Personal Data

Progressive Conservative
Selkirk (Manitoba)
Birth Date
January 8, 1913
Deceased Date
February 3, 1977
insurance agent, merchant

Parliamentary Career

March 31, 1958 - April 19, 1962
  Selkirk (Manitoba)
June 18, 1962 - February 6, 1963
  Selkirk (Manitoba)
April 8, 1963 - September 8, 1965
  Selkirk (Manitoba)
November 8, 1965 - April 23, 1968
  Selkirk (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 5 of 46)

June 28, 1967

Mr. Eric Siefanson (Selkirk) moved:

That, in the opinion of this house, the government should consider the advisability of establishing an inland waterway from Winnipeg through Selkirk to Edmonton, via the Red River, Lake Winnipeg and the Saskatchewan River.

DEBATES June 28, 1967

He said: Mr. Speaker, I had this same motion on the order paper last year and it came up for discussion on June 1, 1966. As the government has not taken any action on it, I felt duty bound to place it on the order paper again.

I am happy that there is an opportunity again to discuss the merits of this motion. All I am requesting is that the government should give consideration to the advisability of establishing an inland waterway from Winnipeg through Selkirk to Edmonton via the Red River, Lake Winnipeg and the Saskatchewan River. This is not an unreasonable request. I hope that the Minister of Transport particularly, as a former Manitoban, will lend his support to this motion and not let another year go by without initiating a feasibility study of this proposed waterway.

When speaking on this resolution last year the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Thompson) said he would have been happier if I had specified that one end of the system be Rocky Mountain House. I would have no objection to this. In fact the Voyageurs, one of Canada's centennial projects, started from Rocky Mountain House in the foothills of the Rockies on the North Saskatchewan River and will finish at Expo in Montreal. The Voyageurs will arrive in Selkirk, Manitoba, on Sunday, July 2. Besides being greeted by the residents of Selkirk, many other people will be there to greet them, including Lord and Lady Selkirk. Those participating in the centennial canoe pageant will be familiar with the terrain along this proposed waterway and they will be a valuable source of information for compiling the merits and feasibility of this system.

I pointed out last year that the first promoter of this proposed waterway to whom I listened was the late Mr. J. F.-Fergie- Cunningham, who had personally carried out research and study of this system. He firmly believed that it would be practical. Subsequently the Selkirk Chamber of Commerce took up the promotion of this proposed inland waterway and did an excellent promotional job. So far, however, there has been no government action. If one firmly believes in a project and does not immediately meet with success, one should not give up but should continue to promote the project and request the government to take action.

Subtopic:   TRANSPORT
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June 28, 1967

1. When was the P.F.R.A. advisory committee established?

2. Who are the present members of this committee?

3. How often did this committee meet during 1966 and 1967, and where did the meetings take place?

4. What meetings, if any, are now planned?

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June 28, 1967

Mr. Eric Sfefanson (Selkirk):

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Transport. Is the Department of Transport carrying out an inquiry or investigation into the tragic sinking in lake Winnipeg of the tugboat Teddy in which the captain lost his life?

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June 28, 1967

Mr. Stefanson:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I thought I was allowed 20 minutes.

The Moselle Waterway, a 170-mile link between the steel producers of Lorraine and the Rhine, was officially opened in 1963. The construction of this waterway was an engineering feat of some note and the cost was shared by three countries, France, West Germany and Luxembourg. This inland waterway enabled the French steelmakers to ship steel to prospective customers in southern Germany more cheaply than before. It also enabled them to bring in coal by barge from the Ruhr area and from Holland and this means lower freight rates. This inland waterway is helping the economies of the three participating countries.

The proposed inland waterway from Winnipeg through Selkirk to Edmonton is approximately 1,200 miles long. The type of waterway I have in mind, suitable for tugs and barges to use, would not require any great depth of water and would therefore not require any great amount of digging. Every power development creates a lake; I am thinking of the power developments at Grand Rapids and at Squaw Rapids. The formation of these lakes should make navigation easier. There will be locks needed at the dam. From an engineering point of view there should be no problem about making this inland waterway a reality.

During the past year, construction of a pulp and paper mill at Prince Albert has been started and another pulp and paper mill and a forest products plant are under construction at The Pas, Manitoba. Some time in the future, another pulp and paper mill may be established at Grand Rapids.

At the present time Marine Transport hauls pulpwood by tug and barge to the pulp and paper mill at Pine Falls. Some of the pulp-wood is hauled in from north of Norway House on the Nelson River. The Selkirk Silica Sand Company hauls silica sand from Black Island in Lake Winnipeg to Selkirk where the sand is processed. It is logical to suppose that eventually there will be a glass factory established alongside the sand processing plant. Under the ARDA-FRED agreement, there will be an industrial park established in Selkirk. In considering the future development of Selkirk, one must not discount the possibility that some day Selkirk may be situated on a great inland waterway. At the present time most of the lake traffic on Lake Winnipeg funnels out from Selkirk. In the future water traffic may greatly increase and become far more important than it has been in the past. No doubt an inland waterway could be established from Lake Winnipeg to

June 28, 1967

the Great Lakes. This is the route which the explorers travelled.

[DOT] (5:20 p.m.)

I can also visualize a waterway from Lake Winnipeg to Hudson Bay. With power development now taking place on the Nelson River, consideration should be given to the possibility of making the Nelson River into a navigable waterway. If these waterways become a reality then Selkirk will become a busy inland seaport.

Recently I had the privilege of attending the official opening of the new melt facilities at the Manitoba rolling mills in Selkirk. These new, modern facilities cost the company over $9 million. The modernization of this plant is an indication that this company has faith in Manitoba and in the town of Selkirk. Also recently I attended sod-turning ceremonies for the distillery which the House of Seagram is building at Gimli, Manitoba. The establishing of this distillery at Gimli involves an expenditure of $10 million. This is an indication that the House of Seagram has faith in Manitoba and in the town of Gimli.

Lake Winnipeg is by far the largest producer of fresh water fish in western Canada. The fish are brought in by boat to the fishery plants at Gimli, Selkirk and Winnipeg. Canadian forces base Gimli is a very active base where jet pilot training is carried out. Indications are that this base will be active for many years to come. The Pan-American sailing races are being held at Gimli this summer. I merely point these things out, Mr. Speaker, to show that business has confidence in this area of Manitoba and that exciting things are already taking place.

I urge the government to take steps to ascertain the transportation needs of western Canada for the next 10, 20 or 30 years. I am personally convinced that the time will come when inland waterways will become an important part of our transportation needs. Perhaps the government will prefer to conduct a study of the whole water system in western Canada, including source and supply, conservation, power development and inland waterways. If the government is prepared to do this I will be satisfied provided such a survey or study is initiated at an early date.

Subtopic:   TRANSPORT
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June 28, 1967

Mr. Siefanson:

My experience in regard to other matters and other projects has been that if one believes strongly in them and

June 28, 1967

perseveres long enough, one generally meets with success in the end.

The purpose of this proposed waterway is to provide another means of transportation. It is only natural that some of those engaged in other modes of transportation will oppose this proposition and even ridicule it. I personally believe that this proposed western inland waterway will reduce freight costs in the prairie provinces, will accelerate development in northern areas and will encourage production of minerals as well as agricultural and forest products. It will open new frontiers to recreation and will encourage tourists to come to these areas. It will help to bring in much needed United States dollars and thus help to rectify the imbalance of trade with our neighbour to the south. In addition, it will shorten the distance for building roads to resources and will create substantial additional employment.

Many have said to me that this idea of a western inland waterway is a very good one but that before it will be practical or feasible we need a much larger population and much more industrial development. I do not dispute the fact that this is probably correct. The population of Canada from now on will increase at a much faster pace than in the past and the same applies to industry. With an increasing population, industrial development will take place at a far greater place than in the past. In view of this I feel it is imperative that the government start now with studies and not wait until we require this additional transportation system.

It is a foregone conclusion that extensive population growth and extensive industrial growth will take place in the three prairie provinces in the years ahead. The prairies have wheat, oil, potash, minerals, agricultural products, pulp and forest products, fish, and so on. For these reasons this is a natural area for industry to establish and a western inland waterway will help to bring industry there.

[DOT] (5:10 p.m.)

In the period from 1870 to 1917 many boats travelled the Saskatchewan River system. There was no expenditure made for river improvement. Some of these boats were of a good size, as long as 200 feet. We have today a fleet of tugs and barges operating on Lake Winnipeg. I am told that this is the most up-to-date equipment of its kind on the North American continent. During the construction of the hydro development at Grand Rapids this fleet moved a lot of material and equipment to that power site. These crafts

Establishment of Inland Waterway will be ideal for operating on an inland waterway such as I visualize.

An extensive detailed investigation to ascertain the feasibility and cost of providing a navigable waterway for vessels and barges to operate between Edmonton and Lake Winnipeg was carried out between June, 1910 and October, 1915. The complete report of this investigation was submitted in November, 1917 by the chief engineer of the Dominion Public Works Department. This report, based upon a minimum of six feet of water at mean low water levels from Lake Winnipeg to Edmonton, estimated the cost as follows: Dredging and channel improvement, $6,200,000; seven locks and dams, $14,565,591; total, $20,765,591. When this report was received the first world war was in progress. Then came the post-war years, the depression and the second world war. No action was taken on the report.

Mr. Speaker, bearing in mind that it is over 40 years since the last study of the proposed inland waterway was made I would urge the Minister of Transport or the Minister of Public Works, or both of them, to initiate a study at this time in order that up-to-date figures may be available. At the time of the previous study the economy of western Canada was centred on wheat and other grains. Now, western Canada is becoming industrialized and, as I have pointed out, industrial development will from now on expand at a much more rapid pace. It is essential to have competitive transportation systems which will be able to provide low-cost transportation service. I believe that in the future a multi-transportation service which will include highway, rail, air and waterways will be needed to serve the needs of the people.

Following the second world war, tremendous developments of waterways have taken place in the United States, in Europe and in other parts of the world. The St. Lawrence seaway was built after the second world war and now permits ocean liners to sail to the lakehead.

In the June issue of Ship-Shore News there is an article under the following headings, "Canal Traffic And City Will Benefit From $350 Million Dig". It reads in part as follows:

A $110 million excavation project began this month on the Welland section of the seaway, where a new eight-mile channel will replace a narrow and winding part of the waterway that now bisects a city of 38,000. Minister of Transport J. W. Pickersgill officiated at ceremonies marking the start of excavation near the south end of the

June 28, 1967

Establishment of Inland Waterway channel, mid-way between the cities of Welland and Port Colborne .. .

The Welland bypass is the first stage to bring the 35 year old 27-mile waterway up to date and to meet the projected needs of the next decade's shipping traffic.

The second plan, which still requires government approval, is relocation of the canal at the northern end, with a new lock running from Lake Ontario- east of the existing canal-to Thorold, above lock 7.

Another heading appeared in the same paper, namely, "Experts Will Discuss Potential Of Waterways At Niagara Falls Meet." I now quote from this article:

The Great Lakes Commission will hold its semiannual meeting this year in the Parkway Inn, Niagara Falls, N.Y., June 27, 28 and 29. The program of activities includes a tour of the Canadian and American falls area. The Commission's executive director, Colonel Leonard J. Goodsell, says: "The theme of our meeting is Multipurpose and International Use of Great Lakes Waters: (1)

Water Resources Programs; (2) Navigation, Power, Recreation and Scenic Beauty, and (3) U.S.-Canadian Activities.

Our objective is to demonstrate the very wonderful things that can be done to develop our water resources, while assuring their wise use and conservation for the benefit of all who use and are interested in the water resources. We are especially fortunate in having Niagara Falls of the U.S. and Canada available to us. Here we can very quickly and conveniently view outstanding developments in the multipurpose and international use of the water resources of the Great Lakes basin ...

The agenda for June 27 includes committee meetings to discuss the St. Lawrence Seaway, navigation and commerce.

In the United States several waterways have been developed since the second world war. Some of the major navigation inland waterways in the United States are the Mississippi River system, the Missouri River system and the Ohio River navigation system. All these inland waterways have brought tremendous benefits to the communities along the way. Travel on inland waterways in the following European countries, Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, the Netherlands and the U.S.S.R., has greatly increased in the last 25 years.

Subtopic:   TRANSPORT
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