May 23, 1917

LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Those who manipulated

the grain prices were able tp hold quantities of grain in the interior elevators, thus keeping down the price to the farmer, while holding the grain against the eastern buyer.

I repeat that that was the only purpose that these elevators were used for last winter. There was no shortage of railing stock for the carrying forward of that grain as it should have been carried forward. No condition warranted the refusal of the railroad

companies to carry the farmer's grain to any point that he wanted it carried to. It is the first time in Canada's history that a railroad company has dared to take that position. Certainly no railroad company ever dared to do it under the administration of the preceding Government.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir THOMAS WHITE:

Did the Railway Commission not order the railways to take the action which they did take? I do not follow my hon. friend's argument.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

The Railway Commission must have consented to it.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir THOMAS WHITE:

Does my hon.

friend seriously suggest that the members of the Railway Commission were engaged in a conspiracy with the grain manipulators to prevent the farmers from sending their grain forward to the markets of the world?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I am not making accusation against anybody; I am making a statement of facts. The Railway Commission, the Government and the railway companies can divide the responsibility among them, as suits themselves.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

Was it not better for the

farmer not to be allowed to sell his grain last fall at SI.75? Was it not better that he should have to hold it until this spring, when he is getting S3 for it?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
LIB
LIB
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Of course the farmers would have won if they had been able to keep that 70,000,000 bushels. But they were able to keep only a trifling portion of it; the

70.000. 000 bushels were taken out of their hands by the manipulators.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

How could they take it

out of the farmers' hands? They had no power.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Because this good Gov>-

ernment built convenient storage elevators in which they could hold the grain at their convenience. It was said that this grain was not carried to Fort William because there was no storage capacity at that place. The returns of the Department of Trade and Commerce, however, show that the number of bushels of grain in storage at Fort William in October was 9,000,000; in November, 14,000,000; in December, 12,000,000; in January, 21,000,000, and in March,

23.000. 000, whereas the capacity of the elevators is 41,000,000 bushels.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

Is it not a fact that the bulk of the storage at Fort William is owned and held by the Grain Growers' Grain Company? Why did they not give accommodation to the farmers? Why did they not ask the farmers to bring the grain there for storage?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I know nothing about the Grain Growers' Grain Company; I do not know why they did not do as my hon. friend suggests. I am telling the House what happened to the farmer, and how it happened.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

Why did the Grain

Growers' Company not help them out?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

The farmers of the West expect the Government to exercise in their behalf the authority which they possess. I am drawing the attention of the Government to these facts, and the Government, I am sorry to say, does not seem to be very sympathetic or receptive.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER:

Are not the farmers of the West entitled to store their grain in these interior elevators?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
LIB
CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER:

Would that not be exactly the same thing as storing it in Port Arthur? I do not see any difference. They did not have to sell.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

If 1 want to ship my grain to Fort William I have a right to ship it there. When the railway company says to me: we have put an embargo on the shipment of grain Ito Fort William; we will take your grain to Saskatoon, but not to Fort William-I say that that is trespassing upon my rights. Further, that trespass is committed in somebody else's interest; it would be nonsense to argue anything else.

I have been referring to the enormous burden laid upon the people by reason of the appreciation of $70,000,000 in the price of grain. This increase was made possible because of the holding back of the grain. There was no reason why the grain should not have gone forward, because ample facilities existed for that purpose. This country has put hundreds of millions of dollars into the construction of railroads for the purpose of facilitating the transportation of grain. One of these railroads has for years been under the absolute and direct control of the Government. Held back, (therefore, in the interior elevators or at Fort William, this grain was made the subject of manipulation against the interests of the farmers-and somebody gets $70,000,000 to which he is

not entitled. Certainly tlie farmer dees not get it. If the crop of Ithe prairie West were carried forward from day to day to the Atlantic seaboard, as it can and should he carried forward, such stupendous manipulation of prices as took place last year and as has taken place in other years would not be possible? All that the farmer has asked is that he get the Liverpool price. Under present conditions the man in Liverpool ought to get his wheat at the price at which the Canadian farmer sells it, plus carrying costs and charges. When we permit a condition under which $70,000,000 is taken from the consumers, whether in Canada or in England, we are certainly not properly appreciating our responsibilities. The railroads have been built for the purpose of carrying the grain, but we refuse to use them for thai purpose. When such abuses as this occur it is desirable that the country should know who is responsible.

If we find a lack of development, or a failure to develop, we must put the responsibility where it belongs; we must let it be known that it is because the money that was paid for that wheat did not go to the producers of the wheat to enable them to expand production, to increase development, and to increase the ordinary and regular revenues of this country, so that instead of having stagnation we would, to that extent, have development amongst our own peoples, or our Allies and friends in England would get their grain at a lower price.

The question of railway transportation is of enormous importance; it is as important as the tariff question; but the tariff question is the one that is most intimately associated with the resolutions before the House, and I desire to move an amendment to those resolutions having relation to tariff matters, believing that the time has come when it must be apparent to every man, no matter on what side of the House he sits, or what particular faith he professes, that we are in this country pursuing a fiscal policy that is absolutely to the detriment of the country, and that is liable to lead to the financial ruin of the country when the present abnormal conditions give place to those of ordinary life. We shall find ourselves then with the tax-paying power that we had before the war of $120,000,000 to meet interest charges on a total debt of $1,000,000,000. That is an impossible situation, and there must be some other recourse; we must devise some other means of increasing our development in order that we may increase our revenue, and we are not

increasing our development under the fiscal policy that the Minister of Finance has imposed upon this country in the past five years. I believe we cannot expect to increase our development under that policy and the time has come to change that policy, to give our policy another direction that will lighten the burden of taxation upon our people and that will increase our opportunities for the development of the country, as the only means whereby we shall ever be able to carry the enormous burdens that are being laid upon us.

I will say just another word in regard to this matter. Having in view the enormous obligations that we must necessarily take upon ourselves in connection with the war, I must point out that the Government have not taken cognizance as they should of that fact in cutting down the ordinary expenses of the country. What is the answer when the Government is criticised for expenditure? Why, they say: We are spending only a little more or a little less than we did last year; we are spending only a little more than v;e did a few years ago. When this country is going behind at the rate of half a billion dollars per year for war purposes, is it a time to make comparison with what we did in time of peace? Is it not a time to enter upon a policy of economy in regard to ordinary expenditures such as was never thought of in time of peace? This Government do not seem to know that a war is on or that war conditions have to be met. So long as they can borrow money, they are satisfied to spend in any way that is convenient to them. The expenditure of Canada was about $120,000,000 in 1911, when there was no war, and when the country was enjoying a very high measure of prosperity. In this past year we have spent, if I understood the minister correctly, in the neighbourhood of $150,000,000 on current and capital expenditure exclusive of pensions, interest on war debt, and war expenditures, that is, we have spent nearly $30,000,000 more on ordinary accounts than we spent in the year 1911. When we spend more in a year when we are facing a war debt of over $1,000,000,000 than we spent in a year when we were enjoying the highest prosperity and when a war was absolutely unthought of, I submit that under those circumstances the Government are chargeable with absolute neglect of duty and lack of recognition of the terrible circumstances in which the country finds itself. While I urge upon them a policy of economy in the matter of ex-

penditure, I desire to place before the House certain suggestions in regard to a change of tariff policy that, may and I hope, will meet the support of our friends on the other side. I desire to move, seconded by Mr. Carvell:

That all the words after the word "that" be struck out and the following substituted therefor :

"In ;he opinion of this House it would be in the rublic interest if the Customs Tariff Act wen- so amended as to provide:

1. That wheat, wheat flour, and all other products of wheat be placed upon the free list.

2. That farm implements and *machinery'! farm tractors, mining, flour and saw-mill machinery, and repairs for same, rough and partly dressed lumber, illuminating, lubricating and fuel oils, cement and fertilizers be added to the free list.

3. That staple foods and food products (other than wheat flour), domestic animals and foods therefor, be admitted into Canada free of duty when coming from and being the product of, any country admitting like Canadian articles into such country free of duty.

4. That substantial reductions be made in the general tariff on all articles imported into Canada, excepting luxuries.

5. That the British Preference be increased

to fifty per cent of the general tariff." '

In regard to the different items of this amendment, may I speak in regard to item No. 1? I am speaking for myself as a representative from the West, and in regard to item No. 1, the position that I would desire to see the House take is this: In the Prairie West we are producing the great basic food products of the world. We are producers of that product for export, as well as for home consumption. In eastern Canada there is no great production of wheat, but it is in eastern Canada where the bulk of our population is situated, where there is the greatest amount of industrial employment, and where the cost of food, and particularly of flour, the basic article of food, is the most important matter in the economy of the worker's family. Those who think with me are prepared to see that basic product admitted into Canada free of duty without regard to the action of any other country; that is to say, in order that our fellow citizens in eastern Canada may have bread as cheap as we can give it to them, we are willing to produce the wheat irrespective of the duties imposed against it by any other country.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink
CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BURNHAM:

Does the hon. gentleman think that the free importation of wheat would greatly lower the price of western wheat?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT BT HON. MR. OLIVER.
Permalink

May 23, 1917