May 19, 1983

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT


The House resumed from Monday, May 16, 1983, consideration of the motion of Mr. Pepin that Bill C-155, to facilitate the transportation, shipping and handling of western grain and to amend certain Acts in consequence thereof, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Transport; and the amendment thereto of Mr. Benjamin (p. 25389).


LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin):

The Hon. Member for Provencher (Mr. Epp).

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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NDP

Ian Deans (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Deans:

1 rise on a point of order.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin):

Order. The Hon. Member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Deans) rises on a point of order.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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NDP

Ian Deans (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Deans:

Mr. Speaker, I realize that it is the Speaker's prerogative to recognize any Member, but the understanding that I had was that it was this Party's turn to speak. I had understood that in fact the Hon. Member for Kamloops-Shuswap (Mr. Riis) was to be on his feet, but as he is unable to be here at the moment, the Hon. Member for Saskatoon East (Mr. Ogle) had risen to speak.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin):

The Chair accepts the Hon. Member's intervention. Naturally the Chair wants to be fair to the various Parties present in the House. Unfortunately, I do not yet have at my disposal the list of former speakers; the Chair apologizes for that. Nevertheless, on the basis of Members who have already spoken for each Party, if the Chair has not followed the usual allotment of Members from each Party, perhaps the Hon. Member for Provencher would cede the floor to the Hon. Member for Saskatoon East.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Arthur Jacob (Jake) Epp

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Epp:

Mr. Speaker, I would like to co-operate. If there were previous arrangements, I am willing to step down and be recognized as the first speaker from our side of the House when our turn in the rotation does take place.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Gordon Edward Taylor

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Taylor:

On the same point of order, Mr. Speaker, on Monday, May 16, at 5.56, the Hon. Member for Kamloops-Shuswap (Mr. Riis) did take the floor and spoke for the four

minutes that were left. I do not know of any particular arrangement that had been made, but he did take the proper place for the NDP at that time. I think that in fairness the NDP should now have a chance to speak because the Hon. Member for Kamloops-Shuswap did not have a chance to speak for very long; he simply filled in the remaining four minutes.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin):

I thank the Hon. Member for Bow River (Mr. Taylor) for having refreshed the memory of the Chair. In any case, there seems to be agreement now to allow the Hon. Member for Saskatoon East to contribute to the debate.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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NDP

Robert Joseph Ogle

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bob Ogle (Saskatoon East):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues from the Progressive Conservative Party and particularly the Hon. Member for Provencher (Mr. Epp) for allowing me the opportunity to speak this morning. Mr. Speaker, I support the amendment that is now before the House because the amendment basically tells the people of Canada that our Party is not supporting the Bill to change the Crow rate.

Last weekend while I was in Saskatoon, I attended a very interesting and pleasant event. I was able to take part in the one hundredth birthday party of a Saskatoon citizen. Mr. Percy McKague was born on May 15, 1883 and last Sunday he celebrated 100 years of life. Mr. McKague is still a very clear-minded and lively person. He has a little difficulty with his hearing and he has a little difficulty with his sight, but his mind is as fresh as it ever was. He was happy to celebrate with members of his family and with friends who had recently celebrated their seventieth wedding anniversary, and I was happy to be with them.

As soon as Mr. McKague was able to recognize who I was when I sat close enough to him and spoke loudly enough so that he could see and hear me, he said: "You are from Ottawa, are you?" I said; "Yes, I am from Ottawa." Then he said: "Well, make sure they keep the Crow. The Crow belongs to the West." He said that in a clear, bell-like tone. We must remember that Mr. McKague, whose family started one of the local funeral parlours at the turn of the century, was speaking from the historic perspective of a person from Saskatchewan. People from Saskatchewan know that the Crow rate gave them some control over their own lives. As Mr. McKague said, the Crow belongs to the West. The East has plenty of things that look after it but the Crow belongs to the West.

May 19, 1983

Western Grain Transportation Act

There are many Members of the House and many people from the West, particularly Saskatchewan, who know that the Crow legislation made it possible for communities in western Canada to become established, to remain as communities with the possibility of a viable life and to build up what we call today the fibre of our Province. 1 know I am biased because I come from Saskatchewan. I have travelled the Province and I believe it has developed into a rather unique place on the planet. All across the Province there are viable communities established by people who have come from all over the world.

In pioneer days when the railroads were being built-and Mr. McKague was born two years before the first steel was laid in Saskatchewan-immigrants came to the communities being built all across the prairies. These people turned that land into fertile, food-producing farms.

In Saskatchewan today you can go to one town in which the predominant population is Ukrainian. You can go down the road about seven miles to another town and the people will be French-Canadian. Another 15 miles along there will be a German community, and so it goes, down the tracks. Each of these places was established by prairie settlers who came from different parts of the world and built towns, communities and viable centres where people could live and have a good life along the railroad lines. The railroads were the warp and woof of the fibre of our whole being.

Today it is extremely important to guard the human values established by our pioneer forefathers. These people put their lives, hearts, souls and futures into the West and made it a good place to live, a place in which the value of people, the value of the community and the ability to live together formed a Province built on unity and a common belief in itself.

The legislation proposed by the Minister is seen by some as a kind of saving dollars and cents legislation which will go to the very fibre of life on the Prairies. But this Party opposes the changes that make it necessary for people in those communities, those farming areas, those places in which the food of the world is produced, to shoulder an unfair burden.

I should like to repeat what Mr. McKague said in his clear, one hundred year old voice. He said that the Crow belongs to the West and an attack on the Crow in the West is an attack on life in the West.

Farmers, retired people, not just people on the land but storekeepers and business people, all know and understand that the reason these towns and centres continue to progress is that the Crow rate stabilizes the economy and the possibility for income on the Prairies. Everyone in western Canada knows that if the farmers are prosperous everyone ultimately benefits. It keeps the local stores open, it provides schools, it makes it possible for communities to have their own rinks, their own ball team and their own band. It makes it possible to live as viable human beings and to continue to do so. But they must keep the rail lines. The rail line is like an artery in a human body. If you cut an artery, the next thing that happens is that a

part of your body dies. Abandon the rail lines and that is just what will happen to those communities.

I speak with deep feeling for those people who want to keep their way of life. Their way of life is uniquely associated with their ability to have railroads, to have rail service which links them with the rest of the country and with the rest of the world. They must ship their produce to the markets of the world. This Bill to change the Crow rate is basically an attack against the fibre of life in Saskatchewan. As my old friend in Saskatoon, Mr. Percy McKague, who is 100 years old, says, "The Crow is part of the West. It belongs to the West." I hope that is where it stays.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Arthur Jacob (Jake) Epp

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Jake Epp (Provencher):

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of points I would like to make and only ten minutes to make them, but perhaps I will be able to outline the areas I wish to highlight and, hopefully, there will be other occasions when I will be able to expand on these points. I look at the debate on the Crow rate proposals in a way similar to the way I looked at two other issues raised in this Parliament. First of all, it is not only a debate which relates to western Canada. Although the greatest impact will be in western Canada, it is a debate which has national implications and should concern every Member of the House.

The first major piece of legislation which affected us, I believe, as Canadians, and specifically as western Canadians, was the Constitution. Hon. Members might question why I raise the Constitution in this debate and I do so to make this point: it was a painful process for Canadians and for Hon. Members of this House. But to argue that the process did not result in a greater consensus would be violating the historical fact. What was argued in that exercise was that all Canadians are equal, that all regions are equal and that every Canadian and region should have the right and the ability to make their largest contribution to the national good; that they should have the right to develop their natural advantages. Canada as a whole benefits from the development of those natural advantages, not just simply the areas where that development takes place.

The second major piece of legislation which I believe affected Canadians in the perspective of how they see themselves was the National Energy Program. All of us, I would think, can agree that a national goal which has validity is that Canada become energy self-sufficient, and that is a national goal. The natural resources which give us that potential are based on the constitutional arrangement that those resources belong to the citizens of a given Province. But it does not stop there. Those Provinces and citizens have the right and the responsibility to develop those resources and to make the advantages which flow from that development available, again, to all Canadians.

[DOT] (M20)

That is essential, I believe, to understanding what Canada is. If we do not accept that principle, then those areas of the country, be it Atlantic Canada or western Canada, which do

May 19, 1983

not have that advantage cannot develop their own economic base and become contributors to the larger national goal.

When I speak to provincial leaders and citizens who live in Provinces which receive a substantial part of their income through equalization payments, I do not hear that they want greater equalization payments. What I hear from them is that they want the right to develop their natural advantages in order to develop an economic base and become contributors to the national economic scene, rather than relying on ever-increasing equalization payments.

That, Mr. Speaker, takes me directly to this Bill. I appreciate that the Minister is in the House and he might find this a little odd, but I hope my remarks are not seen to be highly partisan because I approach this question on the basis of what is best for Canada as I see it, and what is best for us in western Canada.

Obviously this Bill, if it were passed, would radically change the infrastructure of western Canada. Any time change takes place there is the natural tendency to be fearful; that is human. Having said that, I think there is a consensus generally that there must be some change to the transportation system in western Canada. Why? Because there is the very distinct desire to diversify. Now, there has been diversification in agriculture and related industries in the West, but I think the Minister would agree with me that that has not resulted primarily because of Government leadership. Generally it has been economic reality where farmers and agri-business people have diversified for economic reasons. The question then is: Does this Bill enhance this diversification or will it hinder it? My view of the Bill before us today is that it will hinder it and I want to give the reasons why.

We agree there must be some change, there must be some diversification beyond that which is taking place, so we need a national transportation policy. This might seem a little odd to some Members, including some from the West, but I believe it sincerely. I do not think that our transportation system can be based solely on the concept of an export economy.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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LIB

Jean-Luc Pepin (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pepin:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Arthur Jacob (Jake) Epp

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Epp:

I know for us in western Canada there is the argument of the net benefit of $6 billion in exports and therefore that is the transportation system. But surely if we want more diversification, it must also be based very strongly on what is best in the way of internal diversification for Canada as a whole. While 1 believe there will always be a bias toward transportation in western Canada to the export market, I do not think we are well served by virtually looking at our total transportation policy from that perspective alone.

What concerns me with the present Bill, Mr. Speaker, is what happens to the ability to diversify in the livestock sector. I see nothing in the Bill which says to me that there will be greater opportunity for our livestock producers to develop that industry.

Western Grain Transportation Act

I would like to mention hog production. In speaking to producers of hogs in Manitoba, they tell me they now see a loss between $3.75 and $4 a hundred weight on hog production. There is concern that we are in fact increasing the distortion between grain production and non-grain production on the Prairies. The ability, for instance, of Provinces to top load programs plays into that distortion. Therefore I think it is very clear where the solution must lie.

If I can speak provincially for a moment, I do not see anything in the Bill which would enhance the ability of Churchill to become a major port. I know of no country that has ever given up voluntarily, by attrition, any salt water port.

I have never seen any country that has been willing to allow its ports to deteriorate to the point at which one questions their viability. 1 have always seen the opposite, that those ports are developed, and I want to see Churchill developed. I want to see the railway developed. I want to see a diversification in Churchill, not only in grain but also in Saskatchewan potash. I want to see products being handled through Churchill for a longer period of time.

The former Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, who is now the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources (Mr. Chretien), and I had as an objective: Why must we buy arctic technology? Why, as an arctic country, do we not develop the best arctic technology for ourselves, as Canadians? That matter is not addressed in the Bill.

In addition, what concerns me about the Bill is husbandry of the soil. I say that farmers must diversify for reasons of the soil, for reasons of economics, but the summer fallow wheat cycle simply does not address the problem any more. We are mining the soil. We must surely have legislation which will allow the farmer to farm the very best way the soil of which, for the moment, he is the steward. That must also be in the legislation.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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LIB

Jean-Luc Pepin (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pepin:

In the legislation?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Arthur Jacob (Jake) Epp

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Epp:

I am saying in the legislation in terms of the philosophy which will allow farmers to make those decisions.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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LIB

Jean-Luc Pepin (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pepin:

But you can't put everything in the Bill.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Arthur Jacob (Jake) Epp

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Epp:

The last point I want to make, and I said I would be short of time today, is this. The Minister is opposed to the hoist. He asks, "Why should there be further delay?" That brings me back to the first point I made. I believe that in the federal state called Canada it takes time to develop consensus. The Minister will say; "We have had Hall, we have had Snavely, etc.; have we not had enough time?" 1 am convinced that a consensus is developing which would allow producers to consider these various options, including the one advanced by my colleague, the Hon. Member for Vegreville (Mr. Mazan-kowski). Therefore I suggest to the Minister, let us now use the new awakening in the farm community, in the western community, in fact in Canada, to develop that consensus and have

May 19, 1983

Western Grain Transportation Act

the best legislation to meet the objectives on which I think most of us agree, rather than push through legislation which, for a political reason today, might seem acceptable but tomorrow could seriously harm both the West and Canada itself.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Albert Glen Cooper

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Albert Cooper (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to enter this debate on Bill C-155 because it is certainly a very important piece of legislation to the Peace River country. I guess the reason for that is very simple. Farming is one of the most essential elements of the Peace River economy. The communities and businesses existing in that area have largely been built because of the agricultural sector and the economy which has contributed to the well-being of the area. Therefore, the prosperity and wellbeing of the region are dependent, to a very large extent, upon farming.

Another thing that makes our country and our area unique is the fact that we are in the far northern part of Alberta where we have a unique climate and unique soil conditions. We have a unique growing season due to the fact that our days are long and we have an abundance of sunshine. Despite the fact that we are so far north, we can produce very good, high quality crops.

Another factor which makes us unique in that part of the country is that we have a large amount of undeveloped land which is still to come onstream. It is one of the last large agricultural frontiers in Canada which is essentially still populated by pioneers today. They are pioneers who originally came here in the early 1900s and are still taming and developing new agricultural lands in our area.

The people of that region have faced hardships, which has been particularly evident lately. That is one reason why I am so concerned about Bill C-155. As a result of the fact that we have experienced drought conditions in the last four crop years, our farmers are facing difficulties.

Another problem our area faces is the long distance which must be travelled to major centres. Consequently, our local farmers have had difficulty being productive and ensuring that their land is productive. They have had to pay the price to do those difficult tasks.

The Crow rate was originally established to aid the pioneers of an earlier age. I do not believe that the goal of that original philosophy has been reached in my area. In terms of Bill C-155, I do not foresee a great deal of improvement for the people of the Peace River country.

Let me elaborate on the problems there. I believe the most serious effect of this Bill is that it will take away a consistent freight rate which is the one thing that farmers could plan on to predict their economic situation. All other agricultural factors, such as fuel costs, fertilizer costs and machinery costs, have fluctuated. The freight rate has been the only consistent cost that farmers could relate to.

This legislation does not in any way enshrine that freight rate. The Western Grain Transportation Act will create a new

bureaucracy, which always causes me concern. Another concern is the fact that there will be open-ended price increases. I suggest that the settlement for the railway companies is too generous and not essential.

I am also concerned that there will once again be too much ministerial power. We have seen that demonstrated in many Bills that have been brought before the House.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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May 19, 1983