Our National Task
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 6 Feb 1936, p. 221-234


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Our National Task


Purchasing power of the prosperous prairie area during pre-depression days that contributed substantially to industrial employment and general prosperity throughout Eastern Canada. Effects of the world depression on the Prairie Provinces. Ways in which the prosperity of Canada depends upon the prosperity of agriculture and therefore Western Canada. National concern for recovery throughout Western Canada. Reasons for the lag in recovery being experience in the West. Mistakes made: the haphazard settlement of 290,000 farm units over the vast stretch from southeastern Manitoba to the Peace River block in northern British Columbia; over extension of wheat production, of too big concentration on one unit of production; an unwarranted increase in public and private debt; the withholding of Western wheat from world markets in 1929, with a view to forcing higher prices, and the associated policy of cutting adrift from the established wheat trade selling agencies in Great Britain and elsewhere. A brief discussion of each of these four mistakes. Some suggested corrective measures, with a discussion of each: a very thorough and a very searching enquiry into the whole problem of sub-marginal lands and settlement thereon throughout the prairie provinces; every possible encouragement to the present tendency towards a greater diversification of farm production on the prairies and to the full extent of available markets; instituting a limited and restrictive form of immigration, with a view to locating on small farms in proven mixed farming areas, people with previous farming experience. Some words on the burden of debt. A welcome to the proposals the present Federal government has made for aid in refunding the debts of the Prairie Provinces with provisions for ear-marking of Federal subsidies and certain Provincial taxes, with restrictions on future capital borrowings. A discussion of Macdonald's national policy and the different situation to be faced today. A definition of our great national task as seen by the speaker: to evolve a formula that will permit and promote the full and concurrent development of each of the several parts of Canada without undue or disproportionate sacrifice on any other parts.