If hon. gentlemen will possess their souls in patience, I can assure them that I am not going to take up the time of the House. I may just say that the hon. gentleman (Mr. Blain) who moved the original motion, complained that there were no hon. gentlemen on this side of the House representing agricultural constituencies who had taken any exception to the motion he had moved.
That is how I understood the hon. gentleman. However, I am not going to take up very much time. I am sure the farmers of the North-west Territories will be very much pleased to learn that they have the sympathy of hon. gentlemen on the opposition side of the House who sympathize so much with the farmers of the North-west Territories and other parts of the Dominion. I was amused the other afternoon to see one of the hon. members from West Toronto get up in this House and sweat in every pore for the poor farmers of the North-west Territories. He wanted to get them cheap binder twine. If the same hon. gentleman and some other hon. gentleman associated with him would arrange to give the farmers of the Northwest Territories Cheap freight rates, it would be an advantage to the farmers in that part of the country. I am sure that the farmers must be laughing, if they have read the speech of the hon. member for West Toronto. I sympathize with the hon. gentlemen opposite because this was an important plank in the last election ; in fact, they only had two planks, one was binder twine and the other the Minister of Public Works. I do not know
on which they got the most votes, but X fancy it was on the Minister of Public Works. We had this question of binder twine discussed in the North-west Territories. The last hon. gentleman (Mr. Ingram) mentioned the question of scrip. As far as scrip was concerned, if there was any kudos to be got for hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House out of scrip they went us one better because they offered to give scrip to children born up to date if their parents would only vote for the Conservative candidates. They then came down to the question of binder twine and we heard about the sale to Bate & Co. and others from one end of the Northwest to the other, until a gentleman in my constituency suggested that they should get it set to music and play it on a brass band. ' The farmers in the North-west Territories took little stock in that, for we all know that they returned four Liberals with very large majorities. The hon. gentleman for East Hastings, (Mr. Northrup) tried to make a point against the Solicitor General by saying that a farmer in his constituency told him that the government offered to sell twine for 14 cents when he could buy it in the village for 10 cents. Well, there is twine and twine. A man may buy a pair of boots for fifty cents and another man may pay $3.50 for a pair. There are different qualities of twine as well as of boots, and the hon. gentleman (Mr. Northrup) took care not to say that the ten cent twine was as good quality as the fourteen cent twine. I know personally that the government did offer the twine to the farmers, because they offered to send a car-load to my district and sell it at a great deal less price than the farmers were paying to the implement dealers. i took a good deal of trouble to find what the farmers wanted, and I found that the farmers did not want the Kingston twine because they said it was not as good as the other, for which they preferred paying the higher price.
I listened with a great deal of interest to the statement made by the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Fielding), and I always notice that when he gets up that beautiful falsetto treble which distinguishes him, he is always very angry and he is always very incorrect in his statements, and this evening was no exception to the rule. He told us that we on this side had to adopt their amendment. Before that we did not know the government had an amendment, but now we see that they had not the courage to propose their own amendment and so they handed it back to the independent member for Alberta (Mr. Oliver), to be seconded by the hon. member for Yarmouth (Mr. Flint), who is always ready to do such work for the government.
The hon. gentleman (Mr. Blair) has not spent much of his time in the House for the last four years, or he would see It and hear of it ev.ery day. The Minister of Finance told us that our motion was based on the cost of prison labour, and did not provide for the cost of free labour. The contrary is the fact, because the motion of the member for Peel (Mr. Blain) proposed to add one cent per pound to the cost of labour and raw material, and that would have more than provided for the difference between free labour and prison labour, because the whole cost of manufacture is only about three-quarters of a cent per pound. But when did the government adopt this new policy ? Last year, and the year before, this twine was not sold to the farmers, but it was sold to the Hobbs and the Colls and the Connors and the Bates to speculate in it and double the price to the farmers. As has been pointed out, the American agent of the Hobbs Hardware Company is in the combine, and It was the easiest thing in the world when they got hold of the Canadian product, including that of the two prisons, for them to make a combine and sell at whatever price they pleased. The fact is and cannot be disputed, that binder twine that was bought for about 7 cents a pound by these people was sold to the farmers for 14 cents. There is the whole thing, and I think the country will realize that there are no thanks to be given to the government for the fact, that they will be forced to sell the product of the prison to the farmers of this country at a price that is pretty closely fixed, but that the gratitude for that will be given where it belongs to-His Majesty's loyal opposition. I think we may give our thanks to our worthy colleague from the county of Peel, who has brought this matter to the attention of the House, and has forced the government to their knees, and to follow out the lines of his resolution.
Mr. Speaker, it is really remarkable to observe the affection which our friends of the opposition have suddenly worked up for the amendment to the resolution proposed by the hon. member for Alberta (Mr. Oliver). It must be pleasing to every member of this House who has the interest of the agriculturists at heart to see the unanimity that prevails at the present time on this very important question. That unanimity of feeling as to the proper method to pursue, renders it entirely unnecessary for any person to occupy the time of the House at any length on the question.
For my part, I have simply to say that while I "was quite in sympathy with the resolution proposed by the hon. member for Peel, so far as it went, and while I am in more hearty sympathy with the amendment proposed by the hon. member for
Alberta, still I should have been pleased -coming from the North-west Territories, hundreds of miles from Kingston, the place where this binder twine is manufactured- had the resolution or the amendment gone just a little further, and assured the farmers in all parts of the country that they would have been able to participate in whatever benefit will accrue from the sale of the output of the Kingston penitentiary; and I would be very glad to have from the government an expression of intention or a promise that they will see to it that the farmers of Manitoba and the North-west Territories are allowed to participate along with the farmers of Ontario in those benefits, be they small or great.
As I said, I do not propose to take up the time of the House discussing the question, because the matter is practically settled. But on behalf of the hon. member for Alberta, and the district he represents, I would make just one remark, which is called forth by a reference which was made by the hon. member for East Elgin (Mr. Ingram). I was very glad to hear that that hon. gentleman had been out through the North-west Territories ; but I regret that he did not remain there long enough to gain some appreciation of the extent of the district of Alberta. He seemed to have come away from that part of the country with the idea that grazing was its sole industry. I may state for his information, and for the information of any other gentlemen who are not familiar with the North-west Territories, that there are many industries and many interests in each of the constituencies of the territories. My hon. friend from Alberta does represent the grazing industry, but he also represents the agricultural industry ; and I will venture to say that there is as much agricultural country in the district of Alberta devoted entirely to that industry as would contain possibly half a dozen or ten constituencies like that represented by the hon. member for East Elgin. In the riding from which I come, the binder twine industry was a matter of interest in the election, and I have no doubt it was also in the district of Alberta. Possibly there was also some interest in the issue referred to by the hon. member for East Elgin-the scrip issue. But if he had remained in the district during the campaign he would have found that the gentleman running in the interest of the opposition was ready to go a greater length than the Liberal candidate, who is now the member for Alberta. That was the state of affairs, I know, in Western Assiniboia, Eastern Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. The Conservative candidates were ready to make and did make very much stronger promises to the people respecting the half-breed scrip than the candidates running in the interest of the government found it necessary to make. I have simply to say in conclusion that I was quite in sympathy with the resolution of. the
lion, member for Peel so far as it went; but I am certainly more in sympathy with the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Alberta.