June 19, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)


It seems to me that this Bill is entirely unnecessary, because it is the same as the old Act, which is as follows :
No oleomargarine, butterine, or other substitute for butter, manufactured from any animal substance other than milk, shall be manufactured in Canada, or sold therein, and every person who contravenes the provisions cf this Act in any manner whatsoever, shall incur a penalty not exceeding $400 and not less than $200, and in default of payment shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months and not less than three months.
Where is the difference between the two Acts ? There is simply none, so far as I can see, beyond the fact that the hon. minister attaches the name of process butter. If this is a substitute for butter which is destroying the dairy products of the farmers, it can be attached under the old law as a substitute for butter. If It is some harmless preparation which is made out of butter-fat, I do not think that even the Act the minister is passing would attach it. It is only a change of name, and you cannot sell an adulterated article under a changed name any more than under the original name ; it can be stopped under the Adulteration of Foods Act. I am afraid the hon. gentleman is introducing this measure for the purpose of leaving on record the fact that the present Minister of Agriculture has stopped the importation and sale of these spurious articles. He opposed the old Act, but now it seems that in order to make amends for his shortcomings of the past, and to leave on record something that he can hold up as evidence of the great interest he takes in the farmers of the country, he introduces this Bill. In his speech in opposition to the old Act, the hon. gentleman, referring to the proposition that an excise duty and a customs duty of 10 cents a pound should be placed on these spurious articles, said :
But if these articles are stamped, so that the public know what they are buying, 159
aDd if the oleomargarine or the butterine are composed of materials which are not injurious to the health of the consumer, I do not see why the production of these articles should be forbidden in this country.
He admits that this process butter is not injurious to the health of the consumer, and yet to-day he is endeavouring to pass a law to prohibit it. He went on to say :
And if it does work any inconvenience to the dairymen of the country, their true remedy would be to manufacture a still better article of butter.
Is that not what they are doing to-day ? The hon. gentleman says that this article does not keep like prime dairy butter, therefore, he is going to prohibit it; but a few years ago it would only stimulate the farmers to manufacture a. still better article of butter.
Let the dairymen of the country see to it that they make the very best butter possible, and no butterine or oleomargarine can compete with that article. As a matter of fact, we know that in the United States, where these articles have been very largely put upon the market, they have competed with and injured the sale of lower grades of butter, but I think they have not at all interfered with the sale of the higher classes of butter.
Is that the hon. gentleman's experience to-day ? He admits that the article is not injurious to health, that it is made out of butter ; but it has not stimulated the farmers to such an extent sis to prevent it interfering with the sale of the higher grades of butter.
That being the case, and seeing that the government have proposed this resolution, I am not quite prepared, without further explanation at all events, to support the motion of the hon. gentleman. However, it might be well for us to go into committee and see the details of this Bill.
That is what the hon. member thought then; but to-day, as Minister of Agriculture, he has evidently acquired additional light. But I respectfully submit that if the article which he seeks to prohibit the importation, manufacture, and sale of in Canada, is either a substitute for butter or is injurious to health, it can be prohibited under the present law.

Full View