Mr. H. A. FORTIER (Labelle) (Translation) :
Mr. Speaker, I wish to briefly express my opinion in support of the proposed resolution for the prohibition of the sale of margarine in this country. I already had occasion, last session, to expound my reasons for opposing the manufacture and sale of this product. At each session, some member deems it his duty to introduce a resolution to prohibit such sale. That alone would suffice to show that such legislation is not sound, that the act which was passed some years ago, allowing the sale of this product, is unwarranted, and that there is no general wish for its maintenance, on the part of the people of this country. Such being the state of public opinion, it should be dispensed with.
I think the time has come,
since that legislation is about to lapse-to remind the
Government that it is the wish of our farming community, of our agricultural societies, of the settler and of the farmer, that the manufacture and sale of this product should become a thing of the past, as far as I am concerned, I do not think it should exist. In fact we are asking very little when we request that this transitory legislation, which is on the eve of lapsing, be discontinued; we ask for a return to the statu quo, we ask, on behalf of the farmers, the same legislation they had in former years.
Previous to the late war, which compelled us to enact special legislation in order to supply needs which circumstances required, we existed without this butter substitute, without this famous margarine which certain countries got in the way of consuming and that we always look upon with horror in this beautiful agricultural country. There is no reason whatever to maintain a product of this kind in Canada. Agriculture is the principal industry of the country, and we do not need, I repeat it, to have recourse to this detestable legislation which was enacted in times of hardship, to permit the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine.
You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that it was during the sad days of the great war, when we lacked sufficient products in this country to feed our own people, when the European markets were wide open to us, when our products were sought and sold at exceedingly high prices, it was then that it was considered expedient, but only for a limited time, to adopt transitory legislation, so as to allow for a year or two and no more, the sale of oleomargarine. On the eve of this act lapsing, the advisability of maintaining it was discussed in this House; there was then question of continuing it for two years; protests were voiced in this House; we did not want it maintained for the excellent reasons then brought to bear and which still hold good to-day, and we asked that, instead of enacting a new law for two years, it should be re-enacted for a year only. Presently the act will lapse and that will be the end of it.
We have nothing to ask for; we must simply abide by the acknowledged fact and let that enactment become null and void so as to return to normal times, those good times during which we lived (before the war, having none of these ephemeral laws, none of these makeshift enactments. Let us allow that legislation to lapse and we shall witness once more that heyday of prosperity we enjoyed before the war. We want no such legislation as existed these last years in order to bring back upon the market that substitute for butter which is not needed in this country, because we have that good farm product in such quantity and of such quality as will satisfy our needs'-in such large quantities as will allow us to place it upon foreign markets, and to let the whole world know the fair name of Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I regret that some honourable members should ask for the maintenance of such an enactment. I regret it, I say, because this is a time in the year when everything seems to get a new lease of life; the beautiful countryside is verdant once more, and in the fields the farmer's band throws out the prolific seed. The tiller needs encouragement and we, lawmakers, must not stand up and say to him that the most splendid product from his farm, the product of the dairy industry, will not have a free scope as formerly and that we shall have it compete with an inferior article. He needs encouragement, that farmer, when he holds in his hand and spreads the seeds of wheat which bring wealth to this country; he wants us to stand by him and support him in that most important dairy industry, and tell him: Now, farmer, carry on as in the past.
The dairy industry is still the greatest source of wealth in our land. It is that industry we are developing in this country and in my beloved province of Quebec, where our public men have devoted the best part of their time towards securing the success of an industry that has built up Quebec's reputation. It is to that industry that have devoted themselves men like the present minister of agriculture in that province, the Hon. Mr. Caron, a model farmer, who has favoured it with all his might, all his heiart, who has brought it to a high degree of perfection and who wishes that it be the foremost in his province. Were we to tell him: You have followed the wrong path; on that industry we shall graft as a rival a substitute for butter, we shall place upon our market, upon the table of our fellow-citizens that substitute for butter which is called oleomargarine and have it to compete with that splendid product. Such a course would be an unfortunate (blunder on the part of this House. We ought to look after the farmer and encourage him. The farmer was the pioneer in our country. He certainly deserves our support and the best encouragement we could give him would be
to repeal such, an enactment which opens our markets to oleomargarine as well as to butter.