Mr. E. E. PERLEY (Qu'Appelle):
Mr. Speaker, in taking part in this debate I do not think it is necessary to add anything to what has been said already, particularly by hon. members on this side. I refer especially to the able speeches delivered by the mover (Mr. Gobeil) and the seconder (Mr. Barber) of the address and to the splendid effort of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) who reviewed the whole political situation for the last three years and outlined wha-t the government propose to do in the way of bringing down legislation at this session. However, I feel I should take part in this debate in order to express my confidence in the government. I believe the people of the west, particularly the people in the eastern part of the province of Saskatchewan which I have the honour to serve, share with me in that feeling of confidence. I think the people realize what it has meant to the government to carry on the affairs of this country under present conditions and those which have existed for the past three years. Hon. members on this side, and I believe the people generally throughout the country, expect reasonable and constructive criticism from the opposition. In times such as these we should have at least reasonable cooperation and moral support. I suggest to the opposition the cooperation referred to the other evening by the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa).
Throughout this discussion the opposition has been prone to charge at least some responsibility for the present condition of the country to the government. I do not think
The Address-Mr. Perley (Qu'Appelle)
any one party or any one government can be charged with full responsibility. However, I believe that there is certain evidence which can be produced to show that a large part of this responsibility lies at the door of the opposition. When this government took office in August, 1930, they found many problems facing them which had been in the making for two, three and even more years previously. There was the question of lost markets; there were no markets for the products of our forests, our soil and our mines. Does anyone believe that this government is responsible for that or for the transportation problem? Is this government responsible for the deficits in connection with the operation of our great transcontinental system? Are they responsible for the lack of economy, the gross extravagance of the late government and for the commitments, running into several million) of dollars, yes, into hundreds of millions of dollars, which were left on their door-step by the previous administration? I say that they are not.
I think the opposition will agree that the trade of the country is a barometer which indicates the trend of affairs. A comparison of the gross trade of this dominion in 1920 with that in 1929 will not prove very favourable to the administration of the late government. I have in my hand the Commercial Intelligence Journal of January 20, a publication which is available to all hon. members. At page 92 there is a table of exports from Canada to the United States of principal commodities such as are produced on Canadian farms. We find that in the last six months of 1920 the export trade amounted to SI 19,000,000 and in the last six months of 1929 it had declined to $33,000,000-a difference of $85,000,000 odd as between those two periods.
Turn to another column and you will find that the trade for the last six months of 1932 was $1,763,000, and it had increased during the corresponding period in 1933 to $6,103,000, in other words, an increase of almost 400 per cent. The interesting part of the chart as given on this page is to be found in the items that were entering free into the United States from Canada in 1920, and I would invite the house to compare those figures with the tariff which was in force in 1929. There is a very material increase in respect of many of the articles that appear in the free list of 1920; compared with that year we find a substantial increase in 1929.
Let us now take the exports of wheat. During the period in which the opposition held office there was an abnormal increase in production, and exports did not keep pace with that increase. We find that in 1922 our exports
of wheat from Canada amounted to 185,000,000 bushels and in 1930 the total was 186,000,000 bushels. There was a gradual increase however in the carryover, for we find that in 1923 there was a carryover of approximately
40,000,000 bushels, whereas in 1927 it had reached the figure of 58,000,000 bushels. In 1930 it had reached 140,000,000 bushels and last year the carryover was 219,000,000. A similar story can be found in connection with bacon exports. In 1920 our bacon exports amounted to 200,000.000 pounds and in 1921 they had decreased to 98.000,000 pounds. In 1930 they had gone down to 26,000,000, pounds and in 1931 we ended the fiscal year with 12,000,000 pounds. We find however that under the trade agreements carried out by this government with the United Kingdom our bacon exports have increased until last year they totalled 43,000,000 pounds, a very substantial increase.
It is interesting to review the imports of bacon during the same period. In 1920 we imported into this dominion 4,900,000 pounds of bacon and hams; in 1929, 3,000,000 pounds; in 1930, 7,720,000 pounds; and in 1931, 6,330,000. In 1933 the figure had been reduced to
15.000 pounds. That is the result of the agreement with the United Kingdom.
We find a similar story in connection with cattle. In 1921 we exported approximately
300.000 head of cattle, and there was a gradual decrease until in 1931 the figure was 38,000. We know that when this government took office our cattle export trade had practically dwindled to nothing and there were no facilities for shipping cattle overseas; there was not. a single vessel equipped for the purpose. I am pleased to say however that under this agreement our cattle exports last year increased very materially until we had reached the figure of 53,000 for the year.
The figures I have quoted with respect to trade indicate the record which the hon. member for Melville (Mr. Motherwell) established for himself when he was Minister of Agriculture. It is not a very good record, and it is no wonder that he himself, speaking in the city of Regina on October 19, 1931, made the following remarks with reference to agriculture. I quote what appeared in the Regina Leader of that date:
The Hon. Mr. Motherwell, speaking in Regina, made this statement, that a fresh foundation had to be laid for agriculture in Canada, both east and west, if the country and towns are to be saved.
In no better words could the failure of the Liberal government adequately to care for agriculture be described than in those words of the hon. gentleman.
The Address-Mr. Perley (Qu'Appelle)
There has been some talk of tariffs restricting trade. I am getting tired of hearing that statement, and I believe the people of Canada are becoming tired of it too, for there is no evidence of it; in fact, under this government we have now increased our trade. To my mind, such talk is only an evidence of Liberal inconsistency and hypocrisy. It is the Liberal party running true to form, for ever since confederation there has always been the cry about lowering tariffs. In this regard I can do no better than refer to the speech of the hon. member for Vegreville (Mr. Luch-kovich) the other evening, and also the speech of the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Willis); I think they dealt very fully with the argument about tariffs restricting trade and I will not discuss the question further.
What do we find to-day under this Conservative government, in relation to the tariffs which we have put into force Let us consider the gross imports Into Canada free of duty. I have here a table prepared by the bureau of statistics giving the figures for the gross trade into Canada from the years 1926 to 1933 from all countries, from empire countries, from foreign countries and from the United Kingdom and the United States. In 1926, from all countries, the gross imports into Canada free of duty amounted to 37-1 per cent; in 1927 the figure was 36 per cent; in 1928, 36 per cent; in 1929, 35 per cent; and in 1930, a-t the end of the fiscal year, 34 per cent. There was a decrease in the percentage of goods entering free under the late government. In 1931 we find that the percentage was 36-7; in 1932, it was 32-8 per cent; and in 1933, 36-9, back to almost the highest percentage in the last four year's of Liberal rule. The figures are similar with respect to foreign countries. I shall give the percentage of the gross imports from the United Kingdom entering free of duty:
27.4 25.1 35.6
It will be seen that there is, as regards the United Kingdom, a gradual increase under our present tariff of goods entering free of duty until the amount is now almost double what it was in 1926. The same story may be told with respect to imports from the United States. The policy of the Liberal party of a gradual reduction m the tariff was carried out in such a way that by the time they [Mr. E. E. Perley. 1
left office the tariff was slightly higher than when they came into power.
The other night the hon. member for Lanark (Mr. Thompson) in his speech described what tariffs were doing for his constituency; he informed us that many industries had been re-established there, some of them working full time and others on two shifts. This is an evidence of what tariff is doing for industry. I believe the farmers of the west are agreed that the tariff has protected the primary producers and has assured for them the domestic market, that market which absorbs from 90 to 95 per cent of the total goods produced in Canada. There is no market as good as the domestic one.
This government has been carrying on under the most trying and difficult circumstances and I think it is agreed by all that since the very first day they took office they have been addressing themselves to problems which were not of their making. The government has endeavoured to maintain a sound, safe and solvent position and, in doing so, to stabilize markets and also to make markets certain. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) in his address the other day gave conclusive evidence that recovery is taking place in Canada, and in support of his statement I am going to give one or two instances. The fact that consumers are buying more extensively according to reports of the retail trade throughout the country, even in western Canada, is an evidence of this recovery. There is an increase in capital expenditure. The statistics show that 200,000 more of our unemployed have been absorbed in our industrial life in the last eight months. Another excellent sign is that there is a steady increase in our favourable trade balance. When the present government took office there was an adverse trade balance of about $120,000,000, and this year it looks as though we might have a favourable trade balance of $150,000,000. There is an increase in our trade with the United Kingdom and also with the United States and there is a very substantial increase in our trade with other foreign countries. As the figures in this connection were given the other day by the Prime Minister, I shall not enter into details. We have now become the fifth exporting nation of the world; we have a sound financial position and we have the confidence and goodwill of other nations with which we are trading, and that is the greatest asset we can have.
We are now on the road to recovery and when within a very few years we reach a normal state, I believe Canada will then enjoy more material development than she has ever done before. All these instances of recovery
The Address-Mr. Perley (Qu'Appelle)
can, I think, be credited to the United Kingdom agreements made in 1932 and our producers are now, after a year's trial, beginning to realize what those agreements really mean to Canada; they propose to take advantage of such opportunities. In the constituency which I have the honour to represent, I know the people mean to give the United Kingdom agreements a fair trial and to do their part in endeavouring to develop the trade that is necessary. My constituency is favourably situated in this respect. The people of my constituency have from the very first adopted a system of diversified farming; they have developed splendid herds, stock of all kinds, and are in a position to go ahead and take advantage of those agreements. For instance, the town of Wapella, with some 900 of a population and surrounded by a diversified farming district, shipped this year two carloads of dressed poultry, the greater part of which went to the United Kingdom. That is a splendid record and it shows how the farmers there feel with respect to the agreements.
There are many important questions into which time will not permit me to go. For example, there is the monetary problem, the establishment of a central bank and the revision of the Bank Act. Among vital questions which affect western Canada materially are those of debt adjustment and interest and taxes, but I do not propose to take the time now to go into them. On a future occasion we shall have an opportunity to do so. I wish, however, to commend the government on the fact that before they made provision for the establishment of a central bank, they set up a commission before which the people of Canada could go and submit evidence. That was the proper way in which to deal with the matter. As regards debt adjustment, it may be necessary for the provinces to take the question up first but whatever adjustment is made it will have to be with the support and cooperation of the federal government.
The question of the wheat agreement is vital to western Canada at the present time and I feel that this matter should be thoroughly discussed. The other day the Prime Minister outlined the whole situation with respect to the circumstances leading up to the wheat agreement, and it would be presumption on my part to go into it in fuller detail than he did. I am, however, concerned with the carrying out of this agreement. The first thing we must consider is the confidence and good-will that must be maintained with respect to the agreement. When we have become a party to it with
some twenty other importing and exporting countries, it is up to the Canadian people to see that we carry it out and that good-will is maintained. From the statistics prepared and presented before the conference there was one of two alternatives to accept or nursue: first, they could continue the cutthroat system of marketing where supply and demand regulated and prices might go to a level which would be chaotic and cause disaster.
Then there was the other plan, as outlined by the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Kennedy) the other evening, that the importing and exporting countries get together and make an agreement. This they did. The exporting countries undertook that there should be a 15 per cent reduction in acreage or production. Our country was allotted a quota, and I think all agree that Canada, thanks to the efforts of the Prime Minister and the representative from western Canada at that conference, shared very favourably in receiving an allotment of 200,000,000 bushels, one per cent more than had been Canada's contribution to the total exports for the years between 1920 and 1930. I want to inform this house that the pool in western Canada is 100 per cent behind this agreement. I have heard their directors speak from time to time, I have made it my business to attend their meetings and see what their reaction was to this agreement, and I say they are 100 per cent behind it. I think it is safe to say that 90 per cent of the farmers in western Canada are behind it, with all due respect to what we have heard from the hon. members for Melville (Mr. Motherwell) and Weyburn (Mr. Young) and other opposition members. They do not voice the sentiments of the people of the west, for I know that the farmers are prepared to cooperate in this agreement, to give it a chance to function, knowing as they do what the overproduction of wheat means and the effect of the surplus on prices. As the hon. member for Peace River said the other might, this is the only desirable alternative, as by any other system we might find ourselves in a position where we have no quota at all.
But the farmers are very much concerned as to how they are to proceed to bring about the 15 per cent reduction. I am farming on a considerable scale myself and I am concerned about it. There are three or four ways in which we might go about it. We might have compulsory reduction by legislation. We might have voluntary reduction, by educating the farmers on the subject. We might have
The. Address-Mr. Parley (Qu'Appelle)
a bonus system, bonusing the farmer who summer fallows 15 per cent more than normal. A. fourth plan would be an individual quota system under permit. That is the plan I wish to put forward and speak of more particularly this afternoon. But before dealing with it in detail, let me say that there are certain conditions that lead us to believe that there may be in western Canada this year a very material reduction of seeded acreage. Among these conditions are the abandonment of farms in areas where production has not been good the last few years. There is insufficient seed in many quarters; there is also a tendency to replace tractoms by horses, and still more there is the menace this year of the grasshopper infestation causing a very material reduction, which I do not think we can avoid. Now, Mr. Speaker, I am not going into details about the first three methods, but I do want to go at some length into the quota plan. Of course we agree that any plan adopted will have to have the cooperation and support of the provincial governments. Possibly they will have to inaugurate it, but they should have the support of this house. So I want to get the concrete proposition before this house. I am sorry that in this discussion there seems to be more adverse criticisms than concrete suggestions from the opposition as to bow we might with goodwill develop some plan to carry out this scheme.
Speaking of the quota plan in more detail, I wish, Mr. Speaker, you would permit me to read more or less, as I want to be very careful to make it plain. The plan is:
(a) To determine the requirements by adding to the quota of 200,000,000 bushels the domestic requirements;
(b) To determine the acreage seed to produce wheat in 1934;
(c) Dividing (a) by (b) to arrive at the average number of bushels per acre to produce (a). This will be the basis of computation for
(d) Issuing of individual negotiable permits to market wheat to' each farmer who produces a sworn statement of his acreage seeded to wheat for the number of bushels arrived at by multiplying (c) by the verified acreage.
Circumstances over which the farmers of very large sections of the west, particularly in the southern area, have had little or no control, will make it a very difficult matter to persuade them to take a sane view of any proposal to reduce the acreage to be seeded to wheat in the season 1934. Naturally the most strenuous objections are from
those in the drought area. In fact I think there is no district in western Canada where a compulsory proposition would be well received. In submitting the plan I offer I would like to call attention to the fact that it is exactly the reverse of the bonus per acre or ner bushel' plan of two years ago, which gave to those who were fortunate enough to have a crop but gave nothing to those having none. Another feature is that no grain board will be necessary to handle this plan, it will work through the natural trade channels. The farmer fixes his own allotment by giving a sworn statement of acreage, no manipulation would be possible except by perjury. An allotment on a land basis, so much a quarter section, would not be satisfactory.
Taking into consideration the probable reduction from natural causes this year it may be that there will not be more than
21,000,000 acres seeded to wheat in the three prairie provinces; so that, taking the quota and the domestic requirements, permits might be issued to the farmers to market, say, 15 bushels per acre. I want to make it plain that the permit to market should be negotiable. Then in case a farmer's total crop were more than his allotment, he could purchase a permit to market the surplus from a man in a district where there was a partial or total crop failure. That would be. a strong feature of this plan. These permits being negotiable, a farmer who was fortunate enough to have a good crop and had a few thousand bushels more to sell than he had a permit for could purchase a permit from a farmer in an area where they had no crop at all. That would bring him in many cases more than the farmers are receiving under the relief plan at the present time. A board or facilities could be set up to regulate the price, and a minimum price might be fixed for the permits so that there would be no speculation or undue trafficking in them.
This is only a suggested plan. I wished to bring something concrete before the house, and I think it is important that we should give suggestions to the government. I believe this plan will be favourably received in western Canada. I have talked with many farmers who are likely to have a much larger crop or yield than perhaps they would be permitted to sell. However, when anyone who is so fortunate as to be in that position I think he will be very pleased to have the privilege of purchasing a permit to sell the surplus wheat. I claim that at least we should have the assistance and cooperation of every hon. member in the House of Commons, and that we should not have to listen to criticism such
The Address-Mr. Fontaine
as has been made of this agreement. This is an important matter, one which is vital to the people of Canada and more particularly to western Canada.
We have heard criticism by the hon. member for Melville. Only a few days ago he stood in this House of Commons and criticized the government with respect to its operations concerning the stabilization of wheat. More particularly his remarks were directed against Mr. McFarland. Having had experience as a cabinet minister in a former government he must have known that he was asking for information which this government could not give. I believe that on many occasions he has been to the pools endeavouring to get information. In some cases when he has got it he has used it in a political way. That is not the manner in which we believe hon. members should work. The government took its action in connection with wheat stabilization only after they had obtained the best possible advice from every interest in western Canada, including boards of trade, municipal organizations, the wheat pool and the grain exchange.
I have talked with many members of the grain exchange and with the business men of western Canada, I know they are one hundred per cent behind the operations of Mr. McFarland and that the}' are one hundred per cent behind the government's action with respect to wheat, because they know that what was done was the only possible procedure.
In attempting to arrive at an agreement there has been an effort on the part of the twenty-one exporting and importing nations to reach a solution which might result in removing the menace of the world's surplus. Further, this agreement, if it succeeds, would help to increase prices, and we know that if the price of wheat is increased, the prices of other commodities will increase also. If there is success the prices of all commodities will be improved. But if there is failure, what then? Well, we will be in no worse position than we were before the agreement was made. That is certain. I say it is up to all hon. members to get behind this agreement and give it proper support. I claim that the present government has done more for agriculture than has any other government since confederation. Had I time I could outline what has been done. What has the Liberal party offered? There is nothing at all constructive in their policy. In the last three sessions of this parliament they have not offered one practical suggestion for the recovery of agriculture. All their speeches in western Canada have been of a breaking-down and destructive nature.
May I for a moment or two compare the policy, with respect to agriculture, this government is pursuing with that followed by the Americans to the south of us. Since March last under the N.R.A. they have destroyed 6,000,000 hogs, and they are bonus-ing sows for market. In Canada, under the guidance and initiative of our Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) who has devoted himself to the advancement of agriculture, great efforts have been made to induce our farmers to produce the right class of hogs, cattle and all other agricultural products. That is the difference between the two policies. Yesterday the price of live pork in Toronto was ten cents, while the price in Chicago was only three cents. For these reasons I claim that the government is doing everything within its power to help the farmer.
What is the function of a government? I believe I am stating it correctly when I say that it is the duty of the government to guide and encourage the industrial progress and social advancement of our people. It has to preserve industry and agriculture and to direct and control trade and commerce and finance. It has to preserve our national credit. These are the functions of government. In doing these things it has to maintain law, peace and order and has to preserve individual rights and opportunities in the development of our natural resources and our industries, so that there may be a fair and reasonable price to the producer and a fair and reasonable price to the consumer. That is the function of government, and I believe this government is doing that to the letter of the law.
In conclusion I wish again to state that my plan is but a suggestion. I know it will be criticized from many quarters. Certainly, I expect criticism from the opposition, because they criticize every constructive proposition coming from this side of the house. May I again express my confidence in the government, realizing that they are doing everything possible to bring Canada back to a normal state of prosperity and believing that they will be successful.
Subtopic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH