January 19, 1956

LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

That is the recommendation to council and it cannot be anything else but right.

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PC

Gage Workman Montgomery

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Montgomery:

That was my interpretation, and I appreciate the information the minister has given. I do want to say a word

about the program. This government should have a policy governing potatoes. New Brunswick grows approximately 20 per cent of the potatoes grown in Canada, and Prince Edward Island is also a large producer. My constituency and the fringes of my constituency grow from 75 to 80 per cent of the potatoes grown in New Brunswick. This industry is vital to us, and we submit that there should be a potato policy, just as there is a wheat policy or any other kind of policy. That potato policy should be such that it would automatically come into effect when the price is so low as it was this year.

No two farmers may agree exactly on the cost of production. Some will tell you it is $1.75 a barrel, some will tell you it is more, some less. But I think it is fair to state that our largest and most efficient growers claim-and this corresponds with the growers in the state of Maine, who are large growers-that one cent a pound is a very fair average. That means $1.65 a barrel. When the government has guaranteed a price of $1 they are guaranteeing only 36 cents a bushel, which is just slightly over half the cost.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

On what we are talking about, it is 42 cents a bushel.

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PC

Gage Workman Montgomery

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Montgomery:

I shall concede that if the minister's interpretation is the correct one it will come to about 42 cents a bushel. But here is the worst part of the program, and this is where our people feel hurt. It is too late coming into effect. I do not know whether the minister or members of this house realize it, but potatoes are a product that cannot be handled like grain or some other products. They must be put into storage before frost comes. If there is no storage they must be sold. The minute they are frozen they are a loss.

Second, these farmers have to gamble when they put in their crop. Many of them have to borrow for their fertilizer. They have to work all summer. They have to buy their sprays and a good deal of costly machinery, which involves large capital investment. When harvest time comes they must try to sell enough potatoes to pay part of their bills, because they have to live. They have to pay their grocery bills, clothing bills and so on. They need money; some need it worse than others.

In a fall like the last one, many farmers have to sell their potatoes at 65, 70 or 75 cents a barrel. A barrel is 165 pounds. When the farmer was selling potatoes at 65 and 70 cents a barrel he was losing about 90 cents a barrel on the cost of production. Had

this program come into effect when it should have, on October 1, it would have saved a great many men heavy losses.

That is what our potato producers have been trying to impress on our government for a number of years. From hearing some of the other members speak it would seem that they have heard some of the potato growers and dealers in New Brunswick talking. Some of those people were very strong friends of this government a very short time ago, but I do not think they have the same feeling now that this government is doing all it can for the people in the potato business. The people who really needed that help were the people who had to sell between October 1 and November 5, the latter being about the latest date in any year that one can take a chance on keeping potatoes, even on ground floors. Those who need money have to sell the potatoes right out of the fields. How can the economy of any constituency or any part of the country be kept up when the producer, who has worked all summer, has to sell his product for 90 cents less than it cost him to produce it?

There is another matter to which I would like to refer. Unless I am wrong this program terminates on April 30. It has not yet gone into force. Up to the night before last no potatoes had gone into starch under this diversion program, and I doubt that any will be going in under this program for another week or so. That leaves the months of February, March and April as the only three possible months in which this program will have any effect. I should like to tell the Minister of Agriculture and the members of this government that a program that stops at the end of April is not going to have the beneficial effect it should have.

These people down east do not feel they are coming here and asking for a handout. As has been mentioned before, because of prefederation agreements these people are asking for an adjustment for unfair treatment. There are many ways in which such an adjustment can be made. There are no complaints through the country when the government subsidizes the freight charges on coal, when it subsidizes or helps to pay the freight on grain from the west to the east. If the federal government were to live up to the pre-federation agreements it would help to pay the freight on potatoes from the maritime provinces to central Canada. That would be only living up to the trade your forefathers made, when we were supposed to be able to place our products in central Canada in competition with the markets here.

We are not getting that privilege. We have a right to ask the federal government for it,

The Address-Mr. Montgomery and the federal government has a right to take out of the treasury the money to pay the difference in freight rates if we cannot place our products on the market at competitive prices, so the farmers can recoup the cost of production. That should be a policy that would work both ways. We do not come here asking this government for any other assistance.

To summarize what I have said, this government has procrastinated. It had plenty of warning. I know myself that wires were sent to the department in Ottawa, to the Minister of Labour, and that representations were made by the secretary of the horticultural council of Canada. Everybody was working to try to arrange a conference.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

My hon. friend has referred to this and he has also referred to the fact that I am sitting listening to him. I want to tell him that there were conferences. I do not remember the exact dates, but conferences were held with those people. What they were interested in at that time was not selling potatoes for starch. Proposals were sent to them, but they did not accept them.

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PC

Gage Workman Montgomery

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Montgomery:

I would be glad to listen to the minister make a speech later and explain all this, because he has a good deal of explaining to do.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I shall not waste my time now answering and explaining it to you. I shall take it up with the right people.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Little Caesar.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I have already explained it fully to those people, and they do understand me.

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?

An hon. Member:

He has plenty to explain.

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PC

Gage Workman Montgomery

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Montgomery:

I do not think the minister himself really understands the situation we are in there. Otherwise I do not think he would be so hard-hearted that he would not do something for these people.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I met them three or four times. I do not know how many more times I should have met them.

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PC

Gage Workman Montgomery

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Montgomery:

We farmers have lost a good deal of money as the result of a program which now appears to be very late in coming. It seems to me this government should have decided how much it was going to contribute to that program, and let the farmers or the starch producers know at once.

As I have said, in summing up, what I should like to impress upon the minister is that this is not going to be the last season.

The Address-Mr. Montgomery It has not been the first. Two years ago a marketing board was found to be not satisfactory by any means.

Nobody blames the government for not wanting to go into that sort of deal again with the same type of people handling it. Nobody wants that. But you will find that most of our farmers want a square deal. They want a program that will be operated openly, aboveboard and honestly so that a few cannot take advantage of many others. That is all I wish to say about potatoes, but I thought I should concentrate more on that subject because we are being hurt most in that field.

We want the government to continue its support of the dairy industry. We are not satisfied with any explanation offered yet regarding the disposal of surplus butter. We also believe there would be no surplus butter in Canada if our own people had the opportunity of consuming it. I am not so fortunate as the hon. member for Kent (Mr. Michaud). If he can explain to his constituents that the present policy is a proper one I commend him. He is a smart boy. It cannot be explained that easily in some other parts of New Brunswick, and I doubt if it can be explained that easily in some other parts of Canada.

If there is any charity involved I think charity should begin at home, and a lot of other people think so too. We are forcing a great many people to eat margarine, which may or may not be as good as butter; but why should we protect one product and not allow our people the opportunity to have the other product?

I am not going to take the time to tell the government how the surplus butter can be dealt with. There are difficulties in the way, but I know there are people in the Department of Agriculture who are smart enough to handle the situation so that the poor people of the country may have the opportunity of eating our butter instead of margarine, and be able to buy it at the same price. It would not affect the marketing of good butter at all.

I should also like to deal shortly with the C.B.C. I do not intend to say much because the hon. member for Westmorland (Mr. Murphy) did so the other day so much better than I could. If the government feel that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is doing the best job that can be done so far as television programs are concerned, then all I have to say is it would be a good thing if the C.B.C. would get out of the field and hand it over to somebody else. Even a bunch of amateurs could put on better programs than we are getting in New Brunswick. They are

a disgrace, and should not be shown on television screens. If anything will lead to more delinquency it is some of the programs that are being shown, and I commend the hon. member for Westmorland for what he said the other day regarding this matter.

The only other point I wish to mention has to do with income tax. I think there should be changes in the act so our farmers will be shown a little more consideration for the efforts they have made in trying to keep books. I am not an auditor, and I do not wish to criticize the income tax officials too severely. I have found them most co-operative. They will almost bend over backward in an effort to live within the law and the regulations, but the law should be changed. I pass on this suggestion to the government for consideration, because I am not the only one who has encountered this situation. There should be a change so that honest farmers who are trying to keep books will not be told by the field man when he comes around that their books are no good and cannot be accepted.

Most of these farmers are not too familiar with keeping books. They know pretty well what they are doing, and most of them are honest; nevertheless the field man will say he is not satisfied and he will ask a lot of questions and get the farmer mixed up. The farmer may then get mad and refuse to answer any more questions. Thereupon the field man goes back to his office and issues an arbitrary assessment. It may not be too much in some cases, but in other cases the amount is large. Regardless of the amount the farmer says, "Well, what can I do about it? You cannot fight the government." The farmer pays it if he can. I do not think that the government intended that the act should be administered in that way. I believe the matter is worth looking into, and adjustments of some sort by way of amendments to the act should be introduced so that any reasonable set of books will be accepted as sufficient.

Then the officials will not make a farmer feel that he is guilty from the moment they walk in the door, and that the only way he can get out of the situation is to prove himself innocent. That is the impression that is given, and it is wrong. I know that many departmental officials do not want that to be the case, but that is the impression that is getting abroad. I am satisfied I am not the only member who has met with that situation.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

On a question of privilege, just before I came in I believe the hon. member referred to the fact that neither I nor my parliamentary assistant were in the house. I am sure the hon. member would not want the impression to go abroad that my parliamentary assistant is not usually in the house.

He is in the hospital at present and is not able to be here. I do not think there is any member who attends more regularly than he does, and I should like to make that explanation.

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PC

Gage Workman Montgomery

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Montgomery:

I hope my remarks did not sound the way the minister has taken them. I just mentioned the tact that neither one was here. I am very sorry that the parliamentary assistant is in the hospital. I addressed my remarks to any other members of the government who were present in order that they might convey any information they thought was worth while.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Earlier in his speech today the hon. member for Victoria-Carleton asked why the parliamentary restaurant was not buying No. 1 Canadian potatoes. Matters coming under the jurisdiction of the Speaker are not usually dealt with in the house except during the consideration of the estimates. Citation No. 302 of Beauchesne, third edition, is the authority on that point. However, I want to put the hon. member's mind at rest by informing him and the house that the parliamentary restaurant always buys No. 1 Canadian potatoes. Up to last Monday we had purchased New Brunswick potatoes in 25-bag lots at a price of $1.45 a bag. The market this week is $1.85 for No. 1 Canadian potatoes from New Brunswick and $2.40 for No. 1 Canadian potatoes from Prince Edward Island. Therefore we bought No. 1 potatoes from New Brunswick in 25-bag lots. We shall continue to buy No. 1 Canadian potatoes at the best market price.

(Translation):

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LIB

Bona Arsenault

Liberal

Mr. Bona Arsenault (Bonaventure):

Mr. Speaker, may I first be allowed to congratulate the mover of the address in reply, the hon. member for Timiskaming (Mrs. Shipley), as well as the seconder, the hon. member for Bellechasse (Mr. Laflamme). Both made remarkable speeches and brought upon themselves the attention not only of their respective constituents, whom they represent brilliantly here, but also of the people of their province and of the country at large. I most wholeheartedly endorse the congratulations they have received from their colleagues, in every part of this house, since the beginning of this debate.

The women of Canada could not be better represented in this house than by the hon. member for Timiskaming. On the other hand there are very few of the younger members of this house to whom a more auspicious political career could be predicted than to the hon. member for Bellechasse.

The Address-Mr. Arsenault

I also wish to congratulate the new members who, a few days ago, took their seats for the first time in this house. I extend particular greetings to four new colleagues from the province of Quebec, namely: the hon. members for Temiscouata (Mr. St. Laurent), for Bellechasse (Mr. Laflamme), for Quebec South (Mr. Power) and for St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville (Mr. Menard). Their presence here is a new and eloquent expression of confidence in the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and his government on the part of the people of Quebec.

Our four new colleagues from Quebec have no doubt undisputable merits of their own, but there is one among them on whom I wish to call particular attention, Mr. Speaker, in view of the personal victory he won in his constituency over the combined forces of his adversaries in extremely difficult circumstances and after one of the bitterest campaigns I have been given to witness personally. During that by-election, which won him the right to represent one of the greatest counties in the province, the hon. member for Temiscouata has indeed shown uncommon leadership and thus proved himself worthy of the man whose name he so proudly bears. His victory is due above all to his courage, his purposefulness, his selfcontrol, the confidence with which he inspired the electors in his county, and the dignity he showed while facing fierce and often unscrupulous opponents. The imposing majority given the hon. member for Temiscouata by his constituents in such circumstances should be a lesson to his opponents in the future.

Mr. Speaker, since the start of this debate we have heard a lot about the western farmer.

Though we are well aware of the plight of our western farmers, we must not forget that there are farmers elsewhere in this country, whose problems are quite as worthy of the government's and the people's attention.

This is why I intend to speak to you today, as I have done many times in the past, about our eastern farmers and their problems and, more particularly, of one of their problems, which undoubtedly deserves urgent attention.

If the western farmer grows wheat, Mr. Speaker, the eastern farmer produces butter, apples, potatoes, among other commodities and, more especially pulpwood.

The Address-Mr. Arsenault

The question of the price and sale of butter has been at least temporarily settled by the setting of a floor price, under the Agricultural Prices Support Act, and by selling part of our surpluses at the world price on various export markets. These two government measures, which have been well received by the main agricultural organizations in this country, more particularly by the Catholic farmers' union, in the province of Quebec, have helped in no small way to maintain the standard of living of the Canadian milk and butter producers.

As far as apples and potatoes are concerned, about which we have just been told by the hon. member for Victoria-Carleton (Mr. Montgomery), we know that large crops have been raised by eastern farmers. In some districts a great many potato producers will have a hard time getting an adequate return on the sale of this commodity, so as to cover their production costs.

That is a problem to which the Liberal government has attended successfully in the past and to which, at this time, it is giving close attention.

There remains the marketing of pulp wood. The farmers and settlers of eastern Canada are large producers of this commodity, cutting almost a million cords a year, providing in this way a necessary if not indispensable complement to the rural economy of Quebec and the maritimes.

True, there is a market for the farmers' and settler's pulpwood, but this market, not always being subject to the law of supply and demand is often given over to the rule that might makes right, or to speculation.

The eastern farmer could partake in larger measure of the prosperity of this country if he were in a position to receive at all times a fair price for his products, more particularly for the pulpwood which he offers for sale every year.

When, because of overproduction, he has trouble getting a fair price for his butter, his apples, his potatoes or his other farm products, he understands the reason for this condition. It is a matter of supply and demand.

What he cannot always understand is that pulpwood, the only one of his products for which there exists a practically unlimited demand, does not bring him a greater return, in proportion, than his farm products for

[Mr. Arsenault.)

which there is no or hardly any market in periods of overproduction.

In one case, because of overproduction of farm products and the law of supply and demand, the eastern farmer must at times be content with a meagre return for his long days of work. In the other case, that of pulpwood, for which there exists a practically unlimited market, the law of supply and demand seldom comes into play and, in order to provide the necessities of life for his family, the farmer or the settler producing pulpwood, is too often forced to submit to an arbitrary system, in which he still comes out the loser when he is not the victim of obvious exploitation.

It is the province of Quebec which controls the Canadian newsprint industry, with more than half the production for Canada as a whole and, sad to say, it is in the province of Quebec that the bushworker is the worst paid for his labour, and that the farmer and the settler get the lowest price for the pulpwood they market.

The Canadian pulp and newsprint industry reached new records in 1955. Lumber, pulp and newsprint all reached new unparalleled levels.

For the ten months ending November 1, 1955, sales of all forest products to all countries reached the incredible total of $1,265 million, an increase of $145 million over the corresponding period of last year.

During the same period, sales of all Canadian products reached $3,578,200,000, an increase of $393,700,000.

Newsprint production for the whole of 1955 has been estimated at 6,180,000 tons, a gain of $2,588,000 tons since 1945. However great, that increase does not meet a growing demand, particularly in the United States which take up 80 per cent of Canadian production.

The expansion which is planned and some new undertakings will bring the estimated production of our paper industry to 6,200,000 tons in 1956, 6,575,000 tons in 1957 and

6,900,000 tons in 1958.

We have what would be a very good market for all the wood which the eastern Canada farmer and settler could place at the disposal of the pulp and paper companies, were it not for the fact that, in that field, the law of supply and demand is tampered with, directly or indirectly.

In this way, the eastern farmers and settlers would be assured of a fair and well-deserved

compensation for the poor returns from their farms, the products of which are often difficult to market in times of overproduction, as a result of the hard and fast economic laws of supply and demand.

In other words, the prices paid for pulp-wood, and more particularly to the farmers and settlers in the province of Quebec, should not be left to the discretion of powerful, though perhaps well-meaning, trusts, nor to the whims of speculators.

The prices of pulpwood bought from the farmers and settlers should, at least in the province of Quebec, be established on a fair basis which any pulpwood producer could understand.

In order to provide that basis, it would be necessary to set as follows the items which enter into the calculation of the price paid to producers of pulpwood.

1. The value of standing timber.

2. The cutting rate, including piling and opening of roads for haulage.

3. The cost of haulage to the points where trucks can pick up and carry pulpwood in normal conditions.

4. Improvement works, upkeep, fees for right of way and damages.

5. The protection, marking out and upkeep of boundaries, fences and forestry works.

6. Unemployment insurance, workmen's compensation board, and fire insurance on timber cut in danger periods.

7. A reasonable profit.

In most areas of the province of Quebec the value placed on each of those items is as follows:

1. It is generally recognized that the value of standing timber is of at least $5 a cord.

2. The cutting rate for farmers' and settlers' timber should always be equal to the minimum set yearly through collective bargaining, for the same work, on the companies' timber limits. For the year 1954-55 that item would have been $5.50 a cord.

3. The haulage rate for settlers' and farmers' pulpwood, at delivery points, should be equal to the average rate for the same operation on the companies' timber limits, which varies with the cost of manual and horse labour. With a cost of $9.50 a day for manual labour and $3 a day for horse labour at the present time, this item would come to $2.50 a cord.

The Address-Mr. Arsenault

4. Improvement works, the maintenance of tracks, the building of roads, fees for right of way come to 50 cents a cord.

5. Fire protection and prevention; fences, and forestry works implying rational and selective cutting might total $1 a cord.

6. The various expenditures with regard to unemployment insurance, workmen's compensation board, and fire insurance for lumbering operations in danger periods would probably be covered by an amount of 75 cents a cord.

7. A reasonable profit might be estimated at 20 per cent of the total of the first six items, that is $3.05 a cord under present conditions.

When adding the various items of this basic operation, which I believe to be fair and adequate: value of uncut timber, $5; lumbering, $5.50; haulage, $2.50; improvements, 50 cents; protection, fences and forestry work, $1; unemployment insurance workmen's compensation and fire insurance, 75 cents; profits of 20 per cent of foregoing, $3.05, which we believe to be fair; we get for wood marketed by the farmers and settlers a total operational cost of $18.30 a cord at shipping point, that is at the highway or railway station, whereas in various sectors of the province, the same wood, at the same shipping points but cut by pulp and paper companies on crown property would cost them from $19 to $25 a cord and often more.

This obviously does not include the cost oi transportation of the wood from the shipping point to the factory, this price varying with the distance.

With somewhat more than a cord of pulpwood it is possible to manufacture a ton of newsprint. The cost of producing a ton oi newsprint in a modern mill is approximately

as follows:

Wood: mechanical wood pulp, 86

per cent, at $32 per cord . . $ 27.51

chemical wood pulp, 14 per

cent with 50 per cent yield 8.9(Water: 0-12 per 1,000 gallons 2.4(Steam

1.4;Power

5 4(Labour

7.5cMaintenance

2.8(Administration

2.25

306 HOUSE OF

The Address-Mr. Arsenault

To which should be added indirect costs

such as:

Overhead .... $ 8.90

Debt retirement ... .... 3.60

.... 0.40

Interest on capital 0.30

Selling agency .... .... 2.00 15.20

$ 73.48

As far as the selling price of a ton of newsprint is concerned, the mills receive $117 a ton in Quebec and $111.60 in New York after subtracting transportation costs which bring this price to $126. This leaves the paper mills a margin of net profit of between $35 and $40 per ton of newsprint.

During the winter of 1954-55 pulpwood was bought from the farmers and settlers of Quebec at $10 or $11 on the average per cord of 128 cubic feet at the shipping point, that is $7 or $8 less than the production costs as appearing in the items I have just brought to your attention. In some localities, settlers received as little as $7.50 a cord for their wood.

Thanks to the representations made by the Liberal members in this house during the previous session on behalf of the pulpwood producers of the province, and to the educational campaign conducted during the summer and the fall of last year by the forestry section of the Catholic farmers union, under the leadership of Mr. Samuel Audette, forestry manager of the UCC federation, the prices of pulpwood were increased on the main by $2 to $3 a cord in the province of Quebec to reach an average price of $12 or $13 a cord and sometimes more.

However, as can be seen from the breakdown I just gave, these prices are still far from sufficient to cover the cost of operation and insure a small margin of profit to the producers of pulpwood.

Several pulp and paper companies have, nowever, given evidence of their will to cooperate, and have shown themselves anxious to contribute to the solution of this important problem of the rural economy of our province.

Negotiations are at present being carried out on this matter between officers of the Catholic farmers union and representatives of the pulp and paper industry. Moreover, on January 17 the executive of the Catholic farmers union submitted a brief to the Hon. J. S. Bourque, minister of lands and forests of the province of Quebec, on this important matter.

The Catholic farmers union requested the establishment of a minimum average price of $20 for an apparent 8 foot by 4 foot by 4 foot cord of good commercial grade resinous wood and of varieties at present accepted for the manufacture of pulp and brought to a carriage road.

Moreover, the Catholic farmers union has asked that the felling rate on crown lands be such as to permit the buying of wood from the woodlots of the farmers. In other words, the C.F.U. wants a legislation identical with that existing elsewhere, for instance in Ontario since 1937, authorizing the province not only to set the minimum price to be paid the farmer or the settler for his pulpwood, but also to fix the quantities of wood which the pulp and paper companies would have to buy from the farmers and the settlers, having regard to their other sources of supply.

The Hon. Mr. Bourque answered that the request of the C.F.U. would receive consideration, but he suggested two ways of improving, according to him, the situation of the farmers and the settlers who sell pulpwood to the companies.

Farmers, he said, should not cut an inch of wood before they have a sale contract, and they should also get together to fix the price and stick to the price they fix.

Anyone who knows anything about the vast problem of marketing pulpwood by the farmers and settlers, will admit that, on the face of it, both solutions suggested by the minister are unrealistic, impractical and unacceptable, if not ridiculous.

It is indeed very much to be regretted that the hon. minister of lands and forests of the province of Quebec does not seem to realize that, without some action by the provincial government, or the goodwill of the companies, thousands of small pulpwood producers will continue to be unfairly treated because most of the pulp and paper companies dispose of endless woodland resources in the province, and are using or abusing this privilege, by maintaining the low prices that prevailed for the past few years for pulpwood marketed by the farmers and settlers.

As the province of Quebec has sole jurisdiction with regard to the crown lands, it is up to the provincial government of Quebec to put some order in those conditions.

(Text):

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

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. Victor Quelch (Acadia):

Mr. Speaker, since wheat marketing is one of the main

subjects of discussion in western Canada at the present time, and since I represent a constituency that is predominantly agricultural, and one that contains some of the very best wheat land to be found in western Canada, I intend to confine my remarks mainly to the subject of wheat marketing.

We in this group intend to support the C.C.F. subamendment which criticizes the government for their failure to make advances against grain stored on the farm. That does not mean that we agree 100 per cent with the details of the subamendment, but on the other hand it does mean that we are 100 per cent behind the general principle contained therein, namely, that advances should be made against grain stored on the farms. Some hon. members may recall that two years ago we had a resolution on the order paper to that effect. I am not worried in any way by the suggestion made by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) that support for that subamendment will be regarded as opposition to the wheat board, since a suggestion of that kind is too nonsensical to need any reference to it. I merely point out that as conditions change, so is it necessary to amend legislation to take care of those changing conditions.

As a result of the congestion of wheat, we feel that advances against grain are essential. The minister claims that support for that can be reckoned as a criticism of the wheat board. Well, if that argument holds water, then the government's action in making a proposal to make loans to the farmers against their grain on the farm would also have to be considered as a criticism of the wheat board, and the government's suggestion to pay storage charges would also have to be considered as a criticism of the wheat board. As I say, the whole charge is ridiculous. As conditions change, so will legislation have to be passed to take care of those changing conditions.

Before dealing specifically with wheat, I wish to make a few comments on general agricultural policy. In the past, our three main points in that regard have been that there is a need for adequate support prices. First of all, the government should maintain adequate support prices on all farm products. Second, there is need for an expansion of markets, both in the domestic field and in the export field. Third, there is need for an allrisk crop insurance program.

The justification for the first of those points has been emphasized time and again in this

The Address-Mr. Quelch house by members of this group and members of other opposition parties. From time to time we have emphasized the fact that in the post-war years, as a result of government policies, farmers were compelled to accept for their farm products prices that were less than world market prices. In consequence of that, the prime minister of the day, Mr. Mackenzie King, stated that since farmers were being compelled to accept less than world market prices to maintain the price ceiling, the government would maintain a floor under agricultural prices after the war as part of a general stabilization program. Therefore, when the farmers ask for supporl prices today they are not asking for a handout in any shape or form; they are merely asking that the government live up to their promises and because the farmers have already paid for these support prices by accepting considerably less than world market prices during the war and in the post-wai years. Those policies cost the farmers oi Canada many hundreds of millions of dollars So far, all that has been spent on support prices is a sum in the neighbourhood of $2( million. It is true that another $60 million odd was paid in regard to foot-and-moutt disease, but that has nothing to do with support prices. It was paid to deal with ar emergency of the day. Therefore, we fee that the farmers are fully justified in askin| for adequate support prices today. Well the government did keep faith to a certain extent by passing the Agricultural Price! Support Act.

I have always supported the Agricultura Prices Support Act. I think it is a good act My only criticism would be that the govern ment does not make as good use of that ac as it should. Secondly, some of those suppor prices are not as high as they should b under the government's own formula. Unde the government's formula they use 1943-44-4 as the base year. According to the agricul tural prices support board, some of the sup port prices today are not as high as the; should be on the basis of that formula, quoted figures in the house last year t prove that point, and I do not wish to tak the time to deal with them now.

The method of applying support price may vary, of course. We in this group hav suggested from time to time that they shout be applied through a two-price system, i two-price system can be fully justified an' it cannot be regarded as a hardship upon an class of society. It is just as well to recogniz

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The Address-Mr. Quelch the fact, that the secondary industries have been using the two-price system for years. When a secondary industry sets prices, if sets a price in the domestic market at a level that will return it a fair profit. So far as exports are concerned, it sells at the best price it can receive, and on many occasions the price the secondary industry receives for its exports will actually be less than the price at which it sells at home. That is especially true of farm machinery.

The two-price system simply means this. Farm products consumed in Canada would be paid for at parity prices as defined in the Agricultural Prices Support Act. To the extent that they are surplus, those surpluses would be exported abroad and sold at the best price that could be obtained, preferably by an international agreement, but supported by a reasonable floor to protect the farmer against a complete collapse of the market and guarantee him at least the cost of production.

At this time I am very glad to congratulate the C.C.F. on changing their policy in regard to this question. It will be remembered that last year they criticized me quite severely for advocating a two-price system. They said that they would not support it because they would not take anything less than 100 per cent parity. But already in this debate a couple of their members have supported it.

[ for one will not criticize them; in fact I should like to congratulate them upon their :hange of policy. I suggest that as long as they keep their policy parallel to ours they vill not be liable to make a mistake.

I know there are some who say-I think ;he hon. member for Rosthern (Mr. Tucker) ;ook this stand last year-that it would not je fair to the Canadian consumer to charge lim more than was being charged to people n other countries. In the first place, if the 'armers were asking a support price which vould give them an exorbitant return I would igree with the hon. member 100 per cent, flfhat is the farmer asking for? He is asking or a parity price based upon the Agricultural 'rices Support Act. What does that act guar-tntee? That act guarantees to the farmer a mice that will bear a fair relationship to he prices of other commodities and to wages, s anyone in this house going to argue that he farmers of Canada are not entitled to i price that bears a fair relationship to the irices of other commodities or to wages paid n other industries? Surely no one would uggest that the farmer should have to accept ess than that, especially when he has paid

already for that protection by subsidizing the Canadian consumer in the post-war years, and our allies as well. Our farmers have paid for that protection and they are fully entitled to receive it.

In so far as the export price is concerned, by all means let the farmer receive parity if that is possible; but we in Canada have no control over the price that may be obtained for goods we ship to other countries. We can only try to get the best price we can. But on the other hand we can control the prices of commodities sold in this country.

We have had this very peculiar situation in the past. Approximately 94 per cent of farm products, apart from wheat, are consumed in Canada with 6 per cent being exported abroad. In the past we have allowed that 6 per cent that is exported abroad to dominate the price for the 94 per cent consumed in Canada. Is there any sense or reason behind a policy of that kind? The secondary industries do not stand for such a policy and it is high time that we recognized the farmer's right to a parity price for the percentage of his production which is consumed in this country.

There is nothing in the two-price system that would prevent the government from distributing surpluses to needy people in this country, to underprivileged people. Yesterday the hon. member for Jasper-Edson (Mr. Yuill) suggested that it might be possible to give some of our surplus butter to old age pensioners, disabled people, blind persons or those receiving some form of social welfare payment. We have advocated that in the past, and have also referred to what was done in the United States during the pre-war days with their stamp plan. Under that plan people receiving social welfare payments received different coloured stamps for different farm products which were surplus. Those stamps entitled them to extra quantities of those commodities with every purchase they made. A similar plan could be used in this country for disposing of butter to old age pensioners, disabled persons or any group of people in the lower income brackets. As I say, the adoption of the two-price system would not interfere in any way with such a program.

We in this group have consistently supported the wheat board as the 100 per cent marketing agency for wheat. In my opinion the wheat board have done a magnificent job in the face of most difficult circumstances. On the other hand, the wheat board are often blamed for government policy for which they are not responsible in any way, shape or form. For instance, they were blamed on many occasions for selling our wheat at less

than the world market price under the British wheat agreement. They were blamed for subsidizing the Canadian consumer by selling wheat at less than the price of class 2 wheat. That was not a policy of the wheat board, it was a government policy which the wheat board had to carry out.

The price received last year for wheat of $1.56 per bushel was altogether too low. It is interesting to note that a parity price on wheat last year, using the base period of the agricultural prices support board, that is 1943-44-45, according to the bureau of statistics would have been $2.27 per bushel. The farmer actually received $1.56. I think the actual price was around $1.70, but the rest of it went into storage charges.

Of course, the farmer did not get the $1.56 because out of that transportation charges had to be paid. Then again, that was for No. 1 wheat, whereas a large percentage of the wheat was 3, 4, 5 and 6. I would say that the average price received by the farmer would be nearer $1 than $1.56. I know of many farmers who are selling their low grade wheat today for around 75 cents per bushel.

Perhaps I should not publicize that fact, but it is something that is generally known. They owe the machine companies as well as other business concerns. A businessman may make a deal between a farmer and a feeder up in Edmonton or Calgary to sell his wheat. The businessman gets his debt paid, the feeder gets the wheat, and the farmer sells it for around 75 cents a bushel. The balance goes to pay the trucking charges from the farm to the feeder. Provided the deal is made directly between the farmer and the feeder I do not think there is any breach of the wheat board act, but if the businessman actually entered into a contract there would be a breach. As long as he merely acts as a go-between I imagine there is no violation.

If we had a two-price system in operation, what would be the effect upon the price of wheat? I am not sure of the exact figures, but we will say that approximately 20 per cent of our wheat is consumed in Canada with 80 per cent being exported abroad. According to the bureau of statistics the parity price for No. 1 on the 1943-45 base would be $2.27 per bushel. Twenty per cent at $2.27 and 80 per cent we will say at the average of the high and low under the international wheat agreement, which would be $1.70 per bushel, would give an over-all support price of $1.81 per bushel.

I mentioned that figure when I spoke in the house last spring and I was interested to note that about three months later when the

The Address-Mr. Quelch United States announced their new support price it was set at $1.81 per bushel. I am not suggesting that there is any connection between those two prices; it was purely accidental, but it was interesting to note that when we were working on the support price we arrived at exactly the same figure at which the United States arrived later on.

A price of $1.81 per bushel is still well below a parity price of $2.27, but I think generally speaking the farmers would be quite satisfied to receive a support price of $1.81 per bushel. There is no support price under wheat today. Some people get confused on this subject and say that there is a support price of $1.40 per bushel. There is no support price of $1.40 per bushel. There is all the difference in the world between an initial payment of $1.40 and a support price.

A support price is for the purpose of preventing the price falling below a certain figure. What is an initial payment? The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) explained to this house what an initial payment was. He said that it could not be set early in the year because they had to be sure that the price of wheat would not fall below a certain figure before the initial payment could be set because the taxpayers of this country should not be called upon to subsidize the Canadian farmer. So they set the initial payment at a figure sufficiently low to make sure that there will be no loss. How can you possibly call that a support price?

I should like to turn from that to the question of surpluses. It is interesting to note that Mr. Hambridge, who is the F.A.O. representative for North America, when he spoke before the Senate last year, referred to the fact that at the present time over half the people of the world are hungry. No doubt many members have read the speech he made before the Senate. He painted a black picture. In view of that picture, we in this group do not agree that the solution to the problem of surpluses is a reduction in production. Surely the solution must be to find new ways of getting surplus goods to the people in need. I am not suggesting for one minute that it is any easy problem to solve. But that is the problem that has to be solved. Reducing production in the face of want is not the solution.

It is also interesting to note that under the international policies of the Bretton Woods agreement and the Geneva trade agreements we have not been able to solve that problem on an international level. As a matter of fact, world markets would have collapsed long before this if it had not been for the intervention of the United States, if it had not

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The Address-Mr. Quelch been for the fact that the United States brought down lend-lease during the war, under which it abolished the dollar sign entirely and made goods available to other nations in return for payment in kind. In other words, it was a form of deferred barter. Then the United States made large loans to foreign nations. Canada also made loans. Then the United States introduced Marshall aid. Members of the government have time and again praised the United States for the program of Marshall aid, under which the United States made dollars available to foreign nations to buy its surplus goods. Hundreds of millions of dollars made available under the Marshall plan were also used to buy Canadian surplus goods. We praised the United States for that policy because it was helping to solve our problem. In 1950 a committee of experts was set up by the director general of the F.A.O. to make recommendations upon ways and means of getting rid of the surplus commodities to the nations that needed them. The six experts appointed to that committee made a recommendation for an international commodity clearing house. Unfortunately that plan was rejected by the members of F.A.O. at a conference held in Rome. It became evident that from then on, as before, each individual nation would have to be responsible for the disposal of its Dwn surpluses.

If I remember rightly, the Minister of Agriculture at that time stated that Canada would look after its own surplus. What the minister should have said was that the farmers would look after their own surplus. It is the farmers, not the government, who have had to look after the surplus, except in the case of butter. The wheat farmers have had to stand the full cost of carrying the surpluses. When the proposal for an international commodity clearing house was rejected, the United States government got busy finding ways and means af disposing of its surpluses. The interesting point to note is that the United States then adopted a policy very similar in part to the proposals contained under the international commodity clearing house proposal. The United States proposed to make its surpluses available for foreign inconvertible currencies. The United States proposed to make its surpluses available under barter. The United States proposed to make its surpluses available as gifts.

I recall that at the time that was first men-;ioned in the house the Minister of Trade and Commerce pooh-poohed the idea. He said re knew of no nation that would be willing :o buy Canadian surpluses in return for their currency. Now the minister is complaining

because the United States is selling so many of its surplus commodities on that basis and he is afraid they will be disposing of more and more commodities by that means. Yet two years ago the minister tried to laugh off the suggestion as being very inconsequential.

Now in the United States the government supports the price of wheat at a very substantial level. It advances the price of wheat to the farmer while the wheat is still on the farm and pays all carrying charges on that wheat. Compare that with the policy in Canada. In Canada we place the full burden on the farmer. There is no support price. As I have already pointed out, the interim payment is not a support price. There is no advance on grain on the farm. But the farmer has to carry the whole burden himself. The farmer has to pay all the carrying charges on the wheat. There is quite a difference between our policy and that of the U.S.A.

But that is not all. Not only does the government refuse to accept its responsibilities in dealing with the surplus of wheat, but it then criticizes other nations that are helping their farmers. Canada is in the position of being the only nation in the world that is not helping the farmers by supporting the price of wheat. The government criticizes the other nations for subsidizing their wheat producers and suggests that all other nations should quit doing that and follow the same policy as Canada. Let me quote what was said by our delegate at the international wheat conference, as reported in the Calgary Herald of October 27, 1955:

Canada today warned the international wheat conference here that there will be market disturbances as long as heavy domestic subsidies are paid.

W. C. McNamara, acting leader of the Canadian delegation, said frankly that "too many" countries represented at the conference follow domestic wheat policies which add to the difficulties of exporting countries.

Further on he said:

"In particular", he said, "there will continue to be market disturbances, more or less serious, so long as wheat production continues to be subsidized as heavily as it is in many countries of the world today, both importing and exporting."

He then turned to the position of Canada's own wheat producers.

Mark this. He is giving this wide publicity:

"I would remind the delegates that in Canada world wheat prices are domestic prices. The Canadian producer of wheat has not been, and is not being, subsidized."

He told all the other nations of the world that Canada is doing nothing for its wheat farmers in so far as prices are concerned. He criticized them for protecting the wheat growers and suggested that they should stop doing so and get into line with Canada.

This reminds me of the rookie private who says that everybody is out of step but him and wants everybody else to get in step with him. Instead of Canada expecting all other nations of the world to cut off their support of agriculture and do the same as it is doing, I suggest it is time Canada got into line with other nations and supported its farmers as they are entitled to be supported. As an example of what other nations are doing, I might quote the figures given by the Wheat Pool Budget last year:

The government of the United States guarantees farmers $2.24 a bushel for what wheat they market, in Argentina the figure is $2.72 a bushel, in Australia $1.55, in Great Britain $2.22, in West Germany $2.72, in Japan $2.53, in Greece $2.45, in France $2.95, in Sweden $2.28, in Belgium $2.49, in Turkey $2.28, and in Spain $2.72.

In Canada there is nothing, except an interim payment of $1.40 a bushel. What is Canada doing? Instead of realizing it is time it got into line with other nations, it asks other nations to stop helping their farmers and do the same as it does, which is absolutely nothing.

The minister has referred once more to sterling. I do not wish to take very much time in dealing with the question of sterling, but I was amused when he tried to bring in Gresham's law. He tried to apply Gresham's law to the acceptance of foreign currency. What is he really doing when he does that? The minister has the gall to say that all currencies except Canadian currency are bad. That is what he is saying when he applies Gresham's law to the acceptance of foreign currency. I would point out that the currencies of many nations today have a higher purchasing power in their respective countries than Canadian dollars have in Canada.

Then we had a very interesting statement by the hon. member for Vegreville (Mr. Decore). He quoted an editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press to try to prove that acceptance of sterling would not be of any help. I suggest to the hon. member for Vegreville that he read the speech of the Minister of Trade and Commerce the day before. What did the Minister of Trade and Commerce say? He warned members against taking any notice of any statement contained in the Winnipeg Free Press because he said the Winnipeg Free Press is against the wheat board and any statement they make is designed undermine the wheat board.

I can quite believe that the Winnipeg Free Press would be very much opposed to Canada accepting sterling if they thought it was going to help sales by the Canadian wheat board. Naturally they would oppose the acceptance of sterling. The Minister of Trade and Commerce mentioned the fact that Mr. Gordon

The Address-Mr. Quelch Bowen of the United Kingdom high commissioner's office had stated that if Canada accepted sterling it would not increase sales of wheat to Great Britain. It might not, but it might increase the sales of other farm commodities. Maybe they are buying all the wheat they can buy. It certainly might help to increase sales of wheat to other nations in the sterling area. But there again we have that very broad statement of the minister. He said "sterling". What kind of sterling? Blocked sterling? Inconvertible sterling?

I can quite agree that Britain would not be interested in Canada accepting blocked sterling if it were blocked so that it could not be spent in Britain, could not be converted and had to be held until such time as convertibility of currency becomes an accomplished fact. Naturally Britain would be opposed to that because it would be just postponing the evil day when that blocked currency would become a demand upon United States dollars. But on the other hand if the proposal is to accept inconvertible currency which will not be converted into dollars but which will be used to buy British goods then I am satisfied that Britain would be quite prepared to support a policy of that kind.

I say that for this reason. Time and again in this country the United Kingdom high commissioner has stated that if Canada will buy more goods from the United Kingdom the United Kingdom will buy more goods from Canada. He has pointed out that Canada has had a large favourable balance of trade with the United Kingdom for a number of years and that as long as that situation continues the United Kingdom will not be in a position to expand its purchases in Canada.

That being the case, all Canada would have to do would be to accept inconvertible currency, use that currency to buy British goods and bring about a greater balance of trade between the two nations. The Minister of Trade and Commerce among others has said that if we are going to accept sterling and then spend it in Britain that is no different from accepting dollars. Let me point out that there is all the difference in the world. If you accept sterling and spend it in Britain you are providing a market for British goods. If you accept dollars and then use those dollars to buy goods in the United States then you are not providing a market for British goods. You are creating difficulties in international payments for the United Kingdom. That, of course, would be a different situation entirely.

My time is running on but I should like to make brief reference to a number of resolutions that were passed in my constituency. In October I received a long distance call

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The Address-Mr. Quelch telling me there was to be a conference of representatives of farmers, businessmen, farm organizations and all other interested parties in the western part of the constituency to discuss the wheat situation and I was invited to go to the meeting at which resolutions were to be drawn up to be presented to a mass meeting the following day. I went to the conference and there was quite a large attendance.

A number of resolutions were drafted and the following day a mass meeting was called at which the resolutions were presented. Let me point out that it was not a political meeting in any shape or form. I was not on the platform. There were representatives there from all political parties and it was a very large meeting. I only got into the discussion when people in the crowd asked me to deal with some of the points in the resolutions that were presented to the conference. The first resolution presented reads as follows:

Be it resolved that we ask the federal government to provide for advances to farmers against grain stored on the farms up to half the value of at least 8 bushels per cultivated acreage; and also provide that these advances be recovered by a deduction of approximately 50 per cent of the proceeds of each load delivered.

There was a very prolonged discussion of that resolution and I thought the discussion was most reasonable. First of all, strong opposition was expressed to any form of a loan. They did not want any interest charge made at all. It was pointed out that most of the farmers are already quite heavily in debt with respect to the wheat on their farms and that it would not help them to add another debt to what they already owe. They wanted advances which would help them to pay off some of the debts they have already incurred.

Second, they realized it would not be advisable for the advances to be too large because if the advance was on too big a percentage basis it would require fairly detailed inspection to make sure the farmers had enough wheat to cover the advances. Therefore they put the advance at a very moderate level. First of all they said the advance should be up to 50 per cent of the probable delivery for that year. Then some farmer said, "Well, we have no guarantee there will be any delivery. There might only be a delivery of 2 bushels to the acre, so that is no good." Then they based it upon what the delivery was last year, 8 bushels per cultivated acre, and suggested that the advance should be up to 50 per cent of a minimum of 8 bushels per cultivated acre. I think all members will agree that is quite a reasonable demand. That resolution was passed and forwarded to the federal government.

The second resolution reads as follows:

Whereas at the time the member nations of the FAO rejected the recommendations for the establishment of an international commodity clearing house it was agreed that each nation should be responsible for carrying its own surplus; and

Whereas it is in the national interest that a substantial reserve of wheat be maintained at all times;

Therefore be it resolved that we urge the Canadian government to assume the responsibility for carrying charges on all grain in storage at the end of each crop year.

I am very glad to see that the federal government is bringing down legislation this session which goes quite far in the direction advocated by this resolution. That being the case, I will not take time to argue the justification for the resolution being passed. The third resolution reads as follows:

Be It resolved that Canada continue to work towards the establishment of some form of an international commodity clearing house for the disposal of surplus food to needy nations;

Be it further resolved that until that goal is reached we urge the federal government to take the necessary action to move surplus food to nations unable to obtain all they require through the normal channels of trade, by such means as acceptance of foreign currencies and barter agreements and in the cases of extreme distress by gifts.

In that regard it was felt that we might very well follow the lead of the United States. They were doing that and the meeting felt that Canada might very well follow suit. They figured that the fact the United States was steadily expanding their disposal of surplus commodities through a program of that kind would suggest that Canada could do likewise, but they emphasized the fact that the whole endeavour of the government should be toward the establishment of some form of international commodity clearing house so that this question could be dealt with on an international basis rather than a purely national one. This resolution carried unanimously.

The fourth resolution reads as follows:

Whereas the Agricultural Prices Support Act was passed in an endeavour to secure a fair relationship between the returns of agriculture and those from other producers; and

Whereas grains were excluded from the products covered by the act;

Therefore be it resolved that we ask the federal government to amend the act so as to cover cereal grain.

As I have already pointed out, they have always strongly supported the Agricultural Prices Support Act, but the act has never included grains. Yet at the end of the war when the price of grains was controlled the prime minister at that time promised that after the war support prices would be placed

under farm products to make up for the losses suffered as a result of the farmers being compelled to sell for less than world market prices. The government maintained good faith with the farmers in so far as all farm products are concerned except grains, but grain was not brought in under the Agricultural Prices Support Act and there is no support under grains today. This resolution therefore merely asks that grains should be brought in under the operation of the Agricultural Prices Support Act, it also carried unanimously.

In closing I should just like to point out that Canada is today lagging far behind what a number of other nations are doing in order to safeguard the efficient operation of their grain growers. Whilst farmers with strong reserves may be able to carry on without too much difficulty, the majority are under a severe strain and in many cases are being obliged to give up their farming operations. I believe that the resolutions and policies to which I have referred would help to put the grain growers on a sound basis. In the meantime we intend to support the subamendment put forward by the C.C.F.

(Translation):

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

Fernand Girard

Independent

Mr. Fernand Girard (Lapointe):

Mr. Speaker, 5,000 divorces are granted in Canada every year, that is one divorce for 25 marriages. In the two provinces which refuse divorce, Newfoundland and Quebec, parliament-according to figures which have been provided to me by the divorce committee- has, between 1950 and 1954, granted 1,512 divorces and refused only 14. 1,487 of these

divorces were granted to Quebec residents.

For some time now a powerful campaign has been carried out in this country with a view to obtaining the enlarging of legal grounds for divorce.

And so, Mr. Speaker, I feel it necessary to return to this matter and to sound the alarm in relation to a situation which is assuming the proportions of a national scandal. I wish to underline a few facts, to reaffirm a few moral and legal principles and to seek out the one acceptable constitutional issue to this predicament.

Divorce is an infringement upon natural law, it sacrifices the child who is the main object of marriage, it disrupts the family, which is the very basis of society and withers society itself by sacrificing the commonweal to personal interests. Moreover, all Catholics and several Protestant denominations are opposed to divorce, which makes it contrary

The Address-Mr. Girard to the religious principles of the vast majority of Canadian citizens.

Considered inadequately by the courts and by parliament, it furthermore puts members in an ambiguous position and confronts them with a delicate constitutional problem.

From the point of view of nature, marriage is an institution the primary purpose of which is to insure the propagation of the human race. It is a contract which cannot be of temporary duration because it is bound by a permanent tie which is the child. So, divorce denies this primary purpose of marriage because it sacrifices the child in splitting the family, the foundation of our society.

People are rightly concerned about communism because it attacks the rights of man but, on the other hand, they allow the multiplication of divorce which destroys man at his very source. We know once more how man can be utterly illogical when we find that those countries which worry the most about a falling birth rate are also the ones to encourage divorce the most. In Canada we clamour for immigration to increase our population, and we empty our cradles through divorce.

Not only does divorce make for selfishness on the part of the parents to the prejudice of the children, but it prevents children from being born. Yes, because it is made easy since it is legal, divorce prompts parents to limit the obstacle children would be to their eventual separation. The possiblity of divorce tempts our young people to consider matrimony as a temporary adventure.

Unless he wants to reduce the human race to a level lower than that of the beasts, no right-thinking man will deny that the first end of marriage is the child and that this same child is the certain victim of divorce.

This would amount to admitting that, owing to its nature, divorce destroys our human society and favours the personal interest of husbands and wives to the prejudice of the common weal. To claim that divorce is useful to society is to recognize the priority of the individual welfare of a few people over the general welfare of society, or the priority of selfishness and sexuality over the renewal of the human race. In those divorce cases that are brought before parliament the main victims of this social plague, that is the children, have never been able to claim their rights. The generally admitted motive for divorce being adultery, parliament does not consider their case. Children have been called as witnesses for or against their parents, without any consideration being given to their own case while the sexual experiences of their parents were related before the committee.

The Address-Mr. Girard

Speaking of divorce as a social evil, Mr. Theodore Roosevelt wrote in an article entitled "The Scourge of Divorce in the United States":

A scourge for any country, easy divorce is a curse to society, a menace to the family, an invitation to marital unhappiness and a practice fatal to men and particularly to women.

It was not a Catholic who spoke that way, but the leader of a nation that deemed it advisable to facilitate divorce for all sorts of pretexts, a nation that is unsuccessfully fighting a cancerous growth, the progress of which it cannot stop. They granted divorce in the name of freedom, but they have always reaped licentiousness.

The very existence of divorce seems to establish a new principle, namely that by contracting marriage human beings become angels on earth, infallible beings, because means have been devised enabling them to free themselves from their oath at the slightest disagreement.

Not only is divorce a national scandal giving a respectable status to short-lived love affairs but it deals a serious blow to the religious principles of all Roman Catholics and of numerous Protestant denominations in this country.

To those who believe that constant assaults will shake our will to resist I repeat that true Roman Catholics will never compromise on divorce.

By her unshakable determination to fight divorce the Catholic church is not led by stubbornness or harshness; she merely respects the will of Him who built our human society; she is protecting the creative work of God and the natural right of people. Let me add, Mr. Speaker, that the fact that our parliament is dealing with divorce, even as an exception through private bills, puts the Catholic members in an unbearable and unjust situation. I know that these divorce cases are a source of annoyance for all members. I know also that some throw the whole responsibility for this situation on Roman Catholics since these bills come to parliament because divorce is not recognized in our province. I point out to them, Mr. Speaker, that we are not responsible for these divorce cases; we reject them and will never accept a situation resulting from the very fact that some men want to divide what God has united.

Moreover, any citizen imbued with moral responsibility and real concern for the common weal cannot, whatever his religious beliefs may be, find any social advantage in divorce. One has but to open one's eyes and to look at what history teaches us. In the United States, where easy divorce has laid a great nation open to ridicule, civil and religious authorities are seriously concerned

IMr. Girard.]

with the consequences of this national scandal which undermines the strength of the nation. Thousands upon thousands of testimonies have pointed to the evil consequences of this scourge.

I will restrict myself to only one of these testimonies, one which summarizes the whole situation in a few words. I will quote a statement from Mr. John Fitzgerald, dean of the faculty of law at Loyola University, as reported in a release from the information service of the Canadian Catholic conference, bulletin number 45, February 1955 issue.

Mr. Fitzgerald said that, since 1867 (statistics in that field date back to that year), the population of the United States has increased in a proportion of 1 to 4 whereas divorces have increased in a proportion of 1 to 60. From 1930 to 1948, one divorce has been granted for every five marriages in the United States.

The dean of the law school lays some blame on lawyers and judges, but mainly on the judicial setting in which divorce cases are heard.

He claims that there is a tragic difference between the divorce legislation and the procedure followed in fact. Actually, divorce cases go uncontested and are settled amicably between the parties in a proportion of 80 to 90%. He adds that, according to estimates from the lawyers, there is perjury in 75% of the cases. Often, hearings take only a quarter of an hour or less and the facts at issue are not examined at all.

And what happens in Canada? In an article entitled "Court of Broken Dreams", at page 34 of the March 1955 issue of Liberty, the author, one of the magazine's reporters, writes:

(Text):

I sat in on a courtroom recently in an attempt to understand why 5,000 Canadian couples annually crack up their marriages in a divorce process of mud-slinging, name-calling and money-wrangling.

I wanted to find out why our divorce rate has risen to a point where one out of every 25 Canadian marriages winds up a divorce washout.

(Translation):

Would you like to know how divorces are granted in Canada? Let me turn, not to the testimony of a Roman Catholic preacher, but to the Divorce Reform Association of Toronto, which published a manifesto urging that the legal causes of divorce be extended. Here is the first paragraph:

(Text):

Did you know that there is divorce by consent in Canada? One judge has said that nine out of ten cases before him are collusive, that is, the parties have perjured themselves in order to get a divorce.

(Translation) :

Would it be that justice itself recognizes that out of the 5,000 divorces granted each year, there are 4,500 common law cohabitations, legalized through perjury?

Quebec and Newfoundland are the only provinces that do not recognize divorce. In Quebec, the civil code, which derives its official status from the Confederation Act itself, recognizes in section 185 that marriage cannot be dissolved. Therefore, the federal government cannot and will never be able to establish a divorce court for petitions emanating from Quebec, because it would be contrary to the terms of the confederation act and against the statutes of our Quebec civil code. It is for that reason that, in order to obtain divorce from parliament, citizens of Quebec and Newfoundland must resort, to a private bill, a special law, and exclusive privilege. It must be admitted that the distinction is not illusory, since that procedure respects our civil code, safeguards the principle of the indissolubility of marriage, and prevents the setting up of divorce courts for the people of Quebec. However, one must not stop there, because although up to now the principle of the indissolubility of marriage has been safeguarded, have marriages themselves been saved? Has the rate of divorce been decreased to the extent expected, as a result of this necessity of resorting to private bills to obtain a degree?

As I stated at the beginning of my remarks, between 1950 and 1954 alone, Canadian parliament has recommended the granting of 1,512 divorces and rejected 14 petitions. And out of that number, 1,487 exceptional privileges were granted to citizens of the province of Quebec whose civil code recognizes the indissolubility of marriage.

Is that not a fantastic average? Should we not fear that the repetition of such exceptions will threaten the general rule, especially when it is known that, for our Anglo-Saxon fellow-citizens, the accumulation of precedents frequently acquires the strength of law?

Everyone admits that parliament has neither the competence nor the means to pass proper judgment on the cases submitted. For that matter, the courts hardly seem to do better, as is apparent from the opinion quoted above on the percentage of perjuries.

There have been instances of divorces being granted by parliament in 12 minutes! After being studied by the Senate, with its inadequate facilities, and adopted by the parliamentary committee following a mere reading of the case, they are usually passed by the house wholesale. To grant a divorce parliament is generally content with proof of adultery. This proof is based on the rather dubious testimony of the private detectives who have prepared the case. Those detectives, whose testimony disrupts marriages, are often young men with no legal responsibilities, who earn a small salary to carry out their

The Address-Mr. Girard foul business. All members of the committee genuinely feel that in most cases there is collusion. But how can it be proved?

Last year, in this house, I asked the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) whether in the last ten years his department had prosecuted any of the parties in divorce cases for collusion. The minister replied that there was no record of any prosecution of this kind in the files of his department. Were the children wronged by disrupted marriages never taken into account? Divorces have been granted to persons in the absence of their marriage partner. Everyone knows that in Montreal, as in all large cities, there are detective agencies which, for a price, can build up evidence of adultery. From the figures I have given, it is easy to see that divorces are almost always a foregone conclusion in Ottawa.

Of course, parliament could be more severe in its examination of the cases but, on the other hand, I am not ready to blame it entirely for this, because the only means at its disposal for getting truth is the oath. When magistrates of the courts themselves recognize that there is perjury in the majority of cases brought before them, how can members of parliament or senators be expected to do better when there is collusion to commit perjury between witnesses? The error was first made when parliament entered the field of divorce, a field in which it will always be the loser in its struggle against passions. In short, even through the allegedly more difficult method of the private bill, hundreds of divorces are granted each year to the citizens of two provinces where divorce is banned.

The only conclusion possible is that this situation must be remedied because parliament is unfit and inefficient when it comes to hearing divorce cases, even though it is constitutionally authorized to deal with them.

The C.C.F. party, through many of its members, has for many years expressed alarm at parliament's readiness to grant divorces. But the solution it proposes is, in short, that divorce cases be sent to the Exchequer Court. This solution reminds me of the flood victim who would drain his cellar into that of his neighbour.

We will never agree to the principle thal those cases be referred to a court of justice for that would be in actual fact a denial oi the indissolubility of marriage, which is protected by section 185 of the Quebec civi code. So there is only one alternative, Mr Speaker. It was set forth in this house 2E years ago, in 1930, by a great French-Canadian statesman, Mr. Henri Bou-rassa.

316 HOUSE OF

The Address-Mr. Girard

He suggested that the constitution be amended and that the question of divorce be referred to each of the provinces who would dispose of it at their discretion. Bourassa claimed that the matter should be referred to the provinces because the federal government was not able to exert the authority constitutionally attributed to it in this respect.

I can very well imagine the main objection to this solution which, for some people, would mean refusing the privilege of divorce to the non-Catholic population of Quebec.

As long as it has not been proved that divorce is a beneficial institution promoting common welfare, nobody will have the right to ask for the abolition of section 185 of our civil code. Anyhow, it is not a question of choosing the laws of one's country or province. I would be first to ask for the abolition of taxes if I were entitled to reject a law that is not favouring my personal interest.

At the federal-provincial conference of 1950, Mr. Bourassa's suggestion was brought up again by the premier of Quebec, Mr. Duplessis, in a brief submitted to the attorneys general of Canada, and seconded by the representatives of three other provinces, those of New Brunswick, Alberta and Saskatchewan, which would bring up to five the number of provinces who would adopt this solution. When that proposal was submitted in 1930 by Mr. Bourassa, it was approved by the Divorce Reform League of British Columbia and by the Marriage and Divorce Reform Association of Toronto.

There would be no change in the position of the provinces that accept divorce, but this solution would have the advantage of putting an end to a situation which Quebec and Newfoundland cannot tolerate and it would also free parliament from a situation which is equally unbearable.

Since this entails an amendment to the constitution, which cannot be done without the consent of the provinces, I urge the government to call a federal-provincial conference without delay, and seek means of bringing about that amendment to our constitution.

The reasons put forth by Mr. Bourassa 25 years ago to obtain that amendment to the constitution, at a time when less than 100 divorces were granted each year, have become even more pressing if we consider that parliament now receives nearly 500 applications for divorce each year.

Unless the government hastily adopts the cnly acceptable solution, it will soon be overwhelmed by the rising flood of easy divorces.

Soon, divorces will be granted for incompatibility, the most futile and the most fallacious of pretexts.

This serious problem must be solved before it is too late, for divorce, which some would like to make still easier, is becoming a legalized form of free love and is gradually undermining the vital strength of the nation.

(Text):

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

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. George A. Drew (Leader of ihe Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to address my remarks to the subamendment which is now before us, and to indicate the attitude that I believe will be expressed by the members of the party to which I belong.

The subamendment that is before us asks that the following words be added to the amendment which we have already introduced:

. . . including their failure to provide cash

advances on farm-stored grain, equal to not less than 75 per cent of the initial price, to alleviate the serious financial crisis now confronting western farmers and the entire economy of the prairie provinces . . .

As has already been indicated by the hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Diefenbaker), we would have moved this as part of our amendment had we not wished to leave the way clear to put an amendment of this kind before hon. members on the motion to go into supply. I explained at the time that I was speaking in the debate earlier that we were moving a broad amendment without going into detail so that we would not subsequently limit the opportunity to present an amendment upon which all hon. members would be called to express their opinion. I regret very much that by the introduction of this subamendment it is likely that we shall be unable to introduce an amendment on going into supply which would call for a direct vote on that one question by all hon. members without anyone being given an opportunity to say that he had voted against it for some other reason than that contained in the words themselves.

I should like very much to have had the opportunity to present an amendment calling for cash advances so that every hon. member on the other side as well as on this side would have been called upon to vote on that question and that question alone.

As I indicated earlier in my remarks in this debate, we refrained from introducing detailed amendments of that kind because of our desire that we should not preclude the possibility of offering an opportunity at a later time during this session for a clear and unequivocal vote on this and other subjects which will arise. However, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell)

has chosen to introduce this subamendment. That is his right. The subamendment is before us. I wish to indicate the course that we propose to follow. I do not think the subamendment is drawn as well as it could have been. Nevertheless, the course is clear. The intention of this subamendment is to call for an expression of opinion in regard to the desirability of cash advances to meet the serious financial crisis now confronting western farmers and the entire economy of the prairie provinces.

In moving this subamendment, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar placed no new issue before the house. We made it abundantly clear, without any reservation, that we favoured the principle of cash advances on farm-stored grain; nor did we simply state that at the beginning of this debate. In December of 1952 I asked in this house that legislation be introduced without delay to make it possible to provide for cash advances on farm-stored grain. Since then, we have continued to urge that legislation of this kind be made available. Therefore, the purpose of this subamendment is one which we have placed before the house, and one which we have stated publicly elsewhere on frequent occasions. The only question which arises is one of actual wording, and we are not going to haggle over words when the principle is clear.

It would have been much better if, after the words "not less than 75 per cent of the initial price", these words had been added, "on a reasonable quota basis." I prefer to believe, however, that the subamendment intends that.

The payment on a quota basis has become an accepted practice. In fact, it has become such an accepted practice that the book on which the payments are made is commonly described as a quota book. Therefore, I think it is reasonable for us to assume that in the drafting of this subamendment the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar had in mind the requests which have been made by representative farm organizations, and in fact the proposal that we have made over and over again, long before this came out in the house this session, that there be a cash advancement on a reasonable quota, having regard to the general quota arrangements which have been made for the past several years. Since that is the situation and since that is what I consider to be a reasonable interpretation of these words, we intend to support this subamendment because it does express the request that consideration be given to the demand for the very thing we have been asking for, for several years.

The Address-Mr. Drew

I repeat-and I must repeat-I regret very much that by following this course hon. members to our left have perhaps denied the opportunity to have a clear vote on this one question by a substantive amendment when we go into supply at some later time.

I do not intend to make any extended remarks on this subject today, but I do intend to refer to one statement made by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) during his remarks on January 16. He told this house in effect that if the plan of cash advances on farm stored grain went into effect the four members of the wheat board would be out of office within a matter of days.

Surely this is a new procedure. I should think it is an abnormal exaggeration, even for the Minister of Trade and Commerce, and it would have to go very far to qualify for that description, but let us see just what this means. It has been a long established practice, going back for centuries, for ministers of the crown to announce in certain cases that Her Majesty's representative has approved of the subject matter about to be discussed. Obviously we are now to have a new-practice. Apparently, in matters of this kind, instead of the approval of His Excellency as the representative of Her Majesty, in future we will be told that officials have approved of the measure we are called upon to discuss.

That is bureaucracy carried to a degree which we have not yet contemplated. That is bureaucracy carried to the point of being an affront to every member of parliament. We are told without apology that officials would resign if members of this parliament decided that a certain type of amendment should be made to legislation for which they are responsible. I hesitate to believe that the Minister of Trade and Commerce has any support for such a statement. I prefer to believe that it is an abnormal exaggeration even for him.

Perhaps this is another case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. I would be inclined to think that the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) was perhaps very surprised when he heard that we were now being told when we could or could not do things in this house according to the pleasure of officials in various government agencies set up by the authority of this parliament.

We have complained before about bureaucracy. Unless that statement by the Minister of Trade and Commerce was utter humbug there is an apology due to the members of this house for an implied threat that certain public officials would not continue to do their job if we did ours.

The Address-Mr. D. Gourd

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

January 19, 1956