Mr. E. E. PERLEY (Qu'Appelle):
Mr. Speaker, in rising to take part in this debate I should like first to congratulate the mover (Mr. Cormier) and the seconder (Mr. Porteous) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne on their splendid efforts. They did credit not only to themselves but to the constituencies which they have the honour to represent. I had been given to understand that a new member was generally granted considerable indulgence by the older members when making his maiden speech, but after listening to the gibes and jeers that have been hurled across the floor during this debate I find that that is not always the case. However, on this occasion I would ask indulgence for myself. It has been very interesting to me to listen to the many excellent speeches that have been delivered during the course of the debate, and if I had time I should like to make some observations on those speeches and to state how .they have impressed me as a new member. I will mention briefly one or two.
I think the speech of the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) was worthy of note. He apparently has a style all his own and speaks with considerable force. I may say to him that while he chooses to devote the greater part of his time to reading speeches of the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) he will always have a careful hearing and considerable Applause from this side of the house. I might reply at length to some other speeches from across the way, but time does not permit. The clear cut and business-like statement by the right hon. Prime Minister is in my opinion the outstanding speech yet delivered in this debate. I wish also to refer briefly to the very careful and thoughtful speech delivered by my desk-mate the hon. member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Beynon); also to the speeches delivered by the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Turnbull); the hon. member for Long Lake (Mr. Cowan); and the hon. member for Rosetown (Mr. Loueks). I imagine it must be very pleasant to our friends from Ontario, Quebec and the maritimes after many long years to hear the Conservative voice from Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Now, Mr. Speaker, it might be well for me to state a few particulars with respect to
The Address-Mr. Perley (Qu'Appelle)
the constituency of Qu'Appelle which I have the honour to represent. It is situated in the central and easterly part of Saskatchewan. The foundation of its fine citizenship is the stock of the pioneers from old Ontario, Quebec and the maritimes, although of late yeara we have had a cosmopolitan addition from foreign countries. I wish to bring to the attention of the house four things which 1 think are a great credit to my constituency. First, we have there the third prize winner in the competition organized last year by the Canadian National Railways, known as the foreign community progress competition. I refer to the Hungarian colony south of the town of Kipling. It is a fine colony of foreign citizens, and they are doing wonderful work. They have fine houses, schools, churches and public buildings and would be a credit to any part of western Canada.
Then I want to refer briefly to the fact that in my own constituency I have one of the master farmers of Saskatchewan, selected through the master farmer movement inaugurated by the Northwest Farmer, an agricultural journal. I refer to George Stutt, of Yandura, who was selected as one of the three master farmers of our province. I might state briefly to the way the points were scored. The inspection had to do with five branches of farm life: First was the operation and organization of the farm; second was the general appearance and upkeep of the farm; third was the business methods, fourth the home life, and .fifth the citizenship of the farmer. Any man who could secure a sufficiently high percentage to be classed as one of the three master farmers under those conditions is a credit to any constituency.
I wish to mention also the fact that on the border line between the constituencies of Qu'Appelle and Assiniboia is a farmer whose name is George Avery and who, at the last international grain show, secured the grand championship for durum wheat. That is a point worthy of mention, and I would like also to place on the records of this house the fact that a.t the annual livq stock association meeting in the capital city of Regina the boys' judging team from the agricultural society of Fairmede secured first place, both collectively and individually. Those are four facts I should like to place before hon. members of this house.
While we have in my constituency these four distinguished examples, Mr. Speaker, yet we are feeling the depression which is being felt all over the west as a result of conditions for which the farmers are not altogether responsible. Last winter I attended many meetings held by farmers, at which .they discussed
their problems and passed certain resolutions which were forwarded to the government, yet in spite of present conditions I did not hear a single word at any one of those meetings with regard to secession. During this debate we have listened to many speeches dealing with conditions as they are to-day in western Canada. I agree with a great deal of what has been said, and some of the hon. gentlemen in the far corner of the house, particularly the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Speak-man), have shown a very blear grasp of the situation and have made clear and careful statements of the facts. I understand the hon. member succeeded the late Doctor Clark as member for Red Deer. Doctor Clark was one of the outstanding orators of this house, but I think the constituency of Red Deer will be equally well looked after by its present representative.
I have outlined as carefully and as concisely as possible what I consider to be the exact condition of affairs in western Canada, and my. conclusions are these: A very large percentage of the western farmers are heavily in debt. I believe that is generally admitted. Their ability to pay is a very serious consideration, and not one in a hundred, in fact not one in five hundred of the western farmers is deliberately or willingly trying to evade .the payment of his indebtedness. Under existing conditions, however, the debt is growing out of all proportion to his ability to pay, and the mental and moral effect of this situation is exerting a tremendous influence on the farmers of the west. Under existing world conditions not more than the cost of production can be realized from the 1931 crop.
That is the condition as I see it, but I would like to ask if there is one member of this house in his right senses who thinks that this condition has arisen in the west during the last six months. It took years to bring it about, and while I would not care to charge the late government with the responsibility for all our ills and troubles, yet I think when we compare the situation as they found it when they came into office in 1921 with the conditions which existed when the present government came into power on August 7 last, you cannot help but charge the late government with a great deal of the responsibility. This point was very well covered by the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Turnbull) in his first speech, and I will not go into further details at the moment.
There are certain causes for the present condition, Mr. Speaker, and I have tried to group them in four classes. I believe the western farmers are anxious to be fair in considering the situation, and I may say that
The Address-Mr. Perley (Qu'Appelle)
now I am speaking as a farmer from western Canada. If you will pardon a personal reference, I have been farming in the west for thirty years on rather a large scale-too large, no doubt, under present conditions. I am not going to say to what extent I have been farming, but when I left home last Wednesday we had in our bins on the farm 6,000 bushels of clean grain waiting for the seeder, so you will see how I am involved in the farming game. I say the fanners are prepared to be fair, and they are responsible for a small part of the present situation. I come to that conclusion from the fact that it has been stated in this house that the greatest purchasing power in Canada is the western wheat crop, and during the last ten years we in the west have produced and marketed six billion dollars worth of grain. Some hon. members from the east might ask where all that cash has gone, and my reply would be that one of the reasons is that the farmers have allowed themselves to be exploited. They have been easy prey for expert salesmen, particularly those handling American made machinery and other products. Farmers sitting in this house know they 'have been guilty of this; I have been guilty of it myself. The expert salesman comes into our yards and easily makes us believe that the old binders, seeders or tractors, only half worn out, should be replaced by new, up-to-date and more expensive machines. That is what has been happening.
Another minor cause is the banking system and the way the banks have been dealing with the farmers of the west. Much has been said *with regard to the banks. I am not going to add a great deal to that, only to say that I believe hon. gentlemen who have spoken on that point are correct in nearly every particular. As I see it to-day, the great effect of the banks is that they are taking away the morale of the people of the west. A year or so ago a farmer would go to the bank and ask for $200 or $300 of a loan. The banker would say, "Mr. Smith, you do not want $200; you should have $300 or $400." The farmer would take the money on a straight note, without security. Now these men go in and find their credit gone and their securities of no value. The morale of these men who have been farming in the west for thirty or forty years is being wrecked.
There is a third reason. Our method of marketing grain for the last six years has been such that it has demoralized the whole grain trading system, not only in Canada but throughout the world. I do not find fault with the pool or with cooperative marketing; far from it. Any man would be crazy to do
such a thing. But their sales agency made a mistake, and when they did so I claim it was the business of the Department of Trade and Commerce of the late government to know that that mistake was being made. If I understand it, the Department of Trade and Commerce should know what is going on in the game of international trading. The department exists for that purpose, and when the markets were slipping they should have known the reason and taken steps to meet the situation. They should have advised the great marketing agency in western Canada of the mistakes they were making. That was the duty of the department. However, we have a situation there; it is on our hands, and the very uncertainty at the present time as to the whole marketing of the next crop is affecting the price very materially.
Fourthly, and this is the major count: The fiscal policy of Canada, the whole of Canada, for the last ten years-yes, for the last twenty-five years-has been wrong; and I think we can charge that to the late government more or less. For instance, take agriculture in western Canada. We have been developing one line of industry, that of agriculture and that alone. An industry which employs peak labour for only two months of the year-and this is the case in this industry, as farmers all know-cannot satisfactorily build up a great country. We must develop other lines of industry.
I have tried briefly to set out one or two of the causes of the present condition, and I consider it my duty to offer one or two constructive suggestions. We have had some from both sides of the house, but I. do not think anyone .has gone far enough to meet the emergency. One suggestion has been made from this corner of the house, that the 1930 crop be subsidized, and another suggestion is the amortization of capital debt. I am going to make my suggestions under two heads-a long-range policy and a policy which will have immediate effect. I believe the Department of Agriculture will do much towards improving the present situation. We have a new Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) from the province of Saskatchewan, and we are very proud of him. He is an expert agriculturist, a man who is sincere in purpose, and who I know will do much to inaugurate a new agricultural policy for the whole of Canada. Much can be done along that line. The Department of Trade and Commerce can do much in the way of merchandising, or assisting in merchandising the crop. Canadian wheat is recognized in the markets of the world as the best wheat pro-
The Address-Mr. Perley (Qu'Appelle)
duced anywhere. It has been used primarily for mixing purposes, and it has been proven conclusively by experiments that Canadian wheat will do more for a loaf of bread than any other wheat grown. That is to say, 15 or 20 per cent blended with other grains will do more than 15 or 20 per cent of any other wheat similarly blended. So that we have something special to merchandise. If any factory or company or organization producing a certain article or line of goods discovered that they had the best product in that particular line they would immediately go out and sell it. Now we have the best wheat in the world, and it is up to the Department of Trade and Commerce to assist in selling it; the department should make a greater effort in this direction than has been made heretofore.
Secondly, I think we should have some scheme put into practice-and I believe the Minister of Agriculture will see that this is done-to take advantage of the expert advice which is available to our farmers. I believe that one of the greatest wastes which we have seen in western Canada in the last fifteen or twenty years has been the failure to benefit from such expert advice. There is no district in the west wherein you will not find an expert farmer, an outstanding agriculturist who has made a success of his particular line of agriculture; while you will find his neighbours, for miles around him, failures or partial failures, notwithstanding that they operate under the same climatic conditions and in the same soil. We find one expert, outstanding man and the rest largely failures. Now I suggest that we should adopt some system whereby each district might make use of the advice and experience of such experts. That is something that could be worked out-a campaign of education and educational leadership.
Next I would suggest a rigid enforcement of the Bank Act. I will not enlarge upon that question or go into details just now: sufficient has already been said in that regard. I will, however, say this: that the implement concerns in the west have been allowed in many cases to sell their goods on notes bearing 8 or 9 per cent, and 10 per cent interest after due date, something which should not be permitted.
Then again I would suggest a duty on corn imported for feed purposes. The hon. member for Souris (Mr. Willis) made a clear case in favour of western coarse grains. I will not discuss that matter because the figures are in Hansard and, as I say, the hon. member made an able case in support of coarse grains. There
should also be a development of our great natural resources, the vast potential wealth of the western country-mines, forests and lakes.
These suggestions which I have outlined constitute what I might call a long-range policy; that is to say, there is nothing in them which can have an immediate effect, although their development will be fruitful in the future. But what the farmer of the west needs today-and having just returned from Saskatchewan I know what they need-is something in the nature of direct relief. The present government has done much; it has seen to it that no farmer in the west will be without seed. It has seen to it that gasoline will be made available to the farmer to enable him to put in his crop. But this is not even meeting the situation, because there are many farmers who, if they had a little direct assistance, would employ one or two more men. If you will pardon me for speaking personally again, I have five tenants, and I know that if they had some asdstance they might each employ another man. And I venture to say that if assistance were forthcoming from the banks, if the banks would loosen up and give credit in the west where credit is needed and should be given, fifty per cent of the farmers of western Canada would employ an extra man. What would that not do towards solving the unemployment problem?
As I say, these are long-range policies. I will now offer a suggestion by way of affording direct assistance. It has already been stated by one hon. member that capital investment by loan companies amounted to $215,000,000, while interest due and in arrear is in the neighbourhood of $20,000,000. I suggest that if we want to save agriculture, if we want to show the farmer that we are all interested in keeping him on his land-and that is the important thing for us to consider at the present time-there must be no change of tenancy in the farms of western Canada. To keep the farmer on the land is the important thing to-day; and if the loan companies pursue the policy which they have followed promiscuously, of foreclosing on farms, the tenancy of a great many farms in the west will be changed. I would suggest that the government call a conference of the loan companies and make the proposal that should the loan companies write off forty or fifty per cent of the interest in arrears, the government will pay them the balance and thus place the loans upon the basis they were when first placed upon the farms. This would re-establish the confidence of the farmer and he would realize that no interest in Canada was working to put him off the land. I do not suggest that as a hand-out
The Address-Mr. Perley (Qu'Appelle)
by the government to the farmer, but it could be considered on an amortization of some kind extending over a period of from ten to fifteen years.
My next suggestion may be considered a little drastic, but I offer it by way of immediate relief. I think a suggestion that the 1930 crop be subsidized has been made by one hon. member on this side of the house. I do not intend to go that far, but I think the 1930 crop should be subsidized to the extent of the government paying the freight on all grain sold since the price dropped below 70 cents per bushel. That subsidization would involve only about 50 per cent of the crop, as considerable of the crop was shipped during last September, October and November before the price got below 70 cents per bushel. This would not involve the expenditure entailed in pegging the price at 70 cents per bushel, which has been requested generally by the farmers of western Canada. Certain opposition may be offered, and there might be considerable detail in the working out of this system, but I believe it would be equal and fair to all concerned. Perhaps the railway companies might be asked to bear some part of this burden.
I now come to the last and most important of my suggestions, and that is that we have a complete policy of protection such as has been inaugurated by this government. During the campaign of last summer the people accepted the proposition outlined by the Prime Minister. One policy was offered from one end of Canada to the other. The voice in Halifax was heard in Vancouver, and the voice in Vancouver was heard in Halifax. The people accepted that policy because they wanted to know what the policy of Canada was to be. The hon. member for Southeast Grey made a statement the other day with which I agreed; she said that she wanted to know what was the right tariff policy for Canada. Canada wants to know, but if this country will give this government the support it deserves, then Canada will know.
I do not think that any reasonable person ever expected that the critical condition of affairs and the depression and unemployment found in August last when the present government took office would be corrected in six short months. If this government is allowed to put its policies into force conditions in Canada will improve and the east and the west can join hands in making Canada the great industrial dominion she should be.
Considerable has been said about the Imperial conference and I would not endeavour to answer the many speeches we have heard from the opposition in criticism of the attitude taken
'Mr. E. E. Perley.] .
by the Prime Minister. To do that would take more time than I have at my disposal. The right hon. leader of the opposition seemed to be very much concerned about this matter, and he objected to the method of approach adopted by the Prime Minister. The hon. member for Wetaskiwin (Mr. Irvine) proceeded very reasonably when he asked the hon. leader of the opposition to indicate why he thought a different approach to the British people would have resulted in their paying better prices for Canadian wheat. The answer *made by the right hon. gentleman was not very definite, he seemed to be satisfied with mentioning a conciliatory method of approach and making reference to the Dunning budget.
The very mention of the Dunning budget gives me pleasant memories and recollections, for it was in my constituency in the province of Saskatchewan that the Hon. Charles Dunning made his first pronouncement in the last campaign. I had the pleasure-it was a pleasure because I think every time he spoke he assisted me-of having him speak at three meetings in my constituency out of seven or eight in Saskatchewan. I had the pleasure also of having the former Minister of Railways, Mr. Crerar, speak at two meetings. At Broadview, at the Liberal nomination, speaking before eight or nine hundred people, Mr. Dunning stated that his May day budget had been framed for the purpose of selling Canadian wheat. He said: We asked no preference but we gave a preference, and he suggested that the British people would feel it to be a duty and responsibility to buy our wheat in greater quantity. What was the preference given? It was a preference in our markets for their cattle and hor3es, and a preference in our .markets for their carts and perambulators, cut flowers and cast iron pipes.
Since coming to Ottawa I have been asked why the Hon. Charles Dunning was defeated. Perhaps the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Turnbull) is better able to answer that question, but I think the principal reason was this: We had known Mr. Dunning in the provincial legislature when he was a private member, we had known him when he was a member of the cabinet and when he was the premier; we knew that at every session of the provincial legislature he had spoken in favour of the resolution which was always introduced asking for free trade. On many occasions he had stated that he was an avowed free trader, but when the people of western Canada examined his May day budget they said: Our Charlie has betrayed us, and they voted accordingly. They thought the May day budget was humbug. The hon. leader of
Canadian Nationals Act
the opposition took about twenty minutes during his speech in the early part of this session to explain the meaning of the word "humbug", but I think that every definition given to that word by the right hon. gentleman could be applied to the Dunning budget.
The hon. leader of the opposition seems to be very much concerned about this being a one man government. I prefer to follow a one man government, if you like to call it such, when the policies announced by our leader are those I have been looking for for the last fifteen or twenty years. The Prime Minister proved to the people of Canada that he was a man of courage and conviction. He announced a policy which he would enforce if given the opportunity. On July 28 the people said: Canada -wants to know, and Canada will know.
The right hon. leader of the opposition stated in his speech that the greatest purchasing power that we had in Canada was the western wheat crop. Does he hold the present Prime Minister responsible for the loss of that purchasing power? What did they do about the matter? I think the hon.' member for Regina referred to that in his speech. When the ex-Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Malcolm) last year was asked about wheat, they said that the wheat would take care of itself. We know they did not do very much about it.
The hon. member for Yorkton (Mr. Mc-Phee) spoke about false fiscal policies. I should like to ask him what they did during the last nine or ten years that they held office. I think we are all agreed that this is not the time for idle talk; that it is the time for action. The people of Canada have decided to give the Prime Minister and his government an opportunity, and I think it is the duty of every good Canadian citizen who realizes the meaning of the term "citizenship" to give at least reasonable support to the present government to inaugurate policies of protection and other policies, to develop our industries and to make trade agreements that will help us to sell our natural products. Canada has an opportunity to go forward. It is up to us to be ready, a united, prosperous and contented Canada under the leadership of the greatest prime minister that Canada has had since the time of Sir John A. Macdonald.
On motion of Mr. McIntosh the debate was adjourned.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY