Victor QUELCH

QUELCH, Victor

Personal Data

Party
Social Credit
Constituency
Acadia (Alberta)
Birth Date
December 13, 1891
Deceased Date
September 2, 1975
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Quelch
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=ba7c8691-5f1c-4bc4-9ec1-82c0a828db16&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
farmer

Parliamentary Career

October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
SC
  Acadia (Alberta)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
SC
  Acadia (Alberta)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
SC
  Acadia (Alberta)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
SC
  Acadia (Alberta)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
SC
  Acadia (Alberta)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
SC
  Acadia (Alberta)
  • Whip of the Social Credit Party (January 1, 1958 - January 1, 1958)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 6 of 617)


December 20, 1957

Mr. Victor Quelch (Acadia):

Mr. Speaker, when the leader of the house this morning intervened he suggested that the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Harkness) had announced the amendment which he proposed to move later on, as a courtesy to the house. Well I do not think he can fool anybody by that suggestion. After all, the government is a minority and they know very well they could never have got the bill through this house in its original form. Apparently they did not desire to go to the country with that bill as the issue, because they would have been defeated in every agricultural constituency in Canada.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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December 20, 1957

Mr. Quelch:

The Minister of Agriculture when he was speaking this afternoon criticized the idea of parity on a fixed base period plan. He says no one with any sense of responsibility would support such a proposal. He bitterly criticized members of the opposition for suggesting such a thing, but let me remind the hon. minister that when he says nobody with a sense of responsibility would support a fixed based formula-when he criticizes members for doing that-he is criticizing the Prime Minister, (Mr. Diefen-baker) his own leader, and calling him irresponsible because for-

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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December 20, 1957

Mr. Quelch:

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.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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December 20, 1957

Mr. Quelch:

It may have been implicit in the mind of the minister, but nowhere in the bill was it even implied. On the contrary there was every reason to believe that the

minister was going to base the price upon something other than a fair price relationship, because when he defined the different things that would affect the prescribed rates, one of the things listed was the law of supply and demand.

We all know what happens under this so-called law of supply and demand. When you have over-production or a surplus, you either reduce production or you reduce the price in order to discourage production, and I have no doubt that the intention of the minister at that time-and, very likely it is the intention of the minister still-was that if production of any commodity began to increase, then the government would take steps to reduce the price of that commodity, even though they said they would have some regard to the cost of production; if the condition of the law of supply required it, in his own mind, he would allow the law of supply and demand to out weigh the cost of production feature.

The minister and the government still show a great deal of concern regarding the supply situation. They are afraid that maintaining floor support prices may result in an expansion of production and the consequent building up of surpluses. It is quite apparent that the government has little faith in its own marketing or trade policy. Instead of finding ways and means of distributing possible surpluses, they consider it would be better to take action to reduce production rather than to try to find ways and means of getting this surplus food to the people who need it. There is no doubt that in Canada today there is still a tremendous potential market for many of our farm commodities among the low income groups, and there are many steps which could be taken to help increase the sale of agricultural products.

I think the government might well give consideration to a plan they had in the United States many years ago known as the stamp plan, in view of the situation developing in many parts of Canada today where there is quite a serious unemployment problem and many families are going to find it extremely difficult to get enough food to maintain themselves at even a minimum standard of living. The government might give very careful consideration to this stamp plan, because this would be one way, and quite an efficient way, of expanding the sale of farm products on the home market; and, of course, anybody in the lower income groups could be helped by certain social measures in this regard.

I think that when we are considering farm surpluses we must keep the world situation in mind at all times. I was glad to see that

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization the Prime Minister, speaking at the NATO meeting, had expressed support for the setting up of a world food bank. Some international organization of this kind is essential to deal with agricultural surpluses, and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the international federation of agriculture have done exceptionally fine work in this regard. We recall how they were largely responsible for the formation of the plan known as the international commodity clearing house, which unfortunately was turned down. But I am continually running into people who say: this idea that there is starvation in the world just because in some countries a few people are undernourished is over-played, and there is no reason why we should say that there is a serious situation in the world. But I am going to quote a few passages which I have quoted before in this house, though not this session or last session, from a statement made by Mr. Gove Hambidge, the North American regional representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations when he appeared before the Senate standing committee on Canadian trade relations in 1955. This is on page 10 of the report of that standing committee. He said:

Over against this prosperous group of countries blessed with plenty of food and so many of the good things of life, you have another group still far down the scale of economic and physical wellbeing. They include half the people of the world or more, and they are still poor and undernourished, many of them living in bleak hovels, without enough clothing, illiterate and uneducated, dying young, lacking the modern tools and equipment necessary for good production, and often without enough physical vigor to do what we would call a really good day's work even though they work as hard as they can. But better living and greater abundance are possible for these great masses of mankind, and they are becoming more and more sharply aware that their lives and the lives of their children can be better.

This is the paragraph I want the house to take special notice of.

It is this possibility of better times, opened up by modern scientific developments but not yet reaching down to all the levels of mankind, that creates much of the tension among nations and within nations today. When people see something they want very badly and think they can have it and are entitled to it, they are likely to try to get it by violent means if more peaceful ones don't seem to work. And there are plenty of troublemakers around to encourage them to use violence.

I think we would all agree that there can be no justification for large surpluses in some countries whilst we have millions of people on the verge of starvation in others. We should at the present time be devoting far more time and energy to ways and means by which we can get our surplus to the nations that need it instead of talking about ways and means about reducing production. This statement

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Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization says that because these people know there is an ample supply of food they are not prepared to peaceably submit to this situation. What appears to be the answer of the minister? It would appear that the minister thinks that so as not to aggravate these people by letting them see the surpluses it would be better to reduce production so there would be no surpluses and people could starve peaceably without the irritation of seeing quantities of surplus food available in some parts of the world. Of course we all know that this is not the solution. We have to face up to the problem and find ways and means of getting this surplus food to the peoples that need it.

If the nations had adopted the international commodity clearing house idea I believe this problem would have been solved by now. Unfortunately it was turned down by the member nations and the problem of surpluses has been left on the doorstep of each individual nation. There is only one nation that has tried to face up to that responsibility and that is the United States of America. When the problem of surpluses was left on its doorstep it adopted certain proposals such as its food disposal policy making it possible for that country to get this surplus food to nations which are not able to obtain it through the normal channels of trade by the acceptance of their currency, by barter or by gift. Instead of Canada criticizing the United States for that policy, which after all is a humanitarian policy, we should consider ways and means by which we might do the same thing. I am not suggesting that we should go as far as that country has gone but certainly we could go much further than we have up to the present time.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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December 20, 1957

Mr. Quelch:

As the hon. member for Bow River just said, while we are doing that we should pay the farmer a fair price for his food and make it available to the nations that need it.

I want to discuss the question of a sound parity formula.

I believe it was in 1943 when farm products were under price ceilings the prime minister of that day promised that if farmers would be satisfied to sell their products under a ceiling the government would guarantee to stabilize the price on farm products at a fair level in the post-war period as compensation and to stabilize the price of all the main farm products. I ask you to remember that word "main".

But for some strange reason, in spite of the government of that day, having said it would stabilize the price of all the main farm products at a level that would give the farmer a fair price relationship, they have never

supported the price of wheat in any shape or form. The farm organizations have continually asked for a support price formula to be inserted in the act. The old Agricultural Prices Support Act was supported by farm organizations as quite a good act but they were continually urging the government to insert into that act a formula that would set the price on farm products at a parity level. The principle of parity was contained in section 9 subsection 2 of the act but unfortunately the former government did not live up to the full implications of that section and so during the past several years we have had many commodities not supported at all and we have had other commodities supported in some cases at 80 per cent of parity and in the case of eggs only about 54 per cent of parity.

The present Prime Minister criticized the former government for not living up to the principle of the Agricultural Prices Support Act and that principle as embodied in section 9 was a fair price relationship. And then, strangely enough, after criticizing the former government for not living up to that principle which was embodied into the act he-I was going to say "he" but I should say the Prime Minister allowed his minister, the Minister of Agriculture-to bring a bill into this house that does not even mention the words "parity" or "fair price relationship" from the beginning to the end of the entire bill.

We now have in our possession certain amendments that are going to be moved. I believe these amendments will improve the bill but they still fall far short of giving the farmer a guarantee of a parity price because there still will be no formula in the act under which support prices will be paid automatically and it will continue to depend on the whims of the Minister of Agriculture as to the level at which these support prices should be set. It is also quite possible that this could become a kind of political football under which there would be a fairly high support price in the year before an election and afterwards it might possibly be lower.

The price provided for in the bill is not a parity price of course and it is merely based on the last three-year average. The last three years happen to have been extremely unsatisfactory years. The farmer is guaranteed only 80 per cent of that. The minister told us at the resolution stage about a number of things that would help to guide the government as to the level at which support prices should be set if it is decided to set them above 80 per cent of the base period and, as I have already mentioned, one of those is the question of supply and demand. Although the amended bill does use the words "relationship

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

to cost of production", it also mentions that these other things will be taken into consideration at the same time. One cannot help wondering, therefore, which will win the battle, the cost of production on the one hand or the law of supply and demand on the other. After listening to the Minister of Agriculture warn of the tremendous danger of having a price that might encourage farmers to raise too much, one cannot help feeling he will pay far more consideration to the law of supply and demand than he will to the cost of production.

The question I have never been able to answer satisfactorily, and I have been asked it many times on the platform, is "Why did the former government not include grains under the Agricultural Prices Support Act?" As I already mentioned, the former prime minister promised that all the main products would be supported and yet wheat, which is one of the main products, has never had support under the act since the end of the war. The price of wheat the farmer receives is the world market price.

It is interesting to note that if wheat had been under the Agricultural Prices Support Act and if the support price under wheat had been governed to the full extent by the formula that the government used,-that is using the years 1943-45 as the base period- then the support price for wheat would have been $2.37 a bushel,-I got these prices this spring from the bureau of statistics-and yet the farmers are getting only around $1.19 a bushel, only about half of a parity price.

The old Agricultural Prices Support Act left wheat out of the act. Today the Minister of Agriculture goes a step farther and also excludes oats and barley. At different times the farm organizations have asked that grain should be placed under the Agricultural Prices Support Act, and at other times they have asked that at least wheat or grain be sold under a two-price system; that is, the price for wheat in the domestic market should be governed by parity and the world price, the best possible. In view of the fact that farmers have had to sell their grains at very low prices in the past, at world market prices, farm organizations are asking today that a deficiency payment should be made on wheat to compensate for those losses, and I think that is a very reasonable demand.

When the hon. member for Moose Mountain (Mr. McCullough) spoke earlier he referred to the brief of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and therefore I am not going to quote in again. However, I do want to refer to certain paragraphs that have been criticized at times in the past. I should like to refer

to section 6 on paragraph 11. This brief, by the way, is dated July 24, 1957. The paragraph reads:

A range of from 70 to 85 per cent of the fair-relationship prices would, for the key commodities mentioned, appear to leave the price support program with the maximum of flexibility consistent with protection of the interests of the farmer.

Personally, I have always been somewhat critical of that for the simple reason that if you selected a base period during which there was a fair cost-price relationship I do not see why the parity price should be at less than 100 per cent. In that case a base period is only giving the farmers a fair cost-price relationship. No one would suggest that in 1943-45 the price of farm products was higher than the price of other commodities because we were still under a price ceiling. Therefore, I have always felt that when we use the base period 1943-45 the farmers are entitled to 100 per cent of that. It gives them only a price that will bear a fair relationship to the price of other commodities. Why should anybody expect the farmers of this country to accept a price which is less than a fair price relationship?

I know that all other forms of society would object very much if they were chosen as the one body in the country that should receive less than their fair share of the national income. I am not critical any more of this declaration of the federation because they have now added something to their program that, in my opinion, fully covers the situation. I say that because section 10 says:

The deficiency payment method of supporting incomes of producers should be applied on individual products to correct income deficiencies:

(a) for perishable products requiring this type of support.

(b) to supplement market price supports.

If you are going to have deficiency payments in addition to your support prices, then it is no longer so important that your support prices should be at 100 per cent of the parity price, that is of the fair cost-price relationship, because at the end of the year, or at the end of two years, when you have assessed the relationship between farm income and total income and you find that the farm income is down, the deficiency payment can be made to compensate for the deficiency in income of the farmer.

When the Minister of Agriculture is so critical of a fixed base period he should keep in mind the recommendations of the federation of agriculture because whilst it is true that they use a fixed period of 1925 to 1929 they also use the last 10 years for the purpose of ensuring that a fair relationship exist as between the product of one industry and the product of another. In other words, their

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Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization formula is a very flexible one; but the minister seems to be so strongly prejudiced against the idea of a base period that he classifies them all as being rigid and ones that would have a disastrous result in spite of the fact that his own Prime Minister has declared that a parity price must have a fixed base period.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would say that the bill as it is brought before the house is, in our opinion, an insidious one. It is all very well for the Minister of Agriculture to try to make us believe that it was meant to embody a parity price principle. The fact of the matter is there is no mention of parity or fair price relationship anywhere in the bill. It may have been in the mind of the minister. I am still convinced, after listening to him for the last few years, that he is one of those great supporters of the so-called law of supply and demand. I think the motion moved by the C.C.F. is a good one. As a matter of fact, I had a similar amendment all ready written out, ready to move if the C.C.F. had not moved it. I think the logical thing to do is to refer the subject matter of this bill to a committee, where a thorough discussion and investigation could be had, so that we could call representatives of the various farm organizations and take the time to draft a satisfactory bill. There is no rush. The Agricultural Prices Support Act is still with us. We can carry on with that until such time as we get a new bill.

If the government wants to increase support prices at the present time there is nothing to prevent them from doing so under the Agricultural Prices Support Act. They did it with sugar beet and they can do it with a lot of other commodities. Therefore, I say they cannot use the argument that we have to rush this thing because we want to give the benefit of it to the farmers. Any benefit that they want to give to the farmers they can give under the present legislation. Let us do a worth-while job on it. Let us send the subject matter of this bill to the agriculture committee and let us make a thorough investigation of the whole act.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
Full View Permalink