March 14, 1905

CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

You have something else on the brain.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Yes, I have. I can quite understand that if the motion for the law in question was proposed by the present government the hon. gentleman is quite right in saying that he opposed it. He is always quite ready to jump up and say that a law is bad simply because it was proposed on this side of the House, without knowing what the law is. I can quite understand that because it is of a piece with his conduct in this House ever since the present government came into power. The hon. gentleman says that this is of a piece with the Fruit Marks Act, a continuation of the same policy. I accept the compliment; nothing was ever passed by this House which has served better the interests of the people of Canada than the Fruit Marks Act has served the interests of the fruit-growers of Canada. I accept his compliment and ask the House if for no other reason than that to pass tlie legislation. But the hon. gentleman says it is simply for the purpose of establishing a new corps of inspectors. We have had the Staple Commodities Act, which this amends, on the statute-book for many years. We have in that Act a provision as to the capacity and the details of size of the apple barrels. There has not been an inspector appointed to enforce that law, not one. The hon. gentleman sees inspectors looming up before his fevered imagination all the time. But it is only his imagination that brings these inspectors into existence ; thev do not exist in the flesh and if this amendment is passed there will not be any more inspectors than there are to-day although I suppose his imagination will multiply ten fold and he will dream of them and have the nightmare over them night after night and week after week. The hon. gentleman says that the growers are the people to be considered, the farmers are to be considered. I am proposing this legislation at. the request and suggestion of the growers of

fruit. The hon. gentleman is very solicitous in respct of the farmers and the fruit-growers, but before he sat down he forgot that; he changed his position and said that it was shippers and packers who were to be considered and whose interest and views [DOT]are to shape the legislation of this House and not those of the farmers. The hon. gentleman's view's seem to change even within *one speech, but as long as he can oppose what is proposed by the present government or any member of the present government he is satisfied. Whether he changes his standpoint or his views or his expressions, it is all one to him, so long as he can oppose what we propose. Mr. Chairman, I need not *deal any further with the hon. gentleman and I will not.

Several other questions have been brought forward w'hich I will be glad indeed to deal with. Their propositions were reasonable in their character and were advanced, I believe, in the interest of certain people connected with this trade. They are therefore deserving of every consideration and courtesy at my hands, and I am glad to pay them that. The hon. member for Halton

standard box. When they wanted that standard box they took steps to see w'liat the standard ought to be, and after very careful consultation, extending over several years, the Fruit Growers' Association in every province in the Dominion commencing in the west at British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New' Brunswick, the maritime provinces generally have all agreed upon this particular size and shape of box as being the best compromise of all the existing interests, and the best for the future development of the trade in apples packed in boxes for shipment from Canada. Under these circumstances, not because we w'anted to introduce legislation, not because my colleague the Minister of Trade and Commerce under whose department this legislation comes, w'anted to introduce it, or wanted in any way to interfere with anybody, but because the people who are interested in this trade and in this product of our country have asked that their trade should be helped by this arrangement. I w'ould say to the hon. member for Halton that when a compromise of this kind is come to and an agreement made, it is very likely that one or other individual may suffer a little. That is almost necessary from the nature of a compromise, but if wre did not provide a minimum box we could not tell how far down the box would go in size and capacity, and the people who are buying Canadian apples in boxes w'ould never be assured of the quantity of apples they were going to get. That wras the reason for the specifying of the dimensions of the Canadian apple barrel ; and now that the trade in boxes is beginning to develop, the people who are interested ask that the shape and size should be specified. My hon. friend from Toronto (Mr. Macdonell) read a letter from Mr. James, as representing the packers and handlers of fruit in that city. Well, I have had a letter from Mr. James in which he says that so far as the English market is concerned, this particular box is quite suitable.

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CON
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Yes, by Tasmania which is our chief rival in the English market in the apple trade.

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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

At a different season of the year ?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Yes, and they adopted that size because they found it the best package for the English market. The only objection taken by Mr. James is that foreign countries think that a different box might he better. As a matter of fact our apple trade in those foreign countries is practically very small indeed at present; and if it is to increase, it will increase more quickly if we use a (Jistinctive Canadian package than an indefinite one.

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CON
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

This proposition has been before the House about six weeks. We allowed it to stand over so that hon. members might communicate with their constituents and get their opinions. It has been before the trade for three years. It was in 1902, that the first resolutions were discussed in the Ontario Fruit Growers' Association. My hon. friend says that these associations do not represent the packers. I think my hon. friend in that is wrong. Large packers, such as Mr. Shepherd and Mr. Shuttleworth, belong to these associations. Sir. Shuttleworth was one of a committee of the Ontario Fruit Growers' Association which first discussed the proposition and recommended the adoption of a standard box, and I have never heard that he dissented from the decision of that committee. A similar committee of the same association next year took up the question and recommended as a standard the box stipulated in this measure. Mr. Shuttle-worth is a member of that association, but I am not sure if Mr. James belongs to it. A number of the handlers are, however, members of the association and they all adopted the report of the committee recommending this particular sized and shaped box. My hon. friend from Halton spoke of a particular firm. Well, some of the members of that firm are members of the Fruit Growers' Association. If these people represented at the meetings of that association their views, their views evidently did not meet those of the majority, because the majority decided that a box of this particular size and shape should be recommended as a standard. In fact the fruit growers and packers in all the provinces are in favour <>f this Bill, and I am proposing it at the request of the representative bodies engaged in fruit growing and packing. My hon. friend says he represents the fruit packers of the city of Toronto. I would have supposed that they would have made representations to me if they had any objection to make.

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CON
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Yes, but he is the only man in Toronto who did. There may have fceen representations made to other people, but not to me. My hon. friend from Brantford (Mr. Cockshutt) and my hon. friend from Peel (Mr. Blain) read each a letter which rather endorses the shape and size of these boxes. My hon. friend from Jacques f'artier also said that his people endorsed their shape and size, but the only question to them was the advisability of passing a law with regard to the box. This law, Sir, goes not nearly so far as many people have asked that it should go. Many have asked that this should be' a special box and that Mr. FISHER.

nc other' kind should be allowed, but the Bill only goes so far as to provide that no smaller box shall be allowed, and the reason of that is to assure purchasers that when they buy a Canadian box of apples they buy a bushel, which is one-third of the barrel they have been accustomed to buy.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

What is the administration of this law going to cost ?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Nothing more than the administration of staples costs to-day. I am not aware that there is any cost of administration * at all. The law is put on the statutes and those who break the law are liable to a penalty if prosecuted. I do not think that under this Staple Commodities Act, there is a single officer appointed by any department of the government for the enforcement of that law. I may say that the law is administered under the Department of Trade and Commerce and not under my own department,

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

Surely, my hon. friend (Mr. Fisher) made the contrary assumption the last time this matter was under consideration.

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LIB
CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

Surely it is not possible to carry out this law, to see to it that these boxes shipped to Europe are all of dimensions not contrary to the law without expenditure ? If there is no expenditure, the law will be a dead letter.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

It has been done for the last five or six years in regard to the barrels without such expenditure as my hon.. friend (Mr. Monk) hints at.

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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

The hon. minister devoted about thirty minutes to your humble servant and stated that he has had inspectors and expense on the brain. I do not wonder that any taxpayer in this country should object to expense when we find that a few years ago, the Conservative government ran the experimental farms and all the offices in connection with the Department of Agriculture for half the amount now expended and did more and better work. My hon. friend poses as a good representative of the farmer. All through this country our best farmers have on their buildings a wind-milk a very useful article. When the Prime Minister formed his government he took my hon. friend (Mr. Fisher) in as a representative farmer, but, I think more for the purpose of illustrating the usefulness of the article I have referred to, than for any good he could do as a practical farmer. He has been spoken of by the Prime Minister and other members of the cabinet as a practical farmer, a horny-handed son of toil. Naturally, every one was anxious to see him. At his first visit down to Quebec when he was introduced as a practical farmer, one of the farmers thought he would take the minister

out and show him his crops. Among other things they saw a field of tobacco. Is not that a beautiful crop of tobacco ?' asked the farmer. And the minister agreed with him, but asked: 'When is it going to plug out?' He is such a practical farmer that he thought that the plugs of tobacco would grow on the stalks in the farmer's field. Shortly after that, he thought he would teach the farmers how to fatten chickens ; and he, or somebody else for him, invented a squirt-gun to pump food into the chickens. When lie tried the first batch he burst all their crops. Then he invented a chicken-food made of pea-meal and saw-dust, so as to teach the farmers how to economize in feeding their fowls. The hens that took the feed laid eggs, and when the farmers to whom they were sent had those eggs hatched out. they found that all the chickens had wooden legs. This is the man who poses as a practical farmer and thinks he has the right to lecture a member of the House because that member criticises wasteful extravagance in the use of the people's money. He tells my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) that the inspection under this law would cost nothing. But he said that there would be no expenditure for the enforcement of the Fruit Marks Act, and now the farmers find that they have to pay $63,000 under this head for the benefit of some political supporters of the hon. gentleman. The fact is the Conservative government ran the country more efficiently at an expenditure of $38,000,000 than the present government can at an expenditure of $68,000,000. With all their great expenditure what does the country receive? Have these gentlemen built a Canadian Pacific Railway or any other work of importance? Just as this $63,000 1 have referred to is frittered away on political friends under the excuse of enforcing the Fruit Marks Act, so another $63,000 will be spent on useless officials engaged in measuring these boxes. The hon. minister says that this Bill fixes a minimum size of box-that people cau make larger but not smaller boxes. Then, what is the use of a subsection like this?

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.

If a person makes a larger box he does not make one ' representing as near as possible two thousand and two hundred cubic inches.' And he is liable to the penalty if he makes it half an inch larger than the proportions laid down in the resolution. If the minister means that this is to fix a minimum size, then let him strike out that last line, for with that line in it any man

who makes even a larger box for exporting apples will be liable to a fine if brought before the magistrate. Now, I hope my hon. friend will make up his mind to leave the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Taylor) alone, and allow him to express his opinion as to the cost of enforcing this Act, or as to any other Bill introduced by the government which, as in this case, seems to have as its principal object the creating of offices for hon. gentlemen opposite to fill.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I suppose I ought to apologize to the committee, if not to the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Taylor) for having wasted time upon a reference to him. The burlesque he has indulged in in his reply dictates that I should have been right to leave him unnoticed.

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CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

I would not have risen again to say a word had it not been that the minister seemed to pass a reflection upon certain gentlemen referred to by me who have been shipping apples in the county of Halton

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I did not intend to east the slightest reflection.

Mr. HENDERSON-as he seems to insinuate that their preference for the smaller box was based upon the hope of taking advantage of their customers in the old country by getting a larger price for a smaller quantity of goods. I wras careful to give the reason why the gentlemen desired the smaller box, and I think the minister has ueither answered that question nor given any reason why it should not be considered. I still think that the argument I advanced was a good one. I may say that I did not represent only the views of the gentleman whose name I mentioned, Mr. A. W. Peart, but also the views of a very important organization, the Burlington Horticultural Society. I can tell the hon. minister that the gentleman who writes on their behalf was amongst the first to export apples in boxes, and has been shipping apples in boxes for ten or twelve years, using a box smaller than that adopted by the Minister of Agriculture. The Horticultural Society of Burlington covers a very important fruit district, one that produces large quantities of apples. And the people there favour the smaller box. I have given one very strong reason why the smaller box should be adopted and I would like to hear what the minister has to say about that. These people say that they will be handicapped by the adoption of this larger box, inasmuch as it will increase the cost of sorting and packing. That argument, to my mind, is a very strong one, especially in the present condition of the labour market. I think it a great pity that we should be compelled to adopt legislation here that interferes so materially with trade in this country. The minister seems determined to have a stand-

ard box for the packing of apples. I do not suppose that anything we can say in this House will convince him, no argument will show him, that he is making a mistake. So, we might as well abandon that feature of the case. But I do appeal to him, that if there is to be a standard box-and I assume there will be-it should be of the smaller dimensions I have referred to. I still contend that a quarter-barrel is sufficiently large, and that it will be better than the one-third barrel which the minister proposes.

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March 14, 1905