Mr. Ovide Laflamme (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs):
Mr. Speaker, I shall reply briefly to the remarks of the hon. member. I know that on March 21 last, the hon. member put a
March 26. 1968 COMMONS
question to the hon. Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Mr. Turner) to which a reply was given, as shown on page 7883 of Hansard, but, obviously, the reply did not satisfy the hon. member.
I should like to point out to the hon. member that one would certainly err in believing that it is the duty of the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs to make a full inquiry each time the price of consumer goods goes up. If that is what she thinks, then she is mistaken as to the prime objectives of that department.
When she speaks of a dairy problem-milk is obviously essential to health, as everyone knows-she must recognize that the present government, in the last two years, has spent over $120 million in public funds, on the one hand, to encourage the dairy industry and help the farmers and, on the other hand, to lighten the burden of consumers generally by favouring a greater consumption of that essential health product.
On the other hand, when the hon. member claims that the minister does not seem to worry about fluctuations in prices, I must remind her of the speech she made on second reading of Bill No. C-190 when she stated that it was one of the most important pieces of legislation ever introduced in the house. As announced this afternoon by the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson), that bill will be studied again when the house reconvenes next April 23.
As far as price controls are concerned, I feel-and that was clearly established-that even if the federal government wanted to set up a price control board, that legislation would be challenged in court and would surely be found null and void.
I commend the hon. member for her interest in the matter of prices, but I wish to emphasize to her that she should take into account the causes which led to an increase in
Proceedings on Adjournment Motion consumer prices: salary increases, federal and provincial tax increases, overall increases of services. Obviously, that situation does not rest with the federal government. I do not think the minister should intervene and set up an inquiry under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, for such a low increase as 2 cents per quart of milk in the metropolitan Toronto area.
[DOT] (10:50 p.m.)
Motion agreed to and the house adjourned at 10.52 p.m.
[The following items were passed in Committee of Supply this day:]