Mr. ROBERGE (Translation):
Mr. Chairman, when Bill No. 98, now under discussion, has been amended in the manner that I shall suggest, it will certainly be the best measure the government has ever presented to the house. At the close of my remarks, I shall submit an amendment the effect of which will be to give to the farmers of all provinces bonuses similar to those that the government grants to the western farmers.
That does not mean that I am opposed to the government spending money to help the western farmers. On the contrary, I think governments never do enough for the farmer, and in order that the country might emerge from the present depression we must begin by helping the farming class instead of spending millions on the militia.
Last winter, at the beginning of the session, the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) received a large number of petitions from farmers of the province of Quebec asking him to bonus certain of their products or to have the government take control of their marketing, as it did for western wheat. I myself have received many petitions from farmers of my county and of the new county known as Megantic-Frontenac. I shall read to the house the petition I transmitted to the right hon. the Prime Minister on January 22, 1935:
Mr. Prime Minister,
Whereas one of the chief causes of the present unfortunate position of the farmers of the province of Quebe'" is the low price of their products; and
Whereas the remedy to the situation would consist in the government:
1. Fixing a minimum price for farm products on the following basis: Butter, 30 cents per pound; cheese, 15 cents per pound; eggs, 20 cents per dozen; pork, 10 cents per pound; potatoes, 50 cents per bag;
2. Granting to dairy farmers an export bonus of 5 cents per pound on cheese and 10 cents per pound on butter;
The undersigned believe that with these minimum prices and this export bonus the agricultural situation, which is the foundation of our economic system, would appreciably improve, with resultant advantage to the general business situation of the country.
We therefore respectfully ask you to bring down the necessary legislation to give effect to our request.
To this petition I joined the following letter:
Allow me to transmit to you a petition from the farmers of the parish of Thetford Mines, county of Megantic, requesting either a bonus or fixed prices on products such as butter, cheese, eggs, pork and potatoes. These farmers claim that you have granted to the western farmers a special bonus of 5 cents a bushel on wheat and I believe that the province of Quebec should enjoy similar treatment.
Hoping that I may be able to transmit a favourable answer to the petitioners and assuring you of my highest regard, I am,
Yours very truly,
Member for Megantic.
This letter was addressed1 to the right honourable the Prime Minister, from whose secretary, Miss Berube, I received the following answer;
The Prime Minister has instructed me to acknowledge receipt of your letter to which was attached a petition from citizens of Saint-Alphonse-de-Thetford'-Mines, asking the government to establish a minimum price for farm products and to grant an export bonus on butter and Cheese.
You may rest assured that the matter will be seriously considered by the proper authorities.
Believe me, dear sir,
Yours very truly,
M. T. Berube,
My colleague, the hon. member for Drum-mond-Arthabaska (Mr. Girouard) has also received many similar petitions. On April 9, 1935, he spoke in this house as follows, according to Hansard, page 2568:
The farmers of my constituency-and those of Quebec generally-have signed a petition addressed to the Prime Minister of this dominion, asking the government to fix a minimum price for a number of products and to establish an export bonus on butter and cheese. As this petition is very important, perhaps the house will allow me to quote it. After describing their unfortunate plight, these farmers requested the government, in January last, to fix-
... a minimum price as follows on the following products: butter, thirty cents per pound; cheese, fifteen cents per pound; eggs, twenty-five cents per dozen; pork, ten cents per pound; potatoes, fifty cents per bag.
You will observe, Mr. Chairman, that the farmers who signed this petition are very moderate in their claims.
What was their surprise then at seeing the resolution moved by the Prime Minister in this house on the 4th of March last. They had expected it to include some of the farm products of the other provinces. The resolution, which I find in the orders of the day, read as follows:
March 4-The house in committee on the following resolution:
That it is expedient to bring in a measure to establish a board to be known as the Canadian Grain Board with power to purchase, receive and take delivery of wheat, oats, barley, rye and flax-seed, or any one or more of such grains for marketing and to sell, store, transport and market such grains, and to provide for the appointment of such clerks, employees and assistants as may be necessary, and to provide for their remuneration and for the expenses of, and arising out of, the operations of the board.
Mr. Chairman, ever since 1930 the government has been 'helping the western wheat producers. Here we are to-day with this resolution and a bill before the house respecting all grains, that is to say the production of 50 per cent of the farmers of western Canada. It is well known that not more than 50 per pent of the western farmers practise mixed farming. Therefore, when the government takes over the products of half the farmers of western Canada, would it not be fair and reasonable to include in this bill some of the products of the farmers of eastern Canada, in accordance with the terms of the petitions to which I have just referred? The province of Quebec supplies nearly one-third of the federal revenue and it should therefore be entitled to its share of the bonuses granted to farmers by the federal government. When the government paid a bonus of 5 cents a bushel on wheat, at a cost to the Dominion treasury of $12,720,121, the province of Quebec furnished nearly four million dollars of this amount.
I will be told, Mr. Chairman, that the supplementary estimates just voted contain an item of one million dollars for the cheese industry. I congratulate the government for this, its first grant to the eastern farmer; but why not place the cheese producer on the same basis as the wheat producer? When the government granted a bonus of 5 cents a bushel on western wheat, they did not say: When the expenditure has reached one
million dollars, there will be no more. They paid 5 cents a bushel on all the wheat produced in the western provinces. Why does the government not dlo likewise in respect of all the cheese that will be produced, and why does it not pay a bonus on all the butter produced? That would be only fair and just and it would make up to a certain extent for what the province of Quebec has done to help the farmers of western Canada.
That is not all, Mr. Chairman. What has been the cost of the government's venture in wheat? Some say 50 or 60 million, others say 100 million, and1 of this sum the province of Quebec has to pay approximately one-third, that is to say, about twenty million dollars.
Allow me, Mr. Chairman, to quote the opinion of the hon. member for North Waterloo (Mr. Euler) given at page 3088 of Hansard:
We have speculated in wheat to the extent almost of hundreds of millions of dollars and we do not know how much we shall lose- possibly twenty, thirty, forty or fifty millions.
I consider that the hon. member has been very indulgent for those who have speculated in wheat, for in view of the large number of bushels of wheat overhanging the market today, the lose will be much heavier. On the same page of Hansard is to be found the following statement of the hon. member for East Hamilton (Mr. Mitchell):
I have listened to the inquest of the hon. member for North Waterloo (Mr. Euler), but I would ask him this question. What condition would this country have been in had we not gone to the rescue of the farmers in the west when we could hear in the lobby talk about twenty-five cent wheat? What would have happened if we had left all these things go to the wall?
The hon. member for East Hamilton was probably unduly pessimistic, as wheat at 25 cents is too cheap. The price would have been higher.
I shall quote the prices given by the Prime Minister when he spoke on the subject, as reported at page 3565 of Hansard:
1929- 30. .
1933- 34. .
Average price per bushel . $1 51.2. 1 46.3. 1 46.3. 1 24. 1 24. 64.2. 59.8. 54.3. 68.1
Had the government not taken over the marketing of wheat, the price would have
remained at the average figure, probably 54 cents, the inquiry having revealed that the cost to the government was a fraction over 85 cents. I do not blame the government for the price paid to the farmer; what I do blame it for is the high price of wheat sold for domestic consumption, when it should have been sold at market price and no more.
Here are the prices paid in the province of Quebec for flour and other products, from 1931 to 1935, as compared with those prevailing 'both before and after the government assumed control of wheat marketing. Baking flour, delivered at stations in the province of Quebec, sold at $2,021 in 1931 and $2.12i in 1932. In 1933, when wheat was at 54 cents, flour was selling at SI .60, in 1934 at $1.80 and in 1935 at $2.25.
The reason of the high price of flour in 1935 is that the government took charge of the marketing of wheat.
Bran, in 1931, sold at S1.03J; in 1932, at $1.18; in 1933, at 75J cents; in 1934, at $1, and in 1935, at $1.35. Meal, in 1931, sold at S1.031; in 1932, at $123$; in 1933, at 80i cents; in 1934, at $1.05, and in 1935, at $1.40, a difference of 594 cents. Middlings sold in 1931 at $1.18$; in 1932, at $1.33$; in 1933, at $1,054; in 1934, at $1.20, and in 1935, at $1.60, which figures out at 54i cents per bag.
The 32 parishes of the county of Megantic bought at least two carloads a day of these products, and with the average extra price of about 60 cents per bag which we have had to pay, we have, since the government took over the marketing of wheat, paid an extra price of $612 per day, which makes $18,360 a month or $220,320 a year. Therefore, the 65 counties of the province of Quebec have contributed $14,320,800 more than they should have done.
Farmers are not the only ones who buy flour and other wheat products; the workingmen and other residents of cities have had to pay an extra price of 2J cents a loaf for bread since the government took charge of the marketing of wheat.
There you have, Mr. Chairman, the cost to the province of Quebec of the bonuses paid to the farmers of western Canada. The 5 cent bonus on wheat has cost the country at least 12 million dollars, and the two years of government control of wheat marketing have added another 28 millions for flour and other wheat products only, making a total cost of 52 million dollars.
In order to convince some of my hon. friends who may think I am mistaken, I have obtained five invoices from the Ogilvy
Flour Mills, of Montreal, which is perhaps the leading flour manufacturing company in Canada, and I now lay them on the table of the house.
Mr. Chairman, the government has maintained the price of flour at such a high level that we find ourselves to-day importing flour from various countries, as is shown by the answer of the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Hanson) to a question of the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid) given on page 560 of Hansard of February 7, 1935:
1. What quantities of flour were imported into Canada during the calendar year 1934?
2. What were the various quantities from each country?
Mr. Hanson (York-Sunbury):
1. Canada's total quantity of wheat flour imported during the calendar year 1934 amounted to 178,175 barrels.
2. Canada's total quantities of wheat flour imported from various countries, during the calendar year 1034, were:-
Imports from: Barrels
United Kingdom 105,431
United States 3,338
Hong Kong 25
The government has thus maintained the price of flour at such a high level that Canadian merchants have imported some when all the while the country had on its hands an enonm-ous surplus of wheat it did not know what to do with.
In view of the help given to the west by the province of Quebec on this occasion, I hope our western friends will support the following amendment I am going to move in order that the eastern farmers may receive their just share;
Mr. Roberge moved, seconded by Mr. Girouard:
That Bill No. 98 be amended in the following manner:
(1) That the title of the bill be the following: "An act providing for the establishment and definition of duties of the Canadian Grain and Other Farm Products Board."
(2) By substituting the following section
for section 1. "1. The present act may be
cited under the title: An act respecting the Canadian Grain and Other Farm Products Board, 1935."
(3) By adding at the end of subsection (1) of section 2 the following paragraph:
"(f) other products of the farm" means in the present act: butter, cheese and maple
(4) By substituting the following subsection for subsection (1) of section 3:
"3 (1) a board to be known as the Canadian Grain and- Other Farm Products Board is constituted; it is composed of three members appointed by the governor in council."
(5) By adding the following subsection at the end of section 7:
"(3) the board may grant a bonus of 5 cents a pound on the sale of each pound of butter, cheese and maple sugar, sold by farmers who have no grain to sell or who do not benefit by the present act in any other way."
(6) By adding the following subsection at the end of section 13:
"(2) the board may also adopt regulations respecting the application of subsection (3) of section 7."
Subtopic: CANADIAN GRAIN BOARD