Mr. Howard C. Green (Vancouver-Quadra):
Mr. Speaker, the bill as presented to the house is in practically the same terms as the bill which was passed last year to authorize the construction of a railway from Sherridon to Lynn Lake in the province of Manitoba. I notice that there are one or two differences, but they are not of great 55704-124
Canadian National Railways importance. I presume that this is a standard type of bill authorizing the construction of a branch line.
I was pleased to hear the minister say today that the Aluminum company have undertaken some obligation in connection with this construction. He did not make that fact so clear last night, but it appears from his remarks today that they are undertaking some financial obligation, as was done by Sherritt Gordon Mines Limited in the case of the Lynn Lake line.
However in the course of his remarks today the minister did not deal with my query of last night as to why the Department of Defence Production are not assisting in this construction, as they did in connection with the Lynn Lake line. The figures given today for the cost of operating the line do not indicate that there is likely to be very much profit. Some pretty close budgeting has been done-some pretty close figuring-on a scheme of this kind, which has not yet commenced. The minister has announced that during the first five years after the railway is built there will be a profit of $1,100 for the five-year period. I hope he is right. But it probably will not be any more, or he would have said so. Then, even for the second five years the net operating revenue is estimated at only $323,000.
I submit those figures show that the Canadian National Railways should have assistance from the Department of Defence Production in this construction. If a certain amount of assistance were given it would be possible for the railway to operate at a profit. Surely this great production of aluminum is of value in our defence preparations. That other department paid last year almost $5 million, or nearly one-third of the total cost of the construction of the Lynn Lake line.
In addition, I notice from the annual report of the Department of Defence Production, which we received today, that they are helping with other developments, none of which is more important than this Alcan development. For example we find at page 32 of the report, under the non-ferrous metals division-and I presume this would be the division under which aluminum would come -the following paragraph:
The division also kept informed of, and assisted industry in, the development of Canada's natural resources, in so far as non-ferrous metals, iron ore, and some non-metallic minerals, such as asbestos and quartz crystals, are concerned. In addition to arranging for priority assistance in this field, the division took an active part in several projects undertaken with a view to increasing production of certain strategic materials.
Canadian National Railways Aluminum, of course, is a strategic material. The report continues:
Among these was the reactivation of the Emerald tungsten mine in British Columbia ensuring adequate supplies to meet Canada's defence needs. To stimulate the production of cobalt, an incentive buying price schedule for northern Ontario ores was instituted by the government early in 1951 and guaranteed for three years.
In fairness to the Canadian National Railways I do hope that consideration will be given to having the Department of Defence Production pay some of the cost of the construction of this line.
Incidentally, the point raised by the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Low) is also very interesting; and it would be helpful if the minister could tell the house what thought has been given to extending the railway in the Peace river area down to Prince George in British Columbia. This would complete the picture of railway transportation in that part of British Columbia. This development has been much too long delayed, and I hope there are some plans in contemplation for this other construction.