March 3, 1933 (17th Parliament, 4th Session)


John Livingstone Brown

Liberal Progressive

Mr. J. L. BROWN (Lisgar):

Mr. Speaker,
I am not going to delay the house by any long speech on this subject. We have already had a great many speeches dealing with the stress of unemployment in its various aspects and the question of relief for those in need, but I want to call the attention of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon) to a specific case w'hich I think, ip view of the action of the government, or at least the failure to take such action as was requested of them, calls for special consideration. I had occasion when we were meeting here in the fall to call the attention of the government to this matter, and to-day I wish to take the opportunity of calling it to their attention again. In the southern part of Manitoba, part of which lies in my constituency, the grasshopper plague has prevailed for twro years. In one particular section the field and garden crops as well as the potato crop were destroyed by grasshoppers. Last fall when I brought the matter to the attention of the house, I stated that I had received word from some people in my constituency apprising me of the situation, telling me that potatoes were available across the line in the state of North Dakota at the price of ten cents a bushel, and asking me to

take the matter up with the government. I did so, I communicated with the Prime Minister, with the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of National Revenue. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture referred me to the Minister of National Revenue, who in course of time gave me an answer. His answer was a refusal to admit the potatoes free of duty. In his letter he asked me this question, which shows the attitude of mind of the minister towards these matters. The question was: Do you think
ten cents a bushel is a fair market value? Well he did not need to ask me that, everyone knows that potatoes cannot be raised for ten cents a bushel, Nevertheless the fact remains that on the Dakota side of the boundary, where they grow large areas of potatoes, for which usually they have a good market, potatoes could be got at that price, because they were unable to sell them elsewhere. I communicated the decision of the minister to my people at home, but they came back at me with further letters and telegrams. By this time it was possible for them to get the potatoes for nothing; that is, they could have them for the digging. Again I approached the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Ryckman) and the answer I got was that there were better ways to take care of the situation than by creating sectional tariffs.
I want to know what are those better ways; if the government has a better way of relieving those people I should like to know what it is. It was bad enough when they could not get potatoes for table use, but now the time is coming when they will need them for seed purposes. I think in view of the answer given me by the minister I have a right to ask of the government what that better way is. How do they propose to supply the needs of those people?

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