I should like to support my colleague, the hon. member for Cumberland, in his strong plea that something be done about the marshlands in Nova Scotia. The minister knows that there is not too great an area of land in Nova Scotia suitable for farming as farming is carried on to-day. Farming has changed in Nova Scotia the same as it has in many other places. The early settlers settled on the tops of hills so that they could see what was coming, but those farms have had to be abandoned. In many instances whole settlements and districts have had to be abandoned, and this has placed the rural population of Nova Scotia under great hardship. Our farms are now mostly concentrated along the river valleys and along the marshlands to which my colleague refers. I shall not speak about the river valleys at this time. They, too, have their problems at certain times of the year, and sooner or later something will have to be done to curb the flood waters on these rivers.
The marshlands in the counties of Cumberland, Colchester, Hants, Kings and Annapolis are the large producing areas in Nova Scotia. It is along these marshlands that the bulk of the farming is done. Years ago they were having a little problem keeping the dykes and sluices open and the drains dug, and keep-
ing the water off these areas. To-day some areas are having a great deal of difficulty and some of the land has been abandoned altogether. That is largely due to the fact that in the old days there were many men on the farms and in the communities roundabout who had been accustomed to putting in dykes and keeping the ditches open under the supervision of men who knew what they were doing, but these practical men are all gone now and there are few men left who understand the putting in of brush heaps and the building of dykes and sluices.
I suggest to the minister that what is required is an engineer who will study the situation and have working under him a group of men and the necessary machinery with which to do the work that is required. It is not an expensive project. No doubt it would take a little while to get such a crew organized and in operation. I do not suggest that the whole cost should be borne by the dominion government. I firmly believe that the property owners of the marshlands would be willing to bear their share, and I should like to see something of that kind set up. Then, when a sluice goes out or some drains have to be dug or brush heaps put in, the engineer could go and look over the situation and go ahead and do the work. I would suggest that the cost be borne in equal shares by. the federal Department of Agriculture, the provincial department of agriculture and by the marsh owners.
As I said before, the cost would not be so very big. In these days we are appropriating money for huge projects running almost into billions. Only the other day we were asked to approve a project whereby $750,000,000 would be devoted to the setting up of an international bank. It is hard for the ordinary person like myself to grasp such figures. But this project that I am advocating would not be expensive, and for the sake of the farmers of Nova Scotia along these fertile lands I would ask that the government grant a few thousand dollars to reclaim these marshlands. I do not think that is asking too much, and I urge the minister to take into consideration [DOT]the organization of a body of men under a competent engineer to take this work in hand.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE