Mr. J. L. BOWMAN (Dauphin):
join with those hon. members who have already spoken in extending to the mover and seconder of the address in reply to the speech from the throne my congratulations upon the very able and excellent manner in which their duties have been discharged. May I also commend the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) and his cabinet for the very earnest and sincere efforts put forth by them towards the solution of those grave problems with which they have been faced since assuming office, and the great measure of success with which these efforts have met. I would also express the appreciation which is felt by the people of Canada.
It is, of course, to be expected that remarks of this nature would be made on this side of the house. But to my mind a much greater tribute to the government of the day has undoubtedly been paid them unconsciously by hon. members opposite. This debate has been in progress for approximately a week. During that time the right hon. the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) has spoken in a fervent and eloquent address, every word of which denoted the most careful preparation; and he has been followed by many hon. members opposite in addresses in similar vein. But during all those addresses we have not had a single constructive suggestion from the opposite side of the house, saving that which I think was made by the hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Coote) with respect to currency. This, it seems to me, indicates pretty definitely that in the main what should have been done in the way of good government has been done by the government in power to-day.
May I, as representing a constituency in western Canada much interested in agriculture, say a few words in that regard. Sentiments with respect to agriculture have been expressed by so many hon. members that it is pretty difficult to speak on the subject without more or less repeating what has already been said. But very briefly, the situation in agricultural communities is this: that the farmer is not realizing for his agricultural products returns in proportion to what he is paying for the goods which he purchases. There are one or two matters in that connection to which I might definitely refer. There has been in the west for many years a very strong feeling that the price of machinery to the farmer is too high. That opinion has been prevailing in my own constituency not only since 1929 but for some years previously. They have the idea, and I must say it is an idea shared by myself, that the cost of farm machinery is altogether too high. I have not seen last year's financial statement of the Massey-Harris Company, but I understand that that statement purports to show a loss of approximately two million dollars. If that is true-and I have no reason to doubt the truth of the statement-then something 13 wrong somewhere. Judging from the experience of the farmers in my own district, I would say it is because of one thing at least. The company were not selling as much machinery as they should, and the only reason they are not selling that machinery is the fact that it is beyond the means of the farmer in western Canada.
Personally, I do not know, I frankly confess, whether the price of farm machinery is too high or not. But there surely is a way for this house to find out the facts, and I would offer this very humble suggestion. We hav? a standing committee on agriculture empowered, I understand, to bring before it any person or persons to give evidence upon any points respecting which evidence is desired, and I would suggest that the machine companies of Canada be brought before that committee. In that way we should find out what ought to be proper prices, or whether prices are right or not. We shall know definitely just what margin of profit there has been on these articles and whether or not they can be sold at what would appear to be a less prohibitive price.
The hon. member who has just spoken (Mr. Casgrain) referred to the Canadian Pacific Railway scheme announced by the president of that railway, Mr. Beatty. I agree with the hon. gentleman that some good may come of this cooperation. But I say this, that the amount of capital is so small that it is entirely inadequate to meet the call even in western Canada or in a very small portion of western Canada to-day. I do think there is one thing that the farmers throughout Canada desire to-day, and that is credit. I think perhaps the west would have been better off in years past if we had had less credit. But the fact remains that we have become accustomed to receiving credit from the banks, and now when it is needed most we find it pretty well cut off in agricultural communities. I say that in no spirit of animosity to the banks at all; I am merely stating the simple fact that in my own constituency, as well as in others in the west, credit to farmers who are deserving of credit has not been given.
The question of interest rates is important. I think the interest rates in the west are too
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high. They might very well be adjusted. I am not asking credit on behalf of the farmer without any means or without something behind him; all I ask is that the banks extend reasonable credit on a reasonable basis of security.
Much has been said with respect to the price of wheat. Surely no fault can be attributed to this government for the present price of wheat. I note in the reference to wheat by the hon. gentleman who has just spoken, that he simply calls the attention of the house to the fact that the price of wheat has gone down since this government assumed office. I note this, however, that there has been no suggestion at any time since this house opened, from any hon. member opposite, as to what could or might have been done by the government to increase the price of wheat. And so in respect also to the matter of butter. Had we not so many millions upon millions of pounds of butter in cold storage brought in from New Zealand, perhaps the price in Canada to-day would be much better than it is.
There have also come from many quarters of the house tales of hardship from western Canada. I would say, in respect to the province of Manitoba where I have lived practically all of my life, that the people of that province are not broke. They may be badly bent, but they are still in the field and they will see this thing through. All that we in Manitoba ask is that the agricultural interests of western Canada be assisted to the greatest possible extent.
I wish to refer to certain remarks made in the house on Friday last by the hon. member for Montmagny (Mr. LaVergne) when he intimated that the foreign elements of western Canada were undesirable, inclined to bolshevism and the cause of racial division in the west. Surely my hon. friend has been misinformed. Let me say definitely and positively that western Canada is not racially divided. What little talk of secession there has been in the west has been grossly exaggerated; a mountain has been made out of a molehill, and anyone having a knowledge of the situation will agree with the statement of the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Turnbull) that there is no substantial movement for secession in western Canada. Let me further emphasize that the few in number who have been responsible for all the furore are by no means all foreign-born. Speaking for Manitoba, the oldest province in the west, I have yet to hear of a single suggestion of secession from any person in my province. The bare thought of it does not exist and I would remind the
bouse that the population of Manitoba is approximately 675,000. In the next place, if there are in Canada people holding bolshevistic or communistic ideas, they are certainly few in number and are not confined to the west any more than to the east, nor are they people of any particular nationality.
Speaking with particular reference to my constituency, I represent a fairly large riding in the western provinces. I think those on the voters' list number 15,000 to 17,000 people. Approximately .one-half of the population of my constituency is composed of people from continental Europe. These people came to Manitoba after the lands close to the railway lines had been picked up and settled by our own Canadian people. The lands were of poorer quality and harder to bring under cultivation. Nevertheless, these people tackled the proposition, and under these handicaps they have made good. They have brought under cultivation and production and made revenue-bearing lands which but for them would be idle to-day. Operating as they do, perhaps, on a smaller scale, being more interested in mixed farming and being more economical in their methods of operation, they are coming through these trying times better in many cases than some of our own people who have operated on a much larger scale. These people are exceedingly anxious to learn the English language. Their children all go to the public schools. Their children are particularly apt and bright, and in many instances they are at the head of their class in both the public and high schools. Many of the young men and women have attended the university and they are to-day occupying positions of honour in professional and business life ..in all parts of Canada. Owing to their thriftiness and industry they form an integral part of the business life of western Canada. In their homes, as anyone will testify who has visited them, they are most hospitable. They are interested in all things that tend toward the betterment of conditions in the home or in the community. Moreover, practically all these people are naturalized Canadians, and as such, they are entitled to all the rights and privileges of citizens of Canada. To sum the matter up, giving my personal opinion, I would say they were industrious, home-loving and loyal Canadian citizens.
I do not ask the house to accept my opinion alone. I should like to refer to a competition which was held in western Canada last year and which I understand will be held again this year amongst continental Europeans in the west, a community progress competition which originated with Doctor Black, Director of Colonization and Immigration on the Canadian
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National. Let us see what the objects are of this contest. I have in my hand an off-print from Queen's Quarterly, setting forth an article on "continental Europeans in western Canada" by Doctor Walter Murray, President of the University of Saskatchewan. In this pamphlet Doctor Murray states that the basis of judgment of the committees which had the matter in hand was as follows:
The committees were to be judged by their progress in education, in agriculture, in citizenship and in the arts, handicrafts and activities that minister to the home and social life.
Doctor Murray goes on to give a little more definite information as to education, agrioulture, citizenship and so forth.
For evidence of citizenship, a considerable variety of activities were considered, such as participation in cooperative enterprises, community organizations, such as agricultural societies, homemakers' clubs, clubs for boys and girls, school fairs, and, above all, activities for the promotion of health in the school, the home and the community.
May I call the attention of hon. members to the personnel of the judging staff. In Manitoba there were Doctor Mackay, principal of Manitoba college, Mrs. David Watt, at one time president of the Federated Women's Institutes of Canada and Brother Joseph, principal of Provencher school at St. Boniface. For the province of Saskatchewan, Doctor Murray, president of the university, headed the committee, with Mrs. McNaughton, for years a worker and leader among the farm women, and Doctor Hugh Rose of Dartmouth college, a Manitoba Rhodes scholar who spent fifteen years studying the background of the European races and in Alberta Dr. Wallace, president of Alberta university, Miss Gunn, for years president of the United Farm Women and Dr. Fairfield, superintendent of the Dominion experimental farm at Lethbridge.
I think that hon. members of the house will agree that these judges were leaders in education and in social welfare and community work in western Canada.
What did the judges say with respect to the conditions which they found among these continental Europeans who had settled in Canada? Dr. Black went to Saskatoon during the time the competition was on and there delivered an address to the Canadian club. Subsequently he made a summary of that address, which summary I have in my hand. Dr. Black opens this summary in the following manner:
The community progress competitions among European settlements in the west, which we inaugurated last year, have already demonstrated that among the many thousands of
settlers who have come to us from other countries in the past half century, there is found material of the finest type for the building of a splendid Canadian citizenship, with great gifts of industry and integrity.
I omitted to mention in the proper chronological order that in this contest in the three provinces forty communities entered representing about 125,000 persons, 600 schools and nearly 25,000 school children. Thirteen different nationalities of European extraction were represented. What did the judges find as they went about during their judging of the contest?
Everywhere the judges were received with kindness and a courtesy characteristic of Europe at its best. It is difficult to give an accurate picture of one's impressions. Perhaps the most general impression was great surprise and pleasure at the progress made, and the prospect of further advancement. These people have come to Canada to make homes for themselves and their children, not to make fortunes to take back to Europe or to the coast where they may live in idleness. They were industrious and thrifty and have a love for the soil. While they retain an affection for the land of their birth, its customs, language and history, they are anxious to be regarded as Canadians. Some groups resent the use of any other name than Canadian, and all sing "O Canada" and the National Anthem with a fervour and a vigour that put the native-born to shame.
That quotation is from the pamphlet by Dr. Murray, to which I have already referred. Dr. Murray goes on to say:
It may be said that the school buildings, their equipment, sanitary arrangements and grounds are as good as those found in eastern Canada, in some cases better. The efforts put forth for their school by these settlers from continental Europe, and their appreciation of the value of education surpass those of the Canadian or British. In some districts the rate for schools exceeds thirty mills. In one district three families [DOT] practically assumed responsibility for a new school building and the support of a teacher. The ambitions of the children and of the parents for their children to go to high school, normal school or university, was surprising.
Let me read what Dr. Black has to say in summarizing the results of the competition in each of the three western provinces:
In Alberta our first prize community is a twenty-year old settlement of Ukrainians, with a highly satisfactory record of progress. Most of the farm homes in the district are of a modern type, and the schools are astonishingly well equipped and conducted.
Dr. Black summarizes the situation in Saskatchewan in the following words:
In Saskatchewan the story was one of continual surprises. Our first prize community is a German settlement of more than thirty years' standing peopled by hard working, thrifty settlers, who radiate an air of plenty and prosperity, but who have their own stories of hardships endured.
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The findings of the judges in Manitoba were summarized as follows:
In Manitoba we found communities of Ukrainians, Poles, Dutch and German Menno-nites, and other nationalities, which not only revealed to us amazing tales of pioneer struggles and hardships, but gave evidence of success won from agricultural conditions which I doubt very much if many Anglo-Saxons would have had the patience and fortitude to stick it out. In the far northern Ukrainian community of Ethelbert-
I might mention that Ethelbert is in my own constituency. Ethelbert won a prize in this contest. I must admit, however, that they took second place to the prize won by Rossburn in the constituency of my hon. friend from Marquette (Mr. Mullins). To continue:
In the far northern Ukrainian community of Ethelbert the judges saw again examples of success won over thirty years of struggle with difficult agricultural conditions, and heard educational records of the large public and high school in that community which were on a level with the best in the province. . . .
Wherever the judges went they heard continually of the sacrifices made by these people from other lands that their children might have full advantage of the educational facilities we provide here for them. No sacrifice seems to have been too great for this purpose.
In all the communities visited our party had evidence in abundance of the industry and genius of the people in these communities, and of their wonderful attainments in handicrafts and music, for everywhere they went they were entertained in the most charming fashion with music of choirs and of gifted soloists; with native dancing, and in all places we saw exhibits of exquisite handicraft.
With respect to the English language and the learning of it, may I quote again from Dr. Black's speech to the Canadian club? He says:
It has also established beyond question, I think, that there is no English language problem in these communities. In every school visited, and the judges made it a point to visit at least four schools in each community, the language was well taught and well spoken in all grades above grade one.
While my own opinion in matters such as this would only be my own opinion, I do submit to this house that the opinion of men and women of the character of the judges who were in charge of this contest is entitled to the respect of hon. members of this house. In this connection may I say finally that as a new member of this house I have endeavoured to render a small measure of justice to those new Canadians in western Canada of whom I think we have no reason to feel ashamed.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY