Which is a fixed base parity. He has been very critical of the idea of having a fixed formula inserted in the bill. Now several references have already been made to the stand taken by the Prime Minister of this country. On April 9, 1957 the Prime Minister was quite upset because certain farm organizations were criticizing him for the stand he took on a certain amendment that had been made to the speech from the throne and he stated on page 3305 of Hansard:
Throughout the years we in this party have advocated that action be taken on behalf of the farmer, and I am going to set out in detail some of the suggestions we have made and the motions we have moved in order to answer the propaganda that is sometimes spread that the Conservative party has no interest in the welfare of the farmer.
And then he quotes a number of motions and amendments that he or his party had moved since 1941 and in every case they had advocated either a parity price or a fair price-cost relationship. And then, on March 12, 1956 at page 2021 of Hansard he defined exactly what he means by parity. I will only
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization quote a few of his words because his statement has already been referred to, but he says:
As far as parity is concerned, it must be related to a basic period which is regarded as one in which prices and costs are in approximate equivalence one to the other.
That is something of which the present Minister of Agriculture is very critical. Apparently he cannot see eye to eye with his own leader on this question. I believe in the absolute soundness of the statement made by the Prime Minister at that time, but apparently the Minister of Agriculture does not agree with him, otherwise he would never have brought into the house the insidious type of bill before us. It still seems to me that he is referring to the Prime Minister as being irresponsible in bringing such a suggestion before the country.
Now 1 think it is quite easy to understand why the Minister of Agriculture does not want a fixed formula in the bill because if we have a fixed formula for parity in the bill, then we will have a support price fixed by law, and the government would then have to pay that support price on the basis of parity. But under the bill that we have before us, even with the amendment, it is of such a general character that there would be absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that the farmers would receive a parity of price. It says that the governor in council will have regard to the cost of production but also will have regard to other things and among the other things which the Minister of Agriculture listed was the supply and demand situation. No doubt, if there was a fairly large supply of any commodity then they would consider they would be perfectly justified in refusing to maintain a price that would give the farmers their whole cost of production and that is why the farm organizations have insisted from time to time that a parity formula should be written into the act so that support prices would not depend upon the whims of the minister whom we have today, or the minister who may follow him at some later date.
Now the Minister of Agriculture at the resolution stage stated, as reported at page 2393 of Hansard, that he opposed the parity price on a fixed formula. He said:
Any price support program which attempts to use as its formula a base period in the past and apply an index to it, and so forth, immediately gets you into a rigid formula. I think the experiences of all countries in the world demonstrate the fact that a rigid formula just does not work.
And then he went on to explain that we should have a prescribed price based upon the average price for the past three years. But when he was discussing the resolution he said that altogether too much emphasis
was being placed upon this three-year period, and he had this to say at page 2396:
I should like to make the point that the base price is arrived at by taking the average of prices for three years previous and is used the same as a foot rule is used in measuring length. In other words, it is a measuring device to a large extent and therefore one should not try to put a great deal of emphasis on the particular type of measuring device.
The minister expects parliament to accept that as a measuring device even after it was agreed that it was not a satisfactory period to have chosen. Thus, he is asking the farmers to accept a measuring stick which is not satisfactory. How would you like to buy so many yards of cloth using a measuring stick which had only eleven inches to the foot? Would you be satisfied with that kind of measuring stick? That is exactly the same as the kind of measuring stick the farmers are asked to accept. It has been admitted that in the past three years the average prices have not been satisfactory as far as many farmers are concerned, yet the minister expects farmers to be satisfied to use that period as a measuring stick.
When I spoke on the resolution I criticized the government for failing to embody in the act a parity or fair price-cost relationship. On page 2197, I say:
I look upon the main essential of a support price program as the assuring to farmers of the maintenance of a fair relationship between the prices of farm products and the prices of other commodities. The present proposal appears to ignore that relationship entirely.
Well, when the minister replied, he had this to say:
The hon. member for Acadia said that the legislation ignores the relationship between the cost of goods bought and the prices received for agricultural products. That is absolutely not correct. I think the hon. member just did not understand the explanation that I gave, or he did not pay any attention to it.
Well, I challenge the minister to show anywhere in the bill as we have it where there was any mention of a fair cost relationship or a parity price. These words do not occur anywhere in that bill. And I think the fact that the minister has now felt obliged to bring down these amendments placing these words in the bill proves that he himself at that time either did not understand the implication of his own bill or, if he did understand them, that he was misleading the house.
Subtopic: MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.