Mr. Chairman, my only reason for speaking on this resolution this evening is my concern about its implications. I am of a different opinion from the hon. mem-
October 3, 1968
Farm Improvement Loans Act ber for Assiniboia, who suggested there was nothing to worry about. The resolution we have before us should be considered seriously.
I agree with another hon. member who suggested that interest rates on these loans should be pegged. I am particularly concerned with interest rates because of what happened many years ago. I remember the hardships that my family suffered when trying to keep up the payments on loans, due to interest rates. They had to obtain a mortgage in order to stay in business. In 1937 the bank which held the mortgage on the land my father owned in Alberta required him to sell the cattle he had to stay in business. I remember their taking the machinery and the land, and everything else it was possible to remove in order to pay up the mortgage. These people were not interested in my father keeping his farm lands. It is my suggestion tonight that if we permit this resolution to pass in its present form, without pegging the interest rate, we can expect the same thing to happen again.
Surely no one questions the fact that the Farm Improvement Loans Act should be reinstated; but these changes, whether acceptable or not, should not be shoved down our throats. We must seriously consider the interest rates which are spelled out in respect of guaranteed farm improvement loans prescribed by the governor in council. We are all aware of the fact that the N.H.A. rates are those prescribed by the governor in council.
When we look at the situation which exists throughout Canada we realize that only those people who earn $8,000 a year can qualify for these loans. If this measure is passed in its present form, the farmers who are not earning that amount of money could be in the same position as 80 per cent of the people in this country who cannot qualify for an N.H.A. loan. I hope the minister will realize that the young people and the elderly people who must obtain loans under the act are the people who are most important to this industry. Having regard to the analogy I have made, we are making provisions to allow the governor in council to practise discrimination against the farming people of this country.
The Minister of Agriculture said, on September 30, that the Minister of Finance advised that when the legislation was introduced in the house the new lending period would be made retroactive from July 1, having regard to loans made after June 30, and that these would be guaranteed by the government. I ask members of the house what
better lending institution could possibly be found than the government of this country. I am sure anyone who wanted to establish a lending institution would be pleased to know that the loans he was making were backed by the people of Canada. The Minister of Agriculture suggested it was important to keep in mind that the object of this legisla-ion is to facilitate guaranteed loans to farmers, but the ultimate decision of whether such loans are made rests with the lender.
[DOT] (8:20 p.m.)
These facts will help to throw some light on what has been taking place in this country ever since the war. The defenders of the profit, or free enterprise system, have been taking their prosperity in cash, while the ordinary John Doe has been encouraged to take his prosperity on credit. I suggest this is exactly what is happening today. This was offered as a remedy for his own tight money problem, resulting from too much money being drained out of the economy in profits. This stimulant could have only temporary benefits and the sources were limited.
As the economy has slowed down, the government has been unable or unwilling to diagnose the case or come to grips with realities. Instead they are experimenting with various kinds of free enterprise nostrums. They have cut taxes for the rich. When this did not produce the desired results, they increased taxes but provided refunds to corporations, which simply means that the corporations were not taxed at all.
Those who have taken $5 billion out of the economy in 12 short months are the people who receive special consideration at the hands of the old line parties. Having drained the public purse, they now favour high interest rates for money. I include both the Liberals and the Conservatives in these remarks. I do not think there is any question whatsoever that there is not one iota of difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives, with regard to protecting the private corporate interest in this country. I appreciate the position the Conservatives have taken in this particular situation, but I wonder what they would do if they were now in office.
There is one more analogy I should like to make, Mr. Chairman. It is that many, many people are very critical of the hippies that we have in Canada today. So far as the hippies are concerned, I believe they are fed up to the teeth with the absolute inactivity of the government of Canada. I am sure they are fed up to the teeth with the absolute lack of
Ociober 3, 1968
responsibility on the part of members of parliament, when they fail to meet the issues head on. In this regard I refer to the resolution now before us. Here we are giving the right to raise the interest rate on farm improvement loans to the economic hippies- and I am sure this country is full of economic hippies. We do not have to look very far to realize this and to realize they do not care what really happens to the farmer today.
The most important fact we have to face today is that farm people very much need the money that is available to them by way of a farm improvement loan. I assure the committee that the people to whom I have spoken are most desirous of being able to avail themselves of farm improvement loans, but they are not desirous of availing themselves of such loans if there is an increase in the interest rate. These remarks apply to the people with whom I have spoken within the last week, and before that. They suggested that, because of the present interest rate they are unable at this time to take advantage of the loans available to them. I am sure that when the bill following this resolution is passed there will be absolutely no way of pegging the interest rate.
I was very surprised when the other day the Minister of Agriculture suggested that the majority of his party really is not very much interested in what the opposition have to say in this respect. I think it is high time that, regardless of the majority of any party in this house, the government realized that the minority has a right to be heard and to be told exactly what is going on.
I think what happened this afternoon is a perfect example of what happens with this government. The minister neglected to give us information on the measures proposed in the order paper, but the information was given to the press ahead of time. I realize that resolution No. 5 contains many necessary provisions. We all realize that we are not going to hold up its passage indefinitely, but we ask that this matter be referred to a committee that will be able to consider it and decide in what way it could be improved.
It has always been my opinion that the government should recognize there are experts in every field with which they deal. These experts are not necessarily in the ranks of the government. I believe that every government should at least recognize the fact that there must be consultation with those people most directly affected by the legislation proposed, and I suggest the people in the agricultural
Farm Improvement Loans Act field should be consulted about these matters. People representing farm organizations should be given the opportunity to discuss the matters with which we are now dealing.
One hon. member suggested that a royal commission be appointed to study this whole question. I have absolutely no confidence in royal commissions. I suggest that the only way to enact the best kind of legislation to solve these problems is to consult the people concerned. They should be brought before the agriculture committee and allowed to express their views as to what is best for their industry and our society.
1 agree that this discussion must come to an end. Many of the things that have been said are being repeated. I urge the government, and particularly the Minister of Agriculture, to pay great attention to setting an interest rate in respect of farm improvement loans that will be equitable to all. I have no hesitation in opposing this resolution in its present form. I shall have no hesitation in going back to the constituency from which I come and telling my people why I opposed it. I believe that because of the method used in setting the interest rate under this legislation we can expect the worst for the farmers of this country. I do not mean just the western farmers, but the farmers in this whole nation. I urge the Minister of Agriculture to give serious attention to the rate of interest, and the one clause of the resolution to which I have referred.
Topic: FARM IMPROVEMENT LOANS ACT
Subtopic: AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PERIOD, RESPECTING INTEREST RATES, ETC.