Hon. Otto E. Lang (Minister of Justice):
Mr. Speaker, this year, for the second time, we announced initial prices on March 1 giving some advance warning before seeding to farmers about what these prices should be. Now the hon. member opposite comes along with a request to change them, and no doubt to change them again and again instead of simply appreciating the advantage of having these prices fixed at that date.
Proceedings on Adjournment Motion
In fact, when we fixed these initial prices this year we increased the price of barley by five cents despite the fact, as the hon. member pointed out, that there were very definite weaknesses in the barley market. Indeed, at the present time the barley market is not as weak as it has been and this is why I pointed out to him that his point about continual downward prices is quite in error. In the case of rapeseed, the prices go up and down. This is, of course, the nature of the open market. The hon. member knows full well that our position on the rapeseed market is that the farmers can have the kind of market they want, and when they are able to express themselves plainly on the matter we will act accordingly.
Just the other day I had a letter from the rapeseed association saying that after having distributed some 50,000 copies of an analysis of marketing they hoped further time would be available to farmers to discuss the particular marketing techniques for that grain.
Is the hon. member saying the Wheat Board is not getting as much as it can for grain? He is not likely to say that. He does not normally say that. I would challenge him, if he did. The Wheat Board is doing an extremely good job. It is getting the best possible price for the grain. It is getting prices for grain which compete very favourably with what our competitors are getting. It would be more like the Tories would suggest we were making mistakes by selling at prices which are too low, because they would like to destroy the Wheat Board. But my hon. friend would not ordinarily do that. The Wheat Board gets from the market what it can. It does the best possible job, and I give it great credit. If prices are low, it is because of the world situation.
We are making record sales. I should like to tell the hon. member that today, on July 4, I believe I can say with confidence we have now exported more grain this year than we did in the total of last year, with four weeks left in the season. That is because of great action by the Wheat Board and by the trade generally.
In addition, of course, we are not leaving the farmer for his return on his grain alone to the proceeds of sales abroad. We instituted the two-price system. We have marketing development. We are supporting his sales by credit, and indeed our whole foreign policy supports the making of sales and helps the Wheat Board make sales on the farmer's behalf. We have put $42 million into the purchase of hopper-cars to help move this grain. Last winter we put $1.3 million into moving grain from Thunder Bay to eastern ports for export for the first time in history. And so it goes. We go on putting money from the treasury into the hands of the farmer to help him, and that is recognition that the amount he gets, notwithstanding the best possible job by the Wheat Board, is not enough.
Motion agreed to and the House adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Wednesday. July 5. 1972