SPROULE (East Grey), after having presented some petitions, said : I present these petitions from the electors of East Assiniboia, because the hon. member for that riding seems to regard it as an insult that petitions should be sent to him.
QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE.
During the presentation of petitions,
Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of privilege. The hon. member for East Grey has stated that I considered it an insult to have petitions from Eastern Assiniboia sent to me for presentation to the House. I just want to say that there is not a man in Eastern Assiniboia who voted against me in the last election for whom I would not be very glad to present a petition.
I think there is something before the chair. The hon. gentleman rises, he says, to a question of privilege.
I just want to say that if any of my friends, or my opponents, who are also my friends, in Eastern Assiniboia have petitions for presentation to this House, I am quite satisfied that they will send them to me, and 1 will always present petitions which come to me in anything like the proper form. I presented some petitions which came through the hon. member for East Grey, but I drew attention to the manner in which these petitions were drawn, and the manner in which that gentleman got these petitions sent to him, so that he could get the credit through the west of presenting them.
I rise to a question of privilege. I want to say, according to my best information, which I take from the Postal Guide and from the headings on the petitions, that I sent to the hon. gentleman several petitions from his own riding, every
one of which he commented upon adversely when he presented them, Intimating that the hon. member for East Grey had done something wrong, and he seemed to regard it as an insult. Therefore, I have availed myself of the opportunity of presenting them to the House to-day.
PACKING AND SALE OF CERTAIN COMMODITIES.
House in committee on the following proposed resolution : Resolved, That it is expedient to amend the Act respecting the packing and sale of certain staple commodities, by inserting the following sections after section 4 :- 4a. When apples are packed in Canada for export for sale by the box they shall be packed in good and strong boxes of seasoned wood, the inside dimensions of which shall not be less than ten inches in depth, eleven inches in width, and twenty inches in length, representing as near as possible two thousand two hundred cubic inches. 2. Every person who offers or exposes for sale, or who packs for export, apples by the box otherwise than in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a penalty of twenty-five cents for each box of apples so offered or exposed for sale or packed. 4b. When apples are packed in boxes or barrels having trays or fillers wherein it is intended to have a separate compartment for each apple, then the provisions of section 4 and 4a shall not apply.-Mr. Fisher.
Hon. SYDNEY FISHER (Minister of Agriculture).
When the House was last in committee on this resolution the point was raised as to whether subsection 2 would apply to apples for export only. I referred the wording of this section to the Department of Justice, and so as to make it perfectly clear they suggested that the words ' for export ' should be transferred from the end of the clause so as to make the section read: ' Every person who for export others or exposes for sale, &c.' I propose that the clause be amended so as to read in that way. '
I have some communications regarding this Bill which contain suggestions which might be valuable. A gentleman writing from Montreal says :
With regard to clause 4a in reference to the exporting of apples in boxes, we find that unless the boxes have strong bands nailed tightly at the top of the box at both ends so as to ensure ventilation when loaded on the steamer, the apples suffer considerably from want of ventilation. The hands should be at least one-half inch wide and the same in height. Unless this is done the apples are packed so closely on board the steamers that there is positively no ventilation and the fruit suffers in consequence. With the bands above described the apples cannot he packed and loaded on the steamer in a solid compact mass, as the bands provide a means of ventilation through leaving one-half inch space between them.
I have another letter here from Messrs. Wm. Nivin & Son of Montreal, who write :
With reference to the Bill introduced by the Minister of Agriculture, we think it a sensible one in some respects, particularly so re the idea of having the size of the package uniform. In the case of butter boxes one-half hundredweight, fifty-six pounds, is the box used practically in all large butter producing countries. Apples as a rule are a cheap article and must he packed in as cheap and strong a package as possible. The box package is steadily growing in favour with the shippers, but owing to the season of packing apples being so short we are inclined to think that the box package will not replace the barrel for a long time to come. If apples were packed in a warehouse it might he different, but, when the packing has to be done in the orchard with the elements to work against, the quickest mode of packing will always be the most favoured. If the box package is at all to be used, then we think it should be made uniform in size and one-third of the regular three bushel barrel should be the most convenient'. Re the strength of the wood and the penalty clause, we are inclined to think they are too severe, at all events for some little time to come.
I have another here which is as follows :
I am much obliged to you for sending me copy of the clauses of the Bill to fix, by law, the dimensions of the apple boxes to he used for export.
The minister, I know, has taken the action on the recommendations of the different Provincial Fruit-growing Societies ; but I find an interview with him, with reference to the subject a few days ago, and recommended a box twenty-two inches long, similar in dimensions to that box which has been used for some years by the government in packing apples for the European exhibitions, and I notice that the Bill has been altered to read ' shall not he less than, &c.,' which covers the point.
The twenty inch box holds barely one-third of an apple barrel, and most of the fruit growers in this province, who are exporters, prefer the twenty-two inch box as it undoubtedly holds one-third of a barrel, exclusive of excelsior, which must necessarily be used to tighten the package.
Clause 4b of the Bill protects my own compartment case, which is used largely for the exportation of superior fruit.
I think the Bill is necessary and will meet the requirements of the Canadian exporter of apples as w-eil as the English dealers.
Yours very truly,
R. W. SHEPHERD.
My hon. friend will remember that the consideration of this resolution was postponed in order to permit some members to consult their constituents upon the subject. I have had several communications from the county of Jacques Cartier where there are large orchards and, without taking up the time of the committee in reading these communications, I may say that the gist of the letters is that there is no objection to this Bill. Some of my correspondents stated that it would probably conduce to better conditions in the trade.
In spite of that 1 still respectfully maintain the attitude I took when this matter first came up for consideration, and I think that the ends of trade and the advancement of trade in this country and in England, to which country most of the shipment of our apples takes place, would be better served in some other way. It does not seem to me, for instance, that the adoption of such a law as this, the carrying out of which must cost us some money, would be of much advantage for instance, in Jacques Cartier, where there are large orchards and where great quantities of apples are produced. Probably that law will remain inoperative in that county. The mere passing of a law specifying the sizes of boxes will tell nothing to most of those fipple growers, whereas, as I pointed out to the minister when we first discussed this matter, it seems to me that information conveyed to these apple growers as to the conditions of trade in England and as to the size of box that sells best there, would immediately be far more advantageous. Any expense which might be incurred to furnish to the apple growers and exporters of apples information as to how they can best succeed and make the most money out of their apple trade would be more beneficial. I still persist in that view, although none of the reports which I have received are unfavourable to this law. Of course in most of our counties in Quebec there are many who grow apples in large quantities. These apples are sold on the market in Montreal, sometimes to exporters. Last year in my owTn county there was an immense crop of apples, and some orchards yielded as much as 2,500 to 3,000 barrels of apples. They packed these apples in barrels and sold them in Montreal to large dealers. The committee will bo surprised to hear that last year apples were sold from orchards in my own county at a dollar a barrel. When you take from that dollar the cost of the barrel and the time taken up in conveying the apples to the city of Montreal it will be plain to the committee that the profit is not very con-sirable. My bon. friend from East Grey (Mr. Sproule) has read a letter from a gentleman who, as my hon. friend the minister (Mr. Fisher) is aware is probably the best authority on apple growing in Canada, Mr. iShepherd. Mr. Shepherd took a different course with the product of bis orchard. He packed them in boxes and sold them in England and his apples netted him, he told me himself, over $5 a barrel, in fact almost .$7 a barrel. In Quebec, for instance on the Island of Montreal, and in Saint Hilaire, there are immense orchards. The mountain of St. Hilaire last year produced 30,000 barrels of apples. What they require is not a law, but such information as Mr. Shepherd gave to me as to the conditions of trade in England. If the growers had that information they could fill the require-Mr. MONK.
*uents of the British market with advantage to themselves. In other words, I do not think that it is by legislation that we should meet a case of this kind, but by information conveyed to interested parties, just as the commercial agents of the United States throughout the world convey information to the government of their country in regard to the conditions, exactions and general trend of trade in the countries where they act as commercial representatives. From these reports the commercial people of the United States derive information which is given from time to time, but not given in the shape of a law, information which enables them to meet these conditions with profit to themselves.
I also have some correspondence with respect to this matter, both from my own county and from other parts of Ontario. One gentleman whom I regard as an authority on this matter writes saying that in his trade, which is very extensive with the city of Glasgow, lie has been exporting his apples in boxes which are 9 x 12 x 18 inches. This was very near the size mentioned in tiie minister's resolution, but not exactly the size. This gentleman states in his letter that he has on hand at the present time 4,000 boxes of these dimensions, and he is very inquisitive to know whether the minister proposes to bring this Bill into operation this coming season or whether ho will give an opportunity for those who have large stocks of boxes such as this gentleman has on hand, to work them off and export them during the coming season. Another point mentioned in one of these letters is that a smaller box should be permitted. He sets forth in his letter that the growing trade of the old country in many sections, particularly in Glasgow, calls for smaller packages and he suggests that a package one-half the size named be permitted in the law that is being introduced by the minister. Those two points I think are worthy of attention, first of all whether it would not be well to allow a smaller size containing one-half the quantity and whether it would not be in the interest of the exporting public to allow one year or possibly more for dealers to work off their old stock of boxes which they may have on hand. Might I suggest to the minister that it would be better to fix the quantity rather than the measurements and to allow a man to make his boxes say 10 x 12 and of a different length, working out bis own shape of box so that he could use that which would suit his trade rather than the exact shape that is specified in the Bill.
Before the hon. minister rises to answer I would like to supplement the remarks of the hon. member for Peel, (Mr. Blain). I took the trouble to inquire from Mr. Shepherd, who is a large exporter of apples, and he found that this was the size of box required on the other side. He
said it was impossible for him to meet the demand for that class of goods on the English market and he seemed to approve of that size of box. He seemed to think that there was a demand in the English market which would consume all the supply we could send from here. That is why I think that if the apple growers, at least down in Quebec, could have the information that would enable them to conform to the requirements of the English trade it would be better because as my hon. friend must have noticed that there was a great difference between the profit realized by Mr. Shepherd and the prices at which apples were sold last year in Montreal, a dollar a barrel, from which you have to deduct the cost of the barrel and the cost of picking and marketing. Mr. Shepherd told me he has realized as much as $7 a barrel by putting the apples in this kind of package.
These are matters which have been discussed, not only in the department, but in the meetings of the Fruit Growers' Associations over and over again. I appreciate the endorsement of the principle of the Bill which my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier has just given. He thinks however that it would be better to let the result aimed at come about without any Bill. Well, what he proposes has been going on for at least three or four years. The people have been informed on these points and have been working in this direction ; but at the same time these same people have been asking for the passage of a Bill such as the one before the House, because they have found that the law has worked very successfully with regard to barrels, and that law is exactly the same with regard to barrels as the one we are now proposing with regard to boxes. The law with regard to barrels has prevented the making of barrels of a great variety of shapes and sizes, and we propose to do the same with regard to boxes. A variety in shapes and sizes works very unsatisfactorily in the loading and handling. The size we should adopt has been thoroughly discussed by those who make the boxes and those who pack them. Of course there are some who have different views, but the consensus of opinion of the fruit-growers endorses the dimensions indicated in the Bill. Those organizations which hold exhibitions and give prizes for apples packed in boxes, specify that the boxes shall be of the dimensions provided in this measure. My hon. friend has suggested that we should provide for a measure of capacity rather than size in inches. That however would allow differences in shape, which would be objectionable. If a measure of weight were provided, that would not serve the purpose because apples vary considerably in weight, according to the variety. Some weigh as low as 3S pounds to the bushel and others go as high as 43 pounds. Each of these boxes is supposed to contain one bushel weighing 40 pounds. Where the apples are a heavier weight, the boxes would weigh more, and in the reverse case would weigh less. To those who want a measure by capacity, I would say that each of these boxes is one-third the present minimum standard barrel. The trade in boxes is increasing somewhat but it is still very small. I believe that this last season it was not over 2 per cent of the whole export, but a number of people prefer to ship in boxes because they can make more profit that way than by shipping barrels. For many years, however, the bulk of the shipping trade will be in barrels, because the ordinary shipper will not undertake to put apples into boxes as that involves greater trouble and care. My hon. friend from Jacques Cartier instanced one gentleman who ships in boxes. I know the gentleman very well and I know that he gets a very large profit from his boxes, but I question whether most people would be equally successful. Mr. Shepherd has a particular clientele in England, reaching from the King downwards, to whom he sends regularly a special and fixed number of boxes every year, and these are boxes which do not come under this Act, but contain pasteboard divisions, each of which contains an apple of particularly careful selection. And of course, very rightly and justly, Mr. Shepherd gets a very high price for that fruit. He sends an extraordinary good article, and he has advertised it well and got it into the hands of the people who are willing to give the highest price for the best article. Consequently he enjoys a great profit from that trade. Other people are aiming in the same direction, but, perhaps, not doing quite so well as Mr. Shepherd-at least, I do not know anybody who is. And these people connected with the trade have advised us that to help on that trade, to bring about an increased box trade, a standard minimum box ought to be fixed; and it is in answer to that appeal that this proposition has been made. I ask the committee to pass it and make it into law.
I would ask the minister if this box, 10 x 11 x 20 inches is the same box that the Fruit Growers' Association of Ontario are using at the present time? And I would also ask the minister again if this standard box is intended for the export trade only? I may say that if that is the intention, I have a letter from a correspondent, who is one of the largest shippers in my constituency-and I come from a large fruit-growing district-who is particularly anxious that the box established shall be uniform throughout the Dominion. He seems fairly well satisfied with the dimensions of the box as proposed by the minister.
I explained to the committee that this clause in the Act will apply
only to the export trade. Some people would like it to apply to the internal fruit trade also. But, as the barrel is fixed only for the export trade, we thought it better, for the present, at any rate, to make the size of the box applicable only to that trade. I have no doubt that when the size is fixed for the export trade, the same box will be used more and more for the internal trade, and, perhaps, in time, it may lead people to ask us to make the same provision for the internal trade.
I quite agree with certain features of this Bill. I believe it is a good plan to make provision for the shipment of apples in boxes. Last year great difficulty was experienced throughout the province of Ontario in getting the requisite material for making apple barrels. I have no doubt that great quantities of apples were lost because of the fact that a sufficient quantity of barrel material could not be obtained in time for packing the fruit. The manufacture of boxes is much more simple in itself; it is something the shipper can carry on himself in the winter months when lie" is not so particularly employed, and, in that way, possibly, a saving can be effected for the producer of the apples. I regret, however, that there is a difference of opinion as to the proper size of the apple box. In the county I have the honour to represent, the county of Halton, there are a considerable nuinber of shippers of apples. Some very fine fruit is grown there. We are adjacent to the Niagara peninsula which is one of the great fruit-producing sections of Ontario. So far as my constituents are concerned, they are not at all suited with the size of box described in this Bill. There in the region of Burlington they have been shipping apples in boxes for some fifteen years. At first they commenced shipping in a larger box. But they found this not so suitable and gradually reduced the size of the box, until now they have discovered a box which they consider very convenient. It is a smaller box than that described in the resolution; instead of holding one-third of a barrel, it will hold one-quarter of a barrel. They give various reasons why this is a more suitable box. I think that if the minister's experts look carefully into the matter, they will find that the box of the dimensions he has given will hold less than one-third of a barrel. The standard barrel is well known, and I think it may be well to adhere to that standard and to have a box that will be some even fraction of a barrel. The cubic contents of a standard apple barrel are 6,600 inches. One third of that would be 2,200 inches, the size of the box set forth in the resolution. The size of box used in my county is 9 x 12 x 18 inches, the cubic contents of which are 1,944 inches, or for four of them 7,776 cubic inches. Yet It is found that the ap-Mf. FISHER.
pies that fill four of the boxes will exactly fill the standard barrel, while apples that fill three boxes of the size described in the resolution do not fill a standard barrel. The apple shippers in my district are anxious that the smaller-sized box should be adopted. Now, these men, I am quite sure, are members of the Fruit Growers' Association. They must have been consulted.
I scarcely know where the minister has obtained his information, and what association has informed him that a box of the dimensions given in the resolution is the' one most approved. The box containing a quarter of a barrel is certainly approved in my section. One reason is, as I have said, because it does contain a quarter of a barrel. Another reason is that a good deal of the sorting and packing of the apples is performed by women, and they complain that where the boxes are large the work is too heavy. They have to carry the boxes from place to place in the preparation of them for market, and they find a smaller box more convenient. Now, this is a very important matter, because, if apple shippers are compelled to employ male labour, instead of female, they may have to pay twice as much for it. so that there would be a considerable enhancement of the cost of sorting and packing the apples. I may tell the minister that I have letters on this subject from several correspondents, one of whom is especially well known to him-Mr. A. W. Peart, of Burlington, who is a fruit expert whose opinion has great weight wherever he is known. This gentleman highly approves of the box containing a quarter of a barrel rather than the box containing a third of a barrel.
As I said, they have been shipping apples from that section of the country in boxes for some fifteen years, and they find it very satisfactory. They have established a market for that size of boxes, and it will injure the prosperity of their trade if they are obliged to abandon the boxes for which they have established a market in the old country, and set to work to establish a market for another kind of boxes. Mr. Peart tells me that last year, notwithstanding the low market price for apples in the old country, he sold King apples 0 shillings per box, four boxes to the barrel, or 24 shillings per barrel, which to my mind is a very good price indeed. Northern Spys sold at 5 shillings per box, which would be equal to 20 shillings per barrel. In a low' market these were certainly good prices. Now these people are alarmed, and fear that the trade which they have established w'itli a box of the dimensions I have given, 9 inches in width, by 12 and 18, may be interfered with, and they will have to begin over again and establish another trade in place of one which it has taken them some fifteen years to work up. It is a dangerous
thing at any time to interfere with the trade of the country, and I think considerable time should have been allowed to elapse before that size of a box is adopted, so as to allow the men who are engaged in this business to get their patrons in the old country accustomed to the change. They tell me that there are people wiio have box material on hand which will last them for two or three years ; and as the member for Peel has said, it would be a serious matter to these people to have to throw aside all this box material and purchase other. Therefore, I think this Bill should not be forced upon the people in less than two or three years. Gentlemen in my county ask that the Bill should not go -into force until the year 1907. I trust the minister will weigh these matters fully, not only with regard to the size of the box, but with regard to the time when the Bill should come into operation. To my mind the labour question is a matter Worthy of consideration, and possibly the minister's attention may not have been drawn to it; but it will affect people not only in the county of Halton but in a good many other sections of the country.