Yes, even With amendments which we would expect to be brought in at some stage. I am wondering, Mr. Speaker, whether the government has actually changed its whole attitude towards house committees. There is another thing that has happened that makes me wonder. The present Prime Minister, when a private member of the house, spoke of what he called the deplorable condition of agriculture. Believe me, I would not want any new Conservative member of the house to think that any language that any of us might use about agriculture would be exaggerated because the Prime Minister could think of the most brilliant words, phrases and clauses in describing the deplorable condition of agriculture and do so better than anybody else in the house. Of course, conditions now are not unlike what they were then and there is not too much prospect of them being different. With respect to the matter of the licking taken by Canadian farmers because of the spread between what the farmers get for what they produce and what the consumers pay the present Prime Minister said on March 12, 1956, as found at page 2021 of Hansard:
I think it will be agreed generally, for certainly it is the view of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the farm union organization of Canada and other farm organizations, that in every province the farmer today is caught in a ruthless and unrelenting squeeze between falling prices of farm products and rising costs of production. I am not in any way advancing an argument of depression when I say that the squeeze is of such a nature that, unless action is taken to meet it, it will, unless curbed, lead inevitably to bankruptcy of Canada's outstanding industry. That trend applies equally to the apple and the potato grower, the field crop producer, the dairy farmer, the livestock producer and the wheat farmer.
I read that for one specific reason. How short it makes Bill No. 237 fall of what
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization
it should be in order to meet the very conditions which he described. I now have the passage to which I wish to refer with relation to the matter of committees. I repeat once again that I have seen considerable evidence that as far as the committees of the house are concerned there is great danger of our being treated in exactly the same way as we were treated by the previous government. With respect to this matter the Prime Minister had this to say in the house on March 12, 1956, as found on page 2026 of Hansard:
Next I mentioned in general the widespread disparity between the price the farmer receives and the price paid by the consumer. That disparity, that spread, deserves to be investigated. Many hon. members in this house want work to do. They would like to perform a worth-while work but have been denied the opportunity of making the contribution which their ability and training would permit. I would like to see the agricultural committee, when it is set up, undertake to make a preliminary investigation into those spreads. Then if after hearing evidence the agricultural committee finds it is circumscribed to such an extent as to be unable to come to a definite finding on the question which exercises the thinking of farmers all across the country today, I should like to see a royal commission appointed in order to investigate this spread and ensure a greater degree of equity to agriculture in assuring that the farmer would receive the largest possible percentage of the price ultimately paid by the consumer.
I am not forgetting for a moment, Mr. Speaker, the fact that a royal commission has been set up but this is what I am wondering about. In the light of that declaration why was the agricultural committee completely ignored and completely bypassed. This would have been a wonderful opportunity to put those members to work whom he seemed to feel did not have enough to do. I do not know who they are. I have been here quite a long time and I have always felt that I had a little bit more to do than I could handle. In any event, this suggests to me that unless we are extremely careful we will find that the committees of the house may well become almost useless to the House of Commons.
I do not intend to proceed further. Frankly, I had not intended to take quite this long although I did not promise anyone that I would not. I indicated a moment ago that it is not a matter of stirring up the farmers as far as members of parliament are concerned. The bill has stirred them up. The Minister of Agriculture is an Albertan, a very fine qualification in itself, but personally I feel that he has had to engage in a great deal of compromise in respect to the bill. In fact, I do not think he would have brought in the first draft and then moved to change it if he had been able to follow his own
wishes. If it had not been for certain difficulties, which maybe I only imagine, I am sure he would have brought in the present bill first, and I am still satisfied in my own mind that if the minister had had a reasonably free hand in drafting the bill we would have had a different bill and that the formula would have been in it.
I sometimes pass whatever idle moments I have by looking at the Conservative ranks and wondering which members it might have been who might have stood in his way. I think the Canadian farmer deserves something better and I am still hopeful that before the bill goes through we will have something better. My main reason for taking part in the debate is that I am still hopeful that as long as the bill has not been passed it will be amended and improved.
Subtopic: MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.