June 14, 1922

LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

Would the right hon. member be prepared to have this Government take action which would open the door to compulsory action by the provinces?

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes, so long as the

power of review is in the government of Canada. I know of no other way now to work this problem out. I would have it all done here if that could be done, but it cannot be done. The delay, the procrastination in this matter, has prevented it. We are now at the very end. We have either to stop and do nothing, we either have to kill the whole project by this resolution or some other means, or we must take the line I suggest. There is nothing else that can be done. That is why I suggest this course.

Let me repeat, my submission to the House is this, that we decide upon the establishment of a body with such powers as Parliament can give it, and that that body be enabled to exercise further powers such as can only be given by provincial legislation if in the opinion of the federal government such powers are right and proper and practically exercisable in connection with the functions of that body, if in the opinion of the Government it is wise that that body should have those additional powers beyond the powers vested in it by this House. Let me ask again, can any hon. member of this House suggest anything else, can any hon. member advance one single word or sentence that this Parliament can do to meet the wishes of his constituents, to meet the wishes, say, of western Canada beyond what I have suggested to-day? Beyond that we cannot go. Such is the extreme limit of our power. I know it places a wide discretion in the hands of the administration, but the exigency is such and the demand is such that I for one am ready to meet it, and, at some risk, to repose that measure of confidence for this time.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister) :

The action the Government may take with respect to the report

Wheat Board

of the committee will necessarily depend on the action which the House takes in regard to the report. Should the committee's report be approved, the Government will immediately introduce a bill based on the report. The bill, I might say, has already been drafted. Naturally the Government wishes to have the benefit of the discussion in the House before bringing the bill down and submitting it for consideration here.

Speaking in a broad way, I might say of the scope of the bill that it creates a marketing agency endowed with such powers as it is within the jurisdiction of this Parliament to confer, with the further provision that as regards compulsory powers, these may be conferred on the board by provincial governments, which alone have jurisdiction in the matter of conferring such powers. I think that discussion on the subject matter involved might well be left over until the bill itself is presented to the House. What I have said will be sufficient to indicate the attitude of the Government on the report.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

We are now deciding on this report. Does the right hon. gentleman say that the Government's measure complies fully with the provisions of this report, that is to say for example, that its legislation only goes into effect when two provinces act, as this report enjoins they must act?

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The Government's proposed legislation is based upon this report; it complies with its recommendation. Of course, if this report is not accepted the Government will not proceed any further with its proposed legislation.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is the Government's policy?

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

That is the

Government's policy.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York) :

Does not the

proposed legislation involve the credit of the nation being put behind this wheat board so as to finance its operation?

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The Government will assume responsibility for such agency as it creates. With respect to any additional liability that may grow out of additional powers conferred by the provinces, that is a matter for which the provincial legislatures will have to make provision.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Hon. T. A. CRERAR(Marquette) :

With a portion, at any rate, of the remarks of

my right hon. friend the leader of the Opbosition I agree-that portion of them which relates to the difficulties that have beer, encountered by the farmers of western Canada in the past year, and the need of this Parliament taking what action it can to relieve those conditions in the coming year. I do noc wish to follow at any great length the remarks made by my right hon. friend, but I do think that if the House were to accept his remarks at their full face value-which I think is very doubtful-the House would gather a wrong impression as to some aspects of this question. I regret the delay that has 'existed in connection with this report, although I must say this- that the Agriculture Committee that were hearing evidence in the matter desired to give the fullest opportunity possible to all who wished to make representations to it, and consequently the report was not in a position to be submitted to the House until the budget was brought down and the debate thereon was concluded. But while my right hon. friend regrets the delay and thinks that that will prevent suitable action being taken I cannot agree with him. I think that probably this Government, in a matter of this kind, can move as rapidly as did the government of my right hon. friend in 1919, and I recall this fact: That while strong

representations had been made to the government in the early part of the summer of 1919 that action should then be taken looking to the creation of a board with compulsory powers for the handling of grain, that action was not taken by the government of the day until July 27 in that year. It was not until July 27 that an Order in Council was passed providing for the creation of a board, and endowing that board with all tfie powers that were necessary for its work. After that date the board met. It created its organization; it laid down its rules and regulations, and had everything in shape for the handling of grain when it started to move in the early part of September. I quite realize that on account of the legal position of the matter, as revealed in the opinion offered to the committee by the law officers of the Crown, that this Parliament has not the power to create a board endowed with the powers that the board created in 1919 exercised, so that it is necessary for co-ordinate legislation on the part of the provinces desiring to take it, in order that the agency created may function, as far as possible, along the lines of the wheat board of 1919. But if this

Wheat Board

Parliament now takes action along the lines indicated in the report that we have now under consideration, it will be quite competent for the provinces who desire to supplement that legislation to do so, and to have the whole thing in working effect weeks before this year's crop

4 p.m. starts to move, and whatever agency is created has the advantage of the experience gained by the previous board. It can utilize the regulations that the previous board had, it can adopt such of the orders that the previous board promulgated as it may think necessary; and I see no reason whatever why action along this line cannot be successfully taken.

My right hon. friend argues, with a good deal of force, that this recommendation provides that the provinces must pass supplemental legislation containing all the powers that the old Wheat Board had which this Parliament cannot give. I do not so interpret, necessarily, the resolution. The recommendation that the House is at present considering is a guide, or an indication, of the lines along which this legislation should proceed; and if it is necessary to vary slightly in that respect when the proposed bill is in committee why I certainly think this House is at complete liberty to take such action, and it is not bound in that respect in the castiron manner that my right hon. friend indicates.

The leader of the Opposition also states that the whole thing is impossible of operation because all the provinces in Canada may not take action. When this report was under consideration in the Agriculture Committee, the committee were fully seized of the fact that there were only three provinces in Canada to which this matter was of vital interest. That is, it is in the prairie provinces in western Canada where practically all the grain of this Dominion is produced. We know the situation that exists in the province of Manitoba. An election is pending, a new legislature will shortly-perhaps in the course of a month or two months-come into existence. Possibly there may he a new government. It is necessary for this government to get organized, and to have a session of the legislature before the supplemental power that is necesary on the part of the provinces can be passed by Manitoba. It was for that reason that the recommendation was placed in the report of the Agriculture Committee that as

soon as two provinces took action the matter could proceed, and the committee had very definitely in mind the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta when that recommendation was placed in the report.

Now it seems quite clear that what authority the federal government may lack to endow the agency with the powers possessed by the Wheat Board of 1919 rests in the provinces; and the whole purpose, the whole idea of this report-adopted after very careful thought and discussion in the Agriculture Committee

is that by mutual arrangement, by supplemental legislation on the part of the federal authority and the provinces, an agency can be created having, in the main, the powers enjoyed by the Wheat Board of 1919. It is quite true, as far as the compulsory features are concerned, that that will obtain only in the provinces that pass supplemental legislation. I am not a lawyer but I believe it is competent for a provincial legislature-say Saskatchewan or Alberta, or both of them working together -to pass legislation that will invest in a board the control of the wheat produced in those provinces. After all, what is the central idea back of a wheat marketing scheme such as proposed, such as has been asked for by the Council of Agriculture? It is this: To regulate the flow of wheat to the market so that 75 per cent of our crop is not dumped on the market in three months of the year. That is the purpose of this marketing agency. If such an agency is created it can store the wheat in elevator storage. If there is a surplus in Europe at any particular time, if the export demand is weak or absent, then such a board can regulate the flow of the grain to the market by holding it back until that demand again resumes. We have seen the experience in this connection in the sale of grain. I need only point to the conditions that obtained last autumn when our wheat went down steadily day by day, and week by week until it dropped from around $1.40 a bushel to around $1.02 a bushel.

When those heavy deliveries of wheat in the autumn months were over, and they had been absorbed, the market immediately came back again. Whether the hopes of those who wish for a wheat board are well founded or not, at any rate those hopes rest mainly on the fact that those disabilities can be overcome. Such a board as is created under the proposals of this report would, at any rate, as regards the

Wheat Board

two main wheat producing provinces of the West, be endowed with power to regulate the flow of grain to market. My right hon. friend brings up the difficulties that millers may be in. There may possibly be some practical difficulties in that respect. At the moment, I must confess that I see no reason why such a board could not sell to the millers anywhere in Canada such quantities as the millers might require. They can buy their wheat; they can make contracts for it with the board, and as regards preventing the importation of wheat and flour from the United States into Canada, what has that to do with the question in the provinces concerned? Supposing some person did import wheat from the United States into Alberta and Saskatchewan, immediately that wheat came into those provinces it could, under the legislation, come under the control of the board that was created.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is to say, that the Government of Canada would finance any wheat that was imported into Saskatchewan or Alberta from the United States, the same as it finances wheat for our own people.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

My right hon. friend is not so dense as to think that is the point I am trying to make.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I am trying to make it clear.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

I understood my right hon. friend to argue that wheat would be imported from the United States into Canada, and that because it might be imported into Canada, this board could not efficiently function. That was the argument my right hon. friend made.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

Well, I say to my right hon. friend that if such wheat is imported into Alberta or Saskatchewan, that wheat can immediately come under the control of the board that is created.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Then the board will have to finance it.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

That is all right. They have the wheat if they have to finance it.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

And the credit of the Government of Canada will be buying American wheat.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

That was not the point

of my right hon. friend's argument at all.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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June 14, 1922