The hon. gentleman must
be thinking of some other subject.
It may startle the House when I say that, while this year -we have had the best wheat crop in the West so far, it has not been by any means one of the most profitable ones.
What is the situation? As I said, the wheat ripened early; it was harvested early. We have had one of the finest fall seasons that has been seen in the West for many years, with the result that the farmers have been able to get their wheat forwarded rapidly to the market and the railroads have been able to handle it with much greater ease than in any previous fall for many years. The farmers have only one export market. Therefore, they were forced to throw their wheat upon the market before the close of navigation; that is what it means to have only one export market the reaching of which depends upon navigation. As the farmers were compelled to throw their wheat upon the market before the close of navigation, the price was materially affected. Therefore, in the province of Saskatchewan, the farmers received a lower price for their wheat, I think, than in any season for the last ten or twelve years. There was a somewhat unfavourable season in the year 1912, and in 1913 the prices were unfavourable. Therefore, I am not able to report to the House that improvement in the material condition of our western farmers that I had hoped to report when I saw this year the splendid harvest which we had through-,out the length and breadth of the three prairie provinces.
Is there any member of this House who will deny that it would be an advantage to the western wheat growers to have access to the mills and markets of the United States of America ? I know we heard that argument a couple of years ago; we heard it about cattle, about swine, about all sorts of agricultural products. But, the experience of the East and of the West in Canada has disabused the minds of thousands of the farmers of this notion, including many who in 1911 were of the opinion that it would be of no advantage to them to have the United States market for natural products. Some may say that the result will be that we would deplete our own farms of the live stock which we need. We would do nothing of the kind. We may do temporarily; but as a permanent proposition wc establish so much larger-and consequently so much steadier -a market for these natural products that the ultimate result must inevitably be to greatly stimulate mixed farming throughout the length and breadth of Canada. The hon. member for South York (Mr. W. F. Maclean) in his speech last evening was interrupted by the hon. member for East Lambton (Mr. J. E. Armstrong) with the suggestion that for some months last summer wheat was lower on the United
States side than on the Canadian side. That is a condition which, I believe, actually existed for a brief period, a very brief period indeed. But it was at a time when there was practically no surplus wheat in the granaries of either the American or Canadian farmers. But if my hon. friend from East Lambton will look up the prices for that period of the year when the farmers are compelled to put their wheat on the market, he will discover a totally different state of affairs. Under the tariff of 25 cents a bushel which existed until the first of last October, for years the price of same qualities of wheat on the Canadian side was from 8 cents to 10 cents a bushel less than the price on the American side. At the present time, with the reduction of duty from 25 eents a bushel to 10 cents a bushel, there is not so marked a difference in price, but I notice that 3 p.m. recent quotations show that there is a difference of from 41 cents to 5 cents a bush 1. Take a crop of 200,000,000 bushels of wheat, and, even cutting the advance of price in two and counting it at only 3 cents a bushel extra profit through access of our wheat to the United States market, "what is the net result to the farmers of our western country? At least the net result would enable them to pay their bills for agricultural machinery and other eastern manufactured products very much more promptly, and had the farmers made that profit, many of our eastern manufacturers would probably be in a much happier state than they are at the present moment. .
Now, there was objection, -when the reciprocity agreement was under consideration, that reciprocity was an arrangement entered into by the two countries and was not independent legislation on the part of each country. No one can find any objection on that ground with the proposal with which I intend to close my address this afternoon, the proposal that this Government shall take immediate action to enable the Canadian wheat growers to have free entry for their products to the markets of the United States. The American Government has taken action, and all that is necessary is for any other country in the world to take similar action in order that they may gain a free exchange in natural products. Now, Sir, not only have the United States put wheat on the free list but they have also put wheat products, including flour and all the by-products, upon the free list. I remember very well what
the millers said in 1911 in opposition to reciprocity; they said that reciprocity was not a square deal, because they would have to compete with the American miller in paying the price for the wheat, but were limited in their market on the by-products,
I am free to say that from their point of view there was some truth in that contention. I am proud to recognize assistance from any quarter in a great cause which I think affects the welfare of our country, and particularly that part of our country which I represent, and so I wras delighted to hear the hon. member for South York make the statement he made last evening with reference to the millers of Canada being able to take care of their own industry.
I could not possibly use more emphatic words, more wisely chosen words, than the hon. member for South York used in his reference to this point. Speaking of the railways being able to take care of themselves in case wheat was put on the free list lie went on to speak of the milling industry in words which, with his permission, I will quote:
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 they can; I say that they are ready for the business. Of course they would like to keep the monoply they have to-day in regard to wheat milling in this country, and they have got a great monoply. They are well linked up together and are in a position, by reason of their monoply and the association of the railways, to keep down the price. Thus in two ways the Canadian farmer will benefit.
That is, by putting wheat on the free list.
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 scratch and give them more for their Canadian wheat if they want to grind it in their mills.
To use an ordinary expression, that is the case in a nut-shell, as presented by the hon. member for South York. Granted that under reciprocity the miller of Canada would have to compete in the purchase of wheat with the United States miller, and have a limited home market for the by-products of his mill, if. we accept the olive branch held out in the form of the Wilson-Underwood tariff, and take the duty off wheat and wheat products, what shall we find? We shall find that there will result a great advantage to the millers of Canada in that they will be given free entry into a market of ninety millions of people, not only for the flour which they manufacture, but for the by-products of the wheat
which they have to sell. If any one entertains any doubt as to whether the Canadian miller can compete with the miller of the United States, I think I can very speedily disabuse his mind of that idea by referring to a short article^ which appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on Monday of this week. I do not think any hon. gentleman in this House would have the temerity to say that so far as the quality of Canadian wheat is concerned, it cannot compete with any wheat in the world if the millers are given the benefit of free entry for their products into United States markets. This is the article:
Canadian flour drives American flour out of the Orient. Hon. G. E. Foster's Trade Arrangement produces great results for the millers of this country and alarms United States Representatives.
The weekly trade report contains an item that is of exceeding significance in connection with Canadian trade with the Orient.
The American Consul-General at Hong Kong, reporting to his home government, states that Canadian flour is practically driving the American product out of the market, and that unless there is some change the American producers will lose this trade. He attributes the popularity of the Canadian flour in China to its high percentage of gluten, and says that no mere drought can explain the American falling-off, which was more marked in November than in any previous month.
It will be necessary, he declares, for the American wheat growers to get new seed and produce a different kind of wheat before they can compete with the Canadian product.
That is, in the market of China. The article then goes on to say:
It will be remembered that Hon. G. E.' Foster, after his trip to China last year, predicted that this country would yet take leading place in the flour market of China, and his predictions are being made good.
This is delightful information to receive from such an authority as the United States Consul-General at Hong Kong, and we are delighted with the compliment paid to the Minister of Trade and Commerce, and to know that his trip to China was not, after all, in vain. But the point of the article is that Canadian .flour is actually driving United States flour out of the neutral markets of the world. We know that our Canadian flour is holding its own not only in China but in the other neutral markets of the world, the British market included. In what position would the taking advantage of the Underwood tariff in reference to wheat and wheat products leave the millers of this country? It would open up to them a market of ninety millions of people, from which they have been up to the present rigidly excluded by a high tariff wall. Not
only the grain growers, but the millers of Canada as well, should be sending deputations to this Government to ask for the right to sell their wheat where they are today selling their cattle to such advantage. We quite agree with the hon. member for South York that the putting of wheat products on the free list would have some effect on our Canadian railways, but the evidence which I have produced so far goes to show that the high railway rates charged in this country are already driving the export trade of Western Canada to United States routes, and if the Canadian roads are determined to keep their freight rates at the high-water mark it is for the stockholders of these railroads to deal with the matter; the Canadian farmer should not be obliged to suffer because the railways refuse to bring their rates down to a proper level.
Some reference has been made in this House to the remarkable labour conditions that exist throughout the length and breadth of this country. When I happened to notice in a recent issue of the Labour Gazette a statement showing that in the city of Vancouver the building permits for the month of November amounted to only $300,000, as compared with about $1,500,000 for the same month of the preceding year, I was quite prepared for the information given by the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville) that there were 10,000 unemployed in greater Vancouver. But, on the authority of a recognized leader of the farmers' movement in the province of Alberta, Mr. George Lane, I can tell the House that the exodus that has taken place from the province of British Columbia in the last four months is actually taking place off the farms in the province of Alberta. More than that, I have information in a less pronounced form that the same condition of affairs is being brought about in every one of the prairie provinces. Sir, what does this Government mean? Do they want the farmers to export their wheat or do they want them to export themselves? That is the issue on this question at the present time, that unless the farmers of western Canada are given free access for their greatest product, which is wheat, into the markets of the United States, we are going to see, not an increased tide of immigration into our country, but an exodus out of the country, which, Sir, has actually begun. That is surely not the object or the desire of the members of this House of either political party. We want to see our country grow, we want to see the population increase; we want to
see the people increase in prosperity. But if we are going to say to the western wheat grower who to-day is face to face with a surplus of 50,000,000 bushels of wheat that he does not know what to do with: we, the Government of Canada, will prevent you from getting free access to the markets of the United States, there is only one thing for the western Canadian farmer and that is to pick up his kit and belongings and get out of the country to some place where conditions are more favourable.
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY.