November 14, 1940 (19th Parliament, 2nd Session)


James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of National War Services; Minister of Agriculture)



My hon. friend is quite an expert in a number of things, one of them being composition, which he taught for many years in a school in the city of Regina. If he will read the Hansard report of his speech he will find that what I am stating is exactly correct.
I differ from my hon. friend in his diagnosis of the case. If the peoples of Europe whom Britain has befriended for ages had been able to hold out against the attacks of nazism, every scrap of food Canada prepared against the day of trial would have been required by now and would have been selling at a price which would have partly paid the debts incurred during the days of narrow nationalism. But the war has brought destruction, pillage, rampant death and slavery to the small food-producing countries of Europe, and we, with our food supplies increased to greater surpluses than for years, are able to play a greater part in assisting Britain than we otherwise could have done.
Britain did not want our apples last year. We helped the apple growers as liberally as we ever helped the wheat growers. We entered into an agreement with Britain and set up a board to handle bacon. The price of hogs averaged about three cents a pound higher in Canada than in the United States where there was no agreement. We made an agreement on cheese, and cheese producers were assured of a price much better than the relative price of butter which was left to the tender mercies of our own market. Our farmers could not sell their wheat, and we

did what no government ever did under similar circumstances before. We paid them more by way of advance one year than we could get for it, and when the war break came and our storage would not handle it, we helped finance an increase in storage and we distributed the storage available so that all could get some. We pegged the price so that the speculator could not profit, and Britain came to our assistance and paid us more for wheat than she paid any other country in the world.
In the face of these facts I want to say that, before the trip which I made to Britain a few weeks ago, we had been functioning in the interests of agriculture in this country and had been giving considerable direction to production in Canada. We told the farmers, for example, more than a year ago that it would not be wise to increase wheat acreage; but wheat acreage was increased by two million acres. We cannot always be assured of the carrying out of undertakings which we advise people to enter upon on their own behalf. We advised them, it is true, to g6 on producing bacon. We had some difficulties with that before the end of last year, but those difficulties will be cleared away when I read the arrangements which we made in Britain when I was there in recent weeks.
Perhaps one of the greatest war services provided in Canada has been performed by the farmers. I think the remarks of the different oppositions agree with that. We are inclined to look upon munitions, arms and armies as being indispensable in war time, and they are; but sometimes we forget that the necessities of peace time are the fundamental requirements of war time. Food and clothing are as indispensable in time of war as man-power itself, because without food and clothing there could be no man-power.
The farmers of Canada and the enlisted soldiers from all classes in Canada have been required to make greater economic sacrifices than any others. First it was the apple growers, next the tobacco growers, next the vegetable and small fruit growers; and now the wheat growers have been compelled, because of the turn of the war, to accept much less for their products than they had every right and reason to expect. Farmers suffered as great, if not greater, losses because of war fear before war was declared.
Because of these losses, both before and since the declaration of war, I thought it wise to go to Britain and study the British position first-hand, taking with me, to assist, officials of the department who are entrusted with the task of helping to market farm products. We have just returned and have certain reports to make.

The Address-Mr. Gardiner
The first is that while the blockade lasts there is only one European authority to which we can direct food supplies, and that is the government of Britain. I have noticed from press reports since returning that certain persons have been suggesting while I was away that we should seek markets in certain quarters. I wish to state, in terms that cannot be misunderstood, that having witnessed the bombardment of London and other parts of Britain I would not remain for one hour in any government of Canada which would seek markets for farm products anywhere in the world if the marketing of them there would in any way tend to weaken the blockade Britain is enforcing upon certain sections of Europe.

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