April 26, 1967 (27th Parliament, 1st Session)


Jean-Paul Matte


Mr. Matte:

Mr. Chairman, may I make a few comments on agriculture while dwelling more specifically on the dairy industry.
I need not outline the precarious situation in which the farmer now lives, particularly in Quebec.
Everyone must be aware of the difficult conditions in which some farmers live, or as others might put it, in which they rot.
It is enough to know that the Quebec farmer earns 40 per cent less than the average income in Canada, while he has the same needs as the other classes of society.
The problem is there, but the perfect solution has yet to be found, although the government is setting up a long term national agricultural policy which doubtless will be an efficient means of development and readjustment.
We want and seek the best means to enable this working class, to which we owe so much, to have the same standard of living as other classes of society. It is essential for the farmers to share in the national economic life and benefit from it. To tell the truth, our present government has done much in the last three years but there is still much to be done. The fact that the price of manufactured milk was $2.62 three years ago and that it is $4.75 today is a practical demonstration that we are not unaware of the problem. We are the country with the highest price for manufacturing milk, including the United States, but it should not stay there.
The Canadian Dairy Commission was formed during this session and I am sure it will be very useful as will the Canadian Livestock Feed Board.
Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Agriculture who is totally devoted, made a statement some time ago on the new dairy policy for 1967-68. In spite of the numerous representations, we could have been more satisfied: I would have been much happier, very happy
April 26, 1967

indeed, if we could have agreed fully to the brief presented by the C.F.U.
If I had been in the opposition, I would have requested $6 and more, and even the abolition of taxes. It is so easy. But when you are responsible for the administration, you have to do with what you have and balance the budget the best you can. Every minister, every department has its objects and its requests. And every minister would like to get more. The government ought to protect the producer and the consumer.
We all know also that taxes are never very popular. However, Mr. Chairman, I must give credit to the U.C.C. for the extraordinary work it does mainly in the province of Quebec. The U.C.C. is a living force which will accomplish ever more so long as it gets support from all sides. And we must give it the greatest possible support.
Supply, Mr. Chairman, has to be passed even in spite of criticism. It is so easy. This government has shown that it has done more in the last three years than all the governments since Confederation.
We have every reason to expect that we will do even more just as long as it is possible.

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