February 12, 1937

LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Oh, the map, yes.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

This sixty million acres is-

. . . about two-fifths of the total land area of the province, extends from the international boundary to township 48, and includes practically all of the settled agricultural land in the province. Further soil survey work in Saskatchewan will consist of reconnaissance surveys in the northern part of the province, and detailed surveys of problem areas in the south.

In Alberta, it is stated, they have already surveyed 921,600 acres located in. townships 1 to 8, in ranges 1 to 5, west of the fourth meridian.

In this work special attention is being given to blowout and drifting areas.

Then follows a report on the economic survey-all under the provisions of this act:

A comprehensive study of land utilization in Saskatchewan and Alberta is being conducted as a part of the prairie farm rehabilitation program by the economics branch of the Department of Agriculture with the cooperation of the department of farm management of the university of Saskatchewan and the provincial department of agriculture in Alberta.

Passing on, we find a complete report on water development and hygrometric survey in the western provinces, and, at page 21, a summary of the expenditures that were made for these purposes. The appendix is another important part of the report. It shows the progress of water development under the supplementary Public Works Construction Act of 1935 for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1936, and' the various projects are dealt with in detail, including the expenditure that was made in connection with the Canada land irrigation project. But the important point is that this work has been carried on-

. . . Under the appropriation that was made under the Public Works Construction Act of 1935 and under the terms of the supplementary Public Works Construction Act, 1935-item 6, western conservation works-the sum of $500,000 was made available for the construction of water development projects in the prairie

provinces. This sum is being used in the

construction of large agricultural water development projects in the drought areas as part of the rehabilitation program while small water development projects are cared for under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act. Engineering services for both large and small projects are provided for under the latter act. Administration of this fund is through the water development committee under the dominion experimental farms of the Department of Agriculture.

Then there is a report on the progress of water development work in 1935, and a statement with regard to the large schemes dealt with:

Community irrigation projects:

Val Marie irrigation project, Sask.

Eastend irrigation project, Sask.

Wild Horse storage dam, Alta.

Middle Creek storage reservoir, Sask.

Community water storage projects:

Souris dam, Man.

Crystal City dam, Man.

Rural municipality of Edward, Man.

Drainage projects:

Municipality of Lajord reclamation project, Sask.

Rehabilitation of existing projects:

Eastern irrigation district, Alta.

Canada Land and Irrigation Company, Alta.

Water development projects for 1936.

Adams Lake dam, Sask.

Wood River storage dams, Sask. [DOT]

Red Deer experimental gas well, Alta.

Details follow as to the works done with respect to each of these, and, finally, a statement of cost. That report, as I say, was tabled by the minister under the provisions of the act, and it brings us only to March 31, 1936. Since that time nearly a year has passed, and, as the report indicates, much work that was then in progress was to be continued during the year 1936; so that I assume, for the purposes of my observations, that the work has been carried forward. I therefore suggest that the inevitable conclusion at which one must arrive is that the act has been found satisfactory, otherwise these vast undertakings would not have been carried out. Consequently there must be some good reason why, by statute, we are abolishing this advisory committee, and that reason I have not yet received. I asked yesterday whether some reason could be given, and I had in mind an amendment which 1 might have suggested, though I knew that if I proposed an amendment it would be simply courting and inviting its rejection. I merely suggest, however, that the existing section should stand and that there should be added a second section which would provide for the setting up of local committees and associations. But that can be done under the section that deals with regulations, and it has been done. Here is the report of the minister, who does

Farm Rehabilitation Act

not suggest a single difficulty in the operation of the act-not one. Nor does anyone else make any such suggestion in writing. Mr. Vallance does not offer a report complaining of inefficiency, nor does any one else complain of the inadequacy of the act. We have, therefore, an act that brings its operations to the end of March, 1936, indicating that it has been highly successful and that operations have been carried on with respect to every matter that is mentioned in it. I therefore suggest that the proper course would have been to leave the advisory committee alone-because, if it is found unsatisfactory, the minister can abolish it by order in council-and to add another section to provide for the appointment, if the minister so desires, of local committees charged with responsibility for matters in connection with local associations, agricultural and otherwise. But I need only point out, in answer to that, that they have already functioned under this act, that the regulatory power is broad enough to permit of this; and I have taken all the time I have in dealing with this matter for one reason and one reason only. I am not personally concerned about it, but I am vitally concerned that there should not be created in this country a body of public opinion that looks upon this effort as one that is political in character. I speak feelingly because the late government set it up. The late government initiated the statute and we appointed as chairman a gentleman who was charged with responsibility for the administration of the experimental farm at Swift Current, a man who was out of active politics. We placed in authority one who, at least, would carry the confidence of all those who were concerned.

It might well be desired, so far as the advisory committee is concerned, to improve or alter the personnel; it might be desired to amplify it in many ways. I am not concerned about that. But clear it is, on that report which was tabled the day after the house opened, Friday, and coming from the Minister of Agriculture, that up to March 31, 1936, a variety of operations had been carried on under the act, and I think it would satisfy most of us that it was better than had been suggested. But, mark you, the change in chairmanship from the manager of the experimental farm at Swift Current to Mr. Vallance has not been calculated to improve public confidence in the undertaking, andi it is not calculated to inspire confidence on the part of the people of eastern Canada who will have to provide largely the money which the minister asks for. It will not enhance in their minds the disinterestedness of this legislation, which, for some reason that has not been given us, abolishes the advisory

board, whose report is there without complaint from the minister, and substitutes by way of amendment sections providing for smaller committees-though in that respect I offer not the slightest objection if the minister thinks they are desirable. But one would have thought, when this report was prepared, that there would be some indication that there had been a failure of power on the part of those charged with responsibility, or that there had been inadequacy of authority, or that there had been some other want that had to be supplied by legislation. Nothing of the sort appears, however; and, stripped of everything, the bill that is now before the house is one that wipes out of existence the advisory committee and, as amended, authorizes the continuance of an advisory committee and the appointment of local committees-something that has been done during the last fifteen or eighteen months. And persumably it was done under the regulatory section; for, as I explained yesterday, the act was drawn in the most comprehensive and general terms because it was deemed inadvisable to particularize having regard to conditions existing in western Canada, inasmuch as that would be greatly detrimental to the efficiency of the act. The largest power of expansion was therefore provided for by regulation and otherwise; and this report, whatever else may be said about it, is a complete vindication of the character of the work under the provisions of the statute.

I had hoped that possibly the minister might be content to leave the advisory committee as it is, having power as he has to change it by order in council if he so desires, and to add to his bill a section providing for the appointment of additional committees from time to time if that were desirable. As to the suggestion of permanency of policy and continuity and stability, I am quite content with any language that may be employed for that purpose which expresses the idea indicated by the Minister of Finance yesterday, namely, that as projects are studied and their cost estimated the governor in council couldi appropriate out of the sums which have been provided for that purpose sufficient money to enable these named projects to be carried forward to completion.

If anyone, Mr. Chairman, supposes it is an easy thing to stand up and talk about this matter for the length of time I have, and that it is done merely for the purpose of talking, he is greatly mistaken. I desire to assure this committee that I have only one object in doing so. Having gone to western Canada some forty years ago last month, and being vitally concerned in everything that

Farm Rehabilitation Act

affects the welfare of the people who will live there long after I am gone, I have made these suggestions because I feel that this is a retrograde movement, rendering less efficient something which has been proven by the minister's own report to be highly efficient; and what is more I regret that it indicates an atmosphere, a tendency that I should like to see avoided. And I hope hon. members will believe me when I say that when we had to appoint a chairman they can have no conception of the number of people who would have liked to be appointed; for there are Vallances in all parties. But the man who was appointed was in the public service, one who according to the report of the minister, having to do with a demonstration farm, was the best suited and fitted to do that work. We therefore avoided any political aspect, although I am afraid we displeased greatly men who felt that they had claims. They were not then defeated candidates, nor had they been in the last House of Commons, but they had qualifications equal to those of the gentleman who how presides over this organization. I had hoped it would not be necessary to put a violent partisan into this position. I can speak with some degree of feeling about it, because we took steps to avoid doing it, and having taken those steps naturally I regret the course which has been taken in connection with this matter. I cannot usefully say anything more in respect to it; the government has the power to pass this legislation. But I want placed upon Hansard the names of the advisory committee, in order that there may be some understanding of what is meant by the minister when he says in the opening paragraph of his report that he was assisted by an advisory committee appointed by order in council comprising representatives of farming, ranching, financial and railway interests in the affected areas, as well as officials of governments of the dominion and of the provinces concerned. Just who they are who are now to be deprived of these non-remunerative but highly serviceable positions I think should be placed upon Hansard.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Mr. Chairman, I had hoped last night, having gone as far as I did to try to meet what I considered to be the very trivial objection raised by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett), that when we came back to-day, having met him at least half way, we should be treated to a discussion of the legislation on its merits rather than have to listen for half an hour to the right hon. gentleman who I think protests a little too much about his own political purity.

Having listened to the speech which we have just heard I think it would be well to place before the committee the full record indicating how this committee was set up in the first place, when and how often it functioned, and what was done before the committee was set up at all.

Towards the end of 1934, I think in December, the premier of Manitoba addressed clubs in eastern and western Canada proposing a scheme for the rehabilitation of the drought area of western Canada. In those addresses he suggested everything that is included in the powers given under the act which was eventually passed in this house, and a number of things which are not contained in that legislation. On the suggestion of the premier of Manitoba I called a meeting in Saskatoon and invited to that meeting representatives of the governments of Alberta and Manitoba, and took with me to the conference the minister of agriculture of Saskatchewan. We met in the early part of January, discussed the drought situation, and listened particularly to the representations which the premier of Manitoba had made in these addresses and wished to present to the governments of the three prairie provinces.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That was in 1935?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

That was in January,

1935. On January 19 I wired the Minister of

Agriculture of Canada in these words:

Three prairie premiers meeting a week ago decided to hold meeting of committee of six, two from each province, some day before February 7 to discuss drought and arrange for compilation of all information available re soil, climate, etc. All are anxious Ottawa have two representatives. Could you suggest a date when you could be represented in Regina? Writing.

On the same day I wrote the following letter to the Minister of Agriculture:

I sent you a telegram this morning which reads as follows:

And then I quoted the telegram.

A week ago to-day Mr. Reid,-

Who was then premier of Alberta.

Mr. Bracken and I met in Saskatoon and discussed the possibility of setting up a committee which would give' special attcuiion to having all information available with legard to the dry area of the west compiled at the earliest possible date.

A committee was set up consisting of the three premiers and the three ministers of agriculture of the western provinces, and it was decided that we ask the federal government to be represented on the committee by two. We are desirous of having the first meeting of this committee some time before February 7, and would like to invite your government to have two representatives appointed who would be members of the committee.

Farm Rehabilitation Act

It is the intention of this committee to arrange for the expenditure of a small amount of money to be used for the purpose of getting together in one place all of the information available with regard to the dried-out area pertaining to climate, soil, tree planting, the growth of grasses and all other information available from any source with regard to the area itself. It is also our intention to have compiled all the information available with regard to surrounding areas similarly affected, particularly on the American side, with a view to laying the foundations for systematic endeavour towards a solution of the drought problem in the three provinces.

It was thought that if each of the governments were to put up $5,000 towards the clerical work involved and the federal would put up an equal amount, namely $15,000, the sum thus set up would cover all the necessary expenses.

That is, the necessary expenses of compiling the information.

We would like therefore to invite the federal government to join us on this committee through representative whom they would appoint, to have them assist in the financing of the work and to lend every assistance possible in connection with getting the records completed.

I trust that you will be able to set a date *when it will be possible for your representatives to be present.

Now, I had a reply to that dated January 22. It is very short and very concise:

Ottawa, Ontario, January 22, 1935.

Hon. J. G. Gardiner,

Premier Saskatchewan,

Regina, Sask.

Re tel appreciate your wiring agenda suggested meeting re drought conditions.

That is the wire, and it is signed " R. Weir." Then, on January 24, I answered in these words:

Answering your wire twenty-second, no definite agenda arranged for proposed federal provincial conference on drought problem. We did not consider it proper to arrange agenda without consultation with federal representatives. General purpose is to arrange if possible for cooperation in collecting available information and formulating policies which could be supported by all governments concerned. Similarity of problems in three provinces and national importance of putting agriculture of drought stricken area on a more sound basis seemed to us to warrant common plans and concerted action.

And I had almost as concise an answer to that. The answer was given on February 2:

Re tel twenty-fourth,-

I had better read the whole wire.

Ottawa, Ont.,

Feb. 2, 1935.

Hon. J. G. Gardiner,

Premier Saskatchewan,

Regina, Sask.

Re tel twenty-fourth, regret Kirk's illness has made it impossible to set date.

R. Weir.

I assume that Mr. Kirk is one of the employees of the Department of Agriculture whom he might have sent had Mr. Kirk not been ill. But with a department of the size that he was presiding over, I would imagine there would have been someone else who could have been sent, despite the fact that Mr. Kirk had been ill. But those are the only answers we received to these proposals.

The next intimation we had that this matter was being discussed and considered in Ottawa we got through an article which appeared dated at Ottawa, setting forth what apparently was passing through the minds of at least some persons in Ottawa at that time. I would like to read certain sections of that report in order to indicate what the attitude seemed to be. This was published in the Regina Leader-Post of Regina, Wednesday, February 13, 1935, under date of Ottawa, February 12, and the heading of it is:

Provinces not included in Weir scheme. Drought area rehabilitation as proposed purely federal project.

That was just ten days after the wire that I have just read to the house.

Official information obtained from government sources is to the effect that the provincial governments will play no part in the Weir scheme of drought rehabilitation in the three prairie provinces. This scheme has been worked out by the experts of the dominion Department of Agriculture in consultation with engineers, foresters, and the members of the areas affected.

That was on February 13, 1935. And there was no advisory committee in existence at all until May, 1935, as I shall be able to show in a minute. It states:

This scheme has been worked out by the experts of the dominion Department of Agriculture in consultation with engineers, foresters and the members of the areas affected.

I do not suppose they invited Mr. John Val-lance to that meeting, although he was one of the members from the area affected.

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LIB
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I do not suppose they invited the hon. member for Swift Current or the hon. member for Weyburn of that time. I do not suppose they invited the hon. member for Assiniboia. I do not suppose they invited the hon. member for Willow Bunch to that particular meeting. There is very little of the drought area left in the province of Saskatchewan, if you leave out of consideration the constituencies I have just named, represented by the members I have indicated. It continued:

It has not yet been reduced to final form, so far as operations in 1935 are concerned, but it appears probable that the dominion will

Farm Rehabilitation Act

spend approximately $5,000,000 on five specially selected areas. One of these will be in Manitoba to the west of Deloraine, three will be in Saskatchewan, and one in Alberta. Each area will comprise one township or thirty-six square miles. The expenditures would he, roughly, one million dollars each.

That was the first plan mentioned by the Minister of Agriculture from Ottawa at that time.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I must now-I have permitted it to go just where I want it, just that far. I rise to a point of order, to a question of order-

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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

A point of order?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It is this: The minister has read from a newspaper known to be opposed to the then government of the day, and he has now declared that that was a statement by the Minister of Agriculture of that time. It does not purport even to be that, andi it is only an article from an opposing newspaper. The point of order is that the statement is absolutely untrue, and that it is not a statement of the facts.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

On the point of order: I have made no such statement. I have had: words put into my mouth by the leader of the opposition as often as I will permit him to put them into my mouth. I read this article and then I said, having read it, that the Minister of Agriculture of that day did speak to the people of Canada at that time.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is not what was said. I rise to a point of order. Hansard is there.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Hansard will show it to-morrow.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It will show what is said, now.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Hansard will show tomorrow morning what I said.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

We are not going to have our rights taken from us by evasion.

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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Order. Has the leader of the opposition a statement on the point of order?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes. The statement on the point of order is that the statement as by the minister is at variance with what he said, The minister complained about having words put in his mouth by me, and I have the right to have read' what he said1, the words used, on the question of order.

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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

My ruling is that the point of order is not well taken.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I ask to have it read now. I a.m within my rights to know what has been said.

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February 12, 1937