June 26, 1925 (14th Parliament, 4th Session)


Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)


I remember the subject
being before me but very briefly some years ago. I have read the remarks of the minister in a previous debate and, as well, the address of the hon. member for Vancouver Centre.
I would gather indisputably from his words that he is strongly opposed to anything being done that would mar the natural beauty of this park by any power development at the Spray lakes. I am informed also that there has been considerable protest from other parts of Canada against the general principle of commercializing the parks, and possibly some of these protests have special reference to this site and this projected exploitation. Another factor that weighs with me is the fact, or so I am informed, that the head of the Parks branch, Mr. Harkin, has set his face against the utilization of these falls. On that account it is with some hesitancy that I venture to express an opinion. But finding the government in the position of having no policy it would be a shame not to assist them in any way that one could. I want to

say in this respect that their attitude is in no way unique. It is becoming an almost invariable habit with them to represent themselves as being without any opinion on any question that comes up and, as it were, waiting for instructions. Now, I venture the opinion that this country cannot set its face definitely for any length of time against the development of practical power sites in our parks. I do not think that can be done. If you have a big city with aspirations for industrial progress, and hungering for power as Calgary will be, though it may not be just yet, it certainly is assuming a ereat deal to stand a thousand miles away and to say, "Do not harness the power at Spray lakes because I and many others might like to look at the water falling down there. You should be good enough to do without the very life blood of industry in order that we may have that pleasure." I can recall years ago when the question of Niagara development was under review, not in this parliament but in Canada. At that time Canadian and American magazines were filled with protests, with splendidly written articles, and with all sorts of violent protests against the idea of commercializing this wonderful beauty spot of nature. Imagine the folly that would have been .perpetrated had these words been heeded! Just think of the suggestion of denying to the people of Ontario the comforts as well as .the wealth which Niagara development has yielded, in order that some tourists might be able to see more water flowing at a single spot over a hill. Perhaps it is not the same as respects the Spray lakes which are in a natural park. Nevertheless, though perhaps in a lighter degree, the argument applies. There is no province in Canada, unless it be Saskatchewan, which has less natural potential water-power than Alberta; and in that state of the province I do not believe that any government in the world can deny the claims of the people to utilize such powers as they have. Nor is it essential, I should think, that there should be any gross disfigurement of the natural beauty of the park as the result of power development. I know there could be.

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