June 13, 1972 (28th Parliament, 4th Session)


Hugh John Flemming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Flemming:

However, I have some misgivings about the budget; they have arisen principally because I have found it is difficult to find people who will do certain jobs which require to be done. I believe that many jobs are available which could furnish employment but that people are not anxious to take them. Forestry work is a case in point. To my knowledge, people can earn an excellent wage by working in the woods and cutting trees into logs which in turn are processed into lumber. The lumber is then processed and used for housing and industrial uses.
People are saying, "Why should I take a job when I can get more from welfare than from working?" I know something about wages and salaries and I question the assertion that people can get more money if they are on welfare. However, that is what some people think and that is what they say to me.
When I spoke recently to a man from New Brunswick he was terribly concerned because he could not get help. He had to move his equipment 200 miles because the people needed to furnish the raw material he used were not available. It seems to me there ought to be better co-ordination among various departments of government so that available jobs are advertised and made known to people who under ordinary circumstances should be able to perform the work. I should think that Statistics Canada in Ottawa could furnish unemployment figures and, as well, figures relating to the available jobs in various categories. It seems to me that these figures could be produced from information that could be made available from Manpower offices.
The other day in New Brunswick I was told of a plant-I can tell the minister its name if he wishes-that may be forced to shut down in mid summer, when unemployment is supposed to be lowest, because not enough people were available to supply the raw material necessary to keep the plant going. So it seems to me that the government should try to bring about better co-ordination among the activities of various departments so that we might know what jobs are available and which people are available to fill them.
I have never thought that people should be able to choose between working and living on welfare. I do not think we ever intended people to be given that choice. I do not believe anybody ever intended that the productive ability of our people should be disregarded. What makes the matter worse is that a good many of us are being taxed to provide the welfare that is paid to some people as an alternative to working.
What am I recommending to the minister, Mr. Speaker? I think he ought to use his intelligence and great influence with the government and see that common sense is
The Budget-Mr. Flemming
applied at the administrative level. I suggest that steps should be taken so that all local activities coming under the auspices of Manpower, the Unemployment Insurance Commission and social welfare programs are carried on in the same office. Steps must be taken so that there is frequent, almost continuous consultation among the officers in charge of each of these divisions. Available jobs must be advertised; there must be publicity in this regard. Also, there must be publicity with regard to the general category in which people available are willing to work. There must be information as to their physical strength and willingness to perform the tasks stipulated. Experience in this field will soon be acquired, I suggest because our people soon acquire skills. Personally, I believe people prefer to work rather than not work. Also, the health of the worker would improve and his self-respect would be greatly enhanced. If the minister is to achieve his objective of providing more jobs, he must get down to a grass roots examination of the problem and make up his mind that the provision of handouts is not a permanent remedy.
I believe there is definite satisfaction with the increase in the old age security pension for people who have no other means of income. As for the veterans' pensions, I always thought that veterans who volunteered their services, fought the country's battles, risked their lives in various theatres of war when a great deal was at stake, were entitled to the most generous consideration possible. We voted that way. I am sure everyone within the sound of my voice is pleased that that bill carried.
Then there is the matter of the reduction of the general corporate tax rate. Also, the first $50,000 of corporate income is reduced by 5 per cent. Both these reductions are on manufacturing and processing income. I am not certain what will be considered manufacturing and processing but I assume that any business which changes raw material of any type by manufacturing and processing, thereby enhancing its value, will be eligible. Usually secondary industry is established, at least in my part of the world, because someone has vision. As a general rule, someone has vision and wants to do something. We have an outstanding illustration of that in the constituency I have the honour to represent. I refer to McCain Foods.
I believe I should give the House and the country some very pertinent information relative to McCain Foods and the contribution it makes to the general well-being of that part of Canada in which it is located, which happens to be my native New Brunswick, my own county of Carleton, and to our country in general due to the volume of its production which is exported to the United States. The grant which they received, which has received some publicity since the Minister of Regional Economic Expansion (Mr. Marchand) appeared before the committee, has contributed to the tremendous expansion of McCain Foods. This has had beneficial results in a part of Canada which is suffering from economic disparity. That grant will result in the creation of 770 jobs or it will not be paid.
The grant was based on a total capital expenditure of over $17 million and was, I am satisfied, entirely in accordance with the terms of the act and not due to any special treatment. It was much more justified than was the expenditure of a great deal of the taxpayers' money

June 13, 1972
The Budget-Mr. Flemming
by this government. In fact, the spending of many millions of dollars is completely unjustified when one thinks of the wasting of $150 million last winter on local projects and $30 million more this summer, the cost label being put on without any call for tenders or anything. If I had enough time I could give details that would scare hon. members. With this sort of expenditure one cannot help but wonder where it will all end. I suggest to the minister that if he wants to go down in history as being a great Minister of Finance, he should keep better watch than has been the case so far on this whole question of expenditures.
While on this subject I wish to go into the history of the events leading up to the establishment of McCain Foods. I know a good deal about it, for various reasons. During 1956 the government of New Brunswick was approached by four McCain brothers. They presented to the government, of which I was the premier, figures to show that we were importing certain foodstuffs, especially french fried potatoes, to such an extent that a local industry providing it would have good prospect of success. As a basis for the government of that day guaranteeing their bonds, they undertook to provide substantial equity financing to the full extent of their financial ability and of any credit they were able to obtain. They carried out their commitment to the letter.
The government of the day complied with their request and guaranteed their bonds. That decision has turned out to be a good one. It has never cost the people of New Brunswick one penny. It has been a success story from the start. The business has never ceased to expand. It is still expanding. It has spread into the United Kingdom where they have established a branch plant. It has spread into Australia with another branch plant established there. But it retains its head office in Florenceville, Carle-ton Country, New Brunswick, Canada. They have gone north into Grand Falls where they have established another plant. The direction for this worldwide empire comes from the head office in Florenceville.
But, Mr. Speaker, the end is not yet. These young men are not through expanding the business. With the research which they have established and is available to them, and the experience they have acquired, they are prepared to expand further. Indeed, they advise me that already they have made progress with certain plans for further expansion at Florenceville which in time will be discussed with the government. I for one recommend to this government that they be given the utmost consideration in accordance with the provisions of the statute under which the Department of Regional Economic Expansion operates.
In closing, let me quote the progress made by McCain Foods in a comparatively short time, about 16 years. I have secured information in this regard. This company, in business less than 20 years, now has the following achievements to its credit which I am pleased and proud to place on the record of this House. The minister knows about this New Brunswick plant because the McCains are not particularly strong Conservatives. As a matter of fact, it is quite the opposite. That makes no difference to me at this moment in bringing their accomplishments to the attention of the House.
The value of farm products purchased by McCain Foods in the year 1971-72 was $6,400,000. The average

daily purchase of farm products by McCain Foods is $40,000. The number of employees in New Brunswick working for McCain Foods is 1,607. Altogether, in all their enterprises, they employ over 3,000 people. McCain Foods is the largest food processor in the world, excluding the United States. The value of McCain Foods exports of foodstuffs for the year 1971-72 was $3,040,000 processed in New Brunswick. The total value of the New Brunswick potato crop is $15 million: McCain's purchase a substantial portion of it every year. McCain Foods process 21 different food products. At Florenceville and Grand Falls, New Brunswick, their two plants represent a capital investment of $29,500,000 and cover an area of 211 acres. This is the story of McCain Foods.
These are the things I would like to bring to the attention of the minister. By encouraging this sort of enterprise the minister will achieve his objective of supplying more and more jobs for the people of Canada. This is a part of the country that has the very definite label of disparity on it. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I give the minister this information because I feel he should be in possession of the facts.
I do not need to tell members of this House of my complete confidence in this company and the McCain brothers who direct its activities. The government of which I had the honour to be the head indicated its confidence in 1956 by guaranteeing their bonds. That is the acid test of confidence, is it not-to guarantee bonds for a substantial amount of money? Our government indicated this confidence in 1956. That confidence has been completely justified by subsequent progress and success. So far as the officers, management staff and personnel of McCain Foods is concerned, I have the greatest respect for every member of the organization including the McCain brothers themselves. Their ability has been demonstrated and their personal capacity and integrity I have never doubted or questioned.
Whatever criticism I have of the government for waste and extravagance, I include none at all for the assistance they have given to this industry located in a part of Canada generally recognized to be suffering from what is known as regional disparity and handicap. I can think of no better way to bring about an improvement in economic conditions in this or in other areas than by assisting an industry such as McCain Foods Limited. I reiterate my recommendation to the government that it continue to extend the utmost consideration to any planned future expansion of this outstanding industrial undertaking.

Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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