February 11, 1929

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

We will discuss the right hon. gentleman's tendencies later.

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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:

Very well; my hon. friend will have an opportunity to do so.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes.

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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:

I say that the first of all duties of a public man, and certainly of the leader of a political party, is to be very careful of the way in which he refers to the domestic affairs of other countries, and doubly careful when his words have reference to the possibility of international difficulties.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Hear, hear.

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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:

I do not think there is anything more I need add at the moment, except to say to my hon. friend that, as the session proceeds, I shall endeavour to touch upon any points that have been omitted at the moment.

One reference my hon. friend made upon which, before concluding, I should like to say a word. He spoke of the Elections Act and wondered whether the allusion thereto, in the speech from the throne, in any way portended an early election. I wish to put at rest his mind and the minds of other hon. gentlemen who may have any doubt as to the intention of the government in this particular. The government must always reserve to itself the right to judge when the proper moment comes to go to the country and make its appeal to the electorate. So far as I can see at the moment, there is no reason whatever why any appeal should be

made to the country this year. I believe the country has every confidence in the government; I believe the country is prospering more and more; and unless something develops in the course of this session to cause the government to alter its present intention there will be no election until at least another year comes round, and then possibly not for another year or more.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. ROBERT GARDINER (Acadia):

My first duty is to congratulate the mover (Mr. Cayley) and seconder (Mr. Ferland) of the address upon their speeches last Friday. If I have any criticism to offer of the speech of the mover it is merely this, that with reference to the conditions generally prevailing in Canada he was rather too optimistic, taking all things into consideration. However, I take this opportunity of congratulating him upon his effort.

Now, we have had the privilege this afternoon of listening to the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) as well as to the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). The prime minister has replied to the leader of the opposition, and I am not going to take up the time of the house to any great extent in criticizing the observations of either of these gentlemen. I think I have something to say of some importance to the people whom I represent and consequently I will not devote too much time to a criticism of these speeches.

One remark the leader of the opposition made struck me forcibly. While he admitted that we in Canada at the present time were enjoying an apparent prosperity, he warned the country to prepare for a possible deflation. I believe there is some truth in what the hon. gentleman has said, because we who are students of economics must know that while we have periods of prosperity, so called, these periods are always followed by periods of deflation; and it is my judgment that we in this house should take every step we possibly can to provide against the time of deflation when it comes, whether immediately or four, five or ten years hence.

One other remark I wish to criticize is the reference of 'the Prime Minister to the Crows-nest pass agreement. The western members know very well what this agreement means to western Canada. When we went into western Canada it was understood that we were to be protected by legislation in regard to grain rates. For war purposes this agreement was set aside for a certain period. The rates immediately went far beyond and above those specified as the maximum in that agreement.

The Address-Mr. Gardiner

Western members will recall particularly the year 1922 when the period of suspension of this legislation was about to expire. At that time there was a proposal in this house further to suspend the whole agreement for another term of years, and I am satisfied that had it not been for the stand which the western members took on that occasion the Crowsnest pass rates would not now be in force. I am willing to give credit to the government for everything which they finally did to make that rate agreement effective. The Prime Minister must remember that the committee which was organized to inquire into the question decided that this agreement should be suspended for a further term of years, and it was only after a review of the question again that the committee arrived at the conclusion that, as respects the Crowsnest rate agreement, the rates relating to grain should come into force on the 7th of July of that particular year. It was the western members who were primarily responsible for that agreement coming into force again. We remember also that in 1924, in order to make the agreement effective as regards grain rates, the government brought down legislation for which I will give them credit. They brought down legislation to make the rates effective on branch lines as well as on main lines, and for this the government must be given credit. At the same time, however, we must remind the government of this important fact: in order to pacify the railway companies or other interests, a part of the Crowsnest agreement was abrogated for all time; that is to say, on commodities originating east of Fort William the Crowsnest rate does not now apply at all. That is the situation to-day. "

Now I wish to take a little time to go through the speech from the throne and make a few remarks with regard to some of the items therein dealt with. I have not the time at my disposal to discuss every item, but I am going to deal with a few in which I am more particularly interested.

The first question to be considered is that of prosperity. I want to ask the government, where is the prosperity in Canada to-day? Are the working people prosperous? Are the farmers prosperous? I want to say that as far as my knowledge goes there is very little added prosperity among these particular classes, and after all they are the more important classes in this country. I am quite willing to admit that in certain quarters there is great prosperity, but as yet that has not reached the masses. Consequently it is futile for the Prime Minister and his colleagues to intimate to the people that we have great

prosperity among all classes in this country. I notice one very significant change in the way the part played by Providence in the production of our great crops is dealt with. I remember that in past speeches from the throne Providence was always given the credit for producing great crops in Canada, but now we find that the government has come to the conclusion that the farmers have some responsibility and deserve some credit for these great crops. This year we find the farmer sharing with Providence in the production of the great crops of this country, and with regard to the speech from the throne I think this is a very decided improvement.

Reference is made to the national research laboratories, and I commend the government for pushing to a conclusion this feature of last yeaifls legislation. However, there is one point which I would impress upon the Prime Minister and his colleagues; in conjunction with the research laboratories there should be a bureau of standards. To-day the Canadian people have very little knowledge of what they are buying, while in the United States the bureau of standards gives the people a proper intimation of the different* articles or commodities offered for sale from time to time. Under these circumstances the people of the United States are in a better positibn to judge as to the relative values of the goods offered for sale. I merely make that suggestion; no doubt it will take some time to get these research laboratories started, but I believe a bureau of standards should be created at the same time.

The speech from the throne also deals with the Hudson Bay railway, and calls attention to the fact that the railway is very close to Fort Churchill. I wish to take this opportunity of congratulating the government and particularly the Minister of Railways; since he has undertaken to create a port on Hudson Bay together with a railway leading to it, he has worked very hard. We all trust that when the Hudson Bay railway is completed and the facilities at Fort Churchill are sufficient to handle the business likely to go there, that port will be satisfactory in all respects as far as western Canada is concerned. I particularly congratulate the Minister of Railways for his efforts in that regard.

The next matter I wish to discuss is the question of immigration. My hon. friend the leader of the opposition dealt with this question, but I propose to bring before the house the viewpoint of the western farmer. I desire to read to the house the passage in question from the speech from the throne; the leader

The Address-Mr. Gardiner

of the opposition has done so already, but I wish to place a different interpretation upon it. It is as follows:

A flow of immigrants commensurate with Canadian requirements and selected strictly for their ability to promote the general prosperity of the country is being satisfactorily maintained.

I am going to turn my attention now to the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Forke). I remember that when he sat in our group he always maintained that more people were required in this country, and evidently he still holds to that point of view. But prior to his acceptance of his present high office his view might have been put in these words: "If you create conditions in Canada which will give the masses of the people an opportunity to make a good livelihood, you will have no need for an immigration policy. They will come here of their own accord." Indeed, I have heard him say that the great trouble would be to keep t'he people out. Does the minister still believe in that policy, and if so, what is he doing to bring it into effect? What efforts is he making in the councils of his colleagues to make conditions in Canada so good that people from all over the world will be rushing to this country and we will have great trouble keeping them out? Later on he will have the opportunity to give this house some idea of his efforts in that regard, but it seems to me that the present immigration policy is not satisfactory to anyone. I do not know of any person who is pleased with it, although I may say that since I have been a member of this house I have not known of a government policy, whatever the party in power, which was satisfactory to everyone. We must admit that the question of immigration is most difficult, and after all I think if we went back to the policy held by the Minister of Immigration before he accepted his present high position, we would be on safer ground than is the case at present.

I wonder very often whether the people of Canada, and particularly the members of this house, realize how quickly Canada has recovered from her post-war troubles. There is no question in my mind' that, considering the length of time we took part in the war, Canada has recovered from her post-war difficulties to a greater extent than almost any other country so engaged. In my judgment the reason for this is very obvious to any person who will give the matter a little consideration; the reason is that we have tremendous natural resources in relation to our population. Taking into consideration Canada's present population we have wonderful natural resources on which the attention

of ithe people has been focussed in the production of new wealth, and this to my mind has been the large factor in our remarkable recovery. In these circumstances we must realize that if we bring in a great volume of immigrants and the natural resources of the country become controlled by private individuals, it is quite reasonable for us to expect that we will not have even to the present extent the prosperity which would be ours with a smaller population. I am one of those who believe in letting this country grow naturally; I think the big trouble with Canada to-day is that people are always^ tinkering with it. If they would let it grow in its own way I believe everyone would be satisfied with the situation in a comparatively short time.

There is one point to which I wish to direct the attention of the Prime Minister ami his colleagues, and more particularly the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Forke). While it is quite true that British immigrants of all classes are permitted to come into this country, provided they can pay their fares and are mentally and physically fit, yet, in so far as the great bulk of the efforts of the department are concerned, there are three classes in which they are trying to secure new immigrants. These are domestic servants, farm labourers and agriculturists. Personally I am quite willing to compete against any farmer who cares to come to this country, but I do not want to be placed at a disadvantage in so far as that competition is concerned. I would like to see all other classes admitted to this country on the same terms as the agriculturalists. I do not see any reason why we farmers should be subject to the competition of new agriculturists coming into this country while the professions and even the working classes of Canada are being protected against such competition. We maintain that the time has come when this immigration question should be treated in the broadest way, and I take this opportunity of raising my protest against farmers being subjected to competition which other classes are not subject to.

Something has been said this afternoon with refeTenoe to the miners from Great Britain. The Prime Minister, in replying to the leader of the opposition, stated that the real reason why the government brought these miners in, or allowed them to come in, was that they might assist in harvesting operations in western Canada. I accept that statement as being the correct explanation of the situation. I would like to mention a little experience I had with a man who was working for me. This man came from Greau Britain some seven years ago. He came out

The Address-Mr. Gardiner

as a youth and worked in Ontario. After he had been here for some time he thought he would come to the west. He told me he was in Great Britain last winter and he saw all kinds of _ placards saying to the people of Great Britain, 1 Come to Canada and secure $5 to $7 a day for every day you care to work. ' I maintain that is misleading and if it is within the power of the Immigration department to stop that kind of propaganda, it is the duty of that department to stop it a

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CON

James J. Donnelly

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DONNELLY:

Was it not paid all over the west last fall, $5 to $7 per day; it was in my district.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

You speak for your own district and I will speak for mine.

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CON

James J. Donnelly

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DONNELLY:

That is not answering my question.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

I said that this propaganda was spread about in Great Britain, that if they came to Canada they would receive from $5 to $7 per day for every day they cared to work; that was my statement. It is this propaganda in Great Britain that I object to.

These miners were brought out long before the harvest was ready. In our particular district the crops were coming in a little earlier but they were there even before our crops were ready. If you went down and said to these fellows, "Look here, our crops will not be ready to harvest for ten days. We will give you a job and pay you $2 or $2.50, give you your board and room and washing and everything," what was the reply? They said, Before we left Great Britain we were promised 15 to $7 per day for every day we worked, and we are not going to work for any less." We were merely trying to help them out of their trouble. I am complaining about the propaganda which was carried on in Great Britain, and I trust the minister, if he possibly can, will see that that is rectified at the earliest possible moment.

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LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I do not like to interrupt, but I think the hon. member will excuse me when I state that no such statements were ever given out by the Immigration department, nor do I think they were given out by the British government. You cannot prevent peopie

putting up statements of that kind, but I do not think any of the governments responsible had anything to do with them.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

I do not blame the

department as I feel it was probably the transportation companies that were responsible. But that being the case I would suggest to the minister that his department publish the actual truth and let people in Great Britain know that statements such as I have alluded to are untrue. Then, when they come to this country, they will be better satisfied because they will know what they are up against.

I would like to take a few moments to deal with the railway situation. We expect this year a branch line program from probably both railways. I would like to draw to the attention of this house, the different methods of dealing with the two railway systems, the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian National. When the Canadian Pacific desire to project a branch line, they bring their bill before this house and the house grants them a charter. They state in that bill where they are going, and they secure two years' time in which to start that branch and five years in which to finish the work. If the work has not been completed the charters are renewed from time to time.

But the Canadian National system has not the same privileges as the Canadian Pacific. They cannot come to this house except when they make an actual proposal to build, and they receive the consent of parliament and the sum of money necessary to build that particular branch line. I maintain that under these circumstances the Canadian National is not being treated fairly by this house; that the time has come when these two railways, in so far as charters are concerned, should be placed on the same plane. It should then be left to the house to determine, where the two companies are competing for the same territory, which company should go into that particular territory. I know of several cases in western Canada where branch line programs were turned down by another chamber years ago and where the other railway has gone in and secured a charter and preempted the territory which, to all intents and purposes, the Canadian National was building into. I merely make the suggestion that the two lines be given equal opportunities in that regard.

Branch lines are badly needed in the west, and I believe they are badly needed in other parts of Canada as well, but I can only speak for the territory with which I am familiar.

I merely say that the time has come, in mv

The Address-Mr. Gardiner

judgment, when the branch line program should give the people the service that is required.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Will my hon. friend permit a question regarding that branch line matter? Do I understand him to advocate that the Canadian National should also be given charter rights in advance of the actual money bill passing this house? Does he mean to go back to that system with respect to the Canadian National?

M,r. GARDINER: I would prefer to see

the matter handled either way; that until such time as the Canadian Pacific are ready to build they should not receive any charter rights any more than the Canadian National. You can use whichever method you like, but I would prefer the same system for the Canadian Pacific as is now used for the Canadian National, provided that system could be used effectively.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

That is the difficulty.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

I am going to take the rest of my time to deal with a matter of vital importance to the farmers of western Canada, namely, the question of the Canada Grain Act.

The first statement I wish to make is that while the crop of last year is the largest ever grown in western Canada, it is my huimble judgment that that crop was not produced at a profit. I am' not going to say that it was produced at a loss, but the margin received by the farmer was so close to the cost of production that we can say that the crop was not produced at a profit. I think I can say that the crop was probably the greatest disappointment of any crop that has been grown in the west for many yeans past. This was due to climatic conditions, frost, hail and so forth, and consequently we cannot blame any one in that regard. The idea, however, seems to be prevalent, particularly in eastern Canada, that the farmers this year made a tremendous amount of money out of wheat. If you go into the small towns in western Canada the merchants there will tell you very quickly that the farmers at the present time have no purchasing power and consequently they could not have made a great deal of money out of wheat. Indeed, I am satisfied they did not make any money at all and if they broke even, they were lucky.

In a year like this it is only natural that the grading system should come under review and criticism by the person who produces the commodity. This year has been no exception to the rule. I have (heard more criticism

this year than I have ever heard before directed against the grading system and the farmer feels that the time has come when some better system should be evolved in regard to grading his wheat. The farmer maintains that the present system does not determine to any great extent the milling value of his product and it is on the basis of the milling value of his product that he receives a price for that commodity in the markets of the world. In view of the investigation of the agricultural committee last year into this question and the possibility of the matter arising again out of their report, I am not going to suggest any particular method or any particular change. I hope, however, that something may be done. The farmer of the west feels that just so long as the personal element enters into the question of grading his product, he will never have a satisfactory system, and I hope that ways and means will be found by the agricultural committee of bringing in a system that will be more satisfactory in determining the milling value of this particular commodity.

The greatest criticism, however, is being levelled at the present time in western Canada against the Board of Grain Commissioners and it is my purpose to deal for a few minutes with this commission. The Board of Grain Commissioners was appointed to adteninister the Canada Grain Act. That is its duty and function. The farmers of the west claim that the commission has not been administering the act as it should be.

Before I proceed further, let me inform the house that all the expenses of the grain commission in regard to inspection weighing and all the services which it provides, are paid for by the farmers themselves. Certain charges are levied against each car of wheat, to the extent of two dollars, I believe, and those charges cover the expenses of the grain commission and all they have to do in connection with the administration of the act. Therefore the administration of the act does does not cost the people of Canada anything. Under those circumstances we say that we want a board of grain commissioners that will interpret and administer the act as the House of Commons intended it should be administered.

The greatest criticism of the Board of Grain Commissioners is with regard to what they call this " hybrid " or " high-powered " ticket foT special binned grain. This ticket has been issued and forced upon farmers even though they have refused to accept it. The Board of Grain Commissioners in letters that I have seen have stated to farmers who have

The Address-Mr. Gardiner

objected to this form of ticket that the board thought the ticket was all right and that the farmer should accept it. I challenge any member of this house to show where the board ever received authority from the Canada Grain Act to make such a statement.

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LIB

James Malcolm (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. MALCOLM:

I will answer that question, but not at the moment.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

Do I take it from the remarks of the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Malcolm) that the government have passed an order in council permitting such a ticket to be issued?

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LIB

James Malcolm (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. MALCOLM:

Yes, and I will explain the whole thing when I speak.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

If that be so, it is news to us. We would like to receive some explanation as to when this order in council was passed.

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February 11, 1929