April 13, 1909

CON
LIB

George Ewan McCraney

Liberal

Mr. McCRANEY.

I do not wish to misquote my hon. friend.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

What I said was that as the Canadian people had expended large amounts of money on transcontinental railways, therefore it was quite possible for one portion of the country to supply the other portion with any article of which they might be short at any special season.

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LIB

George Ewan McCraney

Liberal

Mr. McCRANEY.

That is hardly the point I had in view.

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LIB

Malcolm Smith Schell

Liberal

Mr. M. S. SCHELL (South Oxford).

I do not propose at this late hour to make a speech, but owing to the great interest I have taken in this subject, especially the hog industry, the production of bacon and hams, I feel constrained to make a few remarks. Before the McKinley tariff was brought into operation we exported largely to the United States market, we produced a heavy class of hog, heavy bacon, hams, &e. When the McKinley tariff came into operation we were practically shut out of the United States market and consequently we were compelled to look to the English market for our output with the result that by careful attention to the requirements of that market, we were soon able to increase our exports from some $8,000,000 in 1897 to

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LIB

George Ewan McCraney

Liberal

Mr. McCRANEY.

some $15,000,000 in 1904. It was at once recognized by the farmers of Ontario, and I think of Quebec, that this was one of the best paying industries that the farmers had ever taken up. Until 1904 our exports continued to increase and everybody seemed to regard this as an industry that might be developed to an almost unlimited extent. You could hardly find a farmer who would not claim that the growth and production of pork was giving him perhaps a larger profit than any other branch of his farming operations. Since 1904 there has been a decline in our exports and during the last year or two the situation has become so serious that our Swinebreeders' Association have approached the government with a view to seeing if something could not be done to relieve the situation. Particularly during this year, we find that something must be done or else the pork packing industry in which we have so much capital invested, will be in a very critical position. We know that to-day they have not more than one-half enough hogs to keep them running full time. Several factories have closed down and a great deal of money has been lost, especially during the last year. The packers have paid fair prices to the farmers, more, I think, than the English market would warrant. During October, November and December I know that the price, while not as high as it is to-day, was still higher than the pork packers of this country could afford to pay and export their product to the English market. They were losing heavily on the product they sent to the English market during those months. The price of bacon in England was 42s. and 42s 6d, and at that price our packers could not afford to pay 6i or 6 cents a pound live weight. We know that as a consequence the packers have lost very heavily. We know that our own Canadian market has been fairly satisfactory for what we were able to sell here. I am not in favour of a high tariff for any of our commodities. I do not think that any industry should be bolstered up if it is not able to stand on a basis of a moderate tariff. Some would say, I suppose, that two cents per pound on pork is a good protection. I think it is on barrelled pork, a very fair protection and I am not in favour of an increased duty, so far as I understand the situation, on barrelled pork. Two cents a pound duty on pork that is worth 10 cents a pound is fairly good protection-and what is more we are not producing that kind of pork in Canada. Our trade has been cultivated and developed with a view to producing a lean, light type of hog, suitable especially for the highest class of bacon, and we have developed that trade to such an extent that I believe our packers are curing their bacon infinitely better than it is cured in the United States, equal to the Danish bacon, and I believe equal to the Irish bacon. I

do not believe that there is any better bacon produced in the world than is produced in Canada to-day. A duty of two cents a pound on bacon that is worth 15 cents a pound is not, I think, high protection; I do not think it is protection at all, it is only an incidental protection if it is any, it is only a revenue tax and a very low rate of duty. I do not think that four cents would be too high a duty on bacon. Some might say that it is protection. Possibly it is, but it is not a high protection, it is a very moderate protection.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Would the hon. member say that five cents was a high protection?

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LIB
CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Four is getting higher than two.

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LIB

Malcolm Smith Schell

Liberal

Mr. SCHELL.

I do not consider two cents a protection at all in the sense in which the word is usually used. Three cents might help to relieve the situation. But the point I want to impress on the House is that our farmers are producing a special high class bacon and yet our dealers are importing from the United States not nearly as good bacon and selling it in competition with our high class bacon to the extent of over $800,000 worth of bacon and hams and possibly a few shoulders in this past year. There is no reason in the world why we should not have our own Canadian market for this high class of bacon, and I believe that our own people will not object to this moderate increase, when they know they are getting Canadian bacon, the best bacon, better than they can get in the United States-and I do not believe it will cost them a cent more per pound if a duty is put on to protect this portion of our industry. If we could produce more hogs incidentally we would have more lard. I am not advocating an increase of duty on lard. If we could induce our farmers to raise more hogs and develop this high class trade and hold it for our own farmers and packers I think we would be doing a good service to this country. I do not think we could be considered as advocating high protection. When you take into consideration the quality and value of the article it is only a revenue tariff. I believe it would help very materially to solve the difficulty. The farmers would be induced to go more fully into the production of the hog that is specially required for the production of bacon. I believe the farmers of the western provinces could be induced to go more fully into this industry. We find that the government of Alberta have had a commission investigating this question and that they have reported to the government of that province advising them to build a plant to help to develop the industry. As soon as there is an assurance

that Alberta will produce a thousand hogs a week, say, they advise the government of Alberta to help promote this industry by building a plant and carrying it on in the interests of the farmers generally. Alberta should be one of the greatest hog producing provinces of the Dominion along with Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I believe they would be induced to give greater attention to this industry and I believe the farmers of Ontario, instead of raising less than they were five or six years ago, as they are to-day, would be induced to give more attention to it. I know this is one of the best paying industries in Ontario. Farmers are making money to-day out of this industry. We know that feed is high and that is one of the reasons why they have dropped out of it to some extent. We know that Danish pork is coming into competition with our pork in England and we know that in October, November and December, the price dronped to an abnormally low figure. Packers were losing money and they were not paying the farmers quite as much as the farmers thought they were entitled to receive considering the high price of feed. I believe it would help materially to solve the situation if a slight duty could be put on bacon and hams. I am not going to dwell at any further length on this question. I had thought of entering into some statistics but the ground has been pretty thoroughly covered. The present conditions of the trade and the quantities that are imported have been referred to and I am not going to weary the House by the quotation of figures along this line, but I would like to impress upon the House and the government that the industry to-day is not in a condition that is at all satisfactory to the packers or to the growers of pork. I believe that this incidental or very slight increase would help to a considerable extent to relieve the situation and I believe it might have the effect of stimulating the trade. It would give an impetus to the trade and it would not be amiss to make the experiment. We would not suffer from it. The advantages might not be commensurate with what we may expect to receive but nobody would suffer. We are producing plenty to supply our own home market. Our home consumers would not be compelled to pay a cent a pound more and they would at least have the advantage of having the best bacon on their breakfast table that it is possible to obtain either in Europe or in the United States.

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LIB

Joseph Pierre Turcotte

Liberal

Mr. TURCOTTE (Quebec County).

(Translation.) Mr. Speaker, at this late hour of the night I do not wish to detain the House very long, but I have promised to my hon. friend from Wentworth (Mr. Sealey) that I would say a few words in support of his remarks. I think that the

time is well chosen, principally fox a member who represents an agricultural county, when a question like this pertaining to agricuture is being considered by this House, and the least he can say is to vindicate the rights of the farmers. It is important that the country should know how the people's representatives look after their interests in the House and after all that pertains to the farm.

We are confronted with the question of principles. We have been discussing tonight theoretically free trade and protection, and naturally both parties took up arms. I don't want to enter on this ground, but if I was obliged to do so I would take side with the Liberal party in favour of free trade, whose battles we have fought for so long a time. We all know the struggles of the Liberal party for the triumph of the free trade principles. These principles have been discussed before the people, and the people had approved them. I think that the constant development of the public wealth in Canada proves that it is in the true interest of the people not to resist to the utmost against the foreign industry because, in the long run, it is the poor people, the large class of consumers who pay the protective duty. These are the people who are paying the toll-gate of the customs. Being so, we believe that it is in the interest of the people that these duties should be the lowest possible. The true theory, the theory adopted by our party, is a revenue tariff, giving the means to administer decently public affairs, and I think we should not go beyond that.

I will, therefore, avoid using the words free trade and protection. I will confine myself to figures that will show a lamentable state of things. The * Yearly Book ' of last year shows us the difference there is between the exportations of Canadian pork to the United States and the importations of American pork into Canada. This is what I have noticed, and which seems to be very extraordinary. During the years 1904-5-6-7, that is five years, we have exported to the United States only 489,757 pounds of pork, which represents a sum of $64,912 during these five years, and we have imported during the same period 34,192,107 pounds, or for the sum of $2,521,436. In the last year, 1907, we have imported from the United States 7,500,848 pounds of pork, representing $615,000. We must remark that these figures cover only the nine months of the fiscal year 1906-7; when we have exported during the same period only 84,518 pounds of pork, representing $13,493. This is an enormous difference. These are facts which indicate that, for one reason or another, the pork which is eaten in Canada or put in tins or transformed into bacon and ham comes for the greatest part from the United States.

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LIB

Joseph Pierre Turcotte

Liberal

Mr. J. P. TURCOTTE.

This is a subject of humiliation for our national pride, because we have in our country all what is necessary for the raising and fattening of these animals. How is it that the production of pork is so small in our country? This is a state of things which deserves the attention of the government. The proposed remedy might not be adequate. It is possible that if we raise the duties on pork from 2 to 4 cents a pound we would not protect the farmer sufficiently to increase his power of raising pork, but, nevertheless, it is a question worthy of consideration.

It might be the same for meat pork as it is for some manufactured products. We all know that when there is over-production in some line of goods, the manufacturers of the country combined themselves to dump in Canada a large part of this overproduction at low prices in order to create a disastrous competition to Canadian industries. We know also that measures have been taken by the government to' protect us against this way of killing our industries.

I have reason to believe with the hon. member for Wentworth that the same means have been adopted in this case, and that at certain times the over-pToduction in meat pork in the United States is sent to Can ada in the same condition; that is to say, in a way to make disastrous competition in our own industry. I think that the time has come to put a stop to this illegitimate and disastrous competition to our farmers. But most of the members of this House who are sent here to study the economical conditions of the country are not able, in a case like this, to discuss this question with the same knowledge of professional men. We have to guide us the resolution adopted by the Pork Raisers' Association of Canada and other associations of the same kind. These resolutions have been adopted after a thorough investigation of the grievances and a complete study of the remedies that could be applied. We have thus a congregation, a collectivity of farmers, of men of experience, who come and say to us: It is necessary to bring afloat this industry which is essential to the progress and to the wealth of Canada. We ask our legislators to give us the means to fight this disastrous competition from the States. It is proposed to Taise the duty from 2 to 4 cents per pound. It might be a good way; it might not. I know that the hon. members opposite will not say that it is bad, because it is in accord with their protectionist principles.

As for the Liberal party, I fully agree for my part with the hon. member who has spoken before me, that this is not really a question of protection. Protection, as we generally understand it, has for its object | to prevent competition in manufactured I goods and in arts. I do not think that we

can assimilate the pork industry to manufacture. There is no similitude, and consequently we cannot apply, when speaking of the products of the farm, the same reasoning as we do to the industry.

I think that the government, who has its eyes open upon all which might contribute to the development of the resources of the country, will note the remarks which have been offered to-day upon this question, principally upon the figures which have been brought to the attention of the House, and which show an abnormal state of things. If we import in one year from the states more meat pork and for a larger sum than we have exported during a period of five years, and we have there an economical phenomenon absolutely disastrous and humiliating for us. It is for the government to study this question, and I know that the ministers are able to take the necessary measures to have a stop put to this state of things.

I have received from the farmexs of the county of Quebec verbal representations and letters in which they point out to me the absolutely disastrous competition suffered by those who take up the hog industry. Those farmers supply some of the pork-packing establishments of the citly where laree quantities of pork are used for the production of hams and bacon. Now the manufacturers, the dealers of that city cannot successfully compete with the products from the other parts of the country, and even from abroad, because they cannot obtain the necessary Taw material under such conditions as to permit of their carrying on their industry on a paying basis. But I may be told, and this is the capital argument advanced by our opponents : ' Why, if your Quebec friends cannot produce raw material as cheaply as the similar product coming from abroad, and you have no right to complain, the less so as the consumer will no doubt ultimately pay less for his food.' Quite true, but matters have to be considered from a different standpoint. As I just stated, that meat being imported from abroad does not enter here in the most normal conditions; it is the surplus which is fraudulently -dumped into the country. It is not the regular trade, as those who aTe conversant with the matter know perfectly well.

At any rate, as matters stand nowadays, seeing that tariffs are being readjusted all the world over, the United States protecting itself against Canada, and as commercial treaties are negotiated between two or three countries in order to protect themselves against foreign competition, I say that in commercial matters, as on every other question of vital importance for a nation, there is no cast-iron rule or theory that can be applied. Principles have to be more or less mitigated.

Now, I say that if ever there was an occasion upon which the rulers of a country or those who are at the helm were bound to mitigate those principles it is at a time when we are called upon to deal with the interests of the farming community in this country, which will be one of the great factors in making of this Canada of ours one of the leading nations of the twentieth century. Such are some of the grounds upon which I hope the government will take such steps as they may think proper for coming to the assistance of the farming community, for which service the country will owe the government a well-deserved debt of gratitude.

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LIB

Thomas Andrew Low

Liberal

Mr. T. A. LOW (Renfrew South).

Mr. Speaker, at so late an hour my remarks will necessarily be brief. We have had this subject discussed to-day by the member for South Simcoe (Mr. Lennox), who posed as a farmer, and by the member for North Lanark (Mr. Thoburn), who said he spoke on behalf of the workingmen, and now I purpose saying a few words from the standpoint of one who is interested in a woollen mill. Judging from the pleasant frame of mind in which the hon. member (Mr. Lennox) spoke, I cannot imagine that he intended the House to take his remarks seriously, nor do I think the hon. member for Lanark (Mr. Thoburn) was serious in oil that he said. Up to a certain stage of his speech the hon. gentleman appeared to be solemn enough, but when he told us he was speaking on behalf of the workingman I could not help doubting. Then the hon. member for East Grey (Mr. Sproule) could not have been serious because he held the government of the day responsible for certain woollen mills which were burnt twenty and thirty years ago.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Will the hon. gentleman mention any mill that was burnt 20 or 30 years ago?

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LIB

Thomas Andrew Low

Liberal

Mr. LOW.

I am told that the Ancaster mill was burnt 30 years ago and that the Flamboro mill was burnt 20 years ago. Now, before I proceed further, I do not wish the House to misunderstand my position on this question. I do not wish it to be supposed that I am a free trader, because I believe that we should keep the trade of this Canada of outs for the benefit of the Canadian people. But, Sir, I do not believe in building up a high protection wall for the benefit of any one class. While I cannot boast of the long experience my hon. friend (Mr. Thoburn) has had in the woollen mill business, yet I can say that I have had moTe experience in it than the hon. gentleman from Simcoe (Mr. Lennox). In the town of Renfrew for 40 years there was a woollen mill, and three years ago that mill came to grief. If I listened to the speeches of the Conservatives in the recent

campaign I would be led to believe that that mill came to grief through the tariff policy of the present government. But that is not so. Three years ago the people who were running that mill failed by reason of bad management, and we reorganized the company, and I want to tell the House that never in the history of that business has it been so prosperous as during the last three years. I want to tell the hon. member (Mr. Lennox) that last year the net profit on that business was 29 per cent; the preceding year it was 26 per cent, and the first year we ran the business the net profit was 21 per cent. I wish to say one word in reply to a statement made by the hon. member for Lanark. He told us that the charge had been made that because of inferior machinery the woollen millmen of this country are unable to compete with the foreign market. Let me tell my hon. friend that to a large extent that statement is true. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting a large Montreal woollen mill with a view of buying some of the idle machinery, and I remarked to the former manager that it was a very sad thing to see the machinery standing idle, and he replied: That is due to the Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his government. He did not know then that I was a supporter of that government.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Has the hon. gentleman seen the published statemeent of that same gentleman in the public press, saying that it is by reason of the reduction of the preference that they were compelled to close their mill?

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LIB

Thomas Andrew Low

Liberal

Mr. LOW.

I care not a whit for the statement of that gentleman and before I am through I will convince my hon. friend (Mr. Lennox) that it was the inability of these people to manufacture goods at a minimum cost that led to their misfortune.

I will show him where their equipment was absolutely unfit to enable them to manufacture goods at the lowest cost. Now, Sir,

I was in that mill a few weeks ago, as I have said, and I had with me a practical man, and when we left he said to me: 'How did these people ever expect to turn out goods at a low cost; see their dilapidated building and see their machinery in such a shape and so close together, that they could not produce cheaply.' I could not judge of that personally but that was the opinion the expert expressed to me. So I say, that is the best answer to the people who are making the charge that the tariff policy of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his government is injuriously affecting the woollen industry of Canada. I speak from the few short years' experience I have had in the trade, I speak from the experience of that woollen mill that is closed down in Montreal to-day, and as one who is interested in Mr. LOW.

a woollen mill I say that the present tariff suits me.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

Are we to understand from the hon. gentleman that the machinery in the woollen industrial establishments of Canada, speaking generally, is not up to date?

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LIB

Thomas Andrew Low

Liberal

Mr. LOW.

I am speaking of what I saw; I am not in a position to judge of the rest. I only speak whereof I know.

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?

Right Hon. S@

FIELDING (Minister of Finance) I hope the hon. gentlemen who have addressed the House this afternoon will not think it discourteous if I make no extended remarks in reply. They will of course quite understand that this is a subject in which the members of the government are all deeply interested, but still we are not free to express conclusions in advance of the budget speech. I do not think it would be desirable if I were to make comments on the remarks that have been made by some of the hon. gentlemen, even though I might think their arguments were not so strongly put as they themselves imagine. I can only say that the whole question has been considered in the past, is being considered, and will be considered by the government. That is all I feel at liberty to say at the present time.

Motion agreed to and the House went into Committee of Supply.

Some resolutions reported.

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April 13, 1909