Hon. W. R. MOTHERWELL (Minister of Agriculture):
If my hon. friend had given
me an opportunity I might have had the documentary evidence with me. The first offer to fill this order for potatoes and onions was given, so far as my recollection goes, to a firm in the Okanagan valley, but they had not the goods and therefore we had to look for supplies elsewhere. We have not inquired into the colour of Mr. Robertson-I mean the colour of his skin, nor the colour of his politics, but I presume he is white. It never, however, occurred to me to inquire into the nationality of the growers who supplied these potatoes to Mr. Robertson. The second offer to have this order filled was given to Mr. Robertson as a responsible broker and I assume he got them where he liked as long as he complied with the conditions of the contract. There was only one thing upon which the British authorities, through the High Commissioner's office, insisted, and that was that all these goods would be examined carefully by the government inspector and that they must be of the proper quality. That condition was complied with. As regards the statement that some of these growers who supplied the goods to Mr. Robertson were Chinamen, that may be so. I do not know; I assume it is so; but when the overseas authorities wore buying wheat from the western provinces during the war I do not think anybody ever thought of asking who grew the wheat or what colour was the skin of the man who grew it. I do not want to magnify this or to make light of it; but with the Empress of Asia lying in the harbour scheduled to sail on a given date seven or eight days after the first communication, if the goods were not supplied on time and up to quality, the boat would sail without them. That is all I have to say at the present time, except that if it was an inadvertence not to find out in each case just who grew these goods and what was the nationality of the individual, then I must admit I was remiss, but that question was never put up to me by anybody.
Subtopic: ALLEGED PREFERENCE TO ORIENTALS