January 30, 1912

CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER. (North Toronto).

One of the most vexed and important questions that we will have to deal with in this

House is what shall be done to eliminate the evil which is acknowledged to exist, the selfish interest. I am not prepared, at this moment, to say how far the government propose to go, that is a matter upon which I hope we shall be able to enlighten the House before this Bill is through; what we are getting by this Bill is the power to act and to operate through a commission.

This is not my Bill particularly, nor the Bill of any party; it is, as nearly as possible, a non-partisan Bill, I am its foster-father, at the present moment, but the child is much the same as when it came from its original parents; a little better dressed up tit may be hut still it is intrinsically the same child, and I take it that the parent of that child was not a Liberal government or a Liberal Conservative government, but it was the product of the conferences of all the interests in the matter after successive years of examination and discussion. This result was placed in concrete shape in the Bill which came down from the 'Senate. I do not know of any Bill that has come before parliament of recent years which comes upon a basis which more commends it to a careful, earnest, honest application of the best efforts of all of us on both sides of the House, to produce a piece of legislation which shall be acceptable to all concerned and which shall be beneficial to the country. The government are bound, by the introduction of the Bill, to steer it through the House but the government are not bigoted in this matter and for my own part I welcome the co-operation and the knowledge which so many members in this House have of this matter, I welcome and invite it in order that we may perfect the measure and make it, as I said, as good a measure as we can possibly have.

I do not think it necessary to keep you longer, I ought to apologize for having kept you so long. When I began to study this matter I found that I knew very little about it and that is what has prompted me to make a rather more extended exposition of the subject than I otherwise would have done for the benefit of members who had not paid attention to it so as to make us all more capable for the subsequent work of legislating in this matter.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear the minister saying that he desires the co-operation of the House at large in perfecting this Bill. We private members on this side of the House are quite prepared to take full responsibility for any suggestions that we have to make in regard to its improvement, and I hope that any such suggestions will be accepted in a fair spirit by the government so that they may be properly discussed. At the same time, I hope that my hon. friend (Mr. Foster) does not wish it to be understood in any

way that the government as a government and himself as minister are not absolutely behind this Bill and responsible for it to the House and to the country.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER (North Toronto).

I stated (hat.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I repeat that so that there shall be no mistake about that part of it. When my hon. friend introduced the Bill he mentioned something about possible amendments which would be introduced in committee. If there are such amendments and they are of importance the House should have due notice of them.

I do not think any apology is due to the House from the minister for taking up considerable time in placing before the House and the country the conditions surrounding this piece of, what I might call, special legislation. I think perhaps he phrased the case a little too strongly, when he said there was no such legislation anywhere else, because there is somewhat parallel legislation on the other side of the line where the conditions are almost identical with the conditions here. There is, however, a very great difference between the conditions surrounding the grain trade in the Canadian west and the adjoining portions of the United States, from the conditions which obtain in the greater part of the wheat producing areas of the world, and it is out of that difference in conditions that this legislation becomes necessary. If the grain were placed in sacks and transported in these sacks from the place of production to the place of consumption there would not be any need for this Bill. But, as I understand it, the grain from India, the grain from the Pacific coast of North America, and the grain from Australia is carried in sacks, and,therefore, such legislation as this is not necessary.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE.

Does the United States federal government exact a standard of grain similar to that exacted in this legislation?

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I do not think it does, but the state of Minnesota which produces similar grain to ours, under similar conditions provides a standard.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE.

What percentage of the wheat of the United States is grown in Minnesota?

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I cannot tell, but I do know that a very large percentage of the wheat that stands on the same level as ours as to quality is grown in Minnesota. Such special legislation as this is in order that the grain may be carried from the point of production to the point of consumption without being put up in separate packages, and still preserve its identity as to quality.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

It is out of that situation that the whole of this legislation arises. The man who buys the grain from the farmer buys it on sample and the miller in Great Britain buys it also on sample, but in the carrying from the farmer in Canada to the miller in England it must be either carried in sacks or carried in bulk, and it being carried ip bulk a great deal of this legislation becomes necessary in order that the rights, not particularly of the farmer, but' of all the parties concerned in the transaction shall be preserved.

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CON
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I shall be glad to answer my. hon. friend (Mr. Currie), when I have finished, but I am now trying to present a somewhat intricate position to the House, and I would prefer to continue my remarks. It may be said: Why is not the grain transported in sacks and what difference would it make in the cost? Well, there would not only be the difierence in the cost of the sacks, but there would he the difierence in the cost of handling at each transfer en route. It is a fact that the grain can be handled from the railway car to the vessel and again from the vessel to the railway car more cheaply in bulk than if it were in separate parcels. As wheat is the great necessity of life, it is in the interests of producer and consumer that every item of cost that stands between the producer and the consumer shall be cut out, and that when conditions permit, the grain shall be carried in bulk. Then, legislation such as this is absolutely necessary if justice is to be done all the parties to the transfer.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER (North Toronto).

You

mean every item of unnecessary cost?

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

Yes, of course. I lay some stress upon this point because I think the minister seemed to lay the burden of the whole of this legislation upon the necessities of the farmer. The farmer is, of course, a very much interested party in the legislation, but he is not by any means the only party interested. The other parties who are concerned in the transportation and financing of this grain are proportionately as deeply interested in the provisions of the Grain Act, as the. farmer is. It is legislation which is rendered necessary in the interests of the business of the country; the farmer, the merchant, the dealer, and the consumer. Then my hon. friend speaks of the difficulties that arise as soon as winter sets in, in connection with the transportation of grain to the ultimate market, and of the congestion that naturally results because of the freezing of the winter route. We have at present through Canada only one line of railway connecting the wheat fields

with the eastern seaboard. There are under construction two other lines ol railway, and, therefore, within a few years there will be three railways between the wheat fields and the eastern seaboard. I will take the liberty of recalling to the attention of the House-although perhaps I s'hould not do so-that when the proposition for the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific railway, especially its eastern division, was placed before the country it received a great deal of opposition as not being of urgent necessity. I do not wish to refer now to the arguments used at that time, but I want to emphasize the point that the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific, and the construction of the Canadian Northern now in progress, connecting the wheat fields and the seaboard, are of the utmost necessity and urgency for the welfare of Canada in every line that my hon. friend (Mr. Foster) has laid so clearly before the House to-day.

Let me go further, and I speak of it, not because my hon. friend mentioned it tout because two of my hon. friends from the west on the other side have on one or two occasions drawn attention to this condition, that the cost of the Grand Trunk Pacific, in its eastern section to Moncton, has been abnormal, and they seemed to argue that that was an injury and an offence to the west. They seemed to consider that it was an injury to the west that this enormous expenditure was being incurred on that section of the Transcontinental. But if that expenditure be enormous, it is due to the fact that the road is being so constructed as to carry the grain of the western prairies to the seaboard at absolutely the lowest rate which the most competent engineering ability can bring it down to. That being the case, the very vastness of the expenditure upon that section is most directly and unquestionably in the interest of the west on the very line of the argument which my hon. friend submitted to the House to-day.

As regards the advice given to the farmers of the prairie west to provide granaries and go into mixed farming, I do not know that any one, who has ever spoken about the west, has not tendered that advice. That advice I admit, is good, but there is a great deal of advice that is very good in itself, but which it is not always practicable to put into effect. I was struck particularly by the suggestion that because the farmer of eastern Canada provides storage for his grain crop, therefore the farmer of western Canada ought to do likewise. But there is some difference between a grain crotp produced on a. field of 20, 30 or 40 acres, and one produced on a field of 160 to 640 acres. Those who .speak so freely of the shortcomings of the western farmer in not providing proper housing for his grain would perhaps do well to remember that

the rapidity of the progress of the west is due to the fact that it has been possible, with a minimum of capital and a maximum of energy to bring under cultivation and into production tJhe maximum area of productive soil. If it had been necessary for the man who went into the western prairie to provide eastern barns before starting to farm, instead of the wheat production of the prairie being 175,000,000 bushels this year, it probably would not be 50,000,000 or even 25,000,000. Conditions in the west are favourable to the production -and the handling of grain wuh the minimum of expenditure, and it is because of that fact many thousands of the people there ito-iday cannot possibly put up barns, if barns toe necessary until they have arrived at a condition which is yet in the far future. A great proportion of the settlers in that country have only come in within the last few years and are not yet in such a position as would enable them to put up these buildings; and besides, owing to the climatic conditions the housing of the grain on a large scale is not necessary. It is therefore very doubtful if it would be sound business [policy for them to spend their money in the housing of the grain on the same scale as that is done in the eastern provinces. The natural conditions in the west being different, we cannot reasonably expect that the people there should act as though the conditions there were the same as in the east, in order to relieve a situation which has occurred this year and which may not occur again for many years to come. In the eastern country we have a wet fall and in the western country a dry fall. Consequently settlers in the west can farm successfully on an expenditure much less than the farmers are obliged to incur in the eastern country. '

As to the mixed farming question, if the people who went into these prairies had gone there with the intention of going into mixed farming, they would have required much more capital to start with than they did bring in, the results which have been achieved would not have been accomplished in anything like the same time, and the country would have been standing still these last few years instead of going ahead as rapidly as it has been.

When hon. gentlemen criticise the farmers of the west for their shortcomings, i would noint out to them that according to Sir Byron Walker, the head of the Bank of Commerce, Mr. Flavelle, the head of the National Trust Company, and every head of every great financial institution in eastern Canada, the prosperity and progress of Canada depend upon what the western farmer has done and is doing and in particular on what he is going to do. It is always possible to criticise. There are individuals who even find fault with the plan

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of creation, but I think that the record of what has^ been achieved in our western country, in the way of development and progress, in the way of laying the foundation of a great Canada, should make the western farmer as little subject to criticism as any man in the Dominion. And further, whatever may be necessary to improve the conditions in that country by means of legislation, should in all fairness be given heartily and thoroughly.

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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES.

Can the minister state briefly what the main amendments will be, or will he give full notice of them?

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER (North Toronto).

The amendments which are to be introduced into the different clauses as we proceed are not of such importance as I think to need any extended notice. Of any important amendments, and there may be two or three, I will see that the House gets abundant notice before being called on to discuss them.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb

Liberal

Mr. ROBB.

Has the minister given any consideration to the question of providing terminal elevators at Lake Superior Junction? Unless this is done the Grand Trunk Pacific, as a road for carrying grain east in the winter time, would be considerably handicapped over the roads going by Fort William.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER (North Toronto).

The clauses which bear on terminal elevators come in considerably later in the Bill. When we reach them I shall be able to give my hon. friend the information he asks for.

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LIB

George Ewan McCraney

Liberal

Mr. McCRANEY.

Will the minister lay on the table such forms as are at present in use under the Act?

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER (North Toronto).

I will make a note of that.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (South York).

Has the winter navigation of Lake Superior been considered as affording a possible relief to the transportation situation? There are big new ports now being built on the Georgian bay.

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January 30, 1912