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