December 10, 1949

LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

Then I would ask permission to place these on Hansard also.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

The list to date is as follows, and others will be submitted when the engineering reports are completed:

Nova Scotia Falmouth marsh Truro dikeland park marsh Victoria Diamond Jubilee marsh Grand Pre marsh Saulnierville marsh Dentiballis marsh Queen Anne marsh Dugau marsh

New Brunswick Westcock marsh Dixon Island marsh Lower Coverdale marsh Allison marsh Middle Coverdale marsh Belliveau village marsh Beaumont marsh Pre d'en Haut marsh

Prince Edward Island Johnson River marsh

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PC

Percy Chapman Black

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Black (Cumberland):

While the marsh-owners and general public are very appreciative of what has been done, they are somewhat critical of the delay. Some of these aboiteaux and outlets that not long ago were perhaps four feet wide and two or three feet deep in some places are now fifty feet wide and twenty-five feet deep, and the cost of repairing those breaks and protecting the land is a hundred times more than it would have been if the work could have been done when the recommendations were first made; and it is getting worse all the time. That is just in one area a few miles from the town of Amherst, where thousands of acres have been flooded.

Photographs have been forwarded to me showing storage barns with the tide about halfway up between the sills and the eaves, with the entire area flooded. That shows how urgent it is that this work be proceeded with. In that area we have the most valuable marshland in the maritime provinces, and the farmers are getting discouraged. Recently they had a meeting; they are prepared to cooperate with the department, but they want action now so that this damage will be repaired and the marshlands protected and made available to them for agricultural purposes.

IMr. Black (Cumberland).]

I would ask the minister if any decision has been arrived at with respect to the experimental station taking over certain areas of this unreclaimed land and building it up for grazing land and the production of hay. It is quite generally felt that this should be done as an example or model for the whole countryside.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

As the hon. member knows, ten acres at the farm are being utilized for that purpose now. We have not contemplated taking any more land; we figured the work could be done on the ten acres, and are operating in that way.

As to the other matter, I am pleased to learn that our engineer has proved acceptable to the people and that they believe he is doing a good job. The hon. member will recall that when I was down in Nova Scotia last year there was considerable discussion as to the possibility of putting in aboiteaux as the old-timers had done perhaps a hundred years ago. They took me out to see one of these aboiteaux which I believe was put in under the direction of one of the old-timers who knew how it had been done in earlier years. He was too old himself to work on it, but he directed the operation. They

fallowed that old method until they reached a height which they thought was above a water level that would do any damage; and when they reached that height they began to use modern equipment and methods and bulldozed the earth in.

When I was there, however, it was evident that this work was going to go out. That was an experience we had to pay for, and it was thought we should proceed more slowly until we obtained more knowledge as to how best to proceed, particularly if we are to use this modern equipment to put in these structures. In addition I understand the tide this year was the highest in the past seventy-five years, and that has been responsible for some of the damage. I quite agree, however, that if we are to avoid further damage of that kind in high tide years we must get along with the work as rapidly as possible.

As to the latter part of the question, our policy has been to take responsibility for putting in the main dike that keeps out the sea, and to that extent we have maintained certain areas as to which perhaps a definite decision has not been made with respect to how those living behind the dikes are going to handle the land, or how it will be handled by the provincial government. We figure our main job is to keep out the sea, however, and we hope to get along with that work as rapidly as possible.

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PC

Percy Chapman Black

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Black (Cumberland):

If I may offer one other suggestion it would be that the department, through Mr. Parker, take steps to devise and build special machinery to excavate these small ditches the farmers used to dig by hand. It is impracticable now to get labourers to do this work; it must be done by machinery. I feel that quite large sums could be made available as an incentive to practical men, who have been accustomed to working this marshland, to devise machinery that might be useful in this work. These small ditches cannot be dug by hand at today's costs; they have to be dug by machines. So far as I know, no such equipment has been developed which is acceptable. I believe most of the owners of marshland feel that machines of this kind can be developed.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I understand that New

Brunswick has a machine which is fairly satisfactory. At the experimental farm we are working on machines which we hope will prove to be satisfactory. This development may reach a satisfactory conclusion with the support of the provincial people. I know the hon. member is acquainted with the fact that we have already purchased some machines for the larger works, such as putting in dikes. Those machines might be available.

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Item agreed to. 41. For assistance in construction of potato warehouses under regulations to be approved by the governor in council, $100,000.


LIB

James Lester Douglas

Liberal

Mr. Douglas:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to ask the minister what portion of this $100,000 has been spent in the last few years on the construction of warehouses, and whether any applications for assistance have been received from the provinces.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I believe I am correct in saying that up to the moment no money has actually been spent. There was an arrangement with the province of Prince Edward Island under which we were to spend dollar for dollar with the province. The arrangement was that when that money was spent, the warehouse was to be available to the producers in the area. The province has been suggesting that its portion of the money be collected and repaid. We have not accepted that suggestion up to the moment. We have taken the position that our donation, and the provincial donation, ought to be dealt with in the same way, whichever way that is.

When the dominion put through the legislation in the first instance, there was no intention of collecting the money and returning it to the treasury. We have not asked this house for the right to collect it, and, as 45781-195

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a result, no payments have been made in Prince Edward Island. No agreement has been reached. There are applications for assistance from New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan, in connection with the building of warehouses for the storage of potatoes. These applications are being considered.

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PC

Heber Harold Hatfield

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hatfield:

Some warehouses have been built under the arrangement.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

Some warehouses have been built, but we have not paid out any money to Prince Edward Island. We may have paid some in New Brunswick.

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PC

Heber Harold Hatfield

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hatfield:

All the warehouses have been built in Prince Edward Island.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

They have been built, but presumably they were built under directions of the provincial government. Up to the moment, we have considered that the provincial government has not carried out what we thought was the arrangement. We have not paid any money, therefore, but the warehouses are built.

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PC

Heber Harold Hatfield

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hatfield:

From whom have the applications from New Brunswick come?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I understand the communications from New Brunswick are still in the form of requests for information about the plan. No actual application has been received as yet.

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Item agreed to. 42. Agricultural Products Act-to provide for losses incurred in respect of the purchase, sale and export of agricultural products under the Agricultural Products Act, including authority for the Minister of Finance, at the request of the Minister of Agriculture, from time to time, to pay amounts in the aggregate not exceeding $40 million out of any unappropriated money in the consolidated revenue fund as recoverable advances, $100,000.


CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

I believe this is the appropriate item under which to ask the question I have in mind, since it deals with the export of agricultural products. It makes provision for the amount the Minister of Agriculture may call upon the Minister of Finance to supply. I believe the house should have some knowledge of the startling charge made by the Minister of Agriculture, in his reference to the export of our farm produce and other products to the United Kingdom. I have not the report from the Globe and Mail, to which the minister objected but I have the report which appeared in the Citizen and which he accepted. The headline stretched across the paper-''Startling charge by Gardiner about U.K.". It goes on to say that he addressed a board of trade dinner at Brantford, and I quote:

-he recalled that prior to the second world war, Canada was Britain's chief source of wheat and

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apples, and also supplied considerable quantities of pork, cheese, beef and other foods. During the war Canada became Britain's chief supplier of pork, eggs and cheese, and also shipped large amounts of beef and milk.

This is the important paragraph:

"During the last two years," he said, "a very decided official effort has been made to drive every one of these products excepting wheat off the British market. And now that the four-year wheat contract is drawing to a close an effort is being made to drive off a considerable part of our wheat as well."

It seems to me that this is a serious charge. It is alleged there is an official move in Great Britain to drive Canadian products off the British market.

My understanding, from what the Prime Minister said yesterday in his discussion of the $3 million bonus for shipping losses, was that the restriction of trade between the two countries was due to the dollar shortage, and that it was our problem as much as a problem of the United Kingdom. In other words, they will have to supply us with goods in order that we may sell our farm produce overseas. I should like to remind the minister that on July 1 of this year a budgetary provision came into effect which greatly restricted the export to Canada of such things as piece goods. A few days ago I was introduced to a gentleman by one of the supporters of my hon. friend, and he told me he was the export director of a large shoe company in Great Britain. He told me that if I wanted to buy a pair of British shoes, and lived in Windsor, I could buy them cheaper in Detroit because the Canadian tariff was four times as high as the United States tariff on his product-shoes.

A short time ago I asked the minister whether the British took as much cheese as they had contracted to take, and the answer was yes. We have now lost the British market in other respects. It is true the British are looking more to the sterling areas for goods, because they have the sterling with which to buy those goods. That is not the whole story, however. Over the last two or three years I have followed this trade matter rather carefully.

Take, for example, the position as to bacon. The minister has often said that we supplied Britain with vast quantities of bacon during and since the war. He has said that Canada has fulfilled the understanding we had with Great Britain with regard to the supplying of bacon. I have some figures before me concerning this aspect of the matter. In 1946 Britain expected to receive 450 million pounds of bacon from Canada, and we sent 286 million pounds. In 1947 the British expected 350 million pounds, and we sent 232 million pounds. In 1948 the British expected 195

million pounds, but we failed to deliver anything like that amount. I believe the contract this year is for 160 million pounds, and according to a return that was tabled in the house, we sent only 14 million pounds in the first three months of the year.

I looked up the trade statistics of the Department of Trade and Commerce issued by the bureau of statistics yesterday. On page 3 of their report, dealing with trade up to the end of September, I found that we had exported to Great Britain about 28 million pounds of bacon. It seems to me that unless the minister can tell the house what the official action of which he complains is, a statement of this kind is something to which objection should be taken by all members of this House of Commons. It certainly does not make for good relationships. The minister will recollect that in 1948 we agreed to send 195 million pounds of bacon. We also agreed to send a quantity of beef. The American market was good for beef; we had available more bacon than we expected in the earlier part of that year, and the British agreed at our request to take 29 million additional pounds of bacon in lieu of beef, making 224 million pounds altogether. What did we ship that year? We shipped 176 million pounds. The minister complains that there is in Britain an official attitude to drive our products off the market. I presume that the British, who want to maintain their meat ration, are looking for a constant supply. We have been unable to maintain that constant supply or live up to the understandings-I use the word "understandings" because I am not sure whether they were agreements or not; but they were understandings. These figures I have used have been gathered carefully, and I know they are correct-I think the minister's own figures will verify them-as to the understandings and the amount that was sent.

We are losing the United Kingdom market, and we are losing it for two reasons.

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?

An hon. Member:

We have lost it.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

All right; that is the hon. member's opinion. I will not go that far. I think we are losing it for two reasons. One is our failure to fulfil understandings of such importance to the British people. The second, of course, is the maintenance of a relatively high tariff. When the Geneva agreements were made two years ago some of us in the house urged the government to use one of the escape clauses in the agreement so that we would not have to put into effect immediately the non-discrimination clauses in the treaty. As hon. members will recall, we had a year's grace; and if the exchange situation was bad, we could ask for a further

extension of time. But the government put the whole treaty or agreement into effect immediately; and may I say that while that agreement has been on the order paper it has never been ratified by the House of Commons.

The committee should have a knowledge of the facts on which the minister based this statement. If there is an official attitude to drive Canadian products off the British market, he should take the committee into his confidence. This is a serious matter. It is particularly serious because of the manner in which Canada went to the assistance of the overseas countries during the war, and because of the manner in which we changed our economy in many respects during the war to meet the overseas needs. I think the people of Canada should know on what the minister's statement is based.

If, on the other hand-and this appears to me to be so from all that I can read- this stems purely, or mainly, from a dollar shortage, then I think that Canada should endeavour to co-operate with the sterling and other areas and should endeavour, through international organization, to set up a plan whereby we might bring about the convertibility of our various currencies, or even go to the extent of finding an international currency that would enable us to trade with one another. After all, the world is short of food-it is always short of food- and Canada is a great potential provider of food. If we lose the only markets we have, and there is no possibility of finding sufficient new markets, what will be the condition in this country within a few years?

I greatly regretted that Canada did not support the proposal made recently at the United Nations for dealing with surplus foods. I notice that the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Mr. H. Hannam, was of much the same opinion. He said recently:

Farmers want some assurance of stability in markets projected ahead a few years to enable them to plan their production with confidence. With this view, we found the farmers of all countries in complete agreement.

He went on further to say:

Our Canadian federation put a proposal for moving embarrassing surpluses into consumption before the international federation of agricultural producers at Guelph and it was unanimously endorsed. It proposed the setting up of an international agency and fund to take surpluses, arrange for their sale to needy people at special prices, and have the loss shared between the fund and the supplying country.

That may not apply to our trade relationships with Great Britain, but it does apply to dealing with potential surpluses of foodstuffs in this country in the next two years.

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I was disturbed when I saw the minister's statement headlined in the Citizen the other evening; because, after all, trading relationships to some extent stem from good relationships in other ways. You can trade with people with whom you are not on friendly terms, but you can trade better if you are on friendly terms. I think this statement of the minister was most unfortunate, and I believe it was without any basis in fact with respect to the statement that there is an official resistance to Canadian products on the British market, except in so far as that resistance stems from the shortage of dollars with which to pay for Canadian goods.

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December 10, 1949