March 21, 1968 (27th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Herbert Wilfred Herridge

New Democratic Party

Mr. H. W. Herridge (Kootenay West):

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon in the unavoidable and understandable absence of the Secretary
Proceedings on Adjournment Motion of State for External Affairs (Mr. Martin) I asked the hon. gentleman's parliamentary secretary whether the minister had been informed by the government of British Columbia of the expenditure to date on the Columbia river project. I am glad to have the opportunity to deal with this question for a few minutes because some persons in my riding who are staunch supporters of the Liberal party have asked me to raise it, as have some supporters of the Tory party and of my own party. So I am strictly non-partisan on this issue.
I wish to deal briefly with the sequence of events. On April 13, 1962 the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson) wrote the following letter to the secretary of the water resources committee of the chamber of commerce of Nakusp: Dear Mr. Waterfield:
Your letter of April 12th has just arrived and I would like to assure you that it is imperative to renegotiate the Columbia river treaty.
May I also assure you that all B.C. interests, particularly those of the water resources committee of Nakusp Chamber of Commerce, will be consulted by a new Liberal government before a final decision is reached.
Kindest regards,
Yours sincerely,
L. B. Pearson
The Prime Minister sent the Secretary of State for External Affairs to undertake this chore for him. Need I add that the water resources committee of the chamber of commerce at Nakusp never saw the hon. gentleman at all; he completely overlooked them in his trip down the river on behalf of the Prime Minister. To indicate how much faith was placed in the Secretary of State for External Affairs I would remind hon. members that in 1965 the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. MacEachen), then minister of labour, had this to say addressing a Columbia river treaty ceremony on Thursday, May 20:
While there are many who deserve credit for what has been made possible, there is one man who perhaps was most responsible for the project going through. This is Paul Martin, who took over the negotiations at the time I spoke of when it looked as if the great gains made by the previous negotiations might be lost, and who proceeded to work so closely with Premier Bennett and his colleagues and with the United States representatives. It was this close association, marked by an atmosphere of determination and good-will, that made possible the results reflected in this ceremony here today.
Apparently this close association and this determination on the part of the Secretary of State for External Affairs was not enough for
March 21. 1968
Proceedings on Adjournment Motion Mr. Bennett, because I read in the Vancouver Sun of Thursday, May 11, 1967:
Asked for his opinion of the treaty, he said: "The treaty missed out. The thing that's at fault In the treaty is that it was signed too quickly."
He blamed federal authorities.
He was referring, of course, to the Secretary of State for External Affairs and expressing dissatisfaction with the hon. gentleman's role in this affair. He recognized him as the key man. The report continues:
Bennett said the arrangement made with Kaiser Aluminum for a dam on the Arrow lakes "was three times better than the treaty".
Imagine that.
The deal concerned the proposed construction in 1954 by Kaiser Aluminum or a $25 million dam on the Arrow lakes. It was championed by former Lands Minister Robert Sommers.
Here is the premier of British Columbia expressing serious dissatisfaction with what the Secretary of State for External Affairs had done in signing this treaty.
I might say that upon being questioned in the external affairs committee on Friday, April 10, 1964, Mr. MacNabb, now a deputy minister, gave certain assurances when asked about the costs of the project. I asked him whether he was sure that his estimate of the cost was correct. The question reads:
In view of the experience of British Columbia Hydro over a number of years-of course their projects would be much smaller than these-we know that the average exceeded the estimated cost by 50 per cent. I have figures supplied by a friend in the British Columbia Hydro. In view of that, what do you think of the assurance that these costs will not greatly increase over the next ten years?
In reply, both Mr. MacNabb and the Secretary of State for External Affairs assured us that the cost had been so accurately estimated that they would have $55 million left over with which to put generators into the Mica Creek dam. Later on, the Secretary of State for External Affairs paid tribute to Mr. MacNabb as a man who knew exactly what he was talking about.
I find, however, on reference to the votes and proceedings of the legislature of British Columbia for Thursday, March 14, that Mr. Strachan asked the premier a number of questions, among which was the following:
With reference to the payment of $274,800,000 received October 1, 1964, under the Columbia river treaty, was any of this money expended to December 31, 1967?
[Mr. Herridge.j

I will not go into the other details of the questions. Mr. Bennett replied as follows:
Yes. Duncan Storage, $30,090,387; Arrow storage, $144,119,555; Mica storage, $85,184,179; general development costs, $1,818,502; total including interest during construction and overhead, $261,212,623.
The government of British Columbia has now practically admitted that the figures which were vouched for by the minister and by Mr. MacNabb are inaccurate and that the government of British Columbia is being obliged to spend over $200 million more than was provided in the treaty signed by the Secretary of State for External Affairs.
When the Secretary of State for External Affairs was in Castlegar he addressed members of the Castlegar chamber of commerce at which time he assured them that the government of Canada-
-would not sign any treaty with the United States which did not provide sufficient money to pay for all the costs of construction of Columbia river projects in Canada.
These various gentlemen whom I have mentioned earlier want this question answered. They are extremely interested in it. I am glad the parliamentary secretary is here this evening; I apologize for keeping him out of bed. I hope that when he comes to reply he will answer this question. In conclusion let me say that in the joint engineering board reports Mr. MacNabb never refers once to the total expenditures on the Columbia to date. I should like the parliamentary secretary to tell me whether the Secretary of State for External Affairs has received these figures and, if not, why not.

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