August 5, 1904 (9th Parliament, 4th Session)


Robert Abercrombie Pringle

Conservative (1867-1942)


Let me say another word. The Empire Tobacco Company have done a great deal for the Canadian producers of tobacco. The county of Essex, a few years ago, only grew a small quantity of tobhcco, but owing to the efforts of this company in educating the people, and to the fact of their having taken an interest in the growth of the plant, in order to encourage these people in growing a good tobacco, they have succeeded, as Judge MacTavish has found, in growing in that section of the country a tobacco known as White Burley. That tobacco has become a success. Notwithstanding Sir William Macdonald's evidence before the commission, that the Canadian tobacco was no good, that he never attempted to manufacture it but once in the sixties, and that he abandoned that attempt, the Empire Tobacco Company have, by investing their money and by conducting experiments in the growth of Canadian tobacco, succeeded in getting a tobacco known as White Burley leaf to be grown in western Ontario and Quebec which is a first-class tobacco, and which to-day is being consumed largely by the Canadian people, and no doubt will be consumed to a large extent from this time onward. Therefore, I say that the Empire Tobacco Company have done a great deal in the interest of the tobacco business. The commission has found that they have done a great deal towards encouraging the growth of tobacco in this country ; and yet, having done all that, having expended their money and their energy, having built up this business, because a few competitors are not satisfied, this government are asking us to pass this paternal legislation and place the whole power in the hands of the hon. Minister of Inland Revenue to control this industry. The Empire Tobacco Company engaged in this business in perfect good faith. They engaged in it upon the knowledge of the Jaw that was on the statute-book at the time they invested their capital. They engaged in it to such an extent that the government gave an increased protection of 10 cents a pound ; and, as I say, now that they are reaping the reward of their energy and money, an effort is being made to destroy their business. I submit, Mr. Speaker, we should not proceed to the further consideration of this resolution at this time. It is very late in the session. We are supposed to prorogue to-morrow or on Monday ; there is no time given for a full and careful consideration of this important measure. I am not going to take up any more of the time of the House, but I will reserve the right in committee to thoroughly discuss this measure, because I feel it should not be forced through this House in the dying days of the session. It is an improper measure ; it is a measure which is a discredit to this country. If you are going to Mr. PRINGLE.
pass legislation of that sort, then let it include all the manufacturing industries of this country. Do not single out the tobacco manufacturers ; include them all, although I say that general legislation of that sort would be absolutely wrong. Give the tobacco companies the right to appeal, and do not place them absolutely in the hands of one man. The principle in the resolution is wrong ; it is a principle which may lead to the grossest corruption. This matter should stand over till next session, when we can have an opportunity of more fully and more carefully considering it.

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