April 9, 1957

PC

Clayton Wesley Hodgson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hodgson:

You are not far out.

3320 HOUSE OF

Agricultural Products-Support Prices

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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PC

John Alpheus Charlton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlton:

I do suggest that if there is anything to be said in that regard it can be said about the amendment moved by the C.C.F. party on the occasion of the throne speech debate. They knew very well that a Liberal speaker would be following their own speaker on the list and that we would have no opportunity to discuss the matter, or make our position clear on that particular amendment.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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?

An hon. Member:

You had a chance to vote on it.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
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PC

John Alpheus Charlton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlton:

We did. I suggest also there was a particular reason behind the subamendment of the C.C.F. party. Their object was to take it out into the country and try to show how we voted on that particular amendment and use it for their own political purpose.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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LIB

René Jutras

Liberal

Mr. Jutras:

What are they doing now?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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PC

John Alpheus Charlton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlton:

Some mention was made of the definition of parity. The hon. member for Acadia gave a very fair definition of parity. It is not hard to define. On more than one occasion in the house the Minister of Agriculture has said he was not sure what it meant. He has suggested on various occasions that they have taken 1943-45 as the base period, and they set their support prices on those three years as the base. Your parity price would mean a different price if you took another base period. Parity to me means that a base period having been taken, a bushel of wheat or any other farm product would have the same purchasing power today as it had in that base period. That is as simple as it can be made, and it should be understandable to everyone in the house. In other words, the cost price relationship remains the same as it was in some previous base price period.

As far as the subamendment is concerned, I see nothing wrong with it, but I suggest there is a great deal of difference between the 100 per cent parity of income in the C.C.F. amendment and parity prices. Let us look at 100 per cent parity of income. Whose income is it going to be parity with? Whose income are you going to take? Are you going to take the income of the Prime Minister of Canada, or of some farmer who is making only $1,200 or $1,300?

It has been rather difficult to follow the meanderings of the government during the last couple of months. It seems rather strange that with an election coming on people seem to be able to get the things they want much easier today than they could in the preceding three or four years. Is it because there are two more provincial Conservative governments than there were a few years ago? Is

it because an election will be held in the near future? Is that why farmers are beginning to get some of the things that they have been asking for, for 10 years? I could enumerate these things.

I am sure the farmers appreciate the things they have been given. They are part-way measures, at least, except one. The Minister of Agriculture announced at the concentrated milk producers association banquet that the support price on powdered skim milk would be one cent more than the producers had asked for. I am sure they appreciated that very much. By doing this does the government think they can fool the voters and the farmers across this country? If it could be done, then why was it not done when it was asked for three or four years ago?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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PC

Clayton Wesley Hodgson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hodgson:

There was no election then.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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PC

John Alpheus Charlton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlton:

Forsooth, no election then. Does the government think that they can buy the votes in that way?

I do not think it is necessary for me at this time to go back over the economic position in which the farmers across the country find themselves; it has been stated on many occasions both in this debate and in previous debates in the House of Commons, but I want to say that the proof of the economic position of the Canadian farmer today is the fact that so many young lads are leaving the farms to go into industrial employment. If they find it necessary to leave the farm, then farming conditions are certainly not up to their desires. They do not want to stay on the farm; therefore farming conditions are not good enough to keep them on the farm. The farm population has decreased considerably in the last few years. How much space did the Gordon commission report give to the agricultural economy? It gave very, very little and most of the space was devoted to the western wheat position.

The taxation problem is one other very important matter for the farm population today. I do not know about other provinces but the province of Ontario has lightened that burden somewhat in the case of farms taken into urban areas. The farmers are being taxed off their land these days if they are anywhere near a large city. As I say, the Ontario government did legislate to the effect that assessments cannot be increased if a farm is taken in by or annexed to a city as long as that farm remains as a farm and is worked as a farm.

I have the "Current Review of Agricultural Conditions in Canada". It is the January, 1957, edition. On page one of the booklet we find the following:

It appears that the decline in agricultural prices of the past few years may have levelled out in

the latter months of 1956, and it seems unlikely that there will be any further decline in the general level of farm prices in 1957.

They are admitting in this booklet that the prices of farm produce had gone down, which is more than the Minister of Agriculture has admitted in the house at any time since 1952 or 1953. On page 2 of the same booklet I find:

Any change in farm net income from farming operations will depend largely on the size of the western grain crop in 1957.

I suggest that has a great deal to do with the gross income of farmers all across Canada.

The gross national income has a direct relationship to the size of the wheat crop and the amount of wheat harvested. If there is a good wheat crop harvested the gross income increases tremendously and that increase is reflected in the average across the country but conditions in the eastern provinces may not be similar to those in the western provinces.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

It is the same thing when the gross income goes down.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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PC

John Alpheus Charlton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlton:

Yes, of course, but I suggest that the Minister of Agriculture in the last few years has always gone back to 1951 and 1952 in quoting prices.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

Oh, no. That was your

plan up until two years ago. In every speech I made I criticized it.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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PC

John Alpheus Charlton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlton:

I consider it a compliment that the minister is following any plan of ours but I wonder how long he will continue? As a matter of fact it has been diluted so much that it means very little today.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I have never done that. I say that you should average over five years and you never have.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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PC

John Alpheus Charlton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlton:

The Minister of Agriculture will have a chance to make his own speech. He can use the figures for those years again if he wants to but I suggest to him that while he may fool himself and think he is fooling us he certainly is not fooling the people who know best what their position is. He is certainly not fooling the farmers.

The Economic Annalist published by' the Department of Agriculture is generally regarded as presenting an accurate picture of the position of farmers across Canada and it contains an index of figures which I presume are put out by the bureau of statistics. The Economic Annalist of February 1957 shows that from 1949 until the present time the prices of agricultural products have declined by 11.6 per cent. The index in 1949 was

Agricultural Products-Support Prices 255.4 and in December 1956, the last year for which figures are available, the index was 225.8.

In that same period with the exception of the fact that the figures are for August instead of December there was an increase of 24.6 per cent in the composite price of commodities and services used by farmers, as against a reduction of 11.6 per cent in the price of farm products. Also in that same period from 1949 to 1956 the cost of food to the Canadian consumer has gone from 100 which was the index price in 1949 to 117.1 or a 17.1 per cent increase.

The price of the products we have to buy as farmers has increased in this period by 24.6 per cent. The wholesale price of our products declined 11.6 per cent and the prices of our products to the consumer have gone up by 17.1 per cent. These figures constitute a justification for having a commission established to study the spread in prices between the price the producer receives and the price the consumer pays for agricultural products. I suggest that these figures paint a true picture of the plight of the Canadian farmer today.

I realize that I cannot quote from the budget speech in this debate but in an article in the Globe and Mail of March 15 based on the budget speech of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) they quote him as saying:

Heavy imports, particularly from the U.S.A., helped restrain the rise in Canadian prices by making more goods available.

I want to repeat that statement because I think it is important. The Globe and Mail quotes the Minister of Finance as saying:

Heavy imports, particularly from the U.S.A., helped restrain the rise in Canadian prices by making more goods available.

Are we to take it that this statement reflects the policy of this government? Apparently that is the case because that is the basis on which they have been working over the last number of years. Their policy is to bring in enough from other countries to keep the price of our agricultural products low in this country.

I would like to cite some figures contained in a return to a question asked by the hon. member for Prince Edward Lennox (Mr. Tustin) on March 19, 1957 concerning imports of powdered milk, cheese, canned peaches, canned pears, mixed fruits, canned vegetables, tomato products and other goods imported in 1956. The figures are as follows:

Powdered whole milk

101,487 poundsPowdered skim milk

3,198,199 poundsCheese

9,001,068 poundsCanned peaches

14.626,636 pounds

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser (Peterborough):

They serve them in the parliamentary restaurant.

3322 HOUSE OF

Agricultural Products-Support Prices Mr. Charlton: Yes, certainly they do. A sufficient quantity is not grown in this country to supply the entire domestic demand but a large quantity is grown and many of our domestic peaches spoiled last year.

Other imports were as follows:

Canned pears

2,998,134 poundsMixed fruits

30,545,836 poundsCanned tomatoes

26,521,865 poundsTomato pulp and puree

816,701 poundsCanned concentrated tomato juice 11,875 poundsCanned tomato paste ... 28,901,602 pounds

Tomato juice, except concentrated 26,885,103 pounds

Mr. Speaker, some of the best tomatoes

grown in this country are grown in my own riding. I wonder what the people in my constituency think of all these tomatoes being imported in Canada when they are unable to get a decent price for the tomatoes they grow in the counties of Brant and Haldi-mand? Imports of canned vegetables in 1956

were as follows:

Canned corn

4,331,198 poundsCanned peas

1,955,337 poundsCanned asparagus

1,511,223 poundsCanned green or wax beans 717,904 poundsCanned baked beans

3,750,595 poundsCanned vegetables not otherwise provided

6,143,820 pounds

It is understandable in the light of these figures why the Minister of Finance said in his budget speech that heavy imports particularly from the United States helped restrain the rise in Canadian prices by making more goods available.

What happens when our own fresh fruits and vegetables come into season? There are probably 20 carloads sitting on sidings in Toronto or Montreal alone and the wholesalers use that as a means of cutting down the price on our own products. They say, "We do not need them because we have plenty sitting on a siding. We do not need your products and we will just give you so much for them and that is all." The seasonal tariffs that are put on do not mean a thing because the markets are glutted the day before the tariffs are applied.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser (Peterborough):

Any government that does such a thing ought to be "canned".

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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PC

John Alpheus Charlton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlton:

That is what this government has been doing for many years now. Apparently that is the policy of fee government as stated by the Minister of Finance.

We had a debate a few days ago regarding the price of eggs in this country. Egg prices are very low this year, from 22 to 23 cents a dozen to 30 cents a dozen for grade A large depending on the district where they are purchased. Yet in 1956, 68,321 cases of eggs were imported into this country. This was in the very year when prices went down to

the lowest level they had reached for years, away below the cost of production to the farmers.

Imports of dressed poultry last year totalled 22,816,809 pounds. That is the result of the policy of this government. I know that parts of this brief from the Canadian Horticultural Council were used this morning. I am not sure which parts were used, but I do want to say that fruit and vegetable growers all across this country are very disturbed about the importation of fruits and vegetables and the reduction in the prices received by our domestic producers. As was said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Diefenbaker) this morning, while these goods may not be dumped on the market in the strict legal sense of that word, they are nevertheless dumped as far as our domestic producers are concerned. Here is what the Canadian Horticultural Council considers to be the problem which its membership across Canada faces. This brief, which was sent to members of the cabinet, is dated February 4, 1957, and paragraph 3 reads:

It is doubtful if at any time in the past our primary producers of fruits and vegetables have been so exercised, or have suffered such serious losses as during the past few years, from the "dumping" of like products from the United States on the Canadian markets. These products may not be "dumped" within the limited definition of that term in the Customs Act or the Customs Tariff Act, but the effect on the financial returns of the Canadian farmer are just the same as though they had been "dumped" within the definition of the legislation.

The nature or form of the competition to which our producers object most strenuously is imports at "distress" prices at the peak or clean-up of United States harvesting which frequently collide with the commencement of Canadian harvesting. Under these conditions the United States producer may have received a premium price, or at least a good average price on a large proportion of his crop, but his "clean-up" sales can set the market price for a very large proportion of the Canadian crop of the same commodity, and prevent any possibility of the Canadian producer selling any portion of his crop at premium prices, or even benefiting to a normal extent from a short-crop condition that might exist in Canada.

As they point out, because fee United States lies south of us the crop season is earlier. There is very little importation into the United States of fruit and vegetables from other countries to the south, so they get a good price at the start of their season. But at the end of their season, which is probably the beginning of our season here, they dump their surplus in our market thus reducing the price which our own producers are able to get. I am sure the minister is aware of what the Canadian Horticultural Council has asked for in this connection. It

is set out in paragraph 6 of the brief under the heading "Our Request":

Our request to the government on behalf of these primary producers is as follows:

That the Minister of National Revenue be given power to establish a fair market value, effective during the Canadian marketing season, for each kind of fruit or vegetable of a kind produced in Canada, for the purpose of preventing "dumping" on Canadian markets.

I want to emphasize those words "produced in Canada". That is all they are asking. Naturally, they are not asking for a dumping duty on fruits and vegetables which are not produced here.

There is another point I wish to raise regarding the importation of agricultural products from the United States. I have here a cellophane pack in which turkeys are imported into this country from the United States. It should be plain what this brand name is. These bags are probably manufactured in the United States. The turkeys are packed in them over there and sent to this country-12 million pounds of them last year-though not all of them in these particular bags. Here we have United States turkeys sold under a Canadian brand name.

That, in my opinion, amounts to misrepresentation to the consumers of this country, and something should be done about it. It may be strictly within the law as far as the law reads at present, but in that case the law should be changed.

Not only turkeys are involved in this sort of practice; many other products are being treated in the same way. Incidentally, the brand name is Maple Leaf. Underneath the label it says the product was packed for this particular company whose head office is in Toronto, Canada. As I say, this is a situation which is being repeated with respect to a number of other products. I am told, though I do not know this as a fact, that United States potatoes are being shipped across the border from Maine into New Brunswick, packaged in Canadian bags and sold in competition with our own Ontario, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island potatoes; and that the shippers get the benefit of the maritime freight subsidy in competing against our own product. Is that right? I would ask the minister to make sure that it does not happen in the future.

Generally speaking, when people think of subsidies they seem to assume that farmers are the only people who receive them. That is not true. But it is generally accepted in the large centres of population that subsidies are linked with farmers, and that farmers have been given something for nothing. I would like to point out that in six of the

Agricultural Products-Support Prices last ten years, of the total subsidies paid by this government over 50 per cent went to non-agricultural industries. Only in four years did over 50 per cent go to agriculture, and those four years included the years when foot-and-mouth disease was raging in Canada. If it had not been for that, then probably for eight years out of ten over 50 per cent of the sums paid out in subsidies would have gone to non-agricultural industries. I am talking of direct subsidies, not of indirect subsidies of which I could name many.

We come now to the support prices act that the government has in operation. A year ago the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) said on more than one occasion in the house

in fact, he emphasized it-that it was absolutely necessary to have 78 million pounds of butter in the pipe line in order that the price could be maintained.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I never used the term

"absolutely necessary".

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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PC

John Alpheus Charlton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlton:

I could go back to Hansard and check it. As a matter of fact, I think I have it right here.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I said it was advisable.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO MOVING SUPPLY MOTION
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT REQUESTING ESTABLISHMENT OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT PRICES
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April 9, 1957