December 12, 1947

CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

That is a bonus, is it not?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

It is still on.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Does it apply to the whole country?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Just before coming to the chamber today I was informed by what I considered some well informed farmers that the bonus had been removed.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

It is still there, if you have the right class of hogs.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Take the question of fertilizers -and this all dovetails into the matter of controls.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

In order to make it

perfectly clear perhaps I should say that a premium was on by arrangement between packing companies and producers at the time the war started. During the war we put on a premium of S3 and $2, and this was changed some years ago to $2 and SI, which is still on.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I thank the minister for

that explanation. During the war this country built up a considerable productive capacity. The members of this group have always contended that that productive capacity should have been reconverted and used for peacetime need. But that was not done. An outstanding example is the three fertilizer plants, one at Welland, one at Calgary and I believe the other at Trail, British Columbia. I understood from the announcement made in this house that the plant at Welland was going to be retained, but my information now is that these plants have all been sold for about half their value.

I am informed that fertilizer could have been produced in these plants for about $19

per ton on an average. Just before leaving Nova Scotia I met a number of very angry farmers who apparently were expected to pay $91 per ton for fertilizer, that is the ammonium nitrates. They simply cannot pay it and they are not going to farm. They told me that the people in Canada are going to be badly starved during the next year or two unless some drastic changes are made.

How can the Minister of Finance justify the mesa we are now in as far as our United States dollars are concerned when it is realized that seventy-five per cent of the productive capacity built up during the war has been sold to United States companies which are operating many of these plants today? We buy parts from the United States to assemble them in Canada, and those parts are paid for in United States dollars. Then the finished product is shipped to other markets and in many cases we are not paid for them. There is no reason why we should be in the present tangle as far as Canadian dollars are concerned. However, I am afraid we shall continue to be in that tangle until we realize that Canada is a nation, that we can stand on our own feet and compete with the United States if necessary.

I think the people of Canada would be willing to make some sacrifices if they had some incentive to build up this country for themselves. We should have a national objective such as we had during the war. Plant production should be developed for our own use. The man on the street is not as backward as he was in 1939. He realizes what this dollar crisis is and what brought it about. Then he sees that no changes are being made, that no leadership is being given or no objective is being set up whereby he can do something for himself. He is not ready just to tighten his belt and go through another austerity war in order that this country can be mortgaged to the United States. That is the sentiment that has been expressed to me right across this country.

There is no objective. That is why the farmers are confused. That is why the industrial workers are confused. That is why many people are confused. The world is completely changed; it is a new world. We must realize that and try to do something about it. I picked up a little news item a few days ago which I should like to read. It is as follows:

Cleveland, December 8 (AP)-Directors of Portsmouth Steel Corporation announced today the purchase of a non-eontinuous sheet mill with an annual capacity of 100.000 tons to bolster its critical supply of hot rolled sheets.

The plant is to be dismantled at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the directors said, for transfer

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to Portsmouth, and was purchased from John P. Ludgate Associates of Pittsburgh for $275,000.

Scheduled to start production by the second quarter of 1948, the mill will produce carbon and alloy sheet specialties and will provide the foundation for a continuous strip mill, contemplated at a later date, an announcement read.

Why should a plant of that kind be dismantled in Canada and shipped to the United States? Why should a plate mill be standing idle-it is dismantled now because War Assets have sold it-in Sydney, Nova Scotia, when we are still importing plate from the United States? You are not fooling the people of the country one bit when they see that kind of thing going on. The steelworkers union is up in the air over the dismantling of this steel mill which is to be shipped to the United States in order to bolster steel production there, so that more parts can be sent to Canada to be assembled in Canadian plants owned and controlled by United States directors and financed by United States capital.

The answer is that there must be more government ownership of these plants. If risk capital cannot be found in Canada to develop our own resources, then I think the government will have to take the initiative and supply the necessary capital to build up our own economy and stand Canada on her own feet. I think we have one answer in the Polymer rubber plant at Sarnia. I believe this plant will go down in history as a monument to the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply (Mr. Howe) who followed it through and who I understand is still directing it. The plant certainly does not show any inefficiency as compared with any other rubber plant in Canada or the United States. It is a wonderful plant that is turning out a good product, and it is owned by the people of Canada. It must be remembered that we were pioneering in that field, but if it can be done with rubber, it can be done with other things. I do not believe we can solve our problems in any other way.

Then the question is asked, is there or is there not control? I want to tell my hon. friends over there that there certainly is irresponsible control in this country. My quarrel with the government is not over what they have done with their controls; I am critical of them for having given' up their controls. I think those controls will have to be re-established if we are to save ourselves from travelling a rocky road in the future.

What happened when the government threw off practically all the controls that had existed during the war? The result was that the control went from the hands of responsible people in this House of Commons to the hands of irresponsible people who acted behind 5849-16

the scenes, people who were not responsible to any one but their own boards of directors. I ask the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Ross) whether or not there is price fixing in farm commodities? The price of everything that is produced today on a farm is fixed by Swift Canadian and Canada Packers. They dominate the picture very definitely, and the farmers know that. The farmers are told what they are going to get for what they produce. That is decided week by week in Montreal by the representatives of these two organizations. That is the kind of price fixing and monopoly control we do not want in this country. The whole of Canada depends on that industry, and if controls are necessary to protect the farmer and the consuming public, action should be taken through the board under the direction of the Minister of Agriculture, who in turn would report to this house.

Someone has said something about the control of wages, that we believe in the control of prices and that with it there should be control of wages as well. Are we not using the wrong terms in these things? Control striking people? My conception is that it is a matter of regulating your economy to get things in balance. It is not a matter of control. Control presumes something rigid, adamant, inflexible. My conception is that it should be a matter of regulation. I think the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar made it very clear, as did the secretary treasurer of the Canadian Congress of Labour, that no one is silly enough to think that wages can skyrocket to any peak and not affect prices. Certainly we do not. It is one problem, as the secretary treasurer of the congress pointed out, and I have said in this house on many occasions that I want to see labour relations in this country established on a national basis under the federal Department of Labour so that we can get uniformity. Secondly, I want to see wages regulated through a national board composed of representatives of labour, industry and the government, who will sit down together and analyse their problems and come to an understanding with a view to getting uniformity right across Canada and getting away from this anarchy of strikes and nonsense where no one wins anything except misery. That is the way to offset it. That is the plan of this group and of labour right across this country. It is not a matter of controlling and regimenting the people at all. It is a matter of this house taking the responsibility for regulating the economy of this country in the interests of all concerned. You will not have a dictatorship as long as you have a free parliament and sensible members who will exercise their rights in this house. You may

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make a mistake this time; you can change it next time. There is no suggestion of regimentation. All this nonsense you read about regimentation in the press is doing a disservice to this country and the United States in the troubled and mixed-up world in which we are living. It is making a lot more trouble quite unnecessarily.

There is another angle to price controls, and no one knows it better than the minister who is piloting this resolution through the house. I do not think it is possible to maintain price controls without a subsidy arrangement. The government, through the Minister of Finance, at the last session of parliament was adamant on that point. He said that they were continuing the subsidy policy no longer, they were finished with subsidies. I think it is nonsense for us to be talking about price controls now unless we can get a statement from the government as to their policy on subsidies. I think the time is ripe for that. The Minister of Justice made a statement on this question in the house last year when he said:

A subsidy policy at a time of grave danger of serious inflation is a valuable policy, in that it prevents the spiral of inflation from developing. If that spiral once gets under way it may carry prices to grave heights; and a judicious expenditure of government money by way of subsidy may result in a very much greater saving to the consumer in prices than the expenditure by way of subsidy.

I think the minister was absolutely correct in saying that, and as he is piloting this resolution, now, when there is an inflationary spiral in Canada, would be a very good time to test that theory, so that inflation may be checked and prices held or brought back to reasonable levels in relation to the earnings of industry and agriculture, through price control accompanied by a subsidy arrangement. That may be the fastest way out of our austerity program. I hope when the minister speaks he will say something on subsidies, because price control without subsidies is a vain hope. I do not think you can hold prices without subsidies.

I think every member of the house recognizes the grave position in which Canada finds herself at this time, and wants to do something to better conditions. But let us be realistic. Our talking here is not going to accomplish very much. You can say what you like, but after the house adjourns the cabinet has certain responsibilities and must run the country. We are living in a fluid world, with changes taking place day by day, and the cabinet must have authority to meet situations as they arise day by day when the house is not in session. If we recognize that

an austerity program is necessary in this country because of our foreign exchange position, and because of our whole internal economy being in a mixed-up state, I do not think there should be a dissenting voice in this house to granting the government power to maintain what controls they have until March 31 or whatever other period may be advisable. But let me say that I do not think the controls they now have are worth anything without subsidies. I believe they have to go back and do as they did during the war, everything with the exception of raising armed forces.

The hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) has placed on record six suggestions which I believe are all necessary. I draw them to the attention of the house again because I believe no other program will take us out of the tangle in which we are today. We all want to get out of this tangle. I am sure that we are all receiving telegrams and resolutions from all over this country, and I would like to go back to my people and be able to tell them that the government is going to take these six steps, and take them immediately. If they take these six steps I believe that within a few months there is hope at least that we shall be working toward a better day and a more realistic program in this country. Our troubles are not going to be over for a long time, but this program will ease them;

1. Reimposition at the earliest possible date of price controls on all the basic necessities of

-life: food, clothing and fuel.

I believe that should be implemented at the earliest possible day, that price controls should be reimposed on the basic necessities of life, food, clothing and fuel. That is absolutely necessary.

2. Renewal of the subsidies on milk, butter, bread, feed grains, cotton and wool.

We need great production, but in some places, for geographic or other reasons, it may not be economic to produce, and I believe that a subsidy arrangement would get production in such cases.

3. The closing of the Winnipeg grain exchange and the elimination of speculation in essential foods.

I am not going to argue that, because the necessity for it is obvious. There should be no gambling with the stomachs of people in any part of the world. If the exchange is a detriment, and there is no doubt about it, it should be closed. It is a relic of the past and I believe it will be closed.

4. Reconstruction of the wartime prices and trade board in such a manner that it can adequately administer the price controls.

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I believe that the board should be set up again as a permanent feature of our economic life, perhaps not to the extent that we had it during the war so far as the number of personnel is concerned, but the future mechanics of society are going to be such, I believe, as to require the board to be reconstituted.

5. Continuation of the excess profits tax after December 31, 1947.

Of course that tax should be continued. Is not an excess profit profiteering? Is there not a law against it? Then why should we legalize profiteering when we have another law against it? The government should determine profits, what is a fair rate to receive on investment. I worked for wages all my life. I never saw the time in this country when I would not have been pleased to have labour relations established on a national basis and a responsible minister help decide just what I was entitled to out of the earnings of the industry, my share of what I was producing. If it were fixed I would know what I was doing, instead of having to fight it out with a pick-handle with the boss, and have the Minister of Labour put a monocle in his eye and say, "It is not a bad fight but I know who is going to win." Anarchy!

Profits should be determined and regulated. I would not say "frozen" or "fixed" or "controlled". That is bad language. I say "regulated."

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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HARKNESS:

I did not think the hon. member wanted any profits at all.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Yes, a fair share of what I produce. I do not think that Arthur Cross should get $100,000 a year out of the coal industry while the man who actually digs the coal, gets up at four o'clock in the morning, earns only about $1,300 or $1,400. Anyone who does not want to accept the government's fixing of a fair profit should take his capital somewhere else and invest it. He should go over to the United States with it. If that were done we might start developing our own country.

My last point is not a very popular one either. Rationing should be instituted where necessary, where commodities are in short supply, so that everyone will get a fair share. The austerity program is not going to hurt anyone in this country except the middle class and the lower income groups. The fellow who has the money will think nothing of paying 5849-16J

$300 or $400 extra for an automobile. He will payr it. It is just a matter of a few more figures on a cheque, that is all. It does not mean a thing to him when he has a new car, or a washing machine, or a radio, or a vacuum cleaner. He will still get them, but the civil servant under fixed income and the middle class generally are not going to get them.

During the war hundreds of people were not driving cars. They were waiting for radios, waiting for washing machines, waiting for all these things. They saved up for a car. They said that the first two or three years after the war taxes would be down a bit, along with prices, and the cars would be cheaper. But what d'o they find today? Conditions are much worse. High prices have siphoned off their savings, but the fellow who could always drive a big car, in fact two cars, and smoke a big cigar, is still driving the;n, and he turns them in every year. He still has his two cars. The sum of $400 more is just a figure on a cheque to him. Therefore this program is austerity only for certain groups in the country.

With regard to foodstuffs, this chap with the two cars will always get what he wants. Why should we not do what they are doing in Britain, ration food, so that everyone will be able at least to buy a fair share of the necessities of life? We may catch up later with the man with the two cars.

I see my time has expired, Mr. Speaker, and to save your calling me to order I shall take my seat.

(Translation):

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SC

David Réal Caouette

Social Credit

Mr. REAL CAOUETTE (Pontiac):

Mr. Speaker, at this stage of the debate on controls, I owe it to myself and to my constituents to state openly and energetically the position they took last year, during the session, and to express their wishes in the matter of controls.

We are opposed to all controls, just as we were during the last session.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Unlike everyone else!

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SC

David Réal Caouette

Social Credit

Mr. CAOUETTE:

We believe in liberty and security; but security with a yoke, as suggested by our good friends of the C.C.F., we'll have none of it, neither in the constituency which I have the honour of representing nor in the province of Quebec.

During the past two or three months when I had the opportunity of visiting most of the constituencies in the province of Quebec, I

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found that people are against controls. These, we maintain, will not guarantee freedom and security to the Canadian people.

Controls have been maintained since the end of the war on the grounds that they were useful and needed. The war has now been over for two years, but economic conditions in Canada are in a worse state than ever before. Farmers are downhearted, consumers penniless, middlemen and dealers demoralized, all because of controls.

In my constituency, in every constituency, what the people want is food, clothing, and a decent and comfortable dwelling. All this we could have, but controls will neither supply nor build houses. What we need is lumber, nails, and building tradesmen. Controls will not take care of housing, nor will they give us clothing, for these can only be made available through increased production.

The prevailing chaos is due to controlled consumption and over-production.

Mr. Speaker, in order adequately to convey the feelings of the electors of my constituency, I shall quote from a letter I have here on my desk. As have many members across the floor in the last few days, I have received thousands of such letters that tell us what the people think of controls and the emergency powers which parliament has given to the government.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Who wrote that letter?

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SC

David Réal Caouette

Social Credit

Mr. CAOUETTE:

My hon. friend can take the floor after I am through. I quote:

Sir,

Using the full powers which you conferred on them last year, the dominion government have just decided that the Canadian peop.o would have to lower their standard of living. A new austerity program is being foisted upon the Canadian people by the government program.

We have been following for some reason or other an austerity program for at least seventeen years; it was initiated either by financial interests, with no interference on the part of the government, or by the government itself.

Without any reason, under the sole pretext of a scarcity of dollars in this country, we have been reduced to ten years of poverty and privations while an abundance of goods filled our stores and warehouses.

What was the Ottawa government doing then to remedy this dollar shortage? Nothing; absolutely nothing. It stood by waiting for the war-days to bring the dollar-days. And now, we have the selfsame politicians expounding the necessity of further privations!

When war came, there were more dollars so the government stepped in to replace 'the bankers and ration us, thus preventing us from spending our dollars. Rationing was imposed,

so the government said, for the sole purpose of winning the war and victory once achieved we were to experience a new order, an unprecedented and endless era of prosperity, forever free from war and depression.

Nevertheless, hardly had the war come to an end when the government dropped all subsidies while maintaining taxes that drained all our money. One would think that we are to have money only when it is needed to wage war; as soon as the massacre is over we must be deprived of every cent we possess.

And now, two years after the end of the war, we have a new austerity program introduced by the government. The reason given this time is the necessity of a contribution to Europe's recovery. Not so long ago, however, the great objective was the bombing of the same countries' plants and private dwellings.

Sir, we are completely fed up with all that humbug to which our government . . .

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IND

Jean-François Pouliot

Independent Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Disgusted: aye disgusted! Mr. CAOUETTE:

. . . with the help of Parliament-of which you are a member-are a party when they do not promote it.

The excuse given was the depression, then Hitler, then the war; now it is the aftermath of war and depression: tomorrow, it will be Stalin, another war or another depression. Someone or something can always be blamed, but to our minds the responsibility lies with the government and parliament who fail to accent their responsibilities for the welfare of the country.

A few- years ago. we were unable to find sufli-cient Canadian dollars to buy our Canadian goods. Today, a shortage of American dollars prevents our buying American products.

Yet Providence is just as generous, workers just as efficient and consumers just as reasonable. This situation has been created by those who are in power and take steps which have no bearing on realities.

Who will believe, honourable members, that there is actually a shortage of goods? Will there be less oranges and less grapefruit in the United States because the Canadian government prohibits their importation into Canada? Financiers rule the world, but they do not bother with realities, and governments, including that in power at Ottawa, act in collusion with them.

During the six years of war Canada was able to provide food and clothing for our people, even better than it did during the ten preceding years, and at the same time produced guns, tanks, bombs and corvettes, and used over 750.000 of our young men, the flower of our youth to destructive purposes. Who will believe that this same Canada is unable to provide a better living standard for its population, since those 750,000 young men have returned and are available for peacetime industries, together with the 800,000 men we used to employ in our war plants?

We speak of Europe, but the same thing is happening there. It provided for soldiers who did not produce anything, armies of them imported from every country; at the same time Europe produced arms and munitions of war.

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All that productive energy is now available for peacetime production. Europe can even afford the luxury of gigantic strikes.

If the government had not urged Canadians to produce for strangers, boasting that a third of our population was living on international trade, we could have produced sufficiently for the needs of our people.

First class workers, brains and resources are plentiful in Canada. Yet, instead of using our Canadian dollars to increase production, we allowed our technicians to go abroad and stimulate the productive capacity of foreign countries. Then, we deplore the lack of United States dollars which we need to pay for our imports from that country. Instead of using Canadian finance for Canadian production and consumption, we preferred to favour foreign capital, inviting outsiders to establish branches of foreign industries in Canada, thus contracting debts toward foreign capitalists.

What are parliament and the government doing to put an end to all this nonsense? Nothing but burden us with restrictions, bureaucrats, debt, taxation, hardship and war.

We have had enough of this idiotic system for which we hold responsible each member of parliament who accepts it instead of berating it and using the prestige and power of his position as representative of the people to stir the country into forcing the government to take a sensible stand more in keeping with the facts and the welfare of everyone.

Instead of digging into our too scanty income and controlling us at every turn, why does the government not take over the management of finance, moulding it to serve men and reality? How often have you, hon. member, urged the government to free itself from the guardianship of a financial regime that has dollars to spare only for war?

A century ago, Canadians were less hidebound by controls, and less involved in debt while their future was not mortgaged to such an extent; yet, they did not starve to death. In an age where oil. electricty, chemistry, science and machinery are at their beck and call, must they sink beneath the yoke and submit to controls as well as austerity programs?

Once again, hon. member, we find absolutely-revolting the incompetence or criminal complicity of a government and parliament we pay so well only to be punished by them.

An ordinary human being would be jailed for doing much less mischief.

We request a change. We want Canada foT Canadians, a Canadian financial system and Canadian products to fill our needs. Further, each and every Canadian must be provided with enough money to buy Canadian goods.

Since you are a member of parliament, I hold you personally responsible to do all you can to achieve that purpose. If you will not or cannot do so, the seat you occupy is but a burden on the country.

I warn you that, in order to judge you at your worth, I and others will keep close watch on your words, deeds and omissions, as well as on your vote. We want servants of the people rather than yes-men of the dictatorship that rules Canada and the world as it sees fit.

As far as I am concerned, I shall refuse to vote for whoever has not proved himself intelligent and active enough to make Canada's wealth and productive capacity available first to Canadians. I shall also do everything in my power to enlighten my fellow-citizens and shall ask them to follow the lead.

One of your constituents, i

Jos. Dallaire C'Eouyn).

Mr. Speaker, copies of these letters were sent to every member of the House of Commons to ask for the renewal of subsidies instead of controls and for a policy exclusively Canadian in outlook, designed primarily for Canadians. The system or regime that spends its time weighing international problems instead of looking after the home front has caused us enough hardship.

We are not particularly concerned at the moment in knowing whether the Japanese should go on eating rice or the Chinese using chopsticks. We are interested rather in knowing whether Canada is able to produce enough to ensure freedom and security to all at the present time. I said a moment ago that our farmers and producers were discouraged, our dealers and manufacturers upset, our consumers frustrated, nobody content in this country and everyone dissatisfied.

When I was out west this year-

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CCF

Wilbert Ross Thatcher

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

Mr. THATCHER:

Moose Jaw.

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SC

David Réal Caouette

Social Credit

Mr. CAOUETTE:

Moose Jaw, Calgary and all those places. While visiting the west, I met at St. Jean Baptiste, in Manitoba, a farmer who admitted quite frankly that he has been raising hundreds of head of cattle for slaughtering until March or April last, when he suddenly lost heart and sold all his livestock. He told me that he would never go into the business again. When I asked him the reason why, he replied, "Things had come to a point where I was breeding livestock only in order to pay taxes to the government and to be subjected to price controls. I got rid of everything. If the government or parliament wish to have stock and calves or the like, let them raise them themselves. I am through with it." Such is the answer I got from a western farmer.

In the counties of Megantic-Frontenac and Pontiac, in the province of Quebec, I noticed that the situation was the same. I received from Pontiac a resolution passed by the

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Timiskaming diocesan section of the U.C.C., and a request from all our farmers who are forced to slaughter now-bom pigs because they realize that they will be losing when they try to sell them. They kill them at birth so that they will not have the trouble of feeding them, because it costs too much and they do not wish to face an unavoidable deficit. It is one way of coping with the situation.

When my C.C.F. friends are asking for controls, they do not wish to have them imposed on themselves but on others. Control our neighbours, but not us.

' They remind me of the man who walks along the street with his friends-and this will help you understand what the C.C.F. is- saying to them: "Buy a cigar, will you; I'll

smoke it and you can spit." That's the C.C.F. for you.

Mr. Speaker, subsidies must be distributed on a large scale to the producers of Canada in order to enable them to expand Canadian production to the greatest possible degree. When our goods are sold in abundance in this country the government, by adopting a Canadian policy, will encourage agricultural production so that our farmers will be happy to co-operate in the economic rehabilitation of Canada. And when that time comes, when goods are to be found in large quantities, prices will become more reasonable. There might be middle-men on the way to take advantage of the situation, to accumulate stocks of goods, so as to be in a position to control the economic existence of our people. Mr. Speaker, when a young lad steals a case of tomatoes in a store we put him in jail, but when a man steals 500 million dollars, we just call him a financier. It's about time we changed the motto and put him in his place, that is in jail. These men are a menace to our country.

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IND

Jean-François Pouliot

Independent Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Name them.

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December 12, 1947