Mr. G. W. McLeod (Okanagan-Revelsloke):
Mr. Speaker, in the few remarks I shall make in this debate it is my wish to bring to the attention of the government the need for greater financial assistance to the government of British Columbia in developing and conserving her natural resources. The hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. Fulton) made mention of this a few nights ago, and I should like to commend him for it, because I heartily agree with most of what he said. Of course I could not agree with everything, and particularly the fact that he cannot agree with the political convictions of the premier of British Columbia. However, I would remind the hon. member that it is not so many years ago that he and the premier of British Columbia were very close political buddies. Of course, that was before the time when our premier saw the light and renounced Conservative policy.
There is one problem that is a threat to Canadian unity, and that is the Ottawa tax view. It is interesting to follow the arguments of government members from Quebec who support the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) in the stand he has taken. Apparently the present government at Quebec is not very popular with government supporters in Ottawa. They are not afraid to make their views known, whether right or wrong.
However, I should like to congratulate the hon. member for Outremont-St. Jean (Mr. Bourque) upon the very strong plea for national unity he made when speaking in the house last night. I am sure that is one goal we must never lose sight of, and we as Canadians must at all times be prepared to sink our differences of race, religion and politics in a common desire to work in harmony for the welfare of Canada.
Now, what about this Quebec taxation problem? To my mind it is serious; but, Mr. Speaker, I believe it is strictly a family affair and a problem for the Quebec and Canadian governments to settle. It is a family squabble between these two members of the Canadian family and as such the rest of us would be well advised to keep out.
However, while speaking of this taxation question, there is one matter I must bring up. It concerns the defence department and the Department of Finance. I am thinking of members of the Canadian forces posted to stations in Quebec. These men and women, Mr. Speaker, are not in Quebec by choice- they are there in their line of duty. Yet, because they are in Quebec, they are going to be penalized to the extent of the income
tax levied in that province. They will receive less take-home pay than those stationed elsewhere in Canada. This is an injustice. I trust that the ministers of national defence and finance will get their heads together and bring in a solution. If something is not done, I am sure that harmful and unnecessary dissatisfaction will result. I know of what I am speaking, for it was my privilege to spend a few days with my son and his family on one of our defence stations recently and this matter was brought to my attention.
Of the provinces working with the federal government under the tax rental agreements I am sure the so-called "have-not" provinces-the prairies and maritimes-are not dissatisfied. This leaves Ontario and British Columbia. So far as Ontario is concerned, I am sure there are many members of this house who will be able to speak for her. I am going to confine my remarks to my own province of British Columbia.
Our province, Mr. Speaker, comparatively speaking, is the fastest growing and the wealthiest in Canada; yet, strange to say, these two facts are causing us a lot of trouble. In the first place, our increasing population demands expensive services from the province; and in the second place, the federal government is receiving the major share of the increased revenues derived from our great wealth.
Since 1939 our population has increased by 55-3 per cent. The next highest provincial increase was Quebec with 32 [DOT] 2 per cent, while the increase for Canada was 27 [DOT] 8 per cent. This rapid increase creates a great problem for us. The people must be provided with roads, schools, hospitals and social services. In 1940, Mr. Speaker, it required $29-4 million to provide these services. In 1953 it required $145-4 million. This is a large amount of money for a fast growing province to raise, and many projects that are necessary for our people and that would assist not only British Columbia but Canada as a whole cannot be undertaken for lack of funds. Yet it is interesting to note-and I hope the house will remember these figures-that in 1952-53 the federal government collected the huge sum of $259,708,170 from corporation and personal income taxes and succession duties in our province. Many millions more were collected from sales, excise and other taxes. Mr. Speaker, this is only $21 million less than the total collected from the three prairie provinces-Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta-and almost two and one-half times the amount collected from all the maritime provinces. I trust that the hon. members from these provinces will recall these figures when they are discussing the estimates, and compare their allotment with what British Columbia is receiving.
I want to refer briefly to P.F.R.A., railways, highways and conservation of natural resources. Agriculture in British Columbia is expanding along with our total economy. In 1940 our production from this source was valued at $52 million. In 1951 it was $160 million. The end is not in sight yet. There is room for tremendous development, but expensive irrigation and reclamation projects are required. Irrigation is needed in all except the coastal and northern parts of the province. There are large tracts of land that may be reclaimed in areas subject to flooding, as well as in semi-arid areas.
Here I would like to acknowledge expenditure by the federal government of $2,429,939 for work done under supervision of P.F.R.A. engineers in recent years. These projects included, mainly, reclamation and irrigation of blocks of land for war veteran settlement and have proven very satisfactory for the settlers and are of great benefit to the communities and to the province generally.
I would like to see the federal government extend the full benefit of P.F.R.A. to our province. Many of our areas are short of water for home use and the assistance of P.F.R.A. would be very welcome in constructing dams, dugouts, and other facilities for the provision of water for domestic and farm purposes. Then, too, we have individuals who are spending large sums of money for sprinkler systems where the water is pumped from adjacent lakes and rivers. In the vicinity of Vernon we have possibly the largest privately-owned sprinkler system in British Columbia, if not in Canada. It is used mainly for watering pasture land on one of the largest mixed farming ranches in the interior. It has cost the owner thousands of dollars without any outside assistance. Under P.F.R.A. he would have been entitled to engineering assistance and to grants in aid of purchasing the necessary equipment. It is to promote and encourage further installations such as this that we are so concerned that P.F.R.A. should be extended to British Columbia.
I am going to quote you some of the expenditures made by the federal government in aid of such projects as I have been mentioning. Under the Maritime Marshland Rehabilitation Act, 1945, the sum of $8 million will be spent in reclaiming lands around the bay of Fundy. Up to the end of 1952, Manitoba had received $4,277,688, Saskatchewan $35,276,000, and Alberta $28,049,108, under P.F.R.A. British Columbia has received absolutely nothing. So, Mr. Speaker, when I ask that these benefits be made available to
The Budget-Mr. McLeod our province and that we share in the millions being spent to promote agriculture, I believe you will agree the request is not unreasonable.
We have a railway problem, too. The P.G.E. has no coast outlet, but I am glad to report that the provincial government has instituted steps to complete the line from Squamish to Vancouver. However, there is great need to have the line extended from Prince George to Dawson Creek. This is a distance of 271 miles and is beyond the ability of the province to finance. For years we have heard of the need for a Peace river outlet. Mr. Speaker, this is it. From Dawson Creek to Vancouver via P.G.E. would be 516 miles shorter than between the same two points via Edmonton. This road, if completed, would also give a short rail route from the Peace river bloc to the port of Prince Rupert via Canadian National railway from Prince George.
I am not going to take up the time of the house to enumerate the great developments which would follow in the wake of a rail outlet. At the first opportunity hon. members might obtain a map of the Peace river area and while looking at it think of the press reports they have read concerning gas and oil development, mineral finds, and the thousands of acres of virgin timber in this last great bloc of unsettled farm lands. This great area, truly an inland empire, endowed with natural wealth almost beyond imagination, is waiting for a rail outlet to the seaboard. Such an outlet has been promised for years. The federal government has built railroads and through the C.N.R. are operating roads in almost every province of Canada most of which can never hope to serve Canada, as a whole, to such great advantage as a road from Dawson Creek to the Pacific coast. I might mention a few of these such as the Hudson Bay railroad, the Northern Alberta and Newfoundland railroads. We are not asking for favoured treatment. We are merely asking that the federal government assist us in providing this worth-while railroad which would be a great stride forward in the development of our northland and a necessary artery of defence in time of war.
Coming to highways, we all realize that this primarily is a provincial matter. However, we have conditions which make road building the costliest in Canada. Our settlements are scattered and connecting highways, through sparsely settled districts and for long distances, are necessary. We have a very heavy outlay for bridges.
I was rather amused to learn that the federal government disclaims any responsibility for financial assistance for the construction of
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The Budget-Mr. McLeod the Marpole bridge at Vancouver. Yet I find that this same government is committed to spending $30 million on a causeway from Cape Breton to Nova Scotia. We need roads to tap our mineral and forest wealth. We need roads into our far north, and we need a trans-provincial highway from Alberta through Yellowhead pass to the coast, as well as the trans-Canada highway through Revel-stoke. All these roads will mean wealth for Canada and greater tax return for the federal government. We think the federal government should share the cost.
As regards conservation, I was greatly interested in the reports of the conference on natural resources held in this city last Wednesday and Thursday. On April 22 the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Lesage) stated that resources had put Canada in her position as a top-ranking trading nation and that these resources are vital for defence. He is also quoted as saying:
We must consider as urgent any measures which will improve the status of conservation of our natural resources. With the exception of minerals they are renewable and it must be our aim to keep them renewed. The approach must not be lethargic, but dynamic.
He went on to say:
. . . conservation requires a combined effort at two levels-federal and provincial.
Truer words were never spoken. On April 23 the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) addressed the same convention. He quite plainly showed that he is alive to the necessity of conservation, and he stressed that the federal government is fully alive to the situation and that such a program had become "not only a matter of protecting future generations but of ensuring progress in the present time." He mentioned several acts sponsored by the federal government in carrying out its role as regards conservation, both independently and in co-operation with the provinces. He stated:
Conservation cannot be taken for granted. It must be pursued constantly and with vigour.
After reading the reports on this conference and noting the keen interest shown by these ministers representing the government of Canada no plea of mine need be added. All I ask, Mr. Speaker, is that this government re-examine the brief presented by the government of British Columbia, especially with regard to forest conservation, and take immediate steps to implement a federal-provincial plan which will be in the best interest of all concerned.
And now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote the words of a great Canadian, the
late Right Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King. Speaking before the dominion-provincial conference in 1945 he said:
What then are the alms or the objectives for which we are seeking the best possible dominion-provincial relations? To express them, very briefly, we are asking the provinces to go into partnership with the dominion in a broad program for the development of our national heritage, and the welfare of the Canadian people.
I would like to assure this government, Mr. Speaker, that the people and the government of British Columbia are prepared to do their part in developing the great resources within their borders in partnership with the federal government of Canada.
Subtopic: ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE