March 16, 1942


Frederick Davis Shaw

Social Credit


Page the salesman.

I have the honour to represent, as I said earlier, one of the finest agricultural constituencies in western Canada. Fortunately we are not afflicted there by drought; we have not been tormented by insect pests; and at the same time we have not broad expanses of cultivated land devoted entirely to the production of wheat. Nevertheless we have a problem, and a very serious one, and I propose using conditions there as a basis for delivering my message at this time.

As you are well aware, Mr. Speaker, in a mixed farming area, we are engaged in the production of certain agricultural commodities for which there is a very great demand at this time. I have in mind the production of cheese, lard, eggs, and milk; and when I mention milk I might also refer to our great eondensory at Red Deer, the product of which has, I understand, already reached the British market. I could enumerate other products which are derived from mixed farming.

It is true that prices of those commodities have definitely improved during recent days- that is, according to announcements which emanate from certain departments of government showing the established prices of those articles. But it always seems strange to me that when it comes to the final analysis, to the man who actuually produces the commodity and puts it on the market, his price is always so much lower than the quoted price. I have felt for a long time that the day has at last arrived when the government should take some definite action to see that the producers of these commodities are guaranteed a fair return in the light of prices

Wheat Board Act

which are presumed to prevail. I feel that some bodies or some organizations are taking advantage of these producers.

The situation in a constituency such as mine has been something like this. A number of years ago settlers moved into that area and purchased land. They were optimistic, no doubt, as the hon. member for Cochrane has said. But God forbid that we should ever lose that quality of optimism. They agreed to pay, in most instances, prices which were not regarded as unreasonable in view of the fact that wheat was worth from $1.50 to $2 or thereabouts a bushel. They paid as initial payments on that property possibly their life savings, and in many instances they borrowed money at 6, 8 and 10 per cent interest. It is also true that these farmers paid high prices for the machines which were required, high prices for the stock which they needed, and then they undertook farming.

We all know the whole desperate situation with which these farmers were confronted from 1931 until 1934. The bottom fell out of the price of grain. We well recollect the 30 cents a bushel which farmers were called upon to accept for wheat. Prices of all other farm commodities fell in proportion, but the interest charge against the farmer's borrowings, the value placed upon his land, did not come down-not in proportion, if at all. We know, too, that taxes increased owing to the extent of the relief which it was necessary for the various governments of Canada to pay. While the farmer's income dropped in many instances as much as 80 per cent, he was still called upon to pay the contractual price which he had agreed to pay for his land, at the rates of interest set forth in the contract. During those years we found many evicted from their properties. We found mortgage companies foreclosing. They did not foreclose all at once, it is true, but they gradually foreclosed as they could procure tenants for the land which they repossessed. Those, generally speaking, were the conditions confronting the farmers during that period, and those conditions did not improve materially even up until the time the war broke out.

The farmers did definitely protest against the conditions under which they were being forced to carry on. They protested, but on the other hand they continued producing. We found many of them branded as dishonest because of not meeting their obligations, and some of them to this day are having a difficult time living down the imputation of dishonesty which was put upon them. I think it is fair to say that during those years we did not realize that a necessary condition of the restoration of prosperity was the recognition

of a more adequate income for agriculture. We have always stated that agriculture is our basic industry, but we utterly failed to see that, with such a large part of our Canadian population depending upon agriculture, if we had given a square deal to farmers during those years we would undoubtedly have stabilized our economic life in this country and would have been much better able to face the situation with which we were confronted in 1939.

One more observation in that connection. It is quite true that during those difficult years some of the governments did take steps towards introducing legislation which had a tendency to scale down certain debts. But I would make this observation. I do not believe there is any member of this house who would say that as a consequence of the writing down of debts the plight of the farmer in Canada was appreciably improved. Many of us had occasion to examine into many of the soldier settlement contracts, and we realize from the experience we gained there that hardly 2 per cent of those whose debts were written down found themselves in a more favourable position after the passing of a few years. In my estimation it is futile to undertake to solve the problems of the farmers by merely scaling down their debts. All they want is an honest opportunity to pay their debts, and that can be done only through the establishment of a fair and just price for the things they produce.

I believe it is a fact that there is no class of people in the world who will rally to the defence of democracy, when democracy is threatened, sooner than farmers. When the war broke out in 1939, Canadian farmers were 'among the first to rally to the support of the country; and when I think of the extent to which they did rally to its support, offering their sons and their produce, offering to change their methods of farming, offering to do anything that would help the country in her hour of peril, I am reminded of the words of the President of the United States when dealing with this same matter. He said:

When democracy is in danger our farmers always have rallied to its defence and they always will. All they ask in return for their increased production is fair prices and assurances of protection after the emergency has passed.

We could modify that. We are not so much concerned about paying them for huge increases in production, speaking particularly of wheat, but we are concerned about giving them a decent price for that whea/t which can be accepted under a quota system of delivery.

Wheat Board Act

Through the first year of the war our government relied to a very great extent upon European markets. We believed, for example, that France would continue to be a large purchaser of Canadian wheat and that various other European countries would do the same. I do not think it ever entered our heads that we would not be shipping more grain to the United Kingdom than we have shipped during the past two years. Therefore, during the first few months, in fact, during the first year of the war our wheat surplus did not bother us much. But in June, 1940, came the crash; with the fall of France we found our European market cut off. Then we began to give consideration to the vast surpluses of grain which would surely accumulate.

During the following year, that is the crop year 1940-41, we instituted a scheme of acreage reduction, paid the farmers a bonus for reducing wheat acreage and turning the land into summer-fallow. I personally cannot subscribe to the idea that we should pay farmers to allow land to remain uncropped. I believe that every part of agricultural Canada can be put to use. I am not advocating that we should plough all our land and sow it to wheat. But I am stating what has already been stated here that a great deal of that land in western Canada can be used for the production of sugar beets. That is only one illustration. We might give consideration to the production of fodder crops and of further root crops, and to the expansion of the dairy industry-although that may not please certain parts of the country- but I am definitely opposed to curtailing the production of foodstuffs in time of war. I may be wrong, but I would rather be wrong in that regard than sorry if we ever are confronted with a great demand and an inability to meet it.

Last year the government also undertook to pay to farmers in areas where farming is more hazardous certain forms of assistance. I approve that; anyone who is familiar with those great expanses of prairie that were dried out year after year could not but subscribe to that form of assistance. Then a more recent innovation was the prairie farm income scheme. The farmers of western Canada were assured that these bonuses would be paid at certain times.

I understand all the farmers in my constituency were led to believe that the wheat acreage reduction bonus would be paid in December. They made their plans accordingly; they wrote to machine companies to whom they owed money; they spoke to the tax collecting agencies explaining that they anticipated the receipt of this money. Then weeks went by, in certain instances even months; they failed to receive the money and no

explanations were forthcoming. Did the machine companies, the tax collecting authorities and the mortgage companies accept the statements given to them by the farmers who were expecting the bonuses? No. I understand also that 50 per cent of the Prairie Farm Assistance bonus was to be paid in December. But I have had ever so many complaints from farmers that they did not receive the 50 per cent payment and that they had not yet received the payment which was due in March. The same thing applies to the income payments. I think there is one thing to be learned from that. The ministers responsible have seen the regional offices administered during one crop year, and if there is something wrong in the administration it is high time to set it right and remove the difficulty. I do not want to be harsh, but I sometimes think that the man and his association with the party are considered before his qualifications for the position. There was something wrong; we might as well admit it, and I think it is time right now to do a bit of housecleaning.

With regard to the policy for 1942, I must first say that we do appreciate the fact that the farmers are being offered another 20 cents a bushel. There is no denying that 90 cents is better than 70 cents. But 90 cents is not parity, and I am satisfied that the minister did not satisfy the members from western Canada that it was parity and, in some instances, perhaps more than parity. It is only fair and right that when it comes to determining parity level we should be given more information than was provided by the Minister of Agriculture if we are to be satisfied with his calculations. I believe, and I think the farmers of my riding believe, that $1 a bushel at the local elevator now is not a cent too much. I know that the farmers of my constituency cannot carry on and meet their obligations at less than $1 a bushel at the local elevator.

We do not go in for acreage reduction to any extent in that riding because we have not large areas devoted to the production of wheat. There is some reduction, but our income from that source is not very much. As far as wheat is concerned, we have to depend upon the price established for 1942, and I have not met a farmer yet who thinks that 90 cents will enable him to carry through and meet his obligations. I agree with what was stated by one or two members of this group, that there should be an amendment to the Prairie Farm Assistance Act with a view to making it a sound1 crop insurance scheme. I believe that is absolutely essential, and I am not impressed by the statement of the Minister of Agriculture that for

Wheat Board Act

this reason or that it cannot be done. We notice that when he is desirous of going in any direction he usually succeeds in removing the obstacles in his way.

I believe the farmers of western Canada require further guidance. We must through some means undertake a more complete organization of this country's agricultural industry; we must do further planning of production. I have already indicated that I believe certain areas might be devoted to the production of sugar beets. That is only a suggestion. We should plan production in this country province by province, and do it now.

Furthermore we should organize the agricultural resources of this dominion. It has been intimated in the press that farmers may encounter difficulty in securing farm machinery. If farm machinery is not going to be given priority, and I think it should be, then we must organize in order to use the equipment which is available this year or next under a system of restricted machine production. Also we ought to give further direction to our farmers to enable them to market their secondary products, on a cooperative basis if necessary.

There is one other matter. Those whom I represent are definitely opposed to the action of the government in draining man-power from our farms indiscriminately and without consideration for farm requirements. If they are going to continue this, then I expect them to tell us how the farmer can carry on under a system whereby we take our men from the farms into industry and to join the various branches of the armed forces without regard to agricultural requirements. This has become a very serious question. Under the present set-up they take a man in for training and indicate that he will be released later on to work on the farm. Then, when we apply for his release they say, "We have invested a certain amount of money in this man now. We are very sorry, but we cannot release him." We are confronted with that difficulty frequently. The allotment of man-power for farm work should be carried out on a carefully planned basis; and any scheme for allotting labour to the farm should have a direct relationship to the requirements of industry and those of the armed forces.

Final and complete victory will depend upon the consideration we give agriculture at the present time. If we fail to meet the requests of agriculture, then we are making a mockery of all those things for which we say we are fighting. We must understand that under the new order which we have promised to all, including the farmers, agriculture must be

guaranteed its rightful place in the national economy. Before the outbreak of war we regarded the farmer as the outstanding peacetime casualty. We all looked upon him in that way; we thought of every reason in the world for making him a casualty. Governments kept farmers disorganized and brought about that result. Then the war came upon us, and once again we are making the farmer the casualty. So I say in conclusion that, if final and complete victory is to be won, the farmer must be guaranteed his share of the national income, and further guaranteed that when the war is over he will not be forced back into the position in which he found himself during those extremely hard years from 1931 to 1934 and those difficult years from 1934 up to the present time.


John Albert Gregory


Mr. J. A. GREGORY (The Battlefords):

Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult in the waning hours of a long debate to say anything new and original. One does not care simply to repeat those things which have been said already by a multitude of speakers; but at the same time, representing a Saskatchewan constituency, I feel that I should place myself on record with respect to the wheat policy for 1942-43 which is now before the house for consideration.

One year ago, in speaking of the wheat policy of that time, I said that policy bore all the evidences of a compromise. I find myself again in that position this year; the policy now before the house bears all the appearances of a compromise. In viewing this policy it is necessary to do so from three aspects: from the point of view of the initial price to be paid for wheat, the wheat acreage reduction scheme, and the continuation of the Prairie Farm Assistance Act. I have said that this policy bears all the evidences of a compromise. In a country such as Canada, as I said last year and as has been said time and again during this debate, there are many conflicting interests. There are conflicting provincial interests, notwithstanding the fact that the provincial boundaries are in many instances, purely artificial. There are conflicting interests which arise from our geographical situation in various parts of Canada. All these matters must have their place and effect in decisions made by the cabinet. In addition to conflicting interests, I find another, influence that has operated in the creation of a compromise wheat policy. Since coming to Ottawa I have discovered that there is a minority opinion within this house, as well as a minority opinion outside this house, that Saskatchewan cannot survive; that it is a hopeless task to try to maintain Saskatchewan,

Wheat Board Act

and that the sooner the people move out of that province, the better it will be for the whole of Canada.

These are some of the things that have brought about the compromise wheat policy of this government. It is very true that we have in Saskatchewan a population of nearly a million people of the white race who, during the last thirteen years, have endured tribulations such as have never been endured in the recorded history of that or any other part of Canada. In addition to the drought, which has visited every part of that province intermittently during that period of time, the world depression took a toll of the price of farm commodities, to the extent that during the last thirteen years there has not been a farm commodity which has returned to the farmer the cost of production.

Let me again remind the house that during the last forty-five years, during which floods of immigration poured over that western country, reaching the extent of half a million people in 1912-13, and as enormous developments took place there following that great flood of immigration, prodigious volumes of wealth were created each year in the west, which wealth found its way down to the central provinces to enrich their banks, mortgage companies and other financial institutions; yes, and to build its small industries into large industries, its small cities into large cities. Thus, during the last forty-five years that western country has made a marvellous contribution to the building up of Canada as a whole.

I ask you, sir, are those years to be forgotten? Is this great contribution made by the west to Canada as a whole to be set to one side? Is this white population of nearly a million people to be abandoned? If I may be permitted to answer that question, let me say that years of great production again will come to that western country. Once again the wealth will roll from the farms of Saskatchewan and the west as a whole down to the central provinces of Canada, thus enriching the life of the whole country.

It may not be known to all hon. members, that in the great prairie belt in the west we are not dependent upon the currents of air from either the Atlantic or Pacific oceans to create our rainfall. We are dependent only upon the meeting of the warm current of air from the gulf of Mexico with the cold currents from the Arctic ocean. It is this meeting which creates condensation in the form of rain, hail, sleet or snow, according to the period of the year. During the last few years the currents from the gulf of Mexico have moved very much farther east, and thus the currents from the Arctic and the gulf of Mexico have failed

to meet over that prairie region, with the result that we have had thirteen years of intermittent drought.

Judging from the records of early settlers, from the traditions of the Indians, and the records of some meteorological stations in the United States to which we have had access, we have learned that what we used to call the great American' desert-and I remember having learned this in my geography class, when a boy-has intermittently enjoyed years of heavy rainfall and good crops, and on the other hand years in which the currents of air had failed to meet, with the resulting lack of precipitation. I have confidence that history will repeat itself, and that when the right meteorological conditions develop, that great western country will again become the breadbasket of Canada, as it was once described.

I now turn my attention to the splendid delegation of about 400 farmers from Saskatchewan, who journeyed to Ottawa to lay their case before the government, and to stress their views respecting a wheat policy for the west for 1942-43 crop year. In my opinion that was one of the finest delegations which ever came to Ottawa; we are proud of it. It was an accurate cross-section of the whole of Saskatchewan, including farmers from that province, merchants, clergymen, professional men, reeves of rural municipalities, mayors of cities and others, each of whom conducted himself with decency and dignity. The presentation of their case to the government was characterized by moderation and intelligence.

What was the essence of that presentation? For the purpose of debate may I summarize it under four headings: (1) That there should be no price ceiling on wheat; (2) the initial payment on wheat should be $1 a bushel; (3) there should be a parity price paid for -wheat, by further payments over and above the $1 initial payment during the course of the year from time to time, to bring the price of wheat up to a parity with other commodities, and (4) the continuation of the Prairie Farm Assistance Act.

For the moment I shall deal only with that portion of the brief which I have summarized under these headings. Disregarding the rest of the brief, may I say I find myself wholly in accord with the requests made by the delegation. I believe those requests were reasonable and fair, in view of the war economy of Canada.

Let us see how these requests were viewed in certain parts of Canada. We have heard objections voiced by hon. members from other provinces, and this evening I would particularly draw the attention of the house to an editorial which appeared in the Truro

Wheat Board Act

Daily News shortly after the delegation had gone home. The following is the text of the editorial:

Should be nothing doing

The 400 beggars from the western wheat fields of Canada have visited Ottawa and returned. They called themselves Prairie wheat growers and their supporters". In fact it would seem that they are a gang of leeches stirred up and led by a few shameless agitators. They were probably dominated by those who make money out of buying and selling wheat and the big wealthy wheat producers.

Presaging this trek of a couple of train loads of supplicants to the government for pap we urged that our elected representatives stiffen their back bones and use fair common sense in this case. ...

The government is in control of prices in Canada. So far, in spite of mistakes that are bound to occur, an excellent job has been done. Wage and salary earners should be highly satisfied.

With the last sentence I wholly agree.

It is probable that the holding down of the cost of living by the wartime prices and trade board will make unnecessary a bonus to employees for the present quarter. This is all to the good.

Now these western beggars have tried to overawe the government by taking a veritable army to Ottawa demanding special privileges. All other citizens of the country have been paying extra taxes so that the government may give these westerners a present of millions of dollars in the past to help them meet world market conditions. The last was a government guarantee of 70 cents a bushel to the grower for his wheat. In the face of the government's ceiling on prices this pap fed class from the west asks the government to collect from the rest of us another 30 cents a bushel as an additional gift to them to further fatten their pocket-books.

Nothing doing! This is definitely what should be told them. Let them get out and "root hog or die" as most all industries of the country have to do.

With the latter part of that sentence I find myself definitely not in accord.

The government told them that their request would receive consideration. The answer right on the spot, should have been, definitely "No!"

In the three years ended July 31, 1941, we contributed approximately 80 million dollars to these brassy western beggars. The new $1 a bushel gun this army of 400 put up to the government would mean under similar circumstances about 115 millions. It is certainly time to call a halt. If the government needs an opposing army to wait on them to help them to say "No," we feel sure thousands of already necessarily tax burdened citizens of Canada would join it.

In the last two years, since coming here, I have heard a great deal of talk about the necessity for unity in the awful struggle in which we and the rest of the world are engaged. I wonder just what contribution the editor of the Truro Daily News has made to unity in Canada. The article is unfair;

it is untruthful, and it is an insult not only to the delegation but to every resident in Saskatchewan. I am not aware of any reason for using that kind of language with respect to the people of that province. I know of no person in Saskatchewan who would have any reason to feel an inferiority complex when meeting Canadians from any other province. We came from the other provinces of Canada; we came from Great Britain, we migrated from the western United States, and some of us came from the eastern United States. Enormous contributions have been made by nearly every country in Europe. The opportunities thus presented to a man in Saskatchewan w'ere never available to those in other provinces. The effect of intercourse among these various people has been broadening; it has enriched the life of every person who has gone to Saskatchewan. There is no necessity to direct insulting remarks such as these to the residents of that province.

il sometimes wonder how Saskatchewan maintains its position in confederation. I shall not at this moment make reference to the various secession movements that have sprung up in Saskatchewan, but I may have something to say about this at some future date if necessary. These movements have sprung up because of the unfair treatment handed out to that part of Canada. It is bled white with freight rates on those commodities that flow easterly and it is bled white with freight rates on the things it consumes that flow westerly. It is bled white by a high tariff structure which is of no benefit to western Canada, which is nothing but a detriment.

There are no banks with head offices in that province. We are away out on the end of the limb of the financial structure. We have always been charged the most exorbitant interest rates. In the forty-five years I have lived in western Canada I have found that 12 per cent was the common rate of interest at one time. Then it was reduced to 10 per cent, and then 8 per cent was the recognized rate charged by everybody, banks and individuals. It is only recently that there has been a softening of these excessive rates to 6 and 7 per cent. One realizes from personal knowledge that in that part of the country the wages of money have been vastly greater than the wages of men, at least in the last fifteen years.

It is a widely held belief that before the end of the 1942-43 crop year wheat will be worth considerably more money. Both President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill have said that a great offensive will be commenced in the spring of 1943. If that does

Wheat Board Act

occur, it means that Canada and the United States will have to feed armed forces in all parts of the world. We shall have to feed Russia and the Russian army and, if the offensive is successful, we shall have to feed the liberated peoples as we drive Hitler out of Europe back toward Germany. When that time comes, there will be gqch a demand for wheat that we shall not have to talk about it in a whisper and with humility as we do when we apologize for this great granary of 500 million bushels of unwanted surplus. When that time comes, wheat will once more hold up its head. It will again be that No. 1 western hard which will be demanded 'by suffering and starving people. When that time comes, wheat will be worth probably twice what it is worth at the present time. May I suggest that out of that increased price it is quite likely that more than the parity price asked by this delegation will be handed back to the farmers in the form of participation certificates.

I should like to say a word or two with respect to these bonuses. I am pleased indeed that the wheat acreage reduction bonus has been continued. This will have the effect of inducing people to leave wheat production to some extent and' to go into the production of coarse grains in order that we may fill our contracts with Great Britain for those classes of foods for which we have contracted. I am pleased indeed that a floor has been placed under flax. This will be conducive to encouraging people to produce the oils which we need so badly.

The Prairie Farm Assistance Act assures a living to the farmer in case of crop failure, and possibly the return of some of the operating cost of his farm. At least it keeps the farmer on the land. It is much better than that obnoxious word "relief". He is being maintained by bonuses which are legal in nature and for which he does not need to apologize. Unfortunately no amendment is proposed at this session to this act to prevent the 8- to 12-bushel class being wiped out. I trust the agriculture committee will do something with respect to bringing in an amendment to cover in the 8- to 12-bushel class. I think an amendment to pay that class 81 per bushel would be satisfactory. I know that this would meet with general approval in western Canada. Every letter and telegram that I have received from the time this question was first mooted to the present date makes reference to the advisability of continuing these bonuses. Beyond question they are of great value to western Canada, and the people of that part of the country fully appreciate them.

This wheat policy goes part way in fair play for wheat farmers.

[Mr. Gregory.!

What gains have we made in this present legislation over the previous wheat policy? I think these gains can be summarized under four headings: First, there is no price ceiling in connection with this wheat policy. Second, the 280 million bushels to be purchased next year will be purchased, not by private interests for the purpose of making a gain out of the increased price to which I have referred, but by the Canadian wheat board and whatever profits are made will go back to the farmers of western Canada. Third, there is a substantial increase in the initial payment. Twenty cents a bushel is not to be sneezed at. May I say again that the letters I have received from western Canada all show a sense of appreciation for what has been done. These people realize the benefit which will be derived' from the fact that the initial payment on wheat has been raised to 90 cents a bushel. Fourth, we have retained the two bonuses to which I have referred.

In summarizing the beneficial effects of this wheat policy over previous policies, I do not want it to be understood that I am satisfied with this policy; I want it to be definitely understood that I am not satisfied with it. I believe the farmer is entitled to $1 a bushel for his wheat as a part of the war economy of Canada.

In conclusion, may I say that I am only pleading for fair play for the people of my province. Industry and labour have been amply rewarded and provided for in this country. Many other producers in other provinces have been treated generously, and I plead for fair play for the producers of wheat. Why should the wheat farmer always be the forgotten man? Why should he be the beggar at the feast, if you will, the poor relation in the economy of Canada? I suggest that in the discussions of the agriculture committee the demands of this delegation be kept in mind with a view to bringing in a report implementing in every detail the requests of this delegation.


Robert William Gladstone


Mr. R. W. GLADSTONE (Wellington South):

Mr. Speaker, I wish first to congratulate the hon. member for The Battlefords (Mr. Gregory) upon his logical and enthusiastic support of the legislation before the house, having to do with the interests of the agricultural population of the great province of Saskatchewan as well as of the other two wheat producing provinces, Manitoba and Alberta. He has, however, interjected into his speech this evening one word, "secession", which should never be used by the representative of any province in this dominion. Even though we farmers of Ontario believe that in the past we have paid toll to manufacturers for the

Wheat Board Act

upbuilding of industry, and although western farmers have done the same, I am sure we shall be conscious to-day that we are reaping the benefits of what we then gave to industry, as we see Canadian mechanical transport going to Egypt and Libya, and our guns and shells being shipped to all parts of the world for the protection of that freedom which all of us love. Therefore I counsel all hon. members to think seriously, regardless of whence they come or what their interests may be, before using the word "secession" in this parliament.

We have entered the second week of a debate on three bills relating to the wheat situation. So far, I believe, thirty-seven hon. members have spoken, thirty of them from western Canada and seven from eastern Canada. Quite naturally the arguments of those from the west have been either in support of the bills now under consideration or in advocacy of something better than they contain. We expect, of course, that hon. members from the west will do everthing possible for the improvement of conditions in their chief industry. It may be said here that the attitude of hon. members from the east who have spoken has been one of sincere willingness to do anything they can for the improvement of agricultural conditions in the western provinces. They realize that there cannot be prosperity in their towns and cities unless there is prosperity on the farms.

It is my feeling that we eastern members would do well to make a keener study of agricultural conditions of both the east and the west. The notice of motion in the name of the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church) may be regarded as a beginning in that direction. Undoubtedly we eastern members should have a better understanding of what is going on in the west as well as a fuller appreciation of the situation of the small farmer in eastern Canada. The hon. member asks for a return showing:

1. The amounts paid from the consolidated revenue fund to farmers of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, since the year 1930, by years, on account of (a) direct per bushel bonus,

(b) wheat acreage bonus, (c) wheat acreage reduction bonus, (d) prairie farm income bonus, (e) Prairie Farm Assistance Act.

2. The deficits sustained by the Canadian Wheat Board in each year since its establishment.

3. The total amounts paid since 1930 to farmers in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, by way of, (a) wheat bonus, (b) hog production bonus,

(c) cheese production bonus.

In the course of the present discussion the whole western agricultural situation, particularly with respect to wheat, and extending

over many years, has been reviewed, and also the proposals affecting the 1942 and 1943 crop years. I do not wish to continue the discussion of the past or even the proposed legislation, but would rather direct my remarks toward the future of all agriculture throughout Canada in the new order that is to be.

Canada is an extremely difficult country to govern. In .the long expanse stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific and far to the north we have great variations of climate, of physical contours, of resources, of conditions and circumstances, and correspondingly varying interests. It is a major problem of government to endeavour to harmonize all this diversity of interest.

The prosperity of any country, and most certainly of Canada, hinges on the creation of new wealth, which in turn depends upon the development of our resources of the farm, the forest, the sea and the mine. Here, as we all realize, is to be found the support for the upbuilding of our cities and towns and their industrial life.

We may recall the development of our eastern provinces. The pioneers came to these provinces, the French to Quebec and the English, Irish, Scotch and other nationalities to the maritimes and Ontario. They came with their families in those days when the only transportation was by means of sailing vessels. They came to the primeval forest and were supported for a time by the beneficence of settlers who had preceded them to the new land. But gradually they hewed out a place in the forest for their little cabin and clearing whereon they might produce some vegetables and grain. They expanded their clearing year by year; it became their home, and farming became their way of life. That has been the history of the development of these eastern provinces-the province of Quebec notably and likewise the province of Ontario.

The farm unit in Ontario has been largely 100 acres, and over a period of years there was until recent times a gradual betterment with the erection of fine buildings-houses and barns-and the making of a way of life wherein the 100-acre farm supported a family. As the years went along, more land was cleared and there came the need for implements to increase production. So, through invention and science, we had the perfection of some tools with which to carry on agriculture. This brought about the development of little manufacturing communities, and stage by stage, with greater development of the country, and then with the development of the western country, these industrial areas have grown larger and larger. The tendency

Wheat Board Act

has been for the manufacturing interests to congregate in certain cities, and the further tendency in these modern times has been for these industries to grow larger and larger until we have now reached the stage of enormous manufacturing and mass production -production where regrettably the machine is almost replacing the man, where a piece of iron goes into the machine and travels through the various processes of bending, shaping and riveting, without the human hand touching it and only some skilled supervision being necessary. It is, of course, a debatable question whether the introduction of these modern machines has resulted in the aggregate in lessened or increased employment of labour.

There has been a corresponding development in merchandising, where the small store, the corner grocery, has been replaced by the chain store. This no doubt has brought an improvement in certain phases of merchandising, but it has had its disadvantages, the disadvantage of ownership going to other cities and most certainly passing away from the man who had a personal interest in the development of his community. We have lost much of that good old-time civic spirit and responsibility that made for the development of our fine towns and cities in Ontario and in other parts of Canada. I would hope that this development of mass production in the factory and in merchandising may not spread into the realm of agriculture. It seems to me that our God-given heritage- these fertile fields-was intended primarily for the support of families of this great Canadian nation, and it is to be regretted if there is a tendency in legislation or otherwise to have the farm unit increased far in excess of any necessity for supporting a family.

The means of continuing the small farm unit are, of course, contingent on mixed agriculture. That is the backbone of the eastern provinces, and it is gratifying to know that in some of the western provinces, particularly in Manitoba and Alberta, there is a tendency toward mixed farming. Possibly in the great province of Saskatchewan it is necessary to farm on a large scale because certain sections are no doubt unsuitable for mixed farming. It is a question as to what direction government policy should take in the future in relation to these large-scale farm operations that extend to 2,000, 5,000 and 10.000 acre farms. As I have said, our unit in Ontario is 100 acres. I do not know what the corresponding unit of the mixed farm would be in the west, whether 320 acres or 640 acres; but most certainly I, as a member representing a rural constituency in the east, regret the tendency to the establish-

ment of farms on a scale where very few people are supported on the land and where operations approximate more nearly the form of mass production carried on through the operation of wide-swathe machines, perhaps operated by absentee owners.

In the past it has been remarked that Canada is the granary of the world,. Perhaps in days gone by we could look to such a prospect, but in recent years there have been changes. We have come into competition in world markets; we have come into competition with the United States, Australia, the Argentine, Russia and other nations, great growers of wheat. We have seen our market diminishing; and who can say that when this war is over, the days will return when we can feel that we have any assurance of a market for all the wheat we can produce? This being true, does it not behoove us to endeavour to organize our agriculture so that we may not be building up an enormous excess year after year but may be working out a system in the direction of smaller units and more diversification, spreading this as far as possible to the western provinces as well as Ontario and Quebec, to the end that the farm unit, whether 100 acres in Ontario or 640 acres, say in the west, may be the home and dwelling-place of a family. It would be regrettable if the tendency in our agriculture should be toward depopulating the rural areas and making them merely the site of operation of great power machines. -

The difficulty relative to marketing is, as I have said, this competition with other nations. Our surplus wheat must be sold in the markets of the world. We have to compete with the Argentine where the wheat growing lands are close to the seaboard and therefore their transportation costs are much lower than ours, with our great distances from the prairies to the ocean. Therefore I venture to suggest this- it may not be within the realm of possibility at all-that when the victory is won and the day comes to settle the peace, those great wheat producing nations give some consideration to an endeavour to work out plans by which the land in all countries may become more and more a place of homes for the people. After all, surely the intention of the Almighty was that this land should be a place of prosperous and happy homes. I do not know whether it is possible, but it seems to me that this tendency to high-power machines cutting wide swathes across the land should be stopped. Perhaps this could be done by an agreement among all these great wheat producing countries. Par better to have a narrower machine cutting, say eight feet, which is only profitable to operate on a 640-acre farm, than the enormous high-powered machines that com-

Wheat Board Act

plete the whole operation in one day, suitable only for farms which operate on a large scale. If there is any tendency in Saskatchewan to establish 2,000-, 5,000-, and 10,000-acre farms, I think it is greatly to be regretted. I hope that when the peace is being formulated, the other nations will come to their senses and seek some means whereby land will be used for the purpose for which it was intended.

I wish to reiterate my desire to support any possible effort to improve western conditions *during this time of emergency. The west has come through difficult times and must be supported. I agree that in a great measure at least wheat is a war casualty, and since we are spending money for so many things we must spend to assist that western country. But I again express the hope that some means may be found to stem the tide running in the direction of large-scale operations and that we may somehow get back to the utilization of the land as a place for homes, for families of good Canadian citizens.


Roy Theodore Graham


Mr. R. T. GRAHAM (Swift Current):

I rise solely for the purpose of adding a constructive and, I hope, a soothing note to the discussion concerning wheat and the wheat farming areas of Saskatchewan. I have listened with great interest to the contributions to this somewhat long debate, particularly perhaps those by hon. members from eastern Canada. Of their remarks I have no criticism whatever to offer; I think I fully appreciate their point of view. I have, however, had conversations with some of my friends on this side of the house who live in eastern Canada and have noted with some concern an attitude of mind that might be described, if it were a matter of war, almost as defeatism, or a sense of futility in approch-ing the problems of the west, as we members from the west think it our duty to do. For instance, they suggest-and I have every sympathy with them-that the western wheat problem occupies too much of the time and attention of this house, in this and other sessions. Some suggest even that it might be better to abandon Saskatchewan, the great plains region-I speak of Saskatchewan simply because 1 am more familiar with it-as a selfsupporting economy, to stop the drain on the dominion treasury and call the whole experiment a day. I use the word "experiment" advisedly, because that is the very point I wish to make to-night, that Canada has been watching and probably for some time will continue to watch the greatest of all national experiments in the attempt to build an agricultural economy which will maintain a reasonable Canadian standard of life in that great plains region. I wish for a few moments to review not only the history of that part of

Canada, but to outline some constructive things that have been done to bring that experiment to a successful conclusion.

Hon. members have pointed out that in the Palliser triangle there are roughly a million Canadians, a million human beings who have all the desires and ambitions of Canadians in any other part of Canada. The hon. member for The Battlefords (Mr. Gregory) properly pointed out that it is a very cosmopolitan type that has settled on those prairies; and, as one of my eastern friends agreed with me to-night,

I am sure those who happened to note the type of men who made up the delegation which came to Ottawa recently would readily agree that nowhere in Canada could a more stable or finer looking crowd of citizens be gathered together than those 400 men who came from the wind-swept province of Saskatchewan bent on making representations to the government. Is the policy we should pursue now one of defeatism, one that suggests the abandonment of that great experiment which we commenced not so long ago, almost within the lifetime of most of us in this house, when that Palliser triangle was opened up for settlement by hundreds of thousands of people who poured in there to reconstruct their lives and. build new homes and new futures?

I must confess that as I listened the other day to the hon. member for Victoria, Ont. (Mr. McNevin), I had to agree that there was a great deal of truth in his statement that the early days, or what he called the pioneer days, of western settlement were comparatively simple compared with the early days of the settlement of Ontario. There were no great stretches of forest to clear; there was no great preparation of the soil necessary. Nowhere, as the Sirois report points out, had any agricultural area of like size ever been developed and brought into such immense production in such a short time. But I would have hon. members recollect that the Sirois report points out one other truth; that until the time the great west was opened up for settlement, both Liberal and Conservative governments, despite the high hopes which were in the hearts of Canadians at the time of confederation, had been unable to get that confederation of the provinces started on the path to prosperity. In spite of every policy that was adopted, the machine seemingly refused to work. But when the west was opened up, it not only marked the opening of a great area, but also marked the commencement of an industrial period in eastern Canada. So, as you would expect, the two meshed together, one development resulting from the other development out on those open plains of the three prairie provinces, perhaps particularly the province of Saskatchewan. As

Wheat Board Act

another hon. member said to-night, immense wealth in the form of wheat and other grains poured out of those provinces. It has been said often that billions of dollars of wealth have been produced and made available to all Canada as a result of the farming operations of those provinces.

Those were the early days; but strangely enough, almost paradoxically, they were not the pioneer days of Saskatchewan's history. The pioneer days unfortunately came after some of the rosy hopes had faded, the hopes that this was a land of milk and honey, that money could be made easily and without any great effort, and that the prosperity which accompanied the opening up of that territory would continue as a matter of course. In. fact it was not until 1929 or 1930 that the truth began to come home to the people of Saskatchewan, that they, too, like the pioneer people of Ontario, had real problems to solve before an economy could be found which would satisfy the needs of the country.

I do not propose to-night to touch on great national problems such as tariffs, freight rates, the financial concentrations in eastern Canada, and the impact of these policies upon the west.

I wish for a few moments merely to deal with sotme of the .practical problems which were found to exist in connection with that great experiment that we have been carrying on in the west. Drought, of course, has been the great factor in producing many of the problems that confront us, probably the greatest contributing factor to the results we have seen. Following the perhaps overenthusiastic expansion that took place, based as we know now on the too rosy hopes that were held, a great structure of debt grew up. Then the resultant adjustment had to be made, with loss to the eastern investor and terrific loss to owners of farm lands in the west.

But even in the matter of drought, by the use of science, by the study of atmospheric, climatic and soil conditions, we have made very considerable progress. Our experimental farm system has contributed greatly in this regard, in the development of types of wheat suited to particular climatic conditions. I need not relate these developments in detail. The discovery of marquis wheat was of itself a tremendous contribution to the solution of one of the problems of western Canada. But even apart from the development of proper cereals, methods of cultivation have been constantly studied and made the subject of experiment. Through the work of a fellow citizen of mine in Swift Current, Doctor Barnes, who unfortunately was called to his heavenly home before his work was completed, we learned a great deal of the truth

that nature has locked up in the laws that apply to moisture conservation. So the system of summer-fallowing, of conserving moisture in the fallow, has been proceeded with, developed and encouraged in western agriculture.

In addition, the programme under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act has been of tremendous help in conserving the water supply, both under the small dug-out schemes and under some of the comparatively large irrigation schemes which have been promoted under that legislation. Just before the house resumed this evening I spoke to one farmer who is visiting in Ottawa, and1 he was relating to me his own experience. Because of the scarcity of water in his particular area during certain seasons of the year he had to drive some fifteen miles to obtain water. It was brought to his attention under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act that there were possibilities in regard to a small reservoir, and that has solved the difficulty of water supply for him. In addition to the reservoir, in which he collects water by natural drainage, he was able to sink a well and obtain very fine drinking water, filtered by the processes of nature.

We have discussed many times in this house the great advantages that the Prairie Farm Assistance Act has brought to an economy which periodically has been faced with drought periods that have had the result of leaving some people in dire circumstances. In addition, there has been carried on a thorough study of land utilization. In the early days undoubtedly a lack of knowledge of soil types in the west and a failure to appreciate climatic conditions resulted in certain areas being opened up which we know now never should have been developed for agricultural purposes. Soil surveys of the entire province of Saskatchewan have been completed, and there are now on record with the provincial government at Regina, and I suppose here at Ottawa as well, complete results of those surveys showing all the various types of soil which go to make up the huge area of that province. This is of tremendous value in determining the use that should be made of certain types of land. For some years now, under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, through the cooperation of the municipalities, the province and the dominion, land not suited to the growing of grain has been taken out of actual agricultural production and used for pasture purposes.

The development of such grasses as crested wheat-grass proved of immense benefit in developing the stability of fodder and feed crops in that area. I should like to point out

Wheat Board Act

that crested wheat-grass, like a great many other things introduced to western Canada, i3 the product of a country the climatic conditions of which are very much like those of our own. I refer to certain portions of eastern Russia, where experiments have been carried on in connection with agricultural problems-carried on not for the lifetime of a person, but for many centuries. So I say to the house that with the agencies of science, set in motion by the government, we are making real progress in at least minimizing the result of recurrent droughts which occur in Saskatchewan.

Rust was probably the next greatest factor in loss in connection with the crops of that province. All hon. members know that science again came to the rescue and evolved rust-resistant wheat. In fact, there are more than one of these types-Thatcher, Apex and Reward are fairly well resistant to rust. I do not believe anyone could compute the value of the discovery of those varieties of rust-resistant wheats in western Canada.

We all know, too, that we are faced with periodic visitations of grasshoppers. There again, entomologists, of the United States and Canada, acting in cooperation, feel certain that with full cooperation of the people in the adjoining states and provinces the grasshopper menace can be not only minimized but almost wholly met. That, too, is a great step toward solving the real problems confronting the farmers of western Canada.

Then, in connection with sawflies, in my own constituency, the dominion experimental farm has for several years been experimenting in the development of a wheat plant with a fairly solid stem which will resist the inroads of the sawfly. It has not yet, of course, reached a state of perfection, but I feel certain and those in charge of experiments assure me that, by the application of Mendel's law, by a continuation of the process of selection and development such a wheat plant can be developed, so that the sawfly menace will be greatly minimized. There has been no difficulty so far in obtaining a firm stemmed wheat; the difficulty has been to have that particular hybrid produce a wheat of a quality demanded of western Canada.

Problems connected with cutworms and wire-worms, two very great causes of damage in Saskatchewan, have been under study for many years by experts of the husbandry branch of the dominion experimental stations. It is true that they have not yet found an easy or cheap solution to that problem, and yet I believe science will never give up the task of studying the cycle of life, or the moments of exposure when they can be attacked. I

feel that in time those two costly infestations will have been greatly lessened.

The same observation would apply to soil drifting. The soil drifted, of course, after the years of drought during which time it was worked up so finely that the blowing process started, thereby causing great damage to many areas in Saskatchewan. Again, by methods of cultivation, particularly by that of stripfarming and by other means of working the soil in lumps rather than in fine particles, soil drift is gradually being overcome. Again the dominion authorities are playing a great part in seeing to it that any portion of a farm developing the danger of soil drift is immediately looked after, and that rye or crested grass wheat is sown on small portions. Drifting is like an epidemic; it spreads. By sowing these grasses, fibre is put back into the land, and damage to greater areas of farm property is prevented.

It will be noted that the difficulties with which western agriculture is being confronted are being tackled in a constructive manner, . and that we are making real progress. We as Canadians, not only as persons from one particular province, should recognize that the million people in that Palliser tract are carrying on one of the greatest experiments in the history of Canada; because, after all, it is on the thousands of individual farms thoughout the province that the real experimental work is being carried on. The wisest of those in chai'ge of our experimental stations readily agree that, despite all their knowledge, all their education and the thousands of. experiments they conduct, the true solutions will most likely be found in the experiments carried on by the farmers themselves on the actual farms they are operating. Therefore I believe we would lose a sense of perspective if we were not patient and wise in our day. We must remember that this is a new country, and that it is unlikely we would solve all our difficulties in such a short space of time as the life of one generation. We can, however, hurry the process with the aid of science and that of government agencies. But I do not think we would be unwise enough for a moment to suggest that there is anything surprising in the fact that that great and vast territory has found itself confronted with difficulties, or to suggest that we should for one moment accept a policy of abandonment or of defeatism with regard to that great experiment.

The hon. member for The Battlefords has said that we should be appreciative of the difficulties that those Canadians are facing out west in that great experiment. I have no doubt at all that perhaps not in my lifetime,

Wheat Board Act

but in the lifetime at least of our children, or our children's children who come after us, that that portion of Canada will pay great dividends to the whole of this dominion.

On motion of Mr. Fraser (Peterborough West) the debate was adjourned.

On motion of Mr. Michaud the house adjourned at 10.50 p.m.

Tuesday, March 17, 1942


March 16, 1942