April 21, 1926 (15th Parliament, 1st Session)


George Spence


Mr. SPENCE (Maple Creek):

I mean
the brindle cow, no matter where she is. I have referred to the volume of business, and I wish to speak now in regard to its quality. I am proud to be able to tell this House that in fifteen international exhibitions we won eleven sweepstake prizes for our hard spring wheat. At the International show, in Chicago, we have won prizes with our cattle and horses, and I think our quality of production along some lines has been on a par with the quantity. To give the House an idea of the contribution our province has made to the wealth of the country, I may say that the proportion of registered wheat for all Canada was 49,000 bushels, and Saskatchewan's share in that registered hard wheat was 30,000 bushels. We have found a market for registered wheat in the distant Argentine. We sent 2,000 bushels to the United States not-
-rMr. George Spence.]
withstanding a duty of 42 per cent. I would like to see a trade commissioner or an ambassador appointed to Washington, to represent the interests of the grower of high grade registered wheat as well as to look after the interest of the live stock man. There is a demand for high grade spring wheat in the United States, and the fact that we can sell two car loads in spite of that high duty clearly indicates that there is a demand for it.
This leads me to the point where I will briefly touch upon the fiscal policy of the Dominion of Canada. As a result of our great agricultural development coupled with the fine exhibits of Canadian products in other countries, 60 per cent of our exportable wealtl is represented by agriculture. Someone says, "We are going to protect industry." The right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) has said-and I listened very carefully to what he said-"We will build agriculture into the protected structure of industry." That is a nice mouth filling phrase but that is about all it is. It simply cannot be done. Here you have a golden harvest of wheat pouring out during the marketing season, miles and miles of trains running day and night, employing hundreds of thousands of men, you have ships coming into the harbours of our principal -sea ports to load with the wheat which is carried to Europe, and which is selling there in competition with the whole wide world. That source of revenue is equal to three-quarters of a billion of wealth in gold to this Dominion, and that gold, as a result of the production of that wheat, is coming into Canada. To make my point clear I will give the House a little illustration. I lived in the Yukon country, the Elondyke, for three years. Our banner year of production in gold was $24,000,000. Men were very anxious to go to the Klondyke, and if you are able to go over the trail to-day you will see bleaching on the hillside the bones of those who tried to get there and could not. Our banner production was $24,000,000 in one year, and it dwindled down to $2,000,000 or $3,000,000. In the section of Saskatchewan from which I come there is a line of railway 100 miles long, and during the last six years taking the average, we shipped a million and a half dollars worth of grain at every shipping point, these shipping points being only seven or eight miles apart. That meant that that amount of money was coming into that section of the country. That line goes through the constituency of the hon. member for Willow Bunch (Mr. Donnelly) and my own constituency. I wonder where the money goes

The Budget-Mr. Spence (Maple Creek)
to. It is a veritable Klondyke; yet no one is rushing to get there. No one is leaving his bones bleaching on the prairie in an effort to get there. It is not a spectacular thing, but it goes on year after year, and we are not mining it all out at once; it is a potential source of wealth that appears to be inexhaustible. The fertility of our soil is a great natural resource and, I repeat, agriculture is the greatest central factor in Canada to-day and you cannot protect it. We hear talk about building agriculture into the protected structure of industry. Here we have this great arch, this great keystone, and hon. members are going to fit it into a little footbridge. "Brick for brick," our hon. friends of the opposition say: "brick for brick," the leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) says, "brick for brick"! Not even as good a bricklayer as the hon. member for Portage la Prairie could build that kind of brick into the protected structure of industry. It is not a brick, it is the corner stone, and the stone that this builder-the right hon. leader of the opposition-has rejected is yet the head of the corner.
Our policy must be one for wider markets, for world markets. The domestic, the home market, means very little to us. The previous speaker referred to what we could do in the way of finishing products at home, but I have listened to that old chestnut before. How are we to finish our steers at home? We can picture ourselves with a row of sausage factories extending all the way from Calgary to Halifax! It would require a population of fifty million people to consume the cattle we are raising in this country at the present time.
I did not speak on the Address, and during all the debate that has taken place in the last two or three months, I have listened carefully, I might almost say with painful interest sometimes. I have come to the conclusion that we are being gradually forced into a false position. It has been stated that the government are doing certain things for certain people, particularly for western Canada; that they are building the Hudson Bay railway for western Canada; that they are lowering the tariff for western Canada and for Saskatchewan particularly. That assertion has been made. I want to offset it with this argument, that the only thing the farmer gets with which to buy the necessities and luxuries of life and to support himself on the land is his margin of profit between the cost of production and the price he ultimately gets in the markets of the world. Anything that will tend to lower that cost of production
confers a benefit on agriculture, and anything that confers a benefit on agriculture confers a great benefit on Canada.
Let us not take things out of their proportion. Let us consider things in their order; let us put first things first. We are not asking for the Hudson Bay railway because we are going to get some particular thing out of it. That railway is going to be built because it will be a means towards cheapening our production. We want rural credits for the same reason. If we can get money a little cheaper, our cost of production will be lowered. If we can get our wheat on the markets of the world cheaper, our cost of production will certainly be lowered. If we can get our-ploughs, harrows, wagons and other implements of production cheaper, our cost of production will be lowered and we shall have more for distribution, more with which to buy automobiles on which the tariff has been lowered, and more with which to buy necessities and some luxuries maybe. As I have said, it is this balance that affects prosperity in Canada, which makes the wheels of the factory go round, which keeps the bankruptcy sign out of the show windows of our places of business, which keeps the balance of trade on the right side of the ledger, which keeps the man on the land and which will attract other people to the land.
I have a great deal of material in connection with the period through which we have passed. Along with others, I was one of the victims of that howl of blue ruin that went to high heaven during the election campaign preceding October 29 last. I do not object to gentlemen propounding their doctrines, because that is what we are here for. I am here to convince hon. members if I can that the farmer must have his raw material at the lowest possible cost, and therefore I want duties lowered on farm implements and all other material that enter into the production of farm commodities. That is my philosophy. I have no particular objection to offer if hon. gentlemen differ with me in that; I am prepared to discuss the question with them without resorting to personal abuse.
Personal abuse is not argument. We have been called the "cubs"; one of us has been called the "crown prince"; we have been called "reds" and "annexationists," and the leader of the opposition called us the "Saskatchewan colony."
As regards our being Reds, it is only necessary to answer that argument by saying that we own property. Did you ever see a Red who owned property? I never have. As regards our being a colony, the leader of the
The Budget-Mr. Spence (Maple Creek)
opposition who made the remark was pretty much in a colony himself when there were six out of the nine provinces in which he did not have a single representative. If we are a colony, we are growing in size and importance and I am glad our hon. friends recognize that. I do not object to hon. members propounding their philosophy, but I object to the manner in which they do it-crying blue ruin, and then criticizing the government about not being able to bring people into this countiy. I have in my hand the trade returns of every important institution in Canada; I am not going to bother reading them to the House because a great deal of it has already been put on Hansard and the hour is getting late. But I can show that bankers' associations, great financial institutions, presidents of railway companies, all tell the same story that we are around the corner and getting along splendidly.
I have come to Ottawa to resist this policy of high protection and I am going to resist it with all the ability which I possess. I believe this country can grow and prosper only if agriculture is prosperous. As regards the effect on industry in general, when we have a bad crop in western Canada, it is well known how blue and pessimistic people in the east get. The great financial institutions of eastern Canada to-day have their foundations laid right on the western prairies.
There is another fault which I have to find with hon. gentlemen opposite who propound their philosophy of high protection. High protection establishes industry on the artificial basis of legislation, rather than on the basis of natural products which enter into the manufacture of commodities. Iron, coal and proximity to markets are the chief factors in industrial development. And when you introduce the element of protection you add something that is uncertain. Any industry that cannot stand on its feet merely because the tariff has been lowered to the small extent, of seven and a half per cent does not deserve to exist.
Mr. MORAND Is the hon. member in favour of removing all tariffs on goods coming into Canada?

Full View