May 4, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


Martin Burrell (Minister of Agriculture)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. MARTIN BURRELL (Minister of Agriculture):

Mr. Speaker, I do not know that I have very much to add to the statement I made the other afternoon, namely that on the date mentioned, the end of February, we did ascertain not only from the various ministers of agriculture but also from such trade sources and official sources as were available, the situation throughout Canada. As I mentioned the other day, the surpluses in the Maritime Provinces were as follows: In New Brunswick, 750,000 bushels was the lowest estimate and 1,250,000 the highest; in Prince Edward Island, the lowest estimate was
500,000 bushels; and in Alberta the lowest estimate of surplus was 800,000 bushels. So we estimated that there was about one and one-half million bushels of surplus, and up to the middle of April, watching the exports, there would be left probably about one million bushels surplus. We made use of every possible source of information.
In regard to the telegram which my hon. friend has read, I may repeat the action that we took: we communicated all these facts to the ministers of agriculture for the respective provinces. We also- suggested that as in some of their districts there appeared to be a surplus and in others a shortage, if the provincial minister of agriculture thought there was a shortage in the
whole province it would be desirable, having placed all this information at his disposal, for him and for other ministers, as far as possible, to look after the shortages and requirements in their own provinces. That, it seems to me, was the proper action to take, and short of taking very drastic action, indeed, that is of embargoing or fixing a price, which would carry a great many complications with it and would raise a great many protests, I do not know that we could go any further. I will look into the matter again and corroborate the statement to date, and shall again find out what the exports have been; and if I can give further information to the House within the next day or so, I shall be glad to give it.

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