I know Mr. Ambridge is not scared of you, either.
It takes much work and effort to build up a great industry such as the pulp and paper industry and again I compliment the government on the steps they have taken to assist in this direction. I hope these efforts will be given encouragement by all hon. members in the future.
I can well recall a time in this parliament when practically nothing was spent by the federal government on the great pulp and paper industry, despite the revenue which came into the coffers of the dominion government for so many years. Again I suggest there is tremendous research work to be carried out with reference to destruction caused by insects, fungi and fire. So far as reforestation is concerned, practically every important company in Canada is doing a great deal. The hon. member for Port Arthur shakes his head but I should like to tell him that
independent of what any of the companies may be doing there is a great misconception with regard to what can be achieved by assisting in reforestation. I have tramped through the bush a good many times over the years in which I was more closely interested in and responsible for this big industry. I have seen areas which will not have on them, it is true, for fifty years after it is cut down, wood which is fit to cut again. However, in some areas I myself have counted ten times as many little spruce growing up as spruce trees that were cut down. The most advanced and most educated silviculture scientists today, while they differ a great deal, believe that our general natural reproduction, if it is protected from fire, will amount to between 85 per cent and 90 per cent generally right across the board.
Trees are just like other products that grow. A few years ago some hon. members asked about this matter. I remember one hon. member asked why the pulp and paper industries and the lumber industry should be allowed to go into the forests and cut them down. I might ask some of my friends from western Canada a similar question. When they have miles of beautiful golden wheat that looks so beautiful from the aeroplane or from the train, why cut it down when it is ripe and ready to harvest? It is cut because the next crop will come on. Our forest industry is somewhat the same. When the trees are ready to cut and there is a market for them, they should be cut. They should be taken as a crop. The difference is that it takes from 60 to 70 years to grow a spruce tree and it probably takes fewer months to grow a crop of wheat, probably six months.
On the other hand, as has been mentioned, research is now being carried out no doubt by the companies. Lowering the costs of production is of vital importance in ever growing competition throughout the world. That is something that is always changing. The competition today in the world is entirely different from what it was a few years ago. There is competition from the Scandinavian countries and, though not as well known, from Russia. I have heard it said that there is not much competition from Russia because their streams run the wrong way and that when they freeze up it is impossible to drive. That is all very fine. However, I have seen some of the most beautiful pulpwood in the world come in at different seasons of the year from Russia in years past for far less than our cost of production. It was better trimmed and peeled and was in beautiful shape. Hence, we have competition in that regard. Any research that can be done in order to cheapen production is all to the good.
I know that a few years ago many companies had three times as many men in the bush as they have now. Many companies had as many as 1,000 teams and some of them had 2,000 teams of horses drawing out pulp-wood, or skidding, which the hon. member mentioned this afternoon. Now some of the same companies have not any horses at all and one third the number of men are moving out the wood. The same thing is happening in general automation, as a result of mechanical advancement, in agriculture and other basic industries.
The hon. member mentioned chain saws. I can remember when the boast used to be made that if a man was strong enough he could, with a bucksaw, cut three cords to four cords of wood a day. Now two smart fellows going through university can take a chain saw and, as my hon. friend knows, can sometimes produce as many as 30 cords a day. Such is the march of progress.
I hope that we shall have a new look at the possibilities of protecting these great virgin forests. We have tremendous forest resources in this country. We are blessed with forest resources such as few other countries have ever been blessed with. The hon. member suggests that perhaps we are cutting too much spruce. May I suggest that spruce will grow and will replenish itself just the same as any other trees do. Chemical science is now finding out that just as good paper can be made from many other sources of wood. A few years ago they did not believe that could be done at all. Some assert that in a few years to come many other species of hardwoods will be used just about as widely as spruce is used at the present time.
Again I wish to compliment this government on the fact that, along with the other things they have done, they have a forward look with regard to the forest industry. I may say that at the present time I think they are looking as far into it as they feel it is constitutionally possible in order to assist this great industry to perpetuate itself and to protect it from fire, insects, fungi and so on. May I suggest that I believe they are on the right road, in the first place with respect to access roads to these regions. We have virgin forests that are not accessible to the present mills. In the next quarter of a century these forests will no doubt have mills in their midst. In the meantime, with access roads from one province to another into these districts in order to protect them when the forests are struck by lightning and fires are started or are infested with fungi, budworms and other insects which destroy the trees, these forests can be accessible through these roads.
While I personally think we have waited a long time to play the proper part in cooperating with the provinces in assisting the forest industry, again I wish to compliment the government for going as far as they have gone in the plans they have for greater support of and co-operation with the provinces in the future. I leave this thought with you, Mr. Chairman. I believe the features they are emphasizing are not so much the research that has been done, as mentioned by the hon. member for Port Arthur, in telling the companies how to handle their labour, how to reduce their costs or, in other words on the side of economics-I believe that is their responsibility-but are more in the direction of protection of the virgin forests in the years that are ahead from fire, insects and other destructive forces.