December 20, 1957

LIB

Edward Blake Huffman

Liberal

Mr. E. B. Huffman (Kent, Oni.):

Mr. Speaker, no doubt the minister realizes by this time that his predecessor in office may have had some uncomfortable times in dealing with the complex problems of agriculture. I did not speak on the resolution. I was one of those who over the period of the past six or seven weeks have been looking to the

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization early introduction of the bill which is now before us. It was my hope that if the bill was going to do all it was expected to do, and all it was intended to do, for agriculture, it would be debated as soon as possible. I was prepared to forego any comment at the resolution stage in the hope, as I say, that an early implementation of its proposals would assist in solving some of the difficulties facing the agricultural industry. I did prepare some notes in readiness to take part in the debate on the resolution stage. Those notes were discarded. Then, on the introduction of the bill some further notes were prepared, but with the amendments the minister announced at the beginning of this sitting I thought I had better hear all the speeches from all parts of the house and then speak currently in case there might be further amendments before I had a chance to do so.

Mr. Speaker, we seem to be moving from precedent to precedent. First, we had a budget that was not a budget; then we had a ruling in this house that made a precedent as well, and now we have a bill that is not a bill. Nonetheless, I should like to congratulate the members of the farm organizations who have very effectively presented their thinking to the government and to hon. members in all parts of the house. This has resulted in changes being made to the bill, and I think the minister will be able to detect that further representations and requests will be made before the bill is passed in whatever form it may finally appear for approval.

This afternoon we heard the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch) say there was really no hurry about passing this bill because the government could do anything it might want to do under the bill now in effect, namely the Agricultural Prices Support Act, and that for this reason he thought his party would support the amendment which is before the house at this time.

I was always concerned about the provisions of the Agricultural Support Act, I think hon. members opposite will recall when I sat just further down on this side of the house-I have never sat on the other side of the house-I told the government of which I was a supporter that there were some problems with regard to agriculture, and I did make some recommendations to the previous government, so anything I say at this time will not be different from what I said on previous occasions.

We have heard a great deal said today about flexible prices, parity prices and so on. I should just like to refer to the remarks which were made by the Prime Minister

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization (Mr. Diefenbaker) on one occasion. I cannot find the exact quotation at the moment, but the Prime Minister's words were reported in the Ottawa Journal. He was speaking about what proposals the new administration would make for agriculture and his remarks contained reference to three proposals. One was that they would restore the markets for farm products, the second was that they would provide security, and the third that they would give assurance to the farmers, and all of this would be based on the relationship between the cost of the things the farmer had to buy and the price at which he had to sell.

Now, I should like to refer to three words in that reference, the word "restore", the word "guarantee" and the word "assure". It was very interesting to hear the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. Rowe) speak, because always when he spoke in this house on previous occasions he spoke about our lost markets in the United Kingdom. Well, he did not go so far tonight, I am sure everyone will agree on that. I was able to get some figures as to the price at which beef is being provided to the United Kingdom at this time by Australia-hind quarters, grade A, $17.60. Everyone knows that live beef is selling in this country at that price and higher, so it would be impossible for Canadian producers, unless the government was prepared to subsidize the production of beef very substantially, to recapture this market which we have been accused of losing. Again, I notice that Denmark is supplying bacon to the United Kingdom at 33 cents a pound, and I think everyone knows that the price of bacon in this country is a great deal higher than that, so again it would have to be subsidization at a level which few people in this country would be prepared to accept. But this phrase about recapturing lost markets was a good phrase to go around the country with, and I think it was quite effective. Nonetheless it was not one which had a real practical application.

The other word I referred to was "security". I listened when the Minister of Agriculture was presenting the resolution preceding this bill and I recall a reference he made to butter which was put forward as a very simple example on the basis of which he hoped everyone would understand the intent, proposal and formula of this bill. With regard to butter, he said, we would take an easy figure of 60 cents, and he added: we will assure the Canadian people that the price will not fall below 80 per cent of that figure, namely 48 cents.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

I said that the guaranteed price would be better than 60 cents.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

You said what he said too.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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LIB

Edward Blake Huffman

Liberal

Mr. Huffman:

I also recall that the minister said this as well: you take the base period and you can fix a price at 105 per cent of the base, or 120 per cent of the base but that the assured price would not be less.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

That is not assured price, that is the absolute mandatory floor which is always there under the legislation. It is not the price set for a year ahead.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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LIB

Edward Blake Huffman

Liberal

Mr. Huffman:

You said the guaranteed price would not be less than 80 per cent.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

No, that is not the guaranteed price. That is the mandatory floor price.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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LIB

Edward Blake Huffman

Liberal

Mr. Huffman:

The minister in his own words mentioned 120 per cent. That was the figure he used as a maximum.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

No, I did not. I said it could be anything.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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LIB

Edward Blake Huffman

Liberal

Mr. Huffman:

You said it could be 120 per cent or it could be this other figure.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

That was used as an illustration. I did not say it was the maximum.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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LIB

Edward Blake Huffman

Liberal

Mr. Huffman:

All right, we will take your illustration but there was a difference of 40 per cent between your illustration of 120 per cent on the one hand and 80 per cent on the other hand. I cannot see where the people of Canada could believe that there will be a great deal of security with a fluctuation of 40 per cent in the commodity that the minister used by way of example. I was only using the example the minister used so I thought I would be perfectly safe in so doing.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

On the contrary you are trying to misrepresent the figures. You are attempting to convey the impression that the 80 per cent mandatory floor price was all that there was.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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LIB

Alexis Pierre Caron

Liberal

Mr. Alexis Caron (Hull):

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order. Since the beginning of this debate the minister has been interrupting and talking out of turn. I believe he should remain in his seat and wait until his turn comes again.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Order. That is correct. The minister should not interrupt.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

I have been doing very little interrupting but I have often been strongly tempted.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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LIB

Edward Blake Huffman

Liberal

Mr. Huffman:

If the statement I have made concerning my understanding of the minister's statement can be so misunderstood in

this house then I can only conclude that his statement will be misunderstood outside the house as well.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

And is.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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LIB

Edward Blake Huffman

Liberal

Mr. Huffman:

Another point to which I wish to refer might also cause some misunderstanding. This afternoon the former minister of agriculture indicated that there were candidates in the last election who went about advocating 100 per cent of parity and he referred to an advertisement that appeared in the Chatham Daily News on June 5. This was a rather difficult campaign in which to be engaged because this advertisement contains the following words:

Farmers Income:

Grains Down 30 per cent

Beef Cattle Down 40 per cent

Chickens Down 33 per cent

Turkeys Down 30 per cent

Eggs Down 35 per cent

It then goes on to say:

Mr. Consumer says:

"Our cost of living continues to rise with lower farm prices."

What is the answer?

John Diefenbaker and Albert Jolley say 100 per cent parity support prices.

Anybody with $1,000 worth of any of the commodities listed in that advertisement would assume from this wording that instead of receiving $1,000 for their commodities they could expect to receive $1,400 under a Conservative administration and so on all down the list of the commodities as indicated. What has been the effect of this kind of advertisement? The Conservative government came to office and has proceeded to introduce certain measures but there has also been introduced a certain unfortunate attitude expressed in words such as those which can be found at page 2405 of Hansard of December 14 and on other occasions. On December 14 the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Johnston) was speaking and reminding the government of what had been said in the way of promises by Conservative candidates in the election campaign. An unidentified hon. member is reported on this occasion as saying:

It worked did it not?

On the occasion when the hon. member for Coast-Capilano (Mr. Sinclair) was speaking about the budget proposals brought in by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fleming) and concerning the Conservative charge to the effect that there had been overtaxation to the extent of $500 million an hon. member also said, "It worked". I feel that is an unfortunate attitude that has permeated this house. I found it was difficult to combat policies and promises in the election campaign such as those stated in print in the 96698-172

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization press of this country. The principle of 100 per cent of parity must have been the view of Conservative candidates and I presume as a result of advertisements of this kind many people felt that the policy of the present government would be for 100 per cent of parity.

Shortly after the present government took office information came to us that many people were coming to Ottawa to make representations to the government on behalf of the agricultural industry to the effect that something should be done immediately for this industry. It was reported in the press that the government did not plan to do anything at the present time because it would not do it by order in council. I know that some of the things that have been done since that time for the agricultural industry must have been done by order in council. If the orders in council are properly presented to the people of this country they will be able to assess whether or not it was in the best interests of this country to do what was done by order in council. I know every government must pass orders in council from time to time.

There is one other thing that disturbs me. If the government places a floor of 120 per cent of the base price and the floor is above the price in a country that has such commodities to export, what will the government do to prevent supporting a foreign commodity. If the government uses the export-import regulations indiscriminately many people will ask where this will lead us. An article published in the Family Herald of October 3, 1957 entitled "Canadian Farmers Must Still Export" contains some interesting figures. I note that in 1956 Canada exported $1,009 million of agricultural products but in the same period we imported $690 million of agricultural products. Of that $690 million of imports $335 million were commodities not obtainable in Canada. I think it is clear that we are bound to export many of the agricultural commodities that we produce. Our export of agricultural products amounts to approximately 25 per cent of our total exports. I hope that when the government is considering all the implications of this bill as it presently stands it will take into account all that is involved in the export and import of our agricultural commodities.

In this morning's Globe and Mail there appeared a headline reading, "Ontario Plans to Give Up Farm Marketing Controls". I know that that headline will certainly cause a great deal of concern among those who over the years have developed what has been a sound basis for selling commodities

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization that are produced within a province and those products are sold in all the provinces of Canada or outside of Canada.

The article refers to too much pressure. I do not know whether it is right to assume that if too much pressure is exercised on a government, that government will abandon the legislation and turn all the problems over to the farm organizations. If that is so, then I am convinced that it would be a retrograde step for any government to take because so much goes into interprovincial and export trade. I think wTe should do everything we can to try to maintain the best relationships between governments and the agricultural industry. Since we export so much, I think there is every good reason why the government should be concerned with the problems of the industry.

The agricultural problem is not an insoluble one. It is necessary for every hon. member, no matter where he sits in this house, to work toward a solution that will bring stability to a worthy occupation, one that has contributed a great deal to Canada. The whole economic structure of Canada is moving toward a specific goal, namely that of security. We have social services: we have retirement pension plans and hospitalization proposals. The primary producers, whatever their line of production, are moving toward the same goal. The minister has asked for an early adoption of this bill. Since we have waited this long, let us examine the bill thoroughly so that there will be no misunderstanding before the bill passes or after it is passed.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

James William Baskin

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. W. Baskin (Renfrew South):

Mr. Speaker, I rise for the first time to address this house and to take part in this extremely important debate. May I first of all congratulate you, sir, upon your election to the high office of Speaker of this house. I would like to join with those who have extended congratulations to my colleague, the hon. member for Calgary South (Mr. Smith), who so ably moved the address in reply to the speech from the throne and also to my seat-mate, the hon. member for Bonaventure (Mr. Arsenault), who so ably seconded the address.

The legislation before us, Mr. Speaker, is a matter of great interest to the rural people of Canada, the people who are the backbone of this country. The farm voters on June 10 went on record across our country as supporting this government and its election promise to establish a firm but flexible price support program for farm products. Failure of rigid or fixed price supports has already been experienced in the United States of America. Surely we can benefit from the

mistakes of our United States neighbours and avoid the pitfalls of rigid price-fixing as advocated by some hon. members in the opposition party.

As recently as the 12th day of this month

2,000 American farm men and women gathered in Chicago and discussed their farm problems. Their chosen leader, President Charles B. Shuman, of the American farm bureau federation, representing a farm organization of 1,500,000 farm families, was reported by the Christian Science Monitor correspondent as follows:

As talking the way most farmers like to hear a man talk, soundly, and without resorting to emotional appeal, relying on what they call common sense.

He urged a conservative approach to the problem of farm surpluses. President Shuman said in part:

Change in agriculture is inevitable and continuous. Government policies should be such as to facilitate rather than retard the needed changes in production and marketing practices.

Price fixing and acreage controls have encouraged farmers to find ways of expanding output of farm commodities beyond market needs instead of making adjustments in production.

Farther on in his address he offered a seven-point program designed to end government purchases of farm commodities and to take steps to liquidate present holdings. He advocated-and I emphasize this-the use of price supports only as a floor and not as a price fixing device. Here we have the advice of a top farm leader, Mr. Speaker, a genuine farmer and a highly qualified agronomist and economist, who states that a fixed price farm program is not the answer.

This bill now before the house provides a sound and flexible price support program. And, of course, Mr. Speaker, although agricultural production does not play as great a part in our national economy as it did a number of years ago, nevertheless it is still a fact that there is no sound prosperity in Canada when the rural areas are depressed.

The problem that I want to bring to the attention of the house is a general one to many farmers in my constituency of Renfrew -South, and to farmers generally in eastern Canada. Therefore, my riding is no exception. However, Renfrew South, which I represent, is the riding I know best. In this great constituency are located many splendid and excellent dairy farms, also numerous and good mixed farming activities. I am strongly in support of the effort that is being made through this bill by our government and presented by our capable Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Harkness). I am confident that the proposed measure will give much needed stability to the livestock and dairy production industry, as well as to fruits and vegetables and other

products which are perhaps the basic features of a sound agricultural economy. However, Mr. Speaker, I think I am in order in drawing to the attention of this house, and more especially to the Minister of Agriculture, a somewhat forgotten branch of our great agricultural industry.

The older residents of my riding will recall with no small degree of pride the great native forest wealth of our picturesque Ottawa valley, the great white pines that meant so much in the early development of this country as they were shipped in great volume to Great Britain and to other countries beyond the seas. These facts are only a pleasant memory today. I might add, however, that we still have, even though more limited, high quality white pine and other species of timber. This, Mr. Speaker, does not exactly involve what I wanted to bring to the attention of the department, but many may have overlooked the fact that a rich forest area does not always necessarily mean that a rich agricultural area should follow. The nature of the soil, the rigours of the climate that affect successful forestry are not always conducive to equally successful agriculture. Nevertheless I know many enterprising farmers who amaze me with their unique genius for making marginal soils produce and who supplement their income by cutting pulpwood off the balance of their farm. They look upon their wood lot as just another field, and with long-range policy anticipate a reasonable income for generations yet to come.

Indeed, we are a very young country. However, we are at least old enough to learn that in countries such as Sweden and Norway, where by sound management, similar incomes from forestry production have been perpetuated for 500 years on farms that have been providing livestock and other food products for their people and still providing wood fibre from parts of their farms. In Sweden, for instance, one is almost ostracized from society if he harvests this great product of the soil in a manner that would jeopardize the chances of future generations benefiting from this great heritage.

The annual harvest of a pulpwood crop will not be of much interest to our many prairie friends. I suggest to my sincere wheat growers from western Canada, however, that while we in Renfrew South can grow some wheat and we are interested in the great problems of wheat sales, and while it may take a few months to grow a crop of wheat on your soil, it takes our people up to 60 years to grow a crop of trees suitable for pulpwood. We in Renfrew South love our trees; indeed, they are part of our national pride. May I suggest to the Minister of 96698-1724

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization Agriculture that while I am supporting this bill 100 per cent I should like to see consideration given in the future to the many farmers who annually depend on a reasonable sale price for this great agricultural crop of pulpwood.

Mr. Speaker, I and my family have been in the lumber business for many years. I feel I know the problems of the farmers who produce pulpwood. I can remember as a young boy accompanying my father and learning firsthand the problems of those for whom I speak. In many cases their farms are located on the back concessions of townships throughout the various constituencies in eastern Canada. They are the people who live in little houses away in off the roads. I learned at an early age that their problems are as real, and as important, as their neighbours' living in the rich farming belts. I realize also the importance of pulp companies securing their raw products at a reasonable price. However, I do not believe that when consideration is being given that is long overdue to the price structure of farm products, that a careful consideration and indeed a thorough investigation should be made at this time and initiated by the Department of Agriculture to ascertain why our farmers to whom I have referred should be forced to sell this valuable soil production so often at less than half what the companies pay for pulpwood cut from crown lands. The company's cost includes ground rent, fire tax and crown dues paid to our respective provincial governments. The government of Canada derives great revenues from the pulp and paper industry. Over 80 per cent of the pulpwood produced each year in Canada is produced in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and the maritimes.

Farmers generally, on whose behalf I speak, have supplied to that industry during the year just past over two million cords of pulpwood at ridiculously low prices; indeed, at almost one-half the price paid by the companies for wood coming from their own limits. In spite of this, the cash income for forest products sold off farms in Canada in 1952 was over $87,464,000; in 1953, $83,637,000; in 1954, $83,336,000. Figures for 1955 and 1956 are not available. This has brought into our national economy about $130 million of United States capital.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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December 20, 1957