March 21, 1919

L LIB

Auguste Théophile Léger

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEGER:

The-reasons advanced for

this legislation do not satisfy me of its necessity. Why cannot a can be made to hold sixteen ounces of lobster? If the present cans are not large enough, why not make larger cans? In the district from which I come lobsters are bought by the pound, and if the *weight in the can is to be reduced to twelve ounces, the consumer will lose two or three ounces on every pound he buys. Furthermore, what consideration is being given to the fisherman? The packers when buying from the fishermen demand sixteen ounces to the pound. It would seem to me that the consumer lias been defrauded of a few ounces on every can he has bought for a great many years. I used to think I was getting a pound of lobster when I bought one of these cans, but now I find I was being cheated out of two or three ounces every time. One would think a lobster was one of the precious metals, which weigh twelve ounces to the pound. I think we should fix a standard weight, and if the cans the packers are now using will not hold a pound let them make larger cans, rather than pass eleven or twelve ounces off for a pound.

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L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR:

I do not think

the minister ought to press the resolution after the discussion we have just heard. The main reason he gives us is that you could not get more than fourteen ounces, or at least more than twelve ounces, properly into a can. My hon. friend from Northumberland, who is a well known pack-

[ .Mr. Logigie.]

er and who knows the trade as well as any man in the Maritime Provinces, is able to put fourteen ounces into the can. He does not say you cannot put fourteen ounces in, and his view is evidently directly opposed to that of the minister. We are told that the packers from the Maritime Provinces met in Halifax and decided that a twelve ounce can would be better than a fourteen ounce can. Why? Because they would save that much of the meat. They will not sell that can for one cent less than the can containing fourteen ounces. I have just been making a calculation, and on the pack in the Maritime Provinces, they will save no less than about $400,000 if this Bill passes, while the consumer will lose to that extent. Now, that is why the packers were unanimous in the matter. Of course, they would be unanimous! And next year they might be unanimous in the opinion that ten ounces would be sufficient to put into a pound can. These arguments do not convince me at all, and I do not believe they convince the minister. I think this matter ought to be delayed until further investigation has been made. Questions of this kind are generally referred to the Marine and Fisheries Committee.

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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

My hon. friend

might have patience enough until there is something to refer to the committee. It was my intention, and still is, that, the Bill should go to the committee.

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L LIB
UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

The resolution

cannot go to the committee; my hon. friend knows that. When the Bill is introduced it will go to the committee.

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L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR:

If we pass this resolution it means that we have consented to the principle of the Bill, and that is the reason I ask that the resolution be withdrawn.

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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

I think that inasmuch as a Bill similar to this, when introduced in 1917, was sent to the Committee on Fisheries, it will be only proper that this proposed Bill should go to the same committee. But you cannot manufacture a Bill in a minute. Unfortunately the rules of Parliament demand-and without any good purpose, in my opinion-that a Bill of this character should be preceded by a resolution.

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L LIB
UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

Oh, I do not want to go into that question just now; but gen-

erally speaking, the reason is because the measure involves expenditure of public money. It is very difficult to 9 p.m. see why this particular Bill should require a resolution. Personally I do^ not believe that any Bill should require a resolution, and I hope that some day the rule in this respect will be amended.

Mr. AIcKENZIE: I understand that any money Bill requires a resolution. That is the practice. But why does this Bill require a resolution? Does it require any expenditure of public money?

Mr. A. K. MACLEAtN: This Bill is only * emendatory of the Meats and Canned Foods Act, which involves an expenditure of money for inspection ,and other purposes. If the Bill were to be considered just by itself, possibly no resolution would be required ; but it is the opinion of the law officer of the House that the Bill must be preceded by a resolution. Now as soon as the Bill is introduced it will go to the committee. I fail to see why hon. gentlemen opposite are disposed to think that the public interests will suffer by reason of this Bill. The hon. member for Kent (Mr. Leger) thinks that it is a very dangerous principle to reduce the content of any can, or rather he expressed surprise tnat a container contains a given number of ounces. My hon. friend might as well suggest that a barrel of flour which hais contained 196 pounds for a number of years should be made to contain 200 or 201, or something like that. There is no particular virtue about fourteen ounces as the quantity that a lobster can should contain. In fact, 12 ounces is a much better weight because it is three-quarters of a pound, and the content is more easily calculated by the purchasing public; and I would say that upon that ground, if I were asked for my personal judgment, it would be better to have a twelve-ounce than a fourteen-ounce can. But I have told the committee

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L LIB

James Alexander Robb (Chief Government Whip)

Laurier Liberal

Air. ROBB:

Would a sixteen-ounce can

not be much better and more satisfactory to the public?

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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Air. A. K. MACLEAN:

Possibly it might; but gentlemen who know something about the business, and who are in a position to speak authoritatively on the matter, say that you cannot get sixteen ounces into the present can, which is a well-established container.

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L LIB

James Alexander Robb (Chief Government Whip)

Laurier Liberal

Air. ROBB:

Alake the can larger.

Mr. A. K. AlAOLEAN: True, you can

make the can larger; and you can make

the flour barrel larger so as to contain 200 pounds. These are simply standardized measures, and so long as the public know the standard measurement no interest can suffer.

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L LIB

Auguste Théophile Léger

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEGER:

The hon. minister says

that the barrel containing 196 pounds of flour might be made to contain 200 or 201 pounds. We never calculate a barrel of flour on more than 196 pounds; it is marked on it.

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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

Therefore if a pound can of lobster contains twelve ounces, there would be no purpose in calculating on thirteen, or fourteen ounces or anything else, because it is a standard weight. This Bill proposes to establish the standards of weights in four certain sizes of cans for packing lobster.

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L LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Laurier Liberal

Mr. COPP:

What would you say if the millers came and asked you to change the law so that they could put 165 pounds into their barrels?

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L LIB

Auguste Théophile Léger

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEGER:

If the committee desire to put fourteen ounces into the can, I would like it to be understood that the fishermen shall get fourteen ounces too.

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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean (Minister Without Portfolio)

Unionist

Air. A. K. MACLEAN:

I think we can all agree that the fishermen will get it. Now, as I said in response to the hon. member for Guysborough (Mr. Sinclair), it was my intention that the Bill to be founded on this resolution shall be referred to a committee, who, if they see fit, may again have a hearing of witnesses, just as in 1917.

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L LIB

Onésiphore Turgeon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. TURGEON:

It has been stated by the Acting Minister of Fisheries that it had been the custom for years to have no special weight of lobster in the can, and that packers placed anywhere between twelve and sixteen ounces of the dry fish in the can, and that the reason why legislation had been introduced was that public opinion compelled it. The public had found out that on many an occasion they had been deceived, and that instead of getting fourteen or fifteen ounces of dry lobster, they were getting twelve ounces and paying for a pound. That, as I understand it, was the reason for the introduction of legislation. The hon. member for Northumberland is one of the largest packers, and controls perhaps over forty canneries in New Brunswick, half of them in the county of Gloucester which I have the honour to represent. We had him as an authority before the committee. He had not been satisfied when

the committee originally recommended that sixteen ounces be placed in the can in order to satisfy the public that they were getting value for what they were paying. After an experience of forty years in the business, the largest canner in the Maritime provinces and the keenest of them all, he declared that he was satisfied with the decision to put fourteen ounces in the can, and that decision was accepted by everybody. I have been interested in the lobster industry all my life. I represent the largest lobster fishing county in New Brunswick. I know something about the industry, and I know that if you have fourteen ounces of dry meat in a can you have a better quality of lobster than if you have only twelve ounces. That does not matter so much to the lobster packers, if they can get a regulation adopted which will permit them to put twelve ounces in a one-pound can. The people will pay the same price for the can containing twelve ounces of dry meat as they paid 'for the can containing fourteen ounces. The statute passed in 1917 was not to go into effect until December, 1918, and now we have the minister asking that we cancel that legislation. The canners have no excuse now for asking that the legislation be not put into force, because they have their cans made to contain fourteen ounces of dry meat. A can containing twelve ounces of dry meat will not appeal to the public. I do not see why this resolution is brought in. The hon. member for Northumberland is willing to stand by the minister now, but in the testimony which he gave before the committee in 1917 he expressed himself as ready to accept the provision which was then made. Public opinion will be against this change, and will be more strongly against it when it is put in operation. I advise my hon. friend, as strongly and as urgently as I can, to withdraw this legislation. It will have a bad effect upon the people.

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UNION

William Stewart Loggie

Unionist

Mr. LOGGIE:

In the list of cans packed that we have here, there are two that are under twelve ounces.

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L LIB

March 21, 1919