I rise to support
the suggestion of the hon. member for Swift Current (Mr. Graham). The situation in Saskatchewan has been placed before this committee by several hon. members from that province who have spoken. At no time has it been more necessary than at the present to mobilize agriculture. That fact has been stressed over and over again by the Minister
of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). Agriculture cannot be mobilized in Saskatchewan-and I think that statement applies generally to western Canada-until in the first place a fair and reasonable price is given to the western farmer. The western farmer has no objection to the various interests-munitions manufacturers and other manufacturers-receiving a fair profit. To-day, however, the price of agricultural products all over western Canada is such that the farmers are in a condition scarcely better than they were in a few years ago. The only method whereby they can secure a measure 'of justice and be kept upon the land is through the proper operation of the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act.
The hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Douglas) has mentioned that to-day different considerations govern the board of review in our province from those followed by the first board of review. When the first board was set up, in 1934, it had to enunciate certain principles upon which it would proceed. It had no precedents upon which to go. Apparently there was no real desire as between the creditors and the debtors to cooperate. But in process of time, by December 1, 1936, some precedents had been formulated. Then a new board of review was set up, and from that day onward-and the same principles are being followed by the board recently appointed -the whole principle behind the administration has been the necessity of so adjusting debts as to enable the farmer to remain upon the land.
I appreciate the argument that there must be a finality to all things. There were dealt with in Saskatchewan prior to December 1, 1936, 1,401 cases; and I venture the opinion that, of the debtors concerned, not more than 100 are to-day in a position where they can carry on. Under the principles which guided the first board of review the write-off was small. It was believed to be emergency legislation. There was no guiding plan to follow. I can see no reason why, if the minister should be unable to see his way clear to amend the act as suggested by the hon. member for Weyburn, the whole matter of agricultural debt should not be referred to a committee on agriculture. As pointed out by the hon. member for Rosthem (Mr. Tucker), there are to-day, in the operation of that act, anomalies which, if continued, will nullify the act itself. One of the courts in Saskatchewan has decided that any proposal made which permits of an extension upon the certificate of a sheriff is inoperative. If that judgment is upheld by the court of appeal, it will mean this, that whenever a farmer in Saskatchewan, through
crop failure, gets into default under the proposal which has been made, he places himself in a position where he may be foreclosed.
The farmer is not responsible for drought conditions and for low prices. The necessity of mobilizing agriculture was never more important than it is to-day. Under the act anomalies exist which have been pointed out; and my suggestion is this, that the whole matter be referred to a committee on agriculture, to the end that western agriculture will have an opportunity to present a collective viewpoint before a committee of the house, and those anomalies which exist in the act to-day may be removed, in order that the western farmer will be able to contribute something to the empire and at the same time assure for himself a reasonable living and a chance to enjoy some of the better things of life.
Topic: FARMERS' CREDITORS
Subtopic: AMENDMENT OF ARRANGEMENT ACT AS TO PROPOSALS FOR COMPOSITION, ETC., IN MANITOBA