February 5, 1935

LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

They can, I feel

sure, say it better. The Prime Minister can. and so can the Minister of Finance, and I would like to hear them say it. Then they will get all the good out of this measure, that there is in it, and as little as possible of the bad.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

Mr. Chairman, with much

if not all that the hon. member for Melville has said I am in entire agreement. May I say at once to him that I appreciate the sincerity and frankness with which he has spoken. I rather marvel at his raising the question whether this is the thin end of the wedge of a new policy, and 1 rather wonder at his query: who is responsible for this new incursion of the government into the lending field. I do not say this with the slightest intention of making the tu quoque argument or of evading the full responsibility of this government for the legislation with which we are now dealing; but may I point out to my hon. friend that he was a member of the government which-

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I admitted that.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

-which introduced the thin end of the wedge, and the responsibility for its initiation must be shared by the government of which he was a member.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Sure.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

I do not find any fault

with that. I believe it was brought about by reason of a set of circumstances The govern-

Farm Loan Act

ment was confronted with a set of facts, not of theories, and the real reason for the introduction of that policy in the first place I believe was that there wa3 a dearth of mortgage money for the farmer, coupled with the circumstance that such money as was available to him was available only at an exorbitant or unduly high rate of interest, or at all events a rate of interest which was higher than the farmer could properly afford to pay at the time. I find no fault with that.

The occasion for the bill in question is an extension of that thin end of the wedge brought about by reason of the fact that there is not merely a dearth of money for the farmer but an almost entire absence of money from private sources, coupled with the fact that if we are to make of the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act, the complete success that we hope to be abre to make of it, there must be available some source from which loans can be made.

Let me say at once to my hon. friend that I share with him the misgivings he feels with respect to the government entering into the lending field. I believe that the government in the nature of things is an inefficient instrument for that purpose, and must of very necessity be so. It is rather a case of what is everybody's business is nobody's business, and the difficulty is to get the type of man to deal with the business of the government as he would deal with his own if he was a prudent man. But even if in the last analysis there is lost a certain amount of the principal sum, which I have no doubt will be the case, though we exercise, as we will, the utmost care, it would be far better on balance that that circumstance should arise than that thousands of deserving farmers throughout the country should be denied the opportunity of being rehabilitated and of getting back their courage and their opportunity to succeed and to thrive and to remain as satisfied citizens upon the land.

My hon. friend put forward the suggestion that the farm loan board acting on behalf of the government should be cautious as to the manner in which the money which the farmer secures on loan shall be expended. I agree with him entirely, and as a matter of fact in practice the farm loan board did lay down in the past and at the present time is laying down conditions as to the manner in which the money loaned shall be expended. They require from the farmer a statement as to what he requires the money for and so far as possible they see that the money reaches the destination intended in the first instance.

My hon. friend from Melville put the direct question to me whether a farmer who had been able, under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act, to make a compromise with all his creditors at fifty cents on the dollar would in that event be able to go to the farm loan board and secure a loan which would consolidate his position. The answer is yes, but with this qualification: it does not necessarily follow that because a settlement of that character is effected, ipso facto he can come as a matter of right to the farm loan board for a loan. In other words, it is the purpose that each loan shall be considered upon its merits and that there shall be taken into account not only the question of security but what I think is one of the most important considerations of all, the one which I would have in my own mind if I were lending money either on my own behalf or on behalf of the government, and that is the character of the man to whom the loan is made. Is his integrity, his industry and his ability such that he is likely to succeed in the business of farming? I have seen farmers who under the most favourable circumstances would starve to death on fertile land contiguous to one of the finest markets of the country; and on the other hand I have seen farmers on poor soil, badly located, handicapped with debt, who by their courage and determination, their energy and ability, have succeeded in thriving, prospering and bettering their condition under adverse circumstances. Such are the considerations which must always be taken into account, and subject to those conditions and having regard to the facts in each individual case, the farmer under the circumstances outlined by my hon. friend from Melville will be able to go to the board and secure a loan. But I want to enter this caution. I have a fear, and I state this with the utmost frankness, that we shall find this situation arising, that lenders, whether they be individuals or companies, anxious to secure 60me if not the whole of their money that is locked up in what might be termed a frozen mortgage, will spur the individual farmer on in an effort to secure government money. Now if that type of lender has the idea that this farm loan act is intended to bail him out of his position he is very greatly mistaken, and I hope the good sense of the farming community in the country will not lend itself to such purposes. If this money could be made available to meet individual cases where, if money were loaned, it would have the effect of rehabilitating the farmer and placing him on his

Farm Loan Act

feet, it would go a very long way. But if any mistaken policy were adopted of handing it out in the way that has been suggested the act would prove largely abortive. I hope that such a condition will not come about.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I am pleased to learn that my conjecture was right, that the minister and I were two old fashioned individuals so far as borrowing and mortgaging are concerned, and I am proud to be associated with those of that type. But with reference to the fact, already admitted, that I had been associated with a government at a time when governments loaned money not because they were the only medium of loaning, but because they were trying to lower and control interest rates by corporations, everyone recognized that eight and nine per cent could not be paid on farm mortgages, and yet that was being charged and in some instances a higher rate. Provincial governments were induced by demands on all sides, both provincial and federal, to be a competitor in the loaning business at a lower rate, thus having a tendency to bring down rates generally. But even with that possibly laudable purpose in mind, it was fundamentally a mistake, in my opinion, for Canada to go into the loaning business through its government. However, we are in; that is the point, and the question is-How are we to get out? There is a theory to-day that if your interest is low enough you will be able to pay your mortgage back. Possibly you should be. But I recall quite well that many years ago I bought a quarter section of school land from the government. The interest was then only three per cent, and it was the government that I owed; that fact was always in my subconscious mind. If I had greater pressure from creditors whose money was carrying eight per cent I paid them first and let the government whistle for a little while for their money. Was I wrong? Will you not pay for the loan carrying the higher interest first? I remember also one occasion-I do not care to say how far back it is-when we were using what we called a sweep horse power. A number of us clubbed together and bought a threshing machine. It was a secondhand machine and after we had got it partly paid for we had to get repairs costing $72-I shall never forget the amount. How were we to get the repairs? We could not thresh until we got the repairs and we could not get the repairs until we threshed. I was the only one in the company that was not doing much that particular day. We had to have a joint note and we went to the

[Mr. Rhodes.}

private bank, because there were no chartered banks there then, and a neighbouring farm woman and myself went down in our buck-board to the bank and borrowed money that figured out at 36 per cent, and we were glad to get it. We stuck the repairs on the machine and got it going, and believe me we did not let that loan run overdue. This convinces me therefore that sometimes a rate of interest that is quite low has an effect the opposite of what we anticipate and so with the 36 per cent previously referred to. Therefore, no kind of farm mortgage is good unless one adopts the principle of taking as little as one can get along with and getting rid of it as quickly as possible.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

The Minister of Finance made a statement that brings me to my feet, because there are many farmers, especially in the west, who feel that they will use the farm loan board for the very thing which the minister says it cannot be used for. Mortgage companies are carrying them to-day at eight per cent, which is the average, and they take the view that if they can get it from the board at six per cent, or as low as four per cent, as we suggest to the minister, they will be able to get from under the load they are now carrying. The minister says that is not the purpose of the bill. If that is so I will tell him frankly that eighty per cent of the mortgages in the west will have to stay as they are now; and if the farmers cannot get an adjustment, not being able to come under the provisions of this act, if that is to be the policy of the board, then I am bound to say that the act will not perform the function I think it should. Let me paint a picture, taking the minister back twenty-five or twenty-eight years ago to western Canada, a wilderness-and some of those people are still in that country. They went there without anything. They had no accommodation of any sort, neither highways, railways, towms nor villages, and they built the country up. They have all these conveniences to-day, but in the creation of them they find themselves saddled with a heavy mortgage indebtedness. They are faced with this indebtedness in spite of the fact that they have built up the country, and notwithstanding all the wealth they have created, which has been of real advantage to the dominion, billions of dollars. I have listened to the Prime Minister as he has spoken of the new wealth created there each year, and yet these people are sitting to-night with little equity in their land. Unless this act brings some measure of relief to these people, then eighty per cent of it will be futile so far as the west is concerned.

Farm Loan Act

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

My hon. friend has not interpreted my remarks as they should have been, but if I have not made my position clear the fault is possibly mine. My hon. friend from Melville put a specific case and I said that the aot would be available in the case he mentioned, but not of necessity. What I had in mind was this. It would be a misfortune if the farmer weTe used as a catspaw by loan companies and individuals who have mortgages to enable them, to use the vulgar expression, to get out from under and saddle the government with mortgages, because it must be borne in mind that the maximum that can be loaned under this measure is $90,000,000, and the loans on farms in this country run into hundreds of millions. This act would not serve the purpose for which it was intended if it were used immediately to absorb existing mortgages to that extent; it would soon be gone, and the individual farmer in difficulties would not be able to avail himself of its provisions. But if there is a settlement, either by way of compromise or by way of a decision by the board of review under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act, and if it is in the interests of the farmer to have a loan to consolidate his position, the farm loan board, dealing with that specific case on its merits, and considering the surrounding conditions of which I have spoken, would be justified in giving the loan to consolidate his position.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

Is this $90,000,000 to be available only for new loans? If it is available only for new loans, I would point this out. The individual who to-day is availing himself of the provisions of the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Aot is the very one, at least as I gather from the minister, who cannot avail himself of the Canadian Farm Loan Act. It is the man who to-day is indebted to the mortgage companies, the banks and the machinery companies who needs the full protection of the provisions of the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act and if it is not applicable to him, the whole thing is futile so far as that type off farmer is concerned.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

If my hon. friend in the calm of to-morrow will read in Hansard what I have said, I submit to him in all fairness that he cannot place upon my words any such interpretation as he is endeavouring to make. I will repeat the statement I have made twice in the last twenty minutes, namely, that each individual loan will be considered upon its merits, and the decision of the farm loan

board will be made with respect to the merits of each individual case. There are no limitations imposed upon that statement.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

May I ask the minister a question? Last year parliament put upon the statute books the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act, thereby creating machinery whereby the farmer who is indebted may go before a receiver, put in a statement of his affairs and make a proposition as to what percentage of his indebtedness he thinks he will be able to pay. This naturally would be based upon the whole production of his land. 'If the creditors and the debtor cannot agree to readjust the indebtedness, then the farmer makes application to the board of review, which is another piece of machinery created by parliament in order to readjust the debt of the farmer. The board of review is composed of responsible men, one a judge, one representing the farmers and the third representing the creditors. After the creditors and the debtor fail to agree, suppose the board of review arrive at a composition of the farmer's debt and say it is to be reduced forty or fifty per cent-and as I understand the matter, when that composition is registered or accepted by the court, it becomes binding- does the minister not think, after the board of review has readjusted the debt of the farmer and this composition has become binding on all concerned, the farmer, under the provisions of the bill which will be founded on the resolution we are discussing here tonight, which is another piece of machinery created by this parliament to effect a readjustment of farmers' debts, should be able to come to this farm loan board and say: This is my debt that has been adjusted by the parliament of Canada; am I not entitled to get a loan to cover this indebtedness as it has been adjusted by the board of review? That impression was created by the acts passed last summer. The Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Aot created the impression in western Canada that a farmer could get his indebtedness readjusted provided that he put his cards on the table and was honest about the matter. The impression prevailed also that by the amendments of last year to the farm loan act, after an adjustment of the farmer's debts had been made either voluntarily by the creditors and debtor before the 'receiver or by the board of review, he could go to the farm loan board and get this money. That impression prevails in western Canada to-day. I am not criticizing what the minister said to-night. Probably he is sound in what he said, but what he said to-night is

Farm Loan Act

certainly going to disappoint many people who were expecting a great deal. Whether they were expecting too much or not, I do not know. That impression however exists in western Canada and after these amendments are made to the Farm Loan Act increasing the amount available to $90,000,000, the impression will be even stronger than it has been in the past.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

The hon. member for

Proveneher is no doubt cognizant of conditions in his constituency and its immediate neighbourhood. He may be accurate when he states that the farmers with whom he has had contact were of opinion that there was a sort of pool of credit or of money into which they could dip freely. But let me point out to him this fact, which has been very widely overlooked, namely, that under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act actual settlements have been made not in dozens but in hundreds, including some in the constituency of my hon. friend, which did not call for a dollar of new money and which were made with the full concurrence of the debtor and of the creditors.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

Will my hon. friend say-

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

Will my hon. friend be good enough to retain his seat and allow me to answer one question at a time? Apparently I find it difficult to make myself clear, although I had hoped my knowledge of the English language was sufficiently good to enable me to do so. My hon. friend is in error in assuming that of necessity a settlement by the board of review under the Farmers' Creditor Arrangement Act involves fresh borrowing. In the great majority of cases fresh borrowing will not be required at all; this settlement means that after the board of review has adjusted a debt upon a basis which it feels is fair to the debtor and creditors, that farmer is in a far better position than he was in before. If, by virtue of that settlement, new money is required which is not available from the debtor himself, in that event he can resort to the farm loan board and as I said before, whether he secures the money or not will be dependent upon the merits of the individual case. I am inclined to believe that in such circumstances the board will sympathetically consider applications of that character. But may I point out to my hon. friend that I have known cases where settlements to the satisfaction of all parties, have been effected before the official reeciver, which have resulted not only in a compression and a consolidation of the farmer's debt position but [Mr- Beaubien.J

in a situation where the creditor himself has advanced either in cash or in kind a sufficient amount to place the farmer on his feet. It is my hope that this legislation will be resorted to only in those cases which cannot be met along the lines I have indicated. I trust in these observations I have left my position abundantly clear, having stated for the fourth time that the question whether a loan will or will not be advanced will be dependent upon the merits and the needs of the case according to the judgment of the farm loan board.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

I am sorry the minister when he replied to my remarks did not smile as he did in answering every other hon. member. I certainly do not want him to think any remarks of mine were intended in any way as criticism. I was trying to point out to him the impression which was created and which probably will be strengthened after the amendments are made to the act increasing the amount available. I agree with him that many adjustments were made before the receiver without recourse to the board of review and without any need for loan. Indeed, I know of some of them myself. Nobody has been more interested in the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act than I have since last session. But that impression, as I intimated to the minister to-night, certainly prevails in western Canada. I was and still am of the opinion that the machinery created by this parliament to do certain things must work in conjunction with machinery created to do other things, and the money to be provided by this bill should be available to take care of cases where money is needed whether the farm loan board or its advisory committee thinks so or not, after these readjustments have been made. The readjustments surely are going to be based on the present prices of commodities and the conditions under which we are living to-day. Where loans are needed in western Canada to consolidate the debts of the farmer at a lower rate of interest I still believe that this Canadian Farm Loan Act should take care of such cases.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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LIB

Wilson Henry Mills

Liberal

Mr. MILLS:

I wish to refer to a situation that exists in my immediate neighbourhood. About twelve years ago a neighbour of mine bought a farm at $13,000. A good down payment was made, and $7,000 has now been paid on the principal. In principal and interest the total paid to that landlord is nearly $11,000. There is owing on the farm $6,000 principal and about $1,100 arrears of interest. Taxes have been paid up for 1934. For some reason the purchaser was not keeping up his interest payments; therefore the landlord had

Farm Loan Act

to take proceedings to get an adjustment. The farmer has applied to the referee under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act and the referee has stepped in. That neighbour came to me a week ago last Sunday and was talking the matter over. He thought he should get settlement by paying $5,000 on the principal, the interest to be foregone. I said to him, "suppose you could get such an adjustment, could you get the $5,000 to clear up the mortgage." He said, "No, I don't know where I can at the present time." The following Monday the meeting of creditors was held, and I understand the man who holds the mortgage was the only creditor. The point I want to make is that if the government does not come forward and keep such men as that on the land, a good energetic farmer, where is there any chance for him to get the money? He cannot get it from private sources. Surely a farm that was worth $13,000 twelve years ago is a good risk to-day for $5,000; for I think all will agree that farm values now are at the lowest point in history.

That is only one of several cases I could give of farmers in my immediate neighbourhood who will have to leave their farms if they do not get some assistance. I appreciated very much the statement of the Minister of Finance that each case would be dealt with upon its merits. I agree that there are some farmers who would starve on the best farms and others who would do well on any kind of farm, and I think every application should be judged upon its merits. But I strongly recommend that farmers who are deserving be enabled to get a loan, and I hope some arrangement is made between the dominion and provincial governments that the rate of interest will not be over four per cent.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

As to the case cited by the hon. member for West Elgin, it must be borne in mind that the Canadian Farm Loan Act is not and never has been operative in Ontario. It will become operative there only when the present bill, if it is permitted to be introduced, is introduced and passed by this house. In the meantime inquiry must be addressed to the Ontario farm loan board, which operates under the laws of the province of Ontario. That is the only recourse he can have in that province so far as government borrowing is concerned until the Canadian Farm Loan Act is in operation there.

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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LIB

Pierre Auguste Martial Rhéaume

Liberal

Mr. RHEAUME (Translation):

Mr. Chairman, I wish to add a few words to the remarks of the hon. members who have addressed the house this afternoon on this measure. The hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes) has explained the resolution he moved last Friday, and the press of the oountiy has published his explanations. A representative in each province, a reduction of interest to four per cent, the elimination of the five per cent that the borrower had to invest. Yesterday morning, a farmer said he had read in the press about the advantages the amendments to the Farm Loan Act of 1927, would bring to the farmers. With those amendments, the provincial boards are to disappear and1 the whole business will be centralized in Ottawa. One could not find anything better to increase delays, and our friends will, I think, have plenty of time to expound on the hustings, during the election, the advantages those amendments to the law will bring to the farmers.

I have often endeavoured to obtain loans under this act. In one case, where I thought I had made good progress, it took a little over eight months. I know of a case where they came across after fifteen months. And, no doubt, with the proposed amendments, the number of applications will increase. The inspection of the farm cannot take place before the first days in May and, as applications will be numerous, delays will result. In the meantime, our good friends will travel through the country, before the election, and say: See what we have done for the farmers!

Last fall at a meeting of farmers at Con-trecceur, the hon. Minister of Marine (Mr. Duranteau), told those present of the advantages this government had brought to the rural people; the famous Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act, the amendments to the Farm Loan Act. But those wrho tried to get a loan under the terms of the amendments of 1934, did not get a cent.

Last summer I received a dozen applications for money. I see my good friend from Compton (Mr. Gobeil), who said in his remarks on Friday last, that many farmers were complaining of their requests being refused because politics had something to do with it. I must say that in St. Jean-Iberville, Conservatives are scarce. Out of the twelve who made applications for loans, I think eleven were Liberals, and not one got a cent. In one case, one farmer wanted a loan of $5,000 on a 240-acre farm, one of the richest in the province of Quebec, and he was turned down immediately. In another case, on a 120-acre farm, with a good brick house, good outbuildings and situated at a quarter of a mile from the village, without church or road fees, $3,000 were asked. Refused; the man was a Liberal. In another case, half a mile from the village, $2,500 were asked. Refused.

Farm Loan Act

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
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CON

Samuel Gobeil

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GOBEIL (Translation):

Who was to blame?

Topic:   CANADIAN FARM LOAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE AND INCREASE THE EXTENSION OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
Permalink

February 5, 1935