March 31, 1922

LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I think you are quite right in that respect. We find it pretty difficult to keep up with our work just now, and with reference to the item I read a few moments ago " New positions and promotions," we expect to promote one of the officials, and put him into a higher grade. He will begin at the bottom salary, and get automatic increases for two or three years, whatever the various steps may be, and this $4,000 will take care of that. I do not know exactly why it was put in at such a low rate. It is a

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new position entirely, and the salary range has not been fixed, we just simply put it in at that figure until such time as we could put it through the Civil Service Commission, with the salary raised and all that sort of thing. It is rather complex and difficult to understand. I have been trying to grasp it for the last three months and I am in my A B C's yet, but I think I understand a little more about it than I did when I began. It is one of the most complicated pieces of machinery I ever saw.

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

I am not finding

fault with the salary. I do not think you will be able to get a competent man for that salary.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I do not think

so.

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

And I think my

friends from the West hardly realize the importance of it to us in the East. We use a ton of fertilizer to the acre to produce a crop of potatoes, we pay as high as $100 a ton for the fertilizer, and it sometimes proves very unsatisfactory. I think you will understand the necessity of having a good man as a fertilizer expert. I know a hundred farmers in one locality absolutely refused to pay for the fertilizer two years ago, because it not only did not produce a crop, but it destroyed the soil. They were to pay $100 a ton for it, and they used a ton an acre. Some of the men ploughed it in, and sowed grain in the soil. Others left a few potato plants in the ground and did not get any results. The fertilizer company entered action against one man as a test case to collect the price of the fertilizer and seventy odd farmers combined to fight the case, and put up the money. Yet the fertilizer company has not brought the case to trial, although it is two years old. A sum amounting to $70,000 is involved in the matter between the farmers and the fertilizer company. I hope when the ministers new fertilizer bill comes down, it will cover the case more fully than the old act did. Last year I brought up an amendment to the Fertilizer Act, in an endeavour to remedy this condition. It received its first and second readings; it was referred to the Committee on Agriculture by the then Prime Minister; it was unanimously endorsed by that committee; but notwithstanding that fact and the fact that the committee reported it back to the House at least a month before Parliament prorogued, the government failed to bring my bill up for third reading. I da not know whether the reason was because the representatives of the fertilizer company, who came and fought the bill before the Agriculture Committee, stayed around a week longer lobbying in the House. I noticed that the next day after the Agriculture Committee had reported the bill back, they were going around with long faces. I think the barber must have charged them half a dollar to shave them that morning, their faces were so long. Their faces shortened gradually during that week, and they finally went away with broad smiles. My bill was not brought up for third reading, which is merely a matter of form and takes a very short time in the House, and accordingly it lapsed. When the ministers new fertilizer bill comes down, I hope it will cover the subject very fully. I also hope he will be able to get an expert, through whom the farmers will be able to get some redress in a case like that I have spoken of.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I will promise my hon. friend that the Agriculture Committee will have full opportunity to deal with this bill when it comes down, because it is my intention to refer the bill directly to the committee. I am disposed to think this salary will not get the party desired. I had an explanation from Dr. Grisdale before he was waylaid in Ottawa the other night and was so maltrfeated that he was not able to get around for some time. There was some special reason why he thought at that time he could get a man for the salary; but inasmuch as there is an appropriation to provide for a probable increase, I think we shall be able to meet the situation. We do not want any third-rate man; there is no place in the department or anywhere else for poor men. If you are going to get a good man and if you wish to retain him, you must pay a good salary I forget why this salary was put at $1,920 but there is some provision for the highei rate, if we get the consent of the Civil Service Commission, and I think we shall.

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PRO

John Millar

Progressive

Mr. MILLAR:

Perhaps it might be appropriate just now to go back to the first part of the session when we had a number of speeches in the debate on the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne. Many congratulations were offered. I am going to congratulate the leader of this Government (Mr. Mackenzie King) on securing such a man as the present Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell). Perhaps

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it is appropriate that I should do so because we lived within a few miles of each other over thirty years ago, and I have known him ever since. I think I may say that, amongst the men that were available at that time to fill this position, I know of no man who commands the respect and confidence of the people of Saskatchewan amongst all classes, not only Liberals, but Progressives and Conservatives, to the same degree as the present Minister of Agriculture.

I was going to ask a simple question. I was quite interested in the remarks about rust. I thought it was significant that the minister connected his remarks about filling the position of plant pathologist and the salary required to get the proper man, with the fact that there were only two or three on the continent who could successfully cope with the question of rust. From the minister's knowledge, what chance does he think there is of successfully coping with the rust question? The losses are enormous, and I was rather of the opinion that, so far, there was no one who could successfully cope with this great evil. I thought, perhaps, from the minister's remarks to-night he had some inkling that they were making some headway and had some chance of finding a remedy.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Before answering my hon. friend's question, I should like to express my appreciation of his very kind remarks with respect to myself. I can remember the time, not so long ago, when my hon. friend was the first secretary of the Territorial Grain Growers' Association, including Saskatchewan and Alberta, and I was the president for the first five years of its existence. I can appreciate my hon. friend's very kind remarks in connection with our relations in those days. I do not exactly know how it has come about that this aisle is between us at the present time, but we shall look forward to the time when, perhaps, the distance between us will be lessened.

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PRO
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Referring more

particularly to the question of rust investigations, I may say that progress has been somewhat slow. I can recall now, over fifty years ago, my first experience of rust in Ontario, more particularly with respect to winter wheat. It was looked upon as a very mysterious visitation; it was thought to be associated with climatic conditions. Certain days were then spoken of as "rusty"

days. Intermittent blinks of sunshine and rain, calm, warm, murky nights and mornings, we knew, were conducive to the development of this parasitic spore. Of later years we came to the conclusion that we knew very little about it, and now our research men are investigating in all directions to find some remedy for it. They seem to think the remedy is along the line of plant resistance, of breeding a wheat plant of sufficient resistance to fight off the attack itself. Just as Dr. Saunders, by plant breeding, discovered a wheat known as "Marquis," somewhat similar to, but very much earlier than the old "Red Fife," so it is thought there may be discovered a wheat plant that will be able to resist the ravages of this rust fungus. I saw in the local papers the other day some American research workers had discovered a smut-resisting wheat, and I am sure some of my hon. friends must have noticed it. Smut has sometimes been referred to as a twin brother or sister of rust, although there is no relation between the two, but it is one of our enemies in the West more particularly. It is thought, if these researches are taken up exhaustively, we shall be able to discover a rust-resisting wheat and other rust-resisting cereal plants. Just the same as animals are resistant ti disease, as has been well established, sc plants are also resistant, some more so than others, to diseases of this nature. I may say to the hon. member for Qu'Appelle, that the progress in that direction has not been very rapid. We have made the discovery, that in the West these invasions usually start down about the Gulf of Mexico in the spring of the year. In another two or three weeks, you will have the wheat planted; in fact, it will be green there now. If they have a severe attack of rust down in Oklahoma and around the gulf, about the beginning or middle of May, and later on in Kansas, it is almost certain that western Canada will have an attack sooner or later. Sometimes, it occurs so late in the season that it does not do very much harm. If it starts sufficiently early down in the south, it has to travel, and travel against the prevailing winds; it comes up through the Dakotas and Minnesota, into part of Saskatchewan, but mainly into Alberta. By the time it gets that far west or northwest the grain is ripe and safe from its ravages. How it travelled had always been a mystery, but experiments made with balloons showed that at an altitude of three or four miles the rust spores travel

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in the cross currents going in an opposite direction to the currents at a lower level. Those spores have been found fertile even at that altitude. That will explain in a measure how rust travels so rapidly in a northwesterly direction against the prevailing wind. We know that it does travel, and that it is more or less epidemic. Once it gets started it develops very fast even though the climatic conditions may not be very favourable to it: but

if the climatic conditions in the south are favourable, it gets to the northern latitude before the harvest is over. Experiments so far have not led to any particular conclusions; we are feeling our way and are getting sufficient foundation material to know in what direction to act, but it will take some years to reach this stage. Up until quite recently we knew very little about this pest. This much, however, has been established, that the barberry bush is the intermediary or host-plant that makes it possible for this fungus growth to develop. Without the barberry it is questionable if it could find another host-plant to serve its purpose. Therefore, wherever we find the barberry bush we would be well advised to look upon it as a noxious weed and destroy it. As a matter of fact some of the western provinces are now treating the barberry bush as a noxious weed.

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

Is the Department of Agriculture carrying on any work with the object of combating the ravages of the spruce bud moth of eastern Canada? All over the maritime provinces and Quebec the situation is becoming very serious.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I am almost

ashamed to admit that the only way in which we are taking care of that extensive work is by the addition of this one lone entomologist we spoke of a moment ago. That is one of the many requirements that we have to attend to; there is no question about that. When my hon. friend on my left (Mr. Fielding) gets his revenues in a more buoyant condition I will apply to him and may get an appropriation for a good many more entomologists. The ravages of this spruce bud worm are tremendous, and arte measured not in tens of millions of dollars but in hundreds of millions. I was given the information by a gentleman recently, but the figures are so alarming that I hesitate to quote them. This matter comes under the Department of the Interior, but there is a certain amount of interchange of work, and on request from

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that department we do a certain amount of scouting for the purpose of discovering where the invasions of this pest are most threatening so the lumbermen may cut the timber before it is quite destroyed. We are not doing much, but we have to cut our coat according to the cloth. I do not think that is a good policy in this case, and I would1 certainly 'like to giet more cloth somehow or other. The next war, it is said, must be against insect life. The hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Gould) I do not think is unduly alarmed at all, for he comes from a district which by dear experience knows the ravages made by insect pests.

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

Are the provinces taking up this work themselves?

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LIB
PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

Is the Department of Agriculture co-operating with them?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Yes.

Mr. CALDWjELL: The hon. minister speaks of the loss in dollars, but it cannot be computed in dollars at all. I think we hardly realize what it means to eastern Canada if the spruce bud moth continues its ravages. Unless it can be checked there will be no pulp to make paper and no lumber to build houses. The spruce forests of eastern Canada are different from those of the West, where I have also spent a considerable time. The spruce is a perpetual growth, the trees varying from the size of one's arm up to the largest sizes, all being intermingled, and as the large trees are cut the young growth develop and give a crop of lumber every ten years upon the same ground. But in New Bruswiclc-and I know that province best-it is estimated that 50 per cent of the standing spruce, both large and small, has been killed already by the spruce bud moth, which means that for generations to come this land will be barren, it being generally unfit for agriculture, and simply a lumber preserve. Our spruce forests are what the province of New Brunswick derives its revenue from almost absolutely, and I think the Dominion Government will be well advised to take some steps to explore the possibility of combating this menace. It looks to me to be a big problem. I have seen the air full of these moths fluttering around the tops of our spruce trees, and as a result of their ravages you will notice the buds turn red as if they had been scorched, and the tree dies in one or two years. It is not merely a matter of dollars and cents; the preservation of the future supply of our

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lumber for building, for pulp and paper, and for other uses is involved.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

The maritime

provinces and Quebec are taking steps to preserve their forests, and a fairly extensive reforestation plan is being carried out in Quebec now. This is such an interesting subject that I may be excused, Mr. Chairman, if I refer to the Main Estimates *-and this will also relieve the anxiety of my hon. friend from Assiniboia-where it will, be found that provision is made for dealing with other insect pests. At page 22 we have an appropriation for the administration and enforcement of the Destructive Insect Pests Act. In the present temper of the country I might be subject to some criticism if this vote was not for such an urgent purpose, as it will be noted that last year the vote was $190,000, as against $235,000 this year, or an increase of $45,-

000. But that will be found rather small, too, when we come to apply it to the enormous task we are discussing, the fight against these hew insect pests, because, Mr. Chairman, the last four or five years have been so dry not only in the West but also in the East, that a lot of new insect enemies have been developed that we never heard of before. In other words, if you change the climate you change the insect pests. The result is we have to meet the situation with a new vote for that branch which will come up later on.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Mr. Chairman, if the pleasant exchange of compliments between the minister and the governmental supporters on this side is finished-

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LIB
CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

-I would

suggest that it is a good time to adjourn.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Carry the Estimates.

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March 31, 1922