May 15, 1923

REVISED


these years have been just one lap ahead of the sheriff. In times like these when money is tight, and these facilities we are talking about for borrowing money are not multiplied by two, these people are squeezed pretty hard. They borrowed all the money they could get and went into one hole to get out of the previous one. Instead of improving their methods they wanted to improve their opportunities for borrowing, and then they quarrelled with the mortgage company because they could not get still more. * We will have to assume a different attitude towards debt, Mr. Speaker, before we get our stride properly on the prairies again. I can recall the time especially during and before the war, when some of us took a certain amount of pride in actually boasting about borrowing every dollar we could get on our land, and then going abroad and spending it like a lord, investing it in this and that possibly not connected with the farm and then expecting the farm to carry that obligation and help wipe it out. That is not fair. Very few debts contracted in the West have been spent on agriculture, and I say that advisedly. I think I am safe in saying that three out of four first mortgages are for the purpose of consolidating store bills and dead horses and such like, with not one dollar invested in any productive enterprise that will help pay back the loan. That was the condition. We rushed in there pell-mell, enthused with the possibilities of the development of that country We thought the thing would never end. We sowed to the wind and are to-day reaping the whirlwind. This condition of affairs, aggravated by the war, has occasioned many, many tragedies on the prairies. There is no question about it. It is something that would make your heart bleed, Mr. Speaker. But what are you going to do about it? Men who lend money must have security. I have in mind another instance, and there is nothing that could be morp tragic than what I am going to describe. Both of these parties were labourers of my own at the time they were married. They started out for themselves with nothing but the prospect of getting a . home for themselves and $45, and that was not in cash. They had a three-year old filly, and they got a chattel mortgage on the filly for $45, more than what they paid for it, and made the first payment on a quarter section of Canadian Pacific Railway land. They added to that by one means and another till they had five quarter sections, all on time except the initial payment. They bought machinery on time, and horses on time.


EDITION


The Budget-Mr. Motherwell



I will not tell you how they got them or stood off their creditors, I do not know; I could not do it and succeed. After twenty-four years of that kind of experience, growing magnificent crops, if you like, and raising a family of twelve, they are finally crowded out on to the street by the mortgage company. If you did not know the history of that, Mr. Speaker, you would think it was something terrible. It is something terrible if you do not know the circumstances. But under the circumstances nothing else could befall them. The only wonder is that it did not happen long ago. There is no country in the world except the Canadian West which would have stood such abuse of farm and credit, and where this couple could have lasted for twenty-four years. I might say that the neighbours helped that couple for years and are helping them yet. Some friends in Alberta wrote to the First Minister, and the First Minister passed the letter over to me. It is a great place down here to pass the buck, you know, Mr. Speaker. I got a letter describing the case, and I told the First Minister that there was nothing else for it. I knew the couple exceedingly well. Some of the boys and girls were capable of working out, and I advised them to work for their neighbours. Hundreds of men who would make first-class labourers, are only fourth, or fifth-class managers for themselves. It takes a long time to find it out. My advice to such would be to let the shoemaker stick to his last, let the man perform that service he is best fitted for. If he cannot make a living managing his own affairs, if he is a faithful labourer and gives proper service, he may soon find himself in better circumstances than his employer.


PRO

Andrew Knox

Progressive

Mr. KNOX:

Does the minister mention that type as representative of the farmers of the West?

Mr. MOTHERWEI.L: Which one? I have tried to describe two, the two extremes-the (man who was a bounder and was turned oa the street after twenty-four years, and the man who was a good manager, a mechanic, who knew how to get labour out of his men, got up betimes in the morning, took care of his business and became wealthy. It just shows, Mr. Speaker, how much depends on the individual. It has been said, though this is extreme, of course, that some men would make a living in the Sahara desert while others would starve in the Garden of Eden.

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PRO

Andrew Knox

Progressive

Mr. KNOX:

Does the minister mean to represent the man who did not go into debt as being prosperous to-day?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Debt is a good thing sometimes. It is like fire. Fire is good as long as you are the boss, but when fire becomes your boss, then look out. Debt is a good thing, I suppose, as long as you are master. It is a good servant but a mighty bad master. If we have to go into debt let us go into it just as little as possible, and just to the extent that we think we can get out of it in reasonable time.

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PRO

Andrew Knox

Progressive

Mr. KNOX:

I am afraid the minister did not catch my point. Does he mean to say that agriculture in the West to-day, in the case of the men who keep clear of debt, is prospering?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I say that the men who keRt out of debt or went into debt only very moderately are in safe circumstances to-day, and there are less failures among these than among any other class of people. I say that advisedly.

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PRO
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Yes, they are prosperous to-day. The fact that they are out of debt is a good indication of that. I sav further, I would like to sound a note of warning right now. I do not think the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Raymond) exactly voiced my sentiments.

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PRO

Oliver Robert Gould

Progressive

Mr. GOULD:

I would like to ask the minister how he reconciles his statement about farmers keeping out of debt with the statement that was made in the Agricultural committee that for all the municipalities of Saskatchewan this year the records show an average unpaid tax of $37 per quarter section.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

If my hon. friend will wait for a minute or two until I get to that point I will be very glad to deal with it; it is the very next item on my notes. I would like to sound a note of warning with respect to this amortization of debt, this funding of debt. One of the reasons why the man with little debt, or only sufficient debt to be controllable, is better off than the man with a big burden and heavy interest charges is this: All the time he has the consciousness of being a landed proprietor; he is sitting under his own fig tree, the dwelling he occupies is his own, and even if he has a little debt that home is not endangered. Therefore I say that the man in that condition is better off

The Budget-Mr. Motherwell

than the man who is so burdened down with debt' he does not know whether his home belongs to him or whether the mortgage company owns it-there is no question about that. And the idea of asking a man to undertake an amortization of debt which is to run for thirty years 1 Why, if he is thirty years old he will be a man of my age before he knows the sweet joy of being the sole proprietor of that land. I say that is paralyzing to his efforts to make a success of that farm, yet it is exactly one of the mistakes we are making. Instead of pleading before our committees for more facilities to borrow money we should turn our attention to digging wealth out of the soil and buying better live stock.

Now I will deal with the question asked by my hon. friend the member for Assiniboia (Mr. Gould).

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Seeing that the hon. member is about to take up a new branch of the subject we had better call it six o'clock.

At six o'clock the House took recess.

After Recess

The House resumed at eight o'clock.

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LIB
LIB
PRO

Oliver Robert Gould

Progressive

Mr. GOULD:

I made refer ence to evidence given before the Agricultural committee, that there was an average tax debt this year of $37 per quarter section on every quarter section in Saskatchewan, a debt that was recorded on municipal lands.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Does that mean bonded indebtedness?

Mr. GOULD- No, average tax.

The Budget-Mr. Motherwell

Mr. MOTHERWELL- I have a bigger tax than that on my land.

Mr. GOULD- This is an unpaid tax on

each quarter section.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I do not doubt that either. If my hon. friend is familiar-and I am sure he is-with collecting municipal taxes, he knows that if things are bad, it is not the municipality or the government that is paid first. I do not think my hon. friend wants to make a case against any party. He wants to get at the facts as I do, and I want to get between these two extremes that we have heard of during the session.

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May 15, 1923