February 23, 1916


William Erskine Knowles



What has the question whether they have exported American wheat or not to do with our problem?

Topic:   FREE WHEAT.

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)


I will tell the hon. gentleman in a minute what it has to do with our problem. It shows that they could control it,, and were able to get a fair value for the farmer in connection with such export business. It shows that they are able to make even more money exporting American wheat than Canadian wheat because their margin of profit is less on Canadian wheat. The paid-up capital of this company last year was $867,000 and its profits were $226,963, or 27 per cent. I am not complaining of that profit because so far as I know it was legitimately made, and all I have to say to the Grain Growers' Association, and to the Grain Growers'

Grain Company is: go ahead, continue the good work as long as you can, because you have solved the problem of the western farmer.

They say that the millers are making colossal profits, that we would get our .flour cheaper if you would only open the doors and let down the tariff onflour. Let me deal with that just_ for a moment. I took the trouble to collect the quotations for flour at corresponding points in the United States and Canada. It would not be doing any injustice if I said that the quotations for the same brand of flour are practically the same, but the average for every month -and I did not take any hand-picked figures, but I took the figures from all over the country-was 10 to 15 cents 6 p.m. higher in the United States than in Canada, and it was about 16 cents higher in January, 1916, in the United States than in Canada. I have these

figures before me and I would rejoice if I had a few minutes to quote them.

Yet, hon. gentlemen opposite say: Let

Mown the tariff and we will get our flour cheaper. We will not get it cheaper because the price is higher there than it is here. But in addition to that, the price at which the miller can sell his flour depends in the main upon the quantity of flour he can turn out. If you turn out a huge quantity, you will be able to turn it out at a lower price per unit, and if we so change our fiscal arrangements as to make it impossible for the Canadian miller to turn out the product that he is turning out to-day, you will see the price of flour go up in this country.

The late Government recognized that- fact. Why did the late Government, in arranging their reciprocity proposals, insist that 50 cents a barrel be retained on flour? Was there any reason in the world except this, that the miller could not stand it? I do not mean the big miller necessarily. We have 543 flour millers in this country, 303 flour millers in Ontario alone. The big millers are able to stand competition much better than the smaller ones, but is there a man who would feel that he would be doing his duty as a member of this House who would vote for legislation which would be unfair te 303 small millers in Ontario? They pay duty on almost every article they use, they are bound to pay according to the policy of this country, accepted on both sides, and while they are bound to do that, ^ire they entitled to some fair measure of protection or are they not? The hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) says they are. He is on record in this House as saying that they are so entitled as a matter of justice. Let me quote what the hon. member for Edmonton says, as reported at page 916 of Hansard:

Then there is no reason why the Canadian milling industry should require an extraordinary measure of protection at the hands of this Government.

I agree with that statement.

It is entitled, no doubt, to whatever measure of protection would naturally fall to it under a revenue tariff: I would not suggest at all that it should not have the benefit of that measure of protection.

If they are entitled in justice to a measure of protection, then upon what principle of reasoning are you going to take it from them? Is it because they are in the minority, is it because they have not as many votes at their disposal as another class? Will the hon. member for Rouville

(Mr. Lemieux) subscribe to the doctrine that because you have fewer people on one side than on another, it is the duty of the Government to do an injustice to the minority? The hon. member for Edmonton says that in justice they are entitled to a measure of protection, but because the interests of the millers and the farmers are not the same you shall do what the farmers say and do an injustice to this other class.

I cannot subscribe to that doctrine. I do not believe that it would be fair or just to the small millers of this country to take the duty off flour entirely. I believe they are interested in this, I believe that the farmers are interested in it, I believe the people of every part of Canada are interested in it, and I believe that under the conditions that exist to-day, if we have free flour these millers, all those dependent on them, and all in a similar position, could come to this Government and say: In the course you have taken, in removing the tariff from everything we have to sell, letting down the walls entirely between this country and every country in the world, you are reversing the verdict of the people in 1911. While on that subject the hon. member for Assiniboia stated that he did not believe that Mr. Lanigan had made, the statement that he directed to me, denying his alleged interview to the effect that the Canadian Pacific Railway, or transportation interests in general would not suffer by the removal of the duty on wheat and [DOT] flour. I had seen a quotation, said to be of some statement Mr. Lanigan had made in the Manitoba Free Press, and I thought that if that was the view of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company the people of this country were entitled to know it. I wrote and asked Mr. Lanigan if he had ever made a statement of that kind, and I have a reply here from him to the effect that he never made any such statement; that on the contrary the arguments that had been advanced in the Free Press by a Mr. McLeod of Brandon were falsely founded, and that in his view the Canadian people had decided the question of free wheat in 1911, and that the decision as given by them should stand. That is the position taken by him. I do not know that the transportation interests are to be impugned in this House because they have a view as to what is best for themselves. I am one of those who feel that the attitude Parliament should assume should be one dictated by national considerations, and by national considerations alone, and that

that parliament or that government is derelict to its duty which eliminates from those considerations any interests, however large or small, or that denies to any single one of those interests its proper say in the government and tariff arrangements of this country. That government does its duty which considers all, because when you injure one you injure another, and you injure all. Let me leave to the House this one consideration. All the avenues of industry and of activity in this country are open to every class of our community. We have no caste system in Canada; that is one of the ripe fruits of democracy that we enjoy and always will enjoy. There is no avenue to trade, or manufacture, or industry of any kind access to which is denied to the farmer, or to any others of our citizens. I am glad to see the movement of organized farmers in the West; I am glad to see the .Grain Growers' Grain company 'become wealthy and prosper; I am gladj to see it under able management, and I say to it, go on, invade all the fields that are open to you to invade: invade, first, those that are nearest to the field you occupy to-day; invade the milling industry of this country if you wish. That company is already dealing in merchanise to the extent of over $1,000,000 a year, over and above its grain trade entirely. I would, say to that company: proceed further; you are big, and strong, and wealthy; go into the milling business; there is one industry in which the West can compete with the East under almost equal conditions; go into the milling industry; invade the field that is now monopolized, according to hon. gentlemen opposite, by the millers; you are able to do it; you have able men at your command; you have developed, these men of recent years; go into that industry, and when you feel that that industry can ge't along with less duty than it has come to Parliament and you will then, indeed, have established a practical argument in favour of removing the duty. There is no caste system in this country; let this company, which is now in the grain trade, go into the milling industry. What do you think, Mr. Speaker, of one of their directors who uses the following language in the press with regard to the grain dealers of Canada:

There Is no good reason why the rest of Canada should suffer, so that the large mills and large dealers should enjoy a special privilege at the expense of the rest of the people.

Can the House believe me when I say ' that these words were uttered by a director

'Mr. Meighen.]

of the Grain Growers Grain Company, the biggest dealer in western wheat that

there is?

That is the attitude of hon. gentlemen opposite. They are in a position to control the grievance they complain of if there is a grievance at all-and because they do not care to control- it they come to Parliament and say: arrange your tariff so that the Grain Growers' Grain Company, which is a product of the Grain Growers' Association, shall not be able to defeat the object for which it exists. The Grain Growers' Guide, quoted by hon. gentlemen opposite, is a branch industry also of the Grain Growers' Grain Company, for I find that in their annual report, in detailing the success of the various enterprises they control, they deliver the result in connection with the Grain Growers' Guide. We have, then, the organ of the Grain Growers' Grain Company, or rather the paper that derives its financial sustenance at all events from that company, calling week in and week out to the Parliament of Canada to protect the farmers against the control- ' ling company which controls themselves. That is a situation which ought to be known to House. If they have a grievance it is in their power to remedy it, and if they do not remedy it they cannot ask us to remedy,' at the expense" of somebody else, that which they have in their power to remedy without expense to anybody at all.

We are told that speculative conditions raise the prices on the American market above the Canadian, level. That is true; but the reverse is also true. Speculative conditions .sometimes raise the Canadian prices above the American prices. The hon. member for Assiniboia tells us that the United States needs our hard wheat; he says they need one bushel of our hard wheat in five-those were his own figures in Hansard-in order to make the highest grade of flour, and he leads the House to believe that they cannot get the wheat at their own doors. Is he aware that the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota produced, in 1912, over 200,000,000 bushels of hard wheat-

260,000,000, I think, was the amount-is he aware that last year something over 156,000,000 bushels of hard wheat was produced right around Minneapolis; that the hard wheat produced right around Minneapolis far exceeds the soft wheat production; that the hard wheat production in the United States is over one-half the soft wheat production, and that of all the wheat available

for the Minneapolis mills by far the greater proportion is hard wheat. So far from having difficulty in getting one bushel in five, they can get three bushels in five right at their own doors. Consequently, speculative conditions, and speculative conditions only, dictate in the main the levels of these markets. Just as soon as you sweep the tariff away you kick the prop from under the premium that is paid in Minneapolis, and you do away with the conditions that put their prices above others; you eliminate everything that kept up their prices, and consequently their prices would fall. The hon. member knows that in September last, when rumours were sent out from Ottawa and circulated in the West that serious consideration was being given at Ottawa to the removal of the duty on wheat, down went the price at Minneapolis, and the gap of six or seven cents that existed before closed up. That is an illustration of what might logically be expected to occur; that is what actually did occur.

I have exceeded the hour for adjournment; I did not purpose to do so. I should like to pursue the subject further, but I am going to acquiesce in the decision of both sides of the House that the debate be closed now.

House divided on the motion of Mr. Turriff.

TEAS: Messieurs:









Clark (Red Deer), Copp,










(Kings, P.E.I.), Knowles,




Lapointe -

(Kamouraska), Laurier (Sir Wilfrid), Loggie,

Maclean (York, O.), MacNutt,




Marcil (Bonaventure), Marcilo (Bagot), Michaud,







Thomson (Qu'Appelle ), Turgeon,





Armstrong (Lambton), MacdoneP, Armstrong (York, O.), McLean Ball, (Queens, P.E.I.),


Barnard, Marshall,

Barrette, Meighen,

Bellemare, Merner, '

Bennett (Simcoe ), Middlebro,

Blondin, Morphy,

Borden (Sir Robert) Morris,

Boulay, Morrison,

Bowman, Nicholson,

Boys, Paquet,

Brabazon, Patenaude,

Bradbury, Paul,

Burnham, Porter,

Carrick, Rainville,

Chabot, Reid,

Clark (Bruce), Robidoux,

Clarke (Wellington), Roche,

Clements, Rogers,

Cockshutt, Schaffner,

Cromwell, Scott,

Crothers, Sexsmith,

Currie, Shepherd,

Doherty, Steele,

Elliot, Stevens,

Fisher, Stewart (Hamilton),

Foster (Sir George) Stewart (Lunenburg),

Fripp, Sutherland,

Gauthier (Gaspe), Taylor,

Girard, Thompson (Yukon),

Glass, Thornton,

Gray, Walker,

Hanna, Webster,

Hartt, Weiehel,

Henderson, White (Sir Thomas),

Hepburn, White (Renfrew),

.L'Eteperance, Wilcox,

Lewis, Wright.-77.


Ministerial. Opposition.

Alguire, McMillan,

Ames (Sir Herbert), Brouillard,

Arthurs, Truax,

Baker, Kay,

Best, Oliver,

Boyce, German,

Bristol, Bickerdike,

Burrell, Douglas,

Casgrain, Lemieux,

Davidson, Chisholm (Antigonish),

Fowler, M'cLean (Sunbury & Queens),

Green, White (Victoria, Alta),

Gui'bault, Beland,

Hazen, Pugsley,

Jameson, Power,

Kemp, Robb,

Bavallee, Lovell,

McLeod, Carvell,

Munson, Boyer,

McCurdy, McLean (Halifax),

Nickle, Martin (Regina),

Sharpe, Ross,

Stanfield, Pardee,

Smyth, Tobin,

Tremain, Chisholm (Antigonis' )

Wilson (Wentworth), Wilson (Laval),

Wallace. Nesbitt.

Topic:   FREE WHEAT.

William Pugsley



I was paired with the

hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries. Had

I voted 1 would have voted for the motion.

Topic:   FREE WHEAT.

Edward Walter Nesbitt



I was paired with the

hon. member for Centre York. Had I

voted I would have voted for the motion.

Topic:   FREE WHEAT.

Rodolphe Lemieux



I was paired with the hon. member far Quebec County. Had I voted I would have voted for the motion.

Topic:   FREE WHEAT.


I was paired with the hon. member for York, N.B. Had I voted I would have voted for the motion.

Topic:   FREE WHEAT.

William Ross Smyth

Conservative (1867-1942)


I was paired with the hon. 'member for Richmond and Wolfe. Had I voted I would have voted against the motion.

Topic:   FREE WHEAT.

Robert Francis Green

Conservative (1867-1942)


I was paired with the hon. member for Victoria, Alberta. Had I voted I would have voted against the motion.

Topic:   FREE WHEAT.

Avard Longley Davidson

Conservative (1867-1942)


I was paired with the hon. member for Antigonish. Had I voted I would have voted against the motion.

Topic:   FREE WHEAT.

William Folger Nickle

Conservative (1867-1942)


I was paired with the hon. member for Regina. Had I voted 1 would have voted against the motion.

Motion negatived.

At six o'clock the House adjourned, without motion put, pursuant to rule.

Thursday, February 24, 1916.

Topic:   FREE WHEAT.

February 23, 1916