October 18, 1976 (30th Parliament, 2nd Session)


John Angus MacLean

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacLean:

It may be a coincidence but the facts of history show that when civilizations became highly urbanized they collapsed. That may be coincidental but it is a provable fact that when civilizations neglected their soil and forgot they were part of the web of life, that humanity itself is part of the biosphere of this little planet, collapse was certain.
I should like to say it is a historic fact that when civilizations neglected their soil and treated it as if agriculture were merely an industry, without exception they collapsed and disappeared. Again quoting from Schumacher at page 95:
Man, whether civilized or savage, is a child of nature-he is not the master of nature. He must conform his actions to certain natural laws if he is to maintain his dominance over his environment. When he tries to circumvent the laws of nature, he usually destroys the natural environment that sustains him. And when his environment deteriorates rapidly, his civilization declines.
The soil is a producer, directly or indirectly, of virtually all our renewable resources. Humanity depends upon that fact because we are part of the web of life. We should take a wider view of agriculture and not treat it as just another industry.
At page 105 of his book Mr. Schumacher writes:
On a wider wiew, however, the land is seen as a priceless asset which it is man's task and happiness "to dress and to keep". We can say that man's management of the land must be primarily orientated toward three goals- health, beauty and permanence. The fourth goal-the only one accepted by the experts-productivity, will then be attained almost as a by-product. The crude materialist view sees agriculture as essentially directed toward food-production'.
A wider view sees agriculture as having to fulfil at least three tasks:
-to keep man in touch with living nature, of which he is and remains a highly
vulnerable part;
-to humanize and ennoble man's wider habitat; and
-to bring forth the foodstuffs and other materials which are needed for a
becoming life.
I am almost finished, Mr. Speaker. I cannot close without referring to my home province, Prince Edward Island. It was proud to be called a million acre farm. However, in the last few decades it has suffered as much as, if not more than, any other province from government policies which favoured giantism, industrialization, and the exploitation of non-renewable resources. Such policies were "in". Saskatchewan probably suffered as much as Prince Edward Island from such policies,
October 18, 1976

until non-renewable resources like potash and oil were exploited in the province. Speaking as a Prince Edward Islander, 1 make no apology for the difficult times we have gone through as a province. I only regret that the resources supplied to my province by well meaning but ineffectual organizations such as DREE weve not administered in a way which will leave lasting benefits.
In Prince Edward Island our main resource is the soil; our second resource is the sea. We are in a highly favoured position since, in the long run, our resources are renewable. If we husband our resources wisely, if we are prepared to take the long view instead of acting according to expediency, we in Prince Edward Island will prosper as a living civilization, and areas which depend on non-renewable resources will look to us for help, rather than the other way around.
In closing may I say that, for me, the past 25 years are an experience I would not have missed for anything. On the other hand it is apparent that the sacrifice the member of parliament makes is not appreciated by the public at large. I do not know the reason for this. Perhaps it is the distorted image of this institution held up to the public of Canada by the media. Whatever the reason, the public ought to know that, generally speaking, members of any party make a great sacrifice when they agree to serve in this House. Usually they sacrifice the most productive periods of their lives in order to serve the best interests of Canadians, as they see them. But the public does not, generally, appreciate this.
I want to see the day when the public recognizes the sacrifice of those who stand for parliament. In every constituency several candidates present themselves for election to parliament. They are selected by our parties on the basis of character and standing. Our parties try to bring the best people forward. Out of three or four candidates only one is elected. If one were to be cynical, one could say that the elected one is the unlucky one. Usually he is in the most productive period of his life, which means he, or she, may sacrifice, for the sake of serving a few years, the opportunity for security. I include the families of members in my remarks, and I want to pay special tribute to the wives and families of members of parliament who accept, without reservation, the necessary sacrifices.

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