December 11, 1962 (25th Parliament, 1st Session)


John Robert (Jack) Nicholson


Mr. Nicholson:

I heard it. It is in Hansard. I wish to identify myself very closely with what the hon. member for Leeds said, as I fully believe the position which he took is the only sound one. Simply because I do not represent a constituency in the Atlantic provinces does not mean that I and other members of this House of Commons have not followed this bill with just as keen interest as have hon. members from the maritime provinces during the course of the debate.
References were made-one by the hon. member for York-Sunbury, as I recall it-* to the migration from the Atlantic provinces to other parts of Canada. Since I am one of the migrants it would be most surprising if my interest in the maritime provinces and the well-being of the Atlantic provinces is not just as keen as that of those hon. members who still live there. It was because of this special interest, not because I intended to take any part in the debate, that I carefully studied Bill No. C-94. I spent a great deal of time on it, especially on the clause now under review, namely clause 9. It was perhaps because of the diligence with which the hon. member for Spadina and I pursued this study that we two joined with the other members on this side of the house in opposing the amendment that was proposed. We felt that the power which the hon. member for Cape Breton South was trying to get already existed. However, it
Atlantic Development Board is one thing to be of the opinion that a board has the power sought by the hon. member for Cape Breton South, that it is already in existence, but it is a very different thing to agree with the government that this bill contains all the objects and powers that are needed to make it the success which the people of the maritimes and the people of the rest of Canada hope it will be.
When I heard the Minister of National Revenue introduce this bill I was hopeful that the government had some well conceived plan of action tied with the plan of action for the national economic development board. I was hopeful that the government contemplated the establishment of a board which could play an effective part in shaping a program that would restore the prosperity that existed in the maritime provinces when my four grandparents settled there well over one hundred years ago. However, a study of the objects and the powers will show that such is not the case. In the first place-and here I think the hon. member for Essex East put his finger on one of the weaknesses, one very important fact. We do not know how this national economic development council is going to function in conjunction with the economic development board for the Atlantic regions. It is quite true that in subclause 2 of clause 9 reference is made to the fact that there shall be co-operation between these boards. However, co-operation is not enough. The C.B.C. and the other great board in our field of telecommunications are supposed to co-operate, but we have seen what has happened there. More than that is needed. What is needed is some form of mechanism that will bring about an effective working arrangement between the boards. It could be in the form of interlocking directorates or common members of the different boards. However, that weakness certainly exists.
I might say that when I first discussed this bill-and I was disappointed when I saw the bill; not when I saw the resolution, but when I saw the bill-when I first discussed it with other members, not just those on this side of the chamber but from other parts of the house, considerable concern was expressed as to why there should be a separate board for only one part of Canada. I might say that I am not one who shares that view. I believe that if an economic development board for the Atlantic region, composed of well informed, courageous and dedicated people-and there are plenty of them in that part of Canada-had an assurance of adequate funds with which to do some of the work that is essential down there, and had the assurance that they would have capital at the right time to correct the economic ills they find, much could be done. My reasons
Atlantic Development Board for saying that there should be a special economic development in the Atlantic regions are very simple. It is a known fact that since confederation economic developments, not in all parts but unfortunately in too many parts, of the maritime provinces have lagged behind the rest of Canada. Prospects and economic conditions down there are certainly not nearly as bright as my friend the Minister of Finance this afternoon intimated they were. Whether the figure is 14 per cent as suggested by the hon. member for Essex East or some slightly lower figure, it is still the highest unemployment level in Canada; and something should be done to improve conditions down there.
It is not because of the people of the maritimes that this difficulty exists. Not only have some of our greatest educationists, industrialists, bankers and lawyers but, and by no means the least, some of our ablest politicians have certainly come from that part of the world. However, in spite of the acknowledged ability of these people from the maritimes, the economy has lagged behind that of the rest of Canada. I say that the reason is a simple one. Geographically and economically the Atlantic provinces have closer ties with the New England states than they have with central and western Canada. The Atlantic provinces, however, have very strong ties with the rest of Canada, including ties of sentiment and of blood. These are very strong ties. If these ties had not been as strong as they are, they might have snapped long before this. As I say, in spite of these economic difficulties, the maritimes are still a very important and vital part of this nation. However, they need more than an act such as the one within the framework of this bill.
All of the maritime provinces have untapped resources. Newfoundland has a richness of forest wealth and has an important forest industry that needs help. It has great mineral wealth. We are just beginning to realize the importance of the mineral wealth of this tenth province. New Brunswick has rich forest land. It has valuable fisheries. It also has mineral wealth and a great hydroelectric potential. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have great wealth. However, the mineral and the forest wealth of Newfoundland needs more than advice and encouragement. It needs more exploration. It needs more geological work and more research, and it certainly needs working capital. Then I might mention the huge salt deposits in Nova Scotia-many Canadians have never heard of them-and the natural gas wells down near the Tantramar marshes. With the scientific developments that have gone on

in the last 20 years there are great possibilities in this part of Canada, not to mention the province of New Brunswick.
There is an industry there now, but what it needs is working capital. Many people would be astounded at the development that would be possible in the peat bogs of Northumberland county. So, I say that the difficulty under which the maritime provinces are working is this geographical barrier which ties them closer to the New England states than to central Canada. We have a special problem, and that problem needs a special board, an Atlantic regional board to handle it. I feel that this board should have the assurance of the necessary financing behind it. It is for this reason I was disappointed when the very constructive suggestion included in the amendment moved by the hon. member for Charlotte was turned down this afternoon on a technicality.
I do not believe that anyone could seriously quarrel with the reasoning of the chairman when this amendment was turned down. Nevertheless, there is so much merit in the suggestion put forward by the hon. member for Charlotte that I feel the minister who is sponsoring this bill should give it careful consideration. He should see that funds of the magnitude suggested by the hon. member are made available by the government. The fact that there is no provision of that kind in the bill, the fact that we had barely opened discussion of this bill when it was announced the provision for the $3,000 salary would be amended authorizing the government to fix the salary, illustrates the fact that this bill has not had the careful thought and consideration the economic plight of the martime provinces would warrant. This concrete suggestion by the hon. member for Charlotte should receive consideration, and I commend it to the minister. I say that if a private member cannot move such an amendment, there is no reason why the government cannot take it under advisement overnight and come back with an amendment that would cover the situation.
Before I sit down, Mr. Chairman, there is one other suggestion I should like to put forward, and which I also commend to the government for its consideration. I believe this suggestion would go a long way toward providing a satisfactory answer to the question that has been troubling the hon. member for Essex East as well as other members in this house. I refer to the question, what do we do with two economic development councils and a national productivity council, and how are they going to work together? I suggest this bill might be amended, or perhaps Bill No. C-87 providing for the national productivity council might be amended, to provide for an interlocking membership. At

least the chairman of the Atlantic board should, ex officio, be a member of the national board. This is a constructive suggestion that should be implemented in one of these bills. I am putting this forward merely in the hope that it will be accepted and acted upon in the spirit in which it is made.

Full View