May 26, 1965 (26th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Ralph Bronson Cowan


Mr. Ralph Cowan (York-Humber):

Mr. Speaker, I am in favour of the withdrawal of the notice of motion as suggested by the hon. Member for Broadview (Mr. Hahn), but I am afraid I cannot overlook the opportunity to welcome the hon. Member for Port Arthur (Mr. Fisher) to the ranks of those of us who defend private enterprise, he having argued that taxpayers should aid the private enterprise operators in the pulp and paper industry to eliminate the pollution of air and water. I had not intended to speak on the motion this afternoon, but when I found the subject was being opened up, despite the hon. Member for Broadview's desire to withdraw it, I decided I would like to make references to a point or two.
The air and water of this country belong to the people of the nation, and not to private individuals or private companies. They belong to the people as a whole. It strikes me as peculiar that we should be thinking of asking the taxpayers of Canada to help finance the correction of polluting agents that industry is using in the manufacture of its products.
In the Province of Ontario, particularly in the major municipalities, we have continuous inspections going on all the time against air pollution caused by too much smoke. This applies not only to industry but to railway steam engines and other engines putting out a lot of smoke into the air. Does this motion mean that the taxpayers should be expected to finance the conversion of industry in the control of a smoke nuisance which, after all,
Financial Aid to Minimize Pollution is pollution of the air? Why should not these industries be expected to govern their actions in some manner so that they are not polluting the heritage of the people of pure water and air? There are laws against what industries can dump on the streets, in order to keep the streets clean. Why should the taxpayers of the country be expected to aid in clearing up the pollution that private industry is creating?
The fact that many of these mills are in unorganized territories have given them all almost a carte blanche in their own minds to pollute the water and the air of those territories. I am thinking of some pulp and paper companies in Northern Ontario in the midst of woods on the sides of swift flowing streams, in unorganized municipalities, and they are of the opinion that no law of God or man applies to them. Some of them are trying to work seven days a week, and that is why I say they think the laws of God should not apply to them.
I believe the Government-and when I say Government I mean federal, provincial and municipal-should demand that private industry conduct its operations in such a way that they do not pollute the heritage of the people, pure air and pure water. I am not in 100 per cent agreement with the idea of taxpayers giving money to help a poor, hard-driven industry to correct the situation it is creating.
The hon. Member for Port Arthur has referred to the plant at Espanola. I taught school in 1922 in the town of Massey, Ontario, where the Sauble joins the Spanish River. I am familiar with the Spanish River back 150 miles from its mouth, and I know it was polluted originally by lumber mills letting dead head logs flow down it, and throwing bark into the stream.
The same thing has been done in the past to the Ottawa River by the great lumber barons of this area. This discussion does not apply just to pulp and paper mills. Lumber mills were allowed to pollute the water in the first place, and I do not believe that the taxpayers should be asked or expected to help finance the correction of an original mistake made by the manufacturers themselves.

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