John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)
Hon. J. D. HAZEN (Minister of Marine and Fisheries) moved:
That a Select Committee composed of Messrs. Baker, BClarid, Boyer, Bradbury, Burrell, Hazen, Kyte, Lesperance, McKay, McCraney. Molloy, Murphy, Northrup, Sevigny, Warnoek and Wilson (Wentworth), be appointed to inquire into the prevention of the pollution of navigable waters and to consider all matters relating thereto, with power to send for persons, papers and records, to examine witnesses under oath, and to report from time to time.
He said: Hon. gentlemen will remember that a committee of this character was appointed at the last session of the House. That committee held a number of meetings and made a report to the House recommending that the Government be requested to call during the recess, a convention composed of the members of the committee, of representatives of the different provinces of Canada, of representatives of the International Waterways Commission and of representatives of the Conservation Commission, for the purpose of discussing this matter with a view of seeing what joint action might be taken between the provinces and the Dominion. That convention was called and met in the city of Ottawa on October 30 last. There were present the following representatives: the Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Mr. Hazen), the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Burrell), the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Bradbury), Chairman of the Committee of the House on the subject, the hon. member for McLeod (Mr. Warnoek), and the hon. member for Brome (Mr. Baker); representing the province of Manitoba-Hon. Mr. Howden, At-
torney General; Prince Edward Island- Hon. Mr. Mathieson, Premier; British Columbia-Hon. William R. Ross, Minister of Lands; Quebec-Dr. E. P. Lachapelle, President of the Provincial Board of Health; Mr R S Lea, member of the Provincial Board of Health, and Dr. E. Elzear Pelletier, Secretary of the Provincial Board of Health; Saskatchewan-Mr. P. Aird Murray, Civil Engineer, and Dr. Maurice M. Seymour, Commissioner of Public Health; New Brunswick-Hon. Mr. Flemming, Premier; International Joint Commission Mr. C. A. Magrath and Mr. H. A. Powell,
K C. * Conservation Commission-Mr. James White and Dr. A. Hodgetts. Mr. Thomas P Owens was appointed secretary of the conference. There were no representatives present, I regret to say, from the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia.
A good deal of discussion took place with regard to matters of public health in so far as navigable waters are concerned, and with regard to the jurisdiction of the respective provinces and of the federal authorities. It was brought prominently to the attention of the convention that the matter of the pollution of navigable streams constituting international boundaries was being considered by the Internationa Waterways Commission. It was very strongly pointed out that the question of the pollution of navigable waters is, brought down to its final analysis, a matter for international consideration and international agreement. In a great many cases the pollution of navigable waters in Canada is caused by towns 'and villages situated on waterways which form part of the international boundary line, such as the at. Lawrence river, the Detroit river, the waterways of the Great Lakes, the rivers St. John and St. Croix in the province of New Brunswick, land others. In order, therefore, that any regulations which might be passed with a view to preventing the pollution of these streams should be effective, it is necessary that similar legislation should be enacted by both countries, because if legislation were enacted by one country and not by another, while there might be some mitigation of the evil that undoubtedly exists, there would not be any effective means of totally doing away with
the source of trouble.
All these matters were discussed at the convention and the following resolutions adopted:
Moved by Mr. Howden, Manitoba, seconded by Mr. Flemming, New Brunswick:
This conference views with great satisfaction the study now being made, through the medium Of the International Joint Commission, appointed under the treaty between the United States and Canada of the 11th January, 1909, of the subject of the Pollution of International Waterways.
That the secretary be instructed to send a copy of the resolution to the International Joint Commission.
A resolution was also moved by Mr. Pelletier, of Quebec, seconded by Mr. Flemming, commending the valuable services rendered by Mr. Bradbury in relation to the prevention of the pollution of navigable waters and expressing appreciation of the efforts of the Special Committee of the House of Commons in reference to Bill No. 2 of the session of 1912-13. The conference suggested that a similar parliamentary committee should meet this session to continue the investigation. Another resolution, moved by Dr. Lachapelle, of Quebec, seconded by Mr. Seymour, of Saskatchewan, reads as follows:
Whereas in the past questions affecting sanitation and public health, to be dealt with concurrently by the federal and provincial authorities, amongst others the question ot protecting water courses from pollution, have suffered from the non-existence of a federal
department of health ; .
This conference considers that the erection of a federal department of public health might well receive the early attention of the Dominion Government.
This conference believes that such a department would be of assistance in solving interprovincial problems as to the protection of public health.
Addresses were made by different gentlemen present, including specialists on the subject representing the provincial health authorities of the province of Quebec, one of the resolutions, as I have said, recommended the appointment of a committee at the present session to inquire into the pollution of navigable streams, and it" is in line with that recommendation that the appointment of this committee is now asked for. Until the report of the International Waterways Commission, which is investigating the pollution of international waters, is received, probably no progress can be made. But when we get that report, with the evidence of all the experts, it is hoped that with the co-operation of this committee and of this Parliament some practical solution may be worked out to remedy what is undoubtedly a very groat evil and a great menace to the public health of Canada to-day. Some of the rivers and water courses of this country are being used simply as receptacles for
sewage, and their efficacy for domestic pur- ends with that condemnation and that poses is to a large extent being destroyed, nothing is being done to remedy the evil two Bills in regard to this matter are complained about. I could name some now before Parliament. The one intro- cities in other provinces in the same posi-duced by Senator Belcourt has passed the tion. It is a difficult question to deal with, Upper Chamber, and has been sent down I admit; but what are governments for if to this House for consideration. I think not to deal with difficult questions? This that Bill should be referred to this com- is not a matter affecting one party or the mittee for further consideration, and also other; it affects the lives and health of our the Bill introduced by the hon. member for people, and we are not showing a full belkirk (Mr. Bradbury). It is for these appreciation of our responsibility if we
reasons I am moving the resolution asking for the appointment of this committee.
Hon. GEORGE P. GRAHAM: Does not my hon. friend think there may be a disposition throughout the country to question the usefulness of the House of Commons if pass a Bill already passed bv -he Senate? I know the reverse of that has occurred. Sometimes the action of the Senate has been questioned because it wished to refer to the people themselves a measure passed by this House, and we must be careful not to get the House of Commons in a similar position.
This is a question of more than ordinary importance, and it has been before the public of Canada for a great many years. It will be .admitted that the International Waterways Commission has a very important connection with this subject so far as international streams are concerned, but the International Waterways Commission certainly has nothing to do with a stream like the Ottawa river, for instance. The provinces of Quebec and Ontario and the Dominion-of Canada are the only parties that can^ possibly be interested in the Ottawa river, and with all deference to the minister, it strikes me that this is merely sidestepping the issue. Our newspapers are full of the water question; we should have it at our meals if we dared drink the water; and it strikes me that the Government is not fulfilling its duty in postponing this matter any longer. If there is anything this Government, in conjunction with the Governments of the two provinces, can do, no time should be lost. The evil is here and has been here for years, with very disastrous results so far as this city is concerned.
In dealing with streams wholly in Canadian territory the provinces must take a very important part through their board of health. I recollect that the water supply of various towns in Ontario has been absolutely condemned by the Provincial Board of Health; but it seerris that the matter
allow it to be put off for one year longer, for that is what it amounts to. I think our action would be universally approved if we at once took measures for dealing with this question of the pollution of streams in Canadian territory.
As to the question of pollution of international streams, that is, as my hon. friend says, a matter in which both countries are interested, and it is a very serious matter. Those of us who live on the St. Lawrence river think we have pure water, and, comparatively speaking, we have; but year by year as the population of the towns along its banks increases our water will become polluted. What are we going to do to remedy that? Are we going to sit still till the International Joint Commission does something? The Board of Health of the province of Ontario acts pretty strongly in these matters, and I think we should uphold their hands rather than shrink from our responsibility. There are many towns and incorporated villages in Ontario and other provinces that have no streams like the St. Lawrence running by them. They are under the control of the Board of Health and are taking care of the problem of sewage in a modern way. The longer this matter is delayed, the more expensive it will be to the people of this country, and I think the time has arrived for us to insist that no more sewage pipes be run into these streams. That is the first step. The next step would be for the people to take care of that question in another way just as soon as they could stand the taxation. I think, with all due respect to the hon. Minister of Marine and .Fisheries, we are not taking the proper course in side-stepping this great and important question for one more year; but we ought to take up the Bill which is now before the House and deal with it this year.