March 3, 1944

LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I am not going to reply, because the remarks have to do largely with matters not in my department.

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NAT

James Arthur Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Then I should like to discuss-

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

I saw the hon. member for Renfrew North (Mr. Warren) first.

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LIB

Ralph Melville Warren

Liberal

Mr. WARREN:

I did not intend to discuss this item Mr. Chairman, but I had the good fortune to listen to an eloquent and fluent speech by the hon. member for Humboldt (Mr. Burton) on February 25, which is recorded a-t page 909 of Hansard, and I should like to draw attention to some of the statements he made.

It is true that we Ontario farmers have been brought up in a hard school. We have passed through the dark days when an extra five-dollar bill on a farmer's tax account was a lot of money. Any person who was interested in municipal affairs during those dark days when my hon. friends to the left were running the affairs of the country will know something about the value of even a five-dollar bill. But since coming here we have been asked to vote huge sums of money which have gone to the western provinces under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act and the Prairie Farm Assistance Act, and the hon. member for Humboldt now comes to us as a new member from the province of Saskatchewan with experience, I understand, as a former member of the socialist group in the legislature of that province, so that I presume he speaks with authority and knowledge. He brings us some examples of the way in which the money that we have been voting is being handled in his own riding. I think it is something that should receive attention.

For example, he told us that under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act an inspector comes along to a certain community of an 100-71i

evening and there are six or seven dugouts to be inspected. I had a wonderful regard for these dugouts, from what I was able to leam about them. It is a wonderful thing that you can dig a hole in that western soil, if you get it in the proper location, and it will fill with water in the spring, or during a shower of rain, and will remain clear and sweet and will not go stagnant all summer, so that you can even use it for your own household purposes. If we attempted anything like that: in any part of this province, so far as I am aware we would have to line it with cement, and we would have to line it thoroughly. But even at that the water would not remain cool and sweet during the summer months.

That of course has been big business all over the western provinces. It costs a lot of money, and these dugouts have to be dug in the proper location and dug. properly, and I suppose it is quite necessary that there should be inspectors. There must be quite a staff of inspectors to administer these large sums of money that we have been voting, but here is this fresh voice from the west telling us that this particular inspector had an opportunity of inspecting six or seven of these dugouts in an evening, and instead of doing so he drives back to Humboldt and later .makes six or seven different trips out to inspect the dugouts. If it was possible for him to do it in the evening and he did not do it, we would like to know why. If that condition is general we would like to know why.

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CCF

Joseph William Burton

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

Mr. BURTON:

Before the hon. gentleman leaves the question of the inspection of dug-outs, he will have noticed that I said dugout locations. Did he ever notice what an inspector did in connection with the inspection of a dugout location?

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LIB

Ralph Melville Warren

Liberal

Mr. WARREN:

If it is the inspection of locations, that is a different matter. I can hardly imagine that a man would be able to go into a district and in an evening take tests to find out whether there was gravel beneath or whether the dugout in that particular spot would hold water or not, make a survey, find the proper location, decide the nature of the subsoil, and so on. That would be a big job, and I very much doubt if a man would do six or seven of them in an evening.

The other report was in connection with the Prairie Farm Assistance Act. This man drove along and met the hon. member for Humboldt, who perhaps was not in a good humour. His combine had broken down, his grain was ripe, and I have a good deal of sympathy with him if he was not very civil to an inspector. I can understand if he ga've short answers. Perhaps

Supply-Agriculture

the fellow had more knowledge than he suspected and was only trying to have a little conversation with a farmer along the way. That would be quite natural. In any case, he accuses the man of being absolutely ignorant and not knowing the difference between a twelve-bushel crop and a thirty-bushel crop.

The point is that if I had received reports tike that, and I sometimes get letters from the west, I would have gone to the Department of Agriculture. Judging by my experience, I would say they must have a marvellous filing system, because it would be only a short time before I would get a complete report from some person in the west through the minister's office. A copy of a letter would be sent to me giving full details regarding the matter. But what strikes me more than anything else is that this whole administrative staff is being besmirched by the hon. member for Humboldt iii his accusation against two men, I should think it would be the duty of the hon. member to go further, and if he is not able to give the names of these two particular criminals he should at least give us the year and the approximate month. If he will do so I can assure him that we will get a full report on the activities of these two inspectors and we shall learn something as to whether these men were trying to steal public funds, whether they were falling down on the job, and whether they are still on the job.

In fairness to that staff as a whole-and surely there must be honest men in Saskatchewan who do this kind of work-I think the hon. gentleman should go further and give the Minister of Agriculture a chance to clear the matter up.

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CCF

Joseph William Burton

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

Mr. BURTON:

I only gave you a start.

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LIB

Ralph Melville Warren

Liberal

Mr. WARREN:

I noticed that the hon. member said he could regale us until midnight with instances of this kind, but in fairness to the people of Saskatchewan I suggest that when a man gives such an instance he should at least give the minister a chance to investigate the matter and clear it up. I ask the hon. member to give the minister that opportunity of looking into these accusations, on behalf of the staff of honest inspectors, who are administering this money that we comparatively poor Ontario farmers are voting for the assistance of Saskatchewan farmers.

The member for Humboldt also referred to an office he had visited-I expect there is quite a staff-and he described it as a war office. My own experience, in visiting the war offices, is that a war office is quite an efficient spot. If you want service in a war office you get it in a hurry. But that did not seem to be at all

the interpretation of the hon. member. He referred to it as a war office. Let me quote from the remarks of the hon. member as reported at page 910 of Hansard,:

I said, "I was in a war office." They said, "Where is that?" I said, "Down there on a certain street in the city. It is war."

Then he goes on to say:

I remarked that the way these fellows are going about their work we shall have a war before we get the bonus, and things straightened out. There were men running through the province drawing salaries and building up these handsome expense accounts who did not do anything else but make a heap of trouble for the people.

We ought to know something about that office and about the way it is handled. If it is handled in such a way that it is a sort of wild house, as the hon. member for Humboldt indicated, then we ought to know about it, because wre are going to be asked to vote not $10 but millions of dollars to carry out the provisions of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act and the Prairie Farm Assistance Act.

I wish to deal with another point, namely, the hon. member's criticism of the expense account of the Minister of Agriculture. The Minister of Agriculture is the minister of agriculture for Saskatchewan, but I remind my hon. friend that he is also the minister of agriculture for Ontario and for the other seven provinces. The hon. member for Humboldt, complains that the expense account of the Minister of Agriculture is too high, the intimation being that he travels too much. I have watched the Minister of Agriculture during my limited experience here and, speaking for myself, I do not know of any other man in Canada who knows more about farming in its varied angles than the present minister. It is something to know about growing Saskatchewan wheat and raising Saskatchewan hogs, but it is something else to know about milk and all the different milk products. It is something to know about apples in the Annapolis valley and in the Okanagan valley.. It is something to know7 about flax, and the grading of cattle and hogs, and the marketing of them. I do not know of any other man in Canada who is so well qualified to handle the affairs of agriculture all across Canada. How did he get that way? Simply because he had ambition and energy enough to go and develop himself along those lines. Instead of sending ten men to look at the problems and receive ten different views, he just gets up and goes to see for himself. He travels from Nova Scotia to British Columbia if he thinks it is necessary. That kind of travelling is no pleasure jaunt.

Supply-Agriculture

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

It is, to British Columbia.

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LIB

Ralph Melville Warren

Liberal

Mr. WARREN:

I remember hearing-I did not hear it from the Minister of Agriculture, because he takes it all as a part of the day's work-that we were going to be asked to vote money to take care of certain portions of Alberta and Saskatchewan under the relief system. The federal government was asked to be responsible for one hundred per cent of the cost of relief in certain portions of Saskatchewan and Alberta. I have not the figures with me and I cannot give the exact numbers but I do know that the Minister of Agriculture took his car, did most of his own driving, took some other men with him and travelled some thousands of miles all around the territory concerned. He ran up a tremendous mileage every day, and did the job himself. He might very well have sat in his office in Ottawa and asked someone else to do the job. It was a big job. It is not any fun; it is hard work; but the minister, because he had been there and had seen the situation for himself, was better qualified to understand it and handle it.

Mr. ROSS (Souris); He wants to do that now, but you are holding him up.

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LIB

Ralph Melville Warren

Liberal

Mr. WARREN:

That is all right. If the hon. member for Humboldt will give the minister a chance by giving him some data with regard to the accusations he made, then we shall get along.

I should like to say to the hon. member for Humboldt that so far as I am concerned, since I have come to know the minister I have the utmost confidence in his ability. One of the reasons for that confidence is that he goes and sees for himself. I do not know where you would find any man who would have the ambition to make those tiring trips. It is true that he does ask us to vote money for these things. Sometimes when we see the amount we just gasp. For example, when he asked us to vote money to purchase all the surplus apples in the Annapolis valley and in the Okanagan valley, naturally we gasped. But the apples were purchased and processed and put on the market; the apple situation in Ontario was cleared up, and that problem was solved. When there was a surplus of butter we were asked to pass legislation which would remove that surplus off the market.. That succeeded. Many similar problems have been brought to the attention of the Minister of Agriculture, and he found a way of solving them. So far as I am concerned I have no complaints regarding his expense account. And I challenge the hon. member for Humboldt to find any padded accounts in the personal accounts of the Minister of Agriculture.

There is no reason why I should undertake to scold or educate, because I am not capable of it.

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LIB

George Ernest Wood

Liberal

Mr. WOOD:

You are too modest.

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LIB

Ralph Melville Warren

Liberal

Mr. WARREN:

I shall put it this way: there is no reason why I should undertake to advise the hon. member for Humboldt, but I was surprised to hear him refer to swivelnecked politicians.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

Let these other fellows on the side turn around.

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LIB

Ralph Melville Warren

Liberal

Mr. WARREN:

A few days ago the horn member for York East referred to this house as being the greatest hot-air joint that he knew anything about. When I hear expressions of that kind I always remember that when Hitler was striving to bring about a revolution in order to attain office for himself and his body of gangsters, one of his favourite methods was to belittle the public men who were giving their service to his country, to treat them with contempt, to treat their parliamentary system and organizations with contempt. When I hear expressions of that kind applied to our public men and our public servants it gives me a cold chill, because I remember what happened in Germany. After all, if we cannot respect ourselves and our fellow members of parliament and our public servants, how can we expect the rank and file to have respect for us? If fellow members of parliament and public servants are referred to as swivel-necked politicians and as talking hot air, I do not think there is very much chance to get the respect of the rank and filef especially in such critical times as these. I think that is one of the things we ought to be very careful about.

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LIB

Harry Leader

Liberal

Mr. LEADER:

I should like to take this

opportunity to make a few observations in regard to agriculture. I assure the committee I shall not be long; but if I were to keep quiet, at this time my silence might be construed as a repudiation of the opposition I have expressed to some of the legislation brought down by the government through my esteemed friend the Minister of Agriculture. I shall have some commendation to offer, and perhaps some mild criticism. I want to commend the action of the government in setting a price of SI.25 a bushel for No. 1 northern wheat at Fort William.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

That is an advance, not a price.

Supply-Agriculture

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LIB
LIB

Charles Robert Evans

Liberal

Mr. EVANS:

We are reaping the benefit

now.

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LIB

Harry Leader

Liberal

Mr. LEADER:

The minister says we are reaping the benefit now. How can he say that when he is only giving us $1.25 a bushel for wheat which is worth $1.70 on the other side of the line?

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March 3, 1944