August 31, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)

LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

The discussion which has been going on might be continued indefinitely, but probably there is no time to go into it further. It seems to have now more or less closed itself. It is fortunate that one of our hon. friend's own brethren on 'the other side finally gave the quietus to this argument. I thought the hon. gentleman from Souris (Mr. Schaffner) was a little severe on the Government, now that the war is on, when he said in such bold language, that the Government failed to do its duty. It would have smacked very much of disloyalty if an hon. gentleman on this side of the House were to make such a remark about the good Tory Government guiding the affairs of this country, but there is such a preponderance of truth in what the hon. gentleman from Souris says that we will have to agree with the statement he makes, namely, that the Government failed to do its duty when it left that great loophole. It put a maximum price which this millers' trust had to pay for the wheat, the very most it can be called upon to pay, and it leaves the price the millers could demand for their flour without any limit whatever, and the Government forbids the export of our wheat to the United States to the south of us, and we presume deliberately and designedly, because this Government is supposed to be a gathering of very intelligent and clever statesmen. Therefore, designedly and deliberately, they give to the flour manufacturer the opportunity of selling his flour at the very highest price.
It cannot be argued that they were trying to protect the consumer; if they were trying to protect the consumer they would think of what the consumer would have to pay. But they did not give any consideration to what the consumer would, have to pay; they put a maximum upon what their friends the millers would have to pay. It is a sad commentary upon almost the first step taken by the Government with a view to controlling prices that they should put a maximum upon what the farmer should get for his wheat, but enact no legislation, make no regulation, in respect of what the poor consumer would have to pay. This is so much in line with the chief characteristic of the legislation of this Government-benefits to privileged classes-that I am

forced to the belief that the member for Souris (Mr. Schaffner) is quite justified in the more or less' savage attack that he has just made upon the Government.
' With respect to this item of $75,000 for salaries, rents, "wages and contingencies under the Canada Grain Act, I may point out that while we may be willing to give the last man and the last dollar for this war, I do not think that we can spare $200,000 extra for the Grain Commission unless some good reason is given for our doing so. I do not speak with finality in the matter, because the Government may be " able to give some good reason for bringing down this vote. The reason may have been given in my absence; I have not heard it. To me this increase is a surprising one: Last year the vote was about $600,000, so that the increase, roughly speaking, amounts to 331 per cent.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Full View