In April of 1954 his party colleague, the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Churchill), spoke strongly in this house in favour of Crowsnest pass rates on grain and flour, and the Winnipeg Free Press on April 14, 1954, had this to say editorially regarding the remarks of the Winnipeg member:
Mr. Churchill's unqualified commitment in favour of Crowsnest rates is welcome. However he should realize that in so speaking he was in so far as the Liberal party is concerned preaching to the converted.
Only one political party has opposed Crowsnest pass rates and presented itself to the electorate on a policy of repealing the statute and nullifying the agreement. That party is Mr. Churchill's party- the Conservative party. The Conservative party did so in 1925 and 1926. Mr. Meighen, then Conservative leader, declared that the Crowsnest pass agreement is a "special privilege". Likewise under Conservative direction an attempt was made to abolish Crowsnest pass rates at the 1919 special session called to deal with railway legislation.
In 1919, the Crowsnest pass agreement was saved by the Liberal party through the instrumentality of the late Senator Robert "Bob" Watson of Portage la Prairie. In 1925 and 1926 the electorate at large saved the Crowsnest pass rates by rejecting the Conservative party and electing the Liberal party.
Mr. Churchill will make a real contribution if he undertakes missionary work in behalf of the agreement in his own party.
I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the Gordon commission's suggestion that statutory rates on grain could be increased, or that the government could provide in lieu thereof a form of subsidy, can only be based upon an assumption, which in fact does not exist, that the statutory rates are not profitable to the railways, when in fact they are, as shown not only by the findings of the Turgeon commission but by the evidence of one of their own research officers.
I hope I have made it clear that the existence of these rates does not constitute a hand-out to the western grain growers at the expense of other sectors of the economy. In this respect grain growers are paying their own way and in fact providing a profitable source of revenue to the railways.
A substantial part of the speech from the throne is devoted to Canada's participation in international affairs. This is as it should be, for while the official opposition may state that the government is not entitled to the confidence of the Canadian people by reason of its indifference, inertia and lack of leadership in serious international problems, the record of the government shows that the contrary is true in actual fact. We have only to examine the work done since the last war in connection with the formation and promotion of NATO by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for External Affairs to find an excellent example of co-operation and leadership in international matters. Is it likely that Canada's foreign minister would have been selected as one of the "three wise men" of NATO, to review its policies, if Canada had not in the past shown leadership in these matters?
In the sphere of international trade Canada has been a staunch supporter of the principles of GATT, and has constantly led in the fight toward the reduction and removal of trade barriers.
I had the privilege, Mr. Speaker, of attending the pre-Christmas session of the United Nations, and as a result of my experience I can certainly agree with Grant Dexter who, writing from New York on November 26, 1956, to the Winnipeg Free Press, states that his first impression on coming to United Nations headquarters and mixing with peoples of all nationalities was one of surprise and pleasure, and that Canada is almost a magic word at the United Nations. He reports that Canadian prestige is very high there because of the part Canada had played in halting the fighting in the Middle East and in creating a United Nations police force.
He goes on to point out that there is more to it than just this; that this was not Canada's
The Address-Mr. Weselak first major contribution; that over the past 11 years Canada has made innumerable outstanding contributions to the constitution and development of the United Nations. He cites as examples the fact that three Canadians-Norman Robertson, presently high commissioner at London; Louis Rasminsky, now of the Bank of Canada, and the late Hume Wrong, for some years Canadian ambassador at Washington, rewrote the economic sections of the United Nations charter at San Francisco at the time the charter was born.
He further mentions that in 1947 and 1948, when Israel was created and the first conflict with the Arab states broke out, the Canadian government was one of the leading peacemakers. The present Secretary of State for External Affairs, then undersecretary of state, was on the committee which brought about the settlement which endured until just recently. It was partly in recognition of his outstanding service in this regard that Mr. Pearson became president of the United Nations, after becoming minister for external affairs.
He also cites the fact that last year the Minister of National Health and Welfare, as head of the Canadian delegation while the minister for external affairs was engaged on NATO business succeeded in breaking down the antagonism which had prevented admission of new members to the United Nations. As a result of his efforts 16 new members, including Ireland and Italy, were added. Four new members were accepted this year, proving that once broken the old rigidity is unlikely to return.
Mr. Dexter goes on to point out, Mr. Speaker, that veteran delegates to the United Nations said there have been few such occasions in the history of that organization as that when our minister reversed the headlong course of the Middle East debate, turning it from destructive to constructive purposes; and he adds that when President Eisenhower took the time on election day to telephone the Prime Minister at Ottawa to thank him for what Canada had done at the United Nations he was reflecting the feelings of all United Nations members outside the Soviet bloc.
It is true, Mr. Speaker, that Canada's resolution has not solved the basic problems which caused the Middle East explosion, but it helped to stem the deterioration of a highly dangerous situation, brought about a cessation of hostilities and created a more favourable atmosphere in which to set in motion the peacemaking powers of the United Nations.
Apart from Canada's leadership in and contribution to NATO and the United Nations,
The Address-Mr. Weselak the Prime Minister during the life of this parliament made a world tour in an effort to create a better understanding of Canada among the nations of the world. This has been followed by the recent commonwealth tour of the Minister of National Health and Welfare, which will also contribute a great deal toward a better understanding of one another by the commonwealth peoples.
Reports indicate, Mr. Speaker, that there are now 8,500 Hungarian refugees in Canada; that by the end of February this number will be increased to 14,000, and that in the spring when employment opportunities are better another 10,000 will arrive in this country. In this humanitarian work Canada has a creditable record, and a great deal of credit is to be given to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for his personal attention and concern in this regard when he himself went to Austria to supervise the removal of these unfortunate people and the simplification of immigration processes.
It is encouraging to note that estimates of immigration for the year 1956 will exceed the 1955 figure, and that a very substantial rise in immigration is forecast for 1957. It is my opinion, and the opinion of many people in this country, that immigration should be encouraged; therefore the expected rise in these projected figures is welcome.
The speech from the throne makes reference to the excellent progress which is being made in our national development and this, sir, is not an exaggeration. I am pleased to say that we in Manitoba have shared in this development. Preliminary reports indicate that Manitoba manufacturers in 1956 produced a record of $625 million, as compared with $527 million in 1955. Retail sales increased by 7 to 10 per cent; carload-ings in the western division by 37.7 per cent; mineral and oil production from $61 million to $65 million, and farm cash income for the first nine months of the year from $120 million in 1954 and 1955 to $143 million in 1956, attributable in great part to increased loadings of wheat.
One of the most dramatic events in the developing economy of Manitoba has been the decision of the International Nickel Company to start on the $175 million nickel project in the Mystery lake and Moak lake areas of Northern Manitoba. This mine is scheduled to go into production in 1960 and will be the world's second largest nickel operation, second only to International Nickel's operations in the Sudbury area. This project brings along with it development of the Grand Rapids power site, which will add to the energy sources of the province. In my own constituency the Lithium Corporation of Canada has begun operation of a
lithium mine in the Cat lake area, and has plans for a mill in the vicinity. In the same area a copper mine is also in the early phases of development.
In connection with the Moak and Mystery lakes development, I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the government of Manitoba for their part in bringing this matter to a favourable conclusion, and in particular to the premier of Manitoba, the minister of mines and the former provincial treasurer, Mr. R. D. Turner. These men worked unceasingly with officials of the company in the interests of the province to make this project become a reality.
We are pleased, Mr. Speaker, in my province to see developments such as I have described both provincially and nationally, but our pleasure is dampened when we recognize that a certain sector of our economy which, while recently showing some improvement, is not fully sharing the prosperity of the country. I refer to the agricultural people of Canada.
The speech from the throne recognizes this problem, and recognizes the need for longterm planning and bold imaginative measures to establish Canadian agriculture on a sound economic basis. The establishment of a committee to consider what should be done to make better use of land for agriculture in the light of the benefits we have obtained from the operation of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act is a welcome step in this direction and should contribute toward a solution of the problem.
This, however, is not the complete answer, and unfortunately the Gordon report does not contribute a great deal toward a solution of the problem.
The solution certainly does not lie in curbing and discouraging production. It does not lie, as suggested in the Gordon report, in a negative approach such as the curtailment of prairie farm assistance payments to discourage use of lands where there has been a high record of crop failure, an indirect way of squeezing farmers off farms. It lies in a positive approach to the problem as suggested in the speech from the throne, through such things as relocation of farm population from submarginal lands with government assistance, encouraged diversification of farm production, extension of farm credit for capital purposes, and a more extended use of the Agricultural Prices Support Act to guarantee the farmer a reasonable return pricewise for the goods he produces. The recommendations in the report are worthy of study, but should be scrutinized very carefully before any attempt is made to implement some of them.
I should like to say a few words about the reference in the speech from the throne to continuation of the Canadian wheat board as the sole marketing agency for western wheat, oats and barley. As stated in the Gordon report, this method of marketing wheat and coarse grains is generally accepted by the grain growers of western Canada, and its establishment was the result of many years of consistent effort on the part of the farmers to obtain orderly and stable marketing of their grains. This system of marketing, not surprisingly, has been the subject of some attack by certain groups in western Canada, and this can be expected when periods of congestion exist such as we have recently experienced. In 1955 the Canadian Chamber of Commerce went so far as to pass a resolution condemning agricultural marketing through government agencies. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that such a resolution is not in accord with a great weight of farm thinking, particularly in so far as the marketing of wheat, oats and barley is concerned.
The continuance of this legislation is a must. Its importance can best be illustrated by the fact that economists estimate that if today marketing of wheat were to be taken from the jurisdiction of the wheat board and turned over to the trade the market price of No. 1 Northern would not be $1.69 at Fort William and $1.71 at Vancouver, but likely somewhere between 80 and 90 cents per bushel. It is true that the grain trade would take the grain off the farms, but at half its present price. This legislation should be continued, and no doubt will receive the unanimous support of the house.
A great deal has been said recently in the house and in the press regarding the needs of our senior citizens, who in times of difficulty and hardship did so much to make this country what it is today. My concern, Mr. Speaker, is not so much for those who have other sources of income or for those whose financial position is such that with the present pension they can get along quite well. My concern is for those who for a variety of reasons, many beyond their own control, find themselves, particularly in our towns and cities, trying to maintain themselves on $40 per month. It would be a very nice thing to give an across the board increase to all pensioners, but if this is not feasible or practical I would certainly urge the government, either with or without the assistance of the provinces, to make further allowances at least to our old age and blind pensioners who need such assistance.
It is hardly necessary to point out that with the increased cost of living in Canada the present pensions, in those cases where
The Address-Mr. Patterson individuals are solely dependent upon them, are inadequate and do not meet present day needs. In this respect I might also point out that the regulations governing disability pensions should be reviewed by federal and provincial authorities, as there is considerable doubt in my mind whether these regulations reflect the intention and the mood of parliament at the time the act was passed.
The proposal contained in the speech from the throne to authorize the payment of grants in lieu of taxes on federal property in all municipalities where such property receives normal municipal services will be most welcome to municipal councils, and will help to relieve some of the financial difficulties in municipalities affected.
In this house last session I urged the Minister of Finance to give consideration to removal of the sales tax on repairs and replacements for heavy equipment used by municipalities. These expenditures by municipalities run into substantial sums. I hope he is keeping this matter in mind as he works on his present budget.
The establishment of the Canada Council is in keeping with the growth of Canada, and more extended assistance to university students and to the universities themselves through increased grants will help fill a need which is seriously felt at the present time by all universities.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, one has only to compare statements made by the leader of the official opposition in and out of the house in recent days with those of members of the government on current issues, both national and international to determine whether the allegations of indifference, inertia and lack of leadership apply to the government or to the official opposition. In my opinion these words neatly describe the official opposition, and my vote on the amendment will so indicate.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY