March 26, 1957

LIB

George Carlyle Marler (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Marler:

That does not mean it is not there.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Marlin:

You cannot impute motives.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Surely the hon. member has heard of the law of relevancy. We are discussing the second reading of a bill entitled "An Act to amend the Prairie Grain Producers Interim Financing Act, 1956." The fact that one hon. member or another speaks or does not speak is, in my opinion, certainly not relevant to the principle of the bill, and I would be forced to rule accordingly.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

Mr. Speaker, I have limited time and I shall accept your ruling. I want to emphasize that the wheat producers of Canada are facing the most serious crisis in Canadian history, and I think hon. members who are aware of that problem have a responsibility to stand up in the house and indicate whether or not they consider this particular measure is adequate.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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?

An hon. Member:

We shall consider it seriously when you do.

Grain

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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LIB

George Carlyle Marler (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Marler:

Get down to the business of the day.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

That is what we are waiting for the Liberals to do.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

I have in my hand a clipping from the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix which gives the Minister of Finance a headline in these words: "Harris Impressed But Budget Didn't Show It, Farmer Says." The article is a very interesting report by Mr. Mitchell, one of the farmers' union delegates here recently. He quotes the Minister of Finance as saying:

. . . there was no segment of Canada more in need of fair treatment than the prairies.

The article goes on to quote Mr. Mitchell as saying:

However, when his budget came out it appeared he had forgotten this opinion.

The article reports Mr. Mitchell as commenting in this way on the Minister of Finance:

... a young man, very straightforward, not like the rest of them, who when asked a question came straight to the point. He said. "C. D. Howe is a hard man."

The article reports Mr. Mitchell as mentioning that a member from Quebec had remarked:

Gentlemen, I am going to be frank with you. We are so tired of dishing out special favours for the west that we hate the sight of you.

The article does not give the name of the member from the province of Quebec. I am sure it was not one of the genial members who sits on this side of the house. The article goes on to say that before they parted the Quebec member apologized, shook hands with them and promised to read the brief.

A year ago, Mr. Speaker, this crisis was so serious that the Toronto daily Star sent one of their able reporters, Robert Nielsen, out west by plane to try to get some first-hand information as to whether or not this was a matter that deserved the attention which the C.C.F. and other members on this side of the house indicated it should receive. Mr. Nielsen travelled extensively across the prairies. While he was out west he visited my constituency and had a conversation with Mr. Rediger who was returning from hospital. I point out that the conversation with Mr. Rediger resulted in Mr. Nielsen reaching this conclusion, as found in the Kelvington Radio of February 10, 1956:

His resentment fans out in several directions, at the federal government which has refused to pay him for farm-stored grain; at the railways at the politically dominant and favoured "east."

The article continues:

Rediger broached a theme that was to be stated politely but firmly by nearly every westerner I talked with. He contrasted the position of the prairie farmer, at the mercy of the world market for his income, with the happy state of workers

Grain

and managers in eastern industry, sheltered by tariffs which jack up the farmers' living and operating expense.

"It don't seem right", he said. "Millions of people in the world are hungry and need our wheat. They'd buy it too, if we'd buy their goods".

According to the article Mr. Rediger concluded that all this is foretold in the Bible and worse is still to come, so there is not much comfort in that. According to Mr. Nielsen the position on the farms at several places was very critical. The article continues:

Nowhere on the farms or at the elevators did I hear a kind word said of the federal government's plan for five per cent loans through banks on farm stored grain, up to a maximum of $1,500. A farce-said Harmsworth. Why should we pay interest on our own money? The farmers hereabouts take the view that they have done their work, harvested the crop, and should be paid for it-not asked to go deeper in debt.

So, Mr. Speaker, if a year ago an eastern paper like the Toronto Star considered it sufficiently important to their readers to send Mr. Nielsen to the prairie provinces, I think members of the house should face up to the situation and decide whether it is as serious as Mr. Nielsen found it was last year and as we have tried to represent.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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CCF

Edward George McCullough

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

Mr. McCullough (Moose Mountain):

It is

worse now.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

As the hon. member for Moose Mountain says, it is worse now. The last census informs me that around 5,000 people have left my constituency in the last five years, nearly 10 per cent, while the population of Canada was going up. We know why. We know that in our own province the young chaps leave the farms to go down to Moose Mountain constituency in the oil fields.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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?

An hon. Member:

Oh, I thought he was a farmer.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

Well, the farm boys go to work in the oil fields in Saskatchewan because they find that their returns are so far out of line with the returns from farming.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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?

An hon. Member:

You have everything.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

Yes, we have oil in Saskatchewan, but I am talking tonight about the farm crisis. We are not going to solve the farm crisis by giving the farmers permission to borrow more money on their own grain and forcing them to pay higher interest.

The last time I went west I ran across a young chap who was on his way up to the D.E.W. line. He had signed a contract, he informed me, to spend 18 months at a salary of $1,000 a month plus a bonus of $5,000 at the end of the 18 months. If he stuck it out for a year and a half he had $23,000

available. If he quit before then he did not get the bonus, and he had to pay his return transportation.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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LIB

Tom Goode

Liberal

Mr. Goode:

You and I should not be here at all. We should be up on the D.E.W. line.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

This young chap had a much more attractive return than the farmer. I think because this program worked out by the federal government creates prosperity in the central areas of Canada, we should have some support from more of the Liberal members who represent rural ridings all over Canada.

There has been some criticism of our suggestion that the federal government should go into this program of paying cash for a very real Canadian resource that is going to be used some day. I am referring to our wheat. We cannot expect our 200,000 wheat farmers to carry all their operating expenses and provide storage for all grain on their farms until there is a world famine, or until countries like the United States go bankrupt, or until other countries which are engaged in programs subsidizing the production of agricultural products decide to change their policy. We have had a policy of subsidizing Canadians for a great many years.

During the supper recess I got some of the information that was made available by the government of Saskatchewan at the time of the Rowell-Sirois commission hearings. I find that commission counsel was a Canadian who was not so well known at that time as at present. I am referring to Louis S. St. Laurent, Esquire, Q.C., who was counsel for the commission. The case for Saskatchewan was presented by the attorney general of the day, Mr. Justice Davis, more recently the Canadian ambassador to Japan.

Mr. Justice Davis made an excellent case in pointing out what the tariff policy of Canada has meant to the prairies in particular. He also pointed out what the western provinces have meant to our eastern economy. Between the years 1906 and 1920, as he stated, the Canadian Pacific Railway netted over $388 million on their western lines, more than twice as much as they netted on their eastern lines. If you take the period 1922 to 1926, again the Canadian Pacific cleared more than twice as much on their western operations as on their eastern. They had cleared $146 million. So, Mr. Speaker, I wish to submit that as a result of the failure of the government of Canada to deal with this national problem, our farmers are being forced to leave the farms, to abandon the land they think should be used to produce food for our own country and for our neighbours abroad. We are doing a real disservice.

Mr. Justice Davis referred to a study the late Norman Rogers had undertaken for the province of Nova Scotia some years ago to indicate what a tariff policy means to a country. Dr. Rogers said that a tariff duty is a tax and a subsidy and he pointed out that the automobile industry would serve as an excellent example.

This industry is located entirely in the province of Ontario, and receives tariff protection at rates varying from 20 per cent to 40 per cent under the general tariff. Presumably it would not exist without tariff protection. Who pays the subsidy? Well, clearly it is paid by the consumers of automobiles in Canada. In Nova Scotia in 1930 retail sales of motor vehicles amounted to $13 million by most conservative estimates.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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SC

Frederick George Hahn

Social Credit

Mr. Hahn:

On what page is that?

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

It is on page 88. A conservative estimate of what this cost the people of Nova Scotia is $2,183,150. Dr. Rogers made a very interesting analysis to show what each province in Canada, except Newfoundland which was not a province at that time, had received and had paid as a result of tariffs. The table is as follows:

Tariff Tariff

subsidy costs Net gain Net loss Province per per per percapita capita capita capita$ $ $ $P. E. Island ... . 5.32 23.20 17.88Nova Scotia ... . 18.50 30.78 12.28New Brunswick 19.91 31.58 11.67Quebec . 46.23 35.20 11.03 Ontario . 64.32 49.17 15.15 Manitoba . 28.44 41.69 13.25Saskatchewan . . 3.55 31.71 28.16Alberta . 11.22 38.15 26.93British Columbia 32.03 54.36 22.33I want to emphasize, Mr. Speaker, that

the province that fared the worst of the nine provinces was Saskatchewan. Our net loss was $28.16 for every man, woman and child for every year up to the time Dr. Rogers did his analysis. The provinces of British Columbia and Alberta are second and third, with Manitoba fourth. The only two provinces in Canada which benefited as a result of tariffs were Quebec, with a net gain of $11.03, and Ontario with a net gain of $15.15.

Now, it has been considered a desirable Canadian policy to have a tariff structure that placed each year a burden on the people in all parts of the country, and instead of the government collecting this revenue and making it available these very substantial amounts have gone into the pockets of the large corporations, which again are located in central Canada. Therefore I submit that for the government of the day to come to parliament and seriously suggest that the way to deal with this crisis is to permit

Grain

farmers to borrow $3,000 instead of $1,500, and permit them to pay a higher rate of interest than 5 per cent on their earnings on their own farms, is an insult to them.

I want to put in a word for the people who service the farmers. The storekeepers, the municipal officials, the doctors, all the people who are dependent, directly or indirectly, on our wheat economy are fighting for their very survival. We have had before parliament on a number of occasions legislation in connection with the interest rates charged by the small loans companies. Apparently in our larger cities people can get out of trouble temporarily by going to the loan sharks and paying 20 per cent, 30 per cent and 40 per cent per annum for temporary accommodation.

Well, we do not have these services in our rural communities; therefore the small town storekeeper is obliged to advance credit to his customers who are honest citizens and who have grain on their farms. The storekeeper cannot take the grain; the banker will not take the grain; the wheat board will not take it, and a very critical situation is developing. The storekeepers have not been in the habit of charging the interest rates that the large departmental stores charge on their credit sales. The small town merchant is not organized to run a large credit department, as is so common in the larger department stores in the larger centres. Therefore these storekeepers in these small areas are finding themselves confronted with an impossible situation in getting sufficient cash to meet their commitments with their wholesalers.

I mentioned previously that the problem of arrears of taxes is having a very direct effect on the maintenance of schools, hospitals and other services. In my constituency I have parts of 14 rural municipalities. The arrears of taxes in these rural municipalities have gone up in the last three years from $750,000 to $1,500,000, and that poses a very real problem. The communities that normally would be paying as they go have been forced to build up overdrafts at the banks by paying too large a percentage of their revenue to meet interest charges.

If the government of Canada would follow the pattern of the government of the United States and make cash advances available to the farmers who have grain on their farms it would help alleviate this very critical problem. However, that in itself will not be the final answer. Somehow or other we have to recognize that the people who are producing food in Canada are supplying as necessary a service as the young chap who goes up to

Grain

the D.E.W. line and gets $1,000 a month tor his services, plus a bonus of $5,000 at the end of a year and a half.

The Gordon commission informs us that since the end of the war our farm population has gone down from around 25 per cent of the total Canadian population to about 15 per cent, and they expect that in the next 25 years, though our over-all population is going to increase, the farm population will go down to just over 7 per cent. I think that is a great calamity when, as Mr. Rediger said, there are a billion people in the world who are hungry and who would like to get a chance to use some of our surplus food, while the present program calls for starving our farmers off the farms, and forces them to buy in a highly protected market, the highest priced market in the world, and to sell their products in competition with countries which are using public funds in a very generous way to support their farm people.

I have mentioned previously that the food bank program alone in the United States puts into the pockets of their farmers as much as $23 for every acre that is not seeded to wheat. We remember the situation back in the 1930's when farmers were being paid more not to grow food than they were to grow it. I am not suggesting that we embark on a program to pay our people for not growing food, but I am suggesting that Canada cannot afford, in the year 1957, to leave the people on the farms in the maritimes, in central Canada, on the prairies and in British Columbia in the position where they are getting a diminishing share of the national income while the rest of our economy boasts of record-breaking corporation profits all along the line.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I hope this amendment which has been moved by the hon. member for Moose Mountain will get the support of prairie members, who so far have not had a good word to say for this legislation. By their silence they have demonstrated that they are not prepared to go back to meet their people and be accused of having stood up in parliament and said that the farmers are satisfied with the deal they are getting; that this proposal is the best that can be expected from the parliament of Canada.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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CCF

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

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

Mr. W. M. Johnson (Kindersley):

Mr. Speaker, at this stage I do not intend to again cover the ground that we covered at the resolution stage. As hon, members will recall, members of this group went into some detail to point out to the house the views and attitudes of western farm organizations and western farmers on the proposal of bank loans versus cash advances. It was put on the record in a conclusive way to indicate

why farm organizations and farmers overwhelmingly favour the principle of cash advances and oppose the principle of paying money on our own wages.

It was interesting to note that when this subject matter was introduced at the resolution stage the members of this group played a major role in the debate. I think that is understandable, since we are representing the western provinces and are concerned with the welfare of the farmers in that area. I think we should go into some little detail in dealing with the problems which exist in western Canada, and in analysing the legislation which the government has introduced as a means of solving those problems.

It is not news to any member who has listened to the matter we have debated in the house that we have a terrific carryover of grain on the farms of western Canada. It is common knowledge that the quotas are very small indeed, and that farmers are being caught in the cost-price squeeze.

I notice there is a lot of interest on the part of hon. members from other parts of Canada in this subject. That was apparent last year when we were discussing it at the resolution stage. I recall one instance when the leader of this group observed that so much attention was being paid to it that he moved that the house rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again. There were so few members on the government side of the house that the C.C.F., with the support of the other opposition groups, were able to defeat the government on that motion.

I noticed that an equal interest was in evidence again this afternoon, when at one time I counted approximately 13 government members attentively following the debate. So I want to take the opportunity of explaining this matter in some detail in order that they may be able to deal with the subject with open minds.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

Open is right.

Topic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN PRODUCERS INTERIM FINANCING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO ACT EXTENDING APPLICATION, FIXING INTEREST AND INCREASING MAXIMUM
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March 26, 1957