Edgar Douglas Richmond BISSETT

BISSETT, Edgar Douglas Richmond

Personal Data

Liberal Progressive
Springfield (Manitoba)
Birth Date
May 3, 1890
Deceased Date
January 14, 1990
physician, surgeon

Parliamentary Career

September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
  Springfield (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 3)

May 28, 1930


Mr. Chairman, in connection with section 13 I think we all agree that one of the greatest responsibilities of the state is that which has to do with the protection of children. This section added to the bill will certainly remove the protection all children ought to have in respect to medical care and attention. I have no quarrel with the Christian Science treatment in any shape or form as far as adults are concerned and I do not think members of the medical profession have any such objection. It is not a question of treatment as far as adults are concerned at all; it is simply a question of protecting children, and I object to the proposed amendment as set out in this section.

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May 22, 1929

1. Is it the intention of the government to establish a national park in the province of Manitoba, as requested in a memorandum submitted to the Minister of the Interior on March 9, 1928. bearing the signatures of all the Manitoba members of the House of Commons?

2. What methods are adopted in determining the suitability of any given areas for national park purposes? Is there a set standard as regards physical characteristics of the area so chosen? If so, what is it?

3. Who made the examination of the proposed eastern Manitoba park site, and the proposed Riding mountain park site?

4. What portion of the whole area in the proposed eastern Manitoba park site was covered by Mr. R. W. Cautley of the Department of the Interior, on which his report dated February 11, 1929, is based, and on what evidence does he report: (a) that there is no uninterrupted waterwray through this area; (b) that there are no trout or bass in this region; (c) that it is impossible to construct motor roads except at uneconomical and impractical costs in this area?

5. Has the government expressed its willingness to the government of Manitoba to establish a national park within the province of Manitoba? If so, when and what answer was received?


6. Has the government of Manitoba been asked to submit or approve of any given area for national park purposes? If so, what answer was received?

7. What mining claims have been staked and what other lands have been alienated in whole or in part in the proposed eastern Manitoba park site since the passing of an order in council on April 19, 1928, setting aside this area as a provisional reservation for park purposes?

8. What amount of money has been spent: (a) in connection with the Riding mountain forest reserve during the last three years; (b) in connection with the recreation ground established within that reserve and on whose recommendation ijvere those expenditures made?

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton);

1. Under consideration.

2. When it appears that there is a responsible body of public opinion urging the establishment of an area as a national park, the department considers, first, whether the area is available for the purpose; secondly, whether the area is of national parks standard,

i.e., that it is the best example available, typical of any region which is nationally interesting and valuable from a scenic, ecological, educational and recreational point of view. This is determined by inspection.

3. R. W. Cautley.

4. The portion north of the Canadian National railway, (a) The Whiteshell river is the only continuous waterway through this area and there are thirteen unavoidable portages in the 48 miles from its mouth , to where it flows under the Canadian National railway embankment in a culvert; (b) On the evidence of his Indian guides, and local squatters; (c) Because of the generally rocky and difficult character of the country for highway construction from an engineering point of view.

5 and 6. The subject has been discussed tentatively with the province, but not finally.

7. None.

8. (a)

Fiscal Years Total expenditure

1925-27 $ 23,807 31

1927- 28 33,905 88

1928- 29 47,086 33

(b) Project-Fiscal Year-Amount-Total Expenditure.

Clark Beach summer resort:

1926- 27 $ 45 00

1927- 28 169 95

1928- 29 12 15

Clark Beach summer resort-cabin:

1923- 24 $ 939 46

1924- 25 79 31

1925- 26 20 79

1926- 27

12 301927- 28

66 251928- 29

121 23

Clark Beach summer resort-kitchen: 1928-29 $ 110 04

Clark Beach summer resort-toilets:


75 001926- 27

17 501927- 28

38 431928- 29

10 00

Clark Beach summer resort-grounds:

1926- 27.

1927- 28.

1928- 29.

$ 22 50

13 75

107 95

$ 144 20

Clark Beach summer resort-fire places:

1926-27 $ 500Clark Beach summer resort-auto road: 1917-18 $ 60001922- 23

334 951923- 24

488 791924- 25

188 471925- 26

473 721926- 27

47 891927- 28

188 501928- 29

876 18

Clark Beach summer resort-pier:

1928-29 $ 466 62

Clark Beach summer resort


1926- 27 $ 58 13

1927- 28 15 30

1928- 29 38 40

North Shore summer resort-clearing streets:

1928-29 $500 00

Clark Beach summer resort-telephone: 1923-24 $ 163 57

Total $5,767 13

These expenditures were made on the recommendation of departmental officers.

(Mr. Bissett.l


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May 6, 1929

1. The report of R. W. Cautley or any other officer of the government relative to any investigation made, (a) in the proposed eastern Manitoba park site; (b) in the proposed Ridin^ Mountain park site.

2. All letters, telegrams or other documents between the Department of the Interior or any other department of the government and the government of Manitoba or any member of the government of Manitoba or any member of the Mouse of Commons, relative to the establish ment ol a national park in the province of Manitoba.

3. All letters, telegrams or other documents between the Department of the Interior or anr ether department of the government and the

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government of Saskatchewan or any member of the government of Saskatchewan or_ any member of the House of Commons, relative to the establishment of the Prince Albert National Park in the province of Saskatchewan.

4. All reports made in connection with any investigations relative to the establishment of Prince Albert national park in the province of Saskatchewan.

Subtopic:   PARK SITES
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March 4, 1929


Mr. Speaker, when the house rose at six o'clock I had just stated that at the time of my last interview with the Minister of the Interior the agreement between the province of Manitoba and the Dominion government relative to the transfer of the natural resources had been concluded. Consequently, I found I was in the position of having either to oppose the whole natural resources agreement or to accept it in toto, and inasmuch as the Seven Sisters power site was part of that agreement I was forced to withdraw any opposition I might have had to the Seven Sisters falls project going ahead. I contended then and I still contend that the Manitoba members should have been consulted prior to the inclusion of clause 6 in that agreement, but after considering the difficulty which has been encountered during the years since this natural resources agreement has been the subject of controversy within the province and within this house, I felt that I must not do anything which would in any way defeat that objective.

The resolution on the order paper reads:

That, in the opinion of this house, no disposition of the natural resources,-

Or the water-powers, as the amended resolution reads.

-under the control of the federal government, shall be effective until ratified by parliament.

Natural Resources-Mr. Heaps

I do not propose to vote for this resolution.

I contend, rightly or wrongly, that the disposition of the natural resources in any of the provinces is not a matter for parliament, but is a matter for the legislatures of the provinces concerned. If the province of Manitoba had had full control of its natural resources this question of the Seven Sisters power site would never have arisen in this house, and, therefore, I urge again the necessity of turning over the natural resources of each of the provinces to their respective owners with as little delay as possible. I do not think it is fair for the members for Manitoba to try to interfere in any way with the natural resources belonging to the provinces of Saskatchewan or Alberta. We have it on the word of the Prime Minister that agreements along the lines of the Manitoba agreement have been effected with the other provinces, so I do not think there is any necessity for this resolution.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I opposed and still oppose the alienation of the Seven Sisters power site in the public domain of the province of Manitoba and I regret that this very valuable power site is lost to the public ownership interests in that province. As I stated at the beginning of my remarks, the responsibility for this power site being handed over to private interests is a matter which rests entirely with the legislators of the province of Manitoba, and any criticisms I have to make will be made as a private citizen of that province and not as a member of this house.

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March 4, 1929

Mr. E. D. R. BISSETT (Springfield):

Mr. Speaker, it had not been my intention to take part in this discussion, but inasmuch as most of those who have spoken have addressed themselves to the circumstances surrounding the granting of the lease of the Seven Sisters falls water-power site, I feel it incumbent to state to the house the part that I played in the transaction. I do not propose to discuss the lease between the Manitoba government and the Winnipeg Electric Railway Company or any subsidiary company; I consider that is a matter for discussion in the Manitoba legislature and not in this house. But if such is the case it might be interesting to find the reason why the members representing Manitoba in the federal house took a stand on this question at all. To do that it would be necessary to go back to a news item appearing in the Winnipeg papers in 1927, which stated that owing to a report from the city of Winnipeg, that the street railway company of that city had applied to the federal government for a lease of the Seven Sisters falls, the then leader of that government, Mr. Bracken, had stated that he was unalterably opposed to the street railway company getting that permit and was prepared to go, if necessary, as far as expropriating the Pinawa plant of the company on behalf of the province. When that news item reached Ottawa it was a matter of discussion among the Manitoba members, and in order to get behind the Manitoba government on the question a letter was drafted and sent to the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Stewart), on February 8, 1928. This letter reads:

That we, the undersigned members of parliament for the province of Manitoba, respectfully request that the power site on the Winnipeg river known as the Seven Sisters falls be retained for the use of the government of the province of Manitoba in their own provincial hydro-electric system.

That was signed by the following members from Manitoba: Bissett, Bancroft, Steedsman, Milne, Ward, Lovie, Beaubien, Glen, Bird, Brown, McPherson, Howden, Thorson, Mc-Diarmid, Woodsworth and Heaps. In other words, sixteen out of the seventeen members representing Manitoba signed this letter which was sent to the Minister of the Interior on February 8, 1928. Subsequently it was found that the government of Manitoba had changed their mind in respect to the development of this power; for after an investigation they had apparently come to the conclusion that it was not wise for the province as a province to develop this water-power. But the one

thing I wish to point out here is that the legislative assembly of Manitoba had passed in 1927 a resolution reading:

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this house-

That is, the Manitoba legislature.

-the government should press for the immediate granting by the federal government all rights to the Seven Sisters falls, situate on the Winnipeg river, said site to be held by the government on behalf of the province of Manitoba.

At the same time the city of Winnipeg passed a resolution protesting against the granting of a lease of the Seven Sisters falls power site on the Winnipeg river to the Backus-Seaman interest, the action of the committee in sending the city solicitor to Ottawa "to be approved and endorsed." The Manitoba members, as has been said by several speakers in this debate, had a good many discussions with the Minister of the Interior relative to this lease and finally, on May 15, 1928, wrote to the federal minister the following letter which was signed, not by all the Manitoba members but by the majority of them. I wish to discuss this letter somewhat in detail. It reads:

The federal members, representing the province of Manitoba, have had before them the question of the disposal of the power of the Winnipeg river at Seven Sisters falls for some time, and after thoroughly going into the matter, beg to advise that their recommendation in connection with same is as follows:

1. That the site be not disposed of but that the matter be held in abeyance until the close of the next session of the provincial legislature for the purpose of giving the legislature of the province of Manitoba an opportunity to express its opinion in connection with the disposal of the said site or the development of it by the province of Manitoba.

Now the whole" object of the Manitoba members in writing this clause into their letter was based on the fact that the Manitoba legislature-and the legislature, we are given to understand, is supreme-had by formal resolution requested that this particular power site, which was specified in the resolution, be held by and on behalf of the province of Manitoba. Clause 2 of the letter read:

2. That the said - interval would afford the city of Winnipeg an opportunity to take a referendum vote on the question as to whether the said city desires to develop the power at said site in connection with their present hydro electric system.

That section of the letter was put in as a result of the resolution which I have quoted as having been passed by the city council of Winnipeg, which resolution protested

Natural Resources-Mr. Bissett

against the Seven Sisters power site being handed over to private enterprise. The letter also requested:

That in the event of the province of Manitoba deciding to develop the said power as a provincial undertaking, that they be given said right upon request.

And further, that if neither the province of Manitoba nor the city of Winnipeg wish to develop the said site, the present applicant, the Winnipeg Electric Railway Company, be given priority to any other private corporation to develop same, subject to the usual restrictions imposed by the water-power regulations.

Now I contend that that letter presented a very fair view on behalf of the Manitoba members. We insisted that inasmuch as the legislature of the province had asked that this site be held for the province, in our opinion this should be done; and we also asked that, inasmuch as the city of Winnipeg had protested against the alienation of this power to private interests, if the province was not interested the city of Winnipeg should be given the next opportunity to develop the site; and, thirdly, that failing either of these parties becoming interested, the railway company, the present applicant, should be considered ahead of any other applicants subsequently applying.

As the house has been told by a number of speakers, various interviews took place between the Minister of the Interior and the members from Manitoba, and I wish it distinctly understood that the Manitoba members were not all of one opinion regarding this proposition. The minister has been quoted with reference to a promise he gave the Manitoba members prior to prorogation, and which has been the subject of a great many remarks, not all of them to his credit. I feel that I should explain exactly what my position wa. with respect to the promise made by the minister. When the house prorogued I was under the impression that before anything further was done in regard to this power site I would be consulted, and I want the house to understand that prior to the conference and agreement being signed between the provincial and federal governments with respect to the natural resources I had not changed my mind in regard to this deal between the street railway company and the provincial government. Further I want to say that until the agreement was made between the province and the Dominion with reference to the transfer of the natural resources I did not at any time sec the minister or have any discussion with him by letter or otherwise in regard to the matter.

However, I must say that I saw the minister in Winnipeg, after the agreement was signed, and with a number of other members discussed the whole agreement with him. On that occasion I told the minister that since there was an agreement in existence between the province of Manitoba and the federal government with respect to 'the disposition of the natural resources, my position was that the federal government should stand by that agreement. I want this distinctly understood: Had I been able to express myself

prior to the drawing up of this agreement I would have objected to the insertion of clause 6; however, I did not have the opportunity of doing so and rather than see the agreement jeopardized by any controversy, which certainly would not have any effect on a binding agreement of that kind, I withdrew any opposition I had to the Seven Sisters deal, because it was bound up with the general natural resources agreement.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

After Recess

The house resumed at eight o'clock.

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