September 26, 1945

CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WRIGHT:

I notice that, in the votes taken in this house on certain resolutions which were introduced by members of the opposition, the western Liberal members did not support their pleas to their own caucus by voting against their party.

The Address-Mr. Wright

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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

Mr. Speaker, on a question of privilege-

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

On a question of privilege, the time I suppose my hon. friend is referring to is the vote on the second reading-*

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An hon. MEMBER:

That is not privilege.

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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

I recognize it because it was used through Saskatchewan during the last election. On the government's motion for second reading of a measure to raise the price of wheat from seventy to ninety cents a bushel, an amendment was moved that the bill be not read the second time, but some opinion was expressed favourable to dollar wheat. I just want to ask the hon. member if I did not say on the floor of the house that a vote for that amendment would have defeated the attempt to get the price increased from seventy to ninety cents, and did not his leader say that I was right?

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

That is not my

recollection.

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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

I can show it to the hon. member in Hansard, then.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WRIGHT:

The fact remains that it took a couple of delegations from western Canada to get Liberals to the point where they recognized that parity prices were something that the farmers were really in earnest about; and the recent elections in western Canada have amply demonstrated that to them. We hope they will change their attitude from now on, but evidently it has not been changed a great deal, if we are to judge from this order in council 6122 which was brought down here the other day by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. MacKinnon).

With regard to some of the Liberal promises, I should like to quote what the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) stated with regard to floor prices in a radio address on December 4:

The government recognizes that farmers are anxious about their post-war prospects. They do_ not want to face a disastrous fall in farm prices within a year or two after the war. If, to help win the war, the farmers are asked to accept a ceiling on prices, we believe they are entitled to a floor under prices to ensure them against an agricultural depression after the war.

Order in council 6122, which states that wheat may not go below $1 a bushel before 1950, does not say, as the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) stated the other day, that this necessarily means that the floor price will be established at $1 a bushel. Neverthe-

less, as I said the other day, it has been the experience of agriculture that when these prices, or floors-whatever you like to call them-such as the price which was established the other day, are stated, in any year in which the production is more than the market requires the price immediately goes to that peg and stays there. That is why we are so anxious that this peg should be placed at a level which will give agriculture its cost of production, and as I put on the record the other day, $1 a bushel is not considered by western agriculture to be the cost of production at the present time.

Dealing with another matter which the Minister of Agriculture raised in his speech the other day, that of hog production in this country, he stated that it was a policy of his department to maintain a balance between the price of grain and the price of hogs, which would leave it up to the western farmer to decide which way he would obtain his income, whether he wished to obtain it through the sale of his grain or whether he wished to feed hogs. In western Canada, for a long time, we have been trying to diversify agriculture, and the Minister of Agriculture, as a western member, has stated at various times that we would never become prosperous out there until we could do that. Nevertheless this policy which he announced the other day, the policy of paying the freight from the lakehead to eastern Canada, subsidizes the production of one of the things which I believe we can produce in western Canada.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

What is wrong with

that?

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

*Mr. WRIGHT:

The feed is being sold here, subsidized by the government.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

We are subsidizing

almost everything in all parts of Canada.

'Mr. WRIGHT: I will come to the matter of subsidies in a moment if the minister will hold his horses. Hog production is something which is a natural industry in western Canada.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

In the hon. member's

section.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WRIGHT:

In all Saskatchewan, not

only in the section I represent in the north but even in the dried-out area.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Where there has not

been a crop for three years it is not natural at present.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WRIGHT:

If a proper policy were followed in western Canada, the policy of an ever-normal granary, it would be possible even in the dried-out area to feed regularly a certain amount of live stock and so diversify produc-

The Address-Mr. Wright

tion there. But the government have never seen fit to institute a policy of maintaining an ever-normal granary in the dried-out areas of western Canada, and this should be done. Hog production is a natural industry as far as western Canada is concerned, and the subsidizing of production in eastern Canada is not a sound policy now that the war is over. We might as well argue that industry should be moved to western Canada and that the government should pay freight on all raw material necessary to transport raw materials there for production in western Canada. One is just as logical as the other.

In regard to this question of subsidies which the minister has mentioned, where do we stand? I would ask the minister a few questions in that regard and I hope he will answer them at some future time.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Why not answer them

right now?

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WRIGHT:

The minister may do so if he wishes, but I hope he will do it on his own time rather than on mine. We are exporting bacon to Great Britain and I should like to know just what subsidies are being paid on that export bacon. For instance, is it our agreement with Great Britain that they pay eighty shillings per hundredweight for that bacon and the government absorb the difference between that and the 113 shillings we get at the present time?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Does the hon. member

want the answer now? The highest price the British have indicated they were prepared to pay since 1940 for bacon and ham, was on the basis of eighty-five shillings. That was in the middle of 1941, about June, and we increased the payment-I am speaking from memory- about $3.50 per hundredweight between that and the end of that season in order to make pork products available for Great Britain rather than have them go to the United States. At the present time the amount being paid for bacon delivered at Saint John is about 113 shillings, so that one would probably be justified in saying, although I do not know that there is any way of working it out exactly, that under mutual aid we have been expected to pay about the difference between eighty-five shillings and 113 shillings.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WRIGHT:

That simply shows that

bacon is subsidized! as far as production in Canada is concerned. We have run into certain difficulties in maintaining our production at the rate even at which we are producing to-day, which is approximately 450 million pounds for export. The minister thinks that should be a fair objective for us in the future, that we should be satisfied if we can obtain that share

of the British market. The British market is concerned with two things with respect to its supplies; one is quality and the other is continuity of supply. Those are the two factors in which the British people are most interested and yet, when they look to Canada, they find that, through a policy instituted by this government, we have practically cut our production by thirty-five per cent in one year, and it is still falling. I believe that Great Britain will hesitate about giving us as large a share of its market as we would like to have. The people there are looking to Denmark. During the war years, when our pork production has been decreasing, Denmark, although in the war area, has actually been increasing her supplies and getting ready for the British market. This is what has happened in Denmark. Actually, production fodder was sufficient for a considerable increase in the number of pigs during 1943, and at the end of 1944 the number of pigs reached roughly 2,000,000, or double the number in June, 1942. As soon as shipping tonnage is available for imports of fodder and fertilizer, Denmark could in a very short time resume exports of bacon, butter and eggs on a large scale. There is no doubt that Denmark could then play an important part in preventing starvation in other parts of the continent.

While we have been decreasing production Denmark has been increasing, hers and getting ready to go into the British market, and the policy followed by this government is one which we suggested over a year ago would inevitably lead to a decline in production. It has not been a good policy for Canada, it has nor is the policy which the minister suggested yesterday of maintaining so close a balance between the price of grain and the price of hogs in western Canada a sound policy for the production of these commodities in this country.

I come now to the amendment which has been moved by the hon. member for Souris. The hon. gentleman is a practical farmer and I have had a great deal of pleasure* in working with him in this house and on committees. Very often I have felt justified in supporting certain things which he has said in the house. I am afraid1, however, that I cannot agree* with him on this amendment. I do not think the amendment was written by himself. More probably it was written by certain groups within the Progressive Conservative party, which by the way embraces approximately twenty per cent of members from Toronto and district. They probably wrote the amendment rather than* himself.

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September 26, 1945