George Hugh Castleden
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Before the luncheon recess, Mr. Speaker, I was dealing with the serious economic plight of the grain producer in the western prairies. I pointed out how he had been caught between rapidly rising costs of production and operation and rapidly diminishing returns during the last number of years. That is a situation that can lead only to bankruptcy. You do not long continue in business when the returns from your operations are less than the costs of operating. I pointed out that the western producer of grain and other products has a feeling of deep resentment toward the Ottawa government, not only for its failure to allow him some advances on the grain he has produced and for which he can obtain nothing with which to pay his expenses, but also for the fact that it is offering to place upon his back a further burden of 5 per cent in the way of interest on loans.
The action of the transport controller, in his failure to provide box cars to allow the shipment of grain, adds further to his resentment. Then the distribution of those box cars in a discriminatory way, thus preventing the farmer from delivering grain to the elevator to which he wishes to deliver it, further adds to his feelings of disgust. He looks over the record, and he watches the method of appointment of members of the board of grain commissioners. In this house we were given the word of the minister that he had received no recommendation from the Saskatchewan wheat pool with regard to certain men, but correspondence subsequently tabled in the house showed that the Saskatchewan wheat pool had recommended these very people for appointment to that job. This fact only adds to the grain producers' mistrust of the Minister of Trade and Commerce and the administration as a whole.
The charges that have been made to the effect that we were opposed to the idea of the wheat board are completely unfounded. We have always supported it without any equivocation. To the farmer the maintenance of the wheat board is vital. The expansion of the wheat pools is vital to the producers as a protection against exploitation by the Winnipeg grain exchange. With their very last efforts they will fight to maintain the wheat board and see that it is run properly.
The farm organizations have been extremely bitter in their condemnation of the government responsible for present conditions, both as to the cost of production and markets. They condemn the policies of the
The Address-Mr. Michaud government during whose regime they have seen an expanding and constantly increasing cost of living through the years and as a result of which they now find themselves caught in a position where they are not able in any way to obtain cash for the products they have to sell.
I emphasize the fact that the problem is not just the immediate one of a few dollars cash. There remains the basic problem with regard to costs of production and diminishing returns. This problem will have to be faced if agriculture is to be saved. We are looking to this government to do something about the matter, but so far we have looked in vain.
I am proud to support the amendment as a condemnation of this government on its failure to take effective action in the face of a real and serious problem.
Subtopic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY