March 4, 1949

LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

I can tell a better story than that.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

Mining was mentioned

briefly in the speech from the throne. But what has this government done, apart from making promises?

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PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNicol:

Nothing.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

What has it done for the great mining industry of Canada? They were able not many years ago, along with other countries tied to this monetary standard, to raise the price of gold from $20 an ounce to $35. Every working man and woman on the North American continent and in England, on that particular day, went about his or her daily business. Potatoes or other commodities did not go up or down in price. We heard there was going to be blue ruin. But it did benefit this country to the tune of about $70 million. That was due to the increase in the price of gold.

Today the cost of operation in the mining industry has increased by about 50 per cent. Yet this government has sat back for the last four or five years and watched that pegged price of $35 an ounce. I contend that the government could have done something to help the mining industry by increasing the price of gold to $50 or $70 an ounce, and thereby encourage the mining of gold in Canada.

Certain countries may say that the Canadian dollar, paper money, is not on a par with their money. But I do not know any country in the world that would refuse gold produced in Canada as payment for any commodity we might wish to purchase. This is an industry which provides millions of dollars in a commodity which is acceptable throughout the world. We have the gold; let the government encourage gold mining. Let it create opportunities for labour and produce wealth with which we can reduce the cost of living for our people.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

May I ask the hon. member a question?

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

The hon. member said so much prior to the question he wants to ask that I think he should sit down.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

The hon. member cannot take it.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

I cannot take continuous nonsense, your blathering and blithering. That is pretty hard to take. How can we hope for a reduction in the cost of living-

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

X intended to ask a sensible question but I did not expect a sensible answer.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

The hon. member would not understand it if he did get a sensible answer. Just when the people were thinking a year ago that they could see a slight ray of sunshine, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) announced over the radio, without any authority from the parliament of Canada, that he was going to impose, and he did impose illegally, a 25 per cent tax on a great number of commodities that were absolutely essential to the proper living of the Canadian people, such as refrigerators, irons, stoves, purses, fountain pens-

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

Cosmetics.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

Probably I do not know as much about those as the hon. member. He should be an expert on cosmetics; I am not. But the government was not satisfied just to place a 25 per cent tax, which was prohibitive, on these commodities. They did not want to see our factories kept going. They did not want to permit private enterprise to reap the benefits of its research and effort. This 25 per cent tax was not enough as far as the government was concerned. Do you know, if you buy a fountain pen in Canada today the tax over and above the actual retail price is 43 per cent. If around Christmas you felt that you wanted to give your wife a small leather purse costing $5, the tax over and above the retail price was not 25 per cent, it was 43 per cent.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

What about steel plate?

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

Rather than the government gouging the public the public of Canada should control the government. This government should act on behalf of the people of Canada and for the people of Canada. Why should a small group tell the people of Canada that they must pay 43 per cent tax on fountain pens or on leather purses? These things are essential. Why should that be done in order to give pleasure to the Minister of Finance?-although I imagined it gave displeasure to most members on the Liberal side. Why should that have been done to the great discomfiture of the Canadian people?

I think the government received a warning recently in the province of Quebec in spite of all the excuses they offer. That warning should be sufficient to indicate that the people want a common-sense reduction in taxation. Instead of waiting until the coming election the government had better try to get into the good graces of the electorate by introducing immediate tax reforms. Even then 29087-75

The Address-Mr. Sinnott their defeat will be certain, but it may not be an avalanche.

Through mismanagement and flagrant neglect of the people's welfare, the government have created high prices which have resulted in slight unemployment which no doubt will rapidly grow worse unless they take immediate steps to remedy the damage already done. The government will remember what I am saying tonight when this house resumes after the next election and the Conservative party is in power with the C.C.F. completely annihilated.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Gibson (Hamilton West):

Stop dreaming.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

I am offering these words of warning, which I am sure will be well remembered and most emphatically admitted after the next election.

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LIB

John Sylvester Aloysius Sinnott

Liberal

Mr. J. S. Sinnott (Springfield):

Mr. Speaker, after having listened to the remarks of the last speaker I am reminded of a joke. When the hon. member was up in his own riding he attended an auction sale. He was looking around for a place from which he could tell his constituents what a good job he was doing. The only place he could find to stand was on a manure spreader. Someone said, "Better stay there Fergy", and he said, "Set it up; this is the biggest load it ever had".

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

That is Hepburn's old joke.

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LIB

John Sylvester Aloysius Sinnott

Liberal

Mr. Sinnott:

I think the house will listen to that story for a long time. Being almost the last today to take part in this debate, I feel that I am a little late in congratulating the mover (Mr. Brown) and the seconder (Mr. Demers) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. However, I do wish to express to both these gentlemen my sincere congratulations. I should like also to congratulate the new members who have taken their seats in the House of Commons.

First of all I should like to congratulate the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) on the announcement he made recently in regard to the twenty-cent payment on western wheat. I also wish to offer my sincere thanks to the government for having placed a floor under coarse grains and butter.

Consistent efforts have been made by some members of the house to again have the open market system for the handling of western grain. One hon. member said that the farmers had lost what he considered was the astronomical figure of $2,000 million as a result of the grain having been marketed through the wheat board. At this point I should like to indicate what would have been lost if we had been dealing in the open market during the five years we have had

1184 HOUSE OF

The Address-Mr. Sinnott wheat contracts with Great Britain-approximately $5,350 million.

Statements of this kind are unfounded and it seems to me that men who make such statements are only goaded by a desire for dollars, having no sense of reasoning in connection with humanity itself. The government of Canada was successful in obtaining a longterm contract with Great Britain, thereby establishing for the first time in history a really stable market as far as western grain was concerned. That had such a stabilizing effect that more farmers than ever before have been able to pay off their mortgages, improve their farm buildings, and buy better machinery. And, having a higher standard of living, they are in position to give their children an education.

It has never been stated by those who have advocated marketing grain by the open-market system just how much the farmers would have lost if the open market policy had been followed in the years after the war.

I only need to refer to the figures which were put on the record by the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Bryce). These figures indicate that wheat sold in August, 1920, at $2.73 per bushel; in August, 1921, at $1.11 per bushel; and in October, 1923, at 95 cents per bushel: averaging $1.59 per bushel during those three years. I may say, Mr. Speaker, that when the present contract is completed we will have an average of far more than $1.59 per bushel for the whole five years.

You will see from the figures just released by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) that conditions will remain stable for a considerably longer time than after the first world war. It should also be possible to remind the house that the present government will have given to the farmers, at the completion of the five-year wheat agreement with Great Britain, every dollar obtained for wheat sold, over and above the contract with Great Britain, to other countries under class

II wheat, which has realized considerably more money. It was also put in the pool, giving the farmers a very substantial payment this spring, and $214 million will be distributed throughout western Canada.

I also wish to draw to the attention of the house the fact that the $214 million is not coming out of the consolidated revenue fund but from payments received by the government for their wheat, and only their wheat. In saying that, I wish to make it clear to eastern Canada that they are not contributing towards the stabilizing of western wheat growers. In view of what I have cited, I cannot help praising this marketing system. It has enabled western farmers to regulate their business for the first time in years.

They know what they will receive when their crop is harvested, and it also gives them ready cash for threshing bills, fuel, wages, taxes, interest on mortgages, and so on.

During the period of the open market when grain was handled on the grain exchange, and especially during harvest when a great volume was handled, prices would be depressed for the first two months, and then, when the grain was in the hands of the speculators, up the prices would go.

As I have stated before, when farmers were in need of money to pay their immediate bills they were forced by their creditors to sell a large amount of wheat in order to make payments. Under the present system the creditors of the farmer have no hesitation in giving him a line of credit as long as he is able to substantiate that he has in his granary numerous bushels of grain to take care of his debts. In other words, prices will not fluctuate the way wheat is handled now.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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March 4, 1949