March 11, 1938

CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

As to the figure the minister gave with reference to the reduction in principal and interest under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act, can the minister give a rough idea what percentage that amount would be of soldier farmers' debts?

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Subtopic:   INTEREST RATE ON REPAYMENTS OF TAXES AND INSURANCE PREMIUMS-ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

No.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

What percentage would the reduction represent?

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

I cannot give the hon.

member that information at the present time.

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

A few moments ago the minister said that only two per cent of the settlers were in the expeditionary force. In a return tabled last year it is shown that there are

10.668 soldier settlers, 6.783 civilian settlers, and 1,825 families under the British family scheme. Is the minister correct in the answer he gave?-because I take it that the segregation indicated in these figures shows that

10.668 were actual soldier settlers, and that is over fifty per cent.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No, no.

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Well, the total figure is 18,276, and the soldier settlers number 10,668; that is certainly over fifty per cent. The minister's observation was that only two per cent of the settlers had belonged to the expeditionary force.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

No-of the total number.

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

Of the total number of the enlisted force in Canada for the great war, only about two per cent are at present soldier settlers.

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

That is one way of putting it, but it would be fairer to say that there are still over 10,000 soldier settlers, or fifty per cent of the settlers under the act. It is not quite fair to segregate the number so as to show the percentage of those who enlisted. These soldier settlers are the ones who took advantage of the act at its inception.

I do not think hon. members are quite fair when they mention the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act, because not long ago there was introduced in the house an amendment which will permit any province making application to come out from under the provisions of the act. A province such as Ontario, or in

fact any other province, may say, "We do not wish to be under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act," and without any thought whatsoever of soldier settlers. Personally I am against the principle of one part of the government saying, "We are not going to give you further relief, but if you go somewhere else you will get relief there." That is not a good principle. As has been well said, one has to show he is bankrupt before he can come under the act. Many ex-service men have made every effort to pay up so that they can obtain the dollar for dollar benefit; but since their creditors are paid up, how can they say they are bankrupt. We are actually penalizing thrift.

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SC

René-Antoine Pelletier

Social Credit

Mr. PELLETIER:

Even if the department, as the minister says, are administering the act as sympathetically as possible, it is still possible to overlook some kinds of relief of which they could avail themselves. I am referring to the old taxes which were wiped off, as the minister said, by mutual agreement between individuals and the government of Saskatchewan, to which those old taxes were due. The government of Saskatchewan had in turn borrowed this money from the federal government, which was finally called upon to pay out the sum of 818,000,000 to the government of Saskatchewan in order that these voluntary agreements might take place. The soldier settlement board could have made representations to the government of Saskatchewan on behalf of the soldiers, so that they might keep their land, with the old taxes cancelled. If that had been done it would not be necessary at this time to provide for payment of taxes. It might be possible to do that in the future. If the soldier settlement board had taken advantage of the provision which was made at that time on behalf of the individual farmers, they might also have obtained the relief which was given to all other farmers in Saskatchewan in connection with the reduction of debt. I bring this to the attention of the minister because I believe it should not have applied only to one class of individuals. Simply because some were soldier settlers they should not have been debarred from taking advantage of this debt reduction. I strongly urge the minister to recommend that the soldier settlement board get into touch with the government of Saskatchewan with a view to having these old taxes cancelled, in the same way that other citizens have had their taxes cancelled at other times.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
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LIB

Robert Emmett Finn

Liberal

Mr. FINN:

I followed the observations of the hon. member for Weyburn, in which he pointed out that, as regards the requirements

Soldier Settlement Act

of the west, particularly his own. constituency of Weyburn, he did not want it understood that he was in favour of discrimination as against the east or British Columbia. Before this government decides to grant millions of dollars to any particular part of Canada, it should be prepared, particularly the ministers from the east, to see that we get more than the lopped off branches which would be left after hon. gentlemen from the west get everything they desire for themselves. Our leaders from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island should be prepared to take this stand. I am not objecting to the necessary expenditure of money to alleviate conditions in the west, but I think it is only fair that something should be done for the people of the east who are suffering great hardships through unemployment and other conditions, in many cases having little or nothing to eat. I say this in all seriousness. I was surprised this afternoon to hear a minister from my own province, the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Ilsley), move a resolution for the expenditure of $15,000,000 for seed in the western provinces.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

That is a guarantee.

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LIB

Robert Emmett Finn

Liberal

Mr. FINN:

I suppose if we could get $15,000,000 down in the maritimes we would have no trouble to get somebody to guarantee it. The point I am trying to make is that there seems to be no direct action taken by the ministers from the maritime provinces, and particularly the minister from Nova Scotia, to see that we get an equitable allotment. Nova Scotia is the oldest province in Canada. She was one of the first, together with New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, to enter confederation, against her will, but is now satisfied to remain with the confederacy. But, Mr. Chairman, she will not be content to remain there unless she is given a fair and equitable share of the moneys of Canada. We are not asking for the expenditure of one dollar that we cannot defend. I suggest to the Minister of Mines and Resources, who is leading the house this afternoon, that he suggest to the government that when vast sums of money are being expended for certain provinces at least some intimation should be given as to what is to be done for the eastern section of this country, namely, Ontario, Quebec and the maritimes. Until that is done I am afraid there will be a wide gulf between us and there will be longer consideration given to these measures in debate than some hon. gentlemen expect.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Subtopic:   INTEREST RATE ON REPAYMENTS OF TAXES AND INSURANCE PREMIUMS-ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

I want to say just a word or two with reference to the cancellation of interest where there has been no

crop. The minister says that the chief objection to this is that it would be discrimination in favour of one district as against another. I should like to point out to him that the dollar for dollar scheme, with which I am in agreement, also provides local discrimination. It discriminates in favour of the man who has a crop.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

That may be, but there is no discrimination under the law.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

If a man has a crop, for every dollar he can put in he gets another dollar, but the man who has not been able to raise a crop is not given this help. In view of the fact that you are helping the man who has a crop by giving him dollar for dollar, there should be no objection on the part of those people who would be benefiting by that piece of legislation if assistance were given to the man who has no crop. At least in those years when he has no crop he should not be called upon to make interest payments. If we are going to help the man who has a crop, we should be prepared to help the man who has none. I do not think that would be discrimination, any more than it would be favouring people who are a little more fortunate than others.

The minister also said in connection with the cancellation of interest that the farmer could benefit under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act. If that be true, and it is true in certain provinces, what will happen if in the near future boards of review are not allorved by proclamation to take any more applications in certain provinces? If we are to judge from a bill now on the order paper, that is what will happen. The Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act will not be operative in certain provinces. Does this mean that the discrimination of which the minister speaks is to be in effect against soldier settlers who might come in under a voluntary scheme such as was arranged last year in Saskatchewan? If the board of review is not in operation in that province, a man might find his interest payments continuing whether or not he had a crop, and they would continue to pile up until in some cases the total amount due would be more than the amount he had originally agreed to pay. Perhaps the minister would give serious consideration in the near future to doing something along this line.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
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LIB

Alfred Edgar MacLean

Liberal

Mr. MacLEAN (Prince):

I have one case I should like to bring to the attention of the committee. I understood that these matters were to be discussed when the estimates were

Soldier Settlement Act

before us, but now that the discussion has taken a wide range and our western friends are urging that certain concessions should be made to the people in the drought area of Saskatchewan, perhaps what I have in mind can be brought forward.

A man who had served overseas returned and purchased a farm for $5,000. He continued to farm that land for a number of years and finally reduced his debt to something like $1,100. If he had been able to raise that amount he would have had his farm free of debt, but he became completely discouraged and turned the farm over to a brother, also a returned soldier. Four boys from the one family served in the war. The soldier settlement board stepped in this year and got an order of the court to eject the soldier. The brother has to step out and give up this farm upon which thousands of dollars have been spent. This seems to me to be rather a hard situation. They claim that they cannot raise the money because of the action of the farm loan board not being willing to loan money on the soldier settlement board farms and also the provisions of the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act. These two pieces of legislation make the borrowing of money most difficult and these men have not been able to obtain a loan. There is nothing for them to do but go out and leave this property after having spent $3,000 or $4,000 on it.

I just want to point out to my western friends that they are not the only ones who are suffering. We made a plea for this man on the ground that there had been almost a complete crop failure in that section of the country. For the first time in the history of the province they have had to bring in feed for stock and seed grain in order to tide over the people. I have just been speaking to the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) about this matter. I join with some of my friends from eastern Canada in voicing a slight protest in this house. When a claim is presented by our friends from western Canada it is given immediate consideration, but the attitude toward this situation in Prince county is that it is not of sufficient magnitude for the federal government to step into the picture; that the local government should be able to handle it. The man I speak of is a returned man, and his is not the only case by any means. He had no crop last year, and nothing to put in the ground this year, and he failed to get much sympathetic assistance from the departments here but it was true he failed to meet his payments regularly. I understand that the local government is able to guarantee the loans at the

banks to enable those in this position to get seed and carry on their operations, but we would certainly appreciate a little assistance if this western grain is to be shipped all the way down by rail from western Canada at a reduced freight rate. The people of my province, and particularly of the section I have spoken of, would greatly appreciate some assistance.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Subtopic:   INTEREST RATE ON REPAYMENTS OF TAXES AND INSURANCE PREMIUMS-ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

Might I say in reply to the hon. member that we of western Canada realize that we are discussing a matter for all Canada, and we are speaking of the conditions we know best when we speak of western Canada. I noticed from the figures of abandonments that have been made from time to time under the British and civilian and soldier settlement schemes that there were 1,072 abandonments in the St. John district, as compared with 1,611 in Calgary, which would indicate that the whole matter needs to be considered in a much more realistic way than it has so far been considered. I have before me, for example, a statement showing that there have been 14,480 abandonments, quit-claims, and so forth, by soldier settlers, civilian settlers and British families from the inception to November 30, 1937. The original number of soldier settlers was 25,017, and the present number is 9,888, so we can see the tremendously high proportion of abandonments. I believe that this legislation, while necessary so far as it goes, does not meet the actual conditions, and the minister and the department and the government should consider this whole matter more realistically than it is being considered at the present time.

I am fully aware that conditions in Ontario are not good. I have a letter, for example, from the municipal chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire of Toronto, in which, having observed that I spoke on this matter the other day, they draw my attention to the deplorable condition of settlers under these schemes in northern Ontario. Then only a few moments ago we heard from Prince Edward Island. And so, while each of us speaks of conditions that we know in the province from which we come, it is quite obvious from the figures of the department itself that a much more realistic stand has to be taken in connection with this whole matter than is indicated by this legislation. As a matter of fact, forty per cent of the total settlement has been abandoned already, and many of the settlers who remain are remaining there because they do not know what to do if they get off the land.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT
Subtopic:   INTEREST RATE ON REPAYMENTS OF TAXES AND INSURANCE PREMIUMS-ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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II, 1938

March 11, 1938