April 26, 1949 (20th Parliament, 5th Session)


Thomas John Bentley

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Bentley:

I said that there were very few. If the hon. member for Calgary West (Mr. Smith) knows something about it at least I will be talking to one hon. member who has an intelligent understanding of what I am saying. While there are very few who understand it I do not think any would be ready to go into the country and say that they do not believe in it. They know that the co-operative people of this country base their operations on the principles of the Rochdale pioneers. I should like to quote from the Fundamentals of Consumer Cooperation by V. S. Alanne, published by the Northern States Co-operative League of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Butler can deal with these people by making the kind of statement he has made, but up here he will have to deal with those who know something about it. I quote:
Here is a significant clause in the now famous program of the Rochdale pioneers: "That, as soon as practicable, this society shall proceed to arrange the powers of production, distribution, education and government; or, in other words, to establish a self-supporting home colony of united interests, or assist other societies in establishing such colonies."
There is a whole book of that sort of thing, every word of which would be useful. The statement made by Dr. Karl Butler will be denied by a great many co-operative people in this country. The profit motive is not the principal incentive. Their motive is to reduce costs and provide the best service possible and give the fairest weights without profit. That is the basic policy and philosophy of the co-operatives of this country.
The Budget-Mr. Bentley
I have some further evidence to present along these lines. I have here a brief which was presented by the Co-operative Union of Saskatchewan to the government of Saskatchewan on January 12, 1949. I know there are some people in Saskatchewan and other places who would like to create a division between those in Saskatchewan who operate co-operative enterprises and the C.C.F. This is the brief that was presented to the government in an effort to establish what these people believe is the basis of relationship between the two functions, to set out where the one could function and where the other could function. They have indicated what they believe is the basic philosophy of co-operative enterprise. For instance, on page 3 they say:
Laws in capitalistic society were primarily made to protect the entrepreneur and were developed and amended through time to protect greater aggregations of capital. While provision was made from time to time to enable co-operatives to enter the commercial field, it was always as a distinct and peculiar division of business and not as part of the general economy.
At page 4 they have this to say:
The co-operative movement grew up as a voluntary organization within the framework of a capitalistic economy.
Later on there is a fairly extensive quotation which I wish to give. They are dealing with what has happened under the Labour government in Great Britain, and they say:
If the foregoing is true in Britain, it is equally so here in Saskatchewan.
They were pointing out where the government's field was and where the co-operatives' field was. They say:
It is submitted that the co-operative movement- consumer, producer, and service-can make an important contribution to stability and the maintenance of effective and responsible democracy in a planned economy as projected by the present provincial government. Having as its base a broad democratic foundation amongst farmers, urban workers, and the professions, it at all times promotes and encourages active participation by the people in the responsibilities of political and economic ownership and control. It is real "free enterprise" in that it enables all men and women, regardless of financial investment, to enter the business field in their own behalf, and at the same time develops a social outlook in working together for service, impossible where profit is the motive.
If the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Ross) ever gets around to reading Hansard of this day I should like him to remember those words, and then cogitate again on the immaturity of his statement in believing the word of somebody from somewhere else who was simply expressing a personal opinion, and who would have been heartily disagreed with by the great bulk of co-operators in this country.

The Budget-Mr. Diefenbaker
If I ever say anything that impresses the government I should like this to be it. If they believe in their hearts that they are trying to build a democratic country in Canada, that they are trying to extend to people in all walks of life, in the political field, in the production field, in the servicing or distribution field, in the business world, the elements of democracy in which we believe so much, then I say to them that they cannot do it if, every time a democratic organization threatens the power and monopoly of some established institution, they do not extend that democracy and clamp down some particular type of legislation on the statute books of this country which will prevent the fulfilment of the purposes of these democratic organizations that rise up in any one of these fields.
If they cannot see that, then there is one other course they are going to follow, just as sure as day follows night. It is now established on the statute books that there can be no such thing as a non-profit co-operative organization in this country inasmuch as they have imposed a three per cent tax. Some day they will come to the conclusion that is not enough to do the job they want done, which is to kill the co-operatives. They will listen to the persuasion of the Canadian Manufacturers Association, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and their other big friends, and they will proceed to raise the tax to five per cent. If that does not do the trick they will raise it to whatever percentage is necessary to kill these democratic commercial institutions. If they want to go in the other direction they can move to remove the three per cent tax, and they can do that right now on the budget resolutions. They do not even need to wait until those resolutions are voted upon. The government will receive the support of a great many people in this country, if not politically at least spiritually, if they will have the courage and the decency to give co-operatives the kind of treatment that they have a right to in Canada.

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