Well, I have not needed it as much as some people, so far. I have here some of the opinions expressed by this same newspaper just a year ago, and I should like to place one or two of them on Hansard in .order that we may understand just what the position is' from time to time. I have here a clipping from the Winnipeg Free Press of March 23, 1945, just about a year ago. The first sentence is:
The supply of foodstuffs during the coming year has become a matter of urgent concern to the governments of .the united nations. The /prospective deficiency in the supplies of meat is the main cause for anxiety.
The first matter to be examined in. this connection is the recently announced policy regarding wheat. The government has decided to increase substantially the returns which western farmers will receive from wheat . . .
This policy is bound to have important repercussions -on the nature of agricultural production in the prairie provinces. It is widely expected that the increase in the returns from wheat, coming on top of the shortage of labour and the growing strain on the agricultural population, will result in a further expansion in wheat acreage at the expense of animal feed stuffs and live stock production. It is clear that such a development would be directly contrary to the real needs of the situation.
That was just about a year ago, that this paper was saying that to encourage wheat production in Canada in order to take care of the food situation that was developing would be a mistake. I could go on and read some two or three more issues of the same newspaper along the same lines. I think I shall read only one portion from the issue of April 11, 1945:
When Canadians think of food relief for Europe they think, too often, of wheat. We have great wheat surpluses, but wheat is not the answer. It cannot be ground quickly into flour in Europe because of the war-damaged mills and power shortages. Every flour mill in Canada is working to capacity, so there is little chance of our increasing our flour supplies.
Having read those three statements from the editorial page of the Winnipeg Free Press, I do not think I need go farther than to say that even newspapers sometimes change their minds. A year ago they were advocating a policy entirely different from that which was read to this house yesterday in order to
indicate that the statements I made a week ago were not based upon the facts, were not based upon the experience of farmers, and were not in the best interests either of the farmers or of the people who were depending upon us for food. Yet within twelve months the same newspaper was arguing that we ought to have been doing what I maintained last week we were doing I may say I had some controversy with the newspaper at that time. The suggestion was made that we had raised the prices of grain and that by doing so we were going to deplete our live stock because we had not raised the prices of live stock sufficiently. They went on to suggest that we had not increased the price of bacon at all after having increased the price of grain. I wrote them to point out that we had increased the price of bacon after raising the price of grain, and that we did consider there was a pretty fair balance, as a result of which we believed the farmers would make their own choice. It is true I did not come out and say, "Seed a greater acreage." A great many people were saying that, and it was being said by some from whom I was quite sure it would be just as acceptable to the farmers of western Canada as any advice I could give in a matter of this kind. So that what I said the other day was this, that in 1943 the government had announced an increased .price for wheat, and increased prices for oats and barley, and by those increased prices had encouraged the production of grains as against live stock; and that we had done so advisedly. As I stated a week ago, I went across this country and addressed twenty-five audiences in the part of the country concerned, indicating that we were not asking the farmers any longer to keep down the production of wheat, that we were desirous of having them make the decision on the basis of their own needs. If they required cash immediately they could produce live stock and sell it upon a market which was available at all times. 'If they did not require cash immediately it was quite safe to produce wheat, and store it in bins against the time when we would require it. I believe the farmers acted upon the suggestions which were made over that area which is, pictured in the maps I exhibited a few moments ago. We had great increases in wheat acreage, greater than we desired. So that on every occasion that I spoke to the farmers with regard to this matter I said that 23,000,000 acres was too high, that it should be brought down to 21,500,000 acres as soon as possible. Last year for the first time we told them to main-
The Address-Mr. Gardiner
tain it at 23,300,000 acres for this one year; then we could again size up the situation in Europe and tell whether it would be essential to do the same thing in the years ahead. We were two years in advance of either the Free Press or anyone other than the government in encouraging increased acreage.
I think I have fully covered the position I took the other day. I have repeated that the policy of the government is one of having one-third of the land in the three prairie provinces summer-fallowed, one-third in wheat and one-third to provide feed grains and fodder for live stock; and on that basis we shall produce more food than we shall in any other way. We did agree to continuing this year with an acreage of 23,000,000 acres, which is 2,000,000 acres higher than our judgment suggests in normal times.
In order that I may not be misunderstood with regard to this, and in order that this house may know that the Free Press is fully informed with regard to it, may I point out that I have here an editorial which was written on the 19th day of this month. The other one, which was read yesterday, was written on the 22nd. My telegram is dated the 23rd, in reply to the first editorial. In that editorial it was stated that the government did not seem to be very firmly convinced as to what way the farmers ought to go, and that we were not giving the kind of leadership that ought to be given. It was stated that some others, including provincial governments and grain concerns, were giving definite leadership, and that they agreed in that leadership to the effect that we should have increased acreages in wheat.
I sent this telegram on March 23 to the editor:
Have just read your editorial headed "Greater cultivation needed", in which you refer to leadership and uncertainty.
There has been no uncertainty since last December as to the wishes of the'federal Department of Agriculture or the government of Canada. The advice of this department to the western farmers is that they do not take any land out of summer-fallow or feed grains this year and sow it to wheat.
This advice is based upon every experience we ever had in western Canada to get increased food production immediate or long time.
If the Free Press on its own responsibility wishes to advise otherwise they are of course free to do so without it costing them anything as are some others referred to. It has been the dominion treasury and the farmers that have* had to pay the costs of poor farming practice coupled with drought in the west over the past twenty years.
The only direction some desire to recognize as leadership is their own. We are not leading in the direction you appear to wish to go but we are leading in the opposite direction.
I wanted to make that as clear as I possibly could make it. I hope it has been published. I say that because it cost this government and others $217 million in the last drought period to take care of those who during the years immediately after the last war followed a policy similar to that being advocated now. Those of us who had experience with that situation, have no desire to return to it-even if the government were prepared to pay the money.