June 25, 1951


Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and the house went into committee thereon, Mr. Dion in the chair. On section 1-Employees.


PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Chairman, in view of the fact that any work that will be done under the Saskatchewan river dam irrigation plan will be under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, and the fact that Mr. Thomson, who administers this branch, has spoken highly of the efficacy and economic efficiency of the dam, both as a means of developing power and for purposes of prairie farm

Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act rehabilitation, is the minister in a position to bring the House of Commons and the country up to date on the question I asked this morning?

I put my question in this way because I do not want to transgress upon the propriety of asking a question that would imply that I had certain information. I therefore simply ask whether the minister is prepared to give an interim report on the present situation, and in particular on the matter to which my question was directed this morning.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

An order for return was passed asking for all the correspondence between the provincial governments and the federal government, which I hope to bring down this week, if not tomorrow then the following day. When it is brought down the correspondence will give full information about the present position as to the possible construction of the dam.

It is true, as the hon. member for Lake Centre states, that the director has spoken-highly of the possibilities of the South Saskatchewan dam. It is also true that I have spoken in optimistic terms at different times as to its possibilities. But there are certain things which will require to be done in order to proceed with the building of the dam, even if the government were to decide that it should be proceeded with. One of them has to do with the division of water as among the provinces. I have found, in preparing the file, that it is not nearly as complete as I thought it was. The order in council which set up the water board made it necessary for this government to appoint two members, with the three prairie provinces appointing one each, making a board of five. When we were setting out the duties of the board, the provinces insisted that after any question had. been determined by the board it should be sent to the provincial governments for approval. That is, the board might make a decision that a certain amount of water should be permitted to go across the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary, or that a certain amount of water should be permitted to cross into Manitoba, but that would not decide the question. The separate provincial governments would have to pass orders in council agreeing with the decision reached. All of them would have to pass orders in council before it would become effective. So far no provincial government has passed that order in council. There has been some correspondence, and there has been information asked for during the last few weeks since the matter has been under discussion, but until those orders in council are passed

it will not be possible to proceed any faster than we are proceeding in deciding whether we should go ahead.

It has been announced to the house that a committee will be appointed and that all information available will be referred to that committee. The question asked this morning was, in effect, whether the government is prepared to name the committee, and the Prime Minister indicated that we are proceeding as rapidly as we can in that direction. Inquiry has been made where it was necessary to make it in order to get the consent of certain people to act. As soon as that consent has been obtained, my understanding is that the government will name the committee and have all information available referred to it.

I do not think I can say anything more about the committee at the moment, as that brings the position up to date. One reason why it is impossible to mention names is that we have no definite assurance that individuals who have been recommended will accept the appointment. I do not think the committee would expect me to be using names at a time when we may have to turn to some others in order to fill out the committee.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

In view of the fact that the minister has stated that none of the three provinces has passed the necessary order in council confirming the orders made by the water board, can he say whether or not any objection has been raised to the issuance by any province of such order in council? Has the government of Manitoba given any indication that it is going to refuse to allow the necessary allocation and diversion of water on the South Saskatchewan? Has the government of Saskatchewan been approached in connection with this matter, and has it given any indication that it is not going to pass such order in council? I ask the same question with regard to the government of the province of Alberta.

I can say that within the last few days the association in Saskatchewan, a voluntary body, had a meeting in connection with this matter and expressed itself directly and definitely, because apparently commencement of construction is being indefinitely postponed.

As to the question I asked this morning, and the answer given by the minister, with respect to the personnel of the committee of experts, I am in agreement with him, because I realize that any indication of names at this time would be quite improper. But I am disturbed about the fact that having believed that something was going to be done, and it

having been decided that a committee of experts must be satisfied on the question, we are still faced with a hurdle in that all three provinces must consent. That is one reason why I raised such strong objection when this matter of the water board was before the committee. The possibility that one province could completely prevent the doing of work so necessary as this indicates the difficulties that will be experienced if the government of Manitoba should take the stand that any diversion of waters necessary for this project would be detrimental to the province. That is why I asked the minister the specific question, and I hope he will give an answer.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I think it would be wrong to say that any province has raised objection to the building of the South Saskatchewan dam. I do not think that that question would be submitted to any province except Saskatchewan, and I doubt if Saskatchewan would have any objection.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbalcer:

To the diversion of water.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

That is what I am going to say. The matter of building the South Saskatchewan river dam would not be affected by that. When the board was set up-I am sorry I have not the exact dates this morning, but I sent for the letters in order to make up the return that is to be brought down; I believe it was several months ago, and I am not sure that it may not have been one or two years since we were first discussing the form of the water board for the three provinces. During that time, Manitoba, being the last to receive the water, naturally was much concerned as to whether the board was going to be able to make the final decision. So far as this government was concerned, we were quite prepared at that time to say that the board could make the final decision. But the provinces were not prepared to accept that, more particularly the province of Manitoba. I think Manitoba was fairly strongly supported by the other two provinces. Eventually we agreed to the board being set up with the undertaking that any decision reached would have to be approved by the governments of the provinces before it would become final.

There were no discussions then which would indicate that anybody was opposed to anything; it was only that they wanted the right to protect their own interests when it came to the time to deal with the matter. As I recall the correspondence, which will be on the file when it comes down and I think will verify what I am going to say, the only objection raised by the Saskatchewan government that could be called an objection was raised by the minister of agriculture on

Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act behalf of the government, in a letter written wishing to know, before they consented fully, whether or not sufficient water was being allowed to pass the boundary line of Alberta into Saskatchewan to fill up a dam such as the South Saskatchewan river dam and make water available to do the things that we were maintaining could be done. An attempt has been made to satisfy them on that point, and I really think they are satisfied.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbalcer:

Is that the government of Saskatchewan?

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

That is the government of Saskatchewan. The only other question that has been raised, as a result of which we consider it advisable to refer the matter to certain others, is a report which was brought down, not at our request but at the request of the Saskatchewan government. I do not think the Saskatchewan government accepts it as final, or even as good advice. However, a report was brought down by Cass-Beggs, an economist or engineer from Toronto, who was asked by the provincial government to make a report. He puts up an argument to' the- effect that you may be able to produce power more cheaply from coal than from the water that would be available at this dam. That is a point concerning which some people would like to be satisfied, and I do not know that any great delay is going to be caused. I doubt very much if any delay will be caused in arriving at a decision because of the appointment of the committee. I think the committee will speed up rather than slow down a decision on all these points I have mentioned.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

I should like to ask the minister how this man came to make that report. At whose request did he make it?

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

At the request of the government of Saskatchewan, but I do not think it was done for the purpose of preparing a report either for or against the dam. He was making a report on the possibility of developing power in Saskatchewan, and he argues therein whether or not the water development could be a substitute for coal.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Wright:

I do not think the Cass-Beggs report had anything to do with the South Saskatchewan river dam. As I remember it, he was the engineer called in to make a report on the power situation in Saskatchewan with respect to methods of developing power and the distribution thereof within the province. That was what his report was concerned with. It may be, as the minister states, that somewhere in that report he makes the statement that power could be developed by the use of the coal in the

4628 HOUSE OF

Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act southern part of the province as cheaply as it could be developed by utilizing water in certain other areas. I have not read the report. The minister states that is contained in it, but the report had nothing to do with the South Saskatchewan river dam. It had to do with the development and distribution of power in the province of Saskatchewan.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

There is one other point. When this body of experts have concluded their investigation, and if the international reputation of those chosen be such that it will command attention and authority, and the report is in the affirmative, is there any assurance that the work will be proceeded with?

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I do not think I should attempt to prophesy as to what the decision of the government will be. Because of a remark made when the hon. member for Lake Centre was on his feet previously, I believe I should say that I do not think the decision or advice of the committee, no matter which way it may be, must necessarily be taken by the government. It is one of those cases that often arises. I myself, for example, have had more to do with this dam than anyone else. I instructed the engineers in the first place to study the possibility of building a dam on the South Saskatchewan river. For three or four years before anybody discussed the matter publicly we were discussing it from week to week in the department. Therefore I feel I am under some obligation personally to the taxpayers of Canada to say: If you are going to spend $68 million, you are going to get something for it.

As I said previously when we were discussing this matter, I am convinced that a lake in the middle of Saskatchewan would be a good thing, even if it did not produce any power or any water for irrigation at all; from some other points of view a lake there might easily be worth a great deal of money to the whole of Canada. But even so, I have been in politics for a long time, and I do not believe I have any white elephants hanging around yet; therefore I would prefer to be absolutely certain before asking the government of Canada to arrange to spend $68 million, together with $33 million of the province's money, to develop a project of this kind. I should like to feel absolutely certain, as near as one can, that it will be a success when it is built. I can hardly think of anything the committee can say which would make me more convinced than I am now.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Will make the government more convinced.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

But there is the possibility that the experts, in looking at it, may point out things that have never occurred to me, and possibly have never occurred to the members of this House of Commons. It will be on that basis that their information will be considered. As has been suggested, the hope is that, when we finally get the consent of the three individuals to act, they will be persons whose opinion will be accepted

anywhere in Canada.

/

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
Permalink
CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Wrighi:

From the information the

minister has at hand, is there any serious objection by the province of Manitoba to the division of the amounts of water to be allowed to cross the various boundaries as set out by the Saskatchewan rivers board? '

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I do not think so. I do not think there is any definite objection raised. Within the last two or three weeks they have asked for more information, and they have received that information from our officials at Regina. They are hopeful that some action will be taken on the water board's decision within a reasonable time. I recite these facts only in order to show that I think a little too much emphasis, both outside the house and inside, has been placed on the fact that a committee is being appointed. It is not a delaying procedure, and there is the possibility that it will not delay the procedure at all, because we must have these orders in council, or we must change the whole understanding between ourselves and the provinces before we can proceed in any case.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
Permalink
PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

For years this dam project has been discussed by political dam builders prior to elections, and they are always positive that it will start some time in the very near future, or shortly after the election. We have heard it discussed. As a Canadian and a resident of Ontario who knows a little about Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia, and being desirous of seeing Canada built up on a good solid foundation, I would advocate that as soon as possible really expert men who know what they are talking about take hold of this problem in a businesslike manner. Fire those who are not competent; obtain expert advice and proceed with the project, or tell us why it should not be gone ahead with at once. If it will benefit Saskatchewan it will benefit Canada as a whole, and the sooner we reap those benefits the better. Let us stop making a political football of it and go ahead with the job if it will benefit the whole country.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Joseph-Alfred Dion (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

This is a specific measure

amending an act. It contains two specific clauses, and in my opinion we cannot permit a general debate.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ACT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT AND SUPERANNUATION OF CERTAIN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, ETC.
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June 25, 1951