"Why do we not conecript them?" You can conscript men and apply discipline to them when you have them in the mass; but to conscript an individual and send him out to farm work is rather a doubtful experiment.
Commencing with the provinces by the - sea, Nova Scotia has set itself a fine objective this year. It ,is going to produce enough wheat and coarse grain to supply its demands, whereas every other year it has imported. The province of New Brunswick is in the same position. In the province of Quebec, where ordinarily they produce about a million bushels of wheat and consume about twelve million bushels, they are aiming this year-and the provincial
authorities tell me they expect to realize that aim-to produce enough wheat to feed themselves, which will release ten or eleven million bushels of wheat to go overseas. Ontario will also increase its wheat production. In the western provinces we will have, I venture to say, the largest acreage that we have ever had in respect to grain production, and if we are only favoured with a good season we will probably have *the largest crop of wheat that the West has ever had. But I want to impress this fact upon our people: In order to get these
results in the different provinces, in order to supply the help that is necessary to make up the deficiency in labour, we must have recoufse to organization, and you cannot do that unless you get men and if you get the men you have got to pay them.
I want to. make one other observation before I close, and it is this The people of Canada have not been as economical as they should have been in the past; I think we have been rather an extravagant people. Today we are driving home to the people of the Dominion, through the educational work carried on under the auspices of the Food Board, the great need of thrift and of saving. I hope, in fact I am sure, the effort will bear fruit in the future. There is no disguising the fact that we have to face very heavy burdens after this war is over. We can only successfully meet those burdens by encouraging in every way possible the principles of thrift among our people. We have got to produce, but above everything w-e must save; and to-day the educational work that is being carried on by the bulletins that my hon. friend (Mr. Devlin) alluded to, and carried on through the medium of addresses, through moving picture shows and pictures thrown on the screen, and meetings held throughout the country, and utilizing every agency that can be utilized, is driving home to our whole people this principle of thrift, this need of saving, and they are realizing to-day as they have never realized in the past what can be done by a little effort in the way of saving, the conserving of food supplies, and the conserving of everything. I venture the statement that the money that is expended upon the Food Administration will be justified in the years to come by the results that will flow from the efforts being made to-day; I am as confident of that as I am that I am standing here now.
The Department of Agriculture is not per-rect, neither is the food administration. I, for one, will welcome criticism at any time, that is helpful, constructive criticism. I desire as much of it as I can get; but,
if my hon. friend from Wright (Mr. Devlin) will permit me to say so, not very much good will come from the sort of criticism in which he indulged this afternoon. The task ahead of Canada is a great one. We have the task of providing foodstuffs, of concentrating Canada's effort and energies in the prosecution of the war. No one can read the news that comes from the front these days without some feeling of concern as to what the outcome will be. I am inclined to agree with the leader of the Opposition that the war may be greatly prolonged before the principles for which we are fighting, and the liberty of the countries whose freedom is threatened, are made safe and secure. We can meet the task before us, but we must organize and throw every effort whole-heartedly into it. If we do that I have no doubt whatever as to the result nor as to the great part that Canada will have played in this struggle.
Mr. JAMES A. ROBB (Chateauguay-Huntingdon): Mr. Speaker, with very great pleasure and interest we have all listened this afternoon to the maiden speech of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Crerar). It did occur to me, and it may have occurred to other members of the House, that in his somewhat rambling address the minister felt that he was obliged to offer an apology for a foundling which he and isome of his friends had adopted. We in Canada are so closely associated with the United States that gentlemen on both sides of the House are now united in the belief that any legislation enacted in the United States necessarily affects Canada. We had evidence of that yesterday afternoon in the discussion which took place on the Daylight Saving Bill, the whole argument in support of which, as presented by the right hon. gentleman (Sir George Foster) who introduced it, being that it had become necessary in Canada because a similar measure had been adopted in the United States. The whole argument offered this afternoon in favour of the organization of a food controllership in Canada was that the United States had appointed a food controller. We are reminded that when the United States in May last decided that they should have a food controller, and appropriated for the purposes of that official's office $5,000,000 for one year, immediately there was started throughout Canada a newspaper campaign in favour of the appointment of a food controller in Canada. Friends of the inner circle could see in the appointment of a food controller in the United States
another opportunity to secure place and profit for their friends if a similar office was established in this country. The case ais presented this afternoon by the leader of the Opposition proves that in that respect the gentlemen who urged upon the Government the organization of a food controller's office were not mistaken-and the figures given have not been denied by the Minister of Trade and Commerce or by the Minister of Agriculture. In the six months during which we have had the luxury of a food controller, the c'ost of the administration of that official's office has run up to $200,000, exclusive of travelling and office expenses, rents, stationery, telephones, etc. If the cost was $200,000 in -six months, in one year the cost would he $400,000; so we find that already the expenditure in Canada is- -per capita the same as it is in the United -States, and that in these figures travelling expenses and the cost of heat, stationery, etc., are not included.
!Mr. CRERAR : I do not wish to interrupt, but 'I desire to correct my hon. friend on one point. The total expenditure to the end of February for salaries in the Food -Controller's office from the time of its inception was $49,758.
The Order in Council goes to show -that -since M-r. H-anna left the office the expense has been very largely increased. I am credibly informed that the Food Control office in Canada, organized in the month of June, has already moved three times in order to provide increased accommodation foT its ever-growing staff. First they were established on Bank street, in a building three or four stories-I remember visiting it. Then they moved to this building, and no-w they are on -Rideau street-ever moving to secure a larger building. The newspapers tell us that the Government purpose during this session to introduce legislationi to provide for a much larger building in Ottawa in order to accommodate their ever-increasing staff of ci-vil servants.
I now come to a point on which il agree -with the Minister of Agriculture: that price-fixing leaves much to be desired in the way of increased -production. Food control is a new feature of warfare; this is the first -time in history, according to Mr. MARCH 27, 1918
Hanna's statement, that food control has played any part in war. In Germany, where the food control movement started, price-fixing was a mistake. Price-fixing in France was a mistake, for France has removed the maximum prices upon potatoes, milk, butter and cheese. Price-fixing in England was a mistake. We have the statement, published in the London Times in the month of January, that because of the limitation fixed upon the price of bacon in England the supply of bacon gradually dropped .away; the people of Great Britain found .themselves short of that commodity because it was being sold to another country where more money was being paid for it. The fixing of the price of butter in England was a mistake. The people there, according to this letter in the London Times, fixed a price for butter which was lower than the cost of production, and the result was that the people of Denmark and Holland found a better market for their butter, and the commodity itself went to enemy countries. That has been the experience in the matter of price fixing in the old land, and same applies to Canada. Price-fixing in this country has not encouraged our people to greater production, and after all it is greater production that we require.
In the statement which Mr. Hanna filed upon leaving office, he practical'y admits, after an experience of six months, that pricefixing in this country has been a mistake; that it has not brought the results expected of it, and that wherever profit ceases, production ceases. As the leader of the Opposition pointed out this afternoon, in the organization of this Food Control Bureau, involving an additional expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars, no attempt was made to provide greater production. Every step taken by the Food Control Bureau resulted in a restriction of production.
I think the Minister of Agriculture agreed with that in his address this afternoon. The Minister of Trade and Commerce was very frank; he told us that the food controller had not been appointed to encourage production. Well, if that is true; If the Food Control Bureau was not appointed to encourage production, surely they should stand out of the way and not hinder increased production. I should like to prove to the Minister of Agriculture-who, I believe, is sincerely desirous of increasing production -that the action of the Food Control Bureau has very materially hindered additional production, at least in eastern *Canada. Last fall, at a time when corn
could be moved freely, the food control offices of Canada and the United States placed certain restrictions on the importation of corn into this country. It is no secret that a deputation from the Montreal board of trade, representing very large interests, came to the Government and asked for a blanket license to import certain quantities of corn before the close of navigation, and that this request was flatly refused by the Food Control Bureau. The deputation discovered, while visiting here, however, that a certain distillery in eastern Canada had a blanket license to import 100,000 bushels of corn, and the Government had a very bad half hour with those gentlemen, who were supporters of the Administration. Those were the conditions that prevented the starch men and the dairy men of eastern Canada from getting in their supply of corn at a time when conditions were favourable to their getting it in. Time passed. We were told that the United States had the largest corn crop in its history. We are now told that corn is rotting in the fields of the United States because people have not been able to move it, and why? Because the Food Control Bureau and the Railroad Control Bureau in the United States, working with the Food Control Bureau in Canada, have so manipulated and interfered with the doing of business 'by men who are accustomed to doing .bus' ness that they have been unable to move this corn. What is the result? The result is that in eastern Canada dairymen have been keeping less stook and are not providing for the enlargement of their herds, as the minister would wish them to do.
But the Food Control Bureau has been interfering not only with international trade, but with interprovineial trade. A member of the minister's Food Control Bureau has absolutely prohibited flour mills of western Canada from shipping bran and shorts to eastern Canada. Does the Minister of Agriculture deny that statement? I wish to repeat it. A representative of the Food Control Bureau in western Canada has ordered the flour mills there not to ship straight carloads of 'bran or shorts or mixed carloads of bran and shorts to eastern Canada. What is the result of that? In any farm, paper published in Quebec or the Maritime Provinces the minister will find announcements of dispersion sales, farmers being disposed to .sell their herds because they cannot get bran and shorts to feed them. The result iwill foe a decreased production of butter and cheese in eastern Canada. I believe the Minister of
Agriculture is desirous of remedying these conditions. He has asked this afternoon for some constructive criticism. I would suggest to him that he recall the order of this gentleman who* interfered with intenprovin-cial trade and allow trade* to be done as it was* done in the past, toy men who know how business should* toe handled*.
I have no desire to prolong my remarks because I know there are others who wish to -speak on this subject; tout the minister in his defence of, or rather apology, for the Food Control Bureau told us that the Food Control Bureau were now arranging to license all the bakeshops, all the retail grocery stores and all the wholesale grocery stores throughout Canada, and* that we were to get a revenue of not less than a Quarter of a million dollars. I think the -minister was very modest in his* estimate of the revenue we shall receive if that scheme is carried out, tout who is going to pay the license? It will 'be passed (back to the consumer, and so the action of this* Food Control Bureau will be helping, not to reduce the cost of living in this country, tout to increase it. Here is another opportunity for the minister to step in and correct a policy that, I am sure*, is not meeting with the favour of the consuming public of Canada. .
With these few observations I leave this subject, in the hope that we shall have a statement from some member of the Government that the Food Control Bureau is at least to 'be taken in hand, so that not only the expense of that bureau will be reduced, but its attempts to interfere with business throughout the country shall not tend to increase the cost of living to our people.
The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir George Foster) made reference to the fact that the profits on packing products* would be kept down to the amount of two per cent on the turnover. The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Crerar) suggested that he would like constructive criticism, but he could not see any in the remarks made toy the hon. member for Wright (Mr. Devlin). He said that it ie not the intention nor the wish of the Government to interfere with or to set prices. As the representative of a farming constituency, I would like to point out to the minister that the farmer finds that the packer is allowed to make a profit not to exceed two per cent, which, as any lion, member knows*, is a greater percentage than he made during the last three years. If the minister will refer to the profits made by the packers he will find that they do not amount
to two per cent of the turnover. A packer will turn over his product, perhaps, once a month, or oftener, and if you multiply his profit toy twelve it amounts to much more than two per cent. The greatest packer of Chicago, Mr. Ogden Armour, states that their profits never exceed one per cent of the turnover. If this is not correct the minister will be alble to give the information to the House and to the country, but it is one of the things in which the country people are interested when the Government is asking them to produce more.
I.would like, at this point, to make a distinction, between the agriculturist and the farmer. My constituency is composed entirely of farmers. I once asked one of my constituents what was the difference between an agriculturist and a farmer. He said: The farmer works with his hands, and the agriculturist works with his mouth. We heard a good deal of that yesterday in, this House in connection with production. A great deal of advice is being handed out in .regard* to greater production. If you are going to regulate the price of wheat, and you say you do not believe prices should be regulated-wheat is the only article I know of, the price of which has been regulated toy the Food Board or by the Government-that naturally brings to the farmer's mind the idea that the price of his product in the raw state is being regulated, but that there is no regulation of the profits of the man who handles the manufactured article. The farmer has been told of great packing companies in this country who have made wonderful profits, and he is led to believe that that is allowed to go on after the commodity gets out of his handle. If this Food Board could do something to convince the farmer and the producer that he is being taken care of equally with the packer, that would be some help towards production.
We were glad to notice one of the few things of a constructive nature done by the Board. Their first action was to remove the duty from some farm implements. The Minister of Agriculture stated that the hon. member for Wright did not offer any constructive criticism. Will the minister advise this House that he thinks a reduction in the tariff on implements would be against the interest of production in this country? Does he not think that a cheaper implement to the farmer would be an aid to production? Would it not be an encouragement? It is my firm conviction that if we had free trade in implements with the United States it would be the means of get-
ting us a large number of immigrants from that country who would become producers on our western prairies. The fact that they have to pay so much more for implements in Canada than in the western States is more or less of a barrier to their coming to western Canada. At this time when we are looking for producers and increased production I was glad to hear the Minister of Agriculture say that he does not agree that the war is over. I think we have all insisted too much on the war being over to-morrow, and not making preparations for its continuing a year or two longer. I think we should bend every effort towards production and the winning of the war, let it end as soon as it will; it cannot end too soon for us. If we make our plans on the basis of its ending to-morrow, and it should continue a year or two longer, we ,are undoubtedly handicapped, whereas if we make our preparations on the basis of the war continuing some time, it will be .a gain to us even if it should end to-morrow. As far as constructive criticism is concerned, if we would seriously consider the question of cheaper implements for the farmer and cheapet production, it would be very much more beneficial to him than his added hour of daylight. We have a Bill before us to enable us to ibid our neighbours to the south the time of day on equal terms; I think we might go a little further and allow our farmers to procure their implements on equal terms with the farmers to the south of us.
Mr. Speaker, the debate, through the speeches which have already been made, has rohbed me of arguments which I intended to offer the House, and I shall therefore willingly curtail my remarks somewhat.
The question of the food supply which is raised by this motion involves considerations which are of the utmost importance both to our country and to our Allies. No other question, Sir, has stirred and aroused the people of Canada more fervently, moire deeply or more unanimously. This intense feeling which has been growing and spreading steadily since the outbreak of war may easily be explained by an impartial survey of conditions as they have existed and still exist in Canada at this time. On the one hand we have the prohibitive prices, which deny to the masses the very necessaries of life, with the accompanying hardships and misery. On the other hand we have the revolting disclosures that have been made from time to time concerning the hoarding of food, the cold storage opera-1SJ
tions, the nefarious greed of the profiteers. These, Sir, are the outstanding facts which cannot he denied. Mr. O'Connor has exposed them to the public. We had the story of the bacon manipulations; we had the egg disclosures; and more recently, and through another source, we heard of hundreds and hundreds of pounds of chicken left to rot in cold storage at Winnipeg. I hese may serve as illustrations of what i3 going on in Canada on a very large scale. Sir, in the face of such disclosures, nothing effective was done or attempted to be done by the Government to remedy snch an evil. Are we not tempted, Sir, to laud the patience of the Canadian people in the face of euch provocation from the men who daily exploit them', from the Government who refuses to protect them?
What has the Government done? A Food Board was created and a Food Controller was put in control. The Order in Council creating this board gave the Controller clearly defined powers. He had the right " to govern the prices of any article of food and to supervise the storage, .the distribution, the sale and the delivery of these articles." Why were not these powers exercised, exercised especially in the cases which have been brought to the attention of the public by the High Cost of Living Commissioner?
Instead of taking immediate steps to curtail this open exploitation of the public, the Government, through its commissioner, preferred to follow the easier course of preaching economy to the people. Under the circumstances which I have related, I say that these mere words, followed by no effective action, may have satisfied the cold storage magnates, but they certainly have not satisfied the people of this country.
We have in Canada an abundance of food, sufficient not only for our own needs, but the greater bulk of which is exported to allied countries. This brings me to another phase of this same question-the campaign of production which the Government has so fervently prosecuted of late. To this campaign all loyal Canadians will give their hearty support. We all recognize that upon the success of our devotion to food raising depends in a large measure the victory of our hoys at the front. We -know that the world faces to-day a food situation which is nothing short of appalling. We know that the supply is not sufficient to feed the world's armies, let alone the civilian population. But, Sir, this is not all. We have had occasion ^ to hear the representatives of. Britain making to us an appeal,-
an appeal which will surely be heard and responded to, and which has thrilled each one of us in a patriotic determination to strive every nerve to do what is requested of us. Lord Rhondda, the British food controller, for one, has made his plea quite clear. "We look," he says, "to the resources of Canada and the indomitable energy of Canadians for an answer that will shatter Germany's threat of starvation." He tells us, that it is vital for the United Kingdom and the Allies to obtain from Canada foodstuffs in far larger quantities than under peace conditions. His frankness even goes so far as to recall to us that an increased export of food supplies must be forthcoming, even though the achievement of this task entails diversion of,effort from other enterprises. It is Canada's duty to prove her efficiency and her determination. This plea must not be left unanswered. May I be permitted to confess that these words of the British food controller are comforting to those of us who through motives which cannot be challenged, opposed a measure which wre sincerely believed if put into operation would decidedly diminish if not defeat our effectiveness in this war, by laying aside the most formidable weapon which could have been used against the enemy. We faced a storm of abuse and slander, but these attacks did not deter us from what we believed was our plain duty. We have at least the consolation of knowing that our conception of duty was shared, in some measure at least, by the brightest minds of Britain. What we need to-day, is a larger acreage and higher yields for the years to come. We need to increase our productive capacity, the problem is with us, and it must be solved. Upon its solution, to my mind, depends the success of our allies and ourselves in this war. To achieve our purpose, it is obvious that we need farm labour. It is not less obvious that it is a national necessity that we should remove the duties on farming implements. The Government have started in their task by means of the registration of the man power of the Dominion. I believe that, though that is a good step in the right direction, it has come a little late; it should have been done at the very beginning of the war. Nevertheless, I sincerely hope, that in its results it may procure more information and attain better results for Canada and for the Empire than has been achieved by the now famous National Service cards of a year ago.
Mr. J. IE. FONTAINE (Hull) (translation) : Mr. Speaker, I am perhaps a little
audacious in rising to take part in this debate, since I have just entered this Parliament, and am in nowise familiar with Parliamentary procedure; nevertheless,
when the voters of Hull county, which I have the honour to represent, elected me by acclamation on the 19th of last November,
I gave them my solemn promise that I would seize upon every opportunity offered to protest against the exorbitant cost of living and try to bring it down if it were possible to do so. It was reserved, Mr. Speaker, for the right hon. leader of the Opposition, to afford me this opportunity in bringing about this debate this afternoon; for him who, in contrast to the hon. gentlemen seated on the other side of the House, has always been the protector and the defender of the people against the trusts and the monopolists.
It is useless, I believe, for me to say that the present cost of living has reached a price so high that the consumer is forced ti deprive himself even of necessaries of life. I could mention things, foods like flour, bacon, eggs, which have surely increased 50 and even 100 per cent. If, at least, Mr. Speaker, salaries had increased in proportion; but I see, by the reports of the Labour Gazette which I have here before me, that salaries have not been increased by more than 15 to 17i per cent. There has been a general protest. I remember, in the city of Hull, where I reside, on the other side of Ottawa, hearing Mr. Watters, the president of the Labour Unions of Canada, denounce the Minister of Labour (Mr.'Crothers) and even denounce the Prime Minister of this country because the workingmen could not procure the necessaries of life with the low salaries they were paid.
In the face of these protests the Government thought they would calm public opinion by appointing what they called a Food Controller, and it was then that the Government told us of the appointment of Mr. Hanna. Everybody was satisfied, the people believed that the .Government was sincere and that by their appointing a Food Controller we could at least earn enough to enable us to buy the necessaries of life. The irony of it, Mr. Speaker ! The Controller was well and duly appointed; he was given spacious offices, and it is said that his suite was furnished with luxury and that he was given a staff, both very numerous and very expensive-if I believe the gentlemen who have preceded me-and still he was not controlling; the cost of living was soaring all the time.
A moment ago I heard my hon. friend, the Minister of Customs, say that the appoint-
ment of the Controller did not aim at control. My iLord! we were well aware of it, he never did control! His duty consisted simply in seeing that no food was wasted. Could he have forgotten what my hon. friend from Meg-antic (Mr. Pacaud) said a while ago? Haven't we learned, in the last few days, through the newspapers, that a large ..quantity of foodstuffs, hoarded in storage warehouses in order to boost prices, had been sent to the incinerator in the city of Winnipeg? Well! if the duty of the Food Controller was to prevent the waste of foodstuffs, why did he allow such .an enormous quantity of food to find its way to the garbage heap? Is it because those implicated are the friends of the Government? I ask you that, Mr. Speaker.
My hon. friend brings to mind the name of a certain Mr. Flavelle. I remember that it was precisely this name Mr. Watters who gave us, ait Hull, the history of this fellow Flavelle; he even told us that he was at the head of the William Davies Company ,and that he had found a way to make millions of profit while the people were starving to death. It seems to me, then, Mr. Speaker, that when the Government asks the people to subscribe to War Loans; when they ask the people to give generously to the Patriotic Fund and to the Red Cross; while they continue to crush the people with taxes, it seems to me, I .say, that the people have at least the right to be protected by their Government, and still the Government has not given them this protection.
N'ow, Mr. Speaker, if I have properly understood the hon. minister when Mr. Hanna had disappeared from the scene as Food Controller, he was replaced by three Controllers. Will they control more than their predecessor did? I do not know, but I may say without fear of error, that in the city of Hull, which I have the honor to represent, and which is essentially a city of working-people, the price of food has not been reduced one single cent. I wonder why the Government does not fix a maximum price for certain articles of food as it has done for newsprint. Was it led to take this action through fear of the press, or to compensate .the newspaper proprietors nearly every single one of whom supported the Union Government? So I think it is high time, and even imperative that something was done in this matter.
Perhaps my friends on the other side of the House will accuse me of disloyalty because I speak of this question " in War Time " as they say. I would say in reply to these gentlemen that we on this side represent the principles of Liberalism and that we have as much at heart as any one the ultimate victory of the Allies. Each and every one of us, Mr. Speaker, holds that Belgium must be restored, each and every one of us desires that Old France and the British flag will be the victors in this conflict! But more than that, what we want is that the people who bear and who will continue to bear the burden of this war, be protected by the Government.
I forgot that the House met at two o'clock to-day, and, therefore, I had not the pleasure of listening to the speech of my right hon. friend opposite (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), but I have followed the debate since
5 p. m. I came into the chamber. I may say that I have been a member of this House for nine years, and if a humble member of the rank and file may compliment a minister, I should like to say very sincerely that I have not listened to a more able speech than that delivered by the hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Crerar). He will in due time develop into a powerful speaker. The hon. minister is an old friend of mine. In fact, so persuasive was he, Sir, that at one time while he was talking I said to myself: Almost thou persuadest me to be a controller. That is rather a difficult task. I objected yesterday to any control being placed upon the time at which I got up or went to bed. There are other things about the life of the country that have been controlled the controlling of which did not meet with my absolute approval. In regard to this particular fact, there wag advanced by the Minister of Agriculture a very strong plea of justification of, at any rate, some of the work of the Board. If they had done nothing more than organize the arrangement hy which these twenty-five thousand boys are going to work on the farms this summer, then I think that their existence as a Board has received some justification. There is a further argument that was presented by my right hon. friend the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden) the other day as to the amount of organization needed whereby large sume of money are to be diverted to the provinces, to be spent in the various provinces along rational methods, under the control of very able men, with a view to promoting pro-
duction in western Canada. But I should like, as far as any words of mine can reach the Food Board through the Government or through the press, to eay to them very sincerely: " For goodness sake, whatever
you do, control your expense, and also control your controlling." II find myself in absolute agreement with an old friend, who now is honoured by being the chief whip on the other side of the House (Mr. Robb), as to the difficulties of the regulation of prices. It is an extremely difficult process, and I understand, as far as I have been told the facts of the question, that what my hon. friend opposite said about it is correct, that it is an attempt at work that has 'broken down in [many, many cases in the other belligerent countries on the continent of Europe. It is against the fundamental laws of economies, and even in war time it is extremely difficult to go against law. We would create more havoc than we would do good. There is a more excellent way than controlling and the fixing of prices.
I am very glad to have the endorsation of my right hon. friend. I did not have it in the election, but in his heart he was not very much opposed to me. I still share with him very fully a great distaste of anything in the nature of control and a very great love of anything in the nature of freedom.
My right hon. friend anticipated what I was going to say. The free way is the more excellent way, and it is freedom that we are all fighting for at the present moment. It is one of the mischievous results of this war that we have become, or at any rate we think we have become, autocrats ourselves to put down autocrats. I think that one could in some measure establish that position. Because, after all is said and done, if a man is coming to knock you on the head with a bludgeon, and you refuse to use the bludgeon in your own hand, you are going to come very badly out of that contest, and your strict adherence to the principles of pacificism would work out very badly for your cranium.
Yes, even the principle of freedom can be carried too far. I do want to say in reference to the subject that my right hon. friend is raising, that it has met a very large body of opinion which is distressed, and distressed
in the most practical way, by what is one of the greatest evils we have in Canada at the present moment, and that is the enormous cost of living to a large number of our people who live on very narrow incomes in our large centres of population. Tme cost of living is a very real evil in the large centres of population, and it is a real evil that grows up in spite of the Food Control Board. That, I understand, was the position which was brought out in the speech which I had the misfortune to miss hearing. In any case, that position is distressing and is exercising the minds of our people.
Now, it goes without saying that we shall not only help the war but we Shall lower the cost of living if we increase' production. I want to make two practical suggestions in the most serious spirit, and in a spirit most desirous of being helpful to the Government-I made a great many suggestions to the previous Government to which they did not pay any attention. I want to make a suggestion which I made in my Budget lemarks last year, however, and which I repeated in a parenthesis in the remarks I made on conscription. I am going to make this suggestion with very considerable confidence, because I am perfectly sure that my strongest supporter will be the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir George Foster). I cannot understand why, having regard to the cost ef living, the Government does not at once take the bold step of putting all articles of food on the free list. I cannot understand why they do not do it. I am perfectly serious in the matter; I said so in the Budget debate of last year, and I gave some reasons, reasons which I know will appeal to my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce. They must appeal to him. I pointed out, Mr. Speaker, that in the very first weeks of the war Germany- the first precedent that my hon. friend mentioned yesterday about daylight saving was derived from Germany-Germany, a strong protectionist country, swept the duties off almost all her foodstuffs. She knew all the difficulties that the war would tring about in connection with her food supply. She knew the trouble she was going to have to get food for her people. She knows it better to-day. And she swept the duties off foodstuffs in the very first days of the war. Her example was followed by almost every other country in Europe, whether belligerent or neutral. Britain did not need to do it, because she had the good sense to sweep the duties off foodstuffs, whether in war or peace, seventy years ago.
Now, my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce is up against his own precedent of yesterday. Is the precedent of Germany and these other countries only good for daylight saving? I submit to his judgment that it is equally good for free food. I say, in courteous language, that I hope he will stand up to his own thinking, and to his own precedents, and press this matter before the Budget. There would be no use my mentioning this matter on the Budget; of course, once the Government has brought its Budget down, it must stand by it. Therefore, I want to be in time, and I am very sincere in this matter, in offering these observations, and in calling for the support of my right hon. friend at least in this simple .suggestion. It may be said that it would not have much affect on the price of food. Well, we have a right to the advantage of a trial. _
And I regret another of my hon. friend's arguments yesterday, and the arguments of many others who supported the proposition, when they said: This change in the clock cannot do any harm anyhow; it is an experiment, and one supported by the precedent of these foreign countries. I submit that free food is in identically the same position; we have the precedent of these other countries for it, and if it does not do any good to the people of the towns, at any rate it will not do any harm, and you can take the duties off food just as you dealt with time in the matter of daylight saving. I think the parallel is an absolutely perfect one, and I am sure that my hon. friend (Sir George Foster), for whom I have the very greatest regard, and who 1 am glad to see in hie old fighting form in this House, is getting his thinking cap on in regard to it.
I have another simple suggestion to offer to the House in regard to the question of production. -Cheap food is good, plentiful food is good, anidl plentiful food means inevitably too cheap food. The method by which I suggest that we should help the increased production of food is the simple one cf placing all agricultural implements upon the free list. That would toe an act of justice to the farmer, because if you place all food on the free list you take every vestige of protection, in the technical sense, -from the farmer, and he surely has a logical claim to turn round and say to Parliament and* the Government: If you expect me to produce more foodstuffs of all kinds in open competition with all the producers of the world, without the help of any protection, then in the name of common justice, afford me the encouragement to give* you this increased production by granting me free implements with which to do it. That is a just, an equitable, a logical arrangement, and I think it would he an admirable experiment. It would have the element of courage in it, tooi, though perhaps not very much courage, seeing that it is supported all along the line by those precedents which led my hon. friend (Sir George Foster) so heroically to stay with that subject of daylight saving. I am a farmer myself, with three sons in khaki and only one left at home, and working like a nigger myself in all the time I had left to work after the multitudinous talk of last summer and the equally multitudinous talk of the election. We have done considerable producing; but we are prepared to face the competition of the world, as far as I am concerned. My three sons in khaki are fighting for freedom in Europe, and I believe in it here. I am prepared to support my views here with the same British courage with which my sons are supporting their views and principles upon the firing line, and I think there are a great many farmers like that in western Canada. We do not fear free food in western Canada. We are such good Canadians, and we believe so much in our country, that we know we can produce the stuff that will baffle competition anywhere. Just as our boys on the firing line are at the top of the tree for courage-because that is one part of the British line; they cannot even bend, let alone break it, so the farmers in the West are prepared to carry this principle of free food) into the legislation of the country, but they follow that up 'by saying: Give us free implements wherewith to produce. I once heard a lecturer, Sir, when I was younger than I am now, on the inhabitability of the planets round us, and the lecturer went far to prove that really there were inhabitants on the planet Mars. In later years I have thought often of that lecturer, and if I had any good reason for it I would like to go to Mars, should there be people there, and meet its inhabitants. I would like to meet the people of Mars to see if there is anybody so foolish on that planet as to suppose that a good method of increasing your production is to increase the .cost of the implements, by which you produce. It seems so- ridiculous on the face of it. If a man. came fr'oim Mans who had not dealt with problems of this kind, who had an open mind and was free from prejudice on the matter, I would not he afraid, even if he passed through Toronto on his way, to convince him in a few minutes that one
of the easiest ways to increase production of food would be to make food free and to free from diuty the implements with which to do your producing.
I submit to the House and to the Government that, so far as the farmers of this country are concerned, especially the farmers of western Canada-and I have good hopes that there is going to be union of thought between the farmers of western Canada and the farmers of Ontario on -more things than the war-we should be given this opportunity of increasing production. And I was going to say, to finish the sentence as I began it, that the appeals to these farmers will fall upon deaf ears from a Government which persists in refusing to supplement its demand that the farmers should increase their production by giving them greater facilities, by making cheaper those implements1 with which they produce. What is the sense of stopping at tractors? There is no logic or sense in stopping there. Go the limit on this question; let ns have free implements all round. Then we will produce and produce hard enough and fast enough. I must not leave this point, without clinching it and completing it as far as I know how, by referring once more to the fondness which exists in the Cabinet, which rules this country at the present moment, for precedent, and even for precedent as they find it in the United States. My hon. friend the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Crerar) has justified the Control Board and the expenditure of that Board, 'by the existence of a similar hoard and the expenditures made by that hoard in the United States. Daylight saving in Canada was justified by the Minister of Trade and Commerce yesterday -and he did not justify it in any other way that I can see-hy referring to the precedent of the United States and of the other countries of Europe. The logic is unbreakable. They have got free implements in the United States. For years and years the protectionists of this country used to say: it would he all very well to give you these free implements, hut look at the tariff that is against us in that country. That argument has now gone, by the wise legislation of the United States. You have the precedent of the States on that, as on other two things to which I have referred', and I want to bring this argument to bear upon my hon. .frieni the Minister of Trade and Commerce. I do not think the Prime Minister will he hard to persuade if the number of his colleagues in favour of this salutary measure is sufficient.
I will be very glad, indeed, to have my hon. friend smash my logic to atoms. I am glad he is here, and I hope he will speak immediately I take my seat, but he might make a better speech after he has read what I have said. I ask him, when he does speak, to say how the precedent of the United States can ibe good in daylight saving and in the matter of the Food Control Board, and bad in the matter of agricultural implements, and I should like him especially to tell me how he would convince that travelling inhabitant of the planet Mars that the way to increase food production is by making the implements by which to produce it dear.
I have spoken very sincerely, from convictions of a lifetime's duration on this subject. As 'a strong supporter and a well-wisher of the Union Government in the one specific and great purpose for which it was formed, I appeal to that Government to give earnest consideration to the remarks that I have ventured to address to them. I have come to the stage, Mr. Speaker, when I think it is well that we should all think this war may last longer than some of ns hoped. The longer the war is going to last, the stronger my arguments are. The longer the war is going to last, the more the problem must be grasped of raising all the magnificent amounts that can be raised from those boundless tracts of arable land that We have in western Canada. Let the war be long or short, we are in it to the finish, and we are in it to win it. I submit respectfully to this House that even a patriot like the member for Brantford (Mr. Coek-shutt) will not shrink from the sacrifice of giving awiay the petty duty on his implements if it is going to help to produce more and to win the war.
to increase production in preference to anything else, and in connection with that it is our duty also to .increase transportation facilities, because, without adequate transportation facilities, increased production will be of very little avail.
Mr. W. F. COCK SHUT* (Brantford):
From this same spot a few moments ago, came some arguments to which I cannot quite assent, and I think perhaps I might be misunderstood if I did not place on Hansard my views in opposition to the speech made by the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Michael Clark). He has taken upon himself to give the Union Government a little advice, and although 'I believe he is a thorough supporter of the Union Government, I do not know that he is aniy more [DOT] a supporter of it than I am, and I would advise the Union Government not to follow the advice given by the hon. member for Red Deer to-day.