October 16, 1903

AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE-BINDER TWINE.

LIB

James Moffat Douglas

Liberal

Mr. J. M. DOUGLAS (East Assiniboia) moved :

That the House do concur in the eighth and final report of the Select Standing Committee on Agriculture and Colonization, and especially that 40,000 copies of the evidence of the inspector of binder twine be printed forthwith in pamphlet form, in the usual numerical proportions of English and French, as advance sheets of the committee's final report, for distribution to members of parliament less 100 copies for the use of the committee, and that Rule 94 be suspended in relation to the printing of the evidence.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPROULE (East Grey).

Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to entirely dissent from the motion, but it seems to have two distinct features, first, that the House concur in the report and, secondly, that it concur especially in a certain part of the report. It seems to me to be a very unique form of expression. We either concur in the report or we do not concur in it. If we only desire to concur in a portion of the report, that portion should be stated, and we should not say that we concur especially in a certain part of it. I do not admire the wisdom of concurring in that report, and for the following reasons : The portion of it which we are asked specially to concur in is the publication of 40,000 copies of the evidence given by Mr. Haycock as the inspector of binder twine, to be given to the people of the country. In so far as the information contained in the evidence would be valuable to the farmers, I have not the slightest objection in the world to having it distributed, but in so far as it discloses how imperfectly the work was performed and the shortcomings of that particular individual in allowing a thing to be done which I think should not have been done, I think it is very unwise that we should disseminate that information any farther than possible. What I refer to is the manner in which Mr. Haycock has discharged his duty.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Hon. Mr. FIELDING.

Mr. Haycock was appointed as au inspector to carry out the provisions of the Act 2 Edward VII., chapter 32 : ' An Act to amend the Act respecting the packing and sale of certain staple commodities,' in which reference is made to binder twine. He was appointed for the purpose of examining binder twine and of seeing that the binder twine offered for sale complies with the requirements of the law. What are the requirements of the law ? The requirements of the law are that :

Every manfacturer, importer or dealer who neglects to comply with the provisions of this section shall, on summary conviction, be liable to a penalty of not less than twenty-five cents per ball ; and every manufacturer, importer or dealer of binder twine which is not of the length per pound which is stamped upon the ball, shall, on summary conviction, be liable to a penalty of not less- than one dollar and not more than twenty-five dollars per ball, and all such twine deficient in quantity shall be confiscated to the Crown : provided that no deficiency in the number of feet contained in any bail shall be deemed a contravention of this section unless the deficiency ex'ceeds five per cent of the length stated upon the stamp.

Any proceedings under this section shall be taken within six months from the sale of any such ball.

The word ' dealer ' whenever it occurs in this section shall be held to mean the dealer who is the direct purchaser from the manufacturer.

- There were two things that Mr. Haycock was bound to look after, first, that the balls should contain the name of the manufacturer, and, second, that they should have stamped upon them the number of feet per pound. Well, Mr. Haycock went out to discharge liis duties, and he found twine that did not comply with the requirements of the law. He said in his evidence before the Gommittee on Agriculture :

I visited a large number of places and I may just say that the first place, the first point at which I got any bad twine was at Gretna. There I found a lot of twine that was not marked in accordance with the Act and I inflicted a penalty of $25 which was paid and deposited to the credit of the Receiver General of Canada.

By Mr. Gilmour:

Q. And do you say you inflicted a penalty ?

A. I did.

By Mr. Sproule :

Q. You inflicted a penalty without bringing the party before a magistrate ?

A. I did so. The party was satisfied and would sooner pay the penalty than go before a magistrate. However, it is a matter for you people to discuss.

You went on to state that:

By Mr. Blain :

Q. Do I understand that after the fine you had the twine re-marked and that the agent went and sold it ?

A. Yes.

We contended that he had no such authority.

Q. Do you consider you would have the right and power to do that ?

A. I find the Act says that every ball of binder twine that is offered for sale shall have attached to it a stamp with the name of the manufacturer, the importer or dealer, and the number of feet per pound. This twine had the name of the manufacturer but not the number of feet per pound and I had to fine this man. I told him that all he had to do was to put the number of feet per pound on that ball and that it would comply with the Act.

Q. Surely that man would not have the power, would he ?

A. I do not know why ?

Q. I can easily understand why.

A. Not if he marks it properly. * If he marks it improperly, then he is liable to a penalty of $1 per ball.

Q. Suppose that any dealer in this city had ten tons of twine ?

A. Yes.

Q. And you went and inspected it and found it did not come up to the requirements of the Act ?

A. Yes.

Q. Would you think that the dealer had any right, under your instructions to mark the twine with the number of feet and then go and sell it ?

A. He could mark it anything he liked.

Q. Not after paying the penalty ?

A. Yes.

Q. Surely, the agent would not have that power ? I would have thought that twine ought to be put off the market entirely. . . .

A I said to this man, ' If you had the

number of feet per pound, neither I nor any one else could touch it, and if you put the number of feet on the twine that it actually measured, you would be perfectly safe.'

Here is a party who was selling twine that did not comply with the law, and yet he is authorized to measure and mark it himself. This was held by many members of the Committee on Agriculture to be an authority not given to the inspector under the Act.

Q. Supposing an agent in this city was to buy ten tons of twine and it had on a tag such as you have in your hand, and bore the name of the importer. If that is put on, then the agent having the twine could decide for himself the number of feet per ton and put it on himself ?

A. Yes, and if he does not do it correctly then he is liable to a fine of $1 per ball and confiscation.

Q. Then the Act has no value because it says it must bear the statement of the manufacturer ?

A. It says the manufacturer, importer or dealer.

Q. If you allow that to go, then each man would have the right to put the number of feet per pound on himself?

Further on be was asked :

Q. Do I understand you to say (hat this twine shall be confiscated to the Crown or not ?

A. No, it did not make any misrepresentation. The tag does not make any representation at all as to the number of feet.

Because there was no tag on it. and therefore he could not confiscate. He says :

I had instructions from the department that I have the power to collect the penalty.

He was asked again :

Q. You consider that under the statute you are authorized to impose the penalty and collect it ?

A. I do not impose the fine ; I simply collect the penalty.

it seems to me that is a distinction without a difference.

I do not convict the man. I simply collect the penalty.

Q. You persuade him that a fine will be imposed upon him, and that he had belter pay you ? Is that the case ?

A. They simply prefer it that way ? Yes, that is. the way.

He goes on further :

Q. Have you a tag that was taken off certain twine that did not comply with the law ?

A. Yes. That Is improperly 'narked too ; the name of the manufacturer is not on It.

By Mr. Sproule :

Q. Do you fine according to the Act a dollar a ball for every ball ? What did you do with that case ?

A. The Act, if you will read it carefully, says that the dealer shall be held to be the direct purchaser from the manufacturer. The gentleman in whose possession I found this twine did not purchase it from the manufacturer, so, according. to the. Act, I could not treat with that man.

He finds the twine in the possession of a man who is selling twine not properly marked, and he says that because this dealer is not a direct purchaser from the manufacturer, he cannot fine him, as the law does not authorize him to do so. Then, that is a lamentable defect in the Act. Then in answer to Mr. Henderson, he says :

The Act says the word ' dealer,' whenever it occurs in this section, shall he held to mean the dealer who is the direct purchaser from the manufacturer.

Now, here are two features of the case to which I wish to direct attention. In the first place, the inspector assumes that he is to fine the party who has in his possession twine that is not properly marked, without lodging a complaint before a magistrate or before any tribunal that is authorized to try the case. He collects the fine and says he hands it over to the Receiver Generali That is an authority which the Act does not give him. The Act says :

Every manufacturer, importer or dealer who neglects to comply with the provisions of ttis Act shall, upon summary conviction, be liable to a penalty of not less than twenty-five cents per hall, or $25.

Now, I draw attention to the fact that there was no conviction before a magistrate and no complaint made. The man had no opportunity to defend himself, but the inspector comes in, imposes a fine, collects the money, and deals with it as he sees fit. He says he passes it over to the Receiver General. That may or may not be correct. I am not calling that in question ; but I am drawing attention to the fact that he is exercising an authority which he does not possess under the Act. The other

.feature of the ease is this, that where he finds twine in possession of the dealer, if the dealer is not prepared to say that he purchased it direct from the manufacturer, the inspector has no power to fine him. That is a defect in the Act as well as an excessive authority on the part of the inspector. I claim that he improperly exercised an authority which the Act does not give him. The authority of the inspector should be better defined or his instructions should be more explicit. I appeal to the Minister of Justice whether it is competent for any inspector to impose a fine without lodging a complaint before a competent tribunal, where the party alleged to have violated the law would have an opportunity to defend himself ?

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

At first sight it would appear necessary for a man to lodge a complaint before a competent tribunal and have the man tried by a summary process. Unless there is something special in the Act, there would be no authority for the inspector to impose a penalty without that.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

There is nothing in the Act which gives the inspector such authority. What I object to is publishing 40,000 copies of this evidence, and distributing

them, containing evidence which only shows either the incompetency of parliament to pass a proper Act or the improper exercise of authority by the inspector in imposing the penalty.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE (Hon. Charles Fitzpatrick).

Of course, I want to speak with some caution. It would appear to me that it would be necessary for the inspector to take proceedings before a competent tribunal before he could do anything. I would require to look into the matter and consider it, and would be quite willing to give an opinion to-morrow if the hon. gentleman will bring up the question

then.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

In that case, we had better postpone consideration of the motion until the Minister of Justice can look into it and give us the benefits of his judgment. I beg to move the adjournment of the debate.

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LIB

James Moffat Douglas

Liberal

Mr. DOUGLAS.

The Committee on Agriculture and Colonization were unanimous in their opinion that this evidence should be printed, and desired that I should make some remarks ou the matter in order to have the printing done as rapidly as possible and the report set before the country. I hope that the House will agree, in view of the unanimous decision of the committee, that no delay should be thrown in the way of publishing this report. If we were reviewing the Act, this discussion would be opportune, but under the circumstances I do not see that it is. If the powers of the in-

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

spector require to be more fully defined, that can toe done toy special legislation.

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CON

Uriah Wilson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. U. WILSON (Lennox).

I have been a pretty constant attendant at the meetings of the Committee on Agriculture and Colonization, but I was absent at the particular one which adopted this report. There is one thing which pleases me in the evidence and that is that it fully establishes the fact that the only one of our Canadian manufacturers of twine was fined for shortage in measurement. All the other found short was American twine imported into this country. It is quite evident that putting twine on the free list does not tend to cheapen it or make the dealings more satisfactory.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE (Hon. W. S. Fielding).

If the motion to adjourn should carry, this report will go on Public Bills and Orders and not be reached this session.

I would suggest that the report be adopted and any information required may be obtained in supply or in any other convenient form.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I question the wisdom of circulating 40,000 copies of evidence -which is open to the objections I have just taken. We should first have an authoritative statement from the Minister of Justice.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. S. HUGHES (Victoria).

If (his officer, Mr. Haycock, had no authority to levy these fines and if this evidence is to be printed, containing this statement that lie believes he has authority, the farmers will possibly take what he says for granted, and he will be given the opportunity of exercising very improper powers.

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CON

Edward Cochrane

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. E. COCHRANE (East Northumberland).

I was at the meeting of the coTnmittee and asked this officer a question concerning his duties. He said that all he could do under the Act when the twine was not of proper length, was to confiscate it and to fine the parties. But if he found the twine without tags, he could not do anything under the Act. In that case the law should be amended. If we are satisfied that this man has no right to impose a fine and confiscate, this report should not be circulated. If no man should be fined without a trial, and if a magistrate only has the power to fine, this officer has been exceeding his duty and we should not send out a report which would give a false impression of his powers.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).

I spoke to the inspector about the binder twine manufactured in American prisons, and he said it was not part of his duty to look after that, but it was for the Customs Department to deal with such twine. I do not see why that should not be part of his duties.

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CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. D. HENDERSON (Halton).

If the law is defective and does not give authority to the inspector to impose a speedy yemedy,

= t ~

it should be amended. But I approve of the printing of 40,000 copies of this special report and sending it broadcast throughout the country. It is evident, from the report, that the farmers have been imposed upon, and they should be made aware of it. According to the evidence, out of fourteen cases in which binder twine was found to be short in measurement, one came from Mexico, one from England, one from Canada and eleven from the States. Surely that should warn farmers against purchasing American binder twine. In order to get rid of this American twine and prevent our people being imposed upon, we should go back to the old principle and put a duty on the foreign article which will keep it out of the country.

It is quite evident that if encouragement were given to the manufacture of binder twine in this country, that all we want could be made in Canada. Nearly fifty per cent of our twine is manufactured in Canada now, even under the great difficulties that exist. The United States manufacturers have access to our market free of duty and they have their own market to sell their products, in which market Canadians are prohibited from entering by the tariff duties. All that our producers have is a portion of that Canadian market. I say that more encouragement should be given to men who produce an honest article and sell the farmers honest measure, and so prevent the twine from the United States being disposed of to our farmers who unwittingly buy it thinking -that they are buying an honest article. I want the farmers to be educated on this point. I think that it will result in bringing about a far better state of things; that our farmers will be guarded ag)ain,st buying American- twine and will see that it is to their interest to encourage this industry which, we believe can be doubled in extent, thus benefiting our workmen engaged in this industry as well as our farmers who buy the goods. I look upon the report as most important, and I believe that the greater currency that can be given to it the better in all interests.

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CON

George Taylor (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Conservative Party (1867-1942))

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEORGE TAYLOR (South Leeds).

I think the Minister of Justice (Hon. Mr. Fitzpatrick) should not allow this report to be adopted in view of the information we have in that report that the government have authorized a man to go about practically compounding felony. He finds a man who has violated the law and says to him in effect: You are a violator of the law, but if you give me $25 we will say nothing about it. He has authority, apparently, to go about either blackmailing people or compounding felony. If we find a man who has violated the law why should he not be brought up and fined as provided by the law ? I do not wonder at the chairman of the committee and other hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House wanting a large 440

number of copies of this report distributed. In my opinion, if ever there was a useless office, it is that to which Mr. Haycock has been appointed. These gentlemen opposite call Mr. Haycock -here specially and get his evidence in such form that it can be printed in pamphlet and sent to the country. This is done in an attempt to show that this office is of some value and the holder of it is earning his money. Yet, by his own report and admission he is going around either blackmailing the parties whom he finds violating the law or compounding felony with them. The farmers of Canada are intelligent enough to know whether they are buying good twine or not, and they can see to it that they are getting full length, without paying Mr. Haycock $1,200 a year as a salary and $1,200 a year expenses to go about doing such work as he is doing. It is evident that this man has overstepped his duties and should be called down. He finds a man with twine that is not regular in his possession, and he says : You are violating the law, but I will let you go oh and sell the balance of this if you will pay me $25. I can put it in my pocket and turn it into the revenue after. On a previous occasion I brought here a statement showing that men had paid fines for illegal fishing to one of the officers of this government, and there was no record of any return of that fine to the department. I do not say that Mr. Haycock would pocket the money, but I say that if the government send out this officer and he finds the law being violated it is the duty of the government to see that those who violate the law are punished, and not called upon to pay so much money to hush it up. It is the duty of the Minister of Justice to look into the matter immediately.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

I conceive that my duty is to -speak with considerable care and caution, and not to talk of men as blackmailers and compounders of felony without some knowledge of the facts.

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The MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (Hon. Sydney Fisher).

I think the question raised by my hon. friend from East Grey (Mr. Sproule) and the remarks of the hon. member for South Leeds (Mr. Taylor) do not really cover the point at issue. That point is the adoption of the final report of the Committee on Agriculture, which sums up in general terms the work of the committee during the session, and gives valuable information as to the extension of the agricultural 'industry in Canada during the year.

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October 16, 1903