September 3, 1917

CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

A grant is proposed to be given in reference to the extraction of benzine and toluene from coal gas by means of absorbents for the purpose of accurately determining the quantity of these compounds. There is in the coal gas product in the various cities and towns of this continent a considerable quantity of these two compounds, particularly of the first. These go to waste at the present time; they are valuable, and a solution of the problem would be of incalculable benefit. A grant is to be given to the University of Manitoba under the charge of one of its professors; that is the very thing that my hon. friend thinks we

ought to do. The grant is given under the supervision of the advisory council; it is not a subsidy to assist the university; it is a grant for a specific purpose. The separation of tar from the tar sand is another very important matter. If that problem could be solved, immense benefit would result to the western country. A grant of a small amount, about $1,500, is to be given to that university under the supervision of the proper professor-who is conversant with the question and who is carrying out an investigation at present-to enable him to carry his work to a conclusion. That is the very principle upon which we are proceeding; and that, I think, answers the objection that my hon. friend made in one part of his remarks.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

What the minister has said in regard to grants to universities exactly bears out what I say: the practical result to be expected will be reached by the making of small grants to the universities. I am not suggesting that the minister should make grants to universities in respect of these particular questions, but if he feels the impulse to do something, let him make the grants to the universities directly for these purposes; let him not launch upon this country at this time an expensive organization which will cost $91,000 to start-no one knows how much it will cost to carry it on-when all that he proposes actually to spend in regard to the tar sand is $1,500. I presume a similar amount will be expended for research work in regard to the tar extract from the gas from burning straw, and possibly a similar amount as to the extract from coal gas. Those are moderate amounts, and I suppose nobody will object to their expenditure for such purposes. Let the minister make those expenditures if he pleases, and the country will support him, but let him not burden this country with an expenditure of $100,000 for the purpose of giving four or five thousand dollars for actual research work. #

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

The expenditure of $100,000 for scientific research in Canada is not objectionable, if we have the proper -organization. It is quite possible, if real practical work is done by the commission, for an expenditure of $100,000 to yield a return of $1,000,000. I suppose one of the best instances of the value to a country of scientific work was that performed by the late Mr. Saunders in the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Saunders developed a seed wheat for Canada which matured some

weeks earlier than any other wheat that had been known prior to this time in Canada.

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CON
LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

I do not know what the name of the wheat is, but the fact which I have seen stated in government publications is that, through Mr. Saunders' effort, a special wheat was developed which matured very much earlier in Canada than any wheat previously known. I did not know that this fact was ever in question. I could easily put my hand upon written authority in which it is stated by very prominent persons that the result of this was the widening of the wheat belt in western 'Canada by many miles.

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CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER:

I think the wheat to which the hon. member refers is Marquis wheat. The experience of practical farmers has been that it matures eight or ten days earlier than other kinds.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

The hon. gentleman may be correct, but I am simply stating to the committee a fact which I have seen stated a score of times. I am giving it to the committee just as I have gained it from my reading, and I have no doubt I am correct in this.

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CON
LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

It is well known that the work done by Mr. Saunders in this respect resulted in securing for Canada a seed wheat which enables us to harvest wheat very much earlier than we were able to do before, and that was a very important matter in a country in which the summer season is short. If what I have stated is correct, Mr. Saunders' work was worth millions of dollars to Canada.

When the Bill establishing this commission was before the committee, I objected to the personnel of the commission, and I want to repeat my objection. It is not satisfactory to the people of Canada; it is not satisfactory to some of the members of the commission. The men constituting that commission should be much younger men with some practical experience. I do not believe in establishing a commission composed of men who are able to give attention to this work for only a few days in a year. The appointment of such a commission is fraught with great possibilities for this country. The idea is absolutely sound. This is the time above all others in our history when we should be doing work of this kind. The very fact that we have a

tremendous debt to meet in consequence o! the war is one reason why we should engage in this sort of work. My experience-and I am sure it is the case with other hon. gentlemen-is that I am frequently approached by men in my province who are confronted with some problem for the solution of which they desire scientific assistance. They cannot very well purchase this knowledge; they are not in a position to go abroad and bring into this country experts who would solve such problems, and this work should be done by the country, because it will aid in developing our commerce and our trade. Great care should be exercised in the selection of the board. I think a mistake has already been made; in fact, the whole board is a mistake. I do not wish to say anything more about it, because it is not pleasant discussing the personnel of a commission of this kind for, after all, the men on it are distinguished men and amongst our best citizens. But it is possibe to make a very grave mistake in judgment in selecting men for this work even if you do take them from amongst the most distinguished men of our universities. A great problem for a body of this kind would be in connection with soil fertilization. Nothing could be more important than that to this country. If this commission can ascertain some method of providing for the farmers of this country a fertilizer, in sufficient quantities and at a fair price, they will be doing something which will be worth millions of dollars to this country, and the expenditure of $100,000 would be a small matter in accomplishing such a result. What does the minister purpose doing in co-ordinating the work to be done by the commission and that which is now done by other departments? There are scientific men in the Department of Agriculture. There is a vote in the supplementary estimates of $6,000 for forestry studies. I do not know if it is advisable to make an expenditure for that purpose just at present. There are in the Department of Agriculture now some technical officials whose work is particularly talong such lines.

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CON
LIB
CON
LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

In the Interior Department to some extent, and in the Department of Agriculture there is at least one gentleman whose work is along that

line. In the Mines Branch there are quite a number of scientific men who devote their time to the scientific side of our mines and minerals, and you will probably find scientific men in other departments. Is the minister going to have them work together or separately? Could not their labours he co-ordinated? Possibly it might be advisable to take the scientific men from all the departments and put them into this branch.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

That is exactly what is being very successfully done, and with the greatest good-will on the part of all the departments. They understand each other, and the council works with them and they work with the council. The idea is to co-ordinate and to bring, so to speak, into focus all those different agencies that have been doing excellent work, each by itself. My hon. friend is quite mistaken as to the number of men engaged in forestry work connected with the Department of Agriculture. They are in the Interior De-partmeat and in the Conservation Commission. They are working in strict conjunction, and the experiment, for which this vote is in the estimates to-day, is to be carried out by the experts in the Interior Department. It is not by any means a duplication of energy. The intention is to avoid that and to co-ordinate and concentrate the work upon the development of the resources of Canada.

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CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER:

I understood my hon. - friend from Halifax to say that 6ome of these men are devoting only a portion of their time and energies to this work. If that is so, how many of the council are devoting their whole time and energies to the work? Some of them, surely.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

The only one

who is doing that is the administrative chairman. My hon. friend must remember that these gentlemen have been selected because of their eminence and practical knowledge in certain lines of investigation,. It was never contemplated that they should themselves go into the laboratory and conduct experiments. They constitute a committee to set to work, and keep at work, and co-ordinate all the different agencies, and to apply whatever money we may appropriate for work along these lines. All of these men, with the exception of Dr. jVracOallum, are giving their services free, but that does not mean that they are simply taking a holiday and taking no interest in the matter. These men have been at work now foT more than a year, and I know what

they have done. They have devoted a very laTge portion, of their busy lives to this work, and are thoroughly enthusiastic in seeing that it is brought to a successful issue- that it shall not be a mere fad, but give practical results which will be of very great benefit to the country. The council hae met in Ottawa once or twice a month since it was appointed. They sit from three to five days; at one meeting here they sat a whole week. They are not treating this matter as a plaything or anything of that kind.

Their viewpoint was a very good one, and it entirely coincided with mine. A council of that kind, with that desire and that ability to work along these lines, cannot, if good results are to be obtained, all be working separately with no one responsible for the whole work. It wae essential that one man should be appointed to co-ordinate their efforts, and the best man amongst them was chosen-he was their choice ae well as mine-to act in that capacity, to direct, to consult, to keep the whole machine going, as it were, with these men as the motive power. But that is really the smallest thing that has been done. The advisory council has been at work a little over a year now, and in that time has brought together all the different forces in. the Dominion that are engaged in industrial or scientific research, and which hitherto had been doing their work on their own, often duplicating each other, and lacking that energy and spirit that comes from co-ordination with other workers in the same line with a common object in view. The research branch of the Interior and Mining Departments, the Conservation Commission, the Inland Revenue and other research branches, have all been linked up with this general endeavour. In a little over a year all this dispersed effort has been concentrated, and has become inspired witlh a spirit and energy, and with a determined effort to work along these lines, that was foreign to them entirely a year ago. The council has put new spirit into them all.

I do not need to follow up what my hon. friend from Halifax said as to the immense necessity of this work, particularly at this time. A few thousand dollars is a mere bagatelle to the advantage that only one successful solution along some line might bring to the economic strength of this country. This work is almost an absolute necessity, if we are to keep abreast with other nations. My hon. friend says that this is not the commission we should have appointed. I would ask him to give t'he commission a free rein for a while, and after a year or so, I think he will come out of that contemplative area in which he has rested for about a year now, as respects undue criticism, and I think he will then revise his opinion of these men. Nobody can select members to suit everybody; we all have our opinions about them. But I am of the opinion that we have just about the very best council that could have been got together in the whole Dominion.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

Would it not be well to have some representative of agriculture on the council?

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I suppose there is not a college or university in the whole Dominion which symbolizes agriculture so much as does the university of Saskatchewan, over which Dr. Murray presides. That is the foundation principle of his university, which was founded with a view to the agricultural possibilities and necessities of that great province.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

That hardly answers my question. I know Professor Murray very well. He has had very little to do with agriculture in a practical or scientific way in all his experience. He is a very busy man and is engaged in the building up of a new university in a new province. I am not objecting to him being a member of the board at all, because he is an excellent man indeed, one of the very best on the council. Still, I think it would be desirable to appoint another representative of agriculture to the board, with the qualifications I have indicated.

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LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR:

As these scientific men receive no salary, I can see no reason why the minister should not enlarge the council. It is a very big problem these men are undertaking, and there does not seem to be any reason why the number of members should be limited. There is a university in Nova Scotia, St. Francis Xavier, which lias a number of eminent men on its staff who are devoting their time to scientific research, and I am sure some one among them could be found who would be of great value to the council if the minister should make up his mind to enlarge the number, I trust he will not fail to give this proposal his best consideration. I agree with my hon. friend from Halifax that youth counts for a great deal in work of this kind, especially for the chairman, and if the minister has put in charge of this work a man whose best days are over, and who has not the energy required for this work, I think he has made a mistake. I

do not know Professor MacCalhim at all, but I have heard that remark made by men who are interested in the work of this council.

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September 3, 1917