April 7, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)

PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

I think I may say that such a board would not be satisfactory. The memorandum of the Council of Agriculture
Wheat Board

which gave rise to this question asks specifically for one thing and one thing only, and that is the re-establishment of the Canada Wheat Board with all the powers it had in 1919. That is what the memorandum asks for, and that is what we are considering in the matter.
I do not know that any harm could come from a further reference to the committee, as my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition suggests. It might be that the collective wisdom of the committee could proceed a little further in considering this question, although I must confess I am rather doubtful of what results could be obtained from such a reference back. However, it might be productive of good results, and is a step that I think could be adopted by the House.
The main thing I want to emphasize is the urgency of action in this matter. If the doubt could be cleared up quickly as to whether Parliament has the power to reestablish this board, I think it would be distinctly in the national interests that that be done. It may be that an opinion from the law officers of the Crown, as my right hon. friend suggests, would carry with it a greater degree of eonelusiveness in the public mind than seems to me now probable or likely, but in any case I see no reason why that action should not be taken by the Government. Let the Government, through the law officers of the Crown or through the Supreme Court, find out what the powers of Parliament are in this matter, and in the meantime let the committee proceed with its inquiry and bring in a report based on all the evidence that is placed before it. I think it would be of great service if the powers of Parliament in this matter were determined as quickly as possible.
In dlosing, I simply wish to say that this is a matter of very great urgency, and I trust that it will receive the consideration of this House from that angle, and that angle alone.
Mr. JOS. T. SHAW (Calgary West): Mr. Speaker, I venture to address the House on this question, because in my judgment it is one of the pressing problems of the hour in so far at least as the western part of Canada is concerned. Let me at the outset state quite frankly that I am in favour of the re-establishment of the Wheat Board. I am not prepared to say that I favour that as a permanent arrangement, but I certainly am in favour of it as a means of taking care of this year's crop and perhaps of next year's
l Mr. Crerar.]
crop as well. Now, I am not by any means alone in that contention. I understand that the United Farmers in the province of Alberta in convention assembled have practically unanimously favoured the creation of this board, and the farmers of Saskatchewan, and I believe also the farmers of Manitoba, with equal unanimity have concurred in the views of those of Alberta. If, therefore, the Wheat Board is to be of any value for this particular year it is necessary and urgent that every effort be made by this Parliament to ascertain whether or not the reappointment of that board is in the interest of this country.
I endorse the remarks of the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) on the subject of referring this matter to the Supreme Court of Canada. It is true, as the hon. member for Marquette has stated, that in the military case, the Lewis case, which arose 1 believe in the city of Calgary, a decision was given by the Supreme Court in one week; but hon. riiembers will realize that that case is entirely different from this, because there the accused himself was anxious to have it determined whether or not his liberty should be taken away from him in the particular manner complained of. In the present instance reference to the Court could only be made after a very careful study of the questions involved; and of course this would take considerable time, because the constitutional questions involved are serious and extremely difficult. Not only that, but the Supreme Court must necessarily give ample opportunity for the provincial governments, and the various interests concerned, to appear and to prepare their cases and to present arguments before it. Now what I suggest, Mr. Speaker, is this: It is absolutely physically impossible to have the Supreme Court of Canada give a decision in this pai'-ticular case in anything like the limited period suggested by the hon. member for Marquette; it seems to me the result would be that this matter would be long drawn out. A litigant-and perhaps there would be many of them, and also various conflicting interests, before the Supreme Court -who felt dissatisfied with the decision of the court would have the right of appeal to the Privy Council, and then the matter could not possibly be determined until long after the 1922 crop had been cut and harvested. Now my suggestion is simply this -and I will not detain the House longer- that the matter should go back to the committee with instructions that they

Wheat Board
should consult the legal staff of the House -and I think everybody will agree that the legal staff are indeed able, in connection with the particular constitutional problems involved-and ascertain whether or not valid legislation can be passed, or whether in the event of legislation being passed, enabling legislation might also be passed by the various provincial legislatures, the converse of what has been done in connection with liquor legislation. I simply make the suggestion because I seriously contend that the adoption of the report of the committee means that we simply embalm the Wheat Board in litigation long before it is born.

Topic:   THE GRAIN TRADE
Subtopic:   REPORT OP COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND COLONIZATION
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