October 19, 1976

LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

I hope all these interruptions are discounted from my time.

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PC

John Patrick (Pat) Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

Your time was up as of last night.

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LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

It could be that I will not have enough time because it is obvious that hon. members opposite do not want to hear facts or to hear what I want to say. I think I am entitled to put what I want to say on the record, but they seem to want to discourage democracy.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

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LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

This old Minister of Agriculture and this old politician does not get discouraged; all he wants is his rightful time, even if it takes an hour tomorrow with all these points of order which are being raised.

In Canada we have a tough climate and widely differing soil conditions. We have enormous transportation problems caused by the great distances involved in getting crops to market. We must compete with farmers in other countries for export markets, and we must compete against the same foreign farmers for our markets right here at home. Our farmers need help and encouragement, and they are getting it from this government. That does not mean we are supporting inefficient farmers. None of our legislation is designed with such a purpose in mind. We have the most productive farmers in the

[Mr. Whelan.)

world, and we want to keep it that way. However, that does not mean we should stand by and watch our farmers wiped out by weather disaster, a sudden temporary surplus, or by competition from a foreign treasury. The aim of the government is that industrious and efficient farmers should have the assurance of a decent living in return for their labour and investment, nothing more, nothing less, and most of them ask nothing more and nothing less.

The young farmer should also have the longer term assurance that if he borrows the thousands of dollars required to start farming today, he will be able to make a living from agriculture for many years to come.

In some areas problems exist. Some of our agriculturalists who are well established say, "So what, let them be destroyed". This Minister of Agriculture does not believe that that should happen, and that is why we need the Agricultural Stabilization Act this year more than any other year in the history of parliament.

I am not suggesting that we do not have agricultural problems. There have always been problems, and there always will be problems. I attended a meeting tonight, and one of the delegates asked me how things are going in agriculture. I said that today we solved two problems but that tomorrow we will probably have three new ones. That is not uncommon in a country which deals in world markets, and so on. However, this is a country which is different from many other countries. I do not know of a country in the world which would not trade its problem for ours.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

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LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

As Minister of Agriculture representing this government and the farmers of Canada I have visited countries in different parts of the world. Sure, we do have problems, but they are very small when compared with the problems of farmers in other parts of the world. They are so small, they are hard to measure. There is hardly a ruler which would measure them. I am thinking of the problems of farmers in countries in the Balkans, in other parts of Europe and so on.

The only serious challenge we have is to do our job well, and because of that we end up with surpluses. We should count that as a blessing. I said last year in this House, and I will say it again, that if I were in the U.S.S.R. or in some other country they would not be saying that I should be fired; they would be giving me a medal because I would be the leader and the person responsible for the most efficient group of agricultural producers in the world, producers of surpluses and the envy of countries such as China and Russia.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

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LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

Some hon. members have great compassion for that great food machine to the south of us. That public corporation called the CBC, funded by this government to the tune of S400 million in subsidies, tells us what a great system the United States has, that F.D.R. and everyone since has poured billions and billions of dollars into agriculture, much

October 19, 1976

more per capita than we ever thought of pouring into agriculture in Canada. We are told about the great machine built by that great free system way back under F.D.R. Hon. members may remember that he paid farmers to kill pigs, not to grow crops and that sort of thing. This Minister of Agriculture and this government do not do that.

As I said, we should count these surpluses, as I count them, as a blessing to our country. Canada is one of only four or five countries in this world which are net exporters of food. We are one of four or five countries which do not have to depend on someone else to provide us with that most vital commodity, food.

The delegates who were here tonight informed me that they would be buying from us again this year to feed their people. Only 5 per cent of our producers is involved in agriculture. In the countries represented by those delegates one third of their population is involved in agriculture, but they cannot grow enough to feed themselves. Our surplus food provides billions of dollars and feeds thousands of people in the developing countries. We provide food aid second to none in the world. We are not even second to our big neighbour to the south, even though some of us like to brag more about them than about our own system. This country provides more food aid for needy people in the world per capita than any country in the world. So let them talk about the great food machine to the south!

For the Canadian consumer there is an assured supply of nourishment which is better than any other country in the world. The people have buying power here, and the social services in our country are second to none.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

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LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

I can show hon. members letters about the beef problem we face. A little earlier I talked about how I was condemned as a trade restrictionist when I put quotas on imports. I did not hear anyone say that of the President of the United States or of the acting secretary of agriculture in the United States when they triggered their meat import law to protect the beef industry in their country, but by God, last year when I did, people said I was a trade restrictionist. Everything in the book was wrong in the beef industry, and all they asked me to do-

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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

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LIB

Denis Éthier (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier):

Order, please. I think the Minister of Agriculture should be heard.

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PC

Herbert Thomas (Bert) Hargrave

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hargrave:

I don't think so.

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PC

Robert Hylton Brisco

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brisco:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

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LIB

Denis Éthier (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier):

The hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Brisco).

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PC

Robert Hylton Brisco

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brisco:

Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the speech we have listened to would indicate that the minister has an ego

The Address-Mr. Whelan

bigger than his head, and in view of the fact that his remarks are so inflammatory, I think we have heard enough from him.

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LIB

Denis Éthier (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier):

That is not a point of order. The hon. Minister of Agriculture.

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LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

Mr. Speaker, if the remarks I have been making are inflammatory it must be that truth makes fire.

In the production of food, surpluses tend to depress prices if they happen to occur in those commodities for which there is no possibility of international sales. It is also wasteful to produce food for which there is no demand. That is one very good reason for better planning of production. Energy is scarce enough without wasting it on unwanted products. Agricultural products can waste in the sun and waste in the cold. Without planning you can just produce them and hope somebody will buy.

When I speak about the supply management system, Mr. Speaker, I would point out that that is what the President of the United States is proposing for U.S. beef producers now. He had a quota system for them and he has triggered a meat import law. I should like to ask some of the hon. members if we have the opportunity later in this session, or perhaps in committee, what they think the President means when he says, "You can ship so many million pounds, and you over there can ship so many million pounds, and you down there can ship so many million pounds." If that is not a supply management system I should like to know what it is. He said, "Our market can absorb so much and no more". The President of the United States of America told us that if we shipped an excessive amount of beef to them they would immediately face us with that agreement we made between the secretary of agriculture for the United States of America and myself last December. I can tell you this, Mr. Speaker, there was no such discussion that took place before President Ford announced what he did this year.

Right now there are difficulties with the beef and dairy sectors. Both are in world surplus positions much greater than many people can imagine. When you attend meetings, as I have, as the representative of this government, with the Latin American ministers and listen to them tell how they were financed by the Latin American Bank and by world organizations to enter the beef business and now cannot sell a pound of their beef, you know it is a world problem.

To whom does the North American market belong? Not to the big farmers of Canada and the United States as a lot of our so-called experts and beef breeders would tell us; it belongs to North American farmers plus 37 other nations of the world.

Let us face facts, Mr. Speaker. This year in Canada we exported more beef than we imported. Our balance of trade is about 50 million pounds of fresh beef plus 67,000 head of cattle more sent to the United States than we ever shipped to them before. The balance is in our favour. When they wanted North American market prices-we still have North American market prices. We have market prices Omaha based that are still higher in Canada than they are in Omaha. Let them be honest. Let them tell the beef farmers that that is what they

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October 19, 1976

The Address-Mr. Hnatyshyn

asked for and that is what they got. Tell them that even with the imports of beef they received 10 per cent to 25 per cent more for their cows this year than last year when we did not have the imports of beef from Australia and New Zealand.

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LIB

Denis Éthier (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier):

Other, please. I regret to interrupt the hon. minister but the time allotted to him has expired. He may continue if he has unanimous consent. Is there unanimous consent?

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October 19, 1976