March 26, 1918 (13th Parliament, 1st Session)


William Smith



When I say that it does
appear to me that this Government, or the hon. minister who is introducing this, question, has not consulted one of the great interests of this country, .and that is the farmers of Canada. And. when I say that, looking back over the past-not 'including the years when the Conservative party have been in power, but back of that-and. trying to look into the future, I cannot see for the life of me where the farmers are going to get a great many favours from this Government. Now, looking back I cannot find where the farmers have been for a moment considered, .and looking into the future I do not expect that they are going to be considered. And when I say that, I do it for two reasons. In the first place, I do not expect any consideration from this Government; and, in the next place, I d:o not want it. This Bill, as I understand it, affects in .a general way the people of Canada. It has been considered outside of our country, in the country to the south of us, and in the Mother Country. In the United States they have taken it into their serious consideration and have adopted it. The
Mother Country has done likewise. But there are conditions in both of these countries very different from what we find in Canada. Now, we have just ae much daylight to-day as we had when I was a boy, and that is a good many years ago-. We have just as much daylight to-day as we had a hundred years ago, and we are going to change our - course out of consideration for this Government. I will repeat that we are enjoying as much daylight to-day as we ever did. I happen to be one of the few members of this House directly interested in agriculture. My life has been spent upon the farm, and if adequate reasons could be given why we should change our method of living I should be quite prepared to do .so. But, in view of the experience of the past, I can see no reason why we should adopt the procedure recommended here. We are being told that we should be able to produce more. Take my own. farm for example. In whose time are my men going to make this production? They will get this extra time, and the next morning they will return to duty after having done their best work for themselves. During the last ten years I have been a fairly close observer of agricultural matters. A comparison has been made to-day between the work done in the morning and that done in. the evening.. There can be no question but that there is a great difference. We have in the spring a certain amount of frost and a certain amount o-f r-ain. We cannot go on in the early morning with certain farm work, and yet we are being told that there must be greater production. How is it going to be done? The best hour in the whole 24 is that between five and six o'clock in the evening, which is going to be cut off. Do you mean to tell me that my farm employees living near towns of considerable size, are going to do as I tell them? Will you tell tbem, " You must- continue your work," and expect them to obey implicitly? No, they are .going to spend the hour at their disposal in the town, and yet this precious Government of ours is asking us for greater efforts towards increased production. I do not think the Minister of Trade .and Commerce (Sir George Foster) has taken the advice of the farmers of the country in respect to the introduction of this legislation. I know what their opinion is, and I say unhesitatingly and advisedly, that you cannot find a farmer in the whole country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, who desires this change to he made. You often hear the statement, " The greatest good for the greatest number." Is this legislation likely to

result in the realization of that idea? There have been times in the last ten years when it was quite impossible to turn a wheel upon the land in the morning. Rain had soaked the ground so thoroughly that machinery would not turn upon it, but later in the day, between, five and six o'clock, that difficulty disappeared. With such a restriction as is proposed here, how will it he at all possible to carry out the enhanced production so strongly urged? I am just as strong an advocate that the farmers of Canada shall take their proper position and pay their fair proportion of taxation as anybody, but I say to the hon. gentleman who has introduced this Bill, "For heaven's sake leave the farmers alone." I admit the farmers do not know everything, hut they are thoroughly conversant with their own business, and no outsider can tell them what is best to do. If the hon- gentleman is determined to force this measure upon the House and upon the country, he may find out in the course of time that whilst the farmers of Canada have been hewers of wood and drawers of water, they are not going to Continue in that humiliating position forever. I tell the Minister, of Trade and Commerce that, great as he may deem this Bill to be and much as it may he in the interest of some people in this country, he may find later on that all those people who have been doing things for the Union Government may pull back the stake.

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