April 25, 1934 (17th Parliament, 5th Session)


John Howard Myers

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. H. MYERS (Queens):

Mr. Speaker, when the debate was adjourned last evening I WR3 discussing the bill before the house in general terms and was about to express the opinion that the farmers of Canada have been looking for just such legislation for some considerable time. I am glad that my opinion in this regard was supported last evening by the hon. member for Vegreville (Mr. Luch-kovich) in the very admirable address which he presented to the house.
Let me say that when this bill was presented, in view of the fact that hon. gentlemen

Marketing Act-Mr. Myers
opposite had been asking for a number of years for just such legislation in order to alleviate the condition of the farmers of Canada, I hoped that the bill would receive unanimous support and would be passed through the house with the least possible delay. I am afraid, however, that the opposition that has been expressed by hon. gentlemen opposite will have a tendency to divide the opinions of the farmers themselves on this question. I think unanimity in regard to this bill should have been shown here and should have been carried right through the farming districts of Canada.
In the few minutes at my disposal I propose to answer some of the criticisms that have been directed to certain clauses of the bill under consideration. A considerable amount of discussion and doubt seems to have arisen with regard to subsection (c) of section 4, which reads:
to compensate any person for loss sustained by exporting, storing or withholding from the market any product pursuant to any determination or order of the board;
I think it was the hon. member for Humboldt (Mr. Totzke) who made the remark last night that this meant that the farmers or producers themselves were to be compensated for any produce they were asked to withhold from the market. That is not my understanding of this subsection; my understanding is that when there appears to be a visible surplus of any commodity on the markets of Canada that would have a tendency to depress or lower the domestic market, certain dealers or exporters might be asked either to withhold a portion of this commodity from the market or to take a certain amount of that commodity off the market and export it to some other country. If they suffered a loss through such transaction then they would be compensated to the amount of their loss under the power granted by this act. Then there has been some discussion with regard to subsection (e):
to assist by grant or loan the construction or operation of facilities for preserving, storing, or conditioning the regulated product and to assist research work relating to the marketing of such product;
The hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Young) seems to have almost an undue amount of imagination; he reads into this clause power to establish sawmills, flour mills, bakeries, canning factories, tobacco plants, breweries and distilleries. I would not object very much to the last two, but I see no reason why the hon. member should fear the construction of all these plants under the authority of subsection (e) of section 4. In my opinion under this subsection the board 74726-160
would have power to establish certain curing houses or storehouses that might be of great advantage in the marketing of some of our farm products, such as cheese. I am very sorry, as a farmer, that our position in regard to cheese is not as good as it was several years ago. The manufacture and sale of cheese in Canada has been more or less on the decline for a number of years, while the production of butter has markedly increased. I believe the Department of Agriculture might well devote their energies to fostering the manufacture of more cheese in Canada, especially in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Under this subsection they would have power to establish curing houses in Canada or elsewhere, as might be thought best, in order that our cheese might be properly cured before being placed on the British market. It is well known that Canadian cheese goes almost directly from the factory to the trade. As a matter of fact I believe that is the reason for some of the unpopularity of Canadian cheese at the present time. The market for our product is largely in Great Britain. We know that the consumers over there want a well cured and uniform product. Under this subsection arrangements might be made for the procuring of storehouses which could be used for the proper curing of our cheese. During the time required to effect the maturing the board would have the power to provide the necessary money to pay the farmers for the milk consumed in the production of the cheese. The same suggestion might be applied in connection with the erection of potato warehouses in my own province. In Prince Edward Island there is only a very short period in the fall of the year, before the frost sets in, during which we may market the major portion of our crop. A number of the business men, shippers and farmers of that province, backed by our board of trade have been asking both the local and provincial governments to assist in the erection of proper storage warehouses in order that we might be able to hold our potato crop for a longer period.
The hon. member for Weyburn has referred to paragraph (f) of subsection 1, section 4, which reads as follows:
(f) To reqxiire any or all persons engaged in the production or marketing of the regulated product to register their names, addresses and occupations with the board. . . .
And so on. The hon. member seems to take great exception to the word "register" and, at a later point, the word "licence." My interpretation is that the first part of that clause refers to the producer, and the last part to those engaged in the trade, or in the handling and marketing of the commodities.

Marketing Act-Mr. Myers
May I say to the hon. member that there always comes a time when you have to register your men; you have to count heads and see where you stand. A short time ago I heard about a Newfoundland sea captain who had to accomplish a certain piece of work in connection with which he was not making very great headway. The crew were down in the forecastle. The captain went to the companionway and said, " How many of you are down there?" They said, "Three of us." He said, " Well, come up here, the half of you." I believe that principle applies as well to this legislation.
For the information of the hon. member for Weyburn let me say that since 1920 in the Potato Growers Association of Prince Edward Island we have been numbered, we have been counted and we have been registered, licensed, or whatever name you wish to apply. Not only that, but we have paid and continue to pay an annual fee of $2 into our association for that very privilege of being registered or numbered. It could not be otherwise. How could any board or the secretary of any organization or marketing association intelligently conduct its business unless he knew the number of growers or producers for whom he had to provide. That procedure is absolutely necessary. Not only do we have to register, but we have to record the number of acres of potatoes under cultivation in the year under review, and we are living through it. I say no harm can come from that clause. The same applies to shipping clubs. In the province of Prince Edward Island we have a number of clubs whose duty it is to ship hogs. Not only do the members have to register once a year, but every time they wish to sell hogs they have to record their names and the number of hogs they wish to export.
Then, the hon. member for Weyburn took exception to paragraph (g)-
To require full information relating to the production and marketing of the natural product from all persons engaged therein and to require periodic returns to be made by such persons, and inspect the books and premises of such persons.
Let me say right here that the hon. member ought to have an opportunity of going into some of our packing houses and cold storage plants, and inspecting their books so that he might be able to ascertain the spread between the price received by the producer for the goods he puts into those plants, and the price that the consumer pays for the same goods when they come out. Last night the hon. member for Humboldt (Mr. Totzke) referred-and not quite correctly-to what

the hon. member for Brome-Missisquoi (Mr. Pickel) said when speaking about this matter. The hon. member for Brome-Missisquoi did not object to the grading regulations; on the contrary he said he approved of them. He did voice the objection, however, that when the farmers begin to produce in the spring of the year the prices for eggs and butter invariably go down. Those commodities are put into cold storage by the owners of the plants, and kept in storage during the summer months. Then in the fall of the year when the supply from the farms begins to slacken off the storage supplies are put on the market. If one were to judge by the price the consumer has to pay he would never know it was the same article that had been put into the plants earlier in the year. What is true of eggs and butter is equally true of hogs.
May I say a word or two about a matter which has always caused me a great deal of annoyance. Hon. members who till the soil, as I do, and know anything about the management of farms know that there are two principal seasons in the year in which farmers market their hogs, namely the fall and the spring. Almost invariably for as many years past as I care to remember-and more-during times when great numbers of hogs are offered on the market the price has dropped. Then, again, during the summer and midwinter seasons, when few if any hogs are offering for sale, the prices will go up sky high. To my mind one of the functions of the marketing board established by this legislation would be to see to it that no such fluctuation could take place. The hon. member for Weyburn would do well to examine the books of these companies in order to ascertain whether or not the farmers are getting a square deal.
This legislation is to receive the sanction of local legislatures throughout the dominion, and the sanction of those engaged in the particular industries affected by it. The legislature of the province of Prince Edward Island for a long time has been looking for some such bill as the one now before us. While the local legislature of that province was in session, despite the fact that this bill had not passed the federal house, it passed the necessary legislation. As a result that province is now engaged in setting up a marketing board to cooperate with the central marketing board, and they are in great hopes that the central board may be established in time to look after this year's crop.
At this point may I read what an influential Liberal representative in the province of Prince Edward Island said about the marketing board legislation:

Marketing Act-Mr. Myers
Mr. LePage said that he had been looking forward to some relief for the farmers. He could see great benefit could accrue from this legislation. The bill is now before the dominion parliament, and after it has been passed there, there would be a better opportunity for knowing more about it. He had suggested such legislation and was glad to know it was being introduced at this time. After receiving an anonymous letter similar to that received by Mr. J. A. MacDonald and which was signed "Association nf Independent Potato Shippers" he was more than ever convinced that there is need of a marketing board to control prices. The farmers have been suffering for a number of years through their products being handled by speculators and not receiving sufficient prices for them.
Mr. LePage said that Canada controls the lobster supply of the world. He saw great possibilities in the lobster industry through cooperative marketing once the prices were controlled. If Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island were not quoting different prices, we might be getting $30 in place of $20 now through the marketing board. The price to the fishermen might also be controlled, so that they would receive more for their catch.
Ninety-five per cent of the beef raised in Canada is consumed in Canada, but the farmers are not getting the price they should receive. The meat industry is in the hands of a few big packers. There is something wrong when pork is selling on the street at 9 cents a pound, and yet bacon is selling at 30 cents. The same is true of fish. Though codfish is selling at 10 cents a pound in the city, yet on the shore about 20 miles from here, it only brings from one to two cents. Here is where a marketing board may prove of great benefit.
I would like to say a word or two with reference to the remarks made by the hon. member for South Battleford (Mr. Vallance). That hon. member was dealing with the wheat situation and I gathered from his observations that he was opposed to the bill all the way through. I do not know very much about the marketing of wheat. It is possible that this bill might not operate as successfully in the marketing of wheat as in the marketing of some other commodities but I would just 'ike to ask the hon. member for South Battle-ford, and other farmer members on the other side who have spoken in opposition to this bill, whether, in view of the fact that they do not know of a certainty just how this bill will work out, they are prepared at the present time to return home to their farmer friends in western Canada and take upon their shoulders the responsibility of advising them to have nothing to do with the present marketing bill. That is the question they will be called upon to answer when they meet their constituents, and it is the one which they must answer if they wish to be known as the representatives of the people and those who have the best interest of their people at heart.
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The hon. member made one or two remarks to which I take a good deal of exception-I am sorry he is not in his seat, because X always like to be able to look at a man when I am talking to him. Speaking of wheat growing and the marketing of wheat in western ' Canada, he made this astonishing statement:
I am one of those who favour the setting up of a marketing organization that will take delivery of all the wheat and then Canada can do what she chooses with it. We should not ask the grower to bear this burden; I do not think it is fair.
Then he continues:
I still say that if Canada wishes to control and regulate wheat she should take the responsibility of financing the whole operation.
Any man who would put before the House of Commons a proposal that the federal government take over-which means buying-the entire crop of western wheat and then find a market for it and stand or fall by their operation, surely cannot be serious. Only a short time ago the same hon. gentleman spoke in very disparaging terms of what was done by the government during the past two sessions in order to stimulate and improve the marketing of western wheat. I remember that his criticism of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) and Mr. McFarland who were engaged in this work, was very strong. Now he comes forward with the statement that the dominion government should take upon its shoulders the responsibility of marketing the whole western crop.
I will not take up any further time. I might just say this, that I listened with amazement to the two-hour speech delivered by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) the other day. He spoke on just three points: the independence of parliament, the constitutional issue and the Magna Charta. I wonder what the farmers out in the fields of Canada care at present about the Magna Charta or the constitution or the independence of parliament; they are more concerned with the marketing of their farm products.

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