Mr. A. H. CLARKE:
Mr. Chairman, I wish to say a few words on the question of the tobacco industry, especially in the counties of Essex and Kent. There has been a good deal of complaint and dissatisfaction amongst the tobacco growers. It is only a few years ago that the Parliament of Canada so altered the excise regulations that a considerable impetus was given to the tobacco industry. An experimental farm was also established by the
former Government at Harrow in the county of Essex. At one time tobacco growing in these counties was exceedingly profitable, but at the present time, although the crop has been a good and abundant one, the difficulty apparently is in not being able to obtain markets. The hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Burrell) will know whether or not there are similar reports from the other tobacco growing parts of the Dominion, in the province of Quebec and the province of British Columbia. The difficulty is that, although the industry has a very considerable protection, the consumers apparently are getting no benefit from this protection, and the growers are getting no benefit. The suggestion is that there is an understanding, or combination, among the manufacturers which is keeping the price down to a point which renders tobacco growing unprofitable. The matter was brought to the attention of the Committee on Agriculture last week by my hon. colleague from West Kent (Mr. McCoig), and I understand that the Government had Mr. Barnet, who has charge of the experimental farm at Harrow, attend the meeting. By this time I would have thought that the minister would have had his report. My object in bringing the matter to his attention now is to know whether anything has been or is being done by the Government with the view of affording relief to those engaged in this industry. Some years ago there was a similar situa
tion. It was suggested that there was a combination of tobacco manufacturers, and the former Government appointed a commission. His Honour Judge MacTavish was sent out, he thoroughly investigated the conditions, and the result was that there was a considerable improvement. I do not know whether the Government is able to do anything, but if it can I would strongly urge upon the minister that some step should be taken in order to endeavour to get at the truth of the matter and see where the trouble lies.