January 23, 1958

CCF

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Johnson (Kindersley):

Pardon me? The hon. member will have to speak up if he has any statement to make. He has no statement to make, I take it. He is not like the members of the Conservative party who have taken this opportunity, and rightly so, to make their maiden speeches in the house on this subject. I think we who are connected with agriculture are grateful to them for their comments. It is rather interesting to find in the Star-Phoenix of about the second week in January, an article which reflects in some way on the speeches which have been made. It is entitled "Ottawa Notebook" and is written by Harry Jones, M.P. for Saskatoon. The article states in part:

Each member must decide whether he would rather have legislation on the record or delay its passage by speechmaking.

I think we can look at the record of yesterday and find out who were the members who took part in the debate. The article "Ottawa Notebook" goes on:

It is obvious that on measures where each party indicates that they will not vote against the government and indicate their support for the particular item of legislation there is not any point in making speeches merely to have the speeches recorded in Hansard.

3692 HOUSE OF

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

I suspect that the hon. member has given away some of the secrets about the speeches which have been made. Nevertheless as I have mentioned, I appreciate the fact that these members of the government who represent-

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

Henry Frank Jones

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Jones:

Is the hon. member saying that he agrees with this bill?

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

Alistair McLeod Stewart

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Siewari (Winnipeg North):

This is just a build-up for murder.

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

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Johnson (Kindersley):

I am pointing out to the hon. member for Saskatoon (Mr. Jones) that what he writes to his newspaper in an effort to condemn members who have spoken on the bill, is a reflection on him when he wants to take part in the debate.

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

Henry Frank Jones

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Jones:

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. What was referred to there by the hon. member is completely wrong. What I pointed out in that article is that Conservative members did not deem it wise to speak on a matter on which agreement had been secured. You have indicated that you do not agree with this bill. That is why we must speak on it.

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

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Johnson (Kindersley):

The only thing the hon. member's speech would indicate is that it is rather wise for members to stay within their field of knowledge. The hon. member is a lawyer in Saskatoon. I happen to be a farmer.

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

Henry Frank Jones

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Jones:

I was born and raised on a farm.

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

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Johnson (Kindersley):

I think we can understand the difference in point of view there. I find it very interesting to study the position taken by the Liberal party. It has been officially stated by their farm spokesman, namely the hon. member for Melville (Mr. Gardiner), that they are going to support the bill. At the same time they have indicated that it is a bad bill. This is an indication that this once great party is again only attempting to play politics. They have agreed that this bill is so bad that it is going to harm the people of Canada and they are prepared to support it so that it can inflict harm on the people of Canada. If they were indeed taking the right view they would try to improve the bill. If they feel that the bill is not as good as the one which they themselves drafted, namely the Agricultural Prices Support Act, then I think they would be in duty bound as representatives in a democratic parliament to vote against it. However, again we have an indication that "soon" can mean very late'.

I want to make reference to a comment made by the former minister of agriculture to a statement made by the hon. member for Springfield (Mr. Schulz). The hon. member

[Mr. Johnson (Kindersley) .1

pointed out the very small amount that had been spent for agricultural supports over the period of years, and the former minister of agriculture went to great lengths, as he is capable of doing, to attempt to show that it had cost the government, in fact, a huge sum of money for stabilization under the old Agricultural Prices Support Act. I have the annual report of the Minister of Agriculture for the year ended March 31, 1957. In this annual report it is stated that up to March 31, 1956, the net cost of operations of the board amounted to $89,196,061.31. It goes on to state that this amount includes approximately $70 million written off as a loss in respect of the foot-and-mouth disease program. From this statement it is fairly evident that the cost to the government of the Agricultural Prices Support Act has been less than $20 million. If the former minister of agriculture trys to make it appear any differently, he is in fact making a travesty on truth.

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

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I rise on a question of privilege. What I did state was that this is a revolving fund and that the cost to the government is not necessarily the extent of the advantage done to the farm community. I said that $400 million was used and of course the product was taken in, sold out and any earnings were put back into the treasury. Hence it is hardly correct to say-

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

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Order. The hon. member for Melville is not really raising a question of privilege.

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

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

The hon. member for Kindersley said I said something that I did not say.

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

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

That is a matter which should not be raised until the end of the hon. member's speech. The right hon. member is interrupting the member who has the floor.

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

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I understood the member for Kindersley had yielded the floor and I had the right to raise a question of privilege.

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

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Johnson (Kindersley):

The hon. member for Melville on many occasions has taken the privilege of putting a reflection on figures which would lead people to a different conclusion-

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

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

Oh, you have done that not I.

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

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Johnson (Kindersley):

-than the facts would in reality indicate. Nevertheless, I think this points up again the difficult position in which the members of the Liberal party find themselves on this bill. The hon. member for Meadow Lake admitted that he was a better saxaphone player than he was a critic of this legislation but he concluded by saying he was going to support it.

With the objective of improving this legislation I, like many hon. members, took the opportunity during the Christmas recess of meeting with as many of my farmers and representatives of farm organizations as I possibly could. At one of those meetings held in Kindersley a resolution was passed giving me guidance and direction for my conduct in the house. I am going to place that resolution on record since it is quite brief. It explains the stand that the people in my constituency want me to take. The resolution reads as follows:

Whereas the agricultural stabilization bill fails to give any basic improvement to offset the declining position of agriculture, such as stating a definite cost-price formula upon which forward support prices could be based.

And whereas the government failed to honour their promise of consulting farm organizations in the drafting of the stabilization bill;

Therefore be it resolved that we oppose the bill as such and request that the bill be referred to the committee on agriculture and colonization before a final draft is submitted to the house.

I think it is quite apparent that that resolution is the principle upon which I am debating. As I mentioned, that resolution was endorsed at ten meetings which I was able to hold during the Christmas recess.

I think we can safely assume, Mr. Speaker, that the objective of this agricultural legislation should be to provide a reasonable standard of living to the family style farm. I do not think it should be the intention of any farm legislation to provide a standard of living or a guarantee for the benefit of any regional or sectional interest in Canada. It should not apply only to Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia or Saskatchewan. We recognize the fact that agriculture is still Canada's basic industry. I assert that it is impossible to have a healthy nation without a strong, expanding agriculture. Let us measure this bill up against these qualifications.

We find that the western farmer is specifically excluded from any benefits that might result under the act. I do not know why we are excluded but, as reported at page 2187 of Hansard, at the resolution stage this was stated by the Minister of Agriculture:

The reason for this is not to interfere in any way with the operations of the wheat board,-

Just what kind of ghost are they trying to conjure up here, Mr. Speaker? The Canadian wheat board is approved by the great majority of Canadian western farmers. We also know that the Canadian wheat board is allowed to operate within the legislative program set down by this parliament. We have recently passed legislation for cash advances which are operated through the Canadian wheat

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization board. Can we, by any stretch of the imagination, assume that by including wheat, oats and barley we would in any way reflect on the operations of the Canadian wheat board or make it more difficult for them to operate? If there was conflict between the operation of these acts, surely it should have shown itself before now. The old Agricultural Prices Support Act included oats and barley and we did not notice any apparent conflict. Of course, Mr. Speaker, we recognize the fact that that conflict did not exist because of the inactivity of the previous government with regard to promoting any price supports for those products. I would suggest to the minister that he give serious consideration to this aspect of the bill, namely the inclusion of western wheat, oats and barley. It is just as important to agriculture to have western agriculture in a healthy condition as it is to have agriculture in any other area in a healthy condition.

At the resolution stage I pointed out to the minister some of the figures relating to the cost of production of wheat. In doing so I think I was able to prove to the satisfaction of all hon. members the necessity for some immediate program of assistance for western farmers. The principle of deficiency payments has been in part recognized in this bill and that is something that is being currently requested by farm organizations.

In this matter of wheat we can go back to the time of the Agricultural Prices Support Act, when that act was being adopted and call to witness the then hon. member for Lake Centre, who is now the Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker). He thought that wheat was an important subject because he said, as reported at page 5602 of Hansard for July 29, 1944, the following:

There is one other matter to which I wish to refer, and that is in connection with grain farmers. The grain farmers in western Canada today are not as well off proportionately, even taking into consideration present day prices, as other groups of farmers across this dominion.

There we have the present Prime Minister back in 1944 pleading for the grain farmer and, later on in the same debate, as recorded at page 5603 of Hansard, the then member for Lake Centre and the present Prime Minister stated:

I mention this for the purpose of asking the minister to consider raising the standard level of prices paid to the grain farmers to the end that our farmers in Saskatchewan may attain parity price or a reasonable price above that amount having regard to all the circumstances.

What a transformation we have from the battle that was being put up by the then member for Lake Centre to what is in the bill before us! We find even during the election campaign that the present Prime Minister

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization was reported in the Star-Phoenix of May 29, 1957 as having said while speaking in Saskatoon that any person who voted for a Liberal candidate in that election would be voting for a wheat policy which has proved ineffective, lacking in initiative and which has brought about the most serious situation western Canada has ever faced.

There is an account of the tragic circumstances which existed in western Canada and which are being completely ignored in this agricultural legislation today. I do not know what has happened in the period from 1944 through the election campaign of 1957 to date. I do not know what has changed the picture, with one exception, and that is the election of a Conservative government.

I do not think we should forget these statements made in the past. I think it is important that I, as the representative for a farming constituency, should put up the same battle for the farmers I represent as was put up by the former member for Lake Centre- I might say with equal justification. As has been mentioned, the objective of this legislation is to provide a reasonable standard of living for the farm family. The preamble to the bill certainly sounds very nice, but there is no operative clause. There is nothing to instil this principle in the legislation. Where is the clause or the principle which takes into consideration the fact that in the last ten years the cost of production has risen 50 per cent and that there has been a decline in the price of wheat to the extent of 20 per cent during that same period? It is no different from the Agricultural Prices Support Act because in that legislation there appeared some very nice-sounding phrases in section 2, where it stated that the board shall endeavour to ensure adequate and stable returns for agriculture. This principle is again referred to when the legislation goes on to state that they shall endeavour to secure a fair relationship between returns for agriculture and those from other occupations.

I therefore respectfully suggest that those who have become so enamoured of the amendments made to the bill by the minister- amendments which he claimed did not change the bill-should take a second look at this whole proposition and give consideration to the cost-price predicament facing farmers across Canada.

I want to refer to some other words spoken by the former member for Lake Centre when the Agricultural Prices Support Act was introduced in 1944. He stated, as recorded at page 5600 of Hansard, that the farmer understands floor prices to be prices set at a level which will assure him of a reasonable profit over and above his

cost of production, although some consider them to be the same as parity prices. Mr. Speaker, here we have another witness going to bat for the farmers of Canada-at least he did so thirteen years ago-asking for the adoption of parity prices, but I wonder just what happened to the same parity principle when the Minister of Agriculture drafted this legislation? The Prime Minister argued for parity prices, prices to meet the cost of production and to give the farmers a reasonable profit. He wanted 100 per cent parity; he wanted full equality. However, we find on January 23, 1957-

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

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

Mr. Speaker, on a question of privilege I would like to read from the rules-

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

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Johnson (Kindersley):

No privilege:

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

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

Whenever any matter of

privilege arises it shall be taken into consideration immediately-

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

Some hon. Members:

No privilege.

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

January 23, 1958