January 22, 1957 (22nd Parliament, 5th Session)

CCF

Edward George McCullough

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. McCullough (Moose Mountain):

-but
not an economic democracy which is the right of free people. Whether or not it is going to be the privilege of the C.C.F. party to bring to the Canadian people an economic system under which they will share equally and fairly in the progress made in this country, I can assure the hon. member for Vegreville that rather than the Liberal party filling the need in Canada to give these things to the Canadian people, we have had a growing gap between the rich and the strong and the weak and the underprivileged in this country. The monopolists in this country today have taken away any kind of competition in sales and prices to the consumer.
Equally the little people, the farmers, white-collar workers and people in the street, the common people, are finding it more difficult to share in the prosperity of this country. The prosperity which has been talked about

is going to swell the profits of the big corporations. I say to the hon. member for Vegreville and to those in the Liberal party who think the C.C.F. has deviated from its program, that there will be in the membership of this party many dedicated men and women who will come to parliament in order to secure for the people of Canada what is their just due in this rich and prosperous country of ours.
I followed closely what the hon. member for Vegreville said in respect of freight rates, and he used very excellent arguments in respect of the load with which western residents, and farmers in particular, will be saddled by reason of the new rates allowed by the transport board. I wish to point out that this is another case of the cost of living rising higher and higher. Of course the common people, the wage earners and the farmers, do not share in the prosperity afforded to the big corporations of this country.
The Canadian consumer debt is increasing at an alarming rate. I have here a clipping from a recent newspaper headed "Consumer Debt in Canada Hits New Peak Level". The quotation reads:
The amount of money owing by Canadian consumers for the things they bought on time rose to a record $2,395,000,000.
Surely, Mr. Speaker, it can make nobody in this country happy to learn that the common people have increasingly to go out and buy on credit in order to have a decent standard of living. It must be a heyday in these prosperous times-so-called by the Liberal party-for those people who charge enormous rates of interest in respect of goods bought by consumers on time.
Dr. Mutchmor, writing in an article I read the other day, said that it is a continual rat race by the common people of this country to keep pace with the increase in the cost of living. Yet at the same time many of the prices paid to the farmers and those who produce foodstuffs for our consumption bear no relation at all to what the consumer has to pay. I quote from the issue of the Toronto Star of January 7: "Farm Product Index Declines by 2-1 Per Cent". On the other hand net corporation profits-I do not want to list them; they can be found anywhere in the financial reports of these companies-have continued to increase. The Gazette of September 3, 1956, had this to say;
Net earnings of Ford Motor Company of Canada Limited, after taxes, for the first hah of this year showed an increase to 62 per cent over the comparable 1955 figure at an estimated $12,030,686, the company reveals in an interim report.
Thus, Mr. Speaker, there is in this country need for a political party such as the C.C.F.
The Address-Mr. E. G. McCullough I do not think you can play on both sides of the game; either you fight for the common people in order that they may share in the country's prosperity by way of improved wages and better farm returns, or you give your support to these profiteering companies as the Liberal party has seen fit to do.
I want to point out that it is rumoured in the corridors of this chamber that the Liberals, generally speaking, want an early election. They feel this all-powerful government has the next election in the bag, and that may well be. Then we have the fact that the pockets of the government are filled with about half a billion dollars with which they can play Santa Claus to the people of the country. As far as I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, it only means that the government has seen fit to overtax many people and, furthermore, that little has been done to help the people who need help. I do not forget and I do not think the people of Canada forget that this government is largely responsible for the increased cost of living, and they have been aided and abetted by other parties in this house. They took off price controls early in the post-war years. Since that time we have seen the cost of living go up and up.
Nothing has been done to help our old age pensioners during this period of inflation. So today I say I will join with others in the house if the government see fit to increase old age pensions so these older people can live in decency and security. I believe the old age pension should be increased to $65 and be payable at the age of 65, so these people may live in some kind of decency in the face of the present cost of living.
I hope, too, Mr. Speaker, that the Liberal government, even if it is a deathbed repentance before the next general election, will see fit to increase blind pensions. There came to my desk today a brief from the blind pensioners' association asking that something be done for them, and I feel the government should do something in that regard.
I also want to say something with respect to the veterans of the first and second great wars. As I understand it, under section 227 of the Pension Act regulations there is provision that the pension commission should rule in favour of the veteran, and that the onus should not be on him to prove his disability in order to get a pension. Therefore I hope the government, now that it has all this money available, will see to it that the veterans of our first and second great wars are given the pensions that are their just due. In this respect it seems to me that the government has been pretty niggardly in not

The Address-Mr. E. G. McCullough giving such pensions when there is real justification for them. In my opinion the fact that veterans have gone into the services, have been examined by five or six medical specialists and classed as A-l, have then come out of the services with a P-5 category and have had no entitlement to pension is a disgrace to this country. Many of these veterans can do nothing else than look up their case histories. Therefore I hope the government will give due consideration to my words in this regard.
I want to turn now to agriculture, the segment of our economy with which I am most familiar and which, of course, is predominant in my constituency. The farmers of western Canada and, indeed, throughout Canada are in a cost-price squeeze today. The freight rates mentioned by the hon. member for Vegreville apply to the farmers in my constituency, and indeed to all western people. The farmers have to pay for machinery manufactured in eastern Canada and then shipped to the western provinces. They have to pay for everything they need to produce what they sell, and they are caught both ways.
When the board of transport commissioners allowed the first interim increase in freight rates it was to me a blow to western agriculture. They then allowed on top of that a subsequent 4 per cent increase, and I understand that the total increase of 15 per cent requested is probably going to be granted. But when one looks at the record of the Canadian Pacific Railway I cannot see how the government can justify the pyramiding of freight rates, particularly when the load is mainly on western Canada.
I have here Canadian Pacific Railway figures taken from their annual report. They show that in the year 1939 the railway had a debt of $228 million and a reserve of $39 million. In 1950 it had a debt of $86 million and a reserve of $525 million, in 1953 a debt of $75 million and a reserve of $576,657,000, in 1954 a debt of $72 million and a reserve of $608,789,000. By 1955 it had reduced its debt from a high of $228 million in 1939 to $89,795,283, and had a reserve of $640,061,081. On the basis of these figures I cannot see how the board of transport commissioners was justified in placing additional freight costs on the western farmer when he is already overburdened with such costs.
I notice that some of the cabinet ministers have expressed different viewpoints with respect to agriculture. Those of us in the house who try to fight for a fair deal for agriculture through the establishment of parity prices for the main farm commodities cannot understand why there should be such

a diversity of opinion on the part of government officials. However, I am led to believe that there is perhaps a reason for this situation. It may well be that members of the government are trying to confuse the minds of the farmers with respect to the fight for parity. I have here a report that appeared in the Leader-Post of November 5, 1956. It is headed, "Gardiner Says Parity Received", and it quotes him as saying:
We ought to have parity, you say. It you mean by that costs of production in relation to returns, we have it now.
That was on November 5, 1956. On
December 4, 1956, an article appeared in the Globe and Mail headed, "Canada Shuns Farm Price Parity, Gardiner Reveals to Conference." Then I have a report that appeared in the Ottawa Journal of November 7, 1956, headed, "Harris Opposed to Permanent Price Supports." I have another that appeared in the Producer of November 8, 1956, headed, "McCubbin Promises Support Parity Prices Motion if Presented Again."
Here we have the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Agriculture and the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Agriculture all taking different viewpoints on parity prices. At one time the Minister of Agriculture says we have it, and at another time he says the government shuns it. The truth is that we have never had parity prices for agriculture in Canada, and I have never seen such a conglomeration of misrepresentation and confusion. I can only say it is the worst witches' brew I have ever seen.
I do not believe the government has any intention of implementing parity prices for agriculture. The situation is serious because of the cost-price squeeze facing western agriculture. From figures taken from the bureau of statistics Canadian statistical review of the past year we find that in the year 1955 the net income of farmers from farm operations was $1,454 million. It dropped to that figure from a high in 1951 of $2,155 million. The portion of the national income which the farmers received in 1951 was 12.6 per cent, and it had dropped to a low of 7.1 per cent in 1955. Equally, net income in terms of 1946 constant dollars dropped from $2,306 real income in 1951 to $1,674 in 1955.
This may not mean too much to some members of the house, but it means that western farmers are in such a cost-price squeeze today that hundreds of them are leaving their farms. They cannot see any way out, because unless this government is prepared to institute some type of parity prices for agriculture, they cannot meet the cost-price squeeze that is facing them.

I should like now, Mr. Speaker, to turn to the Gordon commission and its report, and say something with respect to its suggestions with regard to agriculture. I can only believe that the report of the Gordon commission in respect of some aspects of the future for agriculture in Canada and its recommendations were made only after the most cursory of investigations into the problems of agriculture and its future. To me some of them are silly, undesirable and completely unworkable.
I refer now to the recommendations the commission made with respect to the handling of wheat. The commission apparently recommends that the Canadian wheat board should set quotas on individual farm production in western Canada. I heartily disagree with this recommendation, for these reasons. First, it would be quite impractical, if not completely impossible, to make any reliable estimates of what the farmers are going to grow. The vagaries of the weather have such an effect on production of the western wheat crop that I do not think it would be possible for the Canadian wheat board to make any reliable estimate of what would be produced. In the second place-and I believe this is much more important-by setting the quotas for western wheat production it would give to our competitors abroad and to possible purchasers abroad of Canadian wheat some idea as to whether or not Canada was under pressure in having to sell her wheat crop.
I believe the policy I have advocated since 1945 would be a more realistic policy for this government to follow. It seems to me there are too many inconsistencies in what has been proposed by the Gordon commission. I believe the government should undertake, as I have advocated since 1945, to set up in Canada the principle of the ever-normal granary. By that I mean this government would see to it that there possibly be stored in this country, under proper long-term storage, a billion bushels of wheat for any emergency that might arise.
If that kind of program were followed I believe we then could have, under Canadian wheat board marketing policy which we have today, real and genuine orderly marketing of the western wheat crop. I believe it would encourage long-term trading agreements with potential purchasers of Canadian wheat. It would add stability to the western wheat agriculture economy. Hence I most sincerely recommend that suggestion to the government. As I understand it now, we have about half a billion bushels or a little better of storage capacity today.
I would therefore make three definite recommendations to the government in respect 82715-35
The Address-Mr. E. G. McCullough of agriculture. First, I recommend the establishment of guaranteed parity prices to producers for the main farm commodities. My second recommendation is that they set up a dominion-provincial drainage and conservation authority in order to undertake far-reaching drainage and land utilization schemes, such schemes to have adequate federal financial participation. My third recommendation is storage payments on government-approved farm-stored grain, such a plan to be co-ordinated with an ever-normal granary plan to provide for total storage of one billion bushels of grain if necessary. I believe the implementation of these recommendations I have made is necessary if we are to protect the family farm in western Canada.
I should now like to turn for a moment or two to my own constituency of Moose Mountain. I have never before in this house availed myself of the opportunity to speak in particular about my constituency, which I am extremely proud to represent. I believe it is one of the finest constituencies in Canada, if not the finest. I understand that the largest centre, the former town of Estevan, is just now being incorporated into a city. We have there, of course, the tremendous oil growth and the population growth of that city. I want to give thanks to the former postmaster general for the fact that the federal government is building a post office in Estevan. When the former postmaster general, Mr. Cote, was minister, I had occasion to rise in the house and make the recommendation that a new federal building be constructed in the city of Estevan. After the minister had recovered and was convalescing he was kind enough to write to me and say that he would take my representations into consideration. I am happy to say that the government have seen fit to build that post office, and I wish to thank them for doing so.
Located in the centre of my constituency we have the beautiful Moose Mountain provincial park, abounding in game and wildlife of all kinds. In the lakes there is extremely attractive fishing. It is the delight of sportsmen from all over the world, and many American people come up there to enjoy a holiday.
We have also the Bienfait coal mines. About one-fifth of all the coal mined in Canada comes from that area. We also have a brick plant, which is a crown corporation, producing beautiful brick for all that area. As a matter of fact they are shipping to all points in Canada. There is also being built a large electric power generating plant. Already it is the site of a large generating plant to serve the southern part of the

The Address-Mr. Schneider province, but a new one is being built at Souris river which will cost in the neighbourhood of $40 million.
I am equally proud to say that my constituency is the centre of perhaps one of the largest purebred beef cattle sections of Canada. In that area some of the finest cattle in the world are bred. Last, but not least, it is the centre of the tremendous oil boom in that province. Almost from one end of my constituency to the other an oil play is taking place. Many press reports have described this oil play as fabulous and incredible, comparing it with what took place in Texas some years ago. This has meant {hat we have many new people who are welcome in my constituency. It has also meant new industries for my constituency. But equally, it has brought new problems and it has intensified some of the old ones.
1 refer particularly to the urban and municipal financing of services.
In the villages of Bienfait and Oxbow, in the city of Estevan and in many other villages and towns in my constituency we have found that with the influx of increased population and with the very narrow base of taxation which these urban and municipal governments have, it is increasingly difficult for these municipalities to give services to the new population or to the people that were there before. I would therefore suggest to the government that they undertake to set up some form of fund by means of which these municipalities can get loans at
2 per cent or 2J per cent interest on longterm amortization plans. I think this is one of the crucial problems facing all small governments throughout the country. I therefore make that suggestion to the government.
As I say, the other main problem facing my constituency is the cost-price squeeze facing my farmers. I hope the government will not turn a deaf ear to some of the representations I have made. I hope they will take into consideration the program which I have suggested should be implemented for agriculture. Unless this is done I am convinced that the family farm in western Canada is going into liquidation. I am convinced that more and more people will leave the farms. I therefore plead with this government to try to implement the program I have outlined here tonight.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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