May 1, 1918 (13th Parliament, 1st Session)


John Flaws Reid

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. JOHN FLAWS REID (Mackenzie):

Mr. Speaker, as a new member, I crave the indulgence of the House. The first and greatest need is the recruiting and training of men to send overseas to back up our brave soldiers at the front. I am prepared to support this Government in every measure that will forward the prosecution of the war, and my address to-night will be along the lines of greater production.
The great need of Canada is farm production. The great need of the Empire and her Allies is foodstuffs. Canada cannot render better service to the Empire or make a better contribution towards winning 'the war than by increasing farm production. The Empire needs food for her men on all the battlefronts and a larger supply of foodstuffs to maintain heT armies of industrials. The armies and citizens of her Allies are also calling for more food. The Empire and her Allies are willing to pay us enhanced prices-a double incentive- patriotism and profit. Canada needs an increase of farm production to meet financial obligations already incurred as well as to maintain her armies now fighting side by side with the Empire's soldiers. No commodity enters so much into the commercial life of the nation ae does the product of the farm, and no other commodity contributes so much towards the maintenance of its transportation companies, financial institutions, commercial and industrial undertakings. Hence we see the importance of encouraging farm operations. This self-evident proposition has been recognized by all interests as manifested by the amount of exhortation given to farmers by all classes of the community. The press, the pulpit, the professions, commercial and financial institutions have indulged in a display of their patriotism by imploring farmers to increase production. No matter how anxious the farmers may be to help the Empire, no matter how keen they are to raise crops while high prices obtain, unless they are provided with the means of production their operations will be limited. It is encouraging to note that our Governments are alive to this fact. If we are to meet our obligation in the matter of farm production, something more than exhortation has to be undertaken.
Deprived largely of man-power, the best substitute farmers can secure is an ample supply of modern machinery. The Federal Government recognized this fact, and to
help meet the case removed customs duties off tractor engines for a year, thus placing this help within the reach of many farmers. They also entered into arrangements to supply a large number of farmers with tractor engines at cost. Of course, there is no misunderstanding the Government's intentions in this regard. They want to supply tractor engines at a price a larger number of farmers can afford to pay and operate at a profit. If it is a good thing to remove the duty from tractor engines .as a war measure to encourage production which only .affects a comparatively few farmers, how much better service could we render to the Empire and Canada if the Government would remove the duty from all farm implements, as a war measure? Of the (two hundred thousand farmers in the prairie provinces, probably not more than fifty thousand can purchase and operate tractor engines, all the rest of them require the latest improved farm implements so as to increase their efficiency and productive power, and nearly the whole of them are prepared to buy improved machinery, could it be purchased at reasonable prices. I know many farmers in western Canada who, early in the season and before prices for farm machinery were fixed; gave orders for new and larger implements, such as .seed drills, but who cancelled their orders when they learned what the price was to be. Farmers who were using a 16 shoe drill wanted to purchase a 20 or 22 shoe drill, thus increasing the working power of a man 25 per cent in seeding. The same thing applies to harrows, ploughs, etc. Many farmers who have an extra colt or two ready to put to work would use a 6 or 8 hoTse team in place of a 4 horse team, and the 2 horse farmers would use 4 horses, but they are prevented from thus increasing their effective power by the excessive cost of machinery. Increased factory cost and war tax have increased the duty more than double. For instance, in 1914, the duty on a 20 shoe seed drill was $12.90, this year it is $32. Add to that the profit of the dealer, and the cost on account of customs duty would be $40. Eight dollars and thirty^six cents duty was imposed1 on a 12-inch two bottom gang plough in 1914, this year it is $19.60. A triple gang plough carried a duty of $13.50 in 1914, and to-day it is $32.65, and so on all along the line.
Those who know the needs of agriculture and the limit that will be placed on production by the lack of farm labour are convinced that the expansion of production can be brought about more by placing

modern, farm implements at the disposal of farmers at a reasonable rate, and that it will contribute more to increase production than any other one thing the Government can do.
While there are many farmers in the prairie provinces who realized very satisfactory results from the operations of the farm during the last three years, there are many whose operations have not yielded more than a bare living. For instance. the provincial government reports indicate that in all centre and southern Manitoba the average yield of wheat for the last crop was around nine bushels an acre. A great many did not get the cost of production. This also applied to large areas in Saskatchewan.
The annual conventions of the three provincial grain growers' associations strongly urged the placing of farming implements at once on the free list, as a war measure. The business interests of the country towns and villages are joining with the farmers in this demand. Their knowledge of farm needs acquired by close proximity has convinced them that farmers must be supplied with the latest machinery, that the loss to them of man power due to the war can in a large measure be offset by the use of modern and improved, farm implements. As business men acquainted with the situation they recognize that the loss of revenue to the Government through removal of custom duties from farm implements would be small compared to the advantage the country would secure by the efficiency and increasing capacity on the farm due to ample machinery of the right class and type. Many farmers are no.w supplied with all the implements of production needed, for efficiency. The bulk of farmers, however, are not so situated.
It is easy to conceive that supplying farmers with farm machinery at the price that would rule were the duty immediately removed might easily increase the capacity for production, and the improvement of cultivation that would follow would result in an increased production of at least 5 per cent for 1918 and a larger increase for 1919.
We are all urged to make sacrifices for the sake of the Empire and to win the war. We are all urged to do "our bit." Cannot the Government submit to a small loss of revenue, and the few others who might be affected adversely by the removing of duties from farm implements submit -to a reduction in profits in an effort to increase the farm production of Canada which all
[IMr. J. F. Reid.]
agree is so greatly needed by five to ten per
Again, Sir, many of our returned soldiers are anxious to go back on to the land to make homes for themselves and their families. Is it right that our Canadian manufacturers should be allowed to tax o-ur brave heroes who have risked their lives at the front for the protection of our Empire and for the cause of liberty, civilization, and democracy, and who now return to us suffering from shell-shock, 'and nervous wrecks? It is up to the manufacturers of agricultural implements to go " over the top " like men, with organized agriculture, and to ask our Government to remove the tariff on implements as a war measure, and thereby help in the great drive for greater production. Then thousands of souls now almost starving for the lack of bread would- bless the generous action of our Canadian manufacturers whose chances of entering the realms of eternal bliss would thereby be greatly enhanced, if not assured. Let us remember, "even a cup of cold water, etc."
While there was nothing in the Budget speech about -a reduction in the tariff, I have here the customs tariff of 1907, revised up to 1914, and find in it a provision whereby the Government can by Order in Counbil remove the duty on implements as a war measure, and I am sure if such a measure came before the House it would receive the unanimous support of hon. members.
The hon. member for London (Mr. Cronyn) suggested the appointment of a tariff commission. On behalf of the western organized farmers, I welcome the suggestion, provided the organized farmers have a representative on the commission- something we have not had in the past.
One thing more, Mr. Speaker. I wish to draw to the attention of our Government the loyalty of our western farmers in subscribing to the Victory bonds last fall. Many of them put every surplus dollar they could gather up into Government bonds, with the understanding that our chartered banks would loan them money to finance their business until the crop of 1918 came in, and to-day hundreds of our farmers are paying our chartered banks eight and ten per cent for moneys to finance their business until the fall, the banks deducting the interest from the principal. That is, .when a farmer asks for a loan of one hundred dollars, he is handed out not one hundred dollars but ninety-two dollars, and ,in many cases only ninety dollars, for which he signs a note in full for one hun-

dred dollars. The small borrower is nearly always hardest hit.
This, I understand, Mr. Speaker, is for the purpose of evading the law and compelling the borrower to become a party to the agreement. I feel that it is the duty of our Government to bring in legislation to effectively stop this pernicious system prevailing in banking practice.

Subtopic:   THE BUDGET.
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