May 9, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Walter Adam Tucker


Mr. W. A. TUCKER (Rosthern):

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of this debate it was not my intention to take part in it, but since that time some remarks have been made which I believe should not be permitted to go unanswered.
In the speech he delivered on Thursday, May 5, the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Massey) is reported at page 2583 of Hansard to have said:
It is not the 7J per cent alone on implements which is at stake in this debate. We are debating a principle, and tied up with that principle is not only the future welfare of this dominion, but the unity of Canada as well. I deplore such utterances as have been made in this house and in this debate-yes, and deplore them in the sacred name of Canadian unity.
When the sacred name of Canadian unity 13 thrown into the balance in an attempt to justify the exploitation of one part of the country for the benefit of another part, I cannot sit in my seat and remain silent. There has been too much in the way of attempting to use patriotism and the like to justify exploitation and to persuade others to undergo exploitation. In my opinion that is one of the reasons for the disunity in Canada at the present time.
For an example of this sort of thing-before the election in 1911 a trade agreement was made with the United States which to-day most people will admit would have been to the great advantage of Canada as a whole. One of the reasons why people in Ontario and western Canada were persuaded to turn down the agreement was a campaign of patriotism and an appeal to Canadian loyalty. The hon. member for Greenwood referred to the noble part the Canadian farmers had always been willing to play in the building up of industries in Canada, and the implication seems to be that the Canadian farmer should go on submitting to the payment of taxes to corporations on everything he buys in order that the manufacturing industry of Canada may prosper.
If it could be shown that the manufacturing industry passed on to Canadian workers the benefits it received from Canadian farmers, there might be something in that argument. I do not think there would be much in it, because I doubt very much whether a government has a right to say to over half the population engaged in the basic industry of a country: "We will give certain people the right to tax you, to make things worse for you and your children, in order that a certain other branch of the population may be better off." That has been referred to in times past as the New Feudalism, the right to private taxation given to certain industries and private corporations. But does it actually have that effect of benefiting labour? The
fMr. Brunelle.]

Farm Implements Committee Report
hon, member for Greenwood actually said that he was speaking not in favour of the Implement industry or of the farming industry, but in favour of the workers and the people engaged in farming industry. The thing that strikes me in regard to that contention, Mr. Speaker, is this: Does a high tariff increase the number of people engaged in the implement industry? Exports of farm implements in 1933 were valued at 81,324,776, tvhile the imports amounted to 82,208,028. In 1936 our exports of farm implements were worth 86,344,000, and our imports 86,182,000. I. ask those who make such a plea on behalf of those engaged in the farm implement industry, is it not much better to have trade flowing so that you manufacture and export 86,344,000 worth of farm implements rather than
81,824,000 worth? And our imports did not go up proportionally as fast. Can anyone, in view of these figures, place much reliance on the suggestion that the tariff should be maintained because it helps workmen engaged in the farm implement industry?
Furthermore, if you are going to have unity in this country it must be based upon justice as between different parts of the country and as between the different industries of the country. You cannot have unity based upon such things as were revealed in the textile investigation. One company engaged in the textile industry was permitted to charge high prices and pay itself roughly 98 per cent interest on the investment, in its common shares over a period of twenty-nine years, while the labouring people were paid lower wages than were paid in the United States and they themselves were paying more for the things they had to buy than they should have had otherwise to pay. That is giving the right of exploitation, of private taxation, and it is not conducive to unity or a sense of satisfaction on the part of the people of Canada. Moreover, Mr. Speaker, I think if one had at heart the unity of this country he would say that those suffering the most, those lowest in the scale of economic wellbeing should be the first to be assisted.
In a speech in this house on February 1 the hon. member for Huron North (Mr. Deachman) gave some figures in regard to the average earnings of the Ontario farmers. At first I intended to go into the earnings of farmers throughout Canada as a whole, but I realized that this might not be a fair comparison because of the drought in the west during the past few years, so I thought we might safely rely upon the figures of the hon. member in regard to the earnings of Ontario farmers as illustrating the general position of
the farmer in Canada. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that in his remarks he gave figures, which appealed to me, at least, as being fair, indicating that the average farmer in Ontario earned 8362 net a year, and that was after allowing wages of only 8155 to his son or daughter-not a high amount, since most farmers have at least one son or daughter working for them. Is not the farming industry then the one worst off and the one most entitled to consideration?
I have heard speakers discuss in this house, and I have worried over it myself, the situation that has arisen in this country under which even when you have increasing trade and increasing industrial activity you still have large numbers in the cities unemployed and on relief. I suggest to you that this is the result of our attitude towards our different industries. I suggest that the reason we have not even more unemployed and even more people on relief in the cities is that the people in the country who would like to go to the cities and engage in industry realize that if they did go they would not be able to get work and would have to go on relief. But I suggest that if you keep on putting manufacturing industry in a preferred position, as compared to agriculture, even if you increase the number engaged in industry by fifty per cent within the next six months and take those people from the relief rolls of the cities and towns, the same number will flock in from the country to take their places and attempt to find jobs.
I submit that. you have to attack this problem in a fundamental way. You have to make the basic, most important industry in this dominion-agriculture-the attractive industry, or at least as attractive as other industries. You have to make it so attractive that those engaged in it will not be always looking for an opportunity to go to the cities and towns in order to get into manufacturing industry. If you do not do that, no matter how much you develop industry you will attract more and more people from the farms to take the places of those absorbed in industry, and you will have no permanent solution of the problem of unemployment and relief. On the other hand, if the agricultural industry is treated properly and made more desirable, the people presently engaged in it will remain so engaged; others will be attracted to it, and you will be decreasing the number unemployed and on relief. Then, as people remain and more go on the farms, the demand for the goods produced by manufacturing industry will be increased. That, I suggest, is a fundamental approach to this
Farm Implements Committee Report
problem, but the attitude of the Conservative opposition in this house is designed all the time to throw the thing more and more out of balance, to make things more desirable in manufacturing industry and less desirable in the basic industry of agriculture.
We have heard a great deal about labourers in industry, but there are labourers in agriculture also. I think any one who knows anything will realize that labour in the farming industry is not treated from the standpoint of hours of work, holidays or rate of pay, as well as labour in industry. That is not the fault of the farmer; he could not possibly pay any more than he does, but why is it that those who profess to be so much concerned about the labouring man never raise their voices in this house on behalf of the working man on the farm or the farmer's son working on his father's farm? They always speak on behalf of the labouring man in the city, the labouring man in industry. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that the labouring man on the farm is just as important, and that he also should have defenders in this house. After all, agriculture is a very important branch of industry in this country. For example, from 1931 to 1934 inclusive the average number of men engaged in industry was 523,972. What are the figures in regard to those engaged in agriculture? Including members of families actively engaged in farm work we had 1,621,000 people employed in agriculture, or three times as many as were engaged in industry. So I say that if we are going to lay a permanent foundation for unity in this dominion we must make things better for that million and a half who have to make their living on the farms. After we have done that we can and should concern ourselves about those others who are not so badly off. For I should like to make it quite plain that I am not against making things better for the worker in industry. As the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) said the other night, a policy of lower tariffs alone would make things better for the industrial workers.
I have cited the figures indicating that the value of farm implements exported in 1936 was much higher than in 1933. We had the experience of more men employed in the farm implement industry after the tariff reductions of 1924 and 1925. In this connection there is also another feature which I should like to draw to your attention; it is a matter which I have always had a good deal of difficulty in understanding. It is why those engaged in manufacturing fann implements in this country need tariff protection
at home when they can ship their products abroad and compete in the foreign market where they have no tariff protection. Here they have an advantage in that they do not have to pay so much in the way of freight rates, and if they can ship their goods abroad and compete in these foreign countries why should they require protection in Canada? Let me refer again to the figures I mentioned a moment ago. In 1936 the implement industry actually exported goods to a higher value than the implements that were imported in the same year. I will recall the figures again. In 1936 the agricultural implement industry of this country exported $6,-
344,000 worth of agricultural implements, and there were imported in competition with that only $6,182,000 worth. In other words, there was a favourable balance of $162,000, which we shipped out and sold in competition with the implement manufacturers of the world. Where, then, is the justification in forcing the farmers to subsidize the farm implement industry and pay more for their implements when that industry can compete with outside industry in the markets of the world?
There is another aspect of the matter that should be considered-and I am trying t6 cover the ground rapidly and deal with the principles involved as I see them. We have well established in the economic set-up of this country the idea of drawbacks, the idea that there shall be a refund of the tariff paid upon the raw materials that went into the finished product which is shipped out to compete in the markets of the world. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, is there any industry in this country that has to compete more with the low paid labour of the whole world than the agricultural industry? Agriculture has to compete with the low paid worker in Africa, in Egypt, everywhere. His tools, his implements are raw materials of the farmer. He has to sell his products in the markets of the world in competition with the people of all other nations, no matter how low paid their labour may be, and one of his raw materials is certainly farm implements, the means whereby he produces his products. Implements are one of the things he uses to produce his wheat, his butter, and so forth. If industry which asks for protection insists on getting drawbacks on the scale it does when it sells its products in the markets of the world, is not the farmer, who is made of flesh and blood and must live, just as much, at least, entitled to a square deal? Is he not entitled to drawback-a refund-on the basis of the excess he pays for his implements on account of the tariff policy protecting industry? When we

Farm Implements Committee Report
hear of the sacred name of Canadian unity, it is time our people began to see that we should base that unity on a fair deal to all parts and all classes of Canada.
Recently a prominent man in this country, making a submission to the royal commission investigating dominion and provincial relations, said that because of the difference in economic conditions as between one province and another some of the provinces could not afford certain social services while others could; that it was not fair to ask the richer to contribute to the social services of the poorer and therefore the best and fairest thing was to leave social services on a provincial basis. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, if Canada is not a nation? Do we not say to the individual Canadian: You must contribute to the national exchequer? In time of war did we not say to him: You must go and fight for Canada? Then when he needs help in the way of social services, are we to say to him: No, you are not a Canadian; you are an Ontario man or a Saskatchewan man? Are we to say that when it comes to upholding Canada, a matter of giving perhaps one's life for one's country, he is a Canadian, and that it is an obligation to Canada as a whole, but that when it comes to the state helping him in his hour of need, there shall be first-class Canadians and second-class Canadians, to be helped or not depending upon what part of Canada they live in? It is that sort of thing that is helping to break up Canada and make people feel there is not a real Canadian spirit, a real spirit of justice and fair play among Canadians as a whole, as there should be.
The fundamental question before us to-day is this: Are we at last going to do justice to the basic industry of this country, or are we going to permit it to continue to be exploited on behalf of one particular industry?
There are one or two other remarks that were made with which I should like to deal; I cannot deal with all of them. The hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Massey) said, at page 2580 of Hansard:
But I do know that the implement industry feels that prices should be based on costs, not on the law of supply and demand.
And the hon. member suggested that he was favourable to that idea, that the prices of the things the farmer has to buy, one of his raw materials, his farm implements, should be based not on the law of supply and demand, but on the cost of production in Canada, knowing at the same time that the selling price of the products the farmer has to sell will be based to a preponderant extent upon supply and demand in world markets. Is he
prepared at the same time to say that the selling price of the things the farmer produces shall be based on the farmer's cost of production? I just wonder if the Conservative opposition in this house is going to say: We are going to treat the farmer differently from the manufacturing industry. Is it going to say that the manufacturing industry will be permitted to get together by open or secret agreement and charge prices based on their cost of production, while the farmer shall be exposed to getting what he can in the markets of the world? Or is it their policy to say to the farmer: We are going to reimburse you the cost of production on your apples, your cheese, your butter, your wheat, on your oats your hay and your barley? We should hear what their policy is. If they are going to talk about the needs of industry, let us have one and the same policy for the farmer and for industry. If you are going to say that the price of farm implements should be based on the cost of production and a reasonable profit, then those who talk about the unity of Canada should be saying that the farmer should be treated in exactly the same way. If they do not do the one, they should not do the other. If they are not willing to do both, let them stop talking about the unity of Canada.
There is another thing I should like to say in conclusion. The Crowsnest pass freight rates have been dealt with in this house. This solemn agreement made with the railways provided that, amongst other items, no higher than a certain rate should be charged on goods hauled to the west. That agreement was abrogated by act of this parliament. The Crowsnest rate on farm implements should be restored at once.
I hope democracy is a real thing in this house. The last convention of our party held in 1919, came out, as I understand it, for the free importation of farm implements, one of the raw materials of the farmer. We have been again returned to power by the people of this country. We must let the peoples' will prevail. Special pleading for special interests should no longer prevail in this matter to the slightest degree in this House of Commons. The expressed will of the people who voted for a low tariff policy should be given effect to by legislation. There should be no more argument, no more delay, no more procrastination, with people still enjoying special privileges given by high tariff. The tariff should go down, and the tariff on farm implements especially should go down, or even be wiped out altogether. We are told by the Conservative party, that they had
Farm Implements Committee Report
an agreement with the farm implement industry that if the Conservative government would give them the right to charge their prices under the protection of a high tariff, they would not raise such prices; and we have been told that they have kept that agreement. We also know that the cost of producing farm implements in 1936 was less than in 1932. We know further that since this government got into power, the manufacturers, instead of lowering the price have twice raised the price of their implements, and done it the second time in the face of a finding of a committee of this House of Commons that the first raise in price was not justified. We know that, and yet we say that taking off the tariff will under present conditions effect a reduction in price. If that is not the case; if the implement industries of the North American continent have things so organized that they can raise their prices when their costs come down, and can do just as they please with the people of Canada, then I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that the sooner we know it the better. The sooner we take the tariff off and see whether that alone will work to lower prices, the better. If it does not work, I suggest we should then put the efforts-the full power-of this government and the finances of this country behind the development of a cooperative movement to manufacture and supply the farmers with farm implements at cost. If the embattled farm implement industries of this country, which have built themselves up under protection given by the Canadian people, have now got to the point where they are ready to challenge the people and their representatives in parliament, and to do as they please with regard to the needs of such a basic industry as agriculture, it is time for this parliament and this government to take up the challenge and show the implement industry and anybody else who may be looking on that parliament is supreme, and that if we cannot get justice in one way for the farming industry we will get it in another.
I beseech the house to pass this report. I suggest that the government go further and take the duty off agricultural implements. I further suggest that they reduce freight rates to the Crowsnest Pass level. They should then watch things very closely, and if prices do not come down at least to a figure comparable to prices in 1932, when costs were lower, other decisive action should be taken to see that justice is done to that fundamental industry which is now so depressed in this ?ountry, the farming industry.

Full View