May 25, 1921

UNION

John Best

Unionist

Mr. BEST:

Did the hon. member ask a question? Did he ask me to stand up? I certainly do say that I am in favour of high-priced farm products.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

Well, perhaps it is my method of appeal. I feel very much in earnest in the matter, but I know that the hon. gentleman can always stand up manfully for what he believes,-he may be a little mixed in his belief, but he is always ready to stand up for it. The question of price, Mr. Speaker, does not affect my thinking at

all. What I am looking for is international commerce, and, in addition to that, the freedom of the subject. The Liberalism in which I was raised meant freedom; the word itself means freedom. For the life of me I cannot understand the thinking of people in this great, free, democratic country of Canada who say that for the sake of imaginary help to a few people engaged in a certain industry, the teeming populations of Hamilton, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg should be prevented from buying oleo if they want to buy it. The most sacred right a man has is to sell his labour to the best advantage, and when I buy oleo or anything else I sell my labour for it, whether I am a workingman or not. None of us has any right to what we do not labour for either by our heads or by our hands, or is not given to us by bequest. When I buy oleo or anything else I sell my labour, and I claim the sacred right to sell that labour and to buy the product of it in the cheapest market, in the best market-in short, in any market that suits me. If a man in Montreal wants to buy oleomargarine, what right has anyone from Huntingdon, even if he is a member of Parliament, to object to his buying it? I cannot understand it, on the grounds of the liberty oi the subject. The fundamental objection tc protection is that it is an interference with the liberty of the subject, because it is an interference with a man's selling his labour, where he can do it without breaking any moral law, to the best advantage.

Something has been said about the fertility of the soil. Well, I would be very sorry if the introduction of oleo interfered with the fertility of the soil. We have such boundless acres of fertile land in this country that that argument has a very small effect on my mind. I know what the argument is; there is nothing in it, however. I should like to submit to my hon. friends on this side who talk about the fertility of the soil that the huge increase of the dairy industry which my hon. friend from Frontenac (Mr. Edwards) proved has taken place does not make against the fertility of the soil. It would be too much, Mr. Speaker, to expect that a case which was supported by my hon. friend from Frontenac on one side of the House and by my hon. friend from Guysborough (Mr. Sinclair) on the other would be logical in all the elements of argument that were produced.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

Let me tell my hon. friend that I did not support it as he

asserts. It is just my hon. friend's failure to understand the fundamentals in connection with the matter.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

Well, I never expect my hon. friend, either in speech or in interruption, long to fail to descend to personalities. I am very sorry, of course, that my understanding was weak. I followed my hon. friend carefully and when I did not think I was understanding him fully I got him to amplify his statement. But of course we all have to work, whether we be working in this House or in York-Sunbury, with as much intelligence as the Lord has given to us.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
LIB
PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

I must ask my hon. friend to observe the ordinary courtesies of debate. I promise to be brief.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

Does my hon. friend understand what ordinary courtesy is?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

The hon. gentleman has just come out of a discussion down in New Brunswick and he actually wants to get into another here, against the rules of the House.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
LIB
PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

I thought he would have learned, Sir-

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

I must, remind the hon. member for Frontenac (Mr. Edwards) that he has already spoken. The hon. member for Red Deer has the floor and has asked not to be interrupted.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

I understood he was discussing oleomargarine and not Frontenac.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

I was discussing also the arguments which have been used in this debate, and I was saying-and I think I was well within the rules of parliamentary debate when I did so-that I hardly expected that an argument would stand well which was supported on one side of the House by my hon. friend from Frontenac and on the other side of the House by my hon. friend from Guys-borough. I do not for a moment want to commit to my hon. friend (Mr. Edwards), but he would he the first to admit that he does not find himself in very general agreement with the hon. gentleman from Guysborough, and I was simply expressing the playful opinion that one might expect that a debate supported from these

very opposite quarters was likely to show disagreement in the argument. And there is disagreement in the argument. My hon. friend from Frontenac proved that the dairy industry was going forward by leaps and bounds. My hon. friend (Mr. Sinclair) to my right said that they feared for the fertility of the soil if oleomargarine was introduced. I thought the facts of one hon. member contradicted the position of the other. The point is a small one. I do not think we are suffering very much from the want of fertile soil in Canada. I do not want to extend my remarks; I think I have said enough to indicate where I stand. I believe in conferring the benefit of freer trade wherever it is possible to do it. It has been clearly possible to do it in this case without hurting the industry in question. It is a great boon, or the people think it is a boon to large masses of the people in our cities, and I trust the minister will stick to his guns and give the people engaged in this industry in Canada some security in following it by knowing where they stand in the matter, and at the same time promote international commerce between us and the great nation to the south of us to at least this small extent. I am perfectly sure that it is along those lines, rather than along the lines of further restrictions, that we are going to take the best road to solve our difficulties of high cost of living, unemployment, lowering of trade, general depression and want of prosperity from which we are suffering at the present moment.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

George Boyce

Unionist

Mr. GEORGE BOYCE (Carleton):

Mr. Speaker, while I have no objection to any person using oleomargarine, if he wishes to do so, I have very strong objection to its coming into this country free of duty at this or any other time. Possibly a year or so ago, when butter was 70 or 75 cents a pound, there might have been some excuse; but at the present time when butter is down to 25 or 30 cents a pound, I do not see that any excuse can be urged on the ground of poor people requiring a cheap article. Whatever may be said about the quality of this article, I for one have no great fancy for it; I never ate anj of it, and I would not do so if I could avoid it, because I do not think that, being made of grease, it is of any benefit to our farmers. I would not buy it. The minister should proceed very carefully at the present time because the farmers of this country are passing through a serious

:860

crisis. I speak as one who should know a little about farming because I have been a farmer all my life; I know fairly well

the wants of farmers and what suits them. If you do away with the dairy industry, you hurt agriculture to a greater extent than is possible in any other way that I know of. Some one said that dairying or cattle-raising was not of very much benefit to the soil. I am glad to say that that gentleman did not live in. Ontario, because, if he did, he would tell a different story, as this is of the greatest possible assistance to farming. Cattle-raising is one of the mainstays of the farmer in Canada. In Great Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries, a farmer would not think of putting in a crop without the addition of fertilizer; but in this Canada of ours, at least in this section of it, it is impossible for us to get fertilizers, and the next best thing is cattle-raising, and the dairy industry. Let me tell the House that the dairy production of Canada in a year amounts to $250,000,000. We export over $258,000,000 worth of cattle, and our other agricultural exports amount to over $365,000,000. The number of livestock, milk cattle, and dairy cattle, in this country is over 20,000,000. That is a very large number, and this stock is of great benefit to our farms in putting them in better condition for raising other agricultural products. Some may think that a very high valuation has been placed on this livestock, but the valuation which is not too high at all, amounts to over $1,296,000,000. That is something that ought to be looked after very carefully and not injured in any way. The farm lands of Canada are valued at $2,792,000,000; the buildings which we must have in connection with the farms are valued at $927,000,000, and the value of the implements amounts to about $387,000,000. Altogether, the value of what is connected with farming and the dairy industry, which is the mainstay of the farm, amounts to about $9,000,000,000, which would pay the national debt of this country four times over. Anything that represents such an enormous amount of value, and especially something upon which all of us, city people as well as country people, depend for our living-because we are all as anxious for good crops as the farmers are-deserves to be protected as well as possible. I trust the minister will not do anything which will injure the dairy production of this country. If the dairying industry is hurt, another thing that is going to be handicapped is the production of ice cream and

condensed milk. As a body of Canadians we ought to do all that we possibly can to foster the dairy industry, because it must be admitted, according to the agricultural returns, that it is one of the greatest benefits that we have in the Dominion of Canada. If we throw obstacles in the way of that industry, we are going to hinder the progress of the country at a time when we should do everything in our power to meet the national debt which has accrued in years gone by. The money has to be raised; it must be paid, and no one is more willing to assist in paying that debt than the Canadian farmer.

At Six o'clock, the House took recess.

After Recess

The House resumed at Eight o'clock.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Joseph Bruno Aimé Miville Déchêne

Laurier Liberal

Mr. A. M. DECHENE (Montmagny) :

(Translation.) Mr. Speaker, the legislation with which we are now dealing is more important than it might appear at first glance. Shall we allow the sale of oleomargarine or other substitutes of butter ? Such is the question which we have to settle.

The Government, through the Minister of Agriculture, favours that sale. Shall we follow them in that course? As far as I am concerned, I do not think that we should do so, and for many reasons. What strikes me first is the time chosen for bringing down such legislation. I object to the practice of the Government in trying, on the very last days of a session, to shove through any legislation of a more than doubtful intrinsic value. In the present circumstances, do they want to avail themselves of the unfortunate tendency of this House to pass a Bill without giving it the full consideration it ought to receive? I am rather inclined to think so. I do not know for whose benefit this legislation will be enacted, but I am satisfied that it is not to foster the dairying industry of this country that this legislation is asked, because that industry will be the very first to suffer from the sale of these substitutes of butter. Besides, the consumer pays as much for substitutes as for butter, and it therefore cannot be in the interests of the latter that this Bill is introduced, as it will be of no benefit to the great mass of people.

However, somebody must be interested in keeping those products on the market. The manufacturer and the importer would be the only parties interested. This, I

understand, is an excellent reason for the hon. Minister of Agriculture and his colleagues to allow, henceforth, the importation into this country, as well as the sale and even the manufacturing of oleomargarine, butterine and other similar products. It is, as in, the past, a discriminating legislation in favour of the manufacturer and of the Government's friends.

I see nothing there but a law for the benefit of a few privileged people, a law absolutely Tory in its character. This is already enough to satisfy me that the Bill is unsound and contrary to the best interest of the country as a whole; nay more, it directly affects the material interests of the' Canadian people and is detrimental to the dairy industry, which is the very basis of national prosperity; it affects everything connected with agriculture, and its depressing influence will be felt more and more by the farming community of this country. What would we have gained in working for half a century to improve our farming and our dairy products, so as to place them on the markets of the world, if we now try to maintain in our midst a destroying germ introduced during the war, a germ which will contribute to checking our progress in the dairy industry, and I say it without hesitation, a germ of death?

We have established in this country, with great pains and with great effort, a Canadian herd of considerable value. When we consider that this herd is at present valued at about $1,296,602,000, we necessarily wonder why Canada, a country so naturally peaceful, should maintain a herd of so considerable a value. The reason is very simple, the herd is the soul of the farm; without it, a farm cannot be maintained even in a fairly good agricultural condition. Let my hon. friend from Red Beer (Mr. Clark) say what he likes, the fertility of the soil depends, to a great extent, on the herd, and the fertility of the soil, coupled with the fact that our farms are kept in good condition, means the enriching of the farming community and of more than half the population, and the enriching of that class really means the enriching of a country as a whole. If you introduce into your legislation a principle which is destructive or likely to check the improvement or the enriching of the farming community, you introduce by the very fact, a principle which is apt to destroy the prosperity of the nation. Considering the enormous debt which we are saddled with and which we will be called upon to pay within a pretty short delay, a debt

which weighs mainly on the farming community, how can we expect those people to carry their burden if, first of all, we impede their production?

Mr. Speaker, when the House rose at six o'clock, I was alluding to the value of the Canadian herd, to the great amount of work necessitated during the last fifty years to establish that herd, and I was referring also to its general importance. I think there are others also who acknowledge the importance of the Canadian herd. The hon. minister himself (Mr. Tolmie) laid great stress on the value of that herd as well as on the means by which we should try to increase it and give it an additional value if possible, when he brought down, this year, the Estimates pertaining to agriculture. In fact, if we refer to those Estimates, we find that of the sum of $4,502,139.50 voted for agricultural purposes ,in 1920-21, two important items have been exclusively applied to improving and maintaining the national herd. We find, in this vote, $1,410,000 exclusively reserved for the care of the Canadian herd. We find, moreover, a sum of $1,000,000 intended for the improvement of that herd or, in other words, two millions and a half, out of four millions and a half, exclusively devoted for these purposes. Therefore, the hon. minister himself understands how important it is for this country to have an important herd and one of the best. But, Mr. Speaker, what would be the use of having such good herds if they were merely to supply food, to supply butchers' meat? Evidently, the thought by which the hon. minister is guided in the very administration of his department extends further. He knows that, to every good farmer, the herd is foremost and that large sums of money are voted to keep it foremost. Now, Mr. Speaker, if the usefulness of the national herd is so well understood, if it is admitted that this herd must be beneficial to the farmer, by all means it must necessarily be admitted that the main object of a herd, for a farmer, is surely to warrant the operation of the dairy industry.

And if the dairy industry be the very basis, the foundation of Canadian farming, why do they come and ask this House for the continuance of evils we had to endure during the war? For you will agree with me that the trade in oleomargarine, butterine and every other substitute for butter is an evil brought upon us by war, an evil which we were able to exclude and which, it seems, is liable to implant itself anew

among us, for reasons still unknown. We should not permit oleomargarine and other substitutes for butter to be imported into Canada, to be manufactured on a large scale and often sold in a fraudulent manner; I say fraudulent because traders often sell to their customers oleomargarine and other substitutes as if they were real butter, though they are but a camouflage.

The introduction of this product on our market, the permission to manufacture it on a large scale would also have another result, besides dissuading our farmers from keeping good herds of cattle. Observing that the possession of a first-class herd upon his farm is not calculated to bring him a sufficient income, and that every product which might hinder the development of that herd is admitted to the market just like the natural, the pure product, the farmer will of course desert that industry and we shall soon see the butter, cheese, condensed or evaporated milk factories jeopardized. Let us bear in mind, Mr. Speaker, that we have in this country 3,282 factories of butter, cheese and milk by-products in which up to date a capital of more than $25,388,026 has been invested. Should the time come when no profits will be derived from the sale of butter and cheese, these factories will certainly close their doors, so that the farmer's son will be incited to leave the paternal roof and go into the cities where he may at least expect a better living without having to work for a paltry income. People often complain that young men turn away from the fields. Why? Because, often enough, work of a farmer doesn't bring as much money apparently as the workingman can earn in the cities, and because life is less cheerful and pleasures are wanting in the country.

If you suppressed whatever advantage there may be in the dairy industry, what will remain to keep the farmer's son at home? We who are living in country places know that every month or every fortnight the butter or cheese maker pays to the farmer for his milk and cream a sum of money which is brought home and accumulated monthly. This adds enchantment to life and incites the young farmer to grow fonder of rural life. Therefore, by doing away with that advantage you offer those young men a further excuse for leaving the paternal roof.

Somebody said a moment ago that we should let everybody buy what he wants according to his taste. An hon. gentleman was asking the fiery member from

Red Deer (Mr. Clark) whether or not he would consent to the sale of wheat as he would like butter and cheese to be sold. My hon. friend answered that he was in favour of the complete freedom of trade. Since they are in favour of the complete freedom of trade would it be wise to open our doors to every kind of produce which might come from abroad and over which we have for a number of years deliberated with as much wisdom as sternness?

Under the circumstances I think we ought to be satisfied with our natural product and to keep for ourselves the already restricted market we have. At the present time we have large quantities of butter and cheese. On the first of January, 1921, our stock of butter and dairy produce amounted to 14,271,382 pounds; we had 11,078,000 pounds of cheese and 412,962 pounds of oleomargarine; we had almost two pounds of cheese and three pounds of butter per capita in store in this country, a large quantity which shows that production has now reached its maximum, and unless we pay attention to it, butter and cheese-making is going to be materially reduced for some years to come, so that farmers will have to change their ways, that is improving their herds, their lands and their produce.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister of Agriculture has agreed with the departments of agriculture in the various provinces that they would attend to the registration of milch cows, so as to remove from the herds unsatisfactory cows and to know what quantity of milk is given by each animal. In former years the farmers had no confidence in the efficiency of that cow-testing method. The Quebec and Ontario governments lent a hand and immediately we witnessed a material increase in the number of tested cows and at the same time a greater quantity of milk given by eacn animal. Last year, the quantity of milk in each province was already large. In 1919, there were 22,517 registered animals: 10,374 in Quebec, 4,214 in Ontario and 2,714 in Nova Scotia-mentioning only these three provinces. In 1920, in the province of Quebec, the number of cows exceeded 35,000. I regret that I have not the figures relating to the other provinces. Quebec may now boast of having more than 50,000 tested cows.

Therefore the farmers in the provinces which are more interested in this movement will know how to increase their output of milk and fat; but if on the other hand, substitutes for butter and cheese which would

submit them to a ruinous competition were allowed on the market, they will have the right to ask us whether we are justified in advising them to do what they are doing and we shall then see the good work done so far set at naught.

Those are .some of the reasons that ought to guide us when we are considering this Bill. According to me, the reasons I have mentioned as briefly as possible are peremptory and I have no hesitation in saying that the proposed legislation will have disastrous consequences all over the country and that we ought to oppose it.

I am of the opinion that members of this House should take a greater interest in the development of the country than in the passing of a Bill granting favours to a few only, and that they ought to join hands with the opponents of this measure.

Therefore I beg the hon. minister to desist in furthering this legislation.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Simon Fraser Tolmie (Minister of Agriculture)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. TOLMIE:

I have listened with a great deal of interest to the discussion that has taken place. Some of it has been to the effect that the butter situation has been seriously affected by allowing oleomargarine to be manufactured and imported into this country. This is not backed up by figures. As a matter of fact, the output of our dairy products has greatly increased during the period in which the manufacture and importation of oleomargarine has been permitted. We also find that in such countries as Denmark, which produces the highest quality of butter in the world, and which depends for its prosperity upon the production of butter, the people of that country consume no less than forty-four pounds of oleomargarine per head per year. Oleomargarine has been recognized as a very wholesome article of food all over the world and Canada is the only country at the present time that has any restrictions on its manufacture, importation or sale. It has proven a boon to the poor man during tne periods when butter has been at a very high price and we find that lately, since butter has come down in price to the point where it is now only a few cents above oleomargarine -in the city of Ottawa to-day oleomargarine is selling for only 7 cents a pound less than butter-the consumption of oleomargarine is almost nil. There is nobody '-n the country who has any taste for good butter who will buy oleomargarine if good butter is to be purchased at a reasonable price, and that is the case all over the world. I do not propose to take up any more time at present. I rose simply to say

that as there seems to be a good deal of difference of opinion as to the length of time to which we should extend this provision I am willing, as we are nearing the end of the session, and we wish to avoid a long discussion, to extend this provision for the manufacture, sale and importation of oleomargarine for another twelve months, if that meets with the approval of the House.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Hon. W. S. FIELDING (Shelburne and Queen's) :

I am very sorry that the minister has announced this change of front. A year ago when he was dealing with this subject I ventured to express the hope that he would then deal with it as a permanency, or otherwise he was simply postponing trouble. Now the trouble has come.

I do not think there is any justification for placing restrictions on the manufacture, sale and importation of oleomargarine. It did not need any statistics, which have been so freely given this afternoon and evening, to show us the importance of the dairying industry. It is a very great industry, one of the natural industries of the country, and if there is ^ny industry of Canada that can stand on its feet and live and flourish irrespective of outside considerations, and that simply asks for a fair field and no favour, it is the dairying industry. It is for the moment under a little temporary depression, but not more so perhaps than some of our other industries. There has been a rapid decline in the price of butter and cheese, more rapid perhaps than the decline in the price of the articles which the dairyman requires, and in that respect the dairying industry is for the moment suffering, but that is only a temporary condition. The dairymen of this country are producing something that the country wants; they are producing something perhaps of as good a quality as any other country in the world produces, and under these conditions I do not think there is any fear for the dairying industry. I have never been able to see how the dairying industry was mixed up with oleomargarine. I quite agree in what the minister has just said, that when people can get good butter at a moderate price they do not want oleomargarine under any condition.

The real question in this matter is this: Is oleomargarine a legitimate article of commerce? That is the whole question. If

it is not a legitimate article of commerce let us bar it out. If it is a legitimate article of commerce, why should we interfere with it at all? This is not a tariff Bill. I am

not discussing whether there should be a duty on oleomargarine. If anybody wants to put a duty on oleomargarine I shall not quarrel with him. It is as legitimate a subject for taxation as butter, and I have no doubt that the manufacturers of oleomargarine in this country would be exceedingly pleased to have a duty. But that is not the question to-day. The question is: Is

this a legitimate article of commerce? The whole world outside of Canada answers that question: Yes, it is a legitimate article of commerce. Twenty or thirty years ago when oleomargarine was first banned it was not so regarded. Perhaps in those days- it is a good many years ago, and I am not so familiar with conditions then- margarine was a cheap and nasty product which we had better do without. I do not know whether the prohibition originally came because the article was in itself unwholesome or as a protection to the dairying industry. If it was unwholesome in the early days it is not so now. The minister has stated that oleomargarine is not unwholesome, but that it is a healthful article of food: It is not as good as butter, nobody pretends that. If it is a wholesome article of food, what justification is there for barring it out? If there was justification thirty years ago, that time had passed long before the recent years in which this matter has come up for discussion. So long as good butter could be obtained at a reasonable price, nobody paid any attention to this matter. If the question had been raised at any time during the last ten years, no good reason could have been found for banning oleomargarine.

Every country in the world except Canada recognizes that it is a legitimate article of commerce. One is reminded of the old story of the juryman who complained that he had never seen such stupid men in his life as the eleven others. The opponents of oleomargarine are in just that position. The whole world except Canada says: Oleomargarine is all right,

let us buy it, and sell it if we can. But we are going to decide in Canada, against the judgment of the whole world, that it is not a legitimate article of trade, and it seems to me that that is not a position that can be maintained at all. We are told now that oleomargarine has been adulterated. Just imagine, Mr. Speaker; it is being adulterated by being mixed with butter. Well, adulteration implies the deterioration in quality of an article, and the creation of something inferior by the IMr. Fielding.]

addition of a poorer substance, and you could not possibly adulterate oleomargarine by putting good butter into it. That argument is absolutely fatuous. It seems to me that the question we have been discussing is wholly a mistaken one. The sole question is this: Is it a fair article for general trade? That is all. I cannot believe that there is any danger to the dairy industry from the sale of oleomargarine. The question is much less important to-day than it was a year ago. I grant you that to-day it is not very material whether this Bill passes or not, for the people are not going to use oleomargarine in Canada if they can get good butter at a reasonable price, and but for the principle involved in the Bill, I would not raise my voice in the matter at all. If my hon. friend the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Tolmie), decides on an extension of time for another year, he is only putting off the responsibility for some other minister. This Bill, as introduced in the House, is a sound Bill. It recognizes that oleomargarine is a legitimate article of trade, and says that its sale shall not be forbidden, as has been done in the past. Put all the regulations you like around its sale, and take every precaution which you think will in any way prevent fraud. If you have not sufficient regulations to ensure that the article is properly stamped, and advertised to the public as oleomargarine, then make your regulations stronger. I will support the minister in anything that will guard against fraud, and whatever provisions he thinks are necessary to this end, I will commend; but do not commit the folly of prohibiting the importation and manufacture of this article when the whole world says that it is only an ordinary legitimate article of trade. The question of free trade does not enter into the matter at all. The Bill is not a tariff Bill. If you want to put a duty on oleomargarine, put it on by all means; I will not quarrel. It is quite as legitimate a subject for duty as is butter, and if you want to tax butter and tax oleomargarine as well, I shall not object. But that is not the question. The question is: Shall we or shall we not permit oleomargarine to be sold and manufactured? Some one says that no harm is done by the sale of oleomargarine if you grant this extension of time for a year, while others contend that even if you stop it, no injury will be done. Well, injury will be done to the people who have invested their money in

whatever apparatus is necessary for the manufacture of oleomargarine. There are several factories in Canada, although I have not the pleasure of knowing any one connected with any of these factories and cannot say how they are individually affected; but if men have been induced to put money into factories for the manufacture of oleomargarine and are kept in suspense from year to year, it is certainly not fair to them. It would be far better to prohibit the manufacture and sale of this article at once, and have done with the question; but the idea of giving a few months' permission to people to manufacture the article, and then having the question raised a year hence, ds an unfortunate mistake. I hope the minister will stand by his guns, because the JBill is a good one and I will support it.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
?

Mr. H. M. MO WAT@Parkdal'e

Those who have so far taken part in the debate seem to be gentlemen who have come from the farm and are interested in the dairy industry. But there is another important class who wish to be heard in the matter, and that is the inhabitants of the cities. There is a very large demand for oleomargarine in the cities at times when the price of butter is as high as it was a few months ago, ranging from 65 to 70 cents. The mere fact that, fortunately for them, the price of butter is temporarily down, does not affect the principle of this Bill. The Dairy Industry Act of 1914, section 5, says:

No person shall manufacture, import into Canada, or offer, sell, or have i-n his possession for sale, any oleomargarine.

If this Bill were defeated, that section I have just read would again come into force and interfere with business as it is at present carried on. I have received about twenty letters of protest from dealers, and I think it is only proper, now that the Bill is being discussed, that I should record the opinions expressed in those letters. I shall read them as I have them here:

I am taking the liberty of asking you to do anything you can to prolong the life of oleomargarine in Canada.

Arnold Bros., Butcher & Grocers.

If Oleomargarine were to be removed from the Canadian market I think it would work an actual hardship on a great many people who have been consistent users of this product.

J. G. Pond,

Grocer and Fruiterer.

We would like to go on record as being absolutely opposed to the discontinuance of the sale of oleomargarine in Canada.

Philbrook Bros.,

Butchers.

As I am one of many retail merchants in your constituency who sell this produce, would like to urge your support of the Bill.

A Snyder,

Grocer.

I have several customers who use oleomargarine all the year round and I do not see any reason v'hy the people who wish it should not be able to buy oleomargarine as well as any other food product on sale in the retail stores.

Frank H. Ball, Groceries and Fruit.

Think it will work a hardship on some of the consuming public who buy oleomargarine for cooking and eating purposes.

Lyndroute Groceries, Ltd.

Have just heard that oleomargarine legislation is being considered at this session and as I have some customers who use this product at certain times of the year when butter is high,

I would like to ask your support on any measure permitting the permanent sale of this product. [DOT]

A E. Maundrell,

Meats and Provisions.

A number of my customers at some seasons find it a hardship to pay the high price of butter, and on their behalf I would like very much to have your support of any measure making the sale of oleomargarine a permanent matter.

Alex Dury.

I have customers who at some seasons of the year use this product exclusively on account of the high price of butter.

G. Ferguson, Butcher and Grocer.

I have a constant demand for it from a certain class of my customers.

B. L. Love,

Butcher.

I find that there is quite a sale for oleo, and if the public as a whole are deprived of the privilege of buying it, it would work a hardship in many cases.

C. Barrett,

Grocer.

Will you kindly lend your support to help the passage of any bill before the House which would permit the continuous sale of oleomargarine in Canada?

John Sherriffs.

Our customers buy this product because it effects a big saving in their household expenses. Oleomargarine is a clean and wholesale food product and as such we think it has a distinct place among other food products in Canada.

Cook Bros.

Grocers.

As I understand it, the Dairy Industry Act, passed in 1914, was framed with the distinct object of providing that the manufacture of butter, cheese, and other dairy products should have certain restrictions and safeguards for the protection of the people, and this section with regard to the importation of oleomargarine was merely a little clause thrown in at the time by way of extra precaution. At that time, oleomargarine was a very different product

from the article now sold; it was not surrounded by the protection of inspection now provided by the Department of Agriculture. It was entirely different from the oleomargarine now on the market. It seems to me, therefore, that it would work a great hardship on the business of the country if, by the defeat of this Bill, the Act of 1914 were revived, absolutely preventing the importation and sale of oleomargarine. But there is another reason why I think we should be at fault in not supporting the Bill, and that is the fact that the women are almost unanimously in favour of it. Those women who are engaged in the dairy business might probably, like those of our friends who have spoken against the measure, be opposed to the importation and sale of oleomargarine; but the ordinary woman in the country who belongs to Farmers' Institutes and kindred societies, does not believe that the sale of this article has any adverse effect on the dairy industry. Indeed, I have received a letter which shows that women's societies of this class are very much in favour of this legislation. I know, as a matter of fact, that the National Council of Women favour this Bill, and other bodies that support it are the Montreal Women's Club, the Housewives' League, the Catholic Social Service Guild, the Catholic Women's League, the Montreal Board of Trade, the Jewish Council of Women, the Local Council of Women, and the relief branches of the Salvation Army. Now that we have given the women of the country a voice in the direction of public affairs, by conferring upon them the right of the franchise, we should depend upon them to keep us properly advised in matters of this kind, because they are the buyers of the food for the family, and they know more about this sort of thing than any honourable gentleman who has spoken in the House on the subject to-day. They know what is good, and what is healthful in the way of food, and I do not think that any restrictions, such as would exist if this Bill were defeated, should be placed on the housewives and the home managers of Canada. For these reasons, and on behalf of the consumers not particularly engaged in the dairy business, I hope that this Bill will carry. The minister suggested to-night that he should limit the period of its importation for one year. I am inclined to agree with my hon. friend for Shelburne and Queen's (Mr. Fielding) that we should settle the principle now. If we are beaten it cannot be helped, but I do not think we will be beaten. To go back to the old

legislation will be a distinctly retrograde step, and I hope the minister will not consider it.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink

May 25, 1921