July 13, 1964 (26th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Erik Nielsen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nielsen:

The hon. member for Carleton says we had our chance. I am sure he will recognize the truth of this, that in those years between the beginning of 1958 to when his government took office we did more in developing Canada's north than had been done in any other time in Canada's history. He was not here then, but if he examines Hansard of 1961 or 1962 he will find I put
13. 1964
Federal-Provincial Relations on the record the differences of expenditures between the two decades prior to 1957 and the five short years subsequent to 1957.
I just have one set of figures at my disposal at the moment. In 1956-57 in northern administration $11,318,000 was spent by the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, and in 1961-62 there was $36,536,000 spent, an increase of almost three and a half times.
Where there was literally no investment by the federal government in improving communications-and by that I mean roads, radio and land lines-in the northern part of Canada prior to 1957, there is now full coverage by the C.B.C. in almost every area of Canada's north. There are land lines extending all the way up to Dawson City, and there are presently land lines under construction to Inuvik in the Arctic. This is the type of thing that mining companies and private risk capital are looking for, so that the country is not so remote that it will place the risk dollar they want to put into it at such a disadvantage with risk dollars invested elsewhere.
I say that the minister's philosophy, as disclosed in the royal commission report of which he was the author, is wrong, that we should not wait for a market to develop before looking for resources and looking for sources of resources to develop, but that we should be developing all regions of Canada now. The part that the government plays in this partnership between government and private industry is to provide the atmosphere which will attract risk capital. That should be done in the north by the government, more so than elsewhere in Canada, because the federal government is directly responsible for resource development in the north, and if the pattern set in the years 1957-62 continues, then this capital of a private nature will be attracted.
Passing very quickly to the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources itself, one of the things I feel the minister should be urging, in as strong a voice as he can, is the paving of the Alaska highway. In urging this development prior to the change of government, the principle of paving was accepted and engineering studies commenced under the previous government. I understand these are continuing today. I know the hon. member for Cariboo will support me in my urging of the paving of the Alaska highway, since it passes through a great deal of his constituency, and the minister himself will be rewarded substantially in the tremendous

Federal-Provincial Relations number of tourist dollars that will be left through the provinces of B.C. and Alberta, to say nothing of the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
The minister has informed me that there are discussions going on between Canadian government officials and officials of the United States government for the paving of the Alaska highway on a joint cost sharing basis. Since we are speaking about joint cost sharing programs it would appear that in order to obtain development in the north we have to participate in joint programs with the United States, which is a good thing.
The United States government realizes the value of paving this sole continental link between the 48 states and the 49th, Alaska, and I am sure the Canadian government, when it examines the economics will find the cost of maintaining the highway, which borders on $11 million, will be more than repaid by savings effected if the highway were paved. At present two bills have been introduced, one in the United States senate and the other in the United States house of representatives, calling for the United States government to contribute up to 50 per cent of the cost of improving, reconstructing and paving the Alaska highway. If the Canadian government does not act now, and act decisively on this gesture by the United States legislators, then we may lose the opportunity of participating with them in a cost sharing program for the improvement and paving of the Alaska highway, a program which will benefit the whole of Canada.
In the last year in office of the previous government the tourist revenues to Canada came out of a deficit position for the first time. Again this year-and I am sure the same situation prevails in all parts of Canada-the Yukon is enjoying an increased inflow of tourists from the United States and from other parts of Canada. By paving the Alaska highway and thus improving that means of communication the tourist traffic could be doubled and trebled.
There are other means by which the federal government could act in order to improve the situation with regard to the fiscal burden it must bear in the light of the existence of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories and the development of those areas of Canada. One of these the minister mentioned in his report as chairman of the royal commission on Canada's economic prospects. I refer to the tax exempt period for new mines. As the minister knows, a new mine may now operate exempt from taxation for

three years. The Canadian mining and metallurgical association, the B.C. and the Yukon chamber of mines, the Alberta and the northwest chamber of mines, the conference on northern resources held in Edmonton each fall-all of these organizations have endorsed the principle that the exempt period should be increased to five years. This will do a great deal to bring new mines into production and to provide impetus for accelerated mineral exploration and development in the northerly areas of Canada. In this regard I do not coniine my remarks to the Yukon and the Northwest Territories but am referring to the northern portion of the provinces as well. This sort of policy would do more to develop resources of this type than any other fiscal proposal that the government might have. There is only one possible exception and that is participation by the government with private industry in the north in the locating of smelters.
I believe that the federal government should relent with regard to its policy of excluding the government of the Yukon and the government of the Northwest Territories from representation at federal-provincial conferences. The government of the Yukon in particular, through its wholly elected council, is requesting initially not even active participation in federal-provincial conferences dealing with fiscal matters but merely that its representatives be allowed to sit in as observers.
I know the immediate answer will be that the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources or somebody from that department attends these conferences on behalf of the two governments concerned. But this is surely a shallow reply because we have federal-provincial conferences dealing with fiscal affairs where a member of the federal government is in effect representing a government which is on all fours with a provincial government in respect of legislative powers and per capita responsibilities. I might inform the minister that in the Yukon there is rather deep feeling about this matter, and with some justification. The people there look to recent statistics published by the federal government which disclose that during the last decade the per capita income tax contribution to the federal coffers from the Yukon exceeded, save for one year, the per capita tax contribution by Prince Edward Island. With such comparative statistics it seems to me there is some justification for acceding to what the elected representatives

of the people of the Yukon are requesting. It is not an unreasonable request at all.
I put a question to the Prime Minister with regard to a letter he had written to the premiers of the ten provinces, and their replies show that in large measure they are not against the type of representation requested. I do not have the letters before me but to the best of my recollection there were only one or two provincial premiers who had any direct objection to this sort of representation. Most of the other premiers said in their replies that they had no specific objection.
Therefore, Mr. Chairman, if I have accomplished nothing more than to get through to the Minister of Finance with this proposal I will have succeeded indeed. The thought simply is that the governments of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, particularly the Yukon because it has a wholly elected council as opposed to the partially appointed and partially elected council in the Northwest Territories, share the same programs as do the provinces. They pay the same per capita costs under these programs as do the provinces. They bear the same per capita tax burden in the implementation of these programs as do the provinces. Surely there should be some method for conveying the views of the elected representatives of the government of the Yukon to those who make the final decision as to what form these cost sharing programs will take. Surely we from the Yukon should be able to present our views as to how these cost sharing programs are going to affect the over-all economic fabric of the Yukon.
This is all we are asking. This is all that has been asked by the wholly elected council of the Yukon, a council which has the same legislative jurisdiction as any provincial legislature with three exceptions, in the fields of natural resources, justice-

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