May 31, 1940 (19th Parliament, 1st Session)


James Arthur Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Quite frankly, there are some aspects of the administration of this act that I do not like, but I am quite satisfied that it is absolutely necessary that the farmers should have some recourse, owing to the condition of agriculture in western Canada to-day. During the last several years the cost of production has advanced tremendously. At page 58 of Hansard for this session the leader of the social credit group placed on record figures showing that the average cost of some twenty-one articles necessary on the farm has advanced 66.7 per cent since 1914. Then the other night the Minister of Agriculture placed figures on record indicating that there was
Farmers' Creditors

very little difference between the average prices of wheat and certain other agricultural products for the five year period prior to the commencement of the last great war and the average for the same period before the beginning of the present war, which is quite true. Notwithstanding that, as the minister went on to point out, the dollar has not nearly the purchasing power to-day that it had then.
We in the west are in an exceptionally bad situation at the present time because the average of $1.02 for the five years prior to 1939 was almost twice what we have received so far for the crop of 1939, on the basis of 70 cents at Fort William, which nets the farmer in my district about 55 cents a bushel for No. 1 northern. Therefore I do not think any argument is necessary to point out that it is utterly impossible for the farmer, no matter how well he may manage, to exist and raise his family and pay his way under these circumstances. So, while personally I do not like some aspects of this act, we must have some means of recourse, and I am glad that the minister has seen fit to bring in this act so that our people in Manitoba may have a chance to reestablish themselves. We need something that will enable the farmer in the west to go along on a sound business basis, as other industries in this country are permitted to do.
I do not want to get mixed up with any theories in what I am about to say, but I think in western Canada, and for that matter throughout Canada, we have one of the finest economies in the world. Let me give an example of what I mean. In South Africa the people are directly dependent for their livelihood upon their output of gold and the demand for that product. If something unexpected should happen, as it may, those people cannot eat that gold or clothe themselves with it. On the other hand, I do not have to point out that in Canada, and especially in western Canada, with wThieh I am much better acquainted, we have the finest cereals and live stock in the world. Farther north we have our immense mineral and timber wealth, so we have everything that is absolutely essential for the maintenance of life in this country. I do not know that we really appreciate what we have here; it is a matter of the administration of those vast resources. Probably before we are through this terrible crisis we may to a greater extent appreciate our great natural resources and what we can produce. At present, however, we are forced to resort to some legislation such as this, and therefore I commend the government, instead of criticizing them, for doing something for our people

in the west. Certainly the fanners of Manitoba require some legislation of this kind until the government sees fit to put the agricultural population on a sound basis which will enable them to make their own way without need of adjustments of this kind.

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