I am glad to hear that coming from the old Conservative party. I should not like to see the Liberal party adopt a policy of restricting trade and commerce, because trade and commerce is the great thing to keep any nation on its feet.
I trust that the representations which have been made by the farmers of my constituency will be given consideration by the government. They believe that some form of undertaking has been given by the government with respect to the price of Canadian cattle.
Moreover, I should like to see the control of our cattle trade put into the hands of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). He may have his faults; indeed1 he has often been criticized in my district, but I have more *confidence in him that I have in a bank manager. I am always afraid of a bank manager and will keep away from him in business affairs. I think it would be well for us to develop closer relations between Canada and the United States because we are both fighting in the same cause, and it should be possible to arrange for parity between the price of Canadian and that of United States cattle. Then our cattle would flow freely on to the market; the Canadian farmer would be on an equal footing with the United States farmer as far as price is concerned, and the Canadian farmer would win out every time because we have better soil, better cattle and better farmers. Therefore I hope that the government will give these representations its serious consideration. There is a real necessity for raising the price of Canadian cattle, and there is the
further fact that when spring comes, if nothing is done in the meantime to raise the price to our farmers, Canadian cattle from east and west will be thrown on to the market. What will happen then to the price?
The packers spread the report that there was a scarcity of beef. Why, Mr. Speaker, the country is full of cattle, and the sooner we realize that the better. It would not hurt the Canadian people if a few of our Canadian cattle went over to the United States side. Those cattle would have to be paid for in United States funds, and we would still have a fair supply of Canadian cattle left to meet the demands of this country.
Mrs. DORISE W. NIELSEN (North Battle-ford) : Mr. Speaker, when I listened to the
speech from the throne I certainly realized that there is a tremendous number of problems which we must begin to tackle at the present time and that there is a great deal of planning to do; but reading the speech over again, I thought from what I knew of conditions in western Canada that there were some things which I should like to bring to the attention of this house which are far more urgent than any planning for future security. After all is said and done, the majority of us in this house realize that there are many things which have yet to be done before we can have any right to feel that victory is secure for us. A tremendous number of things must yet be done to ensure that victory, and in the doing of them we can lay the foundations for the postwar years. I am in agreement with planning; but planning, that is in an academic way, will fall far short of what will be required when the time comes to put those plans into effect, unless while the war is continuing we lay the foundation, the economic basis, so that we shall have something substantial upon which to work. It is because I believe this that I wish to devote the main part of what I have to say to the question of the fight on the food front.
Before I come to that, there is one thing I wish to mention in passing which came to my attention as I listened to the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). Toward the end of his speech he mentioned the various categories or types of people whom he hoped to see as representatives in this chamber in the years to come. He mentioned labour and the farmers; he referred specifically to returned men and hoped that many of them would have seats in this house to help with future legislation. He then mentioned men with broad human sympathies. But he never mentioned anything about the women.
The Address-Mrs. Nielsen
I cannot let that pass. I believe that every hon. member and every person in Canada will acknowledge that during these war years the women of this country have proved by their deeds what capable people they are. They have gone into practically every one of the industries which are vital to war production. They have undertaken heavy physical labour. They have also taken on types of work requiring executive ability and the kind of ability which is of the brain and not so much physical. In view of these facts, I hope that the omission to which I have referred in the Prime Minister's speech the other evening was not intentional but occurred merely because he failed for the moment to think; for when we realize what women have done, are doing and will continue to do to fight for the preservation of democracy and for Canada, all must agree that they have a place among legislators to decide on the issues of peace and war, to see to it that this country in post-war years has those things which the people need.
As I have said, what I wish to speak about mainly is the fight on the food front. It was stated in this chamber, I believe last session by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston), that with regard to the question of supplying men, .materials or food, he would not like to place any one of them in the first position; that men, armaments and materials of war, and food, all three of them, are so tremendously important that none can be considered before the others. At the present time the position of the people who are fighting on our food front is receiving less consideration than any other branch of our war effort. During the recess I spent possibly about a week in my own home; the rest of the time I spent in the rural areas among the farming people of Saskatchewan and Alberta, and during that period I learned much at first hand as to the ability of our farm people to put up the fight which they want to make on their particular front.
Our job to-day in this house is to tackle immediate problems as they come up; that is the first job of legislators during a period of war, and I fail to see why the speech from the throne did not mention specifically this matter of the fight on the food front. I will not call it just an agricultural problem. Were I to do so, it might bring up in the minds of many hon. members something of a rather painful nature. It is rather like a boil on the neck; it has come up so much during the years of depression that now, in war-time, many hon. members think of agriculture, as they did in the past, as something which is painful
because it is difficult. I speak of it as the fight on the food front to bring it before this house as a war emergency; for that is what it is. We are asked to tackle in a realistic manner the problem of increasing food supplies; and if we do so in the way in which we have tackled the problem of industrial development for war needs, not only will it aid in the winning of the war,. but the measures we introduce to increase food production will lay the foundation of economic security for our farming people in the postwar years. We shall have a structure upon which we can plan. Unless the economic security of our farming people is made possible now, all the plans that are made will tumble about our ears like a pack of cards in the years after the war.
The question of the fight on the food front is not a political question; it is an issue of national importance. I am not bringing it forward because I am an opposition member and wish to use this material, so to speak, to hurl at the government because I sit among the opposition. It is a question which should command the interest and understanding of hon. members of all parties; and the speech of this afternoon of the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid) shows that it is a subject which hon. members on all sides are going to ponder more and more.
The Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) has expressed the hope that this particular debate will soon finish so that he can bring before us some financial bills. I can understand his anxiety to attend to those matters; but let me point out that agriculture will not wait, either, because agriculture and the fight on the food front depend upon the seasons of the year. The matter of increasing the production of food and stock and of ensuring that the maximum acreage of land is under cultivation this year has to be attended to before farmers get out with their ploughs in the spring. The question of stock increase is particularly important in the spring of the year. Whatever we are hoping to do to fulfil the quotas which have been set for us must b.e done very soon. That is why I am anxious to bring before the house certain points with regard to this fight on the food front.
The increasing tempo of the allied offensive leads all of us to hope that in the very near future we shall be able to foresee the ultimate victory-the sooner the better. But in considering the question of food increases we must remember that the achievement of military victory does not mean that we can sit back with a feeling that there will then be no further need of these increases. With the winning of victory in the field, demands for
The Address-Mrs. Nielsen
food and breeding stock for the countries of Europe will necessitate the increasing of our supplies many, many times.
What we have to do is to consider right here and now the problem of laying a correct basis for what we believe, and, in my opinion, properly believe, will be the necessity for increased food production over a period of many years. After all, we have a stupendous task. Last year we were fortunate in that we had the cooperation, shall I say, of nature. We had a year of bountiful rainfall, a year in which the production of crops was outstanding. But what basis have we for believing that the coming season will be as generous to us? Therefore we have to see to it now, in the early part of the year, that every possible piece of machinery, every single acre of land, and every animal are used and are ready for increased production during the coming season.
During the weeks and months I spent in Saskatchewan and Alberta, in very close contact with the farming people, I came to the conclusion that it was absolutely impossible for one to feel the degree of optimism which has been expressed by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). The Minister of Agriculture himself, speaking recently in Saskatchewan, stated, as reported in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix of January 16, 1943:
There are sufficient reserves of man-power on Saskatchewan farms to make possible the increased production of hogs, cattle, butter and eggs which the government is seeking in this province this year.
I do not know of any people; I do not know of any section of the Canadian people who are working longer hours than are the farmers in western Canada. I do not know of any people who are striving more than they are to reach the production goals which have been set before them; and yet, after this close contact with the people, I fail to see how, under existing conditions, they are going to be able to reach those goals.
It is all very well for the Minister of Agriculture to be optimistic, but I must tell the members of this house that our farming people to-day are feeling a' sense of frustration on account of their inability to reach those production goals for lack of that assistance which they need. To say that they are dissatisfied is to put it very mildly. In fact, I doubt very much if I could possibly express in parliamentary language the deep disgust of the farmers. I remember, as everyone does, the marvellous and) stirring effect of the words of Mr. Churchill when he said, "Give us the tools and we will finish the job." The farmers of western Canada to-day are saying the same
thing to the government of Canada, "Give us the tools and we will finish the job." At present, however, they are lacking the various things they need to give them an opportunity to step up production, and for that reason they consider that this one job of the great war service which they could render has fallen far short of what they would like it to be.
At six o'clock the house took recess.
The house resumed at eight o'clock.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY