February 12, 1937

LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I presume it is a

memorandum submitted by the minister to the deputy. I have never heard at any time that memoranda placed on files by ministers were confidential.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

And deputy ministers.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Or deputy ministers

either.

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CON
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I have seen them

presented before public accounts committees at every session and no question has ever been raised. They are presented almost every day on orders for returns-memoranda prepared by ministers and by deputies.

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CON
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

A different thing

altogether.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

In any case I may refer to this file, and I can place the file on the table without reading that document. And in referring to the file I can say this. This file indicates that every matter which was eventually referred to the committee, and which has been spoken of by the leader of the opposition, was discussed prior to the committee being in existence, was to all intents and purposes decided upon before that committee was in existence, and was submitted to the committee for its consideration and consent. And I presume the committee consented to these things being done.

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CON
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I do not need to

presume, because the document is on the file indicating that these matters were discussed in Regina on May 3 and 4 before a meeting of this committee and that it was there determined that it would be a proper thing to proceed to spend moneys on these particular works. May I say in passing that a note has been placed on my desk by someone to the effect that this is a departmental file and is a public record. In order to avoid any further discussion with regard to it I have made the statement which I desired to make.

Coming back to the remarks made with respect to the appointment of Mr. Vallance, I did not expect on coming into this house, and more particularly when the leadership of the opposition is in the hands of the present incumbent of that office, to hear, with regard to a previous member of this house, a criticism of the kind that was made at the beginning of the right hon. gentleman's remarks. I am

quite aware of the fact that Mr. Vallance, while a member of the House of Commons, spoke his mind with regard to public questions, irrespective of whose feelings might be hurt by the speaking of his mind. I am aware, also that during all the time he was a member of this house he spoke without fear in the interests of the people of the section of the province of Saskatchewan which he represented. And may I say, in spite of the remarks that were made by the leader of the opposition, that the part of Saskatchewan which Mr. Vallance represented previous to the last election is entirely within what I defined yesterday as a part of the drought area. Had it not been for the fine hand of those who took part in the gerrymander prior to the last election, all of the constituency in which Mr. Vallance ran during the last election would have been in the drought area, because all of the constituency he represented in this house prior to the last election was in that drought area. If part of the constituency is not now in that area it was not because of any choice on the part of Mr. Vallance, and that possibly had something to do with the fact that he is not here to speak for himself on this occasion; and when the leader of the opposition, in the light of these facts, makes an attack of the kind he made on Mr. Vallance, I am led to make this statement-that if he will go into western Canada to-day and follow Mr. Vallance over the road he has taken ever since he was placed in charge of this work, and if he will discuss his work with individuals with whom Mr. Vallance has discussed public matters with regard to the work in hand, the right hon. gentleman will find that without any regard whatever to politics, individuals throughout the length and breadth of that area will vouch for it that Mr. Vallance is one of the most energetic and enthusiastic exponents of the work that is being done under this act to be found anywhere in western or eastern Canada.

I have on my file letters which, if he so desired, I could bring to the attention of the leader of the opposition, from some of his best supporters in the southern part of Saskatchewan, telling me of the services that have been given, through organizations over which they preside, by Mr. Vallance since he took charge of this work. I may say that if there is any one in the employ of the department today reporting to me who is more careful than Mr. Vallance to safeguard the interests of all groups in the area of which he has charge, and this irrespective of political considerations, I have yet to find him or any record of him on our files. Those who are in charge have been in charge from the beginning, because after all

Farm Rehabilitation Act

the superintendent of the farm at Swift Current was not actually in charge of this work. The man who has been in charge of this work from the beginning is Doctor Archibald, and Doctor Archibald is still in charge of the work; and after his last trip to the west he reported to me on the very fine work that Mr. Vallance was doing over the whole area. I am sure that he would be prepared to make that report to this house or anywhere else.

But the thing that surprised me more than the fact that an attack was made on Mr. Vallance, was the source from which it came. I have not a very long memory in political matters, because I try to forget the things that my opponents say about me and do to me, but I have a sufficiently long memory to take me back to the few months preceding the last federal election. I remember that just before the right hon. gentleman himself called the dominion election he appointed some seventeen persons across this country to positions far more important than that in question here, some judicial in their nature, and these men had not only run elections but some of them had not even been defeated and were still members of the house up to the time they were appointed. Also he selected men all across Canada who had been defeated just previously in provincial elections and along with the others filled judicial positions, senatorships, positions from one end of the country to the other. And may I say that so far as I am aware only one or two of them, and those for very good reasons, have been removed by the present government from the positions to which they were appointed.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Shame.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

May I go further than that? After the discussion we have heard today with regard to Mr. Vallance, simply because he was a member of the House of Commons-a Liberal member, someone says; I would say a member-is any self-respecting man who has any regard for the leader of the opposition going to seek election to this house in the future? If to be elected to this house as a supporter of any political party is to be branded forever as a man who cannot give service to his country without being accused of being influenced by partisan and political considerations, if that is to be the criterion by which public men are to be judged, I am afraid there will not be very many running for public office in Canada.

During the last election the right hon. gentleman had put out on behalf of his party a picture. That picture was on the back of much of the party's literature. On the

top of the picture it said, "Stand by Canada." At the wheel of the ship of state stood the leader of the opposition, with a rubber coat, a rubber hat pulled down about his shoulders, holding the ship true to its course. The inscription was,

"Stand by Canada and the captain who has weathered the storm." But when you looked about the deck of the ship there was no one there but the captain. All the others had taken refuge in these positions that he had opened up here and there across the country. The right hon. gentleman ran his election all alone; we see the results of that kind of campaigning in the house to-day, and in elections to come we shall see the results of the kind of campaigning the right hon. gentleman has been doing here this afternoon.

Not only did the right hon. gentleman make these appointments of which I have spoken, but he made other appointments. He made an appointment to the body which selects civil servants for the Dominion of Canada, and he took for that purpose a member of this house. Hon. members in the house to-day have to take it for granted, whether they like it or not, that a former Conservative member of this house forgets his politics when he is administering an office of that kind. All I would ask of the leader of the opposition is that he be as magnanimous as he expects other people to be, and that when a man who has given good service to this country is appointed to an important public position, and is carrying on his work in the best interests of the people, he should be given credit for the work he is doing and not be attacked on the floor of this house with the protection that it gives. I do not mean to suggest that the leader of the opposition would' not make the same kind of attack outside the house; I have no doubt he would, but I am prepared to say that this act is being administered under Mr. Vallance in as effective a way, at as little cost and with as great service to the people for whose benefit it was intended, as it could be under any other officer whom any government in Canada might appoint. I think that amount of defence is due to Mr. Vallance. In addition it is recalled' that he is a Scotsman. He came direct from Scotland to this country; he went on a homestead in western Canada; he occupied that homestead and made a living on it long before he came to this house, in spite of the difficult weather conditions that prevailed in that section of the province from time to time. Such was the man who was appointed, a man with that kind1 of experience, a man who has been a leading

Farm Rehabilitation Act

official of one of the chief farmers' organizations of western Canada, a man who never was an extreme partisan before he came to this house-if he was one when he left it must have been because of the kind) of attacks he heard when he was sitting here. Mr. Vallanee was one of the most independent political minds in Saskatchewan before he ran his first election, and he has remained) one of the most independent political minds in the conduct of his campaigns and everything he does. He has taken on this work and is doing it well, and I suggest to the leader of the opposition that the committee provided for in the act has nothing whatever to do with either of those matters. The right hon. gentleman has taken advantage of a proposal to amend a section relating to a committee, so as to permit the setting up of more than one advisory committee, to make an attack on the management and the work that is being done under the direction of Doctor Archibald, who is the head of the experimental farms of Canada. I suggest that the committee pass the section under discussion with the amendment that I proposed at the beginning of this discussion to-day.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I regret very much, Mr. Chairman, that one who occupies the responsible position of Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) should have seen fit to depart from the consideration of the bill which is before the committee and indulge in a political tirade.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Who started it?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I desire only to point out that in the reference to expenditures and to what had been done under the act I realized that the late government had very little to do with it at all. That government went out of office in August, 1935, and the statute was assented to in May, 1935; therefore they had nothing to do with the major part of the expenditures. All this discussion which has been going on to show that the new government spent more money in 1936 than in 1935 showed no more than that the government of the day spent in 1936 more than it did in 1935. I did not for a moment suggest that the late government had done more than introduce the legislation into the house. I regarded it as my duty to point out that it had worked successfully, and to do so I quoted from the report made to this house by the Minister of Agriculture, as required by the statute in question. And I did more; I read what he said with respect to these operations, not what I myself thought. In every respect in what I have stated as to the operations under the act I have been quoting from the

document which was lodged in this house by *the Minister of Agriculture. I know only this, for instance, that with respect to reclamations the minister makes this statement, filing it as a serious one.

Investigations on the reclamation of land for farming purposes were started during 1935 at Melita, Manitoba,, and Mortlach, Saskatchewan. Regrassing reclamation, with the object of restoring abandoned farm land for grazing is under way at several points in Alberta, and for hay production at Kerrobert, Saskatchewan.

That is a statement made by the minister, not by me. What I read this afternoon was not statements made in the heat of debate, but a solemn document the minister presented as a report of the operations of the reclamation body under the act. There it is.

I do not intend to do more than to point out that if these statements are accurate- and I assume they are-they indicate that the government has been carrying on these expenditures-not some other government; his own government. I did not suggest that the late government had made these expenditures. I was pointing out what had been spent, and how successfully it had been found the act operated. I had pointed out how ample were the provisions to enable expenditures to be made.

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LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Certainly.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

How many dams could be built after November 1, 1935; how many dug-outs could be dug after November 1, 1935?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Chairman, I am not suggesting anything about that. I am merely citing what the report indicates has been done, and the bills have been paid by the government of the day, the government in which the hon. member who has just spoken is Minister of Agriculture. That is all I have been endeavouring to say. That is all I say now.

But what I did say-and I think it is a matter of great moment to the committee

is that when there are brought into this chamber documents which indicate that they are memoranda upon which ministers prepare their bills, and when such documents are to be treated as part of the record-well, it is going a very much greater distance than I have ever gone in this chamber.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Public.

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February 12, 1937