August 27, 1946

SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

And the farmer has to pay income tax on it.

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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

You recall that when Doctor Thompson of McGill spoke before the reconstruction committee he stated that in order to maintain a liberal diet in this country it would be necessary to double our production of milk on the basis of the 1939 figures. The policy of subsidies is sound. We did not hesitate to vote hundreds of millions of dollars for subsidies during the war. We have to cut costs in the future. We have to make it possible for people to buy at lower levels in order to cut those costs. The logical way to do it is by subsidizing. The only question involved is that of the financial cost. We did not hesitate to meet that cost during the war. I am not going to discuss how the government may meet it. The government is familiar with the way in which this group would do it. But that is their responsibility; and if they believe in the financial system they are using, it is time they made that financial system work or adopted another one. We are not interested in that question.

Surely if it was necessary to use subsidies to win the war, and if subsidies are necessary to win the peace, then they should be used. Do not forget that if we make the same mistake we did after the last war and lose this peace, we are creating conditions which will make for another war. One of the first essentials of winning the peace is to build up the health of the population, and to build up the health of the population you must have a high level of production of milk.

The Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent) has stated that he thought all that was necessary was for the members of this house to express an opinion on this matter. But the 63260-342i

minister knows very well that time and again during this session this house has in no uncertain way expressed an opinion without a vote; and what have the government done? Absolutely disregarded that opinion. I have in mind especially the question of old age pensions. Hon. members have shown clearly time and again that they believe old age pensions should be at a higher level than they are to-day. Did the government act? They have callously disregarded the old people. If we just express an opinion on the question of milk we shall get about as much consideration as we did on the question of old age pensions.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Right Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply):

We have had considerable discussion on this motion. It seems to me that the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) has given exactly the undertaking which is being asked for in the amendment, and that he has given it as forcibly and sincerely as could possibly be obtained by a vote of the house. Nevertheless the government has no objection to an expression of opinion from the members of the house. I suggest that the vote should be a free expression regardless of party. The various members represent various economies in this country, and an expression of this kind should be the expression of the individual opinion of every hon. member.

The difficulty of obtaining the expression arises from the form of the amendment, which in itself denies the right of the house to move into committee of supply at this time. However, Mr. Speaker, I would call your attention to article 489 of Beauchesne, which reads as follows:

When an amendment has been adopted to the motion for the house to go into committee of supply or of ways and means, it may be forthwith moved that the house resolve itself into such committee immediately or on a future day.

Therefore I should like to serve notice that if this vote carries the government will immediately move that the house go into committee of supply this day. I believe that that procedure is consistent with the rules, and if there can be general agreement on that point the work of the house can be facilitated and the objective of hon. members attained.

I ask hon. members to consider the fact that the question at issue is not quite as simple as has been suggested during this discussion. We have been through a war. We have been through a period when it was necessary at all costs to conserve the economy of the country in a manner which would permit the greatest war effort of the people of Canada. Unusual steps were taken in that period. I have heard complaints that the

Milk Subsidy

government is attempting to put the Canadian people in a straitjacket; to order their daily-lives in a manner described, as dictatorial. Well, the method of subsidy is a part of that regimentation of the people, and it is a part which in my opinion should not become usual practice in our normal economy. Hon. members can make an excellent case for certain subsidies, and perhaps other sections of the country can make an excellent case for certain other subsidies; perhaps both can make a case for and against the same subsidy. But I suggest that those who have publicly demanded that the government remove wartime restrictions and wartime restraints on the living of the people should consider carefully before they cast their vote on this issue, since I consider a vote for the amendment to be an expression of opinion on a matter of policy which goes far beyond the subsidy on milk. It will be in effect an expression of the opinion of members of this House of Commons that the subsidy policy of the government should be continued indefinitely. I think it should be regarded in that light. Personally, as a member of the government, I should1 be glad to get an expression from the individual members of the house of their view of the policy of continuing indefinitely the principle of subsidies, which to-day is costing this country something over $100,000,000 per annum.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. STANLEY KNOWLES (Winnipeg North Centre):

I want to commend the Minister of Reconstruction for the suggestion which he has made, which has the effect of providing for a free vote of the members of the house. One other point I wish to make in reply to the Minister of Justice in respect of the appeal he made for the withdrawal of the motion, which appeal is not acceptable to us. I would point out that in this house on August 14 we had a fairly lengthy discussion of the question of milk. It ended with the assurance being given to the house by the Minister of Agriculture that the matter was still under consideration and he used these definite words at page 4799:

These questions are being discussed this week and will be determined, I assume, in sufficient time to make the announcement long enough before the first of October to acquaint the people with what that situation is.

That was on August 14 of this year when the assurance was given that the matter was still under consideration and would be discussed further. Eight days later, on August 22, we were given the result of that consideration. The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance answered a question which had

been asked the previous day by the hon. member for Churchill, and stated clearly that the policy announced by the Minister of Agriculture on May 16 was to be carried out, and then appears this significant question, which was asked by the member for Haldimand (Mr. Senn):

I understood the Minister of Agriculture to tell the house the other day-[DOT]

That is a reference back to August 14.

*-that the matter was under advisement, and that a decision had not been reached. Does the parliamentary assistant mean, then, that a decision has been reached, and that there will be no further subsidy on milk?

Hon. Douglas Abbott (Acting Minister of Finance): I will answer that question. The

answer is, yes.

We feel therefore that, having had one experience of further consideration being given the matter, and the result of that further consideration being an answer very definitely that there will be no further subsidies on milk, we have no alternative but to ask the house to express itself in the one clear way it can, by voting on the amendment now before the chair.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. M. MACDONNELL (Muskoka-Ontario):

I may be a particularly stupid man but I find it extremely difficult to know what I am voting on. The Minister of Reconstruction says that what we are voting on is the principle of control.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

The principle of subsidies.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MACDONNELL (Muskoka-Ontario):

No. He said it was the whole principle of whether we believed in controls or not. I believe, as I said before, that controls should be removed as fast as possible. On the other hand, if this resolution concerns wholly the question of the production of milk, then that is a very different matter. But if that is the matter, then it seems to me that one is entitled to know a little more about it.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

How can you administer subsidies without controls?

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MACDONNELL (Muskoka-Ontario):

I made myself clear, I believe. I realize that you cannot administer subsidies without controls. I am not quarrelling with the statement the minister made, but it seems to me that what we are voting on is very complicated.

I wish to say a word with reference to what the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent) said. He said, and I believe he was right, that in the last few weeks a situation has occurred which might very well cause the government to reach a different conclusion from that which it reached some months ago. I understood what

Milk Subsidy

he meant by that, but I am still, frankly, in a great difficulty. Am I voting-and I am referring to the resolution-merely to express the view that the government should give further consideration to the continuance of the milk subsidy? Is that all I am voting for? And when that vote is carried does it mean that the government merely has an expression of this house that this house wants it to give consideration to the milk subsidy, which the Minister of Justice has said it certainly will do? Is that all that this resolution means? I want to know. I may be stupid iii asking the question but I want to know. Does it merely mean that if we pass this resolution this house desires to record its opinion that consideration should be given? And does that mean given by the government, or does it mean that we go on now and then consider it further ourselves and reach a conclusion on it ourselves? Which does it .mean? Can you answer me, Mr. Speaker?

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

The rules of the house do not provide that a private member may give to the government a' definite instruction which involves an expenditure of money, and consequently the only way in which, under the rules, a resolution could be moved is in the form of this resolution. We take it that if this resolution is passed it will mean that the house, the sovereign body, desires the government to consider favourably-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

The hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario was right when he asked what was meant by the resolution, and I am trying to tell you what is really meant by the group that moved the amendment. The only way in which we can do it-

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PC

Arza Clair Casselman (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Progressive Conservative Party)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. CASSELMAN:

You got-yourself into trouble.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

I say, the only way in which we can do it is to ask for consideration of it. We cannot give the government an instruction, but we hope that the government will consider favourably the matter contained in the resolution.

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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

Which is the matter of the milk subsidy.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

Which is the matter of the milk subsidy only.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MACDONNELL (Muskoka-Ontario):

I am grateful to the hon. member for explaining what I am voting on. It is an

expression of opinion that the government wilt give consideration to the continuance of the-milk subsidy.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

An excellent philosophy as an excuse for speaking one way on the hustings and voting another way in the house.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MACDONNELL (Muskoka-Ontario):

I am not old enough in politics to have learned how to do that and I hope I shall never learn.

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

The motion is very clear and, as far as I am concerned, when I vote I vote on the wording of the motion, with no strings attached or commitments into the future regarding price ceilings.

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August 27, 1946