It was pointed out in the throne speech the other day that there is still a great threat of war and a national emergency. It is intimated in the speech from the throne that the Emergency Powers Act will be continued for another year. I think that gives us an idea of the serious state of affairs prevailing at the present time.
I wish to deal now with the agricultural situation in Canada at the present time. It is most unsatisfactory and there is great fear amongst agricultural producers from coast to coast with respect to their future. The speech from the throne refers to the fact that early in 1953 negotiations will be carried on in Washington for a new international wheat agreement to replace the existing agreement which expires on July 31 next. It continues with these words:
You will be asked to consider amendments to the Canadian Wheat Board Act.
I think that is a very important item. It may seem rather strange that during the past year food production in Canada has been the highest in the history of this nation. According to government statistics, I believe that the total farm output is some 15 per cent higher than any previous record. That is a serious fact because the cost of production for farm operators has steadily increased while selling prices for their produce have decreased to a great extent. In fact the Department of Agriculture has issued a statement pointing out that food production is 15 per cent greater than any previous year, the next highest year being 1942.
It is true that we were very unfortunate in having an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Canada and we are most fortunate that it was cleared up as rapidly as it was; but
nevertheless our beef producers in particular have suffered greatly as a result of the embargo imposed. So far as farm costs are concerned, I should like to refer to an editorial in the Winnipeg Free Press of October 20 headed "Farm Costs". The article reads in part as follows:
Our correspondent points out that in the past fifteen months the price index of all goods, the machinery, gasoline, oil and other items the farmers must buy, has risen sharply. At the same time the price index of all that the farmer has to sell-wheat, livestock, feeds, etc.,-has gone down. The difference is quite marked. The price index for what the farmer has to sell has fallen from 295 T in August, 1951 to 259-7 in August, 1952. Against this the price index for what the farmer must buy has gone up from 237-8 in August, 1951, to 243-4 in August, 1952.
Further, and this is of major importance, the drop in farm prices is chiefly right here in the west. The farmers of the east have not felt the pinch to anything like the same degree. Herein is food for thought. As the prairie farmer sells his products and buys his supplies, he will do well to ask himself why his dollars are shrinking.
The article goes on to deal with the international exchange situation and the fact that the farmers have been subsidizing the consumers of Canada and of other nations so far as the price of their wheat is concerned. It points out that under the international wheat agreement western wheat farmers have suffered a loss of 44 cents a bushel and are doing so today under that agreement. It is a rather lengthy article and I shall not quote from it further, but I wish to point out at this time, in view of past arguments in the house, that as a new international wheat agreement is to be arranged in the next few months the experience we had under the other agreement should be taken into consideration. The farmers of the west took a great loss of money and when organizations asked the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) if the deal could be renegotiated before the completion of the term of the agreement his advice was that it could not be done.
I think that in the new agreement there should be an escalator clause providing for renegotiation. Great inflation has taken place in Canada since the agreement was first put into effect and I think some provision against that should be made in the new international wheat agreement. With the great surplus of wheat in this country, probably the greatest we have ever had, I believe that the wheat producers of the prairies want a new agreement of some kind. I am not as optimistic
The Address-Mr. J. A. Ross as the Minister of Trade and Commerce about getting rid of the great surplus in the near future, and I think we may have difficulties if we have another normal crop next year. Therefore I hope that in the negotiation of the new international wheat agreement these things will be taken into account and that its provisions will be more elastic so that if costs increase greatly, as they have in the past, that may be taken into account and not have a static agreement in force for a number of years.
I referred to the fact that under the international wheat agreement we were losing 44 cents a bushel compared with the recognized market price. On the day that the house opened I find, according to the Searle grain index report, that a farmer in Portal, North Dakota, on their side of the street, received $2.12J for a bushel of wheat while a Canadian farmer who sold his wheat in North Portal, Saskatchewan, on the same day received $1.23 a bushel. In all fairness, I should point out that that farmer hopes to receive a further payment as this was only the initial payment at that particular time.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
I am not advocating that the farmer should sell his own wheat although I am one person who thinks that he should have an alternative market. He should not be so hamstrung as he has been under the international wheat agreement. While you are talking about his selling his own wheat, may I say that I think he should also have the opportunity to sell his feed. That affects the eastern farmers very much because there is too great a disparity altogether at some point between what the western producer receives for his coarse grain and what the eastern livestock feeder has to pay for it. It is all handled through the Canadian wheat board and it is not all speculation either, because if it was there should not be these great differences between what the western producer does receive ultimately and what the feeder has to pay for feed. I cannot tell you just where the trouble is but I think there is real room for investigation of that very unhealthy situation.
144 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mr. J. A. Ross
With respect to the matter of livestock prices, according to the dominion bureau of statistics the Canadian livestock prices have slumped in 1952 as compared with 1951 by 37-3 per cent. That is a drastic reduction in one year's time in this country. We have heard a great deal about floor prices on livestock in this country. I am one of those who believe that the floor prices as operated on beef in this country have been very, very unsatisfactory. In fact on a great deal of fat beef today they are just inoperative. I think probably they do attempt to operate them on choice steers but if you were to go into the St. Boniface market today you would see fat cows being sold for several cents under the schedule of floor prices. On fat beef, cows and young stock, the situation, is very chaotic. I wish to refer to a press article which appeared back in September when a number of people thought they should sell livestock to assist in meeting the cost of their harvest operation. This is an article by Mr. Trepel, president of the livestock commission at that time. He is neither a packer nor a producer and I think it makes a difference to your approach to the floor prices-depending on whether you are in the packing business or a livestock producer. It is a rather lengthy article but on down in the report it states:
Mr. Trepel took issue with a recent Regina statement by Mr. Gardiner regarding maintenance of beef floors.
Following last week's general price slump at the union stockyards here, Mr. Trepel said, good light steers are again selling at "or slightly above" the floor. But heavy steers, heifers and cows are still selling at $2 to $3 below floor levels, he added.
Mr. Trepel estimated that Winnipeg area marketings were 20 per cent greater than could be absorbed at "reasonable prices". The surplus of heavy beef animals was averaging about 1,200 head weekly, or about 18 cars of dressed beef, Mr. Trepel said.
During the summer months, the exchange president said, government allocations to packers for the purchase of this surplus beef at floor prices had been a major factor in keeping beef prices steady. But for the week ending August 29, Mr. Trepel revealed, government allocations among the five large packing houses in this area dropped to less than one car. The allocation was doubled for the week ending September 6, he added.
He goes on to deal with government purchases and he points out that you cannot even expect the packers to pay the steady prices unless the government is prepared to carry out its announced policy-which it was not doing at that time and which it is not doing today in those yards and, I am informed, in many other yards in this country-other than
on choice steers. As a result, there is a very great fear among the livestock producers in this country from coast to coast regarding their future operations. I agree that a great deal does depend on the lifting of the embargo in the U.S.A., but with respect to the operation of these floor prices, right from their announcement to the present time, they have not been satisfactory to the beef producers right across Canada who are very disturbed about the situation.
During the past few years we have lost our overseas markets for practically all our agricultural products except wheat. Our British market for bacon, cheese, apples, poultry, and coarse grains has disappeared. We have requested by resolution that the Canadian government take steps to arrange a British commonwealth conference on trade but we have been consistently voted down by the supporters of our Canadian government. The Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) are now away to Britain at the invitation of the British government, and I am sure every member of this house and every citizen of Canada sincerely hope that some good may accrue with respect to future markets, especially for the agricultural production of this country; because it is only a matter of time, if agriculture suffers a depression, until that affects all other businesses in this nation. It is of more or less importance to every citizen of the nation.
Added to these difficulties with the farmers we have repeated requests by the railways for increased freight rates. Farm organizations of all sorts, especially those in western Canada, have been sending resolutions to their members protesting against further increases in freight rates-and I think quite rightly so because every time there is an increase that adds to the cost of production on every farm in western Canada and it lessens the sale price for their produce. Every implement and other matter entering into farm production has freight added to its cost but in grain marketing they deduct the freight to the head of the lakes. Every western farmer gets the increase both ways. On behalf of those organizations I want to press as much as I can against the granting of any further increase in freight rates during these times.
In the throne speech there is reference to amendment of the Farm Improvement Loans Act and before that measure is prepared for introduction I want to suggest that the ceiling
of $3,000 which can be obtained as a farm improvement loan is not now high enough. When this matter was introduced some years ago inflation had not developed to the extent it has now. You could buy a self-propelled combine for about half the money it costs today, and I think that should be taken into consideration. Last year an amendment to the Canadian Farm Loan Act was passed which I think about doubled the ceiling on the loan to an individual. I think much the same thing should be done in dealing with the farm improvement loan in view of advancing costs in recent years. I hope those responsible will take this suggestion into account when they are dealing with the matter at this session of parliament.
There is another matter to which I wish to refer-the international peace garden. I am sorry that the Minister of Resources and Development (Mr. Winters) is not present now. A great many of us have taken this matter up with him but he cannot see his way clear to leave the grant in his estimates for the present year as it has been in the past. A great many organizations are interested in the international peace garden and in the past our government has made a small grant of $15,000 towards its development and maintenance; and the United States has made a grant of $100,000. Many organizations have interested themselves in this very fine project which is on the international boundary just halfway across Canada and midway on the North American continent. Just yesterday in the newspapers there appeared an article:
I.O.D.E. Asks Government to Endow Peace Garden
A resolution asking the Canadian government to resume and increase its contribution to the international peace garden was approved at a recent meeting of the executive committee, Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire.
It will be forwarded to Prime Minister St. Laurent and to party leaders in House of Commons.
The federal government indicated it was unwilling to contribute during the present year.
The order said that it found any discontinuance of maintenance of the garden unfair to the United States which recently contributed $100,000.
The active promotion of the peace garden in the form of an international peace garden should be part of any defence program, the resolution concluded.
As the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) is in his seat he might kindly point this out to his colleague and, I hope, use his influence so that the grant may be reinstituted for this coming year.
I attended the annual meeting of the directorate of the garden held in September last. The chairman, who puts a great deal of thought and energy into this work-that is Mr. D. G. McKenzie-pointed out that if the government withhold these grants they may have to forgo the extremely fine work that is taking place there. I quite seriously plead
The Address-Mr. McMillan with the minister and the government to reinstate this grant to the international peace garden.
There is also another item to which I wish to make reference. I have believed in past years that there should be a standing committee on veterans affairs in this House of Commons. I realize that a great deal has been accomplished over the years on behalf of our veterans of past wars, but the situation with respect to the war veterans allowance especially is still unsatisfactory. The permissible ceiling on veterans' income is altogether too meagre and is unsatisfactory. There are other items which are needing attention, such as the situation of the widow of a pensioner who dies with probably slightly under 50 per cent pension. There are many of these matters which yet need to be rectified, and I sincerely hope that they will be dealt with at this session of parliament. Again I plead that there should be a standing committee on veterans affairs in this House of Commons. I hope serious consideration will be given to that question.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, when I first entered the House of Commons in. January 1951, it was my honour to move the address in reply to the speech from the throne. By experience, therefore, I knew what a formidable task confronted the mover (Mr. Deslieres) and the seconder (Mr. Schneider) of the address at this session. But they carried out their tasks in an admirable manner and with distinction, and I should like to congratulate them.
At that time I said I was in favour of national health insurance, and I still favour it. I am in agreement with all hon. members who say there should be the present free relationship between the doctor and his patient. I am opposed to state medicine as such, but I should like to see some such scheme as we have now, namely that on the fee for service basis. I resent many implications sometimes made that many people die because of the lack of hospitalization and medical attention. I have been in the practice of medicine and surgery for over 30 years in a highly industrialized community, and not once in that time have I known of one patient who has died because of lack of immediate hospitalization and immediate medical care when it was necessary.
It is argued that many people do not go to doctors because of financial reasons. I believe this to be true, but this is not the whole story. Many people who are fully insured consult their doctor late when they have some condition such as cancer, when the symptoms of this condition have been evident to them for a considerable length of time.
The Address-Mr. McMillan
I will refer to the medical services in the province of Ontario, because they are the only medical services in Canada with which I >am familiar. Most centres have had a great shortage of hospital beds, but this difficulty has been gradually overcome through the co-operation of the federal and provincial governments in helping local centres in hospital construction. In my province the hospitals have always cooperated in admitting serious surgical and medical cases and accident cases. The doctors have co-operated by delaying medical and surgical procedures of election, that is, in cases which could be safely postponed.
The province of Ontario, through successive governments, has developed a high standard of health. The Leader of the Opposition was premier of our province, and I want to pay tribute to his government as well as to other Ontario governments which have brought about this high standard.
As I stated before, the province with the help of the federal government has aided various communities to provide hospital beds. There are many trained personnel engaged in preventive medicine, and many thousands of dollars worth of preventives such as vaccines, serums and toxoids have been provided without direct cost to the individuals. The province also provides or helps to provide many diagnostic and curative services in pathology, mental diseases, tuberculosis, cancer and so on. I might say that the federal government also gives a good deal of help financially in these particular services.
When we discuss health insurance I realize that we are dealing with a matter which lies within the jurisdiction of the provinces themselves, and that to bring about health insurance on a national scale would involve consultation, and agreement with the provinces. I understand that this, government has consulted the provinces and has invited briefs and opinions on this subject. I also understand that the last brief or opinion has been submitted within the last few months, I think probably since the last session of parliament. I am told that only two provincial governments were in favour of its immediate adoption, while the rest of the provinces either were opposed to it or thought the time was not opportune, or had other reasons for not agreeing. Until such time as more of our provinces signify their intention of full co-operation with regard to national health insurance, and having in mind all the financial obligations now assumed by the three levels of government, namely federal, provincial and municipal, I feel that the passing of this subamendment would have little meaning as far as national health insurance itself is concerned.
By its national health plan our federal government has done a great deal to raise the health standards of our people by means of large grants to the provinces; they have helped to raise the standard of medicine in almost all its phases. I think national health insurance would be extremely popular with the people, but I do not see how we can be constitutional in passing legislation with respect to a matter which is outside our jurisdiction until we get some agreement with the provinces; and to me it does not seem evident that we can get this agreement at this time.
Earlier I referred to the fact that claims were made that many people had died because they did not get proper hospitalization. I want to refer to Hansard, page 78, where the hon. member for York South (Mr. Noseworthy) is reported as follows, though I am sure he did not mean exactly what it says here:
You know the freedom we enjoy under our pres- ' ent medical system? Forty-one babies out of every thousand who were born in Canada in 1950 had the freedom to die because there was no national health insurance program to help save their lives.
He went further, but to me that statement rather implies that the whole forty-one died because we did not have national health insurance. It is true that he quoted statistics further on, stating that twenty in a thousand died in one country, while in England the mortality was thirty-one in a thousand. But I think he forgets that in our country, in the northern outposts, in the sparsely settled areas, medical attention is not always obtainable. When he says that forty-one in a thousand had their freedom to die, he forgets certain conditions, which occur quite often, such as malformation and so forth in the new-born which have baffled the medical profession, and which in my opinion will always baffle the medical profession.
We would like to save every one of those forty-one in a thousand who die, but unfortunately this cannot be done. Even in our very best equipped hospitals they have quite a mortality rate.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, before dealing with the subject that I wish particularly to bring to your attention this afternoon, I should like to say just a word or two about the remarks of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton). I think this house and this opposition may congratulate themselves that they have produced at least some action, because it was only on Monday that the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) told us that the ministers concerned, namely the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Defence Production (Mr. Howe), did not have too much
The Address-Mr. J. M. Macdonnell
time to reply to criticisms. I was surprised to hear the Prime Minister say that. He did not seem to indicate there were not criticisms, but that there was no time to reply. At any rate the Minister of National Defence has given us a reply this afternoon.
I propose to make only one or two comments on it. I think he was quite right in outlining to us the general principles which govern, and he was certainly right in saying that the question was a matter of judgment. With the additional information which he has given the citizens of Canada will be able to arrive at a better conclusion, and that is all to the good. One is inclined, perhaps, to assess the judgment of those in authority by the things which happen to be most familiar to oneself.
I did make somewhat of a study of serving forks. I do not propose to weary the house with it at any length. My real feeling was that a great mistake had been made, and I should have been greatly reassured if instead of doing what seemed to me to be twisting and squirming and trying to avoid coming out and saying they were wrong, the department had said: Look, we made a mistake. Well, in effect, after all these months they are saying that now, and my only comment is that I would have been far more reassured if they had said it earlier. No doubt that will affect the judgment of other people also.
We have the various things that the minister defended this afternoon, and I am not going into them any further. There is one final comment I should like to make. He is a very extravagant man in the. matter of neckties, judging by my standards, having worn five neckties in an incredibly short time; but I am not suggesting that that unfits him to be Minister of National Defence.
I wish to pay my tribute to the mover (Mr. Deslieres) and seconder (Mr. Schneider) of the address. The making of one's first speech in this house is not an easy thing, and when to that is added the responsibility of being the mover and seconder of the address, I am sure it must be an additional burden. They may, perhaps, have this advantage over the rest of us. I suppose they can get more research assistance than the rest of us in order to make speeches of so much importance.
The Prime Minister said on Monday last- and f was surprised to hear him say it-"I do not think there has been any overtaxation." In saying that I think the Prime Minister is in a small minority, I would almost guess a minority of one in this house. Certainly I think if he set out to find citizens who do not object to the present taxation he would be in great difficulty. There was an ancient gentleman called Diogenes who went
around carrying a lantern, looking for an honest man. If the Prime Minister wants to find a satisfied taxpayer he would need a light very much stronger than the lantern which Diogenes had. If only I could have your authority, Mr. Speaker, to poll the Liberal members of this house and to ask them if they and their constituents are satisfied taxpayers, I would have no doubt whatever as to the result. I am sure none of them would be prepared to say publicly that their taxpayers were satisfied; and if one by some magic could only pass invisibly into the Liberal caucus and listen to what goes on I am sure one would learn a great many interesting things about their attitude in the matter of taxation. The truth of the matter is that the ordinary citizen is tax angry, inflation angry and waste angry. I do not for a minute think the members of the cabinet are so stupid that they are not tax conscious, tax fearful and perhaps at times a little tax panicky.
I think there are three main reasons why public feeling is aroused as it is. First of all there is the actual size of expenditures which the federal government is making. Second, tirere is the old question of the surplus; and third, there is the question of waste, or to use the word used by the Winnipeg Free Press, profligacy, when we take the actual amount, $4,800 million or thereabouts. I should like to suggest to the house one or two yardsticks which I think would be of interest, some of which I actually used in the spring. I then compared the public expenditure of $4,800 million with the manufacturing output of this country for 1950, which was close to the same amount, $4,378 million, and with the agricultural output of the same year, which was $1,792 million or only about one-third as much.
Next I should like to point out that the federal expenditure will be as much as the personal income of the citizens of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia; in other words, of all the provinces except Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. If you include provincial and municipal taxation, that would equal more than the amount of Saskatchewan's expenditure; so that if you actually took all the taxation it would equal all the income of all the provinces except Ontario and Quebec.
Now, personal income is not exactly the same as total income, net national income as it is called, but it is closer to it than I realized. Actually, in the year 1950, the personal income amounted to $13,004 million odd, and
The Address-Mr. J. M. Macdonnell the net national income to $14,004 million odd. Therefore it is very close to being the net national income figure.
There is one further figure I should like to give, namely to make a comparison with the federal expenditures over the years that are past. Actually the expenditure this year will be the equivalent of federal government expenditure from the year 1868 till 1916; in other words, approximately 50 years. Now, I am not suggesting that those illustrations I have given prove anything exactly, but I think they are disturbing. I believe the public naturally feels uneasy when they see these huge figures. I think it was the Winnipeg Free Press that used the word "appalling" with regard to them-and they are appalling.
If you look at them from another point of view you find that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) is now, in effect, a majority shareholder of every corporation in Canada, because he is actually getting the lion's share of the income. He himself deprecated that and said he regretted it, and that it was unsound. Nevertheless it was done. I do not suppose we can describe him exactly as a sleeping partner, but if he were a sleeping partner I think we ought to hope that he would not wake up, or he might take the whole thing.
Then a word about surpluses. This subject has been discussed at length and I will not go into it to any considerable extent, more than to say that I think the public has been very critical of surpluses, particularly at a time when they feel they are straining every effort to meet the huge defence bill. Therefore the argument we hear about the desirability of paying off the debt-an argument which I think we recognize as well as anybody else-has to be measured against the tremendous load we are carrying, the tremendous strain on the ordinary taxpayer, and his natural irritation at finding that sums which look to him vast-sums which not so long ago were considered vast-have been taken, over and above what was needed.
We are given, again, at the end of October a surplus figure of $287 million. The Minister of Finance comments on that by saying that he thinks it will change before the end of the year. Indeed, he said he would be glad if he reaches the end of the year without a deficit. Of course the trouble about that is that people have heard this so often that the old phrase "Once bitten, twice shy" would seem to apply. Indeed if you are bitten three or four times you become more than twice shy; you become very concerned. One naturally feels that these mistakes which have been made ought to have set up a standard by which people could calculate, and that
the department ought to be able to make a calculation from its old mistakes. I have mentioned before the old story of the Irishman who said, "When the clock strikes nine the hands are at seven, and then I know it's twenty minutes to eleven."
However that may be, the feeling is that these surpluses which pop up year after year are not things to be proud of, that they do not reflect accurate budgeting and that, in fact, they are bearing unnecessarily hard on the ordinary taxpayer.
I come now to waste and extravagance, and in this respect shall be brief. If we can judge as to the validity of the charge of waste and extravagance from the very inadequate answers that have been made, then it seems to me that those charges are more than fully justified. I am not referring now to what was said this afternoon by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton), but rather to other items brought to the attention of the house last spring, and again brought to its attention the other day.
There is the question of the huge amounts spent for publicity and removal expenses, the huge amounts spent for telegraph and telephone charges in the army, as well as other means of communication. Last spring I mentioned these items, and pointed out that they totalled somewhere about $70 million. They were mentioned of course- only as samples, to illustrate the kind of extravagance which many believe exist, and which I feel the public of Canada are coming to resent very strongly.
Actually I had a search made, and I think no answer of any kind has been made by any minister with respect to those three points. I do not think there was any answer made. It would not be fair, exactly, to say that the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) answered the other day, although he did refer to one item. He referred to the item of travelling and removal expenses, but I could not understand what was going on in his mind; because when he discussed this item he suggested that if it were entirely stricken, out it would be a strange thing, something of which we would not approve. For example, he said that the item for removal and travelling included the money spent to cover the return of troops from Korea, of which we all approve. But the Prime Minister seemed to avoid or even to evade entirely the question which was raised, which was not that of deleting these items altogether, not the suggestion that there should be nothing for travelling expenses, but that a serious attempt should be considered to assess the amount.
As I say, this has not been done. Indeed, it was at that time that the Prime Minister, speaking in general, said that the ministers I have mentioned-the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Defence Production-"do not have too much time to reply to criticisms." It seemed to me that the Prime Minister was going over the situation with a feather duster when what we actually wanted was a housecleaning. We were left with only this trivial, this very superficial way of dealing with the situation. I think it would not be disrespectful to the Prime Minister to say that, in spite of his conciliatory manner and his delicate phrasing, in plain words he did not deal with the matter at all.
There are two possible explanations of this: One is that there is no answer, and that it is thought better to steer away from these things; the other-and those of us in the opposition have suggested this-that the government are really too pleased with themselves, too intent on their own ideas to pay any attention to what anyone else says, and are content to puff themselves up and say, "We are the government, and that is what we are doing; don't bother us."
That is an attitude which those of us on this side of the house frequently criticize. I suggest that that attitude may be present here again, as it has been in the past. There is of course another possibility, and that is that the government is repeating what it did some years ago. It may be that they feel they can spend our money much better than we can spend it ourselves, that they are regarding it as a good thing to have this heavy measure of taxation, this burden, so that we will not be foolish in using our money. That came up in March of 1949 when the Minister of Finance was making the somewhat difficult explanation he had to make at that time as to why in 1949 there would be a tax reduction when he had been at such great pains just a year earlier to explain that he could not give any tax reduction. At that time he gave a most interesting explanation upon which, I suggest, we might reflect. These are his words as they are reported at page 2183 of Hansard for 1949, upon which occasion I quoted the minister's words as they had been reported in Hansard for 1948. At that time he said that-
. . . large tax reductions last year would have come too early to be of real value-
And when the applause from that had subsided he went on to say:
-to the public as a whole, because the public's expenditure, even without tax reductions, was large enough to buy everything available.
The Address-Mr. J. M. Macdonnell
That explanation, interesting as it may be, and satisfying as it may be to the minister, will be profoundly unsatisfying to the ordinary citizen of Canada. He does not like to be told that, really, father knows best, that the taxpayer has too much money, and that the government is taking some of it away from him.
I should like to digress for a moment to speak briefly about taxation in general, and about one or two of the principles I think we should have in mind. In the first place I think we should remember, when we are discussing taxation, that we are not merely discussing personal difficulties, our own difficulties, the question as to whether A is taxed too high or B has received unfair relief that A does not have. We are dealing with something much broader than that. We are dealing with the happiness and welfare of citizens, with justice between man and man, and the whole question of freedom. It is this last about which I should like to say a word.
There is a great tendency, and we see it in connection with dominion-provincial relations, for rulers of states to conduct themselves in such a way as to concentrate the taxing power in their. own hands, and thus increase more and more the personal power which they have. It is interesting to go back some forty years to what I suppose may be called the rather earlier days of British socialism. Sidney Webb, a well-known socialist at that time, had this to say:
A large part of what we call taxation is merely the collective ownership of a portion of the income of the country.
He went on to indicate that he hoped for "a progressive transfer of more and more" of the income of individuals from their own control to government control. Indeed, he went beyond that and said it was perfectly obvious-this was in England in 1913-that people were spending their money foolishly and that hundreds of millions of pounds were being spent that might be better spent in other ways. He probably included the lighter side of life which as a serious student he did not regard in a favourable light. By a curious coincidence I met a man who, as a boy, knew Sidney Webb, and who said he would be very much surprised if he were sufficiently against the lighter side of life that he was not prepared to take a drink.
However, what I want to comment on is that I do not think socialists of that day such as Webb and his friends, who were high-minded people and had their thoughts concentrated upon the better world which they thought their socialist doctrine was going to
The Address-Mr. J. M. Macdonnell bring, visualized what has become so clear to us in- the interval; that is, the tremendous concentration of power which is inevitable as government acquires more and more of the national income. In that connection there is a very interesting quotation from the same author the hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming) quoted yesterday, the distinguished French author Bertrand de Jouvenel, who was lecturing at Cambridge. This book is a reprint of a couple of lectures he gave. He said some things which I think are of interest and which go to the root of the problem which concerns so many of us in this house. He said:
Rulers of course tend to believe that the greater fraction of private income they can draw into the treasury, the better for the community as a whole.
Then he asks this ironical question:
Are they not the best judges of the common interest which the individual, sunk in his selfish pursuits, cannot perceive.
Then he goes on and adds this by way of answer:
Taxpayers have shown through the centuries little understanding of the superior capacity of their rulers to spend the citizens' earnings and have obdurately maintained their right to spend their income in their own manner.
Later again he says:
The taxpayers' front was then a bulwark of individual freedom and the cornerstone of political liberty. It is remarkable how this front has disintegrated in the last generation.
I think that is a warning, Mr. Speaker, upon which we might well reflect seriously. He said that it is remarkable how this front, the resistance of the individual taxpayer to the constant desire of the government to bring into the treasury as much as they can of the national income, has disintegrated. He says that front has disintegrated in. the last generation to a remarkable extent.
Of course we are very familiar here with the use of taxes as an instrument of policy which is constantly augmenting the central power. The central authority is constantly bringing more and more power into its hands, directly and indirectly. Let us take the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It does a great deal of good, and let me say that at once before anyone accuses me of not conceding it in advance. But it is a great potential instrument of power, and my experience is that when power is lying around loose there are plenty of people to pick it up and use it.
Along with that goes the question of rewards to various elements in the community for political support. We know what that means. I think most of us believe we are going to see evidence of that next spring. I shall have a little more to say about that before I take
my seat. Then, of course, inflation has been a great instrument of policy. The government has used the inflation of currency as an instrument of policy, as something to make it easier for them to pay their way. This leads me to comment on something which is taking place right now, and which I think is a very serious matter indeed.
We have been talking about the high cost of living. I believe we have accepted it as evidence of inflation. We have felt that it is an enemy to be tackled. We have had it constantly before us month after month. These figures have come out, and they have alarmed us. It has always been up to the government each month to say what they are going to do about them. Now all that is going to be changed. The old cost of living index is to disappear and we are to have a new consumer price index. I know how easy it is to argue that that is according to the best dictates of economics. It may be that these new figures are more scientific, although on a rough glance they look very much like the old ones. The great difference is going to be that we are starting now from scratch. Instead of people being reminded year by year or month by month that we are in a highly inflationary economy, month by month and year by year we are going to forget. We are going to start out, as I say, with this new index, this new yardstick, and the government will relieve themselves of this burden by the use of this device. Inflation is now going to be camouflaged and gradually, with the exception of students of economics and I hope members of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, it will tend to be forgotten.
I have tried, Mr. Speaker, to indicate that the people are very annoyed with the tax situation. I believe they are desperately annoyed. I believe everybody in this house, and I might even be bold enough to include the Prime Minister if he were in the house, feels that the question is, what are we going to do about it? Here again I am going to ask you to take a short glance into the past. I would remind you of what happened in 1949, just three and a half years ago. Most of you will remember that in 1948 we had cogent arguments put forth that nothing could be done by way of reducing taxes. In 1949 the minister had quite a task on his hands. He had to distinguish the situation in 1949 from that in 1948, and he had to make a valid argument that after having left us with a lemon in 1948 he could now, in the year 1949, an election year, cut a melon. I will not take you through the minister's various gyrations. They were interesting. He did quite a job of hairsplitting and tightrope walking, but in the end he slipped right off the rope and fell into the real explanation
which appears at page 1795 of Hansard for March 22, 1949, and which reads as follows:
Finally, sir, I should say that I have been led to believe in recent months, as no doubt other hon. members have, that most of the Canadian people would support and even welcome an enlarged measure of tax reduction this year.
You have to admit that is clear. That makes it perfectly clear what the minister is doing. It says virtually in so many words that there is an election coming on and that that is the reason for giving a tax reduction.
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That would be of course too wonderful. I should like to draw attention to what the ministers have been saying, and I must admit you cannot accuse our ministers of being idle. They have been going up and down the country talking about many things, and very seldom has one of them got up without mentioning the subject of tax reduction. I think that is very natural because they know as well as any of the rest of us that it is in the minds of everybody and that something must be done about it. I go back to July 5 and the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson). He was very moderate at that time. He did not get as far as they got later. He was restrained in what he said. The headline is, "Pearson Hopes Defence Taxation May Be Cut Within 'Year or Two'
That does not take you very far. That was not very good. On September 10 the Prime Minister was even chillier. He really chilled the people of the country by what he said in Portage la Prairie. He said that Canadians should not look for any big cut in defence bills or taxes as long as present dangers exist. The Prime Minister spoke to us the other day in that frank way of his, but I am always afraid of the Prime Minister when he is being too frank. When he tells you he is not very good at politics I say to myself, "Look out; be careful of that." At any rate in what the Prime Minister said in his speech on September 10 he does not seem, in the judgment of other members of the cabinet, to have been at his political best.
Of course one does not know the considerations which may have been in his mind, but at any rate it was felt that something should be done to improve the situation. A little later the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) was speaking in Montreal, and he introduced a word which is very important. I think it was the first time the word "substantially" has been used. I looked up the word "substantially" in the dictionary and it really imports something very big and important. You can do quite a lot in the way of reducing taxes without coming within the four corners
The Address-Mr. J. M. Macdonnell of the word "substantially", so there was just a slight note of hope when the Minister of Finance used the word "substantially" on September 23. I find the following in the Montreal Star with respect to what he said at that time:
... we must not delude ourselves with the belief that we can substantially (Mr. Abbott stressed this word) alter the size of the budget or the weight of the tax burden . . .
Well, that was a little better but not much better. Then the genial Postmaster General (Mr. Cote) got into the act on September 29. He carried it one step further, not much but every little bit helps, and every little bit has carried it that much further. According to the report in the Montreal Star of September 29 he said:
The Canadian taxpayer can definitely hope-
Now the word "definitely" comes into it. That is useful too.
-for a tax cut "in a not too distant future" . . .
Well, there was the word "definitely", but on the other hand the "not too distant future" still left it remote. But there are good things to come and I now wish to refer to a dispatch from Ottawa dated October 11, to be found in the Hamilton Spectator of that date. This dispatch followed the visit which the Minister of Finance made to Prince Edward Island. That visit attracted a good deal of attention. I do not see why anyone should be surprised at people going to Prince Edward Island. It is a delightful place to go to, but apparently ministers of finance have not been in the habit of going there. They are strange people anyway, and they have not been in the habit of visiting the island. But the minister went, and his speech there gave a great deal of encouragement to the boys. The account begins like this:
Finance minister Douglas Abbott's speech in Prince Edward Island this week was seen today as the advance glow of a tax-slashing "sunshine budget" . . .
I must admit when you read what he actually said it may not be as clear as people would like, although later on in the article I read the following:
In principle the Abbott speech was regarded as pretty well reversing the Brandon speech of a month ago in which the Prime Minister specifically undertook to discourage any hopes at all of major tax cuts.
So you see there is a further step. Then the writer of the article warms to his work and says that there are two conditions now. A new condition is introduced, increased production. I give the Minister of Finance credit for that. I think that just begins to open the door very wide. How are you going to tie him down to anything there? You now have the door open to a cut provided it is
The Address-Mr. J. M. Macdonnell not too substantial and provided there is increased production. That was in Prince Edward Island just before October 11, but by October 20 the Minister of Finance had got out as far as Vancouver. The air of the Pacific had evidently done him a lot of good, because the account in the Ottawa Citizen of October 20 begins as follows:
Finance Minister Abbott today forecast boosted production-
There you have it. We can have a tax reduction if there is increased production. The finance minister goes out to Vancouver and I find the following account of what he said with respect to increased production:
Finance Minister Abbott today forecast boosted production, virtually assuring Canadians of tax cuts in the next budget . . . Then, referring to the possibilities of a production boost, he added for the first time: "This, I believe, we can confidently expect."
That brings me very near the end, Mr. Speaker, but I think the end is most important because the Prime Minister, who had sounded a dirge-like note only a month before, when he was sounding the election rallying call to Liberals from coast to coast on October 29 also had something much more cheering to say about the matter of taxation. He said, as found in the Ottawa Citizen of October 29:
If we keep increasing our national production,-
There you have it, you see.
-keep strict control of all expenditures, save wherever we can, and do not make too many new demands on government, some relief should be possible . . .
So you see, Mr. Speaker, we are now at the point where the minister will not have nearly as much difficulty in the spring of 1953 as he had in the spring of 1949. He will not have to make all these excuses. He is getting ready now, and I think you have to give him credit for what you might call preparing the ground. The only thing is that I think he should go and tell the Prime Minister not to keep on saying that there has not been any overtaxation. As I say, it would be a very ungenerous man who would not admit that this build-up has been going on; but on the other hand if this is all merely saying that the Minister of Finance can mulct the taxpayers in 1952 in order that he may be generous to them in 1953, then I would say that if the minister comes with his budget speech and asks to be canonized next spring because of giving tax reductions it will be most proper for us to remind him of what has been going on in the last year or two and how he has persisted, despite all the warnings that have been given to him, in wringing unnecessary dollars out of the taxpayers.
In the spring of 1951, contrary to our usual practice and only because the situation was so obvious, we suggested to him that he might forgo the additional 2 per cent sales tax that he was putting on then. We suggested that it would raise the cost of living, as it did. We suggested to him then that the amount which he would forgo by giving it up would in all probability be covered by the amount of his surplus, as it was several times over. Therefore I think we should ask the people of Canada to bear all this in mind; and also to remember-and I think this is relevant too-the extent to which it is in the power of the minister to regulate the actual out-turn as he sees fit.
After all we have hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts outstanding in the defence department and the Department of Defence Production. It only needs a little slowing of the tempo of work or the time of payment or both to provide large sums which might be available for the election purposes.
I think we may, consequently, expect and assure the voters that these taxes will be maintained until the political cycle, not the economic cycle and not the needs of the voters, gives the signal and suggests a change.
In other words we may expect a change at the time of the next budget, and if it does not come then we will know there will be no election until 1954. Little Jack Horner must pull out a plum before the voter is asked to give his vote.
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I listened very carefully to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) this afternoon in the case he made for the government's contention that there is not any undue waste in the Department of National Defence. He said one thing, however, that causes me concern; that was that a great many of the contracts, particularly smaller contracts that are let by the government, do not pass over his desk and he does not himself give these contracts any scrutiny.
I have before me a Department of Defence Production publication of today showing that the number of contracts let between November 1 and November 15 total some $18 million. Of these only two can be taken as large contracts, totalling just over $5J million. In other words, two-thirds of the $18 million let out in these 120 contracts might be listed as smaller contracts. I think it is absolutely necessary in our system of responsible government that all of the contracts, both large and small, should be given the careful scrutiny of some cabinet minister. If one man only is given the responsibility of checking all these contracts then I think one can say that a great deal of waste is bound to creep in.
I rise, Mr. Speaker, to support along with other members of this group the amendment placed before the house by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) calling on the government to implement at this ses-si n a nation-wide scheme of health insurance. I hope a little later on to discuss some of the problems that are facing agriculture, but I think the whole of what I have to say might be entitled "security". It seems to me that no matter what some political parties believe, the people of Canada are anxious to have the greatest possible amount of security; security in their jobs, security in the prices of the products they produce, security in their old age, and security in time of ill health.
I think it should be the main responsibility of government at this stage of history to provide those measures of security that a country as wealthy as Canada can so well afford. We have asked the government to adopt a scheme of national health insurance. It has already been said in this debate a number of times that this is not a new idea. In fact we in the C.C.F. cannot claim that health insurance was originally our idea. Certainly the Liberal party had the idea of health insurance as long ago as their convention of 1919. When the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) last year questioned the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin) as to why the Liberal party had not in 33 years implemented its promise of 1919, the Minister of National Health and Welfare replied that surely he could not be expected and the government could not be expected to inaugurate health insurance overnight. Thirty-three years in my opinion is a night that should be far too long even for a stagnant and immobile Liberal party. Surely after these 33 years of darkness it is about time the Liberal party saw the dawn and provided Canada with an adequate health insurance program.
The proposals which were placed before the provinces in 1945 were in my opinion sound. Those proposals, or proposals like them, should now be offered to any province that is willing to go forward and adopt a system of health insurance. We in the province of Saskatchewan are proud indeed of our hospitalization program. If anything was an issue in the Saskatchewan election this year it certainly was not the hospitalization program; because all parties, as they made certain to say-including the Liberal party -were supporting that program.
Our hospitalization program has not been brought about without a considerable cost both to the provincial treasury and to the
The Address-Mr. Argue individual who must pay, as an adult, a maximum of $10 per year for hospitalization. However, if the government of Canada, the Liberal party, were now prepared to implement its own promises of national health insurance, we in Saskatchewan would be prepared to accept that offer immediately and in the shortest possible time we would have a complete health insurance program in our province. As a matter of fact, our people are so interested in the matter of health that even if this government should continue to delay the provision of health insurance, they are not going to stand still. It will be much more difficult but, step by step, we shall add various health measures to our present hospitalization plan until finally, with or without the help of the federal government, we shall have a health insurance program established in that province. But if we can obtain from the federal treasury, from the federal government, even so much as a hospitalization program in which we can participate, then the moneys which would be released from our own hospitalization program would indeed help us in the province of Saskatchewan to provide medical care, dental care and other health measures in a very short time. No matter what advice the government may receive from the Conservative party, or from the Social Credit party-
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I hear one of the Social Credit members say, "Go easy, now". That is exactly what his leader said to the government: "Go easy on health insurance". The Conservative party says, "Let us have another conference with the provinces". Rather, in my opinion the people of Canada want action. If action is not forthcoming I believe the people of Canada will to a larger extent turn to the C.C.F., a party which when given the opportunity will provide a health insurance program for the people of all Canada.
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Yes, efficiently. The C.C.F. say, "Let us do it now". That is the difference in our attitudes.
I also want to support the statement made by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) that our old age pension legislation is today inadequate. Although we are all proud that our elderly citizens reaching the age of 70 can obtain a pension without a means test, nevertheless $40 a
The Address-Mr. Argue month for our elderly citizens is most inadequate. For a pensioner who has no other source of income, $40 a month today is, in my opinion, nothing less than slow starvation. It certainly is not a pension that is in keeping with the wealth and the production of our nation. A pension of $60 a month at 65, without a means test and adjusted to the cost of living index is, in my opinion, the very minimum that should be provided at this time.
I also want to support the case for the burnt-out pensioner, and urge that the pension should be increased to $60 a month for a single person and $120 a month for a married couple. I would also agree with the proposition put forward by the Canadian Legion that allowable income ceilings should be increased to $1,200 for a single person, and $2,000 for a married person. Certainly those veterans who sacrificed so much in protecting our freedom should be given better treatment than a pension of $50 for a single pensioner and $90 a month for a married pensioner, and they should be allowed to earn without penalty more than the present $10 a month by way of supplementary income.
I feel that there is another ever-increasing gap in our social security program. The Liberal party takes a great deal of credit- and I am not attempting and never have attempted to take away any of that credit- for providing family allowances. But while in 1945 they provided family allowances with one hand, they have been gradually taking them away with the other hand by allowing the cost of living continually to go up without providing corresponding increases in family allowances. If this government believes that their original Family Allowances Act was a good measure, then in my opinion the least they could do would be to protect the purchasing power of the family allowance as first provided by now increasing it by 60 per cent, from a minimum of $5 per month to $8 and from a maximum of $8 a month to $13. Such an increase would constitute a great improvement in our social security program. The money to provide such a program would have to be raised. Probably a good percentage of it could be taken out of the budget surplus if there were no tax reductions made. But I feel that the people of Canada are willing to pay a nominal amount per year, much like an insurance premium, if by so doing they can get adequate protection in time of ill health, in their old age, and if, by so doing, parents will receive some assistance toward providing better food, better clothing and a better education for our young Canadian citizens.
I turn now to a discussion of some aspects of the government's policy in relation to agriculture. I believe that the agricultural producer in Canada also wants security. He does not want an extremely high price for his products one year and an extremely low price another year. He desires stability. He wishes to receive for his products a price sufficient to cover his cost of production and to provide the farm family with a standard of living comparable to that of other Canadian citizens.
The other day the government announced the final payment for the 1951 wheat crop. That payment was greeted with a good deal of commendation from farm organizations; I think they were pleased to receive a payment of that size, particularly when they understood the difficulty the wheat board faced in marketing the lower grades of the previous crop. Their commendation, I believe, went mainly to the wheat board, because I do not think the government can take much satisfaction in the total price paid for wheat produced in the year 1951. The total payment for a bushel of wheat produced in 1951 is no more than the price paid for a bushel of wheat produced in 1945. The final payment for No. 1 wheat produced in 1945 was $1,833 a bushel at Fort William. The price for wheat produced in 1951 is exactly the same, right to the decimal point. Yet from 1945 to 1952 the farmer's cost of production went up some 60 per cent, according to the dominion bureau of statistics figures. In 1945 the cost of production index was 152-1; in 1952 it was 243-2. If the wheat producer today were to receive, in relation to the cost of production, an amount equivalent in purchasing power to the price for wheat produced in 1945, he would receive a price of $2.52 a bushel, or an increase of almost 70 cents.
Some factors in keeping the price of 1951 wheat low have been a direct result of the policy of this government. In the year 194849 the wheat board received, for wheat sold to the United Kingdom and wheat consumed in Canada, $2 a bushel. From September
1949 until October, 1950 the Canadian dollar was devalued 10 per cent. Therefore, all of the wheat sold under the international wheat agreement and the wheat that went into domestic consumption in the early part of
1950 was paid for at the rate of $1.98 a bushel. But exchange controls were lifted in October, 1950, and the value of the Canadian dollar has been increasing since then. We see the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) and other cabinet ministers going around the country patting themselves on the back and congratulating themselves that the Canadian dollar is worth so much, and is now worth
more than the United States dollar. It may-make some Canadians pleased with themselves, when they travel to the United States, to know that they can obtain a little additional United States currency by way of premium. But the increased value of the Canadian dollar has created a real hardship for the western wheat producer. Now with our dollar worth 4 per cent more than the United States dollar rather than 10 per cent less, as it was, it means a loss to the farmer of 25 cents a bushel on every bushel of wheat sold under the international wheat agreement, and every bushel of wheat sold in the domestic market.
The people of Canada should not now expect to obtain wheat at a price that is 25 cents less than the $2 price the Canadian consumer paid back in 1948. It is not right that, with the terrific increase in the cost of production, wheat alone should be sold at a reduced price.
I have never advocated, and I do not expect I ever shall, an increased price to the . Canadian people that would place a burden on the lower income groups. But if the government feel that $1.74 a bushel is all the Canadian people can afford to pay for the wheat, then the government, out of the national treasury, should make up that 25 cents a bushel loss to the wheat producers. This government does not need to say it is afraid of subsidies; it does not need to say that it has not considered the cost to certain industries of an appreciating Canadian dollar. On Monday, November 24, the Minister of Finance announced that the government was increasing the subsidy to certain gold mining companies. In part he had this to say, as reported at page 16 of Hansard:
During 1952 the industry's costs have continued to rise. At the same time the appreciation in the exchange rate for the Canadian dollar has meant that for most of the year the mines have received a steadily decreasing return from their sales.
He might well have substituted agriculture for the gold mining industry, because the grain producers of Canada, and of western Canada in particular, are in exactly the same position as the gold mining companies. The costs of production of gold mining companies have risen. The price of their product has not risen to the same extent, but indeed has fallen. The Canadian farmer's cost of production has risen. The price for most of the producers' wheat sold by the wheat board has gone down. If the government can afford to pay the gold mining industry a large subsidy to help them dig gold out of one hole in the ground in Canada merely to have it placed in another hole in the ground in the
The Address-Mr. Argue United States, surely equal assistance should be given for the production of food, which to my way of thinking is much more valuable to the world than is the production of gold.
A couple of days ago I asked the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) whether the government would consider making an advance on farm-stored grain. In a nutshell the minister's reply was no. His reasons were that the western grain producer is receiving final payments on his grain, and has sold so far this year somewhat more grain than he sold a year ago.
That answer did not satisfy me, at any rate, Mr. Speaker. The time farmers need an advance on farm-stored grain is when they have grain on the farms. It is as simple as that. There is more grain on farms in western Canada today, that farmers are unable to market, than ever before in the history of Canada. The minister said: "Oh, well, the farmers can go to the banks." A year ago farmers had difficulty harvesting and selling their grain and the minister said the same thing. He then said "The farmers can go to the banks." But in order to persuade the banks to lend some money to the farmers he had to guarantee the banks 25 per cent of their aggregate loans. I have been told, and on good authority, that the wheat pool organization was prepared to advance money to farmers on farm-stored grain for an aggregate guarantee of 2J per cent of the loans made. Instead, the government said: "We will do it through the banks, and we shall make the guarantees to the banks ten times as great as the guarantee asked for by the wheat pool organization."
The average farmer in western Canada today, even though he has 2,000, 3,000 or
4,000 bushels of grain on his farm, cannot go to the bank and get a loan on that grain because the proceeds the farmers will receive when that grain is sold are already committed, already owing in many instances. The average farmer will owe a store bill; he will owe the local implement dealer, the local dealer in petroleum products. He may well have substantial payments coming due on new farm machinery that he has purchased, he will have to pay his taxes and buy his winter's supplies. If the average farmer sold all of his crop tomorrow morning, 24 hours later he would have very little cash on hand because he would have paid his bills in his local town, paid any moneys that were due on the farm, implements, paid his taxes and put a little aside for family supplies and other farm expenses.
The Address-Mr. Argue
The average farmer cannot go to the bank and get a loan because bankers seem to many a strange sort of people in doing business. If you go to a banker and prove to him that you do not need a loan at all, that you have some cash at home, that you have very few debts, he will say: "Fellow, I will give you just about anything you ask for." But if another farmer goes in and says to the banker: "Look, I owe the storekeeper $500 and the oil dealer $500; I owe $3,000 on my new self-propelled combine; I owe $500 taxes, and I have 4,000 bushels of grain on the farm." He will say: "You are not a very good risk; you already owe a great deal. I do not think you need the money." That is why I say, Mr. Speaker, that farmers should be able to obtain an advance on farm-stored grain; such provision should be part of a permanent agricultural policy.
The farmer in the United States can obtain a loan on farm-stored grain. I do not think there is any great risk involved at all. Farmers, like other groups in Canada, are essentially honest. They will protect the quality of the grain they have in store. There is not one in a hundred who would make a false application. I can see no reason at all why a scheme could not and should not be set up to provide advance payments for grain stored on the farm. The farmer needs money today. Quite a lot of the business in western Canada is now being done not with money but with wheat as the medium of exchange. I am told that there is one large implement and automobile dealer in the city of Estevan, which is in the southeast part of Saskatchewan, who has already acquired in sales he has made more than 100,000 bushels of wheat. That is an inconvenient and often an expensive way for the farmer to purchase an automobile or a tractor. If the farmers had obtained advance payments at a nominal rate of interest I believe it would not only assist the farmer but would also assist our merchants in collecting their outstanding accounts.
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