March 27, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Major James William Coldwell

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


I am not sure about that. I have not checked it up, but I doubt whether even that is true. In any event, however, it is correct to say that the two parties sitting to your far left, Mr. Speaker,
do represent largely the wheat-growing area of this country; consequently this matter is of vital interest to us. It is true that the farmers during these war years, in spite of improved prices, have not received either the returns for their labour or the recognition which they deserve of their contribution to the maintenance of price ceilings.
I have stated on a number of occasions in this house that the assessment for income tax, for example, which has been mentioned several times in the debate, is wrong so far as farm families are concerned. Some allowance should have been made long ago for the farmer's wife and the farmer's family'. These wives and families have contributed a great deal, in their long hours of labour on the farm, to the building up of farm incomes, and some recognition should have been given to them long ago. I hope that when the new budget comes down their remuneration, if you like to call it that, will be considered a legitimate part of farm expenses.
I wish to say something about the wheat policy of the government, and I shall deal with wheat for the reasons I gave a few moments ago. The policy of the C.C.F. prior to and during the early part of the W'ar was a pretty continuous demand for increased prices for wheat in order to give the farmer a return which would enable him to hire the necessary labour, buy the necessary machinery, and attain a reasonable standard of living; and as long as wheat prices remained at 60 cents, 70 cents, 90 cents and SI a bushel we fought for increased prices for wheat, and fought continuously.
Farmers organizations want stabilized prices, and I am glad that the Minister of Agriculture was able yesterday to place before the house the outline of the agreement that has been reached with Great Britain. I had hoped that some such agreement might be reached, and now we have before us an agreement which does guarantee certain prices to farmers this year and the two succeeding years. I have not examined all the details of the agreement. Some of these prices may' be out of line, too low. If so, then I agree with the member for Acadia that if the farmers are asked to take any price that is too low, they should not be penalized on that account but the difference should be made up by all the people of Canada. It should not fall on farmers alone.
Farmers organizations, as I have already said, continue, as they continued in those years, to demand adequate and stabilized prices. Our- position now is this, that the act establishing a floor price of $1 a bushel
The Address-Mr. Coldwell

ought to be amended and at least SI.25 substituted as the floor. I should prefer to see an amendment made, not on the basis of SI.25 but on the basis of a thorough discussion with the farm organizations concerned, and by negotiation and by intelligent appraisal, to find out what the floor price really ought to be at this time. Perhaps it might be nearer SI .55. When this floor price is set it should take into consideration the average cost of production, and some consideration should be given to the contribution that agriculture made during the course of the war.
I want to make this abundantly clear, as I said a short time ago, because of articles that have appeared in the press linking us in some degree with the propaganda of the Progressive Conservatives, and incidentally with the private grain trade of the country. The C.C.F., in common with western organizations, including, may I say, some western Liberal organizations, have always condemned reliance on open market trading as a method of fixing prices. We have consistently urged and we urge now the abolition completely of the Winnipeg grain exchange. Why keep it in existence, particularly when these new agreements are before the house? We have condemned the grain exchange and that method of marketing because of fluctuating prices, high at some period and inevitably low at another.
We believe in a democratic and intelligently planned economy in which prices would bear some relationship to each other. I think we can be proud of what Canada did during the war in the provision of food, when we came to the fore in the supplying of all kinds of commodities to the united nations through mutual aid. Our principal contribution even then was of great quantities of wheat.
My hon. friend the member for Swift Current last night outlined part of the history of the wheat problem. The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. MacKinnon) announced on September 28, 1943, that all the Canadian visible wheat had been taken over by the wheat board in order that we might carry out commitments we had then made under mutual aid, and the wheat board became the only marketing agency. It was at that time, I believe-in fact I know-that the initial price of $1.25 a bushel was set, an increase incidentally which pleased us, because it was 35 cents a bushel more than had been prevailing up to that time; and subsequently the government purchased from the wheat board for mutual aid the wheat it needed, which
I believe at that time amounted to 150 or 160 million bushels, at a price of $1.43 a bushel or thereabouts.

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