May 17, 1955

SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. Quelch:

I will give the minister an example pretty soon. What we were advocating was that Canada should do it. We were not suggesting that the United States should do it. They are already doing it to a certain extent, but maybe in a slightly different way from the way we are advocating. We advocate that Canada should be willing to take sterling. The minister suggested some time ago that Britain might be hesitant to pay us sterling for our produce and keep that as blocked sterling. The only reason Britain might hesitate would be if we were to insist that that sterling be made convertible. Of course if you are going to advocate a policy whereby you accept the foreign currency of another nation you certainly would not advocate convertibility of currency because you

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cannot have convertibility of currency until such time as you introduce a policy under which trade can be balanced. Until such time as we have a policy under which trade between the sterling area and the dollar area can reach a fairly high degree of balance, it is just useless to talk about convertibility of currency. It would break down just as it did in 1947.

We have heard a lot of talk about convertibility being just around the corner, but we are always finding there is another corner when we get to that corner, and I think we will continue to find there are more and more corners until such time as the creditor nations are willing to accept goods in return by way of payment. Just as long as a nation like the United States insists upon maintaining a heavy favourable balance of trade they make it impossible for other nations to make their currency convertible into American dollars because the only way those nations can get American dollars is by selling goods, and just as long as the United States makes it impossible for them to sell their goods or services to America, just so long does the United States make it impossible for there to be convertibility of currency.

As I say, the minister seemed to belittle the effect that acceptance of foreign currency would have upon the Canadian economy, and yet I noticed that in his speech yesterday he blamed the United States policy of trading their goods for foreign currency' or giving their goods away as being the reason why our sales are down. He will not admit it had any effect upon price but he admitted it had had some effect upon our sales. He mentioned that the United States had sold somewhere in the neighbourhood of $200 million of wheat. Of course there were many other commodities they sold as well.

Perhaps I should give a few examples of deals the United States has made, and I just pick these at random. In the most recent issue of Foreign Trade there is a very interesting article, which I shall be using on another occasion, dealing with United States policy. I think it would be better to deal with that question when we are on the estimates of the minister. But I will take the Wall Street Journal of April 21, 1954, which contains an article dealing with certain operations under the mutual security act. It reads:

The foreign operations administration allotted $10 million to Yugoslavia and $235,000 to Norway to buy surplus United States agricultural products under section 550 of the mutual security act. The countries will pay in their own currency, which the United States will use for foreign aid purposes. The United States in turn will supply dollars to exporters.

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Then in the Montreal Gazette of May 11, 1955, I find the following in an editorial:

On May 5 an announcement was made in Washington of a "package agreement". Under this agreement $73-9 million worth of United States surplus agricultural commodities will be sold to the United Kingdom, with payment in sterling being accepted by the United States government agency, the foreign operations administration.

They are accepting that sterling and with the sterling they will probably be able to buy goods in other countries. The minister shakes his head, but even so there is a very large variety of goods we could buy from Britain which we are at the present time buying from the United States. We could just as well buy them from Britain. I agree with the minister that there may be some difficulty in educating the Canadian people with respect to the desirability of buying less from the United States and more from Britain, but I believe that with an educational campaign that could be taken care of if the people realized the effect upon the Canadian economy when we have an unfavourable balance of trade with the United States and a favourable balance of trade with Great Britain.

As I say, last year the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) brushed aside the importance of the acceptance of foreign currency, and I was somewhat surprised that the minister of finance also brushed it aside. I quoted to him from the U.S. News and World Report the forecast of the legislation the United States was going to introduce and the minister of finance said that they were wrong, that the United States was not going to do that. But they have done it. It is being done now, and we are faced with a situation which the Minister of Trade and Commerce himself admits is affecting our sales of wheat.

It seems to me that the great problem we face today is that of getting surpluses to the people who need them. I think the United States has given a great deal of leadership on that question. First of all, they gave it under the Marshall plan. We did not criticize the United States when they brought down the Marshall plan. Why did we not criticize them then? Because at that time the United States was making dollars available and Canada was getting some of those dollars. But today the United States is not making dollars available but goods. In other words, the United States is going to make sure that the program they now have to dispose of surpluses does not enable Canada to make use of it to dispose of its surpluses as the Marshall plan did. The United States has now instituted a plan making it possible for that country to dispose of its surpluses, and

the United States is saying to Canada: You look after your own job; we are not going to do it for you this time.

It is about time we woke up to that fact. If the United States can do it there is absolutely no reason why Canada could not also dispose of a large percentage of her surplus agricultural products in return for sterling. It is time for the government to quit sitting on the surpluses waiting for a policy to hatch. It is interesting to remember that when we were discussing the international commodity clearing house, a subject in which the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) is much interested, a subject in which the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the international federation of agricultural producers are very much interested, it was turned down. I am going to be very careful in what I say this time. I am not going to blame anybody. In any event, it was turned down.

But the policy of Canada then was that Canada would look after her own surpluses, that we could create a reserve of certain foods which would take care of crop failures. If it is the policy to maintain a reserve of agricultural produce in order to take care of a short crop year and in order that we may play our part in helping to feed the hungry people of the world, undoubtedly that policy is in the interests not only of the people of Canada but also of the people of the world. If that program is being maintained in the interests of the Canadian people and in the interests of the people of the world why should the farmers be the ones to have to pay all the storage charges? Surely the cost of storing these reserves should be borne by the people of Canada as a whole and not by the farmers alone.

The minister pointed out that we had excess storage charges over 1952-53 of 8i cents per bushel of wheat. I say that 8J cents should be paid by the government. If that amount were added to the $1.56 it would mean that the farmers would at least be receiving $1,641 which, while not good, is certainly better than $1.56. I think there is every justification for insisting that the 8i cents for storage charges should be paid from the federal treasury instead of by the farmers.

Last year we moved a motion urging advances against grain on the farms. I realize fully there are certain difficulties involved in that .proposal, but on the other hand it would have been a tremendous blessing to the farmers last fall if they had been able to get advances against grain in the bin in exactly the same way as is done in the United States. Again I say if the United States can do it there is no reason why we cannot do it. Certainly there is a problem

and it is not an easy problem, but surely we are not always going to pick the easy thing to do. Is it not time, in order to solve some of these problems, that we do it even if it has to be done the hard way? We are not trying to solve them in Canada today.

Last week I spoke on support prices. I pointed out that the farmers had paid for every bit of support they are getting today. They paid for it during the latter part of the war when they accepted a ceiling on the prices of their farm products, and when they accepted less than the world market price for wheat at that time. You might say they paid a premium on the insurance that they hoped to get in the future.

Now, it is true that grains are not under the Agricultural Prices Support Act. If grains were included under the Agricultural Prices Support Act, the support price would be in the neighbourhood of $2.27 per bushel if the base year 1943-45 were used. The interprovincial farm union asked that grain be placed under the Agricultural Prices Support Act. The interprovincial farm union council asks for the adoption of the two-price system. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture also asked that the sales of wheat be placed under the two-price system, that is the domestic price should be the maximum price under the international wheat agreement and the export price should be the contract price or whatever price may be reached. We feel that the two-price system would give the farmers a good deal of security. We have supported that idea.

As a matter of fact we were supporting the two-price system for a number of years before the interprovincial farm union ever mentioned it in their brief. Every time representatives of that organization came to Ottawa we asked what they thought of the two-price system. Now, they have it in their program. I believe the idea is absolutely sound. The hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue) does not like the idea. He says that his group insists upon 100 per cent parity. If the hon. member for Assiniboia is so insistent that you have to have 100 per cent parity, I cannot understand why he called the brief of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture an excellent brief because the Canadian Federation of Agriculture insisted that parity prices should not be above 85 per cent of parity. They condemned the idea of 100 per cent parity, yet the hon. member says that is an excellent brief. In one breath, therefore, he says we must not have 100 per cent parity, it is a wrong idea, and then in the next breath he says we stand for 100 per cent parity. I should like to know how he reconciles the two statements.

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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

May I answer the hon. member's question now?

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SC
CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

As I said, I believe in a policy of full parity prices, and anything that is a step towards that objective is good. It was for that reason I referred to the federation of agriculture brief as being excellent, because it constituted a very long step forward towards the objective of parity.

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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. Quelch:

The hon. member certainly did not think that answer out very well. I want to make it clear that the federation of agriculture is not making this suggestion as a step towards what the hon. member advocates. Let me repeat what the brief says, and it is to be found on page 10:

We recommend further that the board-

No, that is not the page.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

The hon. member did not think that one out very well.

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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. Quelch:

I find this on page 7 of the brief:

We do not believe it is sound or practical to look to a price support program to guarantee the fanner prices which represent a full fair (or parity) relationship for each individual product. The result of such 100 per cent guarantees, if attempted, would inevitably be a high degree of government direction and control over agriculture. We do not believe-

This is probably the reason the C.C.F. would like to support it.

-farmers wish to submit to such extensive government participation in their business, nor do we believe it is reasonable to ask the government to undertake such a commitment.

I think another reason the federation feel that way is that, after all, whatever program you establish you have to get public support behind it. If you try to get too high prices you will turn the public against you and there will be little chance of success. On the other hand, the two-price support program can be justified whatever way you look at it. The labour unions of this country have already endorsed the idea of agricultural prices in this country being tied to the price of other products. I believe we would have the support of labour behind the idea that the price of farm products be set at parity with the price of other products. Why would labour expect to buy farm products at lower prices than the price of their own labour?

The parity price in the domestic market could be justified without any difficulty at all. When you take into consideration that apart from wheat only about 6 per cent of our agricultural products are exported abroad, then by guaranteeing parity prices for the 94 per cent consumed in Canada you

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would give the farmers a very large percentage of parity. Wheat, of course, is different. I know that it varies, but suppose we take the figure of 20 per cent of our wheat being used in Canada and 80 per cent exported abroad. The 20 per cent consumed in Canada would be sold then at parity, that is $2.27 per bushel. In so far as the 80 per cent exported abroad is concerned, we have stressed the fact that there should be a reasonable support price. What would be a reasonable support price? I believe a reasonable support price for the exported grain would be the average between the floor and the ceiling in the international wheat agreement, which would be approximately $1.70 per bushel. If you sold 80 per cent at $1.70 and 20 per cent at a parity price of $2.27, you would have a support price of $1.81 per bushel. That is certainly what we consider to be fair, and I think it would meet with the approval of the various farm organizations.

We believe that this price policy, coupled with advances to farmers against grain held in farm storage, would not only help the farmers of this country considerably but would also help to maintain the Canadian economy at a high level.

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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. A. M. Nicholson (Mackenzie):

Yesterday certainly will always be remembered as blue Monday so far as I am concerned, Mr. Speaker. First of all the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) announced the final disposition of the wheat board stocks and the final net payment to farmers ranging from 6-26 cents per bushel for No. 1 northern up to 16-45 cents per bushel for feed wheat. While hon. members from the west were aware that the sales had not been going as well as had been expected, it was not realized that farmers were to receive such a very small payment.

Then, for the first time, the minister admitted the very serious problem that we now have, and which he had ignored for far too long. He mentioned that during this period the United States surplus disposal program had emerged as one of the chief factors in the international wheat position. Canadian export sales have improved but not to the extent that would achieve the rapid movement we hoped for earlier in the crop season. Then the minister mentioned the triple-barrelled surplus disposal program in effect in the United States, and stated that wheat may be bartered for strategic materials; may be distributed to importing countries for local currencies which are usually left in the recipient country for development or other purposes; or may be given away as a relief measure.

I have noticed that in the publication "Agriculture Abroad" this point that the minister made is mentioned. The issue for April, 1955, in the section dealing with the United States, states that the commodity credit corporation in the United States disposed of commodities valued at $1-4 billion in 1954 and that in 1955 it is expected they will dispose of $2-1 billion and in 1956 $2-4 billion. If we have had trouble in 1954 as a result of the United States policy, it is quite obvious that in 1955 and 1956 we really have trouble ahead.

The hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue) made reference to the treatment extended to wheat producers in other countries of the world, and pointed out that although Canada is one of the main wheat producers our farmers are receiving the lowest amount paid anywhere in the world. He referred to some figures prepared by the Alberta wheat pool. I have in my hand the United States foreign agricultural circular, F.G. 1355, published on April 8, which sets out figures very similar to those given by the hon. member for Assiniboia. But as these figures are more up to date I should like to take a few moments to give some information concerning the problem with which Canadian farmers are confronted, and to show the prices they receive as compared with those received by farmers in other countries. I shall give, in this table, the name of the country, the price per bushel in United States dollars, and the size of the wheat crop in each country. The information is as follows:

Equivalent price 1954-1955

per bushel in wheat crop,

Country dollars in bushelsAlgeria

2.64 44,830,000Argentina

2.72 275,000,000Australia

1.41 166,610,000Austria

2.63 16,700,000Belgium

2.56 20,800,000Canada

1.40 293,909,000Chile

4.50 38,270,000Egypt

2.18 60,000,000Finland

3.95 10,000,000France

2.64 386,500,000West Germany ..

2.72-2.83 105,600,000Greece

2.40 45,000,000India

1.52 290,900,000Iran

0.97 77,000,000Ireland

2.39 15,900,000Italy

3.05 264,000,000Japan

2.61 55,700,000Luxembourg ....

3.02 1,500,000Mexico

1.99 30,300,000Morocco

2.64 45,560,000Netherlands

1.86 14,590,000New Zealand ...

1.59 4,600,000Norway

3.43 1,480,000Peru

1.83 6,100.000Portugal

2.85 27,470,000Spain

2.73 180,000,000Sweden

2.35 37,870,000Switzerland

4.19 9,370,000Syria

1.54 31,200,000Tunisia

2.64 22,410,000

Turkey

Union of South Africa

United Kingdom

United States

Uruguay

Yugoslavia

2.49 180,000,000

2.25 19,760,000

2.30 104,160,000

2.24 969,781,000

2.96 26,310,000

2.16 -

It will be noted that while the price for Yugoslavia is indicated as $2.16, there is no figure given for the amount of the wheat crop. The total number of bushels for all these countries I have mentioned is 6,825 million. I would also point out that of all these countries Iran, with a price of 97 cents per bushel, is the only one that pays a price lower than Canada. It produces 77 million

bushels.

This interesting publication points out that 96 per cent of the world's wheat is marketed under some type of government control or government support policy. It outlines these different types as:

1. Fixed prices;

2. Government purchase;

3. Guaranteed minimum prices;

4. Directional prices;

5. Deficiency payments;

6. Guaranteed price ranges;

7. Indirect price supports;

8. Pre-contracting prices;

9. Communist state planning.

I admit frankly that the Canadian government cannot be accused of not doing something. I think the mere fact that we have a wheat board is a factor that all members from wheat producing areas appreciate. If we did not have the wheat board I am convinced all

cereal prices would be a great deal lower than they are. However, I do not think we are unreasonable in asking that Canada should view the problem of wheat production and wheat marketing as have the other countries I have mentioned.

There is an interesting section in the document I have before me concerning the policy in France. That country is now in a position where its imports of wheat from now on are to be eliminated. They are paying a very large amount each year to compensate their home producers in order to increase their production of wheat.

I suggest the Canadian wheat producer should not be held responsible for the fact that in the year immediately following the war, particularly in Europe, there has been a mad race to increase the production of cereals so that, in the event of war, they would not be dependent to any great extent upon shipments from across the Atlantic. It so happens that Canada feels the impact of this policy to an extent greater than any other country.

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In deciding that those who produce wheat should have something like parity price, I think the United States authorities are acting in the best interests of the American people. I have been interested in the argument which has been taking place between the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch) and the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue). The hon. member for Acadia has just finished saying that parity price for Canada would be something like $2.27. That is, if we take into account the cost of farm machinery, fuel and all other factors entering into production, and balance them with the costs of medical services, legal services and all the other services in Canada, those who produce wheat should be getting something like $2.27. Then he went on to say that the world market at the moment will not stand that sort of price.

I think we must admit frankly that our standard of living in Canada is a good deal higher than that in many other countries to which we have been exporting foodstuffs, and we cannot expect our customers to buy wheat from us at a price higher than that at which they can buy it in other countries, particularly when they are in a position of being able to remind us that our standard of living is a great deal higher than theirs.

They want to buy wheat in other markets; so we will say for the sake of argument that the price in the world market is $1.70. The hon. member for Acadia said the farmer should not be satisfied with $1.70, but that he should have something more, that in fact he should have $1.81. It does not make sense to me to argue that a price of $2.27 is a fair one, and that Canadians should pay that price for wheat used in the local market, but that we should sell the balance in the world market for $1.70, plus 11 cents, and that the farmer should be satisfied with $1.81.

If it cost the farmer $2.27 and he had to sell 80 per cent of his production for $1.81, then inevitably only one result can follow, and that is that he will go bankrupt. Of course he would not go bankrupt as quickly as he would if the price were somewhat less than $1.81. That would drag out the process a little longer. But if you are going to cut the tail off the dog, it does not matter very much whether you cut it off in short pieces, an inch at a time, or whether you do it in one operation.

Topic:   FINAL PAYMENT, 1953-54
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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

It is tougher on the dog.

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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

This business of deciding that the farmer should have a price less than what would give him a fair share of the national income does not really make any appeal to me. I realize that we cannot fix an arbitrary price and decide that we shall

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produce unlimited quantities of cereals at that particular price regardless of our ability to consume them or to sell them. But that again becomes a national problem. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris), in appointing his commission to review the problems of the Canadian economy, should include such a person as Professor Baker of the University of Saskatchewan, who has recently completed a study in Saskatchewan dealing with some of our fundamental problems. Certainly, there should be someone on this commission who will approach the problem from the point of view of agriculture.

As I said previously, we have opened up large tracts of country in Canada on the assumption that we would be able to sell food in the world's markets. If, through no fault of ours, we are unable to sell the products there, it becomes a national problem, and it is not unreasonable to ask the federal treasury to use funds to see that, as long as we continue in the business of producing cereals, those who produce them will have a parity price or a fair price for wheat, oats, or barley that can be worked out mathematically as a fair price in comparison with the price of fertilizer, gasoline, or implement repairs.

I might say that as long as I can remember we have had as part of our Canadian policy the maintenance of tariff barriers which protected an important sector of our Canadian economy. The last careful study that was made on the impact of the tariffs was made by the late Norman Rogers some years ago. The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) will be familiar with the brief which was presented by the government of Saskatchewan to the Rowell-Sirois commission outlining what the tariff policy has meant in terms of revenue and expenditure in the different provinces. For example, Prince Edward Island benefited to the tune of $5.32, but they paid out $23.20 per person per year because of tariffs, so they have a net loss of $17.88. Nova Scotia had a gain of $18.50, but a cost of $30.78, or a net loss of $12.28; New Brunswick benefited to the extent of $19.91, but the cost was $31.58, or a net loss of $11.67; Quebec had a gain of $46.23, a loss of $35.20, or a net gain of $11.03; Ontario had a gain of $64.32, a cost of $49.17, or a net gain of $15.15; Manitoba had a gain of $28.44, a loss of $41.69, or a net loss of $13.25; Saskatchewan had a gain of $3.55, a loss of $31.71, or a net loss of $28.16; Alberta had a gain of $11.22, a loss of $38.15, or a net loss of $26.93; and British Columbia had a gain of $32.03, a loss of $54.36, or a net loss of $22.33. It is pretty obvious that only two provinces of Canada are in a better net financial position because of tariffs. But the

people of the ten provinces have accepted tariffs as the price they pay for the development of Canadian industry with a view to providing employment for the maximum number of Canadian people.

If during the past 50 years it was decided that all the people of the country should support the manufacturing industry by tariff devices, until we decide that there is no future for grain exports in Canada, public funds should be used to see that those who are engaged in this necessary industry have a fair share of the national income.

I should like to remind the house again of the farm net income report, 1954, published by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe), which shows that the net farm income has dropped from $2,154 million in 1951 to $1,125 million in 1954, a drop of $1 billion. This is one major factor that has caused such widespread unemployment in Canada, and when one narrows down the impact of those figures to the province of Saskatchewan, where we had a drop from $566-5 million to $126 million, one finds out what happened before we had the disastrous damage from rust last year. This is the direct result of Canada being unable to sell in the world markets the amount of grain that we would have been selling if the other governments that I have mentioned had not been embarking on policies which paid their wheat producers in some instances two or three times as much as they would have paid for a better sample of wheat shipped from Canada.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, in concluding these remarks I should like to make the following suggestions. First, Canada should embark on a school lunch program with a view to using some of our surplus cereals and milk. I am sure there cannot be any argument about it that a school lunch of bread, butter and milk would result in a few years' time in Canadian children enjoying a good deal better health than they have now. The second proposal is that we must maintain maximum consumption of our foodstuffs in Canada. That is something that the Canadian government can do, apart altogether from the world markets. There is no problem whatsoever in getting into the stomachs of hungry Canadian people the maximum amount of cereals and dairy products that I have mentioned.

We have a very large number of people on old age pensions, on blind pensions, and on mothers' allowances in Canada who cannot possibly, out of the small cheques they receive, buy an ample quantity of many of these foodstuffs. In dealing with the problem

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the government must find ways and means of making available maximum quantities of foodstuffs.

My third point is this. We must also participate in feeding hungry people all over the world. We cannot find fault with the United States, which has large surpluses on hand, making available to hungry people food from this source.

In the fourth place, there must be no reduction in production so long as there are hungry people in our own country apd in other countries. The United States should even carry on a greater campaign in helping to feed the hungry people of the world. I might remind the house that during the first war and the second war the United States sat on the sidelines for a long time, while the people of this country, of Great Britain and of other parts of Europe, used up large quantities of their assets. At the end of both wars, the United States finished in a very strong financial position. I remember that during this war I happened to be returning from the north at one time when some 50 Americans were returning from a construction assignment in northern Canada. The lowest paid man in the party had been drawing $400 a month and his board and heavy winter clothing. They all had been working on a construction project which was completed on a cost-plus basis. Since the war, Canada has taken over all these establishments and we paid our United States friends on the basis of what these establishments cost them. When I consider that those who went north during those years spent very large sums of United States funds, which were recently reimbursed, I think there should be no trouble whatever in seeing that those who are engaged in the production of food, which in wartime or in peacetime is a weapon which should have high priority, receive their fair share. But unfortunately in world war I and in world war II the farmers, whether they lived in the maritimes, in central Canada or in the west, received a great deal less than their fair share. In both wars, controls were imposed as soon as there was a possibility of our running short of food and, before the farmers were able to cash in and take advantage of the fact that now they might be able to pay off their debts, we had controls which made it very difficult for farmers to take their fair share of our country's production. So I suggest that the government of this country must keep step with the other countries I have mentioned which are seeing that those who are producing cereals in those countries have a much better break than their Canadian cousins are getting.

Topic:   FINAL PAYMENT, 1953-54
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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Daniel Mclvor (Fort William):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say just a brief word. I know a little about wheat; in fact, I passed my examination on testing wheat. I have worked on a farm in Saskatchewan and have been around there a good deal, and now I am living in a place that is called the bread basket of the world. I was just wondering what good all of these speeches would do towards raising the price of wheat. According to some people on the other side the government is doing nothing-

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PC
LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Mclvor:

-the government is doing nothing and is just sitting indolently by. Yet the Minister of Trade and Commerce has said that the government had its trading agents in a great many places throughout the world and they were on the job trying to sell the wheat. The only reason why I get up is to ask a question. Perhaps the Minister of Agriculture will tell me, is there anything that has been said or will be said that could not be said on the estimates?

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LIB

Elmore Philpott

Liberal

Mr. Elmore Philpott (Vancouver South):

Mr. Speaker, I was tempted to enter the debate yesterday when the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Nicholson) was justifying the building of the South Saskatchewan dam on the ground that the Americans were letting off too many atom bombs, and I could not quite see the connection. After I heard some of the weird and wonderful arguments that were advanced today for parity wheat prices, although I am not a wheat farmer, I have the temerity to put in a few words. I have never in my life heard so much undiluted bunk as I have heard about wheat since I came to this house a few years ago, mostly from the so-called wheat experts from Saskatchewan. It seems to me that the great trouble in the world today is that the United States has caused this terrible wheat headache by her foolish parity price policy which has resulted in this vast accumulation of unsold wheat. This is the direct cause of our own Canadian problem. Some of our friends opposite are wanting us to follow in the same footsteps as the United States, so that we can confound the confusion which now exists in the world and double the pain of the headache.

As the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue) was talking about his plan for paying the farmers of Canada $2.27 for each and every bushel of wheat that is produced and then selling that wheat on the world market at world prices, he forgot to put in one detail. He forgot to put in the detail of what he was really advocating, that is a subsidy by the treasury of Canada to the wheat farmers of Saskatchewan, a subsidy which, according to

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my calculation, would amount to between $300 million and $400 million a year. I am not so sure that even some of the gentlemen who sit opposite me and who have those large wheat farms in Saskatchewan would be so enthusiastic about paying that subsidy of $300 million or $400 million, because I heard them complaining just a few weeks ago that income taxes were already too high.

I must say that, as between the plans I have heard here today, the one suggested by the hon. member for Assiniboia and the one suggested by the hon. member for Acadia- while I do not very often agree with Social Credit-I certainly think that the one of the hon. member for Acadia at least makes some sense, while the one of the hon. member for Assiniboia makes no sense whatever; it makes complete and utter nonsense. However, when I hear my Social Credit friends chiding some of us for not having voted last year for their want of confidence motion in the government I am a little confused, because only a week or so ago in this house we heard most indignant protests from exactly the same quarter of the house explaining why they had voted against family allowances in 1944. They said they had voted against family allowances because otherwise they would have been voting confidence in the government and according to them that would have been an unforgivable crime.

However, I should like to dwell for a minute on this matter of accepting soft currencies. I believe that to sell our wheat we have to take the price for our wheat that the world is willing and able to pay. The longer we shrink from that basic fact the worse the problem is going to get. The sooner we face it, the better for all concerned. But when I hear some of my hon. friends in the right-hand corner talking about taking soft currencies, in payment for our wheat, I think they had better take a good long look at what they are talking about. I for one have been an advocate for many years of accepting payment for our wheat and other products in sterling and other currencies of our customer countries, but only on one condition: provided that those currencies are not blocked currencies, as they have been up until the recent past in almost all of the countries concerned; and provided also that we do not simply take those soft currencies to have them pile up in the back yard, but rather use those soft currencies to buy goods or properties which the customer countries have for sale.

Topic:   FINAL PAYMENT, 1953-54
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SC
LIB

Elmore Philpott

Liberal

Mr. Philpoli:

In this connection I cannot refrain from putting in a word for my very good friend the hon. member for Lethbridge

(Mr. Blackmore) who, I know, is the recognized money authority in the party opposite. I studied his plan last year with great care as to how he would provide an unlimited amount of currency so that our customers could buy our wheat. The plan, as I understood it, was that anybody in a foreign country who wanted to buy Canadian wheat would be provided with the proper amount of Canadian currency so that he could buy the Canadian wheat, and the net result of the transaction would be that the foreign customer would have the wheat and Canada would have the currency which she herself had printed in the beginning. According to my way of thinking, even for a Social Credit monetary theory, that is really going a pretty long distance indeed. I have heard also from directly opposite today pleas for feeding the hungry of the world. That is all very well. If my hon. friends are really anxious to help feed the hungry of the world, as they represent a large area of the wheat-growing district of Saskatchewan, let them hop to it. There is a large surplus of wheat there. Let them get busy and give Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova of the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada some of this grain surplus they have on their farms. I am sure she will be glad to see that it is distributed in foreign countries.

Mr. Speaker, I am sometimes sorry that we ever had in this country the government-run wheat board. I sometimes think that it would have been better if this country had not had the government wheat board with its members appointed directly by the government, but had had some kind of wheat marketing system similar to the fruit and vegetable marketing system in British Columbia where the machinery is under the direct control of the farmers themselves. It seems to me that the very fact that we have a government-run wheat board leads to some of the glaring fallacies in the thinking of members sitting in the benches directly opposite me. The members directly opposite me seem to think that there is some unlimited fund of public money and that all we have to do is to dip into this public barrel and dish it out to the wheat farmers of Saskatchewan or anyone else that one can think about. But let us be under no illusion. The government of Canada has no money of its own. The government of Canada has only the money that it takes from the taxpayers of Canada. If we are being honest about this scheme for the total distribution of wheat on a parity price system, let us come right out and say that what we are asking for is a subsidy of some $300 million or $400 million a year taken from all of the taxpayers of Canada for the benefit of some of the taxpayers of Canada.

I think that is all I have to say, Mr. Speaker, except to say that I for one believe that the farmers of Canada are entitled to a fair share of the national income. However,

1 do not believe that the farmers of Canada will ever get very far toward getting a fair share of the national income of Canada if they go on such ridiculous and impossible paths as are pointed out to them by the false prophets from some quarters in Saskatchewan.

Topic:   FINAL PAYMENT, 1953-54
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

I wonder if my hon. friend would permit a question, Mr. Speaker? I wonder if he would recommend that Canadian farmers be permitted to buy all their goods in the cheapest markets? If they are going to be obliged to sell their products in the world market without protection, would he recommend that they be permitted to buy everything they want on the open market?

Topic:   FINAL PAYMENT, 1953-54
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LIB

Elmore Philpott

Liberal

Mr. Philpolt:

I shall be extremely glad to answer that question, Mr. Speaker. If you boys ever become really successful missionaries like Billy Graham, and if you ever convert the big manufacturers of Toronto and Montreal to get in on your plan of parity prices, we are going to have parity prices for Ford automobiles, reapers, combines, vacuum cleaners and everything else. You boys have an idea which is 1,000 per cent more false and more offensive protection than the most ultra high-tariff Tory ever thought of in his whole life.

Topic:   FINAL PAYMENT, 1953-54
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CCF

Edward George McCullough

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

Mr. McCullough (Moose Mouniain):

Mr. Speaker, it is my intention to speak on a different matter, and I should like to know whether there are any other hon. members who want to follow up on this subject.

Topic:   FINAL PAYMENT, 1953-54
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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Solon E. Low (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say just a word on this whole question today, not for the purpose of launching into a long dissertation but more for the purpose of correcting certain errors into which some people have fallen in their thinking. I am also going to have to make an admission today, Mr. Speaker, but it is an admission that does not pain me at all. Yesterday the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) drew to my attention the fact that when election campaigns are being fought in the provinces, repercussions of them can be felt in this house. I bow in humble acknowledgment of his rightness in that assertion.

It seems that the most political group in the house today are the members immediately to my right. I do not know whether they feel that they are fighting for their lives or that they have their backs to the wall, or what it is, but they seem to feel that they must put on a political scrap here every

Wheat

time anything is mentioned. If they would put on their political fights on the basis of fact, then of course we would not mind. But when they stretch the truth in these matters and try to make them appear as something that they are not, we are obliged to take issue with them. I agree with much of what my friend the hon. member for Rosthern (Mr. Tucker) said yesterday. I could not help realizing that he too was speaking the truth.

In speaking this afternoon my friend the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Nicholson) made certain remarks. I think he did so honestly because I give him credit for being honest and sincere in what he says. I do not believe that he would try to mislead anybody. But this afternoon, in the course of his address, he asked how anyone can justify saying that if $2.27 a bushel represents the internal parity price of wheat, the farmers should be asked to take $1.81 which my colleague the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch) calculated might be a probable resultant of a two-price system under present circumstances. Perhaps the very best answer to my friend the hon. member for Mackenzie is that the interprovincial farm union council have advocated just that because they feel that it is something reasonable and sound, the kind of reasonableness about which my friend the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Philpott) was just speaking. Certainly in our approach to all of these things we must be reasonable. We must know that the people of Canada are the ones who will have to foot the bills in all these things. We must be prepared to accept pretty much what the farmers themselves are prepared to accept as reasonable and sound.

I point out to my hon. friend that that is exactly what they have done. All he has to do is to refer to the submission to the government of Canada by the interprovincial farm union council of January, 1955, and he will find that two-price system-as my friend the hon. member for Acadia outlined it-is advocated by them; and the resultant would be, under present circumstances, exactly what the hon. member for Acadia has outlined here this afternoon.

Another thing the hon. member for Mackenzie asked is this. He asked how long farmers could stay in business if they were asked to accept $1.81 a bushel for their wheat if it cost them $2.27 to produce it. Maybe that was a slip of the tongue. Certainly no one here has suggested that the cost of production is or has been $2.27 a bushel. I would ask who has said that it cost the farmers $2.27 a bushel to produce wheat.

Wheat

Topic:   FINAL PAYMENT, 1953-54
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May 17, 1955