April 20, 1931

PRICE TREND


The Address-Mr. Gardiner I have another table which strikes at the root of the situation in a somewhat different manner. This table was prepared by the executive of our organization and it was presented to the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Ryckman) when the hon. gentleman was touring western Canada in October last. I am going to read only one table to show the purchasing power of a bushel of wheat to-day in comparison with the purchasing power in former years of the same commodity. May I say, Mr. Speaker, that these price levels to which I shall refer are taken on the same date in succeeding years. On October 22, 1906, the cash price of a binder at the city of Calgary was $175. On October 21, of that year the cash price for No. 1 northern wheat in store at Fort William was 74i cents. The handling charges and elevator profits were 5 cents. The freight from Calgary to Fort William was 14.4 cents. The price to the shipper was 54.85 cents. At that time it took 319 bushels of wheat to buy an eight-foot binder complete. In the year 1913 the price of a binder was $190. On the same date in that year it took 318 bushels of wheat to buy a binder. In the year 1914 the price of the binder remained at $190 but the price of wheat had gone up and as a result it required only 194 bushels to buy an eight-foot binder. In 1926 the price of the binder was not $190 but $295. Yet the price of wheat had risen somewhat and it required in that year, despite the higher price of the binder, only 231.5 bushels of wheat to buy a binder. Now we come to last year, 1930. In that year the price of a binder had been reduced to $287. The price of wheat on that date was only 72f cents. Allowing 5 cents for handling charges and elevator profit, and 15.6 cents for freight the price received by the farmer was only 52.025 cents per bushel. It required 551.5 bushels of wheat to buy an eight-foot binder last year. To my mind those figures show clearly the story of conditions in western Canada. I have in my hand other tables dealing with other classes of implements. May I point out further that the comparisons on these tables are based on No. 1 northern in store at Fort William. The average grade of wheat is not No. 1 northern; No. 3 or No. 4 is the average grade the farmers deliver. That is to say, if you take the grades from the highest down to the lowest, the average of the whole will be between No. 3 and 4 northern. This means that it takes many more bushels of wheat to buy the implements that I have quoted than the figure that has been given to me. I make this explanation because I believe it to be necessary. 22110-*6J Now, as I said before, the position of the western farmer is not a happy one. His liabilities are growing at a rapid rate. And many reasons can be given for this condition of affairs, but it all comes back again to the problem of the price levels of agricultural products. When we consider, for instance, the interest charges which the western farmer pays, more particularly the interest charges on overdue accounts, these are very burdensome, and consequently there is no hope of improvement, as far as I can see, unless we get some modification of the farmer's debts, or unless his interest charges generally are reduced; unless this is done I can see no hope of the liabilities of the farmers becoming substantially less in the near future. One of the weaknesses of our monetary system, or our medium of exchange, is that all governments seem to want to stabilize that medium at a certain level. Why governments should do the best in their power, in fact take the resources of the state for that particular purpose, I do not know. I am not aware of any reason why the state should put the national resources behind our dollar for stabilization purposes, any more than it should put its resources behind the stabilization of manufactured or agricultural products, as the case may be. Take the case of a farmer who in good faith buys implements or contracts a debt of any kind when the price of agricultural products is at a high level, and that of other commodities in proportion, and then try to realize what it means to the debtor during a deflation such as we are passing through at the present time. It means that the debtor's debts have increased, because through the reduction of the price level he will have to give more of his products to meet his liabilities. That practically is due to the fact that we do not permit the dollar to fluctuate the same as we permit the price levels of goods and services to fluctuate. And it is only fair to the debtor class that there should be a corresponding fluctuation of the dollar. My hon. friend from Macleod (Mr. Coote) has plated before the house a proposal which I think hon. members should consider seriously, because it seems to me to be the most important proposal that has yet been submitted in an effort to remedy the conditions that we are passing through at the present time. I cannot see why we should be so fearful of the interests of the creditor class. The creditor class in this and other countries seem to be given all the privileges. No debtor class has ever been given any privilege in this country at all. Therefore I submit in all seriousness that the creditor class should be placed in exactly the same The Address-Mr. Gardiner



position as the debtor class, and that it should not secure any privileges by reason of the natural wealth of the country being put behind our dollar to stabilize the dollar whether it is worth stabilizing or not. I believe that is the biggest problem that confronts us today, and until something is done along these lines I am satisfied that we shall never begin to recover even the meagre prosperity that we have had during the last few years. During these times of stress and trouble there is one class in this country that receives all kinds of gratuitous advice-the farming class. We are told in the speech from the throne that we must reduce production costs. I say to the government "All right." I throw out this challenge to the government: If they are sincere in stating that it is essential because of world conditions that the farmer reduce his production costs, then let the government show us how to do it. How can we do it? I submit to the house that to-day the farmer in western Canada is producing as efficiently as, and in fact more efficiently than, any other class of farmers in any other country in the world. The farmers of Canada use the most up-to-date machinery, they have the benefits of the scientific research of our experimental farms. I am satisfied of the fact that unless something drastic is done it is useless to tell them that they must reduce their production costs before they can expect to succeed. But I can see where perhaps the farmer may be able to reduce his production costs somewhat. If it is the intention of the government that in order to reduce their production costs the farmers of the west must accept a lower standard of living, then the sooner the government tells them the better it will be for the government and for the west. As far as I can see there is no hope of reducing production costs except by the western farmer reducing his standard of living. And if that standard of living is reduced, then hon. members can see what it will mean to industry in eastern Canada, because the western farmer is a good buyer when he has the funds, and his ability to purchase means a good deal to eastern industry. If any evidence is required as to whether the western farmers is, for instance, producing grain at a cost comparative with the cost of production of similar grain in another country, I have the information before me. It is the report dated March 4, 1924, made by the United States tariff commission to the president-. Hon. members may say that this is an old report and that conditions may be somewhat different to-day from what they were then. True, there may be a slight change, but it is slight only. Anyone who remembers the price levels in 1924 will recall that manufactured goods were selling at about the same level as they are to-day, maybe a little lower, but not much. This report is the result of an investigation undertaken by the United States tariff commission for the purpose of determining wdiat duty should be placed on wheat importations. The commission realized that the greatest competitor of their wheat-producing states was Canada, because in Minnesota, South and North Dakota and Montana the quality of wheat produced is nearly as good as that produced in the Canadian prairie provinces. The commission found that the average cost of producing wheat at thirty-six points in those four states, after taking into consideration land, interest and other charges, was $1.44 a bushel. In order to ascertain the actual conditions in Canada the commission made inquiries in our three prairie provinces at forty-three points, taking evidence from eighteen to twenty farmers at each point. As a result of their inquiries the commission found that the average production cost of wheat in western Canada was 93 cents a bushel, as against the average cost of production in the four wheat-growing states of $1.44. That is why the high duty of 42 cent3 a bushel was imposed on grain entering the United States-to protect the United States grain-grower against his rival in western Canada. I think that shows fairly conclusively that the eost-of-production bogey has been over-worked. May I say in passing that it is useless for the government, it is useless for armchair farmers, it is useless for other wouldfoe advisers to say that the only hope of the grain-grower of western Canada is in lower costs of production. In my judgment that is almost an impossibility under present conditions. Now I am going to discuss another phase of the situation, with regard to the price levels of different commodities. I have studied this problem for some time, Mr. Speaker, and I have come <to the conclusion that the most important cost, or the most important element in the cost, of producing any commodity is the labour time element. The labour time element is the most important element in the cost of producing commodities, whether they be agricultural commodities or manufactured goods. I am not going to take a back seat to any one in respect to the value of the labour time of the farmer in comparison to that of other classes of producers. The farmer is absolutely essential to the welfare of the people; we cannot get along without him, because he provides the food which is essential to life. Therefore I say that the labour time element The Address-Mr. Gardiner entering into the cost of production M all goods should be given very serious consideration. In my judgment it is the most important element of all, and consequently should be given its rightful place. What is the condition to-day? If you analyze the price levels, as you may analyze them, you will find that probably the farmer will have to put in three hours or more in producing an agricultural product which, when exchanged for manufactured goods, will bring in exchange a product which only contains one hour of labour time, and this problem is being understood more and more by the western farmer. The time is coming when he will accept no other form of exchange than that which contains the absolute labour time element on the average. I think just now the western farmer is realizing this important element in the production of his goods, and as I said before as soon as he understands that principle thoroughly, and finds that it will explain to him very largely the discrepancy in price levels, I am satisfied that no government and no class of people in this country will be able to stand against the demand of the farmer that his labour time be reckoned as being just as valuable as the labour time of any other class of producer. Now, Mr. Speaker, I find that I have far more material on my desk than I will be able to deal with this afternoon. Permit me to take a moment to deal with the policy of the banks in western Canada, and on this point let me congratulate the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) on the very sensible thing which he did some time ago, in suggesting to the banks that they should give better credit for spring work in western Canada. The banks say the farmers of western Canada are securing all the advances to which they are legitimately entitled. If that is so, Mr. Speaker, then I take it from the banks that western Canada is insolvent; that is what the statement of the banks would indicate. Of that there is no question. I had the opportunity of going home at Easter, and I made specific inquiry on that point. I drove for two days among men in my constituency whom I knew and upon whom I could depend in order to find out whether they were getting a reasonable amount of credit. Of course we do not expect to get the same amount of credit that was handed out when we were passing through more prosperous times but, sir, I did not meet one person in my two days of driving who had been able yet to secure one bank credit for this year's spring operations. Yet the banks say they are giving to the farmers of the west all the credit to which they are entitled. Why do not the banks have the courage of their convictions and tell us that in their judgment western agriculture is insolvent, and then we will know what to do. I have no desire to see the banks place loans where they feel they have no chance of being repaid. That would not be good business either for the farmer, for the banks or for the people of this country, but I do object to this system, bonused and privileged as it is by legislation of this country, saying it is doing what it is not doing. Once more I congratulate the minister on his statement in this connection. May I say also, Mr. Speaker, that in my judgment if the farmers of western Canada to-day were forced to liquidate, eighty per cent of them would be insolvent, notwithstanding all that has been said by my good friend from Marquette (Mr. Mullins).


CON

Henry Alfred Mullins

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MULLINS:

Is my hon. friend speaking for Saskatchewan only, or for the entire west?

Topic:   PRICE TREND
Permalink
UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER :

I say eighty per cent

of the farmers of the west would be insolvent if they were forced to liquidate. If price levels get better they may be able to get away from that condition but, sir, if this condition continues for another twelve months my advice to the western farmer will be that his only hope is to go through bankruptcy. That is a hard thing to say, but I say it in all seriousness and fully realizing the position which I occupy. There is no hope for western farmers unless conditions improve within the next twelve months. Their only hope is to get rid of their liabilities, and the only honourable course open to them, will be to do as the business man does when he is in that position, and go through bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is not a nice word to use. I never liked the sound of it, but it describes a course of action which it is sometimes necessary to follow. The word we use now to indicate that particular course of action is not so harsh as it used to be in years gone by. In the earlier years of financing through banks, instead of calling it bankruptcy the people used to call it bankrupture, or in other words ruptured by the banks. That just about describes the position of the people of this country.

I want to make one suggestion which may be of some value. Some of my colleagues have made other suggestions, but it is not my purpose to cover the ground which they have covered so well. In western Canada today we have a certain cooperative selling organization which does the biggest part of its business in selling the products of the farmers to outside countries. When they sell

The Address-Mr. Gardiner

these products, such as wheat, oats, all kinds of grain and sometimes live stock, and so on, they sell them in competition with the world. We in this corner of the house have been blamed for asking for compensation because of tariff duties which have increased the prices of the goods we have to buy. The tariff does not protect agriculture; we have had a very good illustration of that since the special session. Although duties were made higher the prices of agricultural products have gone lower and lower all the time, f make what I consider to be a fair suggestion to the government: in view of the fact that these cooperative organizations are selling farm products at competitive prices in the world's markets, I suggest that these same organizations be permitted to import into this country goods of equal value to those exported without any duty being imposed. The farmer would thus be put in the same position in his buying as he is in his selling, but only to the extent that he exports on a competitive basis. I believe this suggestion to be well worth the consideration of the government.

My time will soon expire, but I desire to deal with another matter. What we are debating is the amendment to the address in reply to the speech from the throne, moved by the right hon. the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King). It is not my business to criticize to any extent what this hon. gentleman does, but permit me to say this: as far as the amendment is concerned, it is wholly negative in character and does not get us anywhere. During the war we were obliged to form a coalition government in order to unite all the forces of the people. I do not suggest that we form such a government at the present time, but I do think that the parties should drop politics in order to consider the really serious condition with which we are faced at the present time. From time to time we have had a pensions committee operating in connection with this house, which committee has always operated without a display of party feeling. I would suggest that another committee should be appointed by this house to be conducted in a non-partisan manner for the purpose of examining into economic conditions and reporting or recommending to this house from time to time anything which they think would be of value.

We have in Canada a research council which deals with production. My judgment is that we should have such a council dealing with economic conditions. This council should sit all the time and be composed of men who have their finger on the economic pulse of Canada, and who would be at any and all

times in position to advise the government as to the best thing to do. It is said that we are to have a new tariff commission. I have no objection to that, but I believe that an economic research council would be a thousand times more valuable to the people of this country than any tariff commission which might be set up.

Unemployment in Canada is still rife. While out west, I had a rather peculiar experience in Calgary. The city of Vancouver ceased the supplying of relief to single men. They made up a nice parcel of food and told them to get out. I am told that they even assisted in the finding of empty box cars in which they could travel as comfortably as possible. These men arrived in Alberta, and upon reaching the railway yards of such places as Calgary, the railway police boosted them off the cars. Fortunately for these men who had no place to go, as soon as they were boosted off the cars by the railway police the provincial police came along and put them on again. That is a terrible state of affairs for a country possessing the wealth of Canada. All the way from Calgary to Ottawa we saw these men strung along the line. We heard that at Fort William they had to go and beg meals from the people of that good and hospitable city. That is not fair to the unemployed men.

Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that we believe that the time has come for cooperation in the solving of these problems, and believing that the amendment now before the house is negative in character, I move, seconded by Mr. Heaps, a subamendment as follows:

That all the words after "that" in the amendment be stricken out, and the following substituted therefor, .

This house fully realizes that there exists in Canada an economic situation whieh constitutes a national emergency, which can only be met by extraordinary measures;

This house is of opinion that the present situation calls for the greatest possible degree of cooperation on the part of all its members, and to that end, and that this cooperation may be given in the most practical and efficient manner, Your Excellency's advisers should give consideration to the appointment of a special committee of parliament, to which committee would be assigned the duty of examining into the causes and extent of the present depression, with the view of suggesting such appropriate action as might best correct the present situation and relieve present suffering, and as might also render less probable the recurrence of such disasters in the future;

This house urges that the need is great and immediate, and that this committee should be appointed without delay, that it be given all necessary powers and authority, and that it be instructed to proceed with all expedition and to report to this house during the present session of parliament; _

While the above suggested action should assist in the ultimate solution of these great

The Address-Mr. MacMillan (Saskatoon)

national problems, this house realizes that there are conditions in this country which require more immediate consideration and to that end this house is of opinion,

(a) That the failure or inability of our hanks to provide the credit which is essential to our farmers in respect to their spring operations, render it imperative that consideration be given to some system of federal assistance, whether directly, by way of bank guarantee, or otherwise;

(b) That the serious situation which still prevails in respect of unemployment demands that consideration be given to some immediate action looking toward increased employment, and a further measure of direct relief where such is found necessary.

Topic:   PRICE TREND
Permalink
CON

Frank Roland MacMillan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. F. R. MacMILLAN (Saskatoon):

Mr. Speaker, I desire to join with others who have spoken in offering my congratulations to you upon your elevation to the Speaker's chair in this house, and also to the mover (Mr. Cormier) and the seconder (Mr Porteous) of the address.

I have noted in all of the addresses delivered by my hon. friends opposite, and more particularly by those who represent constituencies in Saskatchewan, a note of pessimism. In fact, one would almost think that the hour of death had arrived. I am not surprised at this attitude of mind of hon. members opposite-they are the party of divine right, and finding themselves in the shades of opposition, they paint pictures of blue ruin. I would remind hon. members opposite that prior to August last, the Liberal party had been the government of Canada for the past nine years, and if, as they have said, blue ruin faces our country and the province of Saskatchewan, then they must shoulder some of the responsibility for this condition of affairs. The government of the leader of the opposition has moulded the policy of this country during the past nine years, and if, as they admit, we are faced with blue ruin, whose fault is it? Let us ask ourselves that question. There can be but one answer: Out of their own mouths they condemn the policy which the Liberal government have been following during the past nine years. They go further, they condemn the leader of the late government in the policies which that government has been following.

Then again, Mr. Speaker, the late government have had as their supporters during the past twenty-five years, a Liberal administration in the province of Saskatchewan, ready to jump at any time at the crack of my right hon. friend's whip. We on this side of the house who represent constituencies in Saskatchewan know full well the ramifications of the Liberal machine in that province in both the provincial and federal fields. We know of the ramifications of the Jacques

Bureau and Bronfman affair; we know that as a result of the findings of three eminent judges, provincial and mounted police were used by the Liberal party as political workers to further the cause of Liberalism in Saskatchewan. Now our hon. friends opposite come to the house, stand up in their places just eight months after the Conservative government has taken over the reins of office, and tell the country that the government of the day is responsible for the conditions that exist. Was there ever a more ridiculous statement? Hon. members opposite are fooling no one but themselves.

A great deal has been said about election promises. Permit me to quote an editorial which appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press on Saturday, September 27, 1930. The article goes on to say;

However far the discussion may range on the intrinsic merits of Mr. Bennett's tariff policy, there can only be general agreement on the vigour he has displayed since he took office, and on the speed and thoroughness with which he made his ideas effective in Canada's fiscal system. In six weeks Mr. Bennett has selected his ministers, formed his government, revolutionized the tariff schedules, made a drastic upward revision of the dumping statute, created a $20,000,000 fund and scheme in aid of unemployment, and in two weeks' time pushed through the house, with the forced approval of the opposition groups, a mass of the most drastic and contentious legislation ever brought down in a Canadian parliament. There is something heroic in these accomplishments, and Mr. Bennett deserves all the credit which his political feats entitle him to receive.

If his promise to give the country parliamentary action was perfectly sincere, his declarations of policy, it can also now be seen, were inspired by a sincerity equally deep. When Mr. Bennett was trumpeting his tariff doctrines on the compaign platforms it was natural to allow for a certain amount of exaggeration in the statements, and to assume that when they came to be reduced to practice an inevitable modification would take place. This was an entirely wrong assumption. . . . There is an intrepidity about his unqualified inauguration of his projects which commands respect entirely apart from other considerations. Whatever the future brings him it can never be said that he displayed either weakness or doubt when he became Prime Minister.

This is what the greatest Liberal organ in western Canada has to say about the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) It is a conclusive answer to the leader of the opposition when he speaks about broken promises. I would like to congratulate the government of the day on calling the house together for the short session in September last. The unemployment relief measures passed on that occasion have helped thousands of our people through the past winter, and have relieved hardship and suffering. I desire to quote some figures as to the relief work done in the con-

728 [DOT] COMMONS

The Address-Mr. MacMillan (Saskatoon)

stituency which I have the honour to represent. I quote from a letter written by the city engineer of Saskatoon under date of March 6, 1931. It goes on to say that as a result of the unemployment relief measures passed in the House of Commons during the short session the city of Saskatoon was able to give 287,576 men hours' work. It spent $136,895 in wages prior to the 6th day of March, and gave employment to 1,826 different married men.

I want to take this opportunity of congratulating the Prime Minister on his contribution at the Imperial and economic conference held in London last fall. As a result of these deliberations the Prime Minister succeeded in bringing about a continuance of the deliberations of the economic conference to be held in Ottawa some time during the coming summer, and I look forward with confidence to the result of these deliberations.

In western Canada we are confronted with unusual conditions and my hon. friends opposite, by their continued blue ruin talk, their whispers of death, are not contributing anything looking to a solution. This is no time for that sort of idle talk. I have heard laboured arguments trying to place the responsibility for the low price of wheat at the door of the government of the day. I am going to read an article which appeared in a British journal, and there were many such articles. The article in question is copied by the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix in an editorial mder date of March 5, 1930. It reads:

Those who deny that there is hostility to the_ w'heat pool in Great Britain would have difficulty explaining a front page article in a recent issue of The People, a popular British paper. It is headed: "Vast Gamble to Hold Prices Up At Our Expense: How Canadian Pool Stored Its Grain to Squeeze Money Out of Our Pockets." These headings are in large type and are followed by a two-column article from a special "city correspondent." The following are typical paragraphs:

Now, since Canada is the greatest wheat-producing country in the world, what the wheat pool has really been trying to do is to make a corner in wheat. And now it looks like being beaten, exactly as every private wheat gambler has been beaten in the past, by the visible supply.

For wheat is a commodity which can never be really cornered. Vast though the Canadian crops may be, wheat is growing in other countries all over the world. And last year the Argentine stepped in and sold us quite enough grain to make up for what Canada was holding back.

In this connection I am amazed at a piece of impudent "special pleading" in the prowheat-pool press. Let me give a quotation:-

"The Canadian farmers, through their wheat pool, declared: 'We ask a fair price in keeping with the general standard of living in Canada.' "

I ask this question: Had the present government anything to do with such propaganda as this? These articles appeared during the term of office of the late Liberal administration. I wonder if any hon. member sitting to your left, Mr. Speaker, who is a farmer from Saskatchewan and a member of the wheat pool, took any action as a result of such articles as the one I have just read? If they did, no one ever heard about it. The country is looking for constructive criticism and not the vapourings of theorists. I am not speaking for or against the wheat pool, but it is only a waste of time to try to make out that the government of the day is in any way responsible for the low price of wheat.

A great deal has been said about the effect of the tariff changes made during the short session, and hon. members opposite have tried to establish that commodity prices are going up as a result of these tariff changes. I am going to read an article which appeared in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix on December 11, 1930, and I do not think any hon. member will be guilty of saying this is a Conservative paper, because it is one of the Sifton string. The gentleman who gave this interview to the press is a strong Liberal supporter, and therefore his remarks in this connection should have some weight with his colleagues on the opposite side of the house. This is from the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, under date of December 11, 1930:

Price cuts in many commodities, some as great as 35 per cent, will do much to bolster Christmas retail trade in Saskatoon and the province generally, in the opinion of \V. L. McQuarrie, provincial secretary of the Retail Merchants' Association.

According to Mr. McQuarrie, prices in nearly all departments of the retail trade have been dropping steadily for several months. Groceries and other foodstuffs have been sold at a very close margin for some time, investigation has shown, and at the present time many varieties of canned goods are being retailed at production costs. The retail prices of all groceries have been reduced, Mr. McQuarrie points out, with the possible exception of jam. The reductions for the most part range from 10 to 15 per cent, and sugar is being retailed at a figure very close to wholesale cost.

Cuts have also been recorded in men's and women's clothing, 20 to 25 per cent; furniture, 15 to 25 per cent; hardware, 10 per cent, with a few articles down 30 per cent; meat, 20 to 35 per cent; jewelry, 10 to 15 per cent, particularly silver hollow-ware and English china. While these reductions apply particularly to retail stores in Saskatoon, it is believed that prices have taken a corresponding drop in the trade in other cities and towns of Saskatchewan.

A survey of prices showed that articles of men's and women's clothing, such as overcoats, shoes, silk and woollen dress goods, ladies' ready-to-wear and millinery had dropped 20

The Address-Mr. MacMillan (Saskatoon)

and 23 per cent during the past four months, in ladies' furs the reduction runs from 20 to 30 per cent, and in hosiery-

Such as my hon. friend from Weyburn (Mr. Young) displayed the other day, the reductions according to the secretary of the Retail Merchants' Association, have been from 15 to 20 per cent.

Topic:   PRICE TREND
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

What is the date of

that?

Topic:   PRICE TREND
Permalink
CON

Frank Roland MacMillan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacMILLAN (Saskatoon):

I am

quoting from the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix of December 11, 1930.

It is a strange picture, Mr. Speaker. We have Liberals in the House of Commons stating that these very articles are higher in price as a result of changes in the tariff, while at the same time their supporters in the field, whose business it is to know, are giving the country actual data as to the reductions in prices that have taken place on a large scale. Consistency, thou art a jewel!

I am satisfied, Mr. Speaker, that the appointment of a royal commission to look into the effect which trading in futures on the Winnipeg grain exchange has upon the ultimate price which the farmer receives for his grain is a move in the right direction. I am of the opinion that the commission should be able to decide this question in a satisfactory manner.

I should like also, notwithstanding the remarks of some of my hon. friends opposite, to convey my thanks to President E. W. Beatty, of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and those associated with him, for coming forward at this time with a constructive plan looking to the gradual diversification of farming in districts in the prairie provinces where mixed farming can be carried on successfully. Some hon. members opposite from the province of Saskatchewan have belittled the Beatty proposal to loan money to western farmers at low rates of interest in an endeavour to help solve certain aspects of our economic situation. This proposal did not in any way suggest that the farmers of Saskatchewan should all diversify their operations. Far from it, but my hon. friends opposite well know that there are great areas in Saskatchewan where more diversification is desirable. Would my hon. friends opposite be prepared to go back to Saskatchewan and tell their constituents that they do not want cheap money? Why confuse freight rates with the Beatty proposal? Perhaps something might be done towards lowering freight rates. Certainly

it is desirable, if it be possible. But that has nothing whatever to do with this farm loan scheme.

Topic:   PRICE TREND
Permalink
CON
CON

Frank Roland MacMillan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacMILLAN (Saskatoon):

After you fellows stop barking so much.

I wish to quote a few figures in respect to the development of the live stock industry in Saskatchewan and the farm situation generally. These figures are taken from the report of the Saskatchewan Royal Commission on Immigration and Settlement, which report was submitted to the government of Saskatchewan on September 10, 1930, and therefore is the latest reliable authority available. Turning to page 95 of the report I find that the total capital value per farm in Saskatchewan is given from 1901 to 1926. I shall not read all the figures, but I find that the average value of farm property per farm in Saskatchewan in 1916 was $10,603, and in 1921, when the late government came into power, $13,814. In 1926 the value had gone down to $11,405, and it is down still further to-day. I will now give the figures of the land value per farm, as given in this report. In 1921 the land value per farm was $8,878, and in 1926, $6,951.

Let us look at the picture so far as buildings are concerned. The value in buildings per farm in 1916 was $975; in 1921, $1,812, and in 1926, $1,825. Implements and machinery had a value per farm in 1916 of $855; in 1921, $1,479, and in 1926, $1,439.

Now let us get a picture of the live stock business. The capital invested in live stock per farm in Saskatchewan was as follows:

Capital invested in live stock,

Year per farm

1901 $ 931

1911 1,218

1916 1,851

1921 1.645

1926 1,190

It will readily be seen from the figures which I have just quoted that the capital investment in buildings, implements and machinery has practically doubled since 1916, while the capital investment in live stock has decreased by $700, or nearly 40 per cent between 1916 and 1926; and if the figures were available for the year 1930, I am satisfied that the capital investment, so far as live stock is concerned, would just be half what it was in the years 1916, and would be down to the amount of capital investment in live stock for the year 1901, which was $931 per farm. Surely the Department of Agriculture of the

730 COMMONS

The Address-Mr. MacMillan (Saskatoon)

late administration has some responsibility in this connection. These figures were readily available to the department at any time.

The capital investment in what might be termed frozen assets has doubled, and the capital investment in the productive end of the business, so far as live stock is concerned, has dwindled until it is now about the same as it was thirty years ago. In view of these figures it is amazing that some hon. members opposite speak belittlingly of a scheme advanced to right this situation.

I believe that the government should seriously consider the question of building a packing plant in western Canada. I am of the opinion that closer cooperation between the departments of Agriculture and Trade and Commerce is long past due. The operation of a government packing plant as a promotional propaganda instrument on behalf of the live stock industry looking to the opening up of the British market, and working in close cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Commerce, would ultimately find markets for our live stock and more particularly pork products.

Some will say that such a plant would not pay. Perhaps it would not. The idea of such an innovation is to get into the British market, and once properly established in that market, with the assistance, in the field and on the farms, of the Agriculture departments, both provincial and federal, I believe our farmers would soon supply the regular flow of uniform and standard products required by the export trade. Such a plant would be in the interests of the packer as much as the farmer, and is not meant in any way to supplant the packer. Opening new markets is a costly affair and with our over-capitalized packing industry in its present condition, I do not look for much relief in that direction.

Topic:   PRICE TREND
Permalink
LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. A. A. HEAPS (North Winnipeg):

Mr. Speaker, the mover of the subamendment has this afternoon dealt with agricultural conditions. In the time at my disposal it is my intention to deal with industrial conditions as they prevail in the Dominion. Before doing so, however, I wish to make some brief comments on the speech to which we have just listened. The hon. member for Saskatoon (Mr. MacMillan) has referred copiously to statistics to show how well off are the farmers in the province of Saskatchewan. Those same statistics could be utilized to show the fortunate position of the average person in the whole Dominion. According to figures which I read recently I find that the average wealth per person in Canada amounts to S2.995. On the basis of those figures my hon. friend from

Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth), who happens to be the father of six children, would be worth about $24,000. The greater the per capita wealth of the individuals in a province the greater is the indebtedness of those individuals who happen to live there. The per capita wealth of the farmers of Saskatchewan is represented by mortgages and loans on their property owned by the wealthy financiers of eastern Canada. The greater their debt, or the greater their per capita wealth, just that much greater will be their difficulty to meet their obligations. So far as the speech of the previous speaker is concerned, that is all I wish to say.

My purpose in seconding the subamendment to-day was, if possible, to bring home to the government the gravity of the existing industrial situation as it affects the workers of the Dominion of Canada. So far this session the attitude of the government has been somewhat disappointing. We have had very little opportunity, in fact no opportunity at all, to obtain from the government a declaration as to what its policy may be on the question of unemployment. In the special session held last September there was a great rush to finish the work in hand because representatives of the government had to go to England to attend the Imperial economic conference. Then, some months after the conclusion of the special session we met in regular session. We experienced a similar difficulty when before the Easter adjournment we tried to discuss the unemployment problem. Again we found it necessary to rush through the estimates. A few days ago we tried once more to raise the question of unemployment but something stood in the way of allowing parliament to discuss a matter which after all is the most important problem with which we have to deal.

There has been very little said by hon. members on the opposite side of the house with regard to the unemployment situation. The few hon. members who have spoken and have dealt with labour problems have at times gone out of their way to attack the small labour group in this house. If hon. members on the Conservative side of the house wish to lodge an attack I have no objection. However it is well that we should know exactly how they stand on this question of unemployment. We have been told that the party in power assumed office with a mandate to do certain things. That is perfectly true. The mandate on which they were elected was, first of all, to remedy the agricultural condition existing throughout the country and secondly the unemployment condition which

The Address-Mr. Heaps

prevailed last year. May I say that the party in power did not gain office because of its virtues. As a rule no party which attains office does so because of any particular virtues it possesses. As a rule a political party defeats itself. Prior to the last election the Liberal party managed to defeat itself either through lack of action or through not being cognizant of some of the problems which at that time were agitating the people. In July last when the Liberal party appealed to the people they were rejected because they had not dealt with those important problems with which the people thought they should deal. As the Conservative party was the only alternative naturally it came into office. They did so bearing a definite, fixed program. As stated from many platforms they assumed office for the purpose of ending unemployment. In the city of Winnipeg there was emblazoned on many a panel the statement "Vote for the Conservative party and banish the spectre of unemployment." Such statements as that had quite an effect upon the people of Winnipeg. As they affected the workers of the city of Winnipeg so they affected the workers throughout the length and breadth of Canada. As I have said the people of Canada rejected the Liberal party and placed the Conservative party in power. I would ask hon. members to 'bear in mind that human beings have elected us to parliament. However after my hon. friends opposite were elected apparently they thought that human beings did not count and the only things which counted were the moneyed interests. They have forgotten all about the human beings. Parliament should be an instrument to redress the grievances from which the people are suffering. Unless a parliament does that it must lose its hold upon the people of a country. The people of Canada look to this parliament to redress their grievances. The unemployed and the farmers look to this parliament for assistance and expect action from us in dealing with the questions which concern them at the present time. Has parliament functioned in that manner? Is there anyone in this house to-day who will say that up to the present time or during the past eight months this government has been in power it has functioned in redressing the grievances from which hundreds of thousands of Canadian people are suffering? I venture to say nobody in this house would be bold enough to assert that parliament has even attempted in a proper way to redress those grievances. We have heatd it stated on many occasions by my hon. friends opposite that the government has carried out the promises which it made during the last election campaign. May I

say Mr. Speaker, that up to now nothing of the kind has happened. It has attempted to deal with these questions. It called a special session of parliament and introduced legislation but that legislation has been entirely inffective and insufficient to deal with the problems of the day. As many of our hon. friends opposite have said, it is quite true that the government of the day is a government of action. To be merely a government of action, lowever, is not necessarily of supreme importance. The important point is that we must have action of the right character and if we do not have such action it would be far better if we had none at all. I am inclined to think that some of the remedies suggested by the government to deal with present problems have proved to be no remedies at all. Because of that fact and because of the fact that to-day this parliament is not attempting to deal with those fundamental questions, parliament is losing its hold on the people. I am anxious to see this parliament assume its rightful place in the affairs of the nation. However we have now been in session since March 12, five weeks, and nothing has been done. There must be something wrong with our parliamentary system when we cannot get down to fundamentals and deal with problems with which we are supposed to deal.

Topic:   PRICE TREND
Permalink
CON
LAB
CON

Ira Delbert Cotnam

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COTNAM:

I say that the hon. member is 'talking too much; he takes up the time of the house and does not allow parliament to function.

Topic:   PRICE TREND
Permalink
LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

Now we have the reason parliament has not functioned. We met on March 12 at which time we were told, in the speech from the throne, that we were faced with a grave situation. Yet although we should have met two months earlier we are told we are talking too much. If my hon. friends opposite were sincere in their desire that this parliament should do something on behalf of those in distress, we should have met in the middle of January instead of in the middle of March. What have we been doing since we came down here? For my own part, I have been trying to get some action from the government, and every time I have risen in my place and asked for action I have been met with a blunt refusal; yet we are told that this is the government of action.

Now, I spoke for a few minutes on redressing the grievances of those who are down and out-the men who are out of work, the

The Address-Mr. Heaps

men on the farm who are in a desperate situation. What is the attitude of the government in redressing the grievances of those who are wealthy? When our industrialists and financiers come down to Ottawa to meet the government they are given everything they ask for, and in some cases we were told during the special session that they were given even more than they asked for. What is the attitude of the government when we ask for redress for the grievances of the great masses of the people? We are told that we are talking too much, that we are wasting time. The very fact that we have been in a position almost of stagnation has tended to discount the term "politician." When you go on the street and meet a man and say you are engaged in politics, you find that the term has almost a stigma attached to it, instead of being regarded with honour. This change in the attitude of the people towards politics is owing to the fact that we sit here day after day, week after week, month after month, and, as I said before, do not attempt in a fundamental way to deal with the pressing and urgent problems that now confront the country. When the wealthy man comes to this city and asks for redress of his grievances, we almost cringe before him; but when the poor man comes here for redress of his grievances we spurn him and tell him to go elsewhere. The other day the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) told the delegation who came to see him that he was opposed to giving the dole to the workers of Canada. Certainly we are all opposed to giving men and women something for nothing. But to-day the wealthy classes of this country are receiving doles at the hands of the government, and there seems to be no limit to their desire for more of this favourable treatment. Probably when the budget comes down we shall find that a few more doles are to be handed out to our industrialists. To-day masses of our people are unemployed and suffering abject poverty, while side by side with that abject poverty we have a tremendous accumulation of wealth. I submit there is something wrong with any economic structure that forces hundreds of thousands of our kith and kin to go into the bread line or the soup kitchen in the face of all this wealth.

Now, sir, the question is, have we under these circumstances got to admit our helplessness? So far nothing has been foreshadowed, either in the speech from the throne or by any hon. minister, as to what is going to be done to meet this emergent situation. The existing economic crisis, both as it affects the farmer and the labourer in the city, constitutes a challenge to parliament, fMr. Heaps.]

and unless we are prepared to meet that challenge I am afraid to predict what the consequences are likely to be. Day after day we receive letters of a kind that I would hate to read to hon. members. People whom we do not know, people whom we have never seen, are sending us most pathetic appeals- appeals of a character, as I have said, that it is hardly possible for one to read to the house. Yet what are we doing under the circumstances? Very little. In fact when my hon. friend from Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) rises in his seat and begins to deal with our economic problems and tries to state the viewpoint of his party, he is continually met with the cry, "Russia, Russia." There seems to be a holy horror of that country on the part of certain hon. members. Russia is not causing me half as much anxiety as it seems to be causing some hon. members opposite. I have never heard any of those hon. gentlemen shout, "Italy, Italy," when my hon. friend is dealing with economic ques-itons. If they are opposed to a dictatorship-* and I certatinly am myself-then I think it would be just as logical for them to be opposed to the dictatorship now prevailing in Italy. But I have not heard suggested in this house any tariff action against Italy because she happens to be in her present political condition. I have no need to go to Russia or to Italy to find a dictatorship, for I believe we have in this country a mild form of it. During the past few months things have been done by order in council and by individuals which really constitutes a usurpation of the prerogatives of parliament. We are having far too much government by order in council. When the whole question of dealing with tariffs, both as it affects imports and exports, and, what is more important, as it affects our relations with other countries, is dealt with by order in council then I say we are really under a mild form of dictatorship. When Denmark recently sent to this country a limited amount of bacon she was told to take it away, she could not leave it here. The attitude of the Prime Minister at the Imperial conference in London last September in regard to trade relations was to make an offer to the British government and say, "You can take it or you can leave it." We tell Russia that we will not take any of her goods, nor can she leave any. All this is being done, may I remind the house, by order in council.

May I deal briefly with the Russian situation? Twelve days or so before parliament met the government promulgated an order in council barring 'from this country certain

The Address-Mr. Heaps

goods produced in Russia. For the moment I am not questioning whether that was a right or wrong action. Personally I am opposed to it, but my time will not permit me to go into the question fully. But I do say this, Mr. Speaker, that if the cabinet is going to take steps which so vitally affect our relations with another nation, such steps ought not to be taken by order in council, but by parliament. Then we are told with regard to dumping by other nations, and particularly Russia, against which this action was taken, that such action was necessary because Russia is dumping her goods into this country as well as into the other countries of the world. But before we condemn Russia I think we might as well look at our own doorstep. Comparatively speaking, probably no country is a greater dumper than Canada itself. I think we have already realized that fact. Every bushel of grain that we export is being sold on the markets of the world at less than the cost of production. In other words, we are selling it at dump prices. Do our government take any action to prevent the dumping of Canadian goods abroad? All they say is, "We will not allow other nations to dump their goods here." I am interested in the attitude the government have taken towards Russia. When they conceived the policy of no truck or trade with soviet Russia there were a great many hon. gentlemen opposite who thought it was an act of statesmanship on the part of the government, and they applauded the action of the government very loudly by speeches and in other ways. No congratulations were too extravagant to give to the government in connection with the action they took in having nothing to do with the soviet republic. I wonder what hon. gentlemen opposite thought-because they have said very little since-when within a week or two after the order in council was passed we invited these same people to be our guests in Ottawa. Should we not have some consistency in the actions of a government? One minute they say, "No trade or truck with Russia" and the next minute our representative at Rome says, "Come over to Ottawa and let us discuss together the commercial relationship between the two countries." Our action in connection with Russia has been answered in the dispatches which appeared in this morning's papers, in whicli it was stated that soviet Russia has determined to keep out the commodities which are produced in Canada.

If retaliation is the policy of the government let them remember that it can be used by both sides; it is a double-edged weapon.

I think it was once described by the late Mr. Asquith as cutting off your nose to spite your face, that is evidently the policy of the government. They are merely cutting off their nose in order to spite their face, and the result of that action will not by any means improve the economic conditions of this country. We say we will not send machinery to Russia because the agriculturists of that country then will be able to compete with the agriculturists here in Canada. Well, if we do not send the machinery to Russia, is it not a fact that we are sending it to the Argentine, whose wheat is in competition with ours? Further, if Canada is not willing to supply machinery to Russia, are there not a dozen other nations in this world quite ready and willing to supply those articles? My hon. friend from Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill) says that dozen includes Great Britain, but who is going to be the ultimate loser? We will lose both by reduced imports and reduced exports.

However, perhaps the most interesting as well as the most amusing thing in this whole procedure was the fact that a certain gentleman residing in the city of Montreal came out as an upholder of the action of the government. This gentleman was very much elated over the action taken by the government. He thought the government had done _ the proper thing; he was opposed to cheap labour, to slave labour, and he thought the action of the government should be commended. I am referring now to one of our great financiers, a gentleman who may be a very great altruist, Sir Herbert Holt, who supported the action of the government. Of course he naturally thought it was wrong to allow the cheap labour of Russia to come into competition with the well paid labour of Quebec, of which evidently he knows a great deal. But the other day the hon. member for Sherbrooke (Mr. Howard) and one of the members from the Montreal district dealt with labour conditions affecting one or two industries, and apparently the labourers are not so well paid as one might suppose. However, in view of the attitude which has been taken by the hon. gentleman who is now occupying the Speaker's chair (Mr. LaVergne) and in view of the fact that so much has been said about slave conditions in Russia I propose to confine myself to conditions in Canada. As I said before and as I want to say again, I am far more interested in the conditions which exist in Canada than in conditions in soviet Russia, and if we are to improve conditions anywhere I want to see them improved here in Canada.

I have in my hand a little booklet which was sent to me by a well known gentleman

The Address-Mr. Heaps

who belongs to the Conservative party and who is a supporter of the Prime Minister, and of the Deputy Speaker as well. This gentleman spoke in the Quebec legislature and evidently thought his speech was sufficiently important to be reprinted and sent out to those who might be interested. This speech was delivered in the Quebec legislature on April 2, 1930, and one of the subheadings is, Economic Slavery in Quebec. The author of this pamphlet is Mr. Aime Guertin, member of the legislative assembly for the city of Hull. I think before we start pointing the finger of scorn at other nations who may be accused of having conditions bordering on slavery in their countries, first of all we should look into our own affairs in this country and should see that our own house is in order. This is what Mr. Guertin says:

When I speak of economic slavery in our own province I am in a position to prove its existence. . . . May I say that much has been claimed in favour of the industrialization of Drummondville; yet, if my information is right, in Riviere du Loup the average is 20 cents and in Lake St. John district, it appears to be 25 per cent, including the lumber camps.

. . . Right here in the city of Quebec I have made my own inquiry and questioned the men employed in the streets. To my great surprise I have learned that the prevailing rate is also 25 cents an hour; while in the city of Hull , the International Paper Company has taken advantage of the unemployment situation this winter to lower the rate of pay to 20 cents per hour and, on March 6th, the central executive of the Syndicate Nationaux Catholiques of that city deemed it its duty to protest publicly against the prevailing wage rate of 25 and 30 cents per hour. This winter, in Montreal, certain companies are paying as low as 15 cents an hour in certain eases, with the result that the unfortunate workers, driven by hunger and privation, are compelled to accept such a treatment lest their families will be ruined.

Then he goes on to say:

What about the wages paid bv our own government; the Department of Highways, of Colonization, of Public Works? The average rate paid is 15, 20, 25 and 30 cents for labourers working on roads and bridges as well as at the Quebec City court house construction.

Then he goes on to point out the condition at Sorel, in the shipyards:

I have yet a word to say, having kept in mind a very typical case, that of the city of Sorel where the most scandalous slavery is flourishing; yes, Sorel, the kingdom of misery and the paradise of speculators, as I have had occasion to say. Do you know that in a city of such importance, and in a regular way during the winter, a rate of $1.50 for unskilled labour and $1.75 for carpenters is paid for a ten hour day?

I could go on, Mr. Speaker, and give you some facts in connection with the textile industry in the city of Hamilton. I have in my hand communications from men em-

ployed there and from people who are in a position to know, and this is what they tell me: Since the new tariff has gone into effect there have been great reductions in wages in those industries. We in this corner who belong to the Labour group certainly are not satisfied with the conditions which exist in Canada at present. So far we have not been satisfied with the actions taken by the government. They started off as a government of action; then they went to reaction, and from reaction they have gone to inaction. We are now trying to force the government to take such action as will meet the existing situation.

I could have gone on at greater length and dealt with conditions existing to-day. I would have liked to show how the policies of this government, instead of improving the unemployment situation have in reality affected it most adversely. It may foe true that some industries have benefited as a result of tariff changes, but probably for every one which has benefited two or three could be found which have suffered as a result of these changes.

Topic:   PRICE TREND
Permalink
CON
LAB
CON
LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

I am forced to curtail considerably my remarks because of the limitations imposed upon us by the forty-minute rule.

Topic:   PRICE TREND
Permalink
CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

The house might have been more interested in that part of the hon. member's remarks.

Topic:   PRICE TREND
Permalink

April 20, 1931