Owen Lewis JONES

JONES, Owen Lewis

Personal Data

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Okanagan Boundary (British Columbia)
Birth Date
February 6, 1890
Deceased Date
November 5, 1964

Parliamentary Career

May 31, 1948 - April 30, 1949
  Yale (British Columbia)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  Yale (British Columbia)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Okanagan Boundary (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 60)

April 12, 1957

Mr. Jones:

Mr. Chairman, I would be very pleased if I could say a few words in support of the hon. member for Dauphin who spoke yesterday on behalf of the retail merchants of Canada. I feel that he spoke on behalf of a group which has been sadly neglected in recent years, a group which is very important, not only in the community life of Canada but in the community life of most of the European countries as well. For centuries this group has made devoted efforts toward the development of the country to which it belongs. Napoleon referred to the English at one time as a nation of shopkeepers, little realizing that those same shopkeepers were capable of taking up arms and bringing him to his knees at Waterloo.

In Canada shopkeepers have been pioneers in our communities; they have laid the foundation of every town and city in Canada; it was their unstinted service and money which helped to plan the future of this country, and I well remember times of distress when the small retailers became not only merchants but philanthropists, giving credit to all who needed their services. Many merchants became bankrupt in the process because of their generosity, and we have to thank our small merchants in Canada for the help they gave to farm workers and others during the most trying period of economic difficulty.

In every town in Canada hon. members will find evidence of the pioneering spirit of this group. Often its members serve on city councils and help to build up public institutions-fire halls, arenas and other types of building. There are countless instances of good work done by the retail merchants of Canada. Unfortunately these very people are now facing difficulties which are not of their own creation, difficulties which may lead to their total extinction as merchants in Canada. As I say, through a condition which is no fault of theirs, they are at the mercy of large corporate retailers. I, in common with other hon. members, have received a letter from the

Retail Merchants Association drawing our attention to this serious situation, and I would like to quote from it:

During the last ten years a condition has been developing in Canada which is rapidly approaching the point where a few large corporations are gaining a stranglehold on the retail trade of our country. Unless there is fast legislative action to counteract this trend, small business, the mainstay of free enterprise and effective competition, may be elbowed out of existence.

We have seen similar developments already in the automobile and gasoline industries. The letter goes on to say:

The fact is that competition between the large corporate retailer and the independent retailer is unequal in our present system. The reason for this is that the large corporation has access to millions of dollars in the stock and bond market, which is quite beyond the reach of the small merchant.

The results of this inequality are clearly visible in every Canadian city today. The corporate or chain outlet has vast, new, expensive buildings, parking lots and equipment. The independent merchant is found in old buildings, and with out-of-date equipment.

I bring this matter to the attention of the house because I think that the request which the retail merchants are making is a very fair one. I am not opposed to large outlets; there is a place for them, but there is also definitely a place for the small merchant in Canada. It seems to me that we are justified in advancing loans to farmers for rehabilitation, and I believe we would be justified in extending this principle to the small merchants who are now making this request through their retailers association.

Many farmers, as we know, have been rescued from an embarrassing financial situation by the Canadian Farm Loan Act and I think the small merchant who is now in difficulty deserves access to this same financial service in order that he may rehabilitate himself. The minister already has a copy of the letter from which I have quoted. In drawing this matter to the attention of the government I urge that consideration be given immediately to enabling these independent small merchants to have a chance to survive and to carry on the excellent work they have done in the past in helping to build up the institutions we now enjoy.

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April 8, 1957

Mr. O. L. Jones (Okanagan Boundary):

wish to support the statements made by the last two speakers. I realize this bill is a very important one, especially so far as Ontario is concerned. As you know, in British Columbia we have been very successful in our marketing legislation and when doubt was cast upon it we were somewhat worried. However this legislation will clear away all doubt. I should like to thank the minister for his prompt action in this regard. He could have delayed acting until the next session or perhaps a year or two from now. Prompt action has been necessary to protect this vast industry, and I refer to the whole industry throughout the Dominion of Canada.

I would say that while legislation of this type is necessary at the moment, it has been hastily conceived and probably there will be weaknesses apparent in it as experience is gained. I do hope the minister will watch the operation of this particular act and protect the growers as they have not been protected in the past. I merely make that suggestion to him because the fact that the act becomes enforceable does not necessarily mean that the provisions of the act will be followed. I have found that in past years,, and year after year corrections are made in the acts. I hope the minister will watch carefully to see that this act does operate.

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March 29, 1957

Mr. Jones:

Is the minister in a position to answer my question of last week regarding the mail contracts with T.C.A., C.P.A., the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian National?

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March 28, 1957

Mr. O. L. Jones (Okanagan Boundary):

Mr. Speaker, the last two speakers have used their time in this debate to cover practically any subject they wished. Under those conditions I am going to deal with a subject that I am very interested in, since my constituents are worried about it at the present time. I refer to the fruit industry. I feel the federal government has a direct responsibility to the industry because in the 1930's, when the industry started to build up in Canada, the fruit-growers received government protection and encouragement. I would draw to the attention of the government the fact that this was included in the horticultural council's presentation made to the government within the last month or so. I would like to quote it:

The protection extended to the fruit and vegetable producers in the early thirties provided the incentive for expansion of production in Canada; an abundance of supply resulted in very reasonable price levels for Canadian consumers. The extent to which that protection against "dumping" has been whittled away, and the Canadian producer left exposed is the cause of the alarm today among Canadian producers, and prompts this "request for action".

It is this question of unfair competition, or so-called dumping, that still plays havoc with our industry that I should like to deal with, particularly in connection with soft fruits and vegetables. The government's present policy, and its definition of dumping, have proved useless in stopping the practice. Actually, it continues to increase, much to the detriment of our producers each year. Early this year the British Columbia fruit growers association passed the following resolution covering the same point, and with your permission, sir, I should like to quote from it:

Whereas heavy crop years in soft fruits occur simultaneously in the western United States and British Columbia, and

Whereas experience has shown that in such years American soft fruit surpluses are dumped indiscriminately on the Canadian market, thus completely disrupting and demoralizing the orderly marketing of the British Columbia crop, and

Whereas provision to prevent such dumping is made in the general agreement on tariffs and trade yet, because of the inadequately defined antidumping clause, enforcement is practically impossible :

The Budget-Mr. Jones

Therefore be it resolved by this 1957 B.C.F.G.A. convention that the executive be requested to petition immediately the federal government to have the anti-dumping clause of the general agreement on trade and tariffs rewritten and clarified so that the "prevailing price" in the country of origin may not be the price prevailing in any isolated local market but must be the average price prevailing in at least six principal markets in the country of origin.

Last year I suggested that dumping could be defined by accepting the Canadian cost of production as a yardstick and any importation at a price below that should be regarded as dumping.

In view of the unanimity shown by the whole organized fruit industry as displayed through their briefs and resolutions which have already been presented to the federal government, I trust the minister will take steps immediately to carry out their very reasonable requests.

I would like now to quote from the brief of the horticultural council. They say:

The nature or form of the competition to which our producers object most strenuously is imports at "distress" prices at the peak or clean-up of American harvesting which frequently collides with the commencement of Canadian harvesting. Under these conditions the American producer may have received a premium price, or at least a good average price on a large proportion of his crop, but his "clean-up" sales can set the market price for a very large proportion of the Canada crop of the same commodity, and prevent any possibility of the Canadian producer selling any portion of his crop at premium prices, or even benefiting to a normal extent from a short-crop condition that might exist in Canada.

No one can convince the farmer of the fairness or equity of a trade agreement which makes no realistic provision to protect a primary producer against this type of imports.

I am not going to take a great deal of time in dealing with this problem because I have already mentioned it and I think the minister is aware of the serious plight of farmers not only in British Columbia but in other parts of Canada through this unfair and unjust competition which is growing by leaps and bounds.

I would ask the minister to remember that at one time this industry flourished under the protection of the government and if they have the same interest now as they did then they should grant the industry the same protection which they accorded it in the past.

In line with my personal thoughts I would also suggest to the minister that a great deal could be done to protect the industry by setting up a board to provide for the orderly importing of fruit and vegetables, for instance through export-import boards, and the setting of appropriate quotas which will first enable the Canadian fruit and vegetable industry to plan for the future which they cannot do today; second, guarantee Canadian

The Budget-Mr. Jones consumers an economical supply of good quality fruit and vegetables at fair prices; and third, provide security for the fruit and vegetable farmers and workers in the industry. This will also ensure fair trades practices and prohibit the unfair dumping of fruit and vegetables into Canada at distressed prices.

I will conclude my remarks concerning dumping by asking the minister to read again the briefs presented by the two main bodies representing fruit farmers in Canada so that he can appreciate the extent of the damage that is being done to that industry.

The convention recently held in Penticton to which I referred earlier also asked for a price support for the fruit industry such as is already given to some sections of our agricultural industry including meat and poultry. I also mentioned their request for minimum support for the current year of at least 25 cents a box on fruit. I trust the government will give consideration to this request for immediate assistance. This industry is ailing but is not beyond recovery if the federal government will apply the necessary remedies. A floor price would be one valuable remedy which the government could apply to give a measure of stability and security to the growers.

Another resolution passed at the convention called for the extension of unemployment insurance benefits to farm workers and particularly orchard workers. I understand that this matter has been given consideration by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gregg) during the last year or two. Surely the department has found some solution to what appears to be a minor problem of administration. The benefits of this act at the present time are being denied to approximately 100,000 of our primary producers in Canada. I would ask the Minister of Labour to hasten the bringing in of necessary changes in the act in order to extend unemployment insurance benefits to a very essential group in our economy.

I would like now to request the Minister of Agriculture to extend the research work that is presently being carried out in our industry. I appreciate the splendid work that is being done at the present time but I feel that a great deal more could be done with by-products if adequate funds and suitable buildings and equipment were provided. In addition to research into byproducts research could be conducted in relation to marketing, packing and shipping.

I am pleased that at the present time there is a team composed of officers of the Department of Agriculture and members of

our industry who are carrying out research into packing, marketing and shipping in New Zealand and Australia. I hope that when they return with useful recommendations the government will adopt them.

Agriculture in general and those I represent seek just one thing, economic equality with labour and industry or, in other words, a fair share of our national wealth. While Canada as a whole is enjoying general prosperity I would point out that the benefits of this prosperity have not descended equally on all sections of Canada and especially those areas depending entirely on agriculture with the result that many of our smaller communities find it difficult to carry on with the necessary improvements.

I have in mind one such community that is faced with the urgent need to replace its entire irrigation system. For that purpose it has to borrow approximately $270,000 and must find this money on the open market probably at a very high rate of interest because it is a depressed area owing to loss through frost and other conditions that brought depression into the immediate neighbourhood. Failing this the community will have to abandon the whole plan which in this case would mean the ruination of the entire fruit industry in that particular area.

I contend that the Municipal Improvements Assistance Act should be reopened to take care of such areas as the one to which I have just referred. It is true, we might be told, that this act which made money available at 2 per cent for self-liquidating projects was designed to assist municipalities by making capital available at cheap interest during a period of crisis, but may I point out to the minister that a crisis exists today in some of our agricultural communities such as the one I mentioned.

I feel this act was a good one and if it was ever needed in Canada it is needed today to assist municipalities to cope with the increasing need for the building of necessary self-liquidating projects to take care of the natural growth of population and the influx of immigrants.

If the government is willing to reactivate this act to cover the whole of Canada much good could result. Failing that would it not be possible to reopen it as far as the distressed areas are concerned or, if it is the wish of the government, on a regional basis?

I know that after it was generally closed some years ago it was reopened in favour of Quebec when it had ceased to operate in other parts of Canada, and if an exception could be made in favour of Quebec at that time the same principle could apply to these distressed areas now.

I feel that the tight money policy which is now in effect has placed many municipalities in an impossible situation. The growing need for public works and the current cost of borrowing money has caused them to abandon many urgently necessary projects and this situation obtains right across Canada. The reopening of this act would be their salvation and would allow them to play their full role in supplying utilities in the fast growing urban areas.

I would now like to say a word or two on behalf of three groups who I am satisfied did not receive fair treatment in the budget. I refer to blind pensioners, widows of veterans and single veterans in receipt of war veterans allowance. I urge the minister to reconsider these three groups to see if something cannot be done to raise their standards of living to compare with those standards that have been raised slightly. I know from experience that it is almost impossible for a single veteran to maintain decent surroundings or a decent home and provide the necessary food, clothing and shelter on $60 a month. I urge the minister to reconsider the decision he came to with regard to these three groups because what I say about the veterans applies also to the blind pensioners and the widows of war veterans.

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March 18, 1957

Mr. Jones:

I wish to add my voice to that of my colleague the hon. member for Kootenay West on behalf of the British Columbia tree fruit growers. I believe the difficulties these people are facing have been brought up here several times, especially in the last few years. The growers themselves have requested the department for some assistance to overcome the losses as a result of the recent frosts. The statement made by my colleague was that the fruit growers did not get equal or nearly equal treatment as compared to the other sections of our agricultural economy. I agree with him. I believe the fruit growers are entitled to just as good a deal as the wheat growers of the prairies. I do not begrudge the wheat farmers the help they are receiving, but I think the fruit growers of British Columbia should get equal treatment.

At the present time the fruit growers of British Columbia are making a very modest request; that is, for assistance to the extent of 25 cents a box. I know quite well that the price the minister mentioned just now of 1 cent a pound or roughly 40 cents a box for apples is not a price upon which the growers could grow rich. It is not realistic so far as British Columbia is concerned, because our highest grade apples cost up to $2 to produce.

Last year a lot of our apples were diverted to the cider plant or the fruit juice plant. As the minister knows, the apples turned over to these plants bring very little return to the growers. It is not a profitable venture so far as the growers are concerned because they have to take the fruit to these plants and usually have to wait some time before receiving any return at all. I feel that this year particularly, as a result of the small crop and the high cost of processing that crop, the high cost of the facilities that are there for 10 million boxes while this year we had roughly 4 million, increasing the cost per box immeasurably, should suggest to the minister that the growers are very modest in their request. They are only asking for 25 cents a box.

I hope he will see his way clear to implementing that request this year. I can see that the amount cannot be included in the present estimates, but I hope he will bring in a supplementary estimate to cover aid to British


Columbia fruit growers this year. I would not confine it to British Columbia growers. If Nova Scotia, Ontario, or some other province is in the same sort of fix, it should be extended to them.

All I ask is that all agricultural sections of our country be treated alike and be given access to some funds under this particular act.

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