Mr. J. A. MacLean (Queens):
Mr. Speaker, in rising to make a few remarks regarding the St. Lawrence seaway, I want to point out that for two reasons I do not wish to say anything with respect to the power phase of the project. One is of course that it is probably a very sound idea, and the second is that it is primarily a provincial affair. However, I should like to make a few remarks with respect to the navigation aspect of the St. Lawrence seaway development. I must say to begin with that I do not share the almost unbounded enthusiasm that certain hon. members seem to have for the scheme. We should remember that geographically our country is very large and spread out, that our population is very small, and that we already have a great and costly system of transportation which our economy must carry. The per capita cost for transportation is already very high, and we should be most careful indeed before we add to that load. We cannot but add to the load if we proceed with this very expensive development of the St. Lawrence seaway.
It may be of course that from a navigational point of view the St. Lawrence seaway would be such a stimulus that our economy would strengthen and our population grow to the extent that shortly the per capita load cost for transportation would be reduced. But I have seen no proof that that will be so, and I actually doubt very much if that will be the case. I have considerable doubt about the almost limitless enthusiasm of some hon. members that we can make ourselves rich merely by carrying products from one place to another and carrying other products back again. That type of economic philosophy reminds me somewhat of the gentleman in Georgia who had purchased a small truck, and who had $50 operating capital. With the $50 he bought a mule, and transported the mule across the county, after which he traded it for a cow. He transported the cow to another corner of the county and traded
St. Lawrence Waterway it for two sheep. He took the sheep to another part of the county and traded them for two goats; and he sold the goats to one of his neighbours for $50. His neighbour said, "You have been very busy, but where did it get you? You started out with $50 in the morning and this evening, after expending a great deal of energy, you have ended up with $50." The first gentleman replied, "Yes, I know, but look at all the business I did."
I am afraid that is the attitude some people are taking about this St. Lawrence seaway problem. We are not necessarily going to strengthen our economy by carrying goods from one place to another. What we should attempt to do is create sources of supply near the markets and create markets near the sources of supply. Let us so far as possible cut out all this business of having to carry goods from one end of the country to the other.
But, as I say, even if it can be proven that from the standpoint of transportation the St. Lawrence seaway is economically sound, there are many other side effects we should guard against. I cannot see where this is by any means an unadulterated benefit, an unmixed blessing. There are side effects which, if precautions are not taken, will have a very detrimental result upon the economy of certain parts of this country. An example of what I mean would be the development of our vast iron ore supplies in the Labrador area. Precautions should be taken to see that the economy of Canada is not reduced to that of a nation of primary producers and kept indefinitely on that basis, due to the fact that the iron and steel industry of the United States has the momentum of an earlier start and, for a time, can possibly carry on more cheaply than we can in Canada. We should see to it that, if necessary, an embargo is placed upon the export of iron ore needed for the production of goods we require in Canada, both for domestic use and for purposes of national defence. I can see no future for us, as Canadian people, in mining ore in Labrador and shipping it to the United States for smelting and rolling into sheets, then exporting it back to Ontario perhaps to be manufactured into automobiles, refrigerators and all that sort of thing, and finally to have it sold to the people of Labrador and the maritime provinces in a finished state. I see very little future in that.
We should make every attempt to develop our industries for ourselves. In that connection I am happy indeed to observe the broad-minded and statesmanlike attitude taken by certain members from the central provinces. But equally I deplore certain
St. Lawrence Waterway examples of provincial viewpoints, as they have been expressed in the debate. I resent the suggestion that if everything is well with the St. Lawrence valley, everything will be well with this great country of ours from coast to coast. That does not necessarily follow at all. That sort of narrow, provincial viewpoint is expressed by those people who at this late date, after almost a century, would revert to referring to this great country of ours as Canada. They would describe as Canada this dominion which stretches from sea to sea, "from the river unto the ends of the earth." They would describe it as it was originally described when it was two colonies in the St. Lawrence valley known as the Canadas. After all, in the beginning we were a group of colonies. We entered confederation so that we would no longer be separate and small colonies but rather we would be a great dominion, a great nation, a great domain from sea to sea. I am sure one of the reasons the fathers of confederation agreed to giving the name Canada to this new nation was that that name should be preceded by the word "dominion". The idea was that the Dominion of Canada should spread from coast to coast, from sea to sea and, to use the biblical reference, "from the river unto the ends of the earth".
If Canada is to become the great nation which is and should be its heritage, then it should be the concern of the government to try to look at our problems in a national way and consider all areas of the country. I do not think that as a nation we can prosper if there are depressed areas, if there are areas where there is not sufficient opportunity even to absorb the natural increase in population. I am shocked by the report in the last census which shows that the population of Saskatchewan has actually decreased in the last ten years. In this great country there should be all kinds of opportunities, not only for those who are bom here but also for those who immigrate to this country from the crowded areas in other countries.
The same is true of the maritime provinces. Ever since confederation the maritimes have been unable to absorb their natural increase in population. In that part of Canada there is not the opportunity there should be. Until we look upon our problems as those of a great area from the Atlantic to the Pacific, as problems that must be tackled for the benefit of all of us, I do not think we can hope to progress.
Therefore I support this scheme for the development of the St. Lawrence seaway only if it is a part of a greater scheme, only if it is one little bit in a large and beautiful mosaic of development which will make this country of ours the great nation it has the
right to be. So I suggest that we embark as one great nation upon a purposeful, energetic and broad-minded program for the development of the whole of this great country from sea to sea, and "from the river unto the ends of the earth".
Topic: II, 1951