June 3, 1943

SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

The only thing we are concerned about is this, that we learn that in various parts of Canada there is a definite potato shortage, and that there are places in Canada where potatoes cannot be bought. If there is a shortage of potatoes, and if potatoes cannot be bought, it makes no difference at all to the ordinary individual how many thousands of tons of potatoes there are in storage.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

How many you are going to produce makes a difference, if the farmer is to be able to sell his product at a price.

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LIB

Thomas Vien (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The motion before the house is a motion for adjournment. The man-power shortage has nothing to do with the question of the present supply of potatoes in the country. If the hon. member is addressing himself to the question of an insufficient acreage of potatoes, or the suggestion that sufficient potatoes are not likely to be grown because of the shortage of manpower, he is in order.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

I have been unceasingly interrupted by hon, members, and that has led me to discuss other than the matter I rose to discuss.

The possible potato shortage is in the minds of all hon. members, and I have no doubt was in the mind of the hon. member for Temiscouata when he made this motion. With Your Honour's permission I should like to say one further word about potatoes. It must be remembered that potatoes are perishable, and it matters not how many tons there are in storage to-day, those potatoes in all probability will not be available for use next fall. So that the minister's remarks are rather beside the point.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

The shortage was last week, not next fall.

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NAT

William Earl Rowe

National Government

Mr. ROWE:

Why are they still in storage, then?

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

The minister can have his say. Potatoes should be provided to farmers for seed, at prices they can afford.

Man-Power-Mr. LaCroix

A good deal could be done in this respect by a committee which could look into conditions which have arisen on account of the lateness of the season.

I have nothing further to say, except that the time spent in discussing this matter is well spent. Now is the time to discuss it, before a serious condition arises, and in my view the hon. member was wise in bringing it to the attention of the house.

Mr. WILFRID LaCBOIX (Quebec-Montmorency) (Translation): Mr. Speaker, I am in complete accord with the motion of the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) and I am convinced, now as before, that there is no such thing as exemption from military service for farmers' sons. Although it may be referred to in speeches, it does not really exist. This is indicated by a letter I have received to-day and which, with your kind permission, I shall read to the house:

Quebec, June 1, 1943. Mr. Wilfrid LaCroix, M.P.,

24 Carmel street,

Quebec.

Dear Mr. LaCroix,

I am one of your voters, Achille Legare, of St. Joseph concession, Charlebourg. I am 41 years of age. The seeding season has arrived; my grain should be put in the ground immediately, otherwise, even in a few days, it will be too late. I have no help and cannot procure any.

I have been called by the militia and have reported at the camp. After explaining my situation, I asked to be released immediately so as to do my work.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

How old is he?

Mr. LaCROIX (Quebec-Montmorency):

I have just stated it.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

I had forgotten.

Mr. LaCROIX (Quebec-Montmorency):

After explaining my situation, I asked to be released immediately so as to do my work. However, I am kept idle here; time flies and in a few days the seeding season will be over, and it will be too late. This will entail an important loss to me.

I beseech you to appeal to these gentlemen in my favour so they will release me and send me on my farm to do my -work.

I rely on you to do this favour for me. Please accept my thanks and my respectful regards.

Achille Legare.

It is an admitted fact that, at present, it is impossible to secure leaves for agricultural purposes. One has to apply for them to the officer commanding at Debert, Nova Scotia, Sussex, New Brunswick, or other places. The answer is ever the same: No.

We hear complaints about a decrease in production. How is production to increase when measures are taken that not only con* tribute to a scarcity of help but are of such a nature as to stop production?

I wish to give another example which is to the point and set out in detail. It was brought to my attention in a letter I received yesterday.

St. Laurent, Island of Orleans,

June 1, 1943.

Mr. W. LaCroix,

Member for Quebec-Montmorency.

Dear Sir,-

I am sending you this plea to acquaint you with the situation in which hog-breeders are now placed. There will be a catastrophe if that situation is not remedied. As you know, the government compel all breeders to sell their hogs to slaughter houses, which are paying $16.65 per hundredweight and the ceiling is $18, so that the breeders lose $1.35 per hundredweight. Moreover, if the hog is just one pound under 140 pounds the company deducts from $2 to $2.50 for each animal; if it weighs more than 170 pounds, there is another reduction of $2.50 to $3, which entails a loss of about $3.10 on each hog. Under the circumstances, the breeders are not even allowed to remove the hogs which are under or over weight.

It is now almost impossible to sell hogs. Those various factors have brought about a 75 per cent reduction in the production of hogs, and within a few months it will stop altogether and there will be a serious shortage of pork. The ceiling on lumber and wood was a terrible mistake, but it is nothing compared with the situation that will confront us as far as pork is concerned.

Please refer this letter to the department which has the responsibility of dealing with the matter.

Yours truly,

Albert Vaillancourt,

St. Laurent, Island of Orleans.

Mr. Speaker, it would seem; that the government's policy has been contrived so as to prevent in the first place, the men who are essential to production from remaining on the land. In the second place, the stupid policy adopted by the various trade controllers, czars or dictators, whichever title may be given to them,-entails a curtailment in production. Now, it has always been said in this house that agricultural production is an essential part of our war activities. We must feed not only our army but also the forces of our allies:

Mr. Speaker, I sincerely regret that the government should have taken such a stand. At least the people should frankly be told what the situation is. When I hear about farmers being exempted, I am- rather sceptical. True, some of them have been granted a

Man-Power-Mr. Wright

postponement, but the latter will have to be renewed at an early date or at some later time. And when it comes to renewing a postponement the matter becomes increasingly difficult. I wonder what the situation will be in one or two months. We are being told that conscription does not exist. Mr. Speaker, you know as well as I do that not one man between the ages of 19 and 45 can obtain work if he has not first enlisted for active service or has not been discharged from the army. In order to obtain his discharge, he must enlist for active service not in this country but overseas. It is just as if the men were being told: Enlist or starve. To-day, no man can work in any one of our war plants or obtain another position if he has not been discharged from the army. As I said, in order to obtain his discharge, he must enlist, undergo a medical examination and. before he undergoes this examination he must sign up for overseas service.

Mr. Speaker, similar conditions obtain in the case of farmers' sons. They are put to every kind of annoyance. As soon as they report they are told: You are farmers' sons, but now that you are here you shall not get out. That policy should be changed at once, if the war is to be efficiently prosecuted.

I do not wish to speak at any great length, but I may say in concluding that I heartily support the motion of the hon. member for Temiseouata. It is often said that he speaks volubly in this house. I wish to tell him that his services are quite helpful to the people of the province of Quebec, and that I congratulate him for having introduced this motion.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. P. E. WRIGHT (Melfort):

Mr. Speaker, it is not often that I find myself in agreement with the hon. member for Temiseouata (Mr. Pouliot), but on this occasion I believe he has called attention to a problem which will become quite serious in Canada during the next year. It seems to me that we have lulled ourselves into a position of false security on account of the climatic conditions which obtained last year and which permitted the production of one of the largest agricultural crops ever raised in Canada. This year we are likely to be faced with opposite conditions and may find ourselves in a very serious position.

The Department of Agriculture have issued a pamphlet called "Objectives for Canadian Agriculture in 1943" which sets out what the government expects from agriculture, during the coming year. They ask for substantial increases in connection with almost every

product of the farm. In oats, twelve per cent increase is asked for; barley, twelve per cent. Wheat is one commodity where a decreased production is asked for, a decrease of fourteen per cent. A small increase is asked in flaxseed, while in rye there is some decrease. An increase of twenty-eight per cent is asked for in hogs; cattle, nine per cent; sheep and lambs, twelve per cent; dairy products, an average of about twenty-five per cent; eggs and poultry, an increase of approximately twenty-five per cent; fruits and vegetables, an eleven per cent increase, while for other crops the increases asked for range from one per cent to as high as 189 per cent. Despite these increases that are being asked for, there is the fact, as stated just recently by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner), that approximately 350,000 men have been withdrawn from agriculture since the beginning of the war.

If we are to get these increases and do not have the favourable climatic conditions which prevailed last year, it will mean that we must have more help on our farms. It seems to me that the government have given a lot of lip-service to this question of increasing the supply of agricultural help. We understood that considerable leaves or postponements were to be granted for seeding operations. But what actually takes place is another matter. In many cases these leaves have been refused, and men in basic training are not granted leave at all. Apparently no effort was made to understand the necessities of the farm. I have had a number of cases drawn to my attention of men who were given leave to go on a farm where there was only a small acreage under cultivation, and other cases where men were refused leave whose relations really needed their help. These men could have contributed real service if leave had been granted.

Furthermore, no provision was made for the transportation of these men. If the government had been anxious that men from the army should go back to the farm they would have provided transportation for them. Many men serving on either coast had to pay transportation practically across the whole dominion on a month's leave or perhaps six weeks to help in seeding operations on the farm. If the government had been anxious to get help for the farmer they could have at least provided transportation for these men.

With respect to postponements, the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) stated the other day that 80 per cent of the requests for postponements for agricultural purposes had been granted, but these figures again are

Man-Power-Mr. Hlynka

misleading. Many postponements were granted for only a short time, sometimes a month, sometimes three months, and when an application was made for a further postponement it was refused. The granting of short postponements does not tend to help increase agricultural production.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

The short postponement has been changed since the matter has been under my jurisdiction. The shortest postponement granted for agriculture is six months.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

It "may" be for six months.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. WRIGHT:

I am glad if that has been done, but my information is not to that effect. A man must be able tc plan his production one year ahead if he is to raise the products which are essential at this time-pork, dairy products, and other necessities. You cannot increase agricultural production by looking ahead for only three or six months, especially the things that are needed most. A short postponement is of little use if you want to increase production. You could provide that the men would be recalled from the farm only in case of national emergency.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

If my hon. friend would like me to answer that point now, you have to keep your finger on a man otherwise you have no check on him. We want to make sure that he stays on the farm.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. WRIGHT:

That could easily be done through national selective service. As it is now a man cannot leave the farm without obtaining permission from national selective service. That matter could easily be dealt with in that way. I know that these short postponements and refusal to grant further postponements have stopped farmers from increasing their production because they had no assurance that their help would be with them for any length of time.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) also stated that under his policy men were to be taken from non-essential industries and put on the farm, but I have not seen any evidence of that policy being carried out. So far as I have been able to observe, no men have been drafted to the farm from non-essential industry, and if the government is really anxious that help should be made available on the farms this policy should be put into effect immediately. Then men should be placed where they are really needed.

It seems to me that something more must be done in regard to supplying agricultural implements. Some of the farmers in western Canada have spoken to me about this matter.

Just before I left home after the Easter recess I interviewed some firms who are in the agricultural implement business in my district and they told me that they did not have available any supply of repair parts for machinery needed in haying, and that parts would not be available until probably the first of June. So that we have the government on the one hand urging farmers to keep their implements in a good state of repair against the time when they will be needed, and on the other hand we find that the government is not making those supplies available to the farmer. I suggest that the government see to it that those repair parts be made available in sufficient quantities to enable the farmers to keep their implements in repair. In that way labour could be saved. Last year labour was sent from eastern Canada to western Canada to help harvest the crop. If more binders had been made available in the west much of that labour would not have been needed. If the government will see that this machinery is supplied to farmers, and at a price they can afford to pay, much labour can be saved.

I support the motion of the hon. member for Temiscouata, Mr. Speaker, because an army cannot fight unless it is fed, and if agricultural products are to be made available to our armed forces and to our people we must look ahead and not just deal with this matter from day to day.

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SC

Anthony Hlynka

Social Credit

Mr. ANTHONY HLYNKA (Vegreville):

Mr. Speaker, I have just recently returned from a trip back home, and from my observation the farm labour shortage is indeed acute. Scores of farmers have been forced to quit farming and move into the city. How they will get along is another matter.

I have had to deal with a large number of applications for postponement. I find that they may be divided into two classes. There are those who apply Kr postponements before they have actually joined the armed forces, the other class is composed of those already in the service who ask for leaves. As regards the first class, those making applications for postponements, only a well qualified lawyer could help these young men to fill out properly the application forms. The ordinary farm boy could not possibly be expected to know all that is required in order that he may fill out the forms, the affidavits he needs, and things of that sort. I should like to see the government standardize the application forms. The draft boards right across the country would know whether a man should or should not be

Man-Power-Mr. Hlynka

granted a postponement. Of course, postponements should not be granted wholesale to all who ask for them. We could not possibly win the war in that way. At the same time, we should not force our farmers to fold up and sell out because that will not get us very far either. I suggest, therefore, that the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell), who is charged with the responsibility for call-ups should draft a simple application form, giving instructions to every soldier who needs to apply for a postponement. The soldier would be able to fill out the application and, if the request seemed reasonable, the board would have less work in deciding each case individually. I am sure that many of these applications and affidavits, pages long, are never read by the boards. You cannot expect any board to read thousands of applications. That is an utter impossibility. The procedure must therefore be simplified. AVe may talk around the case as much as we want but it will not help matters at all. We are concerned with those cases where men are absolutely needed at home, perhaps the only son, the old father being compelled otherwise to sell out or engage in something else.

As regards leave, I know a number of soldiers who have applied for leave, six weeks, perhaps a month, or two months or whatever it may be. Again, the man is told to apply to his commanding officer. He must write to his parents and tell them to obtain sworn affidavits, three copies of each; he must obtain a letter of request in triplicate from his father; he must obtain medical certificates; and only then can he place the documents in the hands of the commanding officer. Then the commanding officer, if he feels like granting leave, will do so; if not, he refuses it and that is the end of the matter. Then the young man writes to his member of parliament. The only thing the member can do is to refer the matter to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Kalston) or the Department of National Defence, and it is usually refused. If the commanding officer refuses it, the Department of National Defence refuses it also.

Why can we not get down to business and draft a proper and a uniform procedure in these matters? As it is, we have utter confusion. There are scores of young men who have not had any legal training, and you cannot expect them to draw up the documents required of them. I wish to emphasize this particular point, that the application forms, or the procedure followed, should be standardized throughout Canada. This does not apply only to the province of Quebec or Alberta or Saskatchewan; we must standardize the forms for the entire country.

Another matter which I have brought twice to the attention of the government, as other members have done also, but to which no attention has been paid, is that there should be an appeal board in Ottawa to deal with cases that are absolutely deserving; otherwise if a man is refused postponement or leave he has no one to whom to refer his application. That is the end) of it. That is absolutely unfair. Surely we can find three or five or ten men in Canada to deal with the legitimate appeals of men who are absolutely essential, and whose applications should be granted.

This particular question must be dealt with by two departments, the Department of Labour and the Department of National Defence, and the two ministers concerned should get together and divide their labours. The Minister of Labour has to deal with postponements and the Minister of National Defence with leaves, and they should devise a plan whereby we can get a little better satisfaction than the people have had in the past.

Agriculture is absolutely essential to the war effort; in fact, it is one of the major industries in that effort. It is the means of our livelihood; it has been the main industry in Canada, and yet we treat it as a matter of course. I do not want to get off the track, but I should like to mention that not long ago many of us on this side of the house pleaded) with the government and the Minister of Labour to do something about coal miners. I do not wish to go into that question now, but on my arrival home I found many miners released after taking training for three or four months. It is the same story-muddling.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

Let us get the record straight on coal mines. A number of these men went from agriculture into the mines for the winter.

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SC

Anthony Hlynka

Social Credit

Mr. HLYNKA:

I am sorry, but the minister is wrong. There are quite a number of miners released from military training to-day who have been sent back to the mines. Surely the minister should know that; he is the man in charge. But it shows-

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

AVhere is the muddling in that?

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SC

Anthony Hlynka

Social Credit

Mr. HLYNKA:

AVell, it shows that you have picked up men who should have remained as miners in the mines and you should have tried to find another way of solving the manpower problem. These men have wasted four months and now they are allotted again to mining. The same will happen in agriculture. I regard it my duty to rise in my place and call the attention of the government to this problem, which is growing more serious as the days go by.

Man-Power-Mr. Lizotte

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June 3, 1943