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
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