Mr. R. J. Wood (Norquay):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to take part in the debate on the address in reply to the speech 'rom the throne. It is the first time I have iccepted the privilege of speaking in this jhamber. Before proceeding, I wish to extend my congratulations to the mover (Mr. Larson) and the seconcier (Mr. Dumas) of the address which we are debating. It is gratifying to find two prominent young men, such as the member for Kindersley and the member for Villeneuve, taking an active part in federal affairs.
I represent the constituency of Norquay in Manitoba, and wish to speak briefly on matters as they affect my constituents. Originally my constituency was known as Selkirk, but in the redistribution of 1948, the town of Selkirk, which is situated in the extreme south end of the old Selkirk constituency, was put in with some of the suburbs of the city of Winnipeg, and that was called Selkirk. The old Selkirk constituency, the one which I now represent, was named Norquay after the Hon. John Norquay, the first Manitoba-born premier of that province.
The forebears of the people of Norquay originated in about twenty-five countries throughout the world, so I can truly say the people of Norquay are a cosmopolitan people. Some of the early settlers came from England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Ukraine, Poland, the United States and some from central Canada.
As far back as 1870, a number of Icelanders came up from North Dakota and settled on the shores of lake Winnipeg and lake Manitoba. Later other groups came in, some from the Dakotas and some direct from Iceland. Two of the first points of settlement by the early Icelanders were Gimli and Hecla. These people were hardy pioneers. Their principal occupation was fishing, although many of them kept livestock and did considerable farming. The finest grazing land to be found in the country is on the east shore of lake Manitoba. The Icelanders are a sober, industrious, intelligent and progressive people.
It was in this Icelandic settlement on the west coast of lake Winnipeg that Vilhjalmur Stefansson, the Arctic explorer and author, was born on November 3, 1879. When he was four years old, his father moved back to North Dakota where Vilhjalmur attended school and university. In 1905, he joined an Arctic expedition on which he got lost. He lived among the Eskimos for eighteen months learning their language and customs. In 1914 he and two companions travelled 600 miles north of Martin Point, Alaska, living on seals and polar bears. He had bean given up as dead, but returned to civilization in 1918 after exploring and mapping 100,000 miles of unknown polar territory, thus adding three large and several small islands to the map in the region north of Melville island. Vilhjalmur never gave up his Canadian citizenship. Many other men and women of distinction came out of this settlement of Icelanders in the interlake area of Manitoba, men and women who became prominent in law, medicine, education, arts, politics and sports.
In 1896^ when the government of Sir Wilfrid Luarier opened the doors to immigrants of eastern as well as western Europe, one of the first group of immigrants of Ukrainian descent arrived in Canada, on May 24, 1897. Forty families from this group of new Canadians moved out of Winnipeg, going as far as Stonewall by train and from there to the district north of Teulon. Some moved by ox team, and many travelled On foot. These families all settled in the Teulon district, on land which a great many of us at that time considered unfit for agricultural purposes. However, these settlers cleared small patches of
land, and drained the swamps. They erected log houses and barns with thatched roofs. The men folk would work either on the railroads or in the grain fields, and although the first few years of their lives in Canada were gruesome and difficult, each settler had a homestead of 160 acres of land. They were building their homes, and slowly opening up the land for cultivation. Soon these people were erecting new and better houses and barns. Mixed farming was carried on in a majority of cases.
In this settlement today, after fifty years, we find some of the best and most prosperous farmers in the country. These settlers now have modern homes with telephones, and hydroelectricity, large attractive barns of latest design, nicely painted. They all have power machinery, new or almost new automobiles, and good roads leading to all the small urban centres in the community. These people moved to this country from eastern Europe in 1897, with a promise of freedom. I am pleased to say, Mr. Speaker, that they protect, probably more jealously than many of the rest of us, the freedoms that we enjoy in this country. From amongst this settlement of Ukrainian Canadians who came here in 1897, we find men who have reached an important place in the cultural, educational, political and economical fields in Canada. During the two world wars many young men from this settlement flocked to join the army, the navy and air force, along with other young Canadians.
In the constituency of Norquay the people may be classed as primary producers. Their livelihood comes from farming, fishing, fur trapping, lumbering and quarrying. By far the largest percentage are farmers and, in addition to grain, they raise cattle, hogs and poultry. I believe that, although a great deal of wheat is raised, close to 50 per cent of the crops would consist of barley, oats, flax, rye, sweet clover and alfalfa seed. Our supplies of cattle, hogs, lambs, butter, milk, cream, eggs, poultry and vegetables are so abundant in the interlake area that my constituency is sometimes known as the food basket of the city of Winnipeg. Our fresh water fishing industry is one of the largest in Canada, if not the largest, last year the catch of white-fish alone in lake Winnipeg being close to six million pounds. The constituency of Norquay is composed of people whose ancestors originated in twenty-five countries, and in every case each has added something to our citizenship. Persons of no one component or breed can say they alone are Canadians and their neighbours are something else. For this reason we should like to see, without any 55946-275
The Address-Mr. Wood unnecessary delay, the adoption of a distinctive Canadian flag, one which would be Canadian in every detail.
Being primary producers we depend to a great extent on foreign markets for many of the goods we produce. Markets are probably our No. 1 problem at the present time. We do not want to see enacted any kind of legislation which would disturb or aggravate our foreign markets. It always requires two parties to complete a sale, a purchaser and a seller. In case trade falls off, the fault may rest on the shoulders of either or both. We believe in multilateral trade. We believe that bilateral trading would hamper trade with our free markets. We believe that no country should be given a preference, thus discriminating against other countries. We believe that tariffs of every description should be pared down to the very bone or cancelled. We should like to see an end to what is even worse than tariffs, namely administrative orders which prevent the free movement of our goods to where they may be wanted.
As I understand, tariffs were originally put on in order to encourage and protect our Canadian industries in their infancy. Most of these industries, I might say, are located in what is called central Canada. They have been protected for over fifty years now by tariffs of every conceivable type; and in practically every instance these industries, in pricing their goods, take full advantage of the tariff structure. Although we are obliged to sell our surplus products in foreign markets, and sometimes over the top of foreign import tariffs, we the consumers of the western prairie provinces, like the consumers of the maritime provinces, when we buy, are obliged to pay higher prices on account of the wall of tariff protection, which our Canadian industry enjoys, and, in some cases, on account of administrative orders.
As I said before, markets are probably our No. 1 problem. Hon. members to the left are saying that we have lost and are losing markets. That may be true. Whose fault is it? Hon. members of the C.C.F. socialists predicted a depression four years ago and are still predicting it; and I believe I am right, Mr. Speaker, when I say they appear to be disappointed. I am sure, if the people of this country were called upon to elect a government which would provide or secure markets for our surplus products, they would not consider a socialist government. As for the Conservatives, we must remember that it was a Conservative government that first introduced tariffs into Canada. Each successive Conservative government, when elected, increased the tariff wall all along the line.
The Address-Mr. Wood
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY