March 19, 1929

CON
UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

May I

direct Your Honour's attention to the votes and proceeding's of March 14, where we find the following:

Mr. Kay, from the select standing committee on agriculture and colonization, presented the third report of the said committee, which is as follows:-

Your committee recommends that the house do enlarge the order of reference to the said committee, dated March 6th, 1929, by adding thereto authority to consider and report on the subject of the storage, shipping, mixing inspection and grading of grain, generally, under the provisions of the Canada Grain Act.

Do I understand that the debate may proceed on the motion to concur?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That stood as a notice, at my request.

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LIB
PRO

John Evans

Progressive

Mr. JOHN EVANS (Rosetown):

Mr. Speaker, the thing which concerns us most is the failure of the grain commission to do their duty. Although the government have been in possession of all the facts from the beginning of the present session, and although demands have been made upon them, we have been left in doubt as to what action the government will take. For some reason or other the board have failed in their duty and we are now asking the government to remedy this state of affairs by the dismissal of those who have failed in their duty and place this matter under the supervision of a board which will carry out the grain act in all its phases. The present board have allowed the use of a grain ticket which permits the elevator companies to send a farmer's car of wheat to their own terminal. Through this method the farmers' cooperative concerns are deprived of the earnings which would otherwise be obtained through the handling of the wheat at, say, Fort William. The car of wheat may also be diverted to some milling company which pays a premium for the select grades which they need, based on the milling value and the gluten content which they desire. The farmer's car may be diverted to 78594-68J

some mixing elevator where it is mixed with an inferior quality of grain to the very lowest point for which a certificate could be obtained for that particular grade. When the royal grain commission was sitting in Saskatoon, the right of the Saskatchewan farmer to demand that his grain be shipped to a wheat pool terminal, if he so desired, was read into the record. In the case of the pool farmers the Board of Grain Commissioners have taken no steps to maintain the farmers' right in this respect. They have permitted the elevator companies to divert the farmer's cars to their own terminal and they have done this in defiance of the farmer himself and also of the grain act. Section 150 of the grain act gives the farmer this right and under section 225 of the act they have rendered themselves liable, by violating the law in this respect, to the loss of their license.

There is another way in which the farmer loses the intrinsic value of his grain. This is contrary to the grain act and contrary to the Railway Act as well. It came out before the royal grain commission at Saskatoon that ten elevator companies in Saskatchewan have an agreement with the Robin Hood Milling Company and the Canadian Pacific railway officials that they can go and select cars from the Canadian Pacific railway trains at the terminal or divisional points of that railway, sample them and, if they are of the milling quality which they desire, divert them to their own mills. In this way only the poorest quality of grain goes forward for export and it is on this quality that the price is based. This is a direct infringement of the act and one that never should have been allowed There is no doubt in my mind that the grain commissioners knew of this practice.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

The car

must be diverted after inspection, must it not?

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PRO

John Evans

Progressive

Mr. EVANS:

The practice is that an

official of the railway company will go with the miller and the samplers at that point, break the seals on the car, and, if the car suits the miller, he diverts it to his own mill. If it does not suit him, the car is again sealed, sent on to the terminal elevator at Fort William or Port Arthur and the grain sent on from there.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

This is done after the car is inspected or at inspection?

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PRO

John Evans

Progressive

Mr. EVANS:

Not necessarily. I think a test is made by the milling company themselves and it depends whether the grain comes from the district which they prefer.

Grading of Grain

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edlmonton):

After the

ear is sealed and shipped?

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PRO

John Evans

Progressive

Mr. EVANS:

After the car is sealed and shipped. The railway companies have been allowing the millers to take the cars which they desire out of their trains at the divisional points. This practice is contrary to the Grain Act and it is such that no other producer in any other industry in Canada would allow. Why should this be practised on the western farmers in this way? We require a complete reoiganization of the whole service; we also need a 'body of men who will carry out the provisions of the act without fear or favour. When our wheat of the highest milling value is filched from our crop by those who are already making unjust profits, t'he bulk of the wheat is lowered in price on the European market and the miller gets the difference in quality between the cream of the crop and the skimmed grades without paying anything for it, while no farmer receives a price greater than the export price for his wheat or any other produce. A grain commission that allows such practices is certainly incompetent or wilfully neglectful of its duty. I think no such body of men should 'hold such an important position as that of standing between the grain trade and the farmers to see that justice is done between the two. It is only fair and not unreasonable that we call on the government to remedy this state of affairs. The question does not need to be investigated by any committee; the government is in possession of all the facts. The grain act in this respect is all right. What we need is to have it administered as it is intended it should 'be.

I find that in a letter to the Board of Grain Commissioners dated October 28, 1927, the secretary of the 'Saskatchewan wheat pool asserted the right of the farmer in this respect, but in the reply the board maintained the right of the elevator companies to use the ticket I have under my hand, what is known as the "hybrid' ticket. That reply was dated November 9, 1927. In an article by one of the pool officials reproduced in the Western Producer under .date of October 13, 1927, there is given the clause in the agreement preserving the right of the grower to his grain in accordance with the grain act and also in a letter written by the solicitor of the Manitoba wheat pool the right of the farmer is still maintained. But from the same letter we find that the commissioner, Mr. Matthew Snow, asserted that the board did not include the objectionable wording in their ticket and never approved it. Later on we find that he had to admit that the board ap-

proved the trade using this ticket which contains the objectionable wording.

Many incidents might be quoted, but so that the house will understand the mature of the offence, I will quote just one from my own constituency. Mr. Charles Bell, of Tessier, on November 9 last could not get his wheat out of the local elevator even though he had a special bin ticket and not a "hybrid" ticket. He tendered all legal charges against the wheat in the elevator, but although he had a car already on track to 'load the wheat, the elevator operator would not load it. Mr. Bell at once wired the Board of Grain Commissioners, but they refused to give orders to the elevator company even in this case where there was' no doubt as to Mr. Bell's right in the matter of directing his car to any terminal he might choose. The Board of Grain Commissioners then simply discussed the matter with t'he elevator company at Winnipeg, the Pioneer Grain Company, who intimated they were willing, without prejudice, to comply with Mr. Bell's demand, reserving to themselves the right which they asserted they had under a contract with the wheat pool. It is a pretty kettle of fish we have here when the Board of Grain Commissioners have to consult a grain elevator company to find out whether they can by any contract or otherwise set aside an act of parliament. This board evidently did not know its duty, and was of the opinion that if any contract existed, an act of this parliament could be rescinded at any time by a grain company doing business in Winnipeg whenever it thought that its interests were being hurt.

There is another outstanding case. Robert Cannon, of Aberdeen, wired the board that a hybrid ticket was used, and Commissioner Snow said that it gave the right to the elevator company to ship the grain to the terminal of their own choice because the grain was taken into storage on account of the Saskatchewan pool. It is no business of any elevator company, on whose account it is taken in, and provision for the second name was never made on any ticket approved by the board or by order in council. This means that the Board of Grain Commissioners is allowing the use of a ticket that has not been authorized by itself or approved by order in council. The Board of Grain Commissioners has stated at different times that it had no power to enforce the act in t'hi3 respect. One of the commissioners attending the annual meeting of the Saskatchewan wheat pool this year declared that he would not enforce the act because of the incon-

Grading oj Grain

venience it would cause to the farmers themselves. The farmers in that case gave the board to understand that they expected it to do its duty, and they would be prepared to stand for any inconvenience that would ensue. The board, under section 225, has full power to cancel the license, and the elevator companies, unless some assurance had been given to them either by the Department of Trade and Commerce or by the board itself, knew and must have known that they were using a ticket which rendered them liable to have their license cancelled.

I do not want to speak at any length on this question. I think I have already given the house sufficient information for it to appreciate that nothing can be gained by prolonging this matter, and we expect now that the government will do its dirty. These practices have too long been going on in western Canada. The filching of our cars for mixing purposes and for milling purposes in western Canada is a direct loss to the farmer. This cannot go on for ever, although it does seem that the farmer in western Canada seems to be fair game for plunder by anyone that can get away with it. I say again that the duty of the government in this respect is plain, and we expect the government to do its duty.

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LIB

James Malcolm (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Hon. JAMES MALCOLM (Minister of Trade and Commerce):

It is quite evident,

Mr. Speaker, that the desire of the agriculture and colonization committee was that the very matter which my hon. friend from Rosetown (Mr. Evans) has brought up, and other matters pertaining to the grain act, should have the fullest discussion in committee in a manner in which they could not be discussed in the house. My hon. friend is quite within his rights in calling on the government to correct certain evils which he states exist in connection with the administration of the act, and it is the desire, not only of the government, but I think of this whole parliament, which unanimously last year passed certain amendments to the grain act, to rectify any evils which may exist. I am not desirous, without preparation, of going into the discussion of a matter which I think should be reviewed in committee, and in order to receive time for preparation there is only one thing I can do if it is proposed that this debate shall go on, and that is to move the adjournment of the debate, which I now do.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I take it, Mr. Speaker, that this motion is not debatable.

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LIB
UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Under those circumstances, we shall have to vote against the motion.

After Mr. Speaker had called for the Yeas and Nays:

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Call in the members.

And the members being assembled:

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Since Your Honour invited the members to be called in I have had a conference with the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Malcolm) and the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett), and have ascertained that my viewpoint was not correct. I understood that the motion to adjourn the debate meant an indefinite postponement.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Order,

please. I now find that the Minister of Trade and Commerce is quite willing that the debate shall be proceeded with to-morrow on "motions". Under these circumstances we may be able to avoid the necessity for a vote.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Is it the pleasure of the

house that there be no division?

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March 19, 1929