March 2, 1936

LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

My hon. friend

asks me what happened to the Liberal party there. I will admit that the Liberal party returned only one member from Alberta, but certainly the Conservative party got through with only the then Prime Minister of this country.

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

And he was elected by a clear majority.

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

The effect of

third parties in western Canada was more against the then government than against any other party. My hon. friends in the far comer, who say that the people of western Canada are not interested in trade, are lucky that they do not have to go back to the country very soon.

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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SC

Eric Joseph Poole

Social Credit

Mr. POOLE:

Do not boast; we will beat the two of you.

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

Oh, I had a social credit candidate running against me, and he lost his deposit.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I heartily endorse the resolution moved by the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Johnston), and I would go further. I hope that without too much investigation, because I do not think it is necessary, and without too much delay the government will take action in connection with this matter. When a combine, a practical monopoly, defies the government of the people of Canada it is high time for the government to teach it a lesson.

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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LIB

Howard Waldemar Winkler

Liberal

Mr. H. W. WINKLER (Lisgar):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to address a few brief remarks to the resolution before the house, particularly with regard to its effect upon a certain section of rural Canada which lies along the international boundary. I refer particularly to the great drought area of western Canada, where for the past six years there has been a prolonged drought such as has never been witnessed before. This condition has had a disastrous effect upon the population of the west. In the riding which I have the honour to represent there are sections where for six years in succession they have had drought conditions, and you can imagine the plight of those people today. Their houses and farm buildings have depreciated very badly and their live stock is greatly depleted, in spite of the fact that this is a mixed farming area. The situation has become so serious that in the main taxes have been consolidated, which means that the taxes have been put on an instalment basis over a period of years.

In addition to all this, the question of farm implements has become very acute. During the last six or seven years very few farm implements have been purchased by these farmers; very little repairing has been done, due to a lack of finances, and as a result we find most barnyards completely filled with junk. Under the circumstances it will be understood that in connection with the replacement of this machinery these farmers are faced with one of the greatest problems of their lives. So the resolution before the house this evening concerns them very materially. The farmers of this district have a right to know why prices of agricultural machinery have risen, and this resolution seeks to disclose exactly what they want to know.

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Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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SC

Joseph Needham

Social Credit

Mr. JOSEPH NEEDHAM (The Battle-fords) :

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. W. A. TUCKER (Rosthern):

Mr. Speaker, we know the condition in which agriculture finds itself in western Canada to-day after many years not only of drought but of low prices. Now we are met with a rise in the cost of farm implements, and I feel that I would not be doing my duty to those who sent me here if I did not say a few words in support of this resolution.

Farm Implements-Mr. Tucker

The situation may be put very briefly. We find that in 1928 the income of the farming industry of Canada was $1,501,000,000, or, roughly, one and a half billion dollars. Six years later, in 1934, that income had shrunk to $525,000,000, a reduction of about two-thirds or sixty-six per cent. That is the situation as to the money the farmers were getting for their products. What about the commodities they had to buy. Taking the index figure of one hundred as representing the retail price of articles they had to buy in 1926 we find that in 1929 there had been practically no change, and that the index figure remained at 99-9. By 1934 it had gone down only to 79. In other words, in those five years there had been a reduction in the index figure of retail prices amounting to roughly twenty per cent. Mark you, Mr. Speaker, that during that time, where the farmer had formerly received three dollars of income, he was now getting only one, but in the retail price of articles he had to purchase he had to pay eighty where he formerly paid one hundred.

We find that instead of decreasing, the burden of taxation has increased. Not only has the burden of his private debt not remained the same, but owing to the fall in the value of what he has to sell that burden has increased greatly. Under conditions where he received only one dollar where formerly he received three dollars, the burden of a debt of $100 became three times as heavy. In other words, the burden of debt on the farmers of Canada in those six years has increased by three hundred per cent. That is the situation. There has been an increase in the burden of taxation, a very small reduction in the index prices of their retail purchases, and an increase in the burden of their private indebtedness. That is the situation in a nutshell. Is it any wonder that as one watches the situation, especially, in agricultural western Canada, one sees that slowly but surely those good people are gradually being forced down, down, down to the level of a peasant population? It is the duty of every hon. member-and I do not say this for the purpose of setting the east against the west-to ask himself if he intends to be a party to a slow change that is going to reduce his fellow Canadians to the level of peasants, and a lowly class of peasants at that, when we understand that they have to live in such a state that they cannot educate their children, cannot provide them with proper medical attention and cannot do for their children

any of those things which every hon. member would want his fellow Canadians to be able to do.

Since I have come to this House of Commons, statements which have surprised me have been made by hon. members from Ontario. The suggestion is made that Ontario and Quebec are paying the bulk of the taxes. Why is it that Ontario and Quebec are paying the bulk of the taxes in Canada? Is not this the answer: They have the money.

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Where did it come from?

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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

My hon. friend asks where it came from. The whole tariff policy, and especially that of the Conservative party, has been designed to benefit the central part of Canada at the expense of the west and the maritimes. The financial policy of this country has been so designed that it causes interest to flow into the head olfices of the big financial concerns situated in Ontario and Quebec. If I were a representative from Ontario I would not draw the attention of the people of Canada to the fact that my province was so well off, or that they could pay so much in the way of taxes at a time when the rest of the people cannot get even enough to live on.

That is the situation. As fellow Canadians we say to them that if we were in their position and were able to look after ourselves as well as pay taxes we would be glad to pay the taxes they are paying. I am not forgetting what the rest of Canada has done for Saskatchewan, and especially that section affected by drought. We have appreciated the attitude of sympathy and help extended to us, and that feeling of good will has done a great deal to tighten the bonds which bind confederation. But I ask them to give us not charity but justice. Let us have not, a situation in which they are wealthy and we are poor, shall I say, orphans, but rather one in which we have equal shares in our common patrimony. Does any person suggest that under our present organization there are equal privileges for all and special for none? I draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker

and I am sorry I have not the figures in front of me-the state of affairs disclosed in a brief submitted by the present Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) to the government of Nova Scotia, wherein it was shown that owing to tariff regulations in one year Saskatchewan alone paid about $28,000,000 more for what it had to buy, $4,000,000 of which went into the pockets of producers in Saskatchewan and $24,000,000 into the pockets of producers in

Farm Implements-Mr. Tucker

Quebec and Ontario. That happened in one year. The sum of $24,000,000 in increased prices went into the hands largely of private interests and corporations from Saskatchewan alone. And then we have hon. members from Ontario suggesting to us that they should have some special consideration because out of that money which we are pouring into their corporations they pay the bulk of the taxes. That is a situation which I deplore.

In connection with the question of wages, to which a previous speaker referred, may I observe that from 1913 to 1930 the average price of nine Canadian farm implements has increased by roughly $51.82. The surprising fact about the analysis is that of that increase only $1.36 went into wages. I commend that fact to the consideration of the hon. member for Brantford city (Mr. Macdonald). Of the $51.82 increase in price during those twenty years only $1.36 went into wages, and those are actual figures from the price spreads report. The amount going into factory wages in 1913 was $4.97, whereas in 1933 it was $6.38, or an increase of around thirty per cent. What about factory expenses? We find that factory expenses increased from $7.63 to $26.42, or an increase of almost four hundred per cent. That is where a great part of the increased price occurred.

I do not wish to condemn anybody. According to the factories manufacturing farm implements they are making no money, but I must bring this fact to the attention of hon. members: Here is the great basic

industry of agriculture getting one dollar where formerly it got three dollars. We find that the burden of debt is weighing too heavily upon the farmer and that, after all year after year, the cream of his crop is taken away. Every hon. member knows that when a man gives one-third of what he produces towards the payment of interest on his private indebtedness, as a great proportion of the farmers of the west have to do to-day, in many cases there is not enough left to look after himself and his family. What hope is there for the thousands of people on the western plains living under those circumstances?

When I speak, Mr. Speaker, I am thinking of the part of this dominion from which I come. According to the census there were

728.000 farmers in Canada who, with their wives and children, made up a total of

5.473.000 of our population. If you are going to say to almost 6,000,000 people in Canada: We are going to put you on a basis where your purchasing power is down by

two-thirds, but where you are going to carry the same private debt and where you are going to pay public debts at one hundred cents on the dollar; which means 200 or 300 cents on the dollar; when you consider the appreciation in the value of money; when you consider that the attitude of the preceding government was that we were to follow a policy of sound money and that we were going to drive our people until they paid every cent; when you consider that that is being done at the expense of our own Canadian people, our own flesh and blood on those western plains; and when you consider that it has not been considered wrong for the greatest of nations in the family of nations, namely Great Britain, to do otherwise, then we have cause for reflection.

What did Great Britain do with regard to her war debt? The Right Hon. Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister of England, came over to the United States in 1922, I think it was, and promised formally to pay the large debt which Great Britain owed to that country. What do we find to-day? I think it is three years since Great Britain has paid anything and it is well understood that nothing will be paid on that debt. Of all the nations owing money to the United States, Finland is the only one that has paid as she agreed. The reason given by England for not paying is that she cannot pay. It has been said that England can pay only if the United States will take goods in payment. Do hon. members think Mr. Stanley Baldwin did not know that when he promised that England would pay her debt? I submit that he did know, or that it must be presumed that he knew. If it is all right for Great Britain to say that she cannot pay without ruining her people, it should be all right for the people of Canada to say that there should be an adjustment of private and public debt in order that they shall not be ruined.

There is a sheer necessity for some logical approach to the solving of this great problem of public and private debt which is such a burden upon the people. I submit that it is not enough to say that we will ride out the gale; that somehow we will pull through. The situation in western Canada is very serious. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) has just entered the chamber, and I do not believe there is an hon. member who knows better than he conditions in western Canada. He homesteaded there and he knows the privations and hardships that face the western farmer. He knows how unfair it is to deprive any of these men of the fruits of his hard labour of twenty or thirty years. I

Farm Implements-Mr. Tucker

know that I do not need to appeal to the minister as I believe he has given this question his earnest consideration. I think he is aware that something must be done with regard to the burden of taxation as well as of public and private debt which rests upon the people. Is it fair or equitable that the dollar should be inflated in value to a point where it now takes three times the quantity of basic products to pay a debt contracted five years ago.

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

In view of the fact that the hon. member has referred to me, may I say that upon looking at the resolution I find that it has to do with the advance in the prices of farm implements. Might I suggest that we discuss the subject matter of the resolution?

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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member should confine his remarks to the resolution.

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Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER :

If we are going to deprive the farmer of practically all his money, if it takes all his earnings to pay interest, he can ill afford to pay a higher price for his farm implements. I thought the Minister of Finance would like to be reminded of those days when he pioneered in Saskatchewan, but as he does not want the time of the house taken up with these references I shall come back to the resolution.

The people .of Canada elected those whom they thought were the men likely to represent them best in this House of Commons. They hope tihat their representatives will do the best they can to figure out and solve their problems. During the next year they expect that something definite will be done to lighten their burdens and enable them once more to live the life which we expect ordinary Canadian citizens to live. The hon. member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Ross) has referred to the fact that these farm implement companies are raising their prices in the face of a reduction in the tariff. The right answer to that kind of action is: If you are in a position to raise your prices despite a lowered tariff, then we will take the tariff off altogether. It has been suspected that an international combine or cartel exists in connection with the marketing of oil and gasoline and perhaps one exists in connection with the manufacturing of farm implements. If it is found that the large manufacturers of the world are getting together to control prices regardless of tariffs, then I submit that the Liberal party has a policy well designed to deal with such a problem. A part of this policy is contained in the Combines Investigation Act.

Present conditions constitute a challenge to the intelligence and wisdom of parliament.

Over half our people have lost two-thirds of their purchasing power while the price of the articles they require has been rising. This is not my problem alone; it is the problem of every member of parliament. I commend most highly the hon. member who introduced this resolution (Mr. Johnston, Lake Centre). This problem should be submitted to some group of men who will examine into it and try to do something for the basic producers on the western plains who are endeavouring to do ail they can to get along under present conditions. I feel sure that hon. members from eastern Canada will give us their cooperation. They know that unless the great primary industries, such as the farming industry of Canada, are prosperous, the manufacturers of Ontario and Quebec will be in a depression and faced with unemployment. No matter whether a member represents an agricultural constituency in western Canada or a manufacturing constituency in Ontario, it is equally his duty and his privilege to study this problem so that half the population of Canada may be brought back from practically a poverty stricken level to that upon which we want Canadians to be. Once the farmers of western Canada are able to buy the articles they need the manufacturing centres of the east will be prosperous and the spectre of unemployment will no longer stalk through our land.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Hon. J. G. GARDINER (Minister of Agriculture) :

Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Agriculture, I do not think it would be proper for me to permit a resolution of this kind to be discussed in the house without expressing an opinion upon it. At the outset I should like to say that although I come from western Canada and represent an agricultural constituency in that part of the country, I am still mindful of the fact that more than half the agricultural people of Canada live east of the great lakes. In this house are hon. members representing agricultural constituencies in the eastern part of Canada as well as in that part of Canada which lies to the west of the great lakes. Most of the discussion in the interests of agriculture, in so far as this resolution is concerned, has been carried on by hon. members from the central west or the prairie sections of the dominion.

A few days ago a member from one of the rural constituencies in the east placed in my hands a price list in connection with this very question. This list was sent to him apparently by one of his constituents, a man who is interested in prices of implements in eastern Canada, and I find that it compares almost exactly, so far as increases are concerned, with

Farm Implements-Mr. Gardiner

price lists from western Canada which have been read in the house. This is a price list secured from an implement dealer in St. Thomas, and according to this list a six-foot binder sold in St. Thomas in 1935 for 8225.50; but in the list which has been recently put forward for 1936 the cash price is $242.20, which is practically $17 higher than the 1935 price. If my memory serves me rightly, that is almost identical with the increase which has recently taken place in binders in the west. A six-foot mower sold in 1935, cash price, at $84, and in 1936 it sold at $92, or an increase of $8. A side-delivery rake sold in 1935 at $118 and in 1936 at $128, or an increase of $10. A hay loader sold in 1935, cash price, at $114, and it is listed for this year, cash price, at $124, again a $10 increase. A 13-disc fertilizer drill sold in 1935 at $169, and is listed for 1936 at S179, or an increase of $10. A manure spreader sold in 1935 at $164, and this year it is listed at $174, again a 810 increase. A 13-tooth land cultivator sold in 1935 at $73, and in 1936 the price is $76, or an increase of $3. A 14-blade disc harrow sold in 1935 at $47, and in 1936 the price is $48, or an increase of $1; and an eight-foot tractor disc harrow sold in 1935 at $103 and in 1936 it is listed at $106, or an increase of $3. This list represents implements used on every farm in the eastern part of Canada, and the increases in the east are similar to those that have been made in the west.

The discussion of the resolution before us has indicated to me that there is some reason for an inquiry into these increases in prices, particularly because of their having been made at this time. I was somewhat interested in the remark made by the hon. member for Qu'Appelle (Mr. Perley) when he called attention to the fact that certain people were contesting an election in a constituency in Saskatchewan at the beginning of this year and that at that time those of us who were in the constituency fighting in the interests of the government were taking some credit to the government for the trade treaty that had been recently made between Canada and the United States; and he said it must have come as rather a shock to us to find that at the beginning of the next month there was an increase rather than a decrease in prices of farm implements as a result of that treaty having been brought into effect. Well, that fact was perhaps not as great a shock to those of us who took part in the campaign, knowing as we did what has taken place in the dominion following previous reductions in the tariff, as it was to men from one end of the dominion to the other when the price list came out and stared them in the face as representing an increased cost of production to the agriculturist in Canada in the coming summer.

It is for that reason that we believe some sort of inquiry should be made into the causes of the increase in prices of farm implements under conditions that prevail in Canada at the present time. As regards conditions existing in Canada, I do not need to confine my remarks to conditions as we know them to-day in western Canada. Conditions in the west to-day are such as naturally exist in a country that is comparatively new, when the whole world is going through the trying times that are being experienced at present. There are in this house men who can recall similar experiences on the part of people living in the rural areas of Ontario, of Quebec and of the maritimes, in the latter part of the last century, by reason of the prevalence of similar conditions in the world at large.

One of the reasons for the prevalence of the conditions that have been described by the hon. member for Rosthem (Mr. Tucker) and by other hon. members from the western provinces is the fact that we are passing through the first generation of settlers in western Canada; and while we have large debts to meet, while we have to pay for some of the development that has taken place in the past, we are confronted with the fact that it was the opening up of that part of Canada, through the efforts of people in the east, that put this country on the map as a really important nation among the nations of the world. We as a people living in the west owe thanks to the people in eastern Canada for the capital which has been put into western Canada and for the effort which has been made by the people of the east in the direction of developing the western section of the dominion; and we have reason to believe, from the actions of men throughout the eastern part of Canada during the last five or six years, while we have been passing through our trying experiences, that the men in the east who have been responsible for assisting in our development in the past are still not only able but anxious to participate in the future development of western Canada.

One of the reasons we are suffering in the west to-day is that, whereas in the three best years we have ever had in the west, 1926, 1927 and 1928, agriculture produced, in Saskatchewan alone, $1,180,000,000 worth of new wealth which went into business from one end of the country to the other, creating prosperity throughout the country; In three of our most difficult years, 1931, 1932 and 1933, we produced from these same farm lands only

Farm Implements-Mr. Gardiner

$354,000,000 worth of new wealth, or less than one-third of what we produced in the first three year period. And it is because of that reduction in the output of wealth in the west as well as of a similar reduction in the value of the wealth produced throughout Canada that we have been suffering from the difficulties which we have experienced. But in western Canada we have had the additional burden that in the southern part of the three prairie provinces we have been visited by a drought more severe than droughts of the past, and that drought has been accompanied by the lowest range of prices that any part of Canada has ever experienced for farm products. With those two conditions operating together we are of course having hard times and low purchasing power.

But I am one of those who believe that purchasing power can be reestablished only by the cooperation of the farming populations of the west, the farming populations of the east, the industrial populations of the east and west alike, and the financial people in the eastern and western parts of Canada, and that if we are to succeed in bringing back that prosperity for which we are all praying and of which, at the moment, we all dream, we shall succeed only through the one hundred per cent cooperation of the peoples living in all parts of Canada and those engaged in all activities within this country.

I believe the facts produced in this particular debate have emphasized two points. There are those who believe it is most important that we should maintain labour in industry in the different parts of Canada; and I am one of those who believe that in every industry in this country, whether it be for the manufacture of goods or for the production of primary products, first consideration should be given to labour; that when men are not given proper returns for the labour which they put forth in order to produce wealth, whether in industry or in agriculture, or whatever it may be, then we are going to suffer difficulties in every part of Canada. For that reason every effort should be put forward in this house, by inquiry, by legislative endeavour, and in other ways, to see to it that whatever happens, those who give of their labour to produce new wealth in this country from any source should be taken care of before one dollar from that industry goes anywhere else. Believing that, I think it is necessary to have some further inquiry into the reason for this increase in prices, coming at this, one of the most difficult periods that agriculture in Canada has experienced. I want just for a moment to read the resolution and to consider

certain proposals which are made in it. The resolution reads:

That, in the opinion of this house, an immediate inquiry should be made under the provision of the Research Council Act, chapter 177, R.S.C., 1927, or by other means, into the causes underlying the high price of farm implements, with particular reference to the advance in prices for the year 1936.

The discussions indicate, as I said a moment ago, that some are concerned about labour; others are concerned because of the feeling that the actions of companies in connection with prices relative to increases and decreases in tariffs indicate that there is a combine of some kind or another among the companies that are producing farm implements in this country. I think some inquiry should be made before this particular matter is handed on to any particular council or commission for further investigation; that some inquiry should be made by a committee of this house into representations that have been made by members in connection with this resolution. I therefore move, Mr. Speaker:

That the resolution be amended by striking out the words "under the provisions of the Research Council Act, chapter 177, R.S.C., 1927, or by other means," where they appear, and substituting therefor the following words, "by the standing committee on agriculture and colonization."

The resolution will then read:

That, in the opinion of this house, an immediate inquiry should be made by the standing committee on agriculture and colonization into the causes underlying the high price of farm implements, with particular reference to the advance in prices for the year 1936.

That inquiry, Mr. Speaker, should determine whether or not this is a proper question for submission to, say the tariff board or to the research council referred to, or a proper question for submission to an investigation under the Combines Investigation Act, or whether some other procedure should be taken in relation to it. I move this amendment to the resolution, and with this amendment will support it.

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SC

Eric Joseph Poole

Social Credit

Mr. POOLE:

I should like to ask the Minister of Agriculture-

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
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SC

Eric Joseph Poole

Social Credit

Mr. POOLE:

-whether, when he was quoting the difference in value over a period of six years, he meant price values or reduced production.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I cannot hear the

question.

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
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Amendment agreed to. Motion, as amended, agreed to.


March 2, 1936