That question should be
addressed to the Minister of Public Works, because in 1911 the whole question of agricultural products was involved and my hon. friend then opposed this proposal along with other hon. gentlemen. They waved the flag, and denied the farmers that which the farmers believed would be in their interest.
As to the railways, I do not believe that this would hurt them to any great extent. The great reason why the farmer wants the American market thrown open is that he may have competition for his wheat. We have not the competition in Canada to-day that we should have. We have a high standard, and it has proven that the man who ships Canadian wheat to Liverpool gets seven or eight cents a bushel more for it than the American shipper gets for his wheat. But the farmer does not get that advantage when he sells his wheat. If he had more competition the farmer would doubtless get a much higher price for his grain. I am one of those who believe that the railway companies will reduce their freight rates, that the companies that handle our grain will handle it on a smaller margin/ and that the grain will go east over our Canadian routes instead of going south. Probably a portion will go south, but not to any great extent.
We recall the fact that last year the hon. Minister of Finance (Sir Thomas White) advised the farmers to produce more. Every farmer in Western Canada responded to the appeal of the Finance Minister by ^cultivating every acre of land that he oould cultivate. A large number of fields that the farmers intended to summer fallow were ploughed and put into grain in order to produce as much as they could. The result has been that this year we have
335,000,000 bushels of wheat. The point I want to make is that the farmers have done their duty; they have produced every bushel of wheat that it was possible for them to produce with the help of Providence. Have the Government done their duty towards the farmers? There is a large quantity of grain in Western Canada to-day which cannot be got out. When I was
going to Vancouver some months ago I saw from the ear window grain in 'bins on the field, and that wheat will spoil if the farmers do not get a market for it.
We were told last summer the right hon. the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden) went to England to secure transports to ship our wheat over. We find that we are short of transports. I do not propose to criticise the Government on that point, nor do I propose to criticise the British Government. If they think it is more advantageous to them to take over munitions of war than wheat, that is their business, and I have no criticism to offer. But the criticism I have to offer is that when our market is closed to us for lack of transports, and when buyers on the other side of the line are ready to take the wheat, the farmers are unable to sell it to them notwithstanding that the elevators at Port Arthur, Fort William, and interior points 'are full.
The Government have claimed that the war has raised exceptional conditions. I claim that they should meet these conditions and grant free wheat to the western farmer until the war is over. There was a pamphlet prepared by the secretary of the Grain Growers' Association some time ago.
I do not like to weary the House, but I would like to read it. It shows the number of bushels of wheat that the Canadian farmer has to give more than the American farmer when he goes to buy some machinery. It says:
These comparative prices are more eloquent than words in illustrating- the loss western farmers sustained from being denied access to the markets of the United States for their grain. If, however, instead of making the comparison in terms of dollars and cents, the comparison was * made in terms of bushels, that is, in the terms of the purchasing power of a bushel of grain, the loss would be even more striking. Had the reciprocity agreement been accepted, many of the staple commodities that are used on the farm, such as cement, coal-oil, lumber, farm implements, etc., which are cheaper in the United States than in Canada,' could be secured at a lesser price. The Canadian farmer would also receive a higher price for his product, and farmers would necessarily have to exchange less grain to secure the required articles.
A farmer in central Manitoba recently bought an American made gasolene traction engine, for which he paid $2,700. A Dakota farmer a short distance south of him could secure the same engine for $2,400, the difference being the duty. A neighbour of his bought at the same time a Canadian-made engine of the same capacity and at the same price. The farmer who bought the American-made machine put the extra $300 into the Canadian revenue to help pay the cost of government. The farmer who
bought the Canadian machine put the $300 into the manufacturer's till and no one was benefited except the manufacturer.
At this point I would like to ask the Minister of Public Works who is the more loyal, the farmer who buys American machinery or the farmer who buys Canadian machinery?
Topic: FREE WHEAT.