January 19, 1956 (22nd Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Marvin Howe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. W. M. Howe (Wellinglon-Huron):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to join in the congratulations offered by other hon. members to the mover (Mrs. Shipley) and the seconder (Mr. Laflamme) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne.
My initial address in this house, of considerable length, described my own riding and mentioned the necessity of some way of decentralizing industry. Many reasons for such decentralization can be seen by those who live in smaller communities. The fact that many people are crowding into large urban municipalities makes them very vulnerable to complete annihilation in this day and age of atomic warfare.
Decentralization would help many phases of our economy. For instance, if our population were more diversified and spread out, the carrying of freight throughout the country would bring additional revenue to our railroads. So I could go on. There are many reasons for this. However, as others have mentioned and I myself have mentioned, industry is moving out into the smaller communities to a considerable extent. Several industries have settled in my riding during the past few years.
In this connection I should like to congratulate all our local municipal councils and associated boards, such as the school boards and hospital boards, on the wonderful job they are doing to keep those communities attractive for industries that may be looking for good industrial sites. In the last year it has been interesting to note the increase in hospital facilities that has taken place in that particular part of the country from which I come. In one centre, that of Fergus, a new hospital was built with 56 beds at a cost of $541,000. The general hospital at Palmerston had an addition and was remodelled at a cost of $138,000. The Wing-ham hospital had an addition estimated to cost $610,000. The Louise Marshall hospital at Mount Forest had an addition at a cost of $112,064. As I have said, all this is an

indication that those communities are doing their best to look after the services and facilities so necessary in our smaller communities.
All this work, as all hon. members know, is done with the co-operation of provincial and federal governments, but I maintain that the initiative and the main part of the cost is borne by those municipalities themselves and neighbouring municipalities interested in those particular centres. In that connection, in my own riding alone well over a million dollars has been spent on hospital facilities in the last year. In the past few years well over a million dollars has also been spent on public and high school facilities.
I hope other hon. members in this house will join me in urging the Minister of Finance once again to give consideration to the necessity for dropping the sales tax on purchases by municipal councils and associated boards. The land and property taxes, are increasing and are a very heavy burden on the property and land owners in the small communities as well as in the large communities, but they are necessitated by the provision of modern and adequate facilities for these people.
Now I should like to turn to another phase of the economy. We are all interested in our own ridings, but this is one of the fundamental problems of agriculture throughout the country. The counties of Wellington and Huron do their share in providing agricultural products for this country's economy; in particular they are among the leaders in the production of oats, mixed grains, flax, butter, cattle, beef and many other associated products.
I was rather interested in a statement made by Dr. E. G. Pleva, professor of economic geography at the University of Western Ontario. This statement will bring to the attention of this house the importance of agriculture in that part of the dominion called the lowlands of the St. Lawrence. That district, which comprises 1 per cent of the land area of Canada, contains about two-thirds of the population and three-quarters of the industrial development, and receives-this fact was very interesting to me-one-half of the agricultural crop dollars. One can see why we who represent ridings in that district want to add our voices to the voices of those who are bringing to the attention of this house the condition of agriculture throughout our dominion.
Since coming to this house it has been rather interesting to see how much is said for the western farmer. Certainly he is an important and integral part of the economy of

this great dominion and is having his problems. We have surpluses. The Minister of Trade and Commerce, in a speech the other day, seemed to welcome these surpluses. The Minister of Agriculture, using a Biblical term which he has quoted many times in this house, about the seven good years and seven bad years, indicated they were a good thing. However, I feel that with the recent trend of improved methods in all phases of agriculture, increased production is going to continue; it is not going to be the exception. Unless we have some major national setback, which does not happen very often, conditions of increased crop production are going to continue.
In that connection I should like to mention the recent speech by the hon. member for Parkdale, in which he mentioned the necessity for increased research. I would say that every medium possible should be used in order that research in agriculture may be continued and fostered, and so that costs of production may be reduced, the quality of products improved and our agricultural products made able to compete in the markets of the world as regards price and quality.
As I have said, the western farmer has been spoken of a good deal in this house since I have been here, and no doubt a good many times before that. But what was predicted a few years ago by many farming organizations in this country has happened. The effective surplus in the west has had a bad effect on agriculture throughout the whole economy. Farming prices have fallen to such an extent that the farmer is having a very difficult problem.
In connection with the farmers of southern Ontario, a report of the Searle Grain Company of Wednesday, January 11, gives a very definite reason for our problems down here. Under the heading, "The Underlying Reason for Concern" the report has this to say:
Without entering into the debatable question whether the western farmers should or should not be encouraged to raise more livestock at this time we do feel that the suggestion is of great interest, not only because it reflects the concern felt by eastern producers about the trend in this particular branch of the agricultural industry, but also because it brings out clearly the chain of reaction and the difficulties that can follow when the natural order of events and the natural flow of marketing is disturbed. The actual background which provoked this suggestion from Ontario stems largely from the distress selling of quantities of grain in parts of western Canada, and particularly in Alberta, at prices far below the regular Canadian wheat board prices. These sales, conducted along legal lines, entirely outside board operations, were from farm to farm as well as to feeders of poultry and other livestock and they are indicative of the desire of the farmers concerned to find an outlet for their grain to provide ready cash at a time when restrictive quotas are in effect. It is the competition of the feeders who enjoy cheap feed resulting
The Address-Mr. W. M. Howe
from this distress selling of grain that is most feared by the eastern livestock group.
To bear that out, I have a recent hog producers' survey conducted by my own Wellington county federation of agriculture, which would indicate that 27-6 per cent more hogs were raised in western Canada in 1955 than in 1954. In eastern Canada the figure is down by 11-6 per cent, which is an indication that what was predicted would happen has taken place. The Minister of Agriculture suggested to the western farmers that they diversify their production, and that their only solution was to raise more livestock.
Throughout the world today we are coming closer together from an economic point of view, so what happens in one part of the world affects every other part. The same is true of our dominion. The fact that the western farmer has of necessity had to become a general farmer has affected the farmers of southern Ontario. What has happened? In a recent address Professor Mac-Dougall, professor of economic agriculture at the Ontario Agricultural College, advised that some of the younger men who are farming should leave the farms, that they would be happier in the cities. Many of these young farmers are boys who went overseas and fought for us in the last war. When they came home they used their war benefit's and gratuities to do what they had fought for and felt they had the right to do. They used them to become farmers, to carry on the occupation they had chosen in this supposedly free world, to live in the way they wanted to live. Now they are faced with the inability of the government to sell the products of the farmers on the markets of the world.
I should like to endorse what the hon. member for Oxford (Mr. Nesbitt) said about the operations of the income tax department as they affect farmers. It has been brought to my attention that income tax collectors go about the country and drop in quietly and unobtrusively on farmers who have been paying their income tax to the best of their ability. They sit down with them and ask them about their living costs. They ask them how much they have spent on meat, vegetables, clothing and so on, and the prices are all taken at the retail level.
The farmer unknowingly goes along with the income tax official, and when the official is all through he asks the farmer to sign a paper. Then the income tax inspector goes away and shortly afterwards an amount is added to the income the farmer has already declared. He receives a new assessment which is away out of line from the point of view of what he should pay by way of income tax.
The Address-Mr. W. M. Howe
Instances have also been brought to my attention respecting applications by farmers to the farm loan board. Regardless of whether the farmer has assets to cover the loan he requires, if he owes money to the bank or to an implement agency or somebody else in his district he is refused a loan. He is told that if he will pay off the bank and pay off the amount he owes the implement agency he will then be given a loan. How is he going to do that? He has to sell his stock in trade, his cattle and hogs, and practically go out of business. The farm loan board is no use to him. They do not help him to put his eggs all in one basket, consolidate his loans and give him a longer time to pay, thus permitting him to stay in business by maintaining his agricultural establishment. Then the farmer could carry on, but in so many cases he has been refused a loan. I notice that legislation is to be introduced respecting the Canadian farm loan board and I hope some consideration will be given to extending a little leniency to so many of these people that need help so badly.
There is only one other thing I should like to mention. It has to do with the statement of Professor MacDougall to which I referred before. He apparently believes that our small farms will disappear and that we will become a country of great farms. I say the same thing is happening in the case of the small retail merchant. Today with the increased number of great shopping centres and the spreading out of big retail buying organizations, the small retail merchant is being caught in the squeeze. The day when he lived in his own small community and catered to the needs and necessities of the people there is disappearing. With improved means of transportation he is caught in the squeeze. He not only has to compete with merchants in his own town but has to compete with big buying organizations who get special discounts.
I speak for the small automobile retailer as well as the ordinary retailer in our different communities. How is the small car dealer going to compete with the great sales agencies in the cities who get special discounts because of the number of cars they sell? I believe it is not a good indication for our economy to be heading in this direction.
I believe that the small property owner, the farmer and the retailer, who have been the backbone of the country, who have been ready to take their places on municipal councils and various municipal boards; these people who have been big taxpayers in our small communities, who have provided the streets, hospitals, schools and all the other facilities

that are so necessary, still have a definite place in our economy and should be protected.
There is just one other thing I want to say. The fact has been mentioned in the house before that our farmers could and would produce more on the farms if the bugbear of surpluses was removed. They feel now that if they increase their production their products will come on the market at a time when prices are depressed. In connection with the butter surplus, which was mentioned the other day, I sometimes feel that we might deal with it in the same way we dealt with the pork surplus a few years ago. The butter has been bought and paid for by the people of Canada. The farmers do not like the opposition of margarine. If this No. 1 storage butter were thrown on the market at prices comparable with those at which it is being sold to communist countries, I feel that such action would be a good advertising medium for the butter producers of this country, that it would get butter into homes that have not used it for years, and that the people of Canada would benefit thereby.

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