I observe that the Finance Minister (Mr. Fielding) is now in the Chamber. Perhaps he will be able to tell us, approximately at any rate, when we may expect the Budget.
DATE OF THE BUDGET
On the Orders of the Day:
Hon. W. S. FIELDING (Minister of Finance) :
I am afraid I cannot gratify the reasonable curiosity of my hon. friend by mentioning a particular date. I realize that the session is moving on and that we should all like to have the Budget at a not distant date. I will try to bring it forward at a time when my hon. friend will feel the delay has not been unreasonable.
Within the next
It is always embarrassing to tie oneself to dates.
It was equally embarrassing when the hon. gentleman himself used to insist, and when we complied.
I think I can make a contract, that I will bring down the Budget this session as early as my hon. friend opposite did a year ago.
House again in Committee of Supply, Mr. Gordon in the chair.
Department of Agriculture-Dive stock,
I desire to take up a few minutes of the time of the House on a matter of great importance to the electors in my district, and, in fact, of great
interest to the country as a whole. With the permission of the House I will read a resolution passed unanimously by the County Council of Napierville:
At a regular meeting of the Municipal Council of the County of Napierville, held in the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court, in the Village of Napierville, at ten o'clock in the forenoon, the eighth of March, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-two, in accordance with the provisions of the Municipal Code, at which were present Messrs. Hilaire Damarre, Esquire, Mayor of the Municipality of the Village of St. Kemi; Alfred Marcil, Esquire, Mayor of the Municipality of the Village of St. Michel Archange; Wilfrid Gadouas, Esquire, Mayor of the Municipality of the Village of Napierville; Dosithde Pay ant, Esquire, Mayor of the Municipality of the Parish of 'St. Patrice de Sherrington ; Edouard Mailloux, Esquire, Mayor of the Municipality of the parish of St. Cyprien de D6ry and Warden of the County of Napierville, constituting a quorum under the chairmanship of the Warden.
"It is moved by Mr. Dosithfie Payant, seconded by Councillor Alfred Marcil, that a request be made to the Honourable the Minister of Agriculture, at Ottawa, to place an embargo upon the exportation of manure from Canada to the United States of America: which exportation is calculated to do injury to the gardening industry of this country, to lessen the crops in general throughout Canada; that copies of this request be sent to the Honourable the Minister of Agriculture at Ottawa, also to the Hon. Roch Danctot, Federal Member for the County." Resolution passed.
Edouakd Mailloux, Warden.
Jos. E. Dupont, Sec. Treas.
A true copy extract from the minute-book of the Municipal Council of the County of Napierville. Given at Napierville, Que., in my office, the 14th March, 1922.
Jos. E. Dupont, Sec. Treas.
Some ten years ago the farmers of my county, and of the county adjoining, could buy manure in Montreal and have it delivered to their local station for $13 to $15 a car. At the present time we have to pay from $50 to $52 per car. It is true, the freight has increased in that time from $6 a car to $13 a car. Hon. gentlemen will see that the freight charge has more than doubled, but the cost of the manure to us has increased about four-fold. The manure output of Montreal is practically controlled by one man, Mr. LeFebvre. This gentleman was a resident of my own riding for about twenty-five years, but has been in Montreal for a number of years now. For a time he supplied hay to the Canadian Pacific Railway-that is to say, to the Dominion Transport company which performs transport work for the Canadian Pacific in Montreal. Later he built sidings on the several railways at such points as Hochelaga, Point St. Charles, and other freight terminals of Montreal, and erected
platforms to facilitate the loading of manure on the cars. The big cartage concerns that handle the manure of the stockyards can take the manure to the sidings and load it into the cars from Mr. Le-Febvre's platforms. In the case of smaller stables whose proprietors have no dump-carts, it is the practice to call up Mr. Le-Febvre's office to haul away the manure as it accumulates. For this service Mr. LeFebvre is paid, as any carter would be paid, $1 or $2 a load. I do not complain about that, but what I do complain about is that Mr. LeFebvre is more lucky than any farmer in this Parliament or in Canada, because since he has been in that line of business he has improved his position by having a wider market, in the United States. There is a man not far from Rouse's Point named Mr. Miner, who buys from Mr. LeFebvre any amount of cars of manure for his farm, and I do not think there is a farm in Canada equal to Mr. Miner's farm. He has at least twelve to fifteen thousand acres. I am told he is worth many million dollars, and he wants to improve his land and produce vegetables of all kinds for the big New York market. He has got the money to do it. We farmers in my part of the country cannot afford to compete with Mr. Miner, because we have not got the millions. It is true that, during war-time, we had to buy the manure from Mr. LeFebvre at any price, because we needed it. Potatoes were selling at a very high price for two or three years, and at that time the farmers could afford to pay a big price for manure. But, as we have often been told in this House since the opening of this session, prices of commodities and especially of farm products have declined. At present prices we cannot make the raising of vegetables as profitable as it used to be. What will be the result if we are not able to stop that gentleman sending out the manure that costs him practically nothing? I say it is not the Liberal policy. Some of my friends have remarked that it is not Liberal to put an embargo on manure. Members from the West know very well that we are not now on new land. We are farming on very old land, and we must have manure. We may be asked, Why do you not buy fertilizers? I say that fertilizers cannot replace manure. My father said to me, when I was under his leadership: "Use abundant manure, and then you will succeed as a farmer; if not, you will not succeed." I think that is true.
The riding in which I live lies south of Montreal; it starts a mile from the Victoria bridge and extends southwards. Twenty years ago, we were supplying the Bonse-cours market of Montreal with about two per cent of the vegetable requirements of that city. Those who visited Montreal some years ago, and Who have visited it again this year or last year, know that not many gardens are to be seen in what was called "the garden of Montreal" twenty years ago. If you leave Windsor station or the Grand Trunk station and go to Ste. Anne, what do you see? You see little bushes of all kinds; wild cherries grow there, I think, and ail kinds of weeds; hut you do not see what we saw some twenty years ago, namely, melons, cucumbers, cabbages and all other kinds of vegetables with which to supply the city of Montreal. The real estate boom came to Montreal as well as to the West, and made the farmers rich from the sale of their farms.
Those who got paid.
Yes; those who did not get paid are not rich, and I suppose they had to take back their farms. But conditions have changed; in order to have vegetable products with which to feed the people of Montreal, we on the south side of the river St. Lawrence must replace the gardens of the Island of Montreal, and we must go into mixed farming and raising vegetables of all kinds. We have been at that work now for the last ten years or more, and I say, without fear of contradiction, that my constituency to-day raises more vegetables than the whole Island of Montreal. As is well known, we have had and still have a good government in Quebec, and my colleague, the present Minister of Justice (Sir Lomer Gouin), was Premier of my province for fifteen years or more. He brought about the enactment of good lawis and we, the farmers, 'have profited by those laws. Throughout my riding, there have been constructed good macadam roads, without which it would be impossible to-day to supply the big city of Montreal. Those who live thirty miles from the Victoria bridge are really close to that bridge to-day; twenty years ago they were, comparatively speaking, very far away from it. For, at that time, we had mud roads; nowadays we have good macadam roads, and our farmers, having made money, have purchased two-ton trucks, and to-day they can go to Montreal, at any time during the year except, perhaps, when big snow storms occur in the winter, with sixty
bags of potatoes or a like quantity of any other vegetable products. This is the reason that we are getting along so well. And we want to do (better. We have been told on many occasions in this House, and told truly, that there is need of more production and still more production. If manure from the city of Montreal goes to the United States, and we cannot get it for less than $52 a car, its present price, and if we must sell our products at one-half or less what we received during the war, what does that mean? It means that we shall reduce our production. And what does that mean for the people of Montreal? If they do not receive from our part of the country the vegetables they require, they will have to go further away for those products and will have to pay about double what they would pay if we had what is necessary for that sort of cultivation, namely, manure from the city at cost price. This is what the people in my riding and the riding next to mine want. I am not sure if any of my hon. friends in this House think it is bad politics to ask this Government to impose an embargo to prevent shipment into the United States of the most essential requirement for successful farming. I do not know how the western members feel about this matter; but as a farmer myself, as one who has been in this House for quite a number of years and who is still a farmer, I would ask them to help me out on this question, because, as I have said before, in our part of the country we need manure in order to grow, not grain as is grown in the West, hut vegetables of all kinds for the benefit of the big population of Montreal-and I think the same thing must apply to Toronto and other big cities. We are situated very close to the boundary line, the distance from Montreal to Rouse's Point being about forty-three miles; and my friend, LeFe'bvre, who has all the sidings and controls all the manure, takes advantage of this to benefit the United States at Canada's expense. That is to say, if the farmers of my riding and of the riding of the hon. member for St. John and Iberville (Mr. Demers) refuse to pay $52 a ton f.oJb. delivered at their station, he tells them: "If you do not buy, I will go to the United States and Mr. Miner is open for all the surplus I have." This is the reason why I brought this matter before the House to-day. I do not want to dwell any more on this question. I think the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) will do all that is possible for the electors and farmers of this country, who [Mr. Lanctot.l
at the present time are not too prosperous, and give us the manure we require to raise the best crops.
I do not wish to prolong this debate nor to delay the passing of the agricultural estimates, but yesterday reference was made to the cattle embargo removal in Great Britain, and I had my attention drawn to-day to a certain article in the press giving statements made by the Hon. P. C. Larkin, High Commissioner for Canada, on this subject. The statements that he made reflect upon the honour, integrity and loyalty of the prairie provinces, and I take exception to them. I wish, furthermore, to place this matter before the Government in order to be informed if they understand that Mr. Larkin is making such threats. We are quite prepared to believe that it is in the interest of all Canadians that the embargo should be removed; but we do not believe that the High Commissioner has a right to make a threat to the British Government at the expense of the prairie provinces. The article reads:
Representations of the strongest character concerning the effect which failure to remove the embargo on cattle would produce in Canada have been made to the British Cabinet by Hon. P. C. Larkin. The new High Commissioner has assured the Ministers that the Government's failure to redeem its pledge to remove the cattle ban would place a potential weapon of considerable power in the hands of the annexationists of the Prairie provinces-
Why the prairie provinces?
-and other foes in Canada of the imperial connection. It is understood that he has conveyed to the Cabinet the strong feeling which exists that the decision to leave the question to the free vote of the British Parliament is not regarded by Canada as fully implementing the Government's promise, as given by Lord Ernie during the war. The proposed resolution favoring the lifting of the embargo will probably pass the Commons, and may even pass the House of Lords if Canada makes its demand sufficiently strong, but even then it would be necessary to introduce and pass a bill to carry out the sense of the resolution, and such a measure would be bitterly contested.
Hon. Mr. Larkin has already made a good impression here and the High Commissioner's office seems in a fair way to become the positive force for the advancement of Canada's interests and ends.
Well, if that is the impression that Hon. Mr. Larkin is making, the sooner he is recalled the better. The minister of. Agriculture is a loyal citizen of the West and is interested in the prairie provinces, and I call this matter to his attention in the hope that he will not allow it to pass unnoticed by this Parliament. It is a reflection upon
the integrity and loyalty of the prairie provinces; we on this side of the House take great exception to the remarks I have quoted.
I did not gather,
from the reading of the article by my hon. friend (Mr. Lewis), the authority for the statement that Mr. Larkin had made the remarks attributed to him. I was one of those who had a final conference with Mr. Larkin, the High Commissioner, before he left Canada, and this question of the embargo was discussed. We were both of the same mind as to the nature of the invocation that might be made in the effort to have the embargo removed, and our common view was precisely that of the hon. member f.or Victoria (Mr. Tolmie) namely, that we should certainly persevere in the matter, but, at the same time, use the light pedal. It was our opinion that we should not go out with the club in hand; as was suggested yesterday, there has been too great a use of that weapon in the past in connection with the embargo, with mighty little prospect of success. That is not the way to approach anybody, but particularly the British public, more especially at this critical time when an election is in the offing. We should not put ourselves in the position of trying to embarrass the British authorities by apparently taking sides in an election which is a matter of entirely domestic concern. And in view of that conversation with Hon. Mr. Larkin I feel quite confident, at least until I have information to the contrary before me, that he never did indulge in such representations to the British government as are attributed to him. That is the position I will take until I have further proof to the contrary. I know what Mr. Larkin's views were, I know what mine are, and I know what opinion the leader of this Government (Mr. Mackenzie King) holds on the subject, and I feel quite satisfied that Mr. Larkin did not use the remarks ascribed to him.
With further reference to the question of embargo, I should say that, having very fully discussed yesterday the desirability of taking off an embargo, it is somewhat embarrassing to be asked to-day to put one on, even though one relates to animals and the other to animal product. The question raised by my hon. friend from Laprairie and Napierville (Mr. Lanctot) is, however, a very important one. Apparently in the past he has been able to secure natural fertilizer in the vicinity of Montreal at $13 or $14 per car, for which
he now has to pay $53 or $54* There is one obvious solution to that difficulty, and that is to give about a dollar more than the Americans give, so that the commodity will stay in the vicinity of Montreal. I have no doubt, of course, that the reply will be made that that is more than the business would stand. But, inasmuch as the placing of an embargo on even natural fertilizers would involve a government policy, I am not in a position to enunciate one offhand. I will assure my hon. friend, however, that anything that can be done locally will be done. I think that possibly something might be done in regard to freight rates.
I understand that our railways carry manures, both natural and artificial, on a cheap rate basis, and possibly some representation might be made to the authorities at Montreal towards solving the problem the hon. member has raised. At all events, we will inquire into this matter before taking the more drastic step of invoking the remedy of an embargo. After all-, an embargo is a restraint of trade, and I am sure my hon. friends opposite will sympathise with me when I say that just a little restraint . of trade as possible should be brought into play even for such a worthy purpose as this.
Will the minister get in touch with the Hon. Mr. Larkin by cable and let the House know, at the first opportunity, whether he did make the statements he is alleged to have made?
We should have
quite a cable bill-
Wait until I am through before you laugh.
I will pay the cable myself, if that is the objection.
My hon. friends might reserve their laughter until I have concluded my remarks. If everything that appeared in the press were made the subject of a cable, we should run up a serious bill, [DOT]and I do not see why we should do that. I have not seen the article in question, and I heard it but indistinctly. I gleaned the substance of it, however, and it did not occur to me that there was any necessity to cable Mr. Larkin asking him whether or not he was the author of these alleged statements. However, the First Minister is present and he may have something to say on the matter. I do not take much stock in these things, and I should not be
a bit surprised if, as a result of the discussion that took place yesterday in this House, some remarkable press statements should appear in the United Kingdom with respect to what transpired in this Chamber.
I do not care whether the minister communicates with Mr. Larkin by cable or otherwise, but I do think that this press report from the special correspondent of The Gazette in London should be either retracted or confirmed; for if it is authentic it is a reflection on the people of the West. The matter should be cleared up for their sake.