October 18, 1976

LIB

Ralph Goodale (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Goodale:

There were not enough in that category to change the vote; less than 2 per cent.

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LIB

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

The hon. member for Regina-Lake Centre (Mr. Benjamin) has the floor.

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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can hardly wait for the hon. member for Assiniboia to get into the debate.

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LIB

Ralph Goodale (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Goodale:

1 am in it.

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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

He is in it, but under false pretences- through the back door. Mr. Speaker, that kind of phony plebiscite will never convince me and most producers in western Canada that it was the fit and proper way to get the opinion of grain producers.

Like the majority of grain producers in western Canada I should like to see an announcement in the Speech from the Throne that the government will do away with the flexible tariff for the handling and storing of grain. I was hoping for an announcement that the country elevator grain handling system owned by the grain producers in the three prairie provinces, the three prairie wheat pools, and the UGG which constitute something like 80 per cent or 95 per cent ownership of the country elevator system, would be protected from the destructive nature of inland terminals and the unconscionable activities of outfits such as Cargill Inc.

I was hoping for something about the enlargement and rebuilding of our passenger train system, but there was nothing.

As I travel through the west droves of people tell me that the Liberals have little or no support there. That is not surprising. If I were political, which I am not, 1 would be encouraged when people in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta ask me what the Tories are doing. They want to know why the Conservative Alberta government came out strongly in support of inland terminals. A fair number of farmers in the three prairie provinces who belong to the three pools of the United Grain Growers are unhappy about this. In fact in the brief submitted to the Hall Commission by the Alberta government they supported the concept of inland terminals on the basis of increased competition, improved grain handling, and further rationalization of the outdated elevator system. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that the Alberta wheat pool will be glad to hear that their system is out of date.

The Alberta government wants incentives for the inland terminals. But who are those incentives really for, Mr. Speaker? I know Your Honour will want to hear this, even if my friends to my right and across the way do not. One of the outfits the Tories wanted incentives for is Cargill Inc. That company has been around since about 1881-as long as the CPR, and it is just as bad.

Back in the 1870's, 1880's and 1890's Cargill in many cases controlled the only elevator at major railroad stops, and so

October 18, 1976

local farmers were often forced to accept the price they offered for their grain. Railway owners and grain elevators such as Cargill sometimes conspired to fix grain prices, and by the 1880's Cargill operated along major railway arteries in five states-North and South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Even Cargill's official historian admits that-

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?

An hon. Member:

Stanley.

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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

Even Stanley is not that old. Their historian admits that the company held monopolistic trading positions in southern Minnesota and South Dakota.

Let us go on about this outfit to which the Tories and the Alberta government want to give incentives. In recent years Cargill Inc. have gone into what is called in the United States "subterminals". In western Canada they are called "inland terminals". In recent years these subterminals have assumed a special role in the company's expansion. They are able to handle large volumes of grain in relatively short periods of time. These inland terminals are used by Cargill-and I want to impress this point on the hon. member for Assiniboia and my Tory friends-to bypass country elevators that are often under the control of local co-operatives. And, like other large corporations that are under monopoly capitalism, Cargill seeks to limit the commercial options available to the small producer.

I hope they go bankrupt, and I have already said that in Weyburn and Estevan. Unlike my hon. friends opposite and to my right, Mr. Speaker, on a matter such as this I do not leave my position in doubt. Their position is sometimes horizontal, sometimes vertical, and sometimes on both sides of the street at the same time.

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?

An hon. Member:

That's Joe Clark.

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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

Joe Clark is trying to run down the middle of the road. He is trying to take it over. Mr. Speaker, to be fair, both Liberals and Tories like something else about Cargill. 1 am talking about transportation figures which show prominently Cargill's manipulation of the domestic market. Since World War II the company, to stay one jump ahead of competitors and to extract the maximum dollar for every bushel of grain it handles, has opened a new access route along the Mississippi River by widening the channel and by-passing the city of Minneapolis. Then the company bought cargo carriers, began using inland waterways, and exerted pressure through its lobbies, which are influential. By the way, this is the ninth largest privately owned corporation in the United States, with sales in the order of $9 billion. It is hardly a case for welfare-except when you hear the Tories and Grits talking. They want to give the company incentives.

The company took the lead in pressuring the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission to restructure railway rates and regulations so that rail transportation would be more economical for the Cargill grain company-but not for farmers. It was concerned about grain companies.

The Address-Mr. Benjamin

The company rented locomotives, cabooses and track, and hauled grain. Perhaps the CPR is willing to rent locomotives, cabooses and track to Cargill and permit it to haul grain on the track. I suppose that is one way of getting around the Crowsnest Pass rates in Canada. In any case that shows the kind of thing this outfit was able to do. Yet the Tory government in Alberta says that this outfit should get an incentive. Of course many Liberals look with benign eyes on outfits like Cargill grain company which is presently in the process of constructing inland grain terminals at Melfort, Saskatchewan, and Elm Creek, Manitoba. Wait for it-it will not be long before they are in Alberta.

Let me direct attention to other aspects of this company's operations-I am talking about the company which Conservatives want to provide with incentives. For instance Cargill Incorporated was found guilty of an illegal squeeze that pushed wheat futures up to an artificial high on the Chicago market in 1963. It was found guilty. All it got was two years' probation, for all the good that did.

Later a senate investigations subcommittee under Senator Henry Jackson discovered a few things about this outfit in 1973. For instance it discovered how grain companies reaped profits through manipulation of the government subsidy program on exports. At the time of the Russian wheat deal subsidies had soared to 47 cents a bushel. Cargill bought wheat from United States farmers and sold it to its wholly-owned affiliate in South America, Tradex-Panama. Cargill collected the subsidy when it showed proof of shipment to its affiliate. The affiliate then sold the wheat to another affiliate in Geneva, which thereupon made a final sale for $2.20 a bushel, ten cents above the American price. Senator Jackson's investigators said that as far as they could tell the wheat never left the ship on which it was originally loaded. All transactions were on paper. And this outfit to which the Tory government of Alberta wants to give incentives ripped off the United States for 57 cents a bushel.

Cargill recently appeared before a U.S. Senate foreign relations subcommittee on multinational corporations. The committee was investigating charges that grain exporting firms tried to manipulate the world grain market and acted in collusion with other large corporations to set prices paid to U.S. farmers. One charge was contained in a memo from an agriculture department attache in Europe which accused Cargill and three other major U.S. grain exporters of supplying false data to the European Economic Council in order to influence pricing decisions. The second charge was made by a North Dakota grain elevator operator who said Cargill and other grain export companies quoted him identical prices for wheat more than 90 per cent of the time. The operator called the practice collusion.

Tories and Liberals who welcome inland terminals and multinational grain handling companies like Cargill to Canada will appreciate the next example I am about to recite. It will make their free enterprise hearts happy. The United States department of agriculture, investigations division, uncovered possible short-weighing of grain at export elevators in nine

The Address-Mr. Benjamin

states, and payments of gratuities to licensed inspectors in seven. They indicated that 49 separate investigations have been conducted into market irregularities in 15 states. Those investigations turned up unexplained "overages of about eight million bushels of grain at elevators in California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington State, and Wisconsin. The term overage refers to an excess of grain in an elevator over what should be there if purchases and sales records are accurate. Large overages might reflect deliberate short-weighing of grain taken from the elevators and sold.

Interpol had been looking into outfits like Cargill which the Tories and Grits would welcome to Canada. Interpol advises that most of the grain was stolen from poor countries. Every time somebody short-weighed a shipment to those countries some children did not eat.

That shows you the kind of outfit the Grits and Tories would welcome to Canada. That is the kind of outfit the Tories say should get incentives.

The assistant attorney general in the United States, Richard Thornburgh, who is head of the justice department's criminal division, stated that civil actions are being prepared against major grain exporting firms to recover losses incurred by the U.S. government as a result of short-weighing and misgrading of U.S. financed grain for export under Food for Peace and other plans.

Cargill was recently accused of and admitted to shipping American buckwheat into Manitoba on trucking backhauls. So far they have denied any intent to use the Crow rates to ship to Vancouver. But why any reputable company would ship buckwheat to Manitoba, the one province in Canada where buckwheat is grown, is totally beyond my comprehension.

In any case I have just given the House a short resume of some of the company's dealings. I have much more to bring forward in other speeches during this session. I shall reveal more about this outfit which has entered western Canada with the aid and blessing of Liberals and Tories.

Let me now deal with some of the things not dealt with in the throne speech. The omission is understandable, both Liberals and Tories harbouring similar views on these matters. The hon. member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Neil) favours large clearing houses for grain. He agrees with the Alberta government. He says it would be more efficient to have one large house with respect to which the various companies would share the capital cost. He would allow the producer to determine with which house he would deal. The hon. member suggests that a large house would provide facilities for drying, cleaning, grading and so on.

I wish the hon. member for Moose Jaw would go to every shipping point in the three prairie provinces-it would take him a few years-every place where there is a wheat pool or United Grain Grower elevator, and explain to those farmers what they are supposed to do with the grain elevator they bought and paid for. Are they supposed to walk away and leave it sitting there? Well, the hon. member for Moose Jaw

favours larger clearing houses. That's a nice word for inland terminals-terminals owned by outfits like Cargill grain company.

Now I come to freight rates, and on this subject the Speech from the Throne says something good.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

I note the following sentence from the Speech from the Throne:

For this reason, changes will be introduced to the National Transportation Act to protect against unfair freight rates.

That is excellent so far as it goes; I am only sorry that the Minister of Transport (Mr. Lang) or the hon. member for Assiniboia have not risen in their places to explain what that language means.

Victor Mackie, a journalist in the Press Gallery, reports:

The intention is to charge a progressively higher rate by distance travelled.

That would rid us of an anomaly whereby it costs more to ship steel from Toronto to Regina than from Toronto to Vancouver. That is a laudable objective. It would receive the support of every member of this House, particularly those west of Thunder Bay.

The intention is to charge a progressively higher rate by distance travelled. The railways will be prevented from charging a higher rate for a shorter distance for the same commodity moved in the same direction over the same track,-

That is excellent. It is perfect. Now comes the hooker, the Otto Lang hooker.

-unless the Canadian Transport Commission grants an exemption for competitive reasons.

Those "competitive reasons" are what got us into trouble in the first place. There were reasons like the Great Northern, Union Pacific, the Panama Canal, and Japanese steel producers. It is because of those competitive reasons that many freight rates are lower from Toronto to Vancouver than from Toronto to Regina. Our Minister of Transport is going to keep that in his policy.

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PC

Ramon John Hnatyshyn (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Progressive Conservative Party Deputy House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hnatyshyn:

Is he your Minister of Transport?

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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

I have news for him. There were two other objectives. The third one bothers me.

A third objective will be to eliminate those special rates which are below the amount needed to cover "basic charges," an official said. Railways will still be required to charge a rate which covers their expenses for a particular service.

That is more of the minister's user shall pay concept. I wish I had another 40 minutes to go into that. However, I will deal with it in another debate, possibly the budget debate or when the minister brings in some legislation.

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LIB

Ralph Goodale (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Goodale:

You will be impressed with the bill when you see it.

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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

If this report by Mr. Mackie is accurate, I will not be impressed by the legislation that is brought in. I hope that Mr. Mackie's informant is wrong.

We have had more on freight rates in the past two or three years than we have needed. In fact we did not need most of it. We had threats to eliminate the "at and East rates"; threats, moves, demands and proposals to increase or eliminate the statutory Crowsnest Pass rates. Some Tories think that would be all right, for example the Alberta government. With friends like that, the Tories don't need enemies. They say the same as the Minister of Transport, let the producers get the benefit of the Crowsnest rate in another way. They recognize that statutory grain rates have been beneficial in making Canadian grain producers competitive, but they want the Crow rates' benefits applied in another way. That is what the Minister of Transport said, and it aroused the ire of every producer in the western provinces.

The hon. member for Moose Jaw said there was no doubt in his mind that in order for the grain industry to remain viable the producers would have to receive the benefits of these reduced rates in some form or another. If those are not weasel words, I have not heard any. I would like the hon. member for Moose Jaw, Mr. Hugh Horner of Alberta, the Alberta government, and all other Tories of western Canada to listen to a poll conducted by the Alberta Wheat Pool. Seventy-six per cent of its respondents, members of the Alberta Wheat Pool, which constitutes an overwhelming majority of the grain producers in that province, favoured retaining the statutory Crowsnest rates for grain with, if necessary, financial assistance to the railways from the federal government. That could almost be right out of an NDP leaflet, but it is not.

Only 19 per cent were in favour of increasing freight rates on export grain, but doing it in some other way, as the hon. member for Moose Jaw and the Alberta government have said. Only 5 per cent favoured increasing freight rates on export grain to a level that is compensatory to the railways, a favourite phrase of the Minister of Transport. He thinks the railway rates should be compensatory.

In my opinion there is no difference between the position taken by the Progressive Conservative party from the position taken by the Liberal party on the issues I have raised. In fact there was a convincing occasion the other night when our amendment seeking to end the government's program to fight inflation immediately because it is unfair and inequitable, a program which the Tories themselves criticized and said should be soon ended, was defeated. We did our best to help the Tories. We took "soon" to mean something like tomorrow. However, when our amendment was voted on, the Tories were in bed with the Liberals voting to keep the Liberal program which they have criticized so loudly for the past year.

The Speech from the Throne did not contain what the people of Canada want and need. Many more items other than the one I cited have been left out. I hope that for the welfare and good order of this nation the government will bring in legislation, although not mentioned in the throne speech, to accomplish some of the objectives and programs I have illustrated. With my background regarding grain transportation and handling, the whole issue of freight rates-

The Address-Mr. Benjamin

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LIB

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

Order, please. I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but his allotted time has expired. He may continue only with unanimous consent. Does the hon. member have consent?

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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

I thank my colleagues for their generosity. I appreciate having another minute or two to wind up what I have been saying.

The government should bring in legislation to restore feed grains to the jurisdiction of the Canadian Wheat Board, announce that flax, rye, and rapeseed will be under the jurisdiction of the board, do away with flexible tariffs for grain handling, announce and implement a national marketing authority for beef and beef products. The activities of multinational grain corporations in this country should be halted. In fact I would like to put in an amendment to the immigration bill saying that they be deported. It would be a favour to this country.

There is a need for legislation to establish national transportation. For too long Liberal and Tory governments have called transcontinental passenger trains those that begin in Montreal and end in Vancouver, leaving out the Atlantic provinces. Even though Newfoundland has been part of Canada since 1949 it still is not part of the national transportation system. In fact they do not even have the same gauge track. The minister's version of revitalizing transportation is reducing it.

In addition to bringing in measures to fight inflation in a fair and equitable manner, measures should be introduced to grant decent increases in minimum wages and pensions, increases for low income families in order that they can survive inflation and not be the victims of it. If the government did this, it would draw support from all quarters of the House. It would gain the support, and even in some quarters, the approbation of the Canadian population.

They have time to mend their ways-when I say "their" I mean both the Liberals and the Tories, because there is no fundamental difference between them. Well, there is a difference. The difference is that one is in and the other is out, and they spend their time trying to change places. But there is no fundamental difference when it comes to policy.

I get tired of protestations that there is some fundamental difference between Tories and Liberals because I find they both support the same philosophies, the same institutions which have got us into our present difficulties. When speaking in Western Canada, as well as elsewhere, I lose no opportunity to illustrate with words from their own mouths how the Liberals and the Tories stand with regard to various institutions, ideals, and philosophies, showing that there is no fundamental difference between them.

I am sad that the official opposition did not see fit to support our amendment the other night. However, I am not surprised. I expected it and they did not disappoint me. One

October 18, 1976

The Address-Mr. Anderson

can observe this pattern of behaviour over the past 110 years, and I predict that the people of Canada will see it over the next 110 years if those parties are around that long. Liberal behaviour will differ very little from that of the Tories.

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LIB

Hugh Alan Anderson

Liberal

Mr. Hugh A. Anderson (Comox-Alberni):

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me, and for the riding of Comox-Alberni, to have this opportunity of participating in this debate. Needless to say, the importance of the document we are discussing lies in the effect government policy will have on Canada and in particular on my riding, which is the playground of British Columbia.

I note the government's intent to obtain a better balance between money spent on public services and bilingualism and money spent to enable young people to learn to communicate in both languages. I trust this will be regarded by Canadians as an option, not as coercion, to strengthen the bonds of Canadian unity.

I congratulate the government on making funds available for young people to travel throughout Canada so as to understand better the various regions which make up our nation, because there is no more diverse country in the world than Canada, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, from Baffin Island in the Arctic to the 49th parallel. Canada is composed of a variety of regions. Perhaps the wonder is that in the 110 years since Confederation these regions have managed to stay together. I am sure this parliament would not want to be the parliament which witnessed the break-up of this unity.

Surely it is in the interests of Canada to strive for racial and for language harmony, knowing full well the consequences of intolerance and failure. 1 strongly fear that if intolerance becomes the accepted philosophy of the Canadian people, other minority groups such as the Chinese, the people of the Jewish religion, or East Indians, could become the targets of tomorrow. To my colleagues in Western Canada and in all parties in this House I appeal for leadership to preserve one Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific. There must be bonds of understanding. Surely this needs to be our goal.

I have a great fear when I receive letters from my riding such as the following:

The time for liberation of western Canada will come. The federal political parties will only hasten the process by denying us honest representation. The flag of Canada has become the representation of a curse that hovers over western Canada. I personally reject it and now await another flag and government that will show us the path of honest representation and dignity.

Yours truly,

Freedom and dignity for Western Canada

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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

Is that letter signed?

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October 18, 1976