Mr. Chairman, in view of the lateness of the hour, I shall cut short the remarks I had intended to make tonight. But, since my constituency is partly made up of farmers, and the dairy industry in my area holds a predominant place, I cannot but take a few minutes to join with those who made representations to the minister in favour of more sustained attention and a better share of the national income for the farmers.
Some time ago, the minister set forth his dairy policy for the year 1967-68. It is a known fact that never, since the time the present Liberal government has been occupying the treasury benches, has a policy given rise to so much discontent. When such peaceful people as farmers decide to march on the Canadian parliament, surely there is cause for concern.
And it is our duty, as representatives, to take the necessary steps in order to remedy as quickly as possible the farmers' predicament.
I have here, Mr. Chairman, an article published in Le Devoir on Tuesday, April 18, 1967, under the following heading:
The C.F.U. denounces Ottawa's new dairy policy and attacks violently the federal members for Quebec.
And under the signature of Mr. Gilles Gariepy, one can read in the second paragraph of that article:
At a press conference the C.F.U. and the Federation stated that they were "bitterly disappointed" by the attitude of the federal members for Quebec who with their colleagues passed the legislation of last April 1.
Here, Mr. Chairman, I think that the writer forgot a very important word. He should have referred to "the stand taken by the federal Liberal members from Quebec", because we, on this side of the house, have tried on many occasions to call the minister's attention to the problems of the dairy industry to have him amend a dairy policy that we thought prejudicial to farmers.
The same article further states:
According to the two organizations, that piece of legislation shows the "irresponsibility and the inaction of our Quebec members."
Here again, Mr. Chairman, reference should have been made to the "irresponsibility and inaction of the Liberal members from Quebec," because they did very little and if they made any representations, as they claimed and as has just said the hon. member for Champlain (Mr. Matte) I am inclined to believe that those representations failed to impress the minister, since he did not lift a finger to help the farmers.
The statements made by the leaders of the Catholic Farmers Union with regard to that new dairy policy are not very flattering for the minister.
The dairy policy set forth by the minister for the year 1967-68 is described first as inadequate, second as inconsistent and third, as unfair to the farmers. Despite that unfavourable assessment made by the representatives of the agricultural class, the minister keeps on saying that it is the best dairy policy ever given to the Canadian people and that the dairy farmers are more prosperous than ever.
However when we listen to farmers, and especially the dairy farmers, we hear quite a different version. The minister should adapt himself to the situation.
Mr. Chairman, it is not necessary to go through many farm publications to realize that the dairy policy of the Minister of Agriculture is completely unsatisfactory and unacceptable to farm groups.
I have here the "Farm and Country" of Tuesday March 28, 1967, where we find the following heading:
April 26, 1967
[DOT] (10:30 p.m.)
Ontario Industrial Farmers Must Have $5 Milk.
The demand for $5 per hundredweight for milk used for industrial purposes is neither frivolous, greedy or unreasonable. As a recent resolution of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture says, even this price is still short of economic equality for producers.
This should not surprise anybody.
This is an assessment from a group which represents the farming class.
In another publication, one can read the following:
Canada's 1967 Dairy Policy Not Acceptable.
And in the last paragraph, this is what we read:
Government policy is supposed to help the people, not drive them up the financial wall.
This is a thoroughly bad, thoroughly unacceptable policy. Mr. Greene was able last summer to divert the wrath of dairy farmers toward Queen's Park and Quebec City, thanks to the unsophistication of those heading the protest movement. If he hopes this year to continue avoiding criticism by putting up another false front in the form of the Canadian Dairy Commission he is wrong. Farmers now have a little less Greene in their eyes than they did.
Here are some really harsh articles for the minister who cannot maintain that he has not been warned.
I have in hand a copy of La Terre de Chez-Nous dated August 9, 1964 which says:
Ottawa turns a deaf ear. The C.F.U. is continuing its representations on behalf of dairy producers.
And in it, we can see that the minister has certainly welcomed the farmers' representatives, but that the latter returned dissatisfied with their unsolved problems.
We have there, Mr. Chairman, an idea of the unfavourable conditions against which farmers are struggling, especially when we know, for instance, that they have to meet ever increasing production costs, while the price of their products is stable or falling.
I have here a price list supplied by a farmers' co-operative in regard to the prices of meal as of June 15, 1966 and February 27, 1967.
It is astonishing, Mr. Chairman, to note the extent of the price increases.
For instance, corn meal went from $3.50 per hundredweight in June 1966 to $4.05 in February in 1967. The other prices I will quote are for the dates referred to, that is from June 15, 1966 to February 27, 1967. Wheat meal, $3.55 compared to $4.00. Barley meal, $3.30 compared to $3.55. Oatmeal $3.30 compared to $3.50. Growing meal for hogs, $3.85 compared to $4.10. Dairy cattle meal $3.50 compared to $3.80. Bran meal $3.40 compared to $3.80. Shorts $3.50 compared to $3.85.
Mr. Chairman, I should like to tell the minister that the situation is serious among the farmers. The farmers came here with members of the C.F.U. to meet the minister and members of the cabinet only a few weeks ago and they have clearly established their positions, and their very difficult situation and unless the government takes the responsibility and decides to give them what they are entitled to I think it will be too late if a decision is delayed five or six months more. If we wait another five or six months, it will be too late.
If I had the time, I would like to refer the minister to the warnings we gave him in the last few months, to the criticism of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture in
January last when they met in Winnipeg. I shall merely quote the first sentence of the first paragraph:
It is resolved that the Canadian Federation of Agriculture express in the strongest terms, its opposition to the suggestion of the federal Minister of Agriculture, to the effect that total subsidies to the dairy industry would be maintained at their present level.
And in the second paragraph, they say that a minimum objective of $5.10 per hundredweight of manufacturing milk is absolutely essential.
Mr. Chairman, I hope that those few remarks will convince the minister. It is high time for him to assume his responsibilities and to take the necessary steps to give the farmers a truly advantageous position.
Another topic on which I should like to dwell, Mr. Chairman, is the textile industry. As we know, this industry is the second largest employer in the province of Quebec. It gives work to some 52,000 employees at the present time, that is approximately 60 per cent of the total national labour force in the textile industry. The annual output amounts to approximately $850 million.
April 26, 1967
In the last few years, in particular, the textile industry, one of the oldest in the country and in the province of Quebec especially, has had to face the competition of developing countries which causes many problems for our Canadian workers and manufacturers.
When one reads in the paper, for instance, that an old Dominion Textile mill, the Merchants mill in Montreal, which employs 300 workers, will have to close down by next October, one realizes that the situation is really serious. On the other hand, the output of the Thor Mills of Granby has fallen off by 50 per cent and the situation is so serious that those textile workers have even decided to disregard the terms of their collective agreement in order to enter into a common agreement with their employer whereby they will go on short time so as to distribute among themselves the few dollars they can still earn through unfilled orders. Mr. Chairman, that situation is partially due to competition from developing countries that is not always quite fair. I have here a letter from a St. Hyacinthe textile manufacturer who complains that the labelling of products from an underdeveloped country is causing trouble for Canadian manufacturers. It seems that the buyer is being led to believe that the item is a Canadian product.
[DOT] (10:40 p.m.)
To clarify the thoughts of my correspondent, I shall quote part of this letter:
This sample as you can see is labelled (I will omit the name) and anyone who Is not too familiar with purchases can easily be misled, thinking he is buying Canadian goods, for the label is quite conspicuous, large and marked Montreal. However, if you unfold the pants you see on the inside a small label saying "Made in Japan".
Surely this shipper is using a method which is dishonest and detrimental to our Canadian manufacturers and workers.
I have contacted the hon. minister concerned and drawn this anomaly to his attention, so that it may be corrected.
There is also another field with which I should like to deal for a few minutes only, namely the shoe industry.
Yesterday we had a meeting with the manufacturers and the workers' representatives in this industry, which, due to foreign competition, is in the process of disappearing. I cannot help but blame the government for this decrease in the number of Canadian shoe manufacturers.
We know, for instance, that the Canadian footwear can be favourably compared with
the footwear of any other country. But there are so many goods imported from emerging countries that since 1963, 29 Canadian manufactures were compelled to close. Of that number, 13 were located in the province of Quebec.
Mr. Chairman, when we think, for instance, that a manufacture such as Ludger Duchene Incorpore, which had been founded in 1907, was compelled to close its doors. Those who are interested in the welfare of Canadian workers have every reason to be concerned. We have lost 13 such factories since 1963, when the present government came to office.
But there is more, Mr. Chairman.
Imports increased by 8,565,730 pair of shoes from 1963 to 1966, with Canada's production over the same period decreasing by 1,102,857 pair.
While shoe imports represented only 5 per cent of Canadian production in 1951, in 1966 they amounted to 49 per cent of our production.
Mr. Chairman, there is cause for concern, and representatives of both the shoe manufacturers and the workers in the shoe industry, were right in warning us that they could not wait any longer. It is absolutely essential that the government do something, otherwise, this home industry which is in the process of disappearing, will surely and quite rapidly disappear.
If I took a few minutes to bring this question to the attention of the cabinet, it is because I have in my constituency, a half dozen shoe manufactures employing at least several hundred workers.
The consequences from a municipal point of view can be imagined if the employees were thrown into the street overnight and forced to find work elsewhere.
The shoe industry employs some 24,000 workers in 220 shoe manufacturing plants spread all over Canada. To this should be added nearly 15,000 other workers employed in other plants supplying the shoe manufacturing plants.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, I should like the relevant authorities to take due notice of this warning that was sounded by the shoe workers and manufacturers. I should also like to ask the Minister of Industry and Defence Production (Mr. Drury) to bring all the influence he can bring to bear to convince his colleague, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Sharp) to abolish this 12 per cent tax which hinders Canadian manufacturers in their efforts to compete with foreign products.
April 26, 1967
I know that the representations came from all sides in that field as in others where the government turned a deaf ear, but I think that the government should at last realize that unless steps are taken without delay it will be too late and our whole economic structure will suffer.
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