The United Kingdom proposal of establishing a free trade area with Canada came as somewhat of a shock, not only to the Canadian people but to the Minister of Finance as well. As a matter of fact I doubt very much if he has as yet completely recovered from that shock. The United Kingdom proposal of course certainly pushed the Prime Minister's rather striking suggestion of diverting 15 per cent of our trade from the United States to the United Kingdom right out of the limelight and perhaps, Mr. Speaker, it is just as well that it is so.
It is also perhaps fortunate that the discussion at Mont Tremblant centred around the United Kingdom proposal rather than around the Canadian proposal because now it gives the Prime Minister the opportunity of deciding exactly how he is going to go about diverting the 15 per cent of trade from the United States to the United Kingdom without becoming dictatorial about it and without having to subsidize either directly or indirectly the importers for the disparity in prices, in standardization differences, in costs of production, etc.
There is also no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that the declaration of Lord Thorneycroft, who himself announced to the Canadian people the United Kingdom proposal of establishing
The Address-Mr. Cardin a free trade area with Canada, profoundly embarrassed our Minister of Finance. As a matter of fact the minister felt he had to give some explanation of his eloquent silence following Lord Thorneycroft's press release and more particularly, I think, after the minister had read some of the comments and opinions of our leading producers and workers. So, rather sheepishly, the minister made a statement which was reported by Mr. Blakely in the Montreal Gazette on October 10. Mr. Blakely refers to his interview with the Minister of Finance on the talks held at Mont Tremblant and the minister is quoted as saying:
In these talks we have, of course, been mindful at all times of the interests of the Canadian producers in the Canadian market ... I think this (free trade) proposal has been somewhat misunderstood in some quarters ... It will thus be seen that the interests of Canadian producers have not been overlooked and we have no intention of doing anything to prejudice the interest of our own Canadian producers and workmen.
I should certainly hope that the Minister of Finance of Canada would not intentionally do anything that might prejudice the interests of the workers and producers of Canada; and what interests could the minister have in mind other than those of the Canadian producers, the Canadian workers and the general Canadian economy? Surely the Minister of Finance would not jeopardize the economy of Canada to save the face of the Conservative party.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
There is one last subject about which I feel very strongly and which I wish to bring to the attention of the house; it concerns national unity. The fathers of Confederation realized very early that no province could achieve the full potential of its natural resources and attain a stable economy by itself. Only through effective co-operation with the interdependent economies of the other provinces could the maximum of prosperity be realized by the provinces individually and collectively.
In spite of the fact that some of the wealthier provinces now feel more economically independent and more financially powerful than in 1867, the situation is still exactly the same today. Not one province could afford to be cut off from the economic and social advantages given to it by the British North America Act. On the other hand each province has contributed in making Canada what it is, a relatively prosperous country with an enviable future; but it will be a truly great country only if it is united. It must be united not only constitutionally but morally with a maximum of understanding, co-operation, patriotism, loyalty and kinship among Canadians of all provinces.
216 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mr. Cardin
The greatest statesmen in our short history have striven to achieve this aim and indeed I am proud to state without fear of contradiction that one of the greatest champions of national unity has been and continues to be the leader of my party.
National unity is not only a possible goal but it is one which has been achieved to a very great sense during the last quarter century. There is no longer any real difference in the minds and hearts of true Canadians no matter what their ethnic origin may be. All have the same aspirations, all have the same patriotism and loyalty for Canada and for Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen. There are no second-class citizens in our country; all have equal rights and these are acknowledged and respected by all true Canadians.
The Prime Minister is certainly aware of all this and yet while paying lip service to national unity and pretending to be the great defender of human rights he did not hesitate for one moment for political purposes to play the nine provinces of Canada against the province of Quebec on grounds that had nothing to do with public administration. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister once again placed the interests of the Progressive Conservative party before the general interests and welfare of all Canadians.
Because of the great breadth of our country; because of its history, its economic, geographic and economic differences; because of its rapid industrial expansion which is not felt equally in all provinces, there are bound to be different points of view, different problems and different interests in the various areas of Canada. But none of these need be or are in fact obstacles to national unity as Her Majesty the Queen so eloquently stated in her talk to the Canadian people just about a week ago. In those very true words which the Queen spoke to the Canadian people there was more sound common sense than we have heard from members of the government for a very long time.
Canadians on the west coast are anxious to protect their salmon industry. In Alberta the problem is to exploit natural gas and oil as effectively as possible. In the prairie provinces the disposal of wheat is the major problem. The chief concern of the industrial provinces today is to protect both the producers and the workers. In the maritimes the problem is to protect the coal industry.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, these are the problems that face the people in the different provinces of Canada. In Quebec we wish to protect our culture and our rights, to worship as we see fit without being considered as different or apart from any other Canadian. It seems to me that that is not so much to ask. Just as it is in the interests of all Canadians, from an economic point of view, to see to it that the interests, the varied interests, of the various parts of Canada are protected and our respective problems solved, so too is it in the interests of all Canadians, from a democratic and from a human rights point of view, to respect and to protect the fundamental rights and freedom of culture, language and worship, not only of Canadians living in Quebec but of all minority groups living in Canada. Because, Mr. Speaker, without the former you cannot achieve economic stability in our country and without the latter we have not even got a real democracy in Canada. As I say, Mr. Speaker, anyone who disregards these fundamental principles and who is willing to jeopardize national unity for the sake of political advantage is rendering a very poor service indeed to Canada and to Canadians. I may say, also, Mr. Speaker, that in the long run he is not aiding but he is destroying his own political party.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot help referring briefly to the visit to Canada of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and of her worthy consort His Royal Highness Prince Philip. For the first time in the history of this country, the opening of parliament was presided over by the gracious Queen of Canada in person.
The opportunity afforded us, on this memorable occasion, of greeting the Queen, in whose person the governmental authority finds such a worthy representative, has been a very great honour for Canada. I am convinced that, throughout the various forms which our greetings took during those days, Her Majesty was conscious not only of the
loyalty of her Canadian people but also of their affection and of the love they were so anxious to show.
I was extremely gratified to be able to represent my constituents at those imposing ceremonies. As the member for Richelieu-Vercheres, I was extremely honoured to have been presented to her Gracious Majesty and I will cherish that memory as long as I live.
As I closely followed the traditional procedures of the opening of parliament and as I observed the innate dignity of the young Queen of Canada, I could not but feel once more that a tradition with its time-honoured splendours is an unappreciable source of cohesion, of strength, of legitimate national pride, of patriotism and of respect for constituted governmental authority.
As she spoke to the Canadian people, a week ago, Her Majesty showed herself to be really the Queen of Canada and of all Canadians.
The eloquent words of our sovereign have, to my mind, been another important step towards that national unity which strengthens the very real existence of this Canadian nation of ours, whose first principle is a deep respect for the culture, traditions and faith of every citizen of this country.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, first of all I should like to extend to you my congratulations on being chosen as the first commoner. I would like to congratulate the mover (Mr. Smith, Calgary South) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne who used words to the effect that the terror one has in making his maiden speech reduces itself to a straight fear when one rises to speak. I sympathize with him. I can assure him today that he has a lot of company in this house.
I also wish to congratulate the seconder, the hon. member for Bonaventure (Mr. Arsenault). I shall also take the opportunity at this time to thank the people of the Vegreville constituency for the privilege and the honour they have bestowed upon me for making it possible for me to rise in this house to present their problems and perhaps offer possible solutions.
I am told the tradition has been that a new member usually goes to considerable length in his first speech to describe his constituency. I will try to do this to a lesser degree. The problems that the people are faced with are of prime importance and should be brought to the attention of this house for immediate remedial action. At this time I shall only bring in enough history and statistics so that one may understand more
The Address-Mr. Stefura clearly the problems of my constituents and their possible solution and also so that he may be able to see more clearly the errors, the lack of appreciation on the part of our former government and the injustices that some of those people have received.
The Vegreville constituency is an agricultural area. Its history is new. In the same way that Canada is a young nation among nations the history of the Vegreville constituency is young as compared with that of other parts of Canada. Before 1890 very few white people knew its terrain or very much about it. There was the odd cattle ranch in the area that grew grass but, however, the biggest portion was very heavily wooded with timber and bush and was of no commercial value. To this wilderness came the first settler. In many instances it was necessary to cut some of the bush to make room for a little eight by ten shack because the only clearing was a slough or a bog. There were no roads or bridges nor any of the modern tools or equipment that one would consider an absolute necessity before going into a wilderness today.
The first settlers were of Anglo-Saxon origin, the English, the Scots, the Irish; the hardy people first settled in the Beaver lake area and as more of them came in, they settled in the Vegreville, Lamont, Manville, Andrew, Mindburn areas. The odd one, of course, took scattered holdings throughout. We then had a few French and German settlers arrive in the territory. They took up holdings not too far away from those who were already settled.
When the immigration policies of this country were changed to encourage more settlement and development in the new territories there was an influx of immigrants mostly from the central European countries which began about 1897. The Ukrainian people came in, the Polish people and, of course, more German people. Practically every European country was represented. The first Ukrainian settler who came to this country, Mr. Wasyl Elenik, who lived practically all his life since coming to this country in the Vegreville constituency is today buried in a small village that I call my home town of Chipman.
Today about 80 per cent of the people are of Ukrainian origin, of which I am also a descendant. We have never had any integration problems. There appears to be an unwritten law that is followed by practically all the people, a law that says more or less: I am proud of my nationality, I am proud of my church but I honour and highly respect the other man's nationality and the other man's church.
The Address-Mr. Stefura
Perhaps with the conditions under which they first began they could not afford otherwise. Today they are all proud to be Canadians, proud of the fact that they can enjoy the freedom and the privileges of this country, proud also of the fact that they went into a wilderness not too long ago and within their own lifetime have developed that wilderness into an area that is as fine an agricultural area as we have in this country.
It was not an easy task. They had no capital and in many cases they had little more than a strong back and a couple of strong arms. The process was slow and tedious. Their health today is perhaps not what it would have been had they chosen an easier life, but then again this country might not have been as prosperous as it is today had they decided to do so. This does not apply only to the pioneers and senior citizens of Vegreville constituency but also applies to a greater or lesser degree to all our senior citizens. If it were not for their hard work, their courage, their clear thinking we might be doing business today in the terms in which this country was doing business at the turn of the century instead of having a gross national product of over $30 billion.
It is, therefore, only fitting and proper that our government should give our senior citizens the consideration they are entitled to. When the government brings before the house its proposed legislation on old age pensions we trust that the amount will be at least $60 per month per person and that where there is need there should be an additional $20 if it is matched by the provinces.
In 1949 when old age pensions were raised to $40 a month our gross national product was approximately $16J billion. Today it is over $30 billion. It would be no more difficult for the government to pay $60 today than it was to pay $40 per month in 1949. Our senior citizens should not live in want or anxiety.
The Vegreville constituency is an agricultural area. In it I believe we have as fine and as productive land as there is in the country, bar none. With the exception of the brown soils found in the southern part of the province, we have every other type of soil found in the province, all of different productive capacities. This, coupled with the fact that most of the holdings are small, makes it urgent that government policies be more flexible to meet and face conditions as they actually are, rather than to formulate policies that they believe or think should exist under these conditions.
We do not have the really large farms that we find in the southern part of the province or in Saskatchewan, but what we call the larger farmers in my constituency, are faced with problems very similar to those faced by
the large farmers of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Therefore I repeat, that the urgency is there.
I do not want to bore you with too many statistics at this time, but I should like to mention briefly what has happened to the agricultural industry. From 1951 to 1954 net farm income was cut almost in half, about 45 per cent. The situation since then has improved only slightly. In a lot of cases some of the farm people have been forced to live off depreciation. I would ask you, sir, what would the situation be in this country if other industries were forced to take a similar cut? What would be the situation if labour had been asked to take a 45 per cent cut in salary?
I would ask the ministers and the other members of the house to place themselves in a similar position and in similar circumstances where the prospects of improvement were not too bright and definitely very slow in coming. If there were a power above, that through its bungling and its policies or lack of policies, forced the ministers to take a 45 per cent cut in their salaries, if such a power were to force the members of the house who say the farmers want to be coddled or want hand-outs to take a cut in their salaries in similar proportions, I am sure that the heated accusations I heard thrown across the floor of the house by former ministers and some of the present ministers would seem like a Sunday school picnic. I am also certain that they would do enough hollering and raise enough of a ruckus to be heard in the high heavens. Yet a lot of people expect the farmers to accept such a condition and say nothing about it.
I am happy to see in the speech from the throne that the government has suggested it will introduce remedial legislation this session. To these measures we will be giving our support but we reserve the right to criticize constructively and, yes, to criticize severely if the legislation is too slow in bringing about action or is insufficient to assure the maximum stability of income to Canadian farmers and to re-establish their rightful place in our economy.
In the Vegreville constituency roughly 90 per cent of the people are dependent either directly or indirectly on the agricultural industry. When that industry was set back, through no fault of its own it affected every other business there. It affected the merchants, the fuel dealers, the implement dealers and so on right down the line. Some of these businessmen have told me that their sales have been reduced by about 20 per cent and in some instances by almost 30 per cent. They have extended credit to the limit and can go no further. In turn, they are being pressed by their creditors. It is not a healthy
situation, nor is it one that should exist when the rest of our economy is enjoying a much higher level of prosperity.
The tendency has been to lay the blame on the farmer. This is something I most heartily disagree with, and I again ask the house, Mr. Speaker, is it the fault of the farmer who has produced the food that the people of the world require or is it the fault of statesmen who have failed to keep pace with the scientific and technical knowledge of our age? Science has given the farmers knowledge, has given them more modern tools and equipment in order that they may be able to produce more efficiently, whereas our government's policies are still in the horse and buggy days.
The farm people have been told by the Food and Agricultural Organization founded at Hot Springs, in which Canada has representatives, that farmers must grow more food if the people of the world are to be fed. They must grow almost two blades of grass where one grew before. They must increase the production of cereals such as wheat, rice and the like by at least 50 per cent. They are also told that the world wheat supply on hand is only enough to last about three months if the people who so desperately need it were able to get it. Two out of three people go to bed hungry every day.
Our governments in the past have talked of surpluses. It has been said that the reason prices have dropped and the farmer finds himself in economic straits at this time is that he has overproduced. When the question was raised at the Food and Agricultural Organization, can modern agriculture supply the real need of human beings for food, the answer given them was yes, if the hobbles are taken off agriculture. What of the surpluses, it was asked. There are none, said the delegates. What had been called surpluses were surpluses only in relation to purchasing power and not in relation to the need of human beings.
Full production must be the goal so long as there are people anywhere in the world who are in need of food.
This idea did not have the support of the former government, as was made quite clear by the former prime minister in a speech at Regina some months ago. His message was quite clear. Wheat should not be produced, he said in effect, in excess of what could be sold in the ordinary course of business. If more were produced, then the farmer himself would be the chief offender. I have noted that according to the press there may be a slight inclination on the part of the present government to follow the same policy. The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Churchill) stated a short time ago that farmers should produce less wheat or perhaps
The Address-Mr. Stefura convert it into livestock. This, in effect, would simply mean that the farmer would be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.
The farmers and businessmen are not the only ones who are adversely affected by a depressed agricultural industry. Farm people, and others as well, find it difficult to meet their everyday obligations. They find it difficult to meet their hospital bills and doctor bills, and the hospitals are also running into difficulties that should not exist. Some of these problems may mean the difference between life and death to some of our people, but I hope such a situation will never arise. Perhaps I should mention at this time that the first hospital was built in the Vegreville constituency through the kindness and generosity of the United Church and some of the local settlers shortly after the first settlers arrived. Today there are two hospitals, one of which has grown to be quite an institution. I am speaking, of course, of the Archer Memorial Hospital at Lamont. It is an institution of which the local people, as well as many outside the constituency, are very proud. I might mention that again, within the space of not too many years, the doctors of this country have seen fit to choose a fine man from this hospital, Dr. M. A. R. Young, as the president of the Canadian Medical Association.
We have some other fine hospitals that are being operated by the Catholic churches and nursing orders. Some are municipal hospitals, but all of them are doing a wonderful job. Practically all of them are running into financial difficulties because of the inflationary trend in our economy and the depressed position of our agricultural industry.
I regret very much that there was no mention in the speech from the throne of a health program. The highly flaunted national health scheme, proposed by the previous administration, apparently has been sidetracked by the present administration. Does this mean that the Canadian people must wait for several years before they have a workable health program?
There is mention in the speech from the throne of certain changes in some of the taxation statutes, and of a federal-provincial conference to discuss fiscal relations as well as to seek a better understanding or arrangement of many aspects of public finance. As a former reeve of a rural municipality and a councillor today, I can well appreciate the many problems that face the junior levels of government across Canada. Changes will indeed be welcome. When we find that people are taxed in some cases beyond their ability to pay their municipal taxes; when we find
The Address-Mr. Stefura the people paying six times the amount of their municipal taxes to the federal government through direct and hidden taxes, certain changes are long overdue. When we find that almost 25 cents out of every dollar the people earn must go to taxes, we begin to wonder how much farther we can go. The exorbitant amounts that the people of Canada pay to the federal treasury through hidden taxes is one of the major causes of the inflationary trend in our economy. I trust that the present administration will propose legislation at this session to rectify this unfair situation.
It was with a great deal of interest that I read the interprovincial farm union's brief of August 15, as presented to the Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) and members of the cabinet, and found that Canada had lost approximately 48,000 farm units. It was with a great deal of interest also that I listened to the questions on the orders of the day and to the debate in committee of supply last week concerning the seriousness of our unemployment situation. It was most interesting because I found that Vegreville constituency, according to the 1956 census, had lost approximately 4,600 people as compared with the 1951 census figures. Last fall we lost a few more. This year a large portion of the Vegreville riding has had poor crops, and the result will be a loss of many more people. These figures do not include the many people who put in their crops and then were forced to supplement their farm income by seeking employment in other industries in Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan or in the oil fields. Should the present condition of agriculture continue then the trend towards unemployment will become worse.
This brings to my mind the unfairness of the Prairie Farm Assistance Act. In areas where there has been a crop failure-and as I said we will have a fair-sized area in this situation in my riding this year
and it becomes necessary for the farmer to seek other temporary employment to keep his family, we find he does not qualify for prairie farm assistance. Even though these conditions exist, nevertheless he must make his contributions under the act from every bushel of grain he sells. The inconsistency in the act is most unfair. There are other stipulations also which make the unfairness particularly noticeable where the farm units are small.
The interprovincial farm union council has brought out quite well the factors that have contributed to the present emergency. I trust that I may have the privilege of speaking on the subjects of cash advances, the two-price system for wheat and others as they are
brought before this house. I would ask that the government bring these forward at the first opportunity.
I have before me a clipping from the Toronto Globe and Mail. The headline reads, "P.C.'s Action to Match Party's Vote Pledges Says Confident Prime Minister". In one part of the article it is stated that he again made it abundantly clear he expected the cooperation of opposition parties during the session to carry out his government's legislative program for the benefit of all Canada. I have here as well a folder entitled "Progressive Conservative Agricultural Policy", with its thirteen points. On it there appears to be a reproduction of the Prime Minister's signature. I can say to the Prime Minister that I will be giving not only my fullest cooperation, but should the government forget these promises to the Canadian farmers to re-establish them to their rightful position in our economy I may remind him from time to time of those promises. Perhaps on some other day, Mr. Speaker, I shall be able to speak again.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, in rising for the first time in this house to take part in the debates, may I congratulate the mover (Mr. Smith, Calgary South) and seconder (Mr. Arsenault) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. They acquitted themselves in a manner that speaks well for their constituencies and assures them of a healthy future in this house. May I also congratulate you, sir, on your elevation to your high office.
The constituency that I have the honour to represent lies in the southeastern part of Manitoba.
Its people are from almost every national origin, and they live and work together in the true spirit of Canadianism. Whether they be Mennonite or Ukrainian, French or British, Scandinavian or Polish, they have all made their contribution to the social, cultural and economic life of that part of Canada.
The progress that has been made in that constituency is characteristic of its people. The free enterprise philosophy that has built the town of Steinbach is in contrast to the co-operative philosophy of the people of Altona. Both are thriving communities, and both have developed industries that do business all over Canada.
The French-speaking Canadians have blended their culture and planning into such communities as St. Pierre, St. Malo, and St. Jean Baptiste while the people of hardy Ukrainian stock, despite many hardships, have thrived.
Although its products are varied, ranging from special crops to lumber, this is an agricultural constituency, and its economic destiny depends on the farm. The farmers in Provencher, like the farmers everywhere in Canada, have been caught in the giant squeeze, and recently many sad changes have taken place. Not since the thirties have we seen the awful spectacle of abandoned farms. But last year, they began to appear again. My constituency has suffered heavy losses due to excessive rains during the past few years, and some of the municipalities are in dire need of some form of assistance.
Having said this, and remembering the tragic flood of 1950, it may sound strange to say that one of the major drawbacks to the establishment of industry is the lack of a sufficient potable water supply. The people of this area are concerned to the extent that they have taken steps to plan for a water system throughout the area. This program, when it gets under way, will pay for itself, but assistance will be needed to get it started, and for that assistance I am sure we can depend upon the co-operation of the Department of Agriculture.
Being a farmer it is only natural that I am concerned about the future of agriculture, and I propose to deal with the problem in general terms because I feel that the situation is a general one. There are certain fundamental things that must be preserved, and I believe they could have been preserved had the necessary policies been implemented in time. I am afraid that some of the measures that must be taken now may conflict with a long-range policy. This is regrettable but, under the circumstances, necessary. Our objective should be to create an atmosphere that will enable the farmer to compete with the rest of the economy, and not to place him in the position where he becomes a permanent ward of the government.
The problem with regard to agriculture is many pronged. Frequently I feel that in talking of the "problem" there is a tendency to forget that we are talking about the lives and destinies of men and women and that instead we are talking about economic factors, about pawns in the broad sweep of the development of Canada's resources.
But then we have in the alternative those who talk about agriculture only with tears streaming down their faces, those who damage our case for an equitable deal by overselling. The very natural reaction to a speech that indicates that all farmers are desperate, and indeed hungry, is that the situation cannot be that bad. The reaction is to reject even the legitimate claims of our farming industry in both the east and the west.
The Address-Mr. Jorgenson
Mr. Speaker, I have not risen here in order to make extravagant demands for agriculture. But I will say soberly and sincerely that our farmers are missing out on the boom, that they are failing and, indeed, for a number of years have failed to share in the prosperity that has marked this nation.
I believe that I can say with the utmost confidence that the eyes of the farmers of Canada are turned toward this parliament. They know what we should know, namely that a depressed agriculture slows the economic heart beat of the nation. They know that the farms of any nation are the rearing grounds for those who go on to accomplish great things in their nation; and they know, as we must know, that if we allow the economic and social plant of this nation to wither we shall be responsible for the slowing of the cultural as well as the economic growth of Canada.
At six o'clock the house took recess.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, when the house arose at six o'clock I was saying that this government could not allow the economic and social plant of our farmers to wither, for to do so would be to endanger the cultural and economic growth of Canada.
I do not wish to labour these points, but I do wish to make it clear that in my view there is an even higher claim than the claim of equity for agriculture which should dictate our policies here, and that is the claim that only in a truly secure and stable agriculture can the continuing growth of a great nation be assured.
Food surpluses, and especially wheat surpluses are very much discussed today. The system of cash advances on farm-stored grain that is being proposed to this assembly will take much of the sting from this surplus situation. And I believe that the long-run policies of this government and a measure of true leadership in agriculture will finally deal with this problem.
It is roundly predicted that some shift out of wheat acreage will serve merely to remove our surplus problem to other farm products. In part this may prove to be true. But I am quite satisfied that the problem of surpluses will never be solved without an effort, and if it does result in the need for some adjustments I am sure they can be made.
But surpluses are not a problem in all parts of Canada or, indeed, in all sections of the
The Address-Mr. Jorgenson prairie provinces. The one thing that farmers have in common across Canada is high production costs. Production costs are high only relatively to the prices of the products that a farmer has to sell. As far as the man on the land is concerned, this can be attacked from either end-prices can go up or production costs can come down. But as long as both continue at their present level the farmer is squeezed, and squeezed almost beyond economic endurance.
It should be clear by now that agriculture in this country has never been a prosperous industry. There have been short bursts of relative prosperity. For a short interval at the end of world war I the relationship of costs and returns was favourable to the farmer. After the end of world war II and especially around 1951, on the prairies at least, we knew a brief respite from economic pressure on our farms. But let us make no mistake: the normal destiny of a farmer in Canada is to know more of depression than of prosperity.
We have perhaps been prone to assume that this is inevitable. Certainly policies that now exist do not grapple with the fundamental sickness of the farm economy. Indeed one of the primary reasons we are in power as a government and the previous government is not is because the problem of the farmer has not been dealt with.
Why has it never been resolved? I believe I would be safe in saying that it has never really been confronted. It has never been grappled with because, in the counsels of government, the consumer point of view- the view that food should be cheap-has prevailed. The hard fact is that the people of Canada are buying their food for less than the cost of production; the people of Canada are being subsidized by the farmers of Canada, the one economic group that is least able to afford to subsidize anyone.
Where is this money for the subsidization of the consuming public coming from? Farmers are borrowing it from the brief spurt of prosperity they enjoyed in the early 1950's. For a short period farmers were able to invest rather heavily in capital goods. Indeed it was essential that they should replace the worn out machinery of the 1930's and during the war years and since millions of dollars have been invested in machinery alone. Now this investment has slumped; farmers are not purchasing capital goods to the same extent, nor are they setting money aside in a depreciation account to replace the machinery as it wears out.
Farmers are wearing out their capital assets without arranging for a capital fund to equal the wear, a process which the economists
would refer to as net disinvestment. Their farms, in effect, are becoming worth less. And they are doing this, unwittingly and unwillingly, in order that they may subsidize the Canadian consumers.
Is such a situation desirable? A case could be made in its favour; in my view it would be a false case, but there are those who might sincerely support it. The fact is that cheap food is a benefit to 85 per cent of the people in Canada, the non-farming public. I can very well see that a consumers' point of view might prevail; and I can certainly see where powerful production forces might well think it desirable from an economic viewpoint that food for the immense labour force in Canada should be cheap. In the final analysis, cheap food presumably means that the earnings of labour will go further in providing a decent standard of living, and the cost of production of many goods may be reduced.
The gain to the economy when that gain is based on a low standard of living for the farmers in the economy is an entirely false gain. The farmers cannot be expected to underwrite the prosperity of the nation; if we must have cheap food then it must be by design, not by exploitation.
Under a laissez faire government, the standard of living of the farm community will for most of the time be low. This lesson has been harshly learned in the past half century in Canada. The competitive position of agriculture is weak. There is free competition between farm producers. Farmers are numerically weak and small in number. I believe it can be categorically stated that if the government stands idly by the relative position of the farmer will deteriorate further rather than improve.
What, then, is the solution to the difficult and pressing needs of the farmers. The solution, ultimately, must be government intervention
policies that will weigh the economy slightly in the farmers' favour, that will correct the imbalance that now exists and equate the real farm income position with the income of other segments of our prosperous economy. Thinking will have to be in terms of short-run policies and long-run policies.
At the moment the need for cash in the farm communities is critical. I would hesitate to suggest that the net income position of the western farmer is worse than that of the eastern farmer, but the western farmer has been unable to convert a substantial part of his net income into cash income. In other words, bins are flooding with unsold grain. The cash advance policy that this government has introduced will convert, at least, part of
this net income into cash, and in this way the western farmer, in terms of spendable income, will be brought to a position parallel with that of farmers in other parts of Canada.
That is a short-run policy for the western prairie producer. But agriculture across Canada is in a strained position, and, as I have pointed out, farmers are subsidizing the remainder of the consuming public. I am confident that no consumer in Toronto or Vancouver, in Winnipeg or in Montreal, in Edmonton or in Halifax would knowingly visit a low standard of living upon the men and women who produce their milk and their bread, their butter and their eggs. They sincerely fail to realize that the price they pay falls short of covering the cost of producing this food. If they ever came to realize it fully I am sure they would willingly pay the real costs.
I believe price supports must be raised to the point that will, in the short run, give a farmer the cost of producing the food he sells, plus a reasonable return. I think that if this is done with adequate explanation to the consuming public they will agree that it is just.
Grains are, of course, a special case. A minimum floor price-the initial payment- must be maintained. But when we come to the perishable foods that are consumed primarily upon the domestic market, then clearly the full production cost must be met.
Hon. members may tell me that we will arrive at incentive prices; that great surpluses will appear in meat and butter and the other alternatives to the small grains. To this I can only reply that we must put our salesmen out and try to sell our production and try to find new uses for our land in the growing of new crops and produce and the selling of as diverse a package as is humanly possible. If in spite of all this some surpluses do appear we will have to deal with the problems as they arise.
We have problems now. The problems that some already visualize will simply be of another form and, presumably, will be at least as susceptible to solution as the difficulties that now exist with regard to small grains.
I also think I should point out that an increase in the production of livestock anywhere in Canada would be made at the expense of the small grains. Land resources are limited, and increased herds of cattle or hogs, or bigger flocks of sheep or poultry anywhere in Canada would be made at the expense of prairie wheat acres. So although we might face some possibility of an increase
The Address-Mr. Jorgenson in supplies of some of the protective foods, it would almost inevitably be made at the expense of some wheat acres.
The longer term policies for agriculture are the great challenge. May I quote from an article written by Mr. Ralph Hedlin, an agricultural economist which appeared in a recent issue of The Country Guide, a statement which I think sums up the needs of our industry:
Agriculture can never be legislated or subsidized into a position of secure economic equality, at least without fundamental changes in the national farm plan and in national consumer attitudes. In the long run, the land in Canada must produce the food that is wanted by the people of Canada, and the people of Canada must be prepared to pay a reasonable price for it.
Consumers must be prepared to pay a reasonable price for farm products, a price which at the same time will be economic. But farmers must be in a position where they can hold down the cost of producing through the use of the most effective and modem devices. At the moment many of us cannot use such devices because we lack the essential capital.
In the short run we need income assistance, but in the long run we need reasonable prices, good markets and capital resources that will permit us to help ourselves. In the interim this will mean creative government policies and assistance.
I do not propose today to deal with the long-term policies in exhaustive detail because I hope opportunities may exist for further discussion at a later date. However, I do wish to outline some of the policies that are of first importance.
A realistic credit policy is a pressing need. A program of the general type of the Veterans' Land Act would be of great assistance to Canadian farmers. I do not believe I am giving credit where it is not due when I say that this program has been eminently successful. It has provided the farmer with a qualified consultative service on his production problems and the organizing of his farm enterprises and has also provided him with the capital at reasonable interest rates for making his new projects efficient. An extensive credit program along these lines would be of immense value to Canadian agriculture.
Crop insurance should be examined in detail. Price supports will provide income for those who produce but an actuarially sound crop insurance program would meet the critical needs of those who through no fault of their own suffer a crop failure. Many such people find themselves in the position of needing relief. I believe that a well qualified royal commission should be named to
The Address-Mr. Jorgenson quickly and completely examine the economic possibilities of starting a farm production insurance program, perhaps initially with modest coverage and on a modest scale. With even modest assistance to production and prices the destitution prevalent in the agricultural industry today could be alleviated and perhaps eventually avoided.
Marketing research should also be increased. It is my earnest hope that when the commission on price spreads is named it will have something of value to say on this subject. Admittedly marketing research is not directly related to price spreads as such but the whole question of farm marketing might fall under their scrutiny; this certainly would be my hope.
This government must also consider new markets and new products. If necessary the agricultural attaches at our embassies should be increased in number and markets for our farm products should be sought in the four corners of the world. If we find any new markets for products that we do not grow, our market specialists and researchers should co-operate to devise strains that can be grown in Canada and marketed from our farms at advantageous prices.
This government should co-operate closely with extension agencies in the provinces. I fully realize that extension is under the authority of the provinces according to the provisions of the British North America Act but we can at least co-operate in helping farmers to combine their undertakings more effectively.
One point which should have been clear long ago is that a really effective farm extension policy will have to wait for the organization of larger local units of administration in a number of the provinces. In Manitoba and in Saskatchewan, for example, we have small nine-township municipalities. It is too small an area for most types of administration and much too small for the proper organization at the local level of a really effective farm program.
There are many points with which I have not dealt in any detail, if at all. Producermarketing boards should receive every encouragement from the government. Agricultural research and agricultural education are vital and co-operation with the provinces in these fields should be invited. The annual farm conference should be a real planning conference and farm leaders should return from it fully conversant with the production needs of their industry. Farm leaders and farm organizations both should be invited to co-operate with the government in designing farsighted policies.
The farm industry is essential to the health of this nation. It is not healthy itself at this time and therefore cannot transmit to the rest of the nation that which it lacks. I ask nothing for agriculture that I do not think is vital to the continued well-being of the entire nation. We cannot build a strong economy on a weak foundation. Agriculture is one of the cornerstones of our economy. A powerful structure cannot be built upon an ailing cornerstone.
The needs of agriculture should be of concern to every person in this country. I am not pleading only for the agriculturists of Canada, I am pleading for the well-being of the entire nation; therefore I say a farm policy which accomplishes the relative prosperity of our farm community is one of the really pressing needs of Canada and one of the grave responsibilities of this government.
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Mr. Speaker, at the outset of my remarks I would like to join with those hon. members who have preceded me in offering my sincere congratulations to the mover of the address in reply to the speech from the throne, the hon. member for Calgary South (Mr. Smith) on his good performance in delivering his speech. I wish him good luck. I think his constituents must be happy about the able way he delivered his first speech in this chamber.
May I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that I fully concur in what has been said by all hon. members who have extended congratulations to you on your election as Speaker of the House of Commons.
Mr. Speaker, at the outset of the few remarks I propose to make, I feel I should thank my constituents for the marvellous support they have once more given me and for the confidence they have shown in the Liberal party, at the general election, last June 10. Having been returned with close to 80 per cent of the vote in my county, I think I can say that my constituents have brought to the Liberal cause vigorous support and keen interest. This also means, I think, that they have approved the measures adopted by the last parliament.
During the sessions of the last parliament, of which I was a member, that is since January 10, 1956, I had occasion to raise a few problems with regard to which the people I represent would like some concrete action on the part of the government. I have already urged amendments to the personal income tax legislation for farmers who operate their farm on a family basis. I raise this problem once more, even though I now find myself sitting in opposition.
In my opinion the demands of the various local groups of the Catholic Farmers' Union throughout the province of Quebec, in this regard, are perfectly fair and reasonable. They should meet with favourable response from the government. I have more particularly in mind at this point the formula used for calculating the revenue of a farmer who operates his farm with his sons. This work done in common is such that, to my mind, the total revenue of a farm, under those conditions, cannot properly be charged to the head of the family alone, whether the children have been paid in money or otherwise since, in the final analysis, the farm becomes the property of the whole family.
At the last session of parliament I also raised in this house the question of decentralizing the unemployment insurance offices, and here I want to congratulate my colleagues the hon. member for Dorchester (Mr. Landry) and the hon. member for Beauce (Mr. Poulin) for their remarks in that sense. The purpose of such decentralization would be to put the offices within easier reach of the unemployed and to facilitate the quick processing of their claims. At that time I had pointed out, and I repeat it today, that the unemployed is in urgent need of money and should not be forced to cover great distances to reach the unemployment office in order to submit his claim.
The decentralization of unemployment insurance offices is closely related to the essential purpose of the act which created the commission, that is to say, assistance to the unemployed while seeking a new job, especially assistance to relieve seasonal unemployment which exists particularly in areas such as the one I represent. I am convinced that such improvements can be brought about without further increasing the burden of administrative costs of the Unemployment Insurance Act.
I also wish to point out to the house the fact that there is at this time in my constituency, as in various centres throughout the country a considerable number of workers who will not be able to find sufficient work to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits, even seasonal benefits during the coming winter. In this regard I do wish to draw the attention of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr) to this problem so that the regulations for the application of the act be amended in order to allow unemployed people greater facility in qualifying for seasonal benefits.
Mr. Speaker, under present regulations, an unemployed person cannot benefit unless he has fifteen weeks worth of stamps in his book since the month of March before his 96698-15
The Address-Mr. Laflamme application. At the present time there are -and this is something which has never happened before to my knowledge-a great number of people in my riding who have not worked for more than six months in a single year, and I doubt very much that they will be able to find work before next spring.
The Unemployment Insurance Act should, to my mind, be continually readjusted to meet the present needs and those of the immediate future. I therefore think I am speaking for many of my fellow citizens when I say that if seasonal benefits are not made more accessible, a large proportion of Canadian workers will, apart from being unemployed in winter -which is already the case of quite a number -be barred from all help.
About this very matter of unemployment, I should like to draw the attention of hon. members to the motion of non-confidence tabled by the Socialist group of this house, upbraiding the present government for its failure to apply the necessary measures with regard to unemployment. Allow me to say, Mr. Speaker, that I consider this motion on the part of the Socialist group as mere publicity, at this stage, because it does not agree with the statement made by the leader of the Socialist group, on the day following the last elections, when he said that the Conservative party should be given the opportunity of running the country for a certain time.
Now, two days only after the opening of the present session, the Socialist party propose an amendment liable to involve the dissolution of parliament and consequently, a new general election. I would therefore ask the Socialists whether they are not actually bracing themselves for another electoral campaign or, at least, if they do not admit that their amendment would prevent the house from sitting and enacting the necessary legislation.
That is why I say that the statements made by the leader of the CCF party, in the wake of the last election, and his deeds and gestures are in fact contradictory and can but serve a publicity purpose.
Like all my colleagues in the opposition, Mr. Speaker, I have heard the numerous promises of the Conservative party concerning tax cuts; considering that it would be difficult for the Conservative party not to make good on at least some of these promises, I would like to suggest that all school and university fees be made deductible and that the law be amended so that school teachers, whose salary is below $3,000 in the case of bachelors and below $5,000 in the case of married people, be totally exempted from income tax. In my opinion, this would provide the government,
The Address-Mr. Laflamme under the constitution, with means to help the education and instruction of our youth and would also, on the one hand, encourage parents to give their children a higher education and, on the other hand, would promote the recruiting of teachers throughout the country.
I have followed with interest, Mr. Speaker, the last campaign of the Conservative party and I have also found that the spokesman of that political party expressed different opinions according to the place where the said opinions were voiced. We all know the result of the last general election which was, in my opinion, a direct consequence of that double thinking of the Conservative party which does destroy the very foundations of national unity, a goal which has always been and still is one of the fundamental objectives of the policies of the party I support.
I have been shocked, as were several others, by certain statements made by Mr. Alvin Hamilton, of Saskatoon, leader of the Conservative party of the province, when he said, during last election campaign-repeating by the way, what had been said by the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Churchill) that the government of the country could be made up and did not need Quebec to govern. And while the Conservatives were boasting that they are the confederation party, which had as its essential aims the union of the two great racial groups composing the nation, they were jeopardizing this union which is essential to the development of our country. This conservative thinking was again exemplified in the political pamphlets distributed even in the province of Quebec, and representing 26 important figures of the Conservative party, among whom we cannot find one single Canadian of French origin belonging to a group which includes nevertheless one-third of the population of our country. This provocating attitude of the Conservative party is again confirmed by the formation of the present cabinet with only a token representation of French-speaking members.
It is an insult to five million Canadians, and all the flattering speeches made by Conservatives for Quebec consumption have nothing in common with reality.
I wish to take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to congratulate the hon. member from Parkdale (Mr. Maloney) to whom I listened carefully this afternoon, for the wonderful statements he made to this end, and, as all the hon. members in this house, I look forward to the time when the Conservative party translates all its fine ideas into action.
The best and finest years of harmony and economic expansion Canadians have known have been under the Liberal governments which have always based their fate upon the undeniable fact that Canada is a great country, because two important racial groups had decided in 1867, to work together to the composition and development of our country as a nation.
Those who, among French-speaking Conservatives, have accepted to play a token part in the present government, are acting detrimentally, to my mind, not only to their fellow citizens but to their own party, which is guilty of more than refusing to work for national unity. When in 1930 the Conservative party came into power, it was with the support of a good majority of the people of Quebec; but since 1935, the Liberal party has obtained majorities not only in Quebec but in nearly all provinces. The formation of the present cabinet constitutes a major insult to our whole history and a humiliating blow against a third of our population. This we will never forget.
I condemn the Conservative theory under which the Prime Minister himself (Mr. Diefenbaker) and his Minister of Justice (Mr. Fulton) say to the province of Quebec: give us more members and you will have more ministers. Accepting such an understanding would be extremely humiliating and would go against our democratic freedoms, for, until now, all members of this house have been chosen by the will of the people, and whatever their number, no government may commit any grave discrimination with regard to a racial group in this country.
We must keep in mind that our country has a dual ethnical character and to put an end to proportional representation within the cabinet would gravely affect national unity. The present Conservative government had some members of French origin elected in other provinces of Canada, but none of them were actually asked to join the government. Moreover, supposing a larger Conservative representation from Quebec would bring about a more numerous representation within the cabinet, it must nevertheless be kept in mind that, as all ministerial posts are filled, what would the Prime Minister do in case of the re-election of all his ministers, if he wanted to find portfolios in order to give the French element a larger representation on the morrow of the next election? In any event, I repeat, every important post has been filled. My objections have regard both to the prominence of those posts and to the number of French-speaking Conservative representatives in the cabinet. The statements made by the Prime Minister and by his Minister of Justice
are very unfortunate indeed. This type of tactics can only be interpreted by the people of Quebec as meaning: "Vote Conservative and then we will recognize you."
Of the three Progressive Conservative members who were returned from the Prime Minister's own province, two have been appointed to the cabinet. Seven Progressive Conservative members were returned from British Columbia, of which three were appointed to the cabinet. I fail to see how the same argument cannot hold true for the province from which I come.
Mr. Speaker, in closing these few remarks I simply wish to say that I was quite impressed by the attitude taken by the member for Parkdale and the member for Timmins (Mr. Martin).
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Mr. Speaker, the lesson has been taught the Conservatives for the past twenty years, that is to say the Liberals have been teaching the Conservatives a lesson in bilingualism for twenty years.
I merely wanted to tell the house how gratifying it was to me to see that two representatives of different parties in this house took the trouble of expressing themselves in both official languages of this country, and I congratulate them sincerely. Their gesture was a commendable one, which should be repeated. Such a gesture was started and stressed, as it will be in the future, by the party to which I belong, the Liberal party.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY