Mr. Roland Godin (Portneuf):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to make a few comments after what the previous speaker has just said. His observations were quite relevant and I intend to support the position he will take as regards the legislation now before us. Bill C-197, entitled "An Act to establish the National Farm Products Marketing Council and to authorize the establishment of national marketing agencies for farm products", will merely create a new body to enable the government to find well-paid jobs for friends of the party.
I have serious doubts about the effectiveness of this legislation because we already have the Canadian Wheat Board whose responsibilities are becoming less and less important as sales are down throughout the world. Ever fewer sales, but still the same, well-paid staff. There are no lay-offs at the Canadian Wheat Board, nor any fight against inflation. The report of the Board shows that the wages of its staff are always increasing.
Farm Products Marketing Agencies Bill A few years ago, in the spring of 1967, the Canadian Livestock Feed Board was established. After three years of operation, we realize that Quebec farmers and millers must pay $1.06 or $1.07 per bushel for barley, while it can be bought at 76 and 78 cents per bushel on world markets.
In spite of those famous boards, we are still facing obvious injustices. We witnessed the creation of the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs which, so far, has not brought any results. This situation exists because the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs must accomplish dual functions, which creates a conflict right from the beginning. How can he approve and disapprove something at the same time? Can a department make a stand against the speculator and encourage the consumer at the same time? Can one encourage the consumer while protecting speculators? This is utterly ridiculous and in the light of the bill now under consideration, we realize that this is going to be done.
Indeed, clause 6(2Kb) reads as follows:
(b) have regard to the interests of consumers of farm products and of those engaged in the marketing thereof as well as to the interests of producers of farm products.
Mr. Speaker, this is utterly ridiculous. Can a lawyer speak for the plaintiff and the accused at the same time? This is inconceivable!
[DOT] (9:00 p.m.)
Until now consumers have never asked for protection. In Portneuf riding as elsewhere in Quebec consumers are not at all afraid of the farmers because the latter are not evil-doers but mere producers. The enormous quantity of products accumulated in warehouses and stores creates a surplus problem for the government but shows that the farmer has fulfilled his task well.
What consumers want is simply more purchasing power. All things considered, with a little money in your pocket, you can get anything you want. You buy what you want, both from the standpoint of quality and quantity, when and where you want it.
Clause 6 (2) of the bill states, and I quote:
In carrying out its duties the Council shall (a) consult, on a continuing basis, with the governments of all provinces having an interest in the establishment or the exercise of the powers of any one or more agencies under this act or with any body or bodies established by the government of any province to exercise powers similar to those of the Council in relation to intraprovincial trade in farm products;
May 5, 1970
Farm Products Marketing Agencies Bill
When has the federal government taken into account the decisions or the representations of a province? What rulings have been made following investigations conducted throughout Canada since 1950? Was the inquiry made by hon. members and senators throughout the country and on which the joint committee reported in 1967 followed up? We are still waiting for the decisions which should have been made after this famous report.
We are also waiting for the report of the Committee on Agriculture, which toured the country last year, including Toronto and eastern Canada, going through Quebec in order to meet representatives from the CFU, the Cooperative federee and milk producers.
We all know that this famous report has been tabled, but we are still looking for it in the Clerk's desk because we think that the report was actually hidden so that we could not speak about it for the time being.
The protection granted during the past years has simply been reduced. You will remember that the government paid rather important subsidies. You will recall also that the CFU and all the organizations of this sort in eastern Canada asked not only that these subsidies should still be granted, but that they should be increased according to the rise in the cost of living, that is to say by 5 or 6 per cent each year. However, these recom-mandations were simply ignored. The decision of a few persons was abided by and the dairy producers of the province of Quebec were penalized by 8 per cent if one takes into account the money they have lost. However, the associations made these recommendations quite voluntarily. It is probably for this reason they have not been considered.
Today, we are getting ready to establish another board, another council to which will assuredly be appointed the party's friends, some of them have perhaps failed under the present economic system while others could hardly earn their own living otherwise, but they will get salaries of around $20,000 or $25,000 a year. This will be an excellent muzzle which will keep them from recommending whatever farmers demand and refrain from making public the objectives already decided upon by another team. This is most unfortunate. I was not wrong when I said it, because if one considers the present situation, one realizes what is happening in Canada today.
Bill C-197 is a piece of legislation which simply makes agriculture dependent on the State.
In clause 3, for instance, we see that the chairman and the vice-chairman of the National Farm Products Marketing Council are appointed by the Governor in Council.
Clause 5 provides that members of the Council become public servants.
The purpose of the act, as defined in clause 6, is to maintain and promote an efficient and competitive agriculture industry. We can therefore guess right away that this just means that small farms will disappear.
From a political viewpoint, this would be tremendous, because the government is playing a winning game since at present 92 per cent of Canadian voters are non-farmers. The government listens to the urban population and will be able to handle the farmers at will.
Clause 6(2)(b) makes it clear that it is intended to protect both the consumers and the producers and with only 8 per cent of the population engaged in agriculture, the workers will be the winners. I am not against the workers but the figures are there, Mr. Speaker.
Let us see now what are the Council's powers. Under clause 7(a)(i)(ii) and (iii), the Council may require any person engaged in production or marketing to register with an agency and to maintain books and records in such form as it may require.
As indicated in clause 18 (2), the Governor in Council may designate the new products which will be regulated anywhere in Canada.
The objects and powers of the agencies are to promote a strong, efficient and competitive industry. An agency may purchase, package, process, store, export and sell any product as indicated in clause 23.
As far as arrangements with the provinces are concerned a federal agency may perform on behalf of a province any function relating to intraprovincial trade on any regulated product. It may also grant to a provincial body powers of regulation in relation to the marketing within the province.
The powers of the inspectors are described in clause 34 which indicates that the inspectors may enter any place if they are convinced there is any regulated product or a product intended to be marketed in interprovincial or export trade and may examine the records or other documents in such place.
I shall now deal with penalties. I refer to clauses 36 and 37. With respect to failure to
May 5, 1970 COMMONS
comply with a requirement of the Council, this is what we read, and I quote:
-is guilty of
(a,) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
We are therefore making arrangements to jail farmers. It is obvious that if they are put in prison they will not be able to produce. We will then be able to cut down surpluses.
Penalties have already been imposed. All farmers are not in jail, but we have reached a point where the situation is deteriorating, and I wonder whether many of them would not be more in security behind bars.
I am very sorry that the milk production problem was not dealt with before introducing Bill C-197. I regret that this bill was introduced by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Olson). In the final analysis, we know that when the worker has problems he goes to his fellow-worker to negotiate his working conditions. If the union leader has some competence, negotiations will be fruitful. When a student has problems, he goes to his professors or to counselors who help him.
When we have health problems, we go to a doctor. If he says he is unable to help us, he then sends us to a specialist.
[DOT] (9:10 p.m.)
Unfortunately, the officials of the federal Department of Agriculture have proved their ineffectiveness, and consequently we are always up against the same so-called "champs", so-called "know-it-all", even though they know nothing.
We know the Minister of Agriculture operates a farm and that he does not go in for dairy farming although he has a 500-cow herd. Thanks to his herd, and nature, the Minister sells 400 to 500 calves every year. And so, he owns calving cows.
Today, if we are facing a serious problem, it is in the dairy farming industry. It is obvious that the minister is beyond his depth.
In spite of everything, we still expect him to introduce a beneficial policy, but because of his ignorance, he must appeal to the hon. member for Richelieu (Mr. Cote) who is quite pleased to make his remarks. It is common knowledge the minister and his parliamentary secretary merely keep floundering along. Moreover, it must be remembered that the hon. member for Richelieu hastened to sell his cows three weeks after his election and it can be inferred therefore that dairy farming was more or less important to him. It is
Farm Products Marketing Agencies Bill unfortunate that the farmer who is now directing the government's dairy policy has found no other way of showing his knowledge than to sell his cows.
Perhaps he found out that having one in Parliament is as profitable as 25 in the cowshed. At any rate, it is remembered that the hon. member for Richelieu, who is messing about with the dairy policy now, was not even a dairy farmer but a cattle farmer and dealer, and especially a good dealer.
One can remember also that he was part of the gimmick, that he could export all his cattle to Mexico, Spain and South America. All that to say that while the hon. member for Richelieu is still spluttering in English, it could be that the last calves he sold can speak Spanish fluently.
Mr. Speaker, I say once more that dairy farming was of little importance to that exfarmer and I am convinced he would sell his wife to save the Liberal government's dairy policy.
The Minister of Agriculture announces a $10 million reduction for the Quebec farmers. He cannot indeed be commended for that. The costs of exports have gone from 26 cents in 1968 to 51 cents in 1969. It can be recalled that the farmers of the province of Quebec, and more particularly those of the eastern part of that province, have been imposed quotas in 1967. In fact, at that time, owing to the bad weather, crops had not been good. Milk production had suffered from it. That opportunity was taken to set production quotas. It is surely a good deal for the government, but I am not prepared to admit that it is honest. The hon. member for Richelieu does not object to that.
If a farmer-