August 9, 1956

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe (Pori Arthur):

I expect some day to get trophies from both the curling associations and the skating rink associations of the prairies. I believe more rinks have been built to store grain in the past three years than have been built in the prairies ever since the first settler arrived. The storage is paid under an arrangement with one of the line elevator companies, which is responsible to the wheat board and has authority to move that grain into offsite storage, which is the rink, and pay the owner of the rink a fee out of his receipt for storage which is supposed to be onsite storage. It is a legalized arrangement, but the offsite storage arrangement is made between the line elevator company and the owners of the offsite storage.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

That rather answers the question that my hon. friend raised, that sometimes the objection to the licensing of rinks is that the rinks are not up to standard.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe (Port Arthur):

That is right.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

The fact that by an indirect means there is achieved that which he suggests might be done directly and which I support would indicate that there should be a reconsideration of this problem in the event that again this fall as the result of a large crop tremendous amounts of wheat will have to be stored on the farms. If this arrangement can be operated in certain areas by this indirect means, I see no reason why it should not be considered as a direct means of storage. It would mean that during the period from May until the end of the crop year on the 31st of July a very considerable amount of wheat could be stored in that manner and made available whenever the necessary transport could be secured at the several marketing places.

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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

The minister has said that he is probably entitled to trophies from the curling and skating rink associations of western Canada for the fact that there have been so many rinks built in the last three

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Supply-Trade and Commerce years. Perhaps that is a good suggestion but I think there should be a rider to it that the minister will continue the policy so that there will not be any discrimination as between communities.

The minister said one thing that I do not think he intended to say, namely, that these arrangements are made between line elevator companies and community associations. I think the minister knows that the wheat pool organizations as well as the line elevator companies, all elevator companies, have been prepared to consider such arrangements. In some communities in my constituency the line elevators have leased the premises and at other points the pool elevators have done so. I think that generally speaking the arrangement is approximately the same. The elevator company gets 10J cents per bushel per year and the local rink association gets 6 cents of the 10J.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe (Port Arthur):

I should amend the term "line elevator" to "line of elevators". I apologize to that extent.

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PC

William Marvin Howe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Howe (Wellington-Huron):

I should like to ask the question now that I wanted to ask on the first item with regard to storage in eastern Ontario and eastern Canada. I refer particularly to southern Ontario. Because of the cold and late spring this year the farmers found that they had to feed their stock for a longer period of time than usual. The winter stored grain in the elevators in southern Ontario apparently had been depleted and the farmers had to pay the entire rail freight on their grain from the west. That put the price up almost to a prohibitive figure.

I am wondering whether some steps should be taken to move more grain into southern Ontario during the period when navigation is open so that the same situation will not prevail next spring. It could prevail because on account of the late, cold spring not as much acreage of grain was sown in southern Ontario as in other years. There is every indication that next spring there will be another shortage of feed and more feed will be required.

A question was asked the other day by the hon. member for Mackenzie in the same connection arising out of a telegram sent to the minister with regard to the scarcity of feed grain even at the present time in southern Ontario and the trouble some of the merchants are having in obtaining feed grain, probably as a result of the shortage of box cars and other things. They are having trouble continually in getting sufficient feed grain from the elevators. Can the minister give any indication as to what the department can do with respect to moving more feed grain into eastern storage in the fall?

Supply-Trade and Commerce

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe (Pori Arthur):

The department has nothing to do with feed grain in Ontario.

I have tried to make that clear. We have no authority to do anything. We have gone a long way to make it possible for dealers or whoever wishes coarse grains in Ontario to buy them. We have arranged an agency basis so that the buyer can take the grain, make a deposit on it and adjust the price as of any date he wishes. That is quite a concession. But the grain will always be available at Fort William. If arrangements can be made to have the grain available at the bay ports we will do so but the grain there moves into export and it is very hard, especially in the season of open navigation, to make it available to buyers. Certainly users in Ontario have been forewarned as to their requirements and if they do not take care of them some time between now and the close of navigation I hope they will not blame me for their failure to do so. We just have nothing to do with the distribution of grain in Ontario.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Caslleden:

There is one other feature of the storage problem that in my opinion requires attention and that is the matter of terminal storage. Canada's capacity to produce grain is going up every year and the figures for the long term average have to be revised every year; 1956 appears to be another year when we are going to have a big crop.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe (Port Arthur):

If my hon. friend reads the bible he knows about the seven fat years and the seven lean years, so let us not get the averages too far out of line.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

No, but if we are going to have fat years and prepare for the lean years we will have to have somewhere to store the grain.

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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

As far as the farmers are concerned they are all lean.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

At any rate, the experience of the farmer in the past few years has been that he has found himself in very difficult circumstances through being unable to deliver his grain. The minister knows the difficulty the farmers had last year with regard to cash advances and farm storage, and the loss of grain on the prairies has been a most regrettable thing. When you find wheat piled up in large piles in the fields and exposed to the weather you know that losses are almost inevitable.

We have a problem with respect to terminal storage for grain. Surely the best place to put the grain is in the terminals where it is available for export. Canada's terminal storage has not increased with Canada's ability to produce. Because of the fact of sales

being lower than they were three years ago and the continuation of large crops the storage problem is one of increasing difficulty.

Then there is the matter of box cars. When the railway companies haul grain in their box cars to the terminals they find all too often that there is no space in which to dump the grain and the latest move, which is causing a great deal of concern among western growers, is that the railway companies are now applying to the board of transport commissioners for permission to charge demurrage on cars that are left for any more than 48 hours at terminal points. This means an additional and rather heavy expense which will fall directly on the backs of the producers who are already facing difficult times with increasing costs and decreasing returns.

I suggest to the minister, the wheat board and the board of grain commissioners that it is time that Canada took a look at the terminal storage problem and made provision for the storage of our surplus grain. As a national problem surely the weight of it should not be borne entirely by the farmer. It is surely not good business to leave grain stored in box cars and have demurrage charged that will have to be paid by the farmer. I suggest to the minister that a continuation of the present condition of lack of space at terminal elevators to unload box cars is going to lead to the producers having to pay heavy demurrage charges, and they are going to feel very badly about it and resentful that action has not been taken to take care of this surplus commodity. As to the "seven fat years", we are enjoying that period as far as production is concerned, but they certainly have not brought a great deal of increased well-being to the producer. His problems today are increasing. His costs are increasing. With a declining income, this is a serious problem. I hope that the board of grain commissioners will advocate the construction of more elevator space. Already the government is in the elevator storage business. I believe they rent elevator storage space at the present time. I believe the leases for them are due to expire this year. I hope this suggestion will be looked upon with some favour. I refer to the suggestion that the government consider the building of more storage space in order to do away with the vexing problem which is increasing year by year.

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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

There is a question I should like to ask the minister about the personnel of the board of grain commissioners. I believe there soon will be a vacancy on the board if there is not technically a vacancy now. When the minister is considering appointing a person to fill that vacancy, I wonder

whether he will not discuss with the farm organizations-I refer to both the farmers union and the grain organizations-the question of a person that would be satisfactory to both. I know it is the minister's prerogative to appoint to the board anyone he cares to appoint. But I think it would be better and would lead to easier administration if the minister would discuss with the main farm organizations the question of the person to be appointed. I do not really feel that there would be any difficulty in coming to an agreement and recommending a given person. I do not think such a move would lead to any controversy.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe (Port Arthur):

The vacancy has not occurred as yet. When it occurs, we shall be glad to keep my hon. friend's views in mind. We usually get the views of the interested grain co-operatives. That has been the case on every occasion, I believe. We get names from each of them and we pick out the man we think is best qualified to do the job. We shall doubtless do that again. The only appointment I have heard was announced in the agriculture committee. My hon. friend appointed a new chairman for the board. That is causing me some embarrassment. However, I will not embarrass him now by suggesting a man for the board.

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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

When I was appointing a new member of the board, I did not realize that it would cause any embarrassment. As to the information that I had when I was making my so-called appointment, I consider that I obtained it on the highest authority and it was not told to me in confidence. Had it been in confidence, I would have said nothing about it.

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Item agreed to. Atomic energy control board- 49. Administration expenses of the atomic energy control board, $41,160.


PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

Mr. Chairman, these next three items have to do with the national research council. There is very little that we have to say about them.

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LIB

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

Liberal

The Chairman:

This is item 49.

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PC

August 9, 1956