February 28, 1962 (24th Parliament, 5th Session)


Douglas Mason Fisher

New Democratic Party

Mr. Fisher:

Mr. Chairman, there are a number of points I wish to make on this estimate, since it deals with the research branch of the Department of Forestry. The field of forestry has had a number of important reflections or mirrors held up to it in the last few months, starting with the resources for tomorrow conference last fall, and there have been a number of other meetings to which I should like to refer.
My own interest in forestry research stems from a period spent in building a forestry research library at the head of the lakes and the opportunity that gave me for travelling in the field, and for visiting forestry operations in the United States and Canada. Since then, and because forestry means so much to the economy of my own area, it has always been the paramount interest I have had in terms of economics.
The first point to which I should like to draw the minister's attention is the confusion that exists at the present time amongst foresters themselves as to what kind of forestry research we should conduct and what priorities exist. If the minister took part in the resources for tomorrow conference and looked at some of the preliminary conclusions that were drawn by the two workshops there, I think he will acknowledge this. There seemed to be a number of fields which the foresters themselves, plus the other experts associated with them who came to these meetings, were really not sure should be emphasized. The traditional emphasis toward forest fire protection and the protection, you might say, in the field of forest pathology,


were matters that we always had mentioned again and again, despite the fact that many of the younger foresters seemed to feel the emphasis should be much more on the economic problems facing Canadian forestry today.
I should like to draw the minister's attention to the fact that as a result of some questions I asked in the house, sessional paper No. 195 was filed. These questions dealt with a paper given by one of his officials in this particular branch at a joint meeting in Minneapolis of the United States and Canadian societies of forestry. Here I should like to suggest to the minister that if one of his research officers can produce a confusing paper such as this, then we are really in a rather desperate way in economic research at the present time.
I feel I have every reason to be critical of the point of view put forward here. For example, in our particular region the majority of the licences are held by corporations-* I won't say the majority in the area, but the majority of the licences-are held by United States owned corporations. I can think of a number of them such as the Marathon Corporation, which is a subsidiary of the American Can Company; Kimberly-Clark, which controls large limits around Longlac; Ontario Minnesota Paper Company, in the western end of northwestern Ontario, and the Ontario Paper Company, the old offshoot of the Chicago Tribune.
Now, United States ownership of the mills and United States licencees are facts with which those of us who live in the area are very familiar. One of the first points I should like to make is that the experience of the natives, if I can include myself in that term-and I was born there-has been that these corporations in almost every sense are as good employers as the Canadian corporations, or better. This is also true in the sense of accepting responsibility for forestry research and responsibility in the field for such things as planting and general care for regenerative practices. You can hardly find a Canadian organization to match them in that part of the country. Despite the respect I have, for example, for the Abitibi Power and Paper Company and Mr. Ambridge, Abitibi cannot compare with Kimberly-Clark in the responsibility it shows toward its limits, its research and the whole protection of future supply. This, of course, is my opinion.
This officer of the department, Mr. Babcock, spoke at a joint United States-Canadian meeting. He brought up this whole question of the problem of an exporting country like Canada. Finally be had this to say:

It is difficult to evaluate the ultimate effect on the Canadian economy of foreign participation since the variables are extremely complex. It would be incorrect to suggest that this condition is detrimental to the Canadian economy, because regardless of the size and scope of the operations of an international corporation, maximization of profit is its primary concern in the long run. However, it places in the hands of non-residents the basic economic decision making functions for a large segment of the economy.
Decisions with respect to investment, plant location and expansion, purchasing, pricing and marketing all have their effect on the export of goods. These decisions in the hands of foreign based firms may directly affect the competitive position of Canada in world markets through their influence on the proportion of output allocated to foreign markets and the diversification of production for home consumption.
I have read that too quickly for members to appreciate the gist of it, but it seems to me that here is an economist who has a point but he really does not make it. He sets up a number of factors which would militate against the continuation of United States ownership in Canada, but then lets them go by saying, "Well, after all, really what is there to it?" I feel this is a most unfair kind of approach to make to a topic such as this. It would be better to go and say nothing than go and raise issues that you are not going to see through to some kind of conclusion.
I bring up the corporations, first of all, because this gentleman went to Minneapolis and had some things to say that are even more peculiar about trade unions that operate in the pulp and paper industry. He has a section in his speech called "Wage cost spiral". There are such lovely banalities in that section of his speech as this:
Most Canadians will agree that the United States is a most excellent neighbour and a comforting ally.
Then this officer touches on the question of the danger we face by living next to the United States because labour in Canada discovers how well paid labour is in the United States. Labour in Canada belongs to the same unions as do the men working in the woods in the United States. Then he winds up with a little homily to this effect:
Any external factor such as the use of relatively higher wage levels in the United States for labour-management negotiations in Canada, could artificially influence the cost of Canadian production.
Does he really believe this, or why did he bring it forward? I can tell him how this was reported in both Canadian and United States newspapers. The whole emphasis was on the fact that Canadian labour in our woods was looking to United States examples and United States organizations, and had raised wages inordinately high so we were not able to compete as well. I ask the minister whether or not that is the kind of role he feels one of

his research economists should be taking. If the man has a case to make against the relationship of Canadian locals in United States international unions, why does he not make it instead of making this half-baked analysis? My point is, if this is a sample of the economic research that goes on in the minister's department, then no wonder when we have a conference such as the resources for tomorrow conference there is a great deal of confusion in the reports coming forward from the research workshop.
Perhaps I should not cite the report that was put forward in the last journal of the resources for tomorrow conference. I know these things were done in a hurry, and they are very definitely synopses. However, I should like the minister to have a look at pages 18, 19, 20 and 21, containing the recommendations and the points made at these research workshops. I think he will agree that in forestry we have to get away from the idea that research is a good word. Sure, it is an okay word, and everybody loves the word "research"; however, the research has to have some purpose.
I certainly feel that one of the first moves that should be made, as a result of the mix-up in ideas expressed at these workshops, is that these things need to be tied together.
I am not convinced in my own mind that the research being carried on at the present time in the minister's department is really valuable. I can give him an example of this. There was a paper published just the other day relating to skidding practices and how many logs could be brought out in a certain time. This was a fairly expensive study but I ask myself is this the sector in which federal research should be concentrated? What is the Canadian pulp and paper association and its woodland section doing? I know their publications and I would say almost 40 per cent of them deal with just this kind of study. In terms of priorities what is our forestry research division doing in a field such as skidding, taking examples from the Petawawa forestry research station on the length of time it takes to skid? If you are going into this kind of work the place to go into it is on the job.
I would like to suggest to the minister that there needs to be a reappraisal of what kind of research his officials are going to do. I could give him an example from some of the problems we are facing in my area. The whole question relates to two fields, one silviculture and the other logging management. One is the very key question of logging costs. That is fundamental; and the other is the whole relationship of spruce to our pulp and paper industry.
It is very apparent when you talk about forests you do so from either the industrial or the government point of view, and I say this not to cast a slur on any man in any branch, or on the forestry policy of the Ontario government, but it is apparent that every forester is concerned about the way we are cutting our spruce.
The only substantial argument that one can put against this was put just last week by the forester for an Ontario paper, a man named Mr. Bruce Thompson, who read a paper at the meeting of the provincial foresters association for Ontario held in Port Arthur. He indicated that it was not industry's responsibility to worry about research or worry about regeneration, rather it was industry's responsibility to worry about selling and keeping up production and lowering costs.
There has been tremendous confusion in this particular area, and the use of spruce lies right in the middle of it. As most hon. members are aware, in the paper and pulp industry the fundamental ingredients do not have to be spruce, pine, birch or anything like those. It is a question of cellulose. It is a very significant event that Mr. Thompson expressed himself as he did. Why worry about premium kinds of cellulose that you find in spruce, when the chemical engineers can come along and clear up the whole problem? The main point is that as long as you use some kind of wood it will provide you with cellulose. There is the further argument that since poplar and birch are considered inferior species, and they grow much faster than spruce, then it is not wrong to fall back on the chemical engineers and be confident about them, because in the past 10 years the advances in chemical science have led to an increased production of quality newsprint and other papers of all kinds being made from products other than spruce.
Here is an area in which I am positive I am right, either scientifically or economically. At the present time we do not know whether we should be worrying about our spruce regeneration or not. Some companies are, and they are planting millions of trees a year. Other companies could not care less, and argue what is the difference? Surely this is crucial so far as the future of our forests is concerned. We could waken up in 10 or 15 years time and find we have not a substantial area of decent spruce to cut, that we are overcut. I have only to point out the experience we had in the past with white pine, if anyone says this could not happen.
As I said, this is one fundamental question of research which the department should tackle, whether there is any need at the

present time to worry in so far as our newsprint pulp supplies are concerned, and whether we are overcutting spruce and not developing alternatives to spruce. It is my contention that the department should go very far to influence the kind of forestry policy we are ultimately going to get.
The other problem I would like to raise with the minister is fundamental, vitally important and very delicate. That is the question of wood costs and our competition. We in my part of the country are accused of having the highest wood costs in the world. It is said that down in the southern United States you do not need a woods department; all you need to do is carry your woods department around in you back pocket because you have a whole bunch of negro settlers willing to work at very low rates on subcontracts, and because these settlers are impossible to organize they cannot have a higher wage rate.
It is argued that we must compete with this trend, but the argument never seems to be carried directly to its conclusion, although apparently the minister's economist who spoke in the United States went part way. The answer seems to be that Canadian labour working in the woods industry should not be prepared to take any more increases, and cut down in its demands. Now the whole point about this, as any trade unionist knows, is that all the paper companies have found their paper stocks moving in the last few weeks as a result of the dividend which Abitibi declared not so long ago. As a result of the Canadian government devaluing the Canadian dollar, the wood and paper companies in Canada have never had such beautiful balance sheets since 1956 as they have had this year. However, the men who actually start the whole business going, getting the wood to the mills, now want more when they see this happening; yet we have this story going around all the time that our wood costs are too high and that we are pricing ourselves out of world markets, including the United States market.
Is this not a challenge to the researchers? Is this not a problem for the national government to come up with the answer? I would draw the minister's attention to a statement made by the president of Abitibi. He says the logging tax is outrageous. Mr. Ambridge, the president of Abitibi, says world markets have been lost to the woods industry because of the outrageous logging tax. What does the minister's expert tell him about that? Has he any advice on that? What does he say to the Minister of Finance when this subject is brought up? Does his economist tell him that the logging costs are putting us out of

the United States market? It seems to me that these are vital and important questions to ask at this time about our forest research.
I would suggest that the minister has had a magnificent period of quiet in which to take over and assume the responsibilities of his department. He has not had tremendous pressure put on him by this house. He has not had critical pressure put on him. I am not bringing that pressure to bear on him now, but I suggest it is about time for him to crystallize some of these problems, particularly as they relate to forestry research.
The point I would like to underline again is that it has its effects on my region of the country where the dream, like in many other areas interested in the pulp and paper industry, is to have substantial forest communities. I am speaking about the social aspect of forestry, and every trade union leader of intelligence in the industry can tell the minister that we need to get away from the incentive kind of thought. We need to work to the stage where everybody is on a daily rate. All the professional foresters that I encounter tell me that we need to move toward a day rate because this is the way to get responsible cutters in the bush, men who through continuity and through living in a community are going to be more than the standard lumberjack who goes in, makes a big clean up of $75 or $80 a day on occasion for a few months and then goes away for the rest of the year.
I see the Minister of Labour sitting there. I remember that he went to the lakehead and someone told him of the case of a man who made, I think it was $8,000 in six months, and spent the rest of the year drawing unemployment insurance. I do not think this is the standard practice, but those very examples are the kind of things we should like to get away from in our part of the country. We would like to have stable communities in which men work at forestry the whole year round. This would have immense social consequences for good. For example there is the improvement we could put into schools, and the whole social relationship of an area could be shifted and changed.
No one likes the kind of situation where you have 3,000 or 4,000 men either working terrifically hard or walking the streets of Port Arthur or any other northwestern Ontario town. At the present time this is not the responsibility of the federal government except in a very peripheral way, but I do suggest that here is an area of research and an opportunity for leadership that the minister has with his Department of Forestry.
I know there are examples in our own region of what can be done. One of the problems I could point out to the Minister of

Citizenship and Immigration that relates to this question is the fact that we have an indigenous Indian population in the woods, but very few of them work on pulp and paper operations. Why is it that this is so? This is, in a way, their own land, their own forests, and why cannot they get jobs? Why are they not encouraged to work in the forests? Why cannot some liaison be established, not just in one place but in many places so they can fit into the labour field in the forests?
I suggest there is a good example in Kimberly-Clark in Longlac, Ontario, where very strenuous efforts have been made by this company to develop a year round labour force, probably at considerable cost to themselves. Here is almost a pilot project for the minister's research people. They could go in there and see what are the factors that make this work at Longlac. If it can work there, why cannot the other companies follow suit?
I should very much like the minister, in following up these things, to pay a visit to northwestern Ontario and also to the pulp and paper areas of Quebec. I do not mean a visit to the city of Port Arthur or Fort William, but to the towns where actual cutting takes place. I am thinking of places such as Beardmore, Longlac, Geraldton, Caramat, Ignace and similar parts of the country.
I hope the committee will forgive me for becoming so wrapped up in this particular topic, but I must confess that I have a great feeling of exasperation in this field. I have been closely associated with foresters for about eight years. Some of my best friends are working for the provincial government in the fields of research and industrial forestry. I have never met a profession that is so confused as the forestry profession seems to be at the present time. That is why I have perhaps put an inordinate responsibility upon the federal department to give some leadership in this field.
In case those few remarks about the profession of forestry may be taken in the wrong way, I sketched out the reasons for the confusion in an article that appeared in the Canadian foresters professional journal; but in a nutshell they seem to be this. The forester in his professional attitude is concerned with the future. He has to be, because this is the cycle that he is up against in biology. Also the forester, in terms of industry or government management, is up against the annual report and the quarterly dividend. Somehow in the straddle between those two points of view both the idealism and the assuredness of the forester seems to be lost, and as a consequence I can only think of one or two companies in Canada where the professional forester really has the kind of
influence on forest policy that he deserves. One of the things that keeps staving off his movement toward a more responsible position is the very confusion that seems to be raised about goals and objectives.
Coming back to where I started, I cannot think of anything better to confuse objectives and goals than the kind of paper presented in Minneapolis by the economist from the minister's department.

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