Harry BUTCHER

BUTCHER, Harry, LL.B.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Last Mountain (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
December 15, 1873
Deceased Date
December 29, 1956
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Butcher_(politician)
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=d22c2ce8-8ced-4ca4-96fd-ed61941ed0fd&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
barrister

Parliamentary Career

July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
LIB
  Last Mountain (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 26 of 27)


May 7, 1931

Mr. BUTCHER:

That is probably what

the right hon. gentleman meant, and I accept his explanation that he was referring to the

Agricultural Conditions

farmers. But the grammatical construction of the sentence might suggest otherwise. At any rate, the words I have quoted are the words that he used. We were referring in our statements on this side of the house to only approximately sixty per cent of the farmers. In this connection I would like to make a suggestion. The Bankruptcy Act of this Dominion provides a means whereby business men who are hopelessly entangled and harassed beyond all possibility of getting out of their financial difficulties may go into bankruptcy. I would like to see a simplification of the procedure under the Bankruptcy Act, to have certain amendments made which, with proper safeguards against fraud, would make it possible for a farmer who is hopelessly involved to avail himself of the provisions of the Bankruptcy Act. That is a suggestion which I think might be considered by the government.

The next statement which the right hon. the Prime Minister made is also irrefutable, namely, that there is a large number of cars in western Canada-261,778 in the three prairie provinces, to be exact. I know that the right hon. gentleman merely stated a fact. I do not believe that he intended any implication, but I gathered from the response that his statement met with from his followers, that there was a certain implication in the minds of many of them. It is rather remarkable that since I have been here in the east I have had on several occasions the suggestion made to me that the farmers of the west have been very extravagant. It has been suggested that they have bought too many cars and other things, like radios. There is one thought that comes to my mind in that connection. Who is more entitled to own a car than the farmer? Who can use a car more profitably than the farmer? The car has not only been a very profitable thing for the farmer to have, but I will tell you what it has done for the farmers' wives of the western prairies. It has made life far brighter for the women of the prairies and for the children. Before the advent of the car it was a rare experience for the hard-working wife of the hard-working farmer to have an outing. Many a farmer, having worked the whole day, and working six days a week, puts his horses away at night. Perhaps on Sunday he would hitch up his team and take his wife and children to church. That was about the limit of the outings the wife and children had. In these days things are different and the car is used to give a little pleasure to farmers' wives and children. I fear there is a

misconception in the minds of a great many people regarding the statement made concerning cars owned by farmers. When I was going home for the Easter recess I travelled for a short distance with a very delightful old lady. She told me she had heard there were a great many members of parliament on board the train and after a while she asked me if I was one. I did not like to deny it, although in a great many cases I find the fact is not appreciated. She told me she had a good friend in the House of Commons but did not say on which side of the house her friend sat. I hope however the hon. gentleman is on the other side of the house. My reason for saying that is that presently she said to me, "Is it not a f'\ct that your farmers in western Canada 1 ^ve built large houses, own cars and radios?" I said, "Madam, undoubtedly it is true that a few of our farmers have large houses, but more of them dwell in shacks or very poor houses. It is a fact that many of them have radios, and I think they are entitled to them." To me it is passing strange that the men who derive their wealth from the producers of wheat own cars without comment. On the other hand the man who produces the wheat must not own a car.

Topic:   SUPPLY-AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE AND AMENDMENT OF MR. BROWN
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May 7, 1931

Mr. BUTCHER:

At page 779 of Hansard the right hon. gentleman is reported as follows:

Hon. gentlemen opposite who come from these provinces-

He had been referring to the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta:

-have been talking about their insolvency and bankruptcy.

Topic:   SUPPLY-AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE AND AMENDMENT OF MR. BROWN
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May 7, 1931

Mr. BUTCHER:

I shall be very pleased

to do that. May I quote from his remarks?

Topic:   SUPPLY-AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE AND AMENDMENT OF MR. BROWN
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May 7, 1931

Mr. BUTCHER:

I should like to explain my understanding of the word "insolvent." I was using that word in the ordinary every day acceptance of the term. Who is the insolvent man? He is the man who is possessed of money, goods and land to a certain amount, and at any given date that amount is less than the total amount of his liabilities. That being the case, I affirm again that a large majority, in my opinion sixty per cent of the farmers in my constituency are to-day insolvent.

The Prime Minister, in refuting statements that we had made and in proof of his contention that they were exaggerated, made three major statements. In the first place he said that tens of thousands of farmers in the west had money in the bank. Then he said that new wealth to the extent of $1,900,000 had been produced in the west during the last three years. Finally he said there were a large number of cars in the western provinces and he suggested that the possession of those cars indicated that the statements we had made were exaggerated. I admit without any qualification whatsoever the truth of those three statements made by the Prime Minister; they are irrefutable. But I go further and say that they neither prove his contention nor disprove ours.

In the first place he said that tens of thousands of farmers had money in the bank. There is not the slightest doubt that that is true. But it is a very vague statement at best. There may be men who have a few dollars in the bank. There may be men who may have lots of money in the bank. There may be men who this spring obtained an advance from the bank, and then deposited the proceeds to their credit in the bank, and who

Agricultural Conditions

may now have a small amount which will be gradually diminishing during the summer. But if ever}' one of the tens of thousands of farmers that the right hon. gentleman speaks of have a large amount of money in the bank, our statements may yet be true.

May I draw attention to the fact that according to the census returns of 1926 there are in the three provinces that the right hon. gentleman mentioned 247,162 farmers. Taking my own statement that 60 per cent of these men are insolvent, what do we find? Sixty per cent of 247,162 is 148,000. That still leaves approximately 100,000 farmers who may have money in the bank. So I say again that the right hon. gentleman's statement to the effect that there are tens of thousands of farmers in the west who have money in the bank neither proves his contention nor disproves ours.

Then he said that since 1928, 81,900,000,000 of new wealth had been created in the west, and in addition there was S100,000,000 of new wealth created in the great mining areas in the three western provinces. That sounds like affluence, I admit. It sounds as though we were wealthy in the west. But I think it is advisable to analyze the statement and see what it produces.

The population of the three prairie provinces, according to the 1926 census returns, was 2,175,900. Very good. We find that the wealth produced per capita for the three years was $873.21 and the wealth produced per individual per annum, $291.07. The figure quoted by the right hon. gentleman was the gross agricultural wealth. It allowed absolutely nothing for the cost of producing that wealth. In the year 1928 it is very probable that the cost of production bore a reasonable ratio to the amount of wealth produced. In the year 1929 it was not so good, and in the year 1930 the cost of producing was greater than the value of the new wealth produced. I could produce all kinds of evidence to this house to show that such is the case, but I want to read a quotation from a letter that I received two or three days ago. It is a letter from a very reliable farmer who has been farming in our district for approximately thirty years, a man who takes no active part in politics, has no axe to grind, a hard-working man and a good farmer, with three sons to assist him in the operation of about nine hundred acres of land. This is what he says: .

Well, I took my usual inventory and made up my books for the year on April 1st. My profit and loss account showed that the operations on the farm for 1930 were a loss of nearly $2,500.

He says further:

Still, we will try again. There are lots who say they won't. It is the first time in thirty years that I have farmed that I have seen the western farmers' morale so low.

I say to this house without fear of successful denial that the production of new wealth for another year or two more on that basis will certainly bankrupt the west. Close to the farm occupied by the writer of this letter, there is another farm of about nine hundred acres, farmed by four brothers, splendid men in every way, hard-working, intelligent, excellent farmers, with only one failing that I know of, and that is that they would never support me as a candidate for election. These men have assured me through a mutual friend that they made a loss on their operations last year. What is true of those two farmers is true of hundreds of thousands of farmers in western Canada. We do not want to go on producing wealth on the same conditions as those under which these men produced new wealth last year.

The right hon. the Prime Minister in his remarks said that we on this side of the house had stated that the western provinces were going into bankruptcy. He said it unintentionally, I think, but he did make that statement, as you will see if you look up Hansard. No speaker on this side of the house said that either of the provinces or all of them were likely to go into bankruptcy. We did not say that the whole of the farmers were going into bankruptcy. What we did say was that a reasonable proportion of them were.

Topic:   SUPPLY-AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE AND AMENDMENT OF MR. BROWN
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May 7, 1931

Mr. BUTCHER:

Mr. Speaker, I shall bring my remarks to a conclusion by saying that I believe I have fulfilled the duty imposed upon me when I was sent here to represent to the best of my ability the constituency of Last Mountain. I have made statements which can be substantiated, and I have not made one statement which cannot be substantiated.

Agricultural Conditions

Before I close however I would like to state frankly that I do not believe the government is responsible for existing conditions; I believe they are not wholly responsible. I believe I made that statement before. Probably they did something to aggravate the situation during the last session of parliament but on the other hand I think there are things they may do which will relieve the present situation. I do not believe however that it is within the power of the government to cure the present economic situation. However we ask them only to do the best they can. With regard to the last paragraph of the amendment moved 'by the hon member for Lisgar (Mr. Brown) I think there are suggestions therein contained which the government might well reconsider.

Topic:   SUPPLY-AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE AND AMENDMENT OF MR. BROWN
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