Thomas John BENTLEY

BENTLEY, Thomas John

Personal Data

Party
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Constituency
Swift Current (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
May 3, 1891
Deceased Date
June 2, 1983
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_John_Bentley
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=4983dfa5-ae0c-4441-a68b-5fa6c9bd729f&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
agrologist, farmer, organizer

Parliamentary Career

June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
CCF
  Swift Current (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 235)


April 28, 1949

Mr. Bentley:

Could we have this with music?

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION
Subtopic:   EXTENSION TO NORTHWESTERN MANITOBA
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April 26, 1949

Mr. T. J. Bentley (Swift Current):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to congratulate the member from Rosthern (Mr. Boucher) on his maiden speech and the manner in which he delivered it. If it is ever the misfortune of the rest of the country-and his good fortune -to have him return here, which I doubt, he will no doubt do considerably better the next time. We in this group have no criticism to offer, Mr. Speaker, of the calling of an election at this time. We are very pleased. The date is agreeable to us. We believe it is time an election was called to give the people of this country an opportunity of saying what they want.

I am not going to brag about what will happen. We will allow the members from other parties to read the ballots and weep on the night of the twenty-seventh. I was interested, however, in the member for Rosthern's description of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). If he had been a little more cognizant of the history of the last fifteen or twenty years; had he been a little less prejudiced, he would have realized that many of the things that he claims the minister stands for now, that same Minister of Agriculture opposed most bitterly within the very short memory of a great many people in western Canada.

He poses now as a great believer in orderly marketing. That same Minister of Agriculture made it very difficult for the farm organizations of western Canada, and the C.C.F. group in the House of Commons, finally to persuade him that the idea was good. And then having adopted the idea, the same hon. gentleman has been so piecemeal in introducing that type of legislation into this house that a great deal of the benefit that should have accrued has not come from it. The people have not been given the full benefit of what we believe is proper orderly marketing in order to receive parity prices. I may deal with that a little later.

The Budget-Mr. Bentley

Before going into the main reason for speaking in this budget debate, Mr. Speaker, I want to deal for a moment or two with this matter of marketing coarse grains, and all the controversy that has been going on since a little over a year ago when Bill No. 135, an amendment to the wheat board act, was introduced into this house. It will be remembered that one section of the act gives authority to the wheat board to handle oats or barley or oats and barley if it was considered necessary. I am sorry the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) is not in his seat, because at that time he was the premier of Manitoba. During his term of office there when Bill No. 135 was under discussion in this House of Commons, and when the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) made it clear that Bill No. 135 would not be proclaimed unless the three prairie provincial governments each passed conjoint legislation to make it legal, the present Minister of Justice, at that time the premier of Manitoba, disputed most emphatically in correspondence with the Minister of Trade and Commerce the need for that legislation and the need for the legality of it. While I am not going to quote all these things today, I shall refer the house to sessional paper 110C, tabled during this session of parliament, containing that correspondence between these two gentlemen, and setting out very clearly the present Minister of Justice's disagreement with the actions of this government at the time that he was premier of Manitoba. Even today that hybrid government of Manitoba between the Liberals and the Tories, who have such glorious little squabbles in this house, but who get along so well out there, did not have the courage to bring in a government measure of that kind, but had to let it come in through a private member, and even then were compelled to accept it by the weight of opinion of the farmers of Manitoba.

Yesterday the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) asked a question in this house with regard to the matter. If I remember his words correctly-and he can correct me if I am wrong; they will be found in Hansard-his question was as follows:

In view of the fact that the legislature of Manitoba has joined the legislatures of Alberta and Saskatchewan in enacting complementary legislation in reference to the marketing of coarse grains, will the compulsory marketing of coarse grains now become automatic, or does the government intend to give further consideration to the question whether the course recommended by these legislatures will be carried into effect?

The question itself was worded in such terms as to indicate the innate caution of the hon. gentleman who asked it. He has been extremely cautious in his approach to this

The Budget-Mr. Bentley matter, knowing that his own convention last fall was very much against this type of legislation and finally adopted it only with the proviso that other types of marketing would also be allowed to exist along with it.

The minister replied to the hon. member for Lake Centre in these words, which will be found at page 2519 of Hansard:

The government set the prerequisite to the act being brought into force on two or three occasions. Apparently that prerequisite has been complied with.

Then note this:

The government will study the situation in the light of what has been said in the past.

Shortly after that the hon. member for Melfort (Mr. Wright) asked a supplementary question. It was unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member for Melfort did not get the floor first; but being farther away from the Speaker he was not recognized as early as the hon. member for Lake Centre, consequently his question could not get on Hansard as it should have, but it will get there today to indicate the difference in the tone, the difference in the sympathy toward this type of legislation between the question asked by the hon. member for Lake Centre and what would have been asked by the hon. member for Melfort. This is the question the hon. member for Melfort would have asked:

In view of the fact that the three western provinces have now passed the necessary complementary legislation to last year's Bill No. 135, and in view of the fact that the western farmers are now seeding, and the amount of coarse grain seeded will depend on the implementation of this act and the prices established under it, will the minister make a statement clarifying the position of the government and stating the 1949 prices for coarse grains?

That indicated on the part of the hon. member for Melfort a sincere desire to see the farmers themselves get the type of reply that would give them some guidance, some information to indicate to them in the management of their farms whether they should sow more or less coarse grains and which kind to sow. The minister replied in the same tone that he had used before. I want to remind the Minister of Trade and Commerce of one or two things. On several occasions in the past the Minister of Trade and Commerce has made statements about this matter. In 1948, as will be found at page 1678 of Hansard, the minister said:

The government is prepared to take whatever steps lie within its power to assist in establishing marketing arrangements that will help to maintain economic and stable prices for Canadian agricultural products. The government must, however, be satisfied that any given scheme for this purpose is . . . a practical one-

I have left out a few words, but any hon. member can look them up. I am not taking

anything out of the context; I am simply shortening things up. He said:

... a workable one and one that will command the support of the interested groups concerned.

In dealing with this matter this year the minister made a statement which is reported at page 1421 of Hansard. This was not in another debate, Mr. Speaker; it was an answer of the minister and therefore it is quite in order to quote it here. In giving the answer he had dealt with the matter of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture's representations to the government asking that this particular legislation be introduced. He had gone on to say why they could not do it in the way that the Canadian Federation of Agriculture wanted it done, and he pointed out that if the farmers did not like the way he was doing it they could make use of the bill that was going to be introduced by the Minister of Agriculture and which has since been disposed of, namely, Bill No. 82. He then finished up with these words:

If, on the other hand, the western producers wish to market their oats and barley through the Canadian wheat board, and provided that their provincial governments will enact the necessary legislation, this government's position has not changed since I introduced Bill 135 in response to specific requests then made by the farm organizations.

If that is not a clear indication of a promise, a definite undertaking to do a certain job when certain conditions had been met, I do not know what it is. From the time he introduced the bill he said that if the three prairie provinces passed conjoint legislation his government would instruct the wheat board to handle oats and barley. This is what he said yesterday in reply to the hon. member for Lake Centre:

The government will study the situation in the light of what has been said in the past.

What does the Minister of Trade and Commerce want? His conditions have been fulfilled. Everything he has asked for has been done. The people of the prairie provinces, by representations made to their own governments, have finally persuaded any of those governments which might have been reluctant that it was in their interest, and that they wanted this legislation. The minister has the legislation before him; and now he has the effrontery on the eve of an election to tell the House of Commons that the government is again going to give study to the situation. If I were inclined to use rough or profane language, I would ask, "What the hell more does the minister want?"

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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April 26, 1949

Mr. Beniley:

That is not a point of order; it is another speech. I do not blame the hon. member; but I do not think I should permit him to proceed further, because I would prefer to finish what I have to say. The hon. member rose to a point of order, and then proceeded to make a short speech.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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April 26, 1949

Mr. Beniley:

Not during my time. You may later, if Mr. Speaker will permit you.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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April 26, 1949

Mr. Bentley:

I said that there were very few. If the hon. member for Calgary West (Mr. Smith) knows something about it at least I will be talking to one hon. member who has an intelligent understanding of what I am saying. While there are very few who understand it I do not think any would be ready to go into the country and say that they do not believe in it. They know that the co-operative people of this country base their operations on the principles of the Rochdale pioneers. I should like to quote from the Fundamentals of Consumer Cooperation by V. S. Alanne, published by the Northern States Co-operative League of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Butler can deal with these people by making the kind of statement he has made, but up here he will have to deal with those who know something about it. I quote:

Here is a significant clause in the now famous program of the Rochdale pioneers: "That, as soon as practicable, this society shall proceed to arrange the powers of production, distribution, education and government; or, in other words, to establish a self-supporting home colony of united interests, or assist other societies in establishing such colonies."

There is a whole book of that sort of thing, every word of which would be useful. The statement made by Dr. Karl Butler will be denied by a great many co-operative people in this country. The profit motive is not the principal incentive. Their motive is to reduce costs and provide the best service possible and give the fairest weights without profit. That is the basic policy and philosophy of the co-operatives of this country.

The Budget-Mr. Bentley

I have some further evidence to present along these lines. I have here a brief which was presented by the Co-operative Union of Saskatchewan to the government of Saskatchewan on January 12, 1949. I know there are some people in Saskatchewan and other places who would like to create a division between those in Saskatchewan who operate co-operative enterprises and the C.C.F. This is the brief that was presented to the government in an effort to establish what these people believe is the basis of relationship between the two functions, to set out where the one could function and where the other could function. They have indicated what they believe is the basic philosophy of co-operative enterprise. For instance, on page 3 they say:

Laws in capitalistic society were primarily made to protect the entrepreneur and were developed and amended through time to protect greater aggregations of capital. While provision was made from time to time to enable co-operatives to enter the commercial field, it was always as a distinct and peculiar division of business and not as part of the general economy.

At page 4 they have this to say:

The co-operative movement grew up as a voluntary organization within the framework of a capitalistic economy.

Later on there is a fairly extensive quotation which I wish to give. They are dealing with what has happened under the Labour government in Great Britain, and they say:

If the foregoing is true in Britain, it is equally so here in Saskatchewan.

They were pointing out where the government's field was and where the co-operatives' field was. They say:

It is submitted that the co-operative movement- consumer, producer, and service-can make an important contribution to stability and the maintenance of effective and responsible democracy in a planned economy as projected by the present provincial government. Having as its base a broad democratic foundation amongst farmers, urban workers, and the professions, it at all times promotes and encourages active participation by the people in the responsibilities of political and economic ownership and control. It is real "free enterprise" in that it enables all men and women, regardless of financial investment, to enter the business field in their own behalf, and at the same time develops a social outlook in working together for service, impossible where profit is the motive.

If the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Ross) ever gets around to reading Hansard of this day I should like him to remember those words, and then cogitate again on the immaturity of his statement in believing the word of somebody from somewhere else who was simply expressing a personal opinion, and who would have been heartily disagreed with by the great bulk of co-operators in this country.

The Budget-Mr. Diefenbaker

If I ever say anything that impresses the government I should like this to be it. If they believe in their hearts that they are trying to build a democratic country in Canada, that they are trying to extend to people in all walks of life, in the political field, in the production field, in the servicing or distribution field, in the business world, the elements of democracy in which we believe so much, then I say to them that they cannot do it if, every time a democratic organization threatens the power and monopoly of some established institution, they do not extend that democracy and clamp down some particular type of legislation on the statute books of this country which will prevent the fulfilment of the purposes of these democratic organizations that rise up in any one of these fields.

If they cannot see that, then there is one other course they are going to follow, just as sure as day follows night. It is now established on the statute books that there can be no such thing as a non-profit co-operative organization in this country inasmuch as they have imposed a three per cent tax. Some day they will come to the conclusion that is not enough to do the job they want done, which is to kill the co-operatives. They will listen to the persuasion of the Canadian Manufacturers Association, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and their other big friends, and they will proceed to raise the tax to five per cent. If that does not do the trick they will raise it to whatever percentage is necessary to kill these democratic commercial institutions. If they want to go in the other direction they can move to remove the three per cent tax, and they can do that right now on the budget resolutions. They do not even need to wait until those resolutions are voted upon. The government will receive the support of a great many people in this country, if not politically at least spiritually, if they will have the courage and the decency to give co-operatives the kind of treatment that they have a right to in Canada.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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