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


James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)



That was in January,
1935. On January 19 I wired the Minister of
Agriculture of Canada in these words:
Three prairie premiers meeting a week ago decided to hold meeting of committee of six, two from each province, some day before February 7 to discuss drought and arrange for compilation of all information available re soil, climate, etc. All are anxious Ottawa have two representatives. Could you suggest a date when you could be represented in Regina? Writing.
On the same day I wrote the following letter to the Minister of Agriculture:
I sent you a telegram this morning which reads as follows:
And then I quoted the telegram.
A week ago to-day Mr. Reid,-
Who was then premier of Alberta.
Mr. Bracken and I met in Saskatoon and discussed the possibility of setting up a committee which would give' special attcuiion to having all information available with legard to the dry area of the west compiled at the earliest possible date.
A committee was set up consisting of the three premiers and the three ministers of agriculture of the western provinces, and it was decided that we ask the federal government to be represented on the committee by two. We are desirous of having the first meeting of this committee some time before February 7, and would like to invite your government to have two representatives appointed who would be members of the committee.
Farm Rehabilitation Act

It is the intention of this committee to arrange for the expenditure of a small amount of money to be used for the purpose of getting together in one place all of the information available with regard to the dried-out area pertaining to climate, soil, tree planting, the growth of grasses and all other information available from any source with regard to the area itself. It is also our intention to have compiled all the information available with regard to surrounding areas similarly affected, particularly on the American side, with a view to laying the foundations for systematic endeavour towards a solution of the drought problem in the three provinces.
It was thought that if each of the governments were to put up $5,000 towards the clerical work involved and the federal would put up an equal amount, namely $15,000, the sum thus set up would cover all the necessary expenses.
That is, the necessary expenses of compiling the information.
We would like therefore to invite the federal government to join us on this committee through representative whom they would appoint, to have them assist in the financing of the work and to lend every assistance possible in connection with getting the records completed.
I trust that you will be able to set a date *when it will be possible for your representatives to be present.
Now, I had a reply to that dated January 22. It is very short and very concise:
Ottawa, Ontario, January 22, 1935.
Hon. J. G. Gardiner,
Premier Saskatchewan,
Regina, Sask.
Re tel appreciate your wiring agenda suggested meeting re drought conditions.
That is the wire, and it is signed " R. Weir." Then, on January 24, I answered in these words:
Answering your wire twenty-second, no definite agenda arranged for proposed federal provincial conference on drought problem. We did not consider it proper to arrange agenda without consultation with federal representatives. General purpose is to arrange if possible for cooperation in collecting available information and formulating policies which could be supported by all governments concerned. Similarity of problems in three provinces and national importance of putting agriculture of drought stricken area on a more sound basis seemed to us to warrant common plans and concerted action.
And I had almost as concise an answer to that. The answer was given on February 2:
Re tel twenty-fourth,-
I had better read the whole wire.
Ottawa, Ont.,
Feb. 2, 1935.
Hon. J. G. Gardiner,
Premier Saskatchewan,
Regina, Sask.
Re tel twenty-fourth, regret Kirk's illness has made it impossible to set date.
R. Weir.
I assume that Mr. Kirk is one of the employees of the Department of Agriculture whom he might have sent had Mr. Kirk not been ill. But with a department of the size that he was presiding over, I would imagine there would have been someone else who could have been sent, despite the fact that Mr. Kirk had been ill. But those are the only answers we received to these proposals.
The next intimation we had that this matter was being discussed and considered in Ottawa we got through an article which appeared dated at Ottawa, setting forth what apparently was passing through the minds of at least some persons in Ottawa at that time. I would like to read certain sections of that report in order to indicate what the attitude seemed to be. This was published in the Regina Leader-Post of Regina, Wednesday, February 13, 1935, under date of Ottawa, February 12, and the heading of it is:
Provinces not included in Weir scheme. Drought area rehabilitation as proposed purely federal project.
That was just ten days after the wire that I have just read to the house.
Official information obtained from government sources is to the effect that the provincial governments will play no part in the Weir scheme of drought rehabilitation in the three prairie provinces. This scheme has been worked out by the experts of the dominion Department of Agriculture in consultation with engineers, foresters, and the members of the areas affected.
That was on February 13, 1935. And there was no advisory committee in existence at all until May, 1935, as I shall be able to show in a minute. It states:
This scheme has been worked out by the experts of the dominion Department of Agriculture in consultation with engineers, foresters and the members of the areas affected.
I do not suppose they invited Mr. John Val-lance to that meeting, although he was one of the members from the area affected.

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