I quote the hon. member for Victoria (Mr. McNevin) when he said, if we were assured by this policy that we would be able to buy cheap grain, it would not be so bad, "but we are not." We know from experience that feed such as screenings which costs less than nothing at the head of the lakes, by the time we get it down in Ontario, costs $24 per ton, or about $1.25 per hundred.
The minister claims that farm prices have improved slowly this last two years. Perhaps
Supply-State of Agriculture
so, but when we consider the price we have to pay for the things we must 'buy, the slight increase does not do us much good.
I should like to take just a few minutes to deal with the generous gift or bonus of $35,000,000 which is being handed over to the western farmer. I wish to deal with the matter in relation to the effect that it will have.
First, a very large portion of this bonus will go to those who are not in need and who have planned to make and are making the adjustments they are now being paid to make by this generous bonus of the government.
Secondly, the bonus in question will give very little help and very little assistance to the small producer of grain. It will force the grain grower of the west into the production of hogs, something he is not prepared to do or does not want to do unless he really has to. It will force him into an overproduction of coarse grains which will be hard to store and hard to get a profitable price for on account of freight charges. So far as I can learn many of these adjustments were being planned and would have been taken care of without such assistance; in fact I have been told that the western farmer never asked for any such bonus, and moreover did not want it.
You would have thought that the Saskatchewan government or the rural municipalities convention would have been the first to be consulted in regard to this new bonus before the Minister of Agriculture and the dominion government would have got into such a generous state of mind, but such was not the case. It came like a bolt from the blue without any consideration whatsoever being given to other parts of Canada.
The fact that the western farmer may be short of revenue, owing to his not being able to sell his wheat, will not warrant the throwing of 30 or 40 millions of dollars to the west without giving due consideration to the question where it is going or the effect it will have on Ontario or other parts of Canada as a whole.
I think the agriculture committee of this parliament should have been consulted in this regard. Here we have been sitting for over a year and the agriculture committee has never had one meeting. Has agriculture become of so little importance to this government that the committee on agriculture is no longer of any consequence? Surely the Minister of Agriculture has not become so efficient that he no longer needs to take advice on any matters pertaining to agriculture, or are the agricultural members in this house to be completely ignored? Surely the Minister of Agriculture should be the medium
through which we should be able to work out our many problems in a manner that would be at least satisfactory in part.
In conclusion, I suggest that we cannot expect much consideration from this government so far as agriculture is concerned, because when this debate started, or fifteen or twenty minutes after it started, only fourteen members out of 180 on the government side were in their seats.
Topic: BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic: SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDER 28 THIS DAY TO PERMIT DEBATE ON MOTION OF MR. ILSLEY FOR COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY