Mr. Johnston (Bow River):
Mr. Speaker, when we rose at one o'clock I was endeavouring to give the government some good advice, pointing out that I thought the bill was falling far short of what the farmers and the country were expecting.
I wish to make another reference to this bill and in particular to clause 7. Clause 7
is the one part of the bill which does make reference to the cost of production and it states:
The board shall from time to time in accordance with this act take such action as is necessary to stabilize the prices of agricultural commodities at their respective prescribed prices, and shall take such action and make such recommendations as are necessary to ensure that the prescribed prices for an agricultural commodity in effect from time to time shall bear a fair relationship to the base price for such commodity.
As that clause stands it is nonsensical, and I am sure the government will bring in an amendment to it. If they do not bring in an amendment, they should. The last sentence: "shall bear a fair relationship to the base price for such commodity" clearly needs amendment. The word "base" is certainly not the one intended, and I suggest to the government that it should be changed to the word "cost". But although this section does refer to cost-price relationship it is only under that part which deals with the duties of the board, and this could in no way affect the price of the products unless the minister himself so decides. Once again this is left to the discretion of the minister. He can do anything he likes, and I do not think that is a good thing.
When I was speaking on the resolution I pointed out that I thought one of the main purposes the government had in mind in bringing in this legislation was to curtail production. In the course of this debate the minister has pointed out that something must be done to handle farm surpluses, and when I made the remarks I did during the resolution stage he said I was completely wrong and that I was misrepresenting him. On that occasion, as I intend to do now, I referred to his remarks on page 2186 of Hansard on the subject. This is what he said:
I have endeavoured in this legislation to provide for the greatest possible degree of flexibility so we will not be saddled-
I want hon. members to note that word "saddled."
-with a program which inevitably acts as an incentive to produce burdensome and unsaleable surpluses.
If that does not mean that the minister has in mind some method of getting rid of these "burdensome and unsaleable surpluses" I should like to know what it does mean. That this was uppermost in the minister's mind is indicated by the fact that on two other occasions in the course of his speech he made reference to the same subject. I am not going to quote these references now because I did so on the resolution stage. The minister went to some lengths to point out that I was entirely wrong.
I wish to quote an article from the Calgary Herald. The Calgary Herald must be considered to be a very worthwhile newspaper, because there is no paper in Canada which is more Conservative. Certainly it would not misrepresent the minister, and if it has done so the minister should get up and say that he has been misrepresented. This is the article which appeared on Thursday, December 31 on the editorial page. It is entitled: "No Cure-all but Good Medicine." Good medicine for the farmers, I guess. The article reads:
The dominion government in general and agriculture minister D. H. Harkness in particular are both to be commended for the political courage displayed in introduction of the Farm Price Stabilization Bill, more details of which were made known here the other day by Mr. Harkness.
So the minister must have gone into it very carefully.
The proposed support prices are so designed that, should a surplus begin to build up, the government will attempt to cut production in the surplus area and, more specifically, will reduce the support price to remove the incentive for growing or producing the particular product of which a surplus is building up.
The next paragraph is a gem, and it states government policy, make no mistake about it.
Subtopic: MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.