October 29, 1957 (23rd Parliament, 1st Session)


Charles-Noël Barbès


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

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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