Hugh Alexander BRYSON

BRYSON, Hugh Alexander

Personal Data

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Humboldt--Melfort (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
August 21, 1912
Deceased Date
October 13, 1987
farmer, insurance agent

Parliamentary Career

August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Humboldt--Melfort (Saskatchewan)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
  Humboldt--Melfort (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 80)

January 31, 1958

Mr. H. A. Bryson (Humboldl-Melfori):


the minister able to say whether he has directed Hon. John Bracken to investigate the proposition of producers being given the opportunity of delivering grain to the elevator of their own choice?

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January 30, 1958

Mr. H. A. Bryson (Humboldi-Melforl):


I, on behalf of this group, say to the minister that we whole-heartedly welcome the short statement he made when introducing this bill. We commend the government for the step they have taken. I have always been one of those who believe that ultimately we will help solve our Indian problems by making a real attempt at integration. Integration will only come about if we make a greater effort to restore the confidence and understanding that our Indian people have lost. In the past our record has been rather deplorable, because we have exploited the Indians of this country.

We welcome this measure as a step toward restoring the confidence in us which the Indians have lost. I believe that the restoration of this confidence will be the keystone in the development of a positive program aimed at eventual integration. In this way we will solve the very vexing and embarrassing problems which have been a blot on our concept of morality.

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January 30, 1958

Mr. Bryson:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to say a few words in support of the very fine arguments and recommendations put before the house a few moments ago by the hon. member for Skeena. First of all may I say that I do not think there is much to be gained by indulging in recriminations, or in attempting to assess the blame on any group of individuals, any individual or even any government. Rather, I think that every citizen must accept responsibility for the very deplorable situation and attempt to find some solution to this most vexing problem. Certainly the former government was not blameless, but unfortunately governments do not move as rapidly as they should unless there is an aroused public opinion. Therefore, I think that we in this parliament must

approach the problem from a moral, social and scientific point of view, free from political bickering and at all costs we should avoid making the problem a political football if we are to get the support of every socially minded person in the country in an effort to convince the government that they will have the support of every citizen in finding a'solution to the problem.

It is estimated that when the white man first came to this country there were about

200,000 Indians. Their population decreased to approximately 90,000. However, at the present time, because of increased medical services and so forth, their population has risen to approximately 160,000. If there ever was any thought at any time that the Indian problem would solve itself by some sort of dying out process that certainly has not materialized and the problem has become more acute as the population has increased.

Certainly integration seems to be the solution to the whole problem. Yet we cannot bring about integration by trying to force these people to accept the philosophy of the dominant group. We have to use some other method and bring it about by some other approach. But I believe that by wise leadership, tolerance, understanding and rebuilding the confidence they have lost we can persuade them to integrate into the general society.

One thing I am sure of is that public morality will not permit for very much longer the deplorable situation facing us today so far as the Indian problem is concerned. I think it is a disgrace to force Indians to live in segragation on reservations which in effect are only islands of isolation. We know that every day outraged citizens throughout the country are bringing this situation to the attention of socially minded organizations and governments everywhere. Certain things have been done, but we still maintain the reserve system. As a matter of fact, I believe it was only a year or two ago that there was some attempt in the department to establish another reserve in the northern part of Saskatchewan.

In my part of the country we have three reserves. In 1940 there were 720 people living on those reservations but by 1954 the population had increased to 1,143. The projected figure for 1965 is 1,700. In 1954 the department divided the acreage on these three reserves among the 1,143 existing Indians and came up with a figure of 29 acres per Indian. Anyone who has attempted to carry on a farming operation in western Canada knows that it is absolutely impossible to expect anyone to try to earn a livelihood from 29 acres.


Supply-Citizenship and Immigration

It is not the case that some of these reserves have a shortage of land. As a matter of fact, on the Fort a la Come Indian reserve bordering my constituency many thousands of acres were rented to white settlers. It seemed a very strange thing to me that the Indian department would see fit to lease that land, badly needed by the Indians, to white settlers on a share the crop basis. This resulted in the Indians sitting around and watching the white men work their lands and receiving a small pittance as their share. I hope the minister will see that that situation comes to an end.

So far as education is concerned, I am going to say quite frankly that in the main, up until recently, the church organizations have taken the lead in providing the basic academic education in this field. Certainly, they have done a marvellous job up to a point. However, the educational facilities needed in this modern world cannot be provided by these so-called voluntary organizations. We must do something more in that line. I agree wholeheartedly with what has been said regarding residential schools. They are just a means of continuing segregation. Between 80 per cent and 85 per cent of the inmates of the women's jail in Prince Albert are Indian women, and this is a direct result of the policy of segregation. These girls are raised on a reserve segregated from white children. Then, they go to these residential schools and that is a continuation of segregation in their formative years. They get such an inferiority complex that later on it is almost impossible for them to integrate with the white population. After school they come back to the reserve and are dissatisfied with conditions there. They drift into the towns and cities and end up in an institution of one kind or another. We must institute a program of technical training in the public schools which will enable the Indian to cope with the problems of integration.

I must agree with what has been said by the hon. member for Skeena when he suggested that there must be a new and positive approach. First of all, I would suggest that the administration of Indian affairs be turned over to the provinces. I do not mean to suggest that the federal government should be relieved of its responsibilities, but I do believe the provinces are in a much better position to administer Indian problems than is the federal department. I think it is important that we start immediately to develop some comprehensive research program in order to ascertain how we should go about this problem of integration. The research program should take the form of

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration finding out what alternative lines of development are open to the Indians in the different provinces in order that integration may be defined and a realistic program produced. Secondly, I believe such a research program will provide us with a source of factual information so necessary for the successful achievement of this objective.

The information to which I refer might fall into two categories: first, legal and administrative to improve the existing service both federal and provincial; second, and possibly much more important, would be sociological data concerning Indian life. We must get to know the Indian better if we are to lay a basis for his acceptance of an integration program. We must gain his confidence. It was for this reason I said I was so happy this afternoon to welcome the bill which was passed today. This will be one way in which the confidence of the Indian population will be built up. We must consult them and we must gain their confidence if we expect them to accept the necessary changes in their present status to achieve integration.

In spite of the assurances given under the British North America Act, the Indian has been exploited in a most disgraceful manner. One of the best examples of how we have destroyed the confidence of the Indian is contained in a directive from the Department of National Health and Welfare issued on January 31, 1957, and which was sent, I presume, to all the bands on the reservations, certainly in the province of Saskatchewan and I imagine in other provinces as well. 1 should like to read from this directive:

Since the funds at the disposal of the Indian and northern health services are limited, the Indian people who can pay should pay for their transportation, medical care, hospitalization, drugs, glasses and dental care. Those who cannot pay the full amount should contribute at least a part of the cost of these services.

When an individual is not able to pay for these services, he should contact the representative of Indian and northern health services so that appropriate arrangements can be made to assist him.

This applies also to those living of! the reserves. Then, the directive goes on:

Those people who have disassociated themselves from the Indian way of life should cease to be a charge against Indian and northern health services. In other words, those Indians who have lived off the reserve for a period of over 12 months are considered to be making an adequate income, and thus should be responsible for providing for their own medical care.

If he is a taxpayer in the community for a 12-month period, the individual becomes the responsibility of the municipality in which he resides, if he is not able to provide for himself for some reason. People who have lived off the reserve for this period should take out Saskatchewan hospital services plan insurance for themselves and their families. Eventually all those who are able to pay, and/or those who live off the reserve will receive

[Mr. Bryson.J

notification that acceptability for medical attention through Indian and northern health services has ceased and that they will be responsible for all their medical care.

I suggest, Mr. Chairman, we are not going to build up the confidence of our Indians by reneging on some of the commitments and promises that have been made in the past. Our northern Indians present, of course, a special problem. We have not got the problem of reservations, and possibly the problem of the northern Indian will not be as difficult to solve as the problem of the Indian farther south. Again, however, it is a question of education. If we are going to solve this problem we shall have to initiate the type of educational system that is going to enable these Indians to fit themselves for the many job opportunities that resources development in that area provides.

Let me reiterate what I have been saying. First, I think we should undertake a comprehensive research program. It must be undertaken in order that we may lay the groundwork for a realistic program aimed towards integration, and the administration of that integration program must be in the hands of the provinces rather than federal authorities working at a remote distance from the problem. I believe that such a positive approach will result in a solution to these very vexing problems.

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January 25, 1958

Mr. Bryson:

Mr. Chairman, clause 9, subclause 1 contains a very interesting feature, namely the security feature which it embodies, or the forward pricing feature. Both

the Prime Minister and the hon. member for Halton speaking yesterday characterized this one-year forward price as the vehicle by which a long-term planning on the part of agriculturists could be carried out. In agricultural circles both in this country and in many other parts of the world two concepts are used in arriving at a pricing formula for agricultural products. The first is the concept of parity. I do not want to be called out of order, Mr. Chairman, because I am going to refer to this only very briefly in order to lay the foundation for the case I am going to make. One concept is parity which, I am the first to agree, involves certain production restrictions. I do not think anybody will deny that this would be the logical outcome of such a policy. Not a curtailment of production-I want to make that clear

but a curtailment of certain aspects of production. And it envisages possible subsidies.

The other concept is an agricultural price formula based on the concept of supply and demand. That, of course, is the principle embodied in the bill which is before the committee this afternoon. One of the strange things is that in recognizing and attempting to introduce a pricing formula, a program involving the theory and the concept of supply and demand, the minister and his government have not accepted the principle of forward pricing which is the key to this concept and principle which has been advocated by all those who have implemented or brought into existence an agricultural policy based on the concept of supply and demand. In effect this one-year forward price is not a forward price at all, and an agricultural program based on a forward price of one year is doomed to failure. It is with this aspect of clause 9 that I wish to deal, rather briefly.

What does a forward price propose to do? Its purpose is to iron out the fluctuations in price over a production cycle. That is the purpose, and that is the anchor which might make for successful operation, even though the present formula is based on supply and demand which is the market price. Why is it advisable that these fluctuations in price should be eliminated?

The losses and the hardship to prairie farmers due to price instability are impossible to calculate, but they are great. Long term production planning is practically impossible in view of the lack of long term price assurance. Consequently, farmers, in an attempt to guess the market, are in-and-outers and this increases the wide fluctuations in price. Let us take the case of cattle as an example.

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

When prices are low and breeding stock is becoming scarce the market prospects look attractive. Farmers begin to purchase and breed livestock. By so doing they absorb stock which would otherwise have gone to market. Packers, in closer touch with the market and employing the staff skilled in analysing trends, increase their purchases of storable meats. The supply of available stock is further decreased. Prices rise rapidly, but the farmer has little available for sale. He is himself a buyer. By the time he has completed his breeding program and his stock is ready for market many others have done the same thing and have reached approximately the same point. The packers, by drawing on supplies built up during the period of low prices, purchase to a minimum. Farmers are not purchasing breeding stock because their needs in this line are filled.

The result is an immediate supply far exceeding immediate demand and prices take a drastic drop. The farmer is caught. He cannot hold off the market because his product deteriorates. Production is not economical in many instances and the breeding stock goes to swell the supply of killing animals. Many farmers who should never have been in the livestock business, for economic reasons, have been attracted by the later very high prices. For them, retention of a livestock production program at low prices would be business suicide. Their herd goes, lock, stock and barrel. Prices are depressed far below a level which will even show a net return to the most efficient producers, and they remain low for a much longer period than they remained at the peak. Not only have many farmers bred stock just before the slump but many continue to breed for some time after in the hope that the recession is an abnormality which will be short lived.

However, the forward price carefully administered can closely reach a certain objective and may lead to results far superior to so-called competition as presently practiced. Provision must be made for a lower price if the supply cannot be absorbed. That is the point the minister stressed the other day. When he is about to set the prescribed price he is going to have to take into consideration the demand on the market, and if the demand is great, it is logical to suggest he will raise the prescribed price above the preceding 10-year average to encourage production; but if the demand is less than the supply, conversely, he would lower the prescribed or guaranteed price below the last 10-year average in order to discourage production. That is, in essence,

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization a true forward price. But you cannot do it on a 12-month period. You must do it on the basis of a production cycle.

It is well established what is involved in a production cycle. You cannot say you will make an investment in livestock just because you know that 12 months hence the price is going to be what it is today. You have to know five years ahead, and the production cycle is accepted in agricultural colleges throughout the country as being five years for livestock. It simply means that you must know what the price will be of the progeny of an animal five years hence. Thus a realistic forward price for cattle must be over the entire production cycle for five years. That does not mean the minister will have to wait five years to set the price. The price will be set each and every year, but when a man invests in livestock in 1958 he is going to know that in 1963 he will receive the price that prevailed at the time he went into the business. We will say for argument's sake it is 20 cents a pound. Now, if in 1959 the minister believes that demand has outstripped supply he could raise the price to 21 cents a pound in that year. In 1960 if the minister thinks that supply is greater than demand he could drop it to 19 cents.

The point I am trying to make is that the man who invests in livestock must know at the end of one production cycle, namely five years, that he is going to get a guaranteed or prescribed price equal to the price that prevailed when he first went into the business. I suggest in all seriousness that this program based on supply and demand which completely ignores the key to this proposition, which is a forward price base of one production cycle, is doomed to failure and because of that, Mr. Chairman, I would move seconded by the hon. member for Kindersley the following amendment:

That subclause (1) of clause 9 of Bill No. 237 be amended by deleting all the words after the word "board," in line 18 to the end of the subclause, and by substituting therefor the following words:

"and shall continue thereafter for a period of one production cycle in the case of all named and designated commodities, or for such other additional period as the governor in council prescribes."

One further word, Mr. Chairman. The argument I have made is not simply that I do not believe a farm program can realistically accomplish what of necessity has to be accomplished by using the pricing principle of supply and demand. I believe that never in history has demand ever exceeded supply. It is simply a question of distribution. That is the problem we should be trying to solve rather than worrying about demand. We have land, labour and

capital almost continuously producing grain which should be producing livestock. At certain periods we have land, labour and capital producing livestock which should be otherwise engaged. And always we have labour and capital producing agricultural products which would be much more effectively employed in the production of secondary products for consumption by society. It is our duty as custodians of the agricultural industry to institute the necessary steps to adjust these allocations to as high a standard as we can reach and I honestly believe that we cannot do this with this measure which we will pass in a few minutes. I also believe that only by the application of the principle of a parity price properly administered can we hope to reach that very desirable goal.

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January 25, 1958

Mr. Bryson:

Mr. Chairman, the point the minister made a moment ago in criticizing the amendment moved by the hon. member for Kindersley is precisely the point we are trying to make. There should be some clear definition of what the minister means and of what is involved in the expression "cost of production". The definition given is certainly a logical one, and it could not be interpreted in any other way. The point I should like to make is that when the minister makes a statement that he is prepared to consider or take into account cost of production he is, in effect, doing something which seems to me almost impossible to carry out. I say that as one who has some knowledge of the United States program with regard to cost of production. That is why we in this group have been very critical of any kind of program directed toward helping the agricultural industry which is based on the theory of supply and demand. We have advocated parity prices for the very reason that under such a system you can take cost of production into consideration.

Does the minister mean he is going to say to every producer of wheat, for instance- when wheat is taken under this scheme; and this example applies to other products too- that we are going to consider that every

[Mr. Johnson (Kindersley) .1

farmer who grows wheat should receive his cost of production? If he does he will never sell that idea to the consumers of this country, because it is completely unrealistic.

I should like to give the committee a concrete example. I grow wheat in what is called the Carrot valley of northern Saskatchewan. From an economic view the operation is completely inefficient. My hon. friend from Kindersley can and does produce the highest quality of wheat grown anywhere in the world, and he carries on that operation more efficiently than, possibly, could be done in any other part of Canada. My costs of production are way out of line compared with his, and if you are going to say to me; we are going to subsidize you; we are going to penalize the consumers of this country and the taxpayers of this country to the extent that we are going to give you your cost of production, then I say that the whole proposition is completely unrealistic.

What has been done in the United States to overcome this problem? They have approached it in this way. There are certain designated areas; a wheat belt, a corn belt, a cotton belt, a soya bean belt, a tobacco belt and so forth, and within these narrow areas they set the price so that an economical producer can receive a payment which will give him his cost of production. Anyone outside these areas is free to grow any product he likes, but he must take his chance, because his cost of production is likely to be higher and, therefore, he must make up his own mind as to the economic feasibility of growing the crop.

I say to the minister that he is going out on a limb if he is going to make it clear to the farmers of Canada that regardless of where they live they are going to get their cost of production. I do not think it is reasonable, and I do not think it is realistic. In the area of the United States that is designated as a wheat belt there is set up a great catalogue of items which are considered as being part of the farmers' cost of production, that is, the things he buys which go into his operation. Every three months these items are reviewed, and if the cost of them has changed, the changes are included in the calculation of the cost of production and are related to the price the farmer gets. That is one of the reasons we have advocated parity prices rather than a price based on the theory of supply and demand.

A little later on I may have the opportunity of saying something further in this regard, but at the moment I think the amendment which has been moved is a logical amendment. We should certainly like to have the minister clarify his views on this matter and state

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

more clearly what the terms of reference to the committee will be in setting up this formula embodying cost of production.

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