July 27, 1944

PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

The minister can give the 1943 figures when he comes to reply. Let me finish what he said on that occasion, on November 10, 1943:

By provinc.es he quoted the index figures in relation to the 100 representing the 1920-29 average as follows: Prince Edward Island, 124: Nova Scotia, 100: New Brunswick, 170: Quebec, 105: Ontario, 132: Manitoba. 124. Saskatchewan, 80.

In other words, when the minister was speaking, and it was a matter of only a few months ago, the grain farmers of the province

Farm Prices

of Saskatchewan were receiving prices 20 points below the index figure of 1926-29. I am bringing this up not by way of criticism but for the purpose of showing that something must be done to raise the level of prices for the grain farmers at least to parity; for it seems to be inexcusable that Saskatchewan is the only province in the dominion that is receiving grain prices below the basic price of 1926-29. The minister said:

It is all very well to say that there are g#od prices for eggs, cheese, butter and live stock products, but the figures determine one thing, that there is one type of farmer not dealt with on the same level, the grain farmer.

I mention this for the purpose of asking the minister to consider raising the standard level of prices paid to the grain farmers to the end that our farmers in Saskatchewan may attain parity price, or a reasonable price above that amount having regard to all the circumstances.

I welcome this bill as a step in the right direction. Its aim and purpose are commendable. The criticism that I offer is designed only to the end that improvements be placed in the bill. Above all, we in this parliament should put a stop to the perpetuation of bureaucratic controls after the war is over. We have accepted war controls. Every one is legislating to-day, controllers, deputy ministers, heads of departments. It got so bad that the government had to appoint a controller to control the controllers; and yet, Mr. Speaker, that trend is being continued into peace time under legislation such as this. Not only is the trend being continued, but we are delegating authority in this case to a board which in turn has the right to redelegate that authority. We have had some experience of boards during the period of the war which indicate the grave danger of placing power in the hands of individuals removed from parliament and from effective control by the representatives of the people. I ask therefore, so far as the powers of redelegation are concerned, that they be not proceeded with. I ask that this legislation, before it is passed, should give in detail an indication of the circumstances and terms under which it will be operative, to the end that we shall not be in a position of promising much to the farmers, who are expecting much from it, without having at the same time something within the terms of the legislation which will ensure that the prices that are set shall be determined upon such a basis that the farmer will receive not only costs but a fair and reasonable profit.

One thing more, and I pass this on to the Minister of Agriculture. In the post-war period, as all of us believe, the demand for

agricultural products will be tremendous in volume during the first two years or so in the rehabilitation of the countries of Europe. That was the attitude taken by the conference in Atlantic City. Under the provisions of UNRRA, all the countries of the united nations to-day are contributing to a common pool, in order to make available the resources of our various countries in the rehabilitation of the countries of Europe as they are recovered from the enemy. In Canada's contribution, in my opinion, too small a portion is devoted to agricultural products. The other day I saw figures in connection with the United States contribution to UNRRA, and it would seem that the proportion of agricultural products that Canada is contributing to this fund for the rehabilitation and relief of the conquered countries is made on a basis which does not take into consideration to a proper extent, as has been done in the United States, the necessity of reestablishing in those countries in Europe a potential market for our farm products once those nations find themselves in a position again to become a potential market for Canadian farm products. I would appreciate it if the minister would indicate why it is that in this scheme of UNRRA, Canada's contribution of a greater proportion of farm products is not provided for. During the period of the war we have industrialized the country. We in the west have not benefited to the same extent as industrial eastern Canada by war industry. Little have we in the province of Saskatchewan. Out of a matter of almost a billion dollars in capital assistance, to industry, the capital assistance to industry in Saskatchewan has been less than $2 million. Eastern Canada, and to a lesser extent the Pacific coast, has become greatly industrialized in the period of the war. The central western provinces have not benefited to the same extent. I appeal to the minister to endeavour to secure as large a proportion as possible, and certainly a greater percentage than to-day, of farm products in all future contributions or in all future assignments on the part of Canada to the UNRRA mutual aid and the like so that western agriculture may benefit in the post-war period.

I agree with the principle of the bill, but I do think that certain controls are necessary not only in the interests of the people as a whole but in order to assure the farmer that the hopes being built up by reason of this legislation shall be realized and that after the war the price he will receive will be in keeping with the fact that, through his patriotism in time of war, he has consented to his prices being kept down.

Farm Prices

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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LIB

James Lester Douglas

Liberal

Mr. J. L. DOUGLAS (Queens):

Since I represent a constituency in a province which is largely agricultural I am naturally interested in this legislation supporting farm prices. It is essential that the farmer, upon whom we depend to so large an extent, should be protected from any collapse of prices of his marketable products during the readjustment period following the war. Through the wisdom of the government in its price ceiling and other measures during the past few years, farm prices have not become unreasonably high, in fact, scarcely high enough to offset, in some instances, the additional cost of production. In some instances the farmers have paid twenty-five per cent more in wages than in former years; nevertheless, despite ten years of low farm prices which prevailed prior to 1941, the farmers to-day are in better financial circumstances. This measure introduced to support the farmer up to or about the level of production is vital to the welfare of the dominion as a whole. It is a broad one that requires careful consideration, because cost of production varies in the different ' provinces. In Prince Edward Island we are subject to heavy freight rates and other handicaps not found except in a province separated from the mainland. Our principal marketing crops are potatoes, both seed and table stock; dairy products, hogs, poultry and eggs. Fish, of course, will be dealt with in another important bill.

The knowledge and experience I have gained from both farming and marketing convinces me that there is no other way by which we can protect the producer in the annual outlay of cash necessary to maintain production than by establishing a minimum price under the direction of a board so that he will not be made bankrupt. A board wisely constituted should be able to protect both the farmer and the government, or the consolidated revenue fund. This fund should be sufficient to meet all such needs.

For some time there will be a large demand for most food products. This demand will ensure at least a price equal to any floor that may be set. Other farm products which vary greatly in yield one year with another from the same acreage are, in years of heavy yield, sold at low prices. Take potatoes, for instance, a crop that varies greatly, depending on the weather and the infestation of fungus disease. In Prince Edward Island potatoes constitute our main cash crop. We produce a good quality of both seed and table stock, and without a reasonable revenue from this crop our farmers are not prosperous. Hon. members know that eighty per cent of the certified seed .potatoes are produced in

TMr. Diefenbaker.]

Prince Edward Island. The production of those potatoes requires special and scientific methods, which are more expensive than growing ordinary table stock potatoes. Production in Prince Edward Island, as in other provinces, has been increased twenty-five to thirty per cent. This is remarkable, especially in my own province where out of a population of 95,000 people 12,000 of our young men and women have enlisted in the armed forces, probably the highest percentage of all of Canada. The fathers and mothers at home have worked long hours, most of them from daylight to dark, to meet the needs of producing more food.

Since transportation is linked closely with production, we in Prince Edward Island are handicapped by ice conditions in the Northumberland strait in certain months of the year. February and March are the months in which the greatest difficulty is experienced. We hope that when the new car ferry, which is under construction, is brought into service in a few months' time it will improve the service between our province and the mainland. Our twenty-nine year old car ferry, which was built in Newcastle-on-Tyne, where many great ships are built, has done wonderful work. A great deal of credit is due to the crew who in some instances work day and night to keep the freight moving.

The people of my province have faith in the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) and in his department, which has dealt fairly with all provinces. We appreciate the relief he has given us in the subventions on fertilizer and feed, the bonuses paid on dairy products, and so on, which, I am sure, all our people in that business appreciate.

It would be foolish for me or for anyone else to attempt to outline what minimum prices should be set for the various products, and as I have already said, a wisely constituted board will arrive at those conclusions. I wish to say, in conclusion, that I most heartily endorse the principles of the bill.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. J. H. BLACKMORE (Lethbridge):

The principle underlying this bill is apparently the one that it is the duty and responsibility of the federal government of Canada to establish and maintain equitable and stable prices for agricultural products. That principle is sound. Apparently the technique involved in this bill is that of taxing the money from the people of Canada in order to attain the stable and equitable price level. That principle is unsound.

On the whole one must support the bill because the objective of attaining stable and equitable prices is so important that one

Farm Prices

would be very foolish to oppose it from any consideration whatsoever. It seems that during the debate thus far a good many members have taken pains to point out to the minister how long ago it was that they or their party began to advocate this particular principle. Probably it would be well for me to say just a word on this score also. When social credit proposals were first advocated the great founder of the proposals, Major Douglas, advocated a just price. When the campaign was being waged in Alberta perhaps the most attractive aspect of the campaign was the second principle of social credit, that of the just price. This is exactly the principle which apparently the minister and his department have been aiming to establish in this bill.

There are three principles of social credit. The first one is the free flow of credit; the second one is the just price, and the third one is the issue of consumers' purchasing power in the form of a dividend or in some other form that would increase the purchasing power. This principle was apparently actuating the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) when he introduced his bill with regard to family allowances.

I do not wish to bore the house or the country by elaborating once more that the objectives which the government is aiming at in most of the legislation which is coming forth now are the objectives which were clearly indicated as desirable objectives by the social credit movement many years ago, as long ago as 1923; and if those objectives had been- recognized as sound in those days and had been greeted with any sort of respect instead of universal derision, doubt and disrespect by the Liberal party, conditions in Canada would have been far different from what they have been.

May I now raise one question to which I believe the minister should give a great deal of attention? In his well planned and informative speech this morning he drew to our attention the fact that in 1927 the income of the farm population of Canada was $934 million; in 1929 it was $926-7 million, and in 1932 it was $383-5 million. If he takes the last figure from either of the two other figures he will have a sum in the neighbourhood of $600 million. It will be a most interesting mathematical problem for the minister to give the members of the cabinet, and also his department, as to how the difference between $383-5 million and more than $900 million could be met in any year by the expenditure of $200 million. I think it must, be apparent that to deal with a national problem anything

like that which confronted Canada in 1932, this figure of $200 million is pathetically inadequate.

Another question which I think needs to be asked right at this point is, where is it proposed to get this money? If we are to have money for family allowances, for reestablishment, for servicing a debt of over fourteen billion dollars, and so on, this is a really serious question to ask. Where is the money to come from?

Another important question is raised by the bill. It may not be exactly involved in the measure, but certainly it is associated with it. Where are the markets to be found for the produce which will be available as a result of these measures which are designed to stimulate the production of agricultural commodities? Are these markets to be found abroad, or are we to depend upon the home population for our market? It seems to me that this matter must be given a great deal of earnest thought. Suppose the foreign market should be found quite inadequate to absorb the generous production of agricultural products which most certainly will result from a sincere application of the principles contained in this bill. What devices would be adopted by the government to deal with a situation which would leave vast surpluses of a wide variety of commodi-* ties on the Canadian market, with all the disruptive effects on prices that would naturally result from such surpluses? I think this matter ought to be given a great deal of attention, and no doubt the minister will discuss it in considerable detail when the bill is in committee. We shall be listening to what he has to say. Once more may I suggest that, if foreign markets fail, the home market can be expanded to any degree desirable by the use of a dividend, and I would suggest to the minister that the sooner he gets his colleagues in the cabinet to discuss with him quite earnestly the matter of a dividend and how it can be paid in Canada, the sooner he will be placing the whole economy in Canada on something like a sound foundation.

So far as I have been able to discover in reading the bill, nothing is said as to what is to be done with respect to the cost of production of the various commodities. Very likely provision is being made somewhere else in this regard, but as yet I have not discovered it. The cost of production is a matter that has greatly embarrassed the farmers of western Canada. Anyone who has followed with care the reports of the Searle Grain company and has seen therein the statement of the rising costs of the commodities farmers have to buy, will have been impressed with the fact that between 1914 and 1935 the cost of the 147

Farm Prices

commodities western farmers buy increased from 100 to something in the neighbourhood of )133-5 or 134. That increase in the cost of living, and consequently in the cost of production for the western farmer, constituted a great source of irritation and perhaps temporary ruin financially. In reading over the bill I just wondered if the minister had made adequate provision for taking care of the rising cost of production, whether he had any device similar to the social credit compensated discount, by the application of which he could prevent the cost of production from rising. This is another avenue thoroughly worthwhile exploring.

Raising the question of where the money is to come from brings to mind a matter that seemed to be disturbing the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker). He was afraid of the increase in centralization and regimentation in this country, of the increase in taxation, of the tendency to level people down, to redistribute poverty or scarcity. He did not use those words but I think those were his ideas. May I point out to the minister that wherever centralization of power takes place, wherever there is a tendency to tax people more and to level down the general income of the country, these tendencies are socialistic and consequently are directly contrary to democracy. The greatest danger that can arise under socialism is the destruction of democracy. I say that in no passionate way whatever; it is a simple, straightforward fact. The hon. member for Lake Centre went into considerable detail to show that there was a tendency toward the destruction of democracy through centralization and greater taxation. I do not know whether the Liberal government feel very happy to think they are lining themselves up with the great socialistic trend in the world, but they must face the fact that to the extent they have shown in this bill what their technique is to be, they are doing that very thing. The people of Canada hardly need to bother about building up and electing a Cooperative Commonwealth Federation party in order to get socialism in this country; they need only to return the Liberals next time and probably they will get all the socialism they can endure. I have no grounds for believing that the people would fare any better under a Conservative administration, either, because apparently the Conservatives think along exactly the same lines-. They think there is only one way in the world to get money, namely, by taxing it out of the people. They are obsessed with that foolish notion. According to them, it does not matter what goods and services we have; it does not matter how much 'the real wealth of the country increases, there is no other way to

get money. Apparently they seem to think money is a divine thing which has to rain down from the skies. It cannot be created in accordance with need-impossible, according to their ideas I They will have to outgrow these ideas, or the results of their efforts- both Liberals and Conservatives-will be socialistic, just as definitely as will be those of the C.C.F.

There are one or two other questions which I think should be propounded for consideration at this stage, while we are considering the principle of the bill. Is it the aim of the bill, in a general way, to guarantee the farmers of Canada against loss? Or is it the aim to guarantee them an adequate income? The minister will correct me if I am in error when I say that I assume the object is to guarantee them a good income. And since he does not contradict me-

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I am waiting until you have finished.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

I am asking the minister a question.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

And I will answer it;

but I cannot answer it yes or no.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

I assume the minister has answered that the object of the bill is to guarantee the farmer a good income. If that is the object, then, of course, the increase in production in nearly every kind of agricultural product in Canada will be tremendous.

I have no objection to that; I have no fear of abundance. I can see plenty of places in Canada and in other parts of the world where abundance can be used, if the government can discover the proper technique of distributing that abundance. But if the government stupidly persists in being unable to see the method of distributing an abundance of goods, then there is a serious danger arising from that abundance.

When a few minutes ago the hon. member for Lake Centre said that we never again would see destruction of goods he probably was just a little out of contact with realities in his reasoning; because the advocates of scarcity, the men who think scarcity will do anything under the sun, except discover a means of distributing abundance, will do almost anything except use that abundance. They will keep producers so that they cannot deliver more than so much of their goods, and the goods will sit out in the field and spoil. Even the minister, with his enlightenment, has been guilty of that.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

No, no.

Farm Prices

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Has not the minister

paid a wheat acreage reduction bonus?

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Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Not to reduce production; it was to increase production-and it did increase it.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Oh, this is a most

interesting kind of reasoning. It must be unique. One ordinarily supposes that if you pay a man to keep a certain area out of production, it would decrease production.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

He was not paid to

keep it out of production; he was paid to take it out of wheat, and put it into something else.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

What would happen

if we had a surplus of everything?

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

He would change to

something else. [DOT]

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

The minister is thinking along a profitable line. If he would keep along that line, I would point out to him in a very few minutes how without any serious effort at all we can produce of most things more than Canadians can consume, and more than we can sell to the peoples of the world. I shall refer, for example, to my favourite subject of sugar.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Do not start on that.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

I do not propose to

start on it; but it is a good thing for the minister to bear such things as this in mind. Let him bear in mind that the total consumption of sugar in Canada to-day could be produced in Alberta alone, south of Calgary, without seriously affecting wheat production. That is one of the things we have to face.

I shall just refer to one or two others which occur to me. Take the production of alcohol. Everyone in Canada must have wondered why we have had to have a shortage of gasoline, and why we could not produce alcohol for fuel purposes. Surely everyone has wondered why it is we have been so careful not to produce freely of synthetic rubber, notwithstanding the fact that apparently we have an ideal set-up for such production.

Surely these examples are enough to indicate the potential capacity of Canada in connection with agricultural products. And those potential capacities will be opened1 up, if this bill is sincerely administered. I am not saying that it will be sincerely administered. I do not know. It may be administered somewhat as the meat board was administered this year in connection with beef in Alberta. That, of course, would be an entirely different matter.

But if it is sincerely administered, as the

wording of the bill would suggest, then this bill will stimulate agricultural production from coast to coast in Canada in a way which I believe will constitute a genuine embarrassment to everyone who persists in thinking in terms of scarcity. The question now ought to be raised: What would we do with these surpluses? Would we destroy them, or forbid further production, or give them away? How would we pay for them'? All these questions have to be asked.

I am wondering this: As a result of the application of the principles of this bill in maintaining a floor price, are prices to be raised to the consumer? For example, supposing we see fit to pay, we will say, ten cents a dozen on eggs, so as to put a floor under the price of that commodity, would the ten cents be charged to the consumer? If it would not, that would help. But suppose the government raised the price from twenty cents to thirty cents a dozen, paid the difference of ten cents a dozen, and then charged the - consumer thirty cents, when the consumer could otherwise have bought them for twenty cents from the producer. The result of this, of course, would be a matter which should be given consideration, before we plunge too far into it.

Another matter which I suggest should be considered at this stage, is this: Is if the

intention to make Canada more self-sufficient, or to leave Canada more or less non-selfsufficient, as it is at present? That is, is this bill intended to be applied so as to cause the people of Canada to produce successfully certain agricultural products which at the present time it might appear could more profitably be imported from abroad?

Let us suppose we are dealing with butter. Would the object be to raise the price of butter to producers in Canada, so that it would not be profitable for anyone to import New Zealand butter, thereby tending to shut out the New Zealand product? I give this just as illustration. Would that be the general idea? Would the idea be to raise the price of wool to producers in Canada to the point where it would pay the Canadian wool grower so well to produce wool that the country would produce all our requirements of that commodity? These serve as an illustration of the .point I have in mind.

I think the government has to decide definitely, before long, whether it proposes to make Canada a more and more self-sufficient country, or a country more and more dependent upon foreign trade. If it does not make a definite decision in this respect, then its policies will be at variance with each other, and there will be a lack of consistency in the moves the government makes.

Farm Prices

I can quite readily understand how a bill like this could be used to make Canada more self-sufficient.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Is that what you wish

to have done?

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Perhaps the minister would like me to make a pronouncement so that the Liberals could use it. I know he would. I have propounded certain questions-

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I am not afraid to say what I think about it. What do you think about it?

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   PRICES AFTER LAST WAR
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July 27, 1944