May 1, 1953 (21st Parliament, 7th Session)


Emmett Andrew McCusker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)


Mr. McCusker:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to say a few words on this item because reference was made to a statement which I had made in 1949 and I should like to clarify it. It will be remembered that on October 13, 1949, as reported on page 761 of Hansard, I outlined the plight in which cities like Regina and Moose Jaw found themselves on account of a water shortage. I gave some of the historical background and indicated that when the agreement was made with the Canadian Pacific to build through western Canada they had agreed to follow the line of fresh water. But they were diverted from their original intentions and built their line through the southern part of Saskatchewan, leaving water at Brandon and going straight to Medicine Hat before they came to water again. As a consequence of that breach of contract cities and other places like Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Gull Lake and Maple Creek which were in between found themselves actually short of water. I tried to impress on parliament when I spoke that the federal government had some responsibility to the people who had settled there because the railways had been allowed to depart from the original contract.
At that time I was having a discussion in Regina with the city, provincial and federal governments with respect to the responsibility for extending assistance to the city in building its water supply system. I had difficulty at first. The provincial government stated that it was the responsibility of the federal government. The federal government pointed out that it was a municipal responsibility, that when a municipality was unable to carry out its own responsibilities it should appeal to the provincial government, and if the provincial government was unable to complete the project it could call upon the federal government. After several attempts I finally succeeded in bringing the three governments together. I think we had two conferences. Nothing came of the first one. All parties stood pat, refusing to accept any responsibility.
After further discussions I succeeded in getting the federal government to promise that it would keep water in Buffalo Pound lake in the Qu'Appelle valley in perpetuity for Regina and Moose Jaw. What that involved remains to be seen. If we build the Saskatchewan river dam in the years to

come, the water will flow there naturally. If it is not built, the federal government has the responsibility of building pumping stations on the Saskatchewan river and keeping a level of water in Buffalo Pound lake and the Saskatchewan valley sufficient to supply the needs of Regina and Moose Jaw, and also stock watering and irrigation projects farther down the Qu'Appelle valley. This will be an expensive undertaking.
I am pleased to say that as a result of that undertaking the city of Regina has gone ahead with the work. There is a dam at Buffalo Pound lake where a considerable body of water is impounded. A power station and a pumping station have been built in the valley to pump water up to the refining beds and works about five miles inland from Buffalo Pound lake. From there Moose Jaw will build a pipe line and obtain its water supply. At the present time we are trying to build a 36-inch pipe line from the site of the filtration beds to Regina city, a distance of thirty-six miles. Hon. members may have noticed that on account of steel being in short supply- I do not want to cast any reflection on the company-it was decided to build the line with another type of pipe, and this has led to great disappointments. At present the project is delayed slightly on that account.
But the most important thing is that within the next year we will have an adequate water supply in Regina. I had indicated that it was the responsibility of the government to assist us with this project because through the oversight of earlier governments the C.P.R. had been allowed to build so far south. At that time I also emphasized the importance of irrigation to the central dry part of Saskatchewan. I do not blame the Prime Minister for saying that just 250,000 acres will be affected. He cannot be an authority on everything. But we who live in western Canada know that the creation of a reservoir in the centre of Saskatchewan of the size and nature that is contemplated and the irrigation of half a million acres of land will improve the agricultural and grazing possibilities of many millions of acres of land. It will permit the production of fodder on which we can winter our stock, and the stock can spend the spring and summer on dry pastures. It will change the nature of agriculture in that part of the country.
I hear many people talk about a great industrial development in that part of the country. Personally I cannot see it. To have industrial development you must have markets. We have a small population. I am not sure what industries can be established there that will thrive. Certainly any of the industries that the C.C.F. government has tried to bring to Saskatchewan to date
Supp ly-A griculture
have proved to be dismal failures. The last one, the woollen mills in Moose Jaw, failed the other day. I do not want this to be a political discussion. Coming from Saskatchewan, I certainly am pressing for the federal government to assume a great part of the cost. I know what the people there have gone through in past years. The wealth of Saskatchewan, compared with that of other parts of the country, is very small. In fact it seems to me that we create wealth to build big insurance offices, banks and so on in eastern Canada. Be that as it may, I think I should clarify something at this point. At that time I was pressing, as were other members, to have the federal government assume as much responsibility as I could get it to take. After the debate had gone on for some time, the Minister of Agriculture had this to say, as found at page 770 of Hansard for October 13, 1949:
What we say in regard to that is this, that the provincial government ought to share some of the capital cost, which reduces the total cost per acre from some $40 or $50 down to the $10 that the farmer can pay, and that no part of that money ought to be collected back from the farmer. We say the federal government should put up something and the provincial government should put up something: and whatever that amount is, it should be charged up to the capital cost which the farmer is not going to be required to pay, in order that his costs may be reduced down to the $10.
My personal opinion about that is that when you take all the works for which we are responsible, including the original dam, we would be assuming far more than our total responsibility, whatever that responsibility might be based upon, whether it is a legal responsibility or a national responsibility. We would not be very far from the mark if the provincial government became responsible for half of the cost and the federal government became responsible for the other half.

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