That is pretty cheap. On a point of order, let me state to the Minister of Agriculture that if we were to stake our seats upon the mercy of the public at the present time, I would take my chances with his popularity in the country at this time.
I do not withdraw a statement I did not make. If you, Mr. Chairman, in your good judgment consider that by my saying I can visualize in the far distant future the possibilities of political corruption, that is a charge of corruption, I withdraw it. But I made no representation in this particular instance that there is any political corruption reported in the auditor general's report. I leave it to the committee if I did not say this,-I do not think he wants to do me an injustice, and I believe he misunderstood me-
I notice that the Minister of Justice says, "All right." I know he heard it the right way. I do not want to charge the minister with being hard of hearing; but with being too keen. It has not been my practice to charge corruption across the floor of the house, and I had no thought of charging corruption as such.
I wish to say that, in reading this further, I found that farmers were not required to make applications for assistance at all. I quote:
While section 5 of the act gives the power to make regulations to require farmers to furnish information and section 11 makes it an offence if any person falsely claims assistance, the farmers filed only acreage reports and the value of the certification to these reports was often negatived by changes unsigned by the farmers.
Under the act, farmers are paid awards when their yields are in excess of 12 bushels to the acre. . . .
That has been mentioned.
Awards have been made on summer-fallow acreage where in many cases the summer-fallow exceeds the seeded acreage. A limited test audit showed that of the total cultivated acreage approximately 35 per cent was in summer-fallow. In this respect, the levy on grain sold has no relationship to the award.
I merely wish to say, Mr. Chairman, that this was not the impression which was left in this house at the time the bill was passed.
That is to say, the levy is collected on grain harvested from 65 per cent of the acreage while the award is based on 100 per cent.
Awards have been made on the basis of wheat yields in districts where wheat represented but a small percentage of seeded acreage. In one town in Manitoba awards were paid on 113 cultivated acres, of which 25 acres were seeded to wheat. The act provides for regulations covering this feature, but no regulations have been made.
Payments have been made in many cases where the cultivated acreage was too small to put persons in the category of farmers. These cases ranged from 25 acres to 2 acres.
Payments have been made to persons who, in no sense, were grain farmers, i.e., persons who owned small plots and eked out a living by selling milk, cutting wood, et cetera.
My hon. friend says that the preachers could get the bonus. I should be glad to see some of them get the bonus if it is to be passed all round.
Farmers have received awards on dry land acreage while they may have garnered crops from irrigated lands so long as the latter did not exceed 300 acres.
Awards may be paid where hail is the cause of the low yield and consequently hail insurance is also payable.
Awards have been made covering land for which rent is paid from the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act vote. Under this arrangement the farmer is paid $5 an acre for land to be put in small plots and $1 an acre for other land.
I remember that when that was up in the house I assumed it was for strip farming, to avoid drifting. This farmer was to be paid $5 an acre in those cases, and SI an acre for the larger areas. I remember that being discussed in this chamber. What do we find is happening under these regulations?
The farm is supervised by the department and the farmer retains his crop.
That, I assume, was under the regulations, and is quite justified. But in one case, $640 was paid under this arrangement for a section of land rented by the government, and the farmer was paid $500 because he did not grow any crop.
I point out these instances merely to indicate what can happen under this prescription which is now employed to cure the ills of the wheat farmers. Am I in order when I say that I can visualize the possibility of the greatest political racket which has ever been carried on in any part of Canada? Every other man is to be an inspector, with a long list of regulations. When we did have regulations, the minister had the power, he said, to do what he liked with them. When we had a committee to find out who was entitled to collect, he still had the power to pay, whether the man was a potato farmer, whether he sawed wood, whether he grew wheat, whether he got rent from the government, or whether he got hail insurance.
Thirty-five million dollars is a great deal of money, and we have no assurance that that is all; for this is the lowest possible estimate in order to put it through this house. It may go to seventy million dollars. The Lord only knows where it will go to. Somebody said that it should go to a hundred million dollars. Yes, probably you get so accustomed to taking it, you feel you had better keep it. I submit, however, that this kind of thing is no solution. It is a retrograde, defeatist type of policy. The kind of bonus that I suggest to my hon. friend is a bonus for the production of the highest class of products rather than a bonus for reduction and no production of anything, by summer-fallowing at $4 an acre. We find that summer-fallowing means the cultivation of fallow land before August 1, 1941, in such a way as to conserve soil moisture and prevent soil drifting. Is there an hon. member in this chamber who would rent a farm on a lease drawn up as loosely as that? What is to constitute a summer-fallow? Any one who has farmed knows what a summer-fallow is.