Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to add briefly my felicitations upon your election as Speaker, and to express the hope that under your guidance and chairmanship the deliberations of this assembly may be conducted with impartiality and decorum. May I, too, congratulate those who initiated the debate.
Upon this, the first occasion upon which I have had an opportunity of addressing the House of Commons, I should like to discuss somewhat thoroughly the speech from the throne, but as I come from one of the banner agricultural communities of Saskatchewan, indeed of Canada, I feel that perhaps to-day I should devote my observations, as did the preceding speaker, to that problem uppermost in the minds of the people in the prairie provinces. As the days
The Address-Mr. Coldwell
go by I shall endeavour to support anything emanating from the government side of the house which seems to be headed in the right direction. Conversely I shall oppose anything headed along the opposite road.
Conditions in western Canada to-day present a challenge to our intelligence and our statesmanship. I am familiar with those conditions. In the last few years I have travelled across that section of Canada, thousands and thousands of miles, and have looked down upon it. I have been into almost every nook and cranny of the province of Saskatchewan and into the homes of many of its people. There is an idea abroad that conditions facing western Canada, and indeed Canada generally, are the results of the war and the post-war depression. I would say that the situation in western Canada is not a war or post-war condition. The factors which lie beneath the surface of the present situation could be found prior to the war. It is true that the taking up of new land, the value of which was zero, and increasing its value by settlement and by speculation gave to the country a passing measure of prosperity, a prosperity which to a great extent was unreal. On the new equities thus created men and women on the plains were able to go out and borrow money. Credit was-and I place the term in quotation marks- " easy ", But eight or more per cent soon had the producers within the toils of the banks, the mortgage corporations, the implement companies, and the financial system generally. Many people in western Canada even at that time realized the situation, and if one were to consult the records of the old Grain Growers' Association, and the various farmers' organizations meeting in convention from time to time in those years, he would find resolution after resolution directed against those conditions and against the difficulties under which the producers of western Canada were then marketing their grain.
When the war came, eliminating Russia the Balkan peninsula, and the Danubian provinces, from the production of wheat, the tremendous demand thus created caused new land to be brought under cultivation in Canada, in the Argentine Republic and in Australia. The result was that when the great war ended we found ourselves confronted with a serious situation. Let us remember that throughout the war years producers of primary commodities had been urged to increase their production in order to meet the needs of the armies in the field and the thousands of people who had been taken into the factories to produce the necessary munitions of war. Wheat was king. Wheat boards were instituted to prevent the
price from sky-rocketting, and the agrarian population of Canada did not raise any serious objection to the price of wheat being limited at the top as. a war measure. When the war ended they themselves asked for a wheat board again to stabilize conditions. On June 22, 1922, a bill was piloted through this chamber by the then government, under the leadership of the present Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), but that bill never became effective. The result was that the producers on the plains began to agitate for producers' pools, and as a consequence we have the foundations laid for the great pooling organizations now existing in western Canada. These pooling organizations in the beginning believed that mass pressure on the part of the producers would enable them to secure all that they required from any government holding office.
Once again the lesson has been learned that cooperation and competition are two opposing forces and that within a competitive society, cooperative institutions cannot function in the economic field without taking an active interest in the political field. That has been the experience of Great Britain, and to-day the great cooperative societies of the old land, the Consumers' Cooperative and others, are and have been for the last three years, ever since the Blackpool conference, part of the labour and socialist movement of Great Britain. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, in season and out of season, groups of newspapers throughout the length and breadth of this land, and particularly in western Canada, have tried to discredit these cooperative institutions, and in addition we find that the same thoughts have been echoed from the political platform. We are told that the policies of these organizations have failed. I am not going to defend the policies of the late government in regard to- those organizations. They have already been defended by hon. gentlemen who sit to my right. But let us examine very briefly some of the charges of alleged failure that have been made against our western producers' organizations.
First, we are told that we must put Canada's -wheat back on the breakfast tables of the world, and that in order to do this it would be good advertising to sell our wheat at a loss. The preceding speaker (Mr. Perley, Qu'Appelle) said that the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) had made that statement in eastern Canada.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY