April 30, 1941

IND

Liguori Lacombe

Independent Liberal

Mr. LACOMBE:

May I draw a comparison between the appropriations of the department of agriculture and those of our war services? No one can fail to notice the considerable discrepancy in the amounts allotted to these departments. As we have already seen, agriculture is an industry of still greater national importance in time of war than in time of peace. Why, then, would not the government grant to agricultural associations the same subsidies as in the past? Why should they not continue to give to agriculture all the necessary assistance for its encouragement and development?

I wish to discuss another question: that is to say the general incidence of taxation. It is always more equitable to tax luxuries, amusements and superfluity than to subject to taxation the essentials of life.

Inasmuch as the respective provincial and federal jurisdictions warrant it, theatres, clubs, amusement halls, taverns and all organizations non-essential to Canadian economic life should be required to assume a larger share of the burden imposed on industrial workers, farmers, employers, business men and manufacturers. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) has requested our population to make unprecedented sacrifices. The budget he brought down gives food for thought even to the most apathetic. The enormous expenditure for war purposes will require important additional revenues. In order to meet this need, existing taxes will be insufficient and, inevitably, further sacrifices will be requested from our people. In these days of sufferings and trials, the government should not forget the inevitable reactions that must follow the war. In this period of tremendous expenditure, he

Supply-State of Agriculture

must not overlook the maintenance of our financial structure. The cumulation of taxes under which our people is burdened should remind the administration of the necessity of warding off the possible collapse of our economic life, the foundation of which is agriculture.

Would it be reasonable for the authorities to leave agriculture settle its own problems? Or, on the contrary, will they realize that their duty commands them to consider the ever more pressing requests of the farming communities? If the government were to adopt the first of these solutions, I would not hesitate in taxing it of injustice towards our country. In Britain itself national defence is the only field that is given more importance than farming. Will the Canadian government leave our agriculture to its deplorable lot? It is not necessary to give much thought to the distressing condition of agriculture to realize that the time has come for applying drastic remedies and that both inertia and indifference in the matter would be sinful. The time has come when we must drop down from the clouds and face the real facts of life. The directors of professional organizations and farmers unions have often brought the attention of the government to the deficiencies of agriculture. Its economic aspects have been pointed out by the leaders in this field. When shall we settle the problems of the present and thus prepare for the future? At the close of the present war, the nations, weakened and bruised, will look to the land for obtaining the sorely needed regenerative food and vitamins. What will then become of disorganized nations if the neglected agricultural classes are unable to revitalize them and assure their survival?

_ A few moments ago, I requested that farmers, farmers' sons, farm employees and all persons employed in industries connected with agriculture be exempted from military training. I also wish to put on record a resolution of the county council of Two Mountains making a similar request. It was unanimously adopted by the mayors of seventeen municipalities at a regular meeting held on March 12, 1941. It reads as follows:

La corporation du comte des Deux-Montagnes To whom it may concern

St. Scholastique, P.Q.

March 14, 1941.

Whereas Canada request that everyone concentrate all their efforts towards victory;

Whereas the best manner in which the farmer may be of assistance to his country is by making sure that there is no shortage of food;

Whereas if farmers and farmers' sons, working on farms, are called for a four-month period of military training, this will impair to a large degree the production of vegetables, dairy products, etc.;

Whereas if farmers' sons leave the farms to undergo military training, a large number of them will never return to their original calling. . . .

The act has been amended since this resolution was adopted.

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

Liguori Lacombe

Independent Liberal

Mr. LACOMBE:

. . . and will repair to the cities in the hope of securing easier and, above all, more remunerative work;

Therefore, it is moved by Mr. J. 0. Charette and unanimously seconded:

That, in compliance with resolutions adopted by the municipal councils of the county, la corporation du comte des Deux-Montagnes is, by the presents, requested to exert its influence on the federal representatives so that farmers and farmers' sons, working on their farms, be exempted from military training as being more useful on the farms than in the army.

Carried.

J. Leo Beaudet,

Secretary-Treasurer.

This is a unanimous expression of opinion on the part of the first citizens of various parishes. The mayors, following the example of all true Canadians, assume the role of protectors of agriculture, our first line of defence since, without it, all our efforts to win the war would be vain.

There is another question I should like to discuss. It is the matter of conscription for service overseas. I am justified in doing so by the repeated and ceaseless attempts of the ultra-loyalists. The adoption of such a measure would endanger the very foundations of national unity. It would imperil true nationalism which must be prevalent and alive in all our people and their leaders. Let us not repeat our past monstrous mistakes. During the last few years, the government has often asserted its policy of first organizing our own defence. I do not need any further proof of this fact than the words uttered by the Right Hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) before this house, on March 30, 1939:

One strategic fact is clear: the days of great expeditionary forces of infantry crossing the oceans are not likely to recur. Two years ago, I expressed in this house the view that it was extremely doubtful if any of the British dominions would ever send another expeditionary force to Europe.

One political fact is equally clear: in a war to save the liberty of others, and thus our own, we should not sacrifice our own liberty or our own unity.

That is, however, a simple statement of principle, as so many others. Long before, that is, during the sessions of 1937, 1938 and 1939, similar solemn statements were made by the Prime Minister in the name of the

Supply-State of Agriculture

government. It is, therefore, our duty to protest with all our might against the pernicious doctrine of the proponents of conscription.

On February 21 last, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) called the government's attention to the grave abuses committed in the war industries. He mentioned the plant at St. Paul l'Ermite and pointed out to the house the great increase in its cost. I did so myself not long ago. To what is this due? To the shameful exploitation of the working man, to the venality of certain emploj^ment office managers, to the hiring as carpenters of men who knew nothing about carpentering, to the sale of jobs to the highest bidder. This new kind of fifth column has recently landed before the Montreal courts. How is it that the authorities have waited six months and more to bring to justice these miserable parasites of the public treasury, these loathsome despoilers of the war appropriations? I know hundreds of labourers, skilled workmen and unemployed men who have spent week after week vainly waiting for employment, although they were recommended by respectable and responsible people such as their parish priest, their mayor and their members of parliament. Packed in enclosures unfit for human beings, they were compelled to await the end of a shameful racket. A week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks passed without their being provided with employment. And they had to pay their board and travelling expenses meanwhile. The government should track down these exploiters of their fellow-citizens, wherever they may be. There should be no pity for scroundrelly war profiteers and shady middlemen who seek war contracts not through patriotism or even for the purpose of making a legitimate profit, but in order to increase their fortune.

This country is running too deeply into debt to stand for any organized robbing of the national chest. After being almost bled white, this nation shall demand strict accounting from all profiteers, nay, from all persons in authority whose first duty it was to forestall and prevent any kind of profiteering. For the sake of honesty and elementary justice, let the government be ever watchful lest any wrongdoers, in high or low places, attempt to take advantage of a people already in desperate straits.

The hiring of labour required for munitions plants should not be the exclusive privilege of the member for the constituency in which such plants are established. The taxpayer is entitled to fair and equitable treatment. The system by which certain districts are put aside for the exclusive benefit

of a given constituency must come to an end. The determining factors must be skill or experience in a trade, the labourer's rate of production, and the rules of strict economy. The nation will have nothing to do with shameless patronage nor with its sorry tools. We must rid ourselves at any cost of this canker of both labour and the public treasury. In this hour of peril, are we to stand for or tolerate any longer this horrid sore which, after causing us so much harm, now threatens the essential industries of this country? That is why I call upon the government to take without delay, decisive and adequate steps, in order to suppress entirely the ill-effects of a patronage which is the result of endless scheming altogether detrimental to our country. Let the ability and honesty of our public servants stand up against patronage and we shall thus protect the fatherland against many betrayals.

I should not close these remarks without saying a word of the unwholesome influence of the trusts in Canada. We saw a moment ago how the butter monopoly operated last fall and winter in the Montreal district. There are also those who monopolize electricity, thus taking unfair advantage of the people. The milling, flour and feed trust is still being operated with impunity, and although very profitable to its members, it is playing havoc with the producers and consumers. Can anyone explain why the consumers in eastern Canada pay S3.50 per 100 pounds of flour, while western wheat sells for as low as 51 cents a bushel? Why should the Canadian farmer pay SI.75 for the waste and by-products of our breweries, when he has already sold them the original product for less than a dollar? There is some talk of a "fifth column." Is there a worse wrecker of our war effort than the trust? We have here an industrialization of crime in its worst form. The creators of these monopolies are the No. 1 enemies of the people and of the fatherland.

They aim at the best initiatives of the governments in order to make them inoperative and ineffective. But have not the governments the necessary authority to bring them to reason? Indeed they have. And the day our governments undertake the general cleaning, they will fulfil an imperative duty to the nation. Why wait any longer? The government has at its disposal all the means and power to checkmate monopolizers and profiteers. Let them act promptly, effectively, immediately, and save the country from an irretrievable wrong. At a time when the resources, the revenues and the blood of the country are mobilized, the dictatorial power of money must cease to control with impunity the economic life of a whole nation.

Supply-State of Agriculture

Let me add just one word. I cannot praise too highly the hon. member for Compton (Mr. Blanchette) for the masterly statement he made on the alarming situation of the dairy industry. When the government grants the request of my honourable friend'-and it is also our request-and sets a minimum price for butter, they will give justice to agriculture whose very existence depends on the firm stand our leaders will take against the trusts. The first duty of the powers that be is to abolish at all costs that state within the state, that abominable dictatorship which endangers the nation in its vital forces. The trust must be replaced by the eminently national work of agricultural cooperatives, credit unions and occupational associations. These are patriotic institutions which the government should protect and encourage by exempting their capital, reserves and working capital from taxation. On the survival of these associations rests the survival of agriculture, so necessary at all times and more so when we are at war.

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

Louis-Philippe Picard

Liberal

Mr. L. PHILIPPE PICARD (Bellechasse):

Mr. Speaker, as I rise to take part in this debate on the wheat policy of the government, I feel like a stranger entering an exclusive club and wondering whether he will not be reminded that he does not belong. The wheat experts in this house make me think of bridge players or golfers who during the day follow quite different occupations in life and have different standards of living but who, when it comes to their hobby, forget all their differences and think only of the game. The western members when they discuss wheat in this house seem to do the same thing. They forget their political affiliations and their former quarrels, and all join together to ask for as much as they can get for the west.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. CASTLEDEN:

They ask for justice, that is all.

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

Louis-Philippe Picard

Liberal

Mr. PICARD:

such a measure as sufficient to cope with the agricultural problems of Canada. We believe that there is an equally acute eastern farm problem. The hon. member for Compton (Mr. Blanchette) referred to it yesterday evening, much more competently that I can do, because he is more familiar with the subject. I believe that we eastern farmers-although I am not a farmer, I represent an entirely rural district, so I include myself among them-should also benefit by some favours from the Department of Agriculture. We have done so in the past, and I hope that those favours will be not only maintained but increased.

Recently the minister announced a measure designed to help the western producer and the eastern consumer. It was the offer of a plan whereunder the government would pay half the transportation costs of a certain quantity of wheat from the western provinces to the eastern provinces. At the time I thought it was a wonderful proposal; I still believe that it probably would prove practicable. When first I saw that some of the provinces rejected it, I could not very well understand the reason. I did not know much about the problem, but the project appeared to be a sound one. Since the opening of the session, an hon. member asked for information as to which provinces have accepted and which have refused. The problem of transporting throughout Canada the various necessities of life is one of tragic importance. We all realize, I believe, that the government's proposal to cope with the problem by means of a reduction in the cost of transport would have helped the farmer. When we see that wheat produced in the west and sold there for as little as fifty cents, retails in certain parts of Quebec at $1.60, we realize the seriousness of the question.

I was astonished at first when I saw that only Ontario had accepted1 the plan. I was convinced that the Quebec government would give ail necessary consideration to the problem, and when I learned that they had refused, I inquired into the matter; I looked more closely at the question, and I received some information of value. Personally I have always had great confidence in the present premier of Quebec, who also is the minister of agriculture. The Hon. Adelard Godbout is a broad-minded statesman, who has demonstrated his capacity since he has taken office; he is also an expert on agriculture, a man who has his hand on the pulse of the farmer and, better than anybody else, can understand him, help him and promote his interests.

On motion of Mr. Picard the debate was adjourned.

At six o'clock, the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order.

Thursday, May 1, 1941.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE-AMENDMENT TO MOTION OP MINISTER OP FINANCE
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April 30, 1941