Mr. T. J. Bentley (Swift Current):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to congratulate the member from Rosthern (Mr. Boucher) on his maiden speech and the manner in which he delivered it. If it is ever the misfortune of the rest of the country-and his good fortune -to have him return here, which I doubt, he will no doubt do considerably better the next time. We in this group have no criticism to offer, Mr. Speaker, of the calling of an election at this time. We are very pleased. The date is agreeable to us. We believe it is time an election was called to give the people of this country an opportunity of saying what they want.
I am not going to brag about what will happen. We will allow the members from other parties to read the ballots and weep on the night of the twenty-seventh. I was interested, however, in the member for Rosthern's description of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). If he had been a little more cognizant of the history of the last fifteen or twenty years; had he been a little less prejudiced, he would have realized that many of the things that he claims the minister stands for now, that same Minister of Agriculture opposed most bitterly within the very short memory of a great many people in western Canada.
He poses now as a great believer in orderly marketing. That same Minister of Agriculture made it very difficult for the farm organizations of western Canada, and the C.C.F. group in the House of Commons, finally to persuade him that the idea was good. And then having adopted the idea, the same hon. gentleman has been so piecemeal in introducing that type of legislation into this house that a great deal of the benefit that should have accrued has not come from it. The people have not been given the full benefit of what we believe is proper orderly marketing in order to receive parity prices. I may deal with that a little later.
The Budget-Mr. Bentley
Before going into the main reason for speaking in this budget debate, Mr. Speaker, I want to deal for a moment or two with this matter of marketing coarse grains, and all the controversy that has been going on since a little over a year ago when Bill No. 135, an amendment to the wheat board act, was introduced into this house. It will be remembered that one section of the act gives authority to the wheat board to handle oats or barley or oats and barley if it was considered necessary. I am sorry the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) is not in his seat, because at that time he was the premier of Manitoba. During his term of office there when Bill No. 135 was under discussion in this House of Commons, and when the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) made it clear that Bill No. 135 would not be proclaimed unless the three prairie provincial governments each passed conjoint legislation to make it legal, the present Minister of Justice, at that time the premier of Manitoba, disputed most emphatically in correspondence with the Minister of Trade and Commerce the need for that legislation and the need for the legality of it. While I am not going to quote all these things today, I shall refer the house to sessional paper 110C, tabled during this session of parliament, containing that correspondence between these two gentlemen, and setting out very clearly the present Minister of Justice's disagreement with the actions of this government at the time that he was premier of Manitoba. Even today that hybrid government of Manitoba between the Liberals and the Tories, who have such glorious little squabbles in this house, but who get along so well out there, did not have the courage to bring in a government measure of that kind, but had to let it come in through a private member, and even then were compelled to accept it by the weight of opinion of the farmers of Manitoba.
Yesterday the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) asked a question in this house with regard to the matter. If I remember his words correctly-and he can correct me if I am wrong; they will be found in Hansard-his question was as follows:
In view of the fact that the legislature of Manitoba has joined the legislatures of Alberta and Saskatchewan in enacting complementary legislation in reference to the marketing of coarse grains, will the compulsory marketing of coarse grains now become automatic, or does the government intend to give further consideration to the question whether the course recommended by these legislatures will be carried into effect?
The question itself was worded in such terms as to indicate the innate caution of the hon. gentleman who asked it. He has been extremely cautious in his approach to this
The Budget-Mr. Bentley matter, knowing that his own convention last fall was very much against this type of legislation and finally adopted it only with the proviso that other types of marketing would also be allowed to exist along with it.
The minister replied to the hon. member for Lake Centre in these words, which will be found at page 2519 of Hansard:
The government set the prerequisite to the act being brought into force on two or three occasions. Apparently that prerequisite has been complied with.
Then note this:
The government will study the situation in the light of what has been said in the past.
Shortly after that the hon. member for Melfort (Mr. Wright) asked a supplementary question. It was unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member for Melfort did not get the floor first; but being farther away from the Speaker he was not recognized as early as the hon. member for Lake Centre, consequently his question could not get on Hansard as it should have, but it will get there today to indicate the difference in the tone, the difference in the sympathy toward this type of legislation between the question asked by the hon. member for Lake Centre and what would have been asked by the hon. member for Melfort. This is the question the hon. member for Melfort would have asked:
In view of the fact that the three western provinces have now passed the necessary complementary legislation to last year's Bill No. 135, and in view of the fact that the western farmers are now seeding, and the amount of coarse grain seeded will depend on the implementation of this act and the prices established under it, will the minister make a statement clarifying the position of the government and stating the 1949 prices for coarse grains?
That indicated on the part of the hon. member for Melfort a sincere desire to see the farmers themselves get the type of reply that would give them some guidance, some information to indicate to them in the management of their farms whether they should sow more or less coarse grains and which kind to sow. The minister replied in the same tone that he had used before. I want to remind the Minister of Trade and Commerce of one or two things. On several occasions in the past the Minister of Trade and Commerce has made statements about this matter. In 1948, as will be found at page 1678 of Hansard, the minister said:
The government is prepared to take whatever steps lie within its power to assist in establishing marketing arrangements that will help to maintain economic and stable prices for Canadian agricultural products. The government must, however, be satisfied that any given scheme for this purpose is . . . a practical one-
I have left out a few words, but any hon. member can look them up. I am not taking
anything out of the context; I am simply shortening things up. He said:
... a workable one and one that will command the support of the interested groups concerned.
In dealing with this matter this year the minister made a statement which is reported at page 1421 of Hansard. This was not in another debate, Mr. Speaker; it was an answer of the minister and therefore it is quite in order to quote it here. In giving the answer he had dealt with the matter of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture's representations to the government asking that this particular legislation be introduced. He had gone on to say why they could not do it in the way that the Canadian Federation of Agriculture wanted it done, and he pointed out that if the farmers did not like the way he was doing it they could make use of the bill that was going to be introduced by the Minister of Agriculture and which has since been disposed of, namely, Bill No. 82. He then finished up with these words:
If, on the other hand, the western producers wish to market their oats and barley through the Canadian wheat board, and provided that their provincial governments will enact the necessary legislation, this government's position has not changed since I introduced Bill 135 in response to specific requests then made by the farm organizations.
If that is not a clear indication of a promise, a definite undertaking to do a certain job when certain conditions had been met, I do not know what it is. From the time he introduced the bill he said that if the three prairie provinces passed conjoint legislation his government would instruct the wheat board to handle oats and barley. This is what he said yesterday in reply to the hon. member for Lake Centre:
The government will study the situation in the light of what has been said in the past.
What does the Minister of Trade and Commerce want? His conditions have been fulfilled. Everything he has asked for has been done. The people of the prairie provinces, by representations made to their own governments, have finally persuaded any of those governments which might have been reluctant that it was in their interest, and that they wanted this legislation. The minister has the legislation before him; and now he has the effrontery on the eve of an election to tell the House of Commons that the government is again going to give study to the situation. If I were inclined to use rough or profane language, I would ask, "What the hell more does the minister want?"
Subtopic: DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE