June 11, 1946

LIB

Henry Byron McCulloch

Liberal

Mr. E. G. McCULEOCH (Assiniboia):

This afternoon I listened to the remarks of the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green), and I am quite in agreement with his proposal that this bill should be referred to a committee of this house, or possibly a joint committee of the house and senate. I would also recommend that the scientific workers of this country, those who were instrumental in discovering atomic energy, be given a real and definite part to play in connection with such a committee. To-day we have developed atomic energy and, no matter how we handle it, that problem is with us.

In my first remarks I should like to compliment the government on introducing this legislation. There is no other problem so urgent as far as the Canadian people are concerned, and perhaps as far as the whole family of nations is concerned, as this problem of atomic energy which has been tossed into the laps of governments all over the world. We of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation particularly welcome this bill because it puts under public control in a democratic way the most urgent problem of our day. In the past we have said that our economy in this country is outdated and outworn; that our science and invention have advanced so rapidly and we have become so proficient in producing the things we need that the system under which we have laboured, the capitalist system, is outmoded and leads to such things as unemployment, economic stagnation and finally war. So that we welcome this bill heartily. It is true that private enterprise knows only one law; that is, its legal right under the present system. Private enterprise feels no responsibility for unemployment or any of these other great tragedies which sometimes confront us. So that we say this great problem must and shall be solved.

I should like to refer to a statement which was issued by the association of scientific workers located at Canberra House, 73 High Holborn, London. They refer to the growing fear of destruction in the hearts of people. That is the result which we have to-day. If we are to allow individuals or private enterprise to have control of these things and use them for private profit we shall eventually be led into war. So we must change the situation. Now that atomic energy has heen achieved, it seems to me that the members of all political groups should recognize that this is the one thing which should be brought under control so that we may be able to distribute the things which we produce in this country among ourselves rather than be faced with the terrible possibility of having a potential production on the one hand, and poverty and unemployment on the other.

If we allow this problem to go unanswered we shall eventually create such forces of fear and distrust among the nations that it will not be long before we shall be faced, perhaps not with an armament race like in the last war, but a race to produce atomic bombs or to make other destructive uses of atomic energy. This frankenstein which one of the united nations has been successful in creating will be used against us and we shall be annihilated and blown to atomic fragments by the very machine we have created.

I am in agreement with the hon. member for Vancouver South who contended that this bill should be sent to a special committee of this house or a joint committee of both houses. The scientific workers of this country should have some say in the formation of policy. We have made only a beginning. There are world problems that must be solved. We cannot force other nations to accept our ideas any more than we can force hon. mem-

Atomic Energy Control

bers of this house to accept them. This government must be commended for having made a beginning so that we can show other nations that we have taken under our control this power which can be used for the betterment of man.

Perhaps we have not placed enough emphasis upon what atomic energy can do for the people. There is fear and distrust among races and we live from day to day in fear of what is going on. As long as that feeling exists, there is the possibility that this energy may be used for destructive purposes rather than being developed for peaceful uses. I think it was the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. McKay) who said that we should use this power for industrial purposes. It could be used also for medicinal purposes. Quite often when our scientists have worked to develop certain scientific formulas they find that they are used for diabolical purposes. There are many instances of this. Those men, like the rest of us, are wondering where the world is going.

This is a splendid step in the right direction. Into the lap of the government has been thrown one of the most urgent problems of all time, the problem of atomic energy. I hope that we can meet this challenge; I hope that we can find the solution of this great problem. The matter is of such urgency that members of all groups should be ready to get together.

In conclusion, let me say that this is just the beginning. We know that our scientists will be able to go ahead along the lines they have already adopted. Let us hope that this great discovery will not be used as some inventions of the past have been used. If we can bring that about I feel sure we shall have the collaboration and cooperation of nations all over the world so that eventually, through the united nations or some other organization, we shall be able to have a free exchange of scientific knowledge in order that the peoples of the world will be able to have real peace.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. D. G. ROSS (St. Paul's):

Mr. Speaker, I feel strongly about this bill and I feel strongly about the situation in which we find ourselves, that is, the control of the atomic bomb or fission. This thing means life or death; it means either good or evil. How do we propose to deal with the situation? It can be the greatest thing for good that the world has ever seen. I wonder if the world is capable of receiving it under the present circumstances?

What disturbs me more than anything else is just how we are to choose this board. I know something about the situation in the United States where they have done a pretty good job. The minister knows about that. The hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr.

Green) said something about it this afternoon. How do we propose to choose this board that we are to have in Canada? We cannot have all scientists on the board. We have to have some way of choosing this board.

I have the greatest admiration and the greatest respect for the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply (Mr. Howe). He has done many things very well and he has done other things not so well, but I will forgive him for those. I submit that the presidents of all the universities in Canada should be on this board. That is what should be done to start with. I do not think it would be too big a job for them. Then, to get the thing done they could call in the best brains on this board.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

Including yourself.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

Is that the Minister of Labour speaking?

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I said, including yourself.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

I would bring more brains to bear on it than you would. I know a little about what I am talking about because I had an opportunity of hearing lectures by Sir Ernest Rutherford when I was at McGill university many years ago.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

What did he tell you about atomic energy then?

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

He told us something about it. As a matter of fact he told us that this desk on which I now have my hand has more space than it has matter. He said that this is a system of constellations. I know a little concerning what I am talking about, and if the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) will keep quiet and attend to his own business and settle some of these strikes all across the country he would be helpful. I have a lot of men on strike in my riding. I have a great deal of sympathy for the minister but I have also sympathy for the fellows on strike in my riding. There are also a lot of ships tied up there, and in Toronto we want to know where we are to get coal for next winter. If we do not get coal, where are we to get atomic energy to take care of us next winter?

We have some great presidents of our Canadian universities. We have Sidney Smith of the university of Toronto, and Principal James of McGill, my old university, and there are a great many fine people there. We should have a board consisting of the presidents of the universities. They are capable of choosing the right people. Some may say that Principal James has not chosen quite the

Atomic Energy Control

right people, but that is only a matter of opinion. Some may say that there are some reds in the university of Toronto. Maybe there are at McGill. But I say, Mr. Speaker, that the presidents of our universities can choose the right people, and that they know what they are doing. There are many good scientists that such a board could choose. If you want to get a chief for a medical school you do not just pick out a man yourself but you go to the heads of medical organizations and to the universities and find out whom they would recommend. That is only my suggestion and I give it for what it is worth.

This whole question of atomic energy is a question of life or death so far as this world is concerned. If I did not think so I would not be speaking in this debate to-night. Only in to-day's paper we read what a distinguished scientist said about the atom bomb tests, that an atomic bomb, if exploded under the ocean surface, might crack the earth's shell and there might be no survivors to report on the experiment. So that we certainly do not want to get atomic energy into the hands of the wrong people. I hope hon. members will take what I have said in the spirit in which I have given it to the house. This is an extremely serious question.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Reconstruction) :

Mr. Speaker, this has been an interesting debate and I suggest that an unusual amount of unanimity has been shown toward the objectives of the bill. Certain points were raised in the admirable address of the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green), and perhaps I might take up first the eight questions he raised.

His first one was: Should there be a board or should atomic energy be placed under the direct control of a minister? As my hon. friend pointed out, in the United States atomic energy is under a board, and in the United Kingdom it is directly under a minister. I think Canada's proposal of a board under a minister is a good combination of the two. It enables a group of men with diversified knowledge to be placed in charge of administration, under a minister who is chairman of a cabinet committee and who is directly responsible to the House of Com-njons. It seems to me that the plan proposed by this bill gives Canada the best of both arrangements and is consistent with Canadian custom.

Then my hon. friend mentioned watch-dog committees. I dare say that, as developments proceed, it may be desirable to have committees, and perhaps a standing committee of this house on problems of atomic energy may

be warranted; I do not think that is so at the moment. We should obtain more experience in the work of atomic energy before a standing committee is established. But that may very well be a logical development of the future if and when atomic energy takes a more important place in the Canadian economy. There is nothing in the bill that would prevent the establishing of advisory committees or the setting up of a parliamentary. committee, should the future indicate that that is desirable.

My hon. friend also asked: Is there sufficient control by parliament? As was pointed out, the British bill provides for a negative resolution. The Canadian bill provides by section 9(2):

Regulations under this section shall forthwith he published in the Canada Gazette and laid before parliament within fifteen days after they are made if parliament is then sitting, and, if not, then within fifteen days after the commencement of the next ensuing session thereof.

That is not quite equivalent to a provision for a negative resolution, but it does draw the regulations of the board to the attention of parliament, and it would be within the privilege of any member to bring any regulation before the house for discussion. So I think that point is covered.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GREEN:

Is provision made for tabling the regulation in the house?

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Yes, that is provided by section 9(2), which I have just read.

Another question asked by the hon. member for Vancouver South was: Should the board be a full-time board? The government has not fully decided that point. The decision hinges on the question whether it shall be a regulatory or an administrative board. Should it be an administrative board, should it actually operate all phases of atomic energy, it should be a full-time board. Should it be merely a supervisory board to publish regulations, leaving the operation to others, then it should be a part-time board. That decision will be made within the next few months and parliament will be able to examine the situation at its next session.

Another question was: Does the bill unduly hamper research? My hon. friend will note that section 9 of the bill provides that the first responsibility of the board will be to make provision for research. It says:

The board may make regulations,-

(a) for encouraging and facilitating research and investigations with respect to atomic energy.

That is an instruction by parliament to the board. There is no doubt that research will be provided for.

Atomic Energy Control

Another question asked by the hon. member for Vancouver South was: What shall be done about inventions? Section 9(1) (e)

covers that subject. I think that provision is about as broad as the present position of atomic energy makes possible at the moment.

Then my hon. friend mentioned crown companies. I have heard somewhere that he does not like crown companies; I think that has been made clear.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GREEN:

Not the way they are being set up now.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

The next point is, should the board make international agreements? The bill does not provide that the board will make international agreements; it provides that the board will keep abreast of developments in other countries. All international agreements will be made by the government through the Department of External Affairs and be subject to ratification by the House of Commons.

My hon. friend has suggested that the bill should go before a committee of the house for further study, and hon. members in other sections of the house have supported that view. I should like to give the arguments against that procedure.

The first is that there is some urgency about having this bill enacted. The atomic energy commission of the united nations commences its sittings to-morrow. Each member of the commission is desirous that he shall have the support of a bill from the country he represents as guidance in the position which he will take in the proceedings of the commission. This government is therefore doing what it can to expedite the study and passage of this bill.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GREEN:

On that point, may I ask the minister if it is not the fact that neither the United States nor the United Kingdom have yet passed bills dealing with this matter?

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I am told that the United Kingdom has enacted a bill. The senate of the United States has passed a bill, and it is expected that passage by the house of representatives will be only a matter of a few days.

The second objection to a committee is the secrecy which still surrounds atomic energy. Hon. members who have spoken in the debate have indicated that they would regard the hearings of the committee as a forum for the dissemination of information about atomic energy to the public. I hardly think the position is such that that would be possible. Only a few men in North America or in the world know the whole story of atomic energy.

Some two thousand scientists, engaged over the past three or four years, have taken part in research which culminated in the production of atomic energy.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

May I ask the minister a question?

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

When I finish my address.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

The minister said that only about two thousand people know about atomic energy. Did the professors in these various universities know who they were?

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I do not think the list is

difficult to obtain. But I would point out that the research on atomic energy was carried out in very much the same style that a carpenter would use in building a ladder. A ladder is built rung by rung. Each rung is a separate unit in the ladder, but the whole is the ladder. The research in atomic energy was carried on in very much the same way. A group of scientists would work on one phase, and only one phase, of the atomic energy problem. At the top level was a committee who were able to take these individual efforts and fit them into a comprehensive whole; I suppose there are not twenty scientists in the world who know all phases of the development of atomic energy.

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

Would the minister permit one question? Among those twenty are there any of those who are under arrest at the present time?

Topic:   ATOMIC ENERGY
Subtopic:   PUBLIC CONTROL AND SUPERVISION OF DEVELOPMENT, APPLICATION AND USE
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June 11, 1946