Lawrence E. WATSON

WATSON, Lawrence E.

Personal Data

Progressive Conservative
Assiniboia (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
October 31, 1917
Deceased Date
December 22, 1990

Parliamentary Career

April 8, 1963 - September 8, 1965
  Assiniboia (Saskatchewan)
November 8, 1965 - April 23, 1968
  Assiniboia (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 46)

May 10, 1971

1. Did the Department of Trade and Commerce advise the Bank of Canada and/or the Industrial Development Bank in January, 1985 that it had been informed of a takeover bid by Steinberg's Limited of Cartier Refined Sugars Limited?

2. Did the Department forward a memorandum dated January 7, 1965 from the Commodities Division to the Bank of Canada or IDB outlining the takeover attempt?

Full View Permalink

March 27, 1968

1. Is there a golf course at the Canadian Forces Base at Moose Jaw?

2. Is it proposed to build an 18-hole golf course at the Canadian Forces Base at Moose Jaw?

3. How many acres are required for the proposed golf course at Canadian Forces Base at Moose Jaw?

4. What is the cost of this proposed golf course?

5. How many servicemen are stationed at the Canadian Forces Base at Moose Jaw?

Full View Permalink

March 5, 1968

Mr. Watson (Assiniboia):

We did not see

the hon. member for Qu'Appelle going to these conferences and handing over the interests of western Canada on a silver platter. Under this government we face sagging prices, diminishing markets, uncertain prospects and a refusal to face facts. Why do they not admit they have made a mess? Why try to kid the western farmer?

The Minister of Agriculture found out, when he met the western stock growers in Calgary a couple of weeks ago, that you do not kid the western rancher either. The trouble with this government is that there are on the other side of the house so many leadership hopefuls that to them running the country is just a part time occupation. What do they care if the western farmer faces higher costs and has to pay $16,000 for a combine that in 1962 could be purchased for $12,000? What do they care about the small farmer who could buy a 30-inch combine from 1950 to 1955 for $5,000 and who today have to pay $10,000 for the same type of machine?

A few years ago the Minister of Finance, who was minister of trade and commerce at the time, was playing around with the wheat board. At that time he went to western Canada, I believe to the city of Moose Jaw, and asked the farmers to cut back on their production. Then a little later he came out west and asked them to grow all they could.

The Minister of Trade and Commerce and the Minister of Agriculture went to Geneva representing our farmers, and again the western farmer was taken for a ride. Those ministers must have been consulting the Minister of Finance because they decided the Canadian farmer did not need protection during the period when there would be no wheat agreement.

What has happened? While the Canadian farmer has been completely unprotected the Americans have forced down prices in order to unload as much surplus wheat as they can. They have done this with the consent or through the ignorance of this government. Talk about the blind leadings the blind. United States markets have stayed up while

March 5, 1968

Canadian markets are down 58 per cent. During this time the costs of the western farmer have increased.

On October 31 the Minister of Agriculture told us how wonderful it all was, and again last night in his speech he told the farmers of western Canada and those concerned with agriculture in general that they never had it so good. While prices were falling all around he spoke of the high prices we have enjoyed on the average in the past five years. I point out that we have also enjoyed very high costs, and these costs are getting higher. At the same time the price of farm products is falling. The government and its members have only one thing in mind, the leadership convention that will take place in the first part of April.

Is this parliament going to sit by while the western wheat producer is taken for a ride? On October 31 the minister in his speech mentioned that an average farm in the province of Saskatchewan contains 763 acres at the present time. I would like the minister to look at a 700-acre farm in Saskatchewan. The Canadian Wheat Board has said that we will be lucky if we get a six bushel quota. That means that 4,200 bushels is all that a western farmer can sell. This will bring in approximately $6,500. In what situation does this put the western farmer with a family to keep, taxes to pay, the increased cost of machinery to face, and debts to pay off? What other group of people in Canada would be expected to pay for all these things on a $6,500 income, and on top of that to buy the land and the machinery to go with it?

[DOT] (5:30 p.m.)

A drop in the economy of western Canada, which we appear to be facing in the next few months, will produce repercussions right across the country, in the automobile showrooms, the farm implement business, retail merchandising, and also in investment. A drop in western prosperity will be immediately reflected in eastern Canada. If there is a continuing rise in unemployment we will be able to thank this government and its policies. Just recently the Saskatchewan government released a white paper showing a 37 per cent drop in farmers income in 1967. I should like to quote the following article from the Financial Times of February 12, 1968, headed, "Saskatchewan Tightening Its Belt After 'Only Average' Crop":

As wheat goes in Saskatchewan, so goes the provincial economy and in 1967 several areas of the provincial economy deteriorated.


A government white paper last week showed drops in total income, net value of commodity production and housing completions. ...

Total personal income dropped 6 per cent to $2 billion in 1967-a drop of 37 per cent in farm income...

Farm machinery investments dropped, though, because of the smaller crop.

The wheat crop for 1967 totalled 339 million bushels, about 37 per cent lower than in the previous year-but higher operating and depreciation costs are expected to reduce net farm income to about $329 million-about 37 per cent lower than in 1966.

Having been a farmer in western Canada and knowing what the real pinch is, I think this is a very true picture. We in Saskatchewan have a wheat crop of 339 million bushels, which is 37 per cent lower than in 1966. The average yield is 17.7 bushels, 10 per cent under the 1957-1966 average. Net farm income in Saskatchewan was $329 million in 1967, down 37 per cent from $751 million the previous year.

We have heard the Minister of Trade and Commerce congratulating himself on having extended the range of the agreement. This does not help the farmer at a time when we have a low minimum price and prices which go below that minimum as well as a falling off in general sales. The western wheat farmer, in view of his massive commitments, cannot be expected to view the situation with calmness. I am sorry I cannot take the same optimistic view of the situation as do the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Trade and Commerce. Since neither of them is caught in a cost-price squeeze in the face of falling prices and falling markets they can afford to be unmoved, but the western farmer cannot.

What about the final wheat payment in 1969? This is when the western farmers will realize that as a result of the lack of sales in the current crop year there will be practically no final wheat payment in 1969. It was an unpardonable example of gullibility for these ministers to leave Canada and the Canadian wheat producer without the protection of the international wheat agreement for a whole year. It is all right to be an international good fellow, but already this action has cost the western farmer and the Canadian economy more than Expo-well over $100 million. At the same time, wheat sales are sagging because of United States undercutting made possible by the failure to insist on maintaining or extending the wheat agreement. Many countries have held off their wheat purchases in anticipation of falling prices.

March 5, 1968


It is all very well for the Minister of Trade and Commerce to rush down to Washington and extract a few cents out of them when what we should be getting is at least 25 cents more for a bushel of our western wheat. That is what the western farmer wants and what he needs. What is the use of producing the world's finest wheat if the government is going to dump it on the market like so much garbage? The farmer does not want throwaway wheat, nor does he want give-away wheat. The western farmer is feeling the pinch and the whole Canadian economy will feel it when the returns are in. The government can look to itself for having bungled the wheat situation by its amateur tactics.

On September 27 the minister said in the house that he was disappointed with our sales to Japan. The western farmers are also disappointed. We are disappointed with the whole sorry story of government bumbling and inability to drive a bargain on behalf of the producers. We have done our share and we do not relish being undercut by the government's incompetence. We realize that the wheat boom is over at present. It is not over because people all round the world do not need our wheat. It is over because the government has not done its job properly. I suggest that if they cannot sell wheat and carry on successful negotiations they should take the advice of the hon. member for Qu'Appelle who has an outstanding record in this respect.

In recent years wheat has become the mainstay of our nation's economy. Under this government it is once again being relegated to a secondary position. Here is a government which spends its time and the taxpayers' money on phony publicity stunts like the war on poverty, reports on American investment, without which we could not five in this country, and a host of other meaningless and time-wasting schemes and programs. At the same time it is unable to look after the basic housekeeping of this nation, such as the sale of wheat, keeping prices and taxes down and giving to Canadians the opportunity to expand in the prosperity which should be ours. The government has frittered away prosperity. Now they come to us expecting congratulations because, as they say, they have kept us out of the poorhouse. Canada's wheat is needed. The market is there. The production is there. It is up to the government to come back to reality and forget about the leadership ambitions of some of its members. They should rather look after the essential business of the country.

Another factor leading to insecurity is the question of how much wheat China will take next year. The government is saying nothing about that. If there is a serious falling off in the amount of wheat that China buys from us the economy, not only of western Canada but of the nation in general, will be in deep trouble. We want the government and the minister to give us the facts on these matters. We want from the minister an assurance that he and his department will get the wheat moving. We want an assurance as to prices and the volume of sales so that farmers can have some idea of what the future holds under this government.

[DOT] (5:40 p.m.)

The whole picture is one of uncertainty and it is growing worse day by day. The decline of 100 million bushels in exports this year at a time when United States sales are picking up cannot be explained to the Canadian farmer. I suggest that neither the Minister of Agriculture nor the Minister of Trade and Commerce go to western Canada and attempt to justify that situation. If either of them really has leadership ambitions he should think very seriously of a way to solve the wheat problem. There has to be a stepped-up selling campaign. We do not intend to return to the days when the western producer was a sitting duck for the lack of activity on the part of the government. The wheat situation is extremely grave, so not only the western farmer but the whole Canadian economy and the government had better get moving on it at once.

Western agriculture is in a serious situation. The constituency I represent includes approximately 45 rural municipalities. Of those rural municipalities, approximately 38 will receive P.F.A.A. payments during the year 1968. Whenever this number of farmers receives P.F.A.A. payments it is a good indication that western agriculture is in a serious situation. Last evening the minister mentioned the Farm Credit Corporation and the amount of money that had been borrowed from that organization. I believe he said that in 1962 about $78 million had been lent by the Farm Credit Corporation and in 1966 the amount was $234 million. I can assure the minister and the members of this committee that no farmer in western Canada is proud of borrowing money. If he had the money in his pocket which he should have he would not have to go to the Farm Credit Corporation to borrow these amounts.

March 5, 1968

Full View Permalink

March 5, 1968

Mr. Watson (Assiniboia):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to rephrase my question to the Minister of Trade and Commerce and ask him what steps the government is taking to make sure that the I.G.A. will be implemented, and that wheat will sell within the agreed price range.

Full View Permalink

March 5, 1968

Mr. Lawrence Watson (Assiniboia):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to address my question

March 5. 1968

to the Minister of Trade and Commerce. Does the statement by the Minister of Trade and Commerce about the United States and Canada stabilizing wheat prices, to be found in Hansard for March 1, mean that the government is restoring the quarterly meetings between the two nations set up by the Conservative party when they were in power; and what steps are the government taking to make sure that the I.G.A. will be implemented and that wheat will sell within the agreed price range?

Full View Permalink