February 3, 1938

LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Well, the right hon. gentleman did not make very many checks on how they were employed. Apparently he was not so concerned about checks then as he is now. We have forty-five men going about seeing that these things do not happen.

When we came into power in Saskatchewan, what did we do? I mention this because the right hon gentleman, speaking in the city of Regina, had called to his attention by a previous speaker that there had been no criticism in Saskatchewan while that commission was in office, and I think he repeated the statement at the Regina meeting, that he understood these were prominent citizens and that there had been no criticism. I believe I spoke in pretty nearly every town in Saskatchewan during the time the former provincial government was in office, and I did not miss any opportunity in any town of criticizing them, just as I am criticizing them now, pointing out to the people exactly what

I am pointing out to the house, namely that a commission cannot properly check such an administration. As a result, when the election was over every man who had stood for that kind of commission administration in Saskatchewan was defeated, and all but five of those who opposed it were elected. When we came in, of course we dismissed the commission and set up the organization that is there to-day.

There was one other criticism that was made, not by the leader of the opposition but by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell), to which I wish to call attention. He said, as reported on page 106 of Hansard of February 2:

Much more was I depressed last year to see that the government were not taking effective steps early enough-and may I emphasize those words "early enough"-to meet the situation that was upon us last summer. At the end of June in the town of Rosetown, in my own constituency, I attended a meeting of farmers and business people at which resolutions were passed urging the government to take immediate and effective steps to retain in its present position the grain that was then in the elevators in that constituency, in order to protect the people of that area.

And then he says he was invited to another meeting:

There again resolutions were passed pointing out the situation and emphasizing the need for the conservation of the seed and feed then in that area. Those resolutions, I am told, were forwarded to Ottawa, yet my observation was that in the weeks that followed, the elevators were virtually emptied of the grain that was there.

I have been in both of these towns, Mr. Speaker, and indeed in most of the towns in Saskatchewan. I want to point out that there are a thousand and more pool elevators in that province. There is one at every important loading point in the province, and those elevators have the grain in them. If there is any grain there the pool elevators, by themselves, will have more than fifty per cent of it, because they take in approximately fifty per cent. Located as they are in both the north and the south-and they are about the only elevator company that is so located-a large percentage, I would say at least sixty per cent and probably seventy-five per cent, of the grain that is moved from the northern areas of the province to the southern areas or that is retained in its possession in order to take care of the farmers' needs, is held in the pool elevators. For that reason I suggest to my hon. friend that the elevator companies that owned the grain belonged to the farmers who wanted the grain.

The Addrets-Mr. Gardiner

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?

Thomas Miller Bell

Mr. COLD WELL:

Will the hon. gentleman permit a question?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

I would ask the minister if he expects the pools to carry a load which properly belongs to the government.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Why?

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

Because of the position of the market at that time in relation to cash and future prices. The government cannot expect the pools for ever-

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

-to carry this business for the country.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

It is quite all right. No, Mr. Speaker, I do not expect the pools to carry what ought to be carried by the government, but I am going to point out to the hon. gentleman in a moment that we did not leave it to the pools to carry it either.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

Why blame them?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I am not blaming them. It was my hon. friend who blamed them, and I am going to read something else he blamed them for which is more important. My hon. friend said yesterday afternoon-I had better read it now, because it just covers his point-

On the part of the elevator companies I say that wras perfectly natural.

It is strange how nearly the language of the hon. gentleman approximates that of the leader of the opposition. I say, Mr. Speaker, that no elevator company in western Canada has ever done any such thing at any time; it has never taken grain out of Saskatchewan when it was needed by the farmers of Saskatchewan. That has never been done either by the pool elevators or by any elevator company. To continue with the quotation:

I say further, however, that the government, if it had wished, could have closed the speculative market; it could have discontinued the trading in futures and indemnified the companies involved, if necessary, against subsequent loss due to that governmental action.

Let me tell the house what we did do. We gave certain instructions to the wheat board, about which my hon. friend has something to say. Without any blowing of trumpets, or waving of flags, or answering letters from people who make criticisms at times when criticism does more damage than good, we instructed the wheat board to get the wheat needed for seed next year, without telling anyone that they were getting it, and to put it into the storage elevators or, where it was

not advisable to do that, to keep it in storage where it was. In other words, the wheat necessary for seed next year was provided in very large part long before my hon. friend attended these meetings at all. So that so far as early action was concerned, the fact is that while these meetings were being organized we were busy doing the job. The hon. gentleman goes on to say:

But it allowed that speculative market, about which I have complained from time to time, to continue to operate. The government, which had destroyed the effectiveness of the wheat board method of marketing-

As a matter of fact, we made it very effective in order to do the thing he is worrying about. -again remained inert in the face of the pending situation. Can we wonder if the farmers believe the statement that the party now in office at least to some extent was a beneficiary in connection with campaign funds from members of the grain trade?

Again, the language is very similar to that used by the leader of the opposition; and, again, it is only an insinuation and not a charge. To the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Pelletier) I would say that when he has been longer in the house, or it may be in some other house, he will realize that when a man across the floor throws out vague insinuations in his remarks he is not making a charge. When a man makes a charge in the house he stands up and places his constituency at the disposal of his electors. The leader of the opposition has not made any charge of that kind in connection with anything, within my hearing, since I have been in the house, and I do not think he is very likely to do so on this particular occasion. The hon. member says further:

That is a suggestion which is made from time to time.

He does not want to take responsibility for it; no, he never does want to take responsibility for anything like that. He throws out an insinuation and has it spread broadcast to do all the harm it can to the party he opposes, and his objective is reached. To continue the quotation:

The other evening in the house we heard a more specific statement by the leader of the opposition, and, later, briefly mentioning the matter in his speech, the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) said that he would like advice as to how the situation could be dealt with.

And the hon. gentleman leaves it there.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

No, read on; read the next sentence.

The Address-Mr. Gardiner

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes. he has something else to say, but not with regard to that. He says:

The time has come, in the interests of clean and decent government in Canada, when political parties should be compelled to publish the sources of all their campaign funds-all of them-in order that we may know the interests and influences behind the election of the governments in this country.

I assume that by this he means that opposite their names you should put the amount you have collected. Well, I believe that there are some hon. members who have had some experience in politics, and I have no doubt they will agree with me when I say that if you published on the front pages of the papers any amount of money that you collected for campaign funds, whether $5,000 or $500,000, before night there would be twenty times as many men to take it away from you as there were contributors. Yes, and someone suggests that even some members of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation would be there to get some of the Liberal funds. Further, the hon. gentleman says:

The result of the condition to which I have referred means that the government has had to ship in grain for feed and, in the spring, will have to ship in grain for seed. This means that farmers unfortunate enough to have neither seed nor feed, or only one or the other, will be penalized both ways on that account.

The federal government is paying the bill so that the farmers will not be penalized on account of feed.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

But the taxpayers are paying it and the farmers are taxpayers.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes, and the federal government represents the taxpayers of all Canada. We shall have to worry about more people than those that are getting feed and fodder; it is because we are worrying about these people that we have had these forty-five men checking up both grades of feed and distribution in the areas in which the feed is given out, and where we have had complaints we have sent out the mounted police. I will say further that if my hon. friends, whether they sit in the Conservative opposition or in the ranks of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation-

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An hon. MEMBER:

Which is the same thing.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Someone says it is the

same thing. I say that if hon. gentlemen, whether among the Conservatives or the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation or the

Social Credit group, will bring to our attention any complaints they think should be investigated, and will produce sufficient evidence to warrant it. we will send the mounted police out to look into all those eases in regard to which there are complaints.

There are one or two remarks I wish to make with regard to the criticism that we did not act soon enough. I have on my desk a list of orders in council and the dates upon which they were passed. My hon. friend says that in the latter part of June he went through the area and knew that conditions were difficult. I was in the area in the early part of June and was aware of the difficulty, and I came back to Ottawa and placed before the government the conditions as they existed out there at that time. We discussed the matter in council and on June 24, 1937, passed the first order in council to deal with it. That order in council had to do with the shipping of live stock out of the drought area. We passed a second order in council on July 22nd, authorizing agreements with the provinces for the purpose of dealing with the provision of feed and fodder. On July 23rd we passed an optional marketing plan, and on September 29, a food distribution plan. Governor general's warrants were issued in order to cover the cost. On August 6, there was one for $5,900,000; on September 29, $7,640,000; on September 29, $1,000,000; on October 29, 86,850,000, for feed and fodder in Alberta and Saskatchewan. I quote these dates and figures to indicate that action was taken in the last week in June by order in council, and orders in council were passed from time to time as required to take care of the situation.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Will the minister file

the orders in council?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes, I have copies

before me. I said a moment ago that we started at first with a shipment of live stock, and I wish to explain why that was done. The only legitimate criticism that I have heard with regard to the matter of policy is to the effect that if we depleted the breeding stock of that area we would be doing a disservice to the people there instead of a service. In order to show that nothing of that kind has happened I shall submit a few figures to the house.

The drought area in Saskatchewan is composed of crop districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7. The cattle population of that area in 1931 was

726,000 head. The live stock population of

15S

The Address-Mr. Gardiner

the same area in 1935 was 833,000 head, an increase of 107,000. After five or six years of drought in that area there was more live stock there than in the beginning. Some people may say that is a reason for criticism, and it may be at this stage, but I am not sure that it was at that stage. In 1931, when the first crop failure came, those who were considered to be experts in agriculture, whether provincial or federal, said they thought it would be a good thing to get the people of that area into live stock and particularly into cattle, and they encouraged people, instead of taking their milk out of a can, to get a cow. Of course if you get one cow you are likely to have two the next year, and so the increase goes on. These people in that area obtained cattle and those cattle began to increase.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Some were brought in from the outside, too.

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February 3, 1938