February 8, 1934 (17th Parliament, 5th Session)


Arthur-Lucien Beaubien

Liberal Progressive


At six o'clock I was dealing with the wheat reduction agreement and our quota for exportation, and I pointed out that, according to the pamphlet I have here on the wheat agreement at the London conference, in the year 1928 surpluses of wheat became quite apparent. The pamphlet states that the annual wheat production had by that time become greater than the effective demand from the importing countries. Yet this government, if this statement is true, in 1931 gave a bonus of five cents a bushel to the producers of wheat in Canada-a bonus that could have had no other effect than to increase the production of wheat; because the producer of barley did not get that nickel, nor did the producer of oats or of any other commodity receive it. The man who produced a bushel of wheat was sure to get five cents. Notwithstanding this, hon. gentlemen come along now and tell the people that they must reduce their acreage by fifteen per cent. If the statement to which I have referred is correct, that in 1928 there was a surplus of wheat in the world to the extent indicated, why did this government give a bonus on wheat production in 1931? If they wanted to indemnify the farmers for the low cost of their commodity, why did they not give them a bonus on all their production? And how did they apply the five oent bonus? The man who produced a considerable quantity of wheat got the five cents and the man who produced no wheat got nothing.
Now, if there is a surplus of wheat in the world to-day as the government contends, and I doubt it, how will they bring about a reduction in wheat acreage? There are only two ways I know of: one is to nationalize the land and control production, and if you do that you go over to the C.C.F.; and the other is to give the farmer a bonus for not seeding the acreage he intended to seed. Those are the only two ways I know of. The Canadian people are not ready for the nationalization of land and the control of production by the government, and the government is evidently not in a position to give a bonus inasmuch as it discontinued the bonus in 1932. But what do the importing countries engage themselves to do in this contract? What obligation have they undertaken? They have undertaken not to increase further the wheat acreage and not to increase production by governmental measures. There is a move in England to-day-and I am sure
the Minister of Trade and Commerce is we>i. awaTe of it-to double the production ol wheat in that country. If you read Mosley's books you will see that, according to him, wheat production can be vastly increased in England; and as the Minister of Trade and Commerce knows, since England has adopted the protective system the farmer is looking for protection on lids wheat. If he gets it he will increase his wheat production tremendously. The importing countries have engaged not to use governmental measures as a means of increasing the production of wheat, but there is nothing else to prevent them.
No, Mr. Speaker, acreage reduction as proposed in this agreement is not practicable, and I doubt whether the government will pass any legislation to put such a policy into force. Indeed, I do not know what sort of legislation they could pass to enforce such a policy. The western premiers may be in favour of the agreement; but the western premiers are not the producers of wheat. I made a survey of rural Manitoba this summer since the promulgation of the wheat agreement and this is what the farmers say; What right had the Prime Minister of Canada to go to England and enter into such an agreement and come and tell us what we shall do? Whom did the Prime Minister consult in this matter? Mr. J. I. McFarland, I suppose-and I do Dot know that he did consult that gentleman, because if he did it is the first time he has ever consulted anyone. At any rate, the farmers are not in favour of the wheat agreement, and if this government persists in the policies it has been putting into force since 1930 it will not need a wheat reduction agreement. Why, the machinery on the farm to-day is getting obsolete. If this continues, in a year or two the farmer will have no machinery with which to produce wheat. And if the present policies of the government are continued, how will the farmer buy new machinery? It takes everything you can grow on a quarter section to 'buy a 'binder; so that if the present policies remain in force no wheat reduction agreement will be needed. I think the Prime Minister had better leave it to the grasshoppers; they have been responsible for more reduction than this agreement will bring about.
May I deal for a moment or two with the resolution that was passed the other day with regard to the investigation into the causes of the wide spread between prices received for commodities by the producer and prices
The Address-Mr. Beaubien

paid by the consumer, the system of distribution and so forth. I am not opposed to mass buying, provided the consumers get the benefit. But what the people want to find out to-day, at any rate the people whom I represent, is how these industries function- industries that stand behind a tariff wall ranging from 25 to 75 per cent. The people want to know how such industries are functioning and to what extent they are exploiting the Canadian public. The farmer wants to know why the government imposed a 25 per cent duty on cream separators to protect the manufacturer producing about seven thousand cream separators in Canada, while putting this implement on the free list from Great Britain, where cream separators are not made.
Mass buying on the part of chain stores and large concerns has benefited the consumers to a great degree. Take the situation in western Canada. Before the chain stores and large concerns like Eaton's went into the west we did not know what we were paying for the things we bought. To-day things are different; there is competition and the consumers get the benefit of it. But it is in regard to the industries which this government has been protecting to a degree never witnessed before that the Canadian people want some information. They want to find out how these industries are financed, how much watered stock there is in the companies, and to what extent they are exploiting the Canadian people.
Let me refer to the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Willis). If the hon. gentleman or any other hon. member coming from Manitoba and sitting on the other side of the house would pay less attention to the question whether I am a national Progressive or a national Liberal Progressive, and devote their time to an effort to influence this government to put into force policies that would relieve the people of western- Canada, I suggest that their time would be much better spent. It would be far more beneficial than any effort they may make to find out whether I am a Liberal Progressive or anything else.
I see my hon. friend from Marquette (Mr. Mullins). I know he does not agree with the policies of the government. Let these hon. gentlemen leave me out of their consideration; instead, let them try to induce the government to institute policies that will help western Canada to get out of the chaotic condition in which it is to-day. If they do that I am sure their electors will appreciate it a good deal more than I fancy they appreciate their present attitude.

The needs in my riding and in western Canada generally, in fact all over Canada, are these-and I am speaking more or less from an agricultural standpoint-lower tariffs. Let the manufacturer do as the farmer is doing; let him stand on his own feet. Secondly, agricultural credits, short term credits, are essential. The farmers want to have a chance to carry on, but they cannot do so if they are forced to sell their goods in competition with the world while at the same time they have to buy in markets restricted by tariffs to the extent of anywhere from 25 to 75 per cent. I am not looking for much higher prices for farm products; what I do look for is for the commodities which the farmer has to buy to come down and more or less meet the price which he receives for his products. That is what we want in western Canada.
If the government do not change their policies or if they do not go to the country very soon, the agricultural industry may be badly hampered. When they do go before the people, let me say once again to those hon. members who are so anxious about my political name, that they are not going to be asked whether Beaubien is a Liberal, Progressive or anything else; but they will be asked this: Did you support a government that imposed a duty on agricultural implements, on cream separators, on practically every commodity that the farmer has to buy? When they are asked that question, what answer will they give? They will simply say that they supported the policy of the government, which was detrimental to western Canada.
Those matters which I have placed before the house are dear to my people; they are necessary to them and I hope the government will pay heed to what 1 have said and endeavour to introduce legislation in conformity with the suggestions I have made. If they do so, I am sure the people of western Canada and particularly those whom I represent will be greatly benefited.
Mr. E. C. ST-PERE (Hochelaga) (Translation) : Mr. Speaker, my first words will be
of congratulations to the hon. members who moved and seconded the address in reply to the speech from the throne. They accomplished their task with a loyalty and sincerity which has always been the practice and will continue so, as long as the Dominion parliament intends to follow such a parliamentary procedure.
The speech from the throne places on the lips of the representative of His Majesty the following words:

The Address-Mr. St-Pere
Such improved world conditions are reflected in Canada by expanding trade, improving revenues, increasing employment, and a more confident outlook upon the future.
These utterances, sir, do not convey exactly the truth. It is. a fact, as the hon. member for Terrebonne (Mr. Parent) stated this afternoon that some trade improvement has been somewhat felt; however, like him, I state that this improvement in our business relations with the various dominions and the United Kingdom must not be attributed so much to the imperial agreements as to the temporary advantages derived from exchanges. An increase of work among the labouring classes 1 I wonder where one sees this improvement. As a member of a large working division in the city of Montreal, in vain do I seek where this increase exists. The unemployed in the section where I reside, are more numerous than ever; notwithstanding the great publicity given recently to a news item, emanating, I do not know where, to the effect that our large Canadian Pacific workshops were to employ 3,000 men more. After making inquiries among those interested, I wish to state in the house that workers in the Angus shops confessed to me that the staff had hardly been increased by 400 men. Indeed, if one considers that this is a large increase among the working classes, I must state that this government bases its contentions on erroneous figures.
In these days of crisis, sir, I think the government and members should be the first to practise economy. I note that since the beginning of the session-I blame no one, because it is a member's privilege to place on the order paper, the resolution which he *wishes to introduce-it has been costly and we have lost precious time in discussing many suggestions as old as the hills, resolutions which for a number of years have been submitted to international labour congresses at Geneva, and that the international labour bureau have considered without coming to any practical decision.
What will be the remedies? The insurance against unemployment, so much advocated by our friends to the left, has been discussed time and again, at Geneva; the delegates of the various nations have morally approved of this rehabilitation scheme, but no government, may I state, has ever put into practice such a suggestion without first exacting a contribution from those interested. The same may be said of old age pensions, insurance against disability and sickness. These are projects that all admit in principle. Were I a millionaire there would be no orphans in my electoral division; however, unfortunately for myself and many others, my circumstances do not permit me to be so generous towards all these charitable movements and social relief schemes. These are great economic and social problems which we are unable to solve to-day owing to the depression existing.
The question of working hours comes under the same heading. It has not been definitely settled in this country; however, I must state, to the credit of the Quebec provincial government, that the first steps to solve this question have been made by the hon. Minister of Labour, Mr. Arcand. A measure has been introduced dealing with the subject. This question of defining the hours of labour was discussed, last year, at the International Labour Conference and what was the outcome? The representatives of the various nations thought fit to submit again this question to the conference which will be held in the course of 1934. Did high protection succeed in bringing to our workers this relief to which they were so much entitled? Will the public undertakings mentioned bring to our workers, our destitute unemployed, this relief, this positive help which they have a right to expect? Indeed, sir, these are remedies which we must accept, they are temporary solutions of the unemployment problem; however, they are not, so to speak, the true solution to such an important question.
There was born in this country, a short while ago, a party which boasts of being able to settle all these important questions to which the nations of the world have sought in vain, 'hitherto, to find a practical solution. I caime 'across, to-day, an old pamphlet which I purchased as far back as 1901, an essay on the evolution of socialistic theories in the various countries. May I, sir, read to the house, an excerpt on social reformers known as "possibilists." After listening to it, you will realize that its program very much resembles that of the C.C.F.:
The "Possibilists" or Reformists-They comprise the most moderate and practical element of the party, but the least listened to. The strict adherents somewhat despise them and qualify very disrespectfully their acts of "soothing syrup and hubbubboos." The "Possibilists" disdain violent means unless they are absolutely necessary. They prefer moving forward gradually, without agitation, revolution and shock, making use of simple legal means, they are convinced that it is possible to thus reach their goal. They contend that the labouring classes being in majority and controlling the vote can assume power and legally reform society without having recourse to revolutionary means which cause so many victims, is always tainted with much injustice, and is always followed by a great transient crisis and a period of general distress during

The Address-Mr. St-Pere
which every one suffers, and which, because of the discouragement and fears it creates, paves the way to disorders. Their motto is "Let us be revolutionists when circumstances demand it, but let us always be reformists. "
It is the most human method, the surest, the best from every angle.
In order to inform a number of our workers who sometimes are led by certain impulses, and misguided agitation, may I place in Hansard the views of Count de Mun, one of the greatest leaders of workmen that France has known. He expressed himself as follows in the French chamber:
You discuss before the people the entrancing prospect of a collectivist society of which no one of you can explain the functions. No, I state, "None of you," no more Mr. Jaures than Mr. [DOT]Jnles Guesde, none! I have heard splendid speeches, glowing accounts, broad formulas, but I have never found any one to explain the following two fundamental points: the distribution and remuneration of labour; and as long as this has not been done, nothing practical will come of it except the idea of a monstrous despotism.
The following is a brief comment made by His Holiness Leo XIII, the workmen's Pope, in discussing similar doctrines:
If such a system was ever realized, it would create disturbance among all classes of society and burden all citizens with a shameful and unbearable yoke; it opens a wide door to mutual jealously, discontent, and disorder; it deprives work and skill of their goal, draining wealth at its source; finally to equality eo cherished it substitutes an ignoble equality in destitution and distress.
I leave, sir, to the Canadian workers who suffer from the present crisis, the task of judging where is to be found the truth and to choose the best means to obtain justice. We have heard of industrial control. I have Closely followed, since the National Recovery Act was adopted, what is taking place in the United States. No doubt President Roosevelt for some time past has made strenuous efforts to find a general solution which can apply to the problems which interest his country and which, so to speak, interest all the nations of the world.
Over there, as it is the case here, the president cannot please every one. The labouring classes in the United States have requested him to increase the price of articles of prime necessity; he did so; however, some labour organizations claimed that wages, fixed according to definite schedules, were not increasing in direct ratio of the articles mentioned. There again are to be found impediments to the realization of certain hopes.
Another scheme to relieve unemployment in our large cities is the back-to-the-land movement. Colonization has certainly its

bright side; however, if this were the only means of relieving the crisis in our cities, the situation would be desperate. That is again, some remedy.
In the course of the Yamaska election-and it is a happy recollection that I have of this election campaign-1 chatted about this scheme with a number of farmers. Their reply was: W ell, sir, for heaven's sake do insist that the moneys set aside for colonization purposes be placed in a special fund, so as to bring back to our villages our old farmers who understand all about farming, they that abandoned the land, not because they disliked it, but because financial difficulties forced them to do so.
Among the suggested remedies is to be found quite a recent one, the one which the right hon. Prime Minister advocated the night before last, I think, in the city of Toronto. He stated that we would pull through the crisis if we practised thrift and worked. I share his views; however, let us be frank, let us examine whether all those who have practised thrift and worked have reached this millennium which the right hon. Prime Minister wished on his audience in Toronto. We have in our large cities-the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa) referred to it the other day-the unemployment question complicated by 'the one still more acute, of the distress to be found among small property holders. During that period when so much money was expended in dole, this man who was thrifty, this citizen who often is a workman, is faced, notwithstanding the moratorium enacted by our provincial legislatures, with ruin. The state, one must admit, hardly considered the one who is, so to speak, the buffer between the wealthy profiteer and those who take refuge in communism. This man was left to his own resources; no one thought of helping him in the present crisis. How can we preach, later, thrift and work to the children of those who soon will be completely destitute after having practised thrift all their life; to the families of those who have become poorer to create wealth, and have contributed more than certain financial magnates to the prosperity of this country?
President Roosevelt pondered more than our legislators over the situation of these unfortunate people. From the very first days of the organization of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the President of the United States had the sum of $2,000,000,000 voted, issuing bonds, the capital and interests of which are guaranteed by the United States federal government. Oh! one may state that

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