October 7, 1968

FINANCE

REPORT BY MINISTER ON INTERNATIONAL MEETINGS

LIB

Edgar John Benson (Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Hon. E. J. Benson (Minister of Finance):

Mr. Speaker I would like to take this opportunity to report to the house very briefly on the international meetings which I attended recently.

The first of these was the annual meeting of commonwealth finance ministers held in London on September 25 and 26. It provided an occasion for an exchange of views within the Commonwealth on financial and economic questions of general interest. There was a general exchange of views on the world economic situation, including in particular matters of special interest to members of the sterling area and to the less developed Commonwealth countries.

The meeting was encouraged by the favourable prospects reported by the chancellor of the exchequer for a strengthening of the British balance of payments in the months ahead. The meeting also noted with satisfaction the arrangements concluded between overseas sterling area countries and Britain in connection with the facilities recently announced by the Bank for International Settlements. Under these arrangements $2 billion will be made available to Britain by the central banks of 12 countries, including Canada, to enhance the stability of sterling and of the international monetary situation. We also reviewed trends in development assistance. In this connection the meeting recognized the urgency and importance of the proposed replenishment of the resources of the International Development Association.

The matter of I.D.A. replenishment was also of special concern at the annual meetings of the boards of governors of the World Bank and the monetary fund which I attended last week in Washington. The I.D.A. is of great importance to developing countries which for balance of payments reasons are unable to finance all their capital requirements on terms provided by the World Bank. The

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Canadian government has in the past actively supported early replenishment at a substantially higher level. At the recent meeting I reiterated that prompt completion of the necessary agreement for replenishment is essential if the World Bank group is to continue to play its full role in all parts of the underdeveloped world. As hon. members will be aware, the government has placed an estimates item before the house which would authorize the Canadian contribution to the proposed replenishment exercise.

This was the first annual meeting which Mr. McNamara attended in his new role as president of the World Bank. There is no doubt in my mind that he will provide the bank with vigorous and imaginative leadership. This is already reflected in the action he has taken with a view to expanding the resources and the scope of activities of the World Bank.

Mr. Speaker, I should like to use this opportunity to reply to the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition on October 1 in connection with my statement at the annual meeting of the I.M.F./I.B.R.D. board of governors.

I should make it clear first of all that this statement did not enunciate any new policies for the Canadian aid program. Speaking on behalf of the government of Canada I endorsed Mr. McNamara's plans and intentions for the World Bank which among other matters included three specific suggestions to deal with the problem of population growth in underdeveloped countries. These were as follows:

First: To let the developing nations know the extent to which rapid population growth slows down their potential development, and that, in consequence, the optimum employment of the world's scarce development funds requires attention to this problem.

Second: To seek opportunities to finance facilities required by our member countries to carry out family planning programs.

Third: To join with others in programs of research to determine the most effective methods of family planning and of national administration of population control programs.

With these three proposals for immediate action, I hope we may contribute to the success of the U.N. system which is already working in this field, and to the well-being of the developing nations.

October 7, 1968

Report on International Meetings

[DOT] (2:40 p.m.)

This quotation from Mr. McNamara's speech at the annual meeting describes in full the proposed program of the bank in the field of population control. It should therefore be apparent that he did not envisage giving first preference for World Bank loans to countries which are willing to institute programs of population control. Further, in endorsing the course of action proposed by Mr. McNamara I was addressing myself exclusively to the activities of the World Bank and not those coming under Canada's bilateral aid program.

In contrast with last year's annual meeting in Rio de Janeiro, which focused heavily on developments in the I.M.F., this year's annual meeting was more directed to the World Bank group. The three outstanding issues in the I.M.F. on which most attention was focused were the status of the special drawing rights proposal, the progress made on last year's resolution calling for a possible I.M.F. and I.B.R.D. role in the stabilization of primary commodity prices, and gold.

On the first of these, the S.D.R. proposal, progress has been made since last year. It is now hoped that the I.M.F. will be in a position, if this is deemed desirable, to make an initial distribution of special drawing rights some time in 1969. To enable Canada to play its role in the I.M.F. this house will be asked at an early date to give its attention to a rather complex bill to amend the Bretton Woods Agreements Act.

On the commodity pricing question, the governors had before them the first part of a joint I.M.F./I.B.R.D. study providing a useful analysis of the problem. It was agreed that this study would be completed and that specific policy recommendations would be put forward by June 30 of next year.

As to gold, representatives of the countries, most directly concerned, including Canada, met during the week. At the conclusion of the meetings an agreed statement was issued. The relevant parts of the statement are as follows:

The governors unanimously agreed on a common position based on the Washington declaration ot March 17, 1968, regarding the disposal of newly mined gold. It has, however, not proved possible to reach agreement with South Africa at this meeting.

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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Robert L. Stanfield (Leader of the Opposition):

I should like to make one or two brief comments on the statement by the Minister of Finance, whom we are happy to see back in the house after an absence on official business. I cannot express quite as much satisfaction as he seems to feel with

regard to some of the arrangements made. I hope that the arrangement made with regard to the pound and the other transitional arrangements will in fact be carried out. But I suggest that while these may be the best arrangements which were possible in the circumstances, they still place a heavy burden on Britain in addition to the other burdens relating to the recovery of her economy.

I was disappointed, too, that more progress has not been made in the field of strengthening international currency arrangements. I am sure we are all delighted at the way in which the crisis of last winter has settled down. This is the proper time for an arrangement to be made, but progress has been very slow with regard to strengthening international currency arrangements.

So far as the arrangements regarding the World Bank and international aid generally are concerned, constructive proposals supported by this government certainly would have the support of this party. We believe the government of Canada ought to play an active role in supporting the World Bank and other international agencies interested in development. Certainly we would support any constructive measures in this regard.

But regard to the statement attributed to the minister concerning what Mr. McNamara may have said regarding priority being given to countries that adopt measures to control population, I may say that despite what the minister has said the situation is still a little confusing to me. It may very well be that this results from the necessary brevity of the minister's statement, and perhaps further discussion will clarify this matter.

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NDP

Max Saltsman

New Democratic Party

Mr. Max Saltsman (Waterloo):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to express my satisfaction with some of the things the minister has said, particularly the degree of co-operation that has taken place among the countries involved. I am glad to hear that he is working for the continuance of that co-operation, particularly in the area of making credit available to countries that need underpinning of their currency. We in Canada have every reason to realize how effective some of those measures can be, since we had to call on this type of assitance in the earlier part of the year. The very fact that nations can call upon each other for this type of help will have a tendan-cy to provide greater stability in international monetary circles.

I am, however, concerned about one thing, and in his statement the minister did not clear this up. This is the question of what

October 7, 1968

attitude Canada is going to take to the purchase of commodities from some of the underdeveloped nations, particularly Commonwealth nations. I must say that our record in this regard has not been particularly good. We have refused to make an agreement regarding sugar, which would have been most helpful to some of our neighbours and friends in the Commonwealth. While it has perhaps enriched some Canadians in a very minute way, it has gone a long way toward retarding the development and growth of nations that we seek to help.

In the long run, Mr. Speaker, gifts to underdeveloped nations, valuable as they may be, are not the real answer to solving the problems of the underdeveloped sections of the world. The real answer must be that we are prepared to trade with them and to buy those commodities they have available for export at fair prices. I am sure this is what they would want, and I am equally sure it is what Canada should do. Canada should take the lead in indicating its willingness to buy these commodities at fair prices so as to enable some of our friends in other parts of the world to improve their own conditions. We should not be impoverishing our friends in order to benefit ourselves.

I welcome the minister back, and I hope he will have something further to say to the house once the study on commodities has been completed.

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RA

David Réal Caouette

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Real Caouette (Temiscamingue):

Mr. Speaker, the minister's statement deals mainly with the participation of Canada in the World Bank so that it may help further the development of countries in the whole world, mainly in Asia and Africa. The objectives of the Canadian government when participating in the activities of the World Bank are certainly commandable and the minister will recognize that the delegates have made a serious effort to adapt the financial situation to the needs of the those poverty stricken nations. As was was just mentioned by the hon. member who spoke before me, the question is not for Canada to provide almost unlimited funds in order to send them food, clothing, and so on; I think that the major part of Canada's participation should be to encourage those nations to produce certain commodities and to offer them for sale, in order to make their citizens responsible, because gifts alone are not the real answer to the problem.

Report on International Meetings

Now, it is a little strange that the hon. minister should take part in the financial discussions of the World Bank and negotiate, for instance, the price of gold without reaching a conclusion which might help Canada to produce more gold at a reasonable price, in short at a better price than the one we receive at this time.

And while the Minister of Finance (Mr. Benson) is talking about helping poor countries, developing countries, our Canadian Prime Minister is on a trip out west where he preaches restraint and self-sacrifice or something like that.

We forget about education and the development of our natural resources but we are ready to share with other countries in the financing of the needs of developing countries. That is nonsense, Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, it would be advisable for the government to take its responsibilities, to act, not against the other countries, but first for our country, Canada, and then it can help developing countries.

[DOT] (2:50 p.m.)

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LIB

Edgar John Benson (Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. Benson:

Mr. Speaker,-

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NDP

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

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Order.

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PC

Gerald William Baldwin (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

The sound system has gone dead.

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LIB

Edgar John Benson (Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. Benson:

Mr. Speaker, by leave of the house I should like to table a copy of my remarks made at the World Bank meeting, so that hon. members who wish to do so may have an opportunity to look at them.

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Subtopic:   REPORT BY MINISTER ON INTERNATIONAL MEETINGS
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?

An hon. Member:

What are you tabling?

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LIB

Edgar John Benson (Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. Benson:

A copy of my statement.

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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. No doubt hon. members have noticed that the sound system is out of commission.

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LIB

John James Greene (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Greene:

Everthing sounds much better now.

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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

I therefore ask hon. members to co-operate by being as quiet as possible in order that we may proceed with the business of the house. The Minister of Finance seeks leave of the house to table the document to which he has referred. Is that agreed?

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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

October 7, 1968

Motion to Consider Nigerian Situation EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

Topic:   FINANCE
Subtopic:   REPORT BY MINISTER ON INTERNATIONAL MEETINGS
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NIGERIA-MOTION FOR CONSIDERATION BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Robert L. Stanfield (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to standing order 42 I seek the unanimous consent of the house to permit me to move a motion which, because of its urgent and pressing necessity, should not be delayed by the 48 hour notice rule. I recognize that standing order 42 has not often been invoked in this house, but I think the house will agree that the standing order was framed to cover just the sort of emergency which faces us today.

Standing order 42 reads as follows:

A motion may, in case of urgent and pressing necessity previously explained by the mover, be made by unanimous consent of the house without notice having been given under standing order 4i.

That is the rule. Under standing order 42 I am entitled to explain the urgent and pressing necessity of this motion, and I simply wish to take a few moments to do so. My motion seeks to have the house order the standing committee on external affairs and national defence the members of which will be named later today, to meet not later than tomorrow morning in order to discuss and hear evidence on the tragedy in Biafra and, hopefully, to make recommendations which will enable Canada to take the most effective part possible in meeting both a humanitarian and political challenge.

The motion I seek to move sets out terms of reference sufficiently broad which I believe will commend themselves to members of this house. I am sure there is no doubt in the mind of any hon. member as to the urgent and pressing necessity of obtaining further information on this tragedy. It has been estimated that at least 6,000 civilians are dying of starvation every day in Biafra.

Although we have not officially received the report of the official observer group, we have read in the press that that group asserts there is ho evidence of genocide and that food supplies for civilians are adequate in Biafra. We must find out what parts of Nigeria this observer group visited and under what conditions. The house is already aware that two of its hon. members, the hon. member for Egmont (Mr. MacDonald) and the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Brewin), have just returned from visiting those lands which are still in Biafran hands. I doubt whether in the history of Canada there has ever been a human tragedy so far from our shores which has had such a powerful effect on the consciences of Canadians. The Prime Minister

[Mr. Speaker.)

is well aware of the interest many Canadians take in this matter and of the depth of feeling that exists.

I am therefore asking the house to proceed under standing order 42, and we wish to emphasize that our primary concern is not to engage in debate at this point but rather to obtain as much factual information as possible. To that end the committee on external affairs and national defence ought to hear evidence and bring in recommendations which will enable the government and this house to take effective and immediate action.

It will be seen from the motion that while the hon. member for Greenwood and the hon. member for Egmont are to be invited to report their observations to the committee, it will be open to the committee to hear evidence from other sources in a position to give evidence on the situation in Biafra.

I therefore seek the unanimous consent of the house to move the following motion, seconded by my hon. friend from Peace River:

That It be resolved by the House of Commons that it is urgent and expedient that it order the standing committee on external affairs and national defence, to be named later this day, to convene not later than 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, October 8 to hear evidence on (1) the report of the official observer group on which Canada has a member, of the conduct of federal troops in the prosecution of the war in Nigeria, (2) the reported famine conditions in that country, and to invite Andrew Brewin, M.P. (Greenwood) and David MacDonald, M.P. (Egmont) to report their observations on the conditions of the civilian population in Nigeria, and to report its findings to this house with all convenient speed.

I have not in the motion set a time limit for the committee but I would be disappointed, should the house adopt this resolution, if the committee did not report back to the house within one week.

Topic:   NIGERIA-MOTION FOR CONSIDERATION BY HOUSE COMMITTEE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

The house has heard the motion which the Leader of the Opposition proposes to put forward, seconded by the hon. member for Peace River. As the hon. gentleman has indicated, standing order 42 requires the unanimous consent of the house. According to the rules all substantive motions require 48 hours notice but the house can, of course, take a decision in exceptional circumstances to allow such motions to be made by unanimous consent. Before putting the motion I have to ascertain whether there is such unanimous consent on the part of the house.

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October 7, 1968