Mr. A. B. HUNT (Compton):
Mr. Speaker, in rising to offer a few remarks on the budget, I congratulate the government upon the fine showing if. has made in presenting a financial statement disclosing a surplus of about $2,000,000 instead of a deficit. I also wish to congratulate the Acting Minister of Finance upon the able manner in which he delivered the budget.
I would not have spoken in this debate had it not been for the Petersen contract which the government has brought before the House for consideration. I feel that it is the duty of every member to assist the government in every way to break the steamship combine which now exists. There is no question but that a combine does exist; it is admitted by both sides of the House. This combine is asking exorbitant prices for shipping cattle and various commodities from Montreal to Liverpool. It is killing the trade of our country, ruining our farmers in every section of Canada, and discriminating against us by giving better freight rates to the United States, to the great detriment of the Canadian people. The combine at one time carried flour from the port of New York at three cents per hundredweight less than from the port of Montreal, although the latter port is 500 miles nearer the overseas market. I
The Budget-Mr. Hunt
understand however, that since an investigation was commenced by the government they have changed their rate and are now carrying flour from Montreal at the same price.
It is not a new question, The subject has been before every government for the last fifteen years but no administration had the courage to undertake to break this combine, until the present government took the matter in hand. Now that it has done so every assistance should be given it in the great work it has undertaken. There
10 p.m. is no doubt it will be a great fight, and for that reason, I want to offer my undivided support to the government. The government has to choose between two alternatives. Either it must give the combine full control over Canada and thus ruin the farmers who represent 65 per cent of the population of Canada, or force the combine to carry freight at a reasonable price. When reciprocity was defeated, it proved disastrous to Canada and brought about the ruin of many farmers in the province of Quebec, because congress promptly enacted the Fordney tariff which prohibited1 the export of our cattle into the United States, our natural market. Previous to that all the cattle along the border could be driven across the line thus saving the payment of railway freight rates. Only a few of the farmers, however, were ab'e to continue after the Fordney tariff came into effect. They were forced to abandon farming and take up lumbering, many having a little pulpwood on the rear of their farms which enabled them to live. But even the few who survived would be placed in peril if the recommendation to place an embargo on pulpwood were carried out. The effect would be to compel the farmer to sell his wood at a lower price thus repeating the situation created when the reciprocity arrangement was defeated. The farmers were then obliged to take a smaller price for their cattle, an amount hardly sufficient to pay for the shipment of the stock fo Montreal, the only market they had. At. the same time that market, which could not even consume the available eastern supply was flooded with cattle from the west.
The hon. member for Portage la Prairie (Mr. Leader) in his speech on the Petersen contract gave a comparative statement of the price paid for cattle in the United State? markets and that paid in Canada, and revealing the exorbitant amount asked by the combine for overseas shipment. This statement has already been placed on Hansard, but feeling that those prices are of vital importance
in connection with this controversy and that they cannot be quoted too often I will quote the hon. member's remarks on that particular point. He said:
I ihave secured some figures from the Bureau of Statistics relating to the cost of shipment of our cattle to the United States markets. The cost of transporting a one-thousand pound steer from Calgary to St. Paul is $7.05, and to Chicago $9.20, as against a cost of $45 per head to Liverpool; from Winnipeg to St. Paul the cost of transporting a thousand pound steer is $4.20, and to Chicago $5.85, as against. $42 per head to Liverpool; or a saving in favour of the American markets of approximately $36 per steer.
The following quotations from the Chicago ; and theWinnipeg markets, taken from the agricultural papers of February 5 will no doubt be interesting to thecommittee: Comparative prices on Feb. 5. 1924, also of thedifferent markets: Winnipeg Chicago Difference Choice steers .. $ 6 75 $12 50 1 5 75Prime butcher's steer .. .. 6 00 10 50 4 50Common butcher's steers .. 4 00 9 00 5 00Winnipeg Chicago Difference Choice feeder steers.. .. . $ 4 75 $ 8 00 t 3 25Choice Stockers .. 3 75 7 25 3 50Butcher cows .. 4 00 7 50 3 50Butcher heifers .. 5 00 10 50 5 50Choice calves .. 8 00 14 75 6 75
The Montreal market would be about the same as Winnipeg, but it would cost about $5 extra for transportation to the above market and from Montreal to Liverpool about $20 to $25. If the combine is broken, they are bound to carry them for $10 to $15 each.
I also quote this from the statements of the hon. member for Springfield (Mr. Hoey):
About three weeks ago I was present at the annual convention of the Illinois Agricultural Association held at Champaign-Urbans where there were present about 800 delegates and 400 visitors. I was there for two days and I embraced the opportunity extenchxl to me to interview as many of the delegates as possible, all of whom are representative farmers from that state, in an attempt to find out from them their attitude as regards the entry of Canadian cattle, that is feeder cattle to the middle west. I did not meet a single delegate who was not in favour of reducing or abolishing the duty. You may say that these men were not frank with me in view of the fact that I had gone down there on their invitation as a Canadian visitor. But in my judgment they were frank with me, because the same delegates who told me that they were in favour of the abolition of the duty on cattle also informed me that they were in favour of an immediate increase in the duty on Canadian butter. If I mistake not, that convention appointed a delegation to go from there to Washington with a demand that the duty on Canadian butter entering the United States be immediately increased. I make this statement in the hope that the minister and officials of his department are fully aware of the sentiment existing in the middle west at present with regard to the entry of our cattle into the United States. There is nothing at all selfish in the attitude of those people towards us; they are demanding our cattle to-day because
The Budget-Mr. Hunt
they believe they can make money on the finishing. If the agriculturists are in favour of allowing our cattle in free, surely the consumers in the United States cannot possibly be opposed to their entry. I think we might in this way obtain reciprocity piecemeal. There is a demand in western Canada, as the minister knows-
That is the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell).
-for the entry of Wisconsin dairy cattle free, and I have often wondered whether he could not with some hope of success enter into negotiations with the powers that be at Washington and come to some agreement whereby they would allow our cattle to enter the United States free if we gave them some concession in return.
Now if the government can do anything towards getting reciprocity with the United States, I am sure the farmers will not vote against it as they did before. It was on account of the misrepresentations that were placed before the country at that time, the cry of annexation, waving the old flag, the navy, and other foolish statements, disseminated by the press and the moneyed interests among the manufacturers and the combines, that they were able to defeat reciprocity. If there is any talk of annexation at the present time, the Conservative party are to blame for it by defeating reciprocity, as that was the starting point of that cry.
The farmers in my section of the country are the best farmers in Canada They are not begging or asking for something for nothing; but they are asking for a square deal, and that they are determined to have in some way. They are not going to be held up by the great combines of this country. As I said before, if they cannot get justice, there will be no farmers, and every one will have to raise his own potatoes. Why should a farmer work fifteen hours a day, and many of them for their board? I venture to say that our farmers are not as well off as they were in 1911, the year that reciprocity was defeated The combines worked it well; the farmers listened to the high tariff cry at that time, and it has placed them in the unfortunate position in which they find themselves to-day. You will not catch them in the same trap again. The Montreal Star has been looked upon as a guide for the farmers of our country; but since the "whisper of death" and other similar statements appeared in that paper, they have lost interest in the paper, and it is high time they should because that paper is not the friend of the farmer, as he knows to-day. We in Quebec have a good farming country and the best governed province in the Dominion of Canada, and I think the other provinces are doing well by falling in line and copying our laws.
Now just a word about the tariff. We cannot get along without a tariff, but a tariff for revenue only. We have such a debt placed on this country that it is the only way we can pay off that debt. High tariff brings no results. It was said that if we reduced the tariff on the manufacture of farm machinery in 1924 it would ruin the manufacturers; but it has proven just the reverse and the year 1924 under the new tariff was the best year they have had for years. Machinery has been reduced and the manufacturers are now selling it in all parts of the world. It was selling at far too high a price in the past and that was the reason for their not selling more. Take for instance, a mowing machine that costs about $30 to make, selling for $150, a manure spreader, costing about $65 or $75 and selling for $245, and this machine used only about two weeks in the year; a sowing machine that every farmer has to have, costing about $18, selling for $85 on time and $79.20 for cash. I know of some young men starting on farms on the above prices, as that was what they had' to pay, and it cost them about $1,000 to start, when $500 should have been sufficient. That is the kind of thing that is keeping our fanners back-too much difference between.' the cost price and the selling price. I know whereof I speak as I manufactured wagons, sleighs and other farm machinery for over twenty years, and a wagon which I sold for $50 and $60, and making a profit at that, is now selling at $125 to $160. There is no reason for such a difference in price. If it costs more to sell an article than it costs to make it, there is no common sense in selling. There are too many middlemen in the way.
I would strongly recommend that the government appoint a commission of experts on the tariff question, as there are many changes that, I think, could take place without hurting the manufacturers in any way. It is far from my intention to injure them, rather would I help them and help the country at the same time.
There is a large veneering plant in my section of the country, situated at the town of Scotstown. They are shipping their products to all parts of the world. They are asking no favours from the government; all they want is a fair deal and they are not getting it at the present time. They are shipping now to the United States, paying a duty of 20 per cent, while similar manufacturers on the other side of the line can ship into Canada without paying any duty. This is not fair to our manufacturers. What our people want is to have the discrimination removed
The Budget-Mr. McTaggart
so as to give them a chance to ship under the same conditions as the United States, or, in other words, to have the duty raised on our side so as to make the fight a fair one. I have already taken this matter up with the Customs department with no results up to the present time. They are investigating in order to ascertain the objections before acting. I find the furniture factories and piano manufacturers are objecting to the duty being put on, and I venture to say that there are many cases of this kind. The tariff is one of the most vital questions with which we have to deal and it cannot be studied too carefully. For that reason, I would have a commission of experts appointed to study that. question and to do nothing else. The tariff must not be made a political football as it is too serious a question. There is much talk now in the opposition ranks about the old National Policy. That policy would be just as far out of date now as the old stores of fifty years ago, selling the same goods as they had in their stores at that date, and I do not think there is any more chance of its restoration than there is of the old stores selling to-day the goods they had half a century ago.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE ACTING MINISTER OF FINANCE.