June 1, 1981

LIB

James Duncan Schroder

Liberal

Mr. Jim Schroder (Guelph):

Mr. Speaker, I have great pleasure in speaking this evening in this debate. My experience in agriculture has not been limited to that of practising my profession. In any case, I am proud to be one who has been of some service to the agriculture industry in this country.

The farmer needs help but he needs different kinds of help. For example, he is probably the most misunderstood person in our community. He produces a perishable product and he produces a biological product. Many businessmen are upset if they are stuck with inventory and have no way of getting rid of it, but at least they can pack it away until the next season. If fall clothes are not sold this year, they can be put away until next fall. The farmer cannot do that with his produce. He is stuck with it. Sometimes he does not have enough and sometimes has too much, and so it is very difficult to cope. He has to be a small businessman, a big businessman and an agri-businessman.

Some suggestions have been made today relative to our minister. I should like to say that his has probably the most difficult ministry in government. He has a great urban group to contend with that does not really understand very much about the difficulties of agriculture. He has to talk for the farmer and he has to act for the farmer. I should like to go on record as saying that in my experience I think our minister does a good talking job and a good acting job. He certainly does his very best to convince members of the government and the people of Canada that the farmer is somebody who really is somebody.

Some reference has been made today to the fact that we should have a fourth veterinary college in Canada, situated in the maritimes. A report was commissioned from the former dean of the Ontario Veterinary College, Dennis Howell. I should like to read from his report as follows:

Setting aside the contribution which a fourth school would make to the manpower needs of Canada, it must be remembered that, currently, an area of Canada where animal industry, both aquatic and terrestrial, dominates the economy is devoid of an animal health educational resource. In almost every brief submitted the opinion was expressed that a veterinary school located in one of the Atlantic provinces would add a much needed dimension to the livestock industry of the region by virtue of its scholarly activity, its research program and its inevitable role in professional refreshment. A second and no less significant point is: Can the young people of the Atlantic region continue to be denied, subtantially, the opportunity to fulfil their career objectives?

It follows, of course, that you cannot give this type of service to agriculture, with both the teaching facility and research facility, without the necessary faculty. There is considerable doubt about whether we should be robbing the other veterinary colleges in Canada in order to supply the necessary manpower to a fourth school. I think the following comment in the report is relative:

In general, veterinary medicine lacks opportunities comparable to those enjoyed by the medical schools of Canada under the programs of the Medical Research Council.

The exception to this is a fellowship program under the Medical Research Council which has been particularly useful for research in veterinary medicine. The report continues:

What is needed is a program, possibly administered by Agriculture Canada through the medium of the Agricultural Research Council, designed to train

young veterinarians at various levels for future academic careers. Such a program should include summer studentships for undergraduates, scholarships for graduate studies, and fellowships for graduate studies, and fellowships for study in a post-doctoral sense. The stipends need to be attractive and should be at the same rates provided by the Medical Research Council for its comparable programs.

This government has shown a fair amount of leadership in trying to establish a fourth veterinary college. I believe that we will see it in the future and that it will provide the necessary service to make sure that our animal industry in particular is provided with the kind of diagnostic service and care which will make the economical production of livestock possible.

I am sure that my colleagues from the west can recall the days when we tried to establish a third veterinary college in Canada. It was finally established ten years ago and was called the Western Veterinary College. We had the same doubts then about whether it was feasible to establish another faculty of veterinary medicine to serve the agricultural industry in Canada. We had all the same questions about where we would get the faculty, whether there would be enough jobs for the graduates, and whether it was feasible to support it. Of course, we met the same kind of arguments and in many cases the conclusions were that we would be foolish to attempt to establish this very expensive school for training veterinarians for the future.

I am pleased to say that with the co-operation of the western provinces and the federal government, which supplied 50 per cent of the necessary funds, the third veterinary school was established in Saskatoon. Within a very short time it became one of the finest veterinary colleges in Canada. It has sent graduates all over the world and I am proud to say that it has proven to be a good investment in animal health.

Recently, I travelled with the North-South task force in various Asian countries. I was very pleased to see the number of graduates in agricultural and veterinary science that there are in the Third World as the result of their training in Canada. As far as agriculture is concerned, I like to think that our profession has served well and valiantly through the years. I hope that the fourth veterinary college will be established. Some kind of fellowship program could be set up to help provide the necessary faculty so that our agricultural industry in Canada will be the leader because of the kind of support it receives.

Probably many of you do not know that we in Canada have a reputation around the world for having healthy livestock, which means that markets are open to us because we have been able to keep out those diseases which ravage livestock in many other countries. We do this by maintaining an animal population free of disease. We have inspection services which are able to spot immediately when a disease has been brought into the country. We get rid of this disease by eliminating it. Therefore, we are free of diseases such as foot and mouth and hog cholera. Obviously one disease affects hogs and the other affects livestock. These two diseases are the scourge of many countries in the world. Canadian livestock is welcome almost

Agriculture

everywhere in the world because of our high health standards. I do not want to take all the credit for the veterinarians but this standard is maintained because of the very fine management provided by farmers not only through their training in agriculture but through the usual Canadian ability to do things and to do them properly. However, this standard could not be maintained without the kind of veterinarian support they receive.

I think we can be proud of our inspection service. We can be proud of the fact that all our animals, because of their good health, are acceptable in almost every country in the world.

1 am sure hon. members know that to be a veterinarian requires a very long training program. But looking at the total agricultural picture, it is a case of everyone working together to make sure that our animal industry is the finest that is possible. To my hon. friend who spoke before me I want to say that we have the finest agricultural industry in the world. With development of confidence, with service programs, particularly relating to animal health, which I am proud to say the present government supports and in which the minister is showing great leadership by promoting these activities in Canada, we will go on with a very fine agricultural industry. In spite of our problems with credit, in spite of the fact that we are producing perishable goods, in spite of the fact that we have a biological product, in spite of the fact that some farmers want help and some do not, in spite of the fact that we do not have unanimity as to what programs there should be to help farmers, there is no question that our government is convinced that farmers are very important people in Canada. The agricultural industry is the basis of our tremendous growth. Canada is the great country it is today because we have a healthy, vibrant and strong agricultural industry.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY. S.O. 58-EFFECTS ON AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY OF HIGH INTEREST RATE POLICIES
Permalink
PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Guelph (Mr. Schroder) for sharing part of his time with me so that I could close the debate.

The first part of my remarks are what I intend to say at the end of my speech, namely that today's debate, and I have listened to all of it, has been rather depressing for one like myself. I know that one of the healthiest industries in Canada is the agricultural industry. I know that the opportunity for agriculture has never been greater than it is now. I know that the world wants to be fed and insists on being fed. I know that farmers not only produce the food for our table but also will soon be producing the energy to keep us warm at night. The future for agriculture is unbelievable. Whether we worry about big farms or small farms, the fact is we are moving toward intensive and more efficient agriculture because there is a need for it. If we could get these people in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces to realize that they have a job to do and could make some money, we would soon get this agricultural industry going even better than it is today.

Unfortunately, at times snags are put in our way. Governments have done much for the agricultural industry in this country. I think the U.S. government has done very well for its farmers too. We have done a good job for agriculture, but the

June 1, 1981

Agriculture

job is never finished. Right at the present we have a dark cloud hanging over our heads. Some nitwits in the central banks of the world, backed up by the nitwits in the departments of finance, are determined to prove that although the book learning they acquired 40 years ago is not working out, they will show it to be correct. They think if they get the interest rates high enough, all the things they studied will come true. But quantitative evidence shows just the opposite. I will not make a speech about that tonight because I want to talk about the particular subject before us.

This subject tonight really deals with farm credit. Sure the small business development bond will be a big help. I hope the government will broaden it out to cover wider sources than just the incorporated farmers. My main topic tonight is the Farm Credit Corporation. We have had a long history of credit on the farms in Canada. I will not repeat what I said before as to what happened in 1919 in that great debacle or what happened in the 1930s and what was done by all governments in an effort to solve those crises because that is past history.

If we are going to meet the challenge today of feeding the world and keeping the world warm through the production of energy from renewable resources, we have to use supplies of credit. We are based on a credit system. If we are to have this silliness of a group of academic dropouts who man our departments of finance and who man our central banks around the world telling politicians what they have to do when they know it is wrong, that it has always been wrong and it still is wrong, then we have to depend on the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Whelan) to speak up on this subject in cabinet.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY. S.O. 58-EFFECTS ON AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY OF HIGH INTEREST RATE POLICIES
Permalink
PC

William Herbert Jarvis

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Jarvis:

Heaven help us.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY. S.O. 58-EFFECTS ON AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY OF HIGH INTEREST RATE POLICIES
Permalink
PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

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

I know that it has been said that he has enough clout. Believe me, if you ever want to have clout in the cabinet, just offer to resign and tell the people why you are resigning. All of a sudden 25 or 30 other guys in cabinet say "no, don't do that". But all you have to do is to put your resignation on the table. There is not a prime minister born now or in the future who would ever turn down a minister of agriculture, if you want to unite the people of Canada around an issue, that issue is interest rates.

The interest rate issue goes back thousands of years. In Canada it has taken our Parliament by the throat on several occasions. If you want to unite farmers from Newfoundland to Quebec right through to British Columbia, just fool around with this nonsense on interest rates. You can bring every farmer together. They could clean out 70 different members of Parliament if they wanted to. I simply ask the Minister of Agriculture to pay attention to some of the positive and helpful ideas which have emanated from this side of the House over the last two weeks.

Hon. members heard today from the hon. member for Medicine Hat (Mr. Hargrave). He put forward his concept of an individual trust system whereby the farmer in his surplus years puts his cash into a trust account. No subsidy from the government is required. He just wants to have that money available when the income is poor. It would not cost the

government anything. The hon. member went on this afternoon to suggest putting this money directly into the hands of the Farm Credit Corporation, who act as a trustee, instead of putting it into a bank or a credit union. The farmers would be glad to put money into a farm credit trust fund at 6 per cent because they will not be taxed on it. The Farm Credit Corporation could lend that money out at 8 per cent and get the young farmers up and going. Get rid of this high interest rate of 20 per cent a year and above. This is not a laughing matter that will go away next week by dropping the interest rate a point or two. Anything above 6 or 8 per cent on the productive side of our economy is lunacy. The quickest way to get it down without a subsidy by the government is to lend the money at 8 per cent. Ask the farmers to put their money into a trust account under the hands of the Farm Credit Corporation and get 6 per cent. As long as the farmer is free of tax, he will accept that 6 per cent. Not only the beef farmer but the grain farmer will do that. He will not want any subsidy when he is saving tax. He knows that money will be available when his income is low and he can take it back as income.

If that idea of loans is put before cabinet with all the enthusiasm a minister of agriculture can mount, he will have

350,000 farmers from all across the country behind him. The minute he does that, just watch the banks and credit unions get their interest rates down for every other class of people.

This is not a question of grabbing money out of the treasury. The treasury does not have any. They are borrowing like mad to pay the high price of oil. This is a positive proposal by an opposition member who has made this type of proposal before. It was originally introduced in this House some years ago by the then hon. member for Swift Current. He is not here tonight. It has been improved on and made more powerful in the way the hon. member for Medicine Hat repeated it. According to this concept, if you are going to stablize the income of any farmer, you let him have an account he can put his money into when he has a surplus. He can earn money when it is needed. He only pays the tax on it when he draws it as income.

This is an individual accounting system which does not require 10,000 civil servants to examine every item. It is a matter between him and a trustee. When the farmer puts the money into that account, he entrusts the trustee to use it for a proper purpose, to earn money and to be useful to his country. At the same time, when he wants it, it is available.

The suggestion made this afternoon that the Farm Credit Corporation handle it makes eminent good sense. The farmer could be told to put money into the trust account where he would receive 6 per cent. It could then be loaned to other farmers who need it badly at 8 per cent.

The farmer gets a better, more saleable proposal than the one I made last week. Last week I proposed that we lend money through the Farm Credit Corporation at 8 per cent. When the debt was paid back under the contract, the Farm Credit Corporation would be quite justified in getting an

June 1, 1981

interest in the additional profit. That is being done all the time in private business because businesses are caught in the same way as everybody else, including the farmer. They have to shift toward some type of equity financing on which there is no interest or some sort of an interest in their profit which has no interest on it as well.

My proposal is sensible. 1 use it all the time in private business and it works. No one loses under that system. There is no subsidy. The suggestion of the hon. member for Medicine Hat is so simple and obvious that grain farmers will put their money into those trust accounts.

Cattle farmers will put their money in and everybody who wishes he were a farmer would put his money in if he got the chance. They will not quarrel about the 6 per cent. If there is worry about the fact it will be in there for a long while, the interest could be indexed along with inflation to ensure the farmer does not suffer. Index the principal if you want. The fact remains that something practical has to be done, not next week but now.

These ideas have been put before this House for the past seven or eight years starting with the hon. member for Moose Jaw, the hon. member for Swift Current, the hon. member for Mackenzie and myself, to the then minister in charge of the Wheat Board who introduced the stabilization for grain, it was put forward then as a positive, simple alternative to help stabilize the farm income without any cost to the government. Keep the government out of it. Those proposals were passed over for this complicated, legalistic type of tax law that we got in the stabilization act. No one understands that law except the tax expert, and I sometimes have doubts about them.

I think 1 have driven home this point as well as I can. I do so not only on the basis that it makes good common sense. To go out and tell the farmer tomorrow that you are going to put this proposal before cabinet would shake this cabinet out of a year's growth. It would really smarten them up. If the minister says he is going to put it forward, and if cabinet cannot prove that it cannot be done without a shadow of a doubt, you are walking the plank and you are telling why. My God, they would come back from all over the world to make sure he does not walk it.

No one dismisses a minister of agriculture of this country without a revolution from one end of the country to the other as long as he is fighting on behalf of the farmer. It is something where you cut across party lines. Canada as it is with all its great diversity can only have one federal minister of agriculture. Sometimes he is from the west, sometimes from the east, but it cannot make any difference. He speaks for all the farmers. Regardless of what language he speaks or where he comes from and regardless of the difference of views of many farmers, as long as they know he is sticking up for them, they will forgive many of his blunders and mistakes. As long as you let them know you do not care what their politics are or where they come from and that they will get fair treatment, farmers will always back their federal minister of agriculture.

Adjournment Debate

Some of us can speak with great experience on that, having once gone against all the farmers. When they came around in a year or so, the support was overwhelming, regardless of political affiliation. They did not care that I was called Conservative because they knew that I stood up for them. With everyone against me-only one other member of the Conservative caucus supported me-I survived. I was not afraid. 1 did not want to be minister of agriculture anyway.

No prime minister is ever going to fire a minister of agriculture. If you really want to shake up the self-styled leaders of the nation who parade up and down as cabinet ministers today, just say that you were listening to this debate and you think there is a lot of sense in it. We are not asking for subsidies so the Minister of Finance (Mr. MacEachen) will not be against you.

We are asking for a simple type of proposal whereby the farmer can put his money into some form of trust account. He will do it. All you have to tell a farmer is he will get out of taxes for a while and he will do anything. Get that money out at 6 or 8 per cent, whatever you can, just say you are going to do it and every farmer's hopes will rise again. If you say you are going to back him up and there will be no subsidy, no prime minister will turn you down. Think what a morale booster it would be for the Department of Agriculture. Instead of dragging along under this situation, catching hell from one end of the country to the other, they would have their minister finally speak up, saying he is willing to walk the plank if justice is not done to the agricultural industry. That is the challenge we put before the minister tonight.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY. S.O. 58-EFFECTS ON AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY OF HIGH INTEREST RATE POLICIES
Permalink
LIB

Roderick Blaker (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Blaker):

Order, please. It being ten o'clock it is my duty to inform the House that pursuant to Standing Order 58(11), the proceedings on the motion have now expired.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY. S.O. 58-EFFECTS ON AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY OF HIGH INTEREST RATE POLICIES
Permalink

PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION


A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 40 deemed to have been moved.


SOCIAL SECURITY


(A) QUERY RESPECTING AID FOR SENIOR CITIZENS (B) REQUEST FOR EMERGENCY ACTION (C) REQUEST FOR LEGISLATION TO BENEFIT WOMEN AGED 55 TO 65 YEARS


NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Hon. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday, May 19, as recorded in Hansard at page 9674, I raised with the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Miss Begin) the plight being faced by many senior citizens, and in particular I asked that something be done by

June 1, 1981

Adjournment Debate

way of making an increase in the old age pension on an emergency basis.

I asked in particular that the Minister of National Health and Welfare not tell us, as others on the government side do so often, about the $35 increase that was made last summer, because in point of fact that increase has been completely eaten up by increases in food and rental costs that senior citizens have had to meet. I also asked her not to try to make the point that that increase is fully indexed as though that takes care of the situation. I pointed out in fact that during the past year, when the over-all consumer price index has gone up by over 12 per cent, the actual increase in dollars in the total amount of the guaranteed income supplement has gone up by only 8.8 per cent.

The reason, of course, the indexing of old age pensions is always behind is that it is based on a formula that permits the department to go back a month and then three months behind that and compare that three-month period with the three months before that, with the result that when pensioners get an increase in their pensions, they are never getting an increase to help them meet the costs they are having to cope with right then. It is because of that situation, I contend, there should now be another emergency increase in the amount of the old age pension, whether it is added to the basic old age security or to the guaranteed income supplement.

The minister, of course, did the very things I asked her not to do. She reminded us of the $35 increase last year and told us about the quarterly indexing that is supposed to be up to date. These are myths that any senior citizen can disprove. Then she went on to point out that the plea we sometimes make for a special cost-of-living increase for old age pensioners related to the things that they actually have to buy would not be of much help because her department had done the arithmetic and had found out that over a ten-year period the difference would be about one percentage point or .1 percentage point per year.

I tried to make the point back to her that I was not talking about what happens on a ten-year basis, but about the difficulties that pensioners are facing right now. I contend that the case is very strong for an emergency increase in the old age pension right away, and I made a particular reference to needs of women between 55 and 65 who get no pension at all.

I know we are always told that there is not any money, and 1 know that my plea for a pension increase flies in the face of those in this House, especially to my right, who are forever asking for the government to cut expenditures. I remind the government and the House of a period I remember very well when the government was not spending money, in the depression of the 1930s, and the result was that things got worse and worse. I suggest if it were not for government money that is going into the pockets of people in the form of old age pensions, family allowances, unemployment insurance, veterans' pensions and all these things, our economy today would really be in a tailspin. I suggest that far from it hurting the economy to put money into the pockets of people who will spend it on things they need, it would actually be a help to the

economy, and even the business interests that keep calling for cuts in government spending would be better off if our social programs were expanded.

I say tonight that I am sorry the minister took such a negative stand in response to my question. I still do not think that is the way she feels about these matters. I believe she wants to see pensions and other social benefits increased. I can understand her not being here tonight, but I see I do not even have the attendance of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Frith).

I gather that the one parliamentary secretary who is here at this moment is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Minister of State for Social Development (Mr. Irwin), who will respond. I hope he will do so with a sense of justice and fair play to the senior citizens of this country.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY
Permalink
LIB

Ron Irwin (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State for Social Development)

Liberal

Mr. Ron Irwin (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Minister of State for Social Development):

First, Mr. Speaker, it is a myth that it is going to be easier for senior citizens in the next while. It is going to get more difficult with inflation and high interest rates. I see the latest census report in the U.S., which will probably mirror ours, indicates that for the first time since 1950 there are as many Americans above the age of 30 as there are below that age. That means that we have a shrinking work force which must provide for the economic well-being of a mushrooming elderly population.

Now I think the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) will be the first to admit, and I say this very subjectively, that the best social legislation has been the combination of Liberal-CCF-NDP legislation over the years, but I think it is going to be more and more difficult in these times to provide the necessary money. In the last campaign we had really only one monetary promise where money was going out with no return and that was in the area of social assistance, directed to the 1.2 million senior citizens eligible for old age security and the GIS. We kept that promise and it was very expensive. The hon. member says not to remind him of what was done, but it is a fact that we kept the promise and we put out a lot of money.

When the hon. member asked the question in the House, he stated that we had not indexed this properly, that it was only 8.8 per cent. I have checked this and that figure is for a nine-month period from July, 1980 to April, 1981. If we calculate it for a full 12-month period ending this July, it will be approximately 12 per cent, which means the single pensioner will get an additional $17 and a married pensioner $13. I know it is not enough, I know that we have to look first after the elderly and the pensioners in our society, but we are in very difficult times and that is all we can do at this particular stage in the development of our economy.

We are doing all we can for those over 65, and it was suggested by the hon. member that we go into those areas below 65, namely the single woman currently ineligible for old age security. I think he is right when he says that the Minister

June 1, 1981

of National Health and Welfare (Miss Begin) would do it if she could. She indicated a figure of approximately $730 million to do all those things she wanted to do, but I do not think she can. And I think she was quite forthright and truthful when she said in the House that the government is doing all it can to look after those over 65; it will be some time before we can look after those 55 to 65.

Mir. Knowles: By that time they will be 65.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY
Permalink
LIB

Ron Irwin (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State for Social Development)

Liberal

Mr. Irwin:

Well, within the last 20 years we have and are providing income housing, senior citizen housing, provincial assistance, old age security and the GIS. At its worst, things are much better now than they were 20 or 30 years ago, and there is some responsibility on our citizens to do some saving of their own for their future retirement. I do not think we can continuously put the debt on the young workers of this country and expect them to go out and produce and earn money and pay the income tax they will have to pay. This is a shared responsibility.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY
Permalink

ENERGY-EXPORTS OF NATURAL GAS TO UNITED STATES

LIB

Maurice Brydon Foster

Liberal

Mr. Maurice Foster (Algoma):

Mr. Speaker, on May 13 I asked the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources (Mr. Lalonde) if he would consider a policy in which he would not allow any further exports of natural gas from Canada to the United States until there was a firm commitment by the gas transmission companies like TransCanada Pipelines to serve the underserved areas of eastern Canada.

The reason I asked the question was that I was not sure whether the transmission companies like TransCanada Pipelines and the distribution companies like Northern and Central Gas Corporation Limited, which serves northeastern and eastern Ontario, had any clear direction as to just how rapidly they would served the underserved areas of eastern Canada.

There is a program in the National Energy Program called the federal distribution system expansion program which provides grants for distribution of natural gas in these communities, but the cost of the transmission lines into many of these communities will be very high. I am not sure whether that whole grant system will be adequate to cover it. For instance, in northeastern and eastern Ontario there are some 150 communities which need service, and the assistance will have to come out of that program.

In my own constituency it is estimated that it will cost something like $80 million to put through the transmission gas pipeline, part of which will be borne by TransCanada Pipelines and part by the distribution company, supposedly Northern and Central Gas Corporation. The volume of gas probably will not be adequate to amortize the cost, so it is a question of grants or the cost of that gas pipeline being borne ultimately by the producers of natural gas in western Canada, if it is added to the rate base of TransCanada Pipelines.

If we look at it in the national perspective, we see some six billion cubic feet of gas being used per year. This displaces

Adjournment Debate

about one million barrels of oil. We are subsidizing oil to the extent of $20 per barrel through the compensation program. So we will see a net saving for the country of some $20 million just in the communities along the north shore of Lake Huron. It is clearly in the national interest.

Whether companies like TransCanada will move to put in transmission facilities is highly questionable. They will not actually move ahead with it, unless they are certain that their chances of exporting gas to the United States will be virtually zero. I am hopeful the minister will ensure that more exports will not be approved to the United States until the underserved areas of eastern Canada are provided with natural gas. This only makes sense. We are spending a great deal of money under the Canadian oil substitution program to convert furnaces from oil to natural gas.

Obviously those gas transmission lines and distribution systems should be in place before we can carry out the substitution. 1 am hopeful the minister will adopt a policy of no further exports until the areas in eastern Canada which are not presently served with natural gas pipelines are being served.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   ENERGY-EXPORTS OF NATURAL GAS TO UNITED STATES
Permalink
LIB

Roy MacLaren (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Roy MacLaren (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources):

Mr. Speaker, the central aim of our government's National Energy Program is to ensure that all areas of our country are supplied with indigenous sources of energy. In establishing that aim, we recognize the fact that we can no longer depend on oil, whether imported or domestic, to supply the greater proportion of our national energy requirements. That is why the Canadian Oil Substitution Program announced last week is so important. The program will play a key role in achieving our goal of reducing oil consumption in the non-transport sectors to 10 per cent of their total energy needs by 1990.

The administrative arrangements of COSP have been largely completed following extensive consultations. It is clearly evident that its successful implementation will be of universal benefit to the different sectors of the economy.

With specific reference to natural gas, the National Energy Program provides for federal financial assistance for distribution companies to extend service to communities which it would not otherwise be economical to connect. Officials of the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources are presently at work with their provincial counterparts to develop criteria for determining which pipeline extension programs will be eligible for assistance, and to establish the process for selecting, from competing proposals, the specific projects to be funded. This work will be completed to allow the funding of projects in the 1982 construction season. For the fiscal year 1982-83, an amount of $170 million will be available for gas distribution system expansion. This is additional to $500 million to be made available for transmission system expansion to the mari-times and to Vancouver Island.

However, it is important that I should add that this is a long-term program. It will be impossible to subsidize all

June 1, 1981

Adjournment Debate

worthy projects in the first year. The federal government wants natural gas to be available to as many Canadians as possible and hopes that this system of grants will ensure rapid expansion.

The question of natural gas exports must be considered in terms of provisions under the National Energy Board Act whereby the board may only approve a new gas export application if an assessment of future gas requirements in relation to supply clearly demonstrates a surplus. The NEB will report on oil and gas supply and demand in mid-summer. No new export hearings are anticipated until late this autumn or next winter, and no new export approvals will be forthcoming, assuming that such are recommended, before late 1982.

To the extent that surplus may be available from time to time, there are benefits to the economy from natural gas exports. For example, this was an important factor in our balance of payments situation last year.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   ENERGY-EXPORTS OF NATURAL GAS TO UNITED STATES
Permalink

WESTERN DEVELOPMENT FUND-FUTURE OF PROGRAM

PC

John Allen Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John A. Fraser (Vancouver South):

Mr. Speaker, in the budget speech of October last the government announced a Western Development Fund. The words used were very precise. They were:

We have, therefore, allocated $4 billion to a Western Development Fund.

It was also stated that the government expected to spend $2 billion over the next three years.

In the budget speech it was made clear that the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mr. Axworthy) who, I might point out, is a westerner from Winnipeg-Fort Garry, would be in charge of specific development initiatives which "will be selected in consultation with the governments of the western provinces." The Minister of Employment and Immigration was named to co-ordinate these efforts and to ensure early action as leader of a special group of ministers. This special core of ministers, as is well known, consists of 13 ministers who are to concern themselves especially with western problems. You might say they are a sort of posse and the minister from Winnipeg-Fort Garry is sort of the top hand. The promise of the Western Development Fund was repeated at the same time in the National Energy Program, which states:

The government is anxious to complement its national strategy with more specific measures to address issues of long-standing western concern.

It goes on:

As a first step the Government of Canada will establish a special fund of $4 billion to finance over the first part of the decade a series of economic development initiatives, to be chosen jointly by the two levels of government, in the four western provinces.

On December 16, 1980 the Minister of Employment and Immigration charged into print by announcing a new "blueprint document" on western strategy. Presumably this "blueprint" would let us know some of the ways the $4 billion fund would be used.

You can imagine, Mr. Speaker, with what cheers we westerners greeted the minister's call to action. I want to quote

what the minister said at that time. It was stirring stuff, Mr. Speaker. He said:

Westerners are pragmatic.

Those are his exact words. Having delivered himself of this eternal verity, he followed it with another. He said:

When they see we mean business, they'll take it at face value.

That is strong stuff, Mr. Speaker. Since the minister was assigned the task of co-ordinating specific development initiatives, we westerners assumed that these development initiatives were related to the $4 billion fund, which we were assured by the budget speech in October had been allocated. And because we are pragmatic, Mr. Speaker, we thought "allocated" meant allocated. We thought that when the budget speech of October said, "We have therefore allocated $4 billion, that it had indeed been allocated. Now, what does allocate mean? I looked it up in the dictionary and it means, "to set apart for a particular purpose". That is an exact quote. In the words of the minister, "We westerners took it at face value". Why not? Every westerner knows that if the Liberal ministers in October of last year said they "have allocated" a $4 billion fund, then that is what they have done.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   WESTERN DEVELOPMENT FUND-FUTURE OF PROGRAM
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

Oh?

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   WESTERN DEVELOPMENT FUND-FUTURE OF PROGRAM
Permalink
PC

John Allen Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

In other words, they "set apart" $4 billion for development in the west.

Now we westerners also thought that if the Liberal government had already allocated the fund, that is, "set it apart for a particular purpose", and I am using quotes again, the Liberal government ought to know where the fund is. I mean that somehow or other they had it lassoed with the rope tied tightly to something. That is how we pragmatic westerners would have done it, and we would do it like that so no matter how much dust and feathers that fund kicked up it would still be tied to a post come morning.

So it came as a real surprise to find out through the press that maybe there is no fund. Maybe it never has been allocated. By golly, maybe those Liberal ministers in charge of western affairs never did get a rope on that fund. Why, back on May 4, the Canada Grain Council met. I will just read this to Your Honour because I know you are interested. The press reported:

'Ottawa's $4 billion development plan-promised in the Grit budget... has receded so far from sight that speakers at the council meeting made no overt mention of it.'

Those are big words for a western meeting.

It is pretty polite language for saying that the fund was a runaway that never got properly corralled. We certainly could see the problem. That allocated fund was out of the barn, so to speak, and not one of those 13 specially deputized ministers could catch it.

There was more than one westerner beginning to take things at face value, and I mean, by that: if you cannot see a fund, and if the fellow who says he has allocated it cannot show it to

June 1, 1981

you, then, being pragmatic, as the minister said we are, we concluded that maybe there is no fund, and maybe there never was a fund, allocated or not.

But, as the newspaper article put it, no one made any overt mention of it. As a matter of fact, the Minister of Employment and Immigration did not even call a press conference to tell us polite westerners what we had pragmatically figured out, and that was that there is either no fund at all or it is running loose somewhere quite out of control. I mean, we think it is probably overtly out of control. That is, it is out in the open and disappearing just about as fast as a Liberal promise can gallop.

Well, last week I asked some questions in the House about the fund and whether the advanced light rapid transit system in Vancouver would be paid for out of that elusive fund. It took a far western Liberal to finally tell the truth, like a clean breeze from off the Pacific. Senator Perrault, according to the press, said the fund has not been allocated. Well, now, we had figured that out. It makes an honest man out of the senator, but a near liar out of the government's top hand. As for the light rapid transit, how will that be paid for? Says Senator Perrault, "We have sprung the money from a different source", or, as we westerners would say, "A source of a different colour".

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   WESTERN DEVELOPMENT FUND-FUTURE OF PROGRAM
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   WESTERN DEVELOPMENT FUND-FUTURE OF PROGRAM
Permalink

June 1, 1981