December 11, 1947 (20th Parliament, 4th Session)


John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative


I never did ask for it.
I am speaking now of the way in which the government has administered the powers that we gave it.
Let me now touch on another control that you misused. You were giving subsidies and you had a price ceiling on coarse grain. By your control and by your marketing policies you had frozen the prices of the finished products of the farmers. By your contracts with Britain you had frozen farm prices and made them more or less fixed. They were influenced a little by some that was sold outside but they were largely fixed. Then by removing all your controls on costs you let the cost of production go up, with the result that every branch of the livestock industry across this country is now fearful of the future. They feel that under these conditions the possibility to make a profit has gone. They say the government controls are not working out fairly.
But the worst criticism of all is that you chose to do that in the middle of the marketing season. If I remember correctly, up to October 20 these controls were on, and these subsidies were on. The prices received by those who had grain to sell were low. Then you took off these ceilings, and you took off the subsidies, and the next day the prices were 20 cents to 30 cents a bushel higher. You have made one section of the producers of Canada take low prices and have allowed others to get high prices on the same commodity. I say, Mr. Speaker, that there can be no excuse for the government taking that action at the time it did. It should have been done either at the beginning of the marketing season or at the end of it. You have created an inequity in this way, an inequity which you will find no means of correcting short of dipping into the treasury of the dominion in order to do so.
I shall speak now about the administration of another control. It has to do with the question of another cereal; I refer to rye. Rye is a cereal which is actually worth less than wheat, from the point of view of its food value. That commodity was not controlled by the government. The result was that the price went up to $4 or thereabouts a bushel, at a time when this government had sold two-thirds of the wheat crop of the Canadian farmer for $1.55 a bushel, yet here was a cereal worth less than wheat finding a world price of S4. What happened? The price of rye was not so high in the United States. The farmers there were getting about S3 a bushel for their rye. Canadians on this side went over there, bought this rye at around
53 a bushel, paid 9 cents a bushel tariff on it, brought it into Canada and then sold it at
54 a bushel, thus making nearly SI 'a bushel, just by bringing it across th" line.
The point I want to make is this. In order to buy that rye they had to get United States dollars, of which we were short in this country. They were allowed by the government's regulations to get those United States dollars in this country in order to bring in rye from another country, which rye was immediately sold outside of Canada. Our United States dollars were used for that purpose at a time when we were short of United States dollars. Somebody here is surely responsible for that.
You asked for control of our economy in wartime. The nation gladly gave you the powers you asked for. The war is over. You asked for emergency powers in peacetime, and that request too was granted, but with many misgivings. Under your administration, by the powers you have used or failed to use, you
Transitional Measures Act

have failed to solve the problems you wanted to solve, and we are in the situation we are in today, which everybody admits is not good. Under your administration, your use of these controls has failed to correct the conditions you set out to correct. As I said, your attempts to solve certain problems have created others, and you have misused certain powers you have. I do not question the integrity or even the ability of the men who are trying to control the nation's economy, Mr. Speaker, but I do say that this all goes to show that a few people here in Ottawa cannot regulate the nation's economy satisfactorily.
T-he government asked for all these powers; it got the powers it asked for. It has made its own bed; now it is asking for three months in which to lie in it. I want to say to the government that we are willing to grant that reprieve. But if you do not make a better job in the next three months than you did in the last nine, you will not be facing a complacent House of Commons when you come back here again. You will find yourselves facing the wrath of the people, particularly the farmers, the workers and the businessmen. And you will face the indignation of the members who are sent here to represent them, and you will face it not only from this side but from all sides of the house. While we are granting this reprieve for three months, I promise you a critical appraisal of your acts by this party, and I imagine by other parties as well, and certainly by the Canadian people.

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