Robert WEIR

WEIR, The Hon. Robert, B.A., P.C.

Personal Data

Party
Conservative (1867-1942)
Constituency
Melfort (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
December 5, 1882
Deceased Date
March 7, 1939
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Weir_(politician)
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=667b40b9-ef5d-47c3-a20c-f7861f720a4f&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
farmer, teacher

Parliamentary Career

July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
CON
  Melfort (Saskatchewan)
  • Minister of Agriculture (August 8, 1930 - October 22, 1935)
August 25, 1930 - August 14, 1935
CON
  Melfort (Saskatchewan)
  • Minister of Agriculture (August 8, 1930 - October 22, 1935)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 625)


February 21, 1944

Mr. AVEIR:

You didma go back.

Topic:   IS, 1944
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April 12, 1943

Mi. HEIR:

Just in case a wrong impression should get abroad following the remarks of the hon. member for Parry Sound as to the amounts of money that have been contributed to western agriculture, I might point out that the cheese bonus goes largely to Ontario; that the freight assistance on feed grain, the assistance in regard to fertilizer, the ceiling price on coarse grains as a means of assisting live stock producers, are all of particular importance to this part of the country and not of the same ad\ antage to us in the west. I mention these points as having some bearing on the remarks of the hon. member in regard to the contributions that have been made by the federal treasury to the farmers of western Canada.

I suppose under this section of the act we should be grateful for small mercies. I say to the minister without hesitation that the carrying forward of the income tax of the farmer over a period of two years is the

Income War Tax

recognition of a principle that is important. At the same time I submit that it does not go far enough, considering the industry as a whole and the hazards that are involved in it. I am not unmindful of the difficulties with respect to the principle of taxing agricultural incomes, from the point of view of the industry itself. The industry is hazardous; there are many things beyond the control of the farmer which influence his income in one year as against another, to a much greater degree than is the case in connection with ordinary business. Here under resolution 8 we are dealing particularly with the income of 1942 as a base, which represents a substantially higher income in the case of most farmers than they have enjoyed for some time. With the base so high this year there will be more farmers paying income tax than in any other period, certainly within the last ten or twelve years. Therefore I submit that this matter is of such importance as to deserve added consideration; I do not mean this item alone but the whole basis of taxing agricultural incomes. I will not urge the point, but I will go so far as to suggest that this is a matter which might be given to a committee of members of the House of Commons for particular study outside the house, where they might call in experts and review the whole question in minute detail.

I realize that there are different conditions in different parts of Canada. I submit that if the farmers are taxable they are willing to pay their tax, but there is so very much involved in the principle. I agree with the hon. member for Yorkton, and I believe there is plenty of argument in support of the suggestion, that it would be much fairer if the farmer's income could be spread over a base of about five years. I do not think that is unreasonable. I quite appreciate the argument put forward by the minister a few moments ago as to the difficulties involved, but I am told that in the old country they have a means of equalizing the income tax as between one year and another. If we could devise a scheme whereby the income tax could be spread over a period of, say five years, dropping off the fifth year and adding fhe new year and taking an average, it would provide a much more equitable basis.

I wish to go one step further, because in my opinion the business of the farmer is entirely different from any other business. I think we must recognize the principle that the farm is not only the business of the farmer; it is also his home, and when you consider the two together you have a situation very different from that of any other business.

There is, however, another feature with respect to this matter which I believe is of

some importance. During the period from 1930 onward the western farmer went heavily into debt, either through unsecured liabilities which he created or by placing heavy mortgages on his farm. Certainly at this time his income tax provision will not permit him to pay very much off his accumulated indebtedness. Perhaps he is not entitled to any more consideration in that regard than anyone else, but having regard to the difficulties the industry has experienced and the desire to see it on a reasonably satisfactory basis when this war is over, I submit that this point has particular significance at this time. Moreover, as an added thought-and with this I shall close -we have gone out and asked industry to expand their plants. We have assisted industry to do so, financially, by writing off taxation, and in other ways. Now we have come along and asked the farmer greatly to expand his production, which in turn means that he has been obliged to incur additional expense, perhaps by way of extra fencing or new buildings or a new well to provide for more live stock; but we are not giving him any consideration either financially or from the point of view of his income tax. Therefore I submit that he has a pretty good case in this matter and that we should not say he is merely comparable with other forms of industry.

I just advance these observations with the suggestion that the minister might be well * advised to make provision at some stage whereby this whole matter might be reviewed in minute detail, utilizing the expert advice of his departmental officials as well as of others who pay particular attention to matters of this kind.

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT
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July 3, 1935

Mr. WEIR (Melfort):

In great part, yes.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP AGRICULTURE
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July 3, 1935

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

Supply-Agriculture-Marketing Act

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
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July 3, 1935

Mr. WEIR (Melfort):

Yes.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP AGRICULTURE
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