Mr. Francis Fox (Argenteuil-Deux-Montagnes):
Madam Speaker, I thank you for having given me the floor. Unfortunately, the hon. member across the way has left me very little time, barely 45 or 65 seconds, to participate in the debate.
Several members, from both sides of the House, would have liked to take part in it, I believe. Though I have very little time, I should still like to emphasize one point which was raised a while ago by one of the previous speakers, and that is in part the role played by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Whelan) in the egg question.
Members have suggested that the Minister of Agriculture should have intervened unilaterally and imposed recommendations to the Egg Marketing Agency. As far as I am concerned, I feel that this is an unusual way of looking at federal-provincial relations in this country. To think that a federal minister should interfere with a federal-provincial agreement, signed by all the Ministers of Agriculture in Canada, strikes me as pure arrogance. Had that occurred, such a unilateral intervention on the part of the Minister of Agriculture would have been denounced.
Quite the contrary, in that case he did what he had to do; he met and consulted with his provincial colleagues in July and November of that year, and they agreed on a plan of action to try and put some order in the house. And finally it is very important to show that that marketing agency can work to meet the need of both consumers and farmers in Canada.
I think for my part that underlying the committee report was the fact that it recognized the true role the marketing agency must play within the Canadian economy. How else can we make sure farmers of this country have adequate incomes so they will continue to produce the kind of quality commodities we are used to receiving in Canada? Professor Ford who appeared before the committee had no other mechanism whatever to suggest to replace the marketing agency.
February 17, 1975
So, instead of looking at false problems the committee made recommendations. It determined who was responsible for the agency's problems. It submitted certain findings but agreed that in the final analysis the Minister of Agriculture did what he had to do.
Before attacking the Minister of Agriculture it is worth noting that no recommendations were ever made in that regard before the committee but they rather preferred to wait to do so in this House. No attempt was made to convince the committee-as they should have done as members-of what was suggested here tonight in this House.
Subtopic: EGG MARKETING