April 30, 1941

CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. NICHOLSON:

Would the hon. member give the name of the speculator?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE-AMENDMENT TO MOTION OP MINISTER OP FINANCE
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LIB

Hughes Cleaver

Liberal

Mr. CLEAVER:

I gave the name of the writer of the letter. Unfortunately the letter does not give the name of the speculator, but if the hon. member wishes to have it I will seek the information. The point I make is

Supply-State of Agriculture

this, that, although I am glad that the excess profits tax is operating, this $8,000 went to the income tax branch instead of into the pockets of western farmers.

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NAT
LIB

Hughes Cleaver

Liberal

Mr. CLEAVER:

If agriculture were properly organized, that could not and would not have happened.

A second suggestion which our farmers make is this. To-day the domestic price of farm products in Canada is governed by the price obtained for the small exportable surplus. I should like to put some figures on the record to show what a small percentage of the Canadian crop governs the price at which the entire crop is sold.

Percentage of Canada's agricultural exports

Per cent

Field crops 19-7

Live stock 17-8

Dairy products 8-4

Poultry produce 1-1

Live stock and animal products 11*2

From these figures it will be seen how unnecessary it is that farmers should have to accept on the domestic market a price set by the price realized by the small exportable surplus. In my riding the producers of several crops-I am now thinking of the asparagus growers and the sour-cherry growers *-are organized under a provincial marketing act, and they sit in conference with the canners; they set the prices of asparagus and cherries, and they levy from their own members enough money to finance the handling of the export surplus at a discount. I suggest that the same principle could be put into effect in other branches of agriculture, and that it would achieve desirable results.

I come now to a suggestion in relation to the agricultural problem which is alternative to the one I have just mentioned. Obviously the effect of the suggestion I have just made would be to bring about an increase in the cost of living, with an enhancement of the prices of all farm products in Canada. Before presenting this alternative suggestion, I wish briefly to review the facts, in order to have them before hon. members.

In 1929 the net income of agriculture stood at $691'4 million; in 1932 it went down to $144-5 million, and in 1935 it came back to $290 million. Then we had a series of new trade agreements. Trade began to flow again, and gradually the condition of the farmer improved, until now the incomes of Canadian farmers aggregate $508-8 million. I fear, however, that we are running into another era wherein, having lost his foreign markets on account of the war, the Canadian farmer will be faced with a condition as serious as that which prevailed prior to 1935, unless appropriate action is taken to forestall or remedy it.

With the outbreak of war, Canadian farmers have lost in large measure their foreign markets. With the drifting of farm labour from the farms into industry we would soon clean up the embarrassing surpluses which we now have, and prices would rapidly stiffen. But, we are told, it is the war policy of this government that the cost of living shall not rise. At this time we are not going to permit the pyramiding of war costs as they pyramided in the last war. With that point of view I must say that I agree. Yet, if the Canadian farmer is to lose his foreign market, and if, concurrently, it is to be the policy of this government that prices must not rise, obviously something will have to be done to compensate the Canadian farmer for the loss which he is sustaining. He is in every respect a war casualty, and to the extent to which he is a war casualty he is entitled to compensation. It is my suggestion that he should be paid on that basis. But, some one may say, how are you going to make that payment? Everyone knows that if it is met by bonusing the production of any type of product, we shall have immediately an embarrassing surplus of that product. Therefore that suggestion is "out". We could not divide it upon a per capita basis. There are farmers in my riding with an investment of over $100,000 each; there are others whose investments do not equal one-tenth of that amount. I have farmers in my riding each employing fifty hands, while others are doing all their own work. Obviously the division could not be made upon a per capita basis. It must not be made as a relief payment, because it is not relief, it is compensation.

To my way of thinking, our problem is just this, if we mean what we say. There has been an agitation in the press across Canada, and many hon. members have expressed opinions, to the effect that something must be done to assist agriculture. If we are honest and sincere in that opinion, we must find some way of equitably placing in the pockets of the Canadian farmer a sufficient amount to properly compensate him for what we have taken from him. If we take a farmer's land in order to build an airport, or if we deprive him of part of his farm in order to build a highway, we do not hesitate to pay him for what he has lost. When the government, in

Supply-State of Agriculture

pursuance of its war policy, says, "We will not permit farmers to receive a competitive price for their commodities," then, I submit, the farmers should be compensated. My suggestion is just this, that Canadian farmers should be paid yearly an amount, readily ascertainable through the bureau of statistics, to compensate them, and that the payments should be made in war savings bonds, not negotiable until the war is over.

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

What good will that do the farmer?

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LIB

Hughes Cleaver

Liberal

Mr. CLEAVER:

My time is getting a

little short. I would be glad to answer questions when I have finished.

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

I am asking my hon.

friend in all sincerity. He said these bonds will not be negotiable until the war is over. What is he to do for money in the meantime?

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LIB

Hughes Cleaver

Liberal

Mr. CLEAVER:

If my hon. friend will be patient, I will answer him when I have finished, but my time is getting short.

The reason why I suggest payment in war savings bonds is this: first, it would not increase the present domestic demand for goods, which is most important. Second, it would create post-war demand for goods, and this is equally important. Third, the farmers of this country are well trained in living carefully; I am quite confident that they would willingly postpone the building of new fences, painting the barn, shingling the house, buying the new implement, all those hundred and one things that they need, until the war is over, so long as they are assured that when the war is over, they will be in a position to obtain them.

I can almost hear the hon. member for Waterloo South (Mr. Homuth) and others saying, how ridiculous and absurd this proposition is-

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NAT
LIB

Hughes Cleaver

Liberal

Mr. CLEAVER:

-bankrupting the country, paying men something to do nothing, and all that. I should like to answer some of those objections.

In the first place, to any one who ridicules the suggestion, I say, bring along a better one. I do not say this is the best way to solve the problem, I am advancing the suggestion only for the purpose of stimulating thought along the line of an honest attempt to compensate agriculture in this country for

what we are deliberately taking from it. No matter how absurd the suggestion may appear on its face, it deserves study.

With regard to the charge that it would be paying people something for doing nothing, every hon. member knows that in the crop season every farmer in this country works from dawn to dark, and with the drifting of labour from farms to the cities that is now going on, I believe he will have to work even harder. I am not suggesting that he should slacken in his work, but I do suggest that when we take something from him we should give it back again, as a matter of common justice.

I should like also to throw out this suggestion: The national income stood at $4,039 million in 1939, and the estimate of the national income this year is $5,950 million, or an increase in two years of about $1,911 million. My suggestion means that the farmers should receive one-tenth of that amount. The farming group represents from 35 per cent to 40 per cent of the total inhabitants of Canada, and the capital investment of this farming group to-day is about as follows:

$ million

Land and buildings 3,634.9

Implements and machinery 478.4

Live stock....' 609.1

This works out to an average capital investment of $6,700 for each farm across Canada.

Last year this group, representing over one-third of the population, with this enormous capital investment, received only 11 per cent of the national income. The proposal I make would step up their share of the national income to only 15 per cent. And this is for 35 per cent of the people, with that great capital investment.

I should like to put on Hansard a table which I have obtained from the bureau of statistics, showing a break-down of the national income by provinces for the years 1929, 1937, 1938, 1939 and 1940, with a column showing the loss of agricultural income in these latter years over 1929 and another column showing the percentage that the net agricultural income for 1940 bears to that of 1929.

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LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

With the consent of the house.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE-AMENDMENT TO MOTION OP MINISTER OP FINANCE
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Agreed.

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LIB

Hughes Cleaver

Liberal

Mr. CLEAVER:

The table follows:

Supply-State of Agriculture

Net agricultural income of Canada-by provinces

Loss of agricultural income over

Percentage

agricultural income is of

Prince Edward Island.

Nova Scotia

New Brunswick

Quebec

Ontario

Manitoba

British Columbia.

* Gain.

1 11C6C MCIC 4VUCV, cu [DOT] -

always lumped the entire prairie west together: Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. But what do we find? In 1929-and I am told that 1929 was a fair average year for the industry-I find that agriculture in Manitoba had a net income of S46.4 million and in 1937 it had a better than normal year, S51.2 million. In 1940 the figure was $39.2 million, or 84-4 per cent of normal.

1929 1937 1938 1939 1940 1929 1929mill. $ mill. $ mill. $ mill. $ mill. $ mill. $ per cent8*8 4*9 4*2 5*6 5-5 3*3 62*517*6 19*5 19*8 19-2 17*5 [DOT]1 99*416*6 13*2 12*0 13*7 14*5 2*1 87*399*7 77*3 82*9 87*1 96-5 3*2 96*7204*7 154*0 157*4 156*2 164*5 40*2 80*346*4 51*2 41*4 44*2 39*2 7*2 84*4158*1 10-3 *065 83*1 72*5 85*6 45*8119*1 73*2 83*4 74*2 76*0 43*1 63*020*5 18*7 20*8 22*4 22*7 2*2' * 110*7691*5 422*5 421*8 505*7 508*8 73*5shock to me. I of Saskatchewan at least when he gave the

figures showing that Saskatchewan in 1940 received only 45-8 per cent of its 1929 agricultural income, and pointed out that the income for 1937 was 810*3 millions as compared with $158*1 millions in 1929. I should like hon. members to remember that in those years when agricultural income was low the debt which the farmers were carrying still maintained its burden of taxes and interest,

Then Saskatchewan's net income in 1929 was $158.1 million, which in 1937 dropped to S10.3 millions, a terrific drop. In 1940 it climbed back to $72.5 million, but even at that it was only 45 *S per cent of that of 1929.

These figures show conclusively that conditions in Saskatchewan positively demand special treatment. The same is in a measure true with regard to Alberta. The figure for Alberta's income in 1940 is S76 million compared with $119.1 million in 1929, or 63 per cent of that of 1929.

Then, jumping right across Canada to Prince Edward Island, we find the net income for last year was only 62*5 per cent of that of 1929. In my own province of Ontario the figure for 1940 stood at 80*3 per cent of that of 1929, compared with Quebec at 96*7 per cent.

These figures show once again what a difficult country Canada is to govern.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. G. H. CASTLEDEN (Yorkton):

I agree with the opening statement of the hon. member for Halton (Mr. Cleaver), who has just taken his seat, that the war is one of our most important considerations. That is one reason why I condemn the agricultural policy of this government which is now before us as one of the most devastating forces in ruining the morale of this people. I think the hon. member proved the case for the farmers

and to-day those farmers are still loaded with the debt problem, which has not been and is not being solved. This is what, with this policy, is ruining these people and taking from them the last remnant of equity that they have in their land, acquired in some cases at the cost of forty and even more years of work. I hope the government will take into consideration the statement of the hon. member for Halton that Saskatchewan does need special consideration at this time.

The problem is even more serious than perhaps the hon. member will admit. I do not intend at this time to repeat the proposals already advanced from this part of the house for the saving of agriculture, plans under which food supplies could be stored against crop failures and famine conditions which may easily arise in the near future; plans under which we might have freedom of action and independence for the farmer instead of the regimentation which is going to result from the present proposals of the government. Regimentation is unavoidable if this legislation is implemented. If proper plans were put into effect we could be building up the morale of these people, not destroying it, and agriculture throughout the dominion could be saved.

I condemn this policy as being undemocratic, shortsighted, unscientific and, I believe, deliberately ruinous. It is undemocratic because it

Supply-State of Agriculture

comes into the house in the form of regulations. These are so frightfully confusing that even cabinet ministers do not agree on certain parts of them, with regard to quotas and so forth. After a brief visit to the province of Saskatchewan and the west I find a terrible misinterpretation of these regulations. This is adding to the confusion in the minds of those engaged in agriculture. It is shortsighted in both its national and its international outlook, and where the international picture is so uncertain it seems to me that we ought to be saving up and providing ourselves with an almost inexhaustible supply of food.

I do not know what the agricultural members of the house think of such an agricultural policy. Anyone who knows anything at all about it will realize that one thing that agriculture must have is a scientific plan of crop rotation, spreading itself over several years; but here a shortsighted one-year policy is almost forced upon these people. They have to disrupt their whole plan of production. It can have nothing but the most ruinous effect on agriculture. Farmers are almost forced to go into summer-fallow, and summer-fallowing in many parts of the land in the west is ruinous. Too much summerfallowing has resulted in soil drifting, and only those of us who lived in the west during the times of the dust storms know what the result of that soil drifting is.

I charge those responsible for this policy with the deliberate wrecking of agriculture in the west. The Minister of Trade and Commerce has absolutely failed in what he promised to do. Last November he said, "We are undertaking to see that they (the farmers of the west) do not bear an unfair share of the burden." But the burden they are bearing to-day is no less than the loss of their homes and their land. This policy will depopulate large parts of the west. It will result in the loss of everything the people there possess. Are those who are making fortunes out of this war losing their homes? If they are not, then equality of sacrifice does not exist.

The minister promised that the western farmers would not bear an unfair share of the burden. I was bom in Saskatchewan, and perhaps I may be excused for standing up and fighting for the people of that great land. I was proud, until I knew the minister for destruction of agriculture, of my country and everything which it has produced. Our Canada was a great land. What caused it to fail so miserably in time of peace? Why is it failing in time of war?

I was interested to hear the last speaker talk about the free voice of the Canadian people. As I visit various parts of the dominion and study people engaged in mining

{Mr. Castleden.]

work, people in the lumber camps and in factories and in various forms of industry, I know that the people of Canada have not the free voice which the hon. member holds to be the voice of Canadians. It is the voice of people who have been dispossessed. The natural resources which belong to the people have been taken from them and handed over by political parties at a price varying from $700,000 to Beauharnois to whatever they could get. Canadians have been driven from their homes and forced to seek work elsewhere. Their security is gone. They must bow to the will of the political machine, and that political machine exists across this country. The man working in the mine knows that on the ground above him are hundreds of men waiting for his job. The person on relief is told by the political machine where to vote and how to vote, and what will happen to him if he does not vote the right way- and we see plenty of examples.

No land can be free where there is no security. Democracy is dead in most of Canada because profit-ruled industry and the political machine will not permit democracy to survive. From the maritimes to British Columbia the story is the same. The last ditch of the democratic way of life which I see in Canada is held by the independent people who live on their own land, the workers of the land which they themselves own. They do not have to beg for a crust of bread from the boss of the political machine. I see destruction of freedom in Canada wherever that system exists, and I would call attention to the fact that from the western plains, whether it be in Alberta or Saskatchewan or in parts of Manitoba, comes the revolt against things as they exist in Canada. The protest comes in the strongest voice from that part of the country.

This proposed legislation will lead to the setting up of a system of agents, inspectors, checkers and other officials who will regiment every farm into a dictatorship. Notice what the supplementary estimate says. The $35,000,000 is:

To provide for payments on reductions in wheat acreages, under conditions prescribed by the governor in council, for administration expenses in connection therewith, and for temporary appointments that may be required notwithstanding anything contained in the Civil Service Act.

I do not know why the phrase "notwithstanding anything contained in the Civil Service Act" needs to be put in. Where does the minister intend to get his gestapo? I doubt whether anyone from Saskatchewan would say that he does not know of twenty or thirty instances of the work of this machine.

Supply-State of Agriculture

There are few people who dared to oppose it who have not been victims of its operation. It has seeped into the public life of that province to a disgraceful extent. I will not talk about the canteen fund disgrace, men who have been spirited away and men who have committed suicide. The whole rotten story of the political machine of Saskatchewan is a miserable page in Canada's history.

The policy as outlined here is the only effective way of finally ruining the free independent farmer, the owner of land in Saskatchewan. If this administration were working hand in glove with those who want to get control of that land and obtain title to it, they could not do so more effectively than under the present scheme. The Minister of Agriculture admits that this will reduce farm income by almost $100,000,000, and he nas already admitted that it discriminates between the farmers of the west and most of the other people of Canada. He would drive still further down those people who have already suffered much.

I should like to place on the record the case of a farmer in the constituency which I represent. This farmer is not the Minister of Agriculture, but he is like many thousands-

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Before the hon. member leaves that point, may I say that I have not admitted that this particular policy will reduce the farmers' income by $100,000,000. I have said that the action in connection with wheat, left by itself, would reduce it by $100,000,000.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. CASTLEDEN:

My words were that the minister has admitted that this will reduce the income of farmers by almost $100,000,000.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

That is the wheat part, but this gives them back some income.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. CASTLEDEN:

Yes, but the minister

will admit there is a terrific reduction in the farm income of the farmers of the west.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Possibly.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. CASTLEDEN:

To return to what I

was saying: this farmer was like many thousands of his fellow-Canadians. He enlisted and suffered once in saving democracy about twenty years ago. He was patriotic in his effort to save democrcay. Those men did not use patriotism as a cloak to try to ruin their country. After the war was over they settled on pieces of land administered by the federal government. I believe the plan of the soldier settlement board was to put these men on land where they could have homes, where after suffering and losing a great part

of their ability to work, they could establish themselves. In many cases the men who returned were wrecks. I do not think it was intended that they would be A-l farmers, but they were to be placed where they could be independent and free from worry and could provide themselves with the food and clothing they needed.

What is this man's story? He states that his 1940 crop turned out at 548 bushels. That quantity, sold at 49i cents a bushel, amounted to $271.26. His taxes were $81.95. Possibly this year they will be heavier than ever. Because his crop was light he had to thresh by the hour, and the cost was $77. His store bill was $74, making a total expense of $232.95. This left him $38.31 to pay for twine and repairs. Not one cent was left for food, clothing, books or anything to help the children or to provide the necessities of a family or a home. His income may be even further reduced this year.

But I have not yet dealt with the worst part of this case. Having communicated with the representatives of the soldier settlement board in Saskatoon he was told that if he paid some small amount for taxes and for advance on fire insurance on his land it would be considered that the 1940 crop would be accounted for. But on January 16 a letter came from the Saskatoon office stating that upon reviewing his account they found that he was heavily in arrears and advising him that because his account was in such terrible condition it would be good business for him to rid himself of this load of indebtedness and to sign the quit claim deed, which they enclosed. Then they went on to point out that if this quit claim deed was not completed and returned to the office before February 13 they would recommend to head office immediate recision of the contract. It was a case of driving a returned man off his land.

I should think one of the most important things the government could do would be, through the War Measures Act, to guarantee to everybody living on the land in Canada that they would be entitled to freedom from seizure, and freedom from loss of their homes, at least for the duration of the war. The most precious heritage of any man is his freedom. The most easily assurable heritage of Canada is security. So far as I can see, this wheat legislation is aimed to wipe out both so far as agriculture is concerned. Apparently the administration is adamant in its determination to carry out its plans. But I know that those responsible for these plans will carry with them as long as they live, the curse of a great number of ruined agricultural people. We are demanding only a square deal, the right of a man to exchange his labour for a

Supply-State of Agriculture

decent living standard. During the war the farmer is willing to take an even lower standard of living. I tell the government that the rights of these oppressed people will finally win out, whether the government likes it or not.

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April 30, 1941