Mr. T. A. M. Kirk (Shelburne-Yarmouth -Clare):
Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge no Nova Scotian has as yet taken part in this debate. As a Nova Scotian I should like to make a few comments on Bill No. 247, and to make special reference to that portion of the bill which applies to the special fiscal or adjustment grants.
In doing so, however, I should first of all like to pay a tribute to Mr. Henry D. Hicks, the present leader of the Liberal opposition in the province of Nova Scotia and the former premier of that province who, when attending the preliminary conference in April of 1955, first made the suggestion that special fiscal or adjustment grants should be made. In making that proposal he brought it forth as one that would apply not only to the Atlantic provinces. He brought it forth as a type of policy which could be applied to any province should conditions arise similar to those which were in effect in the maritime or Atlantic provinces when he first brought forward the proposal.
There is no question but that the people in the Atlantic provinces will consider this $25
million, this portion which is to be the special assistance grant or special fiscal grant, of great assistance. They will consider this a move in the right direction. I think they realize, as must the house, that a move of this nature, an amount such as $25 million, is needed in the Atlantic provinces today because of the deteriorating economic conditions even more than it was when Mr. Hicks first made the suggestion less than three years ago. I feel that the real objective of the government should not be deficiency payments, if I may call them that, to the governments of the Atlantic provinces but efforts to bring about higher incomes for the people of the Atlantic provinces. Such higher incomes could be brought about, of course, by policies leading to industrial development. In other words, what we need to assist us in the Atlantic provinces are some imaginative proposals and policies.
I am thinking of one of the steps that was taken along that line only last year or to be more exact, less than a year ago. It was one of the most imaginative steps that has ever been proposed for the maritime provinces. I refer to the action by the then minister of northern affairs and national resources, the hon. member for Montmagny-L'Islet (Mr. Lesage) and the then finance minister, Mr. Harris, when they brought forth the thermal power policy for the Atlantic provinces.
I think of another step which was taken by previous Liberal governments within the last few years which resulted-