Mr. Benoit Michaud (Resiigouche-Mada-waska):
I believe the few remarks which I wish to make apply to the principle of the bill, and that is why I would rather make them now. I suppose this bill is all right in many ways. I gather that it meets the wishes of the farmers of the west to a great extent, and also the farmers of other parts of Canada. From the point of view of a class of farmers in the maritime provinces I doubt that it will bring about the relief and protection which we have been seeking for a number of years. I refer, of course, to the potato growers.
This measure is in the nature of enabling legislation. Apparently the officers of the Department of Justice take the view, and I think correctly so, that matters of export trade and interprovincial trade come within federal jurisdiction. The object of the bill is to pass along to the provinces a portion of jurisdiction which properly belongs to the
Agricultural Products Marketing Act federal government. What will happen? When this legislation passes, I presume every province which has a marketing act-we have one in New Brunswick, and I think all the maritime provinces have marketing acts- will endeavour to take advantage of it.
Our problem is the marketing of our huge crops of potatoes in outside markets, and in central Canada. The difficulty applies mostly to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and to some extent Nova Scotia. We export considerable quantities to South America and Central America. The trouble has been that in past years there have been cutthroat practices amongst the different dealers in the maritime provinces. I am sure as far as New Brunswick is concerned that is so. I have here a letter from the minister of agriculture of New Brunswick which corroborates that statement. In New Brunswick the producers have never been able to get together to set a price. They have been underselling one another in these markets. To a large extent that has been the cause of a great many of our difficulties. Let us assume that under this legislation the New Brunswick government proceeds to set a minimum price at New Brunswick seaports for the export of our potatoes, because what is exported through the seaports is mostly seed potatoes to South America and Central America. Suppose they set a price of $2 per 100 pounds at Saint John, and Prince Edward Island sets a price of $1.90, Nova Scotia a price of $2.10 and Quebec a price of $2.20. What will be the outcome? We will have to face the same unfair competition that we have been facing as between individual exporters.
Countries which are purchasing will purchase where the prices are lower unless these provincial. boards can get together all across Canada and agree on a minimum price for the export of their farm products, or agree on a minimum price for products moving from one province to the other. Unless we can get them to agree on that I am afraid that this legislation will not be very helpful.
I am not closely in touch with the federation of agriculture, and therefore I am not in a position to say whether or not they have any views on this matter. The minister will know that. When I came into the house he had already commenced to explain the reasons for the bill. Not so very long ago it was the definite opinion of the New Brunswick minister of agriculture, the Hon. A. C. Taylor, that the matter of marketing was properly a federal matter. He expressed his views in these terms:
I am more convinced than ever that the only solution to this is a dominion marketing act which will give authority to control absolutely the marketing of this important crop.
I take the view, as far as our potatoes are concerned, that while the act may be aU right as far as other farm products are concerned-
Topic: AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR MARKETING IN INTERPROVINCIAL AND EXPORT TRADE