June 30, 1942

SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Yes; that is what it

is-a non-confidence motion.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Yes. The hon. member has all the time he wants.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for warning me.

If we are to be saved from inflation, in large measure we must look to our farming population in Canada. The minister has, in my opinion, been unfair to the agricultural portion of our population. He may consider that that is a severe thing for me to say, but I say it in all calmness, certain that I am right. He has been unfair to the agricultural population; he has slighted the farming population, perhaps without knowing it.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

Not in the budget.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Oh, surely in the

budget there should have been some provision made for more generous treatment of the farmer, if the minister was aware the farmer was needing it.

It is a strange thing that the minister should neglect this important matter in his budget, because in speeches which he has delivered in the past he has made statements indicating that he was aware of the importance of agriculture in our economy and the bearing of agricultural production on the whole question of monetary policy, of our strength to win the war. May I read passages from a speech which he delivered before the Ontario Federation of Agriculture on March 17, 1942. I read particularly these words:

The important position of agriculture, indeed its central position, in relation to this whole policy of price stabilization, -was recognized from the very beginning.

Well, we certainly have no evidence that it was, from the prices that were given. I continue to quote:

As I emphasized in explaining the programme to the House of Commons, the policy could not be introduced until farm prices had been allowed to come fairly well up in line with other prices. We had waited until this had happened. By the time the price ceiling was put into effect the general level of retail food prices and of farm prices, with the exception of w-heat, had reached a fairly reasonable relationship with other prices.

Did the minister really believe that? If so, he was altogether misinformed by the men who advised him. I think the minister has some particularly doctrinaire and academic advisers. I think he should get some people from the fighting line of production, where they know something of the realities, to mix with these doctrinaire gentlemen who have taken university degrees and thus are supposed to be qualified to be the minister s advisers in these trying times. Again the minister says:

Let me assure you, however, that the arrangements by which the prices of various agricultural products are controlled have been worked out, and will continue to be worked out, by men who understand farm marketing problems.

These men may understand farm marketing, but they appear not to understand farm production.

On the prices board itself we have two senior representatives of the Department of Agriculture, and as foods administrator we have been fortunate to be able to secure Mr. Taggart, Minister of Agriculture of Saskatchewan, an outstanding authority on farming. Under lnm are many other experts on the marketing oi farm products to work out methods and details in consultation with producers and distributors.

I wonder how many on that board are practical farmers, who have got right out and known what it takes to produce a pig, what it costs to produce a bushel of wheat, who know the effort and expense it takes to produce a dozen eggs and keep on producing eggs.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Mr. Taggart himself

does.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Then he must be the only one. There is no evidence that these men-and I do not know one of them except Mr. Taggart, whom I met once-are aware of the real needs of agriculture in this country. There are too many factors which they are disregarding altogether. I shall refer to one or two of them before I finish. Again I read: For most of us who are civilians that means one thing above all else now; to produce; to produce more rapidly, to produce more efficiently.

True. The minister never used truer words. It is to our superior productive power that we look for an overwhelming victory. We must make that power effective in the factory, in the mine and forest, and in the field. We must produce the goods and deliver the goods.

Utterly true. The one means of producing the goods is to make it pay to produce them. You do not need to go out and plead with farmers over the radio to be patriotic. If you make it pay them to produce goods, they will produce them, if you make it pay them so that they can live.

The Budget-Mr. Blackmore

Having quoted the minister's speech in March of this year, may I quote from his speech on the budget, as reported in Hansard at page 3592:

The war will not be won by disputing as to whether labour or agriculture or employer or employee should get a larger share of a swollen national income.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

Hear hear.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Perfectly true, but the war may be lost by disregarding the economic exigencies of the whole process of production. It. may be lost, I say, by ignoring these things. Men will plead only so long. All that the minister and the men who are associated with him need to do is to read the remarks which were made by the leaders of the delegations who have come in the last three weeks to this government pleading for consideration. Read those statements and see how much hope there is in them. See how nearly ready these men appear to advise that men should stop milking cows and go and join the army. If, Mr. Speaker, we are not going to dispute about matters such as these vital ones to which the minister has referred, why all the prattle about equity? If we are going to pay handsome salaries to civil servants to take lucrative and dignified positions from one coast of Canada to the other, while we tell the farmer that he is supposed to produce for solely patriotic motives, I think the gross inequity will appear so grotesque as to arouse the disgust of ordinary men.

All one has to do is refer to the beef situation. I come from one of, I believe, the best beef-producing constituencies in Canada. What an amount of significance there was in the question asked this afternoon by the hon. member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. Tustin) why the packers were permitted to lower the price of beef.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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NAT

James Arthur Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

And a new quota going on to-morrow.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Never for a moment should that have been permitted. Who is governing this country? Is it the dominion government or the Canada Packers?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Ask Mr. Gordon.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

If Canada Packers are able to dictate prices and decide whether this country is to have production or is not to have it, how long can we maintain that we are governing this country intelligently? How long can we maintain that we are guided primarily by the principle of an all-out war effort? I speak as one with experience. My father and my family have been producers of

beef since I was old enough to know what a cow was. The beef prices in this country have been such as to ruin the beef producers; and now, at the very time when they have a chance to recover themselves, to improve their breeding stock, to get pasturage, to repair their fences, we have Canada Packers obtruding its unwholesome self into the picture, and the government sitting supinely by and permitting it, and then talking about governing the country.

We have to have discussions of farm income, and the discussion should have been on the floor of this house. I have avoided carefully saying anything in this plebiscite discussion which might embarrass the government, or might indicate that I did not sufficiently understand the situation. I will grant that there are things no man can understand, coming from the wholesome west here to Ottawa where we have to hear about the most pernicious political sculduggery going on. I have deliberately avoided saying much about this plebiscite, but it has been one of the astonishing things of my life that this government has devoted months and months to a discussion of the plebiscite and has never had any time to discuss the price of beef which meant food for Britain.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

That is

playing politics pure and simple.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Playing politics, as

the leader of the opposition says, and then having the effrontery and hypocrisy to maintain their concern about an all-out W'ar effort, That is the thing that amazes me. I would say that the minister showed callous disregard of the interests of the farmer. He may not have felt it. but it was there and there was the insinuation that farmers should not busy themselves about incomes, about their share of the national income. But you can appoint deputy ministers at $9,000 a year!

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

And take it away

from them in income tax. .

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Yes, but you will be taking it away from the farmers in income tax if they get it. At any rate it would be a little comfort to them to be able to get it. The minister in his speech manifested little appreciation of the difficulties of the farmers. There seems to be a surplus of highly paid individuals going to and fro in Canada nowadays calling upon farmers to produce from patriotic motives. Why not help them to make their efforts yield returns? Here is an evidence of the attitude of such men who pose as financial and economic advisers to the people of Canada in this grave crisis. I quote

The Budget-Mr. Blackmore

from the letter of the Bank of Nova Scotia of March, 1942, from which I gathered a great deal of understanding that helped me to see through some of the government ways. I quote:

The price of wheat is a matter of national policy. Such policy must take into account the fact that, from a war-time standpoint as well as from a social standpoint, all sections of the population should receive enough income to maintain their health, their efficiency as producers, and their morale. But such policy must also take account of the fact that war is a time of shortage and that financial assistance to any group increases the demand of that group upon the diminishing supplies of manpower and materials available for civilian purposes.

The income of a deputy minister apparently does not have any effect upon the demand for materials, nor do the incomes of those officials appointed to lucrative positions across Canada apparently affect the demand for materials. But the moment farmers get an extra dollar, that affects the demand for raw materials for civilian supplies. Is it hypocrisy, or is it just unbelievable inconsistency and lack of intelligence?

To continue:

These two considerations balanced against one another, rather than the more obvious financial aspects, set the real limits on aid to prairie wheat farmers-

This indicates that the prairie wheat farmer must be content with only 90 cents a bushel for wheat, not because the government cannot pay more, but because the government is afraid to let the farmer have the money to spend. He is likely to hurt himself and Canada if he takes the money and spends it or pays off some of the tremendous debts that exist in Saskatchewan, or those great debts in Alberta, or pays his store bill or his doctor's bill which has been standing for ten years as a result of the depression. If the farmer takes the money for any of these purposes, he will cause inflation. Can you beat that in this time of war, in 1942? I continue the quotation: -or for that matter, to any other depressed group of the population.

That is an acknowledgment that the farmers are a depressed group, and we have the callous affirmation of the proposal to keep them a depressed group purely because they must not have the money for the reason that it would cause inflation. That statement comes from the Bank of Nova Scotia in its March, 1942. letter. That man should be made chancellor of one of the prominent universities in order to be quite consistent with what has gone on in the past in Canada.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

He ought to be in the Bank of Canada.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Let us see what the farmers think about this matter. I will read what George W. Robertson, Secretary of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, has to say. He is a man who knows what the realities are:

In my judgment the establishment of parity prices for agricultural commodities represents the equitable method of price control for the agricultural industry, and that no price ceilings on farm commodities should be established below parity level. I would define parity prices for farm eomodities as the price which these commodities would need to realize in order to purchase as large a quantity of other commodities now available as it actually did during a specified base period, preferably 1926 to 1929. Ceiling prices should be established at levels approximately 15 per cent above parity prices to offset increased living costs recognized in government's labour policy by provision for cost of living bonus.

It will be answered that price parity has been established, but I will prove unchallenge-ably that it has not been established.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

After Recess

The house resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Before the dinner

recess, Mr. Speaker, I was dealing with the budget and arguing that the farmers were not receiving a fair deal. I said' that the minister has slighted them, that he had disregarded their interests, that in his budget speech he had indicated a rather callous attitude toward them. Whether or not I was fair to the minister I am not able to say; we shall be better able to judge that by what he does in future, rather than by anything he may say now or anything he has done in the past. I was pointing out that the farmers generally were under a very heavy burden of debt, and now I wish to go forward with the argument as to whether or not the prices the farmers are now receiving are equitable. -

The minister indicated that the farmers were receiving reasonably good prices and a reasonably good income. But the minister, in saying that, disregarded the increased cost of the things the farmers buy. In order to show the truth of my statement I should like to read from the Searle letter of June 3, 1942. This letter is published by the Searle Grain company, which I believe is one of the best authorities on farming problems to be found in western Canada. I find the following remarks on page 1:

However, as was shown in an article in this letter on May 20, the price of wheat at the new 90 cent price will still be 31 per cent

The Budget-Mr. Blachmore

below "parity"; the price of hogs is now 15 per cent below "parity", of steers, 19 per cent above and of lambs, 11 per cent above "parity". ("Parity" meaning the present purchasing power of these products as compared with their same purchasing power over the same things farmers had to buy in 1913-14, all as shown by the Searle index.)

This indicates that on the whole the fanners are a good deal worse off to-day with respect to prices than they were in 1913-14. But may I pause here for a moment to deal with this whole question of parity prices. There seems to be abroad both in Canada and in the United States the idea that if we could' get the farmers back to the point where they would be getting the same income as they were getting in another given period of time, say between 1909 and 1914 or between 1926 and 1929, or some other period, all would be well with us and we would have no further need to worry about the farmers. I do not believe there has ever been a time in this country when the farming population has had a fair deal. There has always been the grossest disparity between the prices farmers were able to obtain for their products and the prices of things they had to buy. So to say that prices have returned to parity is not enough. We must place the farmers in a position in which they will be able to get as much for their effort, as much of the goods which other people produce and which the farmers have to buy, as other people are able bo obtain of the goods which the farmers produce and sell. Then, and not until then shall we have something like a balanced economy with respect to the farming population of this country.

May I now read another statement from the same Searle letter of June 3, 1942;

The Searle index of the cost of things farmers buy (147 items), now stands at 152-3 (1913-14 equalling 100). This means that these things cost farmers of the west at the present time 52-3 per cent more than did similar items of the same qualitv in 1913-14. (These costs have risen 16-3 per cent since August, 1939.) The price of wheat is now 10-5 per cent lower than it was in 1913-14. The purchasing power of a bushel of wheat is now, therefore, only 59 per cent of what it was in 1913-14.

When it is remembered that such a large percentage of the farmers of Canada, and particularly of the farmers of the west, are mainly occupied in the production of wheat and are scarcely in a position to go into any other kind of production, I believe such figures must give any thoughtful man cause for serious concern. But there are other matters which go still further in support of the statement I made. I have in my hand the booklet issued by the Searle Grain company, setting forth in great detail the costs of the 147 items which are used

by the company in compiling their index, indicating the manner in which the prices have increased by years from 1913-14 up to the present time. From this booklet let me cite a number of facts which I think should impress the members of this house. With regard to twenty-eight items of household equipment, taking the 1913-14 level as 100, it is true that whereas those items of household equipment were priced at 100 in 1913-14, prices had risen in 1926 to 165 and had risen still further in 1941 to 175. Of fifty-three items of farm equipment which were priced at 100 in 1913-14, in 1926 they were priced at 149, and in 1941 at 156. Of twelve items of farm machinery, taking the price at 100 in 1914, we find that price had risen by 1926 to 164, and bv 1941 to 187.

Nothing further should be necessary to indicate that even if it were shown that the prices the farmers are receiving had returned to the 1926 level, that in itself would not indicate that the farmers were receiving an adequate return having regard to the price of things which they have to buy as compared with the price of things they are producing and selling.

There were other matters which the minister disregarded, and which are likely to be disregarded by such good men as Donald Gordon and others, men of good-will but who simply have not had time, in the great urge of their responsibilities, to look into all the facts, and who have been advised by men who also are not familiar with the facts. The matters which might be disregarded include such things as these. Many of the farmers, as I indicated in my remarks before the dinner recess, have been forced out of live stock, so that now they do not possess the breeding stock which would enable them to go back into the production of beef or other commodities which might be more profitable to them. They have been through a depression and a long series of very bad years. As a result they have not the capital with which to go back into live-stock production, even should they wish to do so. Then in a great many cases they lack equipment, and in many more cases they are hopelessly in debt. They are simply hampered at every turn. Furthermore I believe the minister has overlooked the increased debt of the farmers, to which I referred at an earlier stage of my remarks.

Before I go on to the last aspect of the budget with which I choose to deal to-night, I wish to read to the house a line or two that will indicate something the minister might do in view of the precedent he has set in this budget.

The minister has forced loans from a number of people, and is undertaking to pay them

The Budget-Mr. Blackmore

only 2 per cent on the money he is forcing them to place with the government. He makes the promise that he will return that money at the end of the war. There are gentlemen who lent money in the past throughout the west, and perhaps throughout the whole of Canada, at interest rates running up as high as per cent. It was largely as a result of those high interest rates that Alberta was reduced' to the state of financial impotence in which the Social Credit government found her in 1935. And it is largely because of that state of financial embarrassment that so many things have occurred under that administration which have aroused the indignation of so many people in high places in Canada.

I should like to read a passage from an editorial appearing in the Edmonton Bulletin of Monday, June 29, an editorial which I believe will need no explanation or amplification:

The high interest rates on public and private debt in Alberta is nothing short of a scandal. Alberta was faced in 1935 with bankruptcy, due largely to paying ruinous interest rates. The drastic action by the Alberta government in cutting in half, to two and a half per cent, the interest rate on the provincial debt was the only action possible at the time, unless social services were entirely abandoned, or by pyramiding a huge increase in debt by funding the unpayable interest charges.

Edmonton is paying about $500,000 yearly in excess interest charges. And still we hear the suggestion to raise street-car fares and curtail much needed civic improvements.

The place to direct our demand for action is where action is possible-the hon. Mr. Ilsley, Minister of Finance, has absolute power to remedy this deplorable situation, which is a positive menace to the public interest.

When Mr. Ilsley in his new budget compels Canadians to lend part of their weekly wages at 2 per cent interest, why can he not compel our financial corporations to charge only reasonable interest rates.

Edmonton is paying 150 per cent more on a debt of $26,000,000 than what Mr. Ilsley declares to be a fair rate of interest.

Canada is fighting for its very existence against Hitler's new order of world slavery, and cannot continue to support the "high interest racket" if she hopes to make an all-out war effort.

One might suppose that that was from a Social Credit paper; but it is just a good, hardheaded Liberal paper from Edmonton,

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   BEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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June 30, 1942