March 25, 1938

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Chairman, it does appear to me that if this government is to give a guarantee we should know under what conditions we are giving that guarantee. The amounts indicated are $1,900,000 in respect of Alberta, and $14,500,000 in respect of Saskatchewan. Since we are providing the credit by which this money is being obtained from the banks, is it not desirable that full information be given? If it were not for the conditions to which the minister has alluded, it would not be necessary for us to pledge our credit. As the minister has properly remarked to the hon. member for Prince (Mr. MacLean) this is a matter between the provincial governments and the people of the provinces. If the credit of the provincial governments were good, we would not come into the picture at all. It is only because we in the west are unable to deal with the situation that we have to rely upon the credit of the federal government.

Has the seed grain already been provided? Was it secured last fall through the operations of the wheat board? Under what authority does the wheat board function? Was it permitted to buy only from producers? How has this wheat been held? At what price was it acquired? All these are relevant questions that should be dealt with. It seems to me that the government when in opposition would never have permitted a measure such as this to pass unless such information was forthcoming. I do not think the request is an unreasonable one. I have inspected the papers downstairs and I know what provision has been made to acquire this seed. I want to know what price has been paid for the seed grain and what price is to be paid by the farmer. There will be no great freight

Seed Grain

charges to pay on this grain, because it has been taken over in the interior elevators, according to the returns made a week or so ago by the auditors of the wheat board. I think all this information should be in our .possession.

Then you come to the far more difficult question, a question that in days gone by used to be dealt with in a very, shall I say, detailed manner. Some of those who have participated in this debate will perhaps recall their anxiety to know, first, how many acres a man was to be permitted to seed; whether he should have a percentage of his available acreage seeded to -wheat, to oats, to rye and barley; or should it be fixed definitely that no man could seed more than a blank number of acres? To act on such a suggestion would be utterly unfair. A man with a thousand acres would be in a position to have cultivated only the same number of acres as the man with only the minimum number. Attention has been directed to this by the hon. member for Weyburn.

Then you come to the next question, the distribution of the seed grain. There you have a question which unfortunately gets into the realm of politics. When the legislation is before us in committee I propose to suggest that there shall be no departure from the regulations, which I would like to see as a schedule to the bill. I know, as other members know, human nature being what it is, to quote the language of the Prime Minister that you have to consider the pressure that will be brought to bear upon those who are responsible for administration. That pressure takes many forms. You have the municipality and you have the provincial government. The regulations are initiated by the provincial government and are supposed to be made effective by the municipality.

Then there are the inspectors. You have one man with 1.200 acres urging that owing to the splendid moisture content of the soil and the apparent certainty of a crop, an exception should be made in his case and a larger quantity of land made available for cropping than in the case of someone who in his opinion is less fortunately situated. Surely we should try to deal with that so as not to make it possible in this democracy that men may think that their ability to secure a crop depends upon their attitude towards public questions-in other words, depends upon their political faith. It seems to me we must do everything in our power to see that that is not the case. I know something of the difficulties. I did not listen to all the criticisms urged in days gone by without

realizing that this is not a condition applicable only to one individual or set of individuals, but is the common attribute of poor, weak humanity, and that if an election is in sight and the pressure is strong the result is fairly certain. We must do something to prevent that condition arising.

These are the questions upon which we should have information. We start with what has been done with respect to seed and what is involved with respect to cost. Then we come down to our acceptance, mark you, Mr. Chairman, of the regulations promulgated by the province; for the minute we give our guarantee we tacitly admit that the conditions are acceptable to us. We have, therefore a responsibility which I hope we shall exercise not in any narrow spirit but with an earnest desire, as the Minister of Finance has said, to make some little contribution to the national welfare by the creation in this year of grace of a substantial quantity of new wealth-for that is what it means. One of the reasons why a wheat crop is regarded as so valuable is that you sow it in the spring and have new wealth in the fall. It is not like cattle, where the new wealth does not become available for years, or like many other enterprises, in the mining field, for example, where the losses are colossal and now and then you have a great success. But with wheat, if we have a crop at all, we know it will result in a very great expansion of new wealth, and that wealth becomes available in the autumn of the very year in which the crop has been sown. That is why I suggest that the minister should place the information on Hansard, in order that the people may realize the magnitude of the efforts that are being made and the reason why the public credit is being pledged, that of the dominion in addition to the provinces; because according to the terms of the resolution the provinces are giving their undertaking and the municipalities are giving theirs, and the banks are protecting their depositors -on a ten to one basis, I take it?-by the guarantee of the federal government.

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:

There is no cash basis.

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I see. Then it is probably a dollar for dollar basis instead of a ten to one basis.

I hope the minister will give us as detailed a statement as possible on the points to which I have alluded so that we may have the information before us when we come to consider the bill. The opportunity for discussion on the bill itself will not be great, because, after all, on the resolution the minister gives

Seed Grain

a broad presentation of the case. It will be recalled that on one occasion this house sat for months dealing with a resolution, and it is very important that everything should be known when the resolution is before the house.

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

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

As a member from the province of Quebec I think it is my duty, following the trend of thought in this discussion, to make public by putting on the records of this house the conditions and methods under which this government enters into the picture of giving guarantees to the provinces.

The Minister of Agriculture knows that we interviewed him about some cases in our province similar to those mentioned by the hon. member for Prince (Mr. MacLean). I just want to put on the record the methods followed as I understand them, and if I am wrong, perhaps the Minister of Finance will be good enough to correct me at the same time that he answers other members.

As I understand it, it is the duty of the municipality to come to the rescue of any group of farmers in the municipality, and when the municipality is unable to guarantee seed grain to the whole community in the municipality, the municipal council must ask help from the province.

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:

Right.

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

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

If the province in turn is unable to guarantee seed grain for such a large area as we have in the western provinces, and when the conditions run on for a certain period of years, the provincial government may ask the aid of the federal government.

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:

Correct.

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

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

And these are the actual conditions which have prevailed this year so far as Saskatchewan and Alberta are concerned.

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:

Absolutely.

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

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

I understand, and perhaps the minister will be good enough to make it very clear to the committee, that these two provinces did present a formal demand to the dominion government this year.

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:

"Demand" is perhaps too strong. They made a request.

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

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

Yes, a request. Has the minister received requests from other provinces, and especially has he received from the government of the province of Quebec, a request to provide seed grain?

While I am on my feet I am glad to say that I concur in the remark made by the

leader of the opposition, that the providing of seed grain should not be conditioned upon a man's political allegiance or anything of that kind, but that so long as a farmer proves he is unable to buy his seed grain he should have it. I am pleased that the right hon. gentleman said that, and I should like to be sure that this expression of opinion by the right hon. leader of the Conservative party will be conveyed to the administration in the province of Quebec; because I recall that in the last by-election in Bagot the premier of the province of Quebec said to the electors of the county: "If you want seed grain, vote for the Conservative candidate; if you do not, then vote against him." He also said: "If you want old age pensions"-and remember, Mr. Chairman, that seventy-five per cent of the cost of old age pensions is paid by the federal government-"then vote for the Conservative candidate." And he continued to speak in that way. I am sure that the leader of the opposition would not endorse such statements. I wish to be fair to Mr. Duplessis: he did not say "Conservative party"; he said, "National party." Of course this is a camouflage characteristic of the policy followed by our opponents, but it means the same thing. I am interested to see that these conditions and methods are well known to the people of our province; for I would not consent that a large area of that province should be deprived of seed grain by the provincial government upon the excuse that this government refused to grant it.

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:

The hon. member has correctly stated the conditions.

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

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

I should like also that the premier of Quebec should put in his own mind the right conditions under which seed grain should be provided "in Quebec by the provincial government.

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:

I think I need not add anything to the remarks of the hon. member. I have previously stated the conditions under which the federal guarantee is available, and I am quite sure that the great province of Quebec would never admit that its credit is not good enough to enable it to supply anything which in its judgment should be supplied to its farmers. If and when the time comes that Quebec is in a condition similar to that of the two western provinces I have named because of conditions that are all similar, I am quite sure this parliament would give the same consideration to Quebec, and indeed to any other province, as it is now giving to these two western provinces.

I shall endeavour to reply to one of the questions of the leader of the opposition (Mr. Seed Grain

Bennett) with respect to the supply of seed. Others relate more particularly to my colleague the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) who will deal with them.

The leader of the opposition very properly wants to know what steps were taken to ensure that seed will be available. Well, last year it became apparent during the summer that another very serious drought was actually in existence in western Canada, particularly in Saskatchewan, and it speedily became apparent that unless steps were taken very likely there would not be available in that part of Canada in the possession of anyone a sufficiency of wheat to enable a crop to be sown during the 1938 crop season. Under these circumstances the government early last fall- I cannot give the exact date, but I believe it was in September-took stock of the situation and found that the wheat board at that date still owned wheat features to the extent of just short of seven million bushels.

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Is that the old 1935

wheat? So it is stated downstairs.

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:

As at the end of July, I should have said, was the date as to the seven million bushels.

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

William Hayhurst

Social Credit

Mr. HAYHURST:

Futures contracts, were they not?

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:

They were in the form of futures at that time, as was reported to the house a year ago in discussing this matter. The wheat committee of the cabinet, in conference with the wheat board, suggested that under the circumstances it would be desirable not to dispose of this amount of wheat futures, but that it would be desirable in the national interest, because of the very clear need that we could foresee for this spring, gradually to turn those futures into cash wheat of a kind suitable for sowing in the west this year and to hold it available for that purpose instead of continuing to sell it. That was done, and therefore the two governments of Saskatchewan and Alberta will be able to secure from the wheat board the wheat supplies necessary for the purpose and covered by the guarantee which we now have under consideration.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Does the minister mean that they will buy it from the wheat board?

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

March 25, 1938