March 9, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


William Smith


Mr. WILLIAM SMITH (South Ontario) moved:

Minister of Agriculture in the Ontario Government stated the other day that he had convinced a very prominent man in Scotland that the embargo should be removed. I have talked more hours with Mr. Montgomery than this gentleman ever talked minutes with him, and I know that he has not persuaded Mr. Montgomery that it would he in the best interests of the Old Country that the embargo should be removed.
One word more, and then I will leave this matter in the hands of the House. It is just possible that I may not have the sympathy of the Government, the sympathy of the House, or the sympathy of the country at my back, but notwithstanding that, I am convinced from my own observation and experience that my resolution is in the right direction.
Mr. WILLIAM H. WHITE (Victoria, Alta.): Mr. Speaker, I am very glad indeed that the hon. member for South Ontario (Mr. Smith) has brought this question before the House. He is a man who has had a great deal of experience in the live stock business and knows stock conditions on both sides of the Atlantic. His opinions are therefore of considerable weight. From personal experience I cannot say what advantages might accrue to this country if the embargo on cattle were raised. Although I have been interested in a small way in the raising of stock during a large part of my life, I have never been a shipper or importer of cattle, but I take it from the large stock growers, particularly of Western Canada, who have both exported and imported stock, that their anxiety to have the embargo removed must be attributable to some definite advantages which they foresee. The raising of the embargo is a thing with which this Parliament or this Government has little to do, and it is very doubtful whether we shall ever succeed in that direction. The alternate proposition of my hon. friend I heartily agree with, and that is to establish cold storages and abattoirs on this side of the water to enable us to send our dead meat over.
The first year I came to this House, in 1908, I placed a resolution on the order paper, and, like that which my hon. friend has mentioned, it got side-tracked in some way, not however before it had been discussed to some extent. I remember that both sides of the House agreed with me, and the strongest advocate of cold storage at that time was the right hon. gentleman who is now Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen).

There is one thing that is beyond dispute, and that is that, whether by embargo or by the establishment of cold storage throughout this country, something must be done to carry on the live stock business of the western plains. If our market were closed to the United States there would be no future whatever for this industry, and we know that there are still large areas of grazing land that might be used for the purposes of cattle raising. The Government has made an attempt to stimulate the industry and enhance production, and unless we have some assurance that we are to have outside markets for our cattle very few men will remain in the business for any length of time.
When you reflect that the same grade of cattle that were selling in 1919 as high as twelve and fourteen cents as now sold in the western yards at between five and seven cents, you can see that the business is not in a very healthy condition. The slump in grain prices was large but the slump in prices of cattle was unexpected, and after the experience of the bad winter the year before last many stockmen were thrown out of business. Indeed, I believe that the number of those engaged in the business has declined some 50 per cent in the last year as compared with what it was during the past three or four years. With my hon. friend opposite (Mr. Smith), I say emphatically that something must be done. The removal of the embargo would be highly beneficial and the stockmen of the country seem to think that it would be advantageous. But whether or not the removal of the embargo would be the means of keeping up our industry in Canada, the one thing that I heartily agree with is that some steps should be taken to establish on this side of the water a system of cold storage and abattoirs so that if we were forced out of the American market and could get no relief from the embargo being removed, we should still have a way of handling our stock in this country.

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