March 15, 1909


In 1905 the capital invested in manufactures in the United States was over $13,000,000,000. The capital invested in railroads was $13,000,000,000. The capital invested in agriculture was not $13,000,000,000 but more than twice that amount, it was over $30,000,000,000. The net return from products, manufactures, was $2,093,893,976; from railroads, $616,341,657, and from agriculture, net return, $2,945,461,200. If that is so it is high time that the representatives of this country, even although they may not be as practical farmers as my hon. friend (Mr. Staples), should realize from a business point of view the great importance of the farming industry. I want to warn the Minister of Agriculture that the farmers are beginning to wake up. I shall not take up that issue to-night. I intend to take it up later and to show not only the government supporters but the leader of the opposition and every one on this side that they will waken up one morning and find that the farmers are going to do what they ought to do, that is run this country. As to the Board of Railway Commissioners, no body of men in this country are charged with graver duties or burdened with severer responsibilities. I say without fear of contradiction that no question approaches in magnitude, in difficulty or in importance, this great question of transportation. Let us meet it fairly and squarely. I do not ask parliament that a farmer from the west should be chosen, although I would be justified in doing so. The four great provinces of the west, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia are the great agricultural provinces, they are the great sources of profit to the railways. Why are the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway so anxious to get into that country? Not for fun, they are business propositions, they are anxious to get there because thev know the farmers of that country will produce the stuff that will give business to these railways. Let us not consider creed or nationality, but in the appointment of men to this important institution let us recognize the claim of the farmer. I hope that the appointment has not gone so far that the minister cannot adopt the suggestions so eloquently made by my hon. friend from Macdonald and place upon the Board of Railway Commissioners a practical farmer.


LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Hon. SYDNEY FISHER (Minister of Agriculture).

I would not have to say a great deal had it not been for the delicate attention the hon. member for Macdonald (Mr .Staples) has bestowed on me. It seemed to me that he had rather more at heart the showing up of my own delinquencies than the needs of the farmer or the constitution of the commission. His colleague (Mr. Schaffner) has said that his hon. friend does not make mistakes. I am Mr. SCHAFFNER.

sorry I cannot agree with that, because it will be my duty to show that he has made a few mistakes in the remarks he has made. In the first place he says that the Department of Agriculture has received about $500,000 in respect of agricultural work in the estimates. If he had studied the estimates of this session for the ensuing year he would have seen that after taking out all the estimates which he mentioned for extraneous subjects in the Department of Agriculture that department is asking the House for $782,000. I would like, however, to refer to the figures of a few years ago, and just out of curiosity I sent for the Appropriation Bill of 1895, the year before we came into office.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
CON

William D. Staples

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STAPLES.

I am not criticising the

late government.

* Mr. FISHER. I know that my hon. friend would not criticise the previous government. I dare say that when that government was in power, my hon. friend knew very little about public affairs in Canada; if he had, perhaps he would not have said everything he has said to-night. Under that government, in 1895, the purely agricultural oppropriations for the benefit of the farmers came to $161,000. There was $40,000 more of advances to be made for dairy purposes, but that did not stay with the farmers, but came back into the public treasury; so that $161,000 was the amount by which under the Conservative regime the treasury of Canada was the poorer for the benefit of the farmers.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
CON

William D. Staples

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STAPLES.

Will the hon. minister in fairness tell the House how much money was being expended in the Dominion of Canada previous to 1896, and figure out what proportion the farmers got ?

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Yes. Roughly speaking, the expenditure has increased by a little more than double for the whole of Canada, while the expenditure on agriculture has amounted to nearly five times as much. I can give the exact figures to my hon. friend, if he is seeking information, which he is sadly in need of. My hon. friend dwelt upon my iniquities in charging to agriculture the archives, the patent record, the census and statistics, the statistical year-book, and so on. I said a few minutes ago that my hon. friend probably did not know much about political questions in Canada when his party was in power some thirteen or fourteen years ago; but if he will look back to that time, he will find that these expenditures are placed under the control of the Department of Agriculture by statute; and being a law-abiding citizen and minister, I keep them in the Department of Agriculture. The hon. member, if he goes back a little further, will find that these laws were put upon the statute-book by the old Conservative government, and if he goes

back through the eighteen long years during which the Tory party ruled this country before 1896, he will find that under that regime the law-abiding ministers, of that day, Tory though they were, put the archives, the patent record, the census and statistics and the year-book also under the Department of Agriculture; and if the Department of Agriculture is that omnium gatherum which the hon. gentleman describes it, it is due to the fact that under the old Tory regime all these outside services were put into that department-why? Because it did so little for agriculture that its then minister had nothing to do, and the Tory party put under his control any thing and everything the other ministers wanted to get rid of. But we have been doing something for agriculture, we have been increasing the expenditure on agriculture, we have been enlarging the Department of Agriculture until to-day it is doing five times the work it did in those days, spends five times the amount of money, and shows five times that appreciation of the interests and the power of agriculture that our predecessors showed. My hon. friend from Souris has said that the farmers were rising in their might and were going to wake up and Tun things in this country. I can tell my hon. friend that since the ministry at present in power have come in, they have been largely run by the agricultural vote; and if to-day, and during the last election, and the election before, and the election before that, and the election before that again, the Liberal party have been able to defeat the Conservative party, it has been largely because the agricultural vote of Canada has supported the Liberal party. We have shown consideration for the farmers in every respect, we shall be glad to show it in the future as we have done in the past, and if at any time the agricultural interests are not carefully safeguarded before the Railway Committee, _ I am quite sure that this government will see that they are looked after.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. JOHN HAGGART (South Lanark).

Mr. Speaker, I cannot congratulate the hon. Minister of Agriculture on his speech. My hon. friend here points out the importance of the farming interest in the Northwest, the immense development and production of that section, and claims that the expenditure for agricultural purposes is not large enough. The minister replies with the tu quoque argument. Whenever you find a gentleman using that argument, you may conclude that he has no other argument to offer; it is an admission that the hon. gentleman who spoke before him is right. The hon. minister says: I sent for the statutes of 1895, and I find that the Tory government expended only $161,000 on agriculture. Suppose it did. The Tory government established the Department of Agriculture and appointed the first minister. If we have a Department of Agriculture to-day, it is due to the Conservative government. The hon. minister forgot to tell us that from 1874 to 1878, when these gentlemen were in power, not one cent was spent for agricultural purposes. If the Northwest has to-day products amounting to $180,000,000, it is due to the progressive Conservative government which built the Canadian Pacific Railway in spite of the opposition of hon. gentlemen opposite. Everything that is in the Department of Agriculture amounting to anything was initiated by the Conservative government, and the hon. gentleman has done nothing but follow the example set by them.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
CON

Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. E. ARMSTRONG (East Lambton).

I have listened with great interest to the speeches of the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Schaffner) and the hon. member for Macdonald (Mr. Staples). But I heard with regret the remarks of the hon. the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Eisher). It was certainly a humiliating position for a minister specially charged with the advancement of the greatest industry in this country, to take when, in reply to the fair criticisms made on his department, he gave us nothing but politics of the smallest description. Just let us go back ten years and find vhat this minister has done for the agriculturists of Canada.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
CON

Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARMSTRONG.

Hon. gentlemen mav well say oh, but if they will follow back his record what will they find? They will find him first introducing his scissors policy, in which he invented a pair of scissors to cut the peaches off the tree-peaches that had no stems. Then they will find him with his chicken fattening stations, established in different parts of the country, at the expense of tens of thousands of dollars, where he was trying to educate our farmers' wives to line up their chickens and fatten them with a squirt gun. Then what about his cold storage proposition? Have we not been pounding at his door for years trying to impress on him the necessity of improving our cold storage system and giving us a better means of transportation. But what has he been doing? I need hardly tell you the history of that cold storage system of his. It has been a perfect farce. Look at the money he has spent in equipping vessels to carry our perishable products across the ocean. He has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in that direction and yet has no control over the temperatures in the boats or on the cars. Year after year we have been trying to convince him that he should have control over the temperatures of these boats and cars, but he keeps on making appointments in his depart-

ment and piling up the expenses but doing nothing to make our cold storage transportation what it ought to be. Compare for a moment the system of cold storage across the Atlantic from the Dominion to the markets of the world with the system in operation from New Zealand, or the system which brings the chilled meat from the Argentine Republic and lands it in the British market. I might go on to tell you about the improvements he has attempted to make with regard to the fruit marketing Act and about his squandering of the people's money in other measures he has brought before this House. In nearly every one of them, he has made a complete failure. And to-day we find him rising in his place and condemning my hon. friend from Macdonald (Mr. Staples) for trying to urge on the government the necessity for appointing a practical farmer to the Railway Commission. What has he done towards helping to remove the cattle embargo in the old country? Why,

- you find him standing up and telling the people that they do not want mutual preference in the British market. Nor will he make an effort to get our goods into the German market, the second best market in the world. A few months ago we found him telling the farmers in his own province that they do not want rural free mail delivery.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT.

What has rural free mail delivery to do with the question before the House?

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

If the hon. gentleman is raising a point of order, he should do so definitely and not in the form of a question.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT.

My point of order is that the hon. gentleman is not speaking to the resolution before the House.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

The purpose of the resolution appears to be shown in the last few words: 'In order that the best interests of the agriculturist may be protected.' That certainly opens up agricultural questions, but I think that these agricultural matters should be discussed in the light of the preceding part of the resolution, and that is how they are to be protected by the appointment of an agriculturalist to the Board of Railway Commissioners, rather than by a close study of other matters connected with agriculture.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
CON

Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARMSTRONG.

I quite recognize that several of the hon. gentlemen who preceded me have wandered somewhat afield, but I think that the Minister of Agriculture was responsible for having introduced a number of subjects into the discussion not expressly covered by the resolution.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
LIB
CON
CON

Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARMSTRONG.

I am sorry to see the hon. member for North Oxford taking the position he does. I am sorry to see that he does not take sufficient interest in matters pertaining to the farming interests to have them discussed on the floor of parliament. But I feel satisfied that when he goes back to his constituents and meets the different farmers of his constituency-and I have no doubt there are lots of brainy men among them-he will find that they will resent the position he has taken, in attempting to criticise any hon. member for trying to show up the sins of the Department of Agriculture. Coming back to the question before the House, I wish to point out that the hon. gentleman from Macdonald (Mr. Staples) was perfectly justified in urging on the government the necessity for appointing a practical farmer on the Railway Commission. I know he does not intend that the appointment should be limited to practical farmers from the west, because he recognizes that the farmers in the east are also in need of representation on that board. I need hardly call to your attention, Mr. Speaker, that an immense quantity of perishable products go out of our country every year, and that these require to be handled by men who understand their transportation, and consequently some one acquainted with that subject in particular should be on the Board of Railway Commissioners. I might also mention that the express companies have a great deal to do with the transportation of perishable products. I have in my mind one man who last year paid out $50,000 to the express companies for the transportation of perishable products, and I know of many others in our farming districts who pay out large sums to these companies. We need, therefore, on that commission a man thoroughly conversant with that subject. We need also one conversant with the question of railway crossings, and it must be admitted that the one class most interested in these are the farming class. Then there are questions of drainage which come before that board and in regard to which it is important to have some farmer, who thoroughly understands these questions, on that Railway Commission, for very important questions of this kind come before the Railway Commission from time to time. The question of the carriage of the mails to distant districts claims the attention of the people living in the rural parts of Canada. The independent telephone and telegraph companies are also interested in having a man to represent them on the Board of Railway Commissioners. I do not intend to take up further time. I content myself with expressing the earnest hope that the government will support this resolution^ and, that when the time comes to appoint a man on the railway commission a man

thoroughly conversant with the farming interest will be appointed.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Michael Clark

Liberal

Mr. MICHAEL CLARK (Red Deer).

Mr. Speaker, I think the House will be in pretty general agreement with me when I state that if, as the hon. member for East I.ambton (Mr. Armstrong) said, that the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Fisher) threw down the political gauntlet, it is certainly equally true that the hon. member himself showed great readiness in taking that gauntlet up. He introduced into his opening remarks an amount of heat

which, to my mind, is utterly foreign to any agricultural question. I think the spirit that should animate us is one of pastoral calm, but I failed to catch that mood in the remarks of the hon. member. The Minister of Agriculture needs no defence from me; but, after all, I should venture to urge that he has the right of every other member of the House to defend himself when he is attacked

and he was very strongly attacked, for a mild mannered man. I am sorry the Minister of Agriculture has left; I should have offered him a little consolation. I am told that the late Sir John A. Macdonald used to say that if you want to find the best apple tree you do not need to look at the branches,-find the tree with the most stones lying under it. Judged by that standard the House and the country will agree that, in the Minister of Agriculture we have a man who gives most punctiliously careful, able and successful attention to the duties of a very important office.

Now, to turn to the resolution before the House, if it comes to a vote I intend to vote against that resolution. It did not suit me to give a silent vote, because I happen to resemble both the mover and the seconder of the resolution in that I represent an agricultural constituency. I have the advantage of at least the seconder of the resolution in that I not only represent an agricultural constituency but am myself a farmer, so far as Canada is concerned.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER.

So am I as much a farmer as the hon. member (Mr. Michael Clark). How much does he farm-how many acres?

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Michael Clark

Liberal

Mr. CLARK.

I am going to prove still that I have the advantage over my hon. friend and interrupter; I am a farmer; I have never done anything but farm in Canada. Can my hon. friend state that also? He is silent now. He admits that I have the advantage over him. I am not sure but that, if I were a careful man, the fact that I am a farmer would make me careful about voting against the resolution because, after all, the appointment to the railway commissionership is a kind of rig a man could drive. The Minister of'Railways and Canals need not take that remark in any spirit more serious than the spirit in which I make it.

I think that the mover of the resolution clearly proved too much. If I understand his argument, his attempt was to prove that where the farmers' interests are particularly concerned, a farmer was the man to do the business of the position. Then the hon. gentleman immediately started out to disprove his own position by proving that a horrible mistake had been made in the case of the Department of Agriculture by appointing a farmer to the position. If the Minister of Agriculture, being a practical farmer, is such a horrible failure in his position, surely that ought to warn us against supporting the mover of the resolution. In regard to the seconder of the resolution, I am bound to say that, as I listened to him, I wondered how he ever had the conscience, being, as I understand a medical man, to sit as the representative of an agricultural community. If he holds the farmer to be of such importance as his language describes him, if he was not merely repeating that kind of speech which all of us make more or less when we are appealing to an agricultural community- for I believe it is a common saying in this country that everyone is a farmer at election time-if he was not merely repeating one of these speeches, he should retire from his present position and let a farmer succeed him to represent a purely farming constituency. What did the hon. gentleman say in regard to the farmer? He also proved too much. He said that the farmer's importance is such that everybody knows it. If that be so, you cannot pick the wrong man for the position of the Railway Commission. For, if everyone knows the importance of the farmer, whoever you appoint will look after the farmers.

Now, I wish, in a couple of sentences, to give the House the reasons why I object to the principle of the resolution. My hon. friends the mover and seconder of the resolution will, at any rate, give to me the credit that I cannot be speaking for my constituents' support, nor am I speaking from any selfish or grafting reason, because I am a farmer and a representative of farmers. My first reason for objecting to the principle of the resolution is that I have held the political creed known as the Liberal creed all my life, and it forbids me to make class distinction. I had a friend who spent his early years in Australia. He was one of the best men I ever knew in the north of England, and one of the best farmers in my native county. In the days when he went to Australia, in many places throughout the empire there was a property qualification for voting. A paper was sent to him containing a column, which he was to fill up stating the qualifications by which he claimed to be put

upon the suffrage, and in this column he wrote the one word: ' Manhood In my Liberal creed, it is a greater thing to be a man than to be a farmer, it is a greater thing to be a man than to be a cabinet minister. Manhood is the test of citizenship, with me, it is the true test in making any appointments'. Following this line, what are you going to look for in a railroad commissioner? Capacity for work, qualifications for the position, ability to examine into, not only the needs of the farmer, but the needs of the whole community. You want judicial qualities in a man, you want a man who can procure and appreciate evidence from all classes. I feel perfectly sure that the government, in making an appointment, will look for those broader tests, and look away from the narrower tests called for in the resolution.

My second reason is this, that I do not believe it is right to restrict the choice of the government to any particular class in making this nomination. If I may venture to mention one thing that has struck me with surprise in this House, and I do so with great modesty, it has been the amount of sectionalism, the amount of provincialism, the amount of class thinking which has characterized the debates that I have had the honour of listening to in the short time I have been a member of this House. We want, if I understand the needs of my adopted country which I have learned to love, we want to develop in this country a sense of nationhood, and if that be our aim, we must place no restriction upon the government that they shall make their nominations from any particular class of people. If you are animated by the spirit of nationhood, in selecting a man for any position, I do not care whether it be deputy speaker of the Senate, or speaker of the House of Commons, or a member of this House, or a member of the cabinet, you will not look to any class, even though it be the great class to which I am proud to belong, but you will look in every case for a Canadian and a man.

Topic:   $531,000,000 COMMONS
Permalink

March 15, 1909