Mr. John Decore (Vegreville):
Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to extend the term of the Canadian Wheat Board Act, giving it an additional life of five years. As one who represents a grain-producing community I would like to say a word or two in connection with it.
Many speakers have risen and suggested that this should remain as permanent legislation. I would say, Mr. Speaker, that as long as the farmers in western Canada want the wheat board system of marketing, this act, when it comes up again in another five years for consideration, will be further renewed. This government has embarked on this policy of the wheat board system of
Canadian Wheat Board Act marketing and I do not think there is any danger whatsoever that this act would not be extended.
Furthermore, the present procedure gives an opportunity to review and discuss the operations of this board, and to make suggestions, as we have been doing. As I say, I have no fears that the wheat board method of marketing will not be continued in the future-provided it has not been scuttled in the meantime through the adoption of certain suggestions whereby an extra load will be put on the shoulders of the board in addition to the heavy load which it is already carrying. I propose to say something about that shortly.
Another point which has been raised is the question of the inequality of delivery opportunities, and this is, of course, a very difficult problem. In dealing with it I can probably do no better than to pass on the words of the Minister of Trade and Commerce when he spoke at the Saskatchewan wheat pool convention held at Regina on the 9th November last. This is what he had to say in connection with it:
I know that you are concerned about what might be termed the inequalities of delivery opportunities. This is an extremely difficult problem and the wheat board is doing its best to cope with it. But it cannot perform miracles and it cannot afford to put equality of delivery opportunities ahead of selling wheat. The wheat board had to take advantage of every demand which came along. This demand, in many cases, was for specific kinds of grain and grades of grain, and not all delivery points in the west could supply these requirements in equal volume. Therefore, the wheat board had to be selective in its shipping policy in order to move to terminals the grades of grain required to meet demand. This caused some inequalities in delivery quotas, but I thought the wheat board was wise in shipping the grains and grades which could be moved promptly into the domestic or export market. Only by taking this action did we reach the volume of exports and the volume of sales which were attained in the past crop year.
Then the minister goes on to say:
Let me give you one example. When the crop year 1955-56 began, the board had very substantial holdings of low grade wheat-No. 5, No. 6 and feed wheat-amounting to well over 100 million bushels. By the end of the crop year the board had sold all these stocks and had to look to the 1956 crop for additional supplies of these grades. The selling of this volume of low-grade wheat could not have been accomplished except by taking every step possible to move these particular grades into selling positions.
As I say, there are inequalities of delivery opportunities. It is a serious problem at certain points in western Canada but I think the complete answer is given in the statement made by the minister. I think history will record that during these trying years the wheat board had to stand the acid test with respect to its performance in the face of great obstacles. It faces great difficulties
Canadian Wheat Board Act in the marketing of our grain, greater particularly in the last two years than at any time since the end of the last war.
What have been some of the problems that have confronted the wheat board? Briefly they have been these. First of all, we have had superabundant crops. During the last six years we have had five of the largest crops in the history of this country and the world was simply not in a position to absorb the record crop production in Canada with the result that some had to be carried over on farms and in elevators. That was one problem over which the government and the wheat board had no control.
The second problem was the heavy subsidization of wheat importing countries throughout the world. Some of these importing countries encouraged production at home by means of high internal prices. Again that is something over which the government and the wheat board had no control.
The third problem, and a very serious one, is the surplus disposal methods followed by the United States government. I was surprised to hear some opposition members, including the last member who has just taken his seat, suggest that we should also endeavour to follow some of the same methods of disposal of our surplus grain as the United States is following.
Topic: CANADIAN WHEAT BOARD ACT
Subtopic: AMENDMENT TO EXTEND EXPIRY DATE