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Monday, February 10, 2014

The Supply Management Fortune Teller

Back in 1971 when this Supply Management ("SM") fiasco was launched, did anybody know the method, reasons, scope and magnitude of the SM disaster that was being released upon Canadians?

Previously, I tried to give our ancestors the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps they truly didn't know.  Perhaps something needed to be done, they knew SM wasn't perfect, but that was the best idea they could come up with.

There was only one way to know for sure.  In preparation for our Small Claims Court lawsuit (see
I went back to the best historic source to find out.  I've been told this info might be useful as collaborating evidence in this pending lawsuit.  Obviously, it was the MP's who had the primary responsibilities to review the draft Bill, make sure it was feasible and in the best interest of Canada before passing it into law.

Dr. Paul Yewchuk, MP for
Athabaska AB
I subsequently stumbled my way around Parliament's website, eventually found Hansard, and by some miracle I have been unable to subsequently duplicate, I found myself reading a debate on Dec. 28, 1971.

After many dozens of pages of fine print, I finally discovered Dr. Paul Yewchuk, Progressive Conservative MP for the riding of Athabaska AB

Unfortunately, the image quality of the jpg image of Hansards is readable, but too poor to get OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to work, so I had to spend some time to re-type all of it.  For you, my faithful Blog-Dogs, I spare no expense or effort.

I learned that there was originally Bill C-176 around 1969, but it had stirred up such a hornets nest for 2 years, the government had to drop it, and lick its wounds for a while.  They then had the bravery (or stupidity, depending on who's side you're on) to bring that SM Zombie Bill back to life as Bill C-197 in 1971.  Even then, there were numerous problems, and many screams of horror about the end of the world (after all, there were SM Zomies loose in the Halls of Parliament).  Forced to perform CPR on their Bill (Euuuuh!, putting your CPR lips to a Zombie's lips, how gross), the government collected over 2 dozen amendments to the Bill during Canada-wide hearings with much screaming and crying (boy, can us Canadians carry on when we're cranky and upset).

By Dec. 1971, the SM Zombie Bill C-197 is still alive, barely.  Everybody on Parliament Hill and all of Ottawa have gone home for Christmas with their families, but the MP's had to stay after school because they hadn't yet finished their lessons on how to screw up Canada with SM.

As we open the curtain on our Parliamentary stage of woe, we find the House debating amendments No. 1, 5, and 22 to the Trudeau Liberal government's SM Zombie Bill C-197, also known as the future Farm Products Marketing Agencies Act.

Here is what Dr. Yewchuk had to say back on the afternoon of Dec. 28, 1971 at page 10789 in Hansard's:
"...It is recognized from the above points [Feb. 1971 comments by Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce] that marketing boards could play an important role in expansion of product promotion, quality standardization, and some form of collective marketing. But in the context of the free enterprise economy, supply management, which suggests limiting the inputs used by the producer or limiting the quantity of output by the producer, is a regressive move, inconsistent with the realities of international and inter-provincial trade. This kind of supply management in the long run would damage the agricultural industry because it suggests too many controls and a negative approach to increasing produce prices. It would seriously curtail the growth of efficiency within the industry. It would also limit severely the entry of new and possibly more efficient producers into the business of agriculture and at the same time maintain inefficient ones not otherwise able to compete on an economic basis. I think the point concerning possible limitation of entry of new producers is a very important once since it takes away from Canadians the freedom to choose the kind of life's work which they desire.

The various restrictions I am referring to go completely against the grain of the philosophy in which farmers believe. There is no need to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that a very large segment of our population in Canada is here precisely to get away from too many restrictions, too many controls and too much government. Many people who immigrated to Canada came here because this has been a land, at least until now, where individual initiative, individual ambition and hard work are respected virtues which can only be practiced fully in an environment of freedom to make one’s own decisions, and freedom from bureaucratic control which has the effect of telling the producer what to do and in so doing would destroy his initiative and his right to make his own decisions.

Since supply management on a national basis requires quota allocations by provinces, regional economic differences would not be taken into account, resulting in decreased efficiency. Such locked in inefficiencies would result in artificially increased prices which could price us out of international markets and which, at the same time, would require import restrictions to protect our domestic market. Ultimately, the consumer would bear the cost resulting from a reduced supply.

With regard to collective marketing by marketing boards, there is also a danger in that the pooling of prices removes incentives from the individual producer and fails to recognize differences in quality of products. However, it is recognized that by pooling, severe fluctuations in prices which are unforeseen can be prevented in respect of individual producers. The question is, then, is the Canadian economy best served by an industry that resolves its differences and adjusts its resources primarily by political rather than economic processes?

This bill is a good example of the government's assuming omnipotent capabilities to solve problems by technocratic manipulations. It fails to perceive the consequences of the balkanization and retrenching of local interests. It fails to perceive the handicap to young people wishing to enter agriculture because of capitalization required in supply management. It fails to perceive the fact that politicization of an industry by way of supply management historically leads to misallocation of resources and further inefficiencies, ultimately resulting in lower prices for the farmer for farm produce and higher prices for the consumer. For the small farmer that is a double cut. He gets less for his product but must pay more for his own food.

Of course, the general direction which this government is taking is to remove small producers. This bill provides statutory power to further this kind of adjustment. In other words, it would remove some 200,000 farmers from agriculture. I think we must look to other kinds of solutions to the problem of decreasing farm income. We must look to development rather than to removal from the industry of masses of people and masses of small farms. The effect of this bill would be greater and greater shrinkage of Canada's agriculture population. I say this would be unproductive and inhumane. Economically, it is retrograde.

In addition, it is certainly impossible to say that Bill C-176 is an anti-poverty weapon. The concept of this bill originally was to control marketing of chickens and eggs. Perhaps that is all it should do. Certainly other producers, particularly cattlemen, have persistently indicated that they want no part of this kind of program since this bill could create a small class of privileged farmers by sacrificing the smaller producer and the young people of rural Canada. It differs from provincial marketing legislation because provincial marketing legislation does not have the dangerous powers which would be given to agencies under this bill.

For these reasons and many others, Mr. Speaker, we must conclude that the bill as it now stands is not in the best interests of the agricultural industry and that these amendments, namely, amendments No. 1, 5 and 22 would go a long way towards improving the bill. It has been said that there is agreement by the provinces that only chickens and eggs should be included. There are dangers in that as well, the same dangers I have already discussed. Chicken and egg production in certain provinces is in the hands of very few individuals. It is natural that these few individuals would want to keep out all other producers and potential producers. That, I think, at best could be described as selfish interest. However, I would probably be willing to go along with it if other amendments put forward by our party were accepted.

As has been mentioned before, this bill through the formation of marketing boards would restrict free trade of farm products. This poses a danger for the Atlantic and prairie regions. The potential for future and continued prosperity of these have-not areas is absolutely dependent upon their being permitted free and unrestricted access to all markets in Canada as well as outside Canada. With free trade of farm products, efficient production of farm products is assured. Without extensive markets a rationalization of Canadian agriculture is impossible.

The provincial markets of the Prairie and Atlantic provinces can never be large enough to supply the demand necessary to absorb the increased farm output which would result if agriculture was revitalized. Unless farm output is rationalized and unless free access to markets is guaranteed, the income generating potential of rural Canada will be severely curtailed. With the curtailment of this vital source of growth, the have-not regions of Canada will become more unequal participants in confederation. The very essence of confederation was to guarantee free access to the entire domestic market no matter where the particular product was produced. The effect of the marketing boards will be to protect local producers from outside-of-province competition. Such protection can only be damaging since it forces retaliation by other provinces.

The result of balkanization is the complete disintegration of the Canadian economy. Under the guise of efficiency, the Canadian government will strip certain areas of a strong agricultural sector. It will require other areas to attempt to be self-sufficient in respect of farm products. Such an attempt can only lead to higher prices for consumers, inefficient use of resources by the agriculture sector and reduced income for all but a few big farms. Every farming organization and every friend of the farmer should resist the passage of this bill in its present form. If passed, Bill C-176 will mean the end of a dynamic rural community and possibly the end of confederation as we know it today.

I conclude by saying that I think many of the comments made by the hon. member fro Lanark-Renfrew-Carleton (Mr. McBride) are complete nonsense. He tried to imply that this bill would help small producers and small farmers. I have had a close look at the bill as well as at the many briefs which were presented and I fail to see any facts to substantiate the comments made by the hon. member."
Uncanny, don't you think.  Here we are, 43 years later, exactly where Dr. Yewchuk said we would be with a diseased system of SM doing continuous Zombie attacks on the terrorized Canadian public.


However Dr. Yewchuk showed the power and intelligence of the individual, and the often occurring stupidity of dysfunctional groups.  I have always said that when you get 20 or more reasonable, every day people in a room, somebody will have the right answer to the problem.  The difficulty is determining which person has the right answer this time.


On Dec. 28, 1971, it was obviously Dr. Yewchuk, MP for Athabaska AB who was the star of the show.  Unfortunately, too few people were prepared to listen to Dr. Yewchuk's sage advice.


Is history repeating itself today?

Who is it this time that has the sage advice that all or most are ignoring?  Place your vote in the comments below.






7 comments:

  1. He was absolutely is he still alive or children that might remember his incite to the future

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments.

      Yes, his crystal ball was certainly clear that day.

      I have tried searching for him on Internet, in BC and Alberta phone directories, as well as CMA (Canadian Medical Association), and College of Physicians, without luck. His papers seem to be in a PC Museum in Alberta. If anybody knows if he is still alive, I'd be very pleased to find him, and speak with him.

      I stopped here and tried another on-line directory, and it was able to locate 4 different P. Yewchuks across Canada. After calling all of them, I had 3 disconnected numbers, and the last one I tried, it started to ring, a man answered, and it turned out to be Dr. Paul Yewchuk.

      We had a nice conversation (me talking way too much as I brought him up to speed on what has happened in SM since 1971).

      Dr. Yewchuk asked for an emailed link to this Blog and his Hansard speech, which I will send him shortly.

      When I asked him for another sage prediction on Supply Management for the next 20 years, he said (paraphrasing as best as I can remember):

      "I don't know about predicting the next 20 years, but if you want to make a change, you need to get your friends and like minded people together, and get in touch with your MP, and push like hell."

      Sounds like good advice to me.

      Delete
  2. I was working for the federal ag. dept when the bill to establish supply management was debated and passed.

    Jack Horner launched a filibuster in the ag. committee, but had little support from Stanfield, head of the PCs at the time.

    Jack persisted and filibustered again in Parliament. Bob Stanfield finally realized Horner had a tiger by the tail and began to support him.

    The upshot was a bunch of amendments which make the legislation quite confusing and somewhat self-contradictory. The debate raged right into the Christmas break and was finally passed on a near-midnight vote.

    Bud Olson was ag. minister, a cattleman from southern Alta., and no personal fan of supply management, but held his nose because he faced unanimous demands from the provinces to settle the chicken-and-egg war between Ont. and Que.

    Olson lost his seat, partly because of the rancher vote, and Horner went on to defect to the Liberals and gain a cabinet seat.

    Jim Rohman
    Agri007
    http://agri007.blogspot.ca/

    ReplyDelete
  3. It was great to hear from you and pleasantly surprizing that work I did on behalf farmers 43 years ago still has relevance today. I enjoyed rereading the old speech which was made whe I was 33 years old. You have "made my day" by bringing back those fond memories.
    Paul Yewchuk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm proud of you Dad! Great job on this speech. Your dedication to your constituents, to hardworking Canadians and to our great country has always been very apparent.
      best wishes always, Sue

      Delete
  4. Who knew that you would revisit a stance of so long ago. Good for you! Happy memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment. It is a good lesson for all of us, for we soon forget our history. Hopefully it helps explain how we slowly started then accelerated into the mess of #ChickenMafia of today.

      Delete

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