February 27, 1978

LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Trudeau:

They are before the House.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   JOB-CREATING PROGRAMS-GOVERNMENT'S INTENTION TO INTRODUCE
Permalink
PC

Sinclair McKnight Stevens

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stevens:

There is nothing.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   JOB-CREATING PROGRAMS-GOVERNMENT'S INTENTION TO INTRODUCE
Permalink
LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Trudeau:

The pipeline legislation, for instance, is before the House. The NDP persists in feeling that we will not create jobs, but I can assure the hon. member that that is not the feeling of the country.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   JOB-CREATING PROGRAMS-GOVERNMENT'S INTENTION TO INTRODUCE
Permalink

VALUE OF CANADIAN DOLLAR-REQUEST MUNICIPALITIES BE ASSISTED TO MEET COMMITMENTS

SC

Gilles Caouette

Social Credit

Mr. Gilles Caouette (Temiscamingue):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to put a question to the Prime Minister. He seems to forget that suggestions were made by members of the opposition and that the government is not quite willing when special rates are requested to transport ore from west to east so as to carry on our activities in Northwestern Quebec. However, the Minister of Finance stated during the weekend that the depreciation of the Canadian dollar was helpful for our exports, but he forgot to say that as a result of that same depreciation some twenty Quebec municipalities are unable to repay their loans made in Switzerland and abroad. Could the Prime Minister then tell us what he intends to do to help those municipalities meet their commitments abroad?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   VALUE OF CANADIAN DOLLAR-REQUEST MUNICIPALITIES BE ASSISTED TO MEET COMMITMENTS
Permalink
LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, the Social Credit leader is versed enough in monetary matters to know that when a currency depreciates in relation to another, it is due to the fact that this country is importing rather than exporting goods and services of all kinds. The reaction of the monetary system is to devaluate the currency of the country which is importing too much and is not exporting enough. This makes it possible to export at more competitive prices. In such a way, the economy can improve. This is why the Minister of Finance indicated that a devaluated dollar is warning the Canadian economy that it should be more com-

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February 27, 1978

Oral Questions

petitive. This is the lesson which should be learned by the government and the opposition parties.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   VALUE OF CANADIAN DOLLAR-REQUEST MUNICIPALITIES BE ASSISTED TO MEET COMMITMENTS
Permalink
?

David Réal Caouette

Mr. Caouette (Timiscamingue):

Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary question. The purpose of the first question I directed to the Prime Minister was to find out what he meant to do for the municipalities which, because of the current dollar devaluation, are faced with the huge problem of not being able to reimburse the money they have borrowed in Switzerland and other countries. Therefore, I should like to know what, if anything, the Prime Minister can do to help these municipalities meet their commitments.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   VALUE OF CANADIAN DOLLAR-REQUEST MUNICIPALITIES BE ASSISTED TO MEET COMMITMENTS
Permalink
LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Trudeau:

Mr. Speaker, the municipality, corporation or individual seeking a loan on a foreign market is aware that such a loan will be exposed to exchange fluctuation of both the Canadian dollar and the foreign currencies. This situation, which has been in effect since 1970, remains unchanged. For a few years, the Canadian dollar was worth more than its American counterpart; now it is worth less. The borrowers on foreign exchange markets are aware of this. They are also aware that, if the Canadian dollar drops in value, things will be more difficult, and that if it increases in value, they will be easier. Both situations have occurred over the past six or seven years, and borrowers are as a rule serious people who can assume their responsibilities.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   VALUE OF CANADIAN DOLLAR-REQUEST MUNICIPALITIES BE ASSISTED TO MEET COMMITMENTS
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?

David Réal Caouette

Mr. Caouette (T6miscamingue):

I should like to put one last supplementary, Mr. Speaker. As the municipalities are adult enough to know exactly where the problem lies, and as today they are up against the problem of reimbursing their debts which they cannot afford to do, I ask the Prime Minister what he intends to do and if he will finally accept to help those municipalities finance themselves here in Canada, instead of being forced to borrow money abroad, by granting them interest free loans or privileged rate loans from the Bank of Canada?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   VALUE OF CANADIAN DOLLAR-REQUEST MUNICIPALITIES BE ASSISTED TO MEET COMMITMENTS
Permalink
LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Trudeau:

Mr. Speaker, two things are important: first, and the hon. member knows it full well, the municipalities do not fall within federal jurisdiction. When they borrow, municipalities do so under provincial laws or authorization. We have no control over those loans whether it be where they are made, the interest rates that apply, the amounts or the terms. We have no control whatsoever in those fields. If a problem exists, the municipalities can go to the provincial government.

As for the Bank of Canada lending without interest, I explained not so long ago, barely a month ago, to the hon. member, that when the government of Canada borrows from the citizens, it pays them interest: When the leader of the Social Credit Party buys savings bonds, he receives interest from the government: in other words, the government itself pays interest. So, clearly, when individuals or municipalities borrow, they must pay interest.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   VALUE OF CANADIAN DOLLAR-REQUEST MUNICIPALITIES BE ASSISTED TO MEET COMMITMENTS
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AGRICULTURE

PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. James A. McGrath (St. John's East):

Mr. Speaker, 1 should like to direct a question to the Minister of Agriculture: it is prompted by a statement made last week to the Food Conference by the Minister of National Health and Welfare to the effect that the country is facing a nutrition crisis. Given that fact, and the importance of powdered skim milk in the diet of low income and fixed income people in Canada, declining farm incomes and rising food prices, would the minister explain to the House and to the country why he decided at this time to remove the consumer subsidy from skim milk powder?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   REMOVAL OF SUBSIDY ON POWDERED SKIM MILK
Permalink
LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Hon. E. F. Whelan (Minister of Agriculture):

Mr. Speaker, I think it was based on the use of skim milk powder and whether the subsidy was doing the things we wanted it to do. Statistics Canada has taken a survey of over 3,000 families which shows that this subsidized product was not being used by the poor people it was intended for; the biggest percentage was used by middle income people or those who could afford the other type of product.

Instead of consumption of this product increasing because of its low price, it continued to go down. This amazed us, because so many told us that the right thing to do was to make sure this product was available to people on low income. It should also be noted that government programs such as indexing and transfer payments provide more income for low income families. It is estimated that indexing of family allowances, old age security pensions, guaranteed income supplements and other-

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   REMOVAL OF SUBSIDY ON POWDERED SKIM MILK
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Order.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   REMOVAL OF SUBSIDY ON POWDERED SKIM MILK
Permalink
LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. A supplementary question; the hon. member for St. John's East.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   REMOVAL OF SUBSIDY ON POWDERED SKIM MILK
Permalink
PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the minister is going to talk his way out of this one, as it defies explanation. I ask the minister who I know has a human heart beneath that gruff exterior if he would explain to the House what measures the government intends to take to ensure that the subsidy on powdered skim milk, an important dietary element to most Canadians-including those on middle or low incomes-is replaced, given the fact that it will mean an approximately 40 per cent increase in the price of powdered skim milk in this country for people who can least afford it.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   REMOVAL OF SUBSIDY ON POWDERED SKIM MILK
Permalink
LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may not have thought that what I was saying about indexing pensions, transfer of payments, etc., was important; But they are for the poor people too. In 1977, transfers to low income people amounted to $589 million-not the $13 million with which we were subsidizing skim milk powder, but there was an equivalent of $589 million more to benefit the poor peole of our country so they could make their own purchases in their own manner.

February 27, 1978

We are trying to develop a program, with the Department of National Health and Welfare and others, to make the product available to people in the far northern regions of our country who cannot receive liquid milk. I was most disappointed that the program was not more successful in getting nutrition to the people who need it most, because this came out of my departments' budget and I thought it was the right thing to do. It turned out that the people using this product were those who could afford fluid milk, so the program has cost the government more money than it should because we were making powder and butter. When you sell fluid milk, you do not have those extra costs which are such a tremendous burden to the dairy industry and to the federal and provincial governments.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   REMOVAL OF SUBSIDY ON POWDERED SKIM MILK
Permalink
PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

A final supplementary question. Would the minister explain to the House the economic results of his actions? Why will Canadians now pay more for powdered skim milk than consumers in Japan, for the same Canadian product?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   REMOVAL OF SUBSIDY ON POWDERED SKIM MILK
Permalink
LIB

Eugene Whelan (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

Mr. Speaker, whatever Japan does with the product is up to them, but I would doubt we would be paying more than Japan because in actual economic jargon what Japan is doing is buying it at world market prices. Whether they buy the surplus product from us or from the European Community, in most instances they are putting it on their domestic market at a higher price than we are putting it on our domestic market.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is significant that consumption of this highly nutritional product was 43 million pounds two years ago, and it appears we will be lucky if it is over 26 million pounds this year. All these people who spread doom and gloom about the buying power of our people should check the statistics. They would find that only 10 per cent of our people live below the poverty line. That is a drop from 20 per cent in just a few short years.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   REMOVAL OF SUBSIDY ON POWDERED SKIM MILK
Permalink

FISHERIES

February 27, 1978