On the Orders of the Day:
Hon. II. H. STEVENS (Vancouver Centre):
I desire to bring to the attention of the government and particularly of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) the very severe handicap under which importers are suffering in consequence of a certain regulation of the Department of Agriculture which provides that goods shall not be importd packed in hay or straw from areas in Great Britain and other countries infected with the foot and mouth disease. I wish the House would allow me to mention one circumstance and to base a question upon at. One shipment which has been ordered returned was packed and consigned in November last, but it missed its sailing and was held over until January. I understand that the final ruling of the department was not given until some time in January, fixing the fifteenth day of that month as the last on which such shipments
[Mr. J. H. King.)
would be received. The point I wish to bring to the attention of the government, and it .'s a serious one, is that innocent Canadian importers are suffering great handicaps, being in some eases threatened with losses, as a result of breaches of this regulation made before the final ruling of the department was known in the Old Country. Would the government not, consider it wise bo permit the unpacking of goods coming in the prohibited material, and the destruction of that material, so as to obviate any loss to the importer? This I think would completely safeguard the health of animals in 'this country and it would save the innocent Canadian importer very serious losses. It is a matter that affects more than the health of animals and I wish the government would take the point into consideration.
Hon. W. R, MOTHERWELL (Minister of Agriculture): I quite appreciate the embarrassing Position which some of our importers have been in with regard to the matter raised by my hon. friend. Since he last brought the question up I have inquired into the whole situation in minute detail, discussing it with the Minister of Public Works (Mr. King, Kootenay) who also is familiar with the difficulties that are complained of. Last week again I took the matter up with my staff, especially with Dr. Hilton, whom I requested to prepare for me a statement regarding these shipments, which are coming not only to Vancouver but to every other open port in Canada as well. I wanted to see whether the shipments were diminishing at all under the present policy. I recognize that the fault is with the shipping 'companies, but how to remedy the evil I have not been able so far to find out. I have been making inquiries with regard to their culpability. I might point out that they are subject to prosecution; but so far I have had no opinion from the Department of Justice. In the meantime, however, we are obtaining a compilation of shipments from each port. At the port of St. John the difficulty has been almost eliminated, there are few shipments arriving there in the prohibited packing material; but at Halifax the situation is different, the shipments of prohibited form are increasing and there is no indication of improvement, I have not had any report so far from Vancouver, and do not know yet what the condition is there. However, in co-operation with my colleagues, particularly with the Minister of Public Works and others, I hope to devise some effective method of meeting the situation, although I do not know at this time
The Budget-Mr. Robb
just what it will be. We are working on a policy now, and should our information indicate that these shipments are not coming in in as large numbers as before, the natural conclusion will be that in a few more weeks the situation will dear itself up. I am rather disposed to think that the evidence is in the opposite direction so far as the Atlantic ports are concerned.