Mr. MURRAY MacLAREN ((St. John and Counties of St. John and Albert):
Mr. Speaker, I would take this opportunity of bringing to the attention of the House the condition of the oil fields in the county of Albert. This matter was referred to a year or two ago. In the county of Albert the oil fields are in the early or development stage; there has as yet been no large development. Up to the present I understand that between a million and a million and a half dollars of British capital have been invested in this work. The amount of production, I say, is not large; the work is in its initial stages. The bounty that has been paid is something about $5,000 a year. If the bounty is to be abolished, as is now threatened, then this industry in Albert will lose that sum-a small sum, it is true, but it is something that would help. The profits are very small, or nil; therefore a bounty, even if a small one, is of first importance.
Two years ago the Minister of Finance of that day was very cautious about continuing the bounty, because he said there might be an outpouring of oil in the northern and western parts of this country. It was pointed out to him that that was a remote possibility; that it might happen within a year or perhaps not for fifty years; that he was legislating on something that might occur, to the great loss and disadvantage of industries that were being earned on to-day. It is important that this industry should not be subject to loss, because surely we will all agree that we should encourage the investment of money from without the country. The development of the oil area in Albert is a case in point, because it is largely British capital that has been invested in this work. The abolition of the bounty would unquestionably be a severe blow at the investment of British money in this part of the country. The work has not been put on a profitable basis, therefore those who have invested their funds in the work and are not yet receiving a fair reward cannot help considering that they are not being treated fairly. Surely there can be a means of providing that any such wonderful development of oil as has been predicted will not plunge the country into an enormous expenditure; surely the bounty can be limited to a certain point of production. I place this matter again before the minister in the hope that it may make some little impression on him. I sincerely believe that to abolish the bounty will not
benefit the country. You are proposing to make a small immediate direct saving, but the ultimate loss will be very great in injury to or the closing of these industries and in shaking the confidence of outside investors in this country.