Mr. H. B. McCulloch (Pictou):
Mr. Speaker, the town of Westville, in Pictou county, Nova Scotia, was incorporated in 1894. It has a population of 4,300 as shown in the last census. Since its founding by miners of Scottish and Irish descent who were the forefathers of its present people the town was built and developed, and is solely dependent on the operation of its mines to maintain and stabilize its economy.
The miners of Westville have long been noted for many sterling qualities, the main one being that throughout the years Westville mines have consistently operated without strikes or tie-ups. The highest production was maintained consistent with operating conditions, and labour relations between management and the men was always of the highest order. These desirable features do not just happen, and the very valid reason
The Address-Mr. H. B. McCulloch for them is the stability of the men, the thriftiness of their families, pride in the ownership of their own homes and active participation in church and community life in general, all of which qualities have been handed down to them from past generations. It is a known fact that the percentage of miners who own their homes in the town of Westville exceeds 80 per cent, which is probably double or more than that of any other mining town in eastern Canada.
Today, with the mines closed except for minor operations of removing pillars from existing slopes, these people who saved their money and built their own homes, primarily without government assistance of any kind, now find their town bankrupt because they have no work and they are unable to pay their taxes. They are faced with the closing of their schools, which will result in uneducated children, the deterioration of their water, impaired sanitary facilities and other services, and the loss of their homes and churches.
The town of Westville has underneath its limits a proven quantity of at least eight million tons of the best coal in Pictou county, if not in the province of Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, to mine this deposit economically requires an estimated expenditure of approximately $2,500,000. If such an expenditure were made, not only would a highly mechanized and modern mine be available if required for a national emergency, but also the Canadian citizens of Westville could look forward to the future feeling secure that they could maintain their homes and town.
In view of world conditions today it is felt that development of this mine is necessary to help guarantee the full use of our production facilities should a major war break out. This in itself would warrant government action now. In addition, it is a known fact that two other Pictou county mines, now active in a small way, will be depleted and closed within the next three years. A new mine development would absorb these men when their present jobs are closed out.
It is presently contemplated to double the size of the existing power plant at Trenton and, in fact, materials have been ordered for this purpose. When this installation is completed its daily coal requirements will exceed the entire output of the only remaining mine in the county which can carry on operations for an indefinite period. This alone would warrant a new development now to ensure our other plants of continued operations.
On behalf of the people of Westville I urge the government of Nova Scotia to assist in the opening of a new mine in that town. I feel that the government of Canada should
be prepared to assist, too, if so requested by the operating company and the government of Nova Scotia. Money made available for this purpose would not be a gift or donation; it would be a sound investment in the good people of Westville for the benefit of all Canada.
Furthermore, my request is substantiated by the Gordon commission report, which states that only modern mechanized mines can hope to remain in operation, and that government assistance to maritime industry is most essential. In view of these facts, and the bankrupt position of the town of Westville today, I urge that immediate action be taken to assure these people that their present position is of a temporary nature, and that the governments of Nova Scotia and bf Canada are prepared to lend temporary aid as I have just suggested.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY