February 12, 1937

LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

We are not in the British house. Many articles are read here.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION ACT
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Some Speakers have ruled that they can be read and others have ruled that they cannot; some chairmen have ruled that they can be read and others have ruled that they cannot. Is it competent, when attention is directed to it, for a minister to say that a statement which he reads from a newspaper is the statement of the Minister of Agriculture of that time?

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

He did not say that.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is exactly what he said.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I will say once more that I stated in my own words, not in the words of the newspaper, what I thought the Minister of Agriculture said at that time. I think I can pretty well prove what he said, not from a paper which happens to be opposed to the government of the day but from a paper just as good a supporter of the then government as the Mail and Empire in the city of Toronto, and from a number of other papers in Canada. These papers carried the same article as was seen in the western papers at that time. The article goes on to say, and I am now quoting from the article:

It is pointed out here that nothing in this program entrenches upon provincial jurisdiction and that provincial cooperation therefore is not necessary.

That is a new theory-I am now talking in my own words and not in the words of the article-of government in the Dominion of

Canada because action which is going to be taken by the dominion government does not in any way entrench upon the constitutional rights of the province, therefore there is no necessity for any cooperation. I quote again from the article:

Efforts to cooperate with the provinces in the past, it is declared, have not been successful and the scheme, it is believed, will have greater chances for success if carried through as a purely federal venture.

That makes it exactly .clear what was in the minds of at least some people at that time. There is further correspondence here which I do not intend to deal with at the moment, but which I may find it necessary to refer to later.

Coming back to the statement with regard to expenditures which was read into the record of the house a few moments ago, with the intention, I assume, of giving the impression that this was something entirely new in the Dominion of Canada, that it was an idea established in the minds of the people of Canada by the government of the day in Ottawa to be carried out by the expenditure of public moneys and that any future credit was to be given to the government of the day for having carried out that policy. All the discussion that has taken place in this committee since the second reading has been an indication, to me at least, that for some reason or other the leader of the opposition is very anxious that all the credit for everything that has been done up to date in connection with this matter shall go to the government of that time.

I have before me the list of expenditures which was read to the house a few moments ago by the leader of the opposition for the year 1935-36, and also a list of expenditures made from April 1, 1936, to January 31, 1937. Under district experiment substations there was expended $70,524 during the first year, and up to date this year there has been spent $74,468. For reclamation areas there was spent $15,875 during the first year, and $32,213.40 up to date this year. For large scale grass seeding-it will be noted the leader of the opposition dwelt upon this for some considerable time-there was no expenditure in the year 1935-36, while there has been expended $1,212.85 in the year we are now in. Reserve for grass seed: no reserve shown for

1935- 36, and an expenditure of $21,870.77 for

1936- 37 up to date. For tree planting there

was an expenditure of $18,600 in 1935-36 and $30,953.19 in 1936-37 up to date. Soil investigations, Swift Current laboratory: expenditure in 1935-36, $7,632, and in 1936-37 to date,

Farm Rehabilitation Act

$16,354.94. Publications of data: no expenditure in 1935-36, and $2,552 expended this year up to date. Water development projects, small: expenditures in 1935-36, $123,881, and in 1936-37 up to date, $191,252. Administration-this is a very interesting item, and I am pleased that the leader of the opposition has called it to my attention-expenditures in 1935-36, $31,681.15, and in 1936-37, $16,985.97. The expenditures this year are just slightly more than half as much, and it will be recalled that even last year we did not have a twelve month year in connection with this particular work. Soil surveys-this was to be very important-expenditure in 1935-36, $12,842.69, and $30,083 in 1936-37. Economic survey: expenditures of $5,832 in the first year, and $9,627 in the second year. Hydrometric survey: expenditure of $7,483 in the first year, and $3,301 in the second.

That ends the expenditures for 1935-36, but there are seven more items of expenditures made during this financial year. Apparently no expenditures were made on these items in the previous year. There was spent this year $36,193.95 for feed relief in order that farmers might have sufficient feed to feed their horses in order to dig the dugouts. The expenditure for moving settlers was $537.40. There was no expenditure last year for distribution of pure seed grain, but the expenditure on this item this year amounted to $4,030. Then for agricultural extension work, $12,100; agricultural improvement associations, $2,824.86; special soils research, $2,889.03; distribution of Morden rust resistant wheat, $1,375.55; making a total for 1935-36 of $342,424.01, and the total for this year up to January 31, 1937, is $499,631.09, or a total for the two years of $842,055.10.

In going over the record the leader of the opposition would Leave the impression that this was all new work set up last year. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) and every member of this house will know that the first item, district experiment substations, is an item which has been in the agriculture estimates for many years. That work was carried on in the Department of Agriculture before rehabilitation was ever thought of. It was extended, it is true I did make some criticisms when I came into th-e department. I took the position then, and I take the position now, that ordinary agriculture work that was always charged' up to the ordinary estimates of the department should not be buried in a rehabilitation vote, and I hope we shall be able to correct that as we go along.

Then, reclamation areas. It is just possible that the exepnditure of the federal government on reclamation areas is a new thing. If it is, it certainly is not a new thing so far as provincial governments are concerned, because that work has been going on for many years. For many years the seed branch of the Department of Agriculture has been promoting the production of better seed for use here and there throughout Canada, and last year they added' to that particular policy the accumulation of some of such seed) to be used for regrassing in the rehabilitation area. It has just been suggested to me by one hon. member that the former Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) started that at Manyberries many years ago.

Then, grass development. This work has been carried on by the Department of Agriculture for many years. All anyone has to do to find that out is to visit the experimental farm in Ottawa as soon as the snow goes off the ground, and walk over the grass experimental strips. The work has been going on for years, and is still proceeding. It has been in progress ever since we have had experimental farms in the Dominion of Canada.

As to tree planting, we had1 a place at Indian Head from which farmers could get free trees long before I became a resident of western Canada, and I imagine even before the leader of the opposition became a resident of western Canada. Almost every farmer in the prairie section of the Dominion of Canada can point to a row of trees around his buildings which he obtained from the experimental plot at Indian Head). There is nothing new about it. It is not a policy for the rehabilitation of the drought area of the western part of Canada. It is simply the carrying on of a policy that has been in existence in the western part of Canada ever since there was a western Canada and ever since we had experimental farms and plots.

Then, soil investigations. As was stated by the Minister of Finance a few moments ago, at the end of the operations of the wheat board following the war there had accumulated overages at the elevators at Fort William and other terminals. These overages belonged to someone, and it was decided, in the wisdom of the government of the day, that the amounts of money that could be obtained for these overages should be dis-trubted among the three western provinces which grew the greater part of the grain. I do not know what the province of Alborta did with their share of the money, nor what the province of Manitoba did with theirs, but I do know what the province of Saskatchewan did with theirs. The money

Farm Rehabilitation Act

was turned over to the province of Saskatchewan just about a month or two before the present finance minister ceased to be the premier of the province of Saskatchewan, and at that time he suggested that this money be set aside for the purpose of doing something that would be really worth while for all time to come for the wheat growers of Saskatchewan. To that end he suggested the setting up of a committee and the turning over to it of this money to be invested, the income from which, and the income only, to be used from year to year for some purpose that would be beneficial to all the farmers of the province. About that time he came to Ottawa and I became the premier of Saskatchewan and earned out the plan he had suggested. We chose a committee and turned over to it in the neighbourhood of a quarter of a million dollars. The committee invested the money, and from that time down to the present they have used the income from it to make soil surveys in Saskatchewan. For the leader of the opposition to get up in the house to-day and try to indicate to the house that a policy evolved in this House of Commons in 1935 under the leadership of the then government was responsible in any way either for the soil survey, or for the map of it, is to mislead this house and to mislead the people of Canada. The map which was drawn up in 1935 could not possibly have been brought into existence had it not been for the fact that from 1926 to 1935 there was a constant soil survey carried on in the province of Saskatchewan. It covered, as he indicated some sixty million acres in that province, and you can go over to my office today in the Confederation building and see hanging on the wall one of those maps. You can put your finger on any spot in the province of Saskatchewan, note the colour of that spot on the map, and then look at the inscription at the bottom and know the type of soil that is to be found in that section of the province. I have just been handed a copy of the map.

But the investigations did not stop there; they are still going on and will go on forever. The stage at which they have reached to-day is this: Through that committee

which was set up through officials of the university and officials of the department, with some assistance-slight it may be, but still some assistance from the Department of Agriculture at Ottawa, ever since the beginning of the undertaking, not in 1935, but since 1926-the government in Saskatchewan to-day is able to show you another map not only with the soil survey results indicated on it but also the rainfall over the whole

[Mr. Oanlinnr.l

province for a term of years, and related to the soil conditions. It is one of the maps that will hang in the central office at Regina, where we hope to gather all the data that will be assembled by those dealing with rehabilitation, and where it can be used for the purpose of dealing with the situation that exists in the light of crop returns, rainfall, soil conditions, and the amount of settlement there is on the land in question. That work has been going on for years and will continue whether we pass this vote or not. It does not require any money from this vote in order to continue it. As to publication of the data: the very fact that this map exists is an indication that the data has been published, and published, in many instances, with our assistance.

With regard to water development projects, as I said yesterday, that you could fly over all of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba, and looking down on those provinces, you would' find, that the majority of people have darns that were built and dugouts that were made long before this policy was ever thought of by the government of 1935. Again, the Minister of Finance knows, as does every member from Saskatchewan or any of the prairie provinces, that before the provinces existed, in territorial days-my right hon. friend should know it, because he sat in the house at that time-

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

He voted for the appropriation.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

He probably voted for the appropriation, yes,-the government of the Northwest Territories had a policy for the building of dams and the digging of dugouts, and for the digging of wells; and the discussion as to where the wells should be dug became so intense that they eventually had to dig some of them out on the road allowances, to stop the discussion that was going on as to who should have the well and where it should be. We went on building dams and digging dugouts. We scarcely built a road of any length in the province of Saskatchewan at any time in the last forty years without building a dam somewhere along the road and putting a spillway in the dam and supplying water to the farmers or group of farmers living alongside, in order that they might use it for threshing or the watering of their stock or something of the kind. All western Canada has been covered by policies of that kind, initiated not from Ottawa but by the provincial governments. In' other words, this is not a new thing. No one sat down in the city of Ottawa, either among the staffs of the departments or in the House

Farm Rehabilitation Act

of Commons or among the ministers who constituted the government of the day, and evolved a policy out of thin air and brought it into this house and presented1 it to the people of Canada. Certainly no one in this house to-day has the right to claim credit for the expenditures that were made under these policies, further than this, that certain moneys were voted in 1935 to assist in carrying on.

We come then to the economic survey. Well, an economic survey has been going on ever since the time of the Hon. W. R. Motherwell. He set up the economic branch in the Department of Agriculture, and brought from the United States Doctor Booth, who had previously held an appointment in the economics branch of the university of Saskatchewan, to be in charge of the economics branch here and carry on the work. That work was going on during all the period that the last government was in power, and is still continuing. If I were to make any criticism of most of these items it might be that they have probably been put in the wrong place, in that they represent work that has been carried on right along, and while we have been spending money in that direction to a considerable extent we have been leaving undone things that would rehabilitate that section of the country.

As to the hydrometric survey: there was a hydrometric survey under the Department of the Interior right down to the time that the natural resources were turned, over to western Canada. It was dropped because the resources were turned over, and the same activity has not been carried on so extensively by the provinces. There is need for further development of the hydrometric survey over that area that has been dried out. As to the other matters on which we have spent money this year but upon which, little if anything was spent last year, they are only a repetition or an extension of what I have been dealing with up to the moment. I recite these facts to indicate to the house that there is not one item in the expenditures that were arranged for in 1935 which constitutes a new activity in the prairie country of western Canada.

Having made that claim, may I go back to the question of the committee that seems to have so much disturbed the leader of the opposition?

I have before me the document that was prepared when this legislation was introduced into this house in 1935. It is marked "First reading, April, 1935," and is dated April 4, 1935. Let me repeat that there never was a meeting of this committee until May 3, 1935. As a matter of fact at the time this document

was prepared the committee could not have existed because the legislation had not then been passed: I refer to April 4, 1935. First, you have the act. Then you have committees, and note that it is not headed "committee," it is "committees,"-advisory committee, and the drainage or water development committee. The present bill proposes by an amendment to the section to make provision in a proper way for these committees and the organization of work.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Chairman, you realize, of course, that this is a document which has not been presented to parliament, it being a minister's memorandum upon which he introduced legislation into this house. I ask to have it tabled.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I shall table it immediately I have finished.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It has never been done- that documents ministers have used and left behind them should be read by their successors for the purpose of indicating what they may have had in their mind with respect to legislation subsequently brought into the house. I direct attention to that.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

If there is any objection to my reading from it, I shall not do so.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It is not a question of objection. So far as I am concerned I have none. It is my duty as a member of the committee to direct attention to what has been done. I am content with whatever this committee does, because it is the judge of its own conduct and its own procedure with respect to this matter, but it must be remembered that the rules provide that a public document which is referred to shall be tabled in order that all hon. members may see the whole of it.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I shall be delighted to table the document, because I certainly do not want to read all of it to the committee, and it will be news to the committee.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Is it a confidential document?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Well, it is, I presume, in that case. But it is a new experience for me to find that the matter of a discussion of the legislation presented to this house by a minister is a confidential document. It might have been confidential before he brought it here, but after he has brought it here and discussed it in the house and had legislation based on it-

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

He never brought it here.

Farm Rehabilitation Act

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

As a matter of fact, legislation in these exact terms is on the statute book.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

One minute ago the minister said it is not in the exact terms, that he is trying to amend the legislation to bring it within the terms.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

My right hon. friend may have that impression from what I said, but I certainly did not say it.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I understood the minister to say it.

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February 12, 1937