January 19, 1956

?

An hon. Member:

Not every year.

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

In what year did they go down? Just take a look at the record. Consider the figures issued by the dominion bureau of statistics, which show that the things the farmer purchases now stand at 241 as compared with 100 in the base period 1935-39. The return to the farmer should also be up by that same amount if he is to escape bankruptcy.

The blame for the increasing costs of operation lies with the federal government. It has been said that it is up to the provincial governments and the rural municipalities, but when the farmer cannot balance his budget then these other organizations cannot balance theirs. The cost of operating a rural municipality is up. It costs two or three times as much to purchase machinery as it did in those early days; labour costs, the cost of materials of all kinds and of everything along the line are up.

The small western merchant is in the same position. The Canadian economy must be constantly expanding if it is to keep up to the increasing cost of operating. The Minister of Trade and Commerce told us the other day that we have nearly as much in the way of grain deliveries as we had in another five-year period, but the minister did not take into account the cost of operation. The farmer must have more for what he produces; he must receive more for his toil. Instead of his returns increasing, they have been steadily declining.

This decline is not just in connection with grain. The minister carefully avoided talking about the decrease in the return the farmer gets for other products. If your cost

The Address-Mr. Castleden of operating goes up and your return steadily declines, you reach the point where your return is less than your cost of operation; and if anybody in this house can tell me that you can continue along that road and not go into bankruptcy I should like to have him stand up and show how it can be done. That is exactly the position in which the farmer is today.

When the farmer is ever faced with some of those other risks which confront him from time to time, such as frost, rust or flood conditions, things are calamitous for him. For 1956 at least, his costs will be even greater. I suggest that in considering this problem we should look to the government as being responsible for these increasing costs. If they place the farmer in the position where he is not getting a sufficient return for his production, then they must accept the blame. Cattle prices are down; some are 60 per cent of what they were in 1951. Hog prices are down 40 per cent, a declining return in the face of increasing costs.

The government know what should be done. Are they going to accept that circumstance, as they should? They have accepted it with regard to butter and have put in floor prices on butter. The dairy farmers are getting some relief, but the dairy farmers are chiefly in the eastern parts of Canada and in British Columbia. The farmers in the prairies produce good butter-good in quality and in quantity- but the economy is not geared to that. The economy in the prairies is geared chiefly to the production of grain. If the farmers of western Canada are going to be forced into the production of butter and the fattening and finishing of stock, then they will have to do that; but I can assure you that will have its repercussions on production in the other parts of Canada. Sales of wheat and the farmers' returns must increase if the farmers are going to continue in operation. It is fear of the future, with the increase in costs and the declining returns, that is causing the uneasiness in the west.

In 1955 we had one of the most abundant crops of high-grade wheat the west has ever produced, but the deliveries were lower than they ever have been for years. The bins are bulging, with millions of bushels of wheat out in the open fields in the western parts of the province of Saskatchewan and in Alberta. There are piles of wheat, but no elevator space for it. When there is space, no cars are available; the cars are somewhere in the United States. Today we are told that there are freight boats waiting on the Pacific coast for wheat cargoes, and the wheat cannot be shipped out. The farmer on

the prairies is in desperate circumstances because he cannot deliver his grain. Shipping orders come to the farmer at a local point to deliver grain, but he cannot get box cars.

A very acute situation faces the farmer there. When he goes to town the oil man asks him to pay his bills, and the storekeeper who has carried him through the summer asks him what is going to be done about his bill. He receives notice that his municipal taxes are in arrears, and he sees his land listed in the tax arrears list to be placed in the local elevator. He has 4,000 or 5,000 bushels of good wheat in the granary. If he has no money, it is not his fault. He has worked and produced for a year, and now he cannot get any return for it. What is he to do?

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

See the wheat board.

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

Ask this government what it intends to do about it. To get over the situation he takes some cattle, decreases his herd abnormally and tries to sell. He takes them to the local stockyards and finds about three firms bidding against him, and has to sell his stock at their prices. He raises a few hogs. He is told to raise hogs by the Minister of Agriculture, to turn his grain into cash. What do we find? Instead of the price he used to get a few years ago, with which he might be able to pay his operating costs, he finds the price of hogs is declining until this year it has reached the floor of 19 cents, which is supposed-

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

Irvin William Studer

Liberal

Mr. Sluder:

Two years ago, when the farmer was getting more, you were making the same speech.

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

I was not here in 1951, when prices were highest. This is exactly the situation in which the farmer finds himself now. You do not like it, but you know it is a fact. You try to blame the C.C.F. for this. I shall deal with the wheat board shortly. The farmer says to the government, "We cannot deliver our grain. You have no box cars. Your transport controller has sent them into the United States, and they are not available. Our costs are going up. We cannot make our deliveries." The Canadian government has sold less wheat. Other three major exporting countries have increased sales. Australia and Argentina increased their export sales of wheat, and the United States gave it away, which is not difficult.

If more wheat is being used in the world, Canada should be receiving a greater share of the market than it is at the present time. It is not the fault of the wheat board; it is the policies of this government which prevent the sale of that grain. The western

farmer knows that. We have the best wheat in the world, and he knows that too. Why should it not be sold? Since there is a market, why are we not getting it? The Minister of Trade and Commerce is supposed to be one of those men who get things done. I suggest he has a job here he has not done, and the farmers resent the situation.

The farmer in this position says to the government, "I am in a jam. I am loaded down with a burden of debt. It is hard to operate. I have the wheat. The value is here. You keep telling me you are going to sell it. Last July you said you would clear out all the old crop before the new crop arrived, but that has not been done. We have the grain. You say that it will be sold in a little while. How about letting us have a little cash in advance so we can operate? The elevator agents could inspect the bins for efficient storage and seal the bins. Properly stored grain is an asset. We shall let you place the advance on record in our permit book so you will be safely covered."

The farmers held protest meetings and agreed to send a delegation to ask the government if it could help them over the crisis. The answer of the government is a gem. It said, "You poor fellows, we shall take care of you. Just run down to the bank and get some more money at 5 per cent. We shall guarantee that not one banker will lose a nickel on it." Who is asking that the bankers be guaranteed? We are not asking for relief for bankers; we are asking for relief for the harassed man who has done his job and is entitled to his wages for a job well done. He is refused those wages because of the policies of this government. That is where the calamity lies; it does not lie in the production. It is a very serious situation, and the farmer resents it deeply.

I will say that the statement in the speech from the throne in which the government, after the house opened in January, finally admitted that it was going to do something about helping the farmer in regard to the carryovers, was welcome. I believe that will have the support of the people, but it does not help the farmer out of his immediate financial position. It does not put any cash in his pocket. Perhaps when this wheat lying in stock for two or three years is finally sold, that assistance from the government will be a saving to the farmer because it will not cost him so much to carry his grain, and he appreciates it. '

But surely it was a small, mild and deserving request that the farmer made, that he be given an advance on the good solid collateral he had of the money he needs at the present time to help him over a financial

The Address-Mr. Castleden stringency, out of which he cannot get without assistance. He has been placed in this position by this government and is helpless in the situation in which he finds himself. He says, "If you are ensuring that the rest of Canada is prosperous; if you are willing to spend a billion dollars in war contracts in the industrial areas, we too are producing something that could be used for defence purposes and for winning the world to democracy. How about helping us over this situation so we can carry on and continue to produce?" It is the least the government can do for the hard pressed victims of their own wheat policy, but what the government offers them is merely another load upon their backs, another 5 per cent interest. I can tell you that the farmers are deeply resentful at being put in this position.

We had quite an exhibition in the house the other day when the Minister of Trade and Commerce said that because we are advocating advances on farm stored grain we are against the wheat board. What an utterly ridiculous statement for any person to make. To me it is most irresponsible. He knows perfectly well that the C.C.F. party and the farmers of the west stand behind the policy of the wheat board with everything they have. They only got the wheat board after struggling and fighting 40 years for it. The farmers established their wheat pool organizations. They went after the Winnipeg grain exchange and succeeded in closing it.

The line elevators used to buy farmers' grain outright in the fall at depressed prices, at a time when the farmers needed money. They stored the grain, held it at fixed prices in the world market as best they could, boosted the price where they could, and pocketed the difference. When the minister tries to charge us with being against the wheat board I would reply to him that I think the wheat board has suffered more under his policies as Minister of Trade and Commerce than at any other time. The wheat board is a government agency established to handle the farmers' grain and protect them against exploitation by the Winnipeg grain exchange. Of course the setting up of the board has been hard on some of the line elevator companies. Some of them were affected seriously in the years following the commencement of the board's operations.

But who does the minister appoint as transport controller in charge of box cars; the ex-president of the Winnipeg grain exchange. Since he has held that office the allocation of box cars throughout the west has been such as to militate against the wheat pools. Most farmers in Saskatchewan used to deliver their grain to the wheat pool,

The Address-Mr. Castleden but not any more; they could not get box oars.

We tried to find out why box cars were not being allocated to the pools and why they were being sent to the line elevator companies. The farmers had to drive for miles and miles to deliver their grain at all. Space was available in the line elevators because the box cars went to the line elevator companies. For the past four or five years the line elevator companies have been becoming stronger and more powerful. The Saskatchewan wheat pool has been going down so far as the percentage of grain it handles is concerned.

If there is any criticism against the wheat board it is as a result of the policies of the transport controller, one of the members of the board of grain commissioners, whose whole life has been spent in the line elevator company field. He is a man who I believe would like to see the Winnipeg grain exchange re-established. Before that ever happens the farmers of the west will be far more vocal than they are at the present time. They will not be sending only half a dozen representatives to Ottawa. They will fight to maintain the wheat board with every ounce of energy they have. They have not forgotten the way they and their fathers were exploited by the grain exchange for years before the establishment of the wheat board.

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
PC

Owen C. Trainor

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Trainor:

They are perfectly satisfied now?

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

They are satisfied with the operation of the wheat board. It is the operation of the policies of the government that is bothering them. The wheat board could do its job and sell the grain if the policies of the government allowed it to do so. The government should give the board the extra assistance necessary to send people throughout the world to sell the best product we have.

We are in competition with the United States treasury. The western farmer knows that across the line the government guarantees the farmer $2 a bushel on the farm. He sees that there are support prices for agricultural products which at least keep their agricultural areas out of the recession in which we find ourselves in western Canada. The western farmer sees that the United States government are sufficiently interested in their farmers to see that the family farm is maintained in that country as part of the American way of life.

With the continuation of the policies of the government in power today the small

farmer is being squeezed out completely, and bankruptcy faces him. If the government do not take some action in the immediate future to relieve the situation they are going to have a revolt on their hands of a kind they have never had before. The farmers of the west are resentful.

I do not know what language the government requires to tell it that the people of the prairies are not satisfied, but I would suggest to the people of the west that the one thing the government does understand is the ballot. Unfortunately the government are sitting here with a vast majority. They do not need to care very much about the pleas of the farmers of the west who rightfully resent the discrimination and callous disregard for their condition.

They look to the government for longterm policies which will alleviate not only the immediate situation but make it possible for them to face the future with some assurance that they will be able to win in the end. They are militant when they see their farm organizations and their wheat board threatened, and they will make their voices heard in no uncertain terms when the opportunity presents itself.

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

Claude Sartoris Richardson

Liberal

Mr. Richardson:

May I ask the hon. member a question?

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

Yes.

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

Claude Sartoris Richardson

Liberal

Mr. Richardson:

How many people do you have in your constituency at the moment who are actually bankrupt?

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

My constituency is in the park area where there are smaller farms. It is not part of the larger area where they have larger straight grain farms. However, I would say that about 80 per cent of the farmers of my constituency are in debt.

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

Irvin William Studer

Liberal

Mr. Studer:

Bankrupt?

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

What do you mean by "bankrupt"?

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

You should know.

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order.

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

I might also say that in the Yorkton area there are about 2,000 people listed at the unemployment insurance office looking unsuccessfully for work. I presume these people are facing bankruptcy.

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. Do I understand the hon. member for Yorkton has completed his address or does he wish to call it one o'clock?

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

May I call it one o'clock?

At one o'clock the house took recess.

fMr. Castleden.]

Topic:   REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink

AFTER RECESS The house resumed at 2.30 p.m.


January 19, 1956