Yes, we want the straw for bedding. There is not a farmer in my section of the country who grows wheat for the purpose of making money out of the sale of it; there is not a farmer I know of in my section of the country who would sell wheat at less than eighty cents a bushel, and there are some of them who would not sell it for ninety cents a bushel. They feed their wheat, and at anything less than eighty cents a bushel it does not pay them to sell it. If my hon. friend (Mr. Best) is sufficient of a farmer to keep track of what it costs him to raise pork and what it costs him to raise wheat, he will find that if he has not to sell his pork at less than seven cents a pound, and his wheat is anything under eighty cents a bushel, he had better feed his wheat to his hogs.
Let me state another reason why the Government should have provided that wheat should toe free. The western farmer tells us that the United States markets are open for their wheat, but a number of hon. gentlemen opposite have said: What is the use of trying to make a market for our wheat in a country which is a wheat exporting country itself. That sounds reasonable, but at the same time I heard the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Aikiins) state the other night that wheat was three or four cents a bushel higher in Minneapolis than in Winnipeg, and he also read letters to show that wheat that graded No. 1 in Minneapolis, graded only No. 2 or No. 3 in Winnipeg, so that there is a spread of from three cents to five cents a bushel between No. 1 and No. 3. One of the best farmers in Canada, and one of the largest farmers in Alberta, authorized me to state that he himself had sent a sample to Minneapolis and a sample 177
of exactly the same wheat to Winnipeg, and the Minneapolis sample was graded No. 1, whereas the Winnipeg sample was graded No. 3. Under such circumstances why not let the farmer have the better opportunity?
Did the hon. member nolici* the quotation given in this House last night as to the prices of wheat in the United States market and in the Canadian market, as quoted in yesterday's Toronto Globe and in the Mail and Empire?
In Minneapolis the price of May wheat was eighty-nine and a half cents, and in Winnipeg it was ninety and a quarter, and in Minneapolis the price of July wheat was ninety and three-fourths cents and m Winnipeg ninety-two cents.
gentleman gives us does not prove anything, for the simple reason that it only refers to the conditions existing at this time of the year. We have got to have in Ontario a certain amount of western wheat to mix with our softer wheat, and we have to pay the price for it, no matter what it is. After the rush in the fall of the year, the wheat is held to a very great extent at the present time, not by the original farmer, but by the buyer, and the buyer naturally must have his profit on the wheat. In October, November and December, when the great rush of wheat is coming out, that is the time when the farmer himself is interested in the price, and not the buyer or the warehouseman, but at this time of the year the probabilities are that Winnipeg is quoted higher than Minneapolis, because fresh wheat is coming into Minneapolis.
There is one thing of which I would like to warn the growers of the West, and they might as well face it fairly, because it is coming, whether the Government wants it to come or not. If there is free wheat between the United States and Canada, the Ontario millers will buy American wheat, at certain times they will buy Kansas wheat when it comes in. So also will the large millers in the West be able to buy American wheat if they want to. That is for the farmers of the West to take into consideration. They must bear in mind that if they get themselves into a position to hold on to their grain until the best market offers- that is what we do in Ontario-they will have competitioni, with the American wheat coming into Ontario and perhaps coming in for the use of their own millers in the West. The Minister of Finance says that
the millers are opposed to free wheat. Well, the millers may be surprised very much. I know that the millers of Ontario are cl anging their minds on that subject very materially. For the millers of Ontario have stopped exporting flour; they cannot export it and compete. England, we know, takes wheat from all over the Footstool wherever it is to be had for trade. As I recollect it, England has five-sixths of the carrying trade of the world. She has to trade with the people who trade with her, and if any country has export wheat for sale and England expects to sell her manufactured goods, then England must take that wheat. But the English miller has got so wise that he can take these wheats and wash them and mix them to make as good a flour as is required in England, or as good as we could make in this country out of our better-class wheat.
The hon. gentleman dees not want me to name all the men who have mills-it would take all afternoon. The point is that the small mider in Ontario cannot compete in flour in the English market. He recognizes that. Here is a letter from a friend of mine:
I am unable to continue the export business, in fact, have practically severed the connection with my Glasgow people. We have not been able to compete with their home millers on Manitoba flour, and buyers are able to get Australian winter wheat flour much cheaper than Ontario. Australian flour costs, delivered in Glasgow, $4.20 per barrel, while our Ontario wheat flour would be worth $4.62 per barrel.
Now, Ontario millers, as I have said, will buy American wheat, in my judgment. Today, Manitoba wheat at lake ports is quoted at 964 cents for No. 1, and 94| cents for No. 2. The Ontario miller has to pay freight from Georgian bay ports to his mill, and he can grind that and ship in on to the Maritime provinces at the same rate plus two cents for stopover-he grinds it in transit, as it were. So that is wb at I want
to warn my western friends of-that American wheat, in my judgment, will come into direct competition with them. If, in the face of that, they still want free wheat-and I think they will-why should not we give them their way? They are the judges; they are not fools; they know what they want; wh-y not give them what they want?-what harm would it do the rest of the country? Let me explain that in speaking of Ontario millers I do not speak of such mills as the Maple Leaf, but of the smaller millers. The Maple Leaf may be able to compete in the English market. It has one of the best mills in Canada, and particularly well situated at Port Colborne. Being at the foot of the lakes it is favourably situated both as to bringing in wheat and sending out flour. Somebody said the other day that the flour shipped to England was not as good as the flour here. I came down on Sunday night with a baker who pretended to know all about this business, and he claimed that the flour in England is as good as the flour here. He said that the English consumer demands as good a flour as ours, but different-not as dry a flour. They seem to know their business, anyway, and I suppose they have just as good bread in England as we have in Canada.
As to the large millers and their ability to compete, I have never heard an argument that has convinced me that these large millers of western Canada cannot compete. I do not see what is to prevent them. They are right on the ground; they have means to buy wheat and store it in the fall and carry it over. That is the trouble with the Ontario miller-he has not the means to carry over wheat, and he has no storage facilities. If he had, it would not cost him nearly as much as it does to buy, not from the farmer but from the dealer who, at a certain time of the year, as now, raises the price whether at Winnipeg or lake ports. Large western mills, such as the Ogilvies and Lake of the Woods, have storehouses and elevators, and I do not see why they should not compete. They say that the ocean rates keep them from competing with the English mills. But if that is the case, it has nothing to do with this question, because it would be the same whether there was free wheat or not. I read in the North Western Miller that the American millers complain that their export trade is falling off, that they cannot compete with the English and Swiss millers. As statements have been made as to the profits of these large flour mills, I think I had better put the exact
facts before the House. Here are the headings of recent reports:
Ogilvie profits show good gain-Increase of $55,303 reported with earnings on common 13.27 per cent-in a strong position-properties show surplus of $2,000,000 over book values-Goodwill reduced to $1.
So, it was not 30 per cent or 60 per cent, as I have heard it stated, but 13'27 per cent on the common stock. I know nothing about their capitalization. Here are the headings respecting Lake of the Woods:
Lake of Woods had good year-Earnings at rate of 30 per cent on preferred and 15.46 on common-Best since 1908-09-Profits 20 per cent higher than last year-After liberal writing off good surplus was carried forward.
They made a fair profit, and the probabilities are, I think, that they will be able to compete in the British market.
The Minister of Finance, in explaining why he did not grant free wheat to the people of the West, told us that we were building two transcontinental railways and soon would have three such railways for operation. That is onj thing which would, I think, solve the problem of freight rates. You cannot make me believe that the Americans can carry that wheat first south and then to the seaboard cheaper than we can carry it direct. I think that the mere allowing of open shipments-that is, allowing the western people to make the best arrangement they can as to freight rates to the seaboard- would be the means of settling this very vexed question of transportation. I believe the railways can compete; I would be the last one to raise my voice in support of anything under which the railways could not compete.
That brings me to the question of railway expenditure. The Government started to assist in the construction of a transcontinental railway which was to be built for the sole purpose of relieving the congestion in the West and lowering freight transportation charges. I believe that had the road been built as it was first decided to be built, it would be quite possible to reduce freight charges and still have a profit on the road. The expenditure of a few millions of dollars would not have made any great difference, in view of the vast traffic that will be built up in the West. It is not right to say that the farmers of the West will not get better prices for their wheat if the market is opened to them and to say at the same time that the wheat will 177}
be carried south; that is utter folly. If the farmers do not get better prices for their wheat in the south they will continue to ship it to the east. The Minister of Finance said that after the market is open for a day or two the prices in Minneapolis and the prices in Winnipeg will meet. I quite agree with that, but I do not agree with his suggestion that the price in Minneapolis would lower the price in Winnipeg. I do believe that the two would meet, but I think that the price in Minneapolis would raise the price in Winnipeg to a considerable extent; that is what happened in connection with the cattle shipments to Buffalo and Toronto. Any one who follows the market knows that when the United States duty was taken off cattle the price in Toronto jumped from 50 cents to $1 per hundred; the price in Buffalo decreased considerably, but not to the extent of meeting the Toronto price by any means. The prices met half-way, or a little better in favour of Toronto. I have heard good farmers in my section of the county say th it the removal of the duty on cattle going into the United States was equal to an increase of $5 an acre in the value of land in the county of Oxford. How they made that estimate, I cannot say, but I do know that free access to the United States market would increase the value of land throughout Ontario.
The hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Aikins) the other day gloried in the fact that the present Government is building the Hudson Bay railway, and he eohdemned the late Administration for not building it. Let me say that if there is anything which I shall be proud of in the future it is the fact that we were not stupid enough to build the Hudson Bay railway. From what I have read of the Hudson Bay route I cannot see how it would be possible to lower the freight charges by the transportation of grain by that route. I am told that the road cannot be considered as a colonization road-that there are no lands to colonize there-and if that is the case I am quite sure that it is not worth while building a railway at enormous cost merely for the purpose of transporting the fish that may be caught in Hudson bay. It would be cheaper to assist the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario to Teach Jaimes Bay and let that railway carry the fish to the thickly-settled parts of the country where they are required and where the people pay very high prices for fish even at the present day.