February 11, 1937


Hon. J. G. GARDINER (Minister of Agriculture) moved the second reading of Bill No. 18, to amend the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act. He said: Mr. Speaker, in rising to move the second reading of this bill I desire to give to the house the information which I promised three different members would be forthcoming on the motion for second reading. The information is with regard to the area affected by drought in the three western provinces, the general conditions which have existed in that section of Canada since it was first settled, the actions which have been taken by different governments which have been in power from time to time to deal with the situation, and the details of what is intended to be done during the coming year under the present legislation. I think I can best outline the area which has been affected by referring to the map which I have in my hand. If you take a point on the boundary line between Canada and the United States immediately south of the town of Morden in Manitoba and draw a line directly from there to the town of Lloyd-minster, which is located on the boundary line between Alberta and Saskatchewan, just south of where the North Saskatchewan river enters the province of Saskatchewan, then westward and southward to about the town of Cochrane, west of Calgary, and then directly south to where the western boundary of Alberta meets the American boundary line, generally 768 COMMONS Farm Rehabilitation-Mr. Gardiner speaking you will have taken in the area known as the open prairie country of western Canada which has been affected by what we have been pleased to call the drought in recent years.


CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Could the minister give the number of acres in that area?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I think I can give all that information in a general way. Before going on to discuss the general question, I should like to make this general statement which I am sure will meet with the approval of everyone who has been interested in the problem. I believe the great majority of the people in that area, while realizing that they have suffered manj- hardships, would wish me to emphasize the fact that they appreciate the efforts which have been put forth by the Red Cross, by governing bodies generally, by the railways, by individuals and communities in other parts of Canada, and by creditors in general to make their burden lighter during this period of difficulty which has extended for from five to seven years. I think the great majority, if not all, of the people in that vast area believe that a real effort has been made, by all those to whom I have referred, to do something to lighten the burden of those who are passing through these difficulties.

I might describe in another way the area that is affected. As the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) said the day before yesterday, about three hundred municipalities are affected. I would estimate that the acreage contained in those three hundred municipalities would be approximately 60,000,000. Of course that 60,000,000 acres embraces all the different types of land that are to be found within the area I defined a moment ago, and includes not only the land but the portion of it which may be covered by water. The whole area, figured out on an acreage basis-640 acres to the square mile -covers a little over 60,000,000 acres. I think I should be well w'ithin the mark if I were to say that about 45.000,000 acres, or about three fourths, of that land is occupied, but probably not more than about 20,000,000 acres of it has been improved. In other words, not more than about 20,000.000 acres in that area have actually been used for the production of crops, and the raising of live stock, as we understand the term when we speak of small farmers having stock running on pasture. That would cover the area that has been affected more or less during the last six or seven years.

The only qualification I would make in the description of the area would be that as you follow that long line from south of Morden on to Lloydminster, and that long line from Lloydminster down to Cochrane, zig-zagging back and forth across it you will find differing conditions. Sometimes you will find the land north of the line affected by drought, and in other cases you can go well into the southern section and find land which has not been affected by drought for any considerable number of years.

I might add that you have within that area, well within the centre of it in some cases, sections of territory which have not felt the real effect of the drought in the same way that other sections of the territory have. For example, you can take the heavy lands fhat surround Regina city and Moose Jaw. Those lands, while well within that area, have not been affected to the same extent as lands farther south and farther west that are not as heavy in their texture. Then we have right in the centre of the larger district. about the town of Rosetown, and to the south of Rosetown on towards Elrose, a section of country w'hich during t.he whole period of the drought and the difficulties of the drought have had a fair crop. In some years it has been better than in others, but in any case these people during the greater part of the time have been able to keep entirely off relief. The same is true of the majority of people who live on the heavy lands around the city of Regina and the city of Moose Jaw.

I would point out that this year the area does not take in quite the 300 municipalities, but it does take in a larger area than it has in any one of the previous seven years. This year the area affected, which has been admitted to the care and administration of the federal government so far as assistance is concerned, covers about 250 municipalities. This area represents more than 50,000,000 acres of land, about 35,000,000 acres of which is occupied, and about 18,000,000 acres of which is improved or being farmed in the ordinary sense of the term.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is, 18,000.000 of the

35.000. 000?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

About 18,000,000 of the

35.000. 000, yes. I think the size of this area can be better appreciated if I put it in this way. The area comprises more than one-quarter of the occupied, and more than one-fifth of the improved, area of farm land in the whole Dominion of Canada. I do not know whether that is generally understood or not. but I repeat that the occupied part of

Farm Rehabilitation-Mr. Gardiner

what is now generally called throughout Canada the drought area, but which I prefer to call the open prairie section of western Canada, has within it one-quarter of all the occupied farm land in the Dominion of Canada and a little more than one-fifth of the improved farm land in the Dominion of Canada. I might say further that it contains a population of approximately 900,000 people-almost equal to the entire population of the province of Saskatchewan. It is a population greater than that of any province in the Dominion of Canada except the two great central provinces of Quebec and Ontario. That I think expresses more completely the importance of the problem from the p'feint of view of the Dominion of Canada than any mere statement of what the area is and the acreage involved. The population affected is equal to that of the third greatest province in Canada in point of population, and greater than the population of any other province except the two largest provinces in the dominion.

Within that area, inside the lines I have spoken of, you have the city of Calgary, the city of Lethbridge, and the city of Medicine Hat in the province of Alberta; you have the cities of Moose Jaw, Weyburn, Swift Current, Regina, Saskatoon and North Battle-ford in the province of Saskatchewan. I recite these facts, Mr. Speaker, in order to impress upon the house, if I can, the impossibility of even considering the question of placing such a large number as 900,000 people to better advantage in any other part of the dominion.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Does that 900,000 include the cities and towns?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes, it includes the cities and towns, which are largely dependent on the area in which they are located.

I think I have said sufficient, Mr. Speaker, to impress upon the house the importance of the question that has to be dealt with under any legislation having to do with rehabilitation, and as well the importance of that area to the remaining part of Canada.

There has been a great deal of discussion during the last seven or eight years as to whether difficulties of this kind were experienced in the prairie sections of Canada prior to the last five or six years, whether the lands in that area have been depleted by winds and other conditions, whether they have been depleted by certain methods of farming. All these questions naturally arise in our minds as a result of the experience we have been having in the last six or seven years. I make bold to say that if we had any other kind of climate than what we have in the

prairie provinces, people could not live there and maintain homes. I think that statement can be made without fear of contradiction. If we had any different kind of climate in the area I have described, people could not live there if they relied upon farming for their maintenance. I should like to take a moment or two to give my reasons for making this statement.

In the first place the western plains of Canada are divided into three steppes, and the borders of those steppes of prairie and park land run parallel with the Rocky mountains. These borders in the form of hills run from the northwest down towards the southeast. The first steppe, the one nearest the Rockies, extends from the foothills to the east of the mountains just tothe west of the city of Moose Jaw and itseastern border almost parallels the Rocky mountains. The edge of the next steppe runs just east of the city of Brandon, and again parallels the Rocky mountains, w-hile the edge of the third steppe parallels the Rockiesthrough a point east of Winnipeg. The area contained in the third steppe averages about 800 feet above sea level. The area contained in the second steppe, which extends from Brandon to Moose Jaw, has an average

height of about 1,600 feet above sea level, while the area contained in the steppe extending from Moose Jaw to the foothills of the Rocky mountains has an average altitude of about 3,400 feet above sea level.

Those who are familiar with the western part of Canada know that the growth in the first steppe is naturally different from the growth in the second steppe, while the growth in the third steppe, is different from either of the other two. You find oaks and elms, similar to those in eastern Canada, growing in the Red river valley. You find poplars and willows growing in the second steppe, but the natural growth in the third steppe, at least in the southern part of it, is short grass, and for that reason we speak of it as prairie country.

One of the reasons why I say it would be very difficult if not almost impossible for people to live in that area under any other climate is shown by the figures of average rainfall which I should like to present:

Inches

Vancouver 58

Lethbridge 15-9

Regina 14-11

Winnipeg 20

Port Arthur 22-5

Belleville 35-6

London 38

Sherbrooke 36-9

Kempt ville 38

768 COMMONS

Farm Rehabilitation-Mr. Gardiner

These are the centres of some of the most important farming areas in Canada, stretching right from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Hon. members will note that as compared with any other part of Canada the rainfall in those prairie sections is very much less. Someone may say that Vancouver is almost as far north as Lethbridge and Regina, so why is it that crops cannot be grown with equal success on the other side of the mountains. That reason is found in the fact that the Rocky mountains lie between Vancouver and the prairies, and the winds that come over the warm currents of the Pacific ocean carry both moisture and heat, giving a more equable temperature during the year on the western side of the Rocky mountains. When they cross over to the eastern side of the mountains they are associated with temperatures ranging from 110 degrees above zero, as we had it last July, to 40 and SO degrees below zero, as we have it in January. Then you have the seasons shortened by the fact that the warm winds do not come over the mountains, and therefore, since we are so far north and at such an altitude above sea level, it would be impossible to produce farm crops if we had as much rain as they have in Vancouver. Perhaps that may be understood better if I remind hon. members that any year we get more than the average rainfall on the western prairies we are afraid of one of two things. We are afraid of rust which we had in 1934, or we are afraid of frost, which we had in 1907. Of course we have had frost in many other years that I could enumerate, but 1907 was most severe.

I recite these facts in order to indicate that those plains are particularly suited to the production of certain crops because of the climatic conditions that exist. In recent days there has been some controversy as to the possibilities of the Peace River country for the production of wheat, as compared with the open prairie country. I am not going to enter into that controversy in any way. The Peace River country is suited to the growing of some varieties of wheat. The northeastern part of the province of Saskatchewan is suited to the growing of some varieties of wheat. The province of Manitoba is suited to the growing of certain varieties of wheat. But the one section of western Canada which, under all conditions excepting those of frost, extreme drought or too great rainfall at certain seasons of the year, is certain to produce No. 1 Northern wheat or in some instances No. 1 hard wheat, is the short grass prairie region of western Canada. No. 1 Northern wheat or No. 1 hard wheat are known the world over as

strong wheat, and there is no other place in the world where a better variety of strong, hard spring wheat can be grown than in those short grass prairie regions. One of the reasons for that is that you can grow hard wheat only where you have a comparatively low rainfall and at the same time fairly long and fairly cool nights. These are the two conditions that contribute to the high protein content wheat that is being produced in those areas.

Now, Mr. Speaker, may I repeat that I make bold to say that if you had any other kind of climate in that part of western Canada it would be impossible to maintain a population there at all, doing what we are attempting to do at the present time. I should like to ask this question: What does the history of the area show? Well, I do not know whether you call it good fortune or bad, but I have always considered it good; I have had the privilege of living in the prairie sections of North America ever since 1890, with the exception of the four years from 1896 to 1900. During five years of that time, from 1890 to 1895, I lived in the state of Nebraska, which is in the heart of that part of the United States that has suffered so severely within the last few years. What I want to say to the house is this, that during the period through which we are passing we have not experienced anything more difficult than farmers all through the prairie section of the central part of the United States experienced during the nineties of the last century. The area of Canada of which I am now speaking was not settled in the sense that it is settled to-day, but from the old timers who live in it I understand that exactly the same climatic conditions prevailed over that area in the nineties as have prevailed during the last five or six years.

Most of us in this house can remember the experiences of the years from 1914 to 1921. I have brought to the house the records of crop yields during some of the years since this section of country has been settled, and I have done so in order that I might more fully illustrate to you what I have in mind in the statements I have just made. Let us take crop district No. 3. This district lies between the Soo line in Saskatchewan and Shaunavon- or rather it extends almost to Shaunavon. It runs up on the north of Swift Current towards the Saskatchewan river, taking a triangle out of the centre of the southern part of the province. I find that in 1914 the farmers in that district harvested a little under two bushels to the acre on all the land then under cultivation. That is a poorer crop than they have had in district No. 3 in any year since 1914;

Farm Rehabilitation-Mr. Gardiner

in other words, it is the poorest crop they have ever had since they settled that country. They were fortunate enough to have a good crop in 1915, and to illustrate another point with regard to the possibilities of the country, I may say that whereas the yield in 1914, one of the most difficult years they have ever experienced there, was two bushels to the acre, that same area of country, with an increased acreage, had an average in 1915 of thirty-one bushels to the acre, a higher average than any crop district in Saskatchewan.

I have before me the average rainfall in those different years and I will mention one or two of them to indicate the impossibility of theorizing about rainfall in western Canada and determining whether we are likely to have a good crop. In 1914 the rainfall in district No. 3 was 12-53 inches and in 1915 it was 16-30 inches, about 3^ inches more. In 1915 it was a little above the average that you get around, say, the city of Regina and in 1914 it was slightly below the average. Now in the one year they had a yield of two bushels to the acre and in the other a yield of thirty-one bushels to the acre; and that yield, of thirty-one bushels came in the year following one of the driest seasons they have ever had.

Let us come down to 1928. Everyone in this house knows that the year of greatest wheat production in Canada was 1928, and I will read to the house the rainfall in the different crop districts in that year:

District 1.. .. 2.. .

3.. ..

4.. ..

5.. ..

6.. ..

7.. ..

8.. .. 9.. ..

Rainfall

inches

12

11

11

9-2

These are for the province of Saskatchewan. District No. 8, I may observe, is away up in the northern part of the province and district No. 9 is north of the North Saskatchewan river.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The point is, is it not,

that it came at the right time?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes, I think that is the point. Now, if we take all the years from 1913 to 1934 and study the rainfall right across the grain-growing section of western Canada we shall probably find that the rainfall in 1928 was as low as in any one of those years; and yet they produced the greatest crop that western Canada has ever had. And, as the leader of the opposition says, the reason for that is that the rainfall came at the right 31111-49

time of year. But we might add this, that even when the rainfall does come at the right time, if it is preceded by heavy winds, particularly in the open prairie country, the winds themselves ruin the crop before the time for the rainfall to do it any good arrives; and if the rainfall is succeeded in the early weeks of July by very extreme heat, as in the last year, that very extreme heat in itself offsets the good that the rainfall did in the month of June. These are some of the difficulties facing the grain growers in that area of Canada; they are some of the factors that have to be faced when considering ways and means of dealing with the problem.

I said that we had difficulties there in the nineties. We had them in 1914, and then we had two good crops, and thereafter we had comparatively bad crops from 1917 to 1921. Now we have been experiencing, from 1931 to 1936, another series of poor crops, and some might be inclined to ask why it is that we have experienced greater difficulty in some of these periods than in others. In so far as my memory takes me back to the experience of the nineties, I do not think that we have had any greater difficulty in western Canada in the thirties of this century than the Americans had to cope with on land of the same kind further south towards the close of the last century. The experiences are almost identical.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

There are more people in the west.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

At that time the prairie states were not as thickly populated as now, but many people moved out of that section in those days back to the areas they had come from. Those of us who went from Canada returned to this country and started all over again, and that has been the experience of many persons who have gone into the west during the last few years. But speaking of the period between 1914 and 1921, there was something else that intervened. Although the yield was almost though not quite as low as it has been during this period, and although the only real difference in the two periods was the comparatively large crops of 1915 and 1916-1 may remind the house that we had a big crop in 1932 as well-in the period from 1914 to 1921 wheat prices to the farmer at the elevator ran from $1 a bushel up to $1.84, and in some years even higher than that. So that a farmer who had a crop of five bushels to the acre in the period between 1917 and 1921 had very little difficulty because he was getting $1.84 for his wheat. When, however, he gets five bushels to the acre, with the

Farm Rehabilitation-Mr. Gardiner

elevator paying him 35 cents per bushel, or in some cases, for No. 1 wheat, as low as thirty-four cents, then his problem is an entirely different one. Someone says, Yes, and twenty-five cents. Yes; there were a great many instances where the farmers did not get more than twenty-five or twenty-six cents. So that even with a crop of ten bushels to the acre in 1932, say, the farmer would be very much worse off than in 1917 or 1921 with crops of three, four, five, or seven or eight bushels to the acre.

I wanted to deal with these different areas in order to lead up to the next point which I desire to discuss. It has to do with the history of this particular area-and when I speak of the history of it I mean the settling of that particular part of the country. It is in this matter that I think some obligation rests upon the people of all Canada in connection with that area. Prior to 1905 this area was comprised in the Northwest Territories and administered by a government situated at Regina. But that government did not have the same powers, particularly in connection with finance, as the provincial governments which later were set up. The immigration policy in connection with the settlement of that area was administered entirely from Ottawa. The western areas differed in some degree from other parts of Canada in regard to settlement. The lands and resources of the eastern provinces and of British Columbia were owned and controlled by the provinces, and they had some control of the settlement of such lands. When the western part of Canada was first being opened up one or two things were done that seemed wise at the time but the wisdom of which, reviewed in the light of experience of this district of which I am now speaking, has turned out to be at least questionable. One of these had to do with the system of survey that was adopted. If I understand rightly, we copied that system from the United States. The country was blocked off into areas twenty-four miles square; then these were divided into four parts six miles square, and those again split into sections; then people were brought in and settled on quarter sections, cut out here and there all over the country. In such areas as the heavy lands around the city of Regina, those around Rosetown, and some of the heavy land areas in Manitoba, that system worked out successfully and settlement was carried on in a way well suited to those sections. But looking back on the problem as it is in the southwest part of Saskatchewan and southwest of Manitoba and southern Alberta, I am inclined to think that

something more in the interest of the future generations who are to live in that country could have been done than the carrying on of that type of survey. I shall deal with that later.

In 1905 the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta were set up. Settlers began to go there in great numbers in 1908. An hon. member from Alberta made a statement the other day as to why settlement did not take place there earlier. It is true that pamphlets were written by explorers and men sent out to make surveys calling attention to the difference between that area and some other parts of western Canada. I think it was in 1908 that the minister of the interior brought down in this house legislation providing for preemptions as well as the giving of homesteads to people who would settle in the western part of Saskatchewan and southeastern part of Alberta. If I remember aright, when that bill was introduced in the house the statement was made that while a farmer could make a good living on a quarter-section of land in the settled areas of western Canada, it would not be possible for him to do so in the areas we are discussing this afternoon; therefore the position was taken that men going into that section to homestead should be given a quarter-section of land free of any other charge than the S10 homesteading fee and the three years' residence requirement, and also the right, if desired, to purchase another quarter-section at $3 per acre. In other words a settler could get a quarter-section of homestead land and a quarter-section of preemption land. That was done, I believe, because it was realized that conditions there were more difficult and that more land would be required to enable a family to make a living.

Between 1908 and 1914 a great part of that area was settled by homesteaders. In 1914 the wheat acreage of Canada was approximately ten million acres. Then the war was declared, and in 1915 the wheat acreage of Canada increased by 4-8 million acres, or almost 50 per cent in one year. The increase in wheat acreage in Canada between 1914 and 1921 was from 10,300,000 acres to 23,000,000 acres, something over 12,000,000 acres for the dominion as a whole, and of that increase

5,500,000 acres was in this area of which I am speaking. In other words, farmers were induced to go into the production of wheat in the southern part of Saskatchewan and Alberta. Why? Simply because Canada wanted them to find homes there? Not at all. I think I am right when I say that the government of the day suggested to the present leader of the opposition-I know they suggested to

Farm Rehabilitation-Mr. Gardiner

me and to the present Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) and to everyone else who at that time was occupying public office-that they would like him to go out through that section of Canada and impress upon the people the importance of getting into wheat production in order to help win the war. And we did it. We did it to such good effect, apparently that, looking back at the records now, I find that five and a half out of twelve million acres of increase in the whole dominion took place in that particular part of western Canada.

We not only persuaded them to break up land; we persuaded them to buy the machinery with which to do it. During those years, as everyone knows, the sons of most of those men were overseas, and when we went to them we had to devise with them means of breaking the land and getting it under cultivation. We told them of the possibilities of machinery, how the work could be done without the employment of more labour than was available. This acreage was broken up and used for the production of wheat, and whether that had anything to do with it or not, the war was won. At any rate it was as a result of an appeal made by the dominion that these people went there and broke up these lands. It is all very well for us to look at that area to-day and criticize the men who settled there and broke up lands which were not suited to the production of wheat, to say they should not have done it and therefore now they should shift for themselves and leave that area and go to some other part of Canada. But there is some responsibility upon all the people in Canada through the national government for the action then taken. I have no criticism to make of the action taken-

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It was a union government.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes. I have no criticism to make, even if it had been a Liberal gov- * ernment, a Conservative or any other kind.

I think any government in power in Canada at that time would have tried to get the wheat to feed the armies and the people overseas who needed it. Fortunately the wheat production during some at least of those years was fairly good; during others it was not so good, but the price during all the time was sufficient to maintain the people who were there.

From 1914 to 1919, therefore, we doubled our acreage in wheat in Canada, and of that increase a great part was in the area to which I have been referring. To-day we talk a great deal about the necessity of reducing 31111-491

acreage. People in that area in 1934 were sowing to wheat one and a quarter million acres less than they were sowing to wheat in 1921. They were sowing -two and a half million acres less to wheat in 1934 than they sowed to wheat at the peak in 1932. la other words these people themselves have been cutting down the wheat acreage in that area. They have been trying to adjust themselves to the condition that exists. All I should like to suggest to the house in that regard is that we have some reason for giving special consideration to the people who are in difficulties out there, first, because of the manner in which the settlement was started; second, because of the inducements which were given them during war time to go into the production of wheat on areas of land that would not be suitable for such production when prices dropped, and, third, because of the fact that in -that great extent of territory there are possibilities for the settlement and maintenance of a population in Canada such as is not to be found anywhere else in the country.

In concluding my remarks on this angle of the matter may I say that -there are some

900,000 people living there now. For the purposes of this discussion let us consider that there are a round million in the area which might require consideration. I believe I can say that if we are in the house five or ten years from now we shall find that there will be still at least a million people in that section of Canada. I say that because I know conditions, having been from one end of Canada to the other, I do not know of any place to which these people could go where, under average circumstances, they would be any better off than they will be right where they are. May I say further that I am inclined to think that if we are in the house ten years from now we shall probably find that there are more rather than less people living in that section of the country. The probability of there being more will be greater if we handle the problem in the way it ought to be handled.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Before the minister proceeds to the next branch of his subject, -may I ask, first, whether he has an estimate of the rural population in the area, and, second-I think this is very important-what was the sum total of the revenue derived from that area by the population inhabiting it between -the years 1914 and 1919?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I have not the exact figures, but I believe I can deal with the question in a manner which will illustrate the point the leader of the opposition has in

772 COMMONS

Farm Rehabilitation-Mr. Gardiner

mind. I have not the figures broken down for the area in question, but I believe the population for the province of Saskatchewan is broken up in a manner which would indicate that about 34 per cent of it is in the urban centres of the province. Some of that percentage is so close to the land we might very well call it rural. Then, about 66 per dent is in the rural districts of the province, and actually living on the land. I believe that would be almost true of the area about which I am speaking, although the existence of some of the larger cities in the area might change the percentage slightly.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The percentage is smaller in Alberta?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes; it will be much smaller in Alberta than in Saskatchewan.

In order to deal with the matter just raised by the leader of the opposition, namely as to what we have obtained from that country during certain periods, I should like to go back to the point I was discussing a moment ago. I called attention to the three difficult periods we have had. It is within the memory of most hon. members that what we might call one of the best periods in that section of the country extended from about 1900 to 1914. There are different reasons why that was a good period, from the point of view of the whole dominion. One reason is associated with the fact that immigration was coming in rapidly. Then, railway construction was taking place throughout the whole country. New lands were being opened up, and capital came in with the immigrants and with the development, which proceeded very rapidly. A prosperity went with all these things, one such as we have not had in any other period. But in the period between the depression of 1890 and before the beginning of the depression in 1914-which would have been a great depression indeed had there not been a war to raise the prices-there was a period of fair production and fair prices. The fair prices along with fair production made it possible for people to exist in the area. Then, there was the second' period about which I spoke, namely the time during the war when yields were poor but prices were high, and people got by on the small yield and high prices. Then, there was the time between 1922 and 1928 in which we had the highest yields we have had during any period since the opening of western Canada. Along with that we had fair conditions, because we had fair prices in combination with the high yield.

In order to illustrate the effect of conditions on the people in that section of the country I shall attempt to show the differ-

ence between fair crops combined with low prices and good1 crops combined with good prices. I shall take three years from the hearts of two different periods, and shall begin with the years 1926, 1927, and 1928. In order to use figures familiar to me may I confine my remarks to that section of the area which extends into the province of

Saskatchewan.

In 1926, 1927 and 1928, we produced in

Saskatchewan 793,000,000 bushels of wheat.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION ACT
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The whole province?

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION ACT
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes, the whole province; two-thirds of the wheat came from the area about which I am speaking. In the three years 1931, 1932 and 1933, which were not by any means the worst years we produced

471.000. 000 bushels. We must compare the471.000. 000 in three years out of the worst

period with the 793,000,000 bushels in three years out of the best period.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION ACT
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

If the minister has the information, would he give the average price during those periods?

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION ACT
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February 11, 1937