March 15, 1923

LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Let me ask the hon.

gentleman a question. Are the western prairies worth while bringing immigrants to, or not?

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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Will the hon. member explain just what he means by that question?

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Yes, I would like to know, is it possible for selected settlers to make a livelihood on the prairies providing they possess average intelligence?

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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Mr. Chairman, under present conditions on the prairies I say it is absolutely impossible-absolutely impossible.

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Then it is absolutely no use to bring immigrants to the prairies at the present time?

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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Absolutely. That is what I shall endeavour to demonstrate before we get through. In my opinion there is no use spending millions lavishly to bring people to this country when those already here cannot make a living. An hon. member on the other side of the House said to me one day recently that the peasant from southeastern Europe who will dig himself into a hole or live in a sod shaek is the kind of man Canada wants. Well, even those poor devils are just as badly off as the rest. If you bring them in they will stay a little while and then leave us.

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Do I understand the hon. gentleman to say that everyone is insolvent in the three prairie provinces?

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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

The actual condition is so close to it that we might as well call it so. In the province of Alberta out of 80,000 farmers 20,000 are absolutely insolvent, and the majority of the remainder are approaching that state rapidly. Thirteen million dollars will be required this year alone to renew farm mortgages in that province. In the southern portion that comes under the operation of the Drouth Area Relief Act no less than $25,000,000 of debt has been administered by the commissioner in charge of that act. That was the amount of indebtedness turned over to him to endeavour to apportion among the various creditors, but which has of course not been paid.

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Will my hon. friend inform the committee who created these particular

mortgages and for what reason? Was it on account of over-buying or anything of that description? Possibly not.

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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Let me inform the hon. gentleman of this fact. Shortly after the war was over a policy of financial deflation was commenced and carried out with the most ruthless brutality by those who alone can carry out such a policy. The immediate result was deplorable. Let me give my hon. friend an example of my own. In the fall of 1920 I think it was-I speak from memory and am not quite certain that my dates are absolutely correct-had I been able to thresh and dispose of the crop I would have been able to pay all my debts. But I did not get it threshed that year until October, nor did my neighbours, and by that time the rapid toboggan of prices had commenced, and when we actually got our grain to the market not only were we unable to pay our debts out of the proceeds but we had to carry over heavy liabilities to the following year. Pressure was exerted by the banks-very gently at first, but very steadily, and we had to meet it. Subsequently our debts piled up and mortgages had to be taken out. Just to meet the mortgage interest and renewals alone that amount of money which I have mentioned was required. This is official information issued by the government of the province of Alberta.

Of course deflation has not been the only factor. Drouth has had something to do with the trouble, but this does not apply so greatly to the north. A particular instance I wish to cite is that of a very good friend of mine living in the district of Hanna ordinarily a fairly good district. He is interested in the work of parliament. I thought I would send him a copy of Hansard, and this is the letter I received from him in acknowledgement:

I received the first copy and my wife and I are very thankful to you for sending us Hansard this year. I assure you we appreciate it very much. In view of our financial condition we had discussed very seriously what item of our household expense we could dispense with or retrench in order to get Hansard as we wanted it very much.

Is it not lamentable that they had to squeeze and corner to find $3? That is not all. He also took the opportunity of telling me something about the conditions there. I know them fairly well but not in any detail. I may say that this man is one of those who works from daylight to dark, he never spares himself, and does not drink alcohol or smoke. He is a married man with a small family. He writes:

The financial position in this locality, as indeed I believe in all Alberta, is very serious. Farmers are unable to meet their taxes and consequently the schools

are closed.

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Those are the facts, Mr. Chairman.

The banks have told us that not one cent will they advance until the indebtedness of the municipality to these institutions has been met. In Dowling lake municipality we have only three schools running at- the present time and in two of these schools the teachers are waiting for their salary until it becomes available. God only knows when that will be. Loan companies are compelling practically every farmer who is in arrears with his interest to become nothing but a tenant on land which we spent the best years of our life opening and developing, and now instead of owning the land we become tenants. I sold a 50-lb. hide last month for $1.80, 45 pounds of hide, 5 pounds dockage. The same day I bought a little pair of shoes for our little girl, the cheapest I could get, weight about 5 or 6 oz., price $3. Where is it all going to end?

That is the desperate condition these men are in. No one can appreciate who does not live among them the suffering, the misery, the depression, the despair they go through year after year. And the day has gone by-I think the House was warned of it last spring -when the hopeful effort of former years will be put into the preparation of the land for this season's crop. I had the honour of going around my constituency last summer speaking at meetings. Sometimes I had to take long drives at night time, and on three different occasions in the southern part of that country we met people driving towards the United States border by night. On one occasion a party was stuck in a sand hole with a Ford car piled to the top with blankets and bedding. These are the conditions. Does any hon. gentleman' think we can take an inexperienced immigrant from any part of Europe, put him out in that country without capital and expect him to make a success of farming? Do hon. members think that men with a capital of from SI,500 to $2,000 can go out there and make a success of it? They may remain a little while, but if present conditions exist- there is the root of the trouble-and if an attempt is not made to curb the exploitation of these people by the combines and by the transportation companies-which my hon. friend from Pontiac (Mr. Cahill) spoke of as bleeding this country white, and I agree with him, if such enormous sums must be paid out in dividends to the shareholders of the Canadian Pacific railway and other corporations every year, then I say there is little hope for the West. It would be far, far better not to bring settlers into that country.

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Does my hon. friend suggest that the Canadian Pacific Railway shareholders should go without their dividends? I merely ask for information.

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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

As long as the great mass of the people who are helping 77

build up this country are not getting any dividends whatever, although they are doing far harder work than the shareholders of the Canadian Pacific Railway, I would say most emphatically, yes. I think we should endeavour to curb the profits of these corporations and allow the people who are working to build up the country to get some gain for their hard labour.

I cannot understand the attitude of some hon. gentlemen who talk of progressing from the farm to the city. Is it really progression? Should it be regarded as such? Why do we hear hon. members say that the ambition of the young, of those who want to get ahead, is to leave the farm and go to the cities? Why should it be so? Yet we find in the delightful pamphlets sent out by the Department of Immigration the most glowing prospects that await the immigrant who engages in agriculture. Listen to what we send to Europe. WTe say:

Come to this country. The call of the West is no vain call. It beckons the courageous, the thrifty, the industrious, from the Mother Country particularly, to a life that is essentially democratic and independent, to an industry that assures the most encouraging returns, the basic and the noblest industry in the world-agriculture.

And yet we are told that it is progression, that it is only the ambitious that leave agriculture and go to the cities. There are many more similar statements in these publications, and I think the minister would be well advised to go over them very carefully. I find the grossest misrepresentation in these statements. The poor man in a foreign country; the English or Scotch crofter, the Irish hill peasant, who read this sort of thing and saw that picture on the cover would think this was a land of milk and honey and golden grain; that there was nothing to it but to come here, get a quarter section, and become a millionaire. I suggest that the minister revise these descriptions. I could paint a different picture, and it would be more truthful than this is.

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LIB
PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Exactly, and it would be my intention that it should be so, under present conditions.

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LIB
PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I was. But unlike many other immigrants I went to the agent and discussed the matter very thoroughly with him. The first thing he told me was "You will not need hob-nailed boots in Canada, and you do not need to take any tobacco over there, because they grow it,'r

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seriously under-populated-and no one will question that. He said further that he did not favour sending out the nation's youngest and best. He preferred the family migration, or the block settlement system. He believed it would be cheaper for the government to bear the whole cost of sending out emigrants, and even to buy the land on which they settle, than continue the present system of doles and poor-law relief.

The only thing I have to say with regard to his remarks is this. Emigration may be an excellent method of getting rid of the English poor, but I am afraid that that class would not be very suitable here. These men who suggest buying land in Canada or some other of the dominions might just as well buy land in Greenland and settle these people there. Their chances of success^ would be just as good, and the land would be a whole lot cheaper. Even at that, Mr. Chairman, the members of the British House of Commons are not altogether easy in their minds. In spite of the delightful literature that is sent over there, and the glowing language, I have no doubt, of those who speak on emigration in England, the members of the British House of Commons are doubtful as to the suitability and feasibility of this thing. Sir Mitchell Cotts, a National-Liberal, discussing this matter in the House of Commons, December 6th, 1922, suggested that a party of members of the House of Commons should visit the Dominion and watch the settlement of immigrants here. I wonder why they thought that was necessary? We know why it was necessary. Too many, as an article in the Journal not long afterward said, had fallen into the hands of land speculators who had exploited them to their own advantage. Too many had found it impossible to make a living out here. I have in my own district a number of Englishmen of a very fine type, from Yorkshire. They came there many years ago and homesteaded with myself. These men, every one of them, hate the day they came in here, and they are Britishers, not foreigners. Their wives regret their coming and are continually talking about the lovely place they had back home in Yorkshire. One of these men worked for the Earl of Ripon, and he is everlastingly talking of the glorious times he had on the Earl of Ripon's estate.

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LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

Is not that generally true of English people, even if you put them in a part of the country such as the Eastern Townships in Quebec, where things are not nearly as bad as in Alberta?

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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I have no doubt the hon. member asked that question for the purpose of making that statement. It may be quite true.

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LIB
PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Although I have lived for almost two years in Sherbrooke county, Quebec, I know nothing about the part the hon. member speaks of. The part I lived in is devoted almost entirely to mining. But the hon. member may be quite correct. I do know some splendid young English settlers in the West, and splendid English families, who are striving hard but are in a condition of desperation. I would be glad to take any hon. members of this House out with me this year and show them in my own constituency these things I am talking of. After all, Mr. Chairman, this thing of spending millions of dollars on immigration can be characterized as indirectly bonusing the transportation and steamship companies. That is what it amounts to. It is advertising in foreign countries and securing tonnage for them. The people of this country are not going to stand for it any longer.

Again, when we bring these people over here, we cannot keep them. I need not stress that point as almost every speaker who has preceded me in this debate has pointed out how rapidly immigrants are leaving this country. If further evidence is wanted I would refer hon. members to the fact that President Harding of the United States, supported by many members of congress, has been discussing: seriously the bringing in of an Immigration Registration Bill. The reason given is this: Growing out of complaints of the Commissioner General of Immigration of increased activity in the efforts to smuggle immigrants through from Canada, and from Mexico, into the United States over the international boundary, congress is showing a disposition not only to grant ample funds for the enforcement of the immigration laws, but there is also serious discussion of an alien registration law. We are, Mr. Chairman, simply being used as a back door for those who want to go to the States and do not wish to or cannot enter the country directly. I have no doubt that when the quota plan from foreign countries enforced by the United States is used up we will have a tremendous influx of settlers into Canada. There will be no question about it. They will come in but they will not stay here; they will, if they can possibly do so, cross the border into the United States. Representative L.

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B. Rainey, of Alabama, in a recent speech, urged larger appropriations to prevent the smuggling of emigrants from Canada into the United States. And may I point out, the minister knows it as well as I do, that every disgruntled settler, every man who leaves this country in a dissatisfied or discontented frame of mind is not the kind of man who will speak well of this country; he will try to prevent other people from coming here.

I have great hope, Mr. Chairman, that in the future conditions will be changed, but I doubt very much if they will be brought about very rapidly by the present government. I see no indication of the activity that is desirable on their part. The conditions are much as they were a year ago. The government have had a year but appear to have no policy for remedying present conditions Hon. members from the Maritime provinces have cast a few joking remarks in our direction. I am quite sure those remarks were made in the best of humour and were not intended to be sarcastic. But it is well to point oCFt to them that conditions in the Maritime provinces do not appear to be much better than conditions in the West judging from newspaper reports. I find in the Shelburne Gazette a despatch from the Bridgewater Bulletin containing the views of its New Germany correspondent. I think the hon. member for Lunenburg (Mr. Duff) knows the district very well. The despatch in question is as follows:

Our New Germany correspondent sends us the following item: "Charles Lohnes and family are removing to the United States. This is one of the many families of this town and vicinity who are leaving. It is lamentable to see our country being drained of its best native blood. The Methodist congregation alone has lost fifty of its members through removal within a very brief time."

Again we find the following from Nova Scotia:

The exodus of young men and women from Nova Scotia to the United States was spoken of at length and deplored and Mr. MacKenzie suggested high taxes as a cause. It was his opinion that no more unskilled labour should be introduced into Nova Scotia until present farm production was being absorbed.

I just give these few extracts in passing.

I would now like to deal with the general question of immigration in this country past and present. I was particularly interested in the speech delivered by the Acting Minister of Immigration and Colonization before the University Club, Ottawa. As reported in the Citizen of January 19, he said amongst other things the following: [DOT]

Particularly affected by these conditions was the farmer. Farming would not again be profitable until

the commodities which the farmer had to purchase came down to the same price level as the commodities he had to sell. The same applied to other lines but to a lesser extent.

I quote next the following:

Agriculture, Mr. Stewart said, was the basic industry and all other industries were permeated and affected by it.

Further on I find this:

All of Canada's free land, Mr. Stewart said, was so far from the railroads as to be hardly practical to farm and the Canadian government would have to make the present railways pay before starting on extensions.

But the most delightful statement in his whole speech-and I ask hon. members to listen most attentively because these are the words of the minister who has come before us to-day and asked for an increase of $1,316,000 odd-is the following:

Extreme conditions of deflation in the farming communities of the West had resulted in the impossibility of making the farm pay th*'re. "What is the use," asked Mr. Stewart, "of bringing people to the country if they cannot exist."

Is there &ny justification for voting money for such a purpose after an admission of that character by the minister himself, made in public in this city? But let us go further and see if there is any justification whatever.

I was interested enough in this question to seek information on it, and I secured from the Bureau of Statistics the figures of the population of Canada in each of the census years from 1871 to the present day, also the figures of the immigration .into Canada in each of these ten year periods. I am sorry to say that the bureau was unable to supply me with the figures showing the natural increase, that is the number of births over deaths, in these periods, until we come down to 1901. But 1 again inquired and I found that I would be justified in using 15 per 1,000 per year as about the average rate of increase. It sometimes varies, last year I found it was 16.4, or something like that, but with that information I have worked out the following: In 1871 the population of Canada was 3,689,257. The immigration into Canada in that year was 362,893, a total, not making any allowance for natural increase of 4,052,150. The census year of 1881, that is at the end of the ten year period, shows a population of 4,324,810. Working out the natural increase I find that it should amount to 553.350. I do not make any allowance whatever for the increase from year to year but simply take the population at the commencement of the decade, and estimate it on that only, not on the increase, so that I am well within the figures when I give you 553,350 as representing what

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March 15, 1923