Mending broken Liberal fences, and there are lots of them. They are breaking down all over western Canada. The minister was out there lining up the old Jimmy Gardiner political machine. It is pretty rusty and in a bad state of repair in many places, but the minister says it is good for one more run and he is going to make the best use of it he can. If a stranger had come to Saskatchewan last fall not knowing who the Minister of Agriculture was, I am sure that from looking at the Leader-Post and other daily newspapers he would have thought that the minister was a paid organizer for the Saskatchewan Liberal party and had never been east of Fort William.
The minister said a lot of things about agricultural problems. When he was asked what the farmers should do about the tremendous surplus that some of them had on their farms, his general attitude was: Do not worry, fellows; I have been through the United States and they have got a big drought down there. Apparently he has taken to sun-gazing because he has been saying that sooner or later a drought is going to come to western Canada. His attitude to the surplus grain problem is this. He says to the farmers: Do not worry; I know you are broke because you have got too much wheat but sooner or later there will be a couple of dry years and you will sell your wheat and you will then be broke because you no longer have any wheat. In the meantime he goes along, as I say, oiling up his defunct and discredited political machine.
I have in my hand the very excellent brief presented by the interprovincial farm union council and the Canadian Labour Congress to the government of Canada on December 5, 1956 expressing coneem at the state of the
The Address-Mr. Argue
agricultural industry and the substantial unemployment in the farm implement industry. I think this brief demonstrates that farm organizations and labour organizations can co-operate with each other and that they should do so; that their interests are not opposed one to the other but rather that they have a common interest in securing a decent standard of living for the working people of this nation, whether they work on the farms or in the industries.
We had some extremely interesting information given to us about this conference. It was given to the hon. member for Hum-boldt-Melfort (Mr. Bryson), the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Nicholson) and me by Chris. Hansen, the president of the Saskatchewan Farmers Union. He told of the interview they had had with the cabinet when they were presenting this brief. It was a committee of the cabinet meeting the Canadian Labour Congress and the Interprovincial Farm Union Council. The meeting was presided over by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) in the chair. Mr. Hansen informed us that they had had what they felt was a very good hearing, that the hearing seemed to be about over and that the Minister of Trade and Commerce was about ready to adjourn the meeting when the Minister of Agriculture pipes up and says, "Well, I heard a lot this afternoon about falling farm income, but I have just come back from western Canada and I saw no sign out there of a falling in farm income". He said, "I had no complaint from any farmer in the west about a drop in farm income except from one who said his income had now fallen off to the point that he had to sell his aeroplane". That from the Minister of Agriculture! The Minister of Agriculture makes such a ridiculous statement to a conference discussing an extremely important matter.
We have heard a great deal in this house about the western farmers going to Florida and California for the winter. If one or two per cent should get there, why not? It seems to me that the Liberals opposite think it is a crime if a farmer should ever get the chance to take a holiday. They like to create the impression in eastern Canada, apparently, that the farmers out west all leave the farm in the winter. The Minister of Agriculture now is determined to create the impression that at the present time the farmers in the west have lots of money, that they are hopping around from one piece of land to another in an aeroplane. In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, that illustration shows just how low this government has fallen in its attitude toward the farmers of this nation.
I was invited to take part in a panel discussion that was to take place at the Saskatchewan Farmers Union convention in Saskatoon in mid-December last. There was to be representation from each political party. I was glad to accept. However, a few days after I had accepted the invitation, I received a telegram from the president saying that the panel was off and that he would send me a letter of explanation which would follow. I have the letter here. I am not going to read all of it but it says in part as follows:
However, in order for the panel to be of value it was necessary that we have a representation from the Liberal party present to speak on behalf of the present government. Since originally contacting you we have made several attempts to have a representative of the government take part in the panel but in each case they have refused.
I suggest that the Minister of Agriculture no longer has the courage to confront a meeting sponsored by a bona fide farm organization in western Canada to discuss in public, with representatives of other political parties, his discredited agricultural program. Apparently he does not dare to come to such a meeting. I should be quite happy, Mr. Speaker, to discuss with the Minister of Agriculture on a public platform anywhere in this nation, at a meeting sponsored by a farm organization, the way his policies and those of his government are undermining and destroying the agricultural industry of this nation and forcing thousands of farmers to leave their homes in discouragement because they are unable to make ends meet.
The Minister of Agriculture was in Saskatchewan. He did not spend all his time in his home constituency. He came down into Assiniboia constituency and to other constituencies in western Canada. The Jimmy Gardiner political machine was prepared to go into Assiniboia and to take things over in an important way, because the Minister of Agriculture was quite happy to come to a convention where they chose as their political candidate somebody who has acquired a reputation for transferring from one political party to another. I would not call him a second-hand candidate. He has become a third-hand political candidate. Prior to that convention there was a great deal of speculation as to where the hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre (Mr. Thatcher) would run. Many constituencies in this country were mentioned as possibilities. But I notice there seemed to be unanimous agreement of opinion that there was one constituency in this country above all others that hon. member would never contest, namely his own constituency
The Address-Mr. Argue of Moose Jaw-Lake Centre. Rather than stand there for election, he would leave that constituency.
If the Liberal party think, as they may, that they have found a new recruit who has embraced Liberal principles, they should never forget the timing of his leaving the independent group and going across the floor. It was not during or before the last Saskatchewan provincial election. It was after the election. It was after the political demise of the independent provincial candidate, one Dick Lillicoe in the constituency of Moose Jaw. He was not able to make the grade and so the hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre felt that there was no hope in that constituency as an independent and that therefore he would be obliged to look elsewhere. Apparently the Social Credit party had taken such a shellacking in that election that he found it impossible to adopt their principles. So he has gone into the Liberal party.
He has made a speech in this house already this session. In it did he deal with the things about which the Liberals are talking in this house at this time such as improvement in social security legislation? Did he ask for measures to help the farmers of western Canada and the people of Saskatchewan? No; he did not do that. He said that anybody who has not enough money now, in this inflationary time, to make a substantial payment when he is getting something on credit should be forced to pay at least one-quarter or one-third down. Then he said that if the Minister of Finance should decide on a tax reduction for the people of this country, they should not be given it now; in other words, they should be given a glance at the carrot and perhaps a little whiff of the aroma but in order to taste the carrot he would force them to wait a three-year or a five-year period, presumably so that the carrot could be used all over again for the same purpose in another election. I do not believe the people of Canada will fall for that political bait.
I notice that the hon. member was out to Vancouver not too long ago. He made a speech out there or at least he had a press interview, parts of which he has denied subsequently; but I am not going to refer to any of the parts that have been amended and changed. According to the press report he had this to say about the Prime Minister:
Mr. Thatcher predicted Prime Minister St. Laurent will "ride the election and retire six months after" . . .
There we have, from a Liberal member, a statement that the Prime Minister is going into this election under what are patently false colours, that his intentions are
camouflaged and that he is hiding from the people of Canada his intention to resign as leader of the Liberal party within six months after the election.
I do not believe that the Prime Minister has those intentions. I believe if he heads the Liberal party in this election that in his own mind he will sincerely intend to stay in office a sufficient length of time to see the proposals which he makes placed in legislative form. But according to the member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre the Prime Minister of this country will face the Canadian people in an act of deceit and deception. The hon. member can explain that.
Then the article goes on to state that the hon. member predicted after the Prime Minister retires he will leave the government in the hands of the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Fisheries. Then listen to this: ". . . whom he described as the most brilliant man in the house." Well, now apparently the Prime Minister is a second rater and is playing second fiddle to the most brilliant member in the House of Commons, the Minister of Fisheries. We have heard nothing previously about his ability from the government side of the house, but according to the hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre the most brilliant man is now sitting in the second row.
Then as to the leadership of the Liberal party, the hon. member says that the Minister of Fisheries will be the Prime Minister within 10 years anyway. I know the Minister of National Health and Welfare probably has aspirations in that direction. The name of the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) has been mentioned in that connection as one who might make a suitable Prime Minister. The name of the Minister of Finance has been mentioned often by those who say he is an excellent political strategist. The name of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration used to be mentioned but I have not heard it mentioned lately. However, I have not seen the name of the Minister of Fisheries mentioned at all, but according to the hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre if the Minister of Finance should become leader of the Liberal party, and some day the prime minister, he will not hold the position long because the Minister of Fisheries will be breathing on his neck and it will not be long until he becomes prime minister and takes over from the Minister of Finance.
Then, to further ridicule in a somewhat indirect way the Prime Minister and government of this country, the hon. member had this to say in relation to Premier Bennett of British Columbia. He said that he had met Mr. Bennett twice and was impressed with his obvious ability. The hon. member said
Premier Bennett struck him as being a pretty able Canadian. He said that in British Columbia the Social Credit have been doing some rather sensible things and seemed to be giving a good business government. Every time the hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre stands up in this house he tries to tell us why this government is not following good business practices. He has found a good business government in British Columbia but not here. I wonder why he has been cuddling up to Social Credit out in British Columbia. He says he has been offered the leadership of the Social Credit party in Saskatchewan on a number of occasions. I have heard conflicting reports about that. Apparently he wants to remain in the good graces of the Social Credit party so that if he needs another escape route at any time he will have it open and he can apply for admission to the Social Credit party.
In order to show that no Social Credit member would be fooled by these reports the leader of the Social Credit group, the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Low), had to set the record straight. In a report in the Western Producer dated October 25, 1956 the leader of the Social Credit group said that the Social Credit leadership in Saskatchewan never was offered to Ross Thatcher, Moose Jaw M.P.
I noticed that the Prime Minister, in his speech at the opening of the house, defended the government's support price under butter. I have often said, and I repeat, that I believe the government support price on butter is one of the best pieces of agricultural legislation the government has in effect and the only support price that works adequately. There is one person in this house, however, who does not like the support price on butter. Only one member of parliament has ever said that the farmers who milk cows, who ship cream to get a few dollars to pay the grocery bills, to send the children to school, to buy clothing for the family, are getting too much for a can of cream. The hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre said on February 10 last as recorded at page 1076 of Hansard:
I think the government's butter policy Is shortsighted and economically unwise.
I am pleased that the Prime Minister has defended this policy against someone who now sits with his own party. I am afraid that from the record the hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre is just as much a misfit today as he has ever been, that his ideas are just about as far removed from those of Liberalism as the ox cart is from the atomic age.
The Address-Mr. Argue
I believe that agriculture needs legislation at this time to improve its position. I suggest that this is the time, at this session, for the government to introduce a system of parity prices for agricultural products; and the interim and final payments on the 1955 crop should be announced at a very early date. I suggest that advance payments and farm storage for grain should be made part of the permanent legislation of this country, and that the government should inaugurate a system of crop insurance for agriculture. The prairie farm assistance maximum payment of $500 in 1939 is today worth only about $200 because of inflation. Now is the time to at least double the prairie farm assistance.
I suggest that in the field of social security payments the government should increase old age pensions to at least $65 to everyone reaching the age of 65; that family allowances should be increased to at least the point of restoring their 1944 value which would require an increase of 60 per cent. I believe the government should announce naw a health program which can be implemented by all those provinces presently willing to adopt such a program. I suggest further that in order to alleviate the position of the municipalities the government should change its financial policy and its credit restrictions to enable the municipality to borrow money to finance essential works, and at a rate not greater than 4 per cent. The government should provide assistance for an adequate road program in this country.
These are some of the things Canadians need. We can afford them. Our wealth production is 2J times that of 1946. Instead of being content with the social security program and a farm program which is much worse than it was in 1946, I suggest that legislation should be advanced to improve the position even beyond the level of 1946. I suggest that at this time Canada should be doing more in international affairs to help the underprivileged of the world. I think we are in an excellent position to promote democracy and to help stem the advancing tide of communism by providing a greater number of technicians to underdeveloped countries; by providing more support for the Colombo plan and the United Nations organization; by at times taking whatever quantity of food may be necessary from our great surplus to prevent famine in the countries of Asia and Africa and other distressed areas of the world. I suggest the people of Canada are generous and that they are prepared to play a more important part in providing assistance to the underprivileged people of the world. I suggest that Canadians generally would agree with the statement, which
The Address-Mr. Weselak I paraphrase, made by the C.C.F. national convention in 1956, namely, that we will not rest content until every person in this land and in all other lands is able to enjoy equality and freedom, a sense of human dignity and an opportunity to live a rich and meaningful life as a citizen of a free and peaceful world. I suggest that is an objective for 1957 to which every Canadian might direct his energy and ability.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY