However, I have two representative resolutions which I believe set out rather fully the attitude of both the federation of agriculture and of the farmers' unions in relation to what they expect this government to do with respect to farm prices.
I wish to read a resolution submitted by the Gilbert Plains local of the Manitoba farmers' union in my own constituency copies of which were forwarded to the Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker), the Minister of Agriculture, the hon. member for Springfield
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Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization (Mr. Schulz) and to me. Some of the hon. members from the west will know that this particular part of Manitoba is the area in which the farm unions developed the earliest and this is one of the largest and most influential locals in the province. They placed the matter before the government and members of the opposition in the words of the following resolution:
That whereas decreased farm income due to depressed prices during a time when other industries are prospering and the cost to the farmer is ever increasing, drastically affects the living standard of the farmer;
And whereas there appears to he no lessening of the price-squeeze pressure on the agriculture industry, therefore he it resolved:
(a) That we urge the government of Canada to establish a price support program based on 100 per cent parity on all agricultural products produced and consumed in Canada; and be it further resolved
(b) That the export prices on farm produce be negotiated and set by the government and farm organizations.
I turn to a copy of a night letter which was dispatched to the Minister of Agriculture on December 18, 1957, by the provincial board of the Manitoba federation of agriculture and co-operation, which reads as follows:
Your proposed price support legislation fails to assure the farmer of improvement in present financial position. It is our contention and was one of the main planks in your election platform and continuing policy (Hansard, April 8, 1941; March 23, 1953; March 12, 1956) that price support legislation should provide a formula based on a period of years when the income of the farmer was in fair relationship to other groups in the Canadian economy.
That pretty well sets out the point of view of both those major farm organizations. The minister is well aware of that because in both cases copies of these, or the originals, were sent to the Minister of Agriculture as well as to the members of the house. Lest the minister thinks that this farm organization does not mean business, listen to this press dispatch that was issued somewhere around January 1 this year. I am not sure of the date but it was very close to January 1. This appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press, and reads as follows:
Two Manitoba farm leaders-in predictions for 1958-agree that Conservatives will lose considerable support in western Canada if proposed federal price support legislation passes in its present form.
May I point out that this was after the minister had offered those five amendments to which I shall make reference a little later on. I continue with the quotation:
James Patterson, president of the Manitoba farmers' union, and Percy Burnell, president of the Manitoba federation of agriculture and co-operation, both claim that the controversial price support bill is the most important matter facing the present government.
"The political future of government hinges largely on the price support bill," said Mr. Patterson. If it passes in its present form, it will have a detrimental effect on the government's position in western Canada.
This is borne out by the following statement by Mr. Burnell:
If in 1958 the farmer does not see an adequate degree of support, his present disappointment might well become resentment.
That sets out quite clearly that those farm organizations have not only placed before the government what their stand is on this particular question but they are prepared to follow it up by taking the appropriate action to see to it that the government is held to its pledges. In other words, they have pledged themselves publicly to keep the government honest, and we are trying to do the same thing on this side of the house.
I think that somewhere along the line the Minister of Agriculture will have to admit that his proposed legislation went off the tracks. When he introduced this legislation on December 11, I believe it was, he made a brave speech. It is all on the record and I do not need to quote from it. But he in effect told this house that the government had given full consideration to this question, had taken advice from the different sources from which he was going to take any advice and as much as said to the members of this House of Commons, which includes his own supporters, that this was the final word; this is what you are going to get whether you like it or not.
He did not get very far. He had hitched a very new shining engine to his farm train. Before he got to the next station the thing was derailed. The first thing he knew he was forced to bring in five amendments and put them before the house in a most unusual manner, a manner which was, of course, strictly out of order. If it had not been for the unanimous consent he received he could not have done it. Then he brought another bright, new, shining engine to the rescue, but it too went off the rails. He decided that what he needed was not a new locomotive but a new cowcatcher. Therefore, he hitched the preamble in front of the bill. He thought he was going to persuade the farmers that because he had put cost-price relationship in the preamble everything was going to be fine, because those who believe in parity prices are going to be satisfied that it means parity prices, and those who do not believe in parity prices, which includes more than half of his party and probably 90 per cent of it, are going to be satisfied that it does not mean parity prices. He thought he was going to satisfy everybody. The point I wish to
Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization
make is that when you try to satisfy everybody by deceiving them you usually end up by satisfying nobody. That is what happened.
I think what is needed now-and I propose this as assistance to the minister rather than criticism-is for the members of this house to put that train back on the rails again. There is a way in which that can be done. Before I come to that I want to set out what in my opinion are some of the things that have to be put in the new bill that I am going to propose to the minister. I think this pretty well represents the opinion of organized agriculture as well as the opinion of a large number of hon. members in this house. These things are needed in order to clear away all this wreckage for which the minister is responsible and the confusion which he himself has introduced by first introducing a bill, and then introducing some amendments and reprinting the bill which has no legal status, and confusing almost everybody who reads Hansard as to what is actually before the house now. On top of that, I must say the minister intends to bring in some more amendments.
As a matter of fact I will make him a small wager at the present time. I will bet him a bottle of the finest pasteurized milk that money can buy-and I will purchase it at a parity price, too-that before this discussion is over he is going to introduce some more amendments to this already amended version of the reprinted bill. There is a danger that it may create still further confusion. I suggest to him that what he should do is withdraw this bill entirely and introduce a new one, and that new bill should contain certain principles which I shall mention in a moment.
Before I do that, in order to put the matter formally before the house, I am going to move as an amendment, seconded by the hon. member for Springfield; the following:
That Bill No. 237 be not now read a second time, but that it be resolved that in the opinion of this house consideration should be given to the advisability of introducing at this session legislation making definite and statutory provision for parity prices for agricultural products at levels that will assure to producers their fair share of the national income.
I have placed this amendment before the house, and I would like to mention now what in my opinion are five necessary inclusions in this proposed new bill which would do a great deal towards meeting the desire of organized agriculture and certainly would clear away the confusion which has been created by the minister again in trying to introduce his bill in two separate parts.
In my opinion, a satisfactory bill should contain within it, first, the parity price principle, and not in the preamble but expressed
in the legislation itself, having legal and binding effect. Second, it must contain a price formula which will relate support prices in the bill to the parity price principle. Third, it must have a firm provision for assuring producers that they will get full value of any deficiency payments that will be made. Fourth, it must give the stabilization board authority equal to the responsibility they will carry for the price levels that are adopted. Fifth, it must treat producers in all parts of Canada on the same basis.
It would be obvious that the five points are designed to fill out the inadequacies in the present bill. If time permitted I would go over each one of them to point out how the bill at the present time does not live up to these five main principles but I see that my time is rapidly running out. Therefore, I shall have to conclude by making one final appeal.
This is not to the Minister of Agriculture. He has already spoken on two occasions at least and he will probably speak again before this is decided. But I do want to make a special appeal to the Prime Minister himself. After all the speeches that have been made on the subject the record is full of the pledges that have been made by the Prime Minister at one time or another in the house and outside of it on the question of parity prices for farm products. The hon. member for The Battlefords (Mr. Campbell) only today placed on the record some of the statements made by the Prime Minister when he was sitting in the opposition indicating the attitude he then took, and supposedly his party along with him, on the question of parity for farm products.
I do not need to put any more quotations on the record. All farmers know, all members of the house know, everybody knows that the Prime Minister went across the country from one end to the other, spoke to agricultural audiences during the election campaign and pledged himself solidly that if he became prime minister he would introduce legislation to bring about parity prices for farm products. As a matter of fact, he spoke right in my home town and I heard him make the statement. Therefore there is no doubt as to what his pledge was.
The Prime Minister has seen fit to disregard or ignore the whole debate so far. There have been times when he has been present and has heard some of the views expressed and statements made from both sides of the house but he himself has not uttered one word either in defence of the proposed legislation or to state, as I think he should state, that this legislation is not adequate and therefore he is prepared to have
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Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization the bill withdrawn and introduce something which does meet the pledges he made right across Canada. He has not done either the one thing or the other. He has ignored the debate. He has absented himself from the debate. He has taken the attitude that perhaps he is not involved in the debate and that any blame that will arise because of this inadequate legislation will fall upon other shoulders than his own.
I think that is quite unfair to the Minister of Agriculture. I see no reason why he should have to bail the Prime Minister out of all the pledges he made. I think the Prime Minister has a duty to the house, to the country and to agriculture to stand up in the house as Prime Minister and to defend his policies and the pledges which he made on behalf of his party. If he does not do that we shall have to assume that the members of the government are retreating from the position which they took before the election.
Subtopic: MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.