Some hon. Members:
Subtopic: MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
I am getting some applause from the government side of the house. Am I really affecting the slow-moving Conservatives of Ontario? If so, I am delighted. We in this group recognize the difficulties the minister is facing and the complexities of this question and the whole economic problem. We realize that production must be in the national interest. However, we say that this bill lacks a formula. It lacks a basic period being established for parity prices. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has suggested the 1925-29 five-year period as a normal period in which farmers costs and prices were in a proper relationship to one another. That may be correct. There may be other periods that can be determined as being satisfactory. However, there should be a base period in which costs and prices are at a normal relationship.
We in our group believe that the first thing to do is to establish a formula and to establish the parity price principle in this bill, something for which the farmers have been looking for for many years. Then once we have that, and after we have established a sound parity base, we can go into regulations in respect of production and limitations the form of which will come from experience in the operation of the measure and through consultation with the farmers' organizations. On the basis of sound legislation to start with, we can amend it and make it sound so far as the total economy is concerned, and fair to all the Canadian people.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, in conclusion I urge the minister to give consideration to the representations made in this house for the bill to be sent to the agriculture committee for further study. If he wants to do anything for the farmers in the meantime in
3846 HOUSE OF
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization order to assist them, I am sure he can do it under the present legislation. We in this group urge that this bill be sent to the agriculture committee in order that it may be thoroughly studied. Let us bring in the farmers. Let us exhibit a spirit of co-operation to that extent. Let us make sure that we know that we are passing legislation that will best serve the farmers and that, in the end, we shall have a satisfactory act in which parity prices are established to the satisfaction of all concerned and one which provides a foundation for subsequent amending legislation which no doubt will be required as a result of experience and consultation with those who are most seriously concerned, namely the farmers of Canada.
Mr. C. A. Milligan (Prince Edward-Len-nox):
Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to take up a great deal of time. A great deal has been said in connection with this bill. I do not think there is any advantage in repeating what has already been said. However, I want to make a few remarks in connection with this farm legislation. In my former remarks at the resolution stage I strongly urged the passing of this bill in order that we might have it before us and be able to speak more intelligently with regard to its application to agriculture. After reading Hansard and listening to the speeches which have been made during the last few days I am wondering whether that has happened.
There has been considerable criticism of this bill by members of the opposition. Instead of speaking more intelligently there seems to be, according to my way of thinking, a tendency to disrupt and mislead with regard to the application of this legislation as it applies to the industry, thus completely confusing the agricultural people. The hon. member who preceded me mentioned the farmers union meeting and the resolution that came from that meeting opposing this legislation. That is very close to my riding. I know quite a few of the people who belong to farmers' unions in that riding. During the past few weeks I have had a number of meetings with the federation of agriculture and the farmers' union. I have attended the farmers' union meeting in the county of Prince Edward, at which there were some 150 farmers present, and every one of them was very much in favour of this legislation.
But not until after I had explained how the legislation would apply to these people and their particular products. They had been misinformed and they were
using some of the things that have been going out from this house to disrupt this legislation.
When he was speaking this afternoon the hon. member for Rosthern (Mr. Tucker) said that he would not agree to the repeal of the Agricultural Prices Support Act by this new legislation. I am sorry he is not in the house. I should like to ask him whether he at any time has ever suggested to the former government that they use the application of section 2 of the act. I want to read from section 9, subsection 2 of the act which states:
-to ensure adequate and stable returns for agriculture by promoting orderly adjustment from war to peace conditions and shall endeavour to secure a fair relationship between the returns from agriculture and those from other occupations.
As a farmer myself I have never seen that section applied in the former legislation that we had. Had it been applied, we would not be asking for a new act today.
There was considerable criticism of the bill when it was brought in in the first place and I am pleased to see the amendments which have been made. I think great credit should go to our Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Harkness) for making those amendments. This action shows the type of minister we have. It shows that he is willing to accept suggestions which he thinks would be in the best interests of the agriculture industry. We therefore have the amendments which have been placed in the reprint of this legislation. Although it does not change the meaning of this legislation to any great extent, it sets out more specifically what is provided and gives much greater guidance to those who are going to be in an advisory position in recommending the level of guaranteed prices.
At six o'clock the house took recess.
AFTER RECESS The house resumed at eight o'clock.
Mr. Speaker, as I was saying before the adjournment, the amendment to this bill will give greater guidance to the advisory board. I wish to say that I am well aware that this bill may not be a complete solution by any means to all the problems of agriculture. Those of us who are engaged in the agricultural industry have enough good judgment and commonsense to know that no one piece of legislation can correct the inefficiency of the agricultural policy of the former government. Amendments to this bill will be needed from time to time as the application of this legislation is applied to the
different commodities but I am sure that this bill will give agriculture the reasonable security to which it is justly entitled.
Those of us who are engaged in agriculture have a certain responsibility of our own regarding productivity, quality, and marketing methods of which most people engaged in agriculture are becoming more aware. Agriculture today does not want full control of the industry to be in the hands of any government. What it does want is government protection against the agricultural products of other countries flooding our market when we can produce similar products in this country. There is a surplus of food flooding the markets of this country today. Agriculture in Canada is willing to meet competition from any country in the world under conditions similar to those which exist here.
It is my opinion that the ten year moving average is a more satisfactory period on which to calculate our base price, than the average of the last three years. Those years have been low net income years for agriculture, and because of this fact they should not be used as a basis on which to start. The 10-year period will give a better average of prices, for in that period there are four average income years and therefore the base price will be a more realistic measure of the actual value of the product. There may be a tendency for this base price to decrease rather than increase, and it will therefore result in a higher percentage having to be used for the setting of the guaranteed price which is provided for in this legislation.
I am sure that people engaged in agriculture will be well satisfied with this 10-year moving average as a basis on which to arrive at a base price for agricultural products.
The second feature is the fact that a definite formula is included in the legislation of 80 per cent of the base price to arrive at a floor price. This is one of the weaknesses of the former agriculture price support legislation. No one, except the former minister of agriculture, the hon. member for Melville (Mr. Gardiner)-I often wondered if he knew-could explain at what level, and how, floor prices were arrived at. The result was that floor prices in every case were placed at such a low level that they gave absolutely no security to the agricultural industry. They meant bankruptcy to many farmers.
The most important part of this present legislation is the guaranteed price which will be set as a percentage of the base price, and which will, therefore, bear a fair relationship to the cost of production-this price which guarantees the farmer at the beginning of
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization the crop year that he will not receive less than this price for his product through the balance of the year.
This is the kind of security agriculture has never enjoyed. It has always been at the mercy of the other interests-the packing companies, the processors, chain stores and all others that wished to take advantage of a difficult situation for their own personal gain, always using that very effective weapon, a surplus, to justify the lower market prices, regardless of the fact that at the same time, the costs of producing the particular product had continued to rise.
May I just give the house an example. The price of hogs dropped to its lowest level for some time in mid-December of this year, as much as $2 in one day. Was this drop immediately applied to the consumer, I wonder. The reason for this decrease in price was a small surplus. Chain stores were not buying loins and hams; they were selling more poultry.
The farmers at that time needed money for Christmas shopping; others had taxes to finish paying before the end of the year. It is a well known fact that a great many farmers had made their plans months ahead to market certain products at a particular time so they were obliged to go to market regardless of price fluctuations. This, of course resulted in a loss of income, which at that particular time is drastic. How many people in other walks of life would be willing to have their salaries reduced, particularly at that time of year.
Mr. Speaker, is it any wonder that people in agriculture are complaining. If this situation occurred in any other business or industry there would be strikes, and riots, and the whole country would suffer. This is only one of the reasons that a guaranteed price for agricultural products was long overdue. This illustration applies to a great many other products.
A most important feature of this legislation is the nine man advisory board consisting of representatives of farm organizations and farm groups to advise the board and the minister in setting the level of the prescribed price. I have listened to hon. members talking about the floor price, about the base price, about parity and about differential payments, but I am wondering if all the objections they have raised are not met by the appointment of this board. Surely we have confidence enough in the people who are to be put on this board. They are active farmers. And surely we have confidence that they will know about levels of prices, and be able to advise the government as to the level at which the prices of the various
3648 HOUSE OF
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization products should be set. We do not know whether or not the prices will be at parity or above, but it is left to these experienced people to say what the prices should be. This to me is very essential and I feel that we shall have no worry about the parity price because in my opinion it is being well looked after.
We listened with much interest to the former minister of agriculture, the hon. member for Melville (Mr. Gardiner) emphasizing the fact that under the Agricultural Prices Support Act his government was not faced with embarrassing surpluses such as our friends in the United States were. This is quite true. By not implementing the provisions contained in the act the income of many farmers was reduced to the extent that they went out of business. Others reduced their production and then when the product was in short supply the law of supply and demand forced the price up again. Those of us who stayed in business made a bit of money until we were faced with a surplus again.
I want to give the house one example of the support that agriculture received under the former legislation. I shall place on the record figures indicating the loss suffered by the agricultural prices support board over a three year period. I am using these figures because they are the only figures that apply to the products the farmer is selling. In 1954 it cost the government $3 million, in 1955 it cost the government $6 million, and in 1956 it cost the government $4 million.
We have listened to much criticism of the United States program.
Would the hon. member permit a question? Does he not think that the most important thing in connection with the support, for example, is the amount the farmer gets-hogs have been between four and eleven cents higher in Canada all throughout the period of the last two years than they were in the United States-the idea of supports of this kind is not simply the cost to the government; it is the result on the farmer's income.
Yes, that is quite true. The price of hogs has been considerably higher in Canada than in the United States and I think a lot of credit for that goes to those who have put their hogs on the open market where there is competition in the buying of those hogs. It certainly has raised the price of hogs. Another thing in our favour is that we have not had any great surplus that has depressed the price.
I am a farmer myself and my income comes completely from agriculture and therefore I think I can speak with some authority
as to the experience of agriculture in the past years. The best years that those of us engaged in livestock production had in agriculture during the former administration was when we were taking advantage of the situation in the United States, selling our beef and our dairy products in that country and reducing the volume in our own markets which consequently forced our prices up. The hon. member for Melville was taking all the credit for those increases in the income of agriculture during those years.
There has been considerable criticism of this legislation; that it didn't contain a fixed formula. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture recommended a fixed formula be written into legislation. As we take a look at the United States program over the years I am wondering whether or not it has worked out too well. With this nine-member board I feel it is not necessary to have a fixed formula because these people will be well qualified to recommend the formula which will be used. It should be a fluctuating formula that will change from time to time and the agriculturist will be in a better position to gauge his operation under such a formula.
I remember travelling from western Canada to the United States in 1948 with a chap who was taking advantage of the price support program they had in that country. He had 15,000 acres under wheat, land that had never been broken before. He had seen an opportunity to make a sound investment under which he could receive good interest on his invested money and therefore he was not interested in over-production but rather in making some money for himself. That was true in a great many cases. A lot of the surplus that came from the United States did not come from the actual producing farmers but from those people who engaged in agriculture strictly as an investment. That is one thing we want to overcome, if we can, with this particular legislation.
We also have heard a great deal about the inefficiency of the farmer particularly from those that have little sympathy for us and who are looking for cheap food. No one group has increased production per capita in our economy as have the people engaged in agriculture. It is true, we are not all alike. Each one of us has different opportunities to run our business and each has varying aptitudes and whether it be farming or any other occupation each runs his business as he sees fit. The apparent inefficiency may be caused by a lack of capital, difficulty in securing sufficient land in order to operate more efficiently. The farmer may encounter any number of problems. That is why the returns from individual farm operations differ quite widely.
It is by no means a lack of managerial ability which is to blame for a less successful venture. In many cases it is quite the opposite. No one will question that. As in any other business, those farmers who are measured by the highest standards are perhaps not the most efficient managers.
Mr. Speaker, there exists quite a misconception of the definition of an efficient farmer which is held by many people in other walks of life. You know the type of farm to which I am referring; those well-kept homes, all of the most modern equipment desired and the finest of stock. They are, in many cases, show places, a city home in the country for some very successful business executive to retreat to from his busy office life in the city. Those are the farms along the highways, and you have all seen them, that most people other than farmers have in mind when they refer to the successful, efficient farmer. The farms on the back concessions, the owners of which have no city business to augment their earnings and who earn their living by the sweat of their brow and without whom we could not live, they are the ones who are being called inefficient farmers. The thought that there is no room for other than large scale, highly efficient and highly mechanized farms in our economy is too ridiculous to contemplate.
Numerous small farmers, while they are not satisfied with the rewards they receive, prefer farming to anything else and are perfectly content to stick with it providing they can secure a reasonable living from the land. They see little opportunity to enlarge their operations but that does not worry them nearly as much as do the rising prices of the commodities they buy and the falling level of prices for many of the products they sell. They may not be as efficient as they would like to be but they are not too concerned about that either. Farming is a way of life. Life is made up of apparent inconsistencies and that is the reason why the human desire to cling to farming in the face of difficulties is something that cannot be explained in terms of dollars and cents and, to my way of thinking, this is very desirable.
This legislation does not mean a much higher cost in the price of food to the consumer. It will have the effect of levelling prices. The consumers of Canada are prepared to pay a reasonable price for food. The brief presented to the cabinet some time ago by the Canadian Congress of Labour is evidence of how labour feels toward conditions in agriculture. At page 7 of the brief we find the following:
We are alarmed by the drastic fall in farm income. This is bad for the farm people, most of whom are far from rich, and who still make up
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization one-sixth of the Canadian population. It is bad for the economy generally, which is still heavily dependent on exports, of which farm products make up about one-quarter. It is also bad for Canadian workers, for whose products a prosperous agriculture would provide a substantial market. This is particularly true of the agricultural implement industry, which remains in a very depressed condition, with employment only about two-thirds of what it was in 1949. Canadian labour will fully support anything the government can do to restore the purchasing power of Canadian farmers.
I feel that most consumers who are labouring people are a bit concerned about the situation in which the agricultural industry has been placed. I think one of the ways by which we might restore the economic position in this country and put many men back to work and improve the agricultural situation is by enacting the bill we have before us at the present time. Many of our farmers are supplementing their income by working in industry. I think I am safe in saying that in those areas which are close to industry 50 per cent of our agricultural people are working in industry. They are taking jobs away from people who should have them and who cannot work on the farm.
If the farming people were not working in those industries many more jobs would be provided the people who are justly entitled to them. This agriculture legislation will put more money in the farmers' hands and it would certainly increase the buying power of agriculture. The machinery companies would begin to operate longer hours. There would be improvements to farm buildings in the way of painting and so forth. Plumbing facilities and all the other things that we need on our farms today would be installed. We only have to drive through the country, I do not care which province, to see farm buildings in dilapidated condition and machinery that is worn out. The farmer has not the money to replace these things. The result is that many people are out of work because the buying power of the farmer has been cut down to such an extent that he is unable to make those purchases.
Between 1941 and 1956 the farm price of milk produced for fluid sales increased 131 per cent, and for the manufacture of butter only 76 per cent. The average wages paid workers in the dairy industry increased 162 per cent. Reflecting on the ability of Canadians to buy more food for one hour's work than was possible five years ago is the fact that an extra quart of milk, half a pound of butter and half a pound of cheese can now be purchased for one hour's earnings, more than was the case during the earlier period. In short, today one hour's pay will buy just over seven quarts of milk, two and one-half pounds of butter and slightly over two pounds of cheese. Between 1941 and 1956 consumer
3650 HOUSE OF
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization expenditure on all foods increased by 140 per cent, and consumer purchasing power increased by 236 per cent.
Today the farmer's share of the consumer's dollar, according to the figures prepared by the Canadian Department of Agriculture, are as follows: butter, 77 per cent; beef, 57 per cent; pork, 51 per cent; potatoes, 41 per cent; canned peaches, 24 per cent.
This legislation is not the complete answer to all the problems of agriculture-I said that in the beginning of my remarks-but at least it gives for the first time a strong base on which to build. There are other things that have to be taken into consideration in the agricultural program as well. We must have export markets. It is impossible for agriculture to produce just the amount of food we consume in Canada. If we import food we are then in a worse position than if we have a small surplus. Therefore, we must have export markets. I know it is difficult to obtain these markets because of the cost of production in this country; every effort should be explored to restore our markets for agricultural products in the British Isles.
I remember that in 1953 we lost our bacon and cheese contracts in Great Britain. I was in London with the dairy commissioner of the province of Ontario on some other business. While we were there we made some contacts with different people to see if we could place some orders for cheese and get a market for cheese in Great Britain. We were alarmed to find out that the British people were a bit concerned at that time because we did not have any market in Great Britain. They felt that if we did not soon get back in that market the British people would lose their taste for our good Canadian cheddar cheese and bacon. After the commissioner had spent some time with the British minister of food he came back with a contract with Britain for 10 million pounds of cheese. Our federal government could not get any contracts at that time but through the cheese producers association we were able to get that cheese out of this country. That relieved the situation, but it was only a short time after that that large quantities of cheese were shipped into this country from New Zealand. That certainly put us in a very awkward position again.
I quite agree with the former speaker who said something about the fruit and vegetable industry of this country. Few people realize the importance of this industry. Most of us think that it is just a small business that does not amount to very much. But it amounts to big business in Canada today. It is one of the industries we must protect. The increase in population over the past few years
has meant nothing to the industry as the market has been completely absorbed by imports. That increase in population is taken care of by surpluses from the United States. Mr. Robinson, president of the fruit and vegetable association at a meeting here some time ago with some members in connection with this particular industry ended his talk to them by saying that in every case the Americans had doubled the protection against our products going into their country. It is a very important industry to this country at this time. We may refer to it as a secondary industry but we should protect this industry which is so important to our Canadian economy and we should keep it for Canadians.
Last night an hon. member on the other side said something about protection. I am not talking about complete protection, but I think we have to look after those particular industries for our people. We could wipe every vegetable and fruit-growing farm in Canada off the map and there would not be any shortage of those particular products for the Canadian people. I do not think that is what we want to do. Therefore, we must protect this industry for our people in Canada.
We have large surpluses of grain in western Canada which we must move. Although we have sold a considerable quantity of wheat this year, we are still going to have a surplus in that area. If we can encourage some of our farmers in concentrated areas to get into some line of farming other than livestock and dairy products it would relieve the situation for other areas more adapted to this kind of production. We are going to have a problem in agriculture as long as we have a terrific surplus of wheat in western Canada.
Some of the hon. members who spoke this afternoon devoted their speeches entirely to western grain. I think this legislation involves an agricultural policy for all of Canada, not just western Canada, and I hope we will all realize that the problem of agriculture is an all Canadian problem and not just a grain problem in the west.
I should like to say something with respect to producer marketing boards. We have set up a number of producer marketing boards in Ontario which have functioned very well. One that has recently been set up and is doing a very good job for the farmers is the Ontario hog producers co-operative marketing board. Assembly points have been established where the farmer's hogs are put on the open market and are sold to the highest bidder, with competition setting the price of the particular product. We hope to do that in the case of many other products but it is just impossible for any marketing
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization
board or any other group to control the fair market value of a product if we find ourselves with surpluses, and no place to dispose of it.
I cannot support the amendment that has been moved because I feel that this legislation is important. Having in mind the discussion and criticism there has been in the house, in my opinion it would be simply useless to send the bill to the committee. It would only delay the passing of the legislation for some time, and if we are all concerned about the agricultural problem we will get the legislation through as fast as we can so that it may be implemented. I want to quote from an article written by Mr. Walter Harvey, professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario, who had this to say of this legislation:
The proposal to establish price supports based on the average price of the product over a period of years is statesmanship of a high order. The P.C.'s might well contend that it is the first attempt to deal with the farm problem on a basis of principle that has ever been made on this continent.
I think this legislation is the finest piece of legislation in the interests of agriculture that has ever been introduced in the house and I would hope that it would be passed and applied to the industry as quickly as possible.
Mr. Auguste Maltais (Charlevoix):
Mr. Speaker, as I was assured this afternoon that an opportunity would be given me to take part in the debate tonight, by way of carrying out a fancy of mine I inquired from the other side of the house who would be their next speaker. In doing so I said that I was going to use the other official language of the house and I was asked if it would be possible for me to speak slowly and in a mild way.
I said I would do so keeping the reserve of my strength for the very near future in view of certain press reports I read this afternoon.
We are delighted.
It is not without reason, Mr. Speaker, that many Canadian farmers are questioning the efficiency of the bill introduced in this house by the hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Harkness) and entitled "An Act to provide for the Stabilization of the Prices of Agricultural Commodities". It seems that this bill has stirred no general enthusiasm in the country. I would go so far as to say that it has failed to arouse enthusiasm
in the province of Quebec, or even among the Conservatives, since Conservative members for Quebec constituencies seem committed to a conspiracy of silence.
I realize that federal legislation must provide for the whole country and that it is practically impossible to modify its implementation according to different areas. On the other hand, after the last election campaign and particularly after the right hon. Prime Minister's (Mr. Diefenbaker) solemn promises to give farmers a legislation guaranteeing parity prices, we would have thought that the government would have jumped at this chance to break new ground in agricultural legislation and to take a more definite, bolder and more aggressive bid to restore the confidence of the Canadian farmers.
However, it may be that the Minister of Agriculture, member of a government seven months in power, has realized the possible dangers of venturing into unbeaten tracks, as was done by his colleague, the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Churchill). He may have found it safer to stick to the principle on which the agricultural legislation of the Liberal government was already based.
It looks as if the government no longer feels able to deliver the goods which it so boldly displayed during the last election campaign, by its rash promises.
After hearing the statement of the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue) that this bill was not acceptable to the western provinces, and because I already had doubts about the benefits Quebec might reap from this legislation, it seems to me more than ever that this bill will be of little benefit to Quebec farmers. Speaking for those among them whom I have the honour to represent, I feel that it will not appreciably change the pattern of farming in my riding.
Since, according to standing orders, I have to speak on the principle of this bill, might I be excused, Mr. Speaker, if, in order to reach my objective sooner, I try to give a brief outline of the history of farming in Quebec and, more particularly in my own riding, as well as of the legislation which has been of assistance to our farmers.
Several years ago farming in my riding had somewhat the character of a family enterprise. Decisions with regard to the farm- I am referring to conditions as they were several years ago-were taken by the head of the household, who was also the owner. Farming was done by his sons and daughters.
3652 HOUSE OF
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization In other words, the workers were recruited within the family, that is to say, the farmer's own family made up the working crew. All of the family's needs came out of the farm. It was not specialized production: everything needed for shelter and clothing came out of the soil. The slight savings that could be made out of farming were spent on primary schooling for the children. This type of family farming went on generation after generation.
Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, this family characteristic of our Quebec farming has changed over the years, as a result of circumstances beyond the control of the farmers themselves, of the farm owner or of any level of government.
Because of extensive industrialization, and a degree of mechanization to which farmers found it especially difficult to adapt themselves in a constituency such as the one I have the honour to represent, for reasons of topography or of climate, the farmers of my constituency have been unable to keep up with the rapid modernization achieved in other areas of this country. Failing the advantages of mechanization, they could not compete on the international or on the domestic market for the sale of their products. From generation to generation those farms were parcelled out because, as sons and daughters spent part of their life on the father's farm, they were bound to inherit part of it as a just reward.
It would seem that this parcelling out of the farms, this mechanization, and this competition on foreign and domestic markets have modified family life on our farms.
New problems have arisen which affect the general farming to which our farmer had been accustomed. The specialization which has taken place over the last ten years has created a particular problem for him. The marketing of his products has become a very complex and even embarrassing problem. As a result, there has been an innovation in the field of marketing farm products.
We saw then the implementation of legislation which provided for a system of grading of agricultural products which is now recognized throughout this country. Subsequently we witnessed the setting up of agricultural co-operatives, a very important stage in the orderly marketing of agricultural products. Their aim was to turn back to the producers the greater part of the money which the consumer hands over for the products involved.
Through a co-operative system the farmers are freely associated to share the difficulties and advantages of marketing. Naturally, the traditional individual sale was retained under this system which did not meet with the success which had been expected. Such success as was attained was relative. Far too many of our farmers remained outside the co-operatives. It was then that we witnessed the implementation of legislation concerning control and marketing of certain products in a given district through a marketing board.
This legislation, generally speaking, has the following characteristics. First of all it provides for the marketing of the products through co-operative selling agencies. Second, it provides for the setting up of mandatory marketing boards with a view to negotiating with groups who buy the products for processing or resale. It also provides for the setting up of mandatory marketing boards so as to direct the sale of a product and to negotiate the price. Naturally, under this legislation, requests can be put to the various governments calling for the setting up of a marketing board.
This type of legislation has been brought about by the farmers themselves who had no wish to see their plans brought to nought by a minority who found some advantage in remaining outside the co-operative when the majority of them had decided to co-operate in marketing their products in a given way. Every province at the present time, Mr. Speaker, has legislation of this type on its statute books, except Newfoundland I believe. Quebec adopted two years ago, I believe, legislation which provides for this type of marketing.
Because of the fact that this legislation has only recently been implemented-it is only a few years old-results are as yet limited. As a matter of fact any progress in a particular area being dependent upon the implementation of this legislation implies planning and control of a type which our farmers have difficulty in accepting.
However, in 1946, if I am not mistaken, under a Liberal administration, a new formula making farm legislation more universal and stable in character was proposed. That was the Agricultural Prices Support Act which implemented the principle of the participation of the farmer in the prosperity of this country. That was, I believe, the first practical formula set in this country for farm legislation.
When I look at this bill and when I read the comments in the press of this country, after listening to those who have spoken
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization
before me in this debate, I wonder if this bill is not a mere plagiary of a bill which the Liberal government passed in 1946.
At the beginning of my remarks, I said that I had hoped that a Conservative government could do something new for agriculture. I would not venture to come back to the same topic for, following his boldness and plagiarism, the Minister of Agriculture could have gone at least a little farther by granting deficiency payments to farmers. Why did he not do so?
Why did the Minister of Agriculture simply copy the legislation on support prices? Why did he not copy the bill we enacted in 1952 and which guaranteed to the Canadian farmers, provided they were organized as a homogeneous group in a given area, a minimum price for any commodity? It is true that this floor price was based on the average sale price of the three preceding years but since the minister was bent on copying, he could have substituted the words "production cost" to "sale price." At least he could have resorted to some kind of a window-dressing which would have saved face for the Prime Minister who went around the country before June 10, and promised the Canadian farmers a legislation which would guarantee parity prices for agricultural commodities. At least, he would have had something to show.
But what does this Bill No. 237 contain? The bill enacted by the Liberal government was based on the average price of the last three years while this bill is based on the average price of the last ten years.
You do not understand it. (Text):
I wish you would make your remarks in the other official language so I could understand them.
Mr. Speaker, would the hon.
member allow me a question?
Why all those objections? Don't you intend to vote with the government?
Mr. Speaker, there is a question I am glad to hear. Since I do not hear the voice of Quebec within the Conservative party, I am glad to hear someone who, at least, is interrupting the voice of Quebec. I will be voting for the principle of this legislation, as I wholeheartedly voted with the Liberals, when we adopted the price support bill. For the same reason, I will vote today for this measure and, even if it is but a carbon copy of the previous one, I feel that I must support it. It is at least a beginning.
Since you are asking me this question...
In French please.
Yes, I will carry on in French.
Since you ask me that question, although I fully realize that Bill No. 237 adds no cash benefits to those provided by the legislation which we are being asked to repeal, and even if Bill 237 seems to confer new powers upon the minister-powers which he already had under the price support act, owing to its flexibility-I will vote for this legislation.
But then, why did you not go further? Were you afraid of new trails such as those which you opened up in international trade lest you had to renege on your promises?