October 29, 1957

SC

Peter Stefura

Social Credit

Mr. Pefer Siefura (Vegreville):

Mr. Speaker, last night I was talking about the unfair attitude of some of the members of the former government toward this bill. I should like to return to the quotation I was giving from

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the speech of the hon. member for Russell (Mr. Gour) as reported at page 377 of Hansard.

This session we have another hill to pay cash to the farmers so that they will be able to get money without having to pay interest.

I claim that this bill establishes a dangerous precedent because the government will now have many calls for money from people who would like to secure money without having to pay interest.

I ask, Mr. Speaker, just how dangerous is this bill? Why are the Liberals afraid of starting a precedent as far as any benefits to farm people are concerned? It appears that they were not afraid of starting other precedents. They were not afraid of starting a precedent when they sold wheat under the British wheat agreement, under which the farmers lost about $431 million. They were not afraid of a precedent when they sold wheat at the same time for the same price, which was less than the world market price, to the Canadian millers and the Canadian consumers, and the farmers lost an additional $136 million. They were not afraid of a precedent when they took about $500 million out of the farmers' pockets, out of my pocket and out of my neighbour's pocket and out of everybody else's pockets on the farms in western Canada who were selling grain at that time. They were not afraid of a precedent when they passed the Prairie Grain Producers' Interim Financing Act to protect the banks and see that the bankers got their 5 per cent interest. But when we get a little bill on the floor of this house, such as we have here today, they become worried and say it is a dangerous precedent.

I feel that perhaps we should have started a precedent of this kind a long time ago, a precedent to give the farmers a break for a change, and give them what is rightfully theirs instead of continually taking it away from them. There have been strong hints by some that this bill is subsidizing the agricultural industry and western farmers. There have also been strong hints that the agricultural industry must compete in world markets. So far as I have been able to follow them, these hints are coming mostly from members who have no agricultural industry, or very little, in their ridings.

Let me say to these hon. gentlemen that the agricultural industry has been subsidizing other industries through tariffs and other regulations almost ever since those other industries started. What is more, rumours are abroad that they want more protection and more subsidies from the farm people, who will eventually pay them. Rumours are that some of these other industries want increases in tariffs on steel. They also want increased tariffs on half a dozen other items.

[Mr. Stefura.l

They want it today when the farmer is caught in a price squeeze. Farm prices have dropped to such an extent that farm people, in many instances, have a hard time trying to hang on. On the other hand, the prices of everything the farmer has to buy have gone up, and they find it difficult to hang on in the other way.

Some people call it price squeeze. I call it a tug of war. They are pulling the farmer apart. Under these conditions we have some of our Liberal members defending the interim financing act. I say that policy is not in the best interests of the farm people. All it does is put an additional burden on the farm people, and it is just pulling them apart in three directions. The farmer must go to the bank and borrow at 5 per cent interest. Therefore I say the interim financing act was certainly some plan for western agriculture.

To those who say that the farmers should compete in world markets under present conditions, I say remove your tariffs for the farm people and the agricultural industry and then you may have a good argument. But under present conditions, when the farm people are contributing to the prices of many of these industries the argument does not hold. If you feel that the farm people must compete in world markets, then give the farmer the privilege of buying on the world market without those tariffs and customs duties and all the legal red tape. Let the farmer sell his products for gold or sterling, or barter for goods with any country that suits him. Give the farm people a free hand to do business in the way they see fit, and in a way that they have been asking to do business for years through their farm organizations and through whatever means they have at their disposal. I am sure there would then be no need for any emergency measures such as we have before us in the house today.

I trust the present government realizes that this is only an emergency measure and that legislation must be brought in to get at the root of the ills that we have in the agricultural industry today. I trust that this government will not use this bill as a cure-all for these ills, because the agricultural industry is going to require a lot of legislation to give it a parity of income.

I am confident that this bill having to do with cash advances, as proposed, will not do the job to the extent that the present Minister of Finance believes it will. It allows only 50 cents a bushel for wheat stored on the farm; it allows only a 6-bushel quota. The farmers will be able to get about $600, $800 or perhaps $900. That, I submit, is a long way from the actual need

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or requirement, when we consider that the farmer must pay taxes; he must pay his store bills, fuel bills ond so on. The $600 or $800 will not go very far. This government must give immediate and careful consideration to increasing storage space and to the idea of a food bank; it must give careful consideration to promoting sales by such means as accepting sterling, barter or extending credit to countries which may be short of hard currency at this time.

I asked the Minister of Finance a question on October 23 as follows, as recorded at page 313 of Hansard:

Has the government given consideration to the acceptance of sterling in an effort to increase Canadian exports to Britain and other commonwealth nations? If so, has a decision been reached, and what was the nature of that decision?

I was very much surprised to receive the following answer:

No such proposal was made to the Canadian government.

I repeated the question on page 314 of Hansard and received the following answer:

I have already told my hon. friend that question has not even been raised by anyone.

We had about 12 joint meetings that were sponsored by the Alberta farmers union in our constituency, and all the candidates were present. When the question would come up as to how the Conservatives planned to increase foreign trade, the acceptance of sterling was at the top of the list. The Conservative candidate is a fine old gentleman. I have nothing at all against him personally. I do not for a moment want to believe, nor can I find that I can do so, that he would manufacture his own policy. If the minister denies that it was a campaign promise made by Conservative candidates, then perhaps he can explain why the candidates take a Social Credit policy, a policy which the Social Crediters have been presenting to this house for years and then wish to get elected as Conservative members of this house. To present policies and hope to get elected on policies that the ministers have never even heard presented to them as questions is definitely misleading the people. We can never hope to have good government or to give the people the kind of administration they so desire if we deliberately mislead those people in our country.

I urge the members of this house to get this bill through as a temporary measure to aid agriculture and give the government a chance to introduce legislation which will cure the basic ills of agriculture. The policies that brought agriculture to its present condition have been in effect for a long time, and it cannot be expected that they can be cured over night. However, the sooner you 96698-33

get down to the basic problems, the sooner you will be able to restore the agricultural industry to its rightful place in our economy. (Translation):

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LIB

Wilfrid Lacroix

Liberal

Mr. Wilfrid LaCroix (Quebec-Monlmorency):

Mr. Speaker, I listened with a great deal of interest to the speeches made in this house by the hon. members for Dorchester and Kent (Messrs. Landry and Huffman). Their speeches have made a strong impression upon me, and I thought that their arguments in support of their position should be among those favourably received by the government.

Now, the government is asking us to vote an amount of 150 million dollars to help western farmers dispose of their wheat. I do feel however that he might also have thought of eastern farmers, more particularly those of the province of Quebec. It is recognized in the province of Quebec that it is only right that western farmers should benefit from government assistance with regard to the moving of their grain to the east. Indeed, I think that the government should establish some permanent farm assistance policy with regard to the transport of grain from west to east.

In the matter of farming, the whole province of Quebec has the same difficulties as our western friends. Right now, the Quebec farmer is known to be going through a terrible depression and I wonder what has been and will be the assistance this government proposes to give to eastern farmers. I do not see any sign of it. Nevertheless, we in eastern Canada shall contribute to this amount of 150 million dollars.

I have been in this house for 22 years and, every year, I have heard about the problems of western farmers and the subsidies they were requesting. This year I went out west to gather information and to see conditions for myself. I have satisfied myself that it is a section of this country where there is scarcely any mixed farming, all the acreage being used for grain growing. It has often been suggested to our western fellow citizens that they should take up more livestock breeding and mixed farming. Had they done so, the government would have been spared much of the trouble of providing subsidies, and western farmers would have got more out of their operations, thus doing away with this problem which comes up each year in this house.

This sum of $150 million which we are going to give to the western farmers-with little likelihood of repayment, as has been the case in the past-removes all prospects of an increase in the rate of family allowances, as promised by the Conservative party in the last election. This $150 million which the

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government proposes to give to the western farmers will bar the province of Quebec from securing grants and subsidies to which she, together with the whole population of eastern Canada, is rightfully entitled.

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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

The hon. member for Melville (Mr. Gardiner) said it would cost less than $10 million-

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LIB

Wilfrid Lacroix

Liberal

Mr. LaCroix:

If the hon. minister spoke French, I could reply to him. I did not understand a word he said.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is our duty, especially for us in eastern Canada, to support the views so eloquently expressed by the hon. members for Kent (Ont.) and Dorchester. (Laughter). You may very well laugh, you people sitting on the government side; I can even see the hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Harkness) grinning. I would ask him to make a trip out east instead, so that he may study on the spot the farming conditions in the province of Quebec and the difficulties facing our farmers; he could then, at that time, take other decisions liable to remedy the situation.

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PC

Nérée Arsenault

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Arsenault:

You knew of those conditions before this.

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LIB

Wilfrid Lacroix

Liberal

Mr. LaCroix:

I have always known of them, and I have always made the same requests. I did not do as did the hon. member for Bona-venture (Mr. Arsenault) who, after being returned as an independent, on the very day after the election proclaimed himself a Conservative member.

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PC

Nérée Arsenault

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Arsenault:

He was your man.

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LIB
PC

Nérée Arsenault

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Arsenault:

He was a Liberal, that one.

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LIB
PC

Nérée Arsenault

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Arsenault:

Not I, I was a Conservative candidate.

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LIB

Wilfrid Lacroix

Liberal

Mr. LaCroix:

In any event, to come back to the point, Mr. Speaker, may I say that in fairness to the province of Quebec, the agricultural needs of our province should be taken into account.

I have here a resolution adopted by the Union Catholique des Cultivateurs (Catholic Farmers' Union) of Quebec North, a district within my own constituency. I would like to bring this resolution to the attention of the Minister of Agriculture:

Resolved that the government be requested: (a) to give permanency to the federal government,s present policy of price support for farm products; (b) to fix support prices for farm products according to a formula which would take into account the cost of living, production costs, and

variations in demand as suggested in the formula put forward by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

The dairy industry is very important in our province. Here is a resolution adopted by the Union Catholique des Cultivateurs of the province with regard to that industry:

Whereas the dairy industry is the mainstay of agriculture in the province of Quebec and, as a consequence, Quebec agriculture tends to favour forage crops;

Whereas even though a large number of Quebec farms can produce considerable quantities of grain, their area is such as to provide a good permanent market for western grain;

Whereas the increase in freight rates on feed grain has already had an advance effect on the production costs of cattle raising and dairying . . .

I believe that the government should at least have provided a sum of money to allow eastern farmers to benefit from lower freight rates and thus get their seed grains at a lower price than they did under the former government. But no, the sole concern of the Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker), the member for Prince Albert, is for his electoral riding in western Canada.

Well, Mr. Speaker, allow me to say that eastern Canada also needs some grants, and some subsidies. I mentioned one a moment ago when I asked the minister why the government had not continued to grant to our religious communities and our charitable institutions the subsidies from which they had benefited when they were allowed to buy their butter at a reduced price. The minister answered that this could not be done this year since there is no butter surplus. He also said to me that the former government had adopted the same policy.

I say to him that the former government always granted the religious orders and charitable institutions of my province the advantage of a reduced price on the butter it had to sell. If the government changes its policy, that is its concern.

May I say, in closing, that I will vote against this bill, that I will vote against it on second reading and that, in so doing, I support the stand taken by my colleagues from Kent, Ontario, (Mr. Huffman) and from Dorchester (Mr. Landry). I support their stand because I think that the west is being given a considerable amount of money which will eventually prevent the government from giving the people of eastern Canada what it promised them and what they are entitled to, in the form of an increase in family allowances, of subsidies to agriculture and of lower taxes. You will see when the budget comes before the house.

This amount of 150 million dollars handed out to the western farmers will have to be paid somehow. Indeed, we shall see the effects of those 150 million dollars when the new budget comes before the house.

(Text):

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CCF

Jacob Schulz

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

Mr. Jacob Schulz (Springfield):

Mr. Speaker, in speaking on this bill which is to provide advance payments to farmers who cannot sell their grain, I find myself in a rather awkward position. 1 do not like the measure in its present form, but I cannot possibly oppose it because I am one of those who have been advocating emergency assistance for years. I am thankful the government has acceded to the request, and I will support the measure. No matter how little benefit the farmers will receive from it, I will support it on the assumption that in this case something is better than nothing.

However, I feel I would be remiss in my duty if I were not to point out the shortcomings of this legislation. I only hope I can find the right words to do that and not be misunderstood, especially at a time when there is such an acute mortality prevailing amongst the members of this parliament. I am not against the principle of this measure, but I must indicate the inadequacies compared with the needs. Perhaps I should not do this, because everyone seems to be fairly well satisfied with the bill. I know the farmers are badly in need of this support.

In mentioning the weaknesses of this bill before us I find myself about in the same position as a lay observer watching a doctor perform an emergency operation on a dying person. He would think twice, at least, before he would tap the doctor's shoulder and offer advice in the moment when the doctor was performing that vital and delicate incision. I think he would rather be inclined to keep his mouth shut, for such an interruption might irritate the doctor and cause his hand to shake, thus endangering a life. I would not want to do that at this point. I shall therefore try to be careful in choosing my words to express my disappointment at the value of this government action.

Perhaps I can do this best by using the well known phrase coined during wartime; "too little and too late". In order to make a proper analysis I would divide the phrase into two parts. I would concentrate on the "late" part first by saying that what we are 06698-33i

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doing now should have been done years ago, and should have been done in much fuller measure than we are attempting to do now. The former government was confronted with this request year after year, but they refused to even consider it. It was branded a wild idea, an unreasonable demand, absolutely impossible to implement. Now that we have a new government the farmers' petition is granted in principle at least, and the former minister of agriculture wants to get in on the credit. He tried hard the other day to make out a case for himself, and in his desperation he went so far as to intimate that this step could have been taken before if it had not been for the backward farm organizations. They did not even ask for it.

At this point I should like to make it clear that if the right hon. member for Melville (Mr. Gardiner) wants to use the Canadian Federation of Agriculture to shield himself from an embarrassing position it is quite all right with me. Perhaps he is even justified in doing so. This organization has provided a barricade behind which he and the former minister of trade and commerce have hidden for years, and perhaps that is one of the reasons we have not got advance payments yet.

However, when the right hon. member goes so far as to indicate that all farm organizations have been against the idea of cash advances, then he should know he cannot get away with such backstage manoeuvring in this parliament. I have with me the last three briefs presented by the interprovincial farm union council to the government. The first one was presented on February 16, 1956, and on page 15 it says:

Therefore, the interprovincial farm union councils continuing to press for adoption of its original proposal (which has been endorsed at the three wheat pool delegate meetings) that the government arrange for interest-free cash advances by the Canadian wheat board on farm-stored grain to the value of 50 per cent of the initial payment on an estimated delivery of 8 bushels per cultivated acre.

This proves that the proposal was made and that it had been adopted by three wheat pool meetings. The next brief was presented on February 19, 1957. On page 8, it asks that a permanent system of cash advances be established on the basis recommended in previous submissions in order that farmers will have the means to meet their annual obligations. This should be enough to destroy the validity of the assertion made by the former minister of trade and commerce which was seized upon by

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the hon. member for Melville. The next brief was presented on August 15, 1957 in which the same request is repeated.

This I am sure will do away with any implications that our farm organizations were against advance payments. Where did the idea come from in the first place if it was not from the farm organizations? if the Liberal government had been as interested in the farmers as were some of the farm organizations then the farmers would not today be in a position of having to ask for emergency assistance.

The government could have prevented the situation by adopting a more aggressive attitude in selling our wheat; other people are selling their wheat. The United States exported 535 million bushels last year while Canada exported only 260 million bushels. Is there one natural reason why the United States should be able to sell one single bushel more than Canada, when our wheat has been recognized as the best in the world? Our wheat is hard wheat which some countries are forced to buy whereas the United States wheat is soft wheat which can be obtained anywhere.

Our final certificate covering export sales is accepted with the same confidence as a certified cheque. In contrast, the United States grading system, from No. 1 to the lowest, is inferior to ours in every respect. Nevertheless they almost doubled their sales last year when they exported 275 million bushels more than we did. In the same period our sales went down 49 million bushels. What is the reason for this difference? Could it be that those who were in charge of the development of policies for the United States wheat disposal program had enough imagination to conceive of strategies and approaches which have proved successful while those who were responsible for our program lacked incentive and vision to the point where they are relying on an orthodox trade policy and waiting for Santa Claus to bring them some customers?

United States policy makers have used four different ways in which to introduce a progressive sales policy: sales for American dollars, sales for local currency, barter trade and other relief assistance. Instead of adopting at least some of these various beneficial methods our government embarked on a course of criticism which to my mind is senseless to the highest degree, degrading those who do it, stifling business and resulting in a danger to this country.

When my neighbours sell faster and better than I do, do I criticize them? Of course not. I will find out how they do it and learn something.

In the 1955-56 crop year the United States exported 344 million bushels of wheat of which 97 million were sold for dollars, 93 million bushels for foreign currency, 67 million bushels were barter transactions, and 87 million bushels were exchanged under a mutual aid and relief program. If our government had adopted similar progressive sales policies during the years we would not have to find the cost of storage which now amounts to about $100 million a year and which includes some farm storage costs, but we could have sold a large portion of our wheat when the price was high. How much the farmers have lost in this respect alone can be seen from the fact that at the opening of the crop year 1953 the price of No. 1 Northern wheat was $2.03 a bushel and on July 21, 1957 the price was $1.61, a loss of 42 cents in four years. In last year alone wheat prices dropped by 12 cents a bushel.

Farmers have not only lost in sales and prices at the export level but also at the domestic level. From 1947 to 1953 the export price ranged from $2.00 to $3.40 a bushel but our domestic price was held down by the government and ranged from $1.55 to $2.55. When you know of these facts it is rather amusing to listen to those hon. members on the Liberal side who have voted against the resolution talk about discrimination and to those who with tears in their eyes talk about the United States give-away program and the terrible sums of money it costs the people of the United States. You never hear anybody talk about the Canadian giveaway program for which these farmers alone had to pay; no one mentions the United Kingdom wheat agreement which cost the western farmers in the neighbourhood of a $300 to $400 million; no one talks about the millions and millions of dollars paid by the farmers in storage charges.

This is the way western farmers have been backed up against the wall to the point where they are now forced to ask for emergency assistance. I am happy this government seems to recognize that fact, at least to some extent, and has brought down a measure which is a step in the right direction, but it is still too late and too little. In dealing with the too little aspect I want to say that in speaking in the debate in reply to the speech from the throne the other day I made it clear that no half measures are good enough at this time.

Unfortunately this first legislation brought down by this government will no doubt be exactly that. Six bushels an acre is only half of the normal crop; what about the other half? Can farmers at this time afford to get only half their payment on merely half their crop? What about last year's crop?

What about the crop from the year before? It is most unfortunate that in this case this government is doing to the farmer something similar to what the former government did to our senior citizens. The advance payment on only 6 bushels an acre compares, I suggest, with the measly $6 increase in pensions which was granted last session. Will the farmers be more satisfied with this treatment than the old age pensioners were?

What is the material difference between this bill and the Prairie Grain Producers Interim Financing Act, aside from the interest, which in this case is paid by the government, and the fact that it is received by the farmer as a matter of right. Apart from that there is no difference. A farmer cannot obtain any more money under this act than he could under last year's act. As a matter of fact, he would get less. Under the provisions of the interim finance act a producer could borrow up to $3,000 if he had the grain to cover that sum, but under this proposal the amount of grain a farmer has in store does not matter; it is acreage which counts, not grain. A farmer has to have 1,000 acres before he can get $3,000. Furthermore, he can only get this amount if he grows only wheat. If he grows barley or oats he will get less. Is this the best this government can do?

Let us take, for example, an average farmer with a half section of land and 270 specified acres. If his production is all in wheat, he will receive $810; if in barley, $567; and if in oats, $324. This shows clearly how little benefit those hard-pressed farmers who have reached the end of their rope in financing their operations can hope to get out of this legislation if no changes are made.

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend from Proven-cher (Mr. Jorgenson), speaking on the resolution last week, expressed the opinion that farmers are a reasonable group of people and that they will, therefore, be satisfied with this proposal. I have reached the opposite view. It will be the reasonable people who will recognize the fact that this is a feeble effort on the part of the government. They will see that this gesture is not only of little assistance to the average farmer but will create an incentive to grow more wheat, which is most dangerous. By allowing advances only on six bushels an acre regardless of the grain delivered, and then graduating the amount he receives from fifty cents for wheat to thirty-five for barley and twenty cents for oats, he may be inclined to grow the grain that brings the most money under this arrangement as it stands.

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to understand how hon. members of this house can stand up, speak on this bill and assert that everything

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is really quite all right, when some of its features are so obviously all wrong. There is plenty of evidence that this legislation in its present form is not only inadequate but is disturbing in some respects. For example, I point out sub-clause 4 of clause 3, which reads as follows:

No person who has received an advance payment under this act in any crop year is, until his undertaking in respect thereof has been fully discharged, entitled to receive an advance payment in any subsequent crop year.

This means, in simple terms, that if a farmer is unable to deliver his six bushels allowed under the quota by the end of the crop year he cannot get any advance on his new crop until he delivers his old quota and discharges his obligations.

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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is now discussing the clauses of the bill, and I suggest it would be better and make for a more orderly discussion if he would postpone discussion of this particular clause until we come to deal with the bill in committee of the whole.

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CCF

Jacob Schulz

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

Mr. Schulz:

Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Churchill) or the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Harkness), who has taken his place today can guarantee us that we can deliver six bushels this year I shall be not only satisfied but gratified by his assurance. But only a very cheerful optimist would dare to make such a prediction at this stage in the present circumstances. We could not do it last year, at least in my constituency, and I do not think it can be done this year either.

There is only one way in which it could be done: we must sell more grain than we are doing now. So far there is no evidence of such a trend. All signs point to the fact that up to now no all-out effort has been made to cope with this problem in a practical manner and, therefore, our present position can be described without fear of contradiction as a pitiful and deplorable stalemate. We are forced to accept it as such until the minister sees his way clear to tell this house what his plans are. We know that he is confronted with one of the most complicated problems, and we appreciate his position. We do not expect that he should sell all this wheat overnight, but I do feel that he and those who work with him should by now have been able to figure out some idea, some plan or some action that may be taken. So far he has said nothing that satisfies my curiosity or which does justice to the urgency of the situation.

From the minister's silence in this house and the address he made in Winnipeg to the national dairy council of Canada I have

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reached the conclusion that those who are in charge of our present grain marketing problem are tarred with the same brush of fear that has caused the indecision which has plagued that group for years. They seem to be, in a sense, prisoners of the past who have failed to respond to the challenges of the present.

Commenting on the minister's speech in Winnipeg, the Western Producer has this to say:

After making due allowance for the handicaps under which he suffered it must, we fear, be admitted that Mr. Churchill was disappointing. His speech sounded dull and pedestrian, contained little that was new or inspiring and indeed would not have sounded much out of place coming from the mouth of a spokesman for the former regime.

How true this analysis is was proven by the minister when in the same speech he fell into the old rut of criticizing those who do something to dispose of their surpluses, and blaming them in the main for the reduction of our sales.

It is a sorry picture, when farmers are economically bankrupt while sitting on a pile of wheat to the magnitude of one billion bushels, to see those who are responsible for our sales program doing little more than criticize those who do something. Even the Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) has joined from time to time the parade of critics.

Perhaps it is true that we should not follow exactly in the footsteps of the United States in disposing of our surplus, but we should, indeed we must, find means to distribute our surplus wheat to those who need it even if they cannot pay for it in dollars. Every fair-minded observer must admit that our present method of selling for dollars only has failed us miserably. At the same time the United States, by her easy selling terms, has disposed of considerable quantities of wheat to needy people who have not the money to pay in the ordinary way.

Unfortunately, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fleming) made it clear the other day that this government has no intention of taking the initiative in investigating the possibility of selling wheat for sterling or other local currency. On October 23, 1957, as reported at page 315 of Hansard of that date, the Minister of Finance made this statement:

-until some of the countries on a sterling basis regard this as a matter of sufficient importance to them to come and ask us to accept such an arrangement, I do not see any reason why we should go out proposing to take sterling.

We are still acting in an independent manner as if we were in a seller's market. It is difficult to follow this line of reasoning. The minister made this comment in spite of the fact that from November 15, 1954, to April 30, 1957, the United States has signed 92 agreements with 32 countries to the value of

$1.8 billion which covered 446 million bushels of wheat. Twenty-three of these countries received wheat in exchange for local currencies. For some reason our authorities seem to be afraid to tackle this problem in a progressive manner. They have taken the passive course which has always proven to be most unsafe in the competitive business world. Those in charge do not seem to realize that this situation demands a high order of creativeness and instead of being afraid of doing something they should be afraid of doing nothing. If they would move we would not need to waste our time today talking about providing emergency assistance nor would we have had to waste millions upon millions of dollars in storage charges. We have paid enough unnecessary storage charges in the past few years to pay for at least half of that surplus wheat and give it away.

Our new Minister of Trade and Commerce made it clear in his speech that he has no intention of changing the policy of storing surplus wheat. On August 30, 1957, as

reported in the Winnipeg Free Press of that date, he is reported as having said in that city:

I hold the view that our higher grades of wheat might better be kept in store rather than given away or sold at cut rate prices.

And so we are sitting on our pile of surplus wheat and apparently the government intends to let the farmer and the nation pay storage until they are blue in the face. We will continue to sit on it even though it has become a crushing burden to western farmers and in spite of the fact that over half of the world's population is going to bed hungry every night. That we cannot dispose of our surpluses in a hungry world is a disgrace to our intelligence and those who brought us to this point should hang their heads in shame.

They are responsible for the creation of the situation in which we now find ourselves of being forced to pass emergency legislation to alleviate this deplorable condition. Measures designed and saturated with the same platitudes which are partly responsible for the plight of the western farmer will not come near the mark in terms of solving this problem. Apparently the government is still hoping that some day, somehow this problem will solve itself by some semimiraculous means involving no effort on its part. It is hoping against hope that the problem will vanish of its own accord.

(Translation):

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LIB

Raymond Raymond

Liberal

Mr. Raymond O'Hurley (Lotbiniere):

Mr. Speaker, I had not planned to take part in the discussion on this bill which, I contend, is

one of extreme urgency for a certain part of our population. However, I would not like either, by keeping silent, to give the population of this country the impression that members on the government side are opposed to an emergency measure designed to give western farmers some money until this year's crop is sold.

It is for that reason, Mr. Speaker-this is my maiden speech in this house but I am being forced by circumstances, to take part in this debate-that I feel it my duty, indeed a sacred duty, as a representative of an essentially agricultural constituency of the province of Quebec, to speak in the French language, the language of my electors.

Mr. Speaker, I know for having discussed this matter in caucus and in discussions with the Prime Minister that this is an urgent measure. This is no grant, no outright gift made by the country to western farmers but, for all practical purposes, a loan which will provide them with ready cash until such time as their crop is sold. That is why I would like to take a clear stand on this issue, as did other Quebec members who spoke before me.

I would not like this measure offered by the government to be considered as a gift. I know that this legislation does not apply to the other farm products, but I know also that it is a part of the policy announced by the Prime Minister in order to achieve balance in the field of agriculture. I support it, though, because I have as much feeling as those members who preceded me.

This plan is not perfect because perfection is not of this world but we shall try to reduce the margin existing at this time between prices obtained by the producers and what the consumers pay. Being a farmer's son and the owner of a farm, I know that the price obtained by the farmer for his products does not provide him with a salary comparable to that of other classes of society at the present time.

That is why we will shortly propose legislation with a view to filling this gap between the price paid to the producer and the price paid by the consumer.

Therein lies, I think, the difficulty facing the farmers of the province of Quebec. I had intended to deal with various aspects of agriculture in the province of Quebec during the debate on the address in reply to the

Grain

speech from the throne, but the examination of this measure prompted me to say a few words on the question of loans or grants to western farmers.

Just recently, I heard the hon. members from the opposition, my good friends from the constituencies next to mine, say that prices paid this year for maple syrup, pulp wood and various farm products were lower than last year's. If they remember well, in March and April 1956 maple syrup was selling at $7 a gallon in my riding. This year, the same syrup, of identical quality, sold at $3 a gallon. And yet, it was not the Conservative party which was in power. Therefore, it is not our fault, it is a legacy for which we cannot be held accountable, but, nonetheless a legacy that we have come into. In any case we shall try to be fair to everyone, while at the same time helping western farmers.

This bill, this loan we are suggesting is, in other words, an advance on their crops, which is going to be refunded to the federal treasury through their wheat pools. It is not an amount of $2.5 million which they are going to keep, but a cash advance.

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LIB

Wilfrid Lacroix

Liberal

Mr. LaCroix:

An advance that will never be refunded.

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PC

Raymond Joseph Michael O'Hurley (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. O'Hurley:

I had always understood that once a legislation is passed, it has to be complied with, and farmers, whether they live in the west or in the east, in Ontario, Quebec or New Brunswick, are accustomed to observing the law.

I say these grants are liable to help our rural population, because western farmers would then be able to reduce their production costs and, consequently, resale prices, which will open up new markets to them.

Mr. Speaker, like all members sitting with me on this side of the house, I put my trust in this government, and I shall vote in favour of this legislation, because I know that this government will be inclined to submit new bills to assist Quebec farmers. And I know for certain that those farmers will understand our position and, in their turn, be fair to us.

(Text):

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SC

Alexander Bell Patterson

Social Credit

Mr. A. B. Patterson (Fraser Valley):

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I have risen to participate in a debate in the course of the present session. I want to assure you, however, that it is not my intention to delay to any appreciable degree the passage of this measure; but I do feel there is one principle

Grain

that should be restated and kept in mind in considering the agricultural measure now before us.

The position of this group relative to the matter under consideration has been declared very clearly and concisely not only in the course of this debate but on other occasions as well. Recognizing as we do the serious financial difficulty in which the wheat producers of the prairie provinces find themselves owing to the inability to market their grain we have supported and do support the principle of cash advances on farm-stored grain as proposed in the measure. However, once again I would like to call attention to what I consider to be a very serious weakness or, shall I say, a danger in the legislation which we are now considering.

We are singling out a particular section of our country and a specific part of our agricultural industry for special attention. Let me again state, as I have already done, this proposal is receiving my support, but I do feel that in this parliament we must concern ourselves with policies and measures the benefits of which will, in comparable circumstances, be available to citizens right across our country. As an illustration, I should like to refer just briefly to our plea made on other occasions for the expansion of such measures as the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act. I mention this at this time only to illustrate my point.

Our agricultural industry, or economy, in British Columbia is, as you know Mr. Speaker, more diversified but we have marketing problems as well. We feel that as regards at least some of our products we might be justified in claiming some such assistance as is contemplated in this measure. I am reminded as well of the maritime section, and the producers in that area who might feel justified in requesting consideration, and no doubt would benefit considerably were the benefits of such legislation made available to them.

Some months ago I had the opportunity to be in the province of New Brunswick and the problem of marketing their potato crop was brought to my attention. When the crop is harvested the markets are usually in a very depressed condition; but because of the desperate position in which the producers find themselves they dispose of their potato crop to buyers or speculators at a few cents a barrel. Those potatoes are stored on the farms by those producers and when the markets improve and a good price is commanded the buyers come along and take delivery and, of course, reap the benefits. I would suggest that if some such legislation was passed, or if a provision was included

in such a measure as we have here, cash advances in that particular instance would be of inestimable value to the producers of that section. If those advances were available they could store their crop just as they do at the present time but they themselves would benefit from the improved market at the time of selling. I know it would be very hard on the speculators but it would be good for the producers.

I raise this point, Mr. Speaker, not because of any opposition to the principle involved in this measure but because I and many others are of the opinion that the benefits of measures designed for the good of our people should be available to all under comparable circumstances.

I listened with a great deal of interest to some of the members who participated in the debate last evening, for instance the hon. member for Calgary South (Mr. Smith). I was charmed by his quality of voice; I enjoyed his powers of oratory but I could not appreciate, as can be understood, his wholehearted confidence in the present administration to carry through a program that in its totality would take care of all the problems that face agriculture at the present time. I believe one of the other members suggested that this was only the first in a list of measures which would be introduced by this government and which would be in the interests of the agricultural industry of the nation. My own fear, Mr. Speaker, is that unless the fires are kept burning and a good head of steam is maintained this government may grind to a stop before the destination is reached, before the point is reached where legislation has been brought in which will bring to the agricultural industry of Canada the help it needs at the present time. Therefore, I raise this point once again, Mr. Speaker, in the hope that when measures are introduced in this house we shall keep in mind the fact that we are dealing with national issues, and the measures which are contemplated, considered and passed should be in the interest of all the people of Canada regardless of where they may reside. (Translation):

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LIB

Charles-Noël Barbès

Liberal

Mr. C. N. Barbes (Chapleau):

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the farmers of my constituency,

I would like to say a few words at this stage on Bill 14, providing for cash advances on prairie grain prior to delivery thereof.

Through this legislation the government wishes to authorize cash advances to prairie farmers-and I repeat this-on threshed grain, before its delivery to the Canadian wheat board. The producer of wheat, barley or oats will therefore be enabled to receive

Grain

cash advances up to a maximum of $3,000. In this way 100 to 150 million dollars will probably be advanced to western farmers on farm stored grain.

Mr. Speaker, the bill is possibly to the advantage of the western grain producer, but in the opinion of the farmers who, like myself, live in the eastern part of the country, this appears to be preferential treatment at the expense of the taxpayer, if the measure is adopted as such.

As for myself, before voting for such a measure, I would like our homesteaders and those farmers of ours who have woodlots to benefit from cash advances also, though not exclusively on pulpwood which has been cut and offered for sale but not yet delivered to the buyer. Advances such as are proposed by the bill, carrying no interest, should, to my mind, apply everywhere.

Those thousands of farmers who clear land, cut wood and farm in our districts will certainly not approve this legislation. It is not enough to promise an inquiry on the price spread between what is paid to the producer and what is paid by the consumer. Such an inquiry has nothing to do with a nation-wide agricultural policy.

Yesterday the member for Victoria-Carle-ton (Mr. Montgomery) told us that this measure was a part of the Conservative national policy, that it had been explained throughout the length and breadth of this country during the last general election. Well, as far as I am concerned, I would like to point out here that, during the last campaign in my constituency, my opponent was at pains to say that legislation in favour of those people who live on the prairies was preferential treatment costing millions of dollars, that these privileges were unacceptable if we remembered that our own farmers do not benefit from similar federal legislation concerning what they produce on their own land.

This particular point having been raised in our constituency, I am of the opinion that many Canadians who live on the land in Abitibi would not favour such a proposal. I have all the sympathy in the world for our western friends, but on the other hand I will not forget our own farmers who would like to keep on farming and, at the same time, receive their fair share of the national income.

On October 15 last, Mr. Speaker, an hon. member asked the government whether it intended to set up a commission to investigate price spreads. At that time, the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) stated that the government had given immediate consideration to this most serious and difficult 96698-34

farming problem, one respecting which he himself had spoken on a number of occasions, stressing the need of something being done to investigate this spread in prices paid to the producers as compared to those required of consumers. The right hon. Prime Minister promised at that time that a statement would be made on this matter in the near future.

A few days later, that is on October 23, the hon. Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Monteith), in submitting the government program, explained the details of government bills relating to the Old Age Pension Act, the Old Age Assistance Act, the Blind Persons Act and the Disabled Persons Act.

On the following day, that is on October 24, the hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Harkness), speaking of farming problems and of a stabilizing price measure, merely stated that he had realized, when he took office as Minister of Agriculture, that the situation was extremely serious, adding that he had tried to improve the situation as far as some agricultural products are concerned and that he would continue to take every possible step with all possible speed to correct this unfortunate situation.

Well, Mr. Speaker, once the government has proposed an overall plan and submitted all the farming measures as a whole, taking into account the needs of eastern farmers, I shall be in a position to consider this bill. However, for my part, it is my duty to vote against this measure if a vote is recorded on second reading.

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October 29, 1957