Mr. Chairman, coming as I do from the curling province of Canada I should like to add my congratulations to those which have been extended to the Avonlea curling team upon their recent victory. They must be good to have beaten Manitoba and they deserve it.
I welcome the announcement by the minister that the recommendations contained in
Canada Grain Act
the report of the committee regarding terminal overages will be carried out by means of an amendment to the act. With regard to the appointment of an assistant commissioner, the need for such appointment was indicated in the evidence given before the committee last year. I believe that this appointment will fill a definite need.
A recent appointment to the board of grain commissioners was that of a practical farmer, the type of appointment which has been asked for by the farm organizations over the past years. This man appears to be capable and efficient and he has made a success in his own affairs. I do not think that any appointment made by the government would meet with the approval of our friends to my left.
I had no intention of entering this debate until I heard in this house an unjustified attack on the Canada Grain Act and on the personnel and operations of the board of grain commissioners. It is to this phase of the matter that I intend to direct my attention.
Along with hon. members to my left I sat on the agriculture committee last year and my over-all impression was that the board was doing a very good job. Naturally my impression did not agree with that expressed by other hon. members during this debate. I feel that in their destructive statements the C.C.F. members are not doing a service to the farmers of Canada by unjustly undermining their confidence in the board of grain commissioners.
As I said before, I sat on the committee. As my memory did not recall sufficient incidents to support the statements made in this debate I took the trouble to examine the evidence to see what the representatives of the various farm organizations, who also sat through the hearings, thought of this particular board. I was not surprised to find that their opinions differed entirely from those expressed in the speeches made in this house and I thought that in all fairness they should be put on the record.
The evidence given by Ben S. Plumer, president of the Alberta wheat board, appears at page 400 of the minutes of proceedings and evidence of the committee, where he is reported as having said:
We have no particular comment to make on those reports other than to congratulate both boards on the outstanding services which they have contributed to the grain producers of western Canada, especially over the past few years when record crops have been produced.
And then at page 408 he had this to say:
We believe that the Canada Grain Act, competently administered as it is, by the board of grain commissioners provides ample protection for the producer in assuring him of accuracy in weights, grades and dockages, to conform as closely as possible to government standards.
Then on page 457 we find Mr. Bill Parker, president of the Manitoba pool elevator association, being examined by the hon. member for Lisgar as to whether he agreed that tens of thousands of farmers had lost confidence in the board of grain commissioners. Mr. Parker then went on to say: From my own observation, I would say that is not a fact and I speak particularly for Manitoba. If I may, I would like to read two or three resolutions that we had last year in response to requests for information that were sent out to the locals in the country. On February 23, 1953, the farmers' unions of the three provinces made a presentation in Winnipeg to the board of grain commissioners and on the following day they made a presentation to the wheat board. These were public presentations. It was given to the press in full and some of us felt that the publicity given to it gave undue emphasis to criticisms, which we felt, rightly or wrongly, were not entirely justified. Having in mind that the farm organizations for 40 years have worked towards the provisions of the Canada Grain Act and have always been interested in its administration, and more recently intensely interested in the operation of the Canadian wheat board. Frankly, Mr. Chairman, we were greatly disturbed at the publicity given. We sent these briefs to our locals, asking if they would be good enough to consider them and give us their opinions. We have answers from 80 of the 208 or 209 locals. Those that did not answer, you can make your own interpretation as to their reactions. Four of those associations did support in some measure the contentions or criticisms embodied in those briefs. Only one supported them unconditionally. Incidentally, that one is an association which had not yet considered an annual report, and their knowledge of the grain business is, to say the least, rather meager. Three of them were older and had been in the business for some time and they did feel there was some justification for some of the criticisms. If I can find it here I would like to read you one or two resolutions, which go for the vast majority that did answer and make comments on the briefs. I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that they were constructive, they were made by people who were in the business 15 to 25 years, who really had some knowledge of both acts and of the administrative boards in both capacities. This is the answer from the Kronsgart association in southeastern Manitoba:
"That since the whole tone and content of the two briefs in question tend to weaken confidence in these boards and thus impair their efficiency, and since farmers, through their own organizations, have striven for many years to bring these boards into existence, and since it is evident that they have and are doing a difficult job efficiently, we wish to counteract, in some measure, the adverse influence in the two briefs in question by expressing our full confidence in both the board of grain commissioners and the Canadian wheat board." From the basswood association in the central western part of the province:
That the arguments contained in the M.F.U. briefs do not represent the views of this board of directors, and that we are pretty well satisfied with the operation of the two boards.
Just one other, from the Fairfax association in the southwestern part of the province:
After a very lengthy study and discussion on the M.F.U. submissions to the Canadian wheat board and the board of grain commissioners, this board of directors of Fairfax co-operative elevator were of the unanimous opinion that the present wheat board and board of grain commissioners are doing a satisfactory job under present conditions.
We consider many of the submissions of the M.F.U. are childish and impossible; they are attractive but impractical.
Now I repeat that those resolutions are representative of all answers received, excepting only four. These answers quoted and others in different language and in different resolutions fairly well indicate the opinion of those who did take the trouble to answer and consider the briefs; three others supported some parts of the criticism. That, sir, is the best answer I can give you to the question.
Speaking later on in regard to the same matter he had this to say;
I think in respect to the weighing in the gross that there is protection under the Canada Grain Act; and so far as I am aware the board has administered the act in respect thereto in the interest of the farmer.
Now, in respect to grading, the board or the act does not contemplate that there shall be an inspector at every country elevator. Getting correct grade and dockage is the farmer's own responsibility, as I said yesterday; and if he is not satisfied with the grade and the dockage, or if he has any doubts in the world about the dockage, or about the grade, our instructions are never to argue with the farmer. The farmer is always right so far as the elevator agent is concerned. And there are provisions under which he may take a sample which should be representative of the load of grain concerned; and there is a sample box provided for each farmer, and he can get it and put the sample in it and send it to the board of grain commissioners chief inspector, and his grading is final.
The farmer must exercise some responsibility in respect to his own grades. Surely, he does not expect the government or the board to protect him at every turn.
The act, in my opinion, gives full protection to the individual farmer, provided he reads the act and uses it. So far as our association is concerned, we have spent a lot of time trying to persuade or trying to have the farmers understand what their own personal rights are and that they should exercise them to the full. That is the best answer I can give you.
In the evidence given by Mr. Cecil Lamont, president, North-West Line Elevators Association, at page 490 of the report, the following appears:
I would like here to refer to an action taken by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. This is an official statement issued by Roy C. Marler, chairman of the prairie section of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. I quote from this statement:
The prairie section of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture met in Regina on Wednesday, June 10, 1953. The meeting discussed a number of problems affecting western agriculture, such as the international wheat agreement, freight rates on grain and the sale of coarse grains by the Canadian wheat board.
The following resolution was passed unanimously: Resolved that this section declare its confidence in the personnel of the board of grain commissioners and the Canadian wheat board and the administration these boards are giving their respective acts. The Canada Grain Act has been built up over the years by the constant efforts of the farm organizations to protect the interests of western farmers. As now framed the act does afford the protection for which these organizations had hoped. The western section has every confidence 50433-123J
Canada Grain Act
that any comprehensive study of the act will show that no extensive revisions are necessary at this time.
A resolution was passed also expressing appreciation and confidence in R. Milner and his work as transport controller. ,
Well, we are not members of this Canadian Federation of Agriculture. We follow its work, and we are in full accord with this resolution in all respects.
These, Mr. Chairman, are the opinions of the presidents of the Manitoba and Alberta pools, of Manitoba locals and of the federation of agriculture, all representative and speaking for the grain producer without motive or prejudice. The president of the Saskatchewan pool had no real criticism except for the matter of box car allocation, which in my opinion would indicate that he was in agreement with the opinion I have just quoted. These men and the organizations they represent are responsible bodies with more experience individually than can be found collectively on the C.C.F. benches, and I would be inclined to accept their opinions in preference to those given by/ people who seek to foster political issues*
Topic: CANADA GRAIN ACT
Subtopic: AMENDMENTS RESPECTING GRADES, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONERS AND SALARIES