September 25, 1945 (20th Parliament, 1st Session)


Thomas John Bentley

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


We have not any of those up our way.
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.

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