June 4, 1917

CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

Just pass an Order in Council determining how much every man in this city, for instance, shall charge for cheese, butter, eggs, tea, and other things? Is that the hon. gentleman's idea?

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LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

I am asking if that is the hon. gentleman's suggestion?

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

I say that the hon. gentleman might have dealt much more briefly and effectively with the prices of staple articles by simply prohibiting the export and fixing a maximum price. How much better that would be than sending out people to ask questions who come back with nothing. For the hon. gentleman is back to where he was three weeks ago-he has not got anything more than he had at that time.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

The hon. gentleman cannot know whether I have any additional matter or not, until he has heard me through. I wonder whether he would suggest that we prohibit the export of foodstuffs to the Allies, in order that we may have enough here and so reduce the prices to the people of Canada? I do not suppose he would suggest that.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

But, as my hon. friend beside me has pointed out, the Government should long ago have prohibited the export of foodstuffs except to Britain and the Allies.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

This Government has taken measures under which wheat and wheat flour come in free from the United

States and ours go free to the United States. The hon. member for years insisted that this Government should secure the free entry of our wheat and wheat flour into the United States, but now he thinks it all wrong.

' Mr. MACDONALD: I will give the hon. minister, if he wishes it, a statement as to how wheat and wheat flour-

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CON
LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

I have no objection to the hon. member asking a question, but I do object to his making a speech every two or three minutes.

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LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

I do not think I put it in the form of a question. But I do say that for years the hon. gentleman insisted that the Government should arrange matters so that wheat and wheat products would come in free from the United States, and that our wheat and wheat products should go free to that country. Now, he suggests that we were all wrong in doing anything of that kind, that what we should have done is to prohibit the exportation of wheat and wheat flour to the United States. We did not do that. Perhaps , we were all wrong in not doing it, but we did not. I want to show the nature of the questions we sent out in reference to sugar:

5. What amount of sugar have you on hand for sale? If necessary to answer by way of schedule annex your answer to Schedule "B," adding such explanations as you may see fit.

6. How does the quantity on hand for sale compare with what you had on hand for sale at an equivalent date of the years 1914, 1915 and 1916?

7. What was the amount of your gross business (a) in tonnage, (b) in price, for the year ending December 31, 1916? Answer with accuracy if possible. If not, give your best approximation.

8. Compare your gross business as to tonnage and value for the years 1913, 1914, 1915 and 1916. If necessary to answer by way of schedule annex your answer as Schedule "C."

9. What contracts, agreements or arrangements, orally or in writing, exist or have, since the 10th day of November, 1916, existed between you and any person, firm or corporation doing business within the Dominion of Canada, (a) as your competitors, and (b) as buyers from or sellers for you, touching or concerning the sale or resale prices of sugar, or fixing or providing for periodical fixing by you of prices at which sugar may be sold or resold, or touching or concerning the limitation of territory within which you or any other person, firm or corporation shall exclusively

or to a limited extent sell sugar or sell such sugar as you or such other person, firm or corporation may produce or have for sale? Annex your answer as Schedule "D," and annex true copies of all such agreements or arrangements as shall be in writing, marking such last mentioned annexed documents as Schedule "E." Give the names and addresses of all such persons, firms or corporations with whom you may have such agreements or arrangements as may be oral, and in case the address of any person, firm or corporation with whom you may have written agreements which have been annexed as aforesaid do not disclose the address of such persons, firms or corporations, give the addresses of such persons, firms or corporations, repeating, along with each address, the name.

10. Give a list of the names and addresses of all persons, firms and corporations to whom you have, since the 4th day of August, 1914, sent out for signature and return any printed or written forms addressed to you or to any agent for you-

That question had for its design the ascertaining whether there was any -agreement between the wholesalers and retail men as to price.

-whereby, in consideration of your offer to such persons, firms or corporations of a discount from monthly or other purchases and certification by such persons, firms or corporations that, from and after any certain date to any other time, such persons, firms or corporations have not sold or permitted to be sold at a lower price than prices fixed and communicated by you from d'ay to day, nor on more liberal terms than certain fixed terms, you will pay or allow to such persons, firms or corporations a discount of value in money. Or, if you arrange for fixing or resale prices in any other manner than indicated or engage to pay premiums or to give discounts for maintenance of set or periodically communicated prices. Explain your system of operation and give a list of names and addresses of all persons, firms and corporations who have since August 4, 1914, received such premiums or discounts, or have engaged to maintain such set or communicated resale prices. Annex your answer as Schedule "F."

11. Give a list, with addresses, of such persons, firms or corporations as, having signed and returned such written or printed forms, or otherwise agreed to maintain prices, the agreement or arrangement thus constituted

12. Explain fully your sale system, showing the class of vendees with whom you deal, whether entirely with jobbers and manufacturers, or otherwise, your ordinary terms of credit, what discounts or bonuses you allow, and the purposes thereof. Annex your answer as Schedule "H."

13. Are you aware of any combination within Canada of persons, firms or corporations from whom you purchase your products whereby such combination agrees upon fixed prices or among the members thereof, which fixed prices you must pay. If so give such particulars concerning sudh combination as are known to you or concerning any other combi-

nation affecting known to you. "I."

the sugar business as may be Annex your answer as Schedule

14. Add as Schedule "J" any observations of a general or other character as you may see fit.

That questionnaire was sent out to three hundred wholesale men and refiners. and a form of affidavit to accompany their re-* plies was attached. We got replies and many of them were satisfactory as soon as we received them. But, a great many were defective. We pointed out by correspondence that they did not answer the questions fully, we required further information and we got it. After correspondence of that kind we got satisfactory answers from all of these men to whom we sent out the questionnaire. This is the form of affidavit that they had to make:

I , of the of

in the Province of

make oath and say as follows:

1. I am t0 whom

the questions to which answers are, in whole or in part, returned herewith, are addressed.

2. I have knowledge enabling me to say, and I do hereby say, that the answers given to the said questions are candid and true, that such answers are as complete as I can provide, and that I have made all enquiries and consulted all records reasonably necessary to enable me to answer the said questions truthfully andl candidly as aforesaid.

Sworn before me at the ... ;____ of

in the County of , this .... day

of 1917.

Notary, Commissioner for taking affidavits, or Justice of the Peace.

As a result of these questionnaires and answers, we got a great deal of information which is contained in the report. I do not propose to read the report but I am going [DOT]to put it on the Table and I am going to give a few facts from it which may be interesting to the committee. Section 5 of the Order in Council is in these words:

Whenever the council of any municipalicty shall declare by way of resolution that in its opinion excessive prices are being demanded within the limits of such municipality for any necessary of life, such council may, by notice in writing under the hand of its clerk or other authorized officer, require any person dealing within the municipality in such necessary of life, and locally situate therein, to make and render unto such council within a time set in such notice, and such person shall make and render unto such council, precisely as required by it, a written return under oath or affirmation, showing in detail

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LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

I have no doubt it is given in this report, but I cannot say at the moment.

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LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

Oh, no, I am going to place it on the table. The average profit that the refineries had last year was one-fifth of a cent per pound. Of course there was a very large amount refined, and it amounts to a large sum in the aggregate, but it was only one-fifth of a cent per pound on the average.

I have another of these questionnaires which was sent out to wholesale men. I do not propose to read it. The answers are given here and the actual affidavit is here. If there was any suspicious circumstance or anything set forth in the affidavit .or in the replies that did not seem perfectly satisfactory, we corresponded with the parties until we had what we considered a satisfactory answer, and the net result is that the refineries last year made one-fifth of a cent per pound on sugar, although the price was much higher than it had been a few years

ago. I think the last price was 8# cents wholesale, and the reasons I have given fairly explains this price. The principal item in the cost of refined sugar, as hon. gentlemen will all know, is the cane. The sugar cane has more than doubled in price since the war broke out, and, as I have said, the freight on sugar from Cuba has risen fr.om 9 cents to 76 cents, coal has doubled, hydrochloric acid has gone up 300 per cent, and labour has gone up. These items will give satisfactory reasons, I think, for the increase in the price of sugar. It is sold to wholesalers at $8.35 per hundred pounds and retailers are selling it, some as low as 9 cents and some as high as 10 cents, so that the profit does not seem to be very exorbitant.

We have gone into the question of the price of c.oal. We sent out questions concerning coal, not so many or so full as in regard to sugar. We have endeavoured to get the condition aj. the beginning of each of the last four years and then to get a report from month to -month, and we do get it now every month. We sent out to 250 of the principal coal dealers of Canada these questions, and they were requested to answer giving the number of tons of 2,000 pounds each in the yard on the first day of the month in 1916, of egg, stove, chestnut and other varieties of coal. That is for each month. Then they were asked to give the number of tons of 2,240 pounds purchased from each firm during the month and details of each purchase, giving the price per ton for each size at the shipping point, freight and unloading charges, the number of net tons of 2,000 pounds sold and delivered during the month and the price per ton at which it was sold, egg price, stove price, chestnut, and other prices.

These questions were sent to every large coal dealer in Canada, and satisfactory answers were received. We receive cards from them every month; we can tell the quantity of coal m store in Canada at the beginning of every month. Complaints have been made concerning the price of coal in St. John and Montreal. Coal has been sold in Montreal at $15 a ton in the central part of the city and at higher prices in the suburbs. Upon making inquiry, we found that a great deal of coal is sold in Montreal in little bags containing 15 or 20 pounds. These bags are sold at from 15 to 20 cents each, making the price reach from $15 to $20 a ton. The extra charge in Montreal for carrying coal up one flight of stairs is 25 cents, two flights 50 cents, three flights 75 cents, and four flights $1. Coal is

very dear in St. John and Halifax, the price running as high as $13 and $14 a ton. The reason is that the merchants in St. John and Halifax buy not at the mouth of the mines, but in New York, because of their ' being off the line of railway, and they pay as high as $5 a ton for transportation. From the inquiries which we have made and from information received from other sources, we are able to say that the coal dealers in Canada have not charged exorbitant profits. We have been able to ascertain the cost of coal at the mouth of the pit and the cost of freight, and we can readily estimate the cost of discharge, delivery and overhead expenses. Usually the profits made by the dealers do not exceed fifty cents a ton; I think no one would say that that is exorbitant. Sometimes the profit is 65 cents a ton; sometimes 75, but in no case, I think, does it exceed $1.

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

Does the minister say that there is no hope that the people of St. John will get their coal at less than $15 or $2( a ton in the near future?

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

When they shall be

able to get cane sugar from Cuba at nine cents a hundred instead of seventy-six, there will probably be sufficient tonnage to carry coal from New York to St. John at a lower rate than $4 or $5 a ton. Tonnage is scarce, and if you ship by water you ha^e to pay. '

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

Is there no hope that the

Government will do something in the nea: future to reduce the price of coal in St. John and Halifax?

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

They say that hope

*springs eternal in the human breast. I trust that the member for Westmorland is not wanting in hope.

10 p.m. Mr. COPP: Has the minis-

- ter any hope?

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June 4, 1917