Alfred Henry Bence
The freight costs might bring the cost of the poorer grades of wheat in British Columbia above what is paid for
No. 1 grade .in Saskatchewan. However if you transported No. 1 wheat along with other grades to British Columbia, the No. 1 wheat would cost more. We are capable of producing in western Canada much more wheat than the 280,000,000 bushels we are allowed to sell. Even though we may be able to get rid of all our wheat for a short time after the war, it may be that after a time we shall not again be able to dispose of all the wheat that we can produce. This is what has happened in past years. Therefore we may have to find something else to do with it. Then we may grow other agricultural products. Experiments are being made in the growing of the Russian dandelion- I do not know its technical name-out of which synthetic rubber is being produced in Russia. It may not be that this product can be grown on the western plains, but the fact is that we have a lot of land there and we are in position to grow many agricultural products that could be used.
Yesterday the minister suggested that the total production of the alcohol distilling plants in this country was sufficient to produce only one-third of the alcohol which would be required to produce the amount of rubber which will be manufactured from petroleum. This alcohol now being manufactured is produced from seven million bushels of wheat, consequently I take it that from 21,000,000 to 25,000,000 bushels would be required to produce sufficient alcohol to manufacture the same amount of rubber as will be made from petroleum. We have an ample supply of poor grade wheat to meet this demand and it seems to me that it could be used for this purpose.
Of course the Sarnia plant is established and will be a going concern this summer. However, the investigations that were carried on before the plant was established are matters with which we are all concerned when we consider whether we can have an alternative process. I do not think anything should be done to discourage the use of agricultural products until we have come to a definite conclusion that it is not possible to work out some feasible and economical scheme for the production of synthetic rubber from this base. In order to assist my understanding of the position I should like the minister to tell the committee at what time it was decided that the construction of the Sarnia plant should be proceeded with. What length of time before that was it that these men to whom he has referred were consulted as to the best process that should be used? Can he give us the names of those men? How many of them were consulted? Who consulted with them, so far as our administra-
tion is concerned? Were members of the national research council brought into the matter? Generally speaking I should like to have a clear picture of the whole discussion that took place before it was decided to go ahead. I should like to know also whether the representatives of the agricultural interests, that is on the scientific side, were called into consultation. Was this matter discussed with men in the United States who have been actually engaged in the production of this product from agricultural products? Who approached w'ho, if I can put it that way? Did the Canadian administration go to the United States and search out these men to obtain their advice, or were they approached from the outside with the suggestion as to what was the best thing that should be done? When he gave his statement yesterday the minister said, as reported on page 3701 of Hansard:
Taking grain at, say, eighty cents a bushel, the cost of production for industrial alcohol from grain would run. from fifty cents to sixty cents a gallon.