On the motion of Mr. Woodsworth:
That, in the opinion of this House, it is in the public interest that the present Royal Canadian Mounted Police force be disbanded and that there be organized (a) a federal police force for the protection of government buildings and other federal property, (b) a Northwest Mounted Police force whose activities would be confined to unorganized territories.
I have just had a communication from the Minister of Justice (Sir Lomer Gouin) intimating his inability to be present to-day and asking to have this motion stand. If I may have an assurance from the Prime Minister that we shall have an opportunity to discuss it on another occasion I shall be glad to comply with the minister's request.
Subtopic: ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Mr. PIUS MICHAUD (Restigouche and Madawaska) moved:
That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable for the purpose of the preservation of our great forest wealth that the government of Canada should co-operate with the governments of the several provinces.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I have taken a
special interest in the Canadian Forestry Association for many years, and have also read carefully all forestry reports published by that asociation and by the Forestry branch of the Department of Interior. I beg to congratulate and to thank the personnel of these two bodies for their splendid work. They have taken great pains to secure information on this important subject and I am more than thankful to them for the facts which I have been enabled to obtain in connection therewith. We are told that a country without a forest is like a man without a heart. We have forests in this country, the estimated value of which is over two billion dollars, an amount sufficient to pay our present national debt. In 1922, there were over 4,000 forest fires in Canada, and Mr. Robson Black, secretary of the Canadian Forestry Association, has stated that these fires destroyed more lumber than all our forest industries or our own lumbermen could consume in many years of operation. Further, he states that the timber limits destroyed last year would cover a space between Halifax and Winnipeg a mile in width. I have here a report published in one of the Ottawa newspapers of a meeting held
recently in this city. At this meeting Mr. W. H. Shapley, who presided, made some remarks in connection with our forest industries. He is reported thus:
Time and money was spent to prevent disease and loss in agriculture, laws were enacted to prevent
workingmen being injured, and capable men were doing research work in many departments, but little or no attention was paid to means of preventing fire loss.
Mr. Shapley stated that the annual fire loss in the Dominion was a disgrace to its citizens. Complaints were being made of the burden of taxation, yet fewwere disturbed over an annual fire loss of 45 millions and many valuable lives.Responsibility for conditions as they were could
not be placed upon the fire fighting organizations maintained in this country. The fundamental error was that too great stress was placed on the extinguishing of fires and too little emphasis placed on the necessity of safeguarding the hazards from which fire originate.
There is not a province in the Dominion which has not its timber limits and I know that the government of each province desires the heartiest co-operation in order to preserve its natural wealth. I was very much interested in an article published recently on this subject, in its bearing on the province of New Brunswick. I would quote the following:
The annual agricultural and forest crops of New Brunswick comprise about 85 per cent of the total value of all products produced. The forests cover about 70 per cent of the total area of the province, and the total value of the forest products produced averages about $35,000,000. Agricultural products in 1922 were valued at $42,965,000. These two great industries, lumbering and farming, combine to keep
New Brunswick stable There are thirtyfour acres of forest land for every man, woman and child in the province, while cultivated farming land under field crops aggregates two and one-half acres per capita.
The rural population is much greater than the total in towns and cities. Farming communities in fertile valleys and on rich uplands are surrounded by forests. During the long winter months when the prairie farmer the potato planter and the fruit grower are more or less idle, the New Brunswick farmer is busily engaged cutting logs either in the timber limits of the lumber companies or on his own wood-lot getting out logs, latlnvood, pulpwood or cordwood. Did you ever meet a man from rural New Brunswick who did not know how to use an axe? It is estimated that 10,00 men are employed in the lumber woods this winter. More than $2,000,000 will be paid out in
wages and board before the annual cut of fifteen million logs will be safely skidded on the bank of the streams. The forest payroll of the long winter
months keeps the farm on a stable footing in that period between harvesting and sowing. If the reader doubts this statement, let him ask any of the merchants in the rural districts about conditions during the 1921-22 season when the depression in the lumber industry was at the lowest level, and there was little or no work in the woods. The same condition would arise and exist for a century if these same forest trees were burned.
The flames that destroyed many homes, wrecked business and caused the death of many men were contributed to to a greater or less extent by the carelessness of lumber men, campers and others who frequent our for-52
ests. In this connection allow me to repeat the words of a United States forestry commissioner. In a report recently submitted to Congress-which, by the way, was read at a meeting of our Forestry Association held in Ottawa-concerning the damage to American forests, it is declared:
When the iorests fail the lumber business, one of the greatest industries of the country will disappear. Suffering among all building trades will follow; mining will become vastly more expensive. The price of coal, iron and other minerals will rise. When this occurs the railways will be directly affected and the cost of transportation will increase. In brief, when forests commence to fail every man, woman, and child in the United States will feel the pinch. Through past misuse forests are undoubtedly failing.
There is a lesson for Canada here. Experts have readily admitted that Canadian forests constitute one of the world's greatest reserves of timber. That they should be ruthlessly wasted by fire and other agencies is tragic and unnecessary.
While it is true that the government has done much to protect the forests, there is very much that yet remains to be done. The population of the consuming area tributary to our forests has increased fivefold during the past half century, but its wood consumption, has increased tenfold or more. The natural resources of Canada are the envy of the world. To squander these resources is nothing less than criminal.
On reliable information it seems that about 150,000,000 cords of wood, or fifty years' supply, were destroyed by insects in the last ten years in the province of Quebec. In the same province 800,000 acres were burned over in 1921, and only a little over 1,000 acres were planted. And still millions of trees were exported from eastern Canada to the United States in the same year. The Boston Herald, in connection with this great destruction, says: What adds to the pity is that most of the timber destroyed by our woodland fires is so young as to belong to generations not old enough to protect it.
So far, I believe, the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick have the most practical laws to protect their forest reserves. I have in my possession the Forest Act of the province of New Brunswick. This was passed in 1918 and has been amended from time to time since. I must admit that in New Brunswick we have copied to a certain extent legislation enacted by the province of Quebec. Let me acknowledge, Mr. Speaker, that the province of Quebec with its great forest reserves has given an excellent example to all the other provinces of how to take care of this natural Wealth.
Reports, based on comprehensive surveys, have been published by the Commission of
Conservation in regard to the forests of Nova Scotia and British Columbia and an inventory of the Ontario forests commenced by that Commission is being completed by the Forestry Branch of the Department of the Interior. The Forestry branch has I am informed examined a very considerable area of the forest land in the prairie provinces and the forest services of Quebec and New Brunswick are collecting data as to the forest resources in their respective provinces, but the information available is still far from complete.
On the basis of what knowledge I have, however, an attempt has been made to arrive at a tentative estimate of the remaining timber supplies in the Dominion. It must be admitted that this estimate is largely a matter of opinion and is subject to revision as new data is secured. It would appear that including all classes of timber, saw material, pulp-wood, ties, poles, fuel, etc., accessible and inaccessible, the total stand may be approximately as follows:
Softwood Hardwood Totalmillion ft. million ft. million ft.B.M. B.M. B.M.Eastern provinces. 300,000 100,000 400,000Prairie provinces. 140,000 85,000 225,000British Calumbia. 360,000 1,800 361,800800,000 186,800 986,500Note.-Hardwood includes poplar and cottonwood as
well as woods generally known as "hardwoods."
It is estimated that of this about 560 billion feet is of saw timber size.
Of the species which are used for the manufacture of pulp, there is estimated to be 850 million cords of spruce, balsam and western hemlock and 490 million cords of jack pine, lodgepole pine, eastern hemlock, poplar and cottonwood; a total of 1,340 million cords. About 650 million cords of this is in eastern Canada. Included in the pulpwood estimate is 500 million cords which is also saw material and will doubtless be used to a very considerable extent as lumber.
Accessibility is a most important factor in considering forest resources. It is difficult, however, to estimate the extent to which these resources may become commercially valuable since accessibility depends on changing conditions such as transportation facilities, methods of exploitation, market standards, price of products and cutting regulations. Under present conditions it is doubtful that more than one-half of the saw material and one-third of the pulpwood, exclusive of the prairie provinces, can be considered commercially accessible.
The average annual cut is now approximately as follows:
Mr. Speaker, I feel that this is a subject which has not sufficiently impressed the people of the country generally; there are only a few men in Canada who realize its importance. We have one man in the Maritime provinces who is so strongly impressed with the necessity of protecting our forests that he is spending a large amount of money in a personal campaign to educate the public in this connection. Last summer he offered a prize of $5,000 for the best essay on the destruction of the spruce bud moth. Our government in New Brunswick has a very good system of. fire protection: lookout stations are established on nearly all the high mountains of the province; these are connected by telephone with headquarters in the centres of population so that forest fires may be detected in their early stages and dealt with before they spread. In that respect we are carrying on good work, but that work was started about thirty years too late. I am firmly convinced that more lumber has been .destroyed by fire in New Brunswick than has ever been cut by the woodsman's axe. The destruction of the lumber is not the only consideration; the potential value of the land for the growing of trees has' practically disappeared, due to the burning of the soil. Where the lumbermen cut over they take the larger trees; the smaller growth trees then grow more rapidly, and a crop of logs can be harvested every ten years if the cutting is judiciously done. On the other hand, spruce land which is burned over is hardly ever of any further use for the growing of trees, and that is one reason why forest fires are such a serious menace to the lumber industry.
It is also a' fact that if our forest areas become depleted there will be less moisture throughout the land. I do not need to emphasize that point so far as our friends from the prairies are concerned; where there are no forests there is little or no moisture. In eastern Canada the depletion of our forests is becoming a serious menace from this point of view; our streams are drying up;
we have less moisture-less rainfall in summer and less snow in winter. Our crops are therefore in danger if we allow this depletion to continue.
The gentleman who offered the $5,000 prize for the best essay on the preservation of our forests has also offered prizes to provincial governments and private individuals for the best reforestation work in the eastern provinces, and in the carrying on of this campaign he has paid out large sums from his own private purse. I do not know what the federal government is doing at present in connection with the destruction of our forests by the spruce bud moth, but I think the Department of Agriculture could very well take under consideration the expending of some money in research work to find out if there is any possible way of combating this very destructive pest. I do not wish to detain the House at any length, but I could not let this opportunity pass without trying to impress on the House and the government the necessity of some work along this line.
I think we all agree that the forest is one of the most important sources of wealth that Canada possesses. Let me say at the outset that I am entirely in accord with the resolution. It would be a considerable impetus to the Forestry Branch of the Department of Interior to have the co-operation of the provincial authorities in the preservation of the forest wealth of the country. Anyone travelling through Canada this year could not help but be struck with the very great destruction which has resulted through forest fires. The destruction by the moth is a serious menace to the forests of eastern Canada, but probably fire is the greatest enemy we have to contend with to-day in our forests. If we were to organize from one end of Canada to the other a staff of officials who could prevent the serious destruction annually by forest fires, I do not think it would be necessary for either of my friends to make a speech urging the preservation of the forests of Canada.
I find on investigation in the Forestry branch that we are giving some attention to reforestation, but it appears to me that the thing on which we should be united, and upon which we should spend our greatest effort, both at the moment and for a considerable time to come until this menace is overcome to a very large degree, is preventing the spread of forest' fires. That is one thing we can unite upon, and that is one reason I am glad that this resolution has been introduced. Most of the provinces of Canada control their own' forests, and intervention on our part is
more or less a matter of sufferance. I have only to say that, so far as the Department of the Interior is concerned, the Forestry branch will welcome any suggestion by which we can work in harmony with the various provinces of Canada for the preservation of the forest wealth of this country.
Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Leader of the Opposition):
I am not so particularly concerned about the fate of this resolution. It is a colourless, meaningless production, dealing with an important subject but in so gingerly a way that the passing of it means nothing at all. The subject, though, is of consequence and of pressing consequence. It becomes more pressing every year and I venture to say that its imperious character has not been realized by the people of Canada, and I fear I must say has not been realized by the government of Canada.
Co-operation is a word that covers a multitude of sins in these days, or rather, covers a multitude of omissions; but what is in mind when we advocate co-operation? The subject demands action; it demands a broad big policy and the inauguration of that policy now. Consequently, we should not pass lightly over a resolution of this kind without taking the occasion to press home to the government the imperative demand that such a policy be evolved.
I did not expect this discussion to be precipitated to-day. I am not prepared with the figures and the data I would like to be armed with, but I can, I think, recall enough facts to show the serious character of the position we are in, and as I do so, I am not attributing the position we are in to anyone in particular. I am not saying that governments have failed to keep up with public opinion on the question. I am saying, though, that public opinion has failed to keep up with the increasing importance of the subject from year to year, and that consequently parliament has not been alive to that importance itself. I lived for some years under the impression which I think now was a delusion, that the rate of depletion of our forest areas was not greater than the rate of accretion, that is to say, that the production from year to year was overtaking the damage by fire, the damage by disease, and, as well, the reduction by the lumber cut. I do not think there is a question of doubt that that is not only not the case, but that it is so very far from being the truth that we are rapidly approaching the end of our lumber resources.
Mr. Bamum, the gentleman who no doubt is referred to bv the hon. member for Victoria and Carleton (Mr. Caldwell), has produced an array of statistics and a weight of argument
that it seems to me is bound to impress anyone who reads fully his production. At all events, let me say this: I have seen no answer whatever to the case Air. Bamjum presented. I have seen nothing, indeed, which detracts from the force of his contention that we are within a short time, and not a fraction of a century, but a matter of a very few years at the present rate of depletion and of cut, of the end of our forest resources. Nor have I seen his contention answered that the preservation of our forests as they are to-day, and in the extent they are to-day is vital not only to the supply of timber for our country, but vital as well to getting the real value of our agricultural and other resources in this Dominion. Our rainfall and the distribution of that rainfall is affected by the distribution of our forests, and when our forests are gone the result seems to be inevitable, that the great body of our rainfall gets off the land without adding that nutriment to the soil that comes from keeping the rainfall for a certain time within the soil itself.
There are many other consequences that follow such depletion. The contention is advanced by Mr. Bamjum that the United States of America is within a few ye^rs, indeed, less than a dozen at the present rate of consumption, of the end of its forest resources, and that Cahada, unless some policy designed to conserve those resources is adopted, is not far from that proximity to the end itself. There has been, of course we all admit, a frightful devastation by fire. There has been an almost equal devastation by the bud-worm and other destroyers of our trees. There has been also, of course, a very considerable depletion by the methods of lumber men. These are going on together, and by present means I venture to say that it is impossible to apply any adequate check. We do, of course, what we can to check the spread of fires in the western provinces -where the forests are under the control of the Dominion of Canada, but though we multiply our service to that end and add to our Forestry branch of the Interior department, and though I believe we have very expert and faithful officials, it is none the less true that as our machinery has expanded, the forest fires have expanded in almost equal degree. Coming to the other provinces we cannot apply our machinery there; we cannot apply our regulations. We suffer from that even in the west. We cannot apply them for the reason that the jurisdiction is under the provinces themselves. Consequently, the difficulties that surround the subject are many and great. They would seem indeed almost insurmountable, and I venture such suggestions as I wish to make with very considerable diffidence. But because I believe that discussion is worthless unless we come to grips with some specific idea that is worth discussion and worthy of consideration with a view of getting to some goal, I advance one. We might place the prohibition of a heavy export duty upon our pulpwood. I know there are objections to that; there are objections to every policy. In the provinces there is prohibition upon the export of pulpwood cut on provincial lands. That obtains in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, the two larger provinces of Canada. I think it obtains in other provinces as well. I know of no reason why, if that is good sound and defensible policy in relation to timber owned by the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, it would not be a reason equally effective against the exportation of pulpwood from other provinces of Canada. That it would perhaps be met by retaliatory legislation on the part of the United States is an argument which is often advanced. It is a subject that one does not care to discuss until he has viewed it from every angle, but from such study as I have been able to give I am not at all convinced that we are subject to retaliatory legislation that would put us in a position in which we would suffer as much as we are sure to suffer by the continued free exports of pulpwood. That is the suggestion that I commend to the government for its consideration.
Now, to meet another difficulty, and a bigger one, I make this suggestion: it is impossible for any province to adopt legislation looking to the safe cutting of our timber, to the clearing of the land with a view to preventing the spread of fire following the cutting of the timber, unless other provinces do the same. For example, if the province of Quebec were to consider adopting the slash clearing policy, and the province of Ontario did not follow in the same line of policy, then the lumberman of Quebec would be put at a disadvantage with his competitor that would probably be fatal to his business; consequently it follows that whatever is done of any importance to the lumber industry in this regard in one province must be accompanied by a like course in another province, or it becomes impracticable in the province that considers its adoption. Then, how can the Dominion parliament meet the situation with a view to the adoption, say of the slash clearing policy in all the provinces of Canada, because, unless we are going to insist, at whatever cost, on the clearing of the slash after the timber is felled, we simply pave the way,
we feed the flames, and make all our difficulties in the way of preventing and overcoming forest fires in the future. Well, there are two or three ways in which that can be done-[DOT] two or three, at all events, worth trying. The provinces might be brought together and we might perhaps agree with the government? of those provinces to recommend to their several legislatures the adoption of uniform regulations in this regard. I question if that would succeed. It might succeed and it might not, but if everything should fail it would be at least possible for this Dominion, and in my judgment it would be not only constitutionally practical but would be justified by the stern necessity, to make the failure to clear slash in the public interest an offence by Dominion legislation, and to make it compulsory upon all private operators in timber and on our timber land. If that were done, then unquestionably it should be followed by operators upon public lands in the various provinces.
Does the hon. member realize that our spruce in eastern Canada grows from a tree the size of your arm to trees of very large size, and it is impossible to burn the slash without killing the small growth?
No, I do not think it is impossible, without killing the small growth. I know it grows in that way. If the slash is killed by fire wherever it lies, necessarily that would ensue, but it would be quite possible to have regulations that would provide for the gathering or the accumulation of slash, and then provide that it would be got out of the way in some manner, and I presume, of course, by fire, and thereby take away the main cause of the spread of forest fires in future. I for one can see no way in the world in which we can ensure ourselves against the spread of these large forest fires that are devastating the great wealth of the country unless we take away the fuel of these flames. It is this fuel that causes the flames to spread. It is that which starts them going, and though it be a matter of expense, the extent of that expense is already pretty well known. That it does cost something to accumulate and to bum this slash without at the same time destroying the young growth is now pretty well established but it is far better that that cost be borne, and added, indeed, to the cost of our lumber-for there is where it is going to come-than that we
now should not only mortgage prosperity to pursue blindly and prodigally a policy that is going to leave the country depleted of not only one of its great sources of its wealth, but of one of those sources that is vital to the other sources, without which the main source at all events is of very little value, to our land.
Mr. MURRAY MacLAREN (St. John City and Counties of St. John and Albert):
It is a matter of general agreement that our forest lands are becoming unduly and greatly depleted. There are three causes for the depletion of our forests-fire, insect diseases, end overcutting. All are important factors. They may vary somewhat in degree, but they are all formidable and large factors in the depletion. The depletion of our forests is a serious matter for the country's welfare, not only on account of the enormous wealth that is being lost, but because the replacement of the forests requires so many years. It is appreciated now-and I do not think we need take an absolutely dark view as regards our forest lands in this respect-that general knowledge is now being diffused throughout the land regarding the serious conditions that exist, and what steps should be taken to prevent it. That of itself is something. It has not reached the point where action is being taken to nearly the extent that it should be taken. It is becoming recognized now that the condition of our forests is somewhat similar to the condition of health in the human being-that there is such a thing as forest health and such a thing as forest disease, and that when forest disease occurs our forests suffer to a very great extent. What causes forest disease? There are two principal causes. One is fire and the other is overcutting. Fire destroys a large portion of the forest and the soil; it lowers the health of the region and encourages, just as is the case in human diseases-the onset and growth of insect disease. In the same way over-cutting encourages plant disease. If forests are overcut,, the land dries, the trees die, the high state of health of the forest depreciates, and this allows the onset of insect and lower animal life disease. These are matters of importance for our people to know, so that the problem may be dealt with, with a reasonable hope of success.
What can be done to solve this great and serious economic problem in Canada? I should be disposed to attach a good deal more value to the word "co-operation" than I have so far heard mentioned. And why? Forest lands are the property of the provinces, and the federal government has a Department of Agriculture. This, then, must largely be a
matter of co-operation between the provincial governments and the federal government, and much could be gained by a series of conferences between the federal government, especially its Department of Agriculture, and the local governments. To what effect? So that they would agree and lay down certain standards-what measures should be adopted for the prevention of fire? How should we deal with the removal- of slash? To what extent should we attempt to keep our forests clean? How should we deal with insect diseases? It has been mentioned that we must look to the federal Department of Agriculture for more assistance, because they have the entomologists who are carrying on this work. The federal government might help us still further in the matter of plant pathology, in view of the fact that forest diseases are so destructive to our forest life at the present time. We have now reached the point where our forests have suffered so severly that we must have recourse to those measures, and we must preserve our forests and keep them cleaner. We might well turn our eyes towards the condition of forests in France; and if we follow the example of French forestry, where everything is carried out so completely as regards care, cutting, fire protection and removal of slash, this will be very much to our advantage. I quite recognize that this is a matter of process of time. When Canada was a new country, forests were regarded, and we regard them still somewhat, as something to be used without any sense of discrimination or limitation. That time has gone. We must now accustom ourselves to caring for our forests as is being done at the present day in France where the forests are older, the problem larger and greater care required.
Mr. Speaker, I believe the federal government should at once take measures to co-operate at least with the Ontario and Quebec governments on account of conditions which at present exist in the northern country. The discovery of gold in Rouyn township, which largely adjoins the boundary of the province of Ontario, has caused a tremendous rush of propectors into that section of northern Ontario. Within the last six or eight months, some twelve or fifteen hundred mining claims have been recorded in the township of Rouyn and adjoining townships. During the coming summer, in conformity with regulations imposed by Ontario and regulations imposed by Quebec, a certain amount of development work will have to be done upon those mining claims. Any of us who are familiar with conditions in Cobalt or in the Porcupine country, knows what happens after prospectors have gone into the bush. The slash may not be as great as that produced by lumbering; but as soon as prospecting and development work starts on a large scale, in a timber country, the same conditions are created that slash creates in a lumbering country. The section of the north country in which these mining claims have been recorded adjoins the largest and most valuable standing pulpwood there is on the North American continent, and in its present location and owing to its density, should a fire, such as the one we had in Porcupine in 1916, start in the slash that will be created in the township of Rouyn and in the district of Kirkland Lake, there will be a repetition of the great conflagration that took place in the Porcupine district and one which will cause Canada one of its greatest losses in its pulp-wood wealth. These conditions are being created; we are having to-day a repetition of what took place in the Porcupine country, and nothing less than immediate co-operation between the federal government and the governments of Ontario and Quebec will prevent a serious conflagration in the pulpwood limits of northern Ontario and Quebec.