the balance of our grains going abroad. If it is any comfort to the farmers of this country,
I notice in the trade report that we sold to Great Britain 872,000 pounds of rice, which if percentages are used is an increase of 800 per cent over 1930 in our trade in rice with Great Britain. That is very interesting, as we do not grow any.
But let me come to what is more important.
I refer to what has taken place regarding agriculture in Great Britain and the effect it is having and will have there. The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) practically denied that Great Britain was our greatest market for dairy products; at least, When speaking in the house not very long ago, he would not admit it. These are his exact words:
Mr. Weir (Melfort): Did the hon. member say I stated this afternoon that the United Kingdom was the best market for our dairy products?
Mr. Parent: I understood the minister to say that.
Mr. Weir (Melfort): I did not say that.
It may be admitted then that Great Britain is not the best market for our dairy products. Some hon. members have stated, both in and out of this house, that the right hon. Prime Minister has changed the fiscal policy of Great Britain. He certainly has done so, and the marked changes that are being made in Great Britain may well prove a terrible tragedy to the agriculturists of this country. When the Ottawa agreements were under consideration the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) was the member in the house who tried to point out that the gates would close against our agricultural products, and they are closing in Great Britain. Our eggs and apples have been mentioned, and we are being told that Great Britain will not allow us to dump our apples there as we have done in other years. And, Mr. Speaker-I would like to place this on record because I think it is of vital interest- the agriculturists of Canada should be told what the change in policy in Britain will mean to Canada. Major Elliot, the British Minister of Agriculture, is out to make Great Britain self-sustaining so far as agricultural products are concerned, if that be possible; he has stated that Great Britain will reduce her imports of agricultural products by a billion dollars, and what will that mean to this country? Will we be put on quotas with regard to eggs, apples, wheat and everything we grow? The effect of such a reduction in imports will be terrible so far as the agriculturist is concerned.
If I had time I should like to develop this further, because I think the country should be made cognizant of the actual conditions which face us in regard to agriculture. Lord De la Warre, when asked with regard to the marketing schemes in Great Britain, intimated to the House of Lords that Great Britain was endeavouring to make herself self-sustaining with regard to all agricultural products, and, what is important, he said that agricultural policy started at the Ottawa conference. Perhaps the Prime Minister thought he put it over the old country people when he practically forced them to sign on the dotted line two days before they left Canada, but the old country has now instituted a policy that is going to be very detrimental to the agricultural interests of this country. Our markets there will be greatly curtailed.
A great deal has been said with regard to bacon and hogs in this country; the Prime Minister stated that we could ship up to 2,500,000 hundredweights per year. We might do that, if we had that amount, but just until the agreements come up for review, for Great Britain has recently created establishments in the old country to take care of 4,000,000 hundredweights of hams and bacon annually, and the British dealers have guaranteed
2.000. 000 hogs this year, or the equivalent of
2.000. 000 hundredweights. The total imports of hams and bacon into Great Britain last year amounted to about 10,000,000 hundredweights, and now Great Britain is prepared to produce and take care of almost half her requirements. Great Britain has gone further likewise with regard to wheat; this year the acreage has been greatly increased and a surplus of 30,000,000 bushels is - expected. They want also to put a quota on butter and cream products entering that country, as well as on almost every other agricultural product. So we find that the British agriculturist is now coming into his own, and before long Great Britain will not be the great market outlined by the Prime Minister in 1932. I should not be at all surprised if the election came on before the agreements expire in 1935, because in my opinion the longer they go on the worse the condition, will become.
I would not have taken up the time of the house with these statements, Mr. Speaker, had it not been for the boastful statements that were made and the finger of scorn that was pointed at some of us on this side when we ventured to disagree with the government. Something has been started in Great Britain, however, and I suppose we can give the Prime Minister full credit for it. It is no wonder that
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we hear rumours that the right hon. gentleman is to be mentioned in the King's birthday honours. I hope he does not leave this country before the next election; it would be too bad if he did not wait to hear what the Canadian people will say when they have a chance to speak. Personally I hope the election will come this year, but if the Prime Minister is so honoured by Great Britain he can leave Canada and say to the British agriculturists, "I did it; I changed your fiscal policy," but what about the poor agriculturists in this land? The Prime Minister will not use the boastful language with which he concluded that previous speech, when he said, "Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set." Perhaps he intends going to Great Britain to set the bounds for British trade.
I believe the situation is very serious, so much so that only last week both Australia and New Zealand intimated to Great Britain that if she would remove the quota restrictions from their agricultural products they would allow British goods free entry. I wonder whether the Prime Minister would follow the lead of those two countries and make a similar offer. With regard to our wheat I think Canada should have a greater quota than was given either Australia or New Zealand, because those countries have a market in Great Britain for both mutton and wool to the extent of some $300,000,000. I believe the Prime Minister has failed because, instead of keeping agriculture to the fore as our primary industry, he has endeavoured to make industry first. We are a great agricultural nation, and our whole policy should be built with that idea in mind. We cannot be a leading industrial nation and at the same time a leading agricultural nation.
Mr. D'ARCY B. PLUNKETT (Victoria): Mr. Speaker, it was rather amusing to listen to the last speaker (Mr. Reid). The hon. gentleman is not very consistent as between his speeches and his votes. He condemns the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) because he has ruined the agriculturists of this country, yet we find the hon. gentleman voting for the marketing bill, which is designed to assist agriculture in Canada. I wonder if he will dare deny that bill on third reading; certainly he did not have the courage to vote against it on second reading.
With reference to the budget brought down by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes), I think the discussion has been so full that I need make very little comment at this time.
I have but one statement to make in that regard. The Minister of Finance has met existing conditions in this country with courage; he has given a complete statement of our financial position and he has exhibited the same resourceful strength that he showed last year when he delivered the previous budget.
There are many policies that are being enunciated by this government; perhaps there never has been a government in the history of Canada which has brought in so many policies designed to benefit the people. In all the criticism that has been offered we do not find much said as to the courage of the government; we do not find any reasonable suggestions to replace any of the measures they have offered, but we do find the usual criticism offered by the Liberal party. I sometimes wonder if they have joined the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. They usually criticize; they are like those who appear before the banking and commerce committee and present theories, talks and readings from professors and economists. The Liberal party is following along that line. Should they join, this House of Commons will be delighted to hear those theories of economy, not one of which has been tried out, and not one of which they are sure about.
May I congratulate the government in its intention to bring down some provision for public buildings throughout Canada. I believe they should attend to government buildings first, and then direct their attention to any road work which might help Canada as a nation to take care of tourist traffic. It was estimated that in 1933 the tourist traffic brought Canada $117,000,000. We must endeavour to continue to secure that trade, and with the improved conditions throughout the world there is no reason why this country, with its great physical resources and scenic attractions, should not be able to command a great part of tourist travel.
The government is to be congratulated upon the tremendous saving in controllable expenditures made in the last three years, amounting, we are informed, to $83,000,000. This figure would seem to give positive evidence of the government's intention to relieve the taxpayers of Canada of their heavy burdens. The hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid) who has just taken his seat, made the surprising statement that there had been no reduction in unemployment in Canada. In this connection I should like to read into the record a statement which appears in the Vic-
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toria Daily Times, that Liberal pillar of goodness. It is as follows:
Relief Lists 14,000 Lower
Reduction of more than ten per cent in province since February, 1933.
Reduction of 14,000 in the number of people receiving relief in British Columbia in February as compared with the same month last year is 3hown in figures released to-day by the provincial relief department.
I might suggest that does not include the present premier of British Columbia and his relief activities. The hon. member made another statement to the effect that in Great Britain the gates had been closed against the agricultural products of this country. I quote again from the Victoria Daily Times:
Lumber Trade With Empire Headed for High Record Figure
Shipments to United Kingdom in first quarter exceed any full year's business prior to 1933; total water-borne trade of province more than doubles.
British Columbia's empire lumber trade is definitely headed for a record year, according to statistics on exports for the first quarter just released by P. Z. Caverhill, chief forester of the British Columbia government forestry branch.
Significant figures of the trade are: In the first three months the province did more lumber business with the United Kingdom than in the full twelve months of any previous year except 1933, and has already reached nearly half the 1933 total.
Shipments to Great Britain jumped by close to 100,000,000 feet, or nearly 400 per cent over the same period last year. Exports to Australia advanced almost 30 per cent over 1933.
At the same time the province more than doubled its foreign export business and multiplied shipments to eastern Canada fourfold in the same period as compared with last year.
I believe these two statements should refute the remarks of the hon. member for New Westminster. When Canada is leading other nations in recovery it is not fair that hon. members in this House of Commons should endeavour to belittle the efforts of our government.
May I speak further upon the building construction program? Before I became a member of this house I was interested in construction, and I believe I understand some of the difficulties and troubles with which those interested in building construction activities have had to contend during the last four years. Building construction was the first to feel the business depression, and has been the last to respond to conditions which are more favourable or which more nearly approach those of normal times. Building permits issued by sixty-one cities in December, 1933, represented construction work
valued at $1,957,855, as compared with $1,609,874 in November, 1933, and $1,569,255 in December, 1932. There was, therefore, an increase of $365,981, or 22-7 per cent in December as compared with the preceding month, and of $406,600, or 25-9 per cent, as compared with the same month of 1932. The December, 1933 figure was the lowest for the month in any year since 1920, except 1932.
When we consider the amount of money that has been paid all over the country by the dominion government in rentals for office and other space in buildings which they do not own, I can see no reason why a campaign looking to the erection of government buildings in cities and towns where they are required should be opposed. The time has passed when the government should be held up by people who ask high rentals and exorbitant prices. I do not wish to go into details in this connection, but hon. members well know that many of the rentals charged the dominion government are not fair. In the larger cities we find that the dominion government offices are scattered; the city of Ottawa is a good example. Hon. members wishing to do business with a government department sometimes have to visit six or eight buildings. These offices should be under one roof. In many instances the government is paying excessive rates. The buildings should be centralized, not scattered all across the city. The experience hon. members had in the past winter was surely enough to antagonize hon. members against the present system.
We continually hear about, and our sympathetic attention is drawn to the farmers, railway employees, automobile industry workers and others, but we seldom hear anything said on behalf of the great mass of artisans and mechanics who by their work in creating new buildings and homes have done so much to build up our cities, and who have for the most part invested in homes for themselves, thereby ensuring their continued residence and citizenship in their respective cities.
Very little depreciation has to be written off public buildings built under the modern system, therefore they are a much more valuable contribution to the public welfare than is money spent upon good roads and beautification schemes which involve a big outlay of money and entail a large expense for upkeep. Building construction takes in a more varied line of endeavour and more separate branches of industry than any other commercial or industrial activity. Its ramifications run into and involve the steel industry, lumber and woodworking plants, cement and brick in-
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dustries, metal work, interior furnishings and the work of all craftsmen necessary to complete first class modern buildings.
Many of the mechanics and artisans employed in the erection and completion of such buildings have, through taxation and unemployment, lost their homes. Yet I believe that particularly in the cities organized labour, during the last three years of depression, has contributed more than any other section of our people to sound citizenship. They have done this through sacrifice and by their endeavour to distribute equally among their association members all labour which was offered. And so, by the creation of a community spiiit, they have been a help and benefit one to another. In the city of Victoria, British Columbia, the typographical union has divided hours of employment so that by each man taking one or two days off from his labour a division is made whereby all may have a fair and just opportunity to work. The money spent in construction work reaches every class of our citizenship and is distributed throughout the whole community for the benefit of all. It affects all lines of skilled as well as unskilled labour. The great majority of mechanics spend their money freely, with a resulting favourable effect upon the city and municipal life of our country.
In presenting these facts I would ask the government earnestly to consider adopting this plan in many cities and towns throughout Canada. I am sure the money would be well spent and would bring splendid results.
It has been intimated that in the near future there may be changes made in the British North America Act. I am convinced, Mr. Speaker, that in this suggestion we are starting at the right place. I think that in this dominion we have too much government,
. and conditions are such that some restrictions should be put upon our provinces. I see no reason why the three western provinces, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, should not have a change made in their system of government. Their interests are one and the same, and unless some effort is made to eliminate the cost of government in these western provinces we shall continually have them coming to Ottawa and knocking at the doors of parliament for more money. I do not see, Mr. Speaker, how the western provinces can be relieved from their present financial condition unless some such assertive action as I indicate be taken.
It might be suggested that British Columbia join with the three prairie provinces, but from its geographical position its interests are not
identical with those of the three prairie provinces. But why not start at the foothills? 'Let British Columbia manage its own affairs, and let the three prairie provinces join together and eliminate some of this cost of government which is so ruinous. The interests of British Columbia are considerably different from theirs. British Columbia has its big lumbering industry and its great fishing interests, whch are not of the same interests as those of the prairie provinces.
I would not for a moment venture to suggest anything along that line in regard to the maritime provinces. Their representatives in this house are so assertive that it would be very difficult to suggest that Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island should join together, but geographically, looking at the map, it would not seem out of place, and I rather fancy it could be done if its representatives would only consider it.
In regard to the financial condition of British Columbia, before the recent election there we heard nothing but "work and wages." Well,, the legislature was called together, and the premier congratulated its members upon being the finest looking body, both mentally and physically, that he had ever seen. They got through the session and as soon as the session was over it was no longer work and wages; it was "On to Ottawa." But while these legislators were performing their duties as legislators for the province the cost of education in British Columbia was increased by $50,000 being voted to the university of British Columbia. Provision was also made for higher salaries for school teachers-high school teachers I think. They even created one additional member for the legislature; this legislature was composed of such a fine body of men that they had to have one more to complete the circle. Is it fair for any provincial government to come to this parliament or to the Prime Minister and ask for a lean of $8,000,000 when they have not put their own house in order, when they have not shown the least sign of curtailment of extravagance, and then expect this government to keep the civil servants on a lower rate of pay while lending money to British Columbia to spend? These are questions which I would ask this government to consider. Let there be no misunderstanding; I want this government to help British Columbia if it is at all possible. This government will have to help British Columbia, but I think they should ask British Columbia to say what they are going to do with the money, and to what extent they are going to curtail the
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extra expenditures which they are imposing on the taxpayers of that province. Have they any right to shift the burden of taxation from the provincial to the dominion taxpayers?-for that is what it amounts to. The money has to be got, and it is simply a question of shifting the burden of taxation from one set of shoulders to another. But so long as the province shows no evidence of retrenchment I think it is better that the money should not be loaned.
Out in British Columbia they have created an economic council, a brain trust; they have an industrial relations board, and special private advisers. Does that help at all in creating throughout that province the feeling that it is going to pull out of its difficulties? Why should this legislative assembly of men and women, which was so good looking a body, have to create an economic council and an industrial relations board to help them out in their legislative work?
I wish I could persuade some of the members from the maritime provinces to come out to British Columbia and live. I am sure that if we had their spirit we would get many of the things that we are asking for. One thing I am sure will not be denied by any person who has listened to the representatives of the maritime provinces in this house making known the wants of their constituencies, and that is that if they should ever -travel extensively and visit Jerusalem, they -will surely qualify for a position at -the wailing wall. May I suggest that their representations have not been without result? In looking at the estimates for 1935 I find that the following items are to be applied specifically to the maritime provinces.
Besides the benefits to be derived from the Washington treaty there are the advantages gained through the Duncan report-all, I suppose, part of maritime rights, which I sometimes consider more or less as special rights or favours. On .April 11 last the hon. member for Antigonish-Guysborough (Mr. Duff) at page 2058 of Hansard made a very direct appeal for the sum of $15,000 to be expended for the relief of the fishermen of the town of Canso. I must compliment him for his ample representations on behalf of the fishermen of the town of Canso, even if I cannot commend his modesty.
Then there is vote No. 169, to provide, subject to the approval of the governor in council, for a grant to maritime fishermen of $4,050. There is also an amount of $160,000 authorized by statute, payable as fishing bounty. Then there is vote No. 154, for fisheries, to assist in the conservation
and development of the deep sea fisheries and the demand for fish, $85,000. Of this amount some $46,000 is to be spent in the maritime provinces, and even the town of Canso receives a percentage of the votes I have mentioned.
That brings me to another question which I think has never been fairly dealt with, and which is of great importance to the city I represent. I refer to the Pelagic Sealing treaty. Daily during the session and at the end of every session when I go home to Victoria I have from one to a dozen requests made -to me by private individuals, committees and deputations, to bring 'before this government the Pelagic Sealing treaty with a view to having some better arrangements made. This is perhaps one of the most unfortunate things that former -Canadian governments have done. They took away from the working man his means of making a living; they did the same thing with those involved in the business but no satisfactory reimbursement has been made. It is said that these men have been reimbursed, but I intend to show just how they have been reimbursed and leave it to hon. members from the maritimes to say whether they think what was done is satisfactory.
When the pelagic sealing on the Pacific was stopped by treaty, the number of claims for payment were 1,605 involving an aggregate amount of slightly over $9,200,000. The number of claims allowed was 142, the number disallowed being 1,463. I do not intend to criticize the legal judgments of the commissioner, who was a very capable gentleman, but I should like to present the human side of this matter. Unless it is cleared up by the appointment of another commission, there will always be regret and disappointment and a feeling of failure on the part of all the sealers who were in the business. In 1912 the approximate number of seals in the herd was 215,940. In 1932 the approximate number was 1,219,961. The total cost of the judicial inquiry by Mr. Justice Audette was $35,546.93 and the total sum paid to claimants was $60,663.75. Under the terms of this treaty Canada has received from the United States, $1,074,030.58; from Japan, $11,805.17 and from Russia, $5,308.97. Although this huge total has been placed in the consolidated revenue fund, only the miserable total of $60,663 has been paid out to the sealers.
When the learned commissioner delivered his findings and awards, compensation was allowed only to those who were actively engaged in the sealing industry during the year 1911. All those who were not so engaged
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during that year were totally excluded from any compensation. Is it fair or just to exclude all those who were not sealing during 1911? They might have been active during all the previous years and might have been prevented from operating during 1911 by sickness or other causes. I should like to quote a statement made by Lord Herschell as reported in Hansard debates of the House of Lords on June 24, 1912. He made this statement:
Compensation is to be paid to the Canadian sealers who lose their occupation owing to the provisions of the treaty.
Can it be said that that has been carried out when to-day distress exists and many families have been broken up? This is something like the famous case in Dickens of Jamdyce versus Jarndyce; they are still hoping something will be done. Successive governments have come and gone; the Liberal government was in for nine years while the present government was in power before, yet nothing has been done. The people of Victoria will never be satisfied until some further restitution is made. The whole civic life of Victoria was affected by this industry. Boats were provisioned and supplies purchased there, and people who were not directly engaged in the industry have suffered. Compensation has been paid to some boat owners but in many cases nothing has been done for those who carried on this dangerous vocation of going down to the sea in order to earn a livelihood by sealing. I should like to quote the judgment of Baron Alderson in Moon versus Burden, (1848) volume 2, Exchequer Report, 22, page 40. He stated:
It is contrary to the first principles of justice to punish those who have offended against no law. and surely to take away existing rights without compensation is in the nature of punishment.
Surely that is the law of this country. I submit that these sealers have not been properly compensated. Their rights have been taken away; they have not erred or offended any law, yet they have been punished by not receiving just and adequate compensation.
This treaty remains in force until twelve months after written notice has been given by one or more of the parties to all the others of the desire to terminate it. It is also provided that following such notice, on the request of any one of the high contracting parties a conference shall be held to consider and. if possible, to agree upon a further extension of the convention with such additions or modifications, if any, as may be found desirable. We have on the Pacific coast a herd of over one million seals which is preying upon the halibut and salmon fisheries. The government has endeavoured to make treaties with the United States for the conservation of our fisheries, but could there be any greater menace to the fishing interests of the Pacific coast than the allowing of thi3 herd to exist? Is this to be done and the fishermen receive no further remuneration? This herd has been allowed to increase and yet the government is attempting to make a treaty to help the halibut and salmon fisheries. What should be done is to curtail the number of these seals and pay proper compensation to these fishermen on the Pacific coast. Business firms throughout Canada are advertising the sale of seal skins. They are stamped with a maple leaf, but I wonder if the purchasers know the price paid by some families in my city? I wonder if they know of the efforts made to place before the different governments the need of some redress? I think their claim is a just one. All they ask is that another commission be appointed. I suggest that this commission should consist of a member of the exchequer court, an admiralty judge from British Columbia and a layman who understands fishing and sea life. 'If another hearing is held and only one person is found to be deserving, the government will have done its duty and the people will be satisfied. There are those who feel they have been discriminated against and not treated fairly. To show just how Victoria has been affected, I should like to read a letter addressed to me by the clerk of the municipal council of Victoria. This is dated April 22, 1933, and reads:
Re ex-sealers now inmates of Aged Men's Home, Victoria
I beg to inform you that the Victoria city council, at its meeting held yesterday afternoon. passed the following resolution, namely:
"Whereas three Victoria men, namely, James McGill, William Dawson and George Louis Chapman, formerly engaged as pelagic sealers on the Pacific coast are now being maintained by and at the expense of the city of Victoria in its home for the aged and infirm;
"And whereas by international agreement the dominion government is in possession of accumulated annual payments over a long period of years in trust for the distinct purpose of compensating Canadian sealers for the loss of their industry and their property;
"Therefore be it resolved by the Victoria city council that the dominion government be asked to take immediate steps to provide for compensation to the sealers and their families out of the said fund accumulated for that purpose; and that copies of this resolution be
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forwarded to the Eight Hon. the Prime Minister of Canada and Mr. D. B. Plunkett, M.P., for Victoria."
This was the resolution passed asking that justice be done in this matter.
Let me quote from Hansard, 1912-13, at page 12046, a statement made by Mr. Hazen:
My hon. friend knows that in 1910 a treaty was entered into between Great Britain Japan, the United' States and Russia, under which all pelagic sealing on the part of these countries was abolished, and under which it was agreed that Canada should be paid fifteen per cent of the catch of the United States at the Pribiloff islands, fifteen per cent of the catch at the Japanese islands, and ten per cent of the catch at the Russian islands, and that an advance payment of $200,000 should be made to Canada on account.
Just think of that, Mr. Speaker. Here was a government that did not create this business, a business that would not have been created had it not been for the hardihood and the spirit of adventure of these men who went to sea; yet that government demands $200,000 and gets it-the United States pays it.
That $200,000 has been paid, and claims have been made on the part of those who, in consequence of this treaty, and of the regulations in the Treaty of Paris have had to cease making a living by pelagic sealing. It has been determined to appoint a commission to inquire into the validity of those claims,-
Obviously they took a wrong point of view. They were not sure that the sealers had a valid claim. They did not say that they would look the whole thing over and see what could be done, but they decided to inquire whether the claim was valid or not.
and an order in council has been passed appointing Judge Audette, assistant judge of the exchequer court, as commissioner. Judge Audette will give notice to all interested, and will hold his first court in Victoria on the 15th of July. It may also be necessary
And this is where the maritime members come in. I did not know that they engaged in sealing down there.
-to hold a court in Nova Scotia, as several claims have been put in by people at Halifax who contend that they were engaged in the sealing business and that they are entitled to compensation. This vote is to cover the expenses of that commission.
The vote was:
To provide for costs of proceedings before the International Joint Commission, $10,000.
According to a later Hansard it appears that they had to get more money. The government of that day seemed to think that this was a little affair, something of no account; but under the terms of the treaty there has been paid into the dominion treasury the sum of $1,091,144.72. In Hansard of 1914, at page 2372, Mr. Hazen is reported as follows:
My hon. friend is aware that under the treaty entered into with the United States, with Russia and Japan, pelagic sealing is done away with. Canada is paid fifteen per cent of the sealskins thrown up on the shore by the United States, fifteen per cent by Russia, and ten per cent by Japan. The United States has paid us $200,000 .as an advance payment. Pelagic sealing is now abolished.
That has been received. Claims were made by those who were engaged in the sealing business and in order to arrive at the amount which would be paid to those whose living and occupation have been interfered with, Judge Audette of the exchequer court was appointed a commissioner to investigate. Some 1,500 claims have been submitted. We had a sum placed in the estimates for the year ended March 31, of $10,000. Judge Audette has been proceeding with the work and it was found that the $10,000 was insufficient. Only a comparatively small amount will have to be voted in the supplementary estimates for the year commencing April 1, in order to finish the work which is now well under way and which will be finished during the summer. It is to make provision for this work that this amount is required.
It is unfortunate that east is east and west is west, but the fact is that we are so divided and there is such a vast distance across the country. If hon. members from eastern Canada could visit the west they would have a different conception of that country and would appreciate the glorious part in which the people there have played in building up that section. I appreciate the advice and the wisdom we get from the east and I earnestly hope that I shall be able to prevail on this government to do something to relieve the situation of the sealers, who feel that they have not had just compensation.
Mr. OSCAR-L. BOULANGER (Bellechasse) (Translation): Mr. Speaker, like hon. members who have preceded me in this debate, I also deem it my duty to extend to the hon. Minister of Finance, on behalf of my constituents and myself, our sincerest and deepest sympathy in his bereavement.
At the same time, as the Canadian press informed us this morning of the decease of Mrs. Rhodes, it published the sad news of the death of a former member of parliament, Colonel O. E. Talbot. For about fifteen years he represented, in this house, the county which I have the honour to represent now. Some who are, at present, members of this house, were acquainted with him and will recall his qualities both of heart and soul which had won him the esteem and respect of his colleagues. May I, sir, as representative of the county of Bellechasse extend to Mrs. Talbot and family the expression of my deepest sympathy.
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I do not intend, sir, to review the entire budget statement of the hon. Minister of Finance. I will restrict myself to the analysis of one or two statements from the viewpoint which interests the group which I have the privilege of representing in the house. In his budget speech, after having referred to the violent and universal drop in the prices of farm products and the spread between the prices of raw materials and manufactured goods, at page 2269 of Hansard, the hon. Minister of Finance adds:
For this reason the government has consistently pursued a policy designed to stimulate a rise in prices by every sound means.
I wish to examine, sir, in the few minutes at my disposal, the question as to whether the general raising of prices is really the remedy which must be sought under the present circumstances.
I have very great doubts as to the efficiency of the remedy proposed and I do not think that a general enhancing of prices will cure the ills from which agriculture is dying, at present. What has caused the ruin of agriculture is not so much the drop in prices of farm products as the exaggerated spread between the prices at which farmers have to sell and purchase. That is an undeniable truth. Likewise a general rise in prices will in no way affect the situation. In raising the whole structure of prices all the various price levels are proportionally raised, the upper levels as well as the lower, and the same interval is maintained. In other words, the tune is not changed by raising the tone.
It is more a question of restoring the purchasing power of the farmer than promoting artificially a general raise in prices. In fact, agriculture would be prosperous if farm products could be bartered for an equivalent quantity of manufactured goods.
The reasons for the drop in the income, and purchasing power of the farmer are numerous. During the war when European nations were under arms and unable to produce food and other articles of prime necessity, the farmers of America as well as industries considerably increased their production. Once the war was over, European nations resumed their farming activities and reopened their factories, with the result that they ceased relying on America. Production should have then been reduced so as to adjust itself to the demand. The remedy was applied with fairly good results in connection with industries; however it is not such an easy matter to adjust farm products to market demand. That is why the prices of farm products dropped so considerably as to be out of proportion with the
prices of manufactured goods which the farmer is obliged to purchase.
The farmers endeavoured to reduce their expenditure in operating costs, hand labour, buildings, implements, material etc., however, they were unable to reduce their fixed charges, such as liabilities, interest and taxes, which have not decreased but rather increased in the post war period. As their returns decreased and their purchasing power dropped, they ceased being the clients of industries and dealers, and that brought about industrial unemployment in cities. Industry and commerce will not be prosperous so long as the purchasing power of farmers is not restored. This may be done by reducing the spread between the prices of farm products and those of industry.
A few figures taken from official publications of the Dominion Bureau of Statistics will prove that the drop in prices of farm products, during the crisis, was out of proportion with the drop of those of manufactured goods and that the unreasonable spread which resulted is the cause of the depression in agriculture. Incidentally, these figures will perhaps explain how it happens that, while the farmers receive from the sale of the their milk, tobacco, and their animals less than the cost of production, the magnates of the dairy industry, cigarette manufacturers and packers accumulate enormous profits and vote themselves salaries that railway presidents enjoyed before the crisis, as certain investigations have shown.
The figures which I desire to submit establish a comparison between the years 1926 and 1933, the ratio figure 100 refers to 1926. One may see that, from 1926 to 1933, the price of farm products has dropped from 100 to 51, while the price of building materials has dropped from 100 to 78-3; the price of manufactured goods from 100 to 70-3 and the wholesale price, generally, from 100 to 67-2.
At six o'clock the house took recess.
The house resumed at eight o'clock.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE