May 15, 1922

UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. ALFRED SPEAKMAN (Red Deer) :

Mr. Speaker, I would not get up at this time of the night were it not to correct one slight misconception which apparently exists in some parts of the House, and that is that this resolution is only being opposed by those who are not dairymen-bv those farmers who are wheat raisers and by other people who know nothing of the difficulties involved in getting up early in the morning and getting out at night to milk cows.

Topic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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LIB
UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

I was not referring to the hon. member. He is supporting the resolution. I am sorry to have to disagree for once in the whole of this session with my hon. friend and neighbour from Strathcona (Mr. Warner), but as I come from very much the same sort of constituency of small mixed farms, I thought it would be well to show that even the men from those constituencies were not unanimous on this question any more than any other party or group in this House. I am not going at all into the question of the food value or wholesomeness of oleomargarine as that has been

Oleomargarine

pretty well covered. I have never eaten oleomargarine, to my knowledge, and I know nothing whatever about it, but I want to look at the question from two angles.

In the first place, if oleomargarine is a good food, and I at least am convinced by the weight of evidence that it is a good and wholesome food when manufactured and sold under proper supervision, and if it is sold as oleomargarine and not as butter, and I believe with proper supervision and inspection that can be done, then the question simply is this: Will it ruin the dairy industry? That is not the only question but it is one. I do not believe it will. I do not believe that oleomargarine is going to be a factor which will enter very seriously into competition with the genuine dairy article. What do the sales of oleomargarine during the last year prove? They prove that oleomargarine is sold only when the price of butter is so high that a great number of the common consumers cannot buy it, and that when butter gets down to the point where the average man can afford it, he buys butter, and the sales of oleomargarine fall off accordingly. That is amply proved by the manufacture and import figures during the last three or four years. Taking that into consideration, I cannot agree with the idea that oleomargarine will enter so seriously into competition with the dairy industry as to put it out of business.

Topic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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PRO

Daniel Webster Warner

Progressive

Mr. WARNER:

Does the hon. member think I claimed we would be put out of business?

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

I was not really

answering the hon. member for Strathcona, but rather the definite trend of argument that had permeated the whole of this debate, not the argument of any one in particular. I think there was no doubt what the trend of the debate was. It was that the dairying industry would either be put out of business or be seriously hampered in its development. I contend that the point has not been proved that it would ibe either.

There is one point that has been raised by those opposing the manufacture and importation of oleomargarine with which I have some sympathy, that is, if it were proven, that oleomargarine was detrimental to the growing generation, if it could be proved that it was an unsuitable food for children, and that it lacked the necessary elements which go to produce healthy children, growing into strong adults. If

it were nothing but a question between these children eating butter and eating oleomargarine there would be a great deal of weight in that, but it is a question of eating oleomargarine or dry bread in a great many cases. If the butter is within their reach, they will buy it. If they cannot buy butter, where does the force of that argument come in? Because I contend that any kind of fat, animal or vegetable grease, on bread makes a better balanced ration than bread alone. From the point of view of the health of the children, I do not think that point is well taken. That is all I intend to say on that.

I just wish to take a little exception to some things that have been said in regard to the protective element in this measure. To my mind, there can be no difficulty in deciding that it is protection. It is intended for protection. It is intended to enable the dairyman to sell his butter for a better price than he could otherwise obtain. It is intended to restrict the use of other things that might enter into competition with butter, and so enable him to control the market.

Topic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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LIB

Lucien Cannon

Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

If that is so, what is

the difference between the dairyman's claim and the claim made by the western farmer for a wheat board?

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

I was rather expecting that question, and as a matter of fact, I intended to touch on it. I think myself there is all the difference in the world. What are the farmers asking for in asking for a wheat board? What is their idea in connection with a wheat board? Their idea is this: they have come to the conclusion, and I would not support the demand if I had not also come to the conclusion, that a wheat board would not increase the cost of bread to the consumer, that it would not entail one dollar of expense to the people, to come out of taxation. Granted these two points, it is simply a demand from the raisers of the wheat themselves, from those who would come under compulsion, that they be permitted to market their grain as they choose.

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LIB

Lucien Cannon

Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

How could the grain

grower get more and the consumer pay less, or, at all events, not any more than he is now paying?

Mr. -SPEAKMAN: [DOT] I am afraid at a quarter past twelve there is hardly time for me to enter into the merits of the wheat board, especially as that subject

Oleomargarine

may come up later, but I would say this, if I can give the information in two minutes time, that as a rule what the consumer pays depends on the price of flour, and the price of flour does not follow the price of wheat in its fluctuations up and down. When the price of wheat goes down, the price of flour may go down also, hut a long way after, and when the price of wheat goes up, the price of flour goes up with it. But that question will come up later, and my friend will no doubt get all the information then that this side of the House can give. i

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LIB
UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

I have pretty nearly lost my trend of my argument with having to think of the wheat board. I was speaking of the proposal contained in the resolution before the House as a form of protection. As 1 say, I cannot exactly understand how it can be looked upon in any other light. If, like my hon. friend from Strathcona, I could honestly see the matter in any other light than protection, my difficulties would largely disappear; but like himself I have to consider the question in the light of my own reason, and reach my own conclusions. I have to act, speak and vote in the light of those conclusions, and I cannot see that it is anything else but protection in its most violent and most aggravated form, because it simply is intended to enable the dairymen to control the market by cutting out any possibility of competition-along this line at least. Now as to that-

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CON

John Lawrence Stansell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STANSWELL:

How can we control the market when we already produce more than that market can take and have to export the surplus?

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

I would ask my hon. friend how the manufacturers of any article can control the market for home consumption when they are sending exports abroad? If they can shut out competition in the home market in any line they can control that home market to a certain extent, no matter what they are selling abroad, and to the extent they succeeded in shutting out anything which might come into competition with butter they would expect an increase in the price of that butter. That I contend is absolutely protection. Because of that; because I have taken the ground always, and because the men whom I represent, who are dairymen very largely, have taken the ground always,

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that giving any one part of the population a privilege which is not accorded to all the population, that benefitting one portion of the population at the expense of the rest of the population, is bad business, I think I am perfectly consistent in opposing this resolution, and in advocating unrestricted trade as far as this particular article is concerned.

Topic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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LIB
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Question, question.

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CON

Thomas Joseph Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. J. STEWART (West Hamilton):

I think it only right for me to read a resolution on this subject which has been adopted by the Local Council of Women, Hamilton. The letter forwarding the resolution says:

You will find enclosed a copy of the resolution passed by the Hamilton Local Council of Women re-oleomargarine. When this subject comes up in the House, the Women's Council will appreciate if you will present their*1 views on this subject as stated.

The resolution itself reads:

Considering that oleomargarine has proved its worth in food value, and that it is a legitimate article of commerce, this organization of women urgently requests that the ban against oleomargarine be lifted for all time.

I wish to say that I think hon. members will agree with me that women are much better judges of the effect of oleomargarine on their children, and that more than ordinary value should be attached to a resolution of this kind1 coming from such a source. Now in the city which I have the honour to represent, 85, if not 95, per cent of the people are in favour of the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine in Canada, although probably not more than 5 or 10 per cent of the citizens use that commodity to-day. The reason for such a large preponderance of opinion in favour of oleomargarine is that the popular sympathy goes out to the class of people who find it very difficult to provide adequately for their families at the present time when work is so very scarce. The majority of people are, therefore, very willing that the use of oleomargarine should continue, because the poor people who benefit by its use are unable to buy butter for their children. In many cases women have told me their hearts bled for poor children who longed for butter but could not obtain it, but for whom oleomargarine proved a fairly satisfactory substitute. The evidence given against oleomargarine has not -been very

Oleomargarine

strong; the reasons against its use exist largely in the imagination of the speakers who have opposed it. What adequate reason exists for depriving of oleomargarine these poor children whose parents cannot afford to buy 'butter? I think we should be acting very cruelly towards that class of people if we were to adopt this resolution, and I shall vote against it.

Topic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. W. C. GOOD (Brant):

I would not rise at this hour if it were not to say a word or two in reply to the statement that has been made by several speakers that this is not a form of protection. I wish to distinctly state that I regard it as a very positive and aggravated form of protection. If we are going to prohibit the importation and manufacture of oleomargarine why should we not do the same in the case of lard, crisco, domestic shortening or anything else that, in any conceivable way, may be made a substitute for butter? It seems to me that the Minister of Agriculture ^Mr. Motherwell) in referring to renovated butter made out no case for the support of the resolution, but rather presented very strong reasons for the establishment of conditions in Canada permitting the renovation of butter, and I am entirely in agreement with him in that regard.

I would also say that the case he made out with regard to filled milk is no argument in favour of the proposed resolution, but rather an argument in favour of the consideration of the question of whether or not it would be wise to permit the use of that article.

I do not wish to say anything more at this late hour. I shall vote against the resolution, and I might say that in that connection, that I have also had a great deal of experience in dairying in a practical way, and it has never changed my opinion one whit in regard to the principles involved in this particular resolution.

Topic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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LIB
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Question, question.

Topic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member who moved the resolution is now about to conclude the debate. If any other hon. gentleman has anything to say he should speak now.

Topic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Close it up

quickly.

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May 15, 1922