January 22, 1958

PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I advise the minister not to invite interruptions, because there will be plenty of them in any event. However, I shall try to prevent any interruptions that are not properly made on a point of order.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle):

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your help. Quite frankly I enjoy it this way myself, because I know who suffers as a result of these clashes.

The story I have been outlining concerning the pools is the story of how western Canada tried in its own way to meet this problem, but we had to face up to the fact that we needed federal help. In eastern Canada, of course, the farmers have gone in for producer boards as a means of stabilizing their prices.

I think an illustration of what I am talking about will paint the picture much clearer than anything else I could say. In Ontario and Saskatchewan one of our side products is turkeys. Consider a farmer who has had difficulty trying to sell his grain. He observes that the price of turkeys has gone up to anywhere between 45 and 50 cents a pound. He then decides that next year he is going to raise turkeys. He proceeds to purchase some turkeys and raise them; then when he is ready to market them in the fall he discovers that a large number of farmers in his area have had the same idea. When they go to sell their turkeys the price declines to 20 cents a pound, and all the farmers have lost their shirts. As a result it is difficult to persuade farmers to go into cash crops because of the uncertainty.

That is the reason for the stabilization bill. It is the first step in an effort to see if it is possible to get a group of farm representatives to sit down and look over the facts before us such as the cost of production, supply and demand and other relevant considerations, and then determine a price that will gauge the market in order to give a price that is close to the cost of production but which will not cause huge surpluses.

It must be very clear that if you produce too much then the support price the next year must be reduced as a warning to decrease production. If the support price does not produce enough, as in the case of butter, then we shall have to bring it up carefully until it does. Meanwhile the farmer who does produce each year knows that the support price will be announced before he puts in his crop, or before he breeds his animals. He will not lose his shirt, as in the case I have just given.

It is absolutely, clear, Mr. Speaker, that support prices must be flexible, or we will destroy the scheme with surpluses and the

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization farmer will be back to where he was before. In setting a support price the bill says:

The governor in council shall have regard to the estimated average cost of production of the commodity.

This is an effort on our part to set supports as close as possible to the cost of production without creating unmanageable surpluses. I believe it is a sensible approach and makes the plan workable.

I would like to say a word to those who have been peddling the propaganda in favour of a 100 per cent parity price system. The 100 per cent of parity is a magic figure. It seems to suggest to every farmer that he is going to get the full cost of production and a return on his investment; but it does not stand sober analysis, Mr. Speaker.

Any person with reasonable intelligence who thinks for a moment realizes that a 100 per cent parity price is a fallacy. Cost of production, according to most statistical and formal approaches, is based on the average cost; and the bitter truth is that this arbitrary average means the ruin of the small farmer, for a very simple reason. The reason is that the small farmer usually has costs of production above the average, and the large farmer has costs of production below the average.

In plain terms, an arbitrary 100 per cent parity price would be mainly an extra bonus to the big farmer.

In western Canada today nearly two-thirds of our farmers farm 300 acres or less; if the specified acreage is used as the measuring stick. These farmers need help; they need crop insurance, they need a farm credit program; they need to cut costs; they need producer boards to help them bargain, and they need some help in setting up those conservation methods which will help them to greater efficiency and lower costs. All these are part of our 13-point program.

I think the people of western Canada and of all Canada want to see any government put that policy into effect to see if it will help in lifting the farmers out of this lower standard of living into which they have fallen over the last few years, when the farmers who composed one-sixth of the population got only one-twelfth of the income of this country. I put before the house in all seriousness that this stabilized price legislation is the first step in any program to achieve this long-range program. If we are going to get farmers to shift from one product to another product where there is a higher return, we have to guarantee that if they make some investment they will have a price that will save them from losing out in that particular year. If we want to encourage

3624 HOUSE OF

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization the smaller farmer or the man with poor land to expand or shift to meet new conditions, we have to give him some guarantee that he will not lose out by going into that expansion, by reducing his costs and increasing his efficiency.

Above all, Mr. Speaker, this stabilization bill is necessary to give some peace of mind to a group of people who have always been considered to be the backbone of the country, and who have not had that security over the last few years.

I think I can do no less than point this out to the house and to my hon. friends to my right in the southeast corner of the house. If you were seriously and sincerely interested in this problem, then you would take a look at this legislation which has been accepted by the farm organizations as a step forward, and give it a real trial with enthusiastic and sincere support. But no, Mr. Speaker, they do not do that. They do not even mention-

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Casileden:

Will the minister permit a question?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle):

I will permit the question at the end of my remarks. They do not even mention that this problem is so serious that in the province of Saskatchewan, where most of the C.C.F. noise is coming from now, the people have worried about it for many years. In 1950 the government of the province of Saskatchewan set up a royal commission on agricultural and rural life to study this very problem. There are 14 volumes of reports. How many members of the C.C.F. party who come from Saskatchewan have stood up in this house and told us what those reports were?

This group of men and women studied this problem for four years. They heard farmers and organizations all over Saskatchewan on this very problem, and they have devoted a whole volume to agricultural markets and prices. Here is the informed opinion of a group of commissioners whose names are known to every member of the C.C.F. party in the province of Saskatchewan.

My hon. friends of the Liberal party in Saskatchewan say that these commissioners are the stooges of the C.C.F. party. Who are these people? The commission was headed by Professor W. B. Baker, and the other names are Mrs. Nancy Adams, Ethel-ton, Mr. T. H. Bourassa, Mr. H. L. Fowler, Mr. Charles W. Gibbings from Rosetown, vice president of the wheat pool, Mr. J. L. Phelps, a minister of the C.C.F. government and for five years president of the Saskatchewan farm union. Mr. Fowler is one of the heads of the federated co-op.

[Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle) .1

What did these people say about this very matter? I am going to put this on the record. These are all serious, sincere, and informed people of the province of Saskatchewan, and many of them are from the C.C.F. party. Above all they are good citizens of the province of Saskatchewan. What do these serious-minded people say about this type of thing? Let us look at the record. At page 177, chapter 10, we find the following:

The Role oi Support Prices in a Comprehensive Agricultural Program.

I ask any member of the house to stand up and give a quotation which differs from, or gives a different meaning to, what I am going to read:

In chapter II were indicated the types of programs which, either directly or indirectly, would operate to stabilize farm incomes at a higher level. In general, they were programs which would tend to correct deficiencies in the economy and to create conditions which would place agriculture on a more equal footing with the rest of the economy.

What are these things? I am now turning to page 182, and I would ask all serious and sincere members in the party to my right to study this chart which compares forward prices, as under this legislation, with 100 per cent parity prices and with 75 per cent parity prices. They will find that this whole interesting bit of information makes one clear point, namely that advance prices or forward prices, as in this bill, are superior to 100 per cent parity prices and much superior, of course, to 75 per cent parity prices. This is not my opinion; this is the opinion of five men and women who worked for four years listening to people and for three years in reporting on the problem. Let me read what they say; listen, Mr. Speaker:

It should also be noted that support prices alone will not solve the problems of low income groups in agriculture. Other programs are necessary. If a support price program is considered to be the sole solution to agricultural problems, it will be self-defeating no matter how carefully it is constructed or administered. If the support scheme does not involve any income transfer over the years, small producers will benefit only from having their small profits or losses stabilized.

This is the opinion of a group of people after studying this question and writing on it for a period of six or seven years.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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CCF

Edward George McCullough

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

Mr. McCullough:

What do they say about deficiency payments?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle):

I shall deal with deficiency payments in due course. I am now going to read four conclusions, which will be found on page 211. These conclusions deal with support prices. Conclusion No. 37 was in these words:

A comprehensive agricultural program which gave agriculture bargaining power equal to other groups

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

in the economy would reduce the need for a support price program. If the agricultural program is more limited and full employment and a high level of exports are not maintained, a support program is necessary. A support program would be desirable even if a comprehensive program were in force, although its operations would probably be limited to isolated marketing maladjustments.

This bill is part of a comprehensive farm program. This bill becomes the first step in achieving that equality of income that the first conclusion recommends. Conclusion No. 38 is in these words:

A support program should include the following principles:-

I wish hon. members behind me, beside me and across the floor would listen to these six principles.

(a) It should be based on parity of costs and product prices because such a basis is readily understandable.

If the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Hark-ness) should go out to a group of farmers and start to explain the very fine Canadian Federation of Agriculture formula, how many farmers in a hundred would be able to work out that formula? But they certainly understand when you take ten years or three years or simply an arithmetical average. The first recommendation simply involves an arithmetical average which does show the relation of product prices and, in the words of the report, is readily understandable.

(b) It should cover all farm products.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston (Bow River):

Does this bill?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle):

How many

times have we heard hon. members say that this legislation does not cover all farm products? How many times have we heard the statement that it only covers so many named products? They refuse to understand or are unable to understand. They apparently cannot get it through their heads that this bill can cover all agriculture products with the exception of the three grains in western Canada.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

It is designed for that

purpose.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle):

It is designed to cover all agricultural products so the second conclusion in the report is met in the bill.

(c) It should use a recent period of full employment and normal trade as a base.

Not going back to 1909 to 1914, not going back to 1925 to 1929, but a recent period. This bill does that.

(d) It should guarantee only a reasonable maximum of production from any one farm.

It is this point-

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I am sorry to interrupt the minister but his time has expired.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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CCF

Jacob Schulz

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

Mr. Schulz:

I should like to ask a question. Does the minister not know that a minority report was issued which proposed parity prices?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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?

Some hon. Members:

Question.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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CCF

Jacob Schulz

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

Mr. Schulz:

I asked him a question. Does he not know that a minority report was issued supporting parity prices and that the minority report is now endorsed by the organizations in Saskatchewan?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

He does not know it.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle):

I read the newspapers of my province. I know that there was a group of men sitting on the platform. I know that newspaper reports inferred that there was a minority report on this particular volume but there was no written minority report. There was a minority report or another volume on the question on what was going to happen to small farms. But I am not quarreling with that. I simply say: Do they want to repudiate Mr. Phelps and throw him to the wolves? Do they repudiate Charlie Gibbons? Do they repudiate Mr. Bourassa? Do they repudiate Mr. Fowler? Do they repudiate Mrs. Adams? Do they repudiate Mr. Baker? I am going to conclude by answering this one question. If my hon. friends were conscious of the wisdom of this minority report why did they not bring it into the house and discuss it? Why did they hide it?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. W. A. Tucker (Rosthern):

Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Hamilton) had been in the house during the last ten years or even during the last five years I think he would have understood-

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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?

An hon. Member:

If he had been you

would not have been here.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. Tucker:

-why the C.C.F. feel as they do with regard to the present bill and the way in which the government has acted since it has been in office. Those who were here remember what close allies they were in their attacks upon the government of the day with regard to its endeavours to support prices as high as it was possible to do so at that time. The Conservative opposition of that time joined forces with the C.C.F. and attacked the government of the day just about as violently as the C.C.F. is attacking the Conservative party today.

There is no doubt in my mind that the idea was spread throughout the country that if the Conservative party were elected to office there would be something done along the lines that the C.C.F. have been advocating. Therefore the government does not need to feel surprised at the attitude of the C.C.F. with respect to the government not having

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization kept its promises. They do not need to feel surprised if a lot of people who voted Conservative in the last election are very disappointed.

As a matter of fact, the government now pours scorn upon the idea of the support price policy of the United States government but I know that neither they nor their leader did that when they were in opposition. In fact, throughout the campaign their leader suggested that if he were elected to office he would follow a similar policy. They should not feel put out if the people believed them when they made these promises and held out these inducements. They should not feel hurt about it. It would be surprising if the people had not believed some of the things they said.

For example, when the present Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) spoke at Shellbrook, Saskatchewan on April 19 last he was reported in this way:

Mr. Diefenbaker went on to outline five ways in which the Progressive Conservative party would achieve stability for agriculture.

The very first one, Mr. Speaker, was the enactment of permanent floor legislation based on a definite formula. Where is the definite formula in this legislation? That is what the farm organizations have been asking for. That is the thing for which the Liberal government of the day was attacked most violently by the Conservative party. Their present attitude as revealed in the bill they have brought before the house and by the position they have taken with regard to it indicates that the attitude they took then was not sincere but one designed to get votes at all costs. They do not need to be surprised if western Canada is surprised at their present attitude.

There were other places where the present Prime Minister held out similar inducements. For example, the Toronto Daily Star of April 26, 1957 reported the then leader of the opposition in this way:

For the farmers, he pledged a fair share of the national income through a flexible support program to ensure adequate parity between farm prices and costs.

Later in the campaign he came out even more definitely in dealing with the unsatisfactory nature of the situation so far as the farmers were concerned. For example, I have an excerpt from the Winnipeg Tribune of May 14, 1957 with respect to a press conference held by the present Prime Minister, in which report I find the following:

On agriculture, Mr. Diefenbaker promised flexible support prices similar to those instituted in the United States by the Eisenhower administration.

What are we to think of a party that goes to the country promising a similar system to that

of the United States and then when in power pours scorn and contempt on that policy? It must be a big surprise to the people of western Canada. I am sure they have great respect for the present Prime Minister. I do not believe they thought for a single minute he did not intend to carry out those things which he held out to the people. It is really a shock that a party that condemned the Liberal government year in and year out because they did not do something to ensure a greater degree of parity of income for the farmers of this country, should after seven months in office, Mr. Speaker, have brought forward a bill which, in my opinion, is not as good as the Agricultural Prices Support Act.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Gage Workman Montgomery

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Montgomery:

Vote against it then.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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January 22, 1958