Articles

BACKSTAGE AT OTTAWA

To the Victors — a Headache

THE MAN WITH A NOTEBOOK June 15 1949
Articles

BACKSTAGE AT OTTAWA

To the Victors — a Headache

THE MAN WITH A NOTEBOOK June 15 1949

BACKSTAGE AT OTTAWA

To the Victors — a Headache

THE MAN WITH A NOTEBOOK

MIKE PEARSON, who at 52 is still

a pretty good ball player, dropped around the other day to watch a preseason game in his constituency of Algoma East.

The team from Little Current, noting their M.P.’s wistful look, asked the Honorable Secretary of State for External Affairs if he’d like to go in as a pinch hitter. Mike accepted cheerfully, and knocked out a three-base hit.

Not to be outdone, the West Bay team invited him in the next inning to pinch-hit for them. But unhappily for his intentions of being completely impartial, this time the Minister struck out.

A CURIOUS political situation has developed in Canada’s least-known federal riding, the Yukon.

This year, for the first time, voting rights have been extended not only to the Yukon district itself, but also to the Mackenzie River basin which

includes the gold-mining settlement of Yellowknife, the uranium mines around Great Bear Lake, and the rest of a vast area all the way north to Aklavik. This enormous region has been tacked on, for electoral purposes, to the old Yukon constituency.

On the map it looks logical enough, for the two regions are contiguous and the entire population is only about 18,000. But the principal towns are as far apart as Halifax and Toronto, with no direct communication between them. To get to Dawson City from Yellowknife you have to fly back to Edmonton and start northward again on the North West Staging Route.

Residents of the district are not much upset about this. They are a hardy lot of pioneers who are accustomed to achieving the impossible.

Early opinion among the anti-Socialist vote inclined toward choosing an independent candidate, rather than tying up with either old party. This for two reasons: the Northwest Territories have such intimate dealings with Ottawa that they’d like their M.P. to be Continued on page 57

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Backstage at Ottawa

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friendly with any Government; secondly, they don’t want to split the anti-CCF vote.

Even at that the outcome is highly uncertain. The venerable George Black is retiring this year—he and his wife between them have represented the Yukon continuously since 1921— so a 28-year tradition will be broken. Also, the new Mackenzie Basin territory has over 9,000 population to the Yukon’s 7,500, and politically it’s an unknown quantity.

Another odd angle in the YukonMackenzie riding: here, alone of all Canada, the Indians have a vote. The Election Act disfranchises Indians who live on reservations, except those with war service. But most of the 6,000 Indians in the new riding are hunters and trappers who wander as freely as their ancestors did, are confined to no reservations, and have been classified as eligible voters.

No matter which party wins the election the Canadian Government is headed for a headache. Canada has yet to feel the full effect of our recent losses of certain export markets.

Total export figures are still pretty good—down a little, but still the biggest in history. The catch is that the decline is not spread across the whole list, but concentrated in a few sore spots where exports have been virtually wiped out. This is particularly true of manufactured goods.

Auto sales abroad, for instance, are virtually nil, and all production is going to the home market. The sterling bloc can’t spare dollars for cars. Another example is paint. One Canadian paint firm used to send a high

fraction of its output to the British West Indies. That market’s gone completely.

The auto and paint plants are still operating full time, because Canadian consumers seem to want all the cars and paint they can get, but management isn’t feeling too certain about the future.

There’s a bright side to the business outlook, though, which the prophets of gloom tend to overlook. Our export markets may be slipping, but the Canadian domestic market is bigger and better than ever in history. Many a factory which in 1939 could only have existed on sales abroad can now operate handsomely at home.

Not long ago a Canadian textile firm opened a new plant in a Quebec town after a survey which showed enough local business not only for that one plant but for two or three competitors.

Before the war an American ballbearing manufacturer turned down the idea of erecting a million-dollar plant in Canada. Since then two competitors have built plants in Canada—and the first company has changed its mind. All three will manufacture for the Canadian market. Too small for one plant in 1939, it now looks big enough to support three.

Press Gallery reporters in Ottawa got invitations to “hie for Halifax” during the bicentenary celebrations this summer, and noted writh interest the following bit of advice:

“NO TROUBLE AT THE BORDER.

“You need no passport to come to the Bicentenary Celebrations. You may bring your car, cameras and other holiday gear duty-free, and all the money you want to bring. Each adult and child may take back $100 worth of goods duty-free.”

Nova Scotia is warming up to this Confederation idea at last. ★