June 14, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

But very well received, 1 notice, by those who come from that part of Canada. Now, what were the conditions there? The United States had a closed market. The United States had a guaranteed price, and they had an embargo on grain going over. Europe, on the other hand, had virtually a closed buying agency. They were buying through one channel, and consequently, if they were not met by a similar situation at the selling end, then the selling end would have been helpless in the hands of the purchasing power. With the United States in that position, it was possible for us to operate this system. Europe is in no such situation to-day, neither is the United States. In the latter country, a free market exists, and with a free market in the United States you cannot, in my humble judgment, operate successfully a dosed market in Canada. I offer that opinion for whatever it is worth. I make no pretensions to such familiarity with the grain trade as would lend any excessive weight to the opinion I have just expressed, but let me say that it is buttressed by the judgment of many who have had very active and long experience in the grain trade of this country. And in Europe there is competitive buying.
There has been very serious complaint with regard to our wheat marketing system, our whole grain marketing system. I do not think all the complaints are justified; I do not think the grievance is nearly as large as it has been represented to be. But I believe there are substantial grievances, and I believe as well that in this year, 1922, that western country suffers more than any other part of Canada from the pains of deflated currency, from the effects of the premature deflation of the values of farm products and of manufactured and other goods. Such has been the experience in this and other countries of the world. Naturally this result would be particularly felt on the prairies. The West is so situated geographically that the task of overcoming its freight and transporta-

tion difficulties is the biggest of any wheat or grain-produding country in the world. It may not be as great as Rusia's to-day, but ordinarily it is the biggest mountain to get over in the way of transportation cost, just on account of its geography, that confronts any grain-growing country. Therefore, the West to-day is in the position, described, I think, though, in terms of some exaggeration by representatives from the West in this House. Nevertheless, they are in general right.
A rather serious position exists in western Canada just because of the two causes I have named. Therefore, it is the part of Parliament to render special assistance there, if special assistance can be rendered, to tide them over the present position, and Parliament should address itself to that task, and if to some extent the credit of this country is essential to do it, I do not think it will be the will of the majority of this House to withhold that credit for this purpose. If by the extension of federal facilities of credit and federal facilities of organization we can at least give a trial to another system of marketing, I for my part would like to see that system of marketing established. In that state of mind, and not unmindful as well, of the necessary restrictions in point of jurisdiction of the federal Parliament-in the state of mind I have described I stated last fall that if it was the wish of the western people, that should be done. I was prepared to commit myself to the establishment of a voluntary grain buying and grain selling system, or the establishment of a board by the federal Parliament, which board would have power to receive, to purchase, and to sell through its agency by the same system as the old wheat board, all grain committed to its charge in the year 1922. I also held out the hope that if that succeeded, if it proved feasible, it could be made the basis of a permanent system of marketing for that country. Undoubtedly it was to be in essence a voluntary system. It would not have the powers of the old board, and it would not have from some angles many of the advantages of the old board. That I well knew then; that I well know now; but I do not think in the light of conditions of to-day we could justify, even if the federal powers existed, the monopolization of the whole wheat handling of this country and virtually of the whole milling and flour disposal of this country.
It might be better and I would be prepared to do everything in my power to

Wheat Board
bring it about, that certain limited compulsory power be given. I do not think it would be of real value to have them given by two provinces alone. There might be certain compulsory powers, as to storage and disposition particularly, that could be given, and as to the giving of which this Government should not withhold its assent. Consequently, it seems to me the right course to take now is the course suggested there. I would be prepared to admit of some modification, of any modification that can be advanced in this House as feasible and of public advantage.
I suggest, then-I have not an amendment ready, but if the Government, particularly, has no opinions on this question I shall go to the trouble of getting an amendment and having it ready-I would suggest that we decide here and now on the establishment of a board upon the voluntary principle, and that we provide as well that if any province sees fit to repose in that board compulsory powers, the board can exercise those powers provided they are first reviewed by the federal government and receive its approval. I do not like Order in Council government. I never have.

Topic:   WHEAT MARKETING
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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