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


Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)


I followed the hon.
member, and I wish to be fair. He has said that he agrees with that view if the price is right, and the quality is also right.
We now come to a consideration of these two factors. I have already dealt with quality; nothing further need be said about that. It is admitted by even the most censorious. I now proceed to the question of price. I have said that I have been forty years in western Canada. In civil life I was a member of the bar, a solicitor as well as a barrister, and I can recall that as a youth, when I went there first, in the old office I saw accounts sent from the United States by implement firms to collect from those who had shifted residence from the United States to Canada. I can remember, too, being struck by the notes signed for Deere and McCormick machinery, and things of that kind, and I frequently talked with them about the situation. I do not mind saying that I frequently talked with the representatives of the manufacturers because to me, coming from eastern Canada, it was a little difficult to understand just what these high interest rates meant-so much per cent per month, and matters of that sort. Well, I slowly learned what was involved, namely the tremendous losses sustained by the manufacturers. Just as they pointed out, these people had left their country and gone
to another, taking with them their implements which were not paid for in full; and there were the difficulties that came about by reason of servicing, parts and matters of that kind, together with the many uncertainties connected with the business on account of uncertain crops.
But I saw a lessening of the conditions imposed in those notes. I remember that the late president of the Massey-Harris Company, Sir Lyman Jones, came to western Canada on one occasion to look over the various agencies of the company and discuss this very problem with them. He was most anxious that farmers should get their implements at the lowest possible price consistent with a fair return upon the capital. And I remember asking the present High Commissioner for Canada in London. Mr. Vincent Massey, who was president of the Massey-Harris Company, in order that I might make the statement publicly, whether or not the Massey-Harris Company had ever sold implements abroad for less than they were sold in this country. He made an investigation and assured me that I might say publicly, as I did on more than one occasion, that they had not charged for their implements abroad a lower price than they had charged in Canada. That was something I was anxious to know; I was proud to have him make that statement and, as I say, I repeated it publicly on many occasions.
What is a fair price? I wonder if we would think it fair to have someone say to us here that he thought fifty cents a bushel was a good price for the wheat of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). I wonder if we would regard it as fair for someone to come to a professional man and attempt to fix his fee. I heard a story of one of the most eminent United States surgeons who, having operated upon a distinguished and rich patient, had a cheque sent to him for a very large sum of money. He sent it back; he said "Our patients do not fix our compensation." They may discuss it, but the charge is made by the man who has something to give or sell, or a service to render.
Although there is a permanent board to deal with these matters, it was suggested that a committee of the House of Commons should deal with this question. I ask my fellow Canadians, is that fair? Each of us, while exercising the utmost care in the world, cannot help being actuated by some political or personal concern. We are the representatives of parties, and unconsciously we find our: minds warped or, shall I say, just a little given to supporting a particular view; and

Farm Implements Committee Report
with that state of mind we have a committee that is going to investigate a situation or a condition and then make a recommendation as to the correctness or otherwise of these prices. Is that quite right? Is that quite fair? I pointed out that it was suggested in part of the report that the farmer was being exploited. I said I thought on reflection that one of the hon. gentlemen who spoke the other evening would hardly think his desk-mate, Mr. Moore, who is a director of the Massey-Harris Company, was endeavouring to exploit anybody. From what the house knows of his interest in the farmers, does it think he is endeavouring to exploit them? Yet he is a director of this enterprise.

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