May 30, 1944

LIB-PRO

William Gilbert Weir

Liberal Progressive

Mr. WEIR:

I am obliged to the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance for the assurance he gave a moment or two ago that there was no discrimination in the . policy of the board with respect to the issuing of licences for new businesses as between cooperatives and other organizations. That is a desirable provision, and I hope it will be followed out. I have a little experience in that regard and I can confirm what he

has said this evening in this matter. Listening to the discussion this afternoon and evening, I wonder what the general public's reaction will be. I am bound to say that when one goes about the country, the one feature of the government's domestic policy that is held up with greater acclaim than probably any other is the price control arrangements; and when we consider that along with the government's attempt to avoid inflation, I do not see how the two features of the government programme can be separated. But when we have a discussion in the House of Commons that seems to be a pretty general condemnation, certainly of many features of that programme, I wonder how the public will react to it. There have been cases where controls have not been exercised and we have experienced runaway prices. I refer particularly to used materials such as farm implements, tractors, used cars and things of that kind. In these cases it was found necessary to take action afterwards.

There are two classes in the community which are deserving of special mention in connection with the carrying out of the government's programme of price control and of rationing. Rationing is not a thing that everybody likes, but at least it is the idea of sharing so that everyone will have an opportunity of getting the goods that are available. The two classes which I think are particularly deserving of credit for what they have done are the retail country merchant and the automobile or gasoline dealer. From my observation these two classes of trades people have had more details to take care of and more trouble with respect- to looking after coupons and that kind of thing than anybody else. I am bound to say that in the part of the country from which I come there have been few of them who have had any complaints. In nearly every case they have come forward and said that they hoped the" government would extend its rationing or sharing policies to other articles that they were finding it difficult to handle. Those two classes certainly supported the government's efforts in the carrying out of these control measures.

I am surprised when I hear individual items picked out and condemned. If there are weaknesses in the policy they should be eliminated. I have met people from the United States who look upon our accomplishments with respect to price control as being splendid. They are particularly pleased with the enforcement of the control. You cannot have one without the other. I was talking to a business man in my town not so long ago and he put it in this way: having regard to the policy that was being carried on during

War Appropriation-Finance

this period of the war as compared with the last war, we are better off to-day. As he said after the last war when the inflationary period had got under way and the bubble had broken, business men simply went to their offices every morning to look at their inventories in order to see what their previous day's losses had been. That is the experience they had. The reaction of these business men is that every effort possible should be made to maintain the price ceiling so that business and the community generally will not get into a condition such as occurred at the close of the last war.

I think the country generally is behind the government's price control measures. Where weaknesses have been shown up, where individual items have been dealt with in a manner that was not the soundest, they have been rectified. It was a new policy and mistakes were bound to creep in, but I think the whole thing has been handled in a creditable manner.

I wish to say one thing more with respect to the general condemnation that has been made of many of the officials of the board and its policies. I have had some dealings with these gentlemen and I am bound to say that I have found them to be courteous; I found them to be men who knew their job; I found them to be men who were able to give me a reasonable explanation for the policy they were pursuing. I do not want anyone to think for one moment that I was able to persuade them to my point of view with respect to any particular matter we might happen to be discussing, but they were able to present the job they were doing in an understandable and reasonable manner. I think that much should be said for them. They are carrying out the policy in a practical and reasonable way; they are reasonable in their approach to it.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

Would the parliamentary assistant give us the details of the recent amendment to the business order?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I described it, perhaps rather sketchily, a few minutes ago. It is order 400, which amends order 284, (which in turn amended order 184. Substantially the effect of the amending order is that while a licence is still required by a new entrant into business or for the expansion of existing business, it will be granted readily-I put it almost as a matter of course-but upon the understanding that the granting of a licence does not entitle an applicant to a quota of goods which are in short supply. In other words, the new entrant into business is given, as I put it, more or less

of a hunting licence. He is allowed to go into business as he would under normal conditions, but we have to issue a licence in order to have a record of the number of people in business. He gets his licence almost as a matter of course. If he is going into a business where inventories are in short supply he will have no assurance that he will be given a quota.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

I am grateful to the parliamentary assistant for giving that explanation. There should be no diffi- ' culty in a man who wanted to open up a new coal mine getting a licence?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

None whatever.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

I am glad to hear that. There was an article in to-day's Journal-

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

That is so far as wartime prices and trade board is concerned; I cannot answer for munitions and supply.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

I am dealing with the wartime prices and trade board. This article refers to the shortage of coal, and it goes on to state that the coming winter may be one of the worst we have ever had as far as obtaining coal is concerned. I had a case which I took up with the wartime prices and trade board and the thing has been going along for some time. This man was trying to get a licence to operate a mine. He went to the board in Calgary and he was told that a licence could not be issued. This was a strip mine and he wanted to get it ready for this fall. He had spent a considerable amount of money in getting the mine ready for operation.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

This amending order 400 only came into effect on May 15 and perhaps the case to which the hon. member is referring was put forward before it came into force.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

Probably that is true, because I have a letter from the wartime prices and trade board dated May 20 in which they state that a new amendment had just been made. That would correspond with what the parliamentary assistant has just said. As I say, this man had spent a considerable amount of money in stripping this mine, several thousand dollars, I understand. He went ahead with this mine on the advice of an official in the wartime prices and trade board. I am not going to give his name because I do not think that is necessary. He continued with his work until he reached the point where he decided there was no use in going ahead and spending more money. Yet we are told that there is to be a shortage of coal this winter. There should be no hesitancy

War Appropriation-Finance

in granting a licence to this particular individual. As far as I know he has not as yet been given a licence.

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NAT
LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

If the hon. member will give me the name I shall have the matter looked into right away.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

I will drop the parliamentary assistant a letter to-morrow giving him the details. I think this is a matter that can be cured with his assistance.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
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LIB-PRO

William Gilbert Weir

Liberal Progressive

Mr. WEIR:

The matter to which I wish

to refer for a moment may not come strictly within the purview of the Department of Finance although, when one considers it from the point of view of rationing of food and the maintaining of food supplies, I believe it will be in order. I have had a number of complaints from ladies with respect to what has happened to their fruits in sealers. They claim that the rubber used last year in the jar rings was very poor. Many representations have been made with respect to this important matter judging from the number of complaints I have had, if no assurance can be given that the trouble will be remedied I fear it will mean that a good deal of canning and preserving will not be done this year. I should like to emphasize the importance of that to the parliamentary assistant, and if he can give any assurance I would certainly appreciate it.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I will be very brief. This

is a most important matter and has been receiving constant attention both by the board and by the Department of Munitions and Supply. As the committee knows, since Pearl Harbor one of the most critical materials has been rubber. Every effort has been made to conserve this very important commodity. The technical officers of the Department of Munitions and Supply, the Department of Agriculture, the wartime prices and trade board and the national reasearch council have all been looking into the question, and I am advised that several months ago they developed specifications which it is believed will provide satisfactory rings.

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LIB-PRO
LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

We are not sure. You can never be sure about anything. I asked my wife about this situation and she told me that last year we put up a good many jars of preserves and vegetables. Perhaps owing to her skill as a preserver none of them turned bad. She used the ordinary rings which were available. All I can say to the committee is that the problem is receiving the earnest attention

both of the Department of Munitions and Supply and of the board, and it is hoped that the rings which will be available this year will be satisfactory. Incidentally it has been decided that synthetic rubber is not suitable for these jar rings, and the very highest grade of reclaimed rubber is being used.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
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SC

Robert Fair

Social Credit

Mr. FAIR:

May I ask what happens in

the case of a partnership of two men who have been in business when one buys out the other. The one who retains the business is all right, but what happens to the other fellow, if he wants to enter into business again?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

He can get a permit to enter business, as I explained to the hon. member for Bow River.

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SC

May 30, 1944