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


Hugh John Flemming (Minister of National Revenue; Minister of Forestry)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Flemming (Victoria-Carleion):

Mr. Chairman, the remarks that have been made by various speakers since the committee resumed at eight o'clock are deserving of a great deal of attention and should be treated with the greatest respect. I have been impressed with some of the speeches that have been made, and at this particular moment I would like to address myself to the points raised by the hon. gentleman from Essex East, because he asked some point blank questions and requested specific replies.
It is not always possible to give specific and categorical replies to all questions, and I would like to suggest to him that he should read subclause (1) of clause 9 and read the objectives of the board as set forth in that subclause. He will find that the objects of the board are:
-to inquire into and report to the minister upon measures and projects for fostering economic growth and development of the Atlantic region of Canada, and, without further limiting the generality of the foregoing, the board may, in furtherance of its objects-
And then it goes on to be somewhat specific. I would like to direct the attention of the hon. member to subclause (1) in its context and by itself, and to consider that it points out the primary duty of the board.
The board has a variety of functions and will deal with a variety of geographical areas to which it must give attention. There will be a variety of questions coming before it, some of which have been mentioned by speakers both tonight and on previous occasions in this debate. These will all have a place in the functions of the board, but I put forward subsection (1) of this clause as being the part of the clause which should be emphasized. In that connection 1 suggest to the hon. gentleman that the points which he has raised

are of secondary significance and not of primary significance so far as the bill is concerned.
The hon. gentleman has brought up the question of co-operation between other boards, and it would seem to me it is difficult to spell out in detail and in precise terms just what that co-operation will consist of in this case. It is difficult even to explain what one may have in mind because we may differ in our concepts of the detailed way in which this board will function. To the extent of my limited experience in the commercial world of this country, I found that the most important thing in the conduct of a business was management, proper management and management by people with ability. In that connection I found that you did not gain by trying to determine in advance how you should meet every situation. If you did, you might as well have a clerk as a manager. So I suggest to my hon. friend that co-operation with other boards should be the secondary function of this board. The primary function should be to do the very things set forth in clause 9, subclause 1. Perhaps I may read it again:
The objects of the board are to inquire into and report to the minister upon measures and projects for fostering the economic growth and development of the Atlantic region of Canada-
That is the mast on which I would nail this particular flag, so far as the board's primary duty is concerned. I do not think we should allow this board to become impotent, because it might very well be rendered so by putting some kind of a rope around its neck and saying to it, "You must co-operate here. You must co-operate there. Here is another area in which you must co-operate". I think we have to give the board freedom of action with the idea in mind that this is for the good of the country in general. Mr. Chairman, I am sure we will all, as Canadians, face the fact, that a prosperous and favourable economic climate in Canada-and when I say Canada, I mean all of Canada-is just as important, and perhaps more important, to the Atlantic provinces as it is to any other part of this country. So I do not see any conflict here. In fact, quite the opposite; I think there will be definite co-operation. I think the emphasis must be on the Atlantic provinces. That will be the duty of the board. But I see no particular difficulty about cooperation with other boards which will be before this house for legislative enactment in the very near future.
Mr. Chairman, I would like at this stage to associate myself with the remarks made by my hon. friend for Queens in connection with a suggestion made by the hon. gentleman from Vancouver Centre. I see great merit in
Atlantic Development Board his suggestion. I see no reason why it should not be adopted. I have no reason to think that it will not be adopted. I think it is a constructive idea. Various other points have been raised, Mr. Chairman, and I made a note of them. I believe I have dealt with them, although I do not know that I have dealt with the points raised by the hon. gentleman from Essex East to his satisfaction. I have dealt with them to my own satisfaction inasmuch as my own conception of the board is concerned; that is, its primary duty, its secondary duty and the fact that under subclause (d) you find that they even consider matters, not projects but matters, that may be usefully considered. Perhaps I may refer to the subclause:
-consider and report to the minister upon any other matters that in the opinion of the board may usefully be considered-
I consider that could be a variety of things. That can certainly cover the subject mentioned by my hon. friend from Saint John-Albert. It could almost cover the waterfront, so far as that is concerned. In connection with the development of the area with regard to which this board will have a good deal of responsibility, I am quite satisfied that they have the greatest degree of flexibility under this bill. I do not want to get into a discussion about what we started to do in this country 100 years ago, and the fact that we started to work against geography in our concept of building a nation. We were going to have the trade flow east and west instead of north and south because the final concept was that we were going to build a nation. In my opinion the fathers of confederation had no conception of how great this country was destined to be. I believe we have made tremendous progress as a country. The trade must flow east and west to the extent that we can work toward that end in a proper manner and without any great injustice to any part of this great country and the fringe areas. In particular the eastern fringe areas may perhaps be considered by some of us as operating under something of an economic handicap. But I still submit that the advantages we have seen from association with the rest of Canada have been tremendous, and I for one do not regret that almost 100 years ago in 1867 they decided to embark upon this great venture against geography, and build a great nation with the trade flowing east and west.
This is a measure the government have submitted to parliament as their idea of a concrete step that might be taken to contribute to the development of that portion of this great country known as the Atlantic provinces. Every speaker has admitted that the bill is not perfect, and very few bills

Atlantic Development Board are perfect. It would be too bad if it were perfect, because our hon. friends would not have anything to find fault with and they would not be able to carry out their function as the official opposition. In that event I do not know what would happen to the hon. member for Essex East. He would not be able to rise with that eloquence for which he is famous and really sweep us off our feet from time to time, as he does, unless there was something he thought lacking in the legislation before the house.
Mr. Chairman, that is all I have to say at this stage. I believe that all the objections and misgivings that have been raised have been dealt with. With regard to the points made by my hon. friend from Queens, the committee may be sure that since the constituency I have the honour to represent is probably the best agricultural constituency in Canada, those points will certainly not be ignored so far as any influence that I may have is concerned. The points raised by all hon. members who have spoken will receive the greatest degree of consideration, and the misgivings expressed, particularly by my hon. friend from Essex East, I am sure will not be serious to the operation of the statute.

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