position as the debtor class, and that it should not secure any privileges by reason of the natural wealth of the country being put behind our dollar to stabilize the dollar whether it is worth stabilizing or not. I believe that is the biggest problem that confronts us today, and until something is done along these lines I am satisfied that we shall never begin to recover even the meagre prosperity that we have had during the last few years.
During these times of stress and trouble there is one class in this country that receives all kinds of gratuitous advice-the farming class. We are told in the speech from the throne that we must reduce production costs. I say to the government "All right." I throw out this challenge to the government: If they are sincere in stating that it is essential because of world conditions that the farmer reduce his production costs, then let the government show us how to do it. How can we do it? I submit to the house that to-day the farmer in western Canada is producing as efficiently as, and in fact more efficiently than, any other class of farmers in any other country in the world. The farmers of Canada use the most up-to-date machinery, they have the benefits of the scientific research of our experimental farms. I am satisfied of the fact that unless something drastic is done it is useless to tell them that they must reduce their production costs before they can expect to succeed. But I can see where perhaps the farmer may be able to reduce his production costs somewhat. If it is the intention of the government that in order to reduce their production costs the farmers of the west must accept a lower standard of living, then the sooner the government tells them the better it will be for the government and for the west. As far as I can see there is no hope of reducing production costs except by the western farmer reducing his standard of living. And if that standard of living is reduced, then hon. members can see what it will mean to industry in eastern Canada, because the western farmer is a good buyer when he has the funds, and his ability to purchase means a good deal to eastern industry.
If any evidence is required as to whether the western farmers is, for instance, producing grain at a cost comparative with the cost of production of similar grain in another country, I have the information before me. It is the report dated March 4, 1924, made by the United States tariff commission to the president-. Hon. members may say that this is an old report and that conditions may be somewhat different to-day from what they were then. True, there may be a slight change, but it is slight only. Anyone who remembers
the price levels in 1924 will recall that manufactured goods were selling at about the same level as they are to-day, maybe a little lower, but not much. This report is the result of an investigation undertaken by the United States tariff commission for the purpose of determining wdiat duty should be placed on wheat importations. The commission realized that the greatest competitor of their wheat-producing states was Canada, because in Minnesota, South and North Dakota and Montana the quality of wheat produced is nearly as good as that produced in the Canadian prairie provinces. The commission found that the average cost of producing wheat at thirty-six points in those four states, after taking into consideration land, interest and other charges, was $1.44 a bushel. In order to ascertain the actual conditions in Canada the commission made inquiries in our three prairie provinces at forty-three points, taking evidence from eighteen to twenty farmers at each point. As a result of their inquiries the commission found that the average production cost of wheat in western Canada was 93 cents a bushel, as against the average cost of production in the four wheat-growing states of $1.44. That is why the high duty of 42 cent3 a bushel was imposed on grain entering the United States-to protect the United States grain-grower against his rival in western Canada. I think that shows fairly conclusively that the eost-of-production bogey has been over-worked. May I say in passing that it is useless for the government, it is useless for armchair farmers, it is useless for other wouldfoe advisers to say that the only hope of the grain-grower of western Canada is in lower costs of production. In my judgment that is almost an impossibility under present conditions.
Now I am going to discuss another phase of the situation, with regard to the price levels of different commodities. I have studied this problem for some time, Mr. Speaker, and I have come <to the conclusion that the most important cost, or the most important element in the cost, of producing any commodity is the labour time element. The labour time element is the most important element in the cost of producing commodities, whether they be agricultural commodities or manufactured goods. I am not going to take a back seat to any one in respect to the value of the labour time of the farmer in comparison to that of other classes of producers. The farmer is absolutely essential to the welfare of the people; we cannot get along without him, because he provides the food which is essential to life. Therefore I say that the labour time element
The Address-Mr. Gardiner
entering into the cost of production M all goods should be given very serious consideration. In my judgment it is the most important element of all, and consequently should be given its rightful place. What is the condition to-day? If you analyze the price levels, as you may analyze them, you will find that probably the farmer will have to put in three hours or more in producing an agricultural product which, when exchanged for manufactured goods, will bring in exchange a product which only contains one hour of labour time, and this problem is being understood more and more by the western farmer. The time is coming when he will accept no other form of exchange than that which contains the absolute labour time element on the average. I think just now the western farmer is realizing this important element in the production of his goods, and as I said before as soon as he understands that principle thoroughly, and finds that it will explain to him very largely the discrepancy in price levels, I am satisfied that no government and no class of people in this country will be able to stand against the demand of the farmer that his labour time be reckoned as being just as valuable as the labour time of any other class of producer.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I find that I have far more material on my desk than I will be able to deal with this afternoon. Permit me to take a moment to deal with the policy of the banks in western Canada, and on this point let me congratulate the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) on the very sensible thing which he did some time ago, in suggesting to the banks that they should give better credit for spring work in western Canada. The banks say the farmers of western Canada are securing all the advances to which they are legitimately entitled. If that is so, Mr. Speaker, then I take it from the banks that western Canada is insolvent; that is what the statement of the banks would indicate. Of that there is no question. I had the opportunity of going home at Easter, and I made specific inquiry on that point. I drove for two days among men in my constituency whom I knew and upon whom I could depend in order to find out whether they were getting a reasonable amount of credit. Of course we do not expect to get the same amount of credit that was handed out when we were passing through more prosperous times but, sir, I did not meet one person in my two days of driving who had been able yet to secure one bank credit for this year's spring operations. Yet the banks say they are giving to the farmers of the west all the
credit to which they are entitled. Why do not the banks have the courage of their convictions and tell us that in their judgment western agriculture is insolvent, and then we will know what to do. I have no desire to see the banks place loans where they feel they have no chance of being repaid. That would not be good business either for the farmer, for the banks or for the people of this country, but I do object to this system, bonused and privileged as it is by legislation of this country, saying it is doing what it is not doing. Once more I congratulate the minister on his statement in this connection.
May I say also, Mr. Speaker, that in my judgment if the farmers of western Canada to-day were forced to liquidate, eighty per cent of them would be insolvent, notwithstanding all that has been said by my good friend from Marquette (Mr. Mullins).