Mr. WEIR (Melfort):
I regret from what was said the other night, that hon. members should have gathered the impression that this million was to be used in addition to or in conjunction with any levy made, because I am quite certain that I did not say so, and if they will read my remarks they will see that I did not say anything that would convey that impression. The hon. gentleman asks why the dairy farmers of Ontario have not submitted some scheme under tile marketing act. They have, in conjunction with the dairy farmers of every other province in the dominion. But, as I 'have stated, the difficulty of organizing an industry in which so many people take part, hundreds of thousands of farmers, is such that it cannot be done in a very short period. Hon. gentlemen would seem to give the impression that little advantage has been taken of the marketing act to date, and the- thing I have always kept in mind, especially while in committee in the house, ife the great contrast- between the opposition advanced against the measure when it was introduced and what has actually been taking place among the great farming population of Canada, who have been taking advantage of it. The board was set up only inAugust, and already there is under the administration of the marketing act, and taking advantage of its provisions, over $43,000,000 worth of annual business. Not only that, but there are applications from farmers to have provision made to enable them to make use of the act to be extent of a further S240.000.000. In other words, the producers of $280,000,000 odd of produce have applied to come under the administration of the act without any effort on the part of the dominion government or of the marketing board to lead people to take advantage of its provisions. It is simply the natural outcome of what has been taking place, and the thoughts that have been in the minds of farmers throughout the country for years. We had men who devoted the greater part of their lives, without thought of reward of any kind, to the development of a cooperative marketing system among the
farmers so that they would by voluntary effort be able to rid themselves of what they regarded als a great deal of unnecessary waste and cost in getting their products to market. Every hon. member who is a farmer must have in mind the names of some of these men. We had Mr. Morrison of Ontario, Mr. Wood of Alberta, Mr. McPhail of Saskatchewan and many others, whose great regret was that, although they realized that they had accomplished a great deal in- the way of voluntary cooperation, the forces for which they had laboured so long and unselfishly were still unorganized to such an extent as to leave themlselves a ready prey to those who were more concerned with their own selfish interests and Who were ready to take advantage of the unorganized farming community. The fact that that work had been done and that the farmers were anxious that a further step should be taken is evidenced by the number of applications that have come in-applications to the extent of $280,000,000 of agricultural business apart from wheat.
I was the first to state in this house, when I moved the resolution leading to this act, that there would be many obstacles which we could not foresee. No one could expect otherwise in a change in the marketing of the products of the farm, and which was to take the place of a system that had been built up but was regarded by the farmers as not giving that service which it should. Therefore I maintain that it is a great and undoubted proof of the feeling on the part of a great body of farmers in this country that in this short period, especially in view of the misrepresentations by great sections of the press and also by hon. members opposite as to the benefit that can be derived from the Natural Products Marketing Act, these farmers have availed themselves to this extent and expressed themselves as being strongly in favour of it. I am not talking of men of academic minds as has been suggested here, but as I am making this statement I have in mind men not even friendly to the old pool organizations, wheat, live stock or otherwise, but men who through their own individual effort, rugged individualists as some hon. members might prefer to call them, have made a great success of farming even against the obstacle of poor markets. These men have offered the best they have and have given freely of their time during the past months, especially in the winter season, to see if they could formulate some scheme. They have finally agreed in the three western provinces, where they have the greatest proportion of live stock in this country, upon a
scheme that they believe will be of use in the marketing of their products. These men are actual farmers, men who own and control up to five or six thousand head of cattle. One sheep rancher in British Columbia who at first was opposed to the marketing act because of the .misrepresentations he saw in the press and heard from the platform, is now one hundred per cent behind it. This year his marketing of lambs and ewes will be up to 6,000 head.
When I stand here-and I have sat here through weeks of hostility because it cannot be described as anything else-the thing that is foremost in my mind is this great movement among the farmers that cannot be denied, that cannot be stopped, because what the farmer wants more than .anything else is a greater pride in his occupation, and the only way in which he will get that is by having more power in the administration of his own business. Nothing will stop him from getting this. What has been the opposition to this measure? The right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) for weeks opposed it and his opposition has been proved to be unwarranted. One of the points on which he laid the greatest emphasis was that there would be a restriction of production. There has been none. Another point he raised was that there was a great fear in his heart that the farmers, if they united and organized themselves, would injure other bodies in the community. They have not shown any evidence of attempting to do that; all they want is to be let alone, to progress quietly, to go forward and organize themselves, so that they may be able to market their products to better advantage.
Then we had the hon. member for West Middlesex (Mr. Elliott), the former Minister of Public Works, and I remember reading an account of some of his speeches early last fall when he ridiculed the number of licences that would have to be issued to license producers from one end of the country to the other, a statement which was very far wide of the mark.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE