I am sorry to say that the hon. gentlemen who have discussed this question, have discussed it without that intimate knowledge of the binder twine business that is absolutely necessary in order to have an intelligent comprehension of the subject that is now before us. In order to relieve the mind of my hon. friend (Mr. Ganong), who fancies that I may have a financial object in view, I may tell him that I have not a five-cent piece of interest in any binder twine establishment in this country, but, while I have no personal interest in binder twine, I have the interest in the binder twine industry that every Canadian citizen should have, and I am free to confess that the only words that
appeal to my mind that were addressed by the speaker from the other side, were those in which he condemned the government for taking off the duty on binder twine. With those words I sincerely agree. I think it was a mistake. I believe that the binder twine industry, like every other industry in this country, should be protected from undue competition from outside, and that it, like every other industry, should have the right to live in this country of ours. I believe that this industry, like every other, should be made to pay a duty on every pound of twine that comes into this country. I agree with our friends on the other side in that. Now, then, I approach the subject not as a politician, not with a desire to embarrass the government, not with a desire to contradict a truthful word that may have been spoken by hon. gentlemen opposite, but I approach it as a business proposition. We are manufacturing twine at the Kingston penitentiary, and how are we going to handle that product in such a way as to result in the greatest benefit to the consumers of binder twine, and at the same time to produce it at the least cost to the taxpayers of this country. I propose to approach that business question as a business man, and I shall try to put myself in the position of a man who is going to invest his money in that concern with the expectation of realizing a reasonable dividend out of his investment. The speeches made by gentlemen on the other side of the House have been apparently made for the purpose of discrediting the government, and of appealing to the prejudices, and sometimes to the parsimony of our farming friends. The question arises here as to what consuming power we have in this country for binder twine. The Trade and Navigation Returns show that last year there was entered for consumption in Ontario 3,900,000 pounds of binder twine, at 12 cents a pound ; in the province of Manitoba 3,400,000 pounds at 10 cents a pound, and in the whole Dominion there were 8,000,000 pounds of twine entered at 11 cents a pound. The prices given are from the invoices of the merchants, who swore to them when the twine was entered. Let us deal with a proposition which represents an importation of 8,000,000 pounds of binder twine, or 4,000 tons. Now, according to the calculations of those familiar with the subject that 4,000 tons is about five-tenths of the total quantity consumed in Canada, or in other words, we import about half the actual quantity used. Eight million pounds of binder twine are imported from the United States, and that comes into direct competition with the twine that is manufactured in this country, which amounts to another 4.000 tons, including the product of the Kingston and Toronto prisons. Let us realize that the government manufacture of twine would represent
about 5 per cent of the total consumption. Last year we produced 408 tons, not 500 tons-and in the discussion of this question there has been a looseness which shows that the gentlemen who spoke have not carefully considered the various phases of this problem. With a producing capacity of about 5 per cent of the quantity needed, it is proposed here that we should proceed to regulate the price of binder twine in Canada. I appeal to any business man in this House if it is feasible, in view of this fact, that we could obtain the results which we are asked to achieve. Are we likely to bring down the price of binder twine because we, the Dominion of Canada, inject into a consumption of 8,000 tons, about 5 per cent. I say tliat from the standpoint of a business man, who is going to invest his money in that business, that I would not put a dollar into an undertaking that could only control 5 per cent of the total consumption.
Then when we have solved this problem, the question presents itself : How are we going to sell this twine which we produce at Kingston. We have gone into the business for various reasons, but I shall not now deal with the history of our connection with it. The Minister of Justice (Hon. Mi-Mills) says that we went into the business for the purpose of giving these young prisoners who are not wicked by inheritance an opportunity to learn a trade whereby, in after life, they might make an honest livelihood. I can tell the Minister of Justice that the man who works on a twine machine in the Kingston penitentiary is no better qualified to earn a living when he gets out than he was the day he went into the penitentiary, because the clumsy fingers of the prisoner who has been accustomed to wheeling bricks and carrying mortar, will never be able to compete with the deft fingers of the Canadian girls, who can produce twine better in quality, and in twice the quantity, that these prisoners can. There is no justification in that argument of the Minister of Justice, because the convict can never earn his living by making twine when he gets out of the penitentiary. It would be a legitimate argument to say that we have gone into the business in order to provide occupation for the prisoners. It is the duty of the government to give these prisoners ; these forsaken ones ; these men who have inherited the evil tendencies of their progenitors, an opportunity in this world to employ the faculties with which God has endowed them. To that extent I sympathize with the attempt to provide employment for these prisoners in their leisure hours. It is, however, a great fallacy to expect that these men will be able to earn a living by making binder twine from the knowledge of the trade they acquire in the penitentiary.
I desire to say one or two words with reference to the remarks which have been Mr. HEYD.
made by gentlemen on the other side of the House, in order to show the unfairness of the motives that apparently animate these lion, gentlemen. If they were honest they would at least be truthful. In a question of this kind we want facts. We do not want imagination ; we do not want talk about combines ; we do not want the experience of these so-called farmers, who for only three months in the year vegetate upon the land. We want something you can rely upon when you begin to add up figures and declare a dividend on the business you have done in the past year. The hon. gentleman who introduced this resolution says we will overcome the whole difficulty by simply adopting his motion which says that we shall sell to the farmex-s the binder twine at the actual cost of px-oduction plus 1 cent a pound. That is a business pi-oposition, but let us look into it and see if it is feasible. We can find that out by ascertaining what other people pay for the labour involved in distributing 400 tons of twine. What have we to compete with in the selling of this twine ? Do not make the mistake of supposing that we are going to run against people who do not understand their business. Much has been said about the Farmers' Binder Twine Industry of Brantford. and the mere feet that they have been enabled to pay the large dividends that have been referred to hex-e, indicates that the Bx-antford factox-y is in the hands of men who thoroughly understand their business. The Farmers' Binder Twine Company has 4,000 stockholders, and it has about GOO agents, the qxxalifieations of evex-y one being thox-oughly known. These men are out in the field to-day competing with us. How are we going to compete with an organiza- ' tion managed by the keenest bxxsiness men of this country ? The product of these xxiills is sold by the most skilful salesmen in the country at one cent per pound. The Farmers' Binder Twine Company pay their agents who ax-e stockholders a commission of one cent a pound; they prepay the freight, assixme all risk of loss, and trust the men who Inxy fx-orn tliexn for five or six months or even a year. How are yoxx going to get hard cash, and sell your binder twixxe at one cent a pound ? Tliei-e is the proposition.
I guarantee that my hon. friend from West Toronto, who is a farmer for three months in the year, would not take stock at 2 cents on the dollar in such an undertaking. Leaving that aside, yoxi find that the Deer-ings, the McCormacks and the Plymouth concex-n in the United States, have fac-tox-ies equipped with appliances to which ours in Kingston are as a rush light to the sun. If our people were wise, they would take every machine that is at Kingston and destroy it, and pixt in its place something that would be able to compete with the developments which have taken place in the past ten years. At the present time we have free trade with the United States in
binder twine. We liave not a little pre- twine will be bought up, and there will be
serve within which we can say : Here is
the Kingston twine; come, farmers, buy it. They are not 'going to buy it unless they can get it cheaper than they can get binder twine anywhere else; and we cannot produce it cheaper than these men do. Notwithstanding that they pay the full cost of the raw material and pay dividends to their shareholders, these companies can sell their twine to the consumer cheaper than the Kingston penitentiary under whatever devices we manage it. That is one of the peculiar features of this binder twine business. My hon. friend says that we are going to overcome that by simply selling the twine to the farmers at one cent above cost. When was that twine sold to the farmers at more than one cent above cost ? We have heard a great deal about combines. There has been no combine in binder twine in Canada for years. We have heard gentlemen say that these companies have been able to divide 100 per cent dividends through the action of the government. What companies in Canada have done that 1 Yon would think there were fifty or sixty companies each dividing from 50 per cent in 100 per cent dividends among their shareholders. We have only two operating companies in Canada to-day: the Consumers' Company of Montreal, and the Farmers' Company of Brantford. These gentlemen talk about combines. What combine could you get up in Canada, which would be able to compete against the Deerings and the McCormacks and the Plymouth Companies ? If it were not for the silliness of the proposition, and tlie serious consequences involved, and the attempt to make political capital out of it, it would be laughed out of court. There are not live business men on the other side of tlie House, who believe that the proposition now before us is practicable. It will not do what its friends propose to do. If they say, let tlie government make binder twine, and sell it to the farmers direct without the intervention of a middleman, I am with them. As a political move that would be tlie best thing the government could undertake. It would give us an opportunity to shout and say : See what the
government are doing for tiie farmers; we are trying to kill out these great combinations, these great monopolies, and produce binder twine, and sell it to tlie farmers at cost. It would be a political move that anybody might adopt. But is it feasible V I say it is not. You cannot sell binder twine for one cent a pound, when the Brantford people are paying one and a half cents. I predict that if this resolution carries, and the attempt is made to sell the twine at one cent a pound, and only to farmers, it will have this result: in famine years, when binder twine is scarce, our agents will have at their side in distant parts of the country, men who are a good deal sharper than the farmers, and long before they know it. the
an advance in the price. In years of plenty, when we have more twine than we know what to do with, it will not be sold, and we know how binder twine deteriorates in the process of keeping.
My opinion is that the government should consider this question seriously, and try to sell binder twine to the consumers at the least possible expense, doing away with the intervention of middlemen when possible. I hold as a business man that up to the present time the management of the sale of the product of the Kingston penitentiary has been a dead failure. It was worse under the old regime, because wre lost money. Under the present regime, with all its imperfections, it has at least been able to declare a slight dividend. This is an important question, when you come to realize that the binder twine industry has had expended in its development a large sum of money. Those who are not familiar with what is going on do not realize that an attempt is being made to drive the Canadian companies out of the business. The Plymouth concern, which produces twenty times as much as the Brantford concern, the Deerings, the McCormacks, and the other great American binder twine producing concerns are trying to capture the Canadian market, and the one thing that has prevented the farmers of Canada during the last few years paying more for their binder twine has been this very company, the Brantford Binder Twine Company, and hon. gentlemen appear to be under the impression that they have made their money in an illegitimate way. I do not for a moment suppose that the conditions existing in the past two years are going to be permanent. There has been a condition of great fluctuation in prices, and business men, with business training 05[uiu of aiqu uaoq OAuq 'Aploatp Xnq o} soi} -tuupioddo puq oaui[ 'pijtdBO popiuipin puts large sums of money. I said a year ago in this House that had the Brantford Binder Twine Co. sold their raw material and never made a pound of binder twine, they would have cleared ,$225,000. On an investment of that kind with a capital of only $05,000, it is easy to declare dividends of 00 per cent, 100 per cent and 00 per cent. When you come to realize that that company does a business of $300,000 a year on a capital of only $05,000, and with a dividend of only $6,500 a year, you see how easy it is to pile up and accumulate funds which at last must be divided. That accounts for these immense dividends, which are now inviting a competition in the binder twine industry that will end ultimately in the loss of every dollar invested, because I do not believe we can ever compete, in the circumstances in which we are placed, with the great manufacturers of the United States. My opinion is-and it is the opinion of a business man -that every dollar put into binder twine in Canada will ultimately be lost, no matter
what action this government may take, unless they restore the duty ; and ultimately the manufacturers of the United States will do the hinder twine trade business of this country no matter what efforts we may put forth at Kingston and at Toronto.
X want to impress upon the minds of our farmer friends here that the influence which has regulated the price of binder twine in this country for the past four or live years has never been any combine. There has never been a combine in this country in binder twine for ten years, and all those statements made by the hou. member for West Toronto (Mr. Osier) to the effect that the government have been conspiring with the binder twine companies and thus enabling them to declare 100 per cent dividends, are purely imaginative. The hon. gentleman has the reputation of being a business man, whose opinions on financial subjects are worthy of consideration ; but with all deference to his gigantic ability as a business man, his statements with respect to the connection of the government with these various binder twine industries, I would describe, if I did not know him so well, as the imaginations of a mind diseased. The hon. gentleman went on to say that by means of the conspiracy between this government and these great manufacturing industries, this great combine had declared dividends of 100 per cent. But who is this great combine 1 Where are the factories that make it up ? Why, there are only two firms In the whole country-the Farmers Binder Twine Company and the Consumers Cordage Company-and they are diametrically ojiposed to each other. They are as opposite as the poles. The object of the hon. gentleman in making that statement was evidently to try and show that this government has been derelict in its duty and had conspired to advance the interests of its political friends.
But how could the government advance the interests of its political friends ? Does the hon. gentleman mean to say that the Plymouths and the Deerings and the McCormacks, and the other great manufacturing establishments on the other side, are all a party to this combine ? To show how absurd is the statement, all you have to do is to look at what it actually costs to produce twine in the prison and then see what it was sold at. The figures given by the hon. gentleman are purely imaginary. It costs a great deal more to produce the binder twine than he stated. One gentleman says it costs 61 cents. That statement is not true. By referring to the Auditor General's Iteport and taking last year's purchase of supplies and dividing it into the amount that they actually cost, you will find that the raw material costs 7 cents per pound. And if you will take the 400 tons that were produced and divide them into the entire cost, you will find that it costs 81 cents per pound, and yet the hon. gentlemen who sup-Mr. HEYD.
ported this resolution for the purpose of injuring the government, tell us that binder twine, which it costs 01 cents to produce, was sold to the farmers at 14 cents. Why did these hon. gentlemen take the highest figure ? But when hon. gentlemen have a political object to serve, they are not deterred by any little obstacles of that kind.
Up to the present the only sensible utterance pronounced was that of the hon. member for West Elgin (Mr. Robinson), who said that it is the duty of the government to put selling agents in the various townships of this country and sell, at the lowest possible cost of distribution, the output of the Kingston penitentiary to the actual consumers and do away with the middleman. That is a sensible proposition, which 1 commend to the judgment) of the government. I hope the time will come when the government will be able to sell its binder twine direct to the farmer, so that if we are only able to supply one farmer out of twenty, lie will get his binder twine at the lowest cost price. But what are you going to do with the other nineteen farmers ? How will you sell this twine so that there will be an equal distribution ? It is easy to get up and make academic speeches, but the moment you begin to sift every proposition from a business standpoint and see how you can make this thing operative, difficulties stare you in the face on every hand, and it is evident that since the Kingston penitentiary makes only 5 per cent of the binder twine consumed in this country, we cannot hope to make any impression on the price, and all these promises made are bound to result in failure. I intend to oppose this resolution because one cent per pound will not sell our manufacture of binder twine, because we will be fighting competitors who pay twice as much for selling and who have at their disposal more skilled binder twine salesmen than we can hope to secure. We will be bound, if that resolution carries, to meet failure the very first time we come into competition wTith these men. At the same time, I hope that this discussion will induce the government to consider the question and devise some means of removing this binder twine matter from the realm of politics and thus give our hon. friends opposite no excuse for saying that we arc using that industry for the benefit of our friends. If the government are bound to sell the twine to the wholesalers, let them advertise in the public markets and sell to the highest bidder, whether he be Grit or Tory and thus remove the stigma these men are attempting to fasten on us. I have not the slightest doubt that the government can overcome the difficulty. There have been fabulous jumps in the market in the last two or three years and great opportunities to make money, but I have not the slightest doubt that when the industry assumes its ordinary condition, the government will be able to devise a scheme
of disposing of the product of the Kingston penitentiary to the people who want it at the least possible expense to the countiy.
Mr. GEORGE STEPHENS (Kent, Out.) 1 notice that the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Blain) said that when the Liberal government came into office, in August, 1896, they found all the twine on hand that had been made the previous year. I would like the hon. gentleman to tell me why this twine had not been sold for the harvest of 1896 ? Was it because the previous government had entered into a combine with the Consumers' Cordage Company, in order to allow that company to sell their whole output at 71 cents per pound, which they did. The raw material had fallen from about 6 cents per pound to a little less than 4 cents. The twine could surely have been sold to the farmers in 1896. But the government d d not sell any twine whatever that year. They had in the neighbourhood of 500 tons on hand. Twine had gone down from 104 cents to 71 cents, and was still declining, hut the government held the twine, though it was manufactured and ready to go into the market. When the Liberal government took office on the 6th August, 1890, it was too late to sell that twine for the harvest of 1896. The hon. gentleman complains that this binder twine was kept over and sold at too cheap a price. I want to show him that some merchants in his county bought twine in 1897. And what did they pay for it ? Mr. S. A. McCartney, of Alton, bought twine at 54 cents ; Messrs. Peaker & Son, Brampton, at 51 cents ; Mr. R. HewSon, Malton, 51 cents ; Mr. J. E. Harris, Cheltenham, 51 cents and 04 cents ; Geo. McClellan, Cooksville, 5f cents, and Messrs. Kelley & Marshall, Orangeville, 5| and 6 cents. Now, this twine, the hon. gentleman says, was sold to Coll Bros, at 44 cents a pound. That, I believe, is a fact. But hon. members should bear in mind that the twine was a year old, and not of as good quality as that which was bought at 54 cents. Any one who has handled binder twine knows that when it is carried over a length of time the quality depreciates. Twine that was sold at 44 cents at the penitentiary, allowing for freight and interest on the money for one year, was a good sale, as compared with twine delivered at the merchant's storehouse at 54 cents per pound. 1 would like the hon. member for Peel to answer the question why this twine was not sold and used in the harvest of 1890.