Mr. Chairman, I enjoyed the change of pace provided by my hon. friend from York-Humber and I am in complete sympathy with him, but I must return to the dairy policy and I would like to deal specifically with discrimination against two groups of Canadians. Those two groups are the ones who ship fluid milk and the people who drink it. This involves a lot of people, but the way things are going I am afraid both groups may become smaller.
Fluid milk shippers sell milk on a quota basis, and this quota is set by the needs of the pasteurizing plants, not by governments, commissions or what-have-you. However, they sell only a percentage of their total production. This amount varies from area to area, and it varies among shippers, even among shippers to the same plant.
I want to give an example, using specific figures which I obtained from Alberta. They happen to be figures from my district. I am interested in dairy problems all across Canada but, as I say, I have obtained these
April 26, 1967
figures from Alberta, and there might be a slight difference with respect to figures between the provinces.
These figures are based on a check for the last two weeks of March of this year. Tests of the milk in question happened to be 3.5 and since prices are based on 3.5 milk the figures give a good example. Out of a total of 15,618 pounds of milk sold by one farmer in two weeks, he received the quota price on 5,932 pounds, which was $5.60 a hundredweight. On the remaining 9,686 pounds he received the market price of $3.25 a hundredweight, making his average price $4.15 a hundredweight. This is a long way from the $4.65 that manufacturing milk shippers may receive this year.
[DOT] (10:10 p.m.)
The use of the word "may" in this case was intentional. I informed this man that he would receive no quota, having shipped some of his fluid milk. I must say that he would not believe me. He said, "This could not be possible." He said, "We got it last year and will get it this year." Unfortunately he will be disappointed. We are talking about fluid milk shippers or shippers of distribution milk; it is the same thing. They ship to a plant which pasteurizes and distributes milk on the street.
The minister states that these producers are under provincial jurisdiction. Certainly their quota portion is under provincial jurisdiction because the price is set by commissioners or milk boards or some similar body in each province. The manufacturing portion of their milk is not under provincial jurisdiction. The minister cannot show me evidence that it is or ever has been. To say that it is, is ridiculous. The minister, however, has said this in the house over and over again. Let us be kind and say that instead of being guilty of perpetrating a hoax he just does not know the facts.
If this is so, if what the minister says is so, why did the shippers receive some subsidy last year? What has happened? In other words, what arrangements have been made with the different provinces? I mean by this that each and every province in Canada then would have to pay a subsidy on the fluid milk shippers' surplus. If they did, what would the other shippers think of this? What would their neighbours think? Just consider that. The new dairy commission is to pay a subsidy by quota, and that quota will be the same as the amount on which the subsidy was paid last year. What would happen if the fluid milk shipper was forced to switch to selling manufacturing milk? I should like to know
how much quota they then would have on which they would be paid a subsidy. Will it be just the amount they received last year over 120 per cent of their fluid quota? If so, it could be very very little; it could amount to just a few pounds difference.
How should one expand under this new quota system? Is any provision made? If there is, it certainly is not spelled out. I cannot find it either in the dairy policy or in the proclamation by the Canadian Dairy Commission. Fluid milk shippers are so discouraged that many are contemplating going out of business. To prove this, all that is necessary is that one look at any weekly publication in any place in Canada; but of course, I only know about the publications in my own area. In one little paper I noticed last week that there were seven dairy disposal sales. These were sales involving 31 head of cattle, 27 head of cattle and so on. I do not think this is something which is normal. However, this is the situation all over Canada. In order to stop this, the provincial boards-and I am speaking now of the boards which regulate the price of fluid milk-are increasing the price of fluid milk. The price goes up on the street, and what happens? If you do not think it is going up, read the papers. Every day you will find reports that milk is going up, that milk shippers are to receive more money, and so on. This certainly is true across Canada.
The price of beer, liquor and cigarettes can go up with no seeming effect on sales, but let the price of milk go up and sales immediately drop. We cannot change human nature, so we cannot do anything to manage this. When the sales drop on the street the fluid or distribution shipper sells less milk on quota. I believe this has been mentioned before, but I wish to emphasize it because it certainly is true. At the higher price he sells less on quota. Therefore he gains little or nothing.
A ridiculous situation is arising where a man who has more money invested and extremely higher production costs in comparison to other shippers, and who operates under very strict regulations and inspections of premises, can, and in many cases will, receive less than his neighbour who sells manufacturing milk. I am certainly in favour of additional income for the producer of manufacturing milk. In some places he may receive $4.65 per hundredweight; in other places he may realize much less than the $4.75 which is mentioned in the dairy policy. This figure of $4.75 may be taken by some to be a guaranteed price, but it is not: It is just a hope.
April 26, 1967
In comparison to this, cream shippers will not receive a better break, but they will find the increased subsidy of last year very useful, I am sure, to say the least. However, they certainly will not realize $4.75 per hundredweight on the same basis as for milk. I have a question which I should like to ask the minister in respect of the dairy commission report which was sent out I think on April 14. At the top of the second page the report reads as follows:
The deduction for the export equalization fund will be made on all milk or cream delivered by quota holders each month, not just on the quota quantity.
I could argue with that statement, but what I should like to know is the situation in respect of the surplus milk from the fluid shipper on which he receives a subsidy. Is he supposed to pay this too? I would hope not. It says here that shippers are not eligible if any portion of their deliveries is used for fluid purposes. At the bottom of the page the report continues:
The quotas will be determined on an annual amount but will be allocated on a monthly basis related to the average percentage of manufacturing milk and cream delivered each month. Should payments under the monthly quota not reach the annual quota allocated to a producer, there will be a reconciliation at the end of the year.
That part is fair enough but the question which I should like to ask is this: Can a quota be increased? This would not seem to be the case. If one cannot increase the quota, then I do not see how we can bring a substandard unit up to a point where it is a paying unit, or whatever the terminology is that the government uses in respect of such a unit. Farmers are always being advised to work this up.
To sum up, Mr. Chairman, I should like to say that this is a discriminatory policy. I shall not presume to tell the government how much money they do have to spend in subsidizing dairies, but I do say that one group of dairymen should not be harmed. This policy most certainly does harm one group of dairymen. I might add that I hope this year the machinery for making the payments will function so that we do not get into the situation we had last year when payments in some cases were made months late. I know that the reason this happened has been explained; but the point is that it did happen and we hope that it will not happen again.
I urge the minister to have a look at the discriminatory features of this dairy policy before we lose more of our top flight dairymen, who will never be replaced. I say that
there is no continuity to the dairy policy year after year. What is right in respect of the dairy policy this year seems to be wrong in the next year. No one dares follow the advice of the government to expand into an economic unit, because the policy does not allow for any expansion.
[DOT] (10:20 p.m.)
I hope the minister will consider this very important and pertinent fact.
Mr. Chairman, may I make a few comments on agriculture while dwelling more specifically on the dairy industry.
I need not outline the precarious situation in which the farmer now lives, particularly in Quebec.
Everyone must be aware of the difficult conditions in which some farmers live, or as others might put it, in which they rot.
It is enough to know that the Quebec farmer earns 40 per cent less than the average income in Canada, while he has the same needs as the other classes of society.
The problem is there, but the perfect solution has yet to be found, although the government is setting up a long term national agricultural policy which doubtless will be an efficient means of development and readjustment.
We want and seek the best means to enable this working class, to which we owe so much, to have the same standard of living as other classes of society. It is essential for the farmers to share in the national economic life and benefit from it. To tell the truth, our present government has done much in the last three years but there is still much to be done. The fact that the price of manufactured milk was $2.62 three years ago and that it is $4.75 today is a practical demonstration that we are not unaware of the problem. We are the country with the highest price for manufacturing milk, including the United States, but it should not stay there.
The Canadian Dairy Commission was formed during this session and I am sure it will be very useful as will the Canadian Livestock Feed Board.
Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Agriculture who is totally devoted, made a statement some time ago on the new dairy policy for 1967-68. In spite of the numerous representations, we could have been more satisfied: I would have been much happier, very happy
April 26, 1967
indeed, if we could have agreed fully to the brief presented by the C.F.U.
If I had been in the opposition, I would have requested $6 and more, and even the abolition of taxes. It is so easy. But when you are responsible for the administration, you have to do with what you have and balance the budget the best you can. Every minister, every department has its objects and its requests. And every minister would like to get more. The government ought to protect the producer and the consumer.
We all know also that taxes are never very popular. However, Mr. Chairman, I must give credit to the U.C.C. for the extraordinary work it does mainly in the province of Quebec. The U.C.C. is a living force which will accomplish ever more so long as it gets support from all sides. And we must give it the greatest possible support.
Supply, Mr. Chairman, has to be passed even in spite of criticism. It is so easy. This government has shown that it has done more in the last three years than all the governments since Confederation.
We have every reason to expect that we will do even more just as long as it is possible.
Mr. Chairman, in view of the lateness of the hour, I shall cut short the remarks I had intended to make tonight. But, since my constituency is partly made up of farmers, and the dairy industry in my area holds a predominant place, I cannot but take a few minutes to join with those who made representations to the minister in favour of more sustained attention and a better share of the national income for the farmers.
Some time ago, the minister set forth his dairy policy for the year 1967-68. It is a known fact that never, since the time the present Liberal government has been occupying the treasury benches, has a policy given rise to so much discontent. When such peaceful people as farmers decide to march on the Canadian parliament, surely there is cause for concern.
And it is our duty, as representatives, to take the necessary steps in order to remedy as quickly as possible the farmers' predicament.
I have here, Mr. Chairman, an article published in Le Devoir on Tuesday, April 18, 1967, under the following heading:
The C.F.U. denounces Ottawa's new dairy policy and attacks violently the federal members for Quebec.
And under the signature of Mr. Gilles Gariepy, one can read in the second paragraph of that article:
At a press conference the C.F.U. and the Federation stated that they were "bitterly disappointed" by the attitude of the federal members for Quebec who with their colleagues passed the legislation of last April 1.
Here, Mr. Chairman, I think that the writer forgot a very important word. He should have referred to "the stand taken by the federal Liberal members from Quebec", because we, on this side of the house, have tried on many occasions to call the minister's attention to the problems of the dairy industry to have him amend a dairy policy that we thought prejudicial to farmers.
The same article further states:
According to the two organizations, that piece of legislation shows the "irresponsibility and the inaction of our Quebec members."
Here again, Mr. Chairman, reference should have been made to the "irresponsibility and inaction of the Liberal members from Quebec," because they did very little and if they made any representations, as they claimed and as has just said the hon. member for Champlain (Mr. Matte) I am inclined to believe that those representations failed to impress the minister, since he did not lift a finger to help the farmers.
The statements made by the leaders of the Catholic Farmers Union with regard to that new dairy policy are not very flattering for the minister.
The dairy policy set forth by the minister for the year 1967-68 is described first as inadequate, second as inconsistent and third, as unfair to the farmers. Despite that unfavourable assessment made by the representatives of the agricultural class, the minister keeps on saying that it is the best dairy policy ever given to the Canadian people and that the dairy farmers are more prosperous than ever.
However when we listen to farmers, and especially the dairy farmers, we hear quite a different version. The minister should adapt himself to the situation.
Mr. Chairman, it is not necessary to go through many farm publications to realize that the dairy policy of the Minister of Agriculture is completely unsatisfactory and unacceptable to farm groups.
I have here the "Farm and Country" of Tuesday March 28, 1967, where we find the following heading:
April 26, 1967
[DOT] (10:30 p.m.)
Ontario Industrial Farmers Must Have $5 Milk.
The demand for $5 per hundredweight for milk used for industrial purposes is neither frivolous, greedy or unreasonable. As a recent resolution of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture says, even this price is still short of economic equality for producers.
This should not surprise anybody.
This is an assessment from a group which represents the farming class.
In another publication, one can read the following:
Canada's 1967 Dairy Policy Not Acceptable.
And in the last paragraph, this is what we read:
Government policy is supposed to help the people, not drive them up the financial wall.
This is a thoroughly bad, thoroughly unacceptable policy. Mr. Greene was able last summer to divert the wrath of dairy farmers toward Queen's Park and Quebec City, thanks to the unsophistication of those heading the protest movement. If he hopes this year to continue avoiding criticism by putting up another false front in the form of the Canadian Dairy Commission he is wrong. Farmers now have a little less Greene in their eyes than they did.
Here are some really harsh articles for the minister who cannot maintain that he has not been warned.
I have in hand a copy of La Terre de Chez-Nous dated August 9, 1964 which says:
Ottawa turns a deaf ear. The C.F.U. is continuing its representations on behalf of dairy producers.
And in it, we can see that the minister has certainly welcomed the farmers' representatives, but that the latter returned dissatisfied with their unsolved problems.
We have there, Mr. Chairman, an idea of the unfavourable conditions against which farmers are struggling, especially when we know, for instance, that they have to meet ever increasing production costs, while the price of their products is stable or falling.
I have here a price list supplied by a farmers' co-operative in regard to the prices of meal as of June 15, 1966 and February 27, 1967.
It is astonishing, Mr. Chairman, to note the extent of the price increases.
For instance, corn meal went from $3.50 per hundredweight in June 1966 to $4.05 in February in 1967. The other prices I will quote are for the dates referred to, that is from June 15, 1966 to February 27, 1967. Wheat meal, $3.55 compared to $4.00. Barley meal, $3.30 compared to $3.55. Oatmeal $3.30 compared to $3.50. Growing meal for hogs, $3.85 compared to $4.10. Dairy cattle meal $3.50 compared to $3.80. Bran meal $3.40 compared to $3.80. Shorts $3.50 compared to $3.85.
Mr. Chairman, I should like to tell the minister that the situation is serious among the farmers. The farmers came here with members of the C.F.U. to meet the minister and members of the cabinet only a few weeks ago and they have clearly established their positions, and their very difficult situation and unless the government takes the responsibility and decides to give them what they are entitled to I think it will be too late if a decision is delayed five or six months more. If we wait another five or six months, it will be too late.
If I had the time, I would like to refer the minister to the warnings we gave him in the last few months, to the criticism of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture in
January last when they met in Winnipeg. I shall merely quote the first sentence of the first paragraph:
It is resolved that the Canadian Federation of Agriculture express in the strongest terms, its opposition to the suggestion of the federal Minister of Agriculture, to the effect that total subsidies to the dairy industry would be maintained at their present level.
And in the second paragraph, they say that a minimum objective of $5.10 per hundredweight of manufacturing milk is absolutely essential.
Mr. Chairman, I hope that those few remarks will convince the minister. It is high time for him to assume his responsibilities and to take the necessary steps to give the farmers a truly advantageous position.
Another topic on which I should like to dwell, Mr. Chairman, is the textile industry. As we know, this industry is the second largest employer in the province of Quebec. It gives work to some 52,000 employees at the present time, that is approximately 60 per cent of the total national labour force in the textile industry. The annual output amounts to approximately $850 million.
April 26, 1967
In the last few years, in particular, the textile industry, one of the oldest in the country and in the province of Quebec especially, has had to face the competition of developing countries which causes many problems for our Canadian workers and manufacturers.
When one reads in the paper, for instance, that an old Dominion Textile mill, the Merchants mill in Montreal, which employs 300 workers, will have to close down by next October, one realizes that the situation is really serious. On the other hand, the output of the Thor Mills of Granby has fallen off by 50 per cent and the situation is so serious that those textile workers have even decided to disregard the terms of their collective agreement in order to enter into a common agreement with their employer whereby they will go on short time so as to distribute among themselves the few dollars they can still earn through unfilled orders. Mr. Chairman, that situation is partially due to competition from developing countries that is not always quite fair. I have here a letter from a St. Hyacinthe textile manufacturer who complains that the labelling of products from an underdeveloped country is causing trouble for Canadian manufacturers. It seems that the buyer is being led to believe that the item is a Canadian product.
[DOT] (10:40 p.m.)
To clarify the thoughts of my correspondent, I shall quote part of this letter:
This sample as you can see is labelled (I will omit the name) and anyone who Is not too familiar with purchases can easily be misled, thinking he is buying Canadian goods, for the label is quite conspicuous, large and marked Montreal. However, if you unfold the pants you see on the inside a small label saying "Made in Japan".
Surely this shipper is using a method which is dishonest and detrimental to our Canadian manufacturers and workers.
I have contacted the hon. minister concerned and drawn this anomaly to his attention, so that it may be corrected.
There is also another field with which I should like to deal for a few minutes only, namely the shoe industry.
Yesterday we had a meeting with the manufacturers and the workers' representatives in this industry, which, due to foreign competition, is in the process of disappearing. I cannot help but blame the government for this decrease in the number of Canadian shoe manufacturers.
We know, for instance, that the Canadian footwear can be favourably compared with
the footwear of any other country. But there are so many goods imported from emerging countries that since 1963, 29 Canadian manufactures were compelled to close. Of that number, 13 were located in the province of Quebec.
Mr. Chairman, when we think, for instance, that a manufacture such as Ludger Duchene Incorpore, which had been founded in 1907, was compelled to close its doors. Those who are interested in the welfare of Canadian workers have every reason to be concerned. We have lost 13 such factories since 1963, when the present government came to office.
But there is more, Mr. Chairman.
Imports increased by 8,565,730 pair of shoes from 1963 to 1966, with Canada's production over the same period decreasing by 1,102,857 pair.
While shoe imports represented only 5 per cent of Canadian production in 1951, in 1966 they amounted to 49 per cent of our production.
Mr. Chairman, there is cause for concern, and representatives of both the shoe manufacturers and the workers in the shoe industry, were right in warning us that they could not wait any longer. It is absolutely essential that the government do something, otherwise, this home industry which is in the process of disappearing, will surely and quite rapidly disappear.
If I took a few minutes to bring this question to the attention of the cabinet, it is because I have in my constituency, a half dozen shoe manufactures employing at least several hundred workers.
The consequences from a municipal point of view can be imagined if the employees were thrown into the street overnight and forced to find work elsewhere.
The shoe industry employs some 24,000 workers in 220 shoe manufacturing plants spread all over Canada. To this should be added nearly 15,000 other workers employed in other plants supplying the shoe manufacturing plants.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, I should like the relevant authorities to take due notice of this warning that was sounded by the shoe workers and manufacturers. I should also like to ask the Minister of Industry and Defence Production (Mr. Drury) to bring all the influence he can bring to bear to convince his colleague, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Sharp) to abolish this 12 per cent tax which hinders Canadian manufacturers in their efforts to compete with foreign products.
April 26, 1967
I know that the representations came from all sides in that field as in others where the government turned a deaf ear, but I think that the government should at last realize that unless steps are taken without delay it will be too late and our whole economic structure will suffer.
Mr. Chairman, in this debate on interim supply, I should like to talk about the dairy industry and farming in general.
The hon. member who has just resumed his seat, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacin-the-Bagot (Mr. Ricard), insinuated that hon. members sitting at the right of the chair had not done anything for the dairy industry.
The minister is aware of the representations made by the Liberal members on various occasions. I thought the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot felt that the dairy industry was too important to indulge in petty politics about it.
On March 22, 1967, the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Greene) announced to the Canadian people the dairy policy for 1967-68.
I am referring to page 2 of his press release.
While total returns to producers from subsidy and the market will depend upon the action of provincial boards and agencies in establishing minimum paying prices, I am informed by the commission that the combination of subsidy and price supports will provide for a total milk price in the order of $4.75 f.o.b. the factory for manufacturing milk testing 3.5 per cent.
We know, Mr. Chairman, that the associations representing the dairy producers in the province of Quebec and in Canada asked in several briefs that the price support be set at $5.10 per hundredweight of milk testing 3.5 per cent butterfat, either by increasing the subsidy or the retail price.
[DOT] (10:50 p.m.)
Recently a representative of the Ontario dairy producers association expressed some concern, Mr. Chairman, about price increases. He feared that if the retail prices were too high, consumption would decline.
We had a striking example of that, Mr. Chairman, in 1961-62. The hon. member for Kent (Mr. Danforth) mentioned that in 1961-62 we had surpluses-yes, I remember that in January 1962, we had more than 200
million pounds of butter or butter oil in storage and he was amazed that the present government had disposed of the surpluses and that we now had to import butter.
Everyone knows, Mr. Chairman, that the government, or the Canadian Dairy Commission thought advisable to import butter in February or March 1967 in order to have a reserve. According to members of the opposition, an unusual amount was imported.
The imported quantity, Mr. Chairman, was only 2,250,000 pounds and this was especially meant to protect our reserves in British Columbia.
However, Mr. Chairman, in 1962, we had reserves. Why? Because consumption had decreased from 18.5 to 15.5 per capita. This is why in 1960, 1962, a reserve had accumulated. Some people say among other things: perhaps the price was not the only reason why people could not afford to buy butter? However, you know, Mr. Chairman, that in 1962, we had around 1 million unemployed in Canada. And who ruled the country in 1961, if it was not the right hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Diefenbaker)?
Mr. Chairman, I also wish the dairy farmers to get the amount they are asking, that is $5.10 per hundredweight of milk and the Liberals had promised $4 per hundredweight in their program during the 1965 election.
Last year, dairy farmers obtained the price of $4. I admit that, in some areas, dairy farmers could not get 4 per hundredweight and that, in 1967-68, in some areas of the province of Quebec, for instance, they will fail to obtain the amount of $4.75 per hundredweight, less 11 cents for export. However, Mr. Chairman, according to an agreement entered into last fall, the province of Quebec, as of April 1, 1967, withdrew from the dairy products assistance plan. Since the contribution, I believe, was on an average 25 cents per hundredweight, this will have the Quebec treasury some $8 million. And why is it that the province of Quebec does not use this amount of $8 million to assist the areas which will not be in a position to benefit from the price of $4.75?
Mr. Chairman, I am also worried about quotas in the new policy. In an announcement made on March 22, 1967, by the Department of Agriculture, and in another announcement made by the Canadian Dairy Commission on April 14, 1967, the regulations under the new dairy products policy were made known.
April 26, 1967
And among other things, starting in 196869, I believe, any producer who has not delivered a minimum of 50,000 pounds of milk in 1967-68, will no longer be eligible for subsidies in the future. And I think reference is made also to certain limits.
I hope, Mr. Chairman, that the commission will consider special cases, such as that of the young farmers wanting to set up an agricultural establishment, who have no cattle on their farm and who cannot get a quota so as to benefit by this subsidy.
But I have confidence in that dairy commission. That is another promise to the agricultural class which the Liberal party has fulfilled. In the 1965 program of the Liberal party, we had promised to set up a dairy commission and the Canadian parliament, in this session has established a three-member Canadian Dairy Commission. I am pleased tonight, Mr. Chairman, to mention that one member, the one acting as vice-chairman, is one of my fellow citizens from Thurso who represents the producers.
I was surprised when the hon. member for Kent (Mr. Danforth) with whom I sat on the committee on agriculture and colonization used the kind of language he used about a possible general strike by dairy farmers.
May I refer him to the article written by P. E. Grandpre as published in "La Terre de Chez Nous", on April 19, 1967, and I quote:
Until now, we have read many statements, but no one has kicked up a shindy. Only veiled allusions from the minorities, and nothing for the immediate future. Apparently, serious people will continue to exert pressure, to negotiate in an orderly fashion, which seems preferable. In similar cases, there is always the danger of spoiling things by going too fast.
The present situation-
Mr. Chairman, here is a very important passage-
-has grown difficult and touchy because of what might be called a sin of omission: the increase in the price of industrial milk started two or three years ago-
It is not the Liberal party, nor the Minister of Agriculture, nor the member for Labelle who mentioned that, Mr. Chairman, but Mr. Grandpre in an article published in La Terre de Chez-Nous of April 19. And here is something about the strike in the United States mentioned by the member for Kent. What were its results, according to Mr. Grandpre? It entailed for dairy producers a substantial loss of money. The member for Kent mentioned some other figures, certain subsidies and support prices on farm products in
Canada. He mentioned some but he did not say that in 1961-62 the support prices for the dairy industry only amounted to $16,481,000. Then we see that $100 million will be allotted in 1966-67. I too, Mr. Chairman, share the ideas expressed by the hon. member for Medicine Hat (Mr. Olson) when he says that our friends are not serious when they claim that nothing has been done to help the farmers, the Canadian dairy industry.
If the government grants subsidies of over $120 million to help our dairy producers, in the final analysis, neither you nor I, Mr. Chairman, are getting those $120 million.
Every month, the Department of Agriculture-from here on it will be the Canadian Dairy Commission for the stabilization board -sends cheques to the manufacturing milk and cream producers. I do not know whether the new or the 1966 policy applies to the cream producers.
And, every month or every three months, the cheques are sent out directly to the producers, and they are the ones who benefit from those subsidies.
The hon. member for Roberval (Mr. Gauthier) said that the Minister of Agriculture should be ashamed to look at us or to look at the farmers. Personally, I say to the minister that he should not be ashamed to meet the farmers because the Liberal party has kept most of the promises it made them in 1965-
-and you proved it, Mr. Minister. You did not follow the policy applied by the previous government. And I am not the one who says this.
[DOT] (11:00 p.m.)
In fact, as reported on page 15061 of the French version of Hansard in reply to a question asked by the hon. member for Bona-venture (Mr. Bechard), the hon. member for Charlevoix (Mr. Asselin) said that the previous government had done better than yourself and that at least it had listened. He was right, this is precisely what the previous government did, it merely listened. In fact here are the prices which farmers were receiving: in 1960, $2.78; in 1961, $2.77; in 1962, $2.68; in 1963, $2.74.
Now in March 1967, they were receiving $4 and this amount could reach $4.75 in 1967 and 1968. This means, Mr. Chairman, that the present Minister of Agriculture did not take the advice of the previous government, that is to listen, but that he acted and
April 26, 1967
assisted the farming industry and the dairy producers.
My colleagues and myself, not only those of the province of Quebec, but also those from the other provinces, will continue to insist and make representations to the Minister of Agriculture, or the Minister of Finance and Receiver general (Mr. Sharp) in order that our dairy farmers may get what they are asking for. But I do not agree with the statement made by the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot (Mr. Ricard) and some other members, to the effect that this government has done nothing for the farming classes-
The present government has done much more than the previous one, because if I recall a statement made by the former minister of agriculture during a banquet held in 1962, in honour of the hon. member for Joliette-L'Assomption-Montcalm, he is reported as saying on that occasion: "Now, we will take care of the eastern producers." Now, what did he do between 1957 and 1962? I think he had followed the advice of the hon. member for Charlevoix, he had listened to the grievances, the representations of the agricultural class, but he did not do anything for the dairy farmers.
As I said, sir, do not be embarrassed, do not be ashamed to meet the agricultural class, you have improved their lot. You did not fulfil their demands 100 per cent, but you are finally going forward and I hope you will continue to help the agricultural class, the dairy farmers. I hope, Mr. Chairman, that my colleagues in the province of Quebec and in other provinces will not listen to the advice of the hon. member for Villeneuve (Mr. Caouette) when he said that he was not afraid to vote against the government to overthrow it.
Let us be serious. Most farmers would be loathe to return to the former government's policy.
Then, Mr. Chairman, again I assure the dairy producers that the Liberal members, as well as the other members from the province of Quebec and the other provinces-and I am much more open-minded than the previous speaker-that all the Quebec members, whatever their political label will keep striving to obtain for the dairy farmers the price they ask, that is $5.10 per hundredweight, for milk containing 3.5 per cent butter fat.