July 4, 1935 (17th Parliament, 6th Session)


Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta


I should like to make one comment on paragraph (e), emphasizing one point and perhaps enlarging on what was said by the hon. member for Camrose (Mr. Lucas). The clause which provides for certain sections coming into force only by proclamation may be looked upon as the centre around which the entire value of the bill will revolve. As I see it, the bill makes fairly adequate provision to enable the board to carry on their operations of buying the crop from the producer and marketing it. It gives them full power to bring order out of chaos, and to the degree that wheat is in their hands to prevent speculation and gambling in that commodity. I think it will

Grain Board
be realized that the entire power of the board to carry that into effect will depend upon the board handling at least a very large percentage of the wheat. This will depend wholly upon the provisions of this bill as to the fixed or initial price. In this respect I think the phraseology of the amended bill is a distinct improvement upon the original bill. As the bill was originally introduced it provided that an initial payment should be made, but under other provisions of tJhe bill it was obvious that that payment would be based upon the expectations of what the wheat might sell for in the final result. Under the previous bill that initial payment would have had to be made low enough to safeguard the board and make sure that the final proceeds would cover not only the payment made to the farmer but the costs of operation. I think this is a distinct improvement which has been brought about by sending the bill to the special committee. It makes the proper provision for the payment of what is in effect not only an initial payment but a minimum price.
May I emphasize again the point that the whole success of this bill will depend upon the minimum price being set at a point where the wheat will be delivered to the board. This price might be set so low as to make the legislation inoperative. The trade is being left perfectly at liberty to carry on exactly as it has carried on, except that the hedging support which was given in the past under the stabilization scheme will be withdrawn and the trade will be obliged to take their own risks or find someone else to hedge their futures. If the disparity between the initial payment and the market price is too great the trade will be able to carry on as at present. I believe we have present this evening representatives of the present and future governments. I am not saying who will be the future government, but I think I am safe in saying that its representatives are in the chamber at the present time. I want to impress upon the members of that government, and on the members of the present government in the interim, that there lies the crux and the centre of the power of this legislation. If the price is set high enough, the great bulk of the wheat will be sold through the board and it will not find its way into private hands and the purpose of the bill will be accomplished. Order will thus be brought out of chaos and speculation in our foodstuffs will be reduced or will disappear altogether. I do not think it is too much to say that the responsibility will rest upon that government of deciding whether or not this legislation will be operative and whether or not 92582-2701
the grain exchange will be permitted to carry on its operations. Upon that government will rest the responsibility of deciding what is going to be the final result of this policy.
I realize the error of placing any restriction upon the board and the governor in council in the setting of a minimum price. The Prime Minister outlined some of the difficulties in this connection, and I think I can see still others. It is impossible to set up legislation as a guide to what that minimum or fixed price should be. I realize that, and I realize also that the inability of parliament to make this bill effective by law places a greater responsibility upon whatever government may be called upon to exercise its discretion. I do not think that can be too thoroughly understood by the people of this country and by the producers whom this bill seeks to relieve. In the final analysis it will rest upon the government in power at that time to say whether or not this bill will serve its purpose. The producers should be in a position to know exactly who is responsible for the success or failure of this legislation.

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