David James Walker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General)
Subtopic: MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
I like that smile, Mr. Speaker. It may be the last I am going to see on their faces.
There is no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that after this bill has been in force for some time, it will tend to keep farm prices pegged to a floor price.
Again large concerns and organizations will take advantage of this legislation to specialize in a particular type of commodity, as was done with poultry in the Montreal area, or in mass production by people who never were farmers, whose knowledge of farming is limited to what they have seen occasionaly along country highways. Yes, such people will take advantage of this legislation and set up powerful organizations specializing in a given field and, as a result of mass production, sell their products at ridiculous prices to the unquestioned detriment of farmers.
Other remedies could have been used. Since the Conservative party had made such formal promises to the whole country, we would have expected the Minister of Agriculture, who was so often critical when he was sitting on this side of the house, to jump at the chance to introduce certain amendments designed for the farmer's protection.
Why did the Minister of Agriculture not ask his colleague, the Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr) to amend the Unemployment Insurance Act so as to bring tangible assistance to the farmers of the province of Quebec where it is practically impossible today for the average farmer to live on the income from his farm and where he must abandon the farm to work elsewhere as a lumberman, labourer or carpenter to make both ends meet.
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Why did the Minister of Agriculture not ask the Minister of Labour to extend unemployment insurance to farmers so that they may enjoy these benefits as much as their fellow Canadians employed in other fields.
Why did the Minister of Agriculture not have a change made in the Income Tax Act, a legislation conceived by a Liberal administration many years ago and which is now part of our fiscal structure. Why did the minister not ask the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fleming) to amend the Income Tax Act, which, in its present form, is morally inacceptable to the Quebec farmer, since it does not respect the family organization which we find on our farms?
Why did the Minister of Agriculture not enlarge the scope of the act, about which a minister whom I would not call the greatest in Canada, and whom I certainly did not help to get elected, the premier of Quebec has stated that we had at Ottawa a farm loan act "which did not loan", a statement which I feel is largely correct? The Minister of Agriculture had opportunity to enlarge the scope of this legislation in order to help our farmers out of their present depressed financial situation, by making fuller use of it. He had every opportunity to improve their lot.
What did the Liberals do?
The minister asks what the Liberal party has done.
It did nothing.
Under the terms of reference conferred upon you on June 10, you have the responsibility of correcting what you do not believe to be right. What are you waiting for to do so?
It is still the same thing: nothing from the Liberal party.
Are you waiting for another election so as to conceal your weakness? It is high time, Mr. Speaker, to consider the farming issue as something else than a political football.
It has never been anything of the kind.
I am pleased to hear the grumblings of the hon. member for Bona-venture. However, they are not of the kind we have heard before from that quarter. In fact, having asked the Prime Minister (Mr.
Diefenbaker) for a pulp mill in his county, he did not get what he wanted. He has good cause to grumble.
I am sorry, because I said I would keep my energy for another occasion.
You are going a little more slowly now.
Mr. Minister, could you tell me which segment of the labour force of this country, from the professional man to the skilled worker, from the tradesman to the manual labourer, would be content at this time to see the government fix its income at 80 per cent of what it has been over the last ten years? There is not one single member of this house who would accept such legislation with regard to his own remuneration. And that is the work of the Conservative party.
The member for Bonaventure can shake his head, but I would much prefer hearing his contribution to this debate instead of merely looking at him shaking his head. What this country-of which we are proud, Mr. Speaker -needs is a farmer's code, an agricultural code which would consolidate all existing legislation. I would suggest to the Minister of Agriculture to call together all the various provincial ministers of agriculture in Ottawa so that once and for all an inventory of the agricultural situation in this country may be carried out, so that there may be an end to such piecemeal legislation and to this policy of discrimination whereby some groups of farmers in one area of the country are given advantages which are refused to others.
The time has come for the Minister of Agriculture to realize that the Canadian farmer is about to lose confidence in those who hold public office. It is time we had leaders strong enough to put the tiller hard over in order to provide farmers with a policy which not only will help them and renew their confidence but will provide them with the material assistance they need, a policy which will also help them plan their production so that they may share with their fellow Canadians, as was said this morning in this house, some of this prosperity.
The situation is much more alarming since the Conservative party took office but all should at least share equally in the income of the Canadian nation.
Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a correction-
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization
-to the statement made by the hon. member for Charlevoix, who said-
The hon. member is not asking a question, he wants to make a correction.
That is a correction, I will hear him.
I did not want to interrupt the hon. member during his speech.
It is very nice of you.