Mr. Fred King (Okanagan-Similkameen):
Mr. Speaker, farmers in Okanagan-Similkameen have reason to feel unjustly put upon. Economically many who may not survive the winter can only wonder at the Government's failure to act in their defence. Now farmers find that the very structure of their industry is under attack, perhaps being destroyed by federal government action under the Combines Investigation Act.
One industry official told the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Whelan), "We have been operating this system for nearly 50 years. If we have been doing something wrong, tell us and we will correct it, but don't take action which will cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend. We are in deep financial trouble without that."
To discourage farmers in the area further, the CBC reported in a most inflammatory manner alleging racial bias, intolerance, and harassment of orchard workers, in generalized statements which are condemned and challenged by the industry.
A further series of unworthy statements made to the Special Committee on Visible Minorities on behalf of transient workers from Quebec is so overstated as to cause despair on the part of the vast majority of Okanagan farmers who are decent and fair in their relationships with their labour.
It is a sad day when a farmer, receiving five cents for a product which costs him 13 cents to produce, and who is paying the highest farm wages in all of Canada, should be subjected to the kind of abuse which seems to be thrown at him by Government, CBC and individuals with an axe to grind.
Sub-subtopic: PLIGHT OF FARMERS IN OKANAGAN-SIMILKAMEEN, B.C.