April 16, 1914 (12th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Archibald Blake McCoig


Mr. A. B. McCOIG (West Kent):

Mr. Speaker, in the first place I wish to congratulate the hon. member for North York (Mr. J. A. M. Armstrong) on the force which ho has put into the remarks he has offered this afternoon. After congratulating him on the energy he has displayed, I regret that I cannot extend my congratulations further. I also wish to add my thanks to the Minister of Finance for allowing not only ditching machines but also their repair parts to come into Canada free. That is appreciated by the farmers in our sections of the country and I feel satisfied that it will assist them in working out what they have long wished for, that is, a better system of drainage for the farms in Kent and other counties in southwestern Ontario. In passing, I might also say that I appreciate the assistance that has been given the farmers in our section of the country by the Postmaster General in extending to them the free rural mail system adopted by the previous Government. I trust the present Postmaster General will not forget his solemn promise to me personally that he will continue to extend the routes in sections of West Kent in which there is now no rural mail service. The farmers are very much indebted both to the
former Postmaster General (Mr. Lemieux) and to the present Postmaster General (Mr. Pelletier) for the way in which that system has been and is being carried out. The system of free city delivery is also working wel in the city of Chatham with possibly one ot two exceptions in the business portion of the city to which I am pleased to call the attention of the Postmaster General in the hope that the delivery will be improved in the near future. I do not think it is necessary to reply further to any of the remarks of the hon. member for North York except to say that there may be more in his remarks with regard to repair parts of farm machinery than some men not familiar with farm machinery may be aware of.
Speaking of free agricultural implements, let me go back to the time of the first amalgamation of the Massey-Harris Company, concerning whose president the hon. member for North York says he is not particular whether he joins the Conservative party or not. In 1891 an amalgamation took place of the Massey Company and the Harris Company, then enjoying a protection of 35 per cent-for the express purpose of controlling the entire machine trade of the Dominion of Canada. Some time after the amalgamation, the Patterson Company of Woodstock and the Wisner Company of Brantford also amalgamated. The Massey-Harris Company feared the opposition of this new amalgamation, which received a large portion of the trade of Canada in the short time of its existence. The Massey-Harris Company tried to make some arrangement with them, either to amalgamate or buy them out. They were successful in making one big company of the two concerns, and for a time after they bought the Patterson Company out in 1891 the Massey-Harris Company controlled the machine trade of the Dominion. During that time they were successful in receiving for their agricultural implements just what prices they saw fit to ask from the farmers. I can prove that, and if the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Cockshutt) were in his seat I would ask him if that is not correct. They received at that time from $125 to $145 for their binders, which at that date were not to be compared with the machines supplied at the present time. Up till 1894 when the Government reduced the tariff from 35 per cent to 20 per cent they practically had a monopoly of the machine business of this country. When the tariff was reduced in that year they

had to compete with the Deering Harvester Company and the McCormick Company. What was the effect of that competition? What was the benefit to the farmers of the Dominion? Sir, the minute that the Deering and McCormick companies began to bring their implements in they made a reduction on repair parts of 25 per cent, and the Massey Harris Company were compelled to do exactly what the hon. member for North York has been complaining of, they were compelled to reduce their price on repair parts 25 per cent. Furthermore, they were compelled to provide an entirely different machine. The binder that they had been manufacturing for years was a heavy, cumbersome machine, and one that necessitated the use of an extra horse to draw it. It was far from being equal to the machines that were brought in from the United States. When the competition started they at once found it necessary to improve their machine. They got out a machine in a few years which was a great improvement on that which they had formerly produced, *a machine with roller and ball bearings, a transport truck and a sheaf carrier, and they sold it at exactly the same price to the farmers of this country. The point 1 wish to make is that when competition was brought in they were compelled to give the people of the country a far superior article at a reduced price as compared with what they were giving them prior to 1894. I believe that what the hon. member for North York has said is true, that the Massey Harris Company controlled me machine business of this country, and that was possibly one of the reasons why we find that not later than this last general election the hon. Minister of Labour (Mr. Crothers), who, we are all sorry to know, has been indisposed, and whose early recovery and return to the House will, I am sure, be a source of gratification to us all, made the following statement in the city of Chatham, as reported in the leading Conservative paper in the southwestern part of Ontario:
What the farmers of the Dominion want is not free wheat coming into the country, but free farm machinery.
That was the statement of the present Minister of Labour, one of the leading members of the Opposition at that time, and one of the hardest things I had to do in my own constituency was to convince the farmers that the Minister of Labour was only joking, and that if a Conserva-

tive Government came into power it would do nothing to carry out the principles which he advocated upon that occasion.
Let me go a little farther. I do not doubt, Mr. Speaker, that you remember that the former Conservative member for Maeleod, Mr. John Herron, .speaking on the 30th of March, 1910, as reported an ' Hansard,' used the following language:
I wish to say a few words on the resolution now before the House. I think it would be a much greater benefit to this country to put binders on the free list than feathers or perfumery, and things like that of which we have: heard tonight. I think this would have been a grand opportunity for the Government to fulfil some of the pledges they made years ago to the farmers of the Northwest. We know that prior to 1896 the Prime Minister and his followers made pledges that if they were in power they would put farm implements on the free list. I do not know whether the Prime Minister himself made that statement emphatically, but many of his followers who afterwards became ministers did make it. I think this would have been a fitting opportunity to insist upon reciprocity in agricultural implements between the two countries as well as* in wheat and other grains. *
Mr. SAM. SHARPE: What is the date?

Subtopic:   THE BUDGET.
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