May 25, 1921

PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

Did my hon. friend state since when there had been a surplus of butter in this country?

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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

The figures I gave showed that up to 1916 we were not producing enough butter to supply the home demand, but that in 1917 we imported only

997.000 pounds of butter while we exported

7.900.000 pounds. I take those figures to indicate that we were producing enough butter not only to supply the home demand, but to leave over a good surplus. That was the year in which the Order in Council was passed, for the reasons I have stated. Now in 1918 we imported only

443.000 pounds of butter, while we exported pretty nearly 5,000,000 pounds. In 1919 our imports of butter were less than 2,000,000 pounds, while our exports were over 13,500,000 pounds. In 1920 our imports of butter were 397,000 pounds, while our exports were over 17,600,000 pounds.

I wish that my hon. friend would pay attention to the figures I am now about to give. I have stated that according to the import and export figures from 1917 up to 1920 we were producing in ever-increasing quantities more butter than we required for our home consumption. That of itself would have a tendency to push the price of butter down to a reasonable figure in this country, and in consequence of the surplus we had to look all over the world to find a market for it. Now, in 1918 we imported into this country 2,262,514 pounds of oleomargarine. Every pound of that, in my judgment, replaced a pound of butter and forced our farmers and dairymen to look elsewhere for a market for that quantity of butter. In 1919 our imports of oleomargarine were 4,217,000

pounds, and in that year we exported over 13,000,000 pounds of butter. In 1920 our imports of oleomargarine amounted to pretty nearly 7,000,000 pounds, and in that year we exported some 17,000,000 pounds of butter. Now, it is claimed that the Government were justified in allowing oleomargarine to enter this country because of the high price of butter at the time the Order in Council was passed, and that the high price was due to scarcity of supply. But the figures show that at the time the Order in Council was passed there was no scarcity. But consider the matter on the basis of price. Let us see what the average price of butter was from 1914 on. According to the Montreal Gazette the average price of butter per pound for 1914 was 27.6 cents; 1915, 29.4 cents; 1916, 34.2 cents; 1917, 39.9 cents; 1918, 47 cents; 1919, 58.9 cents; 1920, 55.8 cents. Those who oppose my view of this matter may argue that the price of butter, notwithstanding the importations of oleomargarine, is constantly going up. Well, let us take late reports, because, if it is fair for those who favour the importation of oleomargarine, to quote the prices of butter notwithstanding the importation of this article, surely they will not object to my quoting the prices of butter also and arguing that there is no need, in view of those prices, to allow the manufacture and importation of oleomargarine at the present time. I take the dairy produce market report for the week ending May 7. 1921, and I find that butter, No. 1 grade, was sold in Montreal at 28| cents a pound. Six hundred and sixty packages were sold at this rate. On No. 2 butter, a bid of 25 cents was refused; but in that week, butter sold as low as 26| cents a pound. That is very much below what butter was selling at-and below the price fetched by oleomargarine-all through 1919 and 1920. Let us take the report for the week ending May 21. In Montreal, butter sold at 25i cents, and 251 cents a pound, and at St. Hyacinthe, and other places, as Wjell as in Toronto, the same prices obtained. In view of these prices, which have been maintained pretty steadily for some considerable time, there is no good argument which can be adduced in favour of the importation and manufacture of oleomargarine. In my judgment, butter is selling to-day at a price which does not enable the dairyman and the farmer to come out anywhere near even. That is my well-considered judgment in the matter; and in view of the immense amount of money

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which is invested in the dairy industry, and the large sum of capital invested in buildings, stock, etc., as well as the number of people directly interested in the success of the industry in Canada, I think that this Government, or any other, should give very careful consideration to the business and do everything possible to help it along. If this House agrees with me that at the present prices, and the prices that have obtained for some months past, the dairyman is not making ends meet, then I appeal to the Government that this is not a proper time at which to pass a permanent measure granting for all time, in this country, the right to import oleomargarine and to manufacture that product here. Whatever arguments may have been advanced in favour of its importation and manufacture in times past, when butter sold at a high price, I certainly contend that to-day the dairy industry should receive consideration at the hands of the Government, and that this Bill should not be pressed. With the action of the Government last session in giving a year's extension to the Order in Council, as was also done the year before, I know that the great majority of members on both sides of the House agreed. Very well, I did not agree, but I was in a hopeless minority. However, if the Government feel that there should be an extension of time for another year, and can assure us that the present price of butter is only temporary, while I would object to the passage of this Bill, as I have done before, I would frankly say that it would not be as bad as passing the Bill and making the importation and manufacture of oleomargarine a permanent thing. I know it may be argued by some that Canada is the only country which up to the present time has not definitely allowed the importation and manufacture of this article. The United States and other countries have allowed its importation and manufacture. Well, that is their affair; but I do not think that conditions in this country are on all-fours with conditions in the United States, in Denmark, or in any of the other countries which permit the manufacture and importation of oleomargarine. Of course, opinions may reasonably differ in that regard, and I am only giving my personal view of the matter. I want to say again, what I said in speaking on the Budget, that I fail to understand how one can defend the free importation of oleomargarine into Canada. If the question were asked why we have a duty of 4 cents a pound on butter, the answer, I presume, would be that it is for the protection of our dairymen in Canada. Well, if that is true, how can we justify the importation free of duty of oleomargarine which certainly comes into the country in direct competition with butter -for every pound of oleomargarine takes the place of a pound of butter. To be consistent, we should take the duty off butter, which is something I suppose my hon. friend from Red Deer (Mr. Clark) would agree with.


PRO
LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

Or, in the alternative, we should place a duty on oleomargarine at least equal to the duty which is now imposed on butter coming into the country. That is the course I would take if this article were allowed to come into the country. Considering the large amount of money invested in the dairy industry, the importance of that industry to the Dominion, the number of people directly interested in it, and other reasons which could be advanced, in my judgment this is not an opportune time to place on the statute book of the country an Act which would allow the importation and manufacture of oleomargarine for all time to come. To be consistent with the course I have taken on previous occasions, and also with my own conscientious views in this matter, which have not changed a particle, I must express my opposition to the measure, and, in fact, to the whole principle of allowing oleomargarine into this country at the present time, or permitting its manufacture here.

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L LIB

William Frederic Kay

Laurier Liberal

Mr. W. F. KAY (Missisquoi) :

I must enter a protest against the Bill which the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Tolmie) is asking the House to pass. I am very sorry that the minister felt obliged to introduce this Bill, in view of the present condition of the dairy industry in this country. I feel sure that, were he left to use his own judgment in the matter, he would have dropped the Bill. At any rate, I give him credit for that feeling. The dairy industry is the most important of all the agricultural industries in Canada, and this Bill strikes a very serious blow at it. At the present time, the price of butter is below the pre-war price; it is so low, indeed, that the dairyman is producing butter at a good deal below cost. I need not tell the House that if this condition continued for any length of time the

only course open to the dairy farmer would be to stop dairying. When that time arrives-although I hope it will not come- a Bill of this kind might then be necessary and appropriate because we would all have to eat oleomargarine. Another very serious fault of the Bill is that it permits the adulteration of butter. Oleo is largely made from butter, milk and cream, and I protest most emphatically against any regulations which permit the adulteration of the product of that great basic industry the dairy industry. If the regulations were so framed as to require oleomargarine to be manufactured solely from vegetable and animal oils there would not be the same objection to the proposal; but unfortunately the department has allowed the manufacturers of oleo to use from 20 to 25 per cent of butter, milk and cream in the production of this article, and therefore it is without any doubt an adulteration of butter. In a very short time the Canadian dairyman will be deprived of his export markets entirely. The United States, who were large consumers of our butter, are putting on a duty of 6 cents a pound which will be prohibitive. As to the British market it is flooded with butter. That commodity was formerly under the control of the Government but decontrol has now been carried out and hundreds of tons of butter have been thrown on the market there. Consequently any possibility of our exporting butter at the present time to England has gone. The arguments advanced by the hon. member for Chateau-guay-Huntingdon (Mr. Robb) and the hon. member for Frontenac (Mr. Edwards) are very good and I wish to endorse them thoroughly. I will not detain the House any further at the present moment.

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UNION

John Best

Unionist

Mr. JOHN BEST (Dufferin) :

I heartily agree with the views of my hon. friend from Frontenac. Like that hon. gentleman I opposed this Bill on a former occasion, and the reasons for doing so at that time were not as good as the reasons for opposing it to-day. On the former occasion I pointed out that other articles that were protected were just as high in price as butter. I am a protectionist, a moderate protectionist, and I believe the farmers of Canada have just as good a right to protection as other classes have. The argument has been advanced that the poor man and the poor woman in the past could not afford to buy butter. The statement probably was true, I am not disputing it, but if you are going to remove the protection from butter why not do it also in the case of the

244 J

boots and clothing that the poor man and the poor woman wear?

Some hon. MEMBERS : Hear, hear.

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UNION

John Best

Unionist

Mr. BEST:

I am not arguing for a moment that the duties in any instance should be removed, I want protection to be maintained in every direction. What I say is that the importation of oleomargarine ought to be prohibited and in that I an: consistent; I want protection on everything that the farmer has to sell. But my friends across the way, who pretend to defend the farmer, have never raised their voice to have the farmer protected-I never heard them say a word in the past in favour of doing that. It is argued now that because butter is so cheap, oleomargarine will not be bought. If that is the case why allow oleomargarine to come into Canada or be mahufaetured here. I cannot see why any sane man should go on manufacturing oleomargarine if he finds no sale for it. Butter is now selling at local points-I am not speaking of sales in the city-for 25 cents a pound and in some cases for less. I do not think there is any excuse for the poor man or the poor woman not buying butter under present conditions-with the wages they are paid now they can well afford to buy butter which proportionately has gone down in price more than wages have. We have been trying in Canada to build up a dairy industry and we have succeeded fairly well; but unfortunately we are permitting the importation of millions of pounds of oleomargarine, and the consumption of every pound of that product in the Dominion means one pound less in the consumption of butter. Why should we allow that? I believe in fair play to all classes. We have several industries in this country, but the agricultural industry is the one that deserves to be protected above all others. Yet the present Bill means taking away the protection so far as butter is concerned. How are we in this northern country-where the farmer has to put up buildings that will cost him from three to four thousand dollars to house his cattle for six or seven months in the year-to compete with farmers in the southern states, and in other countries, where they do not have to put up such buildings at all -where they have summer all the year round? We cannot meet such competition without protection. I am for protection for the farmer and I wish to see that he gets fair play because in this country he is up against handicaps such as they have not

to contend with in the country to the south and in other lands similarly situated.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Why not protect the poor people?

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UNION

John Best

Unionist

Mr. BEST:

Why certainly. We might just as fairly lower the duty on underwear as lower the protection in the case of butter. I don't see any difference in principle. If we are going to help the poor man why not start in with his feet? Take the protection off boots and shoes, then off clothing, and progress until .you reach his stomach.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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UNION

John Best

Unionist

Mr. BEST:

But I am not advocating taking duties off. What I am advocating is keeping the duty on, and protecting the farmer by not allowing oleomargarine to enter, or be manufactured in, this country. I contend that I am quite consistent as a protectionist in arguing that oleomargarine should not be permitted to come in free or be manufactured in Canada. Now, my hon. friends opposite seem to think, judging from their interjections, that I find fault with protecting boots and shoes, and clothing, and that I am against protection. Not by any means, but I do think that we have a just right to protect the most basic industry we have in the Dominion, and that is agriculture. If we are going to permit the importation and sale of oleomargarine when there is no sale for our butter what are our dairymen going to do? As one hon. gentleman opposite said, under this policy the dairy industry would dwindle away, and that if the farmers of this country cease to keep cows we would have to have something to take the place of butter. In such a case as that I would not blame them; but the farmer at the present time certainly cannot make anything out of selling butter at 25 cents a pound. A few years ago, before this legislation was enacted, the farmer could buy a binder for $150 but he has to pay $300 to-day for it. That enhanced price is not due to protection because the duty only amounts to 12i per cent, but everything else has gone up in proportion. The farmers of this country are certainly going to protest if they are not protected as they should be, and I believe this to be one of the worst pieces of legislation, from the farmer's standpoint, that could be introduced into the House. I think the minister probably is sincere in thinking that this legislation is going to benefit the poor, but I appeal to him to see to it that the farmers are not discriminated

against in this way. During the war they were appealed to to keep more cows and hogs, and they did, but now the war is over and the prices of farm products are declining those farmers are left with their stock on their hands. I hope the minister will see his way clear to withdraw this Bill, because I am not going to be inconsistent -I am not going to vote for a measure that I have spoken against.

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. MICHAEL CLARK (Red Deer) :

Mr. Speaker, I hope to follow my almost invariable custom of taking only a little time in expressing my views on this question. That is the more easy, because I have on two previous occasions supported the minister very heartily in his temporary legislation on this subject. My hon. friend (Mr. Best) who has just resumed his seat finds fault with his fellow-farmers in that they do not apply for protection for their industry. I do not think he quite gathers what is the breadth of view of the Progressive party upon this subject. We believe that we have a policy which, in supporting all industries according to the principles of justice, right and freedom, will support our industry and build up the whole country better than his policy will build it up. We are just as friendly to the farmer as he is, but we think-as no doubt he thinks-that we are more enlightened in the methods by which we would promote the interests of the agriculturists.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I propose to advocate my view by a reference to general principles-by a reference to the interests of the nation as opposed to the interests of any class, and in doing so I plead with my hon. friend to give me credit for being, if not a good dairyman, at least a good Canadian. The local view is: Help a certain industry, and take the first road to that end; the national argument is: Look to the good of the nation and you will help everybody. Let us take the question of trade at the present time. What is going to happen to this country with its diminishing trade if we have a Minister of Finance going around and telling our people not to import commodities, and if his efforts are followed up by the Government putting obstacles in the way of that importing? I will tell my hon. friend and this House what will inevitably happen. If you prevent the importation of commodities, you will prevent the exportation of commodities; you will decrease your national trade and diminish your national prosperity. I do not want to labour this point any further, for I have argued it so often. It is

the very element of sound economics. I ventured, in the short debate we had on reciprocity in the early part of this session, to express the view, which I repeated in the debate on the Budget, and which I will now re-state: that there is nothing the world needs so much at present as the facilitation in every possible way of international commerce. If I may, I should like to buttress my opinion by a quotation from a speech which Mr. Asquith delivered in the British House of Commons about two weeks ago. He delivered it with the evident agreement of three-quarters of the assembly, according to some descriptions of the speech, though in the Imperial House of Commons they do not always vote as they think. He used in his inimitable style this language, which I should like to give to this House for its serious consideration and as having a very direct bearing upon this measure:

What the world wants is the freest and fullest production and interchange of commodities. That is the only way in which to stabilize exchange.

Now, Mr. Asquith is not only a great statesman and a great lawyer, but he is a very great economist, and I commend those words not only to this House but to the whole of this nation and-if my voice could reach-to the world. What the world wants at present more than anything else to relieve its economic troubles is a free and full production, which can only take place if you have a free and full exchange.

Why, what has happened on this very subject? I listened with the greatest interest to what my hon. friend from Fron-tenac (Mr. Edwards) said just now, and if I rightly followed his facts, he proved that since we had had free importation of oleomargarine the production of butter had gone ahead by leaps and bounds. He proved that past all possibility of contradiction. Now, it may be said, how has that been brought about? In the simplest possible way. For every pound of oleomargarine you introduce into this country you must send something out in payment; and I submit to the intelligence of this House that if you send butter out it is no loss to the nation. Just imagine a Parliament that has on its hands a bankrupt railroad wanting to restrict, first, the carrying of strawberries, then the carrying back of exports, the things that would pay for the strawberries, and next the members of the same Parliament getting up and wanting to restrict oleomargarine coming in and, of necessity, thus restricting the going out of

what pays for it! If you carry that process far enough, your bankrupt railway is with you to stay; you can back your engines into the yards to rust and leave your men tc be unemployed.

This is a very serious matter at this time.

I am glad indeed to look into the frank, full face of my hon. friend the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Tolmie). I am sure that one of these days he will join the Progressive party-and when we have the condition of affairs that we see in this House, why, we have got to look for recruits. If my hon. friend the leader of the official Opposition had been in his place I would have offered him my sincere sympathy. Although his sterling henchmen by moving his amendment to the Budget lined up the whole of this side of the House in favour of a lower tariff, yet at a moment's notice his chief whip leaps from the free trade camp and comes out a full-blown protectionist, and he is followed by other members on the same side. I am surprised at these hon. gentlemen so soon breaking away from sound doctrine. I look, as I say, with pleasure into the face of my hon. friend the minister, and I hope he will stand to his guns, because if trade is declining, no sensible and rational legislature will take measures to make it decline further. That is the whole argument in a nutshell from the point of view of trade. We have had a great surplus of butter production since we had free oleomargarine, we have been exporting butter, and I want to submit to hon. gentlemen on both sides of the House, especially to my hon. friend from Frontenac, that it is no misfortune to the country to have a large export of dairy products. It has been said that the price' of butter has fallen. Well, I am a broad enough farmer, I want to tell my hon. friend from Dufferin, to rejoice in that. I will tell him why-and I am still arguing on national grounds. Only a handful of men

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UNION
PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

The hon.

gentleman does not need to ask me any questions; he will get the full gospel before I am finished with him. There are only a handful of people in the country producing butter. No butter worth the name is produced in Montreal or Toronto; no butter worth the name is produced in any of our large cities. Only a handful of people, I say, are engaged in producing butter, but we nearly all eat it, and my interest is on behalf of the people who eat the butter.

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UNION

John Best

Unionist

Mr. BEST:

May I ask the hon. gentleman a question? Would he glory as much in a similar reduction of the price of wheat? Only a comparatively small number of people are engaged in the production of wheat.

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

I have always believed in free wheat, and I am glad that on this matter-

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UNION

John Best

Unionist

Mr. BEST:

I am speaking about the price. Does the hon. gentleman want the price down?

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer):

I believe in

cheap things-certainly. I believe in cheap beef. I took $70 for steers last fall that I would have got $120 for the fall before. I want my hon. friend to understand the difference between the shallow, contracted Tory view and the broad Liberal view. My view is the Liberal view; my Liberalism is of the spirit. If you get your beef cheaply, I am then in the position to turn round to you and say: You are buying beef from me at nominal prices, you are buying hides from me at one cent a pound; in the name of conscience, try to give me cheap boots too. We all use beef, butter, boots and a hundred other things, and it is therefore a clear benefit to the whole community to have these things cheap. There is not an hen. gentleman in this House who, when he goes to purchase does not haggle for the very best price and the very best bargain he can get and thus by his own action in everyday life he argues his belief in cheap goods. Now, that is my answer to my hon. friend, and I hope it is honest; I hope it is full, and I am not at ail sure that it is not convincing. If my hon. friend believes in dear things, then I should like him to stand up and get looked over as a curiosity, because certainly all the women of the country would be against him, and, I think, most of the men.

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May 25, 1921