May 15, 1964

PC

George Robson Muir

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Muir (Lisgar):

With great respect, Mr. Chairman, I am glad you brought this to my attention because the abandonment of branch lines throughout western Canada is going to impose a severe strain on agriculture, particularly the great grain growing areas of the three prairie provinces. Aside from what I have already said, it is my intention to relate my remarks directly to the agricultural community. I have no intention of bringing in commercial enterprises or others that may be affected by such a move.

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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton:

Mr. Chairman, on the point of order, I think it should be made clear at this time, when the hon. member for Lisgar is making these remarks, that railway line abandonment has been put under the Minister of Agriculture in so far as the committee on organizing rational abandonment is concerned. Therefore I suggest that anything in connection with railway line abandonment can be properly discussed under item 1.

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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of National Revenue; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

I wonder whether I could be heard on the point of order. The hon. member for Qu'Appelle stated that the Minister of Agriculture has responsibility over rail line abandonment. If he will check more carefully I think he will find that the legislation has not yet been dealt with by the house and the Minister of Agriculture does not have that responsibility. It has been announced that he will have it after the legislation is passed.

What in effect is happening is that the hon. member for Lisgar in his remarks is attempting to anticipate the content of the railway legislation to be based on the resolution now on the order paper. That is the nub of the difficulty and, as the hon. member will appreciate, it is improper to answer him or discuss this subject because to do so would be to disclose the content of the legislation to the committee before it has been presented to the house. I am aware of the keen interest of the farmers of western Canada in this subject, but for that reason I suggest, with great deference, that this stage of these proceedings is not the place to discuss this very important 20220-211

Supply-Agriculture

subject, and that it is a matter for discussion under item 16 of the order paper.

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PC

Gerald William Baldwin

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

On the point of order, Mr. Chairman, I think this should be said. I would probably agree with the minister that we should not go into too great detail. However, from time immemorial in this country the Crowsnest pass rates have been one of the basic foundations and cornerstones of the prosperity of western farmers, and I think it is notorious that the briefs presented by most of the agricultural associations and bodies of western Canada have pointed out how deeply affected individual farmers will be, because by reason of branch line abandonment many of the benefits that flow to them will be lost or at least seriously diminished in that railway line abandonment will add to the costs of the farmers. Consequently I submit with great respect that at least to the extent of a general application a member who discusses the possible effect of branch line abandonment at this time falls well within the ambit of item No. 1 and has the right to do so.

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PC

George Robson Muir

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Muir (Lisgar):

Mr. Chairman, I was not attempting to anticipate legislation. What I was attempting to do was to bring to the attention of the minister responsible the very serious effects-I am sure that as a westerner he will agree with me-that the indiscriminate abandonment of branch lines is going to have on the farming community. However, I will shorten my statement in that regard to meet the wishes of the committee. I should like to continue only to the point where I can tie in rail line abandonment with the problems it creates for the farmers. Branch lines have been, and at least for the foreseeable future, will continue to be an integral part of our transportation system. Here is where I relate the matter to agriculture. The grain handling facilities made possible by their existence contribute to one of the most efficient marketing complexes now in operation. If lines are abandoned, naturally the railways will get the grain anyway at larger centres, but by doing so they are shifting the responsibility and the cost of marshalling the grain for export to the taxpayers of the provinces and the municipalities, who will have to assume the added burden and responsibility of building and maintaining highways and roads, and particularly to the farmers who will be faced with extra storage and delivery costs.

Earlier I mentioned there was no doubt that the railways would get this grain anyway at the larger centres. However, in so far

Supply-Agriculture

as the farmers are concerned, what is lost sight of is the fact that grain can be transported to smaller elevators from the field, in almost any type of truck or trailer. Each truck or trailer can be handled just as quickly in these small local elevators as in the larger ones. Perhaps only a farmer or an elevator operator can possibly imagine the congestion at large centralized elevators during the harvest period. I assure you that even under the best of conditions, grain delivery would be practically eliminated during the harvest time, when time is of the essence. Under these circumstances, the farmer can expect not only higher delivery costs but added storage costs as well. I hope the minister will give us his assurance that before any action is taken in regard to branch line abandonment the public interest will be the first consideration.

In his opening statement to the committee, the minister was enthusiastic in his appraisal of the agriculture economy over the past year. This is understandable on the part of one whose department is deeply involved in the affairs of that industry. The rest of us would be more inclined to share that enthusiasm if there had been some action on the part of the government since they were elected that would show they understood the problems of agriculture, and that they had policies designed to meet them. Since the last election the farmers of this country have been benefiting from the groundwork laid by the former government for a long term program to assist agriculture, a long term program that was brought into being to help the farmer obtain his rightful share of the nation's economic well-being. There has been little done by way of furthering this aim by the present government over the past year, nor have any of the promises that were made to agriculture by the Prime Minister been kept. Whether or not this has been by accident or design remains to be seen, but time is running out on the election promises of this government such as the two price system for wheat and a floor of $2 for that grain. These promises, plus regional support prices for eggs and hogs are just some of the things the farmers were led to expect from the Prime Minister's statements at that time.

We know the minister has had these promises hanging over his head, and this has been enough to discourage any minister of agriculture, particularly in view of the fact he has had little assistance from his colleagues. I would point out to the minister, however, that it was he who promised some-

thing would be done about higher machinery prices. The committee set up by the former government was unable to complete its work on this problem but much valuable information was gathered which may be of assistance to the minister. No one suggests there is any easy solution, but the cost of equipping the average farm today can run as high as the price of the land itself. This makes it difficult for our future farmers to get an initial start. We will be waiting with interest anything in the way of a solution which the minister has to offer. We hope also he will be able to persuade his colleagues that the problems of agriculture are not static, but must be continually reviewed in the light of the changing needs of the industry. He can expect our full support in this regard.

I listened with interest to the debate that took place this afternoon concerning political patronage. 1 am one of those who believe that the minister is perhaps sincere in his desire to eliminate this vulgar, nasty proposition from his department. I am referring to the Minister of Agriculture, not to some of the other ministers who I have reason to believe are more politically minded. If this is the case, I can assure the minister the full support and confidence of the official opposition.

I, myself, would be quite happy to see political patronage eliminated. During the time I have represented my area I have not once played politics with anybody. When it comes to appointments of P.F.A.A. inspectors, and I have received something like 60 requests in one year, I refer them to Regina and I do not even ask the people for whom they voted. I sincerely trust that in the minister's handling of the affairs of his department, in my constituency at least, he will leave the situation that way.

Progress reported.

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LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Batten):

Earlier this morning during the deliberations of the committee, the Minister of Industry wished to table a document. Does the house now give permission to the President of the Privy Council, on behalf of the Minister of Industry, to table this document?

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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

PC

Gordon Minto Churchill (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

May I ask the house leader if the business remains unchanged as announced?

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LIB

Guy Favreau (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Favreau:

Mr. Speaker, the business will be the same as announced, but with the follow-

ing exception. Now that I know an act respecting the territorial seas of Canada has come back from the other place I must advise the house that it is our intention to have it dealt with as the third item, that is, after the resolution preceding the bill to amend the Bank Act and the Quebec Savings Bank Act.

Otherwise the order of business will be the same as announced but, as I said earlier this morning, there will be a supply motion next week, probably on Wednesday; and on next Friday the estimates which we will take will be those of the Department of Public Works, which will be followed by those of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

When the minister said a supply motion on Wednesday I assume he meant interim supply, which does not require a motion.

Business of the House

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LIB

Guy Favreau (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Favreau:

Interim supply.

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CCF

Thomas Speakman Barnett

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

Mr. Barnett:

Might I be permitted to ask the Minister of Justice, in reference to the bill concerning the territorial seas, whether it is the intention of the government to have this bill referred to the standing committee on marine and fisheries following second reading?

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LIB

Guy Favreau (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Favreau:

We will be in a position to advise the house of that on Tuesday, Mr. Speaker.

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LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Batten):

Order. Pursuant to special order of yesterday, this house stands adjourned until 2.30 o'clock on the afternoon of Tuesday next.

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It being five minutes after two o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to special order. 20220-2 lli



Tuesday, May 19, 1964


May 15, 1964