Mr. W. H. Jorgenson (Provencher):
Mr. Speaker, in rising for the first time in this house to take part in the debates, may I congratulate the mover (Mr. Smith, Calgary South) and seconder (Mr. Arsenault) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. They acquitted themselves in a manner that speaks well for their constituencies and assures them of a healthy future in this house. May I also congratulate you, sir, on your elevation to your high office.
The constituency that I have the honour to represent lies in the southeastern part of Manitoba.
Its people are from almost every national origin, and they live and work together in the true spirit of Canadianism. Whether they be Mennonite or Ukrainian, French or British, Scandinavian or Polish, they have all made their contribution to the social, cultural and economic life of that part of Canada.
The progress that has been made in that constituency is characteristic of its people. The free enterprise philosophy that has built the town of Steinbach is in contrast to the co-operative philosophy of the people of Altona. Both are thriving communities, and both have developed industries that do business all over Canada.
The French-speaking Canadians have blended their culture and planning into such communities as St. Pierre, St. Malo, and St. Jean Baptiste while the people of hardy Ukrainian stock, despite many hardships, have thrived.
Although its products are varied, ranging from special crops to lumber, this is an agricultural constituency, and its economic destiny depends on the farm. The farmers in Provencher, like the farmers everywhere in Canada, have been caught in the giant squeeze, and recently many sad changes have taken place. Not since the thirties have we seen the awful spectacle of abandoned farms. But last year, they began to appear again. My constituency has suffered heavy losses due to excessive rains during the past few years, and some of the municipalities are in dire need of some form of assistance.
Having said this, and remembering the tragic flood of 1950, it may sound strange to say that one of the major drawbacks to the establishment of industry is the lack of a sufficient potable water supply. The people of this area are concerned to the extent that they have taken steps to plan for a water system throughout the area. This program, when it gets under way, will pay for itself, but assistance will be needed to get it started, and for that assistance I am sure we can depend upon the co-operation of the Department of Agriculture.
Being a farmer it is only natural that I am concerned about the future of agriculture, and I propose to deal with the problem in general terms because I feel that the situation is a general one. There are certain fundamental things that must be preserved, and I believe they could have been preserved had the necessary policies been implemented in time. I am afraid that some of the measures that must be taken now may conflict with a long-range policy. This is regrettable but, under the circumstances, necessary. Our objective should be to create an atmosphere that will enable the farmer to compete with the rest of the economy, and not to place him in the position where he becomes a permanent ward of the government.
The problem with regard to agriculture is many pronged. Frequently I feel that in talking of the "problem" there is a tendency to forget that we are talking about the lives and destinies of men and women and that instead we are talking about economic factors, about pawns in the broad sweep of the development of Canada's resources.
But then we have in the alternative those who talk about agriculture only with tears streaming down their faces, those who damage our case for an equitable deal by overselling. The very natural reaction to a speech that indicates that all farmers are desperate, and indeed hungry, is that the situation cannot be that bad. The reaction is to reject even the legitimate claims of our farming industry in both the east and the west.
The Address-Mr. Jorgenson
Mr. Speaker, I have not risen here in order to make extravagant demands for agriculture. But I will say soberly and sincerely that our farmers are missing out on the boom, that they are failing and, indeed, for a number of years have failed to share in the prosperity that has marked this nation.
I believe that I can say with the utmost confidence that the eyes of the farmers of Canada are turned toward this parliament. They know what we should know, namely that a depressed agriculture slows the economic heart beat of the nation. They know that the farms of any nation are the rearing grounds for those who go on to accomplish great things in their nation; and they know, as we must know, that if we allow the economic and social plant of this nation to wither we shall be responsible for the slowing of the cultural as well as the economic growth of Canada.
At six o'clock the house took recess.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY