January 16, 1973 (29th Parliament, 1st Session)


Paul Edmund McRae


Mr. Paul E. McRae (Fort William):

Mr. Speaker, it was with a great deal of pride that I took my seat for the first time in the twenty-ninth parliament as a member of the House, and I am grateful for this opportunity to speak today. As the right hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr.
Diefenbaker) suggested, I am wet behind the ears. I find that there are many strange customs that one must become accustomed to in the House. Some of them, I think, are excellent and I like them very much. For instance, I like the idea that the House as a whole addresses Mr. Speaker and speaks to him collectively. Yet, I find it rather strange that all the members should congratulate the Speaker on his election. I feel that we should congratulate the members for their widsom in selecting such a fine person as Mr. Speaker, a person who has such knowledge, such objectivity, fairness and, above all, a sense of humour. I am also very much impressed by the role of the Deputy Speaker and was impressed by the manner in which he was selected.
May I also congratulate the mover and seconder of the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I was impressed by what they said and also impressed by the fact that the mover was a French-Canadian from Ontario and the seconder an English Canadian from Quebec. If we are not one nation, we are nothing.
I am also very pleased to note that each one of us is given an opportunity during this debate to speak about our own section of Canada. I was pleased that the debate was not cut off, as proposed in an amendment. It is very important that we, especially the new members, get to know the problems of people in other parts of Canada. This is a massive country. Unless we hear all members speak, it is very difficult for us to understand the problems of the rest of the country.
I have observed that there are some massive divisions within this country. One member spoke of five different areas. These divisions give me some concern. I wish to talk about a sixth division in this country. There are two dividing lines which, in a sense, divide but which also unify. There is a patch of green that stretches from the Queen Charlottes through Prince Rupert, Prince George, Peace River, The Pas, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, Rouyn, Noranda, Baie Comeau, Chicoutimi, Rimouski, Bathurst, N.B., Twin Falls to Cornerbrook. Some call it mid-Canada. Others call it the boreal forest of the north. It does not matter how you delineate it.
This is the stretch which is the heartland of Canada, the very center of this country, an area that can bring unity to this country. There are many variations within this part of Canada, but there are many things that are the same. We are the center of the greenbelt. The forest north, the forest product industry, the pulp and paper industry and the lumber industry are centred in this area. People working in these industries have many of the same problems. The hon. member for Temiscamingue (Mr. Caouette) talked about the closing of the CIP plant. Living in this particular area of Canada, this also affects me.
We are at the center of the mineral wealth of Canada. When we talk about energy problems, we talk about the problems of the heartland or middle part of Canada. We have most of the ground water. When people in this area are concerned about water diversion, they are concerned because they know about the ground waters in the center of Canada. This is an area of great natural beauty with a great potential for tourist growth. We are a people who
January 16, 1973

are free. We are used to distance, travel and movement. There are a great variety of peoples in this area. Most of the native people in this country live in this area. I have been very close to the native people in this country through marriage and many years of experience. I know the kind of problems they face.
There are many problems in mid-Canada. This is not the growing south and not the exciting far north, but the heartland of Canada. I must list some of our problems. Perhaps the most important is absentee ownership, the fact that things are always being done to us, not by us. We are the centre for expertise. Groups of experts are always telling us how to do things.
I wish to congratulate Mr. Richard Romer on his notion about the mid-Canada corridor. However, although there was much good in it, we did not participate in the planning. A partial explanation of this situation lies in the fact that we are absentee-owned and managed. Although I cannot put my finger on the figures, a survey that was conducted indicated that 50 per cent of the large industry in this area is branch plant industry and the average manager of one of these plants is in a community for four or five years. That kind of absentee ownership and management affects us very much.
We suffer from poor communications. There is a great need for organizations such as the CBC to provide better communications. In spite of the fact that we need a network in the north, we do not have a single CBC station in that whole area, and certainly not a network. I have referred to an east-west line. There is an opportunity to do something worthwhile to unite Canada, namely a communications network across the mid-Canada corridor. I again thank Mr. Romer for this suggestion.
We are dependent on a rail system which is totally inadequate. The two major railroads in this country do not want to run railroads. I have very strong feelings about the poor transportation in the north country. From time to time, I intend to speak about the lack of desire of our railroads to run a railroad system in this country.
At this point, we are sadly under-represented. This is one problem that faces all members in this area. Of the 21 constituencies where nomination dates are early, 19 are in this area about which I am speaking. This is the area hardest hit by the new redistribution. There are three such constituencies in northern Ontario and two in northern Quebec. Four of these have an increase in area of between 40 and 50 per cent as a result of redistribution. In three of the constituencies in northern Ontario, Kenora, Nipigon and Cochrane, there are distances further apart than Ottawa from Windsor or Ottawa from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
I should like to put into the record some observations by Douglas Fisher taken from Times-News of January 3:
Ontario is to have four ridings near or more than 150,000 square miles in size, i.e., each is to be substantially larger than Great Britain, or five times as large as Nova Scotia. Each of these four ridings is populated by at least 64,000 people in scattered nodes across its space.
The Address-Mr. McRae
I would say that most contain populations of around
75,000. Mr. Fisher goes on to speak of the role of a Member of Parliament:
It becomes more obvious each year that MP's who hold such monsters are not even bystanders to the basic parliamentary work of legislation and scrutiny. Just serving their ridings takes all their efforts. This year's increases in area, and those due after 1981, will make the monsters impossible.
We've got to make changes in redistribution before 1984.
I maintain we must make changes in redistribution before 1974 or else in these areas about which I am talking we shall have virtually no representation at all. I welcome the suggestion by the right hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Diefenbaker) that a constitutional amendment should be introduced so as to give due representation to people in these and similar parts of the country.
I have spoken for a few moments about this strip of green, what we call the heartland of Canada. I will conclude by mentioning the heart of this heartland, the city of Thunder Bay and the constituency of Fort William. I do this because it is a custom, a custom I like, to speak about one own's constituency. I do so, as well, because here I am speaking about a sector of mid-Canada. We are neither easterners nor westerners. We look both ways. Our government is to the east; we look to Toronto for provincial government. Most of our business, on the other hand, comes out of Winnipeg in the west. If I had to choose, I would say we were more western than eastern. We receive our CBC programs from the east, and one hour later we receive our CTV program from the west. So we are one of the few parts of the country which can get CBC news and CTV news at different hours.
The newly formed city of Thunder Bay is a major communications and transportation centre. I understand that in the last shipping year we handled the largest tonnage of any harbour in Canada on a monthly basis while the harbour was open. We are very much concerned with commerce, with everything which moves between east and west.
My constituency of Fort William has been ably served the last 37 years by two very fine members. Some of those present may remember the Reverend Dan Mclvor, a very warm-hearted person who graced this House for many years-

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