March 14, 1905

CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MAGDONELL.

I fully approve of the remarks of my hon. friend from Halton (Mr. Henderson). I have taken advantage of the delay which has been allowed by the minister since he first brought this measure up for consideration, to consult the apple exporters of the city of Toronto. The minister points out that he has had consultations with the Fruit Growers' Associations, and also with the manufacturers of boxes. I submit with due deference to the minister that the persons who are most concerned in this measure, who are indeed vitally affected by it, are the apple shippers, the apple exporters, not only those who ship their goods from the Niagara peninsula to the city of Toronto where they find a mai'ket for them, and where the apples are boxed up for the foreign market, but those who export those apples to the foreign market. I find among that class of people only one opinion, and that is that while endorsing the principle of the Bill, that while there should be a standard size for the boxes, they should also be allowed a smaller size and a larger one. I will read an extract from a letter I have received from Mr. James, of Toronto. Mr. James is one of the most extensive shippers of apples from the Canadian market. This season he has shipped as many as 4,000 cases on one steamer. Mr. James says :

The different markets require different packages. If we are ever going to get into the French markets, which we can do when European crops are short, we require a small package less than a foot square, and fancy wrapped fruit, only the very choicest'.

The South African market wants a larger package, I have been shipping one containing two cubic feet.

The British markets, Liverpool in particular, prefer barrels, and while it has been experimented on time and again it has been clearly proved that the hulk of our apples will net' back more money when shipped in barrels than in any other way. There is a limited market in Britain for boxed apples if fruit is fancy, hut the traders over there prefer the larger package.

On the 15th of February, Mr. James sent a letter to the hon. the Minister of Agriculture from which I will read this extract :

I would respectfully submit that the matter be left in abeyance in the meantime, until we can have a Dominion convention and ascertain the exact feeling of those interested in the matter. Of course I am not averse to the proposed Act providing there is a clause permitting the use of other boxes while calling the box you suggest the standard apple box, but where certain markets require a larger or a smaller box I think it would be detrimental to the trade to prohibit their use.

I submit these considerations to the minister, and suggest that while the principle of the Bill is being endorsed, it will meet with wider acceptance if he allows the matter to be worked out according to the best judgment of those who are in the trade, and all the good the measure contemplates will have been accomplished. But I do submit that having regard to the experience of apple exporters, both to the European markets, especially the French market, and to the South African and the English markets, that while the boxes named in the resolution may be called standard boxes, it would be right and proper to permit a smaller box to be used, and that where the trade requires a larger box, that also should be allowed. I think the Fruit Growers' Association are not the only ones who should be primarily considered in this matter, but it is the exporters, those whose business it is to buy the apples from the fruit-growers, 1hey are the people more vitally interested in the question as to the size of the boxes. As to the manufacturers of boxes, their interest is very trifling in comparison, and should not be allowed to weigh in the mind of the minister against the interest of the exporters.

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LIB

Aaron Abel Wright

Liberal

Mr. A. A. WRIGHT.

I wish to say a word with reference to the boxes in which apples are proposed to be placed. Having had a good deal of experience in selling apples for the last thirty-five years, I should know the wants of the retail trade. I think it is a move in the right direction that we should place these apples in boxes instead of in barrels. There are several reasons why boxes are preferable to barrels. In the first place many persons do not care to buy a full barrel of apples ; they only want a box. If you buy a barrel of apples and put them in the cellar where it is warm, before that

barrel is used up tlie apples become shrunken and deteriorate iu quality. But where you buy a box of an ordinary size you can easily use them up before they deteriorate. Then in shipping these boxes, they take up less space on the car and are easier handled. Then there is a scarcity of the material for making barrels. 'I'he material is getting scarcer and scarcer each year. It requires a certain amount of skilled labour to make those barrels, whereas boxes, as has been truly remarked by my hon. friend from Halton (Mr. Henderson), can be made by an ordinary handy man in the winter time when he has nothing else to do, and stored away ready for use when the time comes. Another thing in regard to the size of these boxes. I am confident it does not make much difference what the size is, providing there is a standard size and that you always adhere to that size.

I cannot conceive why it is necessary that the box should be one-fourth or one-third or any other part of a barrel. What the dealer wants to know is the size of the box of apples and how many apples there are in the box. The boxes in which oranges come from California are of uniform size, and on the end of each box is stamped not only the name of the packer, but the number of oranges in the box, so that the retailer knows exactly how he can sell them. The same is the case with prunes. On the end of each standard box of prunes which comes from the growers in California or Oregon, is stamped the number of pounds in the box and the number of prunes to the pound ; so that the retailer knows exactly the size and the number of prunes he is getting. The same rule will apply to apples. The shipper will stamp on the end of the box the number of apples it contains, so that the dealer will know exactly what he is getting. In our section apples are sold by the pound as well as by the piece ; but it is far more convenient, when retailing them, to know exactly the number of apples in the box. If you have too small a box, you cannot face the apples up in the way you could with a fairly large-sized box. The standard that has been adopted is perhaps as good as any other we could have. It is large enough to admit of the apples being faced up properly, and any one can handle it, whether a woman or a man. The retail trade as demanding boxes for apples more than ever. It is only recently that they have come into use, but the more the retailer has them, the more he likes them. I think the sooner this law is put into force, the better it will be for all, the retailer as well as the shipper.

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CON

William Foster Cockshutt

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCKSHUTT.

Since this matter was last before the House, I have taken the opportunity of making some inquiries as to the best size of box, and the more I have looked into the matter the more I am convinced that the proposition of the hon.

minister is not a good one. It is in the same category as the seed Bill : it is a meddlesome piece of legislation, which is calculated to make trading more difficult tha,n it is at present. That is never a good move. Trading is difficult enough under the best conditions, and it should not be hampered in any way by legislation. The hon. gentleman proposes to make a hard and fast rule as to the size of the box. I do not think he has made it clear to this House that there is any serious demand from either the consumers or the shippers of apples for a box of the particular size proposed. Every one knows that apples are of different sizes. As a rule, they are packed in layers, and large apples, such as the King of Tompkins and the Itibstone Pippin, cannot be packed into the same number of layers as small apples ; so that the.hon. gentleman should regulate the size to which apples shall grow before he at-temps to regulate the size of the box in which they shall be packed. He has evidently gauged the size of the proposed box from the size of the orange box. There is no comparison between the two. The orange is a fruit which can be compressed and conformed to go into a certain sized hole, and pressure will not hurt it; but pressure will effectually destroy the apple. I have written to a gentleman connected with a firm which exports more apples from the Dominion of Canada than any other firm. It has connections in Glasgow, Liverpool and London, and exports very many thousands of barrels, sometimes running up into the hundred thousand, per annum. If you are going to interfere with a trade of that class, you are going to injure both the fruit-grower and the shipper. In my own county last autumn I saw lying on the ground thousands of barrels of apples for which no packages could be found ; and they had to be left there to become manure. I regret that we could not realize the price which the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) has mentioned, a dollar a barrel. That would be a good price in our neighbourhood. For three-fourths of the apples not more than fifty cents a barrel could be obtained. Every year thousands of tons of apples are waisted on the ground in Ontario for the want of cheap and effective packages. If the hon. gentleman is going to make it more difficult to get suitable packages, he is going to do a serious injury to the farmer and fruit-grower, and to make it still more difficult to deal in apples. The apple is a cheap fruit, and as soon as you make it dear you lessen the consumption. Leave it to the shipper to know and to provide what his trade requires. It is a mistake to make a hard and fast rule with regard to this matter. I have only one short letter with which I am going to weary the House. It is signed by a gentleman connected with a firm which handles three times the quan-

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LIB

Aaron Abel Wright

Liberal

Mr. A. A. WRIGHT.

tity of apples handled by any other firm in Canada ; and which has agencies in Liverpool, Glasgow and London :

Brantford, February 13, 1905.

Dear Sir,-While it is desirable to have uniformity in style and size of packages for apples, as a matter of fact no one as yet positively knows what size will be found the most economical and best suited for the purpose. There may be a consensus of opinion, especially from those who have but one view point, but those fully acquainted with the conditions governing the trade from stem to stern would hesitate to name the dimensions of the best box.

The different siz%s of the different varieties *of apples, makes it difficult to arrive at a size which will fill the greatest number of the needs. Four tiers (layers) of Kings cannot be properly packed in a box that is suited for four tiers of Baldwins, or Greenings.

To penalize a shipper for packing apples in a box differing in size to that named, is preposterous. Mr. Fisher has got his apple cart before his hobby-horse. He should have first brought forward a Bill to compel nature to produce all varieties of apples of the same size, and then he would be justified in compelling apple shippers to use his 10 x 11 x 20 ' thunder ' apple packages (or twenty-five cents box fine.) I think I but voice the sentiment of the trade when I say no such legislation as proposed is desirable or necessary.

Yours truly,

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J. M. SHUTTLEWORTH.


Mr. 0. E. TALBOT. Does the lion, gentleman contend that these thousands of tons of apples which he says were lying on the ground in his neighbourhood were marketable fruit ?


CON

William Foster Cockshutt

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCKSHUTT.

I have no hesitation in saying that a large proportion of these apples was marketable fruit, many of them were choice fruit. They were not culls, but apples just as they grew on the tree, and they could not be shipped because packages could not be obtained at any price last fall ; apple barrels were then practically unobtainable in the district whence I come.

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LIB

Onésiphore Ernest Talbot

Liberal

Mr. O. E. TALBOT.

Is it not a fact that the majority of apples found under the trees are wind falls and worm eaten ?

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CON

William Foster Cockshutt

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCKSHUTT.

That is true of a certain number of apples found on the ground, but the large majority of the apples I refer to were serviceable fruit, and would have been shipped if suitable packages could have been obtained at a reasonable figure.

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LIB

Daniel Derbyshire

Liberal

Mr. DERBYSHIRE.

I am very glad that this point has been brought out by my hon. friend (Mr. Cockshutt), because if we had a uniform box for the whole Dominion there would have been no trouble in securing packages for these apples and placing them on the market. At the present time we have to depend on cooperage for barrels, which are becoming scarcer each year, and which will become scarcer still as the years go by. The Fruit Growers' Associa-' 7Si

tion demands that we shall have a uniform box. That association represents the apple growers of Canada, and its members ought to know what is in the interest of the apple trade. They declare that the sooner we have a uniform box the better it will be for all concerned. The chief reason in favour of the resolution is that, packed in this way, the apples can be sold for more money, and the farmer wants all the money he can obtain for his products. I am sure that no one in this House would, if he knew the facts, insist upon the apple growers depending upon barrels, which they are unable to obtain at the present time. The boxes can be made during the winter, when labour is cheap, and they can be on hand when they are required for packing the apples. The box will take less space in the railway car and on the steamer, the freight will be cheaper, and the contents will arrive on the market in better condition. This Bill is manifestly in the interests of all the people, and it should pass without a word of opposition.

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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

There might be some logic in the statement of my hon. friend (Mr. Derbyshire) if there was anything in the law as it existed last year which prevented people from shipping apples in any sized box they wished. I cannot see why the people of Canada who have apples to export should be compelled to pack them in a box of a certain size. Surely the apple exporters should know something about it, and the letter which has been read from one of the largest exporters in the Dominion ought to guide the Minister of Agriculture in coming to a conclusion. The members of the Fruit Growers' Association do not export apples ; it is the shippers who purchase from the farmers of the country who are interested in the export trade, and they can be relied upon to pack the apples in the most convenient and advantageous form. This resolution does not say whether it refers to apples for export to England, or Russia, or Germany, or anywhere else, and if a particular market demands a special kind of packing, this law will prevent the exporter from complying with the requirements of that market. I do not think the fruit-growers of Canada who sell their apples to the exporter care what sized box the apples are shipped in, so long as they get a good price for them. This legislation is on a par with the Fruit Marks Act, which necessitated a staff of inspectors t<5 see it enforced, and which, as shown by a return which I moved for, has cost the country up to date $63,070. Here are some of the expenses of enforcing that Fruit Marks Act : W. A. McKinnon, $1,550 ; Elmer Lick, $849 ; Richard Burke, $999 ; E. H. Wart-man. $999 ; P. J. Carey, $999 ; J. F. Scriver, $1,099 ; Alexander McNeill, $1,200 ; G. LI. Vroom, $999 ; F. L. Dery, $999 ; A. J. Pliilp, $1,099 ; Barton Gandy, $850 ; Freeman Fitch, $600 ; Maxwell Smith, $1,040 ; A.

252S-

Gifford, $646 ; G. J. Anderson. $125 ; G. R. Sangster, $450 ; R. J. Rutherford, $400 ; Charles Noreau, $498. The salaries of these gentlemen amounted to $41,284 ; their travelling expenses amounted to $21,398, and the cost of prosecutions to $387, making a total of $63,070 of the people's money which goes to a few of the supporters of the Minister of Agriculture. If this resolution passes it means another staff of officials to see that the farmers of Canada pack their apples in a box of a certain size. The resolution is uncalled for by the farmers and fruit-growers ; if any persons should be heard in the matter, it is the exporters.

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LIB
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

The farmers should have all the say. My hon. friend from Brockville (Mr. Derbyshire) is a large handler of cheese, which is our greatest export dairy product, and I presume that next year the Minister of Agriculture will come down with a law that he shall put his cheese in a box of a certain size. It is the producer and the exporter of cheese that have brought this product to its perfection, and the Minister of Agriculture has no business to interfere with them. He has no more right to say that apples shall be exported in a certain kind of box than he has to say that cheese or pork shall be exported in a particular form of package. When the farmers and fruit-growers of this country find they have to pay $63,000 for the enforcement of this law, as in the case of the Fruit Marks Act, they will come to the conclusion that it would have been better to leave it off the statute-books. In place of enhancing the price of the fruit for the people of this country, this law will have a contrary effect, and in place of half of the apples lying on the ground, as last year, the whole crop practically will be in that condition. At the present time we can export apples in boxes or in anything else, but now they will have to export them in a particular package, and the export will be surrounded with more difficulty. The reason the apples were left on the ground last year was because there were too many apples for the demand, and it paid better to leave them on the ground than to pay labour for gathering them and barrelling them up and shipping them out of the country. Certainly if it is passed it should not be brought into force until we have an opportunity of hearing from the fruit-growers of this country and from the exporters, because it is not the Fruit Growers' Association that have anything, or more than a very little, to do with the export of apples ; it is the purchasers who buy the product of the orchards and pack and export them. I do not think the minister has stated to-day that he has a word from these exporters in reference to the approval or disapproval of this box.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

The hon. member seems to have inspectors on the brain. He sees here Mr. TAYLOR.

looming up a staff of inspectors who are going to enforce this law. The hon member is perhaps not aware, although it is on the statute-book, and although as a member of this House of long standing he ought to be aware, he helped to pass the law, he was present when the laws were passed

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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

And he opposed it.

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LIB
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

Yes he did.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I would like to see what

he opposed ; I have not yet said what the laws are, I have no doulTt that-

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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

I thought the hon. member was referring to the Fruit Marks Act.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

My hon. friend cannot get away from the Fruit Marks Act; he has that on the brain as well as inspection.

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March 14, 1905