February 28, 1911

LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I will deal with that in a moment. My h-on. friend from Brandon, speaking of the province of Quebec, did me the honour of saying that I knew as much of the agriculture of that province as anybody else, but I may tell the hon. gentleman that the farmers of Quebec are quite well able to speak for themselves, and the farmers of Quebec are not objecting to the free entry of their hay and dairy and other products into the New England market; on the contrary, they are delighted with the opportunity which this agreement gives them. My hon. friem-d from Brandon stated, as is quite true, that he has lived in the Northwest during a large portion of his life, that he knows the Northwest, and that he has been enthusiastic for its welfare. That may be, but I venture tb sav. that he does not to-day so truly represent the feelings and opinions of the Northwest as he did, before he left there. For many years he lived in Ottawa, as a minister of the Crown, and since he left the government

he has continued to live here, and I am inclined to think from the information I have received from the Northwest, and from the public expressions of opinion by western farmers, that the hon. gentleman has got out of touch with his people and that the views he expressed in his speech to-day, did not represent them as well as do the views of others whom I could name. I have in my hand an interview with Mr. James Bower, the first president of the Canadian National Council of Agriculture and of the United Farmers of Alberta. Mr. Bower was. a member of the great delegation that came here some time ago, and he has come again to Ottawa to specially represent the farmers and to deal further with the government and parliament in regard to their interests. Mr. Bower said, among other things:

The agreement is a good one and a wise one. By opening up new markets it will without question give a great impetus to the agricultural industry, particularly in western Canada, and will prove equally advantageous to the farmers of eastern Canada, especially in dairy products and hay.

The speeches I have heard in the House of Commons during the past week by those who are opposed to reciprocity indicate to me that the speakers are either entirely ignorant of how the agreement will affect farmers or they are trying to mislead the public. They appear to be very solicitous as to bow it will affect the welfare of the farmers, but the farmers have a few ideas of their own about tliis matter. At any rate, the anti-reciprocity speakers are absolutely wrong as to how it will affect western farming conditions.

But perhaps the greatest boon reciprocity will confer upon the farmer of the west will he its indirect results in reducing freight rates, which will mean increased production all along the line. This will, of course, mean a greater demand for manufactured articles in the west, and a greater ability to pay for them.

As far as the agreement goes, it meets with the unqualified approval of the western farmers, but much dissatisfaction is expressed at the smallness of the reduction in the duty on agricultural implements.

' What do the western farmers think of the annexation talk?' Mr. Bower was asked.

' They think it is all nonsense. If there was any danger of any of the western farmers wanting to be annexed by the United States, it would be because they did not get what they wanted. We want reciprocity, and we shall not be any less loyal if we get it.'

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CON

Andrew Broder

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRODER.

Bid the members of that deputation ask for reciprocity when they were here?

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LIB
CON

Andrew Broder

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRODER.

I do not think they did.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Certainly they did; the largest measure of reciprocity.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Now, with regard to the general situation of our agricultural pro-Mr. FISHER.

ducts, my hon. friend from Brandon said to-day that we had not investigated these matters, and had given no facts to the House and the country. I will, if the House will be patient for a few moments, give some facts, and I think I shall be able to show that hon. gentleman, and the rest^ of the country that we have done this with our eyes open and for good and sound reasons. There is an effort being made at the present time by certain interests in Canada to influence the farmers against this arrangement. I do not wondeT at it- why? Because this arrangement interferes with the control and monopoly which these people have over the purchasing of our agricultural products in Canada. By this arrangement there will be competition with them in their present preserve. They will have in future the competition of the American buyer, who'will come in here and buy from the farmer what he has to sell if he can give a higher price for it, and these gentlemen will have to meet that higher price or go out of their business. I do not think, Sir, that the farmers of Canada will object to having two men coming to buy his products instead of one. My hon. friend from Brandon spoke particularly about wheat; he also spoke about the packers; he did not speak, but I will, about the dairymen and those who have to buy the dairy products of this country. With regard to wheat, I do not profess to be an expert; but I am going simply to meet what the people who oppose this arrangement say with regard to wheat, and am going to point out what I think to be the fallacy in their argument. I do not intend to dispute the facts which they put forward. My hon. friend from Brandon spoke about our wheat being in future taken across the line, and he quoted Mr. James Hill as saying that the duty has nothing to do with the higher price of wheat in the American market, Now, I would just like to ask that gentleman and those who think with him, why is it that the American Congress made arrangements for the Minneapolis millers to grind Canadian wheat in bond for export instead of bringing in the wheat, paying the duty on it, and grinding it in the ordinary way? Because the duty is not only a deterrent and impediment, but an absolute prohibition of their getting the Canadian wheat and grinding it at Minneapolis, and mixing it with their own flour. If, as my hon. friend from Brandon and other opponents of this arrangement say, this is going to result in our northwestern farmers selling their wheat to the United States market, why will they do it? Simply because the price which the American milleT will pay for it will be higher than the price which the Canadian miller has been willing to pay for it-I do not say able to pay for it,

but willing to pay, in the present restricted market, in which the miller and his representatives in the grain exchange of Winnipeg have controlled the purchase of all (the wheat in the northwest. What is the reason that the American millers will want our wheat and be willing to pay for it? The reason is, first, that it is a stronger wheat which they need to mix with their own weaker wheat. It is stronger in the protein qualities, and makes a better baker's flour. They have been buying it and grinding it in bond, at the Canadian price; but when the duty is removed, they will buy it at the American price; and if they do not, others will come in and buy it from the Canadian farmer at the American price. The price will become equalized in the northwestern states and in Canada. It is a fact that the price is higher in the United States than in Canada. If the duty has nothing to do with it the hon. member for Brandon gave no explanation of it. I have no doubt that the two-fold result will take place, that the price will go down a little in the northwestern states and come up a little to the Canadian producer, so that the prices on both sides of the line will be practically the same. If that is the case, I can quite understand that the millers of Canada object to have the competition of American buyers in their preserve, which, with all due deference to them, they have worked to their utmost capacity. A well known miller in Montreal, Mr. Meighen, has written to the press about this matter. Mr. Meighen heads his communication: * Preserve the Integrity

of the Empire.' That is a very common prelude to a very poor argument. I would rather head it on the part of Mr. Meighen:

' Preserve my market for the benefit of Mr. Meighen.' Mr. Meighen destroys his own argument, like some others. He says that the milling plants in Canada can mill for thirty million people. We are giving it an opportunity to mill for ninety million people. If the millers of Canada, who are well established in their business, who have modern up to date plants, as the Ogilvies and the Lake of the Woods and other milling companies have, they ought to be glad to get that market. They ought to be willing to compete, and they are, I believe, quite capable of holding their own in that market. But, like many others, they are timid and do not desire to change. The change could come about in a moment without our intervention, because the United States Congress have the power and the right to take off the duty on wheat at any moment they choose. We are only getting something sure in return for a thing we might have had to face within a month or two-it looked much as if we should have it without compensation. Mr. Meighen says:

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This preaching of the doctrine that by taking down the bars the Canadian farmer would receive a higher market value for his wheat is entirely erroneous.

That is a statement with which, I confess, I do not agree. It does not seem to me possible that if the farmer has two markets, one of them a market in which the price of wheat is higher than in his own, he is not going to get a higher price. Here is another thing Mr. Meighen says- and I suppose this is ' preserving the integrity of the empire ':

I again repeat that the governments of Great Britain and the colonies should grant to one another a substantial preference in duty, and that in so far as their respective revenues will permit the principle of free trade within fhe empire should prevail. If the Dominion of Canada takes a firm stand on that policy, we will yet see that system adopted in the near future.

I mould remind Mr. Meighen of the fate which met his resolution in 1909 in the ultraloyal, highly imperialistic Board of Trade of Montreal. Mr. Meighen is the gentleman who, with his friend Mr. McFee, on a certain occasion, secured the passage of a resolution embodying the principle of free trade within the empire. Just two weeks afterwards, the board of trade held an emergency meeting, and those who shouted imperialism-but took precious good care not to do anything for it-rescinded Mr. Meighen's resolution for free trade within the empire. But Mr. Meighen is not discouraged. I admire his pluck-perhaps a little more than I do his judgment. He still harps on this idea, though it was beaten in the stronghold of his friends, the Tory, imperialistic Board of Trade of Montreal.

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CON

Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARMSTRONG.

May I ask the hon. minister a question?

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh, oh.

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CON

Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARMSTRONG.

If the hon. gentleman does not wish

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?

Mr FISHER.

Yes.

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CON

Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARMSTRONG.

Would the minister tell us what the 300 small mills in Ontario will do under this arrangement, and whether the flour milled in the large mills in the United States will not come into competition with that of the smaller mills in the markets of the world?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

In the same way that the flour of Mr. Meighen and the other great millers of Canada comes into competition with that of the small mills, and just as the many small mills scattered throughout the United States live and flourish under the competition of Minneapolis.

Sir, we have and shall still have the English market. And let me point out that

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if this arrangement takes the duty off Canadian wheat going into the United States, it takes the duty off American wheat coming into Canada. Our mills can import American wheat and mill it, and they have the whole continent to draw from and to sell to, as well as the home market which will still be theirs as it has always been.

My hon. friend from Brandon spoke of the necessity of maintaining the purity of our wheat. He gave us credit for a Bill to improve the Inspection Act, an Act which has already been improved by this government. I cannot, for the life of me see why, >if the Inspection Act is enforced in Canada, exactly the same conditions in regard to Canadian wheat, Canadian milling and Canadian flour will not continue as exists to-day! The hon. gentleman says our wheat will go to the United States and be mixed and deteriorated. If so, it will command in the market the price of deteriorated wheat. But, if the Canadian grower, dealer and miller choose they can still keep and maintain the quality of Canadian No. 1 hard, and can send it forward pure and unadulterated, and we propose to give them an Inspection Act by which they can maintain that purity. And that wheat should, more than ever, outsell American wheat and Canadian wheat that goes through these channels, and is deteriorating. That is another of the ad capitandum arguments by which the handlers of goods are trying to pull the wool over the eyes of our farmers and cause them to believe that their interests are being injuriously affected.

As I am on the cereal question, I should deal with the point in regard to Quaker Oats which the hon. member for Brandon brought forward. The present arrangement allows oats to go freely either way. There are oatmeal mills in Canada, Their complaint is not that they object to buying American oats, or that they object to the competition in the Canadian market for the purchase of Canadian oats, but that the offal of their mills, the by-products of their manufacture of oatmeal, is not allowed to enter the American market free. Well, while we think. we got a most complete arrangement in the interests of Canada, we could not dictate to our great neighbours, every detail of the agreement. In some cases, we got all we asked for, and in some cases only part; while in some cases-very few-the Americans insisted upon what they wanted, which, had these been the only points at issue, we might not have granted. They did not grant us the free entry of this offal into the United States. The plea is not that our people cannot make oatmeal as well as those of the United States, but that they will not have as good a market for the sale of their offal. I believe the duty is 12} cents per

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

one hundred. The American maker of oatmeal will be able to sell his offal to the American farmers, our rivals in stock feeding. I venture to say that there are no people in the American union who are as capable and successful stock feeders as the farmers of Canada. We have proved this over and over again when we have gone into competition with them in the great exhibitions of the world and have carried away prize after prize. It is true that there is not, at the present moment, as good a market for that offal as in the United States. But I venture to say that, if this arrangement goes through in its entirety, the encouragement to stock keeping in Canada will, within a year or two, develop as good a market for that offal in Canada as in the United States. Our people will want to feed ten, fifteen or twenty head of stock where to-day they feed one, and they will be able to consume all the offal of the mills in Canada, and will afford as good a market for this by-product of the mills as the American farmers afford for the similar product of the mills of the United States.

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CON

William D. Staples

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STAPLES.

Why does not the minister apply that to hay and barley?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Hon. gentlemen opposite are very anxious to make my argument for me, and to arrange it to suit themselves, but I propose to go through it in my own way. ,

To-day, Canada does not produce anything like the quantity of agricultural products, especially of wheat and other grains, that the United States does. But I wish to give a few figures to show what the development of our Northwest will lead to in a few years. In 1909-I have not the figures for last year-about 1,000,000 people in our three prairie provinces produced 147,000,000 bushels of wheat off 7,000,000 acres. In passing I may say that in comparison with other parts of the world, our production per acre was far ahead of any of them except the intensively cultivated countries of Europe. In round figures, we have in the hands of settlers 58,000,000 acres; last year something under 14,000,000 acres were cultivated-about one-quarter of the total in the hands of settlers. Then, we have 32,000,000 acres in the hands of railway and other corporations; and 39,000,000 acres surveyed and still owned by the government. Then we have, roughly speaking, about 84,000,000 unsurveyed within the area of possible wheat production. This makes a total acreage in our Northwest of 213,000,000 acres within the wheat producing area. I do not mean to say that all this land will produce wheat, or will ever be under wheat, but I do not think it would be out of the way for me to say that, in the course of 15 or 20 years, one-quarter of that land, say 50,000,000 acres, will be producing

wheat. Well, if 1,000,000 people in 1909, cultivating 7,000,000 acres of wheat, produced 147,000,000 bushels, what will the people of the Canadian Northwest produce when that country is fairly filled up and we have 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 between the Great Lakes and the Rocky mountains? That estimate of the future population of the Northwest is not an extravagant one, nor need we look very far ahead for these results. When that time comes, the Canadian Northwest will produce 1,000,000,000 bushels of wheat. I venture to say that the farmers will need not only the home country and the American market, but also the European market in which to sell that wheat. It is all very well for hon. gentlemen opposite to say: ' Let well enough

alone ', because, for to-day, and for the moment, we have markets for what we produce, But the acreage of Canada is capable of producing so enormously that we must see to it that we have every market of the world open to us for the sale of our surplus production. When that time comes, there is no doubt, there will be in the United States from 150,000,000 to 200,000,000 people, and they will need at least 250,000,000 to 300,000,000 bushels of wheat from us. Are we to forget the future? Are we to slap in the face that great nation, and tell them that we will have none of them and their market, when, in the not distant future, their market will be an essential to the consumption of our surplus production? In the last three years we have increased our population by 273,000, or 35 per cent. At the same rate, in 10 years, we would increase by about 2,500,000 people. And our increase of crops has been commensurate with our increase of population.

Now, I wish to say a word about barley: Everybody knows that before the McKinley Bill of 1890 barley had cheap entry into the United States and that our Ontario farmers were then growing barley with large profit and gratifying success. We have the report of the United States Department of Agriculture that the Canadian barley in quality was the best in the world with the possible exception of some grown in Bavaria. It is well known that the American brewers and malsters wanted our barley.' The old duties imposed by the United States on barley enabled the farmers of Canada to send to that country in 17 years, from 1876 to 1892 inclusive an aggregate of

135,250,000 bushels of barlev, valued at $90,000,000. But the high duties of the succeeding 17 years brought the aggregate export down to 7,000,000, valued at a little less than $3,000,000. In the first period, the average price was 67 cents under a tariff rate of 15 cents a bushel. But, in the second period, under duties varying from 30 cents a bushel to 30 per cent, the average price was 42 cents. Under this arrangement, we

shall have free entry of Canadian barley into the United States market. The farmers of Ontario who were struck by that McKinley Bill, with the pluck, energy, selfconfidence and natural pride of a people whom I respect, and whom I consider to be the backbone of this country, took that blow -complained a little, I grant you-but buckled to and overcame the difficulty.

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An hon. MEMBER.

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

My hon. friend says, hear hear. But they have overcome it, and they are quite ready to take the advantage again, to reap the profit, and to make the immense sum of money they would have made in the past if free barley had never been taken away from them.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Do you think that nearly all the barley raised in Canada would not have been kept at home instead of exported?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I think the farmer who raises barley knows enough to sell it to the best advantage for his pocket. If he finds that he can make most by selling it for malting and buying American corn for his stock he will do so. If he finds that it is more profitable to feed it to his stock instead of selling it for malting he will feed it to his stock. But I want to give him an alternative, and I trust to his judgment to make use of the best alternative.

Now, I want to say a word about potatoes and fruit. In twelve years of high duties the United States accepted from Canada $11,000,000 worth of potatoes more than they sent into Canada. Surely if we can get those potatoes into the states without duty, it will be to the advantage of our potato raisers. We sent a large quantity of fruit to Great Britain, which she accepted free, and as the United States had a heavy duty against it, the consequence was that we only sent to the United States $3,000,000 worth of fruit. We imported from the United States two and a third million dollars worth of apples, and we sent her in the same time a much larger quantity.

I would like to contrast the condition of the market gardeners and fruit growers with that of barley growers. The market gardeners and fruit, growers, in the last twenty-five years, increased their exports of these articles to the extent of $70,000,000. The farmers in seventeen years lost $90,000,000 on the one export of barley alone. I give this as an instance of what the two peoples suffer.

Now, I want to say a few words with regard to the meat trade. My hon. friend from Brandon says that the packing industry will be destroyed. I say emphatically, no. Why should it disappear? My hon. friend says that the meat trust of the

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United States will come in and control the packing industry of Canada. He forgets, or does not choose to realize, that while, I grant, the meat trust of the United States seems to be able to defy the courts of that country; no trust in Canada can defy the courts of Canada. We have on our statute-book a Combines Act which forbids the operation of trusts like the meat trust of the United States. We have the machinery by which we can easily deal with them. I will give an instance of what it can do, and it is in regard to a United States organization. Just the other day a court in the city of Quebec declared that the United Shoe Machinery Company must submit to a decision of a board as to whether its actions as a trust are illegal. The United Shoe Machinery Company is one of the most powerful organizations in the United States, it controls the machinery which is used in the boot and shoe trade. They have patents, and a practiqal monopoly of certain machines. They do as they like in the United States. They came into Canada and tried to do as they liked here, but some of their victims appealed to the courts, and the courts of Canada have ordered them to show reason why they should not be compelled to deal fairly, and not as a trust, with the users of their machinery in Canada. This shows what the meat trust or any other trust in Canada will have to contend with in the future. I can only say to my hon. friend that if the meat trust of the United States undertakes to come into Canada and to act as trusts are generally supposed to act, they will be hauled up short by the Act. The courts of Canada will see to it that they do not carry on the nefarious practices which they are said to carry on in the United States.

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CON

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. AMES.

Is it not a fact that the United Shoe Machinery Company is a Canadian corporation, and that it is against a Canadian company that these proceedings are taken?

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February 28, 1911