June 9, 1977

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM


The House resumed, from Monday, June 6, consideration of the motion of Mr. Marchand (for Mr. Chretien) that Bill C-23, to facilitate conversion to the metric system of measurement, be read the third time and do pass.


PC

Thomas Gordon Towers

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Gordon Towers (Red Deer):

Mr. Speaker, rather than speak on the bill at this time I would like to raise a point of order with you, sir, that I believe you have already said you would consider. In view of the fact that in my opinion this House should not be asked to deal with the bill in its present form at this time, with your permission, sir, I would like to return to the discussion that has taken place in the House on the bill. I would refer, first of all, to Hansard of April 21, 1977, at page 4844 where the hon. member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Neil) asked the following question of the minister:

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of State for Small Business. In view of the great concern that still exists amongst people in western Canada regarding the changes from acres to hectares and bushels to tonnes, as evidenced by the many letters that are being received by the western members, and I assume by the minister himself, and in view of the importance of cabinet solidarity, I wonder if the hon. minister has any intention of withdrawing the metric bill?

The Minister of State for Small Business (Mr. Marchand) answered:

Mr. Speaker, at this stage we have no intention of withdrawing the bill. I know that the Minister without Portfolio has some concerns. I will be listening to them because he knows very well what the farmers want.

The point I want to make is that the minister said he would be listening. Further to that, as reported at page 5226 of Hansard of May 3, 1977, the hon. member for Vegreville (Mr. Mazankowski) posed the same question:

[DOT] (mo)

Mr. Speaker, I should like to direct a question to the Minister of State (Small Business). In view of the acceleration of widespread protest emanating from the producers of western Canada against the conversion to metric in the grains industry, is the minister giving any consideration whatsoever to the various representations he and other members have received and has he now reached the conclusion that the producer organizations upon which he relied when considering this particular piece of legislation did not actually reflect the wishes of the producers in western Canada?

The reply of the minister was this:

Mr. Speaker, without accepting all the premises of the question, I want to say to the hon. member that I have been listening to the representations members made to me and the government, and particularly more recently to the representation made to me by the Minister without Portfolio from Crowfoot and . .. other members of parliament on this side of the House from the prairie region. A decision has been made not to proclaim that section of the bill on metric conversion relating to the grains industry ... until after further consultation ... It will not be until further consultations have been held with the grain industry, and especially the farmers.

Then the hon. member for Vegreville said the following:

Can the minister outline to the House what form these consultations will take? What mechanism does the minister have in mind for ensuring that the views of the actual producers will be taken into consideration? Will he rely on the hon. member for Crowfoot, or will he consider as well representations made from my side of the House?

The minister replied:

Mr. Speaker, the exact mechanism has not yet been decided. I assure the hon. member opposite that I will be happy to receive suggestions from him on how he feels this matter ought to be dealt with.

Then as reported at page 5230 of Hansard, the hon. member for Grenville-Carleton (Mr. Baker) said:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It relates to the business of the House. It arises out of the incredible answer that was given by the Minister of State responsible for Small Business with respect to the government's plans for the metric conversion bill.

On the same day I made a representation to the Chair as follows:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order related to the one raised earlier by my House leader. It has to do with the metric bill. It really concerns me that the President of the Privy Council should suggest that the bill is going to pass third reading and that the Minister of State in charge of small business should tell us that it will not be proclaimed until such time as negotiations have been carried on with the business and agricultural communities. Does this mean that the House of Commons will become so irrelevant that after third reading hon. members will not have the opportunity to participate in these discussions? Does it mean there will be changes made between the time of third reading and the time at which the bill is proclaimed? This is an important point. I believe it arose during the question period. It is one with regard to which Your Honour will be called upon to rule in order to ensure that the House is not completely emasculated.

You, sir, said the following:

If the issue arises in the way the hon. member has described, there may be some judgment which I shall be called upon to make, and I will make it at that time.

The point I am trying to make is that if this bill leaves this place, it has to go to the other place to be proclaimed, but the Minister of State for Small Business (Mr. Marchand) has suggested that there are going to be some changes made, and if this happens the House of Commons will be totally emas-

June 9, 1977

Metric System

culated. Further, I would like to refer to Beauchesne's citation 426 as follows:

In order to give legal force to a bill, or, in other words, make it a statutory enactment, the following legal and constitutional conditions are imperative:

(a) That the bill has passed through all its stages in both Houses and is consequently ready for the royal assent. If it should receive the assent of the Governor General and be afterwards discovered not to have passed its proper stages in both Houses or be otherwise not in conformity with the constitutional procedure governing such cases, it is so much waste paper.

I contend that this bill is not in proper form, in view of the statements made by the Minister of State for Small Business who has stated in this House that he intends to make changes to the bill after third reading. I contend that this cannot legitimately be done.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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LIB

Otto Emil Lang (Minister of Transport; Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board)

Liberal

Hon. Otto E. Lang (Minister of Transport):

Mr. Speaker, I simply point out to hon. members that this bill provides for quite a number of different possible proclamation times. Some clauses are to come into force immediately and a number of others are to come into force by proclamation. It is a somewhat unusual bill in the sense that the proclamation clause and the possibility of proclamation is repeated in relation to different parts of the bill. So it was contemplated that there might be different proclamation times. What the minister did was indicate a process we would follow before we actually proclaimed particular clauses. It is our intention and our hope to have a good number of clauses in force and in effect at a time which is orderly. Some are to be proclaimed immediately upon the coming into effect of the law. That is why it makes good sense to proceed with the bill at this time.

It is useful to recognize that hon. members opposite, in the debate, did not, as I took it, oppose the basic move toward metric conversion. Indeed, they supported it again and raised an amendment in relation to timing more than anything else. Of course, we will be giving that further consideration in the form of consultations before proceedings. But the bill is still very relevant and very important, and in those terms I think there is in no way an abuse of the House.

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Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

This point is raised at this stage as we enter into further consideration of the third reading motion. I must say that on its face there is nothing extraordinary in the language of the clauses which have been referred to by the Minister of Transport (Mr. Lang). The fear that the bill might be changed in a period of delayed proclamation is one which I do not fully recognize, because I cannot visualize-at least, it is not clear to me-how the bill could be changed at any time except by amendment, once the bill is passed. Therefore, if such substantive changes to the bill are to be made, they would have to be made by amendments which would have to be introduced and- put through all stages here as an amending bill, as would be the case with amendments to any other statute.

The decision on proclamation is not a new aspect of our procedure. As the Minister of Transport has pointed out, not very many bills have more than one proclamation clause; but it is quite ordinary that bills have the kind of clause which

appears at the end of this bill at page 8, which reads as follows:

This section shall come into force on a day to be fixed by proclamation.

That is not an extraordinary clause, by any means, and as I understand the fear of the hon. member, it is not that in a delayed proclamation of certain clauses there would not be time for consultation only on the subject of the date of the proclamation itself, but that those consultations might lead to suggested changes in the bill and that those changes might be made after the bill had been passed but before it was proclaimed, which somehow would be an affront to parliament. I cannot fully recognize that, because my understanding is that the motivation for this is to receive representations solely on the actual date of proclamation.

Again, the principle of metric conversion is not the problem, but the phasing in of metric conversion as it applies to different areas of the country is a matter upon which further consultation might be had. If, indeed, the hon. member is right and those consultations go to substantive matters, then it seems to me that we should know what they actually are. I am anticipating, and we are into hypothetical territory to a certain extent because without knowing exactly what suggested alterations there might be, and if they are in fact substantive changes to the legislation, it would be readily agreed that we would have to do that by amendments which would be brought before the House for consideration.

I do not know if I have alleviated the concerns of the hon. member. If there is a point that I have failed to recognize fully or have failed to deal with, I think it would be in order for the House to proceed at this time with third reading discussion.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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PC

Thomas Gordon Towers

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Towers:

I do not wish to belabour the point, Mr. Speaker, but perhaps I did not make myself clear. I am not so much concerned about the timing of the royal proclamation, as about the fact that changes will be made in this bill in relation to tons, hectares and bushels. The minister has stated that he is going back to the grains industry and the farmers to see what they want in this bill. The issue is that these changes be made, otherwise the bill will go through in its present form, which is not acceptable to much of the agricultural industry in western Canada.

As the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Horner) said last night, we are dealing with the very culture of western Canada when we deal with acres. The land has been measured in acres and sections. This is what the minister is talking about when he goes back to the farmers and the grains industry. To my knowledge, there is no way that these substantive changes can be made in the bill after third reading and prior to the royal proclamation. It is an insult or an affront to this House to be asked to do this. I think the logical way to handle the bill would be to send it back to committee and have it divided.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

With respect, as I understand it, the hon. member is making a representation that he is entitled to make by way of amendment to the third reading motion and he

June 9, 1977

wants to bring the attention of the House to that. He expresses a point of view that is quite legitimate but, with respect, I do not think the point has procedural application. Whether it is wise to proceed at this time, whether it is a proper approach, whether it respects the point of view of western farmers in respect of a cultural heritage that is very dear to them, are all arguments that might be addressed for or against the bill or by amendments to the third reading motion, or, indeed, by amendments when the bill has had three readings and is in the Senate.

Those are valid considerations and arguments for or against the bill or an amendment to the motion for third reading. From a procedural point of view, however, I can only say, again, that the approach of a proclamation date that follows some time after three readings in both Houses is not an extraordinary procedural ramification. From a strictly procedural point of view, therefore, I do not see grounds upon which I can arrest progress of the discussion on the bill at this time.

The hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Towers) has the floor on the substantive argument on the motion for third reading.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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PC

Thomas Gordon Towers

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Towers:

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if 1 could have your permission for the hon. member for Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain (Mr. Hamilton) to lead off debate. I could be recognized later as a speaker on third reading.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

As I understand the situation, the hon. member for Red Deer had the floor, having been recognized, but had not started to speak. If that is so, I am sure the House would have no objection if the hon. member for Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain (Mr. Hamilton) were called now and the hon. member for Red Deer were called later in the debate.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Alvin Hamilton (Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain):

Mr. Speaker, I think Bill C-23 is supported in general principle by all parties in the House. It is really an example of how not to put legislation through that affects the culture of the people. I do not want to belabour that point, but it is my intention to put forward an amendment to try to get the subject back on the rails and, hopefully, to get the support of all members of the House so that conversion to the metric system can go forward in a sensible, democratic way.

When the resolution regarding the metric system was brought in, we in the official opposition asked that legislation be introduced so that we would know what we were doing, where the responsibility lay and what compensation would be made to the people who were going to be forced to suffer in an economic sense as a result of the legislation. When the legislation was introduced before the Christmas recess a protest was raised by the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Towers). That was the last we heard of this bill until January 26, when we were suddenly informed that it had to be passed very quickly because it was to take effect five days later, on February 1, 1977.

Metric System

At that time I asked in the House the reason for this obscene haste, and suggested that if the government wanted to get the bill through, they would at least have to agree to taking the word "hectares" out, first, because it was not necessary and, second, because farmers all across Canada, not just in western Canada, would be opposed to it. I understood that the government thought well of the idea, which was supported by the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville (Mr. Nystrom) of the New Democratic Party. We agreed to drop debate at that stage and let the bill go to committee.

When we got to committee, farm leaders and union representatives took the very strong position that we had to put the bill through immediately because they had spent a lot of money converting the scales and papers and it would cost more money to go back to the original position. This annoyed members of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, at least, because they knew this was not the view of farmers on the prairies. To repeat, on behalf of this party I said we would go out and share with the government in the explanation and try to persuade people that in the national interest we had to accept the concept of working in an international community that would use this international system. Because of our opposition in committee the matter came to the attention of people in the west, and now literally 95 per cent of farmers on the prairies are opposed to this metric conversion.

Some farmers are opposed to the whole thing and some are only opposed to the land measurements. The government has said that land measurement is a provincial matter. That is true, but it was a federal agency, the metric commission, that went to the provinces and got Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan to agree to conversion to the metric system in regard to land. In the case of Ontario, it was permissive legislation. In the United States it is also permissive legislation. No person in the United States, whether he is a farmer in the Spanish surveyed lands of Southern California, the French surveyed lands of Louisiana, or the imperial system of most of the United States has to convert his land measurement unless it is to his economic advantage to do so.

In the case of Alberta, the legislation was changed, but never proclaimed. In the case of Saskatchewan, after the legislature adjourned last year, distracted by a big debate on the potash takeover, it was put through by order in council.

The great majority of the people of Saskatchewan living in our cities, towns and on farms do not know this change has been made. The person who has bought a group of lots, say in the town of Kamsack or a farm north of Runnymede, will find he cannot register that new ownership unless he gets the land surveyed in the metric system, according to Saskatchewan regulations coming under the land titles act. This means that the farmer or person buying the land is forced to hire a surveyor. We have not had much to do with surveyors in the last 70 or 80 years, having nearly always accepted the original surveys.

June 9, 1977

Metric System

If you live in an area which is predominantly forest or bush, a survey is expensive and takes a long time. This requirement will create economic loss and eventually will make people resent tremendously attempts at metric conversion. Clearly, the provincial government blundered. It made people feel that governments do not care about people's feelings, that they will not consult people. In years to come this will be the root of tremendous antagonism. True, farmers think this is being done by the federal government, not the Saskatchewan government. The difficulty can be resolved if the minister does what he said on May 3. Answering the hon. member for Vegreville (Mr. Mazankowski), the Minister of State for Small Business (Mr. Marchand) said, as reported in Hansard for May 3, page 5226:

A decision has been made not to proclaim that section of the bill on metric conversion relating to the grain industry-

That comment concerns five statutes coming under this bill. He continued that remark by saying it would not be done "until after further consultation." He finished that part of his answer with these words:

It will not be until further consultations have been held with the grain industry, and especially the farmers.

That is a promise and a threat. In saying all this, I am thinking more of the farmers than of the heads of the grain industry who have spent several hundred thousand dollars converting their equipment and could use the new system immediately if it suits their operations. Members of parliament should think more of the plight of the farmers, because they make up 99 per cent of the people in the grain industry who could be adversely affected. We cannot consider the vested interests of the grain companies, companies which showed bad judgment in believing the representatives of the federal government who told them this law would be in force by February 1, 1977.

We do not want to harm the grain companies. At the same time, we should not proceed with metric conversion until we have removed some of the obstacles I have mentioned. One such obstacle or difficulty is the attack on the land measurement system. Mr. Speaker, we are not selling our lands on world markets. As the hon. member for Vegreville said, our land measurement system has its roots in antiquity and is part of our culture. If you think our western farmers are annoyed, just wait for the reaction of farmers in Ontario and Quebec where they use various systems of land measurement. In Quebec they measure land in the arpent and the acre. In Ontario they use many different systems of surveying. For instance, boundaries are described as running from this boulder to that oak tree, or to that bend in the river. They use leaps and bounds and jumps, and almost every measurement of which you can think.

From time to time in Ontario and rural Quebec townships set up what are known as fence viewing committees which are composed of leading citizens who settle boundary disputes between farmers. If you force the people of Ontario and Quebec to accept the metric system for measuring land not

sold on world markets you will create an economic storm and eventually a political storm.

Not all metric measurements are to endure internationally. The pamphlet "The international system of units (SI), an outline of Canadian usage", published by the Canadian Standards Association, points out that seven units of metric measurement will be used a limited time only. Included among them are the nautical mile, the knot, a unit of speed measurement used at sea and in the air, the angstrom, the pronunciation of which escapes me but which ought to be printed in Hansard, the hectare and the are. A side note accompanying the table to which I referred reads: Although the are and hectare, by international agreement, have been shown as units to be used for a limited period of time, those units are not to be permanent parts of the international system of measurement.

What does this mean? It means that although the hectare will not be used internationally as a unit of measurement, we shall enforce it on our farmers, create a great political uproar for no reason, and force farmers to take an economic loss in connection with a measurement system nobody else will be using. As I told the minister privately, when he keeps the promise he made on May 3 he should tell officials of Saskatchewan, Alberta and other provinces contemplating metric conversion that the hectare is not to be a permanent unit of measurement. Therefore, we should do in Canada what is done in the United Kingdom and the United States. We should adhere to our traditional arpent or acre. True, final responsibility in this field rests on the provinces, not on the federal government. However, we must let the provincial governments working on metric conversion know that the hectare, part of the present metric system, will not be part of the international metric system in future.

In a moment I shall move an amendment which will bring this debate back on the rails, as it were. My proposed amendment will be consistent with the minister's promise. I say he ought to consult the farmers. We are not so greatly concerned about the heads of grain companies, and by grain companies I mean private as well as co-operative companies which are interested mainly in profit. Their interest in the farmer is secondary. We members of this federal parliament should bear in mind what is good for our farmers, their costs, their political feelings, and try to influence the provinces to eliminate hectares from provincial legislation and provincial orders in council.

It would give the minister time, without wasting the time of parliament in useless debate. When we proposed, in committee, amendments to make the clauses dealing with the grain industry permissive, the Liberal members of the committee turned them down. Naturally, if we are going to vote party or partisan on this issue we have to realize that they can force it through. However, they force us to fight like tigers to stop them. If the government really wants to get this metric conversion back on the path again, it should co-operate in trying to do it properly. The grain companies do not want the govern-

June 9, 1977

ment to proclaim the legislation until the slack season in the fall, any way. I ask that we take some time in the summer and the fall to get to the farmers directly and use the occasion to explain the advantages of the metric system.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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PC

Donald Frank Mazankowski

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Mazankowski:

Use it to call an election.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain):

Be honest about the difficulties. Guarantee the farmers that you are not going to ask them to change the land measurement system. If the government did this, we would all take part in trying to persuade people. After several years we would get used to using tonnes instead of bushels. It would not hurt too much; it would be a mental exercise. We would have great difficulty persuading the farmers who use very accurate measurements in the spraying of their fields and use ounces per acre, the precise amount, the precise pressure and the precise speed in putting on that spray. If he does not do it accurately, he loses his crop and his whole year's living. If you shift him into millilitres per hectare, he has to do this calculation in the fields without the quiet serenity of an office with a calculator. He might make mistakes and he would have a tremendous economic loss.

All these jobs of persuasion and education at the face to face level have to be done, and the politicians should play a part. If the procedure of consultation is not followed in getting them persuaded, willingingly or at least half willingly, we are in for a terrific fight. What we in the opposition want to do is make sure that the government does not use its majority to force through legislation which, in the minds of the people, was not properly prepared. That is our purpose.

There is one thing we will not accept. That is the land measurement. It is not needed. It is uneconomic. It will raise a political storm that will add one more factor to the divisions in this country and the alienation of people toward this parliament and this government. I move, seconded by the hon. member for Red Deer:

That all the word after "That" be struck out and following substituted therefor: "Bill C-23, an act to facilitate conversion to the metric system of measurement, be not now read a third time, but that it be referred back to the Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs for the purpose of reconsidering clauses 2, 6, 8 and 10 in the light of further evidence which may be heard from the grain industry, and especially the farmers."

That, in essence, is putting the minister's promise into the legislation. I conclude by pointing out as stronly as I can that this is not a matter of life and death to the nation. It was primarily an effort to assist international companies which buy and sell on world markets to work in units acceptable to the whole world. It was to increase our productivity and efficiency as part of the whole of business. I do not think it was ever designed to be an effort to attack the cultural attachments of people which go back into the centuries.

In spite of what I have been told by farmers and people in my constituency about their opposition to the use of tonnes and millilitres instead of ounces, I am prepared to go out and say that in the long run it will be simpler and better, and if they are careful and do not make mistakes they can learn it.

Metric System

Certainly, their children will have an easier system to work with than the Imperial system.

I think I speak for a good many people on that issue. However, I know that the antagonism toward myself and others who take that stand will be pronounced. This government has stirred the people up on this issue to such a degree that it is very difficult to talk rationally. That is because of the government's mishandling of this matter. The government did not accept my proposal during second reading debate to take out the word "hectare". They did not accept our seven or eight amendments in committee. They turned them down, with every member of the Liberal party voting against them. In spite of all this, I hope they will consider and accept this hoist until the minister completes what he has promised to do and then brings back the legislation. With the views of the farmers we can then push it forward to the degree that they will let us.

Do not force this system on the farmers. It will not help the country. We have always sold our grain on the metric system. For a hundred years we have used the system, but we have never bothered the elevator man or the man at the farm gate. Now we are asking him to be bothered, in the name of economic unity. Let us get this matter back on the rails again. All parties support the principle. Let us have all parties support the conversion, instead of trying to ram it through. My views are well known. If you turn things over to a certain type of civil servant, he is trained in only one thing, that is, to have everything minutely complete and in place. Civil servants want everything neat and tidy. Sometimes that causes those of us in the political field a lot of trouble. If the politicians did their job and spoke for the people, we could get this back on the rails.

There is a further matter. The government has welcomed into its midst a leading opponent of the metric system. Everyone across the west knows that if metric conversion is not stopped, it is evidence he has no weight in the cabinet, and he is destroyed. Maybe that is the purpose of the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau); I do not know. But I do know the politics of western Canada. If the hon. member for Crowfoot (Mr. Horner) cannot stop this metric conversion, they say the whole purpose of his entering the cabinet is nullified and all this talk about getting leading citizens in western Canada to join the Liberal Party dies because there is no trust in the implied promise of the Prime Minister to the hon. member for Crowfoot at the time of his appointment.

This is a critical matter, it is an economic matter and a matter of plain common sense.

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Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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PC

Walter David Baker (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baker (Grenville-Carleton):

As well as a matter of conscience.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain):

Since the government has made this mistake in the handling of the matter, for heaven's sake let it consider this amendment seriously, accept it in the House, stop the debate and get on to other business.

June 9, 1977

Metric System

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. I hope the House will allow me to consider the amendment. The first part corresponds to the normal practice of asking that a bill be referred back to committee, with a special instruction to reconsider certain clauses. What concerns me are other conditions attached to the amendment: I am not sure they meet the requirements of a third reading amendment. If the House agrees, I will recognize the hon. member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Neil) and put the amendment, if need be, at a later time.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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PC

Douglas Charles Neil

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Doug Neil (Moose Jaw):

Mr. Speaker, it was my intention to speak in support of the amendment of the hon. member for Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain (Mr. Hamilton). I was very optimistic back on May 3 when the minister who is piloting this bill through the House indicated that he intended to have further consultation with interested parties. As recorded at page 5227 of Hansard, he said:

The mechanism has not been decided. I assure the hon. member I shall be happy to receive suggestions from him as to how he feels this matter ought to be dealt with.

Our party's recommendation has gone forward to the minister. It is incorporated in the amendment proposed a few moments ago by my hon. friend, namely, that certain clauses of the bill be referred back to committee for consideration. Frankly, I can see no other way in which consultation can take place with the grain companies and with the farmers in the west. The farmers are extremely upset about this bill. The hon. member for Qu'Appelle-Moose Mountain said that in his opinion 95 per cent of the farm population was opposed to it, specifically to the change from bushels to tonnes and from acres to hectares.

I would agree with that figure, because of all the letters I have received on the subject-and I have received many-I think only one of them indicates support for the bill. If one reads the western press, the Western Producer and some of the other papers, one finds that week after week, month after month, contributors have been sending letter after letter to the editors opposing the metric system as it relates to the farm. Initially, members opposite said that the majority of the farm population was in favour of the bill. I recall the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Goodale) saying that all his farmers were in favour-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM
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June 9, 1977