March 24, 1931

LIB

Joseph Oscar Lefebre Boulanger

Liberal

Mr. BOULANGER:

I shall take some

other opportunity of instructing my hon. friend whose thirst for knowledge I am glad to note.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION:

There were two million.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

Joseph Oscar Lefebre Boulanger

Liberal

Mr. BOULANGER:

The right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) continued: Now, Sir, this question transcends party; it is larger than the lives of parties because it strikes at the very life of this Dominion. We must have settlers. We have in Canada facilities to take care of an additional population of from 15,000,000 to 17,000,000 people; we have 10.000.000 acres of untouched land within 20 miles of the railways; we have the Peace ltiver area and other portions of the country which are lying idle while the government is expressing pious hopes as to what will happen. I say the time has come when action must be taken.

During the same session the right hon. gentleman who was then leading the opposition and is to-day the Prime Minister of Canada, discussing the report of the committee on agriculture and colonization, which committee, hon. gentleman will recall had made a very lengthy and very exhaustive inquiry into the problem of immigration, the right hon. gentleman, I say, used the following language on June 7, 1928-page 3924 of Hansard:

I regret to have to differ with my hon. friend the Minister of Railways as to relying entirely upon unorganized and individual effort as we used to do twenty-five years ago.

My hon. friend from Quebec-Montmorency (Mr. Dorion) will please note: this is what was going on 25 years ago.

But conditions have profoundly changed in the meantime. They have so profoundly changed that, as mentioned this afternoon, there is a very great demand for settlers made upon Britain and upon various countries of northern Europe from which we draw population, with the result that we are not able to secure all we wish from those countries. Australia and New Zealand are in the same plight. But, on the other hand; we can get our fair share if we make conditions here such as are found in other communities, and therefore it is necessary to give that assistance to immigrants which otherwise we would not be compelled to give.

In the course of the same debate, the same day, on page 3925, the right hon. leader of the opposition made a very virulent attack against the then Minister of Immigration, Mr. Forke. He spoke in these words:

Now I regret to say this-you will say it is very unkind of me to say it. But the fact is that we have not at this time, in charge of this department, a gentleman who by natural aptitude or training is calculated to properly develop policies in connection with the Immigration department. I have as profound a respect as any man in this house for my hon. friend the member for Brandon (Mr. Forke). But in England they have long since, in their parliament, made it a rule under conditions such as these to fearlessly express their opinions with respect to ministers of the crown who direct policies. And in this instance I regret to say that it is so pain-

The Address-Mr. Boulanger

fully apparent to anyone, whoever he may be, whether Liberal or Conservative, whether he sits to the right or to the left of the Speaker, that the hon. gentleman, the member for Brandon, a man of integrity and character, is unfitted temperamentally or by training to discharge the varied and onerous duties of Minister of Immigration and Colonization in this country. That is one of the real difficulties. You could not have made the Canadian Pacific irrigation projects flourish unless you had had at the head of them a man such as the late Lord Shaughnessy or men of that type. And so, in relation to our immigration policy, you cannot have that policy succeed if you put in charge of it one wlio is disqualified-not qualified at least-either by training or by temperament, to discharge the very _ onerous duties that appertain to that position. So we say in this amendment that we should have a responsible minister in charge, although in Australia they did try a commission. And there are those in this country who believe that a commission responsible indirectly to the government might be able to succeed. In Canada there is less evidence of the likelihood of a 'commission succeeding. We say there should be a strong minister, a minister with the training, with the aptitude, with the temperament, with the desire and the determination and vigour to make such a department succeed-with these two great branches working side by side, the one, in cooperation with the provinces and other organizations, seeking new settlers, the other providing work for these settlers when they come here to keep them in this country. For I deny that this country is, by reason of its natural resources, unfitted for occupation, unfitted to give employment to men who come within its borders.

Now let us come to the organizer-in-chief of the Conservative party, General McRae, who also had in 1928 a splendid scheme for increasing the population of Canada, for bringing hundreds of thousands of immigrants within our borders at government expense. A few quotations from this plan will show whether the Conservative party was favourable or unfavourable to immigration. No later than two years ago, on March 9, 1928, page 1162 of the Debates, General McRae, member for North Vancouver, had this to say:

Mr. Speaker, I feel impelled to take up the time of the house this afternoon because so little of a constructive nature has been put forward by the hon. Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Forke) in the last year in respect to the serious question of population in this country that the country at large, and possibly a few members of this house, may reasonably conclude that there is no way of solving this great problem.

and on page 1163:

There is no big construction program in the country to-day. Something must be attempted if we are to take care of any considerable immigration. . . .

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I propose that the government inaugurate on a large scale a program which will bring about the settle-IMi. Boulanger.]

merit of our more or less scrub and lightly timbered land whicV we have in such abundance in our prairie provinces,-land with wonderful, almost inexhaustible soil, and easily reached by branch railways. In provinces like Manitoba, large areas which could be easily drained might also be included. A most conservative estimate of land of this character easily available in the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and possibly a section of northern Alberta, would be ten million acres, capable of supporting sixty-five thousand families or, roughly, a quarter of a million farm population. This of course does not include the Peace River country. There, there is a minimum of at least thirty million acres available, even more fertile and more easily cleared, which when developed would be capable of supporting 175.000 families, or nearly three-quarters of a million farm population-[DOT] more than the entire population of the province of Alberta at the present time.

And here is General McRae's summing up which will be found on pages 1163-4.

Summing up my proposal, Mr. Speaker, it will be seen that it contemplates the ultimate settlement of fifty million acres of land by some 250,000 to 300,000 farmers. These, with their families and the urban population which would he required, and the consequent developments which will follow, will add two million new people to the prairie provinces. I propose that we start out to double the present population of the west. Do this, and the rest of Canada will grow and prosper. . . .

.... As to the cost of clearing, I have made careful inquiries. It is no longer practical to clear land in the old-fashioned way. The grub hoe must give way to the heavy steam-breaking plough.

Mr. McRae did things in a big way. . . -which walks through ordinary brush and scrub like so much stubble. The operation, while necessarily under government direction, would be more or less a cooperative clearing scheme. Using modern methods, confining the clearing to the easiest half of each homestead, avoiding any heavily timbered areas, and pro-rating the expense over the district, I estimate the cost on the whole would not exceed at most $12.50 an acre: that is, one thousand dollars must be expended for clearing on each homestead. In addition, the expenditure required for the modest farm buildings-probably a log house and barn-would approximate five hundred dollars, making the total of $1,500 per homestead.

Naturally it wasn't enough that we should get them to come here and pay their way over and that we should grant them free lands; we still had to build a house and barn for them at the expense of the State. A little further Mr. McRae goes on:

Well and energetically administered, it should be possible to complete the program I am suggesting in ten years. On this basis,

I estimate that the government would he called upon to finance about $30,000,000 a year for ten years, or a total of $300,000,000. Not very much of this money would be repaid in the interval; nothing at all for the first five years.

The Address-Mr. Stitt (Nelson)

I should say so!

The country could well afford to borrow for such a development, issuing special land bonds or debentures for such time as would make it possible for repayments from the settlers to take cure of the same.

At page 1165:

Worked out on a unit basis, this plan can soon be built up to locate 25,000 or 35,000 families a year. It should be borne in mind, however, that once a good immigration movement gets under way it grows up like a snowball. People will come along on their own and make their own arrangements. In a big movement probably not over 50 per cent of the immigrants would have to be provided for under the project I am suggesting. The others, attracted by the development and consequent prosperity, would locate themselves throughout the Dominion. If we handle 200,000 people a year under this government colonization program a total immigration may be anticipated of easily twice that number, or equal to the maximum immigration the country has enjoyed.

I suggest to the government that in cooperation with the Imperial government and the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia the Peace River country should be developed as a great Imperial settlement. Alberta and British Columbia together could furnish 30,000,000 acres of land for homesteads; the Dominion government could finance the cost of clearing the land and erecting the necessary buildings on the basis I have already suggested, while as their part Great Britain could finance the temporary requirements of the settlers as they do now in part. It would also be a reasonable pro- ....

That would suffice, Mr. Speaker, to show what attitude the Conservative party adopted in immigration matters when they sat on -the opposition benches. When election time came around our Conservative friends, never slow in appropriating other people's ideas, saw that this question of immigration could be used as a lure in the province of Quebec. Hence the Conservatice party, at least in Quebec province, took over this immigration policy as its own and used it throughout the campaign, though it was exactly opposite to the attitude followed by that party in the house right up to -the time of -the last election.

May I point out that, at our last session, when the Hon. Mr. Forke was appointed to the Senate, the Liberal party practically abolished the Department of Immigration- that is to say the government did not appoint a successor-and it was the Conservative administration, after the elections of July, 1930, that reestablished the Immigration Department by naming a minister to preside over it.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if it is wrong to bring immigrants into our country at public expense, it is far worse to swell the numbers of civil servants who live at the expense of the taxpayers of this country. But when we

came here at the opening of the session we were quite surprised to find that the House of Commons barber shop had been put in charge of a master-barber from England. We were equally surprised to find the House of Commons restaurant presided over by another gentleman from England; as is also the supposedly protective staff of the House of Commons, several of whose members were not born in this country. I also ask the House to note that during recess since last September the patrolling of the Parliament buildings, the conducting of visiting tourists, etc., were given over to seven or eight members of the House of Commons protective staff, and out of this number only two or three were Canadian born, all the others being of foreign extraction. While I am on this question of importing public employees, I wish to draw the attention of the House and of my good friend from Quebec-Montmorency (Mr. Dorion), to the fact that when his friends were in power in 1917, 1918, 1919 and 1920, they brought in auditors to organize the Income Tax Branch. I have not the figures for the present year; but last year there were seventeen non-Canadian auditors in the Income Tax Branch as against fifteen Canadians. Naturally the non-Canadians, who had been here first, had the choicest positions and were drawing the best salaries. The same thing took -place when the radio branch and the aviation branch were organized. Apparently we had no Canadians sufficiently competent to take over these services of radio and aviation. Once more people were brought over from the other side and the directors, the high officials, the inspectors, in a word all those who are at the head of the radio service, were not born in Canada. At the head office in Ottawa there are eleven Canadians and eleven non-Canadians; and what is true of Ottawa is truer still of the branch offices in other Canadian cities.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CON

Bernard Munroe Stitt

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. B. M. STITT (Nelson):

Mr. Speaker, may I be permitted to extend my congratulations to the mover (Mr. Cormier) and seconder (Mr. Porteous) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. The hon. gentlemen made splendid speeches- speeches that are a credit to themselves and to the people who returned them to this house as their representatives.

I represent the constituency of Nelson, one of the largest in the Dominion. It is slightly over 600 miles long with an average width of 400 miles and contains an area of a little over 200,000 square miles. This constituency might well be termed a kingdom-but I am not its king; I am its representative. It is

The Address-Mr. Stitt (Nelson)

divided into two parts. The southern portion is purely agricultural and is known as the Swan river valley. This district might very appropriately be termed the agricultural paradise of western Canada. Practically all the people there are engaged in mixed farming.

Already this session I have heard a good deal about the condition of agriculture in western Canada. I am not in a position to speak regarding the prairie provinces generally; I must confine myself to the Swan river valley. A good deal of what hon. members in the southeast comer have said in regard to the condition of the western farmers is true, although those in the Swan river valley are not feeling the depression to the same extent as those in the sections in southern Saskatchewan and southern Alberta known as the dry belt. The farmers in the Swan river valley are not short of food; their granaries are full of grain, their cellars are full of potatoes and other vegetables, and they have plenty of live stock. But they do complain that the prices they receive for their products are too low, while they have to pay relatively too high a price for the commodities which they buy. I quite agree that they have good reason to complain. For instance, farm machinery has not come down in proportion to the reduction in the prices obtained for farm products. As a

6-ft. binder

8-ft. binder with bundle carrier and" T truck.'!

6-ft. mower

Hay loader, with steel windrow and forecar r i age

Field cultivators, 7|-ft., three-horse.. .. !.

Single disc drills, eastern, 13-dise, 2-horse hitch. Single disc drills, western 20-marker combination, 4-pulley hitch

Disc harrows, in throw, 12-discs, 16-inch, 3-horse

That increase continues all down the line, in spite of what our Liberal friends said they were doing for the western farmer while they were in power. We all know that the greater part of the cost of production in agriculture is the cost of machinery, and this was what the Liberal party did. I might also remind the house that the Liberal government reduced the duty on these articles, but in spite of that there was a steady increase in the prices. I do not hear any shouting or handclapping across the way; what is the matter? I challenge contradiction of these figures.

Now I am going just a little further for the benefit of my hon. friends opposite. As I said before, I have here the price lists for 1930 and 1931 of the Cocksbutt Plough Com-

matter of fact the price of farm machinery is about the same as it was ten years ago, although I might say there is a considerable reduction this year, in spite of the fact that hon. gentlemen have been telling us ever since the special session that the increased tariff would raise the price of everything the farmers of western Canada might buy.

That has not been the case. I have here the price lists of the Cockshutt Plow Company for 1930 and 1931, and they show several very substantial reductions in the prices of farm machinery this year. For the benefit particularly of hon. members opposite, and lest the people of the west forget, I repeat that during the period the Liberal government was in power, that is to say from 1922 to 1930, the prices of agricultural implements showed a steady increase. I have before me revised Hansard for May 14, 1930, and I am referring to the speech on the budget delivered by the hon. member for London (Mr. White). In that speech he went into detail with regard to the prices of farm machinery from 1922 to 1930, and although I have read this volume of Hansard through from cover to cover I have not discovered anything in the way of an attempt on the part of any member of the Liberal party to contradict the statements the hon. member for London made, so they must have been correct. The figures he gave were as follows:

Price in 1922 219 00 251 00 95 50 Price in 1930 225 50 263 50 96 50 Increase 6 50 12 50 1 00112 00 122 00 10 0099 50 142 00 206 00 113 50 154 00 232 00 14 00 12 00 26 0045 50 48 50 3 00

pany. In spite of all that was said at the special session and all that has been said since this session opened it will be seen that very substantial reductions have been made this year. I am going to quote some figures which may interest my hon. friends:

' Reduction

No. 3 power lift gang plough, wood

eveners $25

Angle disc plough 25

All sizes No. 1 and 2 tractor ploughs. 25

All sizes Nos. 2 and 3 furrow disc

ploughs , 30

4-5-6 furrow disc ploughs 35

No. 8-36 run drills 50

No. 6 disc harrows, 7-ft. and 8-ft . . 5No. 8 disc harrows, 12-ft

10No. 8 disc harrows, 16-ft

12No. 8 disc harrows, 24 ft

15

The Address-Mr. Stitt (Nelson)

Reduction

No. 9 disc harrows, 12-ft. and 18-ft.. 8No. 9 disc harrows, 16-ft

10No. 9 disc harrows, 24-ft

15125-bushel grain wagon tanks

20

This is what is happening, instead of what was predieted by hon. gentlemen opposite, as a result, of the increased tariff policy of this government. They said we were going to ruin the western farmer, but just what answer c-an they give to these figures?

I quite agree with some of the hon. members opposite that something must be done for agriculture in western Canada. At the moment I do not know what this government is prepared to do. I know the Prime Minister has made some promises; I know he is a man who always keeps his promises, and I am sure he will keep his promise in this ease. I quite agree with some of the members sitting in the corner opposite that the banks are not playing fair with western farmers. Considering the amount of money the banks have made during the last ten or fifteen years of so-called prosperity I think they might be expected to cut their interest rates in the west, at least until such time as the situation clears up. We all know that some of the banks in Canada are paying a 12 per cent dividend; others are paying a 10 per cent dividend, while I know' of no case where a bank is paying less than this amount. In addition they are all building skyscrapers in order to camouflage an amount of profits just about equal to their dividend, in order to prevent the public from knowing how much they are making.

I also agree that freight rates should be reduced. I do not know the intention of the government with regard to the recapitalization of the Canadian National Railways, but I sincerely hope that just as soon as the situation will permit that capitalization will be written down to where it belongs, because I am of opinion that just as long as the capitalization remains where it is, all the railways in Canada will have the benefit of high freight rates. If the capitalization of the Canadian National Railways were written down there would be such a vast improvement shown during the first year that the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, which boasts about how much it has done for Canada, would be shown up in such fashion that its rates would be reduced, and the western farmer would get the benefit.

As I said before, I do not know just what this government intends to do for the western farmer, but I do say that the farmer is entitled to some consideration and help, because his is the basis industry of western Canada.

Agriculture is entitled to assistance, just as much as the iron and steel industry is entitled to it, or any other industry in Canada which is being given support by way of increased tariffs. The western farmer has just as much right to expect the same treatment, and for this reason, that, as the hon. member for South Battleford (Mr. Vallance) said, about 50 per cent of the people of Canada are engaged in agriculture. Without agriculture in western Canada the country would be nowhere; without agriculture in western Canada the eastern manufacturing industry would be nowhere. I think, Mr. Speaker, it may be necessary for this government to put through some legislation to aid the western farmer. It may require to go to extremes. It may be necessary for that legislation to be more or less revolutionary. It may be necessary to put through legislation that will be painful to this government. But I say it has got to be done if we are going to recover the position we have lost in the world of trade and commerce.

In regard to northern Manitoba, as I said, my constituency is divided into two parts. From the Pas north we have an area of approximately 178,COO square miles. As the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Mullins) so aptly put it, this area might be classed as a "cowless, sowless, chickless, but by no means sockless north." And while I am on socks, for the benefit of the hon. member for Wey-burn (Mr. Young) I might suggest that, in spite of the fact that in the north country we pay 5 to 15 per cent more for such articles than is paid in any other part of Canada, we are paying very much less for socks to-day tha-n we did seven or eight months ago. And I do not confine my remarks to socks alone. For everything we eat and wear we are paying very much less than we did eight months ago. As a matter of fact, it is generally conceded that the cost of living is back to pre-war levels. I am sorry I cannot say that for Ottawa. I only wish that the farmers of the west were getting for their produce the prices that they are getting around Ottawa. As an illustration: The other day my wife purchased a chicken from a butcher shop down here for $2; I can buy that chicken in Swan River in my constituency for 75 cents. I say that to show that it is possible the farmers in eastern Canada do not realize how serious the situation is in the west, because they are getting twice as much for their goods.

We have in northern Manitoba industries which comprise, chiefly, mining, forestry, fishing and furs. We brought into production last November one of the largest mines in the Dominion known as the Flin Flon, owned by the Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting Com-

2S2 COMMONS

The Address-Mr. Stitt (Nelson)

pany. This mine, since going into operation in November, has shipped 247 cars of blistered copper and zinc. They are producing at the present time approximately 130,000 a day. They are putting through their smelters on an average of 3,000 tons of ore a day with an average of about $10. These are all new dollars being turned out in Manitoba. In addition to that we have the Sherritt-Gordon mine which came into production only the other day. That mine is producing an average of about 500 tons a day with an average value of about $14. We have many more mines, not as large as these, but of commercial size and having commercial ore, mines which would be operating to-day if conditions were what they were a few years ago. But as is well known, the price of these metals is down to zero and many of these smaller mines cannot operate. As soon as they get cheaper power I am satisfied that a great many of them will be opened up.

In addition to mining we have forestry. We have one of the largest saw mills in the west in the town of the Pas, producing in the neighbourhood of 3,000,000 feet per week. We have within ten miles on either side of the Hudson Bay railway, up to mile 300, some

7.000. 000 cords of spruce pulpwood waiting for some industry to come and cut it down to be manufactured into paper. On Nelson and Churchill rivers we have more than

3.000. 000 horse-power waiting for development. And in spite of all that has been said about

Grain and Flour Rates to

that north country being a muskeg area, we have large belts of first class agricultural land. This has been proven, and I give my hon. friend the ex-Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) credit for having put in some small experimental stations along the line, from which wonderful results have come. As a matter of fact, I used to take Mr. Guild of the experimental farm from Brandon up to visit these plots in the fall, and he told me the results were so amaging that he was almost afraid to send them in to Ottawa for fear they would not believe the results shown.

That Hudson Bay railway, from the Pas to Fort Churchill, 500 miles long, is about completed and -we expect it will be ready for operation in the fall. It has a maximum grade of less than 1 per cent. A large sized locomotive can easily haul 100 cars of wheat from the Pas to Churchill. There is very little intermediate traffic. Most of the traffic will be through traffic, which will be very cheap and will mean a lot to the western farmer. Might I in passing, for the benefit of some hon. members who may not be familiar with the situation, just give some comparative costs in the matter of freight to show what the Hudson Bay railway means to the farmers of western Canada. These rates are comparative as between Montreal and Churchill on grain and flour. Take Swan River and Yorkton as centres, Yorkton as the central point in Saskatchewan and Swan River in Manitoba:

Churchill and Montreal

Savings in rates

to Montreal to Churchill to tidewater

From

(Rates in. cents per 100 lbs.)

Swan River 19 - 12 = 31 cents 19 12 centsYorkton 19 - 12 = 31 cents 19 12 cents

or 7-2 cents per bushel of wheat.

These rates are not theoretical; they are In regard to live stock, the hon. member not imaginary. These rates are in effect for Marquette; touching on this question, on the Hudson Bay railway to-day. pointed out what he thought the Hudson Bay

railwa}' would do. Let me give some figures to show the saving on live stock:

Live Stock Rates to Churchill and Montreal

Savings in rates

From to Montreal to Churchill to tidewater

(Rates per car of 20,000 lbs.)

Winnipeg stock yards

$170 $116 $ 54 00Swan River 94 108 00Yorkton 96 106 00Saskatoon 102 123 00Moose Jaw 108 113 00Edmonton 126 103 00Calgary 132 97 00

Average reduction per car.. .. 100 57

or 50i cents, per 100 lbs.

The Address-Mr. Stitt (Nelson)

In addition to that, I would point out that the farmers of western Canada will receive a considerable benefit by way of a reduction in shrinkage. Cattle om long train hauls shrink as much as 10 and 15 per cent. They do not shrink after they get on the boat because they can be fed again, and they are not bumped around as much as they are on the train. I bring these matters to the attention of the house to illustrate what the Hudson Bay railway means to the farmers of western Canada.

Would it not be much better for the farmers of western Canada if that road were completed and in operation to-day? I lay at the door of the late Liberal administration the blame for its not being in operation. During the 1921 elections the Liberals were accusing the Conservative government of not having completed this railway and of having closed down the construction in 1918. That is quite true because in that year they needed money to conduct the great war, and in 1919 they needed money to bring the boys back home. That is why construction was closed down during those years. What happened? I intend to quote some figures which will be very illuminating. The Liberals agree that this road means a lot to the western farmer, but what did they do? They made a political football of the Hudson Bay railway for a period of five years after they came into power. The money expended upon that line *was expended for maintenance only. I know this because I was chief forester of northern Manitoba and was travelling continuously up and down this railway by gas car. I knew just what was going on, but to illustrate further I will give some figures. In 1922-23 they expended $40,118, mostly for administration. That would hardly keep twenty sec-tionmen on the 332 miles of track which had been completed when the Liberal government took office. In 1923-24 they expended 8322,279. During the next year they expended $294,158, and in the next year $173,334.

During the elections the Hon. Mr. Dunning, who took over the portfolio of Railways and Canals, pledged himself as well as his party to the completion of the Hudson Bay railway. As a Conservative, I am fair enough to say that Mr. Dunning deserves more credit for the completion of this railway than does any other man in the Dominion of Canada. The first year after the Hon. Mr. Dunning took office, S2,808,549 was expended; the next year, $2,574,224; the next year, $3,389,084; the next year, 1929-30, $5,357,692, and in 1930-31,

$1,550,787. The road is completed with the exception of repairing a few low spots and heaves, which will occur in a country like

this during the winter months. I repeat that the Liberal party made a political football of this road for five years in spite of the fact that they knew it meant a saving to the western farmer of some seven cents per bushel in the shipment of his wheat. If the farmer had those extra seven cents he would be much better off than he is to-day.

There is no question but that Fort Churchill is one of the finest ports in North America. It is a landlocked harbour, the entrance being through two high granite cliffs. The harbour consists of a basin about eight miles long and about two miles wide. Dredging operations have been carried on for the last two or three years and, in all fairness to the late government, I must state that the work carried on at Fort Churchill has been of the highest order. Competent engineers were in charge and no complaint can be made as to the quality of the work which has been done there. Last fall I had the pleasure of travelling to Fort Churchill in the company of the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Manion). It was his first visit to that country, in which he spent two days. I do not know that I ever saw a man cover as much territory as he did within that time or ask as many questions. He came away very enthusiastic about all he saw and I am quite satisfied that Fort Churchill is in as good hands as it was when the Hon. Mr. Dunning had charge. I am satisfied that the hon. minister is going to see this thing through. In passing I might state that probably no other constituency in Canada will suffer as much through the completion of this port as will the constituency represented by the >hon. minister; many cargoes of grain will be diverted from Port Arthur and Fort William.

There is no question about the feasibility of this route. I could talk for hours upon what has happened in the Hudson bay from the time of its discovery by Henry Hudson in 1611. Hundreds of craft of all description have been taken into the bay by the Hudson's Bay Company. Scores of craft have been taken in by the Department of Railways and Canals, some under their own steam and others by means of tow, with very few casualties. I have spoken to shipmasters who have told me that they would rather take a ship into Fort Churchill than into Montreal. That is what they think of the perils of navigating Hudson strait and Hudson bay. I have received opinions from about fifty sea captains and they agree that the average season of navigation will be from seventeen weeks to four and one-half months. If it is desired I could give their names and their experience in northern waters.

284 COMMONS

The Address-Mr. Stitt (Nelson)

The Hudson Bay railway and the port of Fort Churchill should be completed and should be given a fair trial. That is all the people of western Canada are asking for. The Minister of Railways and Canals has stated on several occasions that trial shipments will be made from this port during the present year. About eight hundred feet of docks have been completed with a depth of 30 feet of water at low tide and the elevator will be completed about September. The hon. minister has convinced me and most of the people in western Canada that this port is going to be given a fair chance. We have received the benefit of the Crowsnest rate, for which credit must be given to the present Prime Minister. I do not mean to say that those rates would not have come into effect had the right hon. gentleman not been elected, but he has brought them into force, and he has announced that fact all over Canada. The people of western Canada are worrying over the possibility of the usefulness of this route being strangled by the imposition of excessive marine insurance rates. I am glad the hon. minister is in his seat tonight and I hope that if Lloyd's and the other insurance companies are not prepared to give the same rates as apply to Montreal, this government will be prepared to take care of the difference. That is the only way in which this route can be given a fair trial; it must not be strangled by excessive marine insurance rates.

I trust the hon. minister will see to it that the vessels used in these trial shipments are seaworthy. I sincerely hope that no old hulks, no old tramp steamers that are not fit to go to sea, are sent in there for the purpose of bringing discredit on the route. I know there are people equal to that, and who would do it if they were allowed; but I have every confidence in the Minister of Railways (Mr. Manion) and in the government doing their best to give the route a fair chance, and that is all that the people of western Canada are asking.

Before closing, may I make a few observations from the viewpoint of a new member sitting in this house, and especially this session? I think everybody in the house will agree that the situation in Canada to-day is serious. I believe that every member of the house has a very real interest in the welfare of this country. I believe that we are all sincerely willing to do all that we can to help meet the conditions that confront us, and if possible find remedies to cure the present situation and bring Canada back to where we believe it ought to be. May I

with all respect suggest to hon. members on both sides of the house, because one side is as bad as the other, that for this session especially, when we are facing such a serious situation, we refrain as far as possible from sniping across the floor and from mud-slinging and obstructional methods; that as far as possible we get together and magnify the things on which we can agree and minimize the things on which we disagree; that we diagnose the ease as a doctor would a patient's, suggest remedies, try to get the necessary legislation through this house, and then see to it that that legislation is applied for the benefit of Canada as a whole. I am making that plea as a new member. Some hon. gentlemen may think that I am giving them a curtain lecture. That is not my intention at all. I am simply giving the conclusions at which I have arrived after my observations during the short time I have been in the house. I believe that the electors expect us all to do everything that we can at this session of all sessions. I am also satisfied that the electors in my constituency, and in every other, will not measure a member's service in this house by the measure oi obstruction that he is able to place in the way of this government putting its policies into effect, but rather will he be judged by the service he gives and the cooperation he extends to the government in bringing into effect policies which it sincerely believes will be for the betterment of the Dominion as a whole.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. J. P. HOWDEN (St. Boniface):

I

trust that the hon. member for Nelson (Mr. Stitt) will pardon me if I do not follow him very closely, blit candidly I did not catch his remarks very well over here as there was a good deal of whispering and murmuring going on. I would like to congratulate him upon having made a very excellent address. It was his first speech in this house. I managed to grasp over here one or two of the points he made, and I can assure him that any criticism I may make of his remarks will be offered in the kindliest spirit.

In opening his remarks the hon. member spoke of the cost of machinery, and as far as I could gather pointed out that the price of machinery had not risen. I do not live in the country and I have very little occasion, now at all events, to be brought in contact with the price of machinery, but I have heard that the price of repairs for machinery has advanced substantially since the new government came into office. I suggest to hon. members opposite and to the country at large not to be downhearted if the price of ma-

2S3

The Address-Air. Howden

chinery has not yet risen, but rather to cheer up because after some time the price will almost certainly rise.

The hon. gentleman also asked what the Liberal party had done for the western farmer. There are not many people in Canada, Mr. Speaker, who do not know what the Liberal party has done for the western farmer. It has given him the Crowsnest rates, and fixed them permanently on the statute books of this country. It has built for him the Hudson Bay railway. It has lowered the tariff in several successive sessions. It has given the western farmer almost everything that he asked for in the new grain act. Finally, but most important, it furnished him with ample and remunerative markets, which, unfortunately, the western farmer has not got to-day. So I think that the former Liberal administration can speak very well for itself with regard to what it has done for the western farmer.

I also gathered from my hon. friend's remarks that he thought the Conservative party had about as much to do with the building of the Hudson Bay railway as the Liberal government. That is a story that we must not rehash to-night, because we all know all about it. We know that in the campaign of 1925 the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen, who was then leading the Conservative party, said that not one five-cent piece would he spent on the road until the debts of Canada were paid. If nothing had been done towards building the railway until the debts of Canada had been paid, the road would not have been built for a very long time. I think also that the right hon. leader of the present government (Mr. Bennett) said in this house that he would not spend five cents on the Hudson Bay railway until the whole question had been thoroughly reviewed. That also would have taken a considerable amount of time. So I am bound to feel, Mr. Speaker, that to the Liberal party belongs the credit for the completion of the Hudson Bay railway. I shall not attempt to follow the hon. gentleman in his remarks any further.

There have been some very excellent speeches during this debate, beginning with those of the mover (Mr. Cormier) and the seconder (Mr. Porteous) of the address, whom I heartily congratulate upon the able manner in which they acquitted themselves in their difficult task; including also a long list of very able speeches, many of them by new members. As they have covered and recovered the ground thoroughly and, as an hon. member once said in this house, picked

the bones pretty bare, I shall not attempt to go over much that has been discussed; but as we were elected to this house after, for the most part, a strenuous and heated campaign in which very often our energies were tried to the utmost; in appealing to the electors "on advancing our beliefs and arguments, and obtaining from the majority an endorsation of our policies, I think it is incumbent upon us, and only reasonable that we should endeavour to present on the floor of this house their viewpoint and our own. I would like, therefore, to touch briefly on conditions as they were in Canada at the time of the last election and as they are in this country at the present time.

During the last election campaign one of the great issues was that of unemployment. Lesser issues there were, to be sure, but the storm centred about the subjects of unemployment and national depression. There are not many people in Canada who are not familiar with the causes of unemployment. We are told it is due to world-wide overproduction and under-consumption. I think we are all fairly well agreed that in Canada unemployment and national depression are due to the fact that we have lost our markets. Without markets we cannot sell, and if we do not sell we receive no returns. If we have no returns we have no funds, and without funds we cannot buy. Seven times the amount of grain needed in this country for the use of our people, vast quantities of pulp and paper and pulpwood, millions of feet of lumber, millions of pounds of fish, nickel, asbestos, beef, bacon, butter, cheese, all these national products, millions of dollars' worth of manufactured products, enough to supply the people of this country many times over, are produced in Canada every year. Yet the proceeds from the sale of this great bulk of products are required to keep the Canadian people from year to year and to fatten a few millionaires. Now we have lost our markets, we have no money, we have many unemployed, throughout the land there is no small measure of distress.

The last Liberal administration is blamed by hon. members opposite for this state of affairs. Well, we know all about that, Mr. Speaker. We know that the last Liberal government is not to blame for the present state of affairs in Canada. True they were responsible for the New Zealand treaty, but as a mater of actual fact the New Zealand treaty never did us any harm. From the time it was ratified and came into force the price of cream and butter fat increased from month to month and from year to year as

The Address-Mr. Howden

compared with previous years. Finally when we were shut out of the American markets, and when we lost our markets in the United States naturally we had a glut of these products in Canada. On the other hand our sales to these countries, which at the time the agreement first became effective amounted to a million or two million dollars, rapidly increased until just before the close of the Liberal administration they amounted to about $12,000,000 on the one hand and $19,000,000 on the other. That is a substantial return for Canadian trade, making abundant work for Canadian workmen.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has a record of accomplishment in this country which the present government might do well to emulate. During the time the late government was in power Canada emerged from a state of deepest depression and enjoyed a period of the greatest expansion and prosperity ever known in the history of this or any other country for the same period of time. In all such crises as the present, governments are held responsible. Whether a government is responsible or not it must if possible find a remedy. Obviously in this case the remedy is markets. Markets we need and markets we must have, and the only visible market on a large scale is in England. The last government endeavoured to recover the lost English market by offering British trade substantial advantages as set forth in the Dunning budget, and submitted those proposals to the country. On the advice of our friends opposite, however, the country would have none of that. It preferred the method that the then leader of the opposition offered, that of blasting a way into the British and other markets, and it gave hon. gentlemen opposite the mandate to blast. In turning down the Dunning budget, Mr. Speaker, the Canadian electors not only curtly snubbed the last government in a very unwarranted manner but slammed the door in the face of all friendly approach on the part of British trade and this action was made doubly offensive by the action of the present government in boosting the Canadian tariffs to a height of utter exclusion and then offering the British trade a scant three per cent on top of that in exchange for a preference on our wheat.

On August 7 the present government came into power. The electors were told that there would be an immediate improvement. One statement was made in Winnipeg to the effect that after three days there would be a change. So far as I have been able to learn, in my constituency up to the present there has been no improvement. In spite of the high tariff,

stable commodities in my district are selling at a price which does not allow the producer any profit, and they are not worthy of production. Eggs which sold formerly in the Winnipeg market for from 50 cents to 75 cents a dozen, and in the winter sometimes as high as $1 per dozen, have been selling this winter at from 25 cents to 30 cents. First class dairy butter can be bought for 20 cents per pound. The unfortunate part of it, however, is that there are hundreds of people in Winnipeg to-day who cannot afford butter and a considerable number who have not a steady supply of bread. Potatoes can be bought on the Winnipeg market to-day for 15 cents a bushel, and sometimes as low as 10 cents a bushel. Many gardeners are offering to give them away. My hon. friends opposite have said that the low price of butter in Canada is due to the fact that we imported billions of pounds of Australian butter.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

It is, too.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

Hon. members say that our cold storage plants were so full of New Zealand butter that we could not receive a reasonable price for our own commodity. However, we have not imported millions of bushels of Australian potatoes, yet our potatoes are going to waste and thousands of bushels will be thrown out. I refer to domestic potatoes grown in the province of Manitoba.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CON

Samuel Gobeil

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GOBEIL:

We imported American

potatoes last spring.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

We did not need to go to the United States for potatoes. My hon. friend could have secured all the potatoes he wished at Winnipeg.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CON

Samuel Gobeil

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GOBEIL:

We all know that.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

At the special session last September the government passed its $20,000,000 relief bill to cure the evil of which I have just been speaking. In enacting this legislation they made it a condition that the cities and municipalities should contribute amounts equal to the grants from the fund. I believe that 'the major part of this vast sum has gone into the pockets of well-to-do contractors and their regularly paid staffs. Instead of the work in connection with the various undertakings being done by large numbers of men, machinery was utilized with only a few men in control. At the present time two bridges are being built in Winnipeg, to cost approximately $1,100,000. The new structures are being erected beside the old bridges. I have been crossing the old bridges all winter and I have noticed that not more than one hundred men have been steadily

2S7

The Address-Mr. Howden

employed. About a hundred men have been engaged in excavating, building forms and pouring cement, and not more than another fifty have been busy fabricating steel and driving teams and trucks. At a dollar an hour for a ten hour day-and certainly not half of those men will be getting anything like such a wage-at the end of five months, when the substructure will be up, these men will have received about $180,000; by the time the spans are laid the wages will amount to approximately $250,000. Remember, sir, these works were undertaken for the purpose of relieving unemployment, of putting bread into the mouths of hungry men and women. That is a comparatively small proportion -$250,000 out of $1,100,000-to go to the actual relief of unemployment.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister has spent several weeks at the Imperial conference endeavouring to blast a way into the British market. Unfortunately his dynamite must have been all wet, at all events the fuse misfired. But we must have export markets, and even then it will take a long time for us to catch up It may be said that Canada ought to be able to live from within her four walls, that every Canadian farmer ought to be able to find the necessities of life from his own farmstead. But Canada never has been able to live within her own four walls, and for many years our farmers have not been able to live off their land. Incidentally it would be a pretty dull life and void of most of the attractions and advantages of the city. But even at that it were better to live in the country than starve in' the city-and there are a lot of people starving in the cities. Possibly in this way might be found some relief from the present state of affairs. Men have taken their living from the soil since the earliest times of which we have record. To-day mankind does precisely that same thing, but so varied and refined have become their tastes that it requires the products of many soils and a chain of manufacturing plants to satisfy their appetites. It will be a long time before any considerable number of Canadians will or can return to win a first-hand living from the soil. Meanwhile we must live; that is to say, we must have markets, and the only feasible way is to re-establish our foreign trade. This we can never do so long as we have a high tariff wall, and it seems to me it is up to the government to take down that wall.

Now, Mr. Speaker, like a good many members I was struck by the remarks of the hon. deputy speaker (Mr. LaVergne) a few days ago. I am bound to say that I felt he meant well; I appreciated the fine vein running through his speech, and I am sure he did not

intend to give the offence which was so readily taken by hon. members on this side of the house; but I do feel that his references to the revered Sir Wilfrid Laurier were most unfortunate. That gallant, chivalrous French Canadian, that princely, magnanimous statesman, of whom the Canadian people have always been proud, of whom the Canadian people will always be proud, little deserved to be attacked in this house, and I cannot but deplore the words uttered by the hon. deputy speaker.

I will not dwell further on that part of his speech. I would deal for a moment with his references to the soviet republic. I am not so sure that Canada has done the wise thing in severing trade relations with the soviet republic. I am not a communist, but Russia to-day is functioning very well. Before very long that vast country will be independent of the world-independent in time of peace, independent in time of war. I have every reason to believe that before many decades pass, probably before many years, the nations of the world will be very ready to make friends with soviet Russia and enter into trade agreements with her. It is true that the downtrodden and untutored Russian people finally broke their bonds and entered on a rampage of pillage and murder; it is true that they repudiated their church and slew their ruler; but in all this they had precedents, and as a matter of fact it was not the first time such an event has been recorded in the history of the world. Imperial Caesar was slain by an assassin at the head of rebellious Rome, three times England rose in revolt-twice she forced her reigning monarch from the throne and once she beheaded him; at the time of the French revolution so fierce was the tempest of the people's anger that they not only guillotined their ruler, but every individual of aristocratic bearing or refinement was made the object of their enmity and the victim of their hate. So, sir, I say that the Russian soviet of to-day has not transgressed the laws of society any worse than the Romans, the English, and the French did in the past, and I believe the time will come when we shall be glad enough again to extend the hand of friendship to Soviet Russia and reestablish our trade connections with her.

In closing there is but a word I should like to say. Like the hon. member for Montmagny (Mr. LaVergne) I also deplore the recourse which has been had by the press and by various individuals throughout this country to racial and creed prejudice. I think, sir, that if we could banish the trouble makers, the firebrands and the bigots, the Canadian people

The Address-Mr. Howden

would get along very well. If I am not mistaken, in the province of Quebec both races have been good friends for a long time; there have been no differences there. We have not fared so well in Manitoba; beginning with the first Riel rebellion we have had racial trouble.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

James Houston Spence

Liberal

Mr. SPENCE:

Why bring that up?

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

I am not going to hurt any feelings; I still have a few minutes to speak, if the hon. member will leave me alone. In 1885 trouble again broke out, and again in 1S96 we had a showing of this prejudice, with the final display taking place in connection with the school legislation. To-day, however, we are good friends. I live in the French city of St. Boniface, and there is no ill feeling in that city or in the province of Manitoba as between the French and English elements. We are living together there in friendship and as brothers. We have our schools and they have their schools; we are satisfied and contented, and, as I said before, if we could just hang or drown the firebrands and trouble makers we would soon have in this country no racial prejudices or creed differences.

On motion of Mr. Ralston the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink

At eleven o'clock the house adjourned without question put, pursuant to standing order. Wednesday, March 25, 1931


March 24, 1931