January 29, 1948

IND

Bona Arsenault

Independent

Mr. ARSENAULT:

I shall go even further and say that never in the past has any administration done more in a few short years for the constituency of Bonaventure than the dominion government now in power has achieved.

I grant that because of the great scarcity of various building materials, several contracts given by the Department of Public Works could not be carried out last year, but the situation having improved in that respect, Bonaventure county fishermen and seamen, particularly those of Gascons, Ruisseau-Chapa-dos, Gascons West, Port Daniel, St. Godefroi, Paspebiac, New Carlisle, Bonaventure and Ruisseau-Leblanc will be satisfied with the improvements that will be made to their harbours during the current year.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear!

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IND

Bona Arsenault

Independent

Mr. ARSENAULT:

This part of the program which I brought to the attention of the government is therefore being carried out, and I am deeply grateful to the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Fournier).

The many improvements which have been made to our Matapedia-Gaspe branch-line, since I was elected, lie outside the scope of my remarks. Yet it is impossible for me to ignore the fact that six railway stations have been rebuilt in Bonaventure county since 1945, that a new Sunday passenger service has been opened, that bridges have been repaired, the railroad improved and more modern rolling stock put into service.

I realize how much credit for that goes to Mr. J. P. Johnson, general manager for the Atlantic region and Mr. J. E. Gauthier, superintendent for the Campbellton division, but I also know that they have been splendidly supported in their efforts to improve our railways by the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) and the members of the Board of Transport Commissioners.

I should like to dwell at some length on another and perhaps more important step in the economic emancipation of Bonaventure county. But first, may I briefly point out to the government and to hon. members of this house the peculiar agricultural situation of this Gaspe region and what measures we are contemplating with a view to solving, in a prompt and practical way, the numerous problems which the farmers of Bonaventure county are facing.

As I have already stated in this house, the county of Bonaventure is first and foremost a farming area.

In 1931, there were 3,884 farms occupied in that county. At the time of the 1941 census, the number had increased by 816, reaching a total of 4,700. The county of Bonaventure ranks fifth among all counties of the province, as regards the number of occupied farms. The county of Abitibi is first, with 7,309 farms, followed by Matane, with 5,525, Beauharnois, with 5,387, Temiscouata, with 5,197 and Bonaventure with 4,700.

As regards the area under field crops, the county of Bonaventure in 1931 ranked thirty-fifth, while in 1941 it was the thirty-first among the 90 provincial counties of Quebec. In total value of livestock, which was $1,540,015 in 1941, Bonaventure held the thirty-fifth place. Four counties only, Bagot, Huntingdon, Shefford and Temiscouata, were ahead of it in 1943, as regards the shipment of calves for the market. It ranked fourth as far as the shipment of lambs was concerned, led only by the counties of Beauce, Lake St. John and Temiscouata.

We export about $600,000 worth of agricultural products per year. More precisely, from June 1, 1942 to June 1, 1943, Bonaventure county exported agricultural products valued at $584,402 as follows:

Vegetables $ 9,706.00

Potatoes 16,634.00

Fruits 4,673.00

Dairy products 113,020.00

Meat 58,530.00

Eggs 52,543.00

Livestock 327,382.00

Hay 1,914.00

The Address-Mr. Arsenault

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
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IND
LIB

Pierre Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. GAUTHIER (Portneuf):

Hear, hear.

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IND

Bona Arsenault

Independent

Mr. ARSENAULT:

What we have missed most so far is the popularization of technical and scientific agricultural knowledge, as well as the organization of production with a view to satisfying the needs both of local and foreign markets.

There is the soil that must be worked, drained, tilled, fertilized and conserved so that it may go on producing more and more as time goes on.

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LIB

Pierre Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. GAUTHIER (Portneuf):

Hear, hear.

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IND

Bona Arsenault

Independent

Mr. ARSENAULT:

Then there is the stock to be improved, looked after and controlled, so that it does not become a drain on the farmer's resources, but rather a source of profit to him, as he has a right to expect it to be. There is specialized agricultural production that must be popularized, encouraged, stimulated. There is vegetable or animal production that must be selected, put in order, protected against disease, insects, weeds, etc. Production must be organized.

There are also the supervision of markets and the marketing of products, including grading, packing, distribution as required, the sale in the natural or processed condition, and

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194S


The Address-Mr. Arsenault the establishment of proper bodies for the carrying out of such functions, as well as for supplying the implements and equipment required for the successful working of a farm. In brief, it calls for a reorganization of agriculture in the county of Bonaventure and the Gaspe peninsula on a practical and profitable economic basis, by making available to our farmers such experience-tested scientific data as they have lacked so far, by giving them an opportunity of improving their herds, urging them to produce more and in a better way, and encouraging young men to stay on the land and ensure their future. As early as 1912, the mayors of the county of Bonaventure in a meeting held at the county seat, New Carlisle, were requesting, as the best solution for the agricultural problems of the county, that the public authorities establish a dominion experimental farm, which policy, they pointed out, would afford the Gaspe peninsula all the encouragement justified by the quality of its soil and the fact that it was the oldest centre of Christian civilization in North America. On February 2, 1914, Hon. Charles Marcil, member for Bonaventure at the time, appealed in this house to the then Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Mr. Burrell, asking him to establish an experimental farm in the constituency of Bonaventure. I now wish to renew, thirty years later, on behalf of this same constituency, the plea made by the county's mayors in 1912 and the frequent requests voiced by Hon. Charles Marcil in favour of the establishment of a federal experimental farm in the constituency of Bonaventure, as the only means of placing our farming industry on a paying basis, by encouraging our farmers to increase and improve their production and by organizing our agricultural production in terms of the needs of the various local and foreign markets. I hope the government, at this very session will place at the disposal of the Right Hon. the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) the money required for carrying out this undertaking, which is so vital for the constituency of Bonaventure and the Gaspe peninsula. While there is general appreciation of help given the Canadian farmer, especially in the province of Quebec, by the dominion Department of Agriculture's establishment of experimental farms in Canada, it has possibly not been adequately stressed in this house. In the Minister of Agriculture, we have a professional farmer, an outstanding technician, ever eager to promote the development of Quebec agriculture. In the huge task of organizing and managing experimental farms in Canada, he has been wonderfully seconded by Dr. E. S. Archibald who, since he succeeded Dr. Grisdale as director of experimental farms in 1919, has become outstanding in experimental farming. In recognition of Dr. Archibald's worthy services to Canadian agriculture, the Canadian Geographic Society a few months ago, named a mountain after him in Yukon. There are four dominion experimental farms in the province of Quebec: at Lennoxville, Sainte Anne de la Pocatiere, Assomption, and Normandin (Lake St. John), and an experimental substation at Sainte Clothilde, in Chateauguay county. I am firmly confident that buildings will soon be put up to house the Bonaventure county experimental farm, whose work will benefit the whole Gaspe peninsula. It would rank as one of the worthiest federal contributions to the welfare of the people of Bonaventure county and of the whole Gaspe peninsula.


LIB
LIB
IND

Bona Arsenault

Independent

Mr. ARSENAULT:

Before resuming my seat, Mr. Speaker, I want to express a wish, which will be shared, not only by members of the Liberal party, but I am sure by the entire population whatever be their political ties.

At the national Liberal convention, on January 20 last, the prime minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) expressed his wish to relinquish active political life.

The Right Hon. the Prime Minister reiterated statements to this effect and the nationwide publicity given them through the medium of radio and the press have somewhat prepared us to the idea of such a tragic happening.

Nevertheless, the citizens of the whole country and, more particularly, those of the province of Quebec hope against hope that, his health permitting, the Right Hon. the Prime

The Address-Mrs. Strum

Minister will, for many more years, remain at the helm as leader of the Liberal party and prime minister of the Canadian government, in order to guide the destinies of the Canadian nation to still greater heights.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear!

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IND

Bona Arsenault

Independent

Mr. ARSENAULT:

The resignation of the Right Hon. the Prime Minister during one of the most tragic periods of world history, when allied nations are in such need of his moral support, of his sound advice and of his invaluable experience in statesmanship, would have but one parallel: the sudden passing of Franklin Roosevelt a few months before the end of the recent world war.

A Liberal convention may undoubtedly choose a successor to the Prime Minister, but it will be hard to find someone to replace him either at the head of the Liberal party and the government of the nation or in the hearts of all Canadian citizens, regardless of political affiliation.

But should the day come when our country suffers that irreparable loss which would be the retirement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) from active political life, there would remain only one way in which a grateful Canadian nation could fittingly crown the end of a career so fruitful, so rich in accomplishment, so sublime. It would be by designating the right hon. the Prime Minister, through the Canadian government, as the first Canadian governor general of Canada, the country which he loves so much and which thanks to his unceasing work he has placed among the top-ranking nations of the world.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

(Text):

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IND

Bona Arsenault

Independent

Mr. ARSENAULT:

But should' the day

come when our country suffers the irreparable loss of the retirement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) from active political life, there would remain only one way in which a grateful Canadian nation could fittingly crown the end of a career so fruitful and so rich in accomplishment. It would be by designating the right hon. Prime Minister, through the Canadian government, as the first Canadian governor general of Canada, the country which he loves so much and which by his unceasing efforts he has placed among the top-ranking nations of the world.

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CCF

Gladys Grace Mae Strum

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

Mrs. GLADYS STRUM (Qu'Appelle):

Mr. Speaker, the government does not need to be told that the sharp increases in the price of food, clothing and fuel to heat their homes is a very real hardship to millions of Canadian people. Mounting fear goes hand in hand with

mounting prices, and the end is not yet in sight. This serious situation is the result of government action, and the government alone must bear the responsibility for it. Buyers' strikes from coast to coast have sprung up spontaneously to protest the price of beef, bacon and pork, and even Halifax, which last summer sent a Liberal member to instruct the government, saw its city council passing unanimously a resolution urging provincial and federal governments to do something about the constantly rising price of food.

The price ceilings now imposed on a few articles are but a feeble gesture, and even the the government would not claim that it has attempted to attack the problem of high prices. The government's own action is an admission that income has been reduced and that living costs have in effect reduced pensions and other fixed payments. I refer to the government's action in raising the salaries of civil servants, the tables of which are given on page 490 of Hansard, increases which were long overdue, and to the tables increasing the pay of the armed forces. These are a recognition that the responsibility is the government's and that shrinking income is the responsibility of this administration; and so out of the public treasury they have made up the lack of income by these increased payments. But these increased payments have only partly met the needs of people who either are or have been in the armed forces of this country. We still have not adequately cared for the disabled veteran or the widow of the veteran.

I have here the veterans' monthly, The Legionary. It discusses the S10 a month proposed increase and points out that it is completely inadequate. While the increase has been granted to the veteran, there has been no recognition given to the fact that the veteran's wife and' the veteran's children must eat. It is just a flat increase for the veteran, while in the case of the armed forces there is increased pay and increased1 allowance.

There is another group to which the government owes responsibility. I refer to the student veteran. The student veteran finds himself in an exceedingly difficult position. Many of these boys are married. They live in cramped quarters in the veterans villages huddled1 around the university, in Manitoba, for example, at Fort Garry. In these little dwellings the veteran is struggling to do his homework while his wife is struggling to keep the baby quiet. The housing is makeshift. Their income is completely inadequate. In many cases any savings these boys had have been exhausted; they are forced to try to find part-time work, and as a result their

The Address-Mrs. Strum

courses are suffering. The examination results at Christmas indicate that many of them will be asked to leave university.

Not only are the boys suffering but the girls are suffering too. I have in my hand two documents from students at Carleton college. Both girls and boys have the greatest difficulty in pursuing their studies. If the government's policies have caused annuities and pensions and allowances to shrink, the government must come through with increased subsistence payments for these students who are trying to finish college. I have here the names of students and their family conditions. Many of them are married, many of them have children. They are all taking from twenty to forty dollars a month from savings, or borrowing that much from relatives to help them get along. What you do if you have no relatives I do not know. I want to emphasize that if we are going to protect our investment in these veterans we must see to it that we restore the value of their money because our policies have reduced the value of the gratuities that we promised them.

The government itself recognizes that its policy was perhaps not the best one in the world. At the end of December the excess profits tax came off. I have here an interesting quotation from the Journal of January 28, from a speech made by the Minister of Transport at Kingston:

The imposition of a greater excess profits tax deserves careful consideration.

This is a hint that the government may be repenting of its hasty action in removing the excess profits tax in its budget of last year.

I made so many speeches on price control last session that I feel I did my duty in this house by the Canadian family. Last year on March 7, April 21, May l,and again on May 9, I tried in vain to persuade the government to retain price controls and subsidies. We in the C.C.F. anticipated what is now Canadian history. Let us briefly go over the history of price control. The following is taken from the January 25 edition of P.M.:

Canada first placed an over-all ceiling on prices on December 1, 1941, and was probably more successful than any other country in keeping prices virtually stationary throughout the war. The index stood at 115-8 on December 1, 1941, and was only 119-9 on January 1, 1946, five years later, when decontrol started for some items . . . During the past year the cost of living has risen five times as much as it did throughout the four-year period of rigid control.

On April 29 of last year the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) led the Canadian taxpayer down the garden path with sweet words of tax reduction. His budget was greeted with cheers from all sides. Of course the biggest

and best cheer leaders were the corporations who had been paying excess profits tax. They found that this tax would be removed at the end of 1947. This meant a loss of $279 million to the treasury, but the families of Canada also were offered the bright inducement of "a very definite reduction" in the personal income tax. A wage earner, with two children, earning $1,800 a year would under the new budget pay $4 less than the previous tax levy of $20 in 1947. In 1948 the $20 would be reduced by $10, so a net reduction to the taxpayer of $10, or 50 per cent, would result. A family on $2,500 a year and paying $193 in taxes would pay only $130 at the new rate, a gain of $63. Let us see what this government has cost this family through the removal of subsidies and its decontrol policy. I will list just two items. The amounts of these items used in a year are based on the minimum calculated necessary to maintain good health as laid down by the Toronto welfare council and are based on a family consisting of two adults and two children. We will suppose that the family uses a quart of milk for each child and a pint for the two adults and the government butter ration of half a pound per week per person. The cost last year for milk at 10 cents a quart equals $109.50. This year the increased cost at 17 cents a quart makes the milk cost $185.15, or an increased expenditure of $76.65 on milk alone.

To have consumed just the wartime butter ration of 104 pounds a year would make the cost last year $46.80; but the increased cost this year brings it up to $75.92, an increased expenditure of $29.12. On these two items alone the removal of the subsidy has cost this family $105.77 against a tax reduction of $63, which reveals this family to be $44.77 worse off since the removal of subsidies. If we add to that figure the increased cost of bread, meat, fresh fruits and vegetables it adds up to a staggering argument in favour of subsidies.

I wish to illustrate what happened in relation to meat. Everyone remembers the packers strike. The packers were able to clear their abattoirs of storage meat and take advantage later of a glutted market. The delayed deliveries caused congestion at every shipping point. I remember a shipper telling my husband that in all the years he had bought cattle he had never before had to feed cattle in a stockyard for days on end. Every little country shipping point saw cattle in the stockyards waiting for freight cars to move them out of the west. Markets were depressed as farmers unloaded. This condition was aggravated by the government's announcement of the removal of ceilings for producers of coarse grain and the withdrawal of subsidies for feed

The Address-Mr. J. A. Ross

purposes. This completely demoralized the livestock market and the production program. It is very well described in the December 22 issue of Time magazine under the heading "Saskatchewan-vanishing herds." I quote:

Since ceilings were lifted from coarse grains the prices of oats and barley for feed have skyrocketed. While the government thought it over, Saskatchewan dairy farmers, going out ot business, were selling their herds to the United States and Mexico. The province's milk cattle were down 10 per cent. Hogs were being slaughtered while still too scrawny to make sausage meat. Saskatchewan's pigs were off 46 per cent. Any day, any minute, the government was going to have to do something about the uproar in the livestock industry.

I shall be pleased to hear when they do. Then the contracts with Britain merely reacted to intensify this very bad situation. Even before the United Kingdom contracts were announced the government bureau of statistics recorded these increases in food costs. These are taken from the Labour Gazette of December, 1947, taking August 1939 as the base period. They are as follows:

Index

Beef sirloin steak 180-6

Beef, rib roast

197-5Beef, stewing boneless

204-3Beef, rib roast

207-0Pork, fresh shoulder

191-6Bacon side

194-4Lard, pure

243-9

These figures are just in the meat field. Rising costs were reflected in every other field of food commodities, as the following will indicate:

Index

Eggs, grade "A" large

Milk

Butter

Cheese, plain mild ... Flour, first grade .... Tomatoes, canned ....

Beans, dry

Corn syrup, lb

141-3

193-8

245-3

205

I ask the government, is there any cheap food anywhere? There is not. There is no substitute for these expensive foods. Look at the price of vegetables; look at the price of cabbages, turnips and potatoes. Look at the price of beans, macaroni and rice. There is no cheap food any more. Since the removal of the subsidy on bread flour, even bread, which is always the staple article of the poor, is very expensive. These figures just go to illustrate that point. .

The contracts with the United Kingdom gave another excuse for another round of increases in prices. Milk, meat, butter, fresh fruits and vegetables, as I have mentioned, all reflect rising living costs.

I want for a moment to discuss subsidies, because I think the Canadian people must

make up their minds about subsidies. A subsidy is a device to protect the living standards of the people. According to a recent Gallup poll there is no doubt that the great majority of Canadians want price control. If we have price control we have just two simple choices. We can try to enforce price control below cost or at a reasonable level without subsidies in the face of scarcity. If we do that we shall bring into being a black market which will completely defeat our objective. The other alternative is subsidies. When we pay subsidies to producers we maintain an industry, we achieve distribution and we underwrite consumption.

On April 2, 1947, the present Minister of Justice (Mr. Usley), then Minister of Finance, in answering a question asked by the hon. member for Stanstead (Mr. Hackett) gave a monumental statement that has been used in this house many times. He listed the costs of administering the wartime prices and trade board and the cost of subsidies paid under it. I think the answer should go along with the tables and therefore I am going to use it again in spite of the fact that it has been used many times.

The hon. member for Stanstead and the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) had asked questions with regard to the cost of subsidies. These were the answers given. The Minister of Finance at that time said that the wartime prices and trade board administration cost $12,000,000 annually; the wartime prices and trade board subsidies and trading losses cost $84,000,000 annually; the agricultural subsidies cost $65,000,000 annually; remission of duties cost roughly $5,000,000 annually, and the coal subsidies $5,000,000 annually. The total costs approximated $186 million annually, or $930 million for the five years. In summing up he said this:

On this basis, the Canadian consumer would have had to pay $8 billion for goods and services for which, under price control, he actually paid only $6-5 billion, a saving of $1-5 billion a year for five years.

In addition to this, the government as a huge purchaser of goods and services, itself saved money because the price control program was in effect. Mr. Ilsley estimated this saving -to the government alone at one billion dollars a year

Putting the two savings together, they totalled $2-5 billion annual saving for a total expenditure of less than $200 million annually.

Coming down out of the dizzy heights of billion dollar finance, what Mr. Ilsley said was this:

Every time the government spent a dollar on maintaining price ceilings, it saved the country more than $12.50.

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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

Mr. Speaker, may I interrupt for a minute?

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January 29, 1948