Andrew Ross McMaster
Mr. A. B. McMASTER (resuming):
It would be an occasion for deep regret to [(Mr. 'M (Master. ]
those who closely follow and understand the needs of our own soldiers, those of our Allies and of the civil populations overseas, to know that there has been one very serious omission in the able speech delivered this afternoon by the Acting Minister of Finance, and the omission is this: He has announced no policy of taking off the duty on agricultural implements and machinery to increase food production. I take it that it should not be necessary for me to speak at any length on the need of food at this time, but if proof is required it is at hand. In the Canadian Food Bulletin, published by the Canada Food Board, on 28th March of this year, I find a call for greater production from the Prime Minister himself. He wrote:
The campaign for increased production of foodstuffs now launched by the Canada Food Board is of the most vital importance to the victory of the Allied cause. Because of our geographical position the United! Kingdom, the Allied nations are depending on Canada for food as never before. Specific suggestions will be issued from time to time by the Canada Food Board for the guidance of the people; and it is the earnest hope of the Government that every citizen will realize his or her personal individual duty to adopt and carry out these suggestions. (Mere perfunctory observance will not be enough ; the crisis is grave and urgent beyond possibility of exaggeration; and it will only be through an earnest sense of individual responsibility that Canadians will be able in this matter to honour their obligations to their heroic soldiers overseas, who are defending our liberties at a cost besides which any personal inconvenience or discomfort on our part is insignificant.
Was the relative importance of food production altered by the great German offensive which began on the 22nd day of last month? Not, at any rate, in the opinion of Lord Rhondda, the British food controller, who from London, on the 10th of April, cabled the Canada Food Board as follows:
In these stern days it is inspiring to learn that Canada is tackling the food problem with redoubled energy. The terrific pressure on our military front makes it all the more imperative that those behind the lines should strain every nerve to defeat the enemy's avowed object of destroying the British Empire. Germany hoped first to starve the Old 'Country by the submarine campaign and then to smash her land forces. She (has failed to starve us and she will fail to smash us but we cannot achieve victory without food. There never was a time when it was more needed. The Canadian farmer and the Canadian farm hand now have the opportunity to make an effective reply to the enemy's present onslaughts by bending their undivided energies to the increased production of those food supplies for which we depend to such vital extent on your great Dominion.
Our own Dr. Robertson has assured us that the world faces a food situation which
is nothing short of appalling. The increased dependence of our Allies, France, Italy and Belgium, upon us for food production is shown by the following facts: In France the average yearly production of wheat for the five years preceding the war was 317,000,000 bushels. In 1916, the production had fallen to no less than 214,000,000 bushels, and in 1917 the crop was estimated at 161,000,000 bushels. Likewise, in . Italy, the average pre-war production for five years amounted to 183,000,000 bushels. In 1916 this had dropped to 176,000,000 bushels, and in 1917 the estimate was 147,000,000 bushels. In Belgium the average pre-war production was almost 15,000,000 bushels. It fell in 1916 to almost 12,000,000 bushels. The estimate for 1917 only amounted to 9,000,000 bushels. The total reduction in those three countries amounted to over 198,000,000 bushels, representing a reduction from pre-war production of nearly thirty-eight per cent. In view of these facts Canada finds itself one of the most important factors, if not the most important factor, in the food .situation. Supplies from Eastern Europe no longer exist. Supplies from Australia and Africa are too far away to be moved. As Lord Rhondda has said: What we ask from the United States and Canada we cannot procure elsewhere. As between ourselves and the United States we have a far larger exportable surplus of wheat than she has. In the past year our exportable wheat surplus amounted to 154,000,000 bushels, while the United States had only one-third of that amount. Canada is called upon to be a factor in saving a world which is face to face with starvation. She has illimitable quantities of the choicest wheat lands awaiting the plough; she can add enormously to her exports of foodstuffs, especially of grain, in a single year if-and, Mr. Speaker, there is so often an "if"-ishe can command sufficient man power to do the necessary farm work. Face to face with this situation the Government has conscripted for the army men from the farm. The decision has been made, and I have no desire to re-open the question- the responsibility is upon the Government. But I have merely to say this-and I will not use my own words last it be thought that party spirit, or something of that sort, had affected my judgment, but I quote the words of Lord Rhondda-"Unless the Allies in Europe are able to import the necessary supplies for the feeding of their armies and their civil population, victory may slip from our united grasp." God forbid! But 81
if disaster should overtake our armies in the field:, and if that disaster should be due to a failure of food, I am glad that the responsibility is not upon my shoulders. The Food Board has been created in Canada at vast expense. It has issued some rules and regulations, and has distributed some useful information. Whether the board has justified, is justifying, or will justify the immense amount of money spent upon it, is a matter to which it is now too early to dogmatise; we will leave that question for decision to the future. But there is one means of encouraging food production in this country which the Government has refused to adopt, although it is simple and easy. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, the old story of Naaman, the Syrian, and how he came to the Hebrew prophet seeking to be healed of the disease of leprosy, and the prophet said to him: "Go and bathe in the River Jordan and your skin will be again like the skin of a little child." He disdained at first to follow the direction, and why? Because it was too easy, too simple. I ask the Government of the day not to refuse my suggestion on the same ground, that it is too easy and too simple. What is my suggestion? It is this: That all agricultural tools, implements and machinery of all sorts and kinds, from the rake and hoe to the great tractor and thresher, be placed upon the free list, and that either by drawback or otherwise, the manufacturer of such be placed in as good position in respect to his raw material.
I cannot imagine what adequate reason the Government oan offer for withholding its consent to this proposal. It cannot be that the Government fears the lack of revenue, because with two such Ministers of Finance, one acting in Canada and the other in the United States, we can face the future with a certain degree of confidence, and the Government cannot be anxious about the loss of revenue which might be incurred by placing these useful articles on the free list. A Government which is borrowing by the hundred million, and which has presented to us a budget for war purposes alone of $500,000,000, cannot baulk at a mere two million dollar loss of revenue, for that is all the duty realized at the Canadian Customs houses from the entry of agricultural implements during the past year. If there is any reason for refusing my request, it must be based on some other consideration than the loss of revenue. Can the manufacturers of such implements complain of the proposal? If they complain,
The clock we have pushed forward For gardening after tea;
But as for farming implements-
We can't admit THEM free.
What opposes this needed reform? What are the forces impeding the freest possible access to tools which are necessary aids to greater production? They are two: first, the attitude of the .agricultural implement men; second, the attitude of certain of the big interests of this country.
Let us deal with the first; the objection of the .agricultural .implement manufacturers. The question of free .agricultural implements is not a new one. It was discussed very fully in the debates of the session of 1812-13. On that occasion the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Cockshutt) spoke as follows:
Speaking for myself and. for my own interests I would he prepared to say that if we got all our raw materials at any equally reduced duty, either no duty or a dtoty commensurate with the amounts knocked off implements, we ooulfl afford-there is no question about that-to reduce the duty on agricultural implements, hut it would be at the cost of displacing probably 100,000 men in the Dominion of Canada in all these implement works and their tributary industries that supply them with raiw materials.
These avowals made by the hon. member for Brantford go far along the line advocated by toe, though they do not go the whole way; and he has very prudently and properly attempted to. .speak for no other than himself and his own interests. In this connection I have two points to submit to the House: first, that the agricultural implement business has reached the stage when, given raw materials, duty free, it can .stand and should .be made to stand upon its awn feet; second, that the fear of displacing 100,000 men in tributary industries is grossly exaggerated, if not altogether unfounded.
As 'to the first point. The number of employees who were engaged on salary or on wages in the agricultural implement business in 1915, according to the postal census of that year, was 7,609. The value of the raw materials used in that year was almost $6,000,000; the value of the products was over $13,372,506, and the exports amounted to over $3,500,000. The war must have greatly affected the export business of this trade, because during 1914 almost $8,000,000 worth of agricultural implements had been exported. Even in 1915, a year of war, the exported product was about one-fifth of the whole, which indicates that the industry is native to the soil, is soundly organized, properly .managed-, and needs nothing more than a fair field and no favour for success.
As .to the second point raised by the member for Brantford, the probable displacing of 100,000 men, can it be said that 100,000 men are employed in those industries which make the raw material which enters into the machinery .made by the manufacturers of agricultural implements? I do not think so.
I do not think so because, according to the Government census of 1915, there were only 59,361 persons engaged in that year in the steel and iron industry, and they certainly could, not all be displaced by reason of the loss of soine custom of the agricultural implement manufacturers. Secondly, although the implement manufacturers are good1 customers of the iron and steel manufacturers, they are not their only customers-far from that. As stated before, the raw materials which in 1915 *went into agricultural implements amounted to almost $6,000,000. Would I he wrong in assuming that 80 per cent of this, or say, about $5,000,000, consisted of iron and steel products in some form or another? I am not an expert on this matter, hut as a representative of an agricultural community I am able to look a plough in the face and tell it from a harrow, and it would appear to me that most of these agricultural implements were made of metal, and that the wooden parts represented- a very small proportion of the value of the whole. Perhaps- I may take 80 per cent as a fair working basis as to the proportion of iron and steel products which go into the making of agricultural implements. From the investigations I have made, I do not believe that more than one-fifth of the iron and steel manufactured in this country goes into making agricultural implements. In other words, I do not believe the agricultural implement manufacturers- are customers for more than one-fifth of the iron and steel produced in this country.
Before we leave this question, there is this third consideration: The duties on the raw materials entering into agricultural implements- are very low. Most of this raw material will be found in one or another of the following schedules. I might just say, en passant, that it would- be interesting to know what principles, if any, underlaid the tariff. It seems to he the strangest sort of hodgepodge of all kinds and conditions of things that one can imagine.
Item 379 reads:
Rolled iron or steel angle beams, channels, angles and other rolled shapes or sections of Iron or steel, not punched-, drilled or further manufactured than rolled-, weighing not less
than 35 pounds per lineal yard, not being flat, oval, or round shapes, and not being railway bars or rails, per ton, British preferential, ?2; intermediate, $2.75 ; general, $3.
That is a specific chity. There is to be added to that, under duties which were added a year or so ago for alleged war purposes, British preferential, 5 per cent, intermediate and general, 7i per cent.
Item 386 reads:
Rolled iron or steel in bars, bands, hoops, scrolls, strips, sheet or plate, of any size, thickness or width, galvanised or coated with any material or not, and steel blanks for the manufacture of milling cutters, when of greater value than 3 \ cents per pound, British preferential, free, intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 5 per cent.
To that would have to be added British preferential, 5 per cent; intermediate and general, 7i per Cent.
Item 396 reads:
'Seamless steel tubing valued at not less than 3 J cents per pound, adopted for use in the manufacture of agricultural implements, British preferential, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 5 per cent.
The duty is now British preferential, 5 per cent; intermediate and general, 121 per cent.
Item 412 reads:
Iron or steel nuts, washers, rivets and bolts, with or without threads, nut, bolt and hinge blanks, and tee and strip hinges of all sorts1, n.o.p., per hundred pounds, British preferential, 75 cents; intermediate, 75 cents; general, 75 cents.
There is to be added to that British preferential, 10 per cent; intermediate, 20 per cent, and general 25 per cent. Now, of course, you will have to add an additional 5 per cent duty on these articles if they come from the British Isles and an additional 71 per cent if they come from elsewhere.
Item 444 reads:
Mould boards or shares or plough plates, land sides and other plates for agricultural implements when cut to shape from rolled plates of steel and not moulded, punched, polished, or otherwise manufactured, British preferential free, intermediate, free, general, free.
The duty will now be British preferential, 5 per cent; intermediate, 71, and general, 71. It would seem to me reasonable to argue that the removal of these duties cannot have that injurious effect dreaded by the >hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Cock-shutt) when he was dealing with this matter a year or two ago. It would appear to me that the economic case for free agricultural implements with which to help win the war, is absolute, complete and sound.