Mr. Cote (Richelieu):
Mr. Speaker, it will be my pleasure when my time is expired to reply to the honourable member for Richmond, and probably enlighten him.
This afternoon, I noted the concern of the member for Lanark-Renfrew-Carleton (Mr. McBride) who stated that last March, we wasted time discussing with Quebec and Ontario, and you see that I do not mention western Canada. I also believe that the member for Saint-Hyacin-
Farm Products Marketing Agencies Bill
the (Mr. Ricard) and the member for Charlevoix (Mr. Asselin) will do their utmost to convince their colleagues to participate in the discussion. And yet thousands of dollars have been wasted because we had no national marketing agency while the farm production in certain regions was out of all proportion with the consumption of neighbouring cities. We, of the federal government, could admit to ourselves that we are to blame, but I have the privilege of stating that we cannot do that. The opposition could say it because this bill would have been passed two years or at least one and a half years ago had we not been prevented from so doing.
It is now thought that this bill would benefit the production of eggs, broilers and poultry meat. How is it possible that a bill can be said to be beneficial in regard to a farm product produced in one region of the country and not to another produced in another region?
The hon. member who spoke before me wished that a more equitable bill could have been introduced.
This bill, which is national in scope, is actually fairer. It is not an eastern or a western bill because it affects the whole range of farm products and I would not like my hon. colleagues, be they of the opposition or otherwise, to try to exclude a particular product alleging that the farmer does not want it. It is not true.
People from eastern and western Canada have asked us why he have delayed passage of the bill. Representatives of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture-which is a national agency-came to us last year, requesting that this bill be passed as quickly as possible. This Federation which groups all agricultural organizations did not request that the bill exclude beef and veal and include only broilers and eggs. It asked that all farm products be included. There are presently two acts and two programs governing these two specific products.
The Canadian Dairy Commission aims at distributing milk at the same price everywhere in the country.
The previous speaker would like Bill C-176 to be similar to the legislation governing the Canadian Wheat Board. Mr. Speaker, I shall reply in the negative. I do not want it. I should even ask this government to withdraw this bill since I do not wish it to have a limited range. I want that bill to apply all across Canada because I am a Canadian.
As a farmer, I am ready to abide by some quotas as concerns some products as eggs and broilers. Therefore, it would be false to say that this bill is to be effective in eastern Canada and not in other parts of Canada. If beef, veal, or pork production is no longer profitable, quotas shall be established not by the government but by the producers, as they recognize that overproduction results in lower prices. If we want a normal price to be maintained, we should be able to abide by some quotas at the consumption level. If we accept to abide by some quotas as concerns eggs and broilers, we should be ready to abide by some quotas also as concerns other commodities. To act otherwise would be very harmful; a second balkanization would occur if this government accepted to have only part of the products under quotas. Then, I would resign, I would oppose the government, whatever its political denomination, because I want the passage of a national legislation.
December 28, 1971
Farm. Products Marketing Agencies Bill
Last year, Mr. Speaker, ,1 learned just to what extent this bill could be beneficial, because the hon. member for Crowfoot (Mr. Horner) and the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Korchinski) recognized its efficiency during informal conversations in between the meetings of the committee on agriculture. They said that this bill seemed to "smell good" for the farmer. Strangely enough, we do not feel that it will smell good simply for election purposes; we know that this bill will be good for a sector of the Canadian economy. In fact, agriculture represents 35 per cent of the Canadian economy.
We were told that this bill should not be passed, that it would be too advantageous from an electoral point of view. Now, if it were as bad as it was depicted a while ago, I feel a good number of members of the opposition would want it passed, as it would be an excellent means of leading eventually to the downfall of the government. I am convinced that is how things would happen if this bill were really that bad.
But as they know the farmers want this legislation, because it will be truly efficient, they will not let it be passed. And how do they go about it? This afternoon, the hon. member for Crowfoot (Mr. Horner) probably remembered what he did last summer, and that disappointed me. Last summer, the principle of democracy-that the majority decides, and that at times the minority has to accept the decision of the majority-was not recognized. So, at the time when we were sitting in committee to discuss section 2-a section that they would change through an amendment concerning natural products- after a tremendous amount of verbiage, nothing remained to be said. Opposition members saw that they could no longer face the majority of the Committee on Agriculture which stuck to its guns. So, two members, the hon. member for Crowfoot and the hon. member for Mackenzie must remember the two members of the committee on agriculture who retired to the rear of the room and said: You no longer have quorum, and this simply in order to prevent the committee from sitting.
That was deplorable, because members of farm associations had come to Ottawa. There were some from the West, from Quebec and Ontario, and they treated us as children. We were even told: Back home, if we acted like that, we would be taken for ridiculous characters. We were even told that democracy was next to anarchy. What happened in the committee last year seems to be starting all over again here.
I do not want to hold the House foo long, so I ask all hon. members to make sure that agriculture will be in a better position tomorrow. Let us not forget that thousands of dollars were lost each week, last fall, in egg production. The same thing might happen with regard to pork or beef. We do not know the future. Production might exceed consumption and then, prices would drop. But some hon. members might not be here after the next election because I imagine they will be defeated if they vote against the legislation. They might have to admit that at the end of 1971, they had the opportunity to solve the real problem, that is the marketing of farm products.
I have been told, before taking part in this debate, that perhaps Bill C-176 would be misunderstood in eastern [Mr. Cote (Riehelieu).J
Canada. This may amuse those who are not from the East, while helping them to understand better the problems of eastern Canada. It has been suggested to me that there might be someone inside the slaughter-houses to take over the overproduction or do something so that this bill will not cure all ills.
I don't believe that by passing this bill we will solve all problems relating to agriculture, but we will at least put in the hands of the producers, who want to control themselves, the marketing of their products, and not have it done by the state, marketing agencies of their own. Afterwards, if conditions are worse, we could perhaps exchange views with producers, but up to now, as politicians, if we can so call ourselves, and as farmers, it is the fijTSt such legislation introduced in the House since I have been a member that I urge hon. members to pass.
Subtopic: FARM PRODUCTS MARKETING AGENCIES BILL