May 10, 1911

CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

My understanding is that originally 90 pounds was the standard whether by law or practice or custom. Certain representations were made to the government some years ago and a change was made for the province of Quebec. I have nothing to say about that; possibly it was a good thing then. The complaint comes now, not from Quebec alone, but from Ontario, that there is no uniform bag. There is now an interchange of products between Quebec and Ontario. Quebec potatoes find a market in Toronto, for example, and I can understood that it is not in the best interests of either the buyer or seller that potatoes coming from Quebec should be a bag of 80 pounds and coming from Ontario a bag of 90 pounds. But I do say that the original practice was to sell 90 pounds to the bag of potatoes and if a change was made reducing it to 80 pounds for one province it does not occur to me that it would be very much in the interest of the people, particularly the province of Ontario, that 80 pounds should be adopted for the rest of the country. I repeat

Topic:   INSPECTION AND SALE ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I do not seem to be able to give my hon. friend to understand that there was no standard weight in Ontario. A bag of potatoes in Quebec was 80 pounds by law, and there was no law with regard to a bag of potatoes in any other part of Canada.

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CON
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

It was made 80 pounds by law in Quebec by Edward VII, chapter 26, section 1. That would be in 1901, I think.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I think there must be something wrong about that, because my impression is that the provincial authorities have the right to make a law, and that such a law has been in existence for a long time. Why, I say that is because I remember very well many years ago I was in Toronto with a neighbour who was selling potatoes. They were weighed and sold by the bag. The total weight was divided by 90 to get the number of bags. At the same time there were potatoes sold by the bag that were not weighed at the time, but afterwards they were found to contain less than 90 pounds. My recollection is that ho threatened to lodge a complaint before the police magistrate, and the party was obliged to settle up. If there was no law I do not see how he could prosecute. Whether it was law or custom it was the common practice for the municipal authorities to make market regulations.

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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT.

All are agreed that the weight of the bag should be uniform, but all are not agreed that it should be eighty lbs. I have dealt in potatoes a great deal Mr. FISHER.

in my time, and there was no law that I know of governing the weight of a bag of potatoes, although in buying large quantities of potatoes by the bag we always specified that they should be taken at 90 lbs. to the bag. That was the custom when I was in the business, and the reason we did that was that we bought from various provinces. I do not see that any harm can be done by making the weight of a bag of potatoes 80 lbs. because the people will soon get accustomed to it. As a matter of fact, we do not as a rule weigh potatoes.

Topic:   INSPECTION AND SALE ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

In my part of the country everybody weighs the potatoes.

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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT.

In taking them into stores in Ontario they weigh them and estimate them at 90 lb's., but a great many potatoes are delivered direct by the farthers to the houses of the people, and not once in a thousand times are they weighed.

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CON
LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT.

It is supposed to, but they are mighty short for a bushel and a half. Sometimes if you make the weight 80 pounds uniformly, the people will soon get accustomed to it, and there will be no trouble.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

What reasons would the hon. gentleman give in the interests of the people of Ontario that such a change should be made?

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LIB
CON
LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT.

I have been buying seed potatoes this year by the hundred weight, so that it is not absolutely the custom to buy potatoes by the bag in Ontario.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The reason for making the standard 90 lbs. is simply that two one-half bushels of ordinary potatoes will weigh 60 lbs., and, as the ordinary two-bushel grain bag will hold a bushel and a half of potatoes, that made 90 lbs., and it became the standard. It is not the part of wisdom to change the custom of half a century unless there is strong reason for it. There is no more reason why Ontario should be made to conform to the Quebec custom than that we should ask Quebec to conform to the Ontario custom.

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CON

Francis Ramsey Lalor

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LALOR.

I do not know that the vegetable growers 'are insistent on the weight being 80 lbs., but what they want is a uniform weight. I would point out that a bushel of measured potatoes at this time of the year will not weigh as much

as a bushel of the same potatoes would last fall. The proper course is to make a uniform standard weight throughout the country whether it be 80 lbs. or 90 l'hs. In listening to the argument of the vegetable growers before the Minister of Trade and Commerce, I thought their demand was reasonable for a uniform weight- for a bag of potatoes, and not so much in their own interest as in the interest of the public, because notwithstanding what the .hon. member (Mr. Sproule) says they stated that in Toronto and other places potatoes were sold by the bag at less than 80 lbs. I do not believe there is any law governing it.

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CON
LIB

Onésiphore Ernest Talbot

Liberal

Mr. TALBOT.

The fewer changes we make the better, because changes always lead to confusion. At one time in the province of Quebec, we had a bushel measure, and at another time we had a barrel which was supposed to be three bushels. That was the barrel measure that we interfered with. The barrels have since been made straighter and contain less. Now this bag proposition is made to us. We have no such a thing as a one-third bushel measure, we either have a bushel or a quarter or a half, and that is understood by everybody. We use a bag that is supposed to hold 90 lbs., whether it will hold 90 lbs. or not, that is the kind of bag that will be used. I think, therefore, that on all accounts it is better to leave the present system alone. At present a bag is supposed to hold a bushel and a half and to weigh 90 lbs.; leave it as it is.

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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS.

The minister has spoken positively with regard to there being no law in the province of Ontario fixing a standard weight for a bag of potatoes. I do know, however, that in the city of Kingston potatoes are marketed by the bag, and a bag is supposed to contain a bushel and a half, and to weigh 90 pounds. The market clerk has the right, and has exercised the right, of seizing from the farmers any bags which are supposed to be short of weight, weighing them, confiscating them, and bringing the farmer before the magistrate and having him fined. Now, if there is no law in the province of Ontario fixing the standard weight at 90 pounds, it seems strange that the market clerk should exercise that authority. It may be possible that the general statute gives to municipal corporations the right to pass bv-laws governing the weight of potatoes sold in their respective markets. I have always understood that the weight is governed by a general provincial law; the minister says that is not the case.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

What I said was that there was no standard fixed by federal law. I think what the hon. gentleman says there is perfectly correct; it may be that municipalities have the power to pass regulations for their own markets, and, therefore, to fix a weight. I said there was no federal law, and under the Inspection and Sale Act there is no standard of weight for a bag of potatoes except in the province of Ontario.

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May 10, 1911