May 25, 1932

UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

Our difficulty at the present

time is that our currency is nearer the value of that of the United States than it is to the value of the pound sterling, and it would be very much to our advantage to forget all about the United States currency and get to par with the pound.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Our obligations are paid

in the United States.

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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

Our obligations in the United States are not paid in Canadian dollars.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

They are paid in gold.

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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

We discharge our obligations in New York by buying foreign exchange if we do not renew them, and the only way we can pay for our obligations is by exporting goods, selling these goods for foreign exchange, which foreign exchange is then available on the market for governments to buy to meet their obligations in the United States. That is the only way in which foreign obligations can be met. I am urging the government to allow our dollar to go to a lower 41761-213

level in the United States, which will increase the-price bf export commodities in Canada and encourage production. Our exports will bring the same amount in foreign currency whether our dollar is up twenty per cent or down twenty per cent, and by' increasing oUr exports there will be more exchange on the market available for governments to buy. 1

In addition to that, if this policy were carried out, it would raise commodity price levels in Canada, and as trade is dependent upon the amount of money in circulation it would increase trade. There would be more purchasing power in the hands of the farmers and of those engaged in export industries. That would increase the receipts of the government from the sales tax, the stamp tax and all other nuisance taxes, and from the income tax. I have no doubt in the world that had our dollar been at par with the pound since last September the revenues of the government would have been increased sufficiently to take care of the additional premium for foreign exchange which so worries the Prime Minister.

May I also point out that in some of our provinces which depend primarily on agriculture, the tax-paying power of the farmer has practically disappeared, and the provincial governments are unable to collect the revenue they must have. I am sure that if our dollar were brought to par with the pound and the prices of agricultural products increased in that way, the provincial governments, particularly in western Canada, and the same is also true of the east, would secure from their taxpayers enough additional revenue to far more than meet the added premium that they would have to pay for New York funds to meet their foreign obligations.

Then, too, the unemployment relief burden which every government in Canada is bearing to-day would be lessened to some extent because more people would be employed. As I said last night, there is no question that the price level is the most important question in Canada to-day, whether you consider it from the standpoint of the farmer, from the standpoint of the nation, or from the standpoint of the Minister of Finance, who has to balance his budget if he can. But how can he balance it at the present price levels? I am afraid that it is impossible.

The Prime Minister asked me last night hoiw our dollar could be brought to par with the pound. I am sure that he knows just as well as I do, perhaps better, the methods of bringing our dollar down to par with the pound. I feel that if last September the Prime Minister had said: We will not en-

Agricultural Conditions

deavour to maintain the gold standard in Canada but will link up our currency with sterling

surely the old British pound should still be good enough for us-our currency would have been at par with the pound and commodity price levels would have been raised. There are many ways of bringing our dollar to par with the British pound. Only two months ago the Prime Minister said that if a certain suggestion, made in the house had been adopted our dollar might go to twenty cents. Well, I think the Prime Minister was exaggerating la little bit. I believe however that a small step in that direction would perhaps bring our dollar down to the desired point.

May I suggest another way? If the Prime Minister would take $50,000,000 worth of dominion notes now printed and waiting to be put out, lying in the vaults of the east block, and loan the money at a low interest rate to school districts requiring new schools, to public utilities eonporations desiring to complete power plants and to municipalities to engage in housing schemes, he would soon bring our currency in line with Britain. May I add that construction costs are down nearly thirty per cent as compared with what they were when the last housing scheme was embarked upon in this dominion. Finally may I say to the Prime Minister that if he does not care to do any one of these things he knows perfectly well that the price of foreign exchange, outside of the question of confidence, is determined by supply of and demand for bills of exchange. There are plenty of Canadian bonds on the United States market,-federal, provincial, municipal and corporation bonds-and all he needs to do is to instruct the bankers to buy a sufficient quantity of those bonds maturing in the next few months. I do not think there is any doubt that he could control the rate of exchange easily enough, so that our dollar would be brought down on a par with the pound. May I point out the action taken in England recently. According to press despatches they have provided a fund of $150,000,000 to stabilize the rate of exchange in New York. There is no doubt stabilization can be effected within certain limits, if it is stabilized at a natural level. I think at the present time our dollar at par with the pound sterling would have reached a more natural level than if it were at a par with the American dollar, and such a condition would be very much to our advantage. Compared with Canada Great Britain is a wealthy country, and there is no reason why our currency should be at a higher level. At this point may I refer to the evi-

denee given last year by James Richardson before the agricultural .committee of this house. When he was asked a question with regard to the price of wheat in relation to the exchange situation in Australia and the Argentine, he said:

Australia's position in the Orient had been secured through the commonwealth's depreciated currency, he told the committee, and agreed that if Canada depreciated the currency of this dominion it would enable the farmer to sell more, to get more of that currency for his produce and enable him, at least, to pay his debts.

What a wonderful thing it would be to-day if the farmer could pay his debts. Mr. Richardson represents the oldest, the longest established grain firm in Canada.

In the moment or two left to me may I emphasize to the Prime Minister the importance of this matter. I notice in the last summary of Canada trade issued in the month of April that the exports of Canada for that month were valued at $26,000,000. A few years ago our exports in a corresponding month would have been valued at approximately $100,000,000. I know the Prime Minister is anxious that Canada should meet her foreign obligations in the terms and on the dates they fall due. I too am anxious to see that done, but we can meet them only if we have sufficient exports.

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member has

spoken forty minutes.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Hon. W. R. MOTHERWELL (Melville):

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the discussion on the amendment is to be confined to the amendment.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It should be.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

In other words, we cannot wander off to a debate on the Beau-harnois project. I may say however that I should like very much to do so. Having regard to the late stage of the session and the desire to get through I shall have to be content to confine myself to the amendment.

To begin with may I say I think the amendment was drafted in such a way that whether or not we agree with all contained therein, at least we can agree to inquire into the practicability of some of the suggestions with which we do not agree, I believe in the good old scriptural teaching to prove all things and to hold fast to that which is good. I am going to try to prove all the enunciations in this amendment, to cull out all unpractical parts of it, and to hold fast to those which prove to be good. In doing that I think I am on sound ground.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Hear, hear.

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LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

With those reservations I shall support the amendment. There are two phases to it, one of which laments the absence of policy on the part of the government. I am sure the government must lament that fact itself; I do. I have one reservation there also, however, and that is with respect to the Minister of Agriculture, concerning his initial attitude towards the establishment of an export marketing board. I do not wish to include him in what I am going to say in regard to that phase of the matter. The Minister of Agriculture has shown that he is acquiring some wisdom, because he indicated the possibility of appointing a commission to inquire into this matter. I hope the commission is given powers sufficiently wide and comprehensive to inquire into a good many other matters; there is no doubt many inquiries could be made. Probably he has changed his mind since he made his somewhat notable speech during the discussion on the estimates. My view, however, is that in dealing with special matters commissions cannot be dispensed with; that has been the experience of all governments in all countries. Of course, there are commissions and commissions; there are ghastly foolish ones sometimes.

In the lamentation in the amendment concerning the absence of policy on the part of the government, I join in all sincerity with the hon. member (Miss Macphail) who drafted it. Let us consider the estimates for the Department of Agriculture. They are not only a cause for lamentation, but they are a tragedy. They represent a massacre of agriculture, a slaughter of the agricultural estimates. We have all heard of the massacre of Glencoe which took place in Scotland during the reign of William and Mary. We have heard of the Sepoy massacres in India, of the massacres of natives in North America, but we have never witnessed such a massacre of agriculture as is now evidenced in the estimates of that department. I defy anybody to challenge the correctness of my statement. Who can show any justification for it? Let us consider the vote with respect to the health of animals upon which the health of human kind is so dependent, especially in regard to the use of milk and dairy products-this vote is cut down so they can hardly wink an eyelash; they can simply maintain their staff, retest old restricted areas, and mark time till a better day. Then take the administration of the 41761-213J

Agricultural Conditions

Destructive Insect and Pest Act. It has been one of the characteristics of the Tory party when in opposition to make great fun of the Liberal Minister of Agriculture with respect to this vote. I remember on one occasion-it was some time after the war-I made the prediction that the next great war would be between man and insect pests, including fungus. We are facing that war right to-day in western Canada. How is the government preparing for that great fight? Are they stacking up ammunition and getting ready for the fray? No, they are cutting equipment and war supplies in two by cutting the vote to that extent. What a heroic fight they are going to put up! I suppose my friends opposite will try to make fun over the threatened invasion of grasshoppers. I would expect that to be their attitude, for they are not the knee-height to a grasshopper them- , selves in their knowledge of agriculture; that is about their measurement, and I shall expect them to poke a lot of fun at this subject.. They will not be running true to form if they do not make merry over this, and I shall be-surprised accordingly. Here is the way they-are preparing for the grasshopper invasion in, the United States, which was predicted there last fall, and as it was predicted also in western Canada:

Washington, D.C., March 7.-Advised by its biological experts that there will be an enormous hatch of grasshoppers this spring in the western states, including those along the Canadian border, congress has voted $1,450,000 for "grasshopper control" by the distribution of poison-bran bait.

According to the chief entomologist at the Department of Agriculture, the succession of dry seasons %vas favourable to the spread of the grasshopper plague, and in 1931 the insects destroyed small grains, corn and other crops over large areas. Surveys, taken in Minnesota, Montana, the Dakotas and states to the south of these, show that the grasshoppers were exceptionally active in egg-laying last summer and fall.

The cost of the projected war on the grasshoppers is estimated at about $3,000,000 and the states concerned are expected to match the federal appropriation with a like sum.

According to that report the federal government in Washington and the state governments are working in unison to meet this invasion of insect pests. What are we doing? So far as the western provinces and the municipalities are concerned, they are nearly bankrupt and little financial fight left in them. While I understand from the press that they are preparing poison bait to cope with thia grasshopper invasion, their financial energy must be greatly crippled in this respect. There is no indication here that the Dominion government is going to help them, although ah

33S8 COMMONS

Agricultural Conditions

Washington the federal authorities are going fifty-fifty with the state authorities in their preparations for this great war-a war which Is not confined to the south of the international boundary. Grasshoppers are no' respecters of imaginary boundary lines; they fly hither and thither as the wind blows. I have before me a grasshopper map prepared by the entomological branch of the Canadian Department of Agriculture, and I refer tp it merely to show the extent of the invasion. Won't a smile now crack the countenance of the Minister of Na'tdonal Revenue (Mr. Ryek-man)? This map shows that the Minister of Agriculture's own constituency is menaced. So apparently this invasion is going to cover a great deal of Saskatchewan and a considerable part of Manitoba and Alberta also. What are the members of the government doing with respect to this menace to our agriculture?

' They are limp, lifeless and inactive. Either they do not know anything about this predicted invasion, or they do not know how to meet it. Apparently they are going to leave :It to the prostrate financially crippled provinces of the west to take care of this menace. -No wonder the member for Southeast Grey \(Miss Maephail) is full of lamentations-

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PRO
LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

-over the uselessness and helplessness of the aggregation opposite with respect to agriculture. Now I have got a smile from the ministry at last but not one of belief. Let us see to what extent I am justified in making this wholesale, sweeping statement with regard to the lack of knowledge and experience of agriculture on the part of this government. The hon. Secretary of State (Mr. Cahan)-I am going to start with him-was on absolutely sound ground last night as to the ownership of the Beauharnois water and power, and I am quite with him with regard to some of his strictures concerning certain members to the left of me; but on agriculture he is a babe in arms. It is true that at one time he owned certain lands in Mexico, but that does not qualify him to be an up-to-date adviser on Canadian agriculture. Then as far as the Minister of National Revenue is concerned, about all he knows of agriculture is to shoot up the valuation on imported commodities for duty purposes. He is certainly a whale at that, so he has found his spot in the sun. As to my good friend the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes), I must give him some commendation because he has showed his sympathy with agriculture in the supplementary estimates, he has shown that in some' way or

another he knows the relationship between successful agriculture and the national status, peace and prosperity, and he has tried his best to remedy the niggardly defects of his immediate predecessor, the Prime Minister, in that respect. But I do not think that even he (Mr. Rhodes) will claim to be much of ah authority on agriculture. However, he does realize how closely connected is the condition of our agriculture with our national prosperity, and to that extent I want to give him all the credit I can, for I do not wish to miss any member of the government where merit exists, even ever so little. Then the Prime Minister-I am sorry he is out because I have a word for him. If there is one hon. gentleman in this house or in the whole of Canada who knows less than nothing about agriculture, it is the Prime Minister. His knowledge of the subject is represented by a minus sign. It cannot be otherwise. How could I know what he is familiar with in the financial world? I am just as ignorant of banking, of finance and of match factories, and things of that kind, as he is of agriculture. Then my good friend the Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie); I had a run in with him on the grading of eggs some years ago and the fact that he has said nothing more on the subject shows that he has since gained wisdom. Indeed, he or his government has retained the Liberal policy of grading not only on eggs, but nearly all farm products. He will probably adorn the bench some day, and I should like to see him there-

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CON
LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

-but as for his knowledge of agriculture, save us! The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) is a very versatile gentleman and can throw in the stuff about bimetallism and all that when he wants to throw out a smoke screen. But what he knows about agriculture would make quite a book-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Rather what he

does not know about agriculture would make quite a book, and I do not look to him to improve our agriculture or assist his colleague the Minister of Agriculture in doing so. In fact I do not think the Minister of Agriculture can get much inspiration from any of these sources. Then what of my good friend the Minister of Railways (Mr. Manion)? He used to invoke us to stimulate the red corpuscles in our blood, but he does so no longer; apparently his blood corpuscles have either become white since entering the ministry or some other objectionable colour

!3S9

resembling yellow. I know my good friend the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Stewart) is sympathetic to agriculture. He lives in a splendid dairy country and knows that not only our national prosperity but also our national health is in large degree dependent upon agriculture and the condition in which its products are put on the home market. As to my three good friends from Quebec who adorn the treasury bench, they are of different racial extraction from my own, but I respect them none the less, in fact I respect all my friends from Quebec, that great, old historic province.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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May 25, 1932