March 25, 1938

GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES


Hon. CHARLES A. DUNNING (Minister of Finance) moved that the house go into committee to consider the following proposed resolution: That it is expedient to introduce a measure to authorize the guarantee by the government of Canada of principal and interest of loans made by chartered banks and guaranteed by the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, respectively, for the purchase of seed grain and for providing other assistance to farmers in connection with seeding operations during the spring of 1938; the liability of the government of Canada in respect of such guarantees not to exceed in the aggregate the sum of $1,900,000 in respect of Alberta and $14,500,000 in respect of Saskatchewan. Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Sanderson in the chair.


LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Mr. Chairman, the bill to be based on this resolution represents the national aspect of an effort to ensure that those portions of the prairie provinces which

Seed Grain

were ravaged by drought in 1937 will once more be sown. The principle of the measure is identical with that of the one passed at the last session of parliament under which guarantees were given for the seeding operations of 1937.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Perhaps the minister

would give the results of that.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Yes, I will a little later.

The amounts involved differ because of the different area affected as compared with the area in 1936. In 1937 severe drought conditions affected Manitoba less than previously, with the result that Manitoba is not this year included within the bill to be based upon this resolution. In Saskatchewan the intensity and area affected was greater than ever before, and the problem consequently in that province is much more serious. The government of Alberta asks for a somewhat larger provision than a year ago, but not materially so. Last year the limit of our guarantee in the case of Alberta was $1,600,000. By the resolution now under consideration for this year the amount is $1,900,000. In the case of Saskatchewan last year the limit of our guarantee was $6,600,000, and this year the amount asked for in that province is $14,500,000.

I have spoken of the much wider area affected this year. Another factor which affects the figures is the higher prices which must be paid for seed grain, feed grain and fodder for use during the seeding period. In asking us to guarantee loans up to $1,900,000, the province of Alberta states that the number of farmers applying for assistance in this respect will be about 15.000. The amount required in this area in Alberta will be about $1,800,000, while the further sum of $100,000 will be required in that province to provide similar assistance in what may be called marginal districts.

The actual loans made in Alberta last year totalled $1,339,328; that is to say, the amount authorized by this parliament in respect of that province was not fully required. As at December 31, 1937, reflecting the somewhat better crop conditions in some parts of Alberta and as a result of repayments made out of last year's crop, the amount outstanding under the Alberta guarantee for last year has been reduced to $919,000.

In the case of Saskatchewan the number of farmer applicants has greatly increased because of the condition I mentioned a few moments ago. The government of that province estimates that the number of farmers who will need some kind of seeding assistance

because of the lack of production last year will exceed 81,000, as compared with 25,000 who received assistance last year. These are just round figures.

The amounts required for the various forms of assistance in each province have been carefully considered by the federal Department of Agriculture together with representatives of the department of agriculture in each of the provinces concerned, and my colleague the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) will be able to answer all questions with respect to thr provincial method of determining how seed shall be supplied in detail and the terms upon which it is made available to the individual farmer.

Subject to further questions-of course the members of the committee are free to ask questions, and I have here all the information with respect to the whole history of seed grain advances during the last seven or eight unfortunate years-I would say that this represents what appears to this government and to the governments of the two provinces concerned as the most effective means of ensuring that this great area shall be sown this coming spring.

I said a year ago in discussing this matter that all Canada had recognized and appreciated the fact that the drought problem had assumed the proportions of a national emergency, and it is in that spirit that all those concerned approach the problem we have before us this afternoon. This measure represents cooperation, starting with the individual farmer, his municipality, his province, the federal government, and the chartered banks. The amounts here represented by the guarantee figures do not represent all of the advances which will be made by the chartered banks. For instance, in the case of Saskatchewan it is estimated that the advances by the banks will run to over $18,000,000 for these purposes. The mortgage companies, having the interest of a mortgagee in lands, are by provincial legislation enabled to advance seed grain to their mortgagors, arid it is anticipated that they will do so to the extent of between $1,000,000 and $1,250,000. I think therefore it can be said that this measure does represent definite cooperation between all those interested to give another chance, and a chance I think under better moisture conditions than have been apparent at this time of year in that area for a number of years past, to the people in this great area to produce a crop once more. 1 am positive in stating that without a measure of this kind it would be quite impossible for millions of acres of our most fertile land to be sown to wheat this spring.

Seed Grain

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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LIB-PRO

James Allison Glen

Liberal Progressive

Mr. GLEN:

I should like to know what, if any, application has been made by the province of Manitoba for like assistance, and why it is not sharing in this vote.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

No application has been made by the province of Manitoba for the guarantee this year, and it is quite evident that the province believes that it can itself handle its own problem. I trust the hon. member understands that this loan is to the farmer from his municipality. The municipality in turn is guaranteed by the province, and the province by the dominion. I should have said in that connection that the bill will contain the same provision as the bill of a year ago, namely, that the guarantee of the dominion will not be enforceable until three succeeding crops have been grown following the distribution of the seed this year.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

You might want to pay the losses in advance, as in the case of the wheat board.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I sincerely trust the country may be in such a position as to be able to pay ascertained losses in advance, and I sincerely hope that my judgment in that regard may be as much at fault on a future occasion as it proved to be on the occasion to which my right hon. friend referred. I have no quarrel as Minister of Finance with the kind of mistake that involves over-estimation in taking care of a liability. That is the kind of mistake which is excusable.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Not for the reasons it was made.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

The kind of mistake which is inexcusable is the unwillingness to make adequate provision in such a case. "All's well that ends well," the Minister of Justice suggests.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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SC

John Charles Landeryou

Social Credit

Mr. LANDERYOU:

As regards the $1,900,000 for expenditure in Alberta, is the money actually paid to the provincial government, or is it merely guaranteed?

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

This whole measure

involves not the payment of money to any other government but the guaranteeing by this government of the credit of the Alberta government, which in turn guarantees the credit of its own municipalities.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

Upon the request of Alberta?

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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SC

John Charles Landeryou

Social Credit

Mr. LANDERYOU:

Will the government not have to meet any losses for three years?

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

The provision in that regard, which of course it will be more convenient to discuss on the bill, is the same as that of a year ago, that the claim against

51952-107J

the crown shall not be called upon before the expiration of three years. In effect theintention is, as was the case last year, that there should be three years during which themunicipalities and the banks and theprovincial government should endeavour to collect from the proceeds of three succeeding crops, before any liability is on this

government.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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SC

John Charles Landeryou

Social Credit

Mr. LANDERYOU:

An article appeared in the Alberta papers on March 15 from which I quote:

Expenditure of $1,900,000 by the federal government on seed and seeding operations in Alberta this year was announced Monday by Hon. J. G. Gardiner, federal minister of agriculture, after a conference with Hon. D. B. Mullen, Alberta minister of agriculture.

According to the press report the minister was going to have the federal government spend $1,900,000 in the province of Alberta-before the election, an hon. member suggests.

Mr. Gardiner said the resolution on which the legislation will be based providing for the $1,900,000 for seed and seeding operations in Alberta was now before parliament.

After reading such reports in the press, I am not surprised that the cabinet of a Liberal government should disallow legislation designed to give the citizens of Alberta accurate news and information.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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?

George Halsey Perley

Mr. PERLEY:

As the minister has stated, this is a very important measure, the purpose of which is to provide seed for a very large area in the province of Saskatchewan; and it will affect very much the returns that the farmers of that province will have next fall. That means also that it will affect the whole business of this dominion. It is important because, as has been stated, it provides for the distribution of seed, of feed for horses, and of power, by means of gasoline and repairs, for seeding the crop.

I regret however that the minister did not see fit to bring in thfe measure earlier. When one considers the importance of it, the present date, March 25, is quite late to introduce it. It is only right to expect that the minister will find it necessary to give details with respect to the whole question of conditions in western Canada. He has already mentioned the number of farmers that are affected this year, namely 81,000, but we shall also require details with respect to the area involved and the accumulation and distribution of the seed. However the proper time to obtain such details will be when the bill is in committee.

May I remind the committee that on a former occasion, in 1933, when Saskatchewan and other western provinces needed seed for their spring requirements-the area not quite

Seed Grain

so large as the present one, but being very considerable-a measure for the distribution of seed was introduced as early as February 1.

I might add that it was held up for nearly two months; in fact on April 1 the government of the day had to employ the closure to get the measure through. Under all the circumstances I believe members of the government and all other hon. members will agree that we shall be acting in a kindly spirit if we facilitate the passing of this measure in good time, without regard to the delay caused five years ago by the details that were demanded and * the questions that were asked. I do not think our present course will be calculated to delay this measure in any particular, although it is quite evident that we might do so if we so desired.

I am informed on pretty good authority that a request was made about January 29 by the government of Saskatchewan to the federal government for about S27,000,000 to provide seed and fodder for spring requirements. I will not go into details as to how this amount was made up, but the minister might let us know whether such a requisition was made by the provincial government on or about that time. If it was, it should not have taken the government all this time to decide what they would do about it; they should have known long before this. The minister might also inform us if the Minister of Agriculture held a meeting with the loan companies and the banks early in February, either here or in Toronto, when the whole question was discussed, including the provincial government's requisition.

I shall not argue the point as to whether $14,500,000 is sufficient. I believe it is. Of course price must be considered, but if proper distribution is made and the situation is efficiently handled this sum may be sufficient. The one point about which I am distressed is this. In the four years prior to 1935 relief and seed distribution was handled in Saskatchewan by a commission. It did a good job, and there was no criticism, at least not to be compared with what we hear to-day on all sides with respect to the quantity of seed to be provided and the number of acres to be seeded. The commission had its inspectors in the different municipalities; requisition was made to them and considered by the inspector concerned, and the farmer got his seed on reasonable conditions. But the regulations that have been issued by the provincial government which is now in power are such as easily lend themselves to some degree of discrimination and political favouritism. I referred a minute ago to the fact that we have

not criticized this government very much. I believe we have been kind to them as regards the distribution of relief in Saskatchewan, not merely with regard to seed, but other matters as well. We have received plenty of information which leads us to believe that the handling of relief in Saskatchewan since 1934 has been a scandal and a disgrace, and I believe that if a committee were set up to investigate, we could prove it. There has been a lack of control of prices, and many other things could be brought up. However, this perhaps is not the time to enter into a discussion of that matter.

Will the minister also inform us whether any requests have been made by the provincial government that they be permitted to finance or assist municipalities in providing tractor power for seeding this spring, owing to the fact that there has been very great mortality among the horses of the province and there is a deplorable situation from the standpoint of horse power this spring? Reports have been coming forward regarding the loss of horses and in many municipalities it is over fifty per cent-that is, horses that died in the municipality during the winter, and the loss of horses shipped to the feeding ground in Manitoba, many of which have not returned. Many of the horses that are being returned to the province from the feeding ground in Manitoba are in a weakened condition and I was wondering whether any requisition had been made to the government for assistance to the farmers in the form of tractors for their seeding. When we get into committee on the bill I shall ask for more details with respect to many of these matters, particularly the purchasing of seed and the question of the premiums that were paid. I think we shall have to ascertain how they arrived at the price of $1.45 to the farmers.

At the present time the soil and moisture condition in the province is very favourable and the prospects for a crop are fairly good. In the last seven or eight years we have not had such favourable soil and moisture conditions for the reception of seed. The Minister of Agriculture has just returned from the province and he may be able to enlighten us in that regard. That being the situation, it is important that every possible acre that is suitable should be seeded this year. Many districts have not had a crop in five or six years and it would be serious and most regrettable if every possible acre were not seeded this year so as to give the farmers a break. I have received hundreds of letters protesting

Seed Grain

and expressing dissatisfaction with the regulations that have been issued by the provincial government with respect to the amount of seed which will be provided for the individual farmer. A report in the Regina Daily Star of March 22 is to the effect that the Liberal members of the provincial legislature are themselves concerned. The report is headed:

Hear Liberals Trying for More Seed Wheat.

Possibly it is just a hitch in banking arrangements, a ripple in administration that will shortly be ironed out, but some private members of the legislature insist there is now being carried on extensive negotiations with Ottawa in an effort to secure more seed and easier terms. It is further rumoured that important news is expected shortly from men who have something to do with the federal treasury.

The report goes on to state that a special session may be called. This is from Liberal members of the Saskatchewan legislature.

If Ottawa "fails to come through" in the next few hours, the members may be called back to Regina within a week for a short and special session to deal with one matter only-more seed grain and particularly more seed wheat.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

What newspaper is that?

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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?

George Halsey Perley

Mr. PERLEY:

The Regina Daily Star of March 22.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN
Subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF LOANS FOR PURCHASE OF SEED AND OTHER ASSISTANCE IN SEEDING OPERATIONS IN WESTERN PROVINCES
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March 25, 1938