February 28, 1911 (11th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Clifford Sifton



friend the Minister of Agriculture is going to follow me, I believe, and he of course knows infinitely more about farming in the province of Quebec that I do-but I am going to ask him to address himself to one question in connection with this agreement, because I have not been able to get any light on it in favour of the treaty, and if there is any light to be thrown on it I would like to get it. The province of Quebec has bright prospects before it at the present time. Our transportation system is growing so enormously; the city of Montreal is growing so enormously; the prospects of the pulp and paper industry are so good that unquestionably in the province of Quebec in a few years there will be an enormous home market-perhaps the largest home market of any province, in the Dominion. The province of Quebec is not very well farmed at the present time-there is good farming in some parts of it, there is poor farming in a good portion of it, and moderate farming in other portions of it. The agricultural problem of the province of Quebec is to induce the farmer to keep his hay at home and to follow a system of intensive farming. That is the agricultural problem of the province of Quebec. Lately we had the Deputy Minister of the Department of Agriculture for Ontario at Quebec; he came there at my special request to deliver a carefully prepared address upon the subject of the improvement of agriculture in the province of Ontario, explaining at great length and with great care the magnificent system of agricultural education and improvement which has lately developed in the province of Ontario as the result of 20 or 25 years of laborious work, which is now approaching its period of fruition in that province and beginning to make its influence felt. We wanted it explained in the city of Quebec, and we had it explained and we are printing thousands of copies of Mr. James' address in the French language and circulating them in the province of Quebec for the purpose of getting the authorities of the province of Quebec to undertake an aggressive movement for the improvement of agriculture. What happens-comes along this treaty and puts a bonus on poor farming by inducing the farmers of the province of Quebec to ship their raw products to New England, and deplete the fertility of their soil.
Take the prairie provinces-I am perfectly aware of the fact that there are a great many people in the western provinces who think that this treaty will be a great thing for them. I have before seen premature conclusio'ns arrived at in the course of 23 years in public life during which I have had an experience that not many members of the House have had because I have had the honour of representing to-day in this House the same people who elected me

first as a young man to the legislature of Manitoba, and in the legislature or in this parliament I have been their representative ever since. During that time I have seen a good many questions of this kind come up as to what was going to benefit the farmer and as to what would be in his interests, and I am not so sure, when this question comes to be discussed, that the farmer of the Northwest will be impervious to reason and common sense and good judgment when he gets the case put before him. It was first said: Well, but the farmer of the Northwest is going to get more for his wheat; the price of wheat south of the line in Dakota is higher than it is in Manitoba. That is true. It is a little higher; it always or nearly always rules a little higher, and they said: If the farmer can get into that market he will get more for his wheat. Now comes along Mr. Hill, the president of the Great Northern railway who is a great advocate of reciprocity and a very fine man and in a way a friend of my own, and he says: The
duty does not make any difference; it is true the Dakota farmer gets a little more for his wheat but it is not on account of the duty, it is on account of the local circumstances. Now, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Hill is either right or he is wrong; there are just two ways to look at it. If he is right and the duty does not make any difference, then the Manitoba farmer will not get any more for his wheat when the duty is taken off. That's clear. If he is wrong and the duty does make a difference what is going to happen? Why, what is going to happen is this: That so soon as the immense exportable surplus of the Canadian Northwest is let into the Dakota market then the Dakota man's wheat goes down to the export level, and the Dakota man gets less, but the Manitoba man does not get any more. There is no doubt about that; it has happened already. Here is the New York ' Evening Post ' of February 16, and as everybody knows the New York ' Evening Post ' is a most reliable paper, and this is what it says, speaking of wheat:
As matters stand now values are off over 24 cents from tlie season's top. The range on May wheat tliis# season has been from $1.15 to 90| cents, the highest price having been made November 4. With the adoption of the treaty there would be about 13,000,000 bushels of Canadian wheat now in sight which would be available for moving into the United States provided it is needed. This, with the 43,000,000 bushels in the United States, visible supply would make 56,000,000 bushels available. Part of the Canadian wheat has already been hedged by sales of futures in the different markets and considering the drop of 12 cents in a month, it would seem as though any possible effect of the treaty on values had been largely discounted.
Of course nobody would suggest that it went down all of 12 cents by reason of the" 139}
difference between the markets on the two sides, or by reason of the difference between the Dakota price and the export price, but every one knows that when the price of wheat gets a shock in that way it keeps on going down on account of the panic on the market.
There is, however, another factor to be considered in the shape of a surplus of 133,000,000 bushels in the United States that must be taken care of. This means that values must go to an export level at which a liberal disposition of the wheat can be made. With the adoption of the Canadian treaty it is expected that the prices will be kept on an export level most of the time.
There is no doubt about the position so far as the price of wheat is concerned. I say here that I deliberately give it as my opinion, representing a constituency of Manitoba farmers and having represented them for 23 years, that the Manitoba farmer will get less for his wheat in the long run as the result of this agreement.
Now, what have we been trying to do for years past in regard to this question of wheat? We have been trying to keep the wheat of the Manitoba farmer pure. We had an Inspection Act-upstairs in the House of Commons here we laboured for weeks, yes for months to get that Inspection Act into good order so that the wheat might be properly inspected and properly graded with the object that it should be kept pure and placed upon the English market in a pure condition. And why? Because we know that if the Canadian wheat is put upon the English market in a pure condition it will bring on an average of from three to four cents per bushel on the higher grades, more than any other wheat in the world. A few years ago we revised the Inspection Act, and the result was that our wheat was put upon the market pure for a year or two, but somebody found out how to get around the Act. and the grades began to go off, and the grades have been off for several years past, and the farmers have been complaining and properly complaining in regard to the condition of things in the terminal elevators. These terminal elevators have been in the hands, to some extent, of men who-.are themselves buying and selling grain and handling millions of bushels of other people's grain, while they were buying and selling their own. What happened-grain mixed, grades have gone down, and the farmers have lost and lost very heavily, and they have a just and proper right to complain. Now, the government has introduced in the Senate a Bill to appoint a commission for the purpose of taking charge of that wheat, and I believe the government policy is good. And if the commission takes charge of this business as they ought to there is no reason why they should not keep control of that wheat. And, Sir, they

can only solve the trouble by taking control of the elevators first, not owning them, but controlling and inspecting them properly and keeping control of the wheat right through until it gets to Liverpool. There is no other way. It is not difficult; it is not half as difficult as it looks; it can be done by a competent commission of men .without any trouble at all. And in addition to that, if that is done the commission in the working out of the* system by which they can do that, can give a very substantial preference to the Canadian routes so that we will get advantages in that way as well, and they can give advantages to the Canadian routes without it costing any more to get the wheat to Liverpool. Here is the position in which we are. If we keep control of that wheat *md that market, we shall be able to get for the western farmer, by_ a proper system of handling, a better price than he will get in any other possible way. More than that, with the increase in the volume of business from the Canadian Northwest, our railroads will in a short time be in such a position that we can reasonably ask to have the rates substantially reduced on export grain; so that instead of the Canadian farmers getting a bonus of three cents a bushel for sending their wheat by the eastern Canadian channels, as was tentatively suggested by the hon. member for St. Anne if the inspection and transportation matters are properly handled by the commission which is to be appointed by the government, and the question of the freight rate is dealt with, we will secure for them within a reasonable time, not three cents a bushel, but six or seven cents a' bushel more than they can get in any other possible way. But if that is to be done, you -must keep the control of the trade in your own hands, otherwise you can do nothing.
Now, what is to happen ? I wonder if my hon. friends of the government have thought' of that, in connection with this treaty. The Grain Exchange has met in Winnipeg and has passed a resolution to the effect that the Inspection Act must be changed. What must be done under this treaty? We must change the Inspection Act, and we must make the grades the same as the American grades; that is, we must permit of mixing; and to all intents and purposes, we must hand the control of our grain market over to Minneapolis. That is the position. To get a better price ? No.
Then there is the question of cattle and that is one question in respect of which there is no doubt that the western farmer will get a benefit under this agreement, for the present at least. There is no doubt that the market for the second grade of cattle in the prairie provinces, is a poor market at the present time-why ? Because it is a new country. It is only a short time since Mr. SIFTON.
the country was sufficiently settled to have a sufficient production to organize this business. In fact, we have hairdly got to that point yet. The result is, that there is at the present time a very poor market for cattle in the western provinces. But that is no reason for throwing the country away, or for considering that we can never have a market. That is a Teason for taking up the subject and dealing with it in an intelligent way. The farmers' delegation, which came here recently, said to the government ;
We wish also to draw attention to the danger we are in while we leave the opportunity open for the United States meat interest to capture and control the export trade from our country.
What are they going to do now ? They will capture and control all the cattle of the Northwest-(the very last hoof will be controlled from Chicago. What I say is, that we should establish a chilled meat industry. It has been done in Australia and New Zealand. Dr. Rutherford has reported in favour of it. There would be [DOT] no great difficulty in the government doing this, and it would be worth while taking the trouble when you have a country like the Northwest of Canada. We could afford to hire ten mein at $10,000 a month rather than lose this business. The members of this House know that I am an enthusiastic friend of the Northwest. The best years of my life were given to the settlement of that country, and I cannot tell you how I feel about that great country being made a backyard to the city of Chicago. I have differed with my friends in my own constituency, and I do not know, but that there are many men who have supported me for years, who differ with me on this subject; but I take the liberty of thinking that I know as much or more about it than they. I have studied these questions all my life with the object of learning the way in which the affairs of that country should be organized so as to be of some benefit to themselves and the rest of the country, and I say that we should organize that country in a business way. If we do, we shall have duplicates of the stock yards of Kansas City, Omaha and Chicago in our own . Northwest.
What is the general effect of this treaty? The general effect .is, that we put the Dominion of Canada on an absolutely free trade basis, so far as farm products are concerned. The farmers of Canada are on a free trade basis for what they sell and on a protective basis for what they buy-protection for the purchaser, free trade for the seller. Do you think they are likely to stand that for any length of time? I do not. I tell you, that if you have had delegations from the Northwest, you will have them again if this

treaty goes through. After it has been in force for a few years, I venture to say that there will not be any question of the duty on agricultural implements or on any other manufactured goods, for we shall be compelled to take all those duties off, and have practically commercial union with the United States. As men of common sense, let us apply to this question Jhe same business rules that we apply to~any otheT business matter. We open our market to the world. Read the list of favoured nations along with the United States, and if there is in that list of countries of production anybody who can raise any one of the commodities in this list, cheaper than it is in the Canadian market, a commodity unsaleable and unmarketable, it can be shipped and dumped into the Dominion of Canada. I cannot conceive of what our friends in the government were thinking of. I leave this question of markets and prices, and record my conviction, that if ever a government made a monumental mistake, if ever a government got in wrong on a subject from first to last, my hon. friends have got in wrong on this subject. The House may think that I am very much in earnest about it. Sir. I would not break away from the political party with which I have acted for 23 years, practically all my life, if I were not in earnest about it.
What is the commonest phrase in the mouths of the people of Canada ? We hear it in the speeches of public men, we read it in the editorials of newspapers; we even see it in the compositions of our school boys-what is it ? Binding the scattered provinces of Canada together. I would like to know if this treaty is intended to bind the scattered provinces of Canada together. It binds, but it binds the other way; it binds British Columbia to Oregon and to Washington and to California; it hinds the provinces of the Northwest to the states immediately to the south of them; it binds Ontario and Quebec to the states south of us; and it binds the maritime provinces to the states of New England. And we are expected to believe that, a policy of that kind is a broad national policy, one to promote a broad and strong nationality. What have been the main features of our transportation policy ? We have spent scores of millions of dollars for what purpose ? What has been in our mouths at all times, Liberals and Conservatives alike, on every platform? Send our goods through Canadian channels, from one province to another, and from the eastern provinces across the sea. What did Sir John A. Macdonald mean when he nailed his colours to the mast and said that the Canadian Pacific railway must be built around the north shore of Lake Superior, and appealed to the people of Canada on that policy and got their support ? My right,
hon. friend the leader of the present government later came before this House and said: We shall build another line of railway from ocean to ocean, every foot of it on Canadian soil, and he appealed to the people of this country for their support, and they supported him in doing it. They, said: Yes, we believe in that policy. Why should we turn from that policy now?
If it does not make any difference which way the traffic goes, why spend $50,000 or $60,000, or $133,000 per mile to build a railway from Quebec through to Moncton and duplicate the Intercolonial, which we had before? Why do that, if it does*not make any difference whether or not the traffic goes over Canadian soil? For my part, I can see no reason. What is the reason for the right hon. gentleman's change of view? I could take the ' Hansard ' and read to you the strong words of the right hon. gentleman when he said, in this House, that of all things in connection with the policy of Canada as related to the United States, the one thing we must do is to be independent of the Americans. That is a policy, Sir, which I believe in. He never said a word in the whole course of my close association with him with which I agreed more fully than I did with that statement, but the difference is that I believed it then and I believe it now, and so long as I have the honour to have anything to say about the public affairs of Canada in the most humble capacity I shall continue to support what I believe to be the loyal policy that the people of Canada desire to have followed. We know why it is that the other policy is being supported. We know why the milling trust of St. Paul and Minneapolis ara in favour of this proposal; it is because they want to get the hard wheat of the Canadian northwest without paying duty and drive our millers out of the export market. That is just as easy as adding two and two together. The northwest miller of the United States gets $2 or $3 a ton more for his offal than the miller in Canada, and that makes the difference; the Canadian miller has no chance in the world in the competition which is brought about in this way. The northwest miller of the United States would get the wheat free now if he could. The meat trust would get meat free if they could. We have often been told that they might take the duty off if they wanted to, but they cannot take the duty off, because they have a population of farmers who do not propose to permit these gentlemen to manipulate the duties to suit themselves. But we understand why the milling people would want this arrangement in regard to transportation, why the meat trust would want it and why the United States Steel Corporation want to get into our markets. We can understand why the Chamber of Commerce in New York, always in favour of reciprocity, should

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