May 31, 1940

LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

As I understand, the act still applies to them.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

Is the minister sure of that?

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I have not looked at the act, but I noticed statements in previous debates.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I was under the impression that as far as Ontario is concerned, it is absolutely cut off, and I think in British Columbia also. The soldier settler was exempted for a period, but I thought the period had lapsed.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

In reading the debates of last year, I got that impression, but I have not looked at the act.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

That information could be obtained.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I will get that information for my hon. friend.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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CON

Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SENN:

Has the minister information as to whether the board of review is still operating in Ontario?

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

That is really what we are talking about here. The board is not operating as far as any new cases are concerned.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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CON

Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SENN:

But to clean up cases.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

If there are any cases left, although I do not think there are any, I have not heard of any reports of operations. I find that I was quoting my colleague the Minister of Mines and Resources (Mr. Crerar) regarding soldier settlers; I knew I had some authority for the statement I made. In the

debates of last year this question was asked by Mr. Weir, as reported on page 2678 of Hansard:

Mr. Weir: ... I have just one question to ask of the minister. Is it a fact that all soldier settlement board eases where compromises are made are dealt with under this

legislation?

Mr. Crerar: So far as soldiers under the Soldier Settlement Act are concerned, throug-out Canada they all come under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act.

It may be that the way in which it is stated there does not justify the statement I made, but certainly I gathered that impression from what my colleague said at the time. However, I shall certainly look at the act to see.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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NAT

Alfred Johnson Brooks

National Government

Mr. BROOKS:

I believe a time limit

should be set under this act as far as the soldier settlers are concerned. I know in New Brunswick they have waited months and months, but the judge who was supposed to look after the matter has not heard the cases yet.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I believe the New Brunswick court is sitting and cleaning up the cases. Is my hon. friend asking that a time limit be fixed?

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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NAT

Alfred Johnson Brooks

National Government

Mr. BROOKS:

It seemed to me there should be a time limit, because the thing seems to be going on indefinitely. I know soldier settlers there have waited a long time to have their cases adjudicated, and nothing has been done.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

The hon. member means a time limit on the board?

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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NAT

Alfred Johnson Brooks

National Government

Mr. BROOKS:

Exactly.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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NAT

James Arthur Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Has the minister any thought of bringing down enabling legislation so that a land court might be established by the provincial government of Manitoba? That has a distinct bearing on this matter.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

No.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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NAT

James Arthur Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Quite frankly, there are some aspects of the administration of this act that I do not like, but I am quite satisfied that it is absolutely necessary that the farmers should have some recourse, owing to the condition of agriculture in western Canada to-day. During the last several years the cost of production has advanced tremendously. At page 58 of Hansard for this session the leader of the social credit group placed on record figures showing that the average cost of some twenty-one articles necessary on the farm has advanced 66.7 per cent since 1914. Then the other night the Minister of Agriculture placed figures on record indicating that there was

Farmers' Creditors

very little difference between the average prices of wheat and certain other agricultural products for the five year period prior to the commencement of the last great war and the average for the same period before the beginning of the present war, which is quite true. Notwithstanding that, as the minister went on to point out, the dollar has not nearly the purchasing power to-day that it had then.

We in the west are in an exceptionally bad situation at the present time because the average of $1.02 for the five years prior to 1939 was almost twice what we have received so far for the crop of 1939, on the basis of 70 cents at Fort William, which nets the farmer in my district about 55 cents a bushel for No. 1 northern. Therefore I do not think any argument is necessary to point out that it is utterly impossible for the farmer, no matter how well he may manage, to exist and raise his family and pay his way under these circumstances. So, while personally I do not like some aspects of this act, we must have some means of recourse, and I am glad that the minister has seen fit to bring in this act so that our people in Manitoba may have a chance to reestablish themselves. We need something that will enable the farmer in the west to go along on a sound business basis, as other industries in this country are permitted to do.

I do not want to get mixed up with any theories in what I am about to say, but I think in western Canada, and for that matter throughout Canada, we have one of the finest economies in the world. Let me give an example of what I mean. In South Africa the people are directly dependent for their livelihood upon their output of gold and the demand for that product. If something unexpected should happen, as it may, those people cannot eat that gold or clothe themselves with it. On the other hand, I do not have to point out that in Canada, and especially in western Canada, with wThieh I am much better acquainted, we have the finest cereals and live stock in the world. Farther north we have our immense mineral and timber wealth, so we have everything that is absolutely essential for the maintenance of life in this country. I do not know that we really appreciate what we have here; it is a matter of the administration of those vast resources. Probably before we are through this terrible crisis we may to a greater extent appreciate our great natural resources and what we can produce. At present, however, we are forced to resort to some legislation such as this, and therefore I commend the government, instead of criticizing them, for doing something for our people

in the west. Certainly the fanners of Manitoba require some legislation of this kind until the government sees fit to put the agricultural population on a sound basis which will enable them to make their own way without need of adjustments of this kind.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

I am glad

that the benefits of this legislation are to be made available again in Manitoba. Personally I thought it was a tragedy when this act was made inoperative in that province. 1 should like to make an appeal to the Minister of Finance, however, before he brings down the bill, if I am not out of order in so doing. This act was passed originally in 1934 and was by way of an experiment, as the minister has said. It was not bankruptcy legislation; it was an attempt to retain farmers on the land as efficient producers. Boards of review were set up, but they tackled the job very gingerly. I need not take time to read the statistics now; I can place them before the committee when we are on the bill, but in the first two or three years the reductions were very small, in some instances as low as 16 or 17 per cent of the whole accumulated debt.

This government came into power in 1935, and in 1936 a new board of review was set up in Saskatchewan. In the meantime there had been two crop failures. The figures given by the Sirois commission show that in those two years the agricultural income of Saskatchewan dropped drastically; and the board of review, faced with those conditions, saw that it was necessary to tackle the question of cutting these debts much more courageously.

As a result, from 1936 to 1939-I have not the figures for this year-the percentage of reduction of the accumulated debt grew until in the last year debts were practically being cut in half. It is easy to see why that was necessary. In the meantime there had been four or five crop failures; prices of other commodities had increased; debts had piled up, and the boards of review were compelled to meet the situation. I think they met it very well, and I believe this legislation has been extremely beneficial.

What I want to point out is that the people who came under this legislation in the first two or three years now find that the proposals made to them are most inadequate in the light of subsequent events; and they find their debts now as high as when they went before the board of review, if not higher, with the exception of a few districts. In the greater part of Saskatchewan it is not possible for the farmers to meet the terms of the proposals that were made in those years, and the result is that many of those people now find it

Farmers' Creditors

absolutely impossible to keep up with proposals that looked fairly proper and safe in 1934, 1935 and 1936. Therefore I am asking the Minister of Finance, when he brings down his bill, to consider the possibility of allowing rehearings in Saskatchewan for people who came before the board of review in those first few years, when the board was more or less experimenting so far as the question of keeping farmers on the land as efficient producers was concerned.

I know what the minister has in mind-and it is quite valid-namely, that you cannot continue to have rehearings ad infinitum. Under those circumstances we would have a board of review sitting constantly for years. But I would point out to him that in the first two or three years of operation this act was in an experimental stage. Boards of review had no precedent from which to judge what reductions should be made, nor did they know what amount could be paid. After these years of experience the boards of review have done much better, and they are doing a very good job to-day. I do say, however, that the people who came in the early stages, in 1934, 1935 and 1936, have been penalized because of this lack of experience. If the people who came before the boards of review in those years could be allowed rehearings now, it would enable many, who otherwise are going to find it impossible, to remain on the land.

Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Ralston thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 25, to amend the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act, 1934.

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

On motion of Mr. Crerarthe house adjourned at 10.25 p.m.

Monday, June 3, 1940

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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May 31, 1940