55,000,000, while the total amount expended in risk capital since oil was first discovered there has been $65,000,000.
I should like to know what the government intends to do during the coming year to open up communications with the north country, so that opportunities will be available to private enterprise to go in and develop. We need in Saskatchewan, as in the other western provinces, the opening of roads and the development of power, which after all, in the northland, must be a matter of government expenditure-as in the Yellowknife district by virtue of legislation introduced the other day and now, I believe, passed by parliament.
What plans has the minister to encourage the development of the eighty-five per cent of our country which is largely undeveloped today? I do not think that any government can enter into that development but I believe that one of the responsibilities of the minister, as head of this department, is the surveying of the country. Indeed, he himself said three years ago that these were his plans, and then, a general survey having been made, funds would be advanced on behalf of the state to the end that opportunities would be made available to private companies prepared to risk their capital in the uncertain development of our resources.
My questions therefore are these: (1) How much will be expended this 3rear on the South Saskatchewan development? (2) Does a project such as I have mentioned, the one at Watrous lake, come within the purview of this estimate? (3) Will the minister give the country the benefit of his experience in the matter of the, expansion and encouragement of development of our natural resources, to the end that in our north country we shall give to private enterprise the opportunity which too often is denied it because of the costly expenditures private enterprise would have to undertake to make these resources accessible?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF RECONSTRUCTION AND SUPPLY
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