January 22, 1969 (28th Parliament, 1st Session)


Robert Simpson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Robert Simpson (Churchill):

Mr. Speaker, having listened to the debate this evening on this important subject I should like at the outset to offer my hearty congratulations to the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Korchin-ski) for instituting this discussion.
We have listened to what the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Pepin) had to say. He attempted to show that the government had done everything in its power to alleviate the present situation at Vancouver, and he ended by asking: What is my job? I suggest that the minister responsible for the Wheat Board should work in close harmony with the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Olson) and that the two should get their facts and figures straight. No doubt they have to a certain extent. But on one hand we found the Minister of Agriculture telling us that the unloading of cars at Vancouver was going on at a very good rate-he said some 300 cars a day were being unloaded-while on the other hand the Minister of Trade and Commerce tells us that because of damp grain and weather conditions it has taken an hour on many occasions to unload one car. I wonder how those figures can be reconciled.
[DOT] (1:20 a.m.)
We also had a lecture from the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Lang) who attempted to tell the opposition what they should be doing instead of bringing to the attention of the government the damp grain situation. He went over some aspects of the problem and said that we should spend out time finding solutions instead of panicking when the damp grain problem manifested itself last fall, panicking again when deliveries could not be made on time, and panicking further when ships were held up at anchorage in Vancouver harbour. If the Minister without Portfolio feels that the opposition is panicking, then it
is very fortunate that the hon. member for Mackenzie and those who have supported him panicked, as the minister called it, on this occasion.
One point that has been brought out very forcibly in this debate is that in spite of the minister's statement that the government has no authority to dictate to the Wheat Board or to any other body that handles grain in Canada, the farmers of western Canada will be amazed when they discover that one result of this debate today has been the announcement in the house that orders have been given to ship with all haste all of the No. 2 grain that can be shipped from elevators at Moose Jaw. I am also amazed by the very caustic criticism that has emanated from government benches in regard to matters that opposition members have brought to the attention of the house in this debate. I am convinced that had it not been for this debate the order to ship No. 2 grain from Moose Jaw would not have been given. I understand it was also ordered that overtime should be worked to the limit in order to get the grain moving as quickly as possible.
If those on government benches are in no position to dictate or even to suggest to the Wheat Board or the Board of Grain Commissioners what they should do, then I would be interested to find out where this order came from. Regardless of where it came from, it is a good thing that the order was given. Shipments will be made from Moose Jaw as rapidly as possible so that some of the ships that are waiting at anchorage at Vancouver will be loaded with No. 2 grain and requirements met. When we know a little more about this order we will be able to ask questions and I hope we will be given answers. However, I am sure the western farmers will realize what initiated this order to get grain moving.
In view of the fact that a great number of members who have taken part in this debate have made the point that a number of improvements are necessary not only in our grain handling facilities in western Canada, at terminal and prairie elevators but also in rail transportation arrangements, this would be a very opportune time to mention briefly shipping arrangements through the port of Churchill. There are a number of reasons for bringing up this important matter at this time. Over the years the government has announced prior to the opening of the shipping season that in the year to come a record number of bushels would be shipped through Churchill. I have no figures in front of me

January 22, 1969
but I think the figures I will mention are accurate.
The year before the Conservative government took office in 1957, 16 million bushels were shipped through Churchill. From then until 1962 grain shipments increased each year through Churchill until about 24 million bushels were shipped. My constituents feel that Churchill is capable of handling more wheat than the port is handling at present. The Liberal government on taking office assured us that record shipments would be made through Churchill. If one looks at the figures one will find that in only one year since 1962 have more than 24 million bushels been shipped through our port. I think 25.5 million bushels were shipped one year. In other years shipments were drastically reduced. During the past season I think about 22.5 million bushels were shipped through Churchill, a drastic reduction, particularly after the government had assured us we would be handling record shipments.

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