May 27, 1940

LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Mr. Chairman, I will not insist on matters that are known to those who have studied politics in this country, but I will remind my friend the Minister of Finance of one thing, that when in the course of the discussion on this resolution some members of the other party were advocating national government nobody objected to that, and I do not see why I should not say a few words to show the futility of advocating a national government, with such leaders, when this government is doing very well. It was in answer to what has been said, not on this bill in committee but on this bill while the Speaker was in the chair, and it is exactly the same discussion because we are discussing the same bill. But I shall not say any more now until someone from the other side repeats the same argument; then I could reply to the satisfaction of every hon. member of the house, including you, Mr. Chairman.

Now, sir, I consider the matter of war just as seriously as the leader of the opposition, the Minister of Finance or anyone in this house, I consider it very seriously; on the other hand let me tell you, sir, that it is no use having long faces in the house. We are doing our best as members of parliament and we do that very earnestly, sometimes at great sacrifice, but we do it just the same for the sake of our country. I will not tolerate any jeer from the leader of the opposition or any other Tory member, whether he is a Tory or a Conservative-"Conservative" is a mild expression for an opposition member, but "Tory" is a strong expression. I will tolerate no jeers or jokes from any of them, and any one of them who jeers will have the same treatment as their former leader the Right Hon. Mr. Bennett had from me when he was leading their party. This is not a threat; it is just a warning.

I congratulate the Minister of National Defence upon instituting the home guard. Of course for a time there were returned men on guard at the railway bridges; they were paid, I am told, by the railway companies. But they should be in the service of this country and should receive uniforms and arms from the Department of National Defence. The protective branches of both railway systems in Canada should be attached to the Department of National Defence for the duration of the war. In my constituency there are many returned men ready to serve in that capacity; some of them had been wounded, some of them receive pensions, but all of them

War Appropriation Bill

had a good record during the war and are ready to serve their -country to the best of their ability. Their offer should be accepted; they are the very best men to guard bridges and public buildings. One remembers that on two or three or four occasions very young men with no experience in the carrying of rifles were put in such positions. What happened? Some were killed; some others met with accidents. They had no military training, so that they were not as competent as returned men for such positions. Therefore I congratulate the minister very warmly. And if any new recruits are placed on the home guard they should be placed with returned men who have had military experience, in order that they may get. their military education and serve the country better. The men employed by the railway systems who were guarding bridges did not wear military uniforms. Those to whom this duty is assigned should wear military uniforms with a badge to distinguish them from men who belong to the regular army. This is very important because they might have to make arrests. Being in uniform they will inspire more respect in people who come in contact with them.

I also congratulate the new Minister of National Defence for Air on the very important post to which he has been appointed. May I tell you, sir, that among the rural members I am probably the one who has recommended the largest number of young men for the air force. The Minister of National Defence knows about it. Many of them are excellent aviators and are doing their duty faithfully. Some have been turned back an account of lack of education or some minor deficiency. They could be used otherwise, as has been mentioned; they could work on the aviation fields; they might be used as gunners or in other capacities, because they are ready to serve their country.

But there is another thing, sir, concerning which I will put the department on guard. It is that at times when the medical examiners go down to the rural districts they tell those who come to enlist that if they do not pass their examination they have only to see the member in order to get a position somewhere else. This is unfair. The present Minister of National Defence for Air has admitted that it is unfair to tell them something that is untrue. If a man does not succeed in passing his test I do not see why anyone, whether it be the officer in charge or the medical attendant or anyone else on the board, should tell him that he can get a job by asking the member, when everyone knows that the member has nothing to do with the distribution of such jobs during the war. The minister will agree that my request is only fair. If 95826-15

I had time I would show a certain file I have which would prove to him that this has happened in my own constituency.

There is a very important thing that must be said about war, and it has been said by the leader of the opposition, who was not wrong that time. It was said at twenty minutes past four on May 20. "This," he said, "is a time for clear thinking and straight talking." It was a most appropriate remark. Here we are, all of us, ready to do our best. Just a moment ago I was speaking about the Tories; let me tell you, sir, that there is not a single Tory that I dislike-but I hate Toryism. If the war is carried on on the sound and sane principles of Liberalism, the principle of liberty, the principle of decentralization, which is part of the order that must reign in the army as well as in the state, then everything will be the better not only for the army but for the country. And we should never base our discussions on words. We must use words in discussion, that is evident; but we must attach more importance to facts than to words. Every discussion should be objective, not subjective. Before blaming any member of the government for anything that is done in connection with the carrying on of the war or the administration of the domestic affairs of this country an hon. member, in order to avoid committing any injustice, should try to get accurate information as to what has been going on.

Hon. members opposite may be surprised, *at times when their privileges are denied them, to find that while I do not share their views on many points I am ready to fight for the respect and maintenance of their privileges as well as my own. On the other hand, sir, there should be no party politics in this matter. Neither should there be any spirit of self-sacrifice, and perhaps I should explain that remark.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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NAT

Alfred Johnson Brooks

National Government

Mr. BROOKS:

Don't bother.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Of course I admit that everyone is making a sacrifice to be here at this time; of course we must make most difficult decisions, but my hon. friend from Royal will understand me, as I hope other hon. members will, when I say that I do not see the use of coming here with the Isaac attitude of immolation on the altar of the country. Some members, according to their speeches, are ready to immolate themselves. That is like suicide, you see; it may be a kind of sweet death, but they will be of no further use to this country. I suggest to hon. members opposite, as well as to those on this side of the house, that they be more friendly than ever on all matters that are not strictly partisan questions. I suggest

War Appropriation Bill

that they carry on their discussions in a friendly spirit, looking to the common good; and of course if they sacrifice themselves on the altar of their country there will be nothing left of them. I want them to be here. I am never so happy as when I hear an hon. member opposite offering a constructive suggestion. It shows that the hon. member, even though he belongs to the opposition, is really trying to help this country. While I very seldom share the views of the hon. member for Waterloo South, I congratulate him on what he said a moment ago. So, sir, would it not be possible for all hon. members to your left to have a brotherly spirit in time of war and to realize that even though we do not believe in their glories of the past we are ready to work with them to try and reach a common goal for the good of this country in the future?

There is something else I should say as well. War is a very sad thing and the heart of each member bleeds when he thinks of it. But the earth will not cease to turn on account of the war, and we must look after our own problems in the most efficient way. I can assure my hon. friends on the treasury benches that the Liberal members are ready to give their support to the government in all reasonable measures, as I presume is the case with members of the opposition; but our work as members would be made much easier by the civil service. I should like to mention the action taken by the premier of one province who decided to do all he could for the local members. He notified the civil service of that province to be most obliging to all members of the provincial house when they required information or assistance, and said that any civil servant who did not comply with that rule was to be reported immediately to the premier. That, as I understand it, is the way government should operate. The civil service is maintained at a tremendous cost to the country. A member of the staff of the bureau of statistics estimated that during the last twenty years the federal civil service had cost the country over a billion dollars. We spend a great deal of money on the civil service, and we expect service in return. They must be told to respect parliamentary institutions and to be prepared to help members of the House of Commons as well as the government.

I hope, Mr. Chairman, that I will not have to say anything more along this line; I trust this warning will be sufficient for those who deserve to be named in this house and censured very severely if they continue their work of obstructing our parliamentary functions. Having said that, and hoping that

such obstacles will be removed in future, I am ready to do anything possible to help the government as long as it is on a sound basis and as long as no one loses his head.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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NAT

Alfred Johnson Brooks

National Government

Mr. BROOKS:

I should judge that the hon. member's help has always been on a sound basis.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

That is my wish, but very often I make wishes which are not fulfilled. We will wait and see, Mr. Chairman, and in the meantime we will support the government; but if there is anything wrong in the discussions that take place in this house or if we have any more trouble with the civil service, you will hear further from me.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

Mr. Chairman, I am not going to talk politics, as did the hon. gentleman who has just sat down, though I am very glad he mentioned constructive ideas from this side of the house.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

One idea.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

Many ideas; in fact it has been the loyal opposition that has forced the government to take action. The hon. member for Waterloo South suggested that we have national registration. With that I wholly agree, and I do not mean that we should have it in 1941. I believe we should have it immediately, for this reason. On Friday in Peterborough four Germans were found on lock No. 23. One of the Germans was a pensioner from the German army, not naturalized in this country. The four included this pensioner, his wife and two naturalized Germans. They were taken to the police station; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Toronto were notified and they requested that the Germans be sent to Toronto as soon as possible. Half an hour later they were found at the lift lock in Peterborough. I believe that with national registration those people would be under lock and key, where they should be. That German pensioner should not be let loose in this country. I believe there should be a complete check-up, and further I think we should have a sufficient home guard to check everyone travelling on the highway. I believe we should have cards, as we had in the last war, to enable a complete check to be made at any time.

I should like to suggest to the Minister of National Defence that when he sends out specifications for 40 millimetre shell boxes, he send blue-prints with them. I understand that one firm had to send their specifications to an architect, who took two days to figure out what was what.

While I am on my feet I should like to ask the Minister of National Defence if he intends

War Appropriation Bill

to use the Prince of Wales Rangers of Peterborough as a recruiting unit. The men in that unit are well trained, I suppose seventy-five per cent of them having their matriculation papers. They have worked hard and they have full knowledge of the machines with which they would have to work. The same applies to the fourth field battery in Peterborough. I understand all the guns have been taken away from this unit. There are over one hundred trained men and non-commissioned officers available in this organization. I was talking to them on Sunday when I was home and they are very much put out over the fact that there has been no recruiting in Peterborough. One man said that there certainly has been a war movement in Peterborough because men have had to move all over the country to find a place where they could join up.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

Mr. Chairman, we have heard a good deal this afternoon about the organization of the man power of the country, as well as a suggestion for registration and so on. However, I am wondering what steps the government is taking to organize the industry of the country. I think the past week or ten days have shown Canada and the allied powers that the deficiency from which we are suffering is mainly a deficiency of machines. According to bank reports there has been some decline in our factory activities during the last few months. I have before me the monthly letter for May of the Canadian Bank of Commerce which states that there was a fall in the use of our factory capacity in the month of April and that in that month we were only using that capacity to 85 per cent of its possible output. This letter states also that a slight recession is shown in the iron and steel group, a decline being shown in primary iron and steel production as well as in the production of castings, forgings and hardware.

It may be necessary that we should concentrate upon the mobilization of man power, but I am also of the opinion that we ought to be giving a great deal more attention to the organization of our industry and finance. I rose to draw the attention of the committee to the figures shown in these authoritative reports. In the event of certain things happening in Europe during the next few weeks or months and the threatened destruction of British centres of supply, Canadian industry ought to be organized immediately to render the aid which Canada can best give. When we met in this house last September to consider our participation in the war considerable discussion occurred as to the possibility of Canada becoming more or less 85826-15$

the arsenal of the British empire. But there has been continued unemployment in the country and much of our industrial capacity remains idle.

I think that those who produce essential materials for the war, whether on the farm or in the factory, ought to be guaranteed a proper return for their labour. The other afternoon I discussed the situation of western agriculture, but I notice that various labour bodies throughout the country are complaining that companies manufacturing equipment for the troops are not compelled to comply with the labour regulations in effect in certain cities. For example, I have before me a letter from the Winnipeg Trades and Labour Council which states that they have contractual relations with the Winnipeg manufacturers of shirts, pants and overalls. They state that they are given to understand by the local press that a firm in Portage la Prairie, which they classify as being unfair and unreasonable to labour, has been given two clothing contracts by the government in recent days. They charge that some years ago this firm moved away from a city in the province in order to escape regulations which were imposed. If these facts are true it seems to me that in making contracts the government should see at all times that labour, which is going to be asked to speed up and perhaps forgo some of its hard-earned rights, should be adequately protected. In my opinion these contracts should be given only to firms and organizations which are prepared to see that only the best labour conditions are allowed to prevail.

I rose primarily to point out that our industrial capacity is not being used. I believe the time has come when this country should be organized as they are organizing in New Zealand and Great Britain. We heard over the air the other night that the Prime Minister of New Zealand had announced that following the example of Great Britain, finance and industry in New Zealand would be taken over by the country and mobilized for the war effort of that sister dominion. I am strongly of the opinion that we should consider steps of a similar nature. As I say, we hear about the mobilization of men but to my mind it is far more important that we should mobilize our industrial strength. Perhaps sooner than we think this country will be called upon to render substantial economic aid, which at the moment we are not prepared to give. I should like to ask the government if they are considering steps along these lines and if we may expect an announcement in the near future.

War Appropriation Bill

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Mr. Chairman, my hon. friend has referred to two subjects, one dealing with industry in the broader sense and the other with regard to labour clauses in agreements. With reference to the matter of our industrial production I know that my hon. friend will not expect me to detain the committee by describing the steps which were taken at the time the war supply board was organized, when the war supply board itself was given the widest powers to organize industry in order to anticipate prospective needs in so far as they could and endeavour to provide for them. The board went on to operate under Mr. Wallace Campbell. As hon. members of the committee know, Mr. Campbell, an industrialist himself, had associated with him men who were prominent in industry and who, I am sure, took all the steps they felt they possibly could in order to see that industry was organized. I should also remind the committee that surveys of industry had already been made and the potentialities of various plants right across the country ascertained.

Later on the Department of Munitions and Supply, which was provided for at the short session in September, was formed. What had been forecast in September came about, that is, the war supply board completed its organization and then it was decided to give this branch of the service the importance of a full and complete ministry. The Minister of Transport (Mr. Howe), is minister of this department as well but, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has indicated, arrangements are being made so that the Minister of Munitions and Supply will give his entire time 'to the work. I realize I may be too Dptimistic, but I do not think that anything ras been left undone by the Department of Munitions and Supply in the way of speeding up industry in order that it may be prepared for whatever demands may be made upon it. A few days ago, before the resolution reached the committee stage, the Minister of Transport made a statement which indicated clearly what the expectations were regarding industrial production and the reason that some of the expectations were not realized. Nevertheless I can say to the committee that before the emergency arose, as well as since, increased efforts have been made to see that industry is organized in the best possible way to meet the demands which, as has been quite properly suggested by the hon. member, we may anticipate under these suddenly changed conditions. We will do everything that men can do to see to it that Canada does her full part in connection with industrial expansion.

I realize that those statements are general, but they are thoroughly earnest and sincere.

The hon. gentleman who is acting as Minister of Munitions and Supply is not in his seat today. I am sure if the committee desires further information in respect of this point he will be glad to give it. An opportunity will be afforded when the bill which is to be introduced is in committee.

I say this because, as pointed out already by *the minister, the doors of the Ministry of Supply are always open. He wants to give the house and country all the information which can possibly be given. I know that in the Ministry of Supply are men who are there for one purpose, and one purpose alone. They are not there as partisans or even as civil servants; they are not there as people who have taken jobs, in the sense of obtaining salaried positions, but they are there as private citizens who have had experience and who have come in in an endeavour to help produce the greatest efficiency in the department.

The hon. member has touched on two branches of activity which are vitally important. One branch is connected with the day to day purchases of supplies which from time to time have to be obtained to equip our forces. In connection with that branch of the work, as pointed out by the minister, contracts to the extent of something like $225,000,000 have been let. In all there are about 17,000 contracts. Then there is the other branch, one which is perhaps more important now, namely, the matter of the organization of industry, and seeing to it that raw materials, machinery and things of that kind are available in order that whatever demands may come we shall be able to meet them. May I tell the committee that I know of unusual, indeed extraordinary, steps which have been taken during the last ten days in the matter of government administration? They were steps which were regarded as necessary in order that we may try to ensure that essential supplies and raw materials are available.

I think the committee will find that in other respects the Ministry of Munitions and Supply has been just as zealous.

I am sorry I cannot inform the hon. member respecting the matter of the labour clauses in the agreements. I feel certain that the clauses are those prescribed by the Department of Labour. However I shall be pleased to get that information at a later time, because I notice that the Minister of Labour is not in his seat at the moment.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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LIB

Harry Leader

Liberal

Mr. LEADER:

The hon. member for

Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) referred to an industrial firm in my home city of Portage la Prairie and quoted from evidence he had received from Winnipeg indicating that the

War Appropriation Bill

firm in question had violated some of the ethics connected with labour regulations. I want more evidence than the hon. member has submitted to-day. I should like to know the name of the firm and the name of the person in Winnipeg who protested. At a time like this we should not split hairs; we should be prepared to use not only the factories in the large industrial centres but also those scattered throughout the smaller towns. One of the greatest evils in Canada is that too many of our industries have been centralized. I say they should be scattered so that the smaller cities and towns may have a chance.

I presume the hon. member was referring to the Green manufacturing plant at Portage la Prairie. I went to some trouble to find out if that institution could have some work. They submitted a tender which was accepted. I would say to the hon. member that I have heard no complaints respecting the labour regulations, and I believe Portage la Prairie would be glad to see more of these factories established in their city.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

The hon. member for Waterloo South (Mr. Homuth) lhas directed what appears to me to be an important question connected with the situation which has developed within the last few days. Is the Minister of National Defence prepared to recommend national registration of man power in Canada, and a comprehensive survey of the availability and suitability of industrial activity to help win the war? I believe the hon. member is to be congratulated upon having brought the matter before the committee, and in my view the minister should make a statement with regard to it.

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I was not aware whether the question had been directed to me or to another member of the government. As a matter of fact national registration affects not one department alone but all departments having to do with the military forces and the mobilization of industrial activity. The question of national registration has engaged the attention of the government and has received the careful study to which it is entitled.

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

The reason we have a crisis to-day is that certain nations in Europe have regimented the bodies and souls of their people. We can fight them only if the people who are arrayed against that vicious philosophy are prepared to stand for the same kind of regimentation. At the time of the last war we had national registration. People were told to appear at certain points within so many days for purposes of registration. The same could be done again, if the government were prepared to notify the people through the medium of our newspapers and the radio.

We have just gone through an election. The returning officers in Canada have practically complete lists of all people over twenty-one years of age in the various constituencies. If the government said that those people must appear within a certain time for purposes of registration, and that they would be given a card, a copy of which could be filed by the authorities, the whole procedure could be carried out in no more than two weeks.

The people of Canada are in a temper wherein they want to do things. They want to know what jobs they can do best. They want to know where they can be placed to help in the war effort. At the risk of repetition I would point out that through the national registration we would have an opportunity of checking up on those influences in Canada which within a very short time might becom-very dangerous.

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CON

Agar Rodney Adamson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ADAMSON:

The Canadian Institute o Mining and Metallurgy, the Engineering Inst! tute of Canada and the Canadian Society ol Chemical Engineers were all registered shortly after the beginning of the war. At that time every technical man voluntarily registered to serve his country wherever he could be of service.

A few days ago I attended a meeting in Toronto of the Engineers' club, and from what the chairman said I understand that only two of all the engineers in Canada had been called up. May I point out to the Minister of Finance and to the Minister of National Defence that the entire technical population of the Dominion of Canada has recorded itself as ready and willing to serve. I would suggest that the government give immediate consideration to the voluntary effort made by those people.

Then there is one further point to which I would direct attention. In my constituency over the week-end I was besieged by people giving me information about the state of the production of armaments in Canada. Is the minister prepared to tell the committee how many Bren guns have been produced, and-unless he would consider this as not in the public interest-whether the Bren guns so far produced have been satisfactory? I may add that it will be one of the happiest moments of my life if the minister can stand up and say, "We have a large quantity of Bren guns, and they are satisfactory." One thing more: Are we producing any 25-pounder guns, any anti-aircraft guns, and what is the production of small arms ammunition and of field ammunition?

As I sense the feeling in Canada, the public are vitally interested in actual production, in

War Appropriation Bill

what is going on. The allies are crying out for help, and if the minister can say that we are doing something, nobody will be more pleased than myself.

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I thank my hon. friend for the manner in which he has put his questions to me. He will understand that I would not wish to give him specific answers to such questions until I can be very sure that my information is correct. I made that proviso, as it were, when I spoke in the course of the debate a few days ago, that I would try to answer such questions as I could when they were put to me, but if I was not certain of the answers I would hold them in reserve until the necessary information could be secured.

I would not like to say to my hon. friend that it would be in the public interest to give all the information that he has requested, but I shall take note of the questions and shall advise him if they can be answered in this house. It may be preferable, if it does not appear that the information should be spread upon the pages of Hansard, that I should give him the information myself.

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LIB

Olof Hanson

Liberal

Mr. HANSON (York-Stmbury) :

I should say that the minister could at this moment give, as a general statement, information as to whether we are producing Bren guns.

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I shall be very glad to make a statement upon that matter, possibly this evening.

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CON

Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SENN:

There is one phase of Canada's war effort which has not been very fully discussed in this debate. I was greatly interested and pleased with what the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ralston) has had to say about the way in which our war effort, in the production of munitions and war supplies of different kinds is being conducted But there is another class of production which is very important, namely, that of foodstuffs for the allied armies and for people living in the countries that are at war. It may well be that foodstuffs will be one of the deciding factors of the war.

Last Thursday evening the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) spoke in this debate. I believe his reason for speaking was to outline the manner in which the government has been attempting to organize agriculture for the production of war materials in the shape of foodstuffs. I listened attentively to his statement. He told us that an agricultural supplies board had been formed, and with it certain committees or boards had been appointed by the provinces. He also told us that a great deal of propaganda had been disseminated in the country by way of press reports and pamphlets.

I know a number of the men who are on these boards. I regard them highly; I believe they are efficient in their particular line; but I feel, in common I believe with many other members as well as with a great many farmers, that if we are to produce to the fullest extent the classes of commodities which will be required, we must give more attention to agriculture. It takes a considerable length of time for the farmer to produce. After he has made his plans a year or more must elapse before he can place his goods upon the market. Mother Nature cannot be hurried and cannot be changed in any way. Springtime is the time of seeding, and when springtime is over no plans for speeding up agriculture in the required lines can be made before another year.

For some years the farmers of Canada have been treated to a surfeit of pamphlets; indeed things have come to the stage where in a great many cases when pamphlets come to a home they are dumped in the wastepaper basket or used for some purpose other than a source of information. Frankly, I do not believe that Canadian farmers know to-day exactly what is required of them or will be required of them in the future. Only one body can ascertain these requirements, namely, the government, and its agricultural supplies board, who are in constant communication with the allies overseas and no doubt receive recommendations from time to time as to what should be supplied in the future. Perhaps those requirements will be changed from time to time with changing conditions. But I believe that the government and the agricultural supplies board could have gone much further in their efforts to acquaint the farmers with what will be necessary if we are to produce the foodstuffs which will be required in days to come in Great Britain and France and even in our own country.

The minister spoke about the bacon board and about the sale of bacon to Great Britain for the year ending, I believe, October 31. 1 regard that agreement as a very good one. It fixed a price for the year for Canadian bacon in England, and I believe that when it was announced the impression went abroad that the farmers were to receive a stated price for their live and dressed hogs. Unfortunately for the farmer-unfortunately, I think, for the country as well-he has not been receiving a fixed price for some time past, and at the present time every indication seems to be that prices will be again lowered or he will be well below the nine cents which the farmer was supposed to receive. Nothing in the world will discourage production more than to receive prices which are below the cost of production. Last fall, when the farmers

War Appropriation Bill

were apprised of the price they would receive, they made certain commitments and certain arrangements; and they are finding out now that when their finished product comes on the market they are receiving well below the price they expected to obtain.

Again, the Minister of Agriculture announced the other day that a sale of cheese had been made to the British Isles. I am not going to discuss at the moment whether the price was adequate. As nearly as I can figure, it will mean that if the farmers receive the full benefit of that price they will be getting something less than a dollar per hundred for their milk, or well below the cost of production if we can believe the estimates and the reports of surveys which have been made by government officials from time to time. I will not pursue this any further except to say that the farmer is not in a position to continue to produce at a loss. He is just as loyal as any other man in the community or in the country. He does not want to reap big profits at this time of the nation's danger. But he must be in a position to produce without taking a loss.

In his speech the other night the minister gave figures which showed that the price of farm commodities is well below prices of other commodities, and there has been very little relative change since the war began. To-day the farmer is not in a position to produce at a loss; in too many instances he has not any cash. If he remains in this position, if his product continues to be sold at prices less than he expected and was led to believe he would receive, there will be an immediate effect on production: the farmer will produce less of that particular commodity. I suggest to the minister and to the government that the time has come when definite plans should be put before the farmers of this country. More than that, the time has come when they should have some definite assurance that they will receive a reasonable price for the products which they are asked to produce; otherwise the organization which has already been effected will not be satisfactory.

I would ask the minister to enlarge upon the statement he made the other evening if he is in a position to do so. He told us about the agreement made with the British supply board for the sale of bacon. Was any agreement made between the Canadian packers and the bacon board or the Department of Agriculture as to the price that was to be paid the farmers of Canada for live hogs or dressed hogs? Is there any guarantee that the price for cheese at Montreal, announced the other day, will be uniform for the time

that this contract is in force? It goes until October 31, or later; I am not sure of the date. I am not asking for this information in any critical spirit, but I think the farmers are entitled to know, and if they do know and are given an assurance of some kind I believe they will carry on with better heart and grace than otherwise.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

In answer to the last question, whether the price for cheese of 14 cents for the first grade, 13i for the second and 13 for the next grade, is to continue for a given length of time, I can only say that it will continue for the full period of the agreement. The only change that could be made would be a change upward as a result of a further conference with the British government. The price stated in the agreement is the lowest price that will be paid during that time, but from all the conditions that obtain I rather fancy that it will be the price prevailing throughout the length of the agreement.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
Permalink

May 27, 1940