Mr. Bennett, departing for Britain, expressed confidence in his mission, and up to the very end, when the failure of the conference became clear to all, faith existed that somehow he would induce the British government to purchase the bulk of the dominion's wheat surplus.
Mr. Bennett within the restricted ground of his "Canada first" policy, undoubtedly did his best. His offer to the British people of a preference in Canadian markets, based upon a 10 per cent increase in the duties upon all foreign products, was sincere. The weakness of the plan, so far as the British people were concerned, was that while it involved a guarantee that the British would buy Canada's wheat, there was no corresponding guarantee that the Canadian people would buy British goods. On the contrary, the actual position was that, taking account of the tariff increases imposed by the special session of the Canadian parliament, the barriers against British goods were higher than before.
In the circumstances. Canadian opinion did not greatly blame Britain for rejecting the Bennett plan.
Then,, further down in the same article I find the following:
So Mr. Bennett has returned to a Canada which has still some 250,000,000 bushels of unsold wheat, which has an acute unemployment problem, and whose declining revenues threaten an enormous deficit at the close of the fiscal year. The weakness of his position is that, like Mr. Hoover in the United States, he took office on a platform of prosperity. Mr. Bennett, electionteering told the Canadian people that failure to market the western wheat crop and prevalence of unemployment were the fruits of the Liberal ministry of Mr. King. After four months in office, and despite millions voted for unemployment relief, unemployment is still acute, and the wheat of the west remains unsold.
Even after that conference we of the west still hoped that something would be done. Towards the close of the year the newspapers throughout Canada, and particularly those of the west, heralded the visit of the Prime Minister to Regina. Through the press we were told that he was going to bring some sort of policy to the people of the west which would give us help. Everybody looked forward with hopefulness to that meeting on December 30 in the city of Regina. I believe interest was as great in all parts of the west concerning the visit of the Prime Minister as it was in my particular district. People who were not able to go to Regina to hear the speech drove miles where necessary, to hear it over the radio. We expected that we were going to hear something. I had the opportunity of listening to that address, and while it did not convey very much to me because there was nothing very definite as to the policy or plan which would be followed, nevertheless I still had hopes that the Prime Minister had something in mind which he was not in a position fully to divulge at the moment.
On January 2, I received a letter from one of my constituents, a great admirer of the right hon. Prime Minister, in which he addresses me as follows:
The Address-Mr. Bothwell
Beaver Flats, December 31, 1930. Mr. C. E. Bothwell, K.C.,
Federal Member for Swift Current.
We listened with interest to Mr. R. B. Bennett last night at Regina, and we want to be among the first to take advantage of his scheme to get into diversified farming. As you will no doubt have the particulars please let us have application forms and particulars.
Also could you tell us about the federal farm loan board or what you call it.
How about a job taking 1931 census?
This ought to be a happy New Year. Let us hope so.
I replied to that letter telling him that I did not know what this proposal was that Mr. Bennett had made in Regina on December 30, any more than he did. The only information I had was what I was able to gather over the radio, but I gave him an answer in connection with the farm loan board and told him at the same time that I was writing the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) to find out what this scheme was. I directed the following letter to Hon. Mr. Weir-
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY