Agar Rodney ADAMSON

ADAMSON, Agar Rodney

Personal Data

Progressive Conservative
York West (Ontario)
Birth Date
November 8, 1901
Deceased Date
April 8, 1954
mining engineer

Parliamentary Career

March 26, 1940 - December 10, 1942
  York West (Ontario)
December 11, 1942 - April 16, 1945
  York West (Ontario)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  York West (Ontario)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  York West (Ontario)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  York West (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 3 of 582)

March 22, 1954

Mr. Rodney Adamson (York West):

May I

direct a question to the Minister of Finance? In view of the resumption of trading in gold on the London market this morning, will the Canadian government initiate a similar market or, better still, a completely free market in Canada? If not, is the reason

based on government policy or is the move proscribed by international agreement? Will Canadians holding sterling be allowed to buy gold on this market, and if so, will such gold be deemed to be "freely exportable gold" under the terms of the Bank of Canada Act, which is currently being amended?

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March 19, 1954

Mr. Adamson:

After listening to the detailed report by the minister, Mr. Chairman, and, unfortunately, having read only the report for the previous year, I believe one could say to one's self, "lucky, lucky Canadians." I have practised my profession practically all over the world, with the exception of east Asia. When the minister of mines in any country can bring down a report of such developments as we have seen take place in the short span of one year, that country is indeed fortunate.

I realize that possibly it is wise in a political discussion to try to prove that we are perhaps not as fortunate as we are. In so far as this department is concerned, I disagree with that philosophy. Without question, we in Canada are the luckiest people in the world so far as our natural resources are concerned. I hope that no member in this house and I hope that no Canadian, will ever forget that, because upon that depends our essential prosperity.

The next point I wish to mention with regard to this department is that I want to pay tribute to the working force of the department, the engineers, the geologists, the metallurgists and the scientists generally who have made this development possible. A lot of people seem to think that you go out and discover oil wells or ore bodies or when you have discovered the oil well or the ore body, the method of milling and refining or separating the metal from the rock is a comparatively simple matter. May I say that without the skilled help of the technical people in this department, a great deal of this amazing development would have been quite impossible.

I would say that the majority of these devoted scientists who are working for Canada are working for a monetary return well below that which they could demand in private industry. I am not going into detail or to mention any names, but on frequent occasions I have known people who have been offered by private industry a multiple of the salary they were getting with the department, but who have refused it and remained in the service of Canada. This is something for which we and the Canadian

people must at all times be extremely grateful. Without these devoted servants, a great deal of this development would not be possible.

I should like now to mention the working force in the industry. While the minister was reading his report, I made a little calculation. The working force in the mineral industry in Canada amounts to 128,500. It is generally estimated that for every man working in the mineral industry there are four others dependent on that industry. The mineral industry is, therefore, responsible for no less than 514,000 other jobs, directly. I believe the department of mines in the United States has a further figure showing that those indirectly dependent upon the minerals industry are at a ratio of eleven to one. So that no less than approximately 1,400,000 of the total working force in Canada are indirectly responsible to the mineral industry. The wages paid to those men amounted to $435 million, which works out to an average annual wage of no less than $3,400-figuring to the closest hundred dollars.

I mention this because here is an industry in which those engaged in it are, in the majority of cases, receiving annual wages away above the normal in Canada. That is something I suggest we should take into consideration. Some of these people may be directors or engineers, but their number would be small compared with the remaining workers. So that the figure of $3,400 is, I think, a reasonably accurate one.

The other day, in discussing the housing legislation, we were worried because so many of the working force in Canada are receiving wages less than the minimum required to participate in the benefits of that legislation. Here we are discussing an industry the average wage in which is at least $500 above the minimum required to participate in the legislation passed last week. I mention that only to indicate what the industry means to Canada.

I come to my next point which, I suggest, is also significant. I refer to the cost of the department expressed as a percentage of the value of total mineral production. That total mineral production last year of $1,331 million was up $46 million from the previous year which, in turn, was up $40 million from the year preceding. The cost of the department, less $15 million for the Emergency Gold Mining Assistance Act, and the coal board which cannot be charged legitimately as an expense against the department, amounted to $16 -6 million. In other words, in the last year the ratio of the cost of the department to the value of total mineral production was 1-23 per cent.


Supply-Mines and Technical Surveys

I mention that figure merely to emphasize the efficient work being done by the engineers and technicians in the department. The cost of survey work, the work of the mines branch, mapping and geological work came to something less than 1J per cent of the value of total production last year, which I stated earlier as about one and a third billions of dollars.

At this point I would say that while I have not the figures for the United Kingdom before me the last year for which I saw those figures indicated that the expenditures by the United Kingdom on geological survey was greater than those in Canada for the same purpose. These figures are not absolutely comparable, because they include some things that our figures do not include, and there are some discrepancies. Yet, the United Kingdom which, we consider, is geologically poor, a country the geological formations of which are chiefly concerned with coal and iron, including a comparatively small amount of other minerals, considers the work of geological survey so important that their expenditures for that purpose are greater than ours in Canada.

If our production increases at the same rate in the next decade-and I think there is every reason to believe it will, unless world markets are completely destroyed- Canadian mineral production will exceed $4 billion a year, an amount considerably greater than the gross national product before the war. I mention this only to show the extraordinary growth taking place in this country. It is something that challenges the imagination of every Canadian. We have to stop and think about it to realize what it means to us in Canada, what it means in the matter of increased population, what it means in connection with finding new capital, and what it demands in the way of improving our methods of extraction and of discovery, and all those other technical procedures with which the mines branch has to deal. So much for that phase of the matter.

I should like now to deal with one or two of the individual items of expenditure by some of the companies. According to its last report, the International Nickel Company has spent over $150 million in the last two years. According to the minister's statement, expenditures running to hundreds of millions of dollars are already under way, by the nickel industry as a whole. Thus we have one metal where hundreds of millions of dollars are being expended for its future development at the present time.

I ask any hon. member this question. The minister comes tonight with estimates for the expenditure of $27 million. If there was

a policy of nationalization of the mines in Canada, what would any elected assembly do if a minister of mines and technical surveys came down to the house and said: "I want hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars for the development of nickel"? Why, no government under our method of accounting would dream of accepting such a statement; and yet, if we had nationalization of the mining industry, without the expenditure of those hundreds of millions of dollars, the industry could not prosper and increase the way it has been. I mention that just as an example to show the fallacy of any program of nationalization of the mining industry.

I shall give another example. I have not the figures in front of me of the amount that was spent last year, and the minister will correct me if I am wrong, but something like $320 million was spent in the exploration and development of petroleum products.

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March 19, 1954

Mr. Rodney Adamson (York West):

Mr. Speaker, before this bill passes, and' in order to make the position absolutely clear, I wish to make a brief statement.

Gold is money. Money is of value because it is freely convertible into goods and services, by direct exchange. For gold to fulfil its major function, it must be made freely exchangeable into goods or services by the same simple operation based on agreement between buyer and seller. This is the essential qualification of the free market. It is the basic law of the capitalist or free economy.

It is my contention that the problem of gold will not be solved until this is brought about.

Motion agreed to and bill read the third time and passed.

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March 19, 1954

Mr. Adamson:

Thank you very much; $365 million for exploration and discoveries. Suppose a minister came to this house and said: "I want $1 million a day to go out and do some prospecting and drilling". What would any hon. member say; what sort of reception would he get? What reaction would the treasury board have to such a statement? Yet today private industry is risking and betting a million dollars a day in this one industry.

I give the committee these two examples of the fallacy of any program of nationalization of the mineral industry in Canada. It is a risk business. Enormous sums of money have to be spent to win the minerals. To say that you could come in with any finite sum and say, "We want, shall we say, $50 million to develop the Pembina field in the next year" is far-fetched. The Pembina field may require $100 million to $200 million to develop. Is that the sort of proposition that could be brought to the house? Is that the sort of proposition that the Minister of Finance could produce estimates for? I would not think so. That is an example of the fallacy of this policy of nationalization. Nothing has shown it so clearly as the statement the minister has given the committee tonight.

I want to deal very shortly with one other question. I have not the annual report for the present year; it is not printed, but for the past year I find this statement on page 8 regarding the petroleum industry:

Much of the gas occurs in close physical association with the oil and would be largely wasted if crude oil production were unduly increased.

What does that mean? It simply means that it is imperative to find a market as quickly as possible for natural gas. Unless we are going to waste and destroy a great national asset in the natural gas and burn it off at the wellhead in flares, which is a criminal thing to do, a start on the gas pipe lines must be made at the very earliest opportunity. That gas must be used. It must be used in the industries in Canada. It must be used not only in the industries in Canada but in the development of new industry, and it also must find a North American market where that is available after our own needs have been supplied.

Let me give you one example of what this may mean. In the last month or two a new deposit of base metals, silver, copper and possibly other metals has been discovered at Manitouwadge in northern Ontario. It is in an area where there is no fuel; it is in an area where the cost of fuel for smelting and refining purposes might be so great as to jeopardize the whole development of the project. Yet-and this is a very rough estimate-I have heard it said that if this new development fulfils promises, a market for no less than 10 billion cubic feet of gas will be established. A market for 10 billion cubic feet of gas is larger than the present consumption of the city of Toronto. This is probably not a really fair comparison because the city of Toronto is using artificial gas at the present time with a low thermal rating and very expensive, but still quite a lot of gas is used. In this one new development there is a potential market for a greater amount of gas than is being used in Toronto at the present time. I mention that not as a mine promoter, or anything of that kind, but as an example of the challenge we are facing in Canada today with development in this country. A year ago that was barren land. Today it is a potential market for 10 billion cubic feet of gas.

The next item I wish to come to is proper housing of the department in Ottawa. I sincerely hope that the geological survey will be properly housed in the near future in a building of its own. To stick it away in the museum, and house it all over the place the way it is, is nothing short of criminal.

I do not know whether the same is true today, but the mines department was at one time housed in 27 buildings in Ottawa. Indeed, the central registry was in fact the boy on a bicycle and if there was to be a file drawn he was alerted and went to the central registry where he picked up the file. Whether that is so today I do not know, but it certainly was the situation at one time.

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To try and run a department under these conditions is almost impossible and I hope the department will, in the shortest possible time, get itself properly housed, not only as far as laboratories generally are concerned, but also as regards ore dressing laboratories in particular, and all the other departments dealing with the mines. I hope the same will be done for the geological survey, and that it will be properly housed in a building of its own. I have expressed this hope for many, many years, and I now sincerely hope that, with the development now taking place, this matter will be dealt with without further delay.

I would also like to say a word about the development and refining of titanium. Titanium is a metal of enormous promise but the difficulties have not as yet been completely solved as regards a method of cheap extraction from the basic ore, ilmenite. The department has worked, I believe, for four years on this one problem, but if a solution is found the whole question of producing aircraft engines which will stand the terrific heat of the new supersonic planes will very largely be solved.

Each development ties in one with another. Work for the Department of National Defence proceeds and something of great commercial value is discovered as a byproduct. There again I would like to say that we on this side of the house have complained that the amount of research work being done in Canada is woefully inadequate. This one example of the refining and producing of titanium ore is an example of what I mean.

Coming now to the project regarding iron ore. In the not too distant future the deposit at Steep Rock will be producing in the nature of 15 million tons a year, which is over double the present production of iron ore in Canada. The challenge there, Mr. Chairman, is not only to the miners and the producers, but the challenge is also to find an expanded steel industry which will use a larger part of that ore than is being done at present. With this great potential of iron ore I feel that we must in every way possible encourage the steel industry to expand to meet the challenge of the natural resources of this country. I know a great expansion has taken place since the war. I know our major companies have expended many millions of dollars on new blast furnaces at Hamilton, the Soo, and elsewhere in Canada, but with the great possibilities of development now before us we must be prepared to look for a steel industry in Canada many times its present size. That is one of the subsidiary challenges arising out of the present situation.


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Now, Mr. Chairman, I have taken rather longer than I intended on this subject, but if I have done nothing else I sincerely hope that I have shown you, sir, and to hon. members who may not be interested in mining as much as I am, that today the greatest internal challenge we have in Canada is the development of our natural resources.

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March 18, 1954

Mr. Rodney Adamson (York Wesi):


the minister is investigating that, will he also investigate celery, because the same situation holds true in connection with that item.

Subtopic:   DUMPING
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