May 25, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


John Best



But I am not advocating taking duties off. What I am advocating is keeping the duty on, and protecting the farmer by not allowing oleomargarine to enter, or be manufactured in, this country. I contend that I am quite consistent as a protectionist in arguing that oleomargarine should not be permitted to come in free or be manufactured in Canada. Now, my hon. friends opposite seem to think, judging from their interjections, that I find fault with protecting boots and shoes, and clothing, and that I am against protection. Not by any means, but I do think that we have a just right to protect the most basic industry we have in the Dominion, and that is agriculture. If we are going to permit the importation and sale of oleomargarine when there is no sale for our butter what are our dairymen going to do? As one hon. gentleman opposite said, under this policy the dairy industry would dwindle away, and that if the farmers of this country cease to keep cows we would have to have something to take the place of butter. In such a case as that I would not blame them; but the farmer at the present time certainly cannot make anything out of selling butter at 25 cents a pound. A few years ago, before this legislation was enacted, the farmer could buy a binder for $150 but he has to pay $300 to-day for it. That enhanced price is not due to protection because the duty only amounts to 12i per cent, but everything else has gone up in proportion. The farmers of this country are certainly going to protest if they are not protected as they should be, and I believe this to be one of the worst pieces of legislation, from the farmer's standpoint, that could be introduced into the House. I think the minister probably is sincere in thinking that this legislation is going to benefit the poor, but I appeal to him to see to it that the farmers are not discriminated

against in this way. During the war they were appealed to to keep more cows and hogs, and they did, but now the war is over and the prices of farm products are declining those farmers are left with their stock on their hands. I hope the minister will see his way clear to withdraw this Bill, because I am not going to be inconsistent -I am not going to vote for a measure that I have spoken against.

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