If that is the case, I really think we had better proceed with the discussion now. I do not wish to insist on that, but I think that a bill framed on this resolution would be totally inadequate to meet the situation.
That no person shall sell or offer for sale any potatoes in any package in which the faced or shown surface gives a false representation of the contents of such package, that is when more than ten per centum of such potatoes are substantially smaller in size than, or inferior in grade to the faced or shown surface; and no person shall sell or offer for sale any potatoes so diseased or otherwise depreciated as to render them unfit for consumption.
This provision applies when more than ten per cent of such potatoes are substantially smaller in size or inferior in grade to the faced or shown surface. According to this bill the size is an indication of quality; evidently the larger they are the better the quality. Because the section states that if they are 10 per cent smaller in size than the face shows they are not up to grade. Last fall in the province of New Brunswick, in certain fields, the potatoes grew so large that the market would not take the large ones although they were sound and nice looking tubers. I know of one grower of potatoes who had as high as four barrels culled out of a load of sixteen barrels all over size, and he had to take them back because the market would not accept them. Yet
according to this bill those big potatoes would be the standard for quality-potatoes that our market would not take at all. It is a good thing for the Government to act in this matter and I am pleased that it is moving in this direction. I think, however, that in a proper grading act we should set up some standard for each grade. For instance, in our province we have graders with a wire mesh by means of which we grade potatoes in three different sizes. Any potato that will not go through a mesh of 11 or 11 inches-I am not absolutely sure of the size-grades as No. 1 provided it is sound, free from blemish and so on. What goes through all inch mesh but will not go through a 11 inch mesh grades as No. 2, and what goes through a li inch mesh grades as No. 3. But in this resolution there is no definition of grade. As to size the resolution indicates that the bigger the potatoes the better the quality, which is not the fact. Another objection I see to it is this-
contains all the principles but not the details. The bill itself is quite extensive. The main principles of the bill with regard to the regulation of trade, are incorporated in the resolution, but the bill itself is more detailed, and that is inevitable.
Just one other point I would like to mention in connection with this matter, and I will not detain the House very long. Can the minister tell me if it is proposed to make the grades conform to the grades in the United States7
I suppose I might as well cease the discussion now until I have a copy of the bill and have had a chance to look it over because it is an important matter and one in which I am interested, and I know something of the necessity for grading. I would also like to impress on the minister that I think it is absolutely necessary that any vegetable grading, especially for potatoes, should conform very closely if not absolutely to the
grades in the United States, because I think the time is not far distant when we shall market our potatoes in that country again.
I think you are absolutely unsound in prescribing the size of the barrel. In New Brunswick we haul potatoes to the local shipper in barrels. This bill would penalize a farmer for hauling his potatoes to market in barrels which were not of the regulation size. In New Brunswick we do not buy any potato barrels, but we buy our fertilizer in barrels, and those barrels are of various sizes. This bill would compel the farmer to throw away hundreds of barrels which he has at the present time, and which he uses for hauling his potatoes to the market. We sell potatoes by the barrel because barrels are convenient to handle and haul, and lift on to the cars, and so on. I do not wish to discuss this matter at any length. I hope I shall be able to attend the meetings of the committee when it sits, although I have two or three other committees to attend that are sitting at the present time.
There is another provision I wish to draw attention to, contained in Section 3. That section reads as follows:
That whenever any potatoes in any package are found so packed that the face or shown surface gives a false representation of the contents of the package, any inspector may confiscate such package which may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of as the minister may direct; and whenever any potatoes in any package are found to be falsely marked, the said inspector may mark the same "below grade" or efface such false marks and place the proper grade marks thereon; and the inspector shall give notice to the packer within twenty-four hours, of his action in regard thereto.
Now this resolution, and I presume the bill to be founded on it will follow it very closely, provides that if ten per cent of the potatoes in the package, below the surface, are under that surface size then the inspector may confiscate and destroy that package. It might well happen that on the surface of that package there would be these large potatoes that I have spoken of and that the market does not desire at all. The rest of the package may be of a smaller size than those on the surface and still be of better value. Yet with respect to that package of potatoes-it may even be a carload-the inspector is given absolute authority to confiscate and
destroy it. I have no objection to the confiscation and destruction of potatoes that are unfit for food; but here the result may be the destruction of potatoes of good quality and grade. I am offering these suggestions to the minister so that in framing the bill he may overcome some of the objections enumerated. I do not believe in giving authority to any inspector to confiscate and destroy another man's property unless it would be unsafe to put that man's goods on the market as food.
The provision does look a little severe but there has been so much humbugging in regard to the packing of potatoes and apples that some action was called for. I am sure my hon. friends from the prairies who have bought apples in barrels have often discovered the fact that the apples on the top were very much superior to those lower down. I am not familiar with the practice of selling potatoes in barrels; but in this case it is not so much a question of big potatoes as it is a question of their quality. There may be nice potatoes on the top of the barrel and smaller potatoes in the bottom. You can plug a barrel of potatoes in the same manner as you car. plug a barrel of apples. In regard to the matter of confiscation, unless you have a provision with teeth in it, it will not bite, that is all there is to it. I am a little bit familiar with provincial laws with regard to this matter. It looks a little severe, but, in the working out of it, there is no injustice. I might call attention to the act regarding fruit marks and fruit packages. One does not require a long memory to recall the day when there was no Fruit Marking Act. It was simply scandalous, and it can be improved a lot yet. However, it has been substantially improved since the following clause was inserted in the act.
All packages of fruit not branded or marked in accordance with such regulations shall he forfeited to His Majesty, and may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of as the minister may direct.
That is pretty hard. The act was amended in 1907, 1908, 1912 and 1913; so that that provision has been there since 1913. There have been only two prosecutions under that clause, and they were such flagrant violations of the law that I asked Mr. Baxter, the fruit commissioner who recently left us, in regard to them. He told me there were two prosecutions, and that both had a very salutary effect.
Without the law, he could not have had the prosecutions. I do not think any inspector with any common sense-and if he has no common sense, he will not be in the position long-is going to worry the life out of people by prosecutions, unless he has substantial reasons. If he exercises his power indiscreetly, we will get rid of him. These prosecutions will have a salutary effect. We already have this power in regard to apples, and we are now adopting it in regard to potatoes. Can hon. gentlemen see any more danger in the provision in regard to potatoes than there would be in regard to apples? All law must be administered with a reasonable amount of common sense, sound judgment and discretion. If a man tried to make trouble, of course, he could make all kinds of trouble. With regard to the size of the barrels, anybody who has ever sold potatoes in any kind of packages, knows that they vary in weight just as wheat varies, but to say that the package shall hold so many pounds of potatoes-
I will take that up with my staff. I can imagine that, with some kinds of potatoes, you would not be able to get the required weight in the package. We are trying to sell by weight, and it is thought this barrel will hold, with any reasonable kind of potato, the required amount. With regard to section two, it will be noticed that it provides for certain exemptions. Certain kinds of early potatoes come here before our own potatoes are ready for use. They are undersized potatoes, only partly matured. These would not qualify under the act, and are allowed to come in without being graded. There are certain other grades allowed to come in without being graded, because you cannot test them with the eye. You must have a test for fungus development in those potatoes, to see that there is no fungus disease, but not a chemical test. There are a number of exemptions of that nature. But I will not take up the question of the barrel now, because I do not feel any too sure about it. I frankly admit I do not know anything about it, but if we are going to designate it either by pounds or cubic inches, I rather think cubic inches is the preferable method.