Hon. Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence):
Yesterday the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) asked a question about civil defence, having regard to proposals put forward in the Ontario legislature by the attorney general. The hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church) has given notice of an inquiry of the ministry as to the same matter. I am glad to make a brief statement in reply to both questions.
Some time ago Major General F. F. Worthington was appointed civil defence adviser. As such he has been working with the various federal departments and agencies that might be concerned, and has visited the United States, Great Britain, and other countries, to bring our information up to date as to what is being done or proposed in those countries.
The vast extent of Canada and the nature of the problems involved in civil defence make it clear that suitable safeguards require close working arrangements among the various
agencies of government, federal, provincial and municipal, as well as transportation and communication services, and national and local organizations. Moreover, many of the matters relating to civil defence fall within the ordinary jurisdiction of the provinces and municipalities of Canada, which are responsible for municipal services such as fire fighting.
On my instruction Major General Worthington visited all the provinces, and at each place saw either the premier or a member of the cabinet, at which time arrangements were discussed in a general way. I should like to say that all provinces showed a most co-operative attitude. These preliminary discussions are being followed up.
In considering civil defence, it is apparent that one of the actions which would be desirable would be that the couplings and attachments of fire equipment be standardized as far as possible. While some progress has been made, I am informed that there are no less than two hundred types of 2J-inch fire hose coupling having either different threads or outside diameter which would make it impossible, or at least more difficult, for the fire equipment of one locality to be used in another. This is an objective which could be attained only over a period of time by the provinces agreeing on certain standards and working towards them. Clearly it is in the general interest of the people in the various parts of Canada that fire equipment be capable of being used in neighbouring municipalities.
Beyond these general discussions, no arrangements have yet been made with any of the provinces. Until today I had not seen the legislation proposed by the Ontario legislature. Of course I have not made and do not make any comment on that measure.
Subtopic: GRANTS TO POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS