Mr. WEIR (Melfort):
So that I will
not omit any points which have been raised I shall take this opportunity to deal with some of the observations made by hon. members who have spoken. The problem which has confronted departments of agriculture is one which is known in one way or another to almost every person in Canada. The challenge to those who hold positions of authority is whether or not we have left un-
done anything which should have been done to alleviate the difficulties through which those people have passed. In passing may I pay a tribute, one which I believe is hardly necessary, to the fact that although during the last four years millions upon millions of dollars have been poured into that large area of Canada this is one expenditure upon which all Canadians have agreed, and against which no criticisms have been raised. But the load the country has carried in endeavouring to assist the people in that area who through no fault of their own have found themselves in these unfortunate circumstances, pales into insignificance when it is compared with the load which the people in those districts have carried. No words could describe their difficulties as emphatically as a first-hand observation of the difficulties under which they have been living. I realized that fact when last October I attended a meeting of farmers and farmers' wives held in the midst of one of the larger drought areas. One could see unmistakable evidence on the faces of those people who sat in front of me at the meeting of the trying conditions through which they had lived. The lines in their faces were sufficient evidence for any person. Despite their difficulties however, with the optimism of pioneers still in them they were building and planning in the hope that conditions would improve.
The hon. member for Swift Current (Mr. Bothwell) has stated truly that all they need is something to keep up their morale, and it was with that in mind-together with other points which I did not think we would have discussed in such detail at this time, but would have waited until the bill was before the committee-that we have asked the mortgage companies of western Canada to name at least one of their ablest men to act on the advisory committee, and it is again for that reason we made a similar request of the bankers' association, and some other organizations. If this is a national problem the whole country must work in cooperation. No person realizes more than I do the difficulties which must be met; there is a part which each must play. Those people living in the areas will devote their time and I believe they will do that voluntarily because I have under my hand a summary of the offers which have been made since this project was given publicity. As these offers have been received they have been passed on to a small committee and have been listed, and following that investigations have been made to ascertain those who could best help.
The people living in the district will give their time, their labour and will make avail-
_______________Rehabilitation oj Drought Areas
able the land they own. Our work is to give them all the expert advice and assistance we can give them. At this point may I correct an impression which seems to be general. There is a tendency on the part of certain people to associate experts with theoretical people, and I do not believe that association is fair. The experts, so called, who will deal with this problem in both the provincial and federal departments, are not theoretical people. They are experts because they know the practical difficulties, and no people can appreciate to a greater degree than they can the great efforts, the success and the intelligence of the farmers who throughout this time have made a success of farming in those areas. The whole program has been built around those key men, because all will admit that they know more than any other people about the difficulties and the efforts which have been made towards a solution of those difficulties. Many farmers right in the worst sections of the dried' out areas have had crops and, as the hon. member for Swift Current has stated, have been able to carry on. It is almost impossible for us to understand how they have been able to do so. We have investigated the reasons for their success as compared with the lack of satisfactory results obtained by farmers around them.
Upon a number of occasions the hon. member for Swift Current expressed the hope that there would be and the belief that there should be cooperation in this matter. To entertain any possible doubt of cooperation in the matter would, it seems to me, almost amount to a criticism of my efforts. To satisfy the hon. member and other hon. members who may follow him may I say that a national advisory committee on agricultural services has been set up in each province of the Dominion of Canada. That is, in each province of Canada joint committees are interlocked. Here we may have a committee on grain, on livestock or on grasses on which there would be a representative of the province, one from the agricultural college and one from the federal Department of Agriculture. Those committees are doing investigational work in their own particular lines of agriculture. They are not acting as separate units, but act in cooperation, and will continue so to do. At the present time in the province of Saskatchewan and in the other provinces work of this very nature is being carried on. These committees do not proceed each in its own line; they meet two or three times in the year to review all available information to bear on the problems remaining to be solved. For that reason I say that in the ordinary acceptance of the term we
have not separate departments. So far as agriculture throughout the dominion is concerned we work as one body, and could not work more closely if in fact we were concentrated in one department. I have no doubt the hon. member for Swift Current had not realized just to what extent the cooperation has been exercised.
Subtopic: DEMONSTRATION AREAS AND INVESTIGATIONAL
Sub-subtopic: WORK FOR RECLAMATION OF DRIED OUT LANDS IN WESTERN PROVINCES