I was referring to the Minister of Labour. I wish to reassert what I said a moment ago, namely, that many farm workers left the farms to engage in essential work. I think that statement is correct. Then we do not have to use the word "industry" at all. The point is that they left agriculture, and we believed they would be directed back to agri-
cultural employment; I think that was the impression left with the people of this country. Since that time, however, a number of orders in council and regulations have been passed, and we find that the situation is not what we anticipated it would be.
We know, too, that the farmers of Canada are being strangled by numerous restrictions of other types. I am not one of those who are opposed to essential restrictions in war time, but under the guise of war needs these restrictions are often carried to'extremes. I have in mind that in certain instances restrictions with respect to tires and gasoline, and in connection with machine parts, are making it extremely difficult for many of our farmers to carry on, more especially as the shortage of farm hands becomes more acute. It is not my desire to detain the committee, Mr. Chairman, but I believe that one source of farm labour might be discovered if we carried on a complete investigation with respect to the many inspection boards, and boards of other kinds, that have been set up by this government. I do not say that all these people would be qualified to step into agriculture at once, for I understand what evidently a good many people do not understand, that you cannot take an inexperienced individual and send him to a farm to operate the type of machinery that is used in agriculture to-day. I do say, however, that we could take the persons employed by such boards and give them a certain amount of training. There need be no financial loss on their part; in other words, they should not be expected to take a financial loss as a result of that transfer. I believe also that in many communities throughout Canada we could restrict the hours of business in nonessential industries, and on perhaps two days a week-I say this only for purposes of illustration-we might be able to give those people a certain amount of training. No doubt the argument would be advanced that they should not be expected to leave their work for two days a week and lose that income; but, as was indicated by a previous speaker, it might be necessary for the government to step in and subsidize farm wages, so that while such persons were getting experience and assisting on the farm, the farmer would not be obliged to make up the difference between what those persons were being paid previously and what they would receive under this scheme. I think we shall have to give consideration to matters such as these. Then, as a farm worker is taken from agriculture, he might 'be replaced by someone who has obtained at least a minimum of practical experience, and no person should be taken from a farm unless he could be replaced by such an individual.
When we come to the question of taking the boys from the farms, many of our farmers have been driven almost to distraction by the red tape they have tried to clamber over and through in order to have legitimate cases properly considered. I just happen to have a case that I was discussing with one of the government officials to-day. The father, who lives in my constituency, operates 480 acres, with 270 acres under cultivation. He markets from 200 to 300 hogs a year; he has fifty-one head of cattle and thirty-four horses. He operates a diesel tractor, and the only boy he had at home was taken into the army, in spite of the fact that the boy's mother was an invalid and the father is in ill health. I have affidavit after affidavit supporting this boy's claim for release from the army. Incidentally this farmer lost eighty young pigs at one time because he was then unable to do all the work himself. This situation has a detrimental effect upon the farmer concerned, and psychologically it has a most unfortunate effect upon a great many people who know the facts. I say that in such cases, where the legitimacy of the claim is so obvious, we should have some sort of machinery established under which they could be handled with very much less red tape.
There is just one other point I should like to mention. I do not know how true it is, but many of the farmers in my constituency, in commenting upon the production programme of the Minister of Agriculture for 1943, expressed the belief that the minister had looked out over agricultural Canada; that he had seen the vast quantity of feed produced last year, and had concluded that since we had that feed, we would be able to increase the production of hogs, cattle, sheep and so forth during 1943, forgetting, of course, that as the production of live stock is increased, just to that extent the supply of farm labour must be increased. I heard that opinion expressed in a great many quarters. They seemed to believe that the minister had based his 1943 programme upon the fodder production in Canada last year, though I am not saying that is true.
In conclusion, let me say that the farmer will carry on to the very best of his ability. He realizes that food must be produced for the civilian population, the industrial worker and the members of the three armed services in Canada and out of Canada; and, as I stated the other day, he also knows that we have commitments to our allies both for the period of the war and for the post-war years. The farmer considers that Canada is the country to which the rest of the world will be looking for the food supplies that will be so essential
during the post-war reconstruction period. He will carry on, but I suggest that the warning sign is displayed right now, and that unless we proceed cautiously and give to agriculture the attention it deserves, very shortly we may be confronted with conditions which will have a detrimental effect upon Canada and upon our war effort.
Apparently there is a disposition on the part of members of the government to attach a new meaning to the word "industry". The hon. member for Red Deer was thrown off his line of thought by the insistence of the ministers upon a certain definition of that word. May I give the definition of "industry" as it appears in the dictionary on the table of the house: "Diligence; habitual employment in useful work; * branch of trade or manufacture." If lumbering activity is not a branch of manufacture, I should like to ask the ministers what it is.
No; that is the noun. The minister would do well to consult the dictionary once in a while. I have no particular objection to the ordinary free passage of debate. I think it is unfair, though, to have technicalities of that sort brought up to embarrass a member when he is speaking.
There is another matter under the general heading of "administration" in the Department of Agriculture to which I should like to direct the attention of the minister. I had hoped I might be able to bring it to his attention in time, so that he might make some reply to-night. However, I shall call it to his attention, in the hope that he may say something about it later on, during the discussion of the estimates of his department. I refer to the whole question of the use of farm products in an industrial way. I have reference to the production of rubber, and other synthetic materials from products of the farm. This is a matter which is no longer in a theoretical stage, but which is actually capable of being implemented at the present time.
We have gone a long way in avoiding the rules in one direction; I hope we shall not start to avoid them in another. This whole question arises under the discussion of the estimate for the experimental farm. I suggest the matter should be discussed when we reach that item.
I wonder if, sir, you would take time to define what we might
discuss under this general heading of "administration"? My impression, from my experience in the house,, is that we have a wide field under this item. When hon. members are discussing the item for administration they may speak in some detail. H it is your desire, sir, to limit the discussion, we ought to know to what extent.
The hon. member for Lethbridge will appreciate that, after all, the committee must discuss all the items in the Department of Agriculture. The matter to which the last speaker referred may arise under some other item. I believe the Chair has been lenient in the matter. Prior to the Easter recess the leader of the opposition deplored the fact that he thought there was something lacking in the deliberations of the committees of the house, in that we have a great deal of repetition. When we find an attempt, to-day and yesterday, to discuss two departments at the same time, we run into some difficulties.
I was not implying, Mr. Chairman, that you had not managed the committee wisely. At the same time, however, there is doubt in, my mind as to just how far we can go in discussing this topic. I approve the way in which you have allowed the discussion to drift. My experience has been that hon. members who wish to talk will talk themselves out, and when they talk themselves out, they then allow progress. So that they might as well talk themselves out at one time as another.
Work in connection with it is largely carried on at experimental farms. It would be discussed, under the item for experimental farms, or for the administration of science services. A certain part of it would be carried on under that item.
As was stated, that is on the first of March. I stated to-night that that is the time when labour on the farm is low.
I refer to the classification which comes under farm labour, rather than members of farmers' families. That classification is low on March 1. The 250,000 left last fall-or approximately that many. It was expected' that 175,000 at least would return to the farms this spring. They would not be back by March 1. All of them would not be back by that time; some may have been.
The hon. member will realize that the Chair has not the right to give a lead in a matter of that kind. But the Minister of Agriculture has stated that hon. members will have an opportunity to discuss the matter the hon. member mentioned a moment ago.