May 4, 1939

?

An hon. MEMBER:

Will you tell them how to make it rain.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

The problem is not a lack of rain. The fact is that we are growing more wheat than the government knows what to do with. Does anybody advocate that we should pray for a drought in order to do away with our wheat problem? It seems that the attitude of the government is that they can deal satisfactorily with our problems only in times of scarcity, but in times of abundance they are bogged down in confusion. The proposal seems to be to allow the price of wheat to fall to the lowest figure in the history of the world, at least in the past forty-nine years with two exceptions. It is true the government had a slight change of heart and now they intend to raise the price to 70 cents a bushel, although this measure allows only GO cents. But the minister will boast nevertheless that under his policy wheat will be allowed to go to the lowest figure in forty-nine years with one or two exceptions. I fancy that is intended chiefly to satisfy the people of eastern Canada, because I cannot understand how the people of the west would be pleased to be told that the guaranteed price proposed will be the lowest in the history of Canada in the past forty-nine years except for two years. It is strange that the minister should broadcast that fact in western Canada. Perhaps he thinks the vote he will get in eastern Canada will more than compensate for the loss of the votes in the west. Someone suggests that the government have lost all support in the west already and I am inclined to agree with that.

Other exporting nations of the world to-day are taking steps to bonus agriculture. In the United States there is a subsidy of 30 cents; in Australia, by monetary action, they have raised the price of wheat by around 15 cents; and of course in England and the European countries they are carrying on an extensive system of subsidies. Apparently the only reason that can be given the house by the minister and the government is that we cannot afford to pay 80 cents. We do not hesitate to entertain a monetary policy that costs the western grain growers in the neighbourhood of $47,000,000 a year; we do not hesitate to maintain a tariff policy that costs western Canada about $55,000,000 a year, nor do we hesitate to subsidize Canadian National bondholders to the extent of $43,000,000, although that means maintaining high freight rates. But when it comes to guaranteeing western agriculture a price equal to the cost of production, then we begin to hear a howl that we cannot afford it.

Cooperative Wheat Marketing

Let me say that just so long as the farmers of western Canada are compelled to pay highly protected prices for practically all the commodities they have to buy, there is every justification for their demanding a protected price for those commodities which they have to sell, and no question of discrimination can arise. I would say that Canada will have to find ways and means of affording it if confederation is to remain an actuality. The only reason why we cannot afford to take care of agriculture adequately is that we are refusing to discard the discredited policies of the past. We allow the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) to sabotage industry by a cruel, barbaric, deflationary policy, sowing the seeds of dissension from one end of the country to the other.

There are on the order paper at the present time no bills to deal adequately with the problem. It is true that a guaranteed price equal to the cost of production will not solve the problem. I stressed that fact when I spoke in the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne. It is not a solution, but it is a step that will have to be taken until a solution is found.

What is the major wheat problem? The problem is that we are producing a commodity that is surplus to world requirements, and the only way in which we shall be able to solve that problem permanently is to take over complete control of the buying and selling of wheat. That necessarily entails international cooperation. I stressed that fact in the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne.

The four major exporting nations supply about 86 per cent of the imports of wheat, and I would urge that Canada adopt an aggressive policy to try to bring about international cooperation. We heard in the house the other day that a conference was being held, but I believe it has broken down. I trust that before the discussion is over we shall receive from the minister a statement indicating how that conference came into being and what instructions were given to our delegates with respect to their participation therein. Were they instructed, for instance, to explore every means by which it would be possible to control exports of wheat from the various nations in an endeavour to stabilize prices at a higher level? I hope the minister will deal with that point before this legislation is finally dealt with.

In the past, I know, the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) has taken the position that it is up to the United States rather than Canada to initiate an aggressive policy of international cooperation. But it is a far

greater problem so far as Canada is concerned. It affects Canada more vitally than it does the United States. The United States exports approximately only 9-8 per cent of its wheat, whereas we export over 60 per cent of ours, and already the United States has given the lead by bringing about a reduction in acreage. It seems strange that in this country we always have to wait for some other nation to give the lead. We depended on the United States to lead us out of the depression by means of monetary action, and now they are taking the lead by bringing about a reduction of acreage.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

Is the hon. member in favour of that?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

In the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne I emphasized the desirability of controlling exports. I said that we should follow the advice of Dean Kirk and take marginal lands out of production, which would help to reduce acreage. Let me quote what Dean Kirk says at page 209.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
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LIB

Cameron Ross McIntosh

Liberal

Mr. McINTOSH:

Suppose other countries will not cooperate?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
Permalink
SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

All one can hope to do is to have a conference and work to that end. One cannot force any nation to do it, but it will never be accomplished until an aggressive policy is carried out.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act we are taking out some marginal lands.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
Permalink
SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

But at the rate at which this government is doing it, agriculture will be completely bankrupt before a solution is found. Moreover, the discriminatory attitude of the government towards Alberta is adversely affecting that province.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Why do they not cooperate?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
Permalink
SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

It takes two to cooperate. Let me now quote the views of Dean Kirk, from the proceedings of the western farm products conference. At page 209, dealing with this same subject, he says:

From looking at the wheat markets I would not be surprised if in the next two or three years we are not compelled to take out of cultivation a good deal of land, say one million to three million acres. That is quite a possibility, and I believe even if it were unnecessary to reduce wheat acreage it would be advisable to take out a fair amount of the poorer lands, particularly lands subject to drifting, and gradually such grass lands scattered about on different farms would provide feed reserves which are now much needed. Eventually, after four or five years, they would have some effect

Cooperative Wheat Marketing

on the price of live stock; but so far as I can see our future markets for additional live stock are quite as promising as our future markets for surplus wheat.

I have repeatedly stressed in the house the need for adopting a more aggressive policy in the drought areas. In the permanent drought areas I would say there are two alternatives possible, either to enlarge the farm unit or put in irrigation. To suggest that we can ever go back to the half section farm in the drought areas is rank nonsense.

To deal adequately with this problem we must have a 100 per cent wheat board. I am convinced that the majority of the farmers, if given a chance to express themselves, would be in favour of that. It is all very well to say that when the voluntary wheat board operated, many farmers sold their wheat outside it; that is true, I did so myself. That is only natural when the outside price is higher than the guaranteed price. But many of the farmers who did that will say they are in favour of a 100 per cent wheat marketing board.

Therefore we urge that sections 9, 10, 11, 14 and 16 of the act be proclaimed. And we in this group feel that this bill could very well be dispensed with; that everything that can or would be accomplished by this bill can be accomplished by the continuation of the wheat board, and that action in itself will greatly help to restore the confidence of the people of western Canada in the future.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. T. C. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

I do not intend to make any extended remarks at this time, because the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) has covered the subject very well, and other hon. members who have spoken since have expressed the views I had in mind. The statement of the minister this afternoon that this bill would be put on the statute book without any immediate idea of its being proclaimed would rather give the impression that this is perhaps not regarded as a very important bill and that we ought to pass it by and get on with more important legislation. To my mind, however, it is most important, if we consider what it is based upon. This bill undoubtedly envisages the elimination of the wheat board. May I remind the house that this is what the minister said on February 16, as reported at page 1037 of Hansard, when he first outlined the wheat policy of this government-

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I do not think the hon. member may refer to a previous debate.

{Mr. Quelch.l

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

It refers to the same subject, but it was not in a debate, it was on the estimates. He said:

Realizing that the present legislation-

He was talking about the Wheat Board Act of 1935 and subsequent amendments-

-does not oiler a solution for our marketing problems and does not provide a means of dealing equitably with the difficulties which stand in the way of home building on the prairies, we intend to introduce legislation which will carry out as far as possible the recommendations of the Turgeon commission, which were:

First, that the government should remain out of the grain trade and our wheat should be marketed by means of the futures market system.

Second, that the grain exchange should be placed under proper supervision.

Third, that encouragement be given to the creation of cooperative marketing associations or pools.

It is the first to which I wish to call attention. While the minister has skated round it and hinted at it, the fact remains that, while the bill may not be proclaimed this year, it is setting up the framework of what the government proposes shall take the place of the present wheat board. The wheat board will either be eliminated, if the government think conditions warrant such action, or be made inoperative as it was in 1936-37. There is no use thinking that the two schemes can operate side by side. If the wheat board is there, willing to pay a fixed price of 70 cents, and also give participation certificates which will enable the farmer to derive benefit from any increase in price, he is certainly not going to sell to any association of pools at an initial price of 60 cents. This legislation is clearly the government's alternative policy to a 100 per cent pool or even the type of pool that we have at the present time.

For that reason I must certainly oppose this measure. This is a fundamental issue. Perhaps the government would have been further ahead had they clearly said that the wheat board is no longer to be part of a permanent policy, but is to be used this year under difficult circumstances and to be eliminated as soon as possible and replaced by the type of system outlined in this bill.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
Permalink
LIB

Charles Robert Evans

Liberal

Mr. EVANS:

Is the hon. member against cooperative marketing?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
Permalink
CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

I certainly am not, but I am very much against a system which is called cooperative marketing but is not cooperative marketing, and which will supplant the only thing we have had which has come reasonably close to cooperative marketing.

Cooperative Wheat Marketing

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
Permalink
LIB

Charles Robert Evans

Liberal

Mr. EVANS:

That is only the hon. member's idea.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
Permalink
CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

I point out further, as the minister himself said this afternoon, that it is not required under the legislation that there shall be one central selling agency; it will be possible to have a number of cooperatives or associations or pools each with a different selling agency. The minister envisages a time when they might finally centralize in one selling agency, but after the putting into operation of this bill there will probably be a great number of selling agencies all in competition with each other, with most disastrous results in terms of price and of the standard of living of the people.

While this may be called a bill to encourage cooperatives-although I think it is more likely to discourage them-certainly it will not encourage producers' cooperatives. I cannot see much coming from any cooperative in which groups of line elevator companies are included. I cannot envisage some of the large grain dealers and elevator companies listed this afternoon by the Minister of Agriculture contributing very much over a long period to cooperation. I do not think the minister needed to travel all this long roundabout road to deal with the problem which he mentioned on February 16. He pointed out very properly that the present wheat legislation has not been equitable in its benefits; I think we all agree with that. But instead of throwing it away for something that is not nearly as good, we would much better have kept the wheat board with a fixed minimum price and participation certificates, and enacted legislation giving proper crop insurance to take care of those people who, because they had no crops, did not benefit under the Wheat Board Act. Early in the session a resolution favouring crop insurance was moved by the hon. member for Souris (Mr. McDonald) and passed by the house. I think most hon. members favour some type of crop insurance. These two projects together, the Wheat Board Act to take care of the man who has a crop, and a crop insurance scheme to take care of the man who has none, would have levelled out any inequalities. But this bill envisages throwing out the Wheat Board Act, which has perhaps done more to guarantee some measure of stability in western Canada than any other single agency in a good many years.

There is one other matter, which comes under Bill No. 89, but I do not want to take part in the discussion at that time. It seems to me that for products other than

wheat, rather than setting up these little associations and pools that are going to be difficult of operation and control from this distance, the government might well consider something similar to the natural products marketing legislation, with this difference, that there would be inserted a provision that it would become operative in each province only when that province passed enabling legislation. Legislation is already in operation in British Columbia, New Brunswick and I believe another province-

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Six provinces.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
Permalink
CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

It seems to me that it would not be very difficult, in view of the experience the minister has gained in the last few years, to draft a federal bill which would enable the respective provinces to fit into a gigantic cooperative scheme right across Canada that would respect the rights of both federal and provincial governments. I think that could be done, and I believe it would be very much better than trying to set up these associations and pools, which, in my opinion, will not only be unworkable but at the same time be so numerous and so lacking in uniformity as to be almost impossible of operation.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   COOPERATIVE WHEAT MARKETING
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEE OF INITIAL PAYMENT BY COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS OR ELEVATOR COMPANIES
Permalink

Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and the house went into committee thereon, Mr. Sanderson in the chair. Section 1 agreed to. On section 2-Definitions.


May 4, 1939