February 12, 1937 (18th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)


Mr. Chairman, I bad thought out certain amendments which I believed would meet what the minister stated was his purpose last evening.
First we must take it that he proposes to abolish the present advisory committee. I submit respectfully that that is a mistake. I should like to have placed upon Hansard the names of those who comprise that committee as it now is. I mentioned it yesterday, and the minister stated that he did not have the names then, but perhaps he will place them on Hansard this afternoon. I think it is a great mistake to destroy this committee. The minister says he may reappoint it, but why abolish what you may reappoint? That seems to be a reasonable question.
I have in my hands the report made under the provisions of the statute of 1935 which was filed on the Friday preceding the day I came into the house, which perhaps accounts for my not having seen it before. I hope I shall not be misunderstood when I say that this is a report signed by nobody and ad-
Farm Rehabilitation Act

dressed to nobody, and it is a little difficult to treat it as a proper report of the kind that should be made under the act. It is headed, "Report of the work conducted under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act for the fiscal year 1935-36," and after citing the act it proceeds as follows:
Administration of this act is vested in the federal Minister of Agriculture, who is assisted by an advisory committee appointed by order in council. The advisory committee comprises representatives of farming, ranching, financial and railway interests in the affected areas, as well as officials of governments of the dominion and of the provinces concerned. The function of the advisory committee is to suggest measures to the minister for the rehabilitation of drought and soil drifting areas. Detailed organization and supervision of work under the act is largely performed by the dominion experimental farms.
In view of that paragraph in the report, I ask this committee whether they think it is quite fair to put this work in the hands of Mr. Vallance. Mr. Vallance was a member of this house. His strong predilections are so well known that it is not beyond reason to say that he could not go into any community and remain there longer than a few hours without discussing politics. That is not unfair, but I shall not say more than that in his absence. He has no peculiar qualifications for this position, and he is being paid the equivalent of the indemnity of a member of parliament, he having been a member of the last house. I submit that whatever we should do, we certainly should take out any thought of there being anything of a political flavour to the administration under this bill, and it is impossible to do that with Mr. Vallance at the head of it-absolutely impossible; and what is more, there is no member of this house who was here in Mr. Vallance's day that does not know it. He has told us on several occasions that he was born in Scotland, which of course is a great asset, a very great asset in Canada; but the knowledge he has of these areas is problematical, in view of his own statements from time to time, because he lived in a section of the country that is not concerned or has very little concern with this-

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