June 20, 1936

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is easily answered. The member Stated-

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Speaker, now that order has been restored, I wish to conclude. I was just observing that the member stated that I had said agriculture was receiving more consideration than was accorded to other lines of activity. I made no such Statement, and I desire that statement to be withdrawn.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

It will be within your memory, Mr. Speaker, that what I stated was that his argument led to that conclusion.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

No, that is not what was said at all.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I do not think the hon. gentleman has any more right to say what I said than I have to say what he said.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

You can make this house ridiculous, Mr. Speaker, by a little effort, but I press the matter, Mr. Speaker. Do not for a moment, sir, think that I am going to yield on this point, for I am not. I did not make the statement that agriculture was receiving more consideration than anything else, neither did I argue it. On the contrary, I

[Mr. McLean.J

argued something else. I cannot question conclusions but I can question what the hon. gentleman says I said. As a member of this house I have certain rights which cannot be taken from me very readily, and I would ask therefore that I receive at your hands, sir, those rights which you have always accorded to others.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Mr. Speaker, if Hansard shows I made the statement which the hon. gentleman has just now said I made, I am quite prepared that it should go on Hansard that I withdraw. But I think he will find when he reads Hansard that the statement he infers I made was not made.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is just the sort of thing that brings the house into a condition that we had not long ago. If the hon. gentleman conceives that to be a withdrawal, and you accept it, Mr. Speaker, it is not for me to question it, but it is for you to determine, as the custodian of the rules and conduct of this house, whether it is a withdrawal or not.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I would remind the house that there is a rule in Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, No. 313, page 193, which says:

It has been formally ruled by Speakers ill the Canadian Commons that a statement by an hon. member respecting himself and peculiarly within his own knowledge must be accepted, but it is not unparliamentary to temperately criticize statements made by a member as being contrary to the facts; but no imputation of intentional falsehood is permissible.

And there are references to Bourinot, pages 352 and 365. It is sometimes difficult to determine the exact words that were used by an hon. member, and different interpretations may be given. I did not understand the Minister of Agriculture to attribute motives to the leader of the opposition, and as he has said that he is willing to withdraw his statement if it was contrary to the facts, I think he should be considered to be within the rules of the house.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Mr. Speaker, I wish to

refer again to the point raised by the leader of the opposition. I was discussing the statement that this country is no longer an agricultural country and the arguments that were based upon that statement. I should like now to deal with the first remarks made by the leader of the apposition when he took the floor. At the beginning of his remarks he sought to imply that this investigation before the agriculture committee was being carried on largely as a result of discussions

Agriculture-Implement Prices

which had taken place in western Canada and as a result of requests from western members on this side of the house. In dealing with that he referred to the condition of the western provinces. This is not the first time this session that he has inferred that the western provinces of Canada are in a condition of bankruptcy, and in referring to them to-day he used the word "bankruptcy."

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

And now he says, "hear, hear." I should like to suggest that at least one province in western Canada has taken action to indicate to the people, both inside and outside the province, its exact position. I realize that when we look at the public debt of Saskatchewan we cannot help but see that it is of considerable proportions. I do not need to dwell upon the reasons for the proportions of this debt, but I think it is very suggestive that the greater part of it was added during the years between 1929 and 1934. At the moment I am not so much concerned about the public debt of Saskatchewan as a province, the debt which has been incurred by its government, as I am with the position of the people generally and their ability to pay as they go along and to liquidate their debts.

A great deal has been said from time to time about the condition of the municipalities in the three western provinces. I venture to say that the western provinces, and more particularly the province of Saskatchewan, will compare favourably with the oldest and most highly industrialized province in Canada, especially when a comparison of the financial positions of the different municipalities is made. When I make that statement I am not saying anything that is contrary to the facts. Inquiry was made into the debt situation of the people of Saskatchewan, and that inquiry is not yet twenty-four months old. As a result of that inquiry it was determined- I speak from memory and the figures may vary a little, but only a little-that two-thirds of the school districts in Saskatchewan had no debenture debt whatsoever, and over one-third of the school districts had no indebtedness. A condition of that kind is not so bad.

It was found also-again I speak from memory

that only 16 out of 301 rural municipalities had an indebtedness of more than 8200,000. The increased indebtedness of these sixteen, and much of the indebtedness of many of the others which had a debt under $200,000, was because of the relief payments during the last four or five years.

As far as individual indebtedness is concerned, the last census showed that something in the neighbourhood of fifty per cent of the people in the province had no mortgage indebtedness against their property. I do not know that anyone is justified in getting up in this house when we are dealing with a report that has to do with the price of farm implements and stating, with regard to a province with such a record, that after all the consideration that has been given to a part of the country where bankruptcy prevails, we should not be passing the inquiry in connection with this matter to a committee to meet in a succeeding year.

I scarcely understand the argument of my right hon. friend when he suggests that a committee of the house cannot investigate a matter of this kind, at least to the stage of obtaining the facts. Publicity would be given to the evidence presented from day to day in the press of Canada; it would be broadcast over the country, and irrespective of what finding might be made by the committee, the people of Canada would formulate an idea as to what that finding should be at all stages before the committee. If the committee to be appointed next session found, after all the evidence was before it, that they could not come to a conclusion, there would still be sufficient time to refer the matter to the tariff board or to some other board that might be able to inquire further along certain lines. The tariff board certainly would not inquire along the same lines as the committee has already started to inquire.

For the benefit of hon. members who were not on the committee, I may say that in view of the intricacy of the matter referred to the committee, the house was asked to consent to the appointment of counsel and) accountants in order that the necessary information might be gathered. That was agreed to. Under the instructions of the committee, the accountants and counsel prepared a questionnaire which was sent to all the important implement companies. They in turn consented to make a return. As we drew towards the end of the activities of the accountants and the counsel, it was evident that the house would conclude its session before a report could be made. The implement companies were asked to come before the committee and answer such parts of the questionnaire as it was possible for them to answer. This they consented to do. The answers to the questionnaire which had been placed in the hands of the counsel and the auditors constituted only from sixty to eighty per cent of the information asked for. The companies indicated their willingness to present the other twenty to forty per cent to a committee on a future

A griculture-Implement Prices

occasion. The committee thought it highly important that evidence should be heard at a succeeding session, in view of the fact that the companies could not be brought back this session.

According to the report of the committee, the questionnaires and the answers received have been placed in the custody of the Minister of Agriculture. The instructions of the committee are that the officials should receive the remaining replies or any other information which may be available as a result of the sending out of the questionnaires during the interim. AH this information is to be submitted' to the house through a committee at the next session. I do not know of any more reasonable way of dealing with the situation. I suggest to the leader of the opposition that for the time being we forget any argument we might like to present with regard to tariff matters, or any argument we might like to advance with regard to other matters, and that this report be allowed to go through in its present form. At the next session, when all the information is produced to the committee, the house will be in a position to determine whether there should be a further inquiry by a committee or whether it should go elsewhere. At the moment the committee is of the opinion, and I think it is unanimous, that the proper thing to do is to have this investigation submitted to a smaller committee to meet at the next session. That committee can receive the evidence in full and either make a report or recommend something further.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB-PRO

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson

Liberal Progressive

Mr. J. T. THORSON (Selkirk):

In my remarks with reference to this subject, Mr. Speaker, I shall endeavour to be brief. The reference to the standing committee on agriculture and colonization was in these terms:

That an immediate inquiry be made by the standing committee on agriculture and colonization into the causes underlying the high prices of agricultural implements, with particular reference to the advance in prices in the year 1936.

I confess that I was astonished when I heard the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) oppose the adoption of this report. I thought from his argument that there was a misunderstanding in his mind as to the terms of the reference. As I see it, the tariff in its various phases is only one of the fields of inquiry that the committee should explore. Not only the tariff on the finished agricultural implements, but also the various tariffs that apply to the materials that go into the manufacture of such implements should be investigated. There is a wide field relating to the tariff that ought to be explored,

but the tariff field is not the only field that is of vital concern to the farmers of this country, and when I speak of the farmers of this country I mean not only those of western Canada but also those of Canada as a whole. All of us who represent agricultural constituencies in this house know intimately the deplorable condition of agriculture at this time throughout the whole length and breadth of Canada. There are other fields of inquiry that, as I have said, should be explored There is for example the whole question of the efficiency and the capacity of the industry which serves this country in the matter of agricultural implements. We must go into the question of capital set-up, of possible overcapitalization. We must consider the equipment of the various plants engaged in this industry, with a view to determining whether such equipment is in excess of normal, ordinary demand or is adequate to the demand that might be expected. We must also investigate the very wide spread which exists between the price of the machine at the door of the factory and the price the farmer must pay for it when it is delivered to him. The whole field of distribution of agricultural implements is one that needs to be explored. All of these are important lines of inquiry.

I have a high opinion of the tariff board, but that -board is not equipped for the conduct of an inquiry of this kind. Its duty is to determine what should be the tariff to be put into effect on any particular commodity. But as I have pointed out, the scope of this inquiry is very much broader than that of tariffs alone. Nor has the tariff board either power or jurisdiction under the statute to undertake an inquiry of this sort.

I believe all the members of the agriculture committee were convinced that not before in the history of this parliament has there been a reference to a committee so involved and intricate as the subject matter of this inquiry. There must be a detailed and careful search into all the factors that enter into the cost and the present price of agricultural implements. The committee was fortunate in having the services of counsel and an accountant, and in the course of preparation for the purposes of their inquiry they prepared a most exhaustive and thorough questionnaire. Everyone realizes the value of careful and intense preparation for the prosecution of such an inquiry as this. That exhaustive preparation has been made. Copies of the questionnaire have been sent to the companies. The companies have sent their replies to the questionnaire-in some cases fairly complete replies; in others replies not quite so complete. In addition, not all the

Agriculture-Implement Prices

Teplies that have come in to the questionnaire are wholly upon the same basis, and it will be necessary for the purposes of a continued inquiry to coordinate and correlate the information supplied by the various companies.

It is highly desirable that this inquiry should continue. It is in the interests of the farmers of this country, and of the industry itself. I believe that if it is thoroughly and properly made it will benefit both the farmers and the persons who are engaged in the agricultural implement industry, because the interests of the two groups are related. If the farmer is not able to pay, how can the agricultural implement industry prosper?

The committee approached this inquiry in no spirit of hostility towards anyone, but rather with the desire to ascertain as completely as possible the essential facts. There were no preconceived ideas in the minds of the members. There was the desire to ascertain facts, so that upon the ascertainment of the facts a report could be prepared that would be of real value to the people as a whole, both to the farmers and also to the persons engaged in the industry. The fields of inquiry are important. Never yet have they been properly explored by any parliamentary committee or by any agency instituted by parliament for the purpose. In my opinion this is the most important inquiry that parliament has had to deal with for a number of years.

I would be inclined to agree, with qualifications, with one suggestion made by the right hon. leader of the opposition. I thought he was wrong in suggesting that this inquiry should be made by the tariff board, but perhaps that error was due to a misunderstanding on his part as to the terms of the reference. However, I do agree with him that a royal commission might conduct the inquiry with greater thoroughness than could a committee [DOT]of the house, whether the standing committee on agriculture or a special committee to which the subject might be entrusted. I agree with the leader of the opposition in that expression of opinion because of the involved and intricate nature of the proposed inquiry. But while a royal commission could explore the fields of inquiry that have been opened to us by the exhaustive and careful preparation that has already been made, it by no means follows that a committee of the members of this house could not make a proper and thorough inquiry. It would be difficult for such a committee to carry out the investigation that should be made in this sphere, but it is not impossible, if hon. members would devote to it, with its intricacies and its difficulties, that intense application, that careful

study, and that willingness to ascertain the facts which are requisite for the purposes of a report that would be of any value.

I think there will be agreement in the house, as there was in the committee, that this inquiry is such an important one that it ought to be continued. Frankly I would have preferred to have the inquiry made by a royal commission, but next to a royal commission I would like to see it carried on by a committee of the house. I think members of this house may be trusted to give such an important inquiry the study and application it deserves. Therefore I support the motion for concurrence in the report, and I hope that in view of the statements that have been made the right hon. leader of the opposition will withdraw his apposition to the motion so that the house may be as unanimous in adopting the report as the members of the standing committee on agriculture and colonization were in presenting it to the house.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say just a word, as a member of the committee and perhaps also because of my association with the little group in this corner. We want to see as thorough an investigation as it is possible to make into this question of agricultural implements. I believe it is always difficult to get a commission which will command the confidence of all the people of the country, but having listened to a great deal, though not quite all, of the evidence, it seems to me that the matter is tremendously involved. Early in the inquiry I was greatly impressed with the very efficient work that was being done by our own bureau of statistics. I think if I had known as much about the bureau of statistics earlier as I did later I would have expressed myself as unfavourable to engaging any other assistance in order to bring out the facts in relation to this matter. However, that was done and I concurred in it because, in common with most of the members of the committee, I thought it the best thing to do.

With regard to the recommendations of the committee, Mr. Speaker, I think it is doubtful whether a large parliamentary committee such as has 'been going into this matter can arrive at a unanimous or nearly unanimous decision, because there are political streams which we must recognize. If the government could appoint a body that can command the respect of the producers and the people of Canada generally I believe it would be well worth while, even with the expenditure involved.

With regard to the tariff board, I think that perhaps the board has the confidence of the people of Canada to a greater extent

Agriculture-Implement Prices

than such boards have had in the past; nevertheless the tariff board views a problem from the standpoint of the tariff, and, that being the case, I do not think it is altogether fitted to look into this matter as we wish to have it looked into. There are so many factors involved. When I listened to certain evidence, to which I am not going to refer because we are more or less under obligation not to do so, I could not help thinking that this is something of a tangled skein and it strikes me that the tariff board is not the body to look into questions of capitalization, the various methods of doing business, the profits as between different parts of an organization, and so on. Consequently I am going to support the motion for concurrence in the recommendations of the committee.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

Malcolm McLean

Liberal

Mr. MALCOLM McLEAN (Melfort):

Mr. Speaker, before the motion is dealt with by this house I should like to say just a few words. The hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Thorson) has read to the house the terms of reference in regard to this matter, which apparently were misunderstood by the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett). The terms of reference provided that an immediate inquiry should be made by the standing committee into the causes underlying the high prices for farm implements, with particular reference to the advance in price for the year 1936. In my own mind I am sure the right hon. leader of the opposition misunderstood these terms, because he embarked on an abusive harangue to some of the members on this side of the house.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I rise to a point of order. I am now going to protect my rights in this house as far as I can. I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the hon. member used the words "an abusive harangue," which are offensive words and must be withdrawn. It might also be well to direct the attention of hon. members to the fact that when a point of order is raised it is the duty of the hon. member who has the floor to take his seat.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

Malcolm McLean

Liberal

Mr. McLEAN (Melfort):

I shall withdraw the words, immediately and unreservedly, but I may say that it was in view of the kindly and polite way in which the right hon. gentleman addressed himself to me when I ventured to pass a remark that I thought he was under a misapprehension. If not,

I am all the more surprised that he should have advanced the reasons he did advance in objecting to the motion for concurrence.

Here we have the greatest industry in Canada; it has been so for many years in the past

and is likely to continue to be so for many years to come. The right hon. gentleman says the industry does not take in half the people of Canada to-day. This industry of agriculture has been sick almost to death during the past five years particularly, the years during which the policies of my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition have been in effect.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

Harry James Barber

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARBER:

Oh.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

Malcolm McLean

Liberal

Mr. McLEAN (Melfort):

Oh, what? My hon. friend from Toronto knows that what I am saying is the truth. He knows it in connection with the people with whom he deals.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT PRICES-RECOMMENDATION THAT INQUIRY BE CONTINUED NEXT SESSION BY SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink

June 20, 1936