February 28, 1950


64. Departmental administration, $2,378,880. Item stands.



202. To provide for the defence forces of the navy, army and air services, and to authorize total commitments for this purpose of $579,301,670, including authority, notwithstanding section 29 of the Consolidated Revenue and Audit Act, to make commitments for the current year of $438,178,000 and commitments for future years of $141,123,670 against which commitments it is estimated that actual expenditures in 1950-51 will not exceed $384,932,304. Item stands.



1. Departmental administration, $293,670. Item stands. Progress reported.


SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY


The house resumed, from Monday, February 27, consideration of the motion of Mr. F. H. Larson for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, and the amendment thereto of Mr. Drew and the amendment to the amendment of Mr. Coldwell.


LIB

Austin Edwin Dewar

Liberal

Mr. A. E. Dewar (Qu'Appelle):

Mr. Speaker, in my opening remarks last evening I had intended to make reference to the illustrious group of governmental supporters in this corner of the house. Having once had a reputation for boisterous behaviour, this group is today quiet and serene. However, let no one think for a minute that we do not lend weight to this august body. As a matter of fact, we are almost the weightiest in the house, including the hon. member for Nipis-sing (Mr. Garland), whose home is in North Bay. At the present time we can more than

pull our own weight and in time it is our hope that we will be able to lend a lot to other sections of the house.

Continuing along the theme of trade with Great Britain and the so-called lost returns to our farmers, I have a few observations I should like to add to what I had to say last evening. Our good friends in the official opposition have suggested various sums that have been lost because of the contracts that were made for prices below the world level. We are not in disagreement with the statement that the prices were below world level, but why in heaven's name are they not consistent in their arguments?

One hon. member will get up and make a tear-jerking speech with reference to the commonwealth and the British people, and then in the next minute another speaker gets up and says that this country has lost $500 million. Then a day or two later another speaker gets up and says that we lost $1,000 million. Then another fellow, not to be outdone, says that we have lost $2,000 million.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

You have lost your seat or your head.

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LIB

Austin Edwin Dewar

Liberal

Mr. Dewar:

You answer for your own head or for your own seat and I will answer for mine. If anyone stops to consider the limited number of dollars that Great Britain had during the post-war years and where those dollars came from he will not suggest that we should have kept prices up to the world level. The government with which I happen to have the honour to be associated and will be associated with is the government that inaugurated this program. They supplied the dollars with which Great Britain bought our products.

The Canadian taxpayer makes a great holler about the atrocious taxes, but I can assure you that if prices had been fixed at the world level it would have meant so many more dollars that the taxpayer would have had to supply to Great Britain. Do not forget that Great Britain had only a limited number of dollars to spend and as a consequence this government made a deal to provide them with opportunities to purchase the foodstuffs that they could use.

The hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming) was not in his seat last night when I made this remark, so I am going to make it again. He has confused the 16 per cent decline in farm revenues with that of trade. He states there has been a 16 per cent decline in income.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

That was the decline in the value of field crops.

The Address-Mr. Dewar

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LIB

Austin Edwin Dewar

Liberal

Mr. Dewar:

Call it field crops or anything you like, it does not make any difference. We will call it field crops. Before trade can be carried on, goods must be produced and hence the 16 per cent decline is not the result of trade but is an internal production decline due to drought conditions. As a matter of fact when you consider the amount of money that we produce in the west from the sale of our products from year to year, and the fact that about one-third of the province of Saskatchewan has no crop, a 16 per cent decline is only a fraction of the over-all total production.

Much has been said, is being said and no doubt will continue to be said about what Great Britain has done for the commonwealth. I quite agree. As the expression goes, Great Britain cast her bread on the waters and it came back as ham sandwiches. Nevertheless I do not want anyone to forget that everything that Great Britain has been and is today is directly attributable to what she got from the commonwealth. In other words, if she continues on her present path of reneging on what we in Canada feel she should do, it is not beyond the realms of possibility she may some day be sitting alone, a lonely little island on the threshold of Europe. The businessmen of Great Britain are noted for their shrewdness. They are just the same as every individual in this House of Commons. The opposition party or parties would be the first people in the Dominion of Canada to criticize the government if they were to buy from any country a product which they could secure cheaper elsewhere. The same thing applies to the British empire. They are going to buy where they can do so most cheaply.

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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

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

Mr. Noseworihy:

Speak for your own party.

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?

An hon. Member:

He has not got a party to speak for.

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LIB

Austin Edwin Dewar

Liberal

Mr. Dewar:

Therefore the government of Canada has acted in good faith. Unfortunately we have arrived at the position we are in today owing to the ungovernable factors of our existence. At all levels of government in Canada that is an established fact. Similarly, as to external trade, it is the ungovernable elements that have to be mastered. So far as our position is specifically concerned, Great Britain and the United States hold the key. If their moves are wise and sympathetic we in this country are assured for the future. If not, no government group of any party can supply the solution beyond a certain point.

I should like to turn now to the wheat board. On February 21 the hon. member for Melfort (Mr. Wright), together with the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker),

The Address-Mr. Dewar

requested the government to announce further payments on wheat as well as coarse grains. Last evening the hon. member for Melfort charged the government with playing politics when they made the 20 cents per bushel payment on the first of April, 1949. I suggest that this same hon. gentleman was playing politics the other day when he asked his question in the first place, and as soon as he received the wheat board report he thought he was going to hang the government on the hook.

I am rather surprised that he has now reversed his position of concern for farmers receiving payments. As a matter of fact he is not in a drought area himself. I am amazed at his attitude in criticizing government payments made last spring. Contrary to what he led us to believe last night, these payments were announced five months ahead. Drought conditions had been widespread throughout the west and farmers' organizations requested that these payments be made as early as possible. The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) challenged the statement that these payments had not been requested. I happen to have in my possession a letter and a resolution sent to the minister on December 7, 1948.

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?

An hon. Member:

Where did you get that?

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LIB

Austin Edwin Dewar

Liberal

Mr. Dewar:

Not from anyone in your group. The letter reads:

Dear Mr. Gardiner:

At the regular meeting of our council held on yesterday's date, the following resolution was passed for your earnest-consideration.

Whereas it is understood that the wheat board is going to make a payment of 20 cents per bushel on the 1945, 1946 and 1947 wheat crop, therefore be it resolved that we request the wheat board to make this payment as early as possible in the new year in this municipality, particularly as it is in the crop failure bonus area and in dire neeed to purchase feed and seed oats prior to spring.

I do not see how anyone can honestly get up and accuse the government of playing politics in the making of the payment in view of the hundreds of letters and request that were received.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

The announcement had already been made by the wheat board.

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LIB

Austin Edwin Dewar

Liberal

Mr. Dewar:

I did not quite get that.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

The announcement had already been made that there would be a payment.

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LIB

Austin Edwin Dewar

Liberal

Mr. Dewar:

Was it not perfectly all right for us to make it? Why should we be accused of playing politics by the hon. member for Melfort?

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February 28, 1950