Many of the speeches have been encouraging to those of us who are new in the house. The general feeling of good will has been helpful. With one exception, I believe those belonging to this group come from western Canada. Perhaps through the fault of no one, there have been times in the past when there appeared to be great division between east and west. Why this should be so, I could never understand. Hon. members from all parts of the house have stated during the debate that they are most anxious to see an end of national di visions among Canadians. My view is that there should be no more hyphenated Canadians, and that we should go even farther than that. Not only should we not recognize English-speaking Canadians or French-speaking Canadians as such, but there should be no such thing as western Canadians and eastern Canadians. Let us all be Canadians, although living in different geographical centres.
Statements along this line have been ex-presed from all sides of the house, and I have been pleased to see that spirit prevail. Hon. members from all quarters have said, too, that they share the ideas expressed in the speech from the throne. Hon. members in this group join in that expression of agreement.
May I draw the attention of the house to one slight difference between the views held by other groups, and those held by this one. No hon. member from any other group has indicated a willingness on the part of his group to adopt some other methods if at any time during the course of this parliament it becomes evident that such action is necessary to implement what is promised
The Address-Mr. Bentley
in the speech from the throne. However, my leader, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell), when he spoke in the debate made it clear that this group was prepared to support every measure which, either in whole or in part, will bring about any of the good things foreshadowed in the speech from the throne. He made it clear, too, that this group does not believe that that machinery can be made to operate, or that .plans can work properly under the present system of so-called free enterprise, something which in our opinion more nearly approaches monopolistic enterprise.
However, despite our lack of confidence in this free enterprise system, and because of our anxiety to have a prosperous and united Canada, we have indicated our willingness to sink our differences, and to do our best to help make the present machinery work. I have heard no other leader or member of any other group indicate that if time and circumstances prove that the machinery of the government to do the job they said they were going to do should fail or break down, he would be prepared to give up his ideas and tiy new ones. I am going to explain what I mean by that a little later on. I will exemplify it in connection with one particular item of our national business which is close to western hearts.
Before I do so I wish to introduce myself and my consituency. In the first place I am a Canadian citizen. My people settled in Halifax in 1753 and, so far as I know, since that time all of them were either born here or came over with the United Empire Loyalists or were of some other local North American stock. I am not bragging about that because I had nothing to do with it, but I am not the least bit ashamed of it. In fact I like the old province of Nova Scotia very much.
I was glad to hear some of the speeches that have been made by my fellow countrymen. I am such a Canadian citizen that I suppose I have broken the laws of this country more 'than most hon. members. But I could not avoid doing so, I had either to lie or to break the law. The law of this country does not permit me to be a Canadian citizen. When I joined the army, which I did last time; when I registered the birth of one of my children; when the census taker came around; when I had my national registration card made out, which by the way I carry all the time, I was asked to give my nationality. In each case I said "Canadian", but the interrogating gentleman undertook to make me name some other nationality. I could have told him Chinese, but I would have been lying because I am not a Chinaman. I could have told him
anything but I would have been lying. I refused to give any national category but Canadian. I hope this parliament will put me within the pale of the law so that I do not have to break it or lie any more.
I represent the federal constituency of Swift Current. Some hon. members have said that their constituencies were the best in Canada. Mine is to those who like it; it would not be to those who do not. We are a bald prairie constituency and many of us like it, so we stay there. We do not blame other people from other parts of the country for not liking it. It is a good thing that this is still a free country. You can move from Swift Current to Prince Edward Island if you want to; I think they will still let you go in there. You could certainly go to Prince Edward Island and we are allowed into Alberta. There are many places we could go to, but many of us stay in Swift Current because we like it.
The people there are mostly farmers. There is only one large urban centre and that is not large in the terms of some of the centres in eastern Canada. I believe Swift Current City has a population of possibly 7,000 people now, but normally its population would be between 5,000 and 6,000. Most of the wholesale houses and retail businesses cater to the agricultural trade, except that we are a Canadian Pacific railway terminal with a good C.P.R. payroll. However, the great bulk of our population of 40,000 are farmers or those who are directly serving the agricultural community.
They are good people. Again I will not say on their behalf that they are the best in Canada because they do not want to be classed in that way. They just want to be classed as being as good as the rest of the people of Canada. They just want to be assured that they will have the same opportunities to live their kind of lives with a degree of security commensurate with their ability to engage in enterprising and useful work, which as I have said is farming in the main. I would be doing them an injustice if at any time I claimed for them any greater rights than that. But I do assure you, sir, that we will certainly claim those full rights and I will do my best to see that they are obtained.
We are in the middle of a dry farming area. Like the young hon. member for Wood Mountain (Mr. Argue) who spoke this afternoon and the hon. member for Maple Creek (Mr. McCuaig) who spoke last night, my constituency is in that area south of the Saskatchewan river. We have some lovely wheat land; we have some fine ranching land and we have some very good mixed farming
The Address-Mr. Bentley
land if we only had adequate and constant supplies of water. We would be more able to undertake mixed farming or live stock raising if along with adequate supplies of water for the stock we also had sufficient water to assure our being able to raise continuous and adequate quantities of fodder for the live stock.
The prairie farm rehabilitation association has undertaken a project to dam up Swift Current creek at a place called Duncaim. That project will eventually be completed but we hope that eventuality will not be too far away. We hope the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) and his P.F.R.A. officials will not forget that there is a vast difference between human time and eternity. We hope sincerely that the 30,000 arces which can be irrigated will be irrigated and that the project will be completed not later than this time next year, as it could be. These are some of our little local problems. I will not weary the house with the many more that we have, although I may deal with them later on. However, I should like to bring to the attention of members of this house another problem that is important to us and to the west.
I am not saying this because we in the west want to chisel something out of other parts of Canada. I am not saying this because we think other hon. members are likely to be antagonistic. We do not understand all the problems of the peach producers of British Columbia, of the apple growers of Ontario, of the industrial workers of Ontario and Quebec and of the fishermen and farmers of Nova Scotia. We do not pretend to. We expect to learn and to learn with sympathy of their problems while we are here. We expect to lend our voice and aid as much as we can or as much as we are allowed to in helping them to improve their position and to solve their problems. We are asking only for the same measure of sympathy and help from the other people in this house.
I mentioned a little while ago that this group does not believe that the present administration at Ottawa have the right ideas or the right machinery to do the job they forecast in the speech from the throne. We are prepared to help them do it. Let me produce some evidence to show why we believe this is so. Purely on the basis of the operating economy of this country and in fairness to all its citizens I wish to submit the following evidence.
We from the prairies of the west got a distinct jolt the other day when the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. MacKinnon) announced that the price of wheat for export would be pegged at $1.55 a bushel, basis No. 1
northern at the contract point of delivery, and remember that is Port Arthur or Fort William or Vancouver, not where it is delivered to the country elevator. We have no objection to that, nor will the farmers in the west object to it. As a matter of fact they will respect this government for giving that measure of protection to the people in the old country. Many of the settlers in the west came from some of those old countries or have relatives who were left behind when their parents came over here before they were born. So that they are glad to be able to make some contribution to the requirements of those people and not hold them up or-put a gun to their heads because there is a scarcity. We have no objection to that contribution. That announcement did not give us a jolt. The jolt to the chin came when it was announced-not as compensation for foregoing a possible sharp rise in the price of wheat because of the extremities of Europe, because such compensation is not needed, but as compensation for the loss of what might have been a very good market for w'heat now-that the government would undertake to see that the price of wheat would not fall below $1 a bushel, basis No. 1 northern, Fort William, Port Arthur or Vancouver from the beginning of next year until the year 1950 on the authorized deliveries.
The Minister of Trade and Commerce, on being questioned in the house the other day, said that there was nothing in the order in council that stated that they were going to operate for the next five years on the quota system. Whether or not he thought that we did not understand the terminology well enough to understand what was meant, he said that in the order in council there was no such thing mentioned as a quota system. In the order in council there are no words about quota system, it is true, but the terms "authorized deliveries" and "quota system" are synonymous in the minds of every western farmer, and the Minister of Agriculture, who is here to-night, knows that is so. It was therefore futile for the Minister of Trade and Commerce to endeavour to make us believe that because there was no mention of the words "quota system" in the order in council it did not mean just that. It says "authorized deliveries," and authorized deliveries are the quota system in the minds of every western farmer who sells wheat.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE IN REPLY
I frankly admit that, and will go into that Later. But the point I am making now is that we know that the quota system and authorized deliveries mean the same thing. It means that someone in authority-and this has to be so, and there is no quarrel with it-the wheat board officials presumably-and we hope they are competent officers-will be authorized to tell the farmers each year what their authorized wheat delivery shall be. With the guaranteed price of SI a bushel below which wheat is not allowed to fall, if the Winnipeg grain exchange is still operating, and if the wheat board is not continuing to take all deliveries, it is quite within the range of possibility, and past history indicates to us that this will be so, that the open market price can conceivably hover around that $1 a bushel, which means eighty-three or eighty-four cents to the bulk of the farmers in western Canada at their local elevator point of delivery for No. 1 northern; and remember that No. 1 northern does not comprise all the grain we deliver because we sometimes get grade 5 and grade 6, and even feed wheat in years of frost, and there is a very heavy spread between the price of No. 1 northern and the lower grades. If the wheat board officials or those in authority say to the farmer this year that he can deliver only six or seven bushels you can readily see, Mr. Speaker, that it will be utterly impossible for the farmers of the west to finance their operations. It cannot be done.
I would point out that we are not opposed to the authorized deliveries or the quota system. I believe that that is the general feeling all over the west. There may be some farmers who do not like it, but I am speaking for the bulk of the farmers who are in the big farm organizations there. Here I should like to point out to the government where they might sometimes learn a little from those institutions. I am not going to tell the government to-night why many of us from the prairie provinces have no longer a great deal of faith in their foresight or ability to foresee for some years ahead, but as the minister has said, a request was made in 1932 by the western farm organizations to have the federal government, then under Mr. R. B. Bennett, set up a wheat board to take delivery of western wheat and market it direct. Mr. Bennett did not see fit then to do that. As a matter of fact, when the first forerunner of that demand from the western farmers came as early as 1930 in a resolution passed by the United Farmers of Canada at Saskatoon, asking for a floor or peg price of 70 cents a bushel for No. 1
northern wheat, Fort William, Port Arthur or Vancouver, Mr. Bennett refused and said that he and his administration had no intention of interfering with the free marketing of wheat. From that time on there was constant debate between the Bennett regime and the officials of the organized producers, and in 1932 the western farmers made their request for a wheat board, with power to set up quota deliveries, so that in years of tremendous surpluses, which we were told was our great bugbear at that time-we were told that we were too good at the job; that we raised too much wheat-the wheat board would accept for delivery that volume which could be comfortably sold on whatever export market our Department of Trade and Commerce could find for us and fix the price of that exportable surplus at something approaching the cost of production as near as could be estimated, and the balance of the farmer's surplus production would be left in the granary on his farm as a very fine safeguard against a future bad crop. If you were a grain farmer, Mr. Speaker, you would appreciate just how comfortable a feeling it give you in a year like this or 1937 if you can look out into your yard and say: Well, the crop has gone, we will not get our seed back, but thank goodness last year or the year before we were able to save 1,500 or 2,000 bushels which were not required on the market that year. It gives a feeling of security to the wheat farmer when he can look at his bins and know they are not all empty.
In that year we asked for the quota system. But the Bennett government did not give it to us. In that same winter we sent to Ottawa a petition signed by 107,000 Saskatchewan citizens. Mr. Bennett and his government would not grant that request. It was not until the dying days of his administration in 1935, when he had to face the whole of Canada in an election, that he finally acceded to the request of the western farm organizations and brought in his wheat legislation. Had he and his administration not been so arrogantly certain that they knew better than a bunch of old farmers what should be done to market their wheat, they would have listened and taken advice from the organized farmers at that time, and undoubtedly one would have thought that the Liberal administration that took over from the Tory administration in 1935 would have learnt that lesson. But no. For the next five years until 1940 the western farm organizations continued to make their representations. I am saying this now to the government across the floor, and I am saying it in all sincerity, and can prove it, if proof
The Address-Mr. Bentley
is wanted. I shall not have time to do so to-night, but before this session is over I can produce the documentary evidence necessary to prove every statement I make. This organization came to the administration time after time and asked them to operate a wheat board on its behalf to protect the wheat growers of western Canada, but the request was refused time and again. Within a year after the new administration of 1936 took office, the wheat board ceased operating as an active agent in the marketing of wheat, and the peg was held at ninety cents a bushel. Later, in 1938, the price was fixed by the wheat board, through government action, at eighty cents a bushel. The following spring the present Minister of Agriculture came west and told the western people that we could no longer expect to have a pegged wheat board price of eighty cents a bushel; that it was too big a load for this country to carry, that it was costing Canada too many millions of dollars, and that we would have to submit to a drastic reduction, in other words from eighty cents a bushel to sixty cents a bushel, basis 1 northern at the point of delivery at terminal elevators, Port Arthur, Fort William or Vancouver.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, in rising to take part in this debate, I wish first to congratulate you on your elevation to the chair and, second, to congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) on his long term of office and of service to the country. I am sure we all wish him good health to finish out his term of office. Next I wish to congratulate the leader of the official opposition (Mr. Bracken) and to congratulate the people of Manitoba on having seen to it that he was their premier for twenty years. I wish also to congratulate the constituents of his riding on having seen fit to send him to Ottawa to represent and to lead our party. He was very wise, I believe, in not coming into the house on receiving the nomination, because in that period he travelled across Canada, saw all the different parts of the country and made a study of them, meeting people and gaining a wealth of knowledge which will certainly be of benefit to Canada in the future. So far as our party is concerned, it was not suffering from lack of leadership because it was being ably led by my genial friend the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon).
I am somewhat like the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner), who spoke last night.
The Address-Mr. Hodgson
He said he came here with a majority vote. I am in the same position. I want to congratulate him on coming here on that basis. He said he had only one opponent. I have him beaten, because I had two and I still came here with a majority vote. My Liberal opponent had been a friend of mine for years and I could not say a thing bad about him. He served the country for ten years prior to this year.
In the house we have 103 new members, and 149 members are here on a minority vote. I believe my hon. friends to my left outstrip us all in that regard, because out of twenty-eight members, twenty-five are here on a minority vote.
In introducing my riding, I may say that I did not know that one could come to the House of Commons and do so much advertising. I will avail myself of the opportunity for a few minutes, but I will make it short. I have the honour to represent the riding which was so ably represented by Sir Sam Hughes, who was our member for about thirty years. He was minister of militia in the last war.
My riding is made up of two counties. Victoria has fertile soil and a climate that is adapted to farming, and the farmers are great producers of hay, grain, meat and dairy pro-iucts. While I am on this subject, I may say that this year one of my constituents made quite a nice shipment of Holstein cattle to Mexico, thus opening up a new venture in trade along that line.
The county in which I live is Halliburton. I happen to be the first member ever elected from that county either provincially or to the dominion house. It comprises the pre-Cambrian rock area and we have the finest stand of timber, bar none, left standing in Canada to-day. We have also in that rock deposits of uranium, which was the basis of the atomic bomb; in the whole area of Victoria-Hali-burton we have the Kawartha lakes and the Trent valley canal system, and in Haliburton county alone we have 559 lakes. We have everything that goes to make a tourist country.
The tourist industry in Victoria county is fairly well developed, but in the north it has just been scratched. It would have been developed more fully if the war had not come along, resulting in shortage of labour and materials, with government regulations putting a stop to buildings in that class of industry.
In this municipality, made up of small villages and small towns, we have the town of Lindsay with a population of 10,000. We have some thirty sawmills, four planing and finishing mills, and so on. We have a large
tannery, a large woollen mill and many other small industries, and we have two large chemical plants. We have also the dominion arsenal. This plant is one of the finest in Canada, one of the best equipped in the country. I hope the Minister of Defence (Mr. Abbott) can keep that plant running, and if he cannot, I see no reason why the Department of Reconstruction cannot put in some peace-time industry there.
We have a riding made up principally of private enterprise. We have a lot of good labour. It is a railroad centre, and I take my hat off to labour any day in the week because I have been a labour man myself all my life. The reason why I say they favour private enterprise is that ninety per cent of our farms are operated by their owners, as are all our industries with the exception of the dominion arsenal. We have never had any labour trouble; we have the finest group of labour men that exists anywhere.
Anything I say here or any part that I play in this parliament I feel I should do it as my constituents would want me to do it. Although I was sent here with a majority I consider that I was sent here to represent all the constituents of my riding. That will be my thought and view throughout my parliamentary experience.
I think I would be remiss in my duty unless I said something about the flag. Someone has taken upon himself the responsibility of pulling down the old union jack from this parliament building and sticking up another flag in its place without consulting this parliament. That I think was a mistake. However, probably the time has come when we need a new national flag; but, speaking for myself and for my constituents, we think the old union jack is good enough for us.
I should like to say a word about national selective service and the war labour board. But before I do that I should like to welcome all or any hon. members who wish to visit my riding. They would be only too welcome, and if they do not believe what I say about its possibilities and beauties I ask them to come and see for themselves. If they cannot come let them ask the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) or the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley), because they both had a good look at it in the last election campaign. I welcome them back at any time and I hope that they will not wait until the next election rolls around. In fact I should like to have the Minister of Finance there this fall. Although we may differ on politics at times, we do not differ when it comes to a victory or peace loan.- If the Minister of Finance
The Address-Mr. Hodgson
came there and opened the victory loan campaign I might have the honour of introducing him, and I will guarantee him a larger audience than he had when he spoke at Lindsay before June 11 last.
With regard to national selective service, they have been short-sighted and inefficient. That is also true of the war labour board. On August 31, 1942, all the operators and lumbermen received a notice to appear at a meeting in my town under penalty if they were not there. Lists of prices and wage schedules that we could pay to men, both loggers and cutters, were laid down. We tried to live up to this as well as we could, but it was inadequate to fill the bill. I told the board so at that time. However, ten months later, after the operators were put out of business so far as cordwood is concerned, we were paying $3.75 and the war labour board said that we must cut it down to $3.40. The result was that our men left and disappeared into other work, and our organization was broken up so far as producing wood was concerned. At that time I was producing 500 cords of body hardwood a month, and for the benefit of hon. members from the fishing areas on the coast, a cord of body hardwood is the next thing to anthracite coal.
Ten months later I received another notice to meet in the town of Huntsville in an adjoining riding. At that time they told us to go out into the bush and get out cordwood because there was a crisis at hand, and that we could do it at any price. They said to us: "If you have not the money we will finance you; if you have not the men we will give you internees." Well, the house can realize the position I was put in living in a riding comprising people of English, Irish and Scotch descent with a really first-class bunch of workmen in that area. If I had started to bring in internees I do not think I wTould be here to-day. However, the policy adopted was short-sighted because the operators who were taking out the cordwood saw the crisis coming in January and February, 1942. The government or the department did not see it until June, 1943.
I should like to say a few words on housing, because it affects us too. To-day housing is being handled by two departments of the government. I think one would be sufficient. They have been fumbling the ball more or less back and forth between the two departments. If they had one improved programme of housing they might go through for a touchdown. We do not need wartime housing. If they gave private enterprise half the chances that they gave wartime housing, private enterprise would build more houses and build them 47696-30^
better and more economically. We have no wartime housing in my riding, but houses are being built by private enterprise, by soldiers who are coming back from overseas and by citizens. Those houses and that programme are being held up at the present time because of the freezing of materials for wartime housing. Wartime housing is not producing materials of construction; it is stealing them from the producers with the help of the government, and the net result is production of a number of houses at public expense in an uneconomic way at the cost of the building of a greater number of houses by private enterprise at private expense. Wartime housing is not making more labour available; it is only adding competition for the scarce supply existing. The performance of labour on government projects is proverbially less efficient than on private projects. The net result of the intrusion of Wartime Housing Limited is to increase the cost of houses. It has been demonstrated that in the temporary house field wartime housing cannot build as economically as private enterprise. The government would be well advised to release some of these controls and let our returning soldiers, and our citizens go ahead and build their houses.
I have a neighbour living across the road from me. He is not a wealthy man but he gathered together a few dollars to build a house. He started that house in the spring; he worked a lot of the time on it after he had his supper; he worked at night and he finally got the house to the position where he could live in it. He had an order in for windows, doors and the like. He moved in after I had lent him a few windows, and after he had patched up some with paper and so forth. Then he received a notice that his order for windows and doors had to be cancelled owing to government control. That is the situation in many cases, and it is certainly wrong so far as private enterprise or anybody who wants to build a house for himself is concerned.
I could go on and talk for quite a while yet and touch on a lot of other matters, but I have had an opportunity of advertising my own riding and an opportunity of inviting all hon. members to come to my riding at any time and I shall close with these few remarks.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE IN REPLY
We are going to do so because, if one reads the Progressive Conservative amendment, as amended by the Social Credit party, he will find that it reads this way, and this has not yet been put on the record in full:
We ^respectfully submit to Your Excellency that Your Excellency's advisers have:
(a) failed to demobilize our armed forces on a fair basis and, in particular, have failed to prevent serious disadvantage to overseas service personnel;
(b) failed to provide a speedy and effective plan ot reconversion from war to peace, and failed m particular to join in partnership with labour and industry in devising a workable scheme to provide jobs, with fair wages, for discharged service personnel and war workers;
(c) failed to take adequate and timely action to meet the ever-mounting housing crisis.
And then, to this the social credit subamendment is attached, and would therefore /ontinue:
(d) failed to meet the needs of Canada for a prosperous peace and in particular, to provide a means of ensuring that the national production shall be kept at a sufficiently high level to provide every Canadian with a standard of living commensurate with Canada's ability to produce;
(e) failed to provide this country with an effective and scientific financial policy for distributing to all Canadians their fair share of the national production without increasing the burden of taxation or the national debt.
Now, as we see it, both criticize the government for a series of failures. The word "failed" appears a number of times in both the amendment and the subamendment. But neither the amendment nor the subamendment contains any understandable suggestions to meet those failures. And none of the speeches in support of the amendment or subamendment have offered the government any effective suggestions to meet the criticisms which they both make.
Our subamendment, which I am not discussing, because it was defeated, did that. We suggested that certain fundamental changes must be made, and offered to the house nine different proposals which we believed would assist in meeting the situation. In other words, we tried to place before the house some suggestions and proposals to meet the problems facing us.
The subamendment, which will be dealt with first this evening, among other things condemns the government for failing to provide the country with a scientific and effective financial policy. What do my hon. TMr. Mackenzie.]
friends to the left mean by that? What do they actually suggest? In none of their speeches can I find an answer to that question. For example, last week when the hon. member for Jasper-Edson (Mr. Kuhl) was speaking he was interrupted by one of the hon. members opposite. I noticed that the hon. member for Lethbridge (Mr. Blackmore) and the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Low) both made answer. The hon. member for Lethbridge said, "That is the thing you have to learn", and the hon. member for Peace River said, "Just keep your ears open, and you will hear." These are the replies to similar questions we all invariably receive from hon. members sitting immediately to my left.
Since voting for the subamendment and the amendment merely involves supporting the destructive criticisms of the two parties who have made them, we do not intend to support mere criticsm without some constructive suggestions to meet the criticisms thus made. Moreover, to vote with either of the two parties would mean that we have confidence in them and in their proposals, proposals which have not been placed before the house.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the C.C.F. party in the house I wish to say before the vote is taken that we intend to vote against the subamendment and against the amendment for the reasons I have given, and of course to vote against the main motion because w'e endeavoured to amend it and because we believe it to be inadequate as it stands, and therefore insufficient to meet the situation which has developed in this country. I am going to leave it at that.
Amendment to the amendment (Mr. Hansel!) negatived.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE IN REPLY
opening of this twentieth parliament on September 6 did not contain any reference whatever to floor prices. During the days from September 6 to September 19 many hon. members, some of them possessing considerable knowledge of agricultural matters, spoke on the address in reply to the governor general's speech and the amendments thereto, and therefore would not have an opportunity to speak on this matter after the passing of order in council P.C. 6122, copies of which were presented to this house on September 19, and which provided a floor price of not less than $1 a bushel during the five-year period ending July 21, 1950. The government by order in council has instructed the Canadian wheat board to offer wheat for sale for export over-
Ross (Hamilton East)
Sinclair (Ontario) Sinclair
(Vancouver North) Sinnott
Smith (York North) Stuart (Charlotte) Strum, Mrs.
The Address-Mr. Ross (Souris)
seas at prices not higher than the current export price now prevailing of $1.55 a bushel, basis No. 1 northern, Fort William, Port Arthur or Vancouver. One dollar a bushel means approximately eighty cents net to the producers on the prairies, which is considerably below cost of production for the average producer, while during the early stages of this war we asked for at least $1.25 a bushel. That was on the basis of pre-war parity. Since then, the cost of living to farmers has risen approximately twenty per cent and implements of production now cost twenty per cent more than at that time. Farm labour wages have doubled. I have no complaint about that. In the last parliament on several occasions I asked that the same consideration be given farm labourers as was given organized labour and I wish it to be clearly understood where I stand on that point. Yet, instead of increasing the floor price in keeping with the cost, the government to-day, by order in council and while parliament is in session, have reduced the floor price by another twenty per cent.
I well remember a few sessions ago the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner), speaking on the question of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, stated that it was his desire to see a family on every half-section of land. I think he will realize that a family on a half-section cannot produce wheat for approximately eighty cents a bushel net. More than that, this will be a very live issue for those members of the armed services now returning who wish to settle on the land.
With respect to cost, I used the chart which was prepared in the last parliament by the department of the Minister of Agriculture. Reference was made this evening to the difficulties the western farmers had in marketing their wheat during 1932. During that same year one of the minister's departmental officials, Doctor Hopkins, an able civil servant, conducted a survey throughout the western prairies, picking out individual farmers and experimental farms. As a result of those findings he prepared his chart. He proved conclusively by those findings that on a quarter-section a man with five horses, threshing hired, had a cost of $1.02 a bushel to produce wheat at eighteen bushels to the acre, which is away above the average of Canadian production. On a half-section the cost to a man with seven horses was 73-5 cents; in the case of a man with a fifteen horsepower tractor and two horses the cost was a little under that, or 66-5 cents; in the case of one section and two men with fourteen horses, the cost was 77 cents.
I do not think I should take up the time of the house in putting that chart on the
record; I did so in the last parliament. But these findings by the minister's own department proved conclusively that the most economical farm to operate was the two-section farm, and the official in question investigated farms from a quarter-section up to three sections of land operated with tractors and horses.
Under mass production you can produce wheat cheaper per bushel, but certainly not on a half-section. You must have mass production. In the year prior to the declaration nf war a survey was conducted throughout Saskatchewan by the professor in charge of farm management at Saskatoon university. His finding was that, taking into account the cost of production and interest, those people had to have ninety cents a bushel for wheat produced at fourteen bushels to the acre, and that was then a higher production figure than the average prevailing throughout that section of the country.
More than that, there was a chart prepared by Mr. Lattimore, a professor at Macdonald agricultural college, setting forth the acreage of farms by individuals in some of the principal countries at the outbreak of the war in 1939. In Canada the acreage was seventy-six acres on the average; the United States, fifty acres; Great Britain, 30-5; Ireland, 17; Denmark, 14-7; Norway, 14-7; Spain, 12; Sweden, 11*4; Switzerland, 11-9; France, 10; Poland, 5-7; Italy, 5-2.
I think that should be conclusive proof that the minister's desire cannot be realized with the floor price which he has suggested. During the first years of the war, when we were pleading with the government year after year to set at least on a basis of parity $1.25 a bushel for wheat in this country, the Winnipeg Free Press, which conducts the most partisan editorial page of any newspaper in Canada and which I have never seen taking the part of the western agriculturist, chastized, in an editorial during that time the then hon. member for Qu'Appelle, Mr. Perley, the hon. member for Battle River (Mr. Fair), and the member for Souris, myself, for asking for blood money at the expense of the servicemen when we requested an initial price of $1.25 a bushel. When, later on, the government acceded and set the initial price at $155, according to the Free Press it was a different story. It was not then a case of blood money; there was no criticism of anything that this government under the present Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) might do in Canada.
Speaking in this house yesterday on the question of meat for overseas, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley), as reported at page 394 of Hansard of September 24, stated:
The Address-Mr. Ross (Souris)
From the beginning of the war this country tried to do its part in the struggle, and has been most conscientious, I believe, in doing so. We have been obliged and have found it advantageous and in the interests of all concerned to make what might be called partnership arrangements with other countries, particularly Great Britain and the United States.
For many years in the past I have argued that very point with the minister and the government, pointing out that I thought the united nations should have some basis on which to trade, supplying the materials so essential for the prosecution of the war. and yet throughout those years the agricultural producer of this country received less for his products than the producer in any other of the united nations.
In this respect may I say that throughout these war years, while the agriculturists of the United States paid less for implements of production than we in Canada have paid, they on the other hand have received from thirty to fifty per cent more for their produce, especially wheat, cattle and dairy products than the Canadian producers received for his or her products. To-day in the United States wheat is sold for export overseas at a price of $2.10 a bushel at U.SA. seaboard, and statistics show a significant increase in the wheat acreage of the United States.
Yesterday the Minister of Agriculture, speaking on meat production, is reported at page 408 of Hansard of September 24, 1945, as having said:
This simply means that a farmer in the west must make a decision, and must have an argument with himself as to whether it pays best to feed barley or to sell it, and that is exactly the position in which we wanted him. The reason is that the farmers of eastern Canada, from lake Huron to the Atlantic, cannot grow sufficient grain with which to feed their live stock. They must get it from western Canada. If we should create conditions in the west under which all the grain was to be kept there, these live stock men in the east would have to go without their barley, and the extent to which they would get out of hog production would reduce production in this country very much more than would be the case if a number of farmers on the western plains decided to sell a certain quantity of barley rather than to feed it.
That statement is an absolute contradiction of statements I have heard the Minister of Agriculture make during the last session in this same chamber. But in answering questions the Minister of Agriculture said that it is more economical to feed grain to live stock on the same farm upon which the grain is grown and produced than to transport the same grain-
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE IN REPLY