Hon. JAMES MALCOLM (Minister of Trade and Commerce):
Mr. Speaker, the
problems arising out of the administration of the Canada Grain Act are, as the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Gardiner) says, of
Grading of Grain-Mr. Malcolm
such magnitude that one naturally hesitates to comment thereon except after one has been very thoroughly and fully informed on every phase of the subject. Personally I do not think much will be gained by debate in the house at this time, but if the house would grant the request of the chairman of the committee on agriculture for an enlargement of the reference, these matters which are contentious could be investigated before the committee by calling witnesses and taking evidence. The committee would then be assisted in making recommendations to the government and to parliament for changes in the Canada Grain Act which would correct the evils complained of if they were found to exist.
Early in the session I consulted with various western members of parliament on both sides of the house, and learned of the seriousness and the variety of complaints that were lodged against the Board of Grain Commissioners and the Board of Standards in regard to the administration of the act. I told all of those members-and they agreed with me- that the government would grant a reference to a committee so that all these matters might be thoroughly gone into and reported upon to parliament. Most of the members with whom I consulted felt satisfied that if the reference were broad enough, nothing would be gained^ by discussion in the house, until the committee had reported, and I had hoped that the request of the chairman of the committee on agriculture for an enlargement of the reference would be granted by the house so that the committee could proceed with its work. The reference which is before the committee arose out of a resolution by the hon. member for Qu Appelle (Mr. Millar) stating that proteins should be considered a factor in the grading of grain.
But there are on the order paper two other resolutions, one by the hon. member fcr Willow Bunch (Mr. Donnelly) contending that the mixing of grain is an evil and that mixing should be eliminated, and another resolution which stands in the name of the hon. member for Rosetown (Mr. Evans), criticizing the action of the Board of Grain Commissioners in permitting the use of a certain ticket which contained additional words-words which weTe not prescribed in the actual ticket given in the Canada Grain Act. Under these circumstances I do not feel that the chairman of .the committee on agriculture and the members of that committee could have done anything else but ask for an enlargement of their reference, so that the whole three resolutions, which I chink cover the major points of criticism,
might be dealt, with and fully reported upo-n. To endeavour to discuss any one of these points at the present moment before the evidence is heard is in my opinion futile. To discuss charges against the Board of Grain Commissioners when the board have not had an opportunity to give evidence as to why they ruled or failed to rule in a certain way, I think is unfair. So far as I am concerned, I have found the Board of Grain Commissioners at all times anxious to assist in the administration of the act in the interests of the producer. Whether they have made mistakes of judgment or not will be brought out in the evidence produced before the committee. Mr. Boyd has been acting as chairman of the Board of Grain Commissioners since March of 1917. I have had no reason to criticize Mr. Boyd, and I do not propose to pass judgment until evidence is adduced and he has had a chance to reply. Therefore it seems to me. Mr. Speaker, that it would be very much out of place for me as a minister of the crown to join in any comment on a public servant, nor do I think that anything can be gained by this debate. I think I am quite right in saying to the house that much evidence will likely be adduced in the committee, and the report [DOT] of the committee can, and no douibt will be fully discussed in the house. I think this matter can be very much 'better handled by having the discussion take place in the tight of the evidence which will be taken before the committee. I can therefore only recommend to the house that this debate be as short as possible, that the chairman of the agriculture committee be granted this reference, and that the discussion when the committee's report comes before the house be as full and as free as parliament may wish.
Subtopic: WHEAT-INSPECTION, SHIPMENT, AND PROTEIN CONTENT-REFERENCE TO COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE