Mr. G. E. WOOD (Brant):
I have listened with a great deal of interest to hon. members who have given expression to their opinions and their interpretations of the report of the special committee on farm implement prices. After paying strict attention to their contributions I have come to the conclusion that there are only two sides to every question-the side I take, and the wrong side. I sometimes marvel at the ability of some hon. members to bring out the phases
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of a particular argument which go to prove anything they wish to prove, and at their attempts to leave an impression favourable to the cause they desire to support.
The hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Massey), in high-sounding phrases, endeavoured to pose as a man attempting to clarify the national air from the creation of false impressions, and his statement with respect to the speech of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) has tended only to strike one more blow upon the wedge being driven between certain sections of the country. Having regard to the record of the party with which the hon. member is associated, he should be the last to emphasize this particular virtue, because I am satisfied that the party to which he belongs has made the greatest contribution towards driving that wedge between the agrarian and the industrial interests.
The hope of Canada lies in a great national party, a party whose principles are liberty of thought, liberty of conscience and liberty of action. There is always more or less of a conflict, under our constitution, between the local and the larger interest, and it is the duty of those who happen to be responsible for the smaller interests to bring the needs of those smaller communities respectfully to the seat of government, so that the different interests may be woven together into a great national fabric which will serve as an instrument to be used for the well-being of the nation as a whole. It must be understood by all that people in different communities cannot be expected to hold exactly the same viewpoints.
I do not propose to enlarge upon the arguments which have been placed before the house by the special committee, because I believe the ground has been pretty well covered. Any figures I may have accumulated have already been given, and I refuse to repeat what has already been said. The fact still remains, however, that no matter what arguments have been put forth, since 1930 neither the implement manufacturer nor the farmer has received a reasonable profit.
I believe there is a solution of our difficulties, and it does not lie in extremes. I wish to go on record as taking what I believe to be the middle-of-the-road course, one which will give adequate protection to industry without jeopardizing the interests of the consumer. My belief is that freer trade is the best form of protection, because after all our interests must be those of the great masses of the people. The working man must be protected; he must have a larger market in which to sell the product of his labours. There must be low cost production so that there may be an outlet for the product of the working man;
goods and services must be available at prices which will not too greatly reduce the purchasing power of the consumer and which will encourage the sale of more goods and produce more opportunities for labour.
When I speak of industry I include all the forces contributing to it. Capital, labour, and the consumer, all play a part in our economic life. There should be harmony among all these classes so as to encourage a reasonably fair exchange of services. Many arguments going back into ancient history have been made in an endeavour to produce evidence to bear out what hon. members have attempted to prove. I feel that perhaps the most futile of all performances is a bemoaning of the past, its mistakes, its missteps, its missed opportunities. We cannot recapture the past, even if we try. Let the dead past bury its dead, and let us live for the future.
I believe we are at the beginning of a new era; we must face conditions as they are. We must accept the facts. It is always wdse to look at the past and to examine the experiences we have had so that we may plan more accurately for the future. I believe legislation in the national interest and capable of application could be brought down in this connection. We have disadvantages to overcome, but on the other hand we enjoy many natural advantages. As people living on that section of God's earth situated north of the forty-ninth parallel of latitude, around the great lakes, we can develop an economic structure by taking a middle-of-the-road course, honestly facing the surmountable difficulties which are blended in with the natural advantages that we enjoy. We can make this country one in which people may have an opportunity to give expression to their choice of whatever particular type of life they wish to pursue.
True, while this is primarily an agricultural country, there are many of our population who are not natural farmers and who find an outlet for their energies in industrial fields. I feel that we should provide an opportunity for these people. In this new era into which we have entered, notwithstanding what our opinions may or may not have been in the past, there are certain conditions which we have to face. There is a tendency to-day toward balanced economics. One of the difficulties that must be surmounted in industrial life in Canada is the fact that our geographical conditions are such that we have an added expense in freight rates on account of having a long haul over a practically barren country. This is particularly true with respect to agricultural implements. This in itself adds to the
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cost to the western consumer of many of the products he uses from the industrial east.
A report from the Canadian National Railways shows that we deliver freight on that line for practically -97 of a cent per ton mile. The fact is that there is 1,000 miles of territory along this line in which very little business is done in agricultural implements. This does add to the cost to the consumer.
One of the advantages enjoyed in the United States is the fairly even distribution of farm implements over the whole country. The Canadian manufacturer has to pay freight on this 1,000 mile haul, which extra cost must necessarily be charged to the consumer of his product. I take the view that that has a tendency to increase the cost of Canadian-made machinery to the Canadian farmer. I might note that all this extra cost is not charged against the western consumer; a certain percentage is charged to the Ontario farmer. On a binder weighing approximately one ton there would be an additional freight charge of $10 due to its having to be hauled 1,000 miles through northern Ontario. This should be taken into consideration in making any comparison with United States prices.
A comparison of prices from 1913 to 1925 is hardly fair, because part of the increase in price is due to the fact that some of the equipment was not included in the implements sold in the earlier years. I remember several years ago when a sheaf carrier was not considered in the standard price of a binder. Pole trucks were not used at that time and their cost was not included. We have to look at the situation as we have to face it to-day. There is also the matter of Alemite greasing, but in my view the advantages of this added equipment are more apparent than real. However, it adds around $13 to the price of a binder. We farmers have demanded that it be included and we must pay the price. The same thing applies to the oil bath mower, which adds another $16.50 to the cost. All these things should be taken into consideration when making comparisons. I am prepared to listen to any arguments advanced in favour of this added equipment, but I am a little doubtful as to the value of these things as far as service is concerned. Nevertheless they are the style, we demand them and we get them. As a practical farmer I happen to have in my bam to-day a binder that has cut thirty crops. It never had a pole truck or Alemite greasing but I expect that it will cut a few more crops, or at least I am
hoping it will. I submit that some of these older implements had the ability to do the work just as well as those being sold to-day.
I believe that the industrialists in the Dominion of Canada have an opportunity to manufacture goods for the citizens of this country, but their place in the economic life of Canada is such that they must provide the goods and give a service to society that will compare with the purchasing power of the consumer. It is noticeable down through the history of industrial life in Canada that when the prices of farm products are in close relationship to the prices of manufactured goods, that is when we have enjoyed the greatest measure of prosperity. I should like to draw attention to a chart which goes back to 1917. It shows that the periods in which we enjoyed the greatest measure of prosperity were the periods when the prices of farm products exceeded those of manufactured goods. From 1917 to 1920 agriculture and industry enjoyed an unprecedented measure of prosperity. From 1921 to 1926 there was a considerable slump and during this period the prices of manufactured goods were considerably above those of farm products. From 1927 to 1929 the ratio of farm product prices increased and we again enjoyed a measure of industrial progress. From 1930 to 1936 the prices of manufactured goods were higher than the prices of farm products and we all know the condition of affairs that existed in that period. From 1932 there has been a gradual increase in the purchasing power of the farmer and the accompanying impetus to trade bears out the argument I have made. Prosperity of industry is dependent upon the prosperity of agriculture. I do not think anyone denies this.
I often wonder why there are not more steps taken to improve this condition of affairs and to keep the country from getting into the slough of economic despondency as often as it does. The argument of extremes has been used; we have heard the argument of exclusionists and of those who hold the opposite view. But these arguments of extremists remind me of the farmer who attempted to hook on to his loaded wagon with a long chain at the end of the wagon tongue. When he endeavoured to pull his load he found that when he tried to turn a corner he eventually landed in the ditch. It seems to me that many of the arguments that have been advanced here were simply a hope that by going to the extreme the wished-for results would be obtained. I do not believe anything will be gained by taking that attitude.
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I submit that we should take the middle-of-the-road course and I contend that that is the course taken by this government. They have reduced the tariff whenever it was thought wise so to do. They have acted in a manner that they believed was in the national interest. This process must be slow. I believe this government has gone a long way and the figures prove that it has been successful. Since 1937 the purchasing power of the farmer has been coming up closer to the prices paid for manufactured goods. If we can continue this condition of affairs, there is no question that prosperity will be the result. '
I have every reason to believe in the good judgment of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning). I believe he will follow what has always been the policy of Liberalism and see that no harm is done to industry. The functions of government will be used for the furtherance of industry and the continued development and welfare of the people at large. I hope and trust that we will come to the point when we shall have stability in tariffs. The tariff is an instrument which we have always had, and it could be used for revenue purposes. The protection that a tariff for revenue gives incidentally is justified, but when it comes to applying the tariff to the point of exclusion I do not think there is any justification for it.
In passing let me say that the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) made, in my opinion, a splendid contribution to the national life of this country during his term of office. During the election campaign of 1930 he used some rather strong phrases, which I am not going to repeat now, to the effect that he would protect the markets of the Canadian people, and I can remember after that campaign how some of my good Conservative friends naturally drew my attention to the election results, and my answer was, "Well, I hope and believe that Mr. Bennett will give us an application of those principles which he has been advocating." I am prepared to give him credit for honesty of conviction; for he did apply high protection, and he was successful at least in showing the Canadian people that that is not the road to recovery. I believe, furthermore, that he convinced many even of his own party of that truth, because they are not talking protection so much to-day. I think the right hon. gentleman contributed to giving the death blow to exclusionist protection at least.
The attitude I am taking may not suit either side, but I do not know that I have a right to take sides. I am trying to give ex-
I Mr. Wood.]
pression to my own views. I had occasion last year to travel through the west and I visited many of my colleagues on their farms. I found them all extremely fine hosts. I had heard down in Ontario that many of the difficulties of the west arose from the fact that the average farmer there did not farm properly but simply mined the soil. I am prepared to say for our western farmers, and my opinion may have some value because I have always lived on the farm, that the west is manned by the finest group of farmers that I think you could find in any section of this country, and I say that advisedly. I believe they are doing everything possible, with conditions as they are, to better themselves and to meet the situation as they find it to-day. Unfortunately there has been a national calamity which has made it very difficult in some respects for our western farmers, but they are facing the future with a courage that I think is wonderful; I doubt whether we farmers in Ontario could stand the adversity which our fellow-farmers in the west are facing so courageously.
I have mentioned that that industry has certain surmountable difficulties in connection with freight rates, but against that the western farmer has the advantage of cheap land. It is marvellous to see the amount of energy they can accumulate with the modern agricultural implements they have to-day. Their land works much easier then ours does in the east, and they have the advantage of cheap land. We ask them to take that natural advantage and blend it with some of the disadvantages they have, and perhaps we can share some of the advantages we have and blend them with their disadvantages. We need the west, and we want the west to prosper, because after all the west is the great market for many of the products of the east.
I am going to take this opportunity to give the results of a little survey I made of what I saw on my trip to the west; last year. I quietly took the opportunity to go to the various country stores to see what I could find that was representative of the town of Paris and the city of Brantford which I have the honour to represent in this house. In almost any community of any size I saw in glaring print "Massey-Harris implements'' and "Cockshutt implements." Travelling through the country where there was roadbuilding I would come across road-building machinery, and almost invariably it was from Adams Limited at Paris. On the way out I noticed that the sleepers were equipped with blankets from Slingsby Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Brantford, and even the men were wearing suitings and overcoats made by Slingsby's.
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I have already spoken of the hospitality of my western hosts. As I went into some of their lovely homes I noticed that where they had waxed the hardwood floors, nine times out of ten they were using Johnson's wax, made in the city of Brantford. If they could afford to put a carpet on the floor you would see if you turned it up, that it was a Harding carpet, made in the city of Brantford. I did see some buildings painted, but I saw a lot more that needed paint. Those that looked fresh with paint I noticed were using paint from Scarfe & Co., Ltd., in the city of Brantford.
I went on from Winnipeg to Vancouver. I happened to be standing on the street in Vancouver when I met the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Glen), and I drew his attention to a truck body that went by, which was made by the Canada Carriage Co., Ltd., in Brantford.
1 went up the inlet to a place called Ocean Falls, a narrow inlet where the only means of communication is by water. There I stood on a wharf which is used by a company manufacturing pulp and paper. They were using pulp machinery made by Waterous Limited of Brantford.
I went on to Prince Rupert, and going through a hardware store I saw they were selling products of the Crown Electric Company of Brantford. In Winnipeg I ran across a Harold Sanderson refrigerator made in Paris. Everywhere I went there were evidences that Penman's underwear, made in the town of Paris, was being widely sold in the west.
I must not overlook the fact that a large proportion of the farmers were using good judgment by buying Brantford binder twine. We are very proud of the Brantford Cordage Company, which has been able to exist in the city of Brantford without any measure of protection. As I went into the homes I would see the Locomotive washer, which is made in the city of Brantford, and looking through the jewellery stores I would see jewellery boxes made by E. A. Gunther of the city of Brantford. Last but not least-I have already mentioned the generous hospitality of our western friends-in our travels through the country, as we stopped at some inn or lunchroom, naturally the ladies always chose a Dinner sandwich and Crispy Crunch made by the Paterson Biscuit Works of Brantford, which was founded by a predecessor of mine who represented that constituency as minister of customs in the Laurier government previous to 1911.
What I wish to draw attention to is that it ill becomes us in the east to speak at all
disparagingly about the west or even about their opinions. I hope I am charitable enough to recognize that what they say is worth listening to, even if we do not agree in every sense of the word. We will take all these various viewpoints and bring them here to the foot of the government, as good Liberals should do. If we are to be national we must welcome various viewpoints. It is only by bringing those various points of view before the government that we shall be able to effect a compromise, which is the only possible basis of solution of our problems. If each one insists on enforcing the will of one particular section of the country, nothing is surer than that the wedge of which the hon. member for Greenwood spoke will bring about disaster.
Subtopic: MOTION FOE CONCURRENCE IN SECOND REPORT PRESENTED APRIL 8, 1937.