Hugh John FLEMMING

FLEMMING, The Hon. Hugh John, P.C.

Personal Data

Party
Progressive Conservative
Constituency
Carleton--Charlotte (New Brunswick)
Birth Date
January 5, 1899
Deceased Date
October 16, 1982
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_John_Flemming
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=e7d3aa7f-46b2-4d6c-82a4-8a11a0ea4e6e&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
lumberman, merchant

Parliamentary Career

October 31, 1960 - April 19, 1962
PC
  Royal (New Brunswick)
  • Minister of Forestry (October 11, 1960 - March 17, 1963)
June 18, 1962 - February 6, 1963
PC
  Victoria--Carleton (New Brunswick)
  • Minister of Forestry (October 11, 1960 - March 17, 1963)
  • Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys (July 18, 1962 - August 8, 1962)
  • Minister of National Revenue (August 9, 1962 - April 21, 1963)
April 8, 1963 - September 8, 1965
PC
  Victoria--Carleton (New Brunswick)
  • Minister of National Revenue (August 9, 1962 - April 21, 1963)
November 8, 1965 - April 23, 1968
PC
  Victoria--Carleton (New Brunswick)
June 25, 1968 - September 1, 1972
PC
  Carleton--Charlotte (New Brunswick)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 166)


July 4, 1972

Hon. Hugh John Flemming (Carleton-Charlotte):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to make some observations in connection with the motions presently before the House. I think every member of this House must pay a great deal of attention to the provisions embodied in Bill C-201, since it affects the interaction between the federal authority and the various provincial governments in a most important area. So, in making some observations relative to these proposed amendments I am conscious that there are many avenues of consideration in connection with this subject matter which affects the unity of Canada. We must keep in mind that we live in a large country. The distance from sea to sea is in the neighbourhood of 4,000 miles. I do not know how far it is from the forty-ninth parallel to the Arctic Circle; certainly, it is a great distance. In a country with an area of nearly 3.5 million square miles, with various regions which produce such varieties of goods, products of the soil, products of the sea and products of the forest, it is most difficult to produce legislation that can be uniformly applied.

The present minister, or any other minister, must administer such legislation in the general public interest and bear in mind, at the same time, that there is great variation between the different parts of Canada. Since

Foreign Takeovers Review Act

Canada is such a vast country, we must show a great deal of sympathy for the minister. The minister in turn, I am sure, listens sympathetically when we bring before him the various views held by the various regions of the country from which we come and for which we are responsible. It is difficult to enact a statute which will have uniform application across the country. I acknowledge that. It is difficult for the interests of all to be considered. In the final analysis, any decision of this sort must combine, in fairness, the interests of the regions with the national interest. When you try to combine the interests of all the regions of this country, you are apt to run into difficulties. That is what we are discussing in this House at present.

The hon. member for Edmonton West (Mr. Lambert) suggested, and I agree with him to a great extent, that the government is trying to make slaves of people for the benefit of a collective body known as the government. It is saying to the people concerned, "You must prove, to the satisfaction of a group we will select, that what you contemplate doing is definitely in the public interest." The hon. member for Edmonton West suggests that the people concerned ought to say to the government, "This is what we propose to do," and it is up to the government to show that the takeover is not desirable. I think I have interpreted correctly the remarks of the hon. member for Edmonton West. That, substantially, is his proposal, and that was his criticism. He argued that the individual should not be required to prove his case, but that the government should show beyond a reasonable doubt that the proposed takeover is detrimental to the general public interest.

The minister is arguing with a certain amount of conviction that the federal government cannot possibly commit itself to a policy of this sort, a policy which allows anything approaching veto power to anyone. I am not arguing strongly that this is a wrong opinion. I have always been impressed by the general idea that you make a great country if you create within that country an atmosphere of opportunity so that an individual may be able to use the talents he possesses for the benefit of the whole body, the whole system, the whole country. If you set up an atmosphere in which an individual can do things for himself and make a contribution to the country-and I see many such people within the range of my voice-then I consider that the whole collective body will benefit, because those same individuals, working for themselves and doing things for themselves, will, of necessity, contribute to the good of the country as a whole.

The minister said this afternoon informally, that he agrees with the very thing which the amendment put forward by my hon. friend from Fundy-Royal proposes, though he had certain reservations reflecting his own opinion and taking into account administrative considerations. He agrees there was an informal understanding in the committee along the very lines of this amendment. He might well consider a move which would put into appropriate language the informal understanding which was concluded. Since the minister has already agreed to do so, I suppose those words taken from notes I had prepared, will do no particular good at this point. On the other hand, they will do no particular harm either. This is exactly

July 4, 1972

Foreign Takeovers Review Act

what he has done, and he has done it without any consultation with me, I will tell you, Mr. Speaker. This only serves to prove that great minds run in the same channel.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FOREIGN TAKEOVERS REVIEW ACT
Full View Permalink

July 4, 1972

Mr. Flemming:

My opinion of the effect of this legislation on my native province is well known. I am afraid it will establish a barrier against the in-flow of capital into my province. I have expressed this view in committee and I have expressed it privately to the minister. In our part of the world we need such an in-flow of capital. New Brunswick is neighbour to the State of Maine and the New England States of the United States. They buy our goods, our livestock, our forest products, our products of the sea, things which are surplus to our own requirements. The New England states are closer to us than the markets of central Canada. I am not going to argue about what took place 105 years ago. No one knows what would have happened had those two provinces in the centre not united with the two important ones in the east to make up Canada. But we started a course of sending our goods east and west rather than north and south. In a way, perhaps, we were working against geography and the trade pattern which existed at that time, because my native province was trading very freely with the United States during that period. The province was very prosperous as, indeed, were all the Atlantic provinces.

The point to which I should like to draw the minister's attention is this. I understand the difficulties which are bound to arise in the course of the administration of this bill. I believe I am conscious of the minister's determination, and I have no reason to say I am not conscious of the government's determination, and I have no reason to say I am not conscious of the government's determination, to do some screening for the benefit of the country at large. In the event that certain propositions are likely to be definitely detrimental to Canada's interest, I would be the last person to say that action should not be taken. At the same time, I trust the minister is concerned to assure that takeovers whose effect would be desirable are not prevented simply because someone may say that such and such a company or corporation would then be owned by an outside interest. I do not intend to go into that subject, either, this afternoon. I would merely point out that the bill emphasizes the word "control" rather than "ownership". I have always believed that the really important aspect is management, the manner in which management performs relative to the community in which the business is located and to the country of which it is a part.

It is only a few weeks ago that I stood in this House and told the story of the success of an enterprise in my province which grew from a very modest beginning with the help of the government of which I was a member. Its bonds were guaranteed by that government. Today it has plants in England and in Australia; it has grown to be a tremendous international food processing company. I refer to McCain's Foods. The assistance which the government gave to that company to enable it to expand has been well justified because it has contributed to the development of the part of New Brunswick in which its major operations are centred. No unemployment problem arises there; men and women know they can always get a job at McCains. There are 1,600 people working in the province

and another 3,000 on the payrolls in connection with various activities which are not confined to Canada. Some of these activities are in Australia, others in Britain, but there has been a continual story of progress and success.

I pointed out to the House that this company produced to the government figures showing the amount of French fried potatoes being imported into Canada. It then told the government they could be manufactured in Canada and there was a market for them. As a result, we guaranteed their bonds and it never cost them a cent. My point is that had it not been for the great market to the south of this country, this company would never have existed.

I am not one who is fearful about who owns a business; what I am concerned about is who manages the business, that the business obeys the laws of the country, that it pays the prevailing wage rates, and that it contributes to the community. As for the matter of ownership, it seems to me that only in the most drastic situation should you interfere with the flow of capital coming into this country. I am not arguing that it should not be interfered with, but from the point of view of the national interest it would be well carefully to examine the situation. This is what the minister says his staff is going to do. The hon. member for Halifax-East Hants (Mr. McCleave), speaking on behalf of our party, has accepted the minister's suggestion concerning an acceptable amendment and I do not propose to differ. Naturally, I also accept the suggestion. The fact that the minister understands the views of opposition parties and is prepared to recognize those views should gratify All members of the House since it indicates that at least one occupant of the front benches is prepared'to listen to us, that our words are not falling on deaf ears. Some members of this House do not speak very often because they feel that no one pays any attention to them. Today, there has been a change in the situation; the minister is paying attention and is going to accept an amendment, and to me this is very stimulating.

At the disposal of the minister are the collective views, knowledge and experience of all 264 members of this House. As I say, he has recognized those qualities and is going to accept an amendment. I have had enough experience to know how difficult it is for ministers of the Crown to accept amendments put forward by the opposition, since the government seems to think that the opposition are going to crow about it until they are blue in the face. In this particular case, I am glad the minister has been big enough to take note of the representations that have been made. I am convinced they will be of benefit to the country, and I hope they will make his duties of administration a little less difficult.

Before concluding, Mr. Speaker, I may say I sincerely believe in consultation. I started out by saying that it was difficult to pass statutes of uniform application that are still fair. According to the minister there are going to be informal consultations, and the provinces will be consulted. Their views will be considered and so will certain other matters that affect them as well as the central government. In view of that, it seems to me we might hope that Bill C-201 will be of benefit to this great country of Canada. I see you are about to stop me, Mr. Speaker, so I

July 4, 1972

will conclude by saying that I appreciate the interest the House has shown in what I have had to say.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FOREIGN TAKEOVERS REVIEW ACT
Full View Permalink

June 13, 1972

Mr. Flemming:

However, I have some misgivings about the budget; they have arisen principally because I have found it is difficult to find people who will do certain jobs which require to be done. I believe that many jobs are available which could furnish employment but that people are not anxious to take them. Forestry work is a case in point. To my knowledge, people can earn an excellent wage by working in the woods and cutting trees into logs which in turn are processed into lumber. The lumber is then processed and used for housing and industrial uses.

People are saying, "Why should I take a job when I can get more from welfare than from working?" I know something about wages and salaries and I question the assertion that people can get more money if they are on welfare. However, that is what some people think and that is what they say to me.

When I spoke recently to a man from New Brunswick he was terribly concerned because he could not get help. He had to move his equipment 200 miles because the people needed to furnish the raw material he used were not available. It seems to me there ought to be better co-ordination among various departments of government so that available jobs are advertised and made known to people who under ordinary circumstances should be able to perform the work. I should think that Statistics Canada in Ottawa could furnish unemployment figures and, as well, figures relating to the available jobs in various categories. It seems to me that these figures could be produced from information that could be made available from Manpower offices.

The other day in New Brunswick I was told of a plant-I can tell the minister its name if he wishes-that may be forced to shut down in mid summer, when unemployment is supposed to be lowest, because not enough people were available to supply the raw material necessary to keep the plant going. So it seems to me that the government should try to bring about better co-ordination among the activities of various departments so that we might know what jobs are available and which people are available to fill them.

I have never thought that people should be able to choose between working and living on welfare. I do not think we ever intended people to be given that choice. I do not believe anybody ever intended that the productive ability of our people should be disregarded. What makes the matter worse is that a good many of us are being taxed to provide the welfare that is paid to some people as an alternative to working.

What am I recommending to the minister, Mr. Speaker? I think he ought to use his intelligence and great influence with the government and see that common sense is

The Budget-Mr. Flemming

applied at the administrative level. I suggest that steps should be taken so that all local activities coming under the auspices of Manpower, the Unemployment Insurance Commission and social welfare programs are carried on in the same office. Steps must be taken so that there is frequent, almost continuous consultation among the officers in charge of each of these divisions. Available jobs must be advertised; there must be publicity in this regard. Also, there must be publicity with regard to the general category in which people available are willing to work. There must be information as to their physical strength and willingness to perform the tasks stipulated. Experience in this field will soon be acquired, I suggest because our people soon acquire skills. Personally, I believe people prefer to work rather than not work. Also, the health of the worker would improve and his self-respect would be greatly enhanced. If the minister is to achieve his objective of providing more jobs, he must get down to a grass roots examination of the problem and make up his mind that the provision of handouts is not a permanent remedy.

I believe there is definite satisfaction with the increase in the old age security pension for people who have no other means of income. As for the veterans' pensions, I always thought that veterans who volunteered their services, fought the country's battles, risked their lives in various theatres of war when a great deal was at stake, were entitled to the most generous consideration possible. We voted that way. I am sure everyone within the sound of my voice is pleased that that bill carried.

Then there is the matter of the reduction of the general corporate tax rate. Also, the first $50,000 of corporate income is reduced by 5 per cent. Both these reductions are on manufacturing and processing income. I am not certain what will be considered manufacturing and processing but I assume that any business which changes raw material of any type by manufacturing and processing, thereby enhancing its value, will be eligible. Usually secondary industry is established, at least in my part of the world, because someone has vision. As a general rule, someone has vision and wants to do something. We have an outstanding illustration of that in the constituency I have the honour to represent. I refer to McCain Foods.

I believe I should give the House and the country some very pertinent information relative to McCain Foods and the contribution it makes to the general well-being of that part of Canada in which it is located, which happens to be my native New Brunswick, my own county of Carleton, and to our country in general due to the volume of its production which is exported to the United States. The grant which they received, which has received some publicity since the Minister of Regional Economic Expansion (Mr. Marchand) appeared before the committee, has contributed to the tremendous expansion of McCain Foods. This has had beneficial results in a part of Canada which is suffering from economic disparity. That grant will result in the creation of 770 jobs or it will not be paid.

The grant was based on a total capital expenditure of over $17 million and was, I am satisfied, entirely in accordance with the terms of the act and not due to any special treatment. It was much more justified than was the expenditure of a great deal of the taxpayers' money

June 13, 1972

The Budget-Mr. Flemming

by this government. In fact, the spending of many millions of dollars is completely unjustified when one thinks of the wasting of $150 million last winter on local projects and $30 million more this summer, the cost label being put on without any call for tenders or anything. If I had enough time I could give details that would scare hon. members. With this sort of expenditure one cannot help but wonder where it will all end. I suggest to the minister that if he wants to go down in history as being a great Minister of Finance, he should keep better watch than has been the case so far on this whole question of expenditures.

While on this subject I wish to go into the history of the events leading up to the establishment of McCain Foods. I know a good deal about it, for various reasons. During 1956 the government of New Brunswick was approached by four McCain brothers. They presented to the government, of which I was the premier, figures to show that we were importing certain foodstuffs, especially french fried potatoes, to such an extent that a local industry providing it would have good prospect of success. As a basis for the government of that day guaranteeing their bonds, they undertook to provide substantial equity financing to the full extent of their financial ability and of any credit they were able to obtain. They carried out their commitment to the letter.

The government of the day complied with their request and guaranteed their bonds. That decision has turned out to be a good one. It has never cost the people of New Brunswick one penny. It has been a success story from the start. The business has never ceased to expand. It is still expanding. It has spread into the United Kingdom where they have established a branch plant. It has spread into Australia with another branch plant established there. But it retains its head office in Florenceville, Carle-ton Country, New Brunswick, Canada. They have gone north into Grand Falls where they have established another plant. The direction for this worldwide empire comes from the head office in Florenceville.

But, Mr. Speaker, the end is not yet. These young men are not through expanding the business. With the research which they have established and is available to them, and the experience they have acquired, they are prepared to expand further. Indeed, they advise me that already they have made progress with certain plans for further expansion at Florenceville which in time will be discussed with the government. I for one recommend to this government that they be given the utmost consideration in accordance with the provisions of the statute under which the Department of Regional Economic Expansion operates.

In closing, let me quote the progress made by McCain Foods in a comparatively short time, about 16 years. I have secured information in this regard. This company, in business less than 20 years, now has the following achievements to its credit which I am pleased and proud to place on the record of this House. The minister knows about this New Brunswick plant because the McCains are not particularly strong Conservatives. As a matter of fact, it is quite the opposite. That makes no difference to me at this moment in bringing their accomplishments to the attention of the House.

The value of farm products purchased by McCain Foods in the year 1971-72 was $6,400,000. The average

daily purchase of farm products by McCain Foods is $40,000. The number of employees in New Brunswick working for McCain Foods is 1,607. Altogether, in all their enterprises, they employ over 3,000 people. McCain Foods is the largest food processor in the world, excluding the United States. The value of McCain Foods exports of foodstuffs for the year 1971-72 was $3,040,000 processed in New Brunswick. The total value of the New Brunswick potato crop is $15 million: McCain's purchase a substantial portion of it every year. McCain Foods process 21 different food products. At Florenceville and Grand Falls, New Brunswick, their two plants represent a capital investment of $29,500,000 and cover an area of 211 acres. This is the story of McCain Foods.

These are the things I would like to bring to the attention of the minister. By encouraging this sort of enterprise the minister will achieve his objective of supplying more and more jobs for the people of Canada. This is a part of the country that has the very definite label of disparity on it. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I give the minister this information because I feel he should be in possession of the facts.

I do not need to tell members of this House of my complete confidence in this company and the McCain brothers who direct its activities. The government of which I had the honour to be the head indicated its confidence in 1956 by guaranteeing their bonds. That is the acid test of confidence, is it not-to guarantee bonds for a substantial amount of money? Our government indicated this confidence in 1956. That confidence has been completely justified by subsequent progress and success. So far as the officers, management staff and personnel of McCain Foods is concerned, I have the greatest respect for every member of the organization including the McCain brothers themselves. Their ability has been demonstrated and their personal capacity and integrity I have never doubted or questioned.

Whatever criticism I have of the government for waste and extravagance, I include none at all for the assistance they have given to this industry located in a part of Canada generally recognized to be suffering from what is known as regional disparity and handicap. I can think of no better way to bring about an improvement in economic conditions in this or in other areas than by assisting an industry such as McCain Foods Limited. I reiterate my recommendation to the government that it continue to extend the utmost consideration to any planned future expansion of this outstanding industrial undertaking.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Full View Permalink

June 1, 1972

Hon. Hugh John Flemming (Carleton-Charlotte):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to direct a question to the Minister of Regional Economic Expansion. Is the minister able to confirm the statement made by Mr. McCain, chairman of the board of McCain Foods Limited, Florenceville, Carle-ton County, New Brunswick, as published in the Hartland Observer in its issue of May 25?

Topic:   REGIONAL ECONOMIC EXPANSION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR COMMENT ON STATEMENT MADE BY CHAIRMAN OF BOARD OF McCAIN FOODS
Full View Permalink

June 1, 1972

Mr. Flemming:

Will the minister assure the House that he will make a statement if I send him a copy of the article in question?

Topic:   REGIONAL ECONOMIC EXPANSION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR COMMENT ON STATEMENT MADE BY CHAIRMAN OF BOARD OF McCAIN FOODS
Full View Permalink