Mr. Johnston (Bow River):
What I was going to say was this, and I am speaking about the principle. There is now a preamble to the bill-and as far as I recall that is one of the two places where there is improvement-where a cost-price relationship is referred to. That was one of the things the Conservatives promised they were going to institute as their policy. It should be remembered that in discussing any legislation which is brought before this house, nothing in a preamble has anything whatever to do with the bill itself. I therefore think we can disregard that reference entirely, because certainly the present government never intended to have anything which is said in the preamble apply to the bill itself or they would have put it in the bill.
There are three things in general which the government is introducing under this agricultural legislation. The first is the base price, the second is the floor price and the third is the prescribed or forward price. If I may, I should like to deal first with the base price. The base price was brought to us first as a three-year moving average, namely the last three years. May I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that this was Conservative policy after complete consideration and in consultation with all the Conservative backbenchers. Hence they all agreed with this three-year policy. No objection was raised in the house, and they said they were proud of the bill.
The three-year moving average was calculated at a time when agricultural prices were beginning to go lower. When the opposition members of this house pointed out how inadequate that would be, and how unsatisfactory it was to the agriculturists of this nation, because of that opposition the government was forced to change this period from three years to ten years.
A while ago I said there were possibly two places that showed some improvement, and this is the second one. When that change from the three-year to the ten-year moving average was made I think the base price would have been slightly better because, of course, in the first years of that ten-year period the prices were fairly good. But as that moving period advances the base price goes down, because there is every indication that the agricultural income is going to continue to fall. If that happens, of course the base price continues to get lower and lower.
We Social Crediters have contended that this period should be fixed so there would be some fair relationship to the cost when we are establishing this base period. The
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization Minister of Agriculture says that would be a terrible thing, that it was never government policy. When we read back we will find out whether or not it was government policy; and I wish to refer to remarks made in the house yesterday by the hon. member for Fraser Valley when he referred to the Prime Minister's definition of parity. I think this is worth putting on the record, especially when one remembers that this was a statement made during the election campaign.
Of course I do not want to start a fight between the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture, but the Prime Minister knew very clearly what a set period was. He knew the advantages to agriculture of having such a period, although the Minister of Agriculture does not think that is so-after the election. Let me read what the Prime Minister said when defining parity:
. Parity prices are the dollars and cents prices that give to farm products the same buying or purchasing power they had in a selected base period.
Can you understand that? That is a selected base period, not a moving period.
Subtopic: MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.