May 15, 1922

PRO

Daniel Webster Warner

Progressive

Mr. D. W. WARNER (Strathcona):

Mr. Speaker, I realize that this is not a proper time of night to commence a long speech, but I think we are debating something which it is worth our while staying all night in order to decide rightly. The House seems to be very much divided; the different groups are broken. We are going to do very much as we please in this matter, judging by the way hon. members are talking all over the Chamber, some for and some against in every group. Consequently I feel quite at home in taking my stand in opposition to my leader (Mr. Crerar) in this group. I feel I am justified in doing so. If he had put in as many years milking cows, and if he knew the difficulty in connection with this work as well as I do, I do not think he would have made the kind of speech he delivered. I notice that most of the gentlemen who are talking here to-night in opposition to this resolution are not the men who take the milk pail and milk the cows. I have seen the difficulties of the dairy business right from the beginning of my business career. I know that it has had a hard time. I know, at the same time, that those who are opposed to this resolution are opposed to it from an honest conviction. At least, that is my belief. But, Mr. Speaker, I can hardly agree with them in the fine, dielicabe point they raise regarding the difference between asking for a compulsory wheat board and supporting the motion for the abolition of oleomargarine.

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LIB
PRO

Daniel Webster Warner

Progressive

Mr. WARNER:

I am bound to tell the House that I do not agree with those hon.

Oleomargarine

members if they are persistent in that attitude. I have not tried to convert any one in my group or in any other group to my ideas. I know, though, what the people in my constituency want, and I would not come here and misrepresent them in any respect in anything I do. But that is what I should be doing if I voted against this resolution. I know that I have a different constituency from those which some of my hon. friends to my left represent; and if we did anything that would make dairying harder for the people in my constituency we should be in danger of losing some of them. If I thought that the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine would be no more considerable in Canada in the future than it is at the present time, I would not occupy the time of the House expressing myself in favour of this resolution and opposing the importation and manufacture of this commodity.

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LIB

William F. Carroll

Liberal

Mr. CARROLL:

What are the sales of oleomargarine in this country now compared with those of three years ago, taking into consideration the falling prices of butter?

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PRO

Daniel Webster Warner

Progressive

Mr. WARNER:

That question has been answered several times to-night, but I would say to my hon. friend that the conditions now are absolutely different. Furthermore, oleomargarine was asked for only as a substitute during the war, and the fact that the price of butter has come down is no doubt largely responsible for the diminution in the sales of oleo.

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CON
LAB
LIB

George Newcombe Gordon (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

I would ask hon. members not to interrupt unduly the member who has the floor. However, my eye first caught the hon. member for East Calgary (Mr. Irvine).

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LAB
PRO

Daniel Webster Warner

Progressive

Mr. WARNER:

I understand very well what there is in that platform, and I do not think that it has any application at all to this case. I am not aware of the need of oleomargarine in this country. I quite realize the difficulty which the dairymen are faced with, and if you prohibit the importation and sale of this article you will save the dairy business, and probably have cheaper and better butter.

But if you encourage the use of any substitute for butter you lessen the demand for the latter to that extent. However, if people are going to misconstrue a platform to the detriment of an industry, then I think that platform should be changed.

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CON

John Lawrence Stansell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STANSELL:

Does my hon. friend from East Calgary (Mr. Irvine) state that the Progressive party has a policy from which no member should dissent? If so, they are more partisan in their allegiance than either of the old parties.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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PRO
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An hon. MEMBER:

Do not mind them.

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PRO

Daniel Webster Warner

Progressive

Mr. WARNER:

I am here to represent my constituency. I have been told that if I am narrow enough to represent one constituency and one constituency only, I am probably not big enough to make a good representative. Well, I will take that for what it is worth. But if I represent that constituency as it desires to be represented I feel that I am not only doing my duty but doing what is in the best interests of Canada that I should do. As I said shortly before hon. members began to bombard me with questions, I represent a constituency that is somewhat different from the constituencies which other hon. gentlemen represent. It is made up of small farms. The farmers make butter or sell cream and carry on -a dlhiiry business 'because they cam do it better that anything else. They have a brush country which they have to clear, and they can sow grass on it and have a pasture so that they can keep a few cows before they are able to break much of the land. Many, of them have been on the land for years and have got only 30 to 50 acres broken.

Now, it is one of the best districts in Canada; I except none. That district has not had a crop failure in the twenty-five years that I have been there. Those people are getting along in a moderate way; they are living, but they are not making money, and the dairy business is about the only thing that has kept them going. I know that to be so. Now, if you are going to do anything to make it harder for those people you will need a pretty good immigration policy to get newcomers to take the place of those people who may be forced to abandon their homesteads. We are talking of spending money to induce immigrants to come to this country. I say,

Oleomargarine

gentlemen, you will do more good by making the people prosperous that are here now, and you can do this better by giving them a good chance to make a success of the dairy business, than by spending money to get immigrants to come in and take their place.

My hon. friend from Marquette-my leader-mentioned that he wanted cold storage and lots of other things to take care of the dairy industry. We want them too, we are not objecting to them-neither are we objecting to the Wheat Board to take care of the wheat crop. Our leader suggested that in Denmark the dairy farmers are very prosperous. I have spent a good deal of my time in institute work, and I have been practically all my life trying to induce people to go into mixed farming, which of course includes a little dairying. In the course of my institute w*ork I have loanned that Denmark would1 not have been prosperous with the dairy business alone, if it had not been for the skim milk her farmers fed to their bacon hogs for the production of the fancy bacon exported to Great Britain where it fetches fancy prices. The Danish farmers are very favourably situated in regard to Great Britain and have the best of opportunities to put their products on the British market. I do not object if the people of Denmark want to eat oleomargarine and sell their butter to Great Britain at a higher price than they pay for the substitute; but we cannot do quite the same thing.

We have pamphlets here as part of the propaganda to further the interests of the oleomargarine manufacturers, and I have been approached to support the continued importation and manufacture of their product. Who is paying for that propaganda? The manufacturing interests, of course. And they do not expect to keep their production of oleomargarine at its present level, they are going to encroach on our dairy business more and more. The more oleomargarine that is put on the market the more butter it displaces, and the more profit will go into the hands of the big companies that already have a monopoly in this country, while the man who is out on the farm having a hard time to keep his homestead will have to get along with that narrowed market and to that extent he and his family will be so much worse off.

I am not going to quote facts and figures, it is too late to do so to-night. I have lots of them here, but it would be repeating what others have already said, and I have too bad a cold to talk at any great length; indeed, I would not have intervened in this discussion at all but for my keen interest in the matter. There are no two ways about it. As the Minister of Agriculture said, and as others have said, you cannot hire a man to work on a farm if you want him to milk cows. And I want to tell you that I do not believe the milking machine is a success yet; it takes a pretty good man to run one of those machines satisfactorily. What would we do in this country if something else were manufactured in the place of milk? The principle is the same. All day long we have been talking about how good oleomargarine is for adults to eat, but I have not heard one single member say that it was good for children-not one. We want our children, the poor man's as well as the rich man's, to have good, nourishing food, and for growing children there is not the slightest doubt in the world that oleomargarine is no substitute for butter. I suggest to my hon. friends on my left that if they will take the same money's worth of butter and spread it a little thinner they will get more benefit than they can ever expect to get from spreading this grease on their bread.

I know what oleomargarine is like; I had two kinds for dinner. I tasted and tested them pretty well. I do not like oleomargarine. If other people like it they are welcome to it; I do not object to their using it because I do not like it. But I do object to its continued importation and manufacture if it makes the dairy business harder for our farmers to continue at. We have spent milions of dollars at one time and another to try to get people to engage in the dairy business. My friend to the right read about twenty resolutions from twenty different organizations making certain requests. Who knows what is needed in this country in regard to the dairy business better than the men who are engaged in the business?

And I am not so delicate about saying whether this is or is hot protection. If you have got to stretch your mind a little to keep your business going, why, you have got to do it, that is all. I cannot see that the granting of what this resolution asks for gives protection to the dairy business any more than a compulsory wheat board would give protection to the men who are raising wheat.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Oleomargarine

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PRO

Daniel Webster Warner

Progressive

Mr. WARNER:

Now, I will have this House understand that I am not opposing the wheat board. I shall continue to work for that wheat board and do my utmost to help get it. That is what we want. But I do want a chance for the dairy business; I want it to be treated in the same way, even on the same plane. I do not agree with my hon. friend from Lis-gar (Mr. Brown), any more than I agree with my leader, that this is protection. We are not asking for protection, we are asking for a chance to live, and we know how hard it is to keep the dairy business alive. We understand it. Who knows better than those who are in it how hard it is to continue in the dairy business? I know I had to sell my dairy herd in 1918 because I could not get anybody to help me carry on the dairy business. And it was a dairy herd that I thought a lot of. In the course of my life I had built up two herds, and this one I had worked with since I came to this country. But if the manufacture and importation of oleomargarine is to be allowed to continue I do not think I will be the only man who will have had to go out of the dairy business. It is only the man who has a growing family that can engage in the dairy business, because otherwise he would have to hire men to help him, and he could not afford to pajf the wages demanded under present conditions.

Now, Mr. Speaker and hon. gentlemen, this is the reason why I am speaking in support of this resolution,-simply because I cannot draw the fine distinction that it is asking for protection, as stated by our friends to the left. I do not see that we will weaken ourselves in the least by asking for protection of this kind. It is not protection in the way that we understand protection, that is, as a tax on articles that we have to buy. These people have been paying taxes on the articles they have had to buy until to-day they have barely enough to live on, and now if you put a little more burden on them maybe you will lose more of these men the very first year than you vrill gain by immigration ove~ a long period.

The returned men have been encouraged to go on the farms and they are now working under conditions that are absolutely intolerable. Many of them are living from their cows, simply hanging on, hoping that Parliament will do something to give them a fair chance. They are looking for a revaluation of their property so that they may go ahead and make the rest of the

payments on it. I have had letters from the dairymen in my constituency, men who have not more than from 30 to 50 acres under cultivation, who support the other farmers in their demand for a wheat board. They have asked me to support that; I have done so, and I do not wish to misrepresent them on this subject by voting against the resolution. They want the support of the farmers all the way through tor farmers' interests.

I do not understand this proposal as protection; I look upon it as a chance to make a living, to go ahead until things get better and we have an opportunity of clearing more land and making it available for farming purposes.

It is hard for hon. members to understand the conditions which prevail in these parts of the country unless they have been on the ground. I know what I am talking about, and I know that in many parts of Canada outside of my own constituency the dairymen are having a hard time to keep their business going. Let this House go slowly before it does anything which will make it harder for the dairy business to be carried on.

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LIB

Willis Keith Baldwin

Liberal

Mr. W. K. BALDWIN (Stanstead) :

Mr. Speaker, you would think from the arguments which have been advanced during the course of this discussion that every country in the world has legalized the manufacture of oleomargarine. I want to tell you that in the United States its sale and manufacture has been legalized, but only under certain conditions. For ten years the agriculturists of that country fought desperately against the introduction of oleomargarine, and not until the population of the United States had reached the figure of 65,000,000 was the measure passed through Congress. But it was provided that no one could sell oleomargarine by retail without paying a license of $60 for the privilege of doing so. That condition prevailed until very recently; I do not know that it does not prevail to-day. If any change has been made, it has been made quite recently. Now, what was the condition? The payment of the license fee of $60 by the retailer made it impossible for him to handle that conglomeration known as oleomargarine, but it did not debar the wholesaler from selling it to lumbermen, miners, or construction men who did not use butter. No injury resulted to the dairy products, because those who ate oleomargarine under those conditions were not consumers of butter.

Oleomargarine

Some reference has been made to vita-mines. Why, there are not as many vita-mines in 100 pounds of margarine as there are in one pound of butter. Let us remember also that the late government put many returned soldiers on the land. These men paid an average price of $100 each for their cows and they are having a very hard time indeed to get along. The same condition prevails down in the country where I live. There is another point which is worth remembering: if the Government destroys the dairying industry of our country by permitting this legalized conglomeration to be brought in from a foreign country the business of hog raising, involving the production of bacon, pork and lard, is closely connected with the dairying industry. The sensible people of this country know very well that if they want anything to replace butter they can get shortening, cottolene, and even lard, for one-half the price of oleomargarine. Oleomargarine is often sold as butter. The ex-minister showed us a package to-day as an example of the beautiful lithographic work which is turned out by the oleomargarine people; but the farmer uses an ordinary piece of paraffin paper; he says he can afford nothing better. Now, I am a retailer, and I do not wish to destroy the retailers' organizations, but I have handled a litttle oleomargarine and I want to tell you that I never could sell it when I had any butter. It is easy enough to sell it at a profit of eight cents a pound, but when you retail butter everyone knows the price of it; it is quoted in the papers. If a grocer buys butter and gets two or three cents a pound on it, he is getting all the profit he can get because competition regulates prices, but he can make more profit on one pound of oleomargarine than he can on four pounds of butter.

There has been some talk of vested rights in this country, but I would point out that all the oleomargarine I ever bought was made in the United States; and I would prohibit that. If there are one or two factories in Canada which are manufacturing oleomargarine, they will not be put in a very desperate position if oleomargarine is prohibited. It is the duty of the Govern-ernment to stand by the creameries and cheese factories throughout Canada which they have encouraged and in connection with which they have helped to establisn cold storage plants. Particularly should this be done at a time when the farmers of the country are having a hard struggle to

get along. The Government will be seriously blamed if they do not proceed as they should in this line.

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LIB

Lewis Herbert Martell

Liberal

Mr. MARTELL:

Down in Nova Scotia, particularly along the seashore, the people use molasses when they cannot get butter. Can my hon. friend tell me the relative value of molasses and oleomargarine?

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LIB

Willis Keith Baldwin

Liberal

Mr. BALDWIN:

I have sold molasses and I have sold oleomargarine. According to my observation, I should say that one pint of Barbados or fancy molasses contains more food value than a pound of oleomargarine. That reduces oleomargarine to a pretty low level.

We have had debates in this House and pretty strong arguments on this subject; I have had a little hand in them myself. But I never characterized oleomargarine as strongly as some of the members of the late Government did. They said it. was worse than soap, nothing but a mixture of grease. I do not intend to continue this debate or make it any worse than it is. I stand behind the Minister of Agriculture and I would guarante that every agricultural college in this country, every manager of an experimental farm, every man, in fact, who knows agriculture, would support this resolution.

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May 15, 1922