William SMITH

SMITH, The Hon. William, P.C.

Personal Data

Ontario South (Ontario)
Birth Date
November 16, 1847
Deceased Date
January 22, 1931
breeder, farmer, importer

Parliamentary Career

February 22, 1887 - February 3, 1891
  Ontario South (Ontario)
February 20, 1892 - April 24, 1896
  Ontario South (Ontario)
September 21, 1911 - October 6, 1917
  Ontario South (Ontario)
December 17, 1917 - October 4, 1921
  Ontario South (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 14)

March 9, 1921

Mr. WILLIAM SMITH (South Ontario) moved:

Minister of Agriculture in the Ontario Government stated the other day that he had convinced a very prominent man in Scotland that the embargo should be removed. I have talked more hours with Mr. Montgomery than this gentleman ever talked minutes with him, and I know that he has not persuaded Mr. Montgomery that it would he in the best interests of the Old Country that the embargo should be removed.

One word more, and then I will leave this matter in the hands of the House. It is just possible that I may not have the sympathy of the Government, the sympathy of the House, or the sympathy of the country at my back, but notwithstanding that, I am convinced from my own observation and experience that my resolution is in the right direction.

Mr. WILLIAM H. WHITE (Victoria, Alta.): Mr. Speaker, I am very glad indeed that the hon. member for South Ontario (Mr. Smith) has brought this question before the House. He is a man who has had a great deal of experience in the live stock business and knows stock conditions on both sides of the Atlantic. His opinions are therefore of considerable weight. From personal experience I cannot say what advantages might accrue to this country if the embargo on cattle were raised. Although I have been interested in a small way in the raising of stock during a large part of my life, I have never been a shipper or importer of cattle, but I take it from the large stock growers, particularly of Western Canada, who have both exported and imported stock, that their anxiety to have the embargo removed must be attributable to some definite advantages which they foresee. The raising of the embargo is a thing with which this Parliament or this Government has little to do, and it is very doubtful whether we shall ever succeed in that direction. The alternate proposition of my hon. friend I heartily agree with, and that is to establish cold storages and abattoirs on this side of the water to enable us to send our dead meat over.

The first year I came to this House, in 1908, I placed a resolution on the order paper, and, like that which my hon. friend has mentioned, it got side-tracked in some way, not however before it had been discussed to some extent. I remember that both sides of the House agreed with me, and the strongest advocate of cold storage at that time was the right hon. gentleman who is now Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen).

There is one thing that is beyond dispute, and that is that, whether by embargo or by the establishment of cold storage throughout this country, something must be done to carry on the live stock business of the western plains. If our market were closed to the United States there would be no future whatever for this industry, and we know that there are still large areas of grazing land that might be used for the purposes of cattle raising. The Government has made an attempt to stimulate the industry and enhance production, and unless we have some assurance that we are to have outside markets for our cattle very few men will remain in the business for any length of time.

When you reflect that the same grade of cattle that were selling in 1919 as high as twelve and fourteen cents as now sold in the western yards at between five and seven cents, you can see that the business is not in a very healthy condition. The slump in grain prices was large but the slump in prices of cattle was unexpected, and after the experience of the bad winter the year before last many stockmen were thrown out of business. Indeed, I believe that the number of those engaged in the business has declined some 50 per cent in the last year as compared with what it was during the past three or four years. With my hon. friend opposite (Mr. Smith), I say emphatically that something must be done. The removal of the embargo would be highly beneficial and the stockmen of the country seem to think that it would be advantageous. But whether or not the removal of the embargo would be the means of keeping up our industry in Canada, the one thing that I heartily agree with is that some steps should be taken to establish on this side of the water a system of cold storage and abattoirs so that if we were forced out of the American market and could get no relief from the embargo being removed, we should still have a way of handling our stock in this country.

Full View Permalink

April 7, 1920

Mr. WILLIAM SMITH (Ontario South):

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with a great deal of interest and pleasure to the speeches of the hon. member for South Oxford (Mr. Sutherland) and the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Tolmie), particularly so as I am

[Mr. Tolmie. 3

personally very much interested in the subject under discussion. I may be excused if I say that to a certain extent I was a party to the establishment of our experimental farms many years ago, and I do not think any one will take exception to the statement that they were established on right lines and have accomplished a great deal of good.

My only object in rising, Mr. Speaker, is to state that I think the Minister of Agriculture might have gone one step further- and so might the hon. member for South Oxford-for it appears to me that while these farms have accomplished a great deal, what we want to-day is to show the farmer how he can make farming pay. To that end I would like to see the Department of Agriculture set aside in different places throughout the Dominion a certain acreage of land and put a man upon it with an understanding that he must make that farm pay. Then we will know exactly what can be accomplished. Until that is done, all these experimental farms, whilst they are accomplishing a great deal of good, and whilst I value highly their record and believe that they will do a great deal to serve agriculture in the days to come, yet it appears to me that one of the most practical methods to adopt is to prove to the farmer that his farm can be made to pay interest upon his investment.

I realize to the fullest extent that it is extremely hard to make both ends meet, and in view of our present financial conditions I sympathize with the Minister of Agriculture, but it appears to me that as soon as the finances of the country will allow, he should set aside farms of so many acres in one place and another from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and put in charge of those farms practical men, so that they may be able to demonstrate that farming can be made to pay. Then I say that his department will be doing one of the best things that it has ever accomplished for the benefit of agriculture.

Full View Permalink

October 2, 1919

Mr. WILLIAM SMITH (South Ontario):

It is true that I do not worry the House very much, but I have had a fairly long parliamentary experience and I have had time to think over two or three things since I was accused of being a " dumb philosopher. " One of the things that I thought of occurred during the session of 1918 when a certain honourable gentleman coming from the riding of Springfield (Mr. Richardson) made a speech and in half an hour apologized for doing so.

In connection with the present Bill it is possible that an extreme view may be taken. In some respects I might hold that it was unnecessary to appoint a Board of Commerce, but considering what we have passed through during the past four or five years it was possibly a wise course for the Government to take. Having appointed such a Board they certainly were justified in having on it the very best men they could find in Canada. As far as the two members of that board are concerned, I do not think any exception can he taken to them, although it is true that some of my friends of this side have objected particularly to Mr. O'Connor. I notice in the press to-day that a suggestion has been thrown out that a returned soldier from Montreal shall be appointed as a third member. Now, I agree entirely with every-

thing the honourable gentleman (Mr. Sex-smith) has said that upon the Board of Commerce there should be at least one farmer. Upon that point I might say-and I make the statement for the information of the Government-in the case of all the commissions that have been appointed the farmers have been practically overlooked. From my knowledge of agriculturists-living and working amongst them as I do, because I happen to be a farmer myself-it occurs to me that surely in all common sense the Government might have been able to find, throughout this broad land, one farmer qualified to sit upon that commission. If we appoint good men on the Board of Commerce, I think it is only fair that they shall be well paid for their services-I do not object in any particular to that. The point is being made in connection with the Board of Commerce that they can regulate if they can do nothing else.

The farmers of Canada during the last three of four years have been told that they must produce and keep on producing. What was the object of that advice? It was in order that increased production might lower prices to those living in cities and towns. But unfortunately, and I say this with full knowledge, many of those living in the cities and towns are trying to-day to increase wages and shorten the hours of labour. The resr.lt is that the price of manufactured articles must necessarily go up, and what the farmer has to use for production is thereby greatly enhanced in price. Now there come in between the producer and the customer those who are retailing,-and take my word for it, their profits never vary; they are as large on the last day of December as they were on the first day of January-they never in any shape or form decrease. The hon. gentleman from Springfield (Mr. Richardson) surely must know that if the prices of bacon and of live hogs go down, it necessarily follows that the farmer does not get as much for his work I need not labour that point, because it is only common sense. To-day we farmers think that we can run our business to suit ourselves, and we realize that we are perhaps not very far from a crisis. Labour cost has not gone down-it cannot very well go down for a considerable time-and the result necessarily follows that the profits of the farmer must be less.

We hear a great deal to-day about the farmers not only in the province of Ontario but in the other provinces. And for the Jife of me I cannot see what they want to unite for to-day with the prices we have

had for the last four years. The farmers of Canada never had four such years as they have had since 1S'14. But if the farmers of Canada had heard the discussion this afternoon and to-night they certainly would think it unnecessary to have this House composed of actual farmers. If there is one thing I am proud of, Mr. Speaker, it is that I am a farmer, but even if with that feeling of pride I have to act the part of a "dumb philosopher"; when the interests of the farmers are at stake, it is possible that my voice may be raised in their defence.

Subtopic:   SEPTEMBER 30, 1919 G85
Full View Permalink

October 2, 1919


It does.

Subtopic:   SEPTEMBER 30, 1919 G85
Full View Permalink

March 26, 1918


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.

Full View Permalink