February 23, 1916 (12th Parliament, 6th Session)


Levi Thomson


Mr. LEVI THOMSON (Qu'Appelle):

Mr. Speaker, I have followed this debate very closely. The Minister of Finance and the hon. Minister of Public Works appeared to be under the impression that what we lack in the West is information, and they undertook to supply us with information. But from what I heard and have read of their speeches, there is not a bit of information in them; their statements are as stale as yesterday, or as a year ago yesterday. If they would just take the trouble to attend some of the western grain conventions they would learn something. I know that my hon. friend the Minister of Public Works would learn more there in five minutes than he could ever learn from his study of the speeches of the Minister of Finance. The men in the West know their subject from top to bottom, and all I can say is that, if these hon. ministers have given us all the knowledge they possess on the subject, they know very little about it. The men whom they undertake to inform could give them lots of information which I think would be useful to them if they would heed it, but the trouble is that they do not want to listen to the western farmers; their desire is to know what the protected interests want; it is in these they are interested.
I desire to refer to one remark made by the hon. member for Macdonald (Mr. Morrison) in what I believe was his maiden speech. He said that we should hold this grain for Great Britain and our Allies. Is there any necessity for that? I expected some such argument would be sprung by some one; it is along the lines of some of the arguments, or what we call arguments, advanced by the hon. Minister of Public Works. But apparently even he thought little of it, and shifted it to the shoulders of his friend from Macdonald. Supposing we shipped 50,000,000 bushels of wheat to the United States, would they not ship a corresponding amount of grain to the Allies and Great Britain? I do not think it can be denied that the Allies would not get a bushel less.
Mr, MORRISON: I desire to correct
the hon. member. What I said was that no man could tell when the United States might be involved in war, and if the resolution before the House were passed, and several millions of bushels found their

way into the United States with the United States at war, that grain might cease to be available for Great Britain and her Allies. -
TdT. THOMSON: Does my hon. friend think that there is a probability of the United States entering the war on the side of Germany? If the United States enters the war it is much more likely to be on the side of Britain and her Allies, and if the United States became one of Britain's Allies, it would supply her, for the United States would be exactly in the same position as the other Allies. I do not think I need go any further into that argument.
We have had something suggested about possible British preference. This possibility of a British preference has been dangled __ before our eyes ever since I entered this House, and probably for ten years before that. This preference ihas always been just coming, and we have always been told that we must pass legislation with that in view. My opinion is entirely different in regard to that. When we aTe passing legislation in this House, we must pass it with a view to the circumstances that at present exist. If there should be a complete change in those circumstances, then we would consider the question of amending or changing our legislation. If circumstances should arise which would make it injudicious for Canada to have free entry for her wheat into the United States, we could easily Tepeal the enactment. We have been told over and over again that this is not a permanent policy. It is objectionable to hon. members opposite because it is not permanent, and it is also objectionable to them because it is permanent. They want to have it both ways, and they can only have it one way. The Minister of Public Works was a little rash to-day, I think. He tried to answer a question which was put to him by the hon. member for Dauphin, and which was also put to the Prime Minister and to the "Minister of Finance, but which they did not answer. In my opinion, they were wise in not answering. But my hon. friend the Minister of Public Works was not so wise, i and he told us, at least by inference, that it was more loyal to put money into the pockets of the manufacturers of Canada than into the revenue of the country. I disagree with my hon. friend, but I will leave it at thatr I do not think he will find many people in Canada to agree with him.
As I have said, I listened with care, and have read with care the speeches of the

two ministers who have spoken on the question. I am sorry to say that I am not disposed to consider very seriously the speech of the Minister of Public Works, because I do not think he gave his speech to us seriously; I do not think he was serious for a moment. We were told by the Conservative papers in the West that the minister was working day and night trying to get his colleagues to accede to this proposal of free wheat.

Topic:   FREE WHEAT.
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