Equality for Agriculture-The objectives of the Progressive Conservative party for Canadian agriculture are three in number: (1) equality for
farmers in the Canadian economy; (2) the maximum contribution of agriculture to the welfare of the Canadian people; (3) the conservation, as well as development, of our greatest heritage, the storehouse of wealth in the upper foot of the nation's soil.
The Address-Mr. Boivin In this discussion I shall confine myself to the first of these objectives: Equality for Agriculture.
Mr. Speaker, our present Prime Minister certainly does not agree with what one of his predecessors said because you know his slogan: Parity not Charity.
Spoken words pass but written words remain, which goes to prove their lack of sincerity. In short, Conservatives who trade places trade faces. Despite all his promises and his interesting manifesto of 1945, the farmers of Canada again expressed their confidence in the competence of a Liberal administration.
Mr. Speaker, we went again to the country in 1949. The farmers knew that we had steered the ship of the state more efficiently than any other party could have done during a transition period from war to peace. The farmers expressed again their confidence in a party which had always understood them, that is the Liberal party.
I remember that a by-election was called in 1952 following the death of one of my colleagues, the late Mr. Henri Gosselin, whose remains lie in peace in the cemetery of his birthplace, in Lawrenceville, in my constituency. He had represented a constituency adjacent to mine, the Brome-Missisquoi riding. I was among the Liberal group which took part in that by-election; the Conservative party was then campaigning under the leadership of a new Conservative leader, Hon. George Drew. Once again, a circular letter was found during that campaign which had been distributed at the last moment under the title:
To our Liberal friends.
And under the heading:
But a vote for Henri Demers will give you the opportunity of stating on behalf of the whole province;
And I quote section 5:
That you want the government to help Quebec farmers as it has western farmers-Gardiner gave them $65 million last year.
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal party is not against grants to western farmers, but we want our fair share.
Since that election, I see again several members of the Conservative party still sitting on the government benches, who had supported the defeated Conservative candidate, Mr. Demers, and who are now in a position to fulfil that promise, now that they are in power.
Why do we not suggest two ministers of agriculture, one for western Canada and one for eastern Canada? Eastern Canada would include Ontario, Quebec, the eastern provinces, and Newfoundland.
What is being done at present for our farmers? Nothing. And the farmers of Brome and Missisquoi, in 1952, like those of all Canada in 1953, having benefited from a good government, again put their faith in a regime of prosperity, that is to say in the Liberal regime. They knew that our party was the only one to recognize that agriculture is the most important industry in Canada.
We, on this side of the house, know that farmers have fully contributed to production demand. We have said so several times and we repeat it again today. It is essential that farmers all over Canada be in a firm economic position and that they enjoy greater stability and security.
We have two ministers of national defence. Why not two ministers of agriculture? We have been brought to realize that defence matters are complicated; but in the field of agriculture, eastern problems although completely different from those of the west, are no less of extreme importance for this country's economy.
I said a moment ago that during the 1957 campaign we heard the present Prime Minister, like previous leaders of the Conservative party, declare himself the protector of the farmers. I should like to quote what he said in St. Patrice de Beaurivage, on May 30, 1957; his words were reported by the newspaper L'Action Catholique of May 31 of the same year:
We admit that prosperity for the agricultural class is a condition to the general prosperity of the country. The reform we suggested would involve reasonable prices through price support and important markets for your products. We promise the farmers that their lot will improve, he declared, and that is what they have been requesting for so long: a Conservative government will give the
farmers a just share of the national prosperity through price support.
If we judge by the comments of the farming community, after four years of Conservative administration, we had a depression rather than prosperity. I would invite the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Hamilton) to meet with our farmers who will be only too glad to talk about those famous reasonable prices for their products.
Not to say "lie" I will say "promise, promise, there will always be those to believe you".
The promise of May 30, 1957, would be appropriate today. Indeed with all those promises, our farmers put their confidence in the Conservative party but their lot was entirely different from what they had expected. Instead of the fair share of prosperity, it was in fact a share of depression they got. I know that our farmers, particularly those in Quebec,
will remember their motto which is Je me souviens.
Mr. Speaker, I note on page 568 of the French Hansard for January 29, 1960, that the hon. Minister of Agriculture replied to my colleague from Drummond-Arthabaska on the disbursements or losses suffered by the farm products stabilization board. I could see for myself that it did cost the Canadian taxpayers $1,094,364.31 for the year 1957-58 and $6,996,943 for the year 1958-59 to dispose of their powdered skim milk. And now, those people want legislation to solve their problems. Why not listen to them and let them have what they are asking for?
It is too bad that the government so suddenly removed the support price on that commodity, because several small manufacturers have been in a disastrous situation. In short, they did not have the cash to change over their processing plants. Appropriate legislation could not only help the manufacturer, but also provide assistance to the farmer.
I should like to say, Mr. Speaker, that the party of which I am a member has always been liberal both with a capital L and a small 1, and liberal for both the workers and the farmers. My party wanted to enable the farmers to get, from their products, an income proportionate to production costs, thus providing them with a fair share of the national income.
I do not know what the government's future policy will be on the support price of butter. I should like to point out, however, that the price of butter is, in a way, the gauge for that of other agricultural products. Moreover, it is of vital importance to the farmers of my area.
We wanted to establish an agricultural development bank. We wanted to improve storage facilities on the farms. In a word, we wanted, as always, to help the farmers. All this we had to put off, but we will be at it in a few months. The farmers now realize that the Liberal party is the only one which can meet their needs, and I am sure that the promises made by the Conservatives will serve them a lesson. Thank heaven, Canada is still a democratic country. They are already saying that tomorrow or in the near future, they will again be under a Liberal administration when they will be able to forget the uncertainty and fear they suffer at present.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY