March 19, 1968


3c. Departmental administration, $399,753.


NDP

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

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Chairman, I wonder whether it is now possible to have a statement from the government house leader or from the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs about our program. I do not wish to anticipate any negotiating that may still be going on but, as the government house leader recognizes, there is a relationship between the estimates of this department and the effect of Bill C-190. I am authorized to say on behalf of my colleagues that if we are going to go on with Bill C-190 tomorrow or the next day it will certainly make a difference in the amount of time necessary to deal with the estimates of this department. If negotiation has not yet been concluded perhaps we could take another department and come back to the estimates of this department when we know what the program is. The government house leader knows what we are prepared to do. Perhaps he could comment on the matter at this point.

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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (Minister of National Health and Welfare; Minister of Amateur Sport; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate and understand the interest of the hon. member. I think he has a valid interest. However, there is one more element in this situation that I have to clear up before I can make any statement. If it is agreed, pending the conclusion of negotiations I certainly would be happy to call another department. H( wever, I have taken great advantage of my 27053-191

DEBATES 7799

Supply-Consumer and Corporate Affairs colleague the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs in having him in readiness in the house for a couple of days now and I must, even though the blandishments of my hon. friend are very great, let the minister carry on with his estimates. Within a very short time I shall be able to clear up this matter.

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SC

Alexander Bell Patterson

Social Credit

Mr. Patterson:

Mr. Chairman, I should just like to say that we would welcome the introduction of Bill C-190 because it is an important measure. We hope that some success may attend the efforts of the minister in working out the details in this regard.

So far as the estimates are concerned, we feel that the supplementary estimates have received considerable attention and it is not our intention to prolong the debate on them or on interim supply. But we hope we will be able to proceed with Bill C-190.

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PC

Thomas Miller Bell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bell (Carleion):

Mr. Chairman, this item contains a rather substantial sum, $ 142,525, as Canada's share of the expenses of the Canadian committee on mutual funds and investment contracts. I have had on the order paper since March 1 question No. 1,101 asking about this matter. If the minister is prepared to give a commitment that this question will be answered tomorrow I will not pursue the matter further. If he cannot do that, perhaps he could now give us particulars in connection with this substantial sum and state the purposes, objectives and terms of reference of this committee.

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NDP

Robert William Prittie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Prittie:

Mr. Chairman, I wish to make a very short intervention on just one subject. Last week, I believe, the hon. member for Halifax and the hon. member for New Westminster raised the question of professional sports in connection with the combines act. I realize that as the legislation stands at present services generally, and certainly professional sports, do not fall within the terms of the combines act. Therefore the minister and, indeed, the federal government have no power to act.

[DOT] (4:00 p.m.)

This matter has arisen in connection with the application by Vancouver for a franchise in the National Hockey League. Although the minister is probably aware of it, I should like to point out to him that there is a private member's bill before the house which would rectify this situation. It is Bill C-99, introduced by his colleague, the hon. member for

March 19. 1968

Supply-Consumer and Corporate Affairs Vancouver-Burrard, which expressly calls for professional sports to come under the Combines Investigation Act. I will not read the explanatory notes now but they state the case very well.

I should like to ask the minister one other question in connection with the Combines Investigation Act. As he reported to the house, this act is now under study by the Economic Council of Canada which will not be reporting for some time. Has the inclusion of services under the Combines Investigation Act been referred to the Economic Council of Canada? At the present time only commodities which are used in trade and commerce are subject to the act. But it seems to me that the power to fix prices and divide up markets in a way which could be detrimental to the public interest could just as well exist in the service industries as in trade in commodities. Certainly professional sports could be considered. Parliament should be responsive to public opinion, and public opinion in many parts of Canada, particularly on the west coast, is quite strong on this subject at present. I do not know whether the minister heard my question.

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LIB

John Napier Turner (Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Turner:

Yes.

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NDP

Melville Carlyle Germa

New Democratic Party

Mr. Germa:

Mr. Chairman, I welcome the opportunity to say a few words on this item in the estimates of the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. As hon. members know, members of this party accepted the establishment of this department with certain reservations. We pointed out at that time what we considered to be very grave weaknesses in the legislation under which the department is operating. Nothing has happened in the intervening time to change our opinion of what this department will accomplish on behalf of the Canadian people. The Canadian people welcomed with joy the appointment of a minister who would have the power to intervene directly in the marketplace on their behalf to ensure they receive fair value for their money when they see fit to expend certain moneys on services which are required for their daily needs. This is a very wide field. It concerns every dollar spent by every person in the Dominion of Canada. So the minister, if he really seeks to do his job properly, could intervene in almost every sector of the business community.

However, in spite of the formation of this department the cost of living has continued to rise. We have not noticed any change in the upward push of prices. The D.B.S. figures

published on Friday indicate that at present the cost of living stands at 152.7, an increase of .1 over last month. This is a rise of 4.5 per cent from February 1, 1967. The D.B.S. figures also show us that the housing index rose by .5 per cent. The problem of housing has long plagued the people of Canada, and these figures indicate that nothing has happened to offset the continued rise in the cost of accommodation for families. Surely this is one of the most essential areas in which the minister could intervene by seeking to find out why the cost of shelter for our families continues to rise despite the efforts of other departments of the government.

The Dominion Bureau of Statistics points out to us that one of the reasons for the increase in the cost of housing in the month of February was the increase in the insurance rates on housing. According to these figures the insurance companies must have increased their premiums. So far as I know the insurance companies have not stated their case before the Canadian people, before the government or before any board of review, for increasing the rates they charge for the insurance of houses against fire, flood, hail, etc. The insurance companies made an arbitrary decision to increase their rates.

I am not sure whether the minister has the power to intervene in this area but in view of the fact that the consumer dollar is involved I believe his jurisdiction is wide enough for him to intervene on behalf of the consumer. This is a very vital area. Insurance companies have often been referred to in this house. We have pointed out that they are not suffering from a low return on their investment. It seems to me that the minister could well intervene in this area and seek an explanation from the insurance companies for the increase in their rates. I realize he does not have the power to legislate against them but surely he could make them expose their books to the people of Canada and make them give an explanation for increasing their rates on housing.

I believe that if this were done it would go a long way toward exposing a business which has long preyed upon the Canadian people. In the long run it is the little man who bears the greater part of the burden because he cannot afford any risk and he has to go to an insurance company to obtain protection for the major investment represented by his acquisition of a place to live. He has to pay these rates regardless of how high they may be. I

March 19, 1968 COMMONS

suggest to the minister that this is one area in which he could do something.

The legislation establishing the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs did not give the minister sufficient power under which he could act. The main purpose of the department, therefore, is to inform, to educate and to protect the consumer in the marketplace. Since the formation of this department I have not seen any literature or any programs on radio or television informing me as to its aim and powers. After all, I am also an amateur in the marketplace. I have been hoodwinked on numerous occasions and probably I will be hoodwinked again tomorrow or in my next venture into the jungle. The minister has not seen fit to educate me or any of the 20 million people in Canada.

I realize that the department has only been operating for four or five months and it is probably not right to condemn the minister at this early stage, but the people of Canada were quite happy when such a young and vigorous minister took over this portfolio and they had hoped they were going to see action and that the feathers would fly. However, so far I have been quite disappointed in that I have not seen anyone get plucked by the minister. He is a quite young, affable and vigorous person and he occupies a very sensitive position in the cabinet. His position is probably the most sensitive in the whole of Canada in that, if he wishes to do his job properly, he will have to intervene between the consumer and the business community. As a person occupying such a sensitive position he must be extremely careful not to become obligated to the business community because if it becomes necessary for him to react to any of their financial decisions he must be under no obligation to them and be free to act.

[DOT] (4:10 p.m.)

I am very doubtful, therefore, about the propriety of the minister accepting free transportation from a rubber company during his campaign for the leadership of the Liberal party. The time may come when he may have to intercede on behalf of the people against this company. I believe that by accepting this type of gift he is obligated to a certain degree and may be inhibited from acting in a completely unbiased manner. I urge the minister and the other ministers involved in the leadership campaign not to become entangled in obligations to various business enterprises. I am very reluctant to see ministers beholden to any of these major enterprises.

27053-49li

DEBATES 7801

Supply-Consumer and Corporate Affairs

As proof positive of the fact the cost of living is continuing to rise I cite the recent report of the Batten commission which was authorized by the three prairie province governments to investigate grocery prices on the prairies. The commission revealed some startling figures concerning the degree to which two companies have gained control of the grocery business on the prairies. There is no doubt in my mind that if this condition exists on the prairies it exists in Ontario, Quebec and the rest of Canada. When the minister was asked if he would take action on the report and extend this type of investigation to the rest of Canada he was not too excited about doing so. He seemed to feel that if some other province wished to undertake an investigation he would be glad to receive the report.

This is another area of the responsibility of this department which I do not understand. Is it the responsibility of the minister to institute investigations into various prices? I suggest it is the responsibility of the department not only to receive reports from other commissions set up by other agencies but also, when it becomes aware of situations in Canada, to undertake investigations itself. If a monopoly situation is revealed, proper legal action should then be taken under another branch of this department to see that these people are properly brought into line.

I realize, of course, that the anti-combines legislation is not very effective. As was pointed out by one of my colleagues the other day, even though dozens and dozens of corporations have been convicted of price fixing, not one director of these various companies has ever been sent to jail. If these people are convicted they should not be allowed to escape the full penalty of the law, even though I am not one to advocate filling our jails with people because in most cases this serves a very limited purpose. However, I do know that people who have no financial means are suffering in our jails. The fact is that the directors and officers of major corporations can extract from the community hundreds of millions of dollars through illegal price fixing and never have to feel the full force of the law and languish in our jails. If the people of Canada saw such individuals brought to justice in a few instances they would have more faith in this department and more faith in the government.

Consumer credit is another field in which the minister would have the right to intercede. The consumer spends a large portion of

7802 COMMONS

Supply-Consumer and Corporate Affairs his income paying usurious interest rates. If a finance company can legally charge up to 24 per cent for money, then I think it is up to the minister to point out that these companies are doing this. I know that these companies can do so legally but it is up to him to point out that this is a fact of life and that people must beware of these usurers in our society. They have been with us for a long time and 1 suppose they will be with us forever. Consumer credit in Canada today, exclusive of real estate mortages, totals about $8 billion and involves approximately $960 million in interest per annum. This is a sizeable amount of money which reduces the consumer's purchasing power.

The reduction in consumer purchasing power in turn deflates our economy and causes unemployment as well as all the other unsavoury things that go along with a deflated economy. I feel that the minister has the responsibility to see that every consumer has as much purchasing power as possible because this would benefit the whole country. One recalls that in 1966 there were various demonstrations by consumers all over Canada in front of supermarkets and other places. The consumer has become organized and he has a new minister to ask for help. The consumer has seen fit to complain about quality and prices as well as the type of service he receives for his money.

The consumer knows that there are on the roads today 670,000 unsafe automobiles. I feel it is the duty of the minister to find out why companies are allowed to put unsafe automobiles on the market intentionally. The average person who buys a car is not a mechanic. He is not able to judge the quality of workmanship or safety of the automobile. He has so many dollars in his pocket and knows he needs a car. Quite innocently he often buys an automobile which may cost him his life or other people their lives. All of us must be protected from this type of merchandising.

There has been some talk about drug prices. I should like to congratulate the minister upon the action he has taken in introducing Bill No. C-190 which all of us believe would have the effect of bringing down the price of drugs by allowing competition to enter this field. If the bill could only be brought before the house before the recess I believe the people of Canada would be forever in debt to the minister for at least accomplishing that much during the short period of time he has been in office.

DEBATES March 19, 1968

Health services are another area of concern to the consumer. Regardless of the state of health of a person at the moment he knows he is going to have to expend money on medical services. None of us will last forever. Eventually the machinery runs down and we have to seek advice and help from the medical profession. My remarks at this point apply equally to other professional people who arbitrarily set their rates, such as engineers, lawyers and so on. However, doctors are the ones who come closest to the consumer because the consumer has to go to them directly. Engineers and these other people are about one stage removed from the consumer.

[DOT] (4:20 p.m.)

I should like to refer to an editorial broadcast over station VOCM in St. John's, Newfoundland, on January 17, 1968. Part of it reads as follows:

Recent discussion of rates for professional services-who sets the rates-and what relationship these rates have to the services rendered, brings to mind that some doctors have made upward revisions in their rate structure recently-in some cases as much as 30 per cent. We are given to understand that the increases have been applied because of the approach of medicare.

We all know that the medical profession has raised certain objections to medicare, and I commend the government for the stand they have taken in the face of those objections. But this editorial seems to indicate that in order to try to destroy medicare across Canada the profession has increased fees by 30 per cent so as to make the cost of medicare so expensive that the government would not dare to try to supply the people with medical services. I think this is a deplorable state of affairs. I am not saying that doctors are not entitled to a decent standard of living. They go out in all sorts of weather and have a very hard job to perform. They are dealing with sick people who are not necessarily on their best behaviour. For these reasons they deserve a standard of living better than most. That I recognize, Mr. Chairman.

I also recognize the fact that the person who pays the bill is the consumer. I also recognize the fact that these doctors were educated largely from public funds. I also recognize the fact that their equipment is supplied from public funds. Medical research is also charged to the public. It was the consumer in the first instance who supplied the money to educate the doctor. The consumer provided the required facilities and conducted the necessary research so that the doctor in turn could serve you and me better

March 19, 1968 COMMONS

as a medical practitioner. Therefore I believe that the consumer has the right to state what the fees are to be for the services that are rendered. I claim that the taxpayer, the consumer, has a claim on the doctor's education and facilities.

This fact was recognized in Newfoundland a few years ago when the premier of that province placed certain restrictions on those members of the medical profession who took advantage of the very generous offer that was made to educate them. In turn they had to commit themselves to work for two years in outpost hospitals. I see nothing wrong with that sort of legislation. It is an admission that the government has the right to intervene on behalf of the consumer when members of this profession set their own rates. As the medical care program of the government begins to take effect the government itself will have more at stake because it will be paying 50 per cent of the cost of services. If medical fees are decided arbitrarily by a hostile medical profession it is easy to see that the profession could wreck the plan, and you and I, Mr. Chairman, and the rest of the people of Canada would be the losers.

The minister has also had his attention drawn through various questions put in the house to other price increases that have recently taken place. In one instance the consumer is not affected directly but indirectly the price he has to pay is affected. I refer to the recent increase in the price of copper. We asked the Minister of Finance to investigate the increase. I do not know the connection between the finance minister and the minister of consumer affairs, but in the long run it is the consumer who pays for price increases. If a basic commodity such as copper suffers a price increase, almost every other commodity on the market suffers similarly. It is in this respect that the minister of consumer affairs has a responsibility to the consumer to intervene.

When the subject of the recent rise in the price of copper was raised the answer given by the finance minister was that there was a world shortage of copper and therefore the price had risen. Also advantage was being taken of a strike of 50,000 copper workers in the United States to squeeze an additional 4 cents a pound, I believe it was, out of the price on the marketplace. At no time did the minister indicate that the profit position of these companies warranted a price increase. At no time did the minister say that the increased price of copper had anything to do

DEBATES 7803

Supply-Consumer and Corporate Affairs with increased cost of production. There was no relationship between the cost of production and the cost of copper on the market; it was strictly a question of what the market would bear. Yet no action was taken by the minister against the corporations concerned.

I fail to see why the minister did not go to these companies and at least extract from them the admission that there was no legitimate reason to raise the price of copper, thus putting that admission on the record. The profit picture of these companies was good. The only reason they raised the price of copper was to take advantage of a shortage as a result of a strike in the United States and a war in Viet Nam.

I would also draw attention to the fact that gasoline has increased in price, as has fuel oil. These increases affect the consumer directly. In our northern climate fuel oil is essential. Yet the price of fuel oil has unwarrantedly risen. The increase has not been substantiated by the five or six oil companies that have a world-wide monopoly.

The increase in price was not arbitrated in the way the average worker has to arbitrate an increase in his wages. The worker has to go to a conciliation board and expose himself to the whole community. Unless he has community support he will not get an increase in wages. Through this democratic process of submitting his demands to public scrutiny he gets a wage increase. But there is no stipulation that corporations must negotiate with the community before they can increase their prices.

When the legislation to set up this department was going through we pleaded with the minister to include a provision setting up a prices review board. This suggestion was rejected as totally unworkable, unwarranted, unnecessary, regressive, plus a few other objectives. Therefore I was quite surprised the other day to hear the Prime Minister state in this chamber, as reported on page 7536 of Hansard for March 12:

We must find some effective means of influencing, not controlling but influencing, the many individual decisions that give rise to increases in incomes, costs and prices. To this end the government proposes to establish a governmental agency, commission or board, whatever it may be called, to review and scrutinize major decisions affecting prices, incomes and costs throughout the economy. [DOT] (4:30 p.m.)

Although the Prime Minister's statement was vague he intimated that the view of our

March 19, 1968

7804 COMMONS

Supply-Consumer and Corporate Affairs group had had some effect on the government. The Prime Minister referred to some sort of board, agency, committee or what have you which will inquire into how economic decisions are made to increase incomes and prices. Of course, when the government talks of prices and costs it carefully does not use the word "profits". I have yet to hear a member of the government speak about profits or excess profits in this connection. It is in this area, though, that the new agency ought to inquire. Profits must be included as a cost to consumers. I submit that the consumer has the right to determine how much profit he is willing to pay on any commodity. Only when the board or agency the Prime Minister envisaged is capable of operating in this field will we be in a position to control the cost of living. I say this because farther on the Prime Minister said:

We shall also, Mr. Speaker, take carefully into account any views on this proposal expressed in parliament.

We think that this is a good move. But we think the matter should be pursued and made concrete since at present we do not know whether the government is thinking of a board, agency or commission. At any rate, the germ of the thought is there. I urge the minister concerned to let the germ grow and to bring it to fruition.

Everything I have said so far applies generally to all of Canada. Yet there is one group which, because of its geographic position in the country, suffers more from high prices than the rest. I refer to those in the far northern parts. The farther north we go the more expensive it is to live. I come from a northern Ontario town. It is not in the extreme north but it costs us more to live than it costs the people of Toronto. A short time ago when I was on the Sudbury city council we were discussing the high cost of building materials in the city. We found that a square of shingles-

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@Deputy Chair(man)? of Committees of the Whole

Order, please. I regret to interrupt the hon. member but his allotted time has expired.

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An hon. Member:

Go ahead.

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LIB
?

@Deputy Chair(man)? of Committees of the Whole

Does the committee give unanimous consent for the hon. member to continue?

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LIB
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

[Mr. Germa.)

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@Deputy Chair(man)? of Committees of the Whole

The hon. member for Sudbury.

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NDP

Melville Carlyle Germa

New Democratic Party

Mr. Germa:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will not be very long.

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LIB

Allan Marcus Atkinson McLean

Liberal

Mr. McLean (Charlotte):

Will the hon.

member permit a question? Does he say that the consumer ought to control the price of butter, eggs, milk and other farm produce?

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NDP

Melville Carlyle Germa

New Democratic Party

Mr. Germa:

Through an agency or a review board we could determine whether a given commodity was being sold at a fair price, whether the producer was receiving a fair return on his investment or whether the consumer was being hoodwinked. There ought to be some relation between the price of an article and its cost of production. In the open market we do not find that. The law of supply and demand is abrogated by the monopoly positions of various corporations and as a result we see goods being sold at prices which bear no relation to their costs of production.

I was talking about the problems of northern areas. The Sudbury city council learned that a square of shingles cost $1.50 more in Timmins than in North Bay. We also found that it cost 50 cents to transport a square of shingles from North Bay to Timmins. Of course, when inquiries about high prices were made we were fobbed off with the excuse, "Oh, well, it is the high cost of transportation that has been increasing the cost of your building materials." That was not so.

In Thompson, Manitoba, which is in the far north about 400 air miles dead north of Winnipeg, the average employee works at his job for about 17 days. This represents an inordinately high employee turnover and I wondered why a man would go 400 miles north into the wilderness, work for 17 days and then quit. We have half a million unemployed in Canada and yet this situation prevails in the north. On investigating, and after receiving letters from the president of the United Steel Workers, I learned that men will not stay in the far north because the cost of living is very high. I think the minister ought to intervene on behalf of these far northern people. Our men need jobs. They are willing to go into the north country because that is where our future lies. Yet they cannot make a go of it because of the increasing pressure they encounter from high living costs.

Among 500 construction workers in Thompson the average employment period is 17 days. Among the permanent employees of the mine the average rate of turnover is 85 per

March 19, 1968 COMMONS

cent per annum. The miners there work for the company I used to work for and they are fairly well paid. Even so, their wages do not keep pace with the high cost of living in the far north. For instance, construction workers or mine employees pay up to $200 a month to rent a trailer. I submit that for $200 a month you could rent a reasonable house in Ottawa; in fact, you could rent a very nice house. Yet in the far north it costs $200 a month to live in a trailer, which does not represent a good living standard by any stretch of the imagination. I hope the minister will look into the special areas I have mentioned and do something to relieve the pressures that people all across Canada are feeling from high living costs.

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SC

Howard Earl Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

I shall be brief, Mr. Chairman. The hon. member for Sudbury wanted to see the feathers fly and yet he wanted the minister's wings to be clipped. I assure him that our avian interest is confined to seeing prices go down. I too was interested in the hon. member's discussion of a prices review board because what the hon. member for Vancouver-Kingsway described as a toothless wonder has now become food for thought. It does not matter how the minister or the government hold out their hands to the N.D.P.; their hands will be bitten.

I should like to ask the minister a question I have asked in the house on a couple of occasions. Has his department yet made a decision to appeal the fines levied against wholesale companies engaged in the mandarin orange trade in British Columbia? These fines were announced some months ago and at the time they seemed to me to be extremely low. Working out the mathematics of the highest fine and considering the some 20 years during which prices were fixed I found that it amounted to about $500 annually. I submit that this amounts to nothing more than a yearly licence to fix prices. I am sure that if any logging truck operator in the province were asked what his annual licence cost he would come up with a figure not too far removed from $500 for an operation on a much smaller scale.

[DOT] (4:40 p.m.)

I am convinced that the companies involved would not have gone to all the fuss and bother to fix the price if it was only going to yield them $500 a year. I think that the fines and the profits involved could not have been related in any way and I would

DEBATES 7805

Supply-Consumer and Corporate Affairs like to know what is the decision on this matter.

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PC

Jean Casselman Wadds

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Wadds:

Mr. Chairman, I regret very much that I feel obliged to take even a few minutes in the debate at this stage of the life of this parliament. I was prepared to waive my opportunity on Friday if it would have expedited the business of the house but now that the debate has been ranging so broadly I would like to say a few words. Incidentally, when I say "ranging broadly" I am not referring to the hon. member for Okanagan-Revel-stoke. Some of the speeches we have been listening to have ranged rather widely. I abhor obstructionist tactics in this house and it is certainly not in that spirit that I am rising because I would be very agreeable to co-operate in expediting the business of the house at this moment. In fact I feel the greatest sympathy for the contestants for the Liberal leadership to be decided in the first week of April. They should really be visiting the delegates at this moment.

It seems to me it is an example of the government's peculiar attitude to democracy that they have arranged things so that the members of the Liberal party are stuck in one place when they should really be some place else. It was not the fault of the opposition that the government did not foresee this happening and put its own house in order before the date was chosen for their very important convention. I regret, as many in my party do, the difficulties in which this puts many of the contestants, but I want to make it clear that it is entirely their own doing that this has happened.

The Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs is a most amiable minister and very popular both inside the house and outside. I would not want anything said at this time to be detrimental to his chances. In the first place I personally think, and I know thousands of others do also, that the Liberal party could do worse than choose him. In the second place it would be grossly unfair if anything said at this late date on the supplementary estimates were particularly harsh on him because, as ministers go, he is relatively moderate in his spending. In fact he could be considered a bit of a novice among the high-spending Liberal ministers. However, since he went against some rather important advice in the enlargement of his department to include consumer affairs, advice from a group that was set up purposely to advise the government, it seems to me only natural that some questions should be answered by him.

March 19, 1968

7806 COMMONS

Supply-Consumer and Corporate Affairs

The minister's taking of matters into his own hands and setting up his own version of how to control consumer prices has done absolutely nothing to assist the consumer against rising costs and therefore we would like to hear from him just what he has done in this department to warrant the rising costs of the department. In the estimates for 196869 the cost of the Department of Corporate and Consumer Affairs is slightly over $8| million. The cost in 1967-68 was nearly $7 million so the over-all increase is slightly over $li million. In the 1968-69 estimates the amount for the new consumer affairs branch is $394,400. This includes salaries totalling $220,000, travelling expenses of $20,000, and office supplies and equipment, $29,500. This in itself could be criticized in the light of the minister's statement on October 17 last, as reported on page 3211 of Hansard:

I want to make it clear, as I attempted to do at the resolution stage, that we contemplate no substantial increase in government expenditure.

My values may be wrong but I consider this a substantial increase. I do not know of any other business that would not consider a quarter of a million dollars in additional salaries and travelling expenses a substantial increase. Neither do I know of any other business that would allow its planned expenditures to increase by well over 50 per cent, as has happened in the consumer affairs branch. With the additional cost so conveniently slipped into supplementary estimates this new branch, which was supposed to involve no substantial increase, is already within five months, less than half a year, costing well over half a million dollars, in fact a total of $569,300. At this rate one shudders to think what it may cost in two, three or five years. The only hope is that the present government will not be administering it.

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March 19, 1968