I am surprised at the
paucity of information which the minister offers on this resolution. Whether it is the settled policy of the government not to supply information on resolutions I do not know, but judging from what was said yesterday apparently it is. Now the rule is clear, and-I speak only for myself-I propose to see that it is observed. We are entitled to this information. It may take a long time to get it but we are entitled to it. One thing we are not entitled to do is to make long speeches on questions of policy. That is the objection I urged last year and the Prime Minister now admits that it is a sound view. It took five sittings to deal with the relief resolution last year though it might have been passed in a little while if speeches had not been made on everything in the world but the resolution itself. I propose to confine myself to this resolution and its terms, and I must asik that the information requested be put on Hansard in order that the public who are watching this matter may be properly informed.
The first question is: Why was this matter not disposed of long ago? It will be recalled that the legislation of last session provided that the Canadian wheat pool should take over from the Canadian Cooperative Wheat Producers, Limited, the stocks of grain they had on hand and pay for them. These grains belonged to the Canadian Wheat Producers Limited and not to the government of Canada or to the wheat board. But it was thought desirable, not by the government of the day but by a committee which was composed of members from both sides of the house, that the wheat should actually be placed in the
possession and under the control of the wheat board. To that end the legislation provided that they would take it over. To take it over meant that they had to assume at the bank the obligation which the Canadian Wheat Producers Limited was carrying under the guarantee of the government. That is the position. That is, Mr. McFarland was not appointed to the position of manager of the Canadian Cooperative Wheat Producers by the government; he was appointed by that corporation, and I think the hon. minister is right when he says that undoubtedly the appointment met with the approval of the banks.
There was, then, when this wheat act came into force last year, a quantity of wheat in the possession of Canadian Cooperative Wheat Producers Limited; they had borrowed the money from the bank to buy the grain and pay for it; and the government had guaranteed the payments to the bank of the money that had been secured for the purpose of making the purchase. Included in that wheat was a quantity of grain that the wheat pools had owned in 1930 and that had been utilized, as the other grains had, in connection with the operations that were carried on. They pointed out that part of that grain had been bought at a price of seventy cents per bushel, part of it at a lesser price, and that initial payments had been made of fifty-five cents and of, I think, some larger sum and lesser sums. They asked as a condition of turning over their grain that they should receive payment on the basis of sixty cents a bushel for the whole of the grain that was to be taken over by the board and not paid for. When the order in council was passed-and reference has been made to it-it provided that they were to be paid that sum of money plus reasonable expenses as certified by auditors. The order in council was passed in September, 1935. The press carried long statements that advances were to be made to the farmers of this country on the eve of an election, to make it appear that some effort was being made to influence them with respect to this matter. That was not the fact at all. The fact is that, not the wheat board but the Canadian Cooperative Wheat Producers Limited were going to issue cheques to their customers at the rate of sixty cents per bushel, and indeed had taken steps to do so.
That is the position; that is, that the people who were divesting themselves of property and ownership in their wheat asked that, when the obligation that had been incurred in the purchase of it was being taken over by the wheat board, provision should be made for
these quantities of grain that had come into their possession at various prices; that it should be averaged at sixty cents per bushel, and that those who had received fifty-five cents should receive the difference between that and sixty cents. That is the question that was asked by the hon. member for Swift Current (Mr. Bothwell).