September 21, 1971

NDP

John Stratford Burton

New Democratic Party

Mr. John Burton (Regina East):

Mr. Speaker, the amendment we are discussing goes to the core of the debate on this bill. The measure before us is entitled the grain stabilization bill. It proposes a plan to which all prairie farmers must subscribe. I believe there would be general agreement as to the desirability of providing for stabilization at an adequate level, in favour of a plan which would bring stability to the prairie grain farmer. But in the bill now before us we are dealing not just with the principle involved, not with certain broad guidelines within which the government or its agencies can operate, but with a specific type of plan, one which has been proposed by the government. I am not critical in that respect. The fact that it is so specific at least enables us to pass adequate judgment on its probable effectiveness.

It would seem to me that by now the government, and especially the minister in charge of the Wheat Board (Mr. Lang), would have got the message-that the plan proposed in this bill is inadequate, that it will not do what its proponents claim for it. Thus, we need to give serious consideration to these amendments which propose the inclusion of a provision which would cover increasing costs of production, one of the critical factors facing farmers in their day to day operations. Every day the farmer has to keep in mind that his costs of production may rise. The income he was receiving yesterday may not be adequate today or tomorrow.

I am amazed that after all the consideration this bill has received, after all the issues which have been placed before members of the House and others in this country, the minister in charge of the Wheat Board should have replied as he did to a question addressed to him this afternoon. During the question period he was asked whether he would give consideration to representations from three prairie Ministers of Agriculture. It is public knowledge that the three ministers intend to make representations concerning the bill. A good deal of publicity was given to this fact yesterday. They made it clear they were unhappy with the bill and feel it is not good enough to meet the needs of prairie grain farmers.

What happened this afternoon when the minister was asked whether he would give consideration to their representations? The minister assured the House that he would listen to the representations made by these gentlemen and would take them into consideration. But when it came to a question of adjourning this debate at the report stage and on the amendments now before us, the government and its supporters lined up solidly against a proposal which would have meant deferring final judgment on the bill until such time as these provincial ministers have the opportunity to make their views known to the government.

If the minister is not going to listen to the three prairie governments or to the members of this House who have made their views known, who is he going to listen to? It seems to me he has displayed during this debate the attitude that he knows best for the farmers of western Canada, that he and he alone knows best what is good for western agriculture.

I think we have to keep in mind that the three prairie governments, particularly the government of Manitoba, have already made their views known. I am sure the minister will acknowledge that they made representations to the federal government which were directly related to the subject matter of these motions. The present clause as worded relates to grain sale proceeds that are gross grain sale proceeds. Motion No. 1 proposes to insert certain factors regarding costs of production. When these two factors are put together, what we are then talking about is the net income of farmers. We are talking about what the farmer is left with after paying his costs of production. Thus, I think we have to remember when discussing the representations that have been made by the three prairie provinces that the Manitoba government in particular presented a plan to the federal government proposing a type of stabilization based on the net income of prairie grain farmers.

My colleague from Regina-Lake Centre (Mr. Benjamin) has pointed out to the minister that we have never received a critique from the minister or from anybody else of the proposed Manitoba plan. If there are points of criticism or of weakness to be made about that plan, then I think all of us would want to hear what they are. But never have we heard from the minister what are his views or observations on the plan that has been presented.

How can we carry on a sensible discussion of this subject, one so vital and critical to the prairie farmers, when the minister does not respond to a degree greater than has been the case up to now? The fact is that he has given no indication of where he stands on the proposals that have been made. He talks about wanting to give consideration to various viewpoints and to any representations that are made, yet he turns a silent "thumbs down" to any proposal that conflicts in any way with the fancy little plan that he is attempting to foist on the farmers of western Canada.

Whenever the minister talks about this plan he has much to say about any proposal regarding changes to the plan which involve the expenditure of more money. This is true in part. There is no question that one of our basic criticisms of the bill is that we consider the federal treasury has made an inadequate allocation of federal resources to the prairie grains industry. The minister has to remember that criticism because he will be reminded of it many times during the coming months; and it will be the regret of the Liberal party if they show no change of heart, if I can use that phrase. I said it is only true in part that it is a question of more money. There is another basic point that has been raised, and this is the equitable treatment of farmers in western Canada, treatment that is based on need as it exists. That basic point the minister has totally ignored in considering this bill.

24319-21*

September 21, 1971

Prairie Grain Stabilization Act

We have also witnessed in recent days the minister's attitude in this House to the flagrant flouting of the federal law of this country by the government in its failure to carry out the provisions of the Temporary Wheat Reserves Act which are still in effect. This Act, of course, did make some contribution by the federal government to the prairie grains industry. I have made it clear when speaking on a number of occasions in this House that I acknowledge and agree that there is need for an overhaul of this legislation, that what we need is an over all storage policy for all grains, which is a somewhat different approach. But not for one second can we go along with the type of approach put before the House by the minister, namely, simply to wipe out this legislation and to say to the farmers of western Canada, "We have no responsibility for presenting a grains storage policy. We have no responsibility to see that the prairie grain farmers do not bear the brunt of international grain competition or that prairie grain farmers do not have to compete against the treasuries of other countries". Although the minister recognized this point in some of his comments, never has he recognized it in any of the proposals or policies that he has put before the House of Commons.

It seems to me that if we really wanted to find a solution to the present impasse we could do so very simply. But we are not going to be bullied into accepting the type of proposal that the government is trying to foist on this House and on the farmers of the country. Why does not the minister begin to show some sense and pay the farmers the money due to them under the Temporary Wheat Reserves Act? Why does he not split this grain stabilization bill, make these transitional payments under one bill and propose a permanent plan in a second bill? It has been made clear to the members of the government that we on this side of the House would be prepared immediately to agree to the $100 million payment if this provision were taken out of the bill which is before us.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. I think it would be fair if the Chair were to indicate to the hon. member who has the floor, as it did to the hon. member for Dauphin (Mr. Ritchie) who spoke immediately preceding the hon. member, that it seems the hon. member is ranging a little wide on motions Nos. 1 and 2 now before the House. If I am in error in this regard I know the hon. member will indicate to me in what respect. But when the hon. member debates more general matters perhaps he is ranging a little wider than he should at the report stage of our proceedings.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
NDP

John Stratford Burton

New Democratic Party

Mr. Burton:

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the concern that has been expressed by Your Honour in attempting to deal with these motions in an orderly way. I recognize the problem Your Honour faces, but as I indicated at the outset of my remarks it did seem to me that the amendments before the House go to the very core of this debate. Without the adoption of the amendment put by my colleague from Saskatoon-Biggar (Mr. Gleave) it would be impossible to have a plan that made any sense to the western farmers or would be of any benefit to them. It seems to me that we are dealing here with a long-range picture of the prospects facing the prairie farmers.

Related to this, of course, is the question of federal contributions or assistance to the prairie grains industry

and the willingness of the federal government to stand by that industry in times of need. This in turn involves the question of the amount of money that is made available for any plan proposed in the House of Commons. This is why I was discussing the amount of money the federal government is prepared to put into its plan. Certainly this is germane to the question of taking account of increased costs of production, which is recognized in the motion moved by my colleague.

I now want to move on to further considerations involved in this bill. This afternoon the minister, in answer to a question regarding taking into account new proposals, costs of production and the net income of farmers-which is really what is involved in this amendment-indicated that if the provinces have a proposal and are willing to put up some money, the federal government will be prepared to consider it. I can only term that sort of answer as displaying a very sleazy attitude. It is a disgraceful abdication of the responsibilities of the minister, and is totally unacceptable.

This great man from the west came here three years ago. He said he was going to Ottawa to explain to the rest of Canada the needs of western Canada and of the prairie grain farmers. He is now trying to "con" the provinces into putting up some money. He knows very well this is not practicable and that the responsibility for dealing with this situation rests with the federal government. Any attempt to intimidate agencies such as provincial governments can only be classed as very despicable.

The first amendment under consideration deals with the definition section of the bill. It is important to note that clause 2(l)(c) of Bill C-244 suggests that grain sales proceeds, as the term is used in the bill, means the purchase price of grain produced on land described in a permit book and sold by a producer to a licensee after deduction of the purchase price of the grain and the lawful charges that are applicable to the grain on its sale to the licensee by the producer. The amendment moved by my colleague would add the words "and after the deduction of the increased costs of production, and including stabilization payments, if any". As was indicated, I feel this is a very critical section of the bill and that this is one of the most important amendments we have to consider at this stage. The government must give the matter serious consideration, otherwise it will completely abdicate its responsibilities.

First of all, it should be made quite clear that when one looks at the technical considerations of whether the costs of production can be determined in any sort of meaningful or adequate way, he should bear in mind that the three prairie governments have now very extensive farm management programs under way. The universities of the prairie provinces have also been engaged in such programs. They have in fact assembled data and a mass of information and figures over the past ten years which provide a substantial base upon which a meaningful determination could be made of what is involved in the costs of production in terms of developing a comparative measurement of these costs. This data is available.

I am not suggesting we have read or heard the final word in this area; we will witness further developments

September 21, 1971

and refinements of the research work already being carried out. But I suggest there is now adequate information available to enable the government to make a meaningful and adequate determination of the level of costs of production. These could be given adequate consideration within the framework of this bill.

We then come to the money question as it relates to this amendment. This, again, is a critical matter. When this bill was before the committee, representatives of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture appeared as witnesses. I do not know whether the minister considers that the Canadian Federation of Agriculture was filibustering the bill when it chose to appear before the committee and inform members of its view, but the fact is that it was made clear at that time that research and analysis indicated that the prairie grains industry is now operating at a net loss. It was also made clear that whatever farm income is now coming to the prairie provinces is coming from the production of livestock-thank goodness cattle prices have held up reasonably well-and from income in kind, which is the product you grow and use at home.

The prairie grains industry is facing probably a more serious economic situation than any other sector of the Canadian economy. But what is the government doing? We find it coming up with this half-baked plan which will not provide any sort of solution. It has to keep in mind just where agriculture is situated in our economy, yet we still have the trappings of-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order, please. I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but I do so to advise him that his allotted time has expired.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Continue.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
NDP

John Stratford Burton

New Democratic Party

Mr. Burton:

Perhaps I may continue, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Hon. members know that the hon. member for Regina East (Mr. Burton) may continue if there is unanimous consent of the House. Is there such consent?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

There is no consent.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
PC

Richard Russell Southam

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Southam:

Mr. Speaker, it is now one minute to ten. May I call it ten o'clock?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
NDP

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

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

The hon. member knows he may call it ten o'clock if there is unanimous consent. Is there such consent?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

There is no consent.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
PC

Richard Russell Southam

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Southam:

Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
NDP

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

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Call it ten o'clock.

Proceedings on Adjournment Motion

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink
PC

Richard Russell Southam

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Southam:

May I call it ten o'clock now, Mr. Speaker?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRAIRIE GRAIN STABILIZATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR PAYMENTS TO WESTERN CANADIAN PRODUCERS IN YEARS WHEN RECEIPTS BELOW FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE
Permalink

September 21, 1971