January 27, 1914 (12th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative


I will say wheat growers. The man who grows wheat is a citizen of this country and requires our protection. Of course, I would like to see him a mixed farmer, and the way to make him a mixed farmer is to show him that he is getting the best price for his wheat. Mixed farming is coming in the West, and a better system of farming is coming in Ontario. But to-day the farmers of the West are more or less discouraged. If I can believe the letters which I get, and all that I read and hear, and the resolutions that are passed, I know that the people who are asking for relief are the farmers of the West, and they are asking for relief in regard to railway freight rates and the price of wheat.
I come now to the question as to whether the railways will be injured or not and whether the millers of western wheat will be injured or not. A great cry has gone forth that they will be. It is also put forward that the eastern wheat grower will be more or less injured if we have free wheat. After analysing most of these statements, and I have got some capacity for getting at the truth of a statement, I find that this cry of free wheat is almost altogether from the railways of this country and partly from the milling interests of this country. Canadian railways can carry that wheat for less, and the moment they have the competition of the American railways they will come down to American rates, and they can keep their freight if they wish to.
The same is the case with the millers. Do you mean to tell me that Canadian millers, with their mills almost at the seat of production of the wheat, cannot compete with the American millers? I say that they can; I say that they are ready for the business. Of course they would like to keep the monopoly they have to-day in regard to wheat milling in this country, and they have got a great monopoly. They are well linked up together and are in a position, by reason of their monopoly and the association of the railways, to keep down the price of wheat. Thus in two ways the Canadian farmer will benefit. They will benefit by the competition of American railways and they will benefit by the fact that the millers will have to come up to the mark and give them more for their Canadian wheat if they want to grind it in their mills. If I thought for one moment that the Canadian mills would be in danger, I as a life-long protectionist might be inclined to listen to their views, but I have made a full investigation of the matter and, to the best of my mind, the Canadian railways, can stand a reduction in Ihe
freight rates, and the Canadian mills can stand the competition and can give more for the Canadian wheat and can still keep the business.
In connection with that, there is also the question of the offal from grinding grain, for the purpose of feeding stock. The farmers of the West ought to go more into mixed farming. They ought to abandon that business of being merely wheat growers and become out-and-out farmers. They ought to feed the offal of that wheat, ground in Canadian mills, to Canadian cattle. In that new national policy for the benefit of the farmers, which I think we ought to have in this country, we cannot too soon come to the idea that we must stop slaughtering our young cattle, and that we ought to use all the offal of the wheat ground in Canadian mills for feeding live stock on Canadian farms. There is a good national policy for the farmers, and I am for it, and it is because I am for it that I am making this statement to-night.
My hon. friend from Frontenac (Mr. Edwards) says: Oh, we may lose this
cattle-feeding business in this country; our cattle will all go over to the States, and our bran and shorts will go over there, and the Americans will feed it to our cattle. Then so much the worse for Canada. If it has that tendency, then under that principle, which I asserted here previously this evening, that we have the right to make our own fiscal policy and be independent of the United States, it is for us to do it here. If it is found that the millers of this country cannot grind our wheat under the competition of the American railways for the freight, then it is up to this Parliament and to the Conservative party now in power and to the party which opposed reciprocity two years ago, to make a national policy in this country such that it will keep this business heTe. We should not depend for the retaining of that business upon fiscal legislation passed by the United States. That is my idea of a national policy and that is my idea of what Canada ought to stand for.

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