June 23, 1922


Hon. W. R. MOTHERWELL (Minister of Agriculture) moved the third reading of Bill No. 133 to regulate the sale and inspection of root vegetables.


PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

The minister promised to give some consideration as to the last section of that bill, which provided for repealing part of an old act, which I urged upon him should not be done at this time. I hope he will allow Section 22 of the old act to stand.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

When this bill was in committee I promised that I would not ask for its third reading until two sections were further explained. The first of these was Section 13, as to the meaning of which there was some doubt. I find that the meaning is just as I intimated yesterday, namely, that all potatoes and roots shall be sold by the pound with the two exceptions stated here, that is, green vegetables and potatoes sold by the closed barrel. I think that is quite satisfactory, as the cubic capacity of the barrel is designated. With regard to Clause 2 referred to by my hon. friend from Victoria and Carleton (Mr. Caldwell), if it were cut out we would have four different acts

Oleomargarine

dealing with this question, which would be an impossible situation. The very passing of this legislation necessitates the repeal of parts of three other acts. Consequently this section should remain. I think the bill is all right as it stands, and I would therefore move that it now be read the third time.

Topic:   SALE AND INSPECTION OF ROOT VEGETABLES
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An hon. MEMBER:

What is the reason for this?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Complaint has been made that when a customer goes to buy a small quantity of vegetables and they are not sold by weight he does not know what he is getting. A bag of potatoes is usually looked upon as containing 90 pounds, but in some cities an 80 pound bag is recognized.

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

I agree with the minister that this cuts out Section 22 which states that 60 pounds of potatoes is a bushel. I asked the minister last night if it would not be possible to have this still apply to local sales. I do not think that would affect the present act, otherwise I would not suggest it.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I would remind the hon. member that the committee stage is now passed. The only question that can now be raised is whether or not the bill should be recommitted and a motion would have to be made to that effect. I mention this simply to point out that hon. members may speak only once on the third reading; there can be no discursive arguments as in the committee stage.

Motion agreed to and bill read the third time and passed.

Topic:   SALE AND INSPECTION OF ROOT VEGETABLES
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OLEOMARGARINE ACT, 1914, AMENDMENT


Hon. W. R. MOTHERWELL (Minister of Agriculture) moved the second reading of Bill No. 194, to amend the The Oleomargarine Act, 1919.


CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DONALD SUTHERLAND (South Oxford) :

Mr. Speaker, I fully expected that the Minister of Agriculture Mr. Motherwell) would say something before the bill received its second reading. This is the only opportunity we shall have of discussing the merits of the bill. I did hope, when the second reading of the bill was adjourned last night that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) would be present on the occasion of the second reading, in view of the attitude he took a year ago and also when the resolution was before the House.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

That was not the reason given by my hon. friend last night.

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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

No; I have not had an opportunity of looking over the bill since. The bill contains nothing but a provision for a continuance of the regulations for another year-the regulations being, I assume, those that were in existence a year ago. I can see in my mind's eye the Minister of Agriculture standing up last night, waving this bill before the House, and characterizing it as a "rotten old bill," on which the House was asked to vote. Now, it is going pretty far for the Government to ask Parliament to adopt a measure which is characterized by the mover of it as a "rotten old bill". It is pretty nearly the border-line of anything that has ever happened before in Parliament.

Now, 1 am not going to take up very much of the time of the House to-night because this matter-

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

My hon. friends to my left applaud that statement, and well .they might, in view of the assertion made by their leader last night that ever since this bill came before Parliament it was the sense of Parliament that the provision should be made permanent. It was upon the recommendation of the hon. leader of the Progressive party that the measure was by Order in Council adapted in the first instance. At the next session Parliament was told clearly and distinctly that the measure was a temporary one, necessitated by the exigencies of the war. At the next session the same thing was repeated, and on that occasion I predicted that this procedure would continue for a little while and eventually we would be asked to make this a permanent measure.

Now, I am inclined to agree with the Minister of Agriculture in what he stated last night in regard to the dairying industry. Any one who has looked over the returns of the imports into this country during 1914 and throughout the last few years cannot but be alarmed by the extent to which we are to-day buying our d'airy products from foreign countries, particularly from the United States. Only an hour or two ago we passed a provision under the budget proposals exempting from sales and inland revenue taxation all ingredients that enter into the manufacture of this article. The Minister of Finance states that this is a legitimate article of food and that it in no way interferes with

Oleomargarine

the dairying industry. My contention all along was that oleomargarine as manufactured in this country is not oleomargarine at all but is simply a process by which butter is adulterated by the addition thereto of cheap ingredients by the manufacturers. The manufacturers of this product receive an advantage over any other class of manufacturers in this country. They alone are permitted to adulterate butter- and there are strict regulations in regard to the manufacture of butter in this country, the result being that those who buy butter know what they are purchasing. This article of food, if it is as good as they say it is, what harm would be done if there was stamped upon the containers in which it is put up a statement giving the proportions of the different ingredients entering into its manufacture, so that the purchaser might know what he was paying for? That, would be a reasonable thing to do, and would bring no hardship to anybody. I believe that the Government are determined to put this measure through this session, and I advise them to consider this suggestion. It is done in connection with many other commodities under the Pure Foods Act; it is done in the case of patent medicines and it is done in the case of fertilizers. I believe greater fraud is being perpetrated on the people of this country in regard to this article of food than is the case with any other product. Why was it that last year we lost $200,000 of revenue collected in the form of duty but refunded to the two manufacturers of this article, at a time when the resources of our country are strained as they are? That is something I quite fail to understand, particularly in view of the fact that nearly all this stuff comes from the United States. There is a measure before the United 'States Senate to-day the object of which is to place a duty upon oleomargarine and all butter substitutes, as well as butter itself, to the extent of 8 cents a pound. That is practically a prohibition on our butter; it will not now be able to find a market in the United States; yet you are going to permit all these raw materials to be brought into Canada and to enter into competition with a Canadian industry that is struggling for existence. I ask, is that fair? I would like the minister to consider the advisability of incorporating in his regulations some such provision as they have in the United States and in other countries-because a tax of ten cents a pound is imposed on oleomargarine manufactured in the United States if it is coloured to look like butter.

In order to protect the people of that country it was found necessary to impose a tax of quarter of a cent of a pound on the stuff. We are told that this is the only country where this article of food' is subject to such stringent regulations. I made the statement when the resolution -was before the House that the manufacturers of oleomargarine in this country enjoy greater privilege and greater freedom in the manufacture of this stuff than anywhere else in the world. They are in absolute control of the situation. It is true that some veterinary inspectors are appointed to look after the manufacture of this article in the packing houses, but I do not know that a veterinarian is a very competent judge of what should constitute food for human consumption. He may be able to treat animals for disease, or a dog for fleas or something of that kind, but I do not think he is a competent man to judge whether an article is fit for human consumption. We have a department of Health, and I cannot understand why this article has not been referred to them long ago for analysis, to find out just what it consists of. We are giving the manufacturers all these liberties-I see some hon. gentlemen opposite smiling, among them the Minister of Trade and Commerce, who loudly denounced this iniquitous measure a year ago. I remember how he denounced it as an injustice to the dairying interests of this country.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

I remember very well my hon. friend's speech of last year in opposition to this measure. Will he say that he voted against it when it came to a vote?

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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

I certainly did,

and I moved an amendment. The chairman of the Agricultural Committee also loudly denounced this measure, yet to-day he is absolutely willing to let it go through without a protest. What a change in hon. gentlemen opposite since they have taken seats on the right hand of the Speaker. The hon. member for Joliette also denounced this measure, as well as many other hon. members opposite who are now willing to let it pass without a protest.

Under the conditions that prevail in this country we are asked to continue this measure for another year. That is the very thing the Minister of Finance denounced last year. He said the measure should be made permanent. Yet now he is willing to have it extended for another year. Apparently this is a compromise,

Oleomargarine

and I am afraid that it is the Progressive party who are dictating the policy of today. I cannot understand the present attitude of the Minister of Finance and of the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, and of the hon. member for Glengarry (Mr. Kennedy), who also denounced this measure strongly last year. Yet his voice is silent now. I do not intend to move an amendment to-night.

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LIB

Lewis Herbert Martell

Liberal

Mr. MARTELL:

I voted against the resolution, but as it passed, does not my hon. friend think it is a waste of time to be opposing this measure now?

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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

My hon. friend

is very anxious to save time when it suits his purpose.

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LIB
CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

I would suggest to the minister that perhaps he may see fit to incorporate in the bill when we go into committee the resolution that I moved a year ago, which reads:

Section seven of the said act is amended 'by adding thereto the following words "and are also marked or labelled with a statement of the ingredients and the iproport'cn of each ingredient used 'in making the oleomargarine contained therein".

This I think would [DOT] overcome all objection to the measure, because I am not, and never have been, arguing against the exclusion of oleomargarine or the prohibition of its manufacture in this country, but under present conditions I think it is a very short-sighted and foolish policy for this Government to permit the bulk of this stuff to be brought in here from the United States and be manufactured in the two large packing houses which are carrying on the business in this country, in competition with the products of those who are very seriously handicapped by the conditions I have referred to.

Comparing 1914 with 1922, in 1914 there were 91,900 pounds of butter imported into Canada. During last year there was imported into Canada from Great Britain 2,163,984 pounds of butter. There was also imported from the United States 1,100,781 pounds more than was imported in 1914.

I have very imperfectly endeavoured to point out the most objectionable features of this measure. This stuff is not being used as a spread for bread, as most people contend. We have the statement of the head of the Dairy Branch of the Department of Agriculture that over fifty per cent of this stuff is used for shortening and

cooking purposes. I pointed out last night, and I may as well refer to it again, that there were 41,102,118 pounds of butter, lard, and oleomargarine and lard compounds imported into this country free of duty and free of sales tax. Yet we heard the Minister of Justice claiming in this House the other day that the Liberal party was a free trade party, but that they were in favour of maintaining a reasonable amount of protection for the industries of this country. Those were not his exact words, but that was the only implication they carried, and I have no doubt that was the impression he desired to leave on the House. In the face of that statement, this stuff is coming in to-day absolutely free from the sales tax or restrictions of any kind, and at the same time it is handicapping and discouraging agriculture at a time when it needs encouragement more than ever from the hands of the Government.

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June 23, 1922