October 2, 1919

UNION
UNION

Robert Lorne Richardson

Unionist

Mr. RICHARDSON:

Our hon. friend (Mr. Smith), one of the dumb philosophers of the House, says that it does interfere with the price. I would rather think not, because bacon in the city from which I come was selling as high as 70 cents a pound, and if the farmer was only getting 17, 18 or 20 cents a pound for his pork, I should think those who made the profit were the manufacturers of bacon-the pork packers, f believe that the order of the board is not aimed at the producer of pork, but at the profiteer and the manufacturer. Anyway, somebody's ox is sure to be gored, and no [DOT] matter what this Board of Commerce may do, it is sure to be criticised. There is a quotation that I frequently make, and it seems to apply in this case.

You'll be damned if you do,

You'll be damned if you don't.

But we have a board, 1 believe, that will prove eminently satisfactory to the people of Canada. I think they ought to be given a chance. I do not think that every time they make an order, be it small or great, the members of the Parliament of Canada should rise up and denounce them. How are you going to get service from anybody

if you are going to keep on harping upon their acts, criticising, and tearing them down? Surely the people's representatives should stand by something! Let us be constructive, let us make some progress, let us support these men.

I believe that if you ask the people of Manitoba they will be a unit in saying that Judge Robson is the very highest type of man. He will give the very best service he can, and if you want a commission of the highest efficiency, he is the best man that could have been selected to conduct its work. Then, in Heaven's name, let us support him loyally. If this board does something absolutely wrong and inimical to the public interests, it will be time enough to criticise it. But this House has got into the habit of criticising and carping at everything that is done, and if we keep on we are going to rock the boat and it will go under. If there is one thing that is needed in Canada more than another at the present time it is to try and prevent rocking the boat. With our enormous commitments and responsibilities, if this policy is continued, ultimately the ship of State is bound to be wrecked. It is only, in my judgment, by the most careful steering, by pursuing the most judicious course, by husbanding our resources and by endeavouring to stand by what appeals to the best judgment of the people as being right and in the best interests of Canada, that we can succeed in saving the ship at all.

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L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. S. W. JACOBS (George Etienne Cartier):

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the debate has wandered very far from the question before the House, which is the fixing of the salaries of the members of the Board of Commerce. That is the matter which should engage the attention of the House, and nothing further. I have very little sympathy with the Government which is responsible for bringing on this debate. There was no necessity to have brought this matter before the House. The Government was given power at the last session, when the Bill was before the House originally, to fix the salaries of the commissioners. The Governor in Council had the power to fix the salaries, and why we are now called upon to discuss this whole question again is something that passes my poor understanding.

I must deplore the criticism which has been levelled at the Board of Commerce by the members seated on your right, Mr. Speaker. With the exception of the lion.

member who has just resumed his seat (Mr. Richardson), and who condemned the board with faint praise, there was not a * single member on the Government side who had a good word to say about the Board of Commerce. I was not very much enamoured of this board when the question was first mooted in the House but I was willing that it should be given a chance. To-day we have a number of gentlemen representing the farming community who, finding that possibly the actions of the board may interfere with there profits, are furiously attacking the personnel or membership of the board. I think it is highly improper on the part of members in the House to criticize the composition of the boiard in -the way that they have done. This is not the proper place to discuss milk prices and agricultural economics. The proper place to do it is before the Board of Commerce, before Mr. O'Connor and Mr. Justice Robson. But here we are discussing before this House a matter ex-parte with no one on the other side to say a word in defence of the board. I have no sympathy at. all with the Government who find themselves in the position of having a quarrel in their own family, inasmuch as it was not necessary for them to bring this matter before the House at all.

I would like to say a word or two in regard to a matter which was brought before the House by one of the members when discussing the effect of the rulings of the board upon agriculture. I would like to relieve his mind, if I can, as to any fears which he may have that the rulings of the board are'going to affect his particular business. If he will refer to "the Act itself, he will find t-halt the board has practically no power at all. The Government has surrounded the board with barbed wire entanglements and made it impossible for the board to do anything. The Government has seen to that. If hon. gentlemen will refer to section 41 of the Act, they will notice that:

The Governor in Council may, in his discretion, either upon petition of any Person interested, lodged within one month after the making: of the order, decision, rule or regulation, or within such further time as the board under special circumstances may allow, or of his own motion, at any time, and without any petition or application, vary or rescind any order, decision, rule or regulation of the board.

That is to say, the Government itelf may, without any complaint whatsoever, rescind any order of the board. The board really has no power at all. Its claws were drawn before it was brought into existence.

Furthermore, we find that when any order is made by the board, nothing can be done by that board beyond making the order, they are impotent. The board send the 0'i'der to the Attorney General of the province in which the alleged offence was committed, and it is for the Attorney General to pigeonhole it or not just as he thinks fit, but the matter at once falls into the jurisdiction of the Attorney General of the province. Therefore, hon. gentlemen have no reason to be frightened; nothing is to be done to their business; they can charge any price they like for their milk, cheese, butter, beef or any other commodity, so that all this talk is really to no purpose at all. And, when I listened to one hon. gentlemen after another taking up the time of the House, I was rather inclined to agree with the resolution introduced here last night by the hon. member for Qu'Appelle (Mr. Levi Thomson) who stated that most of the speakers in this House developed into public nuisances. I do not wish to attach any such expression to the hon. gentlemen who have spoken to-day; I do not think they ore public nuisances. For instance, I was rather interested in the remarks which1 fell from the lips of the hon. member for East Middlesex (Mr. Glass) who regaled us with an interesting speech upon the price of milk in Great Britain and the price of flax in Quebec. I find that every time I come into this House I learn something from hon. gentlemen who talk with so much intelligence upon every subject- that comes before us.

The hon. member for. Springfield (Mr. Richardson) paid a very high tribute to Mr. Justice Robson, with -which tribute I wish to 'associate myself. I am very glad that Mr. Justice Robson's ability has been brought before the House in such a striking manner, and I am sure the Government ought to be congratulated on the appointment of Mr. Justice Robson to this high and important position. Everything the hon. member said about him I can heartily endorse. I was, however, rather sorry to think that the hon. member should have stopped there. He said that there ought to have been no criticism of the board; that they should have been given a -chance; that their efficiency is going to be affected throughout the country if we criticise them in the way in which we have done. Then in the same breadth he told us that he did not know anything about Mr. W. F. OfCb-n-nor, but he rather thought he was an indiscreet gentleman, but under the influence of Mr. Justice Robson, for I do not

know how long, he might -perhaps develop into a useful official. Then we were told that the board talks too much. I wonder what the opinion of the board is with regard to members of Parliament, whether they reciprocate that view or not.

We have already appointed to this board three gentlemen, one of whom is merely a locum tenens. When the Bill, creating the board was introduced into this House at the last session, I raised the question that it was highly necessary and proper that a French-speaking man should be appointed -as a third member of this Bo-ard of Commerce, -and I s-till make th-at pretension. I took the view that in this country, where more than twenty-five per cent of our people are French-speaking, who do not understand the English language as they do their own language, it is essen-ti-al that the third member of the board should be a Frenchspeaking man. It may be, of course, that the Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty) and the Government feel that the whole province of Quebec is so free from profiteering and from excessive charges in matter of products that there is no necessity at all for having any sittings in that province; but perhaps there is -another view, -and I think it would be a s-afe thing -at all events, to appoint some person from Quebec who would be conversant with the Frencli tongue and at the same time would render useful service to the board by his ability to speak the English language.

What makes me believe that the Board of Commerce is at present rendering useful work to the community and to the country is the fact that we have such a chorus of disapproval in this House from members representing the farming community. You know,' Sir, the old saying that when you throw a brick down a dark lane at night and you hear a howl, you know you have struck something. That is the view which I think the community generally will take. I think the board is doing excellent work in investigating everything, not only the farming community, but the pork-packers and others. Every interest ought to be investigated by this board, and I trust they will be. The farming community who are not yet affected by any order of the board should wait before they lay their complaints before the House. One gentleman went so far as to say that he felt that the- *

Mr. MoCREA: Would you investigate

the lawyers?

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L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

I do not think the lawyers require investigating. I think it will he

found in the case of most lawyers that, when they come to give up the ghost either their estates are insolvent or their relatives accept the estates under the benefit of inventory. That is the best proof that they are not profiteers. In any event, I think the hon. member for Sherbrooke (Mr. MoCrea) would prevent them from . becoming profiteers, even if they wanted to be, at his expense.

One hon. member-I do not remember from what constituency he hails-said that this discussion ought to do good, as it would teach the men who are on the board just what their duties should be and should not be. I cannot take that view at all. It seems to me that those men who are appointed to. the board should proceed with their work in no manner affected by any views to which expression may be given in this House. We know that, in our courts of justice, any attempt made to affect the views of a court or a judge is treated as contempt of court, and punished accordingly, and we in this House have no more right in that respect as members of Parliament than we would have as private members of the community going about our daily avocations.

I ran across Mr. O'Connor on Sparks street to-day, and he assured me that, as a result of the operations of the board, they have already caused a reduction in the price of beef of ten or twelve cents per pound. I have not yet felt the effect of that myself, but I hope I shall in due time. He also told me about the price of pork, but for obvious reasons I was not interested. So far as I am concerned, I only hope the price of that article is put up to a prohibitive degree in order that the members of the community may not be permitted to eat of the unclean animal.

I trust that we shall hear nothing further about the conduct and action of this Board of Commerce. Let them continue on their way. Let us see what they ai'e able to do, and if, at the next session, we find that we have made a mistake in creating this board the same body.-the Parliament of Canada- that brought this court unto existence can give it its coup de grace. But I bespeak for it the support, not only of the members of this House, but of the whole of the country, and let us see if something cannot be .done towards reducing the cost of living, a consummation devoutly to be wished by every one of us.

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UNION

John Albert Sexsmith

Unionist

Mr. JOHN ALBERT SEXSMITH (East Peterborough):

Mr. Speaker, I do not think any ihon. member can class me as one of those who take up the time of the House

with long speeches, and I invite them to look over the pages of Hansard for the last ten or twelve years and see how the record bears out my statement. I w.as very much interested in the remarks of the hon. member for George Etienne Cartier (Mr. Jacobs), who was loud in his condemnation of the hon. members for South Oxford (Mr. Sutherland) and East Middlesex (Mr. Glass), who, as he put it, were voicing the sentiments of their constituents and of the farmers of this great country.

I ask the House to think of the remarks of the hon. member (Mr. Jacobs) and ask themselves if he was not voicing the sentiments of his own constitutuents as loudly as any other hon. member did this afternoon.

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L LIB
UNION

John Albert Sexsmith

Unionist

Mr. SEXSMITH:

His whole speech was a condemnation of the farmer and the price of foods stuffs. Why, in every paper you picked up during the last few months you saw the price of eggs and of butter and of bacon complained of, and the Government was bombarded to appoint a commission to bring down the high cost of living. The high cost of what? Boots and shoes and clothing? No, of butter and eggs and food stuffs generally. If we are to judge by the reports that have appeared in the papers the last day or so, this is no Board of Commerce at all, but a board to control the price of food. I have nothing to say against the personnel of the Board, but I do say that the great agricultural interests of his country should be represented on the Board by at least one member. Prom forty to fifty per cent of the people of this country live on the farm, and are producing the stuff that is going to pay the war debt of this country if ever it is paid, and yet a board is appointed to look after the interests of the. consumer, and the forty to fifty per cent of the people of this country who are producing and upon whom the consumer is dependent for his very life, have no representative on the Board. That is what I protest against. I also'protest against the members from the great cities and urban centres crying down the farmer and saying that he is the man who should be throttled. I .say to those hon. members that this is a broad and vast country, nearly four thousand miles across, with millions of acres of virgin soil. Go and tell your constituents who are shouting about the high cost of living, "Canada has millions of .acres of virgin soil. Go and produce for yourself the eggs, the butter the cheese

and the milk that you need". If they did that, there would be no cause for complaint about the high cost of living. But hon. members from the city will not tell them that, and a hoard is appointed to fix the price of food. Why, to my mind, it is the most absurd thing under Heaven. I was amazed to hear my hon. friend from Springfield (Mr. Richardson) say that lie did not know that fixing the price of bacon influenced the price of hogs. Has he read the market reports for the last few weeks?

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UNION
UNION

John Albert Sexsmith

Unionist

Mr. SEXSMITH:

Then he must have seen that the price of live hogs has gone down from 5 to 7 cents a pound. Has he not seen the papers from the great city of Montreal announcing, sometimes under big headlines, what this board has accomplished?

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UNION

Robert Lorne Richardson

Unionist

Mr. RICHARDSON:

The hon. member

would not say that the fall in the. price of hogs was due to regulating the profits of the manufacturer.

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UNION

John Albert Sexsmith

Unionist

Mr. SEXSMITH:

I would not say it was due to regulation, because I do not believe any bacon should sell at 70 cents a pound. I am not here to protect the profiteer, but I am here to protect the honest producer, in his interest and the interest of Canada. When I was home a week ago I had farmers ask me "What are the prospects for the prices of hogs next spring?" I said "Do not ask me. Ask some one with a greater knowledge of those things than I have." 1 have been a producer, of hogs for forty years, and I say that if you set the price at 15 cents live weight, you cannot make anything at it to-day with the present price of wheat and other cereals, and if that price is fixed, instead of having $40,000,000 or $50,000,000 of bacon to export you will have the same condition we had a few years ago with regard to butter and mutton and lamb, and the like,-we shall be bringing these things in from New Zealand, and eggs from China, and all the rest of it. *

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UNION

Robert Lorne Richardson

Unionist

Mr. RICHARDSON:

My hon. friend admits that 70 cents for bacon is an outlandish price. If the board set the price at 60 cents, does my hon. friend say that that would mean the price of hogs would be 15 cents? The board is not setting the price of pork at all. .

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UNION

John Albert Sexsmith

Unionist

Mr. SEXSMITH:

When you fix the price for the product of the hog you set the pTice for the whole hog.

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UNION

Robert Lorne Richardson

Unionist

Mr. RICHARDSON:

Then you would justify 70 cents a pound for bacon?

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UNION

John Albert Sexsmith

Unionist

Mr. SEXSMITH:

No. I know that price has been often quoted. I might say that for a little piece of Windsor bacon $1.50 might not be out of the way. Let me explain. It is only a very small part of the hog that sells at 70 cents, but judging by the papers you would think every part is sold at that figure. You do not have to pay 70 cents a pound for the shank or many other parts. When you get a choice piece of 'bacon specially cured with all the bone taken out, the rind taken of, and cut in slices one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness, done up in a quarter-pound package and delivered at your house, do you think 70 cents a pound is too much for that? I repeat, it is only a small part of the back that sells for that figure, but the whole hog is held up to scorn on account of that price. Foodstuffs are not the only element in the high cost of living, and if this Board has been appointed especially for the purpose of bringing down the price of foodstuffs and is going to act along these lines alone, it will strike at the very foundations of the greatest industry of this country.

When I have gone up and down the country I have tried to point out to the people that the only thing for us to do is to produce more. Before the war Russia was producing about one-third of the world's wheat supply, running over 1,000,000,000 bushels every year. The world's consumption of wheat was a little over 3,000,000,000 bushels a year, and up to 1911 no country in the world had come near Russia's production. But in 1911 or 1912 Providence provided a bounteous harvest in the United 'States, and for the first time in her history she equalled Russia's production of wheat. Russia also produced 700,000,000 bushels of rye, over 52 per cent of the world's production. Eggs and butter from Siberia were pouring into Great Britain, and other parts of Europe. That supply has all been cut off. Belgium and France and other parts of Europe have been laid waste for five years by the most dastardly war the world has ever seen. A starving Europe looks to this Continent for bacon, butter, eggs and other foodstuffs. Only two years ago practically every school teacher, clergyman, and member of Parliament in this country was out on the side lines and back lanes begging people, even the boys at school, to own a pig and produce bacon. "Produce, produce, produce!" was the cry; "give us bacon to feed our armies." The farmers rose to the

occasion. Did we not export some $52,000,000 worth of bacon during one year of the war? And now the ho-n. member from Montreal, because he represents a city riding, is clamouring to have the screw put on and prices kept down.

In conclusion!, Mr. Speaker, I would give this advice to the members of the great city ridings of Canada: If your food is too dear and your people are clamouring, tell them that God has provided a great and bounteous land for them, with millions of acres between the Atlantic and the Pacific, on which they can make a living honestly and uprightly, and bring up their families under God's open heaven far better than they can in any slum in the city-land on which their children may grow up to be men and women eminently fit to bring Canada to the forefront and make her a nation whose name will be glorious throughout the world.

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UNION

William Findlay Maclean

Unionist

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (York South):

I am in favour of a commission of this kind for the purpose of regulating the cost of living which has been hearing heavily upon the people not only of Canada hut of Great Britain and the United States. The authorities have regulated the prices of foodstuffs in Britain with some success, and in the United State's an active campaign has been launched. Here also we are taking steps to reduce the cost of living, and I sincerely trust that our efforts will meet with -appreciable success. I agree with my friend from East Peterborough (Mr. Sexsmith) in the view that the -cost of food is not the only matter that needs to be regulated; it is necessary also to regulate the prices of manufactured goods, including clothing, boots, e'tc., and I hope the Commission) will pay due attention to this matter. In considering the high cost of living -we naturally ask ourselves the question: What is the justification of commissions such -as these and of investigations? Well, the justification lies in this, that publicity is given as to th-e conditions that exist -and facts- are brought Out on which reasonable action may he based. Let us take -the question of milk which we were discussing this -aftem-oon, and which is one of importance to the city of Toronto and to the farmers who live -in the townships I happen to represent. It has been revealed that the farmer -at best receives 7 cents -a quart -for his milk. Milk produced in the neighbourhood of Toronto is sold wholesale by the farmer to the milk dealer a-t 7 cents, (whereas the city dweller pays 14 cents for

it. In other words, there is an

astounding spread. All the investigations that have taken place in Europe, in the United -States and in Canada are bringing various facts to light, and the great economic fact is that the matter for gravest complaint in -Canada on the part of those who live in cities is the difference between the price paid the producer 'and that which the consumer is charged when the product finally reaches him. I do not think that we ought to pay 14 cents for our milk in the city if the farmer gets only 7 cents, and it is obvious that there is an economic difficulty of some kind that demands a remedy. This spread in -prices exists to a greater extent in connection with hog products. Hogs run from 20 cents to 25 cents a pound live weight, and bacon and ham and pork have gone from 40 cents to 60 cents a pound. Such a discrepancy in prices should not exist; there is a profiteer somewhere who ought to be curbed. I do not say it is the fanner, but it is in the interests of the public that all these facts should be established, and if there is anything wrong-and certainly there is, so far as the people in the cities are concerned-an effective remedy should be applied. I think, therefore, that a board of 'this kind is n-ecessary. While perhaps they may have made mistakes at first, they are bringing out facts and getting results; and the predominant fact witli which the people of this country and those of tile Unitted States are now acquainted, as a result of investigations into the cost of living, is that there is an injustifiable difference between the price which -the producer of the food receives and that which is paid by the consumer. As a result of investigations in the United States the farmer i-s not being hurt, but the profiteer is being haled before the bar of public justice and made to reduce h-is profits, with the result that prices are going lower. That is one phase of the operations which justify the board in the United States, and I believe that similar proceedings have been taken in Great Britain. We must find a way in Canada of dealing with this exorbitant spread between the producer's price and the consumer's. This matter is worthy of the attention of Parliament. It is worthy of the attention of a high court of some kind, and it should receive the support of the Government and of every member of this House. In doing what it has done Parliament has in a measure responded to a great public demand.

In regard to the personnel of the Commission I agree that the farming element ought to be represented. The farmers know a great deal about the production of the

necessities of life, and the board should include a representative of agriculture, as is the case in connection with the Board of Commerce in the United States. I should like to deal with some other questions to-night, but time does not permit. But the disclosures that have been made in the United States have justified the investigations that have taken place there. The public have obtained better treatment, and we must see that similar results are attained here.

The only other criticism I would pass upon the board, and it is a strong one from my point of view, is the fact, as the hon. member for Montreal said, that there is not a real enforcement of our law as in the United States. There they have a federal enforcement of a federal law. I have spoken already on this matter in the House, and I believe that the Government differ considerably from me in that respect. But if we have a strong commission and a proper enforcement of the regulations that are made, we shall have better results. As was said this afternoon, we want some one in the House who can be held responsible for the enforcement of these regulations. We ought to make the Government responsible for the enforcement of the law, and I have said before that the Attorney General ought to be the responsible official. He should be able to employ various assistants, attorneys and special agents to investigate the matter of prices, and should have at his disposal proper experts to advise him. Let there be accountants to ascertain whether there is or is not an unfair spread; and if there is unfair profiteering let us take adequate steps to eliminate both these elements. It will not be done in a day.

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UNION

Francis Ramsey Lalor

Unionist

Mr. LALOR:

Have you any information as to the prices of hog products in the United States as compared with Canada?

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UNION

William Findlay Maclean

Unionist

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN:

There is a very substantial reduction of prices in the United States.

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UNION

Francis Ramsey Lalor

Unionist

Mr. LALOR:

That is not the question. Are our prices higher than in the United States? i

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UNION

October 2, 1919