Ralph FERGUSON

FERGUSON, The Hon. Ralph, P.C.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Lambton--Middlesex (Ontario)
Birth Date
September 13, 1929
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Ferguson
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=45309c29-6218-4065-bf21-429f5f0d17a4&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
farmer

Parliamentary Career

February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
LIB
  Lambton--Middlesex (Ontario)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Small Businesses and Tourism) (March 4, 1980 - February 28, 1982)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance (March 1, 1984 - June 29, 1984)
  • Minister of Agriculture (June 30, 1984 - September 16, 1984)
November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
LIB
  Lambton--Middlesex (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 112 of 112)


April 25, 1980

Mr. Ralph Ferguson (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State, Small Businesses):

Mr. Speaker, hon. members, it is certainly my pleasure to speak to Bill C-17, an act to amend the Small Businesses Loans Act, which has been brought forward by my colleague, the Minister of State for Small Businesses (Mr. Lapointe). The minister has outlined the details of Bill C-17, and he has also briefly outlined the general purposes and the history of the Small Businesses Loans Act. In addition, he has outlined the government's intention to work with the financial community, the small business community and the provincial governments in preparing a complete review of the government's financial support programs for small businesses.

I should like to commend the hon. member for Capilano (Mr. Huntington) for his constructive remarks in relation to this review and to the amendments to the act presented here today.

I would like to refer ever so briefly to comments of the hon. member for Kamloops-Shuswap (Mr. Riis), and refer specifically to the drop in interest rates that took place for the last two consecutive weeks since the opening of this Thirty-second Parliament. 1 feel this reflects confidence in the government and it is an indicator that the proposals outlined in the Speech from the Throne are quite proper and correct.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SMALL BUSINESSES LOANS ACT
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April 25, 1980

Mr. Ferguson:

In speaking to Bill C-17 1 would like to add some comments on the coverage provided by the program. The Minister of State for Small Businesses has already referred to

April 25, 1980

Small Businesses Loans Act

the broad national impact of the program as witnessed by its regional coverage and the very wide and growing participation by a variety of financial institutions.

In addition to this coverage, a broad range of types of businesses are supported through the Small Businesses Loans Act. 1 submit at this time that this is an act that covers all of Canada, whether it be the small towns and villages in the rural sector or the small businesses in the cities across this nation. It is vital to the sustenance of the small business community from coast to coast.

Statistics for 1978 show, for example, that of the total value of loans in that year, wholesale trade accounted for 4.1 per cent, transportation accounted for 8.6 per cent, construction accounted for 9.9 per cent, manufacturing accounted for 14 per cent, retail trade accounted for 26.6 per cent, and service businesses accounted for 35.9 per cent.

It can be seen that the Small Businesses Loans Act provides broad coverage of types of businesses, many of which are traditionally in the small business category. It does not include two additional types of small businesses, farming and fisheries, but they are supported by two other special federal government programs; first of all under the Farm Improvement Loans Act, and secondly, the Fisheries Improvement Loans Act. As announced in the Speech from the Throne, both of these acts will also be brought forward for renewed consideration by the government in the very near future.

In the course of presentation of Bill C-17 I think it is important to note the philosophy which underpins not only the Small Businesses Loans Act but also all the other federal government debt-financing programs.

A basic premise behind all federal government debt-financing programs is that they should complement rather than compete with private sources of loan capital. This is more than just a philosophical stance in respect of the roles of the private and public sectors. It is based on the realization that the government can be most effective by working with the private financial institutions to make better use of the very extensive delivery systems that are already in place in the private sector. For this reason, the success of the Small Businesses Loans Act should be measured not only in terms of the volume of business undertaken, but also, and perhaps just as important, in terms of its success in stimulating private lenders to expand both the form and volume of financing to small businesses.

The Small Businesses Loans Act is in keeping with this philosophy. It is a program which has been administered effectively with as little government involvement as is possible. All of the transactions between borrowers and lenders takes place within the private sector with the government acting only as a guarantor.

We all know that this cannot always be the case, but there are good reasons behind the government which has also established direct lending and grant programs. The programs have been established to meet special circumstances which face Canada's ever-growing businesses. Even where direct lending programs are in effect, however, an attempt is made, if at all

possible, to involve private lenders as co-financiers. This is as it should be, Mr. Speaker, and I think the small businessmen and small business women of this country would agree with me. They do not want handouts from the government. They want, and only when it is necessary, a boost from the government to assist them in their own efforts to build the businesses. They want to retain their independence and to go about their business as they see fit. The Small Businesses Loans Act is a program which follows this approach.

In concluding my brief remarks on this Small Businesses Loans Act I want to re-emphasize that this program is an important source of financing for small businesses. It provides suppport to thousands of deserving men and women who run businesses which are the backbone of our Canadian economy. I take great pleasure, therefore, in having spoken to this bill.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SMALL BUSINESSES LOANS ACT
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April 21, 1980

Mr. Ralph Ferguson (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State, Small Businesses):

Mr. Speaker, when I referred to the Canadian Agricultural Export Corporation at the last sitting of this House, I spoke of its potential spin-off effects on all of society. We must ensure that we utilize the potential of this food production sector, because food provides the first essential of human life. By expanding this area of productivity, we will be further giving our processing industry the volumes of output required for efficient and economic operation. I am confident that such a move would help reverse the trend away from further processing that has occurred in Canada over the last few years.

In this context, Mr. Speaker, I am certainly alarmed at the volume of imported foods that Canadians bought last year, particularly in the meat sector. Close to $2.5 billion worth of manufactured foods and semi-processed meats and fish products that might have been processed in Canada came from other countries. I believe that we should be working to correct this imbalance, because we have the most efficient producers in the world.

I am pleased that the Speech from the Throne provides for a meat import act: this should provide the stability required for both producers and consumers. I trust that the remarks made by the hon. member for Medicine Hat (Mr. Hargrave) on Friday of last week reflect the position of his party and assurance of speedy passage of this bill before the House.

While there are specific areas of our agricultural industry facing very low prices at the present time, retail price comparisons with other capital cities of the world usually show our Canadian consumer prices to be either the lowest in the world, or second only to those of the United States. Also, the time spent by our workers to earn the retail value of our food products in selected world capitals as of March, 1980, is the

The Address-Mr. Ferguson

shortest in the world. Our Canadian producers can compete on world markets. The creation of the Canadian Agricultural Export Corporation is essential to our total agra-industry and economy based on our current productivity, our potential productivity and the need for food in specific areas of the world. The Canadian farmer realizes that the Canadian consumer is his best customer; but, as any businessman, he must show a profit to survive. Farming is no longer a way of life; it is big business, requiring adequate funding and public support and appreciation.

One cause for alarm for us is the fact that some of the vast deserts of the world are spreading at an everincreasing rate. For example, the Thar Desert, in India, is expanding at the rate of 30,000 acres per year, and the great Sahara-which was at one time the granary of the Roman empire-is expanding rapidly, partially due to poor agricultural practices and management.

I believe that, as energy was the challenge of the 1970s, we must accept the fact that energy and food will be the challenge of the 1980s. I trust this House will appreciate the efforts of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, who publish the prices that producers receive and prices that consumers pay for the same products at the retail level. This step, I trust, will bring about a better understanding between our rural and urban societies and will be of benefit to all Canadians. The concerns expressed for our farmers and small business people in the throne speech must be acted upon in a positive manner to ensure the expansion of our most essential renewable resource.

Last, but not least, if the creation of social and economic opportunities is the ambition of this Thirty-second Parliament, we must move to ensure that the qualities of life in rural Canada are maintained in our countryside, our small towns and our villages, because they provide the setting for our small businesses and light industry and so create jobs. This job creation provides opportunities for our young people. Canadian small businesses employ more than 2.5 million people, representing 40 per cent of the work force in the private sector. We must ensure that these small businesses, many of which work in close harmony with our farm sector by providing allied services, are given the incentive to develop and expand.

This quality of life must be protected. Young people must be encouraged and helped to establish themselves. Our farmers and small business people must be able to plan with some confidence; and, above all, retirement must be a time of rewards, not apprehensions.

At the outset of my remarks I spoke briefly about the area that I represent in the House of Commons. It is a great part of this nation. We grow many products that cannot be grown in other parts of Canada because of climatic conditions. We produce fruit, vegetables, tobacco, corn, soybeans, wheat, and most meat and poultry products. In the last few years, the town of Strathroy has become the turkey capital of Canada: in this context I refer only to the feathered species! But one of the largest hatcheries in Canada, with subsidiaries in several other countries of the world, is located in my constituency. Again, a

April 21, 1980

The Address-Mr. Crouse

dedicated Canadian entrepreneur has distinguished himself and his nation in a highly competitive industry.

I am proud of the area that 1 represent. It is an area that, although it now has a wide diversity of products, is rich in productivity and potential that can be of benefit to all of Canada, but these benefits can only be realized and utilized by working together with other Canadians.

Each and every part of Canada has its own unique contribution to make to the whole. Each is equally important. I have travelled across this nation many times, from the rugged shores of Newfoundland, along the Cabot Trail of Cape Breton in the east to the majestic Rocky Mountains and to the Pacific in the west. We, as Canadians, can be justifiably proud of our country and its people. I trust and pray that the uncertainty existing in some parts of this nation can be overcome in the months ahead, and that we can work together as Canadians to utilize all of the potential that is ours.

I submit that the Speech from the Throne has provided us with a foundation upon which we can build an even greater Canada in the decade ahead.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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April 18, 1980

Mr. Ralph Ferguson (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State, Small Businesses):

I want first of all to congratulate Madam Speaker on having been selected as the Speaker of the House. The qualities of discipline and tact, the firmness and sensitivity that she has shown during her past service in

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April 18, 1980

The Address-Mr. Ferguson

government will serve all of us well during her tenure as Speaker of this Thirty-second Parliament. This is indeed an historic Parliament to be under the direction of the first woman Speaker. 1 also want to commend my colleagues from Rimouski (Mrs. Cote) and Sudbury (Mr. Frith), who moved and seconded the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, on the excellence of their speeches on that occasion. They were beyond reproach.

The background information they have given the Elouse regarding the parts of Canada they represent certainly assists us all to reach a fuller understanding of our country, with its diversities and its common problems. As the newly elected member for the constituency of Lambton-Middlesex 1 shall, in my maiden speech, take the opportunity to speak about this part of our country-its past, its present, and the potential contribution it has to make to our nation, Canada.

1 want to place on the record my appreciation to the electors of the constituency of Lambton-Middlesex for giving me this opportunity to serve them in this Thirty-second Parliament. The riding is a 6,400 square mile area on the southern tip of Lake Huron, bordering part of one of the world's great seaways. It embraces a blend of agriculture and small business that is unique. It is also rich in history.

In the early 1800s, when our relations with our neighbours to the south were not as friendly as they are today, the victorious battle of the Longwoods was fought in the southern part of this constituency. Later, some of the United Empire Loyalists settled here and carved homesteads from this wilderness land. In the next four decades much of the area in both Lambton and Middlesex counties was settled by immigrants primarily from Ireland, Scotland, and England, who made that emotional decision to leave the country of their birth for a country of their choice. They named their settlements after communities in their homelands, and towns like Glencoe, Appin, and Watford grew, reminding them of their roots. The area prospered and the population increased as the pioneers cleared and cultivated the fertile soil, established their businesses in the context of woollen mills, flour mills, cheese factories, and blacksmith shops, and built their schools and their places of worship.

Historians tell us of a man named Lucas who was forced to leave his farm in New York during this period. He set out to find freedom in Canada. As he proceeded through the Enniskillen swamps, the bedding in his wagon shifted and was dragged along the ground. When he arrived at Watford to spend the night, he was refused lodging because of a foulsmelling substance on his clothes and wagon. He was ordered out of town. A short time later the people in the community realized what the source of the pollution was. It was oil, and after a full investigation the oil industry in Canada was born in my community near a town which was later named Oil

Springs. Shortly after, a few miles away, a new community was established named Petrolia.

Today, more than 100 years after that initial discovery, some of these oil wells are still producing in Lambton county and new ones are being brought into production. These are not, of course, on the scale of productivity we find in other areas of Canada today. It is significant, though, that we are rebuilding part of this old oil field and it is being called Discovery Petrolia, due to be opened in July for tourism in the area. In those early days, the area prospered as a result of the oil industry and the agricultural sector. One of those early pioneers had over 200 oil wells on his property. His name was J. H. Fairbank and he served in this House in the Fifth Parliament of Canada.

It is also interesting to note that another member from the Lambton area was represented in Canada's first four parliaments-Alexander McKenzie, a former prime minister of our country.

Of later note, we in our constituency had the honour of having a very lovely and gracious young lady, Sheila Rose, presented with the Order of Canada at the residence of the Governor General. This was for her work in the field of education and promoting the cause of Canada from coast to coast. The award was very well deserved, I may say.

The technology developed by those early pioneers of the oil industry spread abroad during the following generations. Men went to the Middle East, to South America, to Borneo and other parts of the world, taking their experience and equipment with them. Drill bits are still manufactured in the town of Petrolia for shipment to domestic and foreign fields. To this day, Canadian technology developed by those entrepreneurs is being utilized all over the world. This technology has benefited the world, and as Canadians we can be justifiably proud of our pioneers and of our heritage.

For a number of years at the turn of the century many thousands of people moved to the prairie provinces from my region taking with them their resourcefulness and their expertise in agriculture. There, they were joined by immigrants from all over the world who were making this their country of choice.

In my area, in my lifetime, I have witnessed people from other nations joining us, the Slovak people in the 1930s, the Dutch in the 1950s and the Portuguese in the late 1960s, to name but a few. They came to Canada, a land of opportunity, a land of freedom, and they have made our lives richer by their presence here. I admire their courage and remember that our ancestors too, made this their country of choice. They settled among our native people who still reside in the area today in the communities of Kettle Point, Muncey and Caradoc. It is with pride that these native people contribute and involve themselves in sports, community activities, and society in general.

April 18, 1980

Incidentally, I want to commend the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville (Mr. Nystrom) on his question of privilege in the House this morning which allowed participants from all parties to express themselves on the issue he raised. I think it was a proud occasion in the House when we saw such unanimity among hon. members about certain comments which had been made outside this area.

I am aware of the traditional differences which historically have developed between the east and the west as well as between individual regions, misunderstandings which unfortunately seem to be increasing in intensity rather than decreasing. Perhaps it is due to the nature of modern day communications that we are instantaneously aware of regional advantages and disadvantages. It sometimes seems we have forgotten the hopes and dreams of the Fathers of Confederation as they struggled to unite this vast and diverse land into one great nation.

If we are to fulfil our duties in this House we must not forget that we all have a common bond-the bond of being a Canadian. Whether we were elected to represent a constituency in the east or in the west, we were elected to the Parliament of Canada. This institution is Canada, and if we are to fulfil our duties as elected representatives we must work for a common objective, and part of that objective is a better understanding of our fellow Canadians and the problems that are unique to the respective regions.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
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April 18, 1980

Mr. Ferguson:

I would suggest that the Speech from the Throne encompasses and reflects our heritage and our objectives when it refers to ensuring, and I quote-

-a strong country with first claim on the loyalty of all of its citizens; a country that regards diversity as an asset, not a liability; a country whose people share their wealth first with those who need it most; a country that encourages initiative, welcomes daring and promotes enterprise and a country which opens its eyes, its mind and its heart to the larger community of nations, refusing to regard its own national borders as the outward limits of the universe.

Ours is a great and beautiful country which has been blessed by vast and diverse natural resources as well as by as great and diverse human resources. We must look ahead in a positive manner and plan to develop, nurture and utilize those resources. Our greatest resource, of course, is our people. Let us give our young people the incentive and encouragement to travel throughout our land so that they, unlike many of us, may understand the diversity which is Canada and the cultures which have given us such a unique identity. I feel fortunate that my children have had the opportunity to travel across this land from west to east to see and understand its vastness and grandeur. I am proud, too, that they have learned to communicate with Canadians whose first language is French as well as with Canadians whose first language is English.

Another potential I am enthusiastic about is the potential of our renewable resources, and again, in this area, we are the

The Address-Mr. Ferguson

envy of the world because we can develop such a variety of energy sources. Like those early entrepreneurs from the oil industry we now find many young and energetic individuals utilizing crop and communal refuse in a manner which will allow us to conserve our non-renewable resources. We are enthusiastic about a more efficient concept of heating being developed by two young men in my constituency, a concept which will utilize materials presently considered to be waste. I trust that the Renewable Energy Corporation will be of assistance to such individuals and entrepreneurs. The alternatives are there and must be utilized as quickly as possible.

The over-all philosophy of the Speech from the Throne was one of a positive continuation of the potential of our nation, and certainly I am pleased to see included the proposal to establish the Canadian Agricultural Export Corporation that will enable our producers to sell abroad as Canadians, rather than seeing one province competing against another for the same markets. Such a vehicle will enable us to focus on specific markets and expand our sales abroad, utilizing the potential of a renewable Canadian resource. We are one of the few nations of the world with mechanisms in place to plan our production for specific markets and to sell on long-term contractual arrangements. The spinoff effects of such as positive move will create new jobs and be a boon to small businesses and the agro-industries in this nation.

These spinoff effects will not only give us a better balance of trade and thereby benefit all of society, but will enable farmers in Canada to work together as Canadians as envisioned by the Fathers of Confederation.

Mr. Speaker, may I call it 4.30?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
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