February 13, 1928 (16th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. C. H. CAHAN (St. Lawrence-St. George):

I think that we on this side of the house appreciate very much indeed the remarks of the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Malcolm) and if he is to have the direction and control of this work, so far as the government is concerned, I should like to suggest to him that I know of no department of human endeavour upon which large sums of money may be so uselessly and inefficiently expended as upon national research. In many parts of the United States they have attempted, by way of industrial research, to start from the elements up, thinking that it was quite unworthy of their institutions that they
should profit by the results of the scientific investigations made during the past fifty years by other countries. That is one way of spending public money, or money privately contributed, most inefficiently and uselessly, and I suggest to the Minister of Trade and Commerce, or to the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Stewart), whoever may have the matter in charge, that the results of scientific research in every country of the world, except so far as it is made confidentially by private industry, is open to them to-day, and that they should profit to the utmost by the attainments and the achievements of other nations, up to the present time.
To do that Germany followed this method: She placed in every industrial country of the world some of the brightest young men out of her technical schools, keeping them abroad sometimes five, or six or seven years, to become acquainted with the most approved methods in engineering and in chemistry in which she has herself been so successful. Japan followed Germany's example. During the war I was temporarily in charge, as chairman of a board, of some seventy or eighty large engineering firms and the work which they were doing, and we had a request from the Japanese government to permit certain of their young men, whom they were sending abroad, to have access to the work which was being done and to be informed as to the results which were being accomplished. Japan placed large numbers of young men in England, in the United States, and in Canada in order that they might ascertain the methods and the processes which were being utilized to achieve certain satisfactory results, and they have profited since by the information which these young men took back with them.
I quite agree with the purport of the remarks of the Minister of Trade and Commerce. I think it is satisfactory indeed that we have a gentleman in his office with the ideals and with the wide view of industrial conditions to which he has given expression to-night. But I suggest to him that his institute or his council of national research, by whatever name it may be called, should endeavour to place before the public, and especially before the industries of Canada, the results achieved by the industries of all foreign countries in the same line of work, in so far as their attainments may be made public; and if he were to publish from time to time some leaflets showing the results of these investigations abroad similar to the commercial reports which he now issues-many of which I, though not a commercial man, find most interesting indeed, although I think

National Research-Mr. Church
they may be improved in some respects with time-if these results were made known to our industries, it would help very much I believe in assisting our industrial research departments to achieve still better results. Further I think they should take into consideration, as they intend to do, the development of scientific research in our own educational institutions. We have, I know, in my own native province of Nova Scotia, been doing for some time very considerable advantageous and beneficial work for that community. In the city of Montreal during the last five years the provincial government, through one institution there, has been training young men as efficiently as they have ever been trained in any government institution in this country. In addition to that, there is technical training being carried on by McGill university. Those young men who are being so trained should be utilized by the council and sent abroad wherever there are industries being prosecuted that are akin to those we are undertaking here, and in which we are making research, so that they can study the processes in use abroad and bring home to us the latest scientific attainments of foreign countries for application to our industries here. We should not attempt in Canada to extend and diffuse our efforts over the whole broad field of industrial research, because to place our institutions on such a plane, and assure even moderate success, would take the entire revenues of this country; but by utilizing the information which is available to us abroad, and applying it t'o our own necessities, we will, I am sure, achieve the best results in the work which has been outlined by the Minister of Trade and Commerce.

Full View