June 22, 1922

PRO
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not doubt at all that his mind leans in the direction that he has expressed here. He must remember, however, that this subject has been discussed by the highest authorities in political economy and government the world over, and I do not think he will find any authority on British history and British constitutional government, who

Oleomargarine

will ratify the idea that he seeks to convey tonight, or say that it is practicable under our system of government.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
Permalink
PRO

Robert Alexander Hoey

Progressive

Mr. HOEY:

Can my hon. friend give me any writer, or any authority, that ha? dealt with the question of cabinet solidarity in a House constituted as this House is with the government in the minority?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

No. Most governments in a minority are not governments at all; we have very much that spectacle here.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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PRO
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not know that they have to be. If a government is in a minority, or feels that it is in a minority and has not the confidence of the House, it is the business of that government to resign. Then it is the business of the Governor General or the King, as the case may be, to call upon that one next entitled to be called to see if a new government can be formed. If we do not pursue that course here, we depart from a principle without which we cannot obtain constitutional government at all.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Who would His Excellency call on in this case?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It is not my part to suggest that. I wish to keep within my own functions, and I would like the government to keep within theirs and not run away.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Would you like to suggest an election?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The Government is virtually standing up and asserting "We are so helpless, we are so powerless, that we ask that the ordinary constitutional principles be abandoned. We ask that we be mere clerks of the House of Commons; we ask that we do not have the responsibilities of government at all; we ask that we be allowed to sit here and ask Parliament, by a vote, to decide what we ought to do as a government. We will be good enough to take that down, and we will be good enough to carry it out and draw $10,000 a year each to do it." You cannot carry on government that way and no one knows it better than the Minister of Militia and Defence (Mr. Graham) ; you cannot maintain the authority of government throughout the country that way. Parliament has its functions of course. Has the British parliament for the last five centuries had no functions? Has it none to-day? It is merely an automaton? The minister knows better. Parliament's function comes after the government has declared its course on matters of government policy. Parliament has ito functions to review this. It may not be that on matters of no great consequence hon. members will feel that they do their duty by adhering to the government plan as brought down, although they may differ from it in detail and though they may consider it a matter of no great consequence, and may think it would be better to support it rather than to vote the other way. It may be that will result; that has always resulted; that has in no way been a weak feature of the British constitution; but it will be a disastrous thing if governments are to be relieved of responsibility for coming forward with definite principles as to government policy, submitting those principles to parliament for parliament's approval or disapproval, and taking the constitutional consequences of their own action. If the hon. member Mr. Crerar) looks with sympathy, or looks with leniency, upon the present course then he just absolves the government from all constitutional consequences and he will get just the kind of government that that action merits. Does he not want to keep responsible government? Surely responsible government is something that is worth preserving.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I do not propose to take up the time of the House. The discussion is really out of order, but it deals with a fundamental question. My right hon. friend has made his appeal to political economy, constitutional history and constitutional law. I do not think that political economy has anything to do with the matter but I would say this: The whole evolution of constitutional government has been that it is gradually subjecting the executive to the will of Parliament and there is an effort to make Parliament more and more an expression of the will of the people. I contend that is exactly what we are attempting to do to-day and if it means further evolution in giving expression to the constitutional rights of the people we will continue to do all that we can to develop that evolution.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I will not let the Prime Minister put me in the position of saying that a government is not answerable or subject to the will of parliament. Undoubtedly it is subject to the will of parliament expressed at the proper time.

Ole omar garble

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

How do you know the will of parliament if you do not listen to it?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

After the government has brought down its proposals to Parliament it can listen to the will of Parliament. Governments run in a constitutional manner have always done that.

1 a.m. I would like the Prime Minister to give me an instance in British constitutional history where any government on a matter of governmental policy-fails to come to parliament with its proposals but instead comes and says "We ask you to discuss it and tell us what to do" and then submits its proposals to parliament. I do not think he will get an instance of that ever being done. How can it be done? If it is you will get just what we are getting now: A minister rising in his place and sponsoring a measure with which he has declared himself to be not in sympathy, and which he declares to be damaging to interests that he is bound to protect. Surely that is not in the interest of constitutional government. It cannot proceed, and I want to warn the Government that it cannot proceed. The spirit of the country will not permit it to proced. Certainly the government is subject to the will of Parliament, but the will of Parliament is expressed after the government performs its constitutional function.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

It was not the Government or any member of the Government that brought this matter before the House in the first instance; it was the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill), a member of the Progressive party, and I supported it just as heartily and as strongly as I knew how. The whips were off; the vote was a "free-for-all", and everybody took his course. We are now carrying out the wish of this Parliament as expressed by that vote; there is no other course to take. The leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) is expressing anxiety about my so-called lamentable condition in changing my attitude. The only offence I have committed that I know of, that is unpardonable, is that I was found on the same platform with my right hon. friend on the matter of the Wheat Board.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I did not know that.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I was charged with a grievous offence, and I think the term "voluntary wheat board" will be an offensive term for many a year because of

my hon. friend's advocacy of it, spoiling it for anybody else to carry out such a proposition. There is only one thing to do. I may say further, with regard to the question why we did not bring down a permanent bill, that every member of the Government has been as busy as nails during the past five months, and we have not had time to bring down a proper oleomargarine bill. We are just extending the period provided for by the old bill. If there is to be permanent legislation, I want first of all to acquaint myself with a proper analysis of oleomargarine as we have it in this country. We have had before this House evidence indicating that it was more nutritious and also evidence indicating that it was less nutritious than butter. I want to know which is the fact and other conditions in connection with oleomargarine before a permanent bill is brought down if that is found to be desirable. I want time during the recess to find out if it is desirable to bring down a bill, and, in that event, to know exactly what I am doing. That I could not know at the short time at my disposal. Hence, I bring down this rotten old bill that my hon. friends have passed on three or four occasions.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

I am glad that I am in no way responsible for the present situation. For a minister to get up and advocate the adoption of a measure when he knows it is a rotten old bill, I can only attribute that to the effect of this nut oil that has been coming into this country during the past two years to be mixed up with this stuff. Undoubtedly we have a peculiar situation in this country at the present time, and it must be due to some influence that we have had in years gone by. Only a few minutes ago we were putting through budget resolutions exempting materials which are imported from the United States for the manufacture of this article. These things are exempted from any tax, and practically all things that go into this article come from the United States. This is my chief objection. Personally, I am not opposed to the importation or the manufacture of oleomargarine in this country, and I never have been. I have always made that quite clear; but I want that to be put on the same basis as that on which other commodities are placed. It is quite true that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding), after a good deal of pressure and urging has been brought to bear upon him, has consented to exempt dairying products in the form

Oleomargarine

of condensed milk and cream and powdered milk from the effect of the sales tax. Why should this oleomargarine and all the ingredients that are imported from the United States be permitted to come into this country free from duty and free from a sales tax? It may he somewhat interesting in view of the tariff which has been enacted against our exports into the United States to know that practically all the ingredients that go into this stuff come from the United States. I know that some hon. member will say that this affords a splendid market for our oleo oil and things of that kind. The percentage of Canadian oleo oil has never yet been given in this House; but I will point out the quantity that was imported from the United States during eleven months of the past year.

Pounds

Lard, compound 335,161

Oleo oil 1,731,005

Cottonseed oil 348,583

Cocoanut oil 219,132

This is where the troublesome feature of the disturbing element comes from today:

Pounds

Peanut oil 125.889

Butter oil 823,558

'Salt 279,634

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) consents to imposing a duty of 71 cents per hundred pounds on importations of the salt, that the dairyman uses in this country. Yet this article was exempted from taxation and last year 279,634 pounds of salt were imported free of duty. This makes a total of 3,862,962 pounds. It is true a duty was collected on these articles when they came in, but 99 per cent of it was rebated. Last year, as the minister himself so eloquently put the matter at the meeting of the Livestock Association at Toronto, the Canadian dairy cow could not compete with the packing company. Last year two of these packing companies, on the ingredients upon which the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) refuses to impose a sales tax, received a rebate in the customs duty of $180,944 that should have gone into the Canadian treasury. I would ask the minister if he considers this is fair treatment to a legitimate and old-established industry in this country. Dairying has been carrying on under great difficulties, and at no other time has it been carried on under greater difficulties than exist to-day. Yet all these favours are being shown to these substitutes for butter, and we find even under those conditions,

during the past year, there was imported into this country from Great Britain 2,036,471 pounds of butter. This all came in free of any sales tax. From the United States, we imported 1,332,210 pounds of butter without any sales tax imposed on it. The United States have put up an absolutely prohibitive tariff against our dairy products going into that country. I wonder why an industry such as the dairying industry should be selected to be compelled to compete in this way under this unfair treatment which is being meted out by the Government. I fail to understand why this should be the case in view of the complaints that are being received from every part of the country that we cannot keep on the farm the boys or the people who have been brought up in the rural districts. Is it any wonder that that should be the case, when you find that the industry in which they are engaged is singled out in this way and receives such scant consideration at the hands of the Government?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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LIB

Harold Putnam

Liberal

Mr. PUTNAM:

Does the hon. gentleman know any mode by which we can, prevent the recurrence of an annual debate on this question?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

Yes, it could easily be prevented if the Government had backbone and courage enough to take a stand and either make the law permanent or abolish it entirely.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   OLEOMARGARINE
Permalink

June 22, 1922