January 28, 1914

CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BURNHAM:

Why do they not admit it free if they want to?

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY:

It is not so much a question as to whether they want it or not, but they want similar courtesies from the country to which they grant the privilege of their market. But, after all, it is not a question of what the United States wants that I am discussing; it is a question of what the Canadian farmer wants. My hon. friend, after he gets through discussing the subject of titles, can go over and reform the United States ideas of what they want if he prefers it, but for the present let us confine our attention to the requirements of the Canadian people.

I was referring to the fact that this condition actually exists and I am glad that the opinion I am giving is an unbiassed one, because it has been echoed in other quarters that I am sure will appeal to every hon. gentleman on the other side of the House. During the present session of the Manitoba Legislature, my hon. friends from that province will bear me out, a Mr. Malcolm, Liberal member from Birtle,

3 ANUAEY 28, 1914

placed on the Order Paper a resolution asking this Government of Canada to place wheat and wheat products on the free list so that ours might have free access to the American market. What was the treatment accorded by the Government of Sir Eodmond Eoblin to that resolution? The Government of Sir Eodmond Eoblin took up the resolution of the Liberal member for Birtle and it passed the Legislature of Manitoba unanimously, so that when my friend says ' Oh!' when I say this is an unbiassed opinion, I leave it to him to say whether that is not so. I am proud to think that I am able to deal with this subject, a subject that is very near to my heart, in a way that I trust will appeal not only to members on this side of the House, but to every member of the House. Surely the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Eogers) a late member of the Eoblin Administration and representing in this House the people of western Canada; surely my hon. friend the newly appointed Solicitor General (Mr. Meighen) whom I congratulate on his appointment and his fitness for that appointment, and the possible fitness of the reward which it means, surely my hon. friend the Solicitor General, also representing the West in this Government; surely the Minister of the Interior who is not in his seat at the moment-surely every one of these gentlemen will agree with me that the necessity of the moment, so far as the western wheat grower is concerned, is that the resolution passed by the Manitoba Legislature at its present session should be adopted and acted upon by the Government at the present time. I say I am looking with confidence to the support of all these hon. gentlemen,^ not to them alone but to the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Aikins), the hon. member for Lisgar (Mr. W. H. Sharpe), the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Schaffner), the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Bradbury), and I see no reason why I should not have the support of every member of the House. Hon. gentlemen surely do not want to tell me that it is going to be a disadvantage to the western wheat producer to permit United States wheat to come over into this country. Who should be the best judge of that question? Again and again has this Parliament been apprised of the desire of the grain growers of the West and the wheat growers of the West; they were apprised of that desire only a few weeks ago, but, notwithstanding some hon. gentlemen have said in the past that it would be a great detriment to the wheat grower to have this change brought about, the western farmers are still persisting, obstinately persisting, in saying that they ought to be the best judges as to whether or not it is to their advantage to get free access into the United States market. I ask, who ought to be the best judges? and is there an hon. gentleman from western Canada who is prepared to contradict that position? If they are prepared to contradict the position taken by the Grain Growers Association are they prepared to contradict the resolution passed unaminously by the Manitoba legislature this session. The particular fault I have to find with the Government at the present moment is this: instead of calling a special session of this Parliament when the Wilson-Underwood tariff came into effect in the first week of October last, they continued their peregrinations over the four quarters of the globe and left our western Canadian farmers to sell their crop in a restricted market which meant a loss to them of millions and millions of dollars. Instead of calling Parliament, the time was extended for another couple of months and the farmers received practically no benefit this year from the repeal of the duty on wheat. It is not too late, however to get this result so far as future crops are concerned. The situation that existed this year will exist more markedly year after year as time goes on.

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CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BUENHAM:

What did the Americans do?

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY:

My hon. friend is still interested in the Americans; perhaps he is thinking of moving over there.

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CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BUENHAM:

Oh, no.

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY:

In view of all the facts, and the desire of the grain growers for the market across the line, I must express my regret that the Government have not seen fit to take any notice of this situation in the Speech from the Throne and that they did not call a special session of Parliament to deal with the question. Whilst I agree that nothing can be done to remedy what ha3 occurred this year, yet I hope the Government will remedy the conditions so far as the future loss is concerned. For that reason, Mr. Speaker, I move in amendment the following: '

The House regrets that, in the gracious speech with which your Royal Highness has met Parliament, the said speech gives no indication of any intention on the part of your advisers to take any steps to secure free access to the markets of the United States for the wheat and wheat products of Canada, by re-

moving the duty on wheat and wheat products coming into Canada from the United States.

Hon. ROBERT ROGERS (Minister of

Public Works): Mr. Speaker, I do not pro- [DOT] pose to venture into any extended discussion in respect to the Address in reply to the speech of His Royal Highness at the opening of this Parliament, for the simple reason that, in the first place, I do not deem any extended discussion necessary at the present time, especially in view of the fact that I was satisfied, as I believe every hon. gentleman upon this side of the House was satisfied, that when the vote was taken last night it meant the adoption of the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne. However, hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House have seen fit to think differently, and perhaps under the circumstances there may be some little excuse for the action which they have taken. When you consider, Mr. Speaker- as hon. gentlemen opposite have had an opportunity of considering, and of reconsidering, during the past ten days or two weeks-the very simple, very harmless ' and indeed very childish twaddle that was reduced to the form of a motion of want of confidence in this Government, and presented in the House by the right, hon. the leader of the Opposition, I say that I can well understand hon. members opposite feeling that it was necessary to supplement their weak position in some regard in order that they could recover the position they had lost, not alone before this House, but ' before the people of the country, in attempting to present such a simple motion of want of confidence as that which was defeated by such a large majority in this House last night. So much for the motion of yesterday.

Now we have the motion of to-day, and let me say that if we were surprised at the simple motion of want of confidence of yesterday, what must we say of the motion presented by my hon. friend the member for Humboldt (Mr. Neely) this afternoon? And I am more surprised at my right hon. friend who leads the Opposition, for I am sure that no man in this House knows better than he that in allowing one of his followers to present such a motion as this, he was undertaking to break every rule and every practice that has obtained in this House since Confederation. Never in one single instance have there been two amendments from the Opposition upon the motion for the adoption cf the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne, least

of all a motion dealing with the tariff. If for no other reason than this, I say that the Government and the members in the majority in this House would fail in their duty if they did not reject the motion of want of confidence in this Government of the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat. If my hon. friend from Humboldt is as jealous of the interests of the people of western Canada as he would wish this House and country to understand, he has not taken the course best calculated to advance those interests. The hon. gentleman well knows, as does every hon. gentleman in this House, that the day is not far distant when the Minister of. Finance will bring down his Budget Speech, and he knows, as we all know, that tariff changes have never been discussed on the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne. The hon. gentleman knows that the proper time and place for the Government to announce and for the House to discuss tariff changes is when the Minister of Finance makes his annual financial statement. It will then be the proper time for us to deal with all the fiscal questions which may present themselves. As a government, we do not propose to make any statement of the intentions of the Government in respect to any tariff matter in advance of the Budget Speech.- Then we will be free to discuss this question or any other cognate question, and the Government will then submit its decision with respect to this and other matters to the judgment of the members of this House and of the people of Canada. I do not know that there is anything else for me to say, except to add that even when the discussion of such an important matter as this does take place on the Budget Speech, we shall need to have the very best and soundest reasons-reasons more sound than those which the hon. member for Humboldt has been able to present to the House-before it would be wise for this Government to deal with any tariff changes which would affect important industries. If for no other reason than that the hon. gentleman (Mr. Neely) has undertaken by a motion of want of confidence in the Government to bring to the attention of the House at this juncture a matter which has never been introduced during the lifetime of this Parliament, other than on the Budget Speech, I ask the House to reject his amendment.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Hon. FRANK OLIVER (Edmonton):

I

am sure we have been all greatly impressed by the constitutional and parliamentary

reasons given by the Minister of Public Works for deferring or preventing discussion on a matter of urgent public importance. In order that he may be relieved from any misapprehension, and so that he may not be grieved, as he professes to be, at the action or inaction of the leader of the Opposition, let me quote to him a motion presented to the Parliament of Great Britain-I am sure the Minister of Public Works will not deny the validity of such a precedent-when on the 6th of February, 1893, an amendment to the reply to the Speech from the Throne was moved in the following words:

At the end of the question to add the follow-mg' words:

That this House humbly expresses its regret that no measures are announced by Tour Majesty for the present relief of those who are affected by the existing wide-spread depression in agriculture, either by means of readjustment of local burdens, or otherwise.

This motion was debated in the English House of Commons for two days. If

such a motion was in order in the British Parliament tinder the conditions prevailing in Great Britain at that time, surely an almost absolutely parallel motion is just as much in order in this country under the conditions prevailing now.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Does the hon. gentleman not see the difference between a general resolution referring generally to the tariff, and a specific resolution calling for action on a specific item of the tariff ?

Some hon. GENTLEMEN: Oh.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

If hon. gentlemen do not see the distinction, I could easily show it to them.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I am sorry that we on this side of the House are not able to please our friends on the other side.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER:

You do not try.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I think I can show the hon. minister that we do try. We have already debated at some length a resolution to which the Minister of Public Works takes objection because it is not specific, and now when we bring forward a specific resolution the Solicitor General takes objection. If we do not succeed on this side in pleasing the Minister of Trade and Commerce and his friends, I am afraid it is that these gentlemen opposite will not be satisfied with anything we may do, no matter what it be. The reference of the Minister of Public Works to lack of precedent was fortunate in that it afforded us an opportunity in the discussion of this question,

which is undoubtedly of greatest and most pressing importance in Canada at the moment; to call upon such a precedent, in such a case, on such authority.

Is there a question of importance before the country? Is it necessary or is it desirable that a condition such as exists to-day should be considered by this Parliament without loss of time? Is it not a fact, as the hon. member for Humboldt (Mr. Neely) has stated to the House, that because the members of this Government during the later months of last year, were paying attention to anything and everything except the business they are there to attend to; Parliament was not called at the usual time, to deal with this question, which would have saved millions of dollars to this country; millions of dollars that admittedly this country needs very much now. We have the attitude of the Government as expressed by the Minister of Finance, to the effect that the Government has no duty to perform except to levy taxes, to make expenditures, and incidentally to draw their salaries. We have his statement that there is no responsibility resting upon the Government to meet the conditions that exist throughout the country. WThy, he says, leave things alone and they will get better of themselves. I believe that things will get better, if not by themselves, at any rate without the assistance of this Government. But if and when they do get better, it will be not because of this Government, its policy and its practice, but in spite of this Government, its policy and.its practice.

A great deal has been made of the fact that the late Government did not do thus and so. Let me point out that the country is to-day face to face with a condition that did not exist during the term of office of the late Government. It is the fact of the existence of an abnormal condition, abnormal so far as the recent experience of Canada is concerned, that calls for action by this Government, and is our reason, not our excuse, for taking this opportunity of bringing before this House and the country not only the necessity for action but the possibility and the duty of action.

It is true that during the administration of the late Government there was a rise in prices. But it is also true that parallel with the rise in prices, there w'as a rise in prosperity. So long as I have the means to pay in proportion to the prices that I am asked, what difference does it make to me whether prices are high or low? But when the condition is that prices are- higher than they were before and I have not the money to

pay those prices, then a condition exists that calls for action, for consideration. The fact that such action was not taken in previous years is no evidence that action is not necessary now. It was not needed then; it is needed now.

This is a question that is very much greater than a question of the West, as I understood one of my hon. friends on the other side to suggest. It is much greater than a party question. It is a question that touches the very foundation of the welfare and success of this great country of Canada. It is well for us to consider just how the present conditions came about. It will be remembered that some years ago, in fact in the winter of 1910-11, after a considerable amount of agitation had taken place amongst the farmers of the prairie west, a large delegation came to Ottawa to impress upon the Government of that day the desirability, or as they expressed it, the necessity, of the opening of a market south of the boundary line for our wheat and-other western products. I am sure there are a great many of our friends, now on the other side of the House, who looked upon this delegation as an aggregation of cranks, as men who wanted something simply because they wanted it and did not know why. Let me point out what was the reason of that delegation and what is the reason of this resolution that is now before the House. We have had in the prairie west a stupendous development in wheat growing. I am confining my arguments to wheat for the moment. In a matter of some ten years our wheat area and production increased something like six or seven fold, from two and a half million acres of cultivation to over seventeen million acres of cultivation. At the same time, there was development in other wheat growing countries. With the increased production throughout the world, throwing that increased production on to the world's markets centering at Liverpool, there had been a continual depression of world prices of wheat, which was within the knowledge of the men who grew it and who, taking notice of that continued and enormous increase of production, taking notice of that continued decrease in world prices, saw that they were heading straight for the position that they are in to-day of attempting to produce wheat at a price that would not yield a fair margin of profit.

I see in the newspapers, and I hear from many of our friends in Parliament and out of it, talk about the farmer as though he were some sort of an altruistic individual

who farmed for the sake of being near to nature's heart, and who should be satisfied to enjoy the morning sunrise, the singing birds and the pleasant scenery; and that when he undertook to discuss economic questions he was out of his proper field, and in fact had come into the class of cranks and nuisances. Of course our hon. friends are going to educate him. Let me say, what ought not to be necessary to say, that the farmer's business is just like any other man's business. If it is not done at a profit, he cannot stay in business. It is not a question of whether he wants to stay, it is a question of his being able to stay. What enables the merchant or manufacturer to stay in business? It is the little margin of profit that he makes. Let him have an output of $100,000,000, if his return is only $99,000,000, he goes out of business. If it is $101,000,000, he stays in business. It is the difference of a trifle between success and bankruptcy. As long as the farmer is getting for his products a price that gives him a fair and reasonable margin of profit, he stays in business. If his margin is only 5 cents a bushel on his wheat, it enables him to stay in business, but if he makes 5 ^ cents a bushel less than the wheat cost him to produce, he goes out of business. This is the condition that the farmers of the West saw facing them in 1911. They had seen it years before. They came down and made representations to the late Government on the subject, and that Government acting on these representations, took measures to make it possible for more favourable marketing of the farmers' principal product, thereby assuring him, so far as it could be assured, a margin of profit on that product.

I have figures here which I will place before the House as to what the differences in the world's prices have been. I have acquired this information from a leading grain house in Montreal, and I have every reason to believe that it is reliable. I am informed that in the year 1907, a year of bad crops and hard times-it was as to that year I asked information for the purpose of making a comparison-in December, the average price of No. 1 Northern wheat in Liverpool was $1.23 per bushel. In 1911, the average of the same article in the same market for December was $1.18i per bushel; in 1912, the average was $1.07 per bushel; and I am further credibly informed that in the year 1913 the average price in December for No. 1 Northern wheat was 98 cents. This is a difference as between 1907 and 1913 of twenty-five cents a bushel, or twenty per

cent, if I am correct in my calculation, in the return to the farmer.

Now, I do not know how many classes of business there are that can stand a reduction of twenty per cent in the value of the out-turn and still remain going concerns. And I am here to say, Mr. Speaker, that the fact of that reduction having come to the wheat producers of the Northwest has had the absolutely necessary effect of restricting production and decreasing financial resources, producing a condition that is reflected throughout the length and breadth of this Dominion in the cry of hard times that now prevails. I do not know how far the financial condition will be denied, but I will say that not in twenty years has there been a condition in this Dominion of Canada such as exists to-day. A despatch from Toronto of January 26 says that the total registration of unemployed in the Toronto Civic Registration Bureau up to date had almost reached 7,000 men. I read that in Ottawa, Messrs. Fripp and Chabot are approaching the Minister of Public Works to impress upon him the desirability of pushing work for which money has been voted, as a means of giving employment to two or three hundred men. I find a despatch from Toronto appearing in the London Times and dated 8th of January, stating that it is admitted there are from 10,000 to 15,000 unemployed in Toronto. I read in the Montreal Telegraph of January 26 that at the Protestant House of Refuge the number of night lodgings given last week was 895 and the number of meals 1,331. I give these figures to put it beyond all question that there is a condition in this country to-day that has not existed for twenty years. It is a condition of shortage of money. And I am pointing out where, in one direction, that shortage of money could have been measurably prevented by action of this Government. I maintain that the condition is not only such as to justify the Opposition in moving the resolution they have moved but such as to call upon the Government, if they have

4 p.m. any proposals to make, if they have any remedy to offer-as it must be offered in the Budget Speech- to bring down their Budget at once so that such remedy as they may see fit to apply may be applied without delay.

Hon. GEORGE E. FOSTER: We cannot do it until the Address is passed.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

If my hon. friend will

agree that the Budget shall be brought

down to-morrow, the Address will be passed this afternoon.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER:

You are nearly exhausted already, and of course you are taking advantage.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

My hon. friend need not

fancy that this subject is exhausted. It is too important a question, it touches the vital interests of every man in Canada too closely, to be exhausted by anything I could say, or by anything that even he himself could say.

Now, I do not wish to delay the House, but I desire to draw attention to a special feature of this matter that has been alluded to but is perhaps not as thoroughly understood as it should be. The argument has been made that because the United States produces wheat in large amount, and exports wheat in large amount, therefore there is not and cannot be a market for Canadian wheat in the United States. On this point I asked a question of this grain house in Montreal of which" I have spoken. I asked if it was a fact that in the Liverpool market American wheat was sold at a higher price than Canadian wheat of equal quality. And here is the answer I get:

With reference to your last question, I presume that statement has reference to American winter wheat. As regards Australian wheat, as you are aware, that is a white wheat. It is quite true that at times all these classes of wheat will sell at a higher price than your No. 1 Northern Manitoba. That is merely a matter of supply and demand.

That is to say, in the markets of the United Kingdom there is a demand for certain classes of wheat to make flour for pastry purposes. When these classes of wheat are in short supply naturally the price is higher, and when they are in abundant supply naturally the price is lower. Now, what is the case in regard to certain soft wheat in the Liverpool markets is the case in regard to the hard wheat of Canada in the United States markets. In the United States they are producing and milling for a population of ninety or a hundred million and of that product only a small proportion is hard wheat. That which comes from the Red River valley is, I understand, the only hard wheat grown in the United States. For purposes of mixing, I understand that there is a special demand in the United States for hard wheat, and when they have not enough hard wheat to meet their requirements, they import from us and pay a higher price. As a matter of fact, they never have enough

hard wheat for mixing purposes to supply the home market, and for that reason there is a continual demand in the United States for the hard wheat of our prairie provinces at an advanced price. It is because the farmers are entitled to it, and can be given that advantage, that we bring this matter very strongly to the attention of the Government.

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CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER:

What about the

wheat of North Dakota; that is hard, is it not?

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CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER:

The Red River valley must extend over a very wide area.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

stating that it was the finest wheat and the cheapest in the world, and they could not understand why it should be sacrificed in the way it was. There was no other country selling in competition with us at the time; it simply went down under its own weight.

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CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BURNHAM:

If the United States wants our wheat, and if they have no cogent reason for wanting to send theirs into this country, why on earth do they persist in keeping the' balance of trade against themselves year after year as they are doing, and in waiting for this House to give them permission to take our wheat in?

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January 28, 1914