But I stayed where I was, believing in the common people, still retaining the beliefs that I held when I came here, and which he also held at that time. I have stood where I was; he has advanced. Perhaps he imbibed a different spirit after coming down here. Believing, as I did, that certain things were in the interests of my country, I have been satisfied to stay where I still am, rather than attempt to follow my right hon. friend to the high position which he now holds. However, in all fairness to my right hon. friend I will say that only by his energy and his industry has he attained the highest honour Canada can give him, and if that position is to be held by any hon. member on the opposite side of the House, I do not believe there is anybody more deserving or more fitted to hold it than my right hon. friend.
I also wish to extend my congratulations to the mover and seconder of the Address. In my observation extending over fifteen sessions I have never seen that duty performed in a more creditable and able manner. But my reason for rising to-night, Mr. Speaker, is not particularly to congratulate the mover and seconder of the
Address, but rather to offer some observations on certain features of the debate.
The hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Reid) discussed some grievances from which the western farmer suffered and dealt with the matter of the car shortage in that country, The hon. member pointed out that there was a shortage of equipment on the Canadian National railways and that the farmers suffered a great deal in consequence. I agree with every statement he made in that regard. The hon. member for Battle River (Mr. Blair) followed the hon. member for Mackenzie, but he seemed to think that the disadvantages the western producers laboured under were due to the operations in grain. The hon. gentleman delivered a splendid speech. It was his maiden effort and I congratulate him upon it. But he must know better than to advance such an argument as he did. He and I were on two delegations that met the Prime Minister when he visited the city of Edmonton last fall.
The great grievance complained of then was not the spread in prices, or the matter in which the grain business was handled, but the car shortage. Had there been in the proper sense of the term adequate railway equipment, the spread of prices which the hon. gentleman mentioned would not have cut any figure at all. The producers were in the independent position that they would not have needed to deal with the line elevators, and might have ignored the street prices; they could have shipped their grain independently if they could have got the cars they needed. Had sufficient cars been available they would not have been affected by the spread in prices; they could have shipped their grain to the terminal elevators and sold it there. The hon. Minister of Railways (Mr. J. D. Reid) has made the statement that he ordered about double the number of cars contracted for by the Canadian Pacific Railway and had done twice as much as that company to relieve the congestion. Well, if that were the case, and if the cars were available, they certainly did not reach our part of the country. Every western member knows that the congestion of cars was felt all along the line of the Canadian National, Railways. We were told by the General Superintendent at Edmonton that with the equipment possessed by the Canadian National Railways it would take three years to move the crop according to the estimates he had received. My hon. friend from Battle River was present at the meeting and heard Mr. Brown make the statement.
A demand has been made for a new Grain Commission to be appointed to deal with the existing difficulties. As my hon. friend from Red Deer pointed out, we already have a Grain Commission composed of men of ten or twelve years' experience. Surely another commission is not needed to deal with the matter. However, the point upon which I wish to lay stress is that had sufficient cars been available the spread of prices complained of would not have bothered the producers and they could have sold their grain in the open market. I raised considerable grain myself last year, in fact I come from a section where their was a bumper crop. We are holding that grain to-day because we could not dispose of it by reason of the lack of adequate equipment on the Canadian National railways.
The real grievance of the West to-day along the Canadian National Railway lines is lack of equipment. The member for Battle River (Mr. Blair) knows well that the prices are from seven to ten cents higher in the districts covered by the Canadian Pacific than they are along the Canadian National railways, because it is recognized that along the Canadian Pacific, where proper equipment is available, the grain will be brought out in the early part of the season, so that advantage can be taken of lake transportation. The suggestion on the part of my hon. friend from Macdonald (Mr. Henders) and other hon. gentlemen opposite that the great detriment to the producers in the West has been the spread of prices and that kind of thing is only a bugaboo; the real difficulty arises from car shortage. The hon. member for Battleford (Mr. Wright) was present at the meeting when Mr. Brown stated that if the estimate of this year's crop was correct, the Canadian National could not move it out with their equipment in less than three years. I would like to know how many farmers will go very far in the matter of production next year under circumstances such as these. Let hon. gentlemen who represent the western districts forget their party affiliations and truly represent the sections of the country from which they come; it is a simple matter.
There may be a great deal that is wrong about the grain business, and if a commission can be appointed that will make things better for the producer, why, I am willing to support anything that could be done along that line. But I take the same view as that expressed by the member for Red Deer (Mr. M. Clark), when he suggests
that there is no reason why we should appoint one commission to investigate the doings of another. We already have a commission on the job; why appoint another to find out some imaginary wrongs, particularly when every producer knows what the real cause of the trouble is. We can get away from grain commissions altogether if we have proper transportation facilities for the shipment of our grain to the open market. The Minister of Railways says he has put into commission double the number of cars that the Canadian Pacific have put on their road. Well, if he has, they are not in evidence.
Some hon. members have spoken of redistribution. I want to make an honest statement in regard to this. Everybody will agree that the West is not bothering very much about redistribution. In fact, the West believe that they are not properly represented in the House to-day. There are very few members here to-day who represent the actual sentiment of the West. Who believes that hon. gentlemen from the West on the Government side represent the views of the people of the West? Nobody believes it. The real sentiment of the West to-day is represented on this side, not only by the two Liberal members from the West, but by what is called the Progressive group. They represent western opinion; there is no doubt about that-and the Government know it; let them test it and find out. The views of the West to-day are very well expressed by the Calgary Albertan, which says: We would like to have more representation in the West, but we would rather take a chance right now than wait to see how many more representatives we might have. No one will have the audacity to stand up and say that hon. gentlemen sitting behind the Treasury Benches represent the voice of the West.
What is this Agrarian group to my left? Ho you not think, Sir, that this is a body of intelligent men who, when they found that they were not representing public opinion, left their party and crossed over to this side? No better evidence than that could be offered of their intelligence. I do not contend that I, as a Liberal, represent the whole sentiment of the West; there is no doubt that others were wise enough to know what public sentiment was, and when they found out that the people were not satisfied with the Government, they crossed over to this side. They did not cross over to this side to defy the electors of their constituencies; they crossed over because they considered they were f Mr. W. H. White.]
the servants of the people. When they found that the people had no confidence in the Government, as honest, sincere representative's of the people, they followed public opinion and cut thmselves free from hon. gentlemen opposite. Nobody can believe anything else to be the case.
In conclusion, I want to say that, perhaps not in a very eloquent manner, but in the simple language that comes easy to me, I have tried to make an honest statement to both sides of the House. Although I know hon. gentlemen opposite are looking for their support to other sections of the country than that from which I come, I am trying as honestly as I can to represent the views and sentiments of the people who sent me here.