May 9, 1939

PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE

PERCENTAGE DEDUCTION FROM GRAINS MARKETED IN SPRING WHEAT AREA-PROVISION FOR ACREAGE PAYMENT


The house resumed from Monday, May 8, consideration of the motion of Mr. Gardiner for the second reading of Bill No. 83, to assist agriculture in the prairie provinces.


SC

James Alexander Marshall

Social Credit

Mr. J. A. MARSHALL (Camrose):

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is my duty to take part in this debate, first, because I represent a truly agricultural constituency, and second, because I come from western Canada where I have lived for over twenty-six years. During the whole of that time I have been intimately associated with agriculture, and I may be considered as one who has spent a portion of that time "farming the farmer."

Hon. members of this group have thoroughly canvassed the problem in all its phases, and I do not therefore wish to repeat any of the observations which have been made. At the same time I believe my constituents would feel I was lax in my duty were I not on this occasion to express some of the opinions they have expressed to me. I have received a considerable number of letters, telegrams, resolutions and petitions from every part of my riding and from almost every organization in the riding, including boards of trade, city councils, and officials of municipal districts. In addition I have received communications from almost one hundred social credit groups operating in the constituency. The petitions have been signed by hundreds of farmers, business men and professional men. One thing of which I am certain is that I have heard from a majority of the people in my constituency.

It is true that the recommendations are not all alike. Later in my speech I shall touch upon some of the differences. At this point I should like to place on Hansard a copy of a resolution I received from a social credit group which I believe offers to the government .a constructive recommendation with respect to the wheat surplus we have at the present time. I shall not read the preamble, but shall read only the resolution, which is as follows-

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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member would not be permitted to read from a petition expressing opinions of people outside of the House of Commons with respect to legislation or bills before the house. To support that

ruling I would refer the hon. member to page 101 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, citation 306, which states:

It is not in order to read articles in newspapers, letters or communications emanating from persons outside the house and referring to, or commenting on, or denying anything said by a member or expressing any opinion reflecting on proceedings within the house.

I remember one occasion in the last parliament when I was called to order by the then Speaker for presenting to the house a petition from a certain body of people protesting against a bill before the house, and expressing opinions contrary to the principle of the bill. Therefore it is not in order to read the petition.

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SC

James Alexander Marshall

Social Credit

Mr. MARSHALL:

Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to offer this as a criticism of the bills. It contains only suggestions. Now that I am not privileged to read the resolution to the house I shall place it before hon. members in my own words by giving only the substance.

The suggestion is that all persons on relief in Canada be asked to purchase bread and other wheat products processed in Canada from Canadian wheat at a discount of 25 per cent from the retail price, and Canadian flour at a discount of 33i per cent from the retail price, to induce those on relief so far as possible to use our wheat surplus. The other suggestion is that people on relief be permitted to purchase rolled oats and oatmeal from Canadian mills and grain companies at a 25 per cent discount from the retail price, so as to encourage the use of our surplus oat production; and that the retail merchants be reimbursed the discount out of the government's relief appropriation.

I offer those suggestions to the government, coming from a group of farmers in my constituency. I would go farther and say that the idea embodied in the resolution could be applied to almost every product raised in Canada. It could be applied to the fishing industry on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. It could be applied to the apple growers of the Annapolis and Okanagan valleys. It could be applied to the products of the market gardeners of Ontario. It could be applied to the cheese industry. As a matter of fact in some degree it is being applied in connection with the butter surplus. I leave those suggestions with the government to be used as they deem most desirable.

The farm problem in Canada to-day-and let me hasten to assure hon. members that I make no distinction between eastern and western Canada-will never be settled until

Prairie Farm Assistance

the farmers of Canada themselves can exert an effective influence [DOT] over one side or the other of their business ledger. Until they are able to do this they will continue to slide further and further down the economic scale. As their plight becomes increasingly worse, so will the efforts of this and succeeding governments to cope successfully with the situation continue to give us grave concern. From time out of mind Canadian industry has demanded a fair return, which is only another way of saying that industry wants a price for its products and services which will enable it to pay fair wages and earn a fair return upon its capital investment. Our working men have long demanded a living standard, meaning that they want a wage that will enable them to have their modest share of the comforts of life, a decent home and to be able properly to clothe and educate their children. How long would Henry Ford stay in business if the selling price of his automobiles were fixed by the Chicago board of trade or the Liverpool grain exchange? He is successful because he knows almost to a cent his production costs and because he has absolute control over his selling price.

The question is being asked: What should we do for the farmers? I believe that we should guarantee the farmers a price on the home market that will assure them their production costs, depreciation on their farm plant and machinery and a small return on their investment. Is there anyone in this house who will rise in his place and say that this is too much to ask, especially when it is recognized that the purchasing power of the farmers is fundamental to prosperous stores, factories, mills and all branches of secondary industry? The last twenty years have been years of struggle and deprivation for the farmers, particularly those living in western Canada. They have also been years of experimentation with methods to offset the effect of subsidizing privileged industry by tariffs and other means. During the last twenty years the position of the agriculturist and his family has grown steadily worse until to-day it is reduced to the level of the European peasant.

Last year the dominion government set the price of wheat at 80 cents for No. 1 northern, Fort William. I wonder how many hon. gentlemen have taken the trouble to find out just what the farmers of western Canada did with the proceeds from the crop of last year? For more than ten years a considerable number of farmers, I should judge running into the hundreds, have consulted me about their financial problems. I believe

fMr. Marshall.]

they did this because I occupied a position in a municipal office and they felt that in some small measure I might be able to assist them in solving the problems with which they were confronted. They felt that as I was in touch with the provincial government through the municipal office, as well as with the banks and the loan mortgage companies, perhaps I could help them. So they came to my office, as many as eight in one day, to tell me their troubles and to ask for my advice.

As I look back over the years from 1929 to 1939, I divide them into two periods, the first extending from 1929 to 1935 and the second from 1935 to the present time. The farmers in my district have been taught in the school of bitter experience to fear the threats of over-bearing, tyrannical collection agents, especially those who are the paid hirelings of the mortgage corporations. I hasten to exempt from this class the agents of the land departments of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and the Hudson's Bay Company. The course pursued by these two companies differs very materially from the policy pursued by the mortgage companies. The agents of the land departments of these companies have proved themselves to be perfect gentlemen. They have endeavoured to see the problem of the farmer from the farmer's standpoint, and I have heard nothing but the highest commendation and praise for them.

On the other hand, so great was the fear in which some of the collection agents for the mortgage companies and other like companies were held, that I have known farmers to stoop to all kinds of questionable practices in order that the one-third crop share should be available to these agents when they came around. From 1929 to 1935 the farmer set aside one-third of his crop which was applied on his mortgage, to pay all or part of the interest charges, and, if any was left over, to be applied on the principal. The balance of two-thirds had to take care of all the rest of his expenses, such as binder twine, threshing bills, store bills, hospital and doctor's bills, seed grain, and, last but by no means least in size, taxes. Were all these expenses paid? The answer is obvious. No, they certainly were not. During those years the mortgages held in my part of the country were kept on a satisfactory basis, but prices were not sufficiently high to permit the farmers to pay all their yearly obligations in full. Taxes were allowed to accumulate, accounts for seed grain, doctor's bills, hospital bills and other liabilities were allowed to accumulate. I know

Prairie Farm Assistance

as a matter of fact that municipalities were called upon to guarantee some of these accounts, and around the year 1935 many municipalities were faced with a very serious situation indeed. But from 1935 onwards I could see a decided change. Fewer and fewer payments were being made on mortgages and more and more payments on small debts and taxes. I want it understood that I am not speaking for the whole west but simply from my experience in my own part of the country, and of course conditions there may not be generally applicable throughout Canada.

What happened to the proceeds of the 1938 crop, the price of which was guaranteed at 80 cents a bushel f.o.b. Fort William for No. 1 northern? In almost every instance with which I came in contact the farmer, after paying his threshing bill and his binder twine, paid first of all his small store bill. He played the game with his grocer and his hardware merchant, his doctor and others who had carried him through the most critical time in 1938. He applied the balance of the proceeds from his crop to his seed grain loan and to school and hospital taxes, and if there was anything left he applied the rest to his municipal and provincial taxes. That is exactly as it should be. I believe that interest charges on mortgages should come last and be paid only after these other obligations have been met. The point I want to make is that the percentage of farmers who paid anything on their mortgages from 1935 to 1938 was very small indeed, and I believe that is one of the reasons why the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) has brought down his bill dealing with mortgages.

The farmers of my community, facing as they do increased debt in the form of interest charges on their mortgages, looked to their provincial government to protect them against the high pressure methods of mortgage company collection agents, and in my opinion the government of Alberta was justified in protecting the farmers of the province by passing such legislation as was deemed necessary to meet this trying situation.

What will happen this year under the 70 cents guaranteed price? I predict that the farmers will follow exactly the same line of action as last year. Of one thing I am positive, and that is that they will not be able to pay anything on mortgages or contracts of the kind. It is strange that among all the letters and telegrams and petitions and resolutions which came to my desk, not one came from a bank or mortgage company or other lending or banking institution. I ask the Minister of Agriculture to inform me, when we get into committee on these bills,

how many requests he received from institutions like the Bank of Montreal, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the Associated Mortgage Company, the Sun Life Assurance Company, the Toronto General Trusts or the Montreal Trust Company, petitioning him to do all in his power to assure the farmers of western Canada a fair price for their production. All these organizations are vitally interested in the west; they have in fact a higher financial stake in my part of the country than the farmers themselves. Did they ask for 60, or 70 or 80 cent wheat? That is the question I direct to the Minister of Agriculture, and in respect to which I hope he will enlighten us as fully as possible in committee.

Another question I direct to the minister is this: Whose brain child is this scheme, anyway? It is apparently based upon the ideas expressed by Professor Hope. Did Professor Hope have any finger in this pie?

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE
Subtopic:   PERCENTAGE DEDUCTION FROM GRAINS MARKETED IN SPRING WHEAT AREA-PROVISION FOR ACREAGE PAYMENT
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Lots of hope.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE
Subtopic:   PERCENTAGE DEDUCTION FROM GRAINS MARKETED IN SPRING WHEAT AREA-PROVISION FOR ACREAGE PAYMENT
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SC

James Alexander Marshall

Social Credit

Mr. MARSHALL:

Were any other agricultural authorities consulted, or has this whole scheme been hatched within the confines of the executive council? In all the correspondence which I have received this year, two facts stand out clearly and distinctly. First, my constituents are confused over the acreage bonus plan, and I believe the majority of them are against it.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE
Subtopic:   PERCENTAGE DEDUCTION FROM GRAINS MARKETED IN SPRING WHEAT AREA-PROVISION FOR ACREAGE PAYMENT
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LIB

Malcolm McLean

Liberal

Mr. McLEAN (Melfort):

Why?

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SC

James Alexander Marshall

Social Credit

Mr. MARSHALL:

It may be that they do not understand it. I venture the suggestion that very few in this house understand it intelligently enough to go out to western Canada and educate the people on the plan.

My constituents also want a guaranteed price ranging anywhere from 80 cents a bushel, for a crop of 1,500 bushels, to $1.15 a bushel without any limit to the bushelage. Some hon. gentlemen may say that the farmers out there do not know what they want, but whoever says that does not know what he is talking about, I know positively and definitely what they want. They want a price for their commodities-not wheat alone but all their commodities-which will guarantee them a sufficient income to pay their debts, renovate somewhat their living quarters, and provide them with that measure of happiness and sweet content which many of us enjoy but which so many of them lack. Can this be brought about by 70 cent wheat and the acreage bonus plan now presented to us for approval? I do not think so. I believe that the whole plan should go to the committee

Prairie Farm, Assistance

on agriculture for close study and for modification in such a way as will be generally satisfactory to all lines of thought.

This is no matter for sectional prejudice or isolated action. Only a united nation will defeat the enemy-a nation united in a basic attack on the basic source of everybody's trouble, namely money and the money policy of those in power to-day. Consumer credit to the amount required to absorb the nation's full productive capacity is the only solution for the farmer as well as for everybody else.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE
Subtopic:   PERCENTAGE DEDUCTION FROM GRAINS MARKETED IN SPRING WHEAT AREA-PROVISION FOR ACREAGE PAYMENT
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SC

Archibald Hugh Mitchell

Social Credit

Mr. A. H. MITCHELL (Medicine Hat):

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe in wasting my breath and the people's money in making long speeches, but I want to take this opportunity to state that I believe this is objectionable legislation. It does not even pretend to touch the roots of the problem. It is a mere palliative, and as such, a very weak one. The principle of crop insurance is good; but my constituents feel, judging from letters and telegrams and resolutions I have received, that the benefits are quite inadequate and the limitations are so severe as to emasculate the intended purpose of the legislation.

All this has been covered by previous speakers, and I shall not go over it again now.

As to Bill No. 63, fixing the price of wheat, No. 1 grade, at Fort William at 70 cents, that too, though well intended, does not begin to meet the needs of the situation. This is a national issue. A national industry is fighting for its life. We do not want to have it preserved at the cost of other industries; we want them, east and west, preserved too; but this legislation does not provide a price high enough to save or to help very greatly a sorely-tried agricultural industry and correspondingly to help the other industries which are dependent upon it.

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Subtopic:   PERCENTAGE DEDUCTION FROM GRAINS MARKETED IN SPRING WHEAT AREA-PROVISION FOR ACREAGE PAYMENT
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LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Hon. W. R. MOTHERWELL (Melville):

Mr. Speaker, I have been waiting during the last day or two in the hope of speaking to the other bills which will be presented by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Euler). But this afternoon I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to offer some remarks on Bill No. 63, also introduced by that minister. This is the bill which, when it reached the prairies on March 27, set them on fire even though the plains were still covered with the winter snow. That fire has been smouldering round there ever since. There must have been some cause for this.

I may say at the outset that I approve entirely of all the bills presented by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner), although that does not mean that I concur in all the details; some of them might possibly

have been improved upon. But the minister is to be congratulated upon presenting to this house such a remarkable chain of useful cooperative bills, seven or eight in number. I think he deserves the commendation of this house. I wish I could say as much for Bill No. 63.

Before we can deal properly with that amending bill I think we should take a little retrospect and spend a short time with the original bill, which was passed by the previous government in 1935. Prior to that, again, and for the past twenty years, the farmers of the west had been longing and looking, praying and hoping for a grain board bill somewhat similar to the one we had in 1919-20. One thing and another, into which I need not go now, interfered with it. Finally, in 1935, the previous government brought down a bill which was strongly pressed for by the Canadian Cooperative Wheat Producers Limited- another name for the combined pools. The then government consented, at the request of the present Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), to submit this bill to a special committee consisting of nine members representing all parties in the house. That was a very fair attitude to take. It was the object of that committee to arrive if possible at 9ome conclusion in which all parties in the house would concur. Everybody knew that an election was coming on, and many of us did not want that to be an issue; if it were made an issue it would tend to spoil the working out of the bill. Anyway, the house, after debating the matter quite fully, decided on the character of the bill, as it appeared in reprinted form after going through this special committee, without one dissenting voice or one amendment as it went through second and third readings of the commons.

That bill provided for a very important committee called the advisory committee. This committee was appointed and was looked upon as an important, integral portion of this legislation. When the new government came into power they changed, I believe quite rightly, the personnel of the wheat board, because there were a few points on which policies were quite different, and in my opinion it was right to give expression to the viewpoint of the new government by having a new board. But it did not follow, I think, that the advisory committee should have been dispensed with. Possibly while the government had their hand in, they felt like swinging the axe a little bit, and they summarily dismissed all the advisory committee-which I think was a profound mistake. From that day to this the government, in my estimation,

Prairie Farm Assistance

has been on the wrong track in not taking the advice of an advisory committee of seven, composed, as to four of them, of representatives of the producers. I did not make any particular protest about this at the time. Everybody has his own work to attend to; maybe the government had their own reason for doing this, and I thought possibly they would appoint a new advisory committee later, but that has not been done yet.

Let me refer briefly to some of the debates, and also to the original bill with respect to this matter, because it is a very important feature of the old bill.

In Hansard of 1935, page 4272, will be found the remarks of the then prime minister as the bill was going through its last stage. They are very brief: Mr. Bennett said:

Then the board is being assisted by an advisory committee. It was suggested by one of the witnesses who had been and still is associated with the pool, that there should be some compensation paid to the producers at least, as well as to others who came to Winnipeg or elsewhere for the purpose of giving their advice to the board. So it will be observed that this advisory board, of whom four out of seven shall be producers, shall be paid their transportation and living expenses and a per diem allowance of $10 while they are away from home. That was to ensure continuity of interest. But it goes further: it provides that the Minister of Trade and Commerce may ask them at any time to give their advice, to meet together. Further, this advisory board shall send a copy of its minutes to the minister in order that he may know what has transpired.

This was, then, not to be a temporary committee but a permanent part of a permanent board. There was in 1935 no crisis or emergency except one which had become quite simple, namely the carryover. I can remember quite distinctly that when Mr. McFarland was justifying his course it was believed by him that it would be a picnic to deal with that accumulation, because carryovers were disappearing all over the world. It was a comparatively easy matter to dispose of the two hundred million odd of the carryover in view of the market conditions that prevailed at that time. The board was meant to be a permanent one; there was no emergency about it. It seems to me that we are making a great mistake. The farmers have been wanting a permanent wheat board for twenty years, and if they cannot get a permanent board yet, they will take the next best, but hang on to it. Let me refer to the original act itself of 1935:

The governor in council may appoint during pleasure an advisory committee to advise the board, which committee shall consist of not more than seven members of whom four shall represent wheat producers.

The members of the advisory committee shall not obtain any salary but shall be paid a per diem allowance.

All we have to do, if we wish to restore the advisory committee, is to make "may", "shall". I understand from lawyers that in some instances "may" means "shall", but "shall" always means "shall." Sometimes "may" includes "shall"-I do not know. Evidently the government thought they were perfectly within the law in dismissing the advisory committee and not appointing a successor. I assume they were within the law. But were they within the spirit of the law? Here was this most important committee whose services were used in the first year-1935-to arrive at the initial wheat price. There was no trouble about it. There were differences of opinion but I know that there was comparatively little talk before they arrived at the initial price of 871 cents, and as soon as that was fixed everybody was apparently satisfied, and there was no trouble. But ever since we departed from that we have been head over heels in trouble. What a spectacle it is, what an upheaval it has caused, to submit to this parliament a price of 60 cents or any other price and to ask us to decide upon it! We are thus inviting a cat-and-dog squabble from the beginning.

In the first instance, in 1935, it was simply the advisory committee plus the wheat board plus the government that set the initial price of 871 cents. I do not know how many days it took them to decide the matter, but certainly not as many as we are taking in arriving at a decision here. I suggest that if the government were ill-advised, if it took the wrong course, then it should get on to the right one right away. Once we are satisfied that we are on a wrong course it is good business for governments or individuals to regain quickly the right course. I hope I do not say this in any arbitrary way, but I am thoroughly convinced that it was the intention of parliament that the advisory committee should constitute an important integral part of this act, and the intent of parliament was that it should remain there.

I do not believe the government have anything against advisory committees generally. I am quite sure they have not, because in several bills this year advisory committees have been quite properly appointed. The dairy act, the live stock act and one or two others have recognized the principle, so that the government has no objections to advisory committees. Then what objection was there to this one? It took a great burden off the shoulders of parliament and settled a knotty question fairly, and to the extent that it

Prairie Farm Assistance

Now I must pass on or I will not get half through my story. When the 60 cent wheat announcement was made, the first spring heat wave went over the west, and I think that was what made the snow in Manitoba disappear so early. A deputation or a committee from western Canada, headed by Premier Bracken, came to Ottawa giving reasons for 80 cent wheat. That took place on March 1. On March 27, Bill No. 63, with its 60 cent proviso, was read the first time in the house. Naturally people would take this bill as an answer to the prayer or brief of the western committee, !No wonder the west got busy and prepared a huge petition. I am not one who attaches too much importance to petitions, but I am disposed to attach considerable importance to this one bearing 160,000 signatures, spontaneously attached. So far as the signatures in my constituency are concerned may I say that there are 8,000 of them, and that they ask me for 80 cent wheat, and for any other improvement which can be made in connection with acreage. They laid particular stress on their protest against the 60 cent price and their request for 80 cents.

I must give some heed to their representations.

The second invasion of the Bracken committee came two or three weeks ago. I do not know whether or not they were instrumental in bringing about the change in this bill to 70 cents instead of 60 cents. I do not know why the government made that change, but I must say that I appreciate it. Half a loaf is better than no bread. Just the same, when one considers the statement I was privileged to make not quite a year ago in connection with the contribution made by western farmers to the cause of the allies in keeping down the price of wheat, under the board of grain supervisors, one realizes the vast contribution then made by western Canada. My observations made then fill two or three columns of Hansard, and I shall not give them in detail again. But having regard to the fact that the western farmers in the years 1916, 1917 and 1918 contributed nearly $600,000,000 in reduced prices of wheat, as a result of the board's operations under fixed maximum prices, surely that should be a sufficient line of credit to warranE our having some consideration for the west at a time when we are nearly down and out.

Three years ago it was estimated we were going to be out $15,000,000 on the operations of the board of 1935-36. But the subsequent upswing of the market practically wiped that out. It is claimed by some that had not the alleged "fire sale" disposition of this carry-over been made, better results still would have been experienced. The sales,

however, were made on a competitive basis with other wheats-any other course is not sound business. It would now seem that history is going to repeat itself. We have now an estimated deficit of $48,000,000 in the operations of the wheat board of 1938. No one, however, is in a position to tell exactly what this deficit will be; it is purely an estimate. The Minister of Finance has cut down this figure to $25,000,000. But wheat is now going up, and crops are going down, not only in the United States but in many other countries, and even this remaining $25,000,000 may easily be absorbed by the profits on the new estimated carry-over on August 1, of over 100,000,000 bushels.

I have not found an unfair element in this house, or an unfair attitude towards the west in regard to this matter. I feel confident, theiefore, that when this year's operations are completed there will not be a deficit of even $25,000,000. That money should not be referred to as a loss, any more than the deficit of the Canadian National Railways. We get a service in one case as well as in the other. But I am confident that between now and the beginning of the new grain year that $25,000,000 will further disappear. What, therefore, is all this hullabaloo about the west imposing on the east made by two certain prominent gentlemen at the head of the governments of Ontario and Quebec, and whom our federal government seem anxious to appease by first advocating 60 cent wheat. My humble advice is to go easy on this kind of appeasement policy, and avoid making a second Czechoslovakia of the three prairie provinces. That would not be fair. They have stood up as long as they had the strength in their body to stand up. They are now in the position of an old cow on the lift I do not know whether all hon. members know what is meant by that. A cow gets down, in the spring of the year, near freshening time, and she cannot get up under her "l'ift "Steam' She is then said to be on the

We are on the lift, and we want our friends in eastern Canada to help to put us on our feet until we gather strength to pull our share again. I have always been in favour of a self-sustaining wheat board. I said that two or three years ago; I said it last year and I repeat it now. There is provision in one of the minister's bills, and quite properly I think, for a small tax of one per cent on all wheat going to elevators. I should like to see a small processing tax on flour consumed in Canada, as there is in many other countries. By taking a little bit here and a little bit there we would soon have a reserve sufficient

Prairie Farm Assistance

to take care of any possible deficit, and we would not then be in the humiliating position of having to beg, as we seem to be to-day, notwithstanding our heavy contributions to eastern industry.

I am skipping a great deal of what I had intended to say, because I wish to finish in the appointed time. I want to vote for the bill under the name of the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Euler). I will vote for all the bills of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). I do want to vote for the bill of the Minister of Trade and Commerce;

I want to vote for it very badly, but I cannot vote for it in its present form. I do not wish to dictate terms in an arbitrary fashion.

I do not expect to see any more changes in the bill stipulating a 70 cent advance. I cannot imagine the government allowing itself to be pressed further. Where they made their mistake was in not jumping at once, when they saw the gathering storm. But there are a great many people who do not do that. No one in most governments wishes to admit he has been wrong. I should be glad if the government would consider changing the expression " The governor in council may appoint an advisory committee " to " The governor in council shall appoint an advisory committee," involving a change in only one word, thus establishing an advisory committee that we thought we already had. Then I would suggest that it should make a provision whereby the price should be set in the way it has always been set, namely, through a combination of the advisory committee, the grain board, and the government of the day. That is the way it was done so satisfactorily in 1935. But it has not been done that way since, because there has been no advisory committee. I say that would be the logical and proper way to do it.

I cannot understand how in this instance the government could arbitrarily refuse an advisory committee, when all the time in government departments advisory committees are being appointed. The principle has been acknowledged by them. However, in the case of the wheat board they deny it, and I suggest that is a most unfortunate circumstance. It has led to a condition where the price of wheat has to be discussed in parliament, and placed at 60 cents in a bill, raising a great hubbub from one end of Canada to the other. Let us get back to first practices and principles; do not decline to restore a policy simply because it was a Tory government that enacted it previously. I used to think that all the virtues were in my own party, and all the mischief in the Tory party.

But I have had to remodel my views somewhat about that. I realize that we sometimes make a great mistake by assuming that all that the Tories do is necessarily wrong. Here is one case in point. This was a Tory wheat board, this was a Tory advisory committee. Away with them! No, that is a mistake. The latter should have been kept on, and I plead with this government to restore it as a peace-offering to the prairie farmer.

The government having done that, the next logical step is to have an advisory committee to advise, among other duties, on setting the initial wheat price for each year. I think even the government will admit that there have been times when they were in need of advice. Surely they do not think that they know all about it.. Having wilfully deprived themselves of the services of an advisory committee, they have an opportunity now to restore that committee. Even Mr. Hepburn knew when to snap back when he got into trouble in Hastings over the separate school tax. I am not pointing out Mr. Hepburn as an example for this government to follow, except in this particular. That was the proper course for him to take. He never turned a hair, and away he went again. This government should not consider that they are infallible, that they are always right, when we know very well that, being human, they, like us all, are liable to err. There must have been times when they needed the services of an advisory committee.

I submit that the government should make these two simple and reasonable changes. I should like to hear some argument against the restoration of the advisory committee. I do not think one could be presented. This would be an appropriate type of appeasement to offer our wounded farmers. By such action, the government would be doing simple justice to themselves. The government having appointed an advisory committee, its members could be called round a common table with the wheat board and the government to set a price instead of having hon. members unavoidably wrangling over something with which many have little opportunity to familiarize themselves. There is the solution. If that were done, I would vote for the bill. We will not get any more than 70 cents leaving this bill as it is. Prices are likely to go up. The first thing we know the market price will be 80 cents or more. As soon as the price goes beyond the 70 cents, the board will not be worth a continental because, as has been previously pointed out, only a comparatively few will patronize it. The outside market will be higher. I think we would have a better

Prairie Farm Assistance

chance of improving on 70 cents if the price were set with the aid of an advisory committee. The market is almost sure to go up. Just let Hitler shake his sabre once more, and the deficit of this year may all go up the flue. We do not want it done from that cause, but that is what may happen.

Before I sit down, I should like to repeat what I have said. Let us have these two amendments which were originally intended to be in the bill permanently. If that is done, I will even support the thus amended Bill No. 63, which, as originally drafted, raised such Cain all over the prairies on March 27.

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Subtopic:   PERCENTAGE DEDUCTION FROM GRAINS MARKETED IN SPRING WHEAT AREA-PROVISION FOR ACREAGE PAYMENT
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. J. H. BLACKMORE (Lethbridge):

Mr. Speaker, there is one consideration which ought to be emphasized before we make up our minds as to how we are going to treat agriculture. I gathered from the minister the other night that he believed we were simply in an emergency, that if matters settled down in Europe our difficulties would tend to clear away of their own accord. One of the gravest mistakes that we as a parliament can make is to come to the conclusion that this is just an emergency. To-day we are in the midst of an age of abundance, but we are trying to carry on with equipment which is suitable only for an age of scarcity. Our financial and economic system is as much out of date in trying to navigate the many difficulties of our present-day traffic as an ox-cart would be on the streets of New York. That is why we are sensing these jolts and are quite at a loss to know what to do. We must remember that the old order is gone. We are living in the midst of conditions which are new and strange to us. In order that we may again have prosperity, great changes must be made in our way of doing things. Chief among the sufferers from the maladjustment which has come into being because of this transition are our agriculturists. Our primary producers as a whole are also suffering.

It must be borne in mind that we are one great family. There has been a great tendency on the part of several speakers from the east to assume that we from the west are not in favour of the east receiving consideration. This is utterly wrong. We look upon the eastern farmers as being co-sufferers with us. Their problems must be dealt with by measures similar to those which are necessary to deal with ours. We consider them our brothers in this struggle. I do not think I could do better in opening my remarks than read a few words attributed to Sir Edward Beatty, whom all hon. members of this house will recognize immediately. He is reported in

a Canadian press dispatch to have addressed the purchasing agents' association in Montreal on April 18 in the following words:

"In my business," he said, "I am very much worried about this lack of price parity . . . and what I can do with it.

"I know, for example, that our biggest single block of customers-the farmers of western Canada-are not getting enough for their goods to enable them to buy what other people have to sell, and my company cannot hope to prosper unless this exchange of traffic goes on. If we are to have profit, then the farmer must sell wheat and buy other goods as well. It is difficult for him to do that in any volume at the present level of income which he enjoys.

"That leads me to think that, unless the price of what the farmer produces is going to rise very rapidly, the rest of us will have to set our minds very seriously to reducing the price of what he buys."

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Is that not an answer to the hon. gentleman immediately behind my hon. friend who asked me a question a few moments ago as to whether anyone other than the farmers had been asking for this?

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

That might be. I do not recall the passage between the minister and the hon. member. I was concentrating on my own speech.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

It was not a passage; it was in the member's speech. He was asking me whether any particular interest in Canada other than the farmers had asked for this 80 cents. If it was not the farmers themselves who asked for it, who else asked for it? This appears to be an answer.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

It may be that my hon. friend had not heard of this statement by Sir Edward Beatty. It is a rare statement, and Sir Edward Beatty deserves high commendation for having had the vision to see.

What we are talking about in this debate is the question of price parity, and the problem confronting us is how as a government we can proceed to aid in bringing about this price parity. Most members of the house seem to find it rather offensive to have suggested to them the philosophy which I have come to advocate, but that philosophy aims exactly at price parity. I shall not discuss it at all now; I merely point that out, and I recall to members of the house, who I notice are interestedly attending, merely the expression "the just price," which is sufficient to prove that one of the fundamental principles of my economic philosophy is price parity.

In dealing with the problems of agriculture there are confronting us as sober Canadian thinkers, which I believe we all are, five great considerations. In the first place we must save the farming industry. It would be an

Prairie Farm Assistance

easy matter to allow conditions to become such that vast numbers of our present farmers would be compelled to go out of business, would find their equipment become so depleted that advantageous and economical production would be for them no longer possible. This has in large measure already taken place with respect to the dairy industry in the west, and particularly in my own district. It will take some years perhaps to build up that industry to a point where it will be as efficient as it was a few years ago. I use that merely as an example to show that we might easily, without intending to do it, allow our agriculture industry to become impaired to the point at which, when the strain of a great emergency came upon it, it would no longer be able to support the strain. The possible consequences of such a contingency are more than alarming to me.

If I might digress for a moment, contrast the conditions which existed at the beginning of the last war with present day conditions. I believe every member of the house realizes that from the point of view of efficiency the farming industry of Canada as a whole is most alarmingly ineffective to-day as compared with its condition before the last war, and in the last war a strain was put upon it which taxed it almost to the limit. We must save the farming industry.

We must bear in mind, too, that while just now we are more or less worrying about the over-production of wheat, and of beef and various other agricultural commodities, yet the day might be coming, when wisdom will come to dwell in the minds of those who govern this country, and they will realize that the thing for them to do is to render available to the people these goods which we can so abundantly produce. When that time comes they will be astonished to find how inadequate will be our means of producing the goods which the people will demand.

The United States have made an interesting discovery. They have not yet acted upon it to any great extent, but they are apparently thinking progressively. It has been discovered by a United States committee investigating the question that if the people of the United States were all to be enabled to consume the commodities which they ought to consume in order to be in a sound condition of health, the acres in production in the United States in the years 1928-32 would have to be greatly increased, and there would have to be increases of 76 per cent in dairy cattle, 43 per cent in beef cattle, 68 per cent in veal calves, 22 per cent in hogs, 42 per cent in sheep and lambs, and 36 per cent in poultry. Also the United States would

have to increase the acreage in vegetables by 264 per cent and in small fruits by 282 per cent. Even this great increase in acreage and production would allow for giving the United States people only S12.75 worth of food per week for a family of five. If-as we shall- we make a discovery here in Canada which will enable the people to use the goods which our agriculturists are able to produce, we shall probably find our agriculturists, unless we manage carefully, in such a condition of, shall I say, decay, that they will not be able to produce the goods to meet the people's needs. This is another reason, I think, for our being very careful about the agriculture industry. We should save it; we must save it.

There is another matter which I almost hesitate, sir, to mention because I find it so rarely mentioned. But I think all the members of this house will remember having heard a tradition something like this, that the leaders in the professions and in most other vocations of life grew up on the farm; in other words, the farming population feeds the urban population, if not with its leaders, at least with a substantial percentage of its best people from generation to generation. Now, if we render conditions such that the farming population can no longer raise the families which they have in past generations raised, we are putting ourselves in danger of a most alarming development, which might easily mean the destruction of our civilization. Our birth rate is falling at a truly astonishing rate. I have from the bureau of statistics a set of figures of which I shall read to the house just a few. Our birth rate per thousand in 1929 was 23-5; in 1930, 23-9; 1931, 23-2; 1932, 22-5; 1933, 20-9; 1934, 20-5; 1935, 20-3; 1936, 20; 1937, 19-8. If this trend continues unchecked I wonder who will pay off these debts that we are so abundantly accumulating. That is a serious consideration for forward-looking statesmen.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE
Subtopic:   PERCENTAGE DEDUCTION FROM GRAINS MARKETED IN SPRING WHEAT AREA-PROVISION FOR ACREAGE PAYMENT
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

They will never be paid.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

I deplore the tendency on the part of a number of people to assume that the solution of the problem of supporting the farmer can be deferred by putting him on just a subsistence level. Let us bear in mind the fact that when the farmer goes on a subsistence level one of the first things he will consider is a diminution of the family birthrate.

The next problem which confronts us in dealing with the agricultural situation is that we must save the financial structure of the western provinces. Already, in the midst of a veritable smoke-cloud of vituperation and condemnation, we have seen Alberta default,

Prairie Farm Assistance

and I stand here as a representative of that province to tell this house that Alberta did the only thing she could do under the circumstances, and that what she has done Saskatchewan and Manitoba will do unless a change comes about. The revenue-producing power of the tax structure of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba depends directly upon the prosperity of the people who make up those provinces. The result is that if we impair the prosperity of the men who live in those provinces we immediately impair the ability of the provinces to raise revenue, and sooner or later only financial collapse can result. To show that what I say concerning the actual danger of collapse is not imaginary, let me read from the report of the Bank of Canada when it was investigating the financial structure of the prairie provinces:

We are of the opinion that the scale of taxation in Alberta in 1937-38 will be approximately the same as in the other prairie provinces, and we are not prepared to say that any further increase in taxation would be practical or desirable under existing conditions.

. . . As in the case of the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, we are prepared to say that expenditures could not be kept down to the low point of the depression years and that some increases were inevitable.

All of which indicates a realization on the part of the author that the province of Alberta could do no other than it did, and that the province of Saskatchewan, unless this parliament comes to its aid, will be in a similar position. Again:

If Alberta were now paying full interest on its obligations, the province in 1937-38 would presumably have to borrow its full share of unemployment relief from the dominion, and on the basis of budgetary estimates (not including debt retirement), would have a cash shortage of about $600,000. Its position would be a little worse than that of Manitoba, but distinctly better than that of Saskatchewan; and a claim for assistance would no doubt be considered in the light of these facts.

I take these two quotations as confirmation of my contention that the financial structure of the three prairie provinces, the homes of the farmers with whom we are now particularly concerned, are actually in danger. We must look to the rescue of those provinces.

Along with that problem naturally comes the problem of saving the financial structure of the dominion; for after all the financial structure of Canada is the financial structure and stability of the provinces which constitute it. We cannot with impunity take such measures as will imperil the financial stability of the three prairie provinces.

The fourth consideration to which we must have regard is the debts which are owed by western farmers. I believe that a large number of hon. members represent constituencies

in which are people who are creditors of men in the west. Certainly if I were in a bond company, if I were a shareholder of a bank, if I were in a trust company or a mortgage company, I should want my member of parliament to take such measures as would ensure as far as possible the safety of my loans. A tremendous number of loans have been placed in those three western provinces. They will never be repaid unless the people who borrowed the money are enabled to pay them back. If this parliament does not have some concern about the matter, I do not know who is likely to give it consideration.

Let me indicate to some extent how great is the structure of debt out there which we must make some provision to enable the people to repay. In the Regina plains the debts are $26 per acre of crop lands and $52 per acre of wheat lands. The interest required from a twenty bushel crop because of the debt is 17 cents per bushel. In the Gravel-bourg area the debt is $28 per acre of crop lands. This is shown by Professor E. C. Hope in his contribution to the conference which has been referred to a great many times in this debate. In Alberta the agricultural debt alone in 1936 was estimated to be $395,000,000. This estimate is offered by the Alberta debt adjustment board. In Saskatchewan the agricultural debt in 1936 was estimated at $525,000,000. This is set forth by Saskatchewan in the province's submission to the Rowell commission. Surely it is part of the functions of this parliament to safeguard those who have risked their money in the western provinces. They did it in good faith. We were glad to have them do it because it helped in increasing production. It is a fundamental principle of our thinking that the men who lent money should have that money preserved. Contrary to all the foolish talk which has gone forth in this dominion against Alberta's desire to pay her debts, let me affirm that the sanctity of contracts is for Albertans a very serious matter. We hold other things more sacred, but let it not be forgotten for a moment that we hold sacred the debts we owe; and if this house does, too, it must be prepared to take such measures as will enable the people who have borrowed the money to pay it back, or at least to get the means of paying it back. The measures which are advanced by the government at the present time are not adequate to enable farmers to pay back those debts.

There is a fifth consideration which we must have in mind, and that is, markets for us all. This has been discussed a good deal. I shall not say very much about it, but I point out that the farming population is essential to

Prairie Farm Assistance

the rest of the state. It is impossible for manufacturers and other secondary producers to sell their goods unless they keep the farmers in a condition which enables them to buy those goods. Up to the present time we have laid altogether too much stress on foreign markets. Let no one foolishly run away with the idea that I do not value foreign markets. But the day when dependence could be placed on foreign markets is rapidly disappearing. As a case in point, you notice how disturbing are the reports that the United States is going to build up a great wood pulp*industry in the south, and that Australia also intends to build up a wood pulp industry- of her own. Every country which finds itself, geographically and from the standpoint of resources, able to do so will build up an industry within its own borders; for men to-day are discovering that they cannot afford to import goods which they can produce at home. There are reasons, which I have not time to discuss here, why that is so; but the most enlightened statesmen all over the world are discovering that that is true, and that is the reason why Germany, Italy' and other countries are so hesitant to import from us goods which once they imported in abundance. Let me read a quotation from a man whom I believe most people will recognize as worthy of respect, Mr. Rupert E. Beckett, chairman of the Westminster bank, London. England. Speaking in March of this year, Mr. Beckett said:

The past year has seen certain developments which have not only intensified existing trading difficulties but created others, and the problem of retaining some of our old markets is becoming as difficult as that of finding new ones. Our trade with certain countries which owe their development largely to British capital investments in the past is threatened with extinction.

Our own foreign markets will be threatened with extinction bit by bit, just as rapidly as the people who trade with us find themselves able to produce economically the goods we have to sell them. And they will eventually be in that position in an age like this. Consequently we should be more and more looking to our home markets and seeing that they are kept in a state of repair, so to speak. Foreign trade is becoming less and less profitable. I was impressed when my attention was drawn to the following statement from the Bank of Toronto at its annual meeting. Mr. John R. Lamb, the president, speaking in November, 1938, said:

A recent analysis of prices of goods which we export as compared with those which we import showed a decline of 23 per cent in the former and a decline of only 6 per cent in the latter from the levels of a year ago.

That is a serious statement. He goes on:

It is also significant that prices of our export goods average only 61 per cent of their 1926 level while prices of our imported commodities average about 83 per cent of their 1926 level. That puts us at a disadvantage in trade.

One of the most encouraging things I have heard this year came the other night from the hon. member for Ontario (Mr. Moore), who pointed out that you could have a great deal of trade that was unprofitable. All other members of the Liberal party have seemed to be obsessed with the idea that all you need is a great volume of trade and you are well off. 1 have seen men develop a big trading business and before long go bankrupt.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE
Subtopic:   PERCENTAGE DEDUCTION FROM GRAINS MARKETED IN SPRING WHEAT AREA-PROVISION FOR ACREAGE PAYMENT
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

You must have trade

before you can eat bananas.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE
Subtopic:   PERCENTAGE DEDUCTION FROM GRAINS MARKETED IN SPRING WHEAT AREA-PROVISION FOR ACREAGE PAYMENT
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May 9, 1939