Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 27, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
4 LETHBRIDGE HERALD Thursday, September 27, 1973 IT MnY BE YOUR IT5 BOAT The puzzled consumer With the wisdom traditionally attributed to age. the National Pen- sioners and Senior Citizens Federation has pointed a finger in the right direction in a resolution asking the federal govern- ment to investigate food processing and distribution. Thus far the government, through Mrs. Plumptre's board, has flailed away at retailers, making great capital out of double-pricing practices, but giving no indication that it was looking farther back along the processing and distribu- tion chain to see if undue profits are be- ing made elsewhere along the line. The result has been a very confused, probably angry, possibly hungry con- sumer who can understand and take steps when he is ripped off by double pricing, but who is helpless in the face of other inflationary practices in the food industry of Canada. Protein foods have increased in cost, so the consumer hears, because of a world-wide shortage of protein in the face of a rising demand. But it has happened so suddenly, relatively speaking, as to foster speculation that someone is profiting unreasonably. And the food shopper is puzzled by per- sonal observations. The lowly beef kidney has risen in price from to a pound. Has the world really gone mad over steak and kidney pie? The price of canned tuna has increased astronomically. Has the world suddenly acquired an insatiable craving for tuna fish sandwiches in its lunch bucket? Or have Japanese fishermen struck for higher wages? Or has the annual catch off southern California been poor? Or are there other reasons? Pricing in the dairy industry is so com- plicated it would seen relatively simple for someone to step in and make a profit out of the confusion. Why, for instance, when the government dropped a 10? sub- sidy on cheese some time ago, did the price go up Will the price of milk increase so much that the proposed subsidy will benefit only the producer, not the consumer? And why, if prices are to be objective, should milk delivered to the consumer be priced the same as milk purchased at the store? Frozen strawberries have risen from to 69c per container. Does this reflect a poor crop in the Fraser Valley? But at the same time walnuts increased from to a pound and this year's crops, according to a report from California, is a bumper one. If these price increases reflect rising costs of labor and material, why hasn't this affected everything? Dried beans and peas have sold at the same prices for several years on the grocer's shelf. Is it possible someone doesn't know they are sources of protein and should be higher priced? The ques- tion is no more ridiculous than the entire food marketing scene as viewed by the harried consumer. If Mrs. Plumptre listens to Canada's senior citizens and investigates the en- tire industry, publicizing her finds as they request, she will provide the country a far greater service than heretofore offered by the cryptic remarks of cabinet ministers to the effect that food is still a bargain. This may be true but it doesn't satisfy the con- sumer who wants to know why. Election assessment The Quebec election next month is not likely to arouse the same deep concern throughout Canada as the one in 1970 did. This is surprising when one thinks back to the results of that last eleiction and recalls the strong showing of the separatist sentiment then. It was ex- pected that the 22 per cent vote for the Parti Quebecois would be increased in the next election with the possibility of it taking over the government. But the situation seems to have changed. Premier Robert Bourassa doesn't have to call an election at this time; he ob- viously feels the time is propitious for his party to do so. He apparently feels that the threat of separatism has waned and that there is no serious opposition offered by any of the parties in the field. This assessment is probably correct. There is nothing to indicate that either the Conservative party or the New Democratic Party has experienced an upturn in fortunes: both can be counted out. The Union Nationale is likely to decline further and may even be wiped out. If Mr. Bourassa is right in assumiing that the Parti Quebecois peaked in the last election the only party left to be concerned about is the Creditistes. And that is truly an unknown; Mr. Bourassa can only gamble that it has not had time under its new leader, Yvan Dupuis, to gain too much momentum. Strange things happen in elections; both Mr. Bourassa and outside observers could be very wrong in their assessments. There could also be some unforseen turn of events that would reduce support for the Liberals and turn it to either the Creditistes or the Parti Quebecois. Only a month has to elapse before the outcome will be known. Legitimate unease "West must not rmain silent in dissi- dent trials." says a headline from a German newspaper, focussing attention on the oppression of intellectuals; the so- called "cultural opposition" in the Soviet Union and particularly the campaign against nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov and Nobel laureate for literature Alexander Solzhenitsyn. To writers, artists, intellectuals and scientists in the Eastern block detente has brought the least relaxation of ten- sion. On the contrary those who have supported it most vigorously are now be- ing harassed, threatened with trials or even exiled. Westerners, particularly businessmen or scientists who have recently been win- ing and dining with their eastern counter- parts may regard such developments in Soviet Russia as exaggerated. After the show of jovial comradeship and after a whirlwind exposure to formerly Czarist culture they become, unknowingly, propaganda tools of Soviet politicians that everything is OK in the Eastern block. However, Western intellectuals should be concerned with what happens to their dissident brothers in Eastern forced labor camps or mental homes. What is happening on one side of the world may sooner or later creep in on the other, in spite of the sealing off of certain countries from outside influence. What has already become an accepted tradi- tion spying on the individuals' privacy, reporting to the secret police, forced labor camps, torture, harassment may also become an accepted custom in the Western hemisphere. The revelations of Watergate, the persecution of the brothers Berrigan or the Ellsberg af- fairs, although only very weak duplications of a totalitarian system, must make Westerners uneasy. THE CASSEROLE Credit Jean Pellerin, of Montreal La Presse, with a most felicitous comment on the marked contrast between Russia's science and its curious social order, ending with the words a country with one foot on the moon and the other in the Middle Ages." they entered the shop the bird greeted his master and established his claim with "Hello there, vou old Readers will be pleased to know that the Se- cond International Congress of Alchemists, meeting recently in Stuttgart, has formally announced that Alchemy as a philosophy of life will bring Man, polluted by civilization, back to harmony. From Moscow comes a report that Soviet scientists have found a way to make hair grow at 10 times its normal rate. Their demonstrations have been with guinea pigs but that doesn't fool anyone, especially those who have always believed there was a Com- munist plot at the root (excuse it, please) of all that long hair. Youngsters who find their pocket money is too little shouldn't complain. It's just their parents' way of preparing them to take their place in the world as consumers, by starting them out with inadequate incomes. Renter news service carried a story recent- ly of-a missing myna bird. The owner thought he recognized his bird in a pet shop window, but the proprietor insisted he'd bought the bird, so the owner went to the police. When asked how his claim might be proven, he told the gendarmes his bird swore a bit; a foul beak, you might say. And sure enough, when Those who like films that are well, different, may be interested in a Chinese documentary released recently. It records an elaboreate autopsy performed on the astonishingly well preserved body of a Chinese noblewoman who died at least 2000 years ago The body was located in a grave 60 feet deep, preserved in an ancient form of. embalming fluid, and encased in a series of six air-tight coffins. No matter how tolerant and "with it" one tries to be. it's hard not to sympathize with the Saskatoon city council for having declined a request that a (Jay Action Week be declared to commemorate the relaxing of laws on homosexual conduct. Was Alberta asked or told? Bv Maurice Western, Herald Ottawa commentator OTTAWA: The abrupt reversal of long-established oil policies by Energy Minister Donald Macdonald suggests that co-operative federalism is the latest vicitim of the inflation crisis in Canada. Even in calmer times co- operative federalism, as then practised, was not proof against criticism. There was the objection that Ottawa appeared to do most of the co- operating. There was also complaint that the processes ot consultation were extreme- ly time consuming, in some cases involving years of negotiations before programs could be implemented, often in strangely altered forms. Neither of these criticisms has yet been levelled at the dynamic Mr. Macdonald. Ac- cording to indignant Alber- tans. he dispensed with con- sulation. The minister denies this charge. There was. he feels, a process of consultation going back to the publication in June of the federal paper. An Energy Policy for Canadians. There were talks in July of which we have been told little. Finally, there was the meeting in Ottawa with Minerals Minister William Dickie of Alberta, immediate- ly before the export tax an- nouncement and the outbreak of hostilities between Ed- monton and Ottawa. Evidently, the policy paper was of basic importance, a more signficant document than was generally realized at the time. It was, of course, ex- ploratory and analytical; it was intended to generate dis- cussion by identifying problems It did not commit the federal government too much; at the same time it was more than a simple summa- tion of pros and cons. Since it was designed to bring provin- cial responses, it was so written as to give the premiers at least a general in- dication of federal thinking. Mr. Macdonald is noted for action, not contemplation Ob- viously, there is no consensus not one. in any case, which extends to Premier Peter Lougheed. But there is a new policy achieved with almost lightning speed. Such a policy, according to the thinking of June, could not be satisfactory. But Mr. Mac- donald has been firm in defence of it. which suggests that the report of June is ob- solete in September. Cooperative federalism has gone with the summer. It is important to note that the federal government, in publishing its paper, an- ticipated higher petroleum prices. There is the flat state- ment (on page 66) that "crude prices are expected to es- calate rapidly from today to 1985." The trouble was that escala- tion exceeded expectations. This, of course, was the reason for the sudden policy- change. Mr. Macdonald must have been aware that the paper would be read with closest attention in Alberta, since oil is of vital importance to that province What impressions of federal policy was it intended to convey to Albertans? What conclusions could they reasonably draw from it1? There is a long discussion in the paper of the Montreal pipeline alternative, now adopted as federal policy. While the government does not slarn the door on this op- tion, the weight of the argu- ment is quite clearly against it. Indeed, the summary of the analysis puts it this way: "Continuous assessments of security of supply are proceeding. To date, the security threat has not appeared serious enough to justify the costly arrangements of supplying the region east of the Ottawa Valley with western Canadian crude oil." The security argment is in fact discounted in the paper. "There are other means." we read, "which seem to offer a better balance of costs against benefits in covering off Eastern Canada's security ex- posure until such time as in- digenous oil can be more economically introduced. These other means include augmenting the current average stock level of crude oil and refined products in Eastern Canada, a national rationing scheme which could be brought into force quickly during an emergency and a possible oil exchange arrange- ment with the United States." Even more interesting, however, is a paragraph deal- ing with the possibility of reducing exports during times of emergency. "As for oil, it is not clear that Canada would benefit signficantly from such a step since the transportation capability is not likely to be present to deliver the interrupted exports to those areas in Canada which would be potentially short of supply. On the other hand, a program of gradual withdrawal of oil from the export market and construction of the necessary transportation facilities to become increasingly self- sufficient in terms of petroleum and its products, could be instituted, at some significant cost to the Cana- dian economy." The word "gradual" is plac- ed in italics for emphasis. From this. Alberta ministers might perhaps have concluded that Ottawa was giving serious consideration to a change effected over a con- siderable period of time. They could scarcely have read it as a signal of change effective on Oct 1. As noted, we are still in the dark about the consultation that took place in July. But we do know that the Alberta government was to have responded in October. While that response has yet to come, the new federal policy is already in place. The contrast between Mr. Macdonald's dynamic new course and the old ways of co- operative federalism was un- derlined by Premier B.jurassa's triumphant an- nouncement of Quebec's new family allowance scheme. This was made possible by long negotiations with Ot- tawa in the course of which the federal government drastically revised its own plans to accommodate the province. It will be remembered that the same thing happened with the Canada Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan. Mr. Bourassa, much elated, speaks of "profitable federalism." Mr. Lougheed is not elated and has yet to dis- cern profit for Alberta in the new course. ON THE HILL By Bert Hargrave, MP for Medicine Hat The House recessed recent- ly for the second time this summer and will not meet again until October 15th. It was the busiest and most eventful week for me per- sonally since the 29th Parlia- ment opened. I was able to participate in the emergency debate on the cost of living (particularly food) and in the special food costs committee. I was able to have a good debate with Mr. Whelan and Mr. Lang who appeared as witnesses in these two separate meetings. After the two-day railway strike debate the government introduced a series of amendments to existing legislation that would bring some relief to those on fixed incomes and that group in our society that simply cannot af- ford the present all time high cost of living. These amendments were all of a nature that received the general support of all parties. However, it is tair to point out that i.j new basic legislation was introduc- ed to attack inflation the fundamental root cause of all our current high cost problems Mr. Trudeau. himself, conceded that the measures we dealt with were not an at- tack on inflation but upon the effects of inflation. Bill C-219 provided tor k quarterly adjustment of old age pensions rather than the present annual adjustment Bill C-220 amended the Supplementary Benefits Act to remove the two per cent ceiling on annual increases. It will benefit about 100.000 retired RCMP. armed forces personnel, MPs and other retired public servants. A family allowance amend- ment raised payments to per child per month under age 18 on a non-taxable basis until another program of per month, but taxable, comes into effect. The Crop Insurance Bill introduced last spring was passed providing for the government to pay 50 per cent of the provincial premium. The objective is to increase substantially the number of farmers using government crop insurance. Also passed was the Elec- toral Boundaries Readjust- ment Act which will continue present constituency boun- daries until at least the end of 1974. Two very important and signficant agricultural an- nouncements were made. Mr. Lang announced the first floor prices for the federal agricultural products board of Si'98 for feed barley and for feed oats, basis Thunder Bay. No feed wheat price was announced. Mr. Lang inform- ed the food committee that off-board feed grain prices are presently being monitored in Western Canada at the feed lot and feed mill level. After very persistent pressure from the cattle industry all across Canada, the cabinet announc- ed the re-imposition of the im- port tariff on beef and live cattle This late action should bring some stability and con- fidence back to our Canadian cattle market after several weeks of near disaster price drops starting in the U.S. and spreading to Canada. Over the last two weeks some live fat cattle were imported into Canada enough to almost completely replace our normal shipments of dressed beef from Western Canada to Montreal and Toronto Letters School starting age I would like to respond to Mr. F. G. Cartwright's com- ments, and the recent editorial, with regard to five and a half year olds starting school. 1 The School Act (1970) states that children who are six years old at the time of school opening must attend. (The compulsory beginning age is not seven i 2. If a child, after spending five and a half years in his own "personal environment." is not ready to begin school, how can we assume that another year of this same treatment will cure the problem? 3. Mr. Cartwnght suggests that parents should be more responsible for getting the youngsters ready for the Grade 1 curriculum But many parents just don't have the time, or the facilities, to provide the kinds of ex- periences (going on field trips, cutting, pasting, listening, that contribute to success in beginning reading and mathematics. 4. We do not have a univer- sal free kindergarten program in Alberta. Therefore, in most cases, the parents of the "unready" child have three choices: (1) Keep him home another year, i In some cases, it will be necessary to hire a baby sitter.) (2) Send him to a private kindergarten. This costs money, and in many rural areas, there are no kindergarten services at any price. (3) Send him to school a "tree" service. For many people there is really only one choice. 5. Educational research provides much evidence in- dicating that a child's poten- tial for learning is greatest between three and eight years of age Should we prevent a child from receiving a professionally directed learn- ing program during this period? (i. From the Grade 1 teacher's point of view the "unready" beginner presents many problems. I would suggest a few ideas in this regard: (a) Find out what the child knows, and what he doesn't. Teach him the things he needs to know next, and continue on this pattern until he is "ready" for what we call the Grade 1 curriculum. ibi ISxplain to parents that the "unready" child will not likely master many academic skills in his first year, but he will learn a great deal. (c> Put pressure on school boards and administrators to keep primary enrolments low, so that teachers in the first three grades, and especially (Jradc 1, have time to deal with the student who isn't so ready to fit the "mold." By low enrolments I mean no more than 20 in Grade 1, and a maximum of 24 in Grade 2 and Grade 3. (Administrators who permit classes to exceed these limits should be sentenced to 90 days teaching a class of- 30 beginners.) It's true that a number of five and a half year olds have a frustrating first year in school But a number of six and a half year olds have the same experience Keeping them home to "brew" a little longer isn't the answer. Let's try to help the "unready" beginner in the school setting. The facilities, special equipment, services of proIe s sio n a i s in c h i i d development, are all readily available there. Tab CM' JOHN A. HERMAN. The boss says make it funny The Lethbridge Herald 504 7th SI S Lethbndge Alberta LETHBRIDGE HERALD CO LTD. Proprietors and Publishers Published 1905-1954, by Hon WA BUCHANAN Second Class Mail Registration No 0012 Member of The Canadian Press and the Canadian Daily Newspaper Publishers' Association and the Audit Bureau ol Circulations CLEOW MOWERS Editor and Publisher THOMAS H ADAMS General Manager DON PILLING WILLIAM HAY Managing F.uitor Associate Editor ROY MILES DOUGLAS K WALKER Advertising Manager Editorial Page Editor "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"