July 4, 1935 (17th Parliament, 6th Session)

LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Yes, I read it to the
witness, Mr. Mclvor. For the five year period 1923-24 to 1927-28 Canada's percentage of imports of wheat and flour into the United Kingdom was 34-5. For the same period the United States percentage was 28-62; the Argentine percentage, 16-26; Australia, 11-55 and others, 8-88. For the five years period 1928-29 to 1932-33 Canada's percentage was 33-04; the United States, 13-21; the Argentine, 20-7; Australia, 17-91 and others 15-1. This period included 1932-33 when Canada had fifty per cent of Great Britain's imports. These figures therefore give Canada the full benefit of any enlarged proportion of British imports. The percentages for the year 193334 were 35-36 for Canada; -18 for the United States; 24-4 for the Argentine; 21-24 for Australia and 19-13 for other countries. For the nine month period from 1934 to April 30, 1935, the percentage for Canada was 36-56; for the United States it was -23; for the Argentine, 31-4; for Australia 20-64 and for other countries 11-14. A comparison of the five year period, 1923-24 to 1927-28 with the period 1928-29 to 1932-33 shows that Canada lost 1-46 per cent in the proportion of British imports. In 1933-34 our percentage rose to 35-36, an increase of two per cent and for the nine month period 1934-35 it rose to 36-56, showing an increase for the five year period of three per cent. For the five year period 1928-29 to 1932-33 the United States furnished 13-21 per cent of the imports; this dropped to [DOT] 18 per cent for 1933-34 and rose slightly to -23 per cent for the nine month period 1934-35. In that time the Argentine raised her proportion from 20-7 per cent to 24-4

Grain Board
per cent in 1933-34 with a further increase to 31-4 per cent for the nine month period 1934-35.
It seems to me that those figures indicate that the Argentine is taking Canada's place when it comes to the matter of getting the business which Great Britain has to give. If one wants further confirmation it is to be found1 in the figures placed on Hansard by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) at page 3645. These figures show that Canadian imports of wheat into British markets dropped from 52,957,000 bushels in 1930-31 to 48,103,612 bushels for the nine month portion of 1934-35, whereas the Argentine exports to Great Britain jumped from 30,594,000 bushels in 1930-31 to 47,474,791 bushels in the nine month period of 1934-35. In other words, Canada was down about ten per cent, while the Argentine in- , creased by about fifty per cent. I submit that those figures indicate that the sales policy which Canada has been following or the want of a sales policy has not been good for this country. If I wanted further corroboration of this I would remind the committee of what the Prime Minister said when he came home from the wheat conference in 1933. I think it was in the first speech which he made in Montreal, when he said that he was surprised at the activity of European countries in regard to the matter of raising wheat. He pointed out that the question was the restoration of international trade in Canadian wheat and he is quoted in the Montreal Gazette as follows:
One solution was through harmonizing the interests of the two groups and he was glad to say that common sense and reason had prevailed and an agreement had been signed on August 21st last which went towards the solution of the problem.
63 cents in gold-Liverpool for four months. "Wheat import countries by their greater acreage had demonstrated clearly that they did not again intend to be placed' in a position where they would face either starvation or have to pay ransom prices."
My right hon. friend pointed out at that time that because of the fear which these countries had they had increased their production of wheat from 900,000,000 bushels in 1930 to
1,220,000,000 bushels in 1933. That increase had been brought about by a fear of starvation and also a fear of ransom prices. I am afraid that the sales policy which has been pursued by Canada has contributed to some extent to this increase. I should also like to refer to a statement made by Sir Edward Beatty in January of this year. In a characteristically temperate statement Sir Edward reviews the whole wheat situation and says:
I disagree with those who suggest that it is improper for this country to attempt any 92582-268J
measures to protect its wheat producers against fall of the price of their product to the lowest depths. Wheat is far too important in the economy of this country for us to accept unmoved the prospect of its price falling to the levels where its producers are beggared. I believe, however, that it is equally dangerous for us to believe that we can prevent the price of wheat, as recorded by a great world market such as Liverpool, from reflecting even a temporary condition of overproduction, or that we can persuade buyers abroad to pay premiums larger than justified by superior quality for Canadian wheat compared with wheat from other areas. The subject is one of overwhelming importance to this country, and to every citizen. It is to be hoped that our policy will be framed with full realization of this fact. I feel that this task should be given to the best available skill and experience in this matter, and that the most careful examination should be made of the views of our customers, rather than that we should take the risk of drifting into a state of hostility between buyer and seller.
Perhaps that statement will have more weight with some hon. members than, with others but it does stand to reason that if we hold our wheat above world prices these countries will turn in self-preservation to raising their own wheat or to buying wheat from other countries. What is the situation in Canada? Does it need any argument to convince anyone that the thing to do in this country is to get our wheat moving? Wheat lying in elevators, wen though it is backed by the guarantee of the government of Canada, will not assist in paying transportation charges or wages on steamboats or railroads. It is not going to assist in the income of mem at terminal ports, nor is it going to assist in the general activities which are incident to the constant movement of traffic across the country. It all will help. It may be said by some that we cannot afford to sell our wheat too cheaply even for that purpose, but I think the committee came to the conclusion that we cannot afford to hold our wheat indefinitely in the hope that something will turn up. The fact that this wheat has been rolling over and over and has now reached the enormous quantity of 225 million bushels is something that brings home to our minds more forcibly than anything else the importance of adopting some policy. And so there are inserted in the 'bill subsections (b) and (c) of section 8, which tell the board definitely what its job is. Subsection (b) is:
to market from time to time all wheat or contracts for the purchase or delivery- of wheat which the board may acquire, for such price as it may consider reasonable, with the object of promoting the sale and use of Canadian wheat in world markets.
So far as I am concerned, that means what it says. It means that you are to sell wheat
Grain Board

with the object of promoting the sale and use of Canadian wheat in world markets; and that involves the selling of Canadian wheat at the world price in order that we may promote its sale and use in those markets. There have been many times when the spread between Canadian and Argentine wheat has been such that it would seem to some that there would be an opportunity of disposing of Canadian wheat if we were prepared to take what the world considers a fair price. While I am on this question of world price, I may observe that in connection with the Ottawa agreements one of the conditions is that the 6 cent preference shall apply only if we are willing to sell our wheat at the world price; and with respect to the inquiries made in the House of Commons in England rather recently as to whether or not they were going to continue to extend the 6 cents preference to us in view of what they thought to be the Canadian attitude in regard to selling Canadian wheat at world prices, at the time the question was raised as to what the world price was, Mr. Hore-Belisha indicated that the world price was the quoted price at Liverpool. So that when we direct the board to dispose of Canadian wheat, for the purpose of promoting the sale and use of that wheat in world markets, we must be prepared to take what is regarded generally as a fair price for wheat. Subsection (c) of section 8 is:
to sell and dispose of stocks of wheat and contracts for the delivery of wheat acquired from Canadian Cooperative Wheat Producers Limited and the wheat represented by such contracts as speedily as may be reasonably possible, having regard to economic and other conditions.
That does not mean that we are to hold wheat indefinitely or add to our stocks of wheat by buying; it means, so far as I am concerned, to dispose of our stocks of wheat as speedily as may be reasonably possible. No one is talking about a fire sale; the endeavour is to get rid of our wheat, making the objective of our activities the reduction of the excess rather than the increasing of it. I believe that these sections will commend themselves to the committee of the whole as they did unanimously to the special committee.
Subsection (j) is:
to offer continuously wheat for sale in the markets of the world through the established channels: Provided that the board may, if in its opinion any existing agencies are not operating satisfactorily, take such steps as it deems expedient to establish, utilize and employ its own or other marketing agencies or channels.
That again is another indication to the board of what parliament desires with regard to the carrying out of its duties. Now these,

in my opinion, are two substantial changes with respect to policy which are made in this bill, and I submit that they are farreaching and should commend themselves to the committee and to the country. I will not at this time discuss the question of responsibility. What we are trying to do is to deal with the situation as it exists. The next point that comes up, and one to which I will not direct very much attention, is the point with regard to the minimum price. I may say frankly- and here I am speaking to my western friends

that it did seem that perhaps this provision for a fixed price and a participation certificate might be regarded as erring on the side of adequacy-let me use that word. But thinking the thing over, I feel that Canada has this obligation. This accumulation has piled up and we have a special situation to deal with, and I can only hope that the board will have wisdom and judgment to be able to satisfy the western producer and at the same time to do justice to itself in relation to its responsibilities. I am prepared to concede that there he a fixed price and that at the same time there be a participation certificate, so that if the board succeeds and its operations are profitable any profit may be distributed to the producers.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN GRAIN BOARD
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