June 3, 1940

LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

The hon. member cannot give me the figures for 1938 and 1939?

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

James Lester Douglas

Liberal

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weybum):

No, I cannot. I could have stopped at 1936. I was simply pointing out the decline in agricultural income in the three years during which the first board of review operated in Saskatchewan. As I understand, it was appointed in 1934 and ceased to function on December 1, 1936. I was pointing out that during that period there had been a decline in agricultural income.

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 cannot see where there is a decline as between 1934 and 1935 and 1936. In 1934 the income was $70,180,000; in 1935, it was $81,420,000, and in 1936, $86,870,000.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

A decline is shown in 1937.

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

That is not in the three-year period. I understood my hon. friend to say there was a decline in the first three years the act was in force; but the income for the first year was $70,180,000; for the next, $81,420,000, and for the next, $86,870,000. The figures for 1938 and 1939 would be useful. May I say to my hon. friend and to the hon. member for Swift Current (Mr. Graham), that I think it is drawing a rather violent

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assumption simply to say that because the percentage of reductions happened to be less in a certain year in a certain period, therefore the proposals were not fair to the applicants. It is quite possible that the reductions may not be quite as large because applicants may have been in a better position to pay. I see no real sequence between the two sets of facts. I believe that is the argument upon which my hon. friend's contention and suggestion are based.

The hon. member for Swift Current suggests, [DOT] as I understand him, that there should be a review in a drought year. This would mean that we would never get to the end of the matter. It is provided in section 10A that proceedings cannot be taken in bankruptcy against an applicant who has made a proposal if his failure to carry out the extension or scheme was on account of causes beyond his control. I would assume that drought would come within that category. It seems to me that that situation is provided for.

My hon. friend suggests that there are only 1,400 cases. He is referring to Saskatchewan alone and only up to December 1, 1936. If it went only to December 1, 1936, and I had made a proposal on December 22, 1936, I would not understand why I should not be included. The same would apply to a man who had made a proposal in 1937. Why the cut-off date? Obviously the suggestion of my hon. friend is that the amendment to cover Saskatchewan would operate in every province. In view of its present form and the ameliorating clause in section 10A, I submit that the situation is fairly well covered.

I indicated before recess that in connection with an amendment of this kind consideration would have to be given. It is obvious that there would have to be some provision for review at the instance of the creditor. The list of cases number 3,653 for Saskatchewan; 2,077 for Manitoba and 3,276 for Alberta. Therefore in those three provinces there are 9,000 cases which would have to be reviewed. If this ameliorating clause is to apply to Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan, there should be some remedy for the farmer who has made a proposal and who lives in a province where the act is no longer in effect. What the government is trying to do here is to meet a special situation which has been presented in the case of Manitoba. I ask hon. members not to attempt, at this late .date in the year of grace 1940, after this act has been in force for six years and when the [DOT]number of cases is getting smaller rather than greater, to reopen the act and have all cases reviewed, which would mean that the act would be perpetuated indefinitely.

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

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

Mr. Chairman, what the minister has said about there being fewer cases under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act is certainly not true in Saskatchewan. As the minister knows, we now have two boards of review which, as I understand, are barely able to keep abreast of the work. If we are going to leave this act as the only definite system to adjust the debts of Saskatchewan farmers, then I agree with the hon. member for Swift Current (Mr. Graham) when he says that it would be only fair and proper to correct any deficiencies which may have been discovered in the act. For example, proposals made by the first board of review in Saskatchewan provided a rate of interest on first mortgages of seven per cent per annum. When the new board was brought into existence, all proposals then provided for a rate of six per cent per annum on first mortgages. It should not be very difficult to make an amendment to this or some other appropriate act to provide that all proposals under the act should be considered as not having provided for an interest rate of more than six per cent per annum. In that way some measure of justice would be granted to those who made applications under the first board of review and who are to-day paying seven per cent interest.

The minister pointed out that a farmer could not be placed in bankruptcy if the proposals made in Saskatchewan by the first board of review were such that a farmer could not possibly carry on. He stated also that the fact that the rate of reduction in the case of the first board of review was not nearly as great as in the case of the boards of review that have been appointed since, did not necessarily mean that the applicants were being treated differently. I have had an opportunity of appearing before these boards of review in connection with many cases, and I know that they were. One needs only to compare the rate of interest as applied by the first board of review with that applied by the second board of review to see that a different attitude was taken.

Further I assure the minister that an entirely different attitude was taken to the whole matter by the second board as compared with the first board. For example, on the question of crop failure, orders were made by the first board that certain moneys should be paid but no provision was made for the case of crop failure. The second board of review in Saskatchewan provided that in the event of crop failure certified by the sheriff of the district in which the farmer resided all payments due that year should be postponed for one year after the time when the payments

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otherwise would have been completed. Owing to repeated crop failures, under the proposals made by the first board of review many of the farmers are in default and their fans can be foreclosed under the act, and *'i it were not for the debt adjustment board in Saskatchewan I am afraid that a great many of these farms would have been foreclosed by this time.

There is a tendency for the argument to be made that, a man having taken his case before the board of review, the provincial debt adjustment board should not intervene when he is in default, and so foreclosures have been permitted. I submit that if we are going to have this act-and we have to have it or some other act to take its place providing, for instance, a land court, as has been suggested by the province of Manitoba, for we must have some debt adjustment machinery for western Canada. If we are going to have this act as the only machinery we are to have, I do not see why in the world there should be any objection to accepting the suggestion of the hon, member for Swift Current (Mr. Graham) to refer this matter to a committee for study and to recommend improvements in the act.

There is one other matter I bring to the attention of the minister to indicate the anomalies arising under this act. If a man died in 1933 and left his family to carry on his farm; if his family are unable to pay their debts, they cannot apply under this act; but if the man happened to die a year later, his family could apply under this act. Surely the family needs just as much help when the breadwinner happened to die in 1933 as when he died in 1934. Why any definite cut-off date? The thing is preposterous to my mind. If a man who incurred debts from 1920 on can in his lifetime apply and get the benefit of the act, why cannot his widow apply and get the benefit of the act in order to stay on the land and help support her family? To make any distinction between 1933 and 1934, whichever might happen to be the year in which the man died, is an anomaly in the act which I submit should not be there. There is no reason for it, Mr. Chairman. I do not think the private members of this house are so busy that they would not be glad to give their time to correcting some of the anomalies under this act.

It has been decided by one of our courts that the very heart of the proposals that are now being made by our present boards of review in Saskatchewan, namely, that in the event of crop failure certified by the sheriff of the district, payments shall be postponed, is beyond the jurisdiction of the board of review.

If that decision is upheld in the higher courts, .hen all these orders made by boards of review subsequent to those made by the first board are not valid, and practically every single farmer under these boards is now in default for two or three years, depending on the number of crop failures in the particular case. Surely we are sufficiently interested in the farmers of western Canada and in their plight, at least to make sure by an amendment to the act that the board of review has the power to delegate the right to the sheriff of the district to certify to a crop failure so that there may be a postponement of the payments due that year. If the decision I have mentioned is upheld in the higher courts and we do not act in this parliament and explicitly give the power to the board and make that power retroactive, I venture to say that every farmer who has got an order from the second and third boards of review in Saskatchewan will be found in default.

As a matter of fact, what has already happened is this. It is the very case where the ruling to which I have referred was made. There was a crop failure and the farmer got his certificate that there was a crop failure. Then there was an attempt to foreclose. The farmer showed that under the proposal of the board of review he was not in arrears because he had the necessary certificate which postponed the payments due that year. The court held that the sheriff had no right to give that certificate and that the board of review had no right to delegate its powers to the sheriff to give a certificate of crop failure. They held that therefore the farmer was in arrears and made an order accordingly, and the man is being foreclosed to-day on his farm. That is something in which we in western Canada are bound to be interested. When a man gets an order from a duly authorized board of review and has met his payments under that order, we should stand behind the order of the board of review and see that that man is not thrown off his farm.

I realize that the minister is very busy and wants to get this bill through so that he may proceed with other work, but we are all not as busy as the minister and I contend that this whole problem might very well be submitted to a committee. If the east is not interested in this question, at least we in the west are interested in it. When it was definitely provided that the act should expire except in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, it was realized in this parliament that we had a problem that had to be met, and when we from those western provinces ask for the act to be so amended as to fit our needs,

Farmers' Creditors

parliament, I submit, should be good enough to agree to that request and to deal with the problem we have.

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

James Lester Douglas

Liberal

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weybum):

The minister, in reply to the suggestion that has come from several members from the west, said that at this late date we should not be trying to alter the act. May I point out that the suggestions I made to-night I made in 1937 and again in

1938, asking for this very thing. So it is not something new that we are asking, nor are we asking for it at the tail end of the session, but we have asked for it year after year in western Canada because we realize the injustice that has been done to a certain group of our people.

The minister referred to the figures I gave regarding Saskatchewan income and attempted to wave them aside, saying it would be interesting to have the figures for 1938 and

1939. The Sirois report covers up to and including 1937 only. But I have a statement from the dominion bureau of statistics giving the index figures for all farm products, not just for Saskatchewan but for all western Canada, showing the decline there has been in prices, and the decline would be more accentuated in the case of Saskatchewan. I find that in 1936 there was a drop in the index commodity figure price to 69-4; in 1937, 87-1; in 1938, 73-6; in 1939, 64-3; in 1940, 70-0. In other words, from 1937 to 1940 there was a drop of 18-1 in the index commodity figure for agricultural products. So the situation has not bettered but has grown worse. When I quoted these figures to the minister I was quoting them in relation to the base year, 1926, when farm income was $257,630,000, to show the tremendous drop there has been in the income of those who are called upon to meet the terms of proposals made under this act.

We are not dealing now merely with a matter of statistics, although statistics show a difference of 17 per cent in the reductions. But we are dealing, as someone has already said, with personalities; the personnel of the board appointed in December, 1936, was of a totally different type from the personnel of the previous board, and the second board tackled the question with either a better knowledge of conditions or a much more courageous approach. The fact of the matter is that the people who came under the first board were treated differently from, and did not get as good a proposal as, the people who have subsequently come under the benefits of this legislation.

I am not going to labour the matter, except to say this as I sit down. The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) and others have

been stressing the fact that in no small part Canada's contribution towards the successful prosecution of this war will be agricultural products. Agricultural commodities cannot be produced if large sections of people on the land are burdened down with debts which they cannot possibly hope to meet. Unless these people can see some way out, we are going to have thousands of men flocking to the cities and into industry-just the problem Great Britain is facing at this moment. If we are going to keep the young men on the farms in western Canada, we must deal with this debt situation; and I entirely agree with the hon. member for Swift Current that the western members at least would be glad to give their time in the mornings in committee to see if we cannot work out, irrespective of our differing political views, something which will solve the problem of the debt-ridden prairie farmer.

I agree with the minister when he says that this suggestion that a board shall rehear cases which came before the first board will not cancel the whole difficulty. Of course I had not that idea in mind. I suggested that it would deal merely with one little group. If we open up the question before a committee of this house, we shall have to go to the very root of the matter; and the root of the matter is this, that in each one of these contracts should be inserted a crop failure clause providing that if in any year the amount received by the farmer was not in excess of a certain number of bushels or dollars per acre, in that year there would be no interest payable, and interest would not accrue during the yeans when there were crop failures.

If the farmer, as this bill contemplates, is to be kept on the land as an efficient producer, the House of Commons either now or later must face this problem. I hope the minister, even though he cannot give consideration to further amendments at this time, will at least take cognizance of the representations which may have been made to him from various parts of this chamber, and he might make a reference to the committee on agriculture or to a special committee of this house to study the whole question of the prairie farmer in relation to the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act.

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

John George Diefenbaker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

I rise to support

the suggestion of the hon. member for Swift Current (Mr. Graham). The situation in Saskatchewan has been placed before this committee by several hon. members from that province who have spoken. At no time has it been more necessary than at the present to mobilize agriculture. That fact has been stressed over and over again by the Minister

Farmers' Creditors

of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). Agriculture cannot be mobilized in Saskatchewan-and I think that statement applies generally to western Canada-until in the first place a fair and reasonable price is given to the western farmer. The western farmer has no objection to the various interests-munitions manufacturers and other manufacturers-receiving a fair profit. To-day, however, the price of agricultural products all over western Canada is such that the farmers are in a condition scarcely better than they were in a few years ago. The only method whereby they can secure a measure 'of justice and be kept upon the land is through the proper operation of the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act.

The hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Douglas) has mentioned that to-day different considerations govern the board of review in our province from those followed by the first board of review. When the first board was set up, in 1934, it had to enunciate certain principles upon which it would proceed. It had no precedents upon which to go. Apparently there was no real desire as between the creditors and the debtors to cooperate. But in process of time, by December 1, 1936, some precedents had been formulated. Then a new board of review was set up, and from that day onward-and the same principles are being followed by the board recently appointed -the whole principle behind the administration has been the necessity of so adjusting debts as to enable the farmer to remain upon the land.

I appreciate the argument that there must be a finality to all things. There were dealt with in Saskatchewan prior to December 1, 1936, 1,401 cases; and I venture the opinion that, of the debtors concerned, not more than 100 are to-day in a position where they can carry on. Under the principles which guided the first board of review the write-off was small. It was believed to be emergency legislation. There was no guiding plan to follow. I can see no reason why, if the minister should be unable to see his way clear to amend the act as suggested by the hon. member for Weyburn, the whole matter of agricultural debt should not be referred to a committee on agriculture. As pointed out by the hon. member for Rosthem (Mr. Tucker), there are to-day, in the operation of that act, anomalies which, if continued, will nullify the act itself. One of the courts in Saskatchewan has decided that any proposal made which permits of an extension upon the certificate of a sheriff is inoperative. If that judgment is upheld by the court of appeal, it will mean this, that whenever a farmer in Saskatchewan, through

crop failure, gets into default under the proposal which has been made, he places himself in a position where he may be foreclosed.

The farmer is not responsible for drought conditions and for low prices. The necessity of mobilizing agriculture was never more important than it is to-day. Under the act anomalies exist which have been pointed out; and my suggestion is this, that the whole matter be referred to a committee on agriculture, to the end that western agriculture will have an opportunity to present a collective viewpoint before a committee of the house, and those anomalies which exist in the act to-day may be removed, in order that the western farmer will be able to contribute something to the empire and at the same time assure for himself a reasonable living and a chance to enjoy some of the better things of life.

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NAT

Ernest Edward Perley

National Government

Mr. PERLEY:

The amendment proposed by the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Douglas) to give consideration to reopening and rehearing the proposals made by the first board of review in Saskatchewan has provoked a discussion which has been worth while; the time has not been wasted. There is considerable merit in the suggestion made by the hon. member for Swift Current (Mr. Graham); and with his experience in appearing before a committee of this house, he no doubt could bring to a committee information that would be worth while. I would remind the committee that at the last regular session of parliament in 1939 a special committee of this house was set up to consider the mortgage bank bill. They sat for some considerable time; representations were made before them by practically every interest in Canada; the whole debt problem of Canada was pretty well threshed out before that committee, and finally the Central Mortgage Bank Act was passed by parliament. I would suggest that if the machinery provided in that act were put in operation, it would take care of debt adjustments not only in western Canada but all over Canada. I think the minister might make a statement to the committee at the present time with respect, to that act. Has any consideration been given to putting that act into operation, because I think it would bring about a general readjustment of the debts, in particular the mortgage debts of western Canada. That would be worth while; it would put many thousands of farmers on their feet and give them heart to go ahead. The machinery is there. Has the minister considered putting the Central Mortgage Bank Act into operation?

Farmers' Creditors

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

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. WRIGHT:

I should like to point out to the minister, who stated that this act was only temporary, that as long as the price which the farmer in the west receives for his product bears no just relationship to the price of the commodities he has to buy, this act is going to be necessary. It is not a temporary thing at all. We should do something about the matter at this time.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Before the minister replies, I should like to say a word. I had no intention of participating in this debate, but something said by one of the hon. members for Saskatchewan prompted me to speak. He intimated that the east is not interested in this legislation. I should like to tell him that when this legislation was introduced in 1934 by the then Minister of Finance, it was because there was an appreciation on the part of eastern members of the problems not only of their own farmers but of western farmers. I was myself one of those who was consulted by the then Minister of Finance with respect to some such measure as this. In view of the fact that this is bankruptcy legislation-and the basis of jurisdiction in this matter is bankruptcy under section 91 of the British North America Act-in view of the fact that we already had on the statute books of this country legislation authorizing the manufacturers, merchants and traders of Canada to go to court with a scheme of arrangement, and that these facilities were denied by that bankruptcy legislation to the farmers of Canada; and in view of the plight in which the farmers of Canada found themselves as a result of the depression, I felt that it was only fair and just, and so recommended to the minister at that time, that the farmers of Canada should have an equal opportunity with the merchants, manufacturers and traders of Canada to make an arrangement of their liabilities.

No one ever considered for a moment that this was anything but interim legislation, if I may use that term. No one ever believed that the conditions then obtaining would continue for such a long period. If we had thought that, we might have taken a longer view. But they have continued. I am not going to express any opinion with respect to the merits of the proposals made here to-night by hon. members from the great province of Saskatchewan; but I have this feeling and have had it for a long time, and it may surprise some of our western Canadian friends as coming from an easterner; I have felt that a country which could produce one billion dollars of new wealth in a normal year was a country that was worth attempting to save. I still hold that view. I have never yet opposed in principle anything that would go

to ameliorate the condition of the people in western Canada. I had an opportunity to see for myself the heart-breaking sight of what happened in the west as a result of drought. I urge the minister to give consideration to the representations that have been made by these hon. gentlemen to-night. I am not in a position to express an intelligent opinion as to what he should do, but I ask him to give the matter consideration.

I must, however, remind him that there is another point of view with respect to the farmer, one that I must say had not presented itself to me at the time that the legislation was introduced. It has been found in my own province-and I speak of that province because I know the conditions there-that the effect of the legislation has been to dry up credit to our farmers.

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

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

The same is true in the west.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I live in a country town; it is a small city, but it is in the midst of a beautiful agricultural country. We are the only town of any consequence within a radius of thirty miles or so. It is the centre of a large community of 60,000 to 70,000 people. Naturally the condition of the farmers there is known to the members of the legal profession. From the day I started to practise in Fredericton down to the present time, the bulk of our business has been with the farmers, and it was largely a business of lending money; not institutional lending, but lending by private individuals on mortgages. To-day you could not get a private individual to lend a dollar to a farmer in the whole of that county of York unless the person who had money to lend was actuated by something other than purely financial reasons. For that reason, weighing in the balance one consideration against the other, I am of opinion that our farmers in eastern Canada at all events, are suffering because of this legislation. In 1934 I think it was a good thing for them; to-day I think it is a bad thing, and I want to get rid of it as quickly as possible in the interest of the farmers themselves.

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

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. NICHOLSON:

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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

I find myself thoroughly in accord with the suggestion made by the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Douglas) and the proposal of the hon. member for Swift Current (Mr. Graham) that the whole question of the agricultural debts of western Canada be referred to a special committee. As the minister is well aware, the government of Alberta has passed many measures in the

last few years to deal with the question of debt, because I think it is well recognized that this act does not deal adequately with the debt problem. I must add that as long as the farmers of western Canada are compelled to produce for less than the cost of production, as they have been in the past, and until such time as we have an adequate form of crop insurance, just so long will the farmers of the west go deeper and deeper into debt. As some hon. members have said, this cannot be looked upon as temporary legislation, because as long as these conditions exist, legislation will have to be kept in operation to deal with the situation. If the federal government will not pass that legislation, then we shall find the western provinces doing it, which will further complicate the situation. So I seriously ask the minister to consider referring this matter to a special committee of the house.

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 think the committee is entitled to a word from me. I do not want it to appear, as may have been indicated by the hon. member for Rosthern (Mr. Tucker), that because the minister happens to be busy, he is not disposed to take full account and full cognizance of all that has been said.

I think I realize as fully as anyone in this house-and that is saying quite a bit, having regard to the humble position I happen to occupy in Canada at the present time-just how vital the interests of the farming community of this country are to the economic life of the nation. I also realize to some extent what one would almost think, after hearing my hon. friends to-night, had not been recognized at all; that is, that the governments of Canada-and here I am speaking not of this government particularly but of successive governments-have been by no means indifferent to the representations which have been made with respect to the importance of the agricultural community and the agricultural industry of this country. I have been in this house before, and sometimes I think it would be only fair to all of us as Canadians if hon. members, while painting one side of the picture, would at least endeavour to give some indication that they realize the other side of the picture as well; and that these general statements which have been made, which would almost indicate that the agricultural industry has been totally neglected by the governments of this country, are perhaps hardly founded in fact.

There has not been very much said tonight to indicate that any attention whatever has been paid the farming community by any government of this country. From what my hon. friends have said, one would

Farmers' Creditors

almost feel that there has been total indifference exhibited to that great industry. That has not been so, as hon. members know; and the fact that we do not accept amendments to certain sections of the particular legislation before the committee to-night does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that this government is not fully alive to the importance of the industry and to the necessity for its maintenance if we are to have any sort of balanced economy in the Dominion of Canada.

I presume hon. members realize that this debate has gone far beyond the confines of the bill and that the particular section we are discussing at this moment provides that the words "the said" shall be struck out and the word "this" inserted instead. However, this has provided an opportunity, which I am sure has been welcomed by hon. members as I can assure you it has been welcomed by the government, for an expression of opinion with regard to the vital problems and vital interests of the agricultural industry.

The hon. member for Qu'Appelle (Mr. Perley) asked me to say something with regard to the central mortgage bank. I do not think anything can be added to the statement made shortly after war broke out. When I assumed the portfolio I now hold, this whole matter of the mortgage bank came up for consideration. After giving it the fullest thought and study, the government felt in the first place that in view of the fact that the Central Mortgage Bank Act was founded on a long term valuation of practically all the lands in all the municipalities of our provinces, particularly our western provinces, and that conditions in war time were not those under which a sound and stable valuation could be made, it was impossible from the point of view of either the debtor or the creditor to fix a valuation which would be fair without the criteria generally present in comparatively normal times. That was the first thing.

The second was that Canada, as hon. members know, undertook under that legislation a very heavy load in the way of the issue of debentures, and it was felt that in view of the commitments which this country faced it was not a good or feasible time for it to undertake the tremendous obligations which would be involved in the issue of debentures under that act. The act is not dead; it is suspended. A certain amount of work has been done in connection with it, and the studies are being pursued. I cannot give the committee any definite indication as to when the act may come into full operation; I can only give the reasons for the act not being put into effect so far. I think the committee

can understand and appreciate, about as well as I can, when conditions may arise which will enable us to go forward with that act.

I am not sure that any other matter was referred to. The only other thing I did want to say was this, that hon. members will realize that a bill similar to the one we are now considering, has had, shall I say, a rather stormy passage on previous occasions.

I come back to the purpose of the act, which is to extend its benefits, whatever they may be, to Manitoba, having regard to the special conditions which exist. I would ask hon. members to unite with the government in endeavouring to see that this particular piece of legislation is put through for the purpose for which it is proposed. I assure them again that on behalf of the government I have taken full cognizance of what has been said in connection with agriculture generally, and that they can be absolutely sure that those representations, and others which we have in mind, will not be forgotten.

Topic:   FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA
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Title agreed to. Bill reported, and read the third time.


LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Mr. Ralston moves that the said bill be passed and that the title be as on the order paper. Is it the pleasure of the house to adopt the motion?

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:

Mr. Speaker, there is one point I should like to have on record, and I believe I may make the statement on the motion you have just put.

Some hon. members before recess asked me to put on record certain tables from which I have quoted. I find that both tables are in the printed report in connection with the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act, which I presented the first day of this session. The tables to which I refer are Nos. 7 and 7A. If hon. members will accept the tables appearing in the report, a certain amount of printing in the debates will have been saved.

Motion agreed to and bill passed.

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

June 3, 1940