April 22, 1932

CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

The subject referred to by the hon. member scarcely comes under the vote of civil government, but since it has been brought up I might as well discuss it now. Many schemes, all founded on the assump-

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tion that they will be state-aided with money have been put forward by municipalities and provinces and societies, but the government has not, up to the present time, given any encouragement to state-aided land settlement -that is, any new state-aided land settlement. The provinces of Saskatchewan and Quebec and probably some other provinces have taken steps towards provineially-aided land settlement, but so far as this government is concerned it has not indicated to anyone that it is prepared to embark upon state-aided colonization.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Then it is quite

definite that no help may be expected in the immediate future from this government.

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CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

When the hon. member

says no help-

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LAB
CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Exactly. Possibly the

future may disclose where state-aided colonization might be advisable and necessary, but at the moment the government is not prepared to embark upon a scheme of that character.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Just to be very

definite, " at the moment " implies that there will be nothing forthcoming in time for this spring's operations.

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CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Yes.

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

The minister last night, I do not think wilfully, misrepresented what I said on the subject now under discussion. I said I was absolutely in favour of any movement that would help the back to the land scheme. I repeat, I am absolutely in favour of such a movement and, going further, I am in favour of any movement that will keep the rural population on the land at the present time. I believe that the minister last year said that a provincial conference was going to be held in Winnipeg. At any rate, whether that statement was made by the minister himself or whether it appeared in some of the newspapers, I gathered the impression that it was the intention of the department to hold a conference in the city of Winnipeg where all the provincial governments would be represented and in which a thorough discussion of the back to the land movement would take place. So far as I have been able to ascertain, no such conference has yet been held. I want to make myself quite clear on this question. It seems to me that the movement, or the slogan, or the policy of the department, whatever you choose to call it,

does not go far enough. As I said last evening, unless the people you place on the land receive a certain amount of help from the government, it will be impossible for them to remain there. On the contrary, it will simply aggravate a situation which is bad enough at the present time. This applies more particularly to the northern section of Ontario. When we speak of putting people back on the land, we have not in mind the prairie lands, because even in the three prairie provinces there is very little prairie land left for settlement, most of the land available being timbered land. The minister knows that to-day there is no market to be had for the lumber, timber, and pulpwood which would be the first crop from such land. This is particularly true of Ontario, for the people cannot even give away the pulpwood they have been cutting during the last two or three years. So that unless the people who are placed on the land at the present time, especially in the wooded areas, receive a degree of help for the first year, at any rate, the situation will be very serious indeed. In northern Ontario there is plenty of land that could be taken up even in the settled parts around New Liskeard, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing, Matheson and the Porcupine district, that are to-day partly unoccupied. I am not going to criticize the past policies of any provincial government, but the fact is that the settlers in those districts, not having been able to get any assistance at the initial stage of settlement, could not graduate from the settler to the farmer class. The same principle applies at the present time. If you take people from the city, even people with some money, they will not be able to carry on unless they get help either from the federal or from the provincial government. Some people may be under the impression that if you place more settlers on the land they will not have a market for their produce. So far as northern Ontario is concerned, this argument does not hold, for the very good reason that the people are not now able, nor for a good many years to come will they be able, to produce enough for the requirements of the domestic market around Cobalt, Kapuskasing, Iroquois Falls, Kirkland Lake and the Porcupine district. .And the same is true of Sudbury and other districts in the southern section of northern Ontario. So that on that score there is no cause for concern; we could have thousands of additional settlers in northern Ontario and there would be no danger from the point of view of disposing of farm products.

I wish to read here a brief statement issued by Mr. W. J. Price in January, 1932, a report

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on marketing conditions in northern Ontario, submitted to the Ontario marketing board:

An examination of these tables, especially the summary, reveals that a policy of land settlement may be followed with vigour, without fear of bringing about overproduction in such essential food products as beef, pork, lamb, butter, eggs, poultry or vegetables. Also it reveals a market sufficiently extensive that for many years to come will be well worth studying and cultivating both by the growers of northern Ontario and of old Ontario as well, the latter particularly as regards those lines which nature has orda'ined never to be produced commercially in the territory.

I have suggested that such a scheme as the back to the land movement would be physically impossible unless the settlers were bonused in the clearing of the land, and I believe that the provincial government is to-day fully aware of the situation; so that this would be the time for the federal government, through the Department of Colonization, to initiate such a movement.

I wish now to read from a short article which appeared in the Porcupine Advance of March 31, 1932:

Recommends bonus for settlers here.

Plans submitted to Ontario legislature would give settlers a bonus for acreage cleared.

A despatch from Toronto last week says that the "back to the land movement" in Ontario would receive added impetus if a series of recommendations formulated last week by a sub-committee are adopted by the agriculture and colonization committee of the Ontario legislature and approved by the house.

The report presented to the main committee recommended:

1. Bonusing of settlers for acreage cleared and seeded.

2. Immediate survey of vacant farms in Ontario.

3. Publication of the results of the survey in Canada and Great Britain.

4. Eventual establishment of a distinct department of colonization under a deputy minister.

5. Establishment of "shacks" in farming districts where prospective settlers would live while preparing the land.

6. The doubling of Ontario's cultivated acreage by a concentrated back to the land movement.

Has Held Inquiry

Under the chairmanship of Dr. Paul Poisson, Conservative, North Essex, the sub-committee has held meetings throughout the present session of the legislature. During that time it has listened to various officials of the agricultural board and settlers loan commission.

Various speakers have testified as to the seriousness of intention of prospective settlers and the question of vacant farms has been prominent. Many farms along the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario railway had been abandoned by settlers, who had gone to cities, and were now trying to return. Without some form of government aid, it was felt they would be unable to do so. Even in old Ontario there were hundreds of improved or partly improved farms which could be obtained cheaply, the sub-committee's report pointed out.

This brings me again to the comment I made a few moments ago. A provincial conference should be held for the discussion of this back to the land movement. The western provinces have been given their natural resources and any settlement schemes which they inaugurate are under their own jurisdiction, but I believe this government should hold a conference on this matter as soon as possible to avoid conflict with provincial regulations. This matter may come under provincial jurisdiction but we cannot get away from the fact that assistance will have to be given by this government to certain sections of the country. I am sure that the suggestion to maintain our present rural population and keep the people on the land will receive the support of every section of this committee.

The minister represents to a large extent a settlers' riding and should appreciate the necessity for some bonusing system for land cleared. As I said last evening, this matter should be out of the realm of politics but statements by the minister and his department have appeared in different Conservative papers in Montreal, which interpreted these statements in a political way. It has been said that the premier of the province of Quebec is not playing the game with the farmers and settlers. I hold no brief for that province, but I contend that the Quebec scheme is the best there is in Canada. If a similar scheme was in effect for northern Ontario there would be no unemployment and distress among the settlers. The best thing which could happen this year would be for the province of Ontario to inaugurate the bonus scheme put in effect by the province of Quebec. I make this statement in order to correct the impression given by a certain section of the press-particularly Conservative papers-which has been making political capital out of the statements issued by the department. This question has become political because of the interpretations of the statements issued by the department to the effect that a wonderful way has been found to solve unemployment in the cities. I maintain that the present scheme does not go far enough, and the statement of the minister that it is being put into effect without any expenditure by the federal government cannot be accepted in its entirety. I repeat the statement I made last evening: unless this government is willing to initiate a bonus system for the clearing of land, unless it is willing to assist settlers at the primary stages of settlement, although the scheme may not be doomed entirely to failure, it will not attain the ends for which it was inaugurated. I have before me a letter written by Mr. R. Wallace, of Kingston, dealing with that matter which reads in part as follows:

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Some time ago I read an account of an experiment in North Carolina, perhaps Greensboro, where forty families were taken out of the bread lines last spring and put on small holdings of vacant land. Houses were fixed up for them by repairs and otherwise, seeds and small tools were supplied, and last fall every one of them had made good, having more than enough produce to carry them through the winter, and all were happy in their independence.

The same success could be obtained in Canada if the minister would give assistance to the settlers at the initial stage of settlement. Northern Ontario does not begrudge the millions of dollars given to the west for wheat bonuses; northern Ontario does not begrudge the bonuses given to the maritime provinces in connection with freight rates, but it does feel that some assistance should be given this spring to its settlers. These men have courage and determination, they want to retain their holdings, but unless assistance is provided it will be physically impossible for them to sow their land this spring. I do not blame the government particularly for this, it is due to certain conditions which have arisen, but these men want to be able to cultivate the land they have cleared during the last two years, they want to be able to put seed in the land they cleared and ploughed last fall, and this will be impossible unless assistance is given.

Only a few days ago I had an interview with the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes), and he told me that the government could not interfere in this matter. However, the government will have to interfere in northern Ontario. The elevators of the west are overflowing with grain while only a few hundred miles distant settlers find it impossible to obtain seed. The expenditure of half a million dollars would be sufficient to supply seed to the settlers of northern Ontario. It is true that in the past the provincial government has been supplying seed grain at cost, but that government has a regulation to the effect that unless the grain supplied during the previous year is paid for, a settler cannot obtain a new supply. I contend it is within the jurisdiction of this government to provide the remedy for this situation. I have faith in the minister, knowing the situation as well as I do myself, and I feel confident that he will find a way to make it possible for the settlers of northern Ontario to obtain seed in order to make their holdings productive.

I thank the committee for the attention it has given to me, especially as I know it is not a popular thing for an hon. member to get up and make a speech at this period in the session. But there are occasions when

an hon. member must speak, and that is the reason why I have made my statement. I want the back to the land movement to be successful, and I hope this government, in cooperation with the provincial government, will find it possible to remedy the situation. If the rural districts are made prosperous, then every other section will be prosperous; if a way is found to make it possible to keep these people on the farms, I believe the cities immediately will feel the beneficial effects. All the settlers want is a fair proportion of the good things of life, and it is within the power of this government to inaugurate a movement to satisfy their wants. We are willing to help all other activities, but we must be willing at all times also to help the primaiy industry of this country. For a long time to come Canada will be primarily an agricultural country. I repeat, at the present time expenditures wisely applied will go a long way towards alleviating the serious situation in which these settlers in northern Ontario now find themselves, and will thus assist our great primary industry.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I understood from the minister that he had cut the immigration staff to the bone. What is the necessity for the continuation of a director of publicity at $4,140 and an assistant director of publicity at $3,000; what publicity are they carrying on?

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CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Prior to the change in the immigration regulations there was a large staff in the office of the director of publicity, and publicity work was carried on in the United States, Great Britain and the other countries of Europe. Since those restrictions were put into effect the staff has been very largely reduced. The present incumbents of those two offices have carried on such publicity as is necessary in connection with the colonization policy at home. Their efforts have not been as extensive as in the past because their work has been confined to Canada. The present staff consists of only five people, three stenographers and the two officials. Perhaps in the future this staff could be further reduced, but from my observations of the work they have carried on I think both these officers should be continued.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Their

work at the present time is purely devoted to the colonization activities of this department within Canada?

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CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Yes.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

What is

the nature of the publicity in connection with that work?

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CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

The preparation of articles for the press and keeping records of the meetings of the various organizations that I have called together from time to time to forward the policy of colonization at home. They have also carried on some work in connection with the British overseas offices as well as replying to inquiries from the United States not in the nature of publicity inviting people to come here, but keeping the British offices and American inquirers in touch with the situation in Canada. I would not say restricting-

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IND
CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Not exactly; but pointing out to the British and American people just what the conditions are with respect to an immigrant's chances of success in this country. That generally is the class of work they are carrying on.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

If the work is only such as the minister has just described, it can certainly be carried on by any ordinary clerk in his department; it is not necessary to have a director and an assistant director of publicity for the purpose. I am not anxious that the present employees should be dismissed, far from it; but if this government is bound to carry out what to me is its absolutely stupid policy of economy, then they should carry it out in a logical and intelligent fashion, and not retain in office these departmental or branch heads who are merely decorative at the present time and performing no useful functions. If the government are going to cut out the little fellows, they should cut out the big ones too.

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CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

I shall be very glad to

take the matter under further consideration. I am persuaded, though, that these men are doing useful work at the present time.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

Last night when we were

discussing this item the minister was kind enough to give the committee the following information as to persons placed on farms: single men-by the Canadian National Railways, 2,983; Canadian Pacific, 4,331; the department, 6,155-or a total of 13,469. Were those 13,469 placements permanent, or merely single men hired temporarily to work on farms?

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CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Those placements were

farm labourers. Whether they are permanent or not will depend upon their temperament, their environment and how much they are getting in wages. If things improve in some other locality they will probably quit the farm and go there.

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April 22, 1932