February 9, 1905

LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I appreciate what the hon. gentleman (Mr. Monk) has said, but I must tell him and tell the committee that the idea which he has promulgated here is directly contrary to what has been the growing and strong opinion of the trade. The trade, not only the apple growers but the men who pack the apples, have found it necessary to define as clearly as may be the dimensions of the pacltages'which they use. The Act that we propose to amend already contains a provision which defines the smallest barrel of apples which will be allowed in the trade. That Act w^is passed by this House deliberately after discussion, and on the demand of the apple trade, so that no smaller barrel than that particularly defined could be used. The same demand has occurred in regard to the boxes, because to-day and for some years past the box has been growing in favour as a measure or receptacle for the export trade of apples. The same requirement is needed in regard to boxes as has been adopted in regard to barrels. My hon. friend says that he wishes the usage to control the size of the box. Usage has in days gone by controlled it in regard to the barrel. Canadian apples were shipped in barrels of all sizes, and the result was that the trade in England when they ordered a thousand or

2,000 barrels of Canadian apples did not at all know how many pounds or bushels of apples they were going to get. That was one of the difficulties they had to contend with in handling Canadian apples. They expressed their dissatisfaction with that condition of affairs, and the people engaged in the trade here recognized that it was to the advantage of the Canadian trade to have a defined package so that the purchaser would know as nearly as possible what he was getting, or at any rate would know

that he was not getting less than a defined amount, and they asked that the size of the barrels should be defined. I wish to point out here that this is not an exact size but a minimum size. That is the case in regard to barrels in the Act of 1901, sec. 4, which we are about to amend. The trade has been labouring under great disadvantages by reason of the varied sizes of packages, and the trade has the minimum size defined with regard to the barrel. In the last few years the trade has found that the box is a more profitable package to use than the barrel, but the box has varying sizes. The people of Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia who have been sending apples in boxes have been using different sizes of boxes. They found that the particular box here defined was the one that was closest to the general use and that it was the best average of all those that were in use. It was also the box that was already in use in British Columbia and largely in use in Ontario. It was the box that was already in use by our chief rivals in the English apple trade, the Tasmanian shippers. The trade therefore decided, after careful consideration and discussion, and recommended by formal resolution, that this particular size of box should be adopted, and that resolution has been embodied in the proposed legislation.

I am only proposing this at the formal request of the people concerned and I think it is well that parliament should try to carry out that request. My hon. friend (Mr. Monk) says that this may interfere with some people in the Island of Montreal. I may say that the fruit growers of the Island of Montreal are largely members of the Fruit Growers' Association of the province of Quebec. I could name a number of men there who are members of that association, and I have no reason to suppose that they were not quite in sympathy with the resolution passed by the Fruit Growers' Association of Quebec, asking that this should be done. Certainly if they were not in sympathy they did not go far enough to challenge the resolution because it was passed, as I understand, unanimously. Under these circumstances I feel that I am not only justified but called upon in the interests of the trade to propose a definition of the size of the box, the definition herein contained as the result of a long and full discussion. It has been adopted in the nature of a compromise, as being the box that comes nearest to all the different varieties of boxes that have been used in the past. My reason for postponing the coming into force of this amendment is simply because I am told that certain box manufacturers have already made a considerable number of the boxes for next year and a considerable number of packers have on hand boxes which they ordered for last year's crop, but which in consequence of the 24^

crop not being so large as was expected they now have on hand, and they would like to use these boxes for their next year's crop, whereas if this amendment came into force, they would not be able to use those boxes. I think that is a concession to the condition of the trade which we ought to make. But my hon. friend evidently does not understand the situation when he expresses the view that we should not to-day legislate for a box for a year hence. One of the most important things in the trade is that the packers, box-makers and fruit growers should know some little time before hand the kind of boxes they are going to use.

Topic:   PACKING AND SALE OP CERTAIN COMMODITIES.
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CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

Is this box intended to approximate in size to the bushed measure ?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

It is believed by those who have measured it carefully that three of these boxes will contain exactly the same amount of fruit as the barrel which is defined in the other part of this Act.

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CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

I would' say to the minister that I do not intend to enter into a discussion as to whether this is the proper size for a box or not; but I would remind him that only the day before yesterday he told us that we would have time to communicate with our constituents on this matter, and now he has suddenly and, I think, rather unfairly sprung this on the committee. I wrote immediately to a party from whom I knew I would get reliable information, but no opportunity has been given me to get that information. I think the hon. gentleman should not press this matter so hastily. He tells us that the fruit-growers have approved of this. Well, I would like to have the opinion of the fruit-growers in the county which I have the honour to represent. I know that they have an association to deal with all matters of this kind. I do not propose to oppose the measure as it stands, because I might make a mistake ; but I would like to know that their views are fully represented in it, or they may differ from other associations from whom the minister has received information. I trust that he will not press the matter to a final issue until we have had an opportunity of hearing from those whom we represent.

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L-C

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

The hon. minister is doing in this box legislation exactly what he did in the barrel legislation. In the barrel legislation he specified a minimum size, and it works like this. The cartage and the freight are exactly the same for the larger as for the smaller barrel, and when the apples are placed on the market the larger barrel has an advantage over the smaller. The reason the minimum barrel was adopted was that the manufacturers of barrels made that size and did not wish to change their machinery. The hon. gentleman is

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COMMONS '44


pursuing a similar course with respect to the boxes. There will be two or three sizes, and the same difficulty will be experienced. Why should there not be uniform barrels and uniform boxes, so that all parties would be placed on the same footing when entering the British market ?


LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I beg to thank the hon. member for Haiton (Mr. Henderson) for reminding me that he desired the other night to have this matter left over until he could communicate with his constituents. I had forgotten that for the moment, and I have no hesitation at all in acceding to the request that the resolutions should not be proceeded with now, and that abundant opportunity be given to all to hear from their constituents or from any others interested in the matter. At the same time, if any one wishes to make any further suggestions. I shall only be too glad to hear them before the committee rises.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I wish to make this suggestion. It is possible that the Fruit-Growers' Association may have passed a resolution recommending that boxes of this size be used, and I understand that it is a matter of importance to my hon. friend to communicate the views of the association, which can be done easily through the newspapers or otherwise, to parties engaged in the export of apples. But has the association actually gone so far as to demand that a law should be passed defining the size of these boxes ? Since my hon. friend has consented to put off the consideration of this measure, I would ask him if he would have any objection to lay on the table of the House the communications of the Fruit Growers' Association ?

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CON
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

No. At the present time there is no standard box. The consequence is that there is some variety in the sizes of the boxes used. The fruit-growers and the shippers have asked that we should, as far as possible, define a minimum box, so that they would not be getting smaller boxes.

Mr. OSLERt That would mean that there would be boxes of different sizes ?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

We expect, and it has been the result in the case of the barrel, that when a minimum is fixed, the box or barrel makers will take that as their standard, so that in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred that will be the size used. At the same time, if anybody chooses to use a larger box or barrel, he can do so.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

I would like to draw the minister's attention to a statement that was made by the hon. member for Prince (Mr. Lefurgey) when this matter was under consideration before. He said that the question whether barrels or boxes were the best

Topic:   COMMONS '44
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L-C

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

*

had been considered by a commission which had been appointed in the United States, and that the report of the commission was in favour of barrels for export rather than boxes. Might I ask the hon. minister if he would be good enough to look into that, and bring before the House whatever information he can obtain on that point ?

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CON

Thomas Chisholm

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHISHOLM.

In the county which I have the honour to represent a great many apples go to waste every year, because the growers pick the apples and leave them on the ground in piles awaiting the buyers who are to classify them and put them into barrels. It has been very difficult to get barrels, and the result has been that many apples have been frozen on the ground. The farmers could make the boxes themselves and avoid delay and loss caused by waiting for barrels. It is important that this question of boxes should be settled as soon as possible. I am satisfied that many thouands of dollars' worth of apples were lost in the county I represent last year, because the farmers were not able to take care of them themselves. And I would suggest that more fruit inspectors be sent out to instruct the farmers in this matter. I would further like to suggest that some arrangement be made as soon as possible to avoid such an enormous loss. If our farmers had an idea of the size and the kind of boxes required, they would jpp doubt be in a position shortly to make the boxes themselves, and it would be well to have a standard box, not merely for export, but also for our internal trade, for we have [DOT] a great market in our own country, especially in the Northwest.

Topic:   COMMONS '44
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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Hon. SYDNEY FISHER (Minister of Agriculture).

I am very glad to hear the remarks of the hon. gentleman. The difficulty of getting boxes and barrels in certain seasons depends largely upon the size of the crop. When there is a very large crop, the box and barrel makers are not always able to meet the demand. Unfortunately the apple crop varies very much from year to year. In some years we have an enormous crop and in other years a much smaller crop, and our box and barrel makers are at a loss to know what stock "to prepare in advance, as of course they do not care to have a large quantity left on their hands at the end of the season. As regards what my hon. friend says about teaching the farmers how to pack, my department has already taken steps in that direction. For two or three years back we have had at the exhibitions, where we could reach the fruit growing sections, an expert actually doing the work of packing apples so as to illustrate the best method. That was done in connection with the demonstration of the Fruit Marks Act, so as to teach the people how to pack the apples themselves under that Act and the best way of handling their fruit. As regards the packing

by the farmers themselves instead of selling to packers, that is a matter of trade and commerce with which I do not think the department ought to interfere. All we can do is give the people information and let them judge for themselves how they should conduct their own business.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

I would like to point out that when there is a large stock you can easily make boxes, but not barrels. The last year or two, the packers could not get barrels on account of the difficulty of splitting staves and drying them, but boxes can be made almost while the apples are being handled.

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LIB

RAILWAY ACT.


Bill (No. 36) to amend the Railway Act, 1903-Mr. Fitzpatrick-read the second time.


February 9, 1905