June 12, 1925

LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Does my hon. friend suggest that he is not surprised at my approval of the bill, while he is at the approval of my colleague?

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PRO

Arthur John Lewis

Progressive

Mr. LEWIS:

I am not surprised at what any person would do who comes from the province of Quebec, because there they have

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unrestricted freedom; they do not believe in prohibition of any kind. It is easy, therefore, to understand the psychology of people who come from that province. On the other hand, I do not like to think that the success of our agricultural fairs should depend upon an exemption from certain penalty clauses in the Criminal Code. I think we sometimes go too far in regard to restrictive legislation and that sometimes far worse evils creep in. But I would like to see people so much interested in agriculture and the products of agriculture that it would not be necessary to draw in those who are interested only in the games of chance. The only wlay agriculture can pay is to have it put on a fair footing; then we will not have to adopt these roundabout methods of inveigling money from the people in order to assist the finances of agricultural fairs. At the same time I do not see why the fairs in our small villages and towns should be seriously handicapped iby not having these things, particularly when the people see them at ordinary exhibitions, and for that reason I am not going to vote against the amendment,

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LIB

Pius Michaud

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

Does my hon. friend think that the people of Quebec are not as moral as .those of any other province? I understood him to say that they were taking a great deal of freedom.

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PRO

Arthur John Lewis

Progressive

Mr. LEWIS:

No, I did not say anything about the morality of any people. I said I was not surprised at the attitude of the Minister of Justice, because in that province they believe in unrestricted freedom and not in prohibition of any kind.

DVCr. LEADER: I have had some experience in connection with agricultural- exhibitions and TTcnow something of the difficulties they have to labour under. I want it distinctly understood that I am opposed to gambling in every shape or form.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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PRO

Harry Leader

Progressive

Mr. LEADER:

But I would not wish to

impose my views upon others, and I know there are many people in Canada who do not think as I do with regard to gambling. I wish to support the Minister of Agriculture in this amendment, for this reason, if for no other: that these harmless games are now carried on in any case at every little fair in western Canada, against the law. I would rather see the law complied with than violated; therefore I think we should permit these games at the fairs, with the elimination of those of the most vicious kind. I do not suppose there is an hon. gentleman who

would not like to take home a Kewpie doll if he could get it for twentyffive cents. Personally, I attend agricultural fairs because I am interested in the stock; but I realize that for every one, man or woman, who goes to a fair in order to see the stock there are ten who are interested in the other attractions. And as agricultural fairs must depend to a large extent on the gate receipts they must cater of necessity to those who go to be entertained. I should like to see the midway eliminated from our agricultural fairs. I believe that some of the larger fairs in the United States have now abolished it. The state of Iowa for example does not permit such forms of entertainment in connection with their fairs. The only sort of amusement that would appeal to me apart from the exhibits is the old-fashioned game of home shoe, which is a considerable attraction at fairs in Iowa. I know that more than 1,000 people took part in that game at one fair in the state of Iowa last year and I am sure they went home satisfied with their entertainment.

I want to make sure that the same provision shall apply to the small fairs as well as to class "A" and class "B" fairs. The minister made' the statement that the larger fairs must depend to a considerable extent on the concessions they are able to sell; and if this is necessary in connection with these institutions, it is obvious that the smaller fairs that receive no federal grant must depend to a greater extent upon the revenues they can secure in other ways. We have in Manitoba midway entertainments that make the circuit of the different fairs, and if there is to be any distinction 'between the fairs that receive the Dominion grant and those that do not, it would be impossible for the entertainers to carry on. The games would be allowed at some fairs while they would be prohibited at others, and you can readily understand the difficult position these people would be in. There would be a difference between Carman and Portage la Prairie, Neepaiwa and Dauphin, Yorkton and Melville; and under any system of this sort it would be impossible to secure a midway on satisfactory terms. I think that the same provision should apply to all fairs big or little without discrimination. I shall therefore support the amendment.

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PRO

Andrew Knox

Progressive

Mr. KNOX:

I can hardly think that the

minister considers this part of the agricultural fair as educational. Does he really think that it is in the best interests of agriculture to have this provision enacted? .

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

* My first desire was to have this apply, as the hon. member (Mr. Leader) has said, to "A" and "B" fairs, so that it might be restricted to such fairs as we give grants to and over which we have supervision. At every one of these fairs the Department of Agriculture has a representative and will continue to have one to see that there are no Smart Alee tricks practised. But I found there was little sympathy in this House with this restriction and that is why the bill is now in its present form. As to whether the provision is good, 'bad or indifferent, I have not indicated my qpinion, nor do I think my hon. friend (Mr. Knox) has told us what he thinks of it from the ethical point of view. I have been looking forward for years and years now to the time When agricultural fairs would be distinctly agricultural, and when the sports in connection with them would be eliminated. Many of the agricultural societies in the country have tried to realize the same wish but they have tried it only once, for they find that it will not go. We are trying gradually to reform society, and when the public conscience will support these fairs on their merits we shall not require devices of this kind. But until that time comes, if you cannot get money without permitting these games, those .who object to the practice ought to tell us how we can get along without them. That is the practical question which I, as head for the time being of the Department of Agriculture, must answer. I am not discussing the ethics of the question.

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PRO

George Arthur Brethen

Progressive

Mr. BRETHEN:

Evidently the demand

for this legislation comes from that type of fair which is not so much agricultural as it is in the nature of a circus. It seems to me that any fair that must depend for fifty per cent or even two-thirds of its finances, as I understood the minister to suggest, upon the turn of a wheel of fortune or upon some game of chance can hardly be called an agricultural institution, and I do not think there is any justification for such a fair. The people of any community who support an agricultural fair only on condition that these entertainments are allowed do not want a fair at all; what they really want is a circus. I am opposed to this legislation. The minister said that it was not possible to carry on a fair without something of this kind. Let me -tell him that I attended a fair in the home town of the Acting Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) some years ago and found it purely agricultural. And I know that they carried on for a number of years in that way. I have not been there within the past two or three

years and therefore I do not know whether this is still true, but I do know that that fair was a success under those conditions. It was purely agricultural, and there are a great many other fairs in Ontario which have been conducted successfully along the same lines.

I am not in sympathy with any fair which is seventy-five per cent circus and twenty-five per cent agricultural.

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IND

John Jabez Thurston

Independent

Mr. THURSTON:

I rather resent one remark of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell), to the effect that agricultural fairs could not be conducted without the support of midways. There is in my own constituency one little village which has retained the old fashioned agricultural fair, and it is one of the most educative fairs in that part of the country. In the regulations of the board there is one condition which I think the Minister of Agriculture might seriously consider and insist upon; the directors are all agriculturists. We find that in connection with a good many of the agricultural fairs throughout the province of Ontario to-day the idea is to get a big crowd into the town for the occasion, to bring money into the place, while the educational value of the fair is lost sight of. As regards the question of restricting the gambling feature of these fairs,

I agree with one or two members who have spoken in this respect, that I am not very much in favour of restrictive legislation of any kind. If people are going to gamble at all they might as well do it openly as behind closed doors, so to speak, and contrary to law. I think however that the Department of Agriculture should insist, so far as those fairs that receive grants are concerned, that the fair shall depend to a greater extent on the support of agricultural people than of those in other walks of life.

Mr. NEILL I wish to associate myself with the attitude of the hon. member for East Peterborough. He has come out flatfooted and has declared himself opposed to gambling which after all is the issue in this section. I have been rather interested to observe the mental evolutions by which hon. members who would hardly care to say that they are in favour of open gambling have brought themselves to support this section. The most frank in that regard was the Minister of Agriculture who tells us candidly that this evil-for I suppose gambling is an evil being generally recognized as such-is essential because the fairs cannot get money in any other way. That is a very frank statement but it is also a very wide one; it can be applied to a great many other con-

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ditions in life and lead to the adoption of the policy-"get money, honestly if you can but get money." If it is necessary to get money, no matter how, they might claim to be allowed1 to go in for a little of what is called bootlegging at these fairs. That would yield more money more quickly. I think the minister used the expression that if anjmne is opposed [DOT] to this section it is up to him to say how the money is to be otherwise provided. I do not think that necessity is imposed upon us. If a man comes and says "I cannot keep my wife and family, I am a cripple, I am old, and the only way I can keep them is by bootlegging" that would not be justifiable. I heard that defence put up in court not long ago, but it was not accepted as being a sufficient defence. There is one phase of this question that nobody has touched upon, and I am serious in saying this: It is calculated to induce young people to see or think they see advantages in gambling. It would be only in a small way I admit, but it is calculated to imbue young people with the idea-which is at the very root of the evil of gambling,-the idea of getting something for nothing. It is asked "Where are we to get the money otherwise?" The money comes out of the pockets of the people and not in a very creditable way. We might increase the vote granted by parliament rather than have the money taken out of the pockets of the people who attend these fairs. In that case we would know what we were doing; we would be calling a spade a spade.

I am not particularly keen on this section either way personally, but I cannot accept the view that says: "It is all right to gamble provided it is only to a certain extent."

I cannot see that if a thing is wrong the fact that there is partial restriction and is only, to be practised at a country fair makes it any better.

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IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

It occurs to me that perhaps

the minister would be well advised to let this matter stand over for further consideration. I recall that a few years ago in the city of Brantford some midway organization appealed to the municipal council for the right to set up their booths, wheels of fortune, and all kinds of other things on the market place for about two weeks. Well somehow or other they prevailed on the municipal authorities to grant them the right-I do not know just how it was-and we had an awful experience. I think it did incalculable damage to the community. I do not know hew much money it took out of the city or how much demoralization it caused among the [Mr. Neill.[

young people. The hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr, Neill) has put a question that is quite worth while considering and that is how far any encouragement of this particular type of entertainment is going to lead our young people astray. I have no objection to entertainment features at fairs-they are all right, the more the better so long as they are of a proper kind.

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PRO

Milton Neil Campbell

Progressive

Mr. CAMPBELL:

It seems to me that a certain amount of objection to this clause would be eliminatel if the minister left the matter entirely in the hands of the management, of the agricultural fair. What I mean by this is, that the wheel of fortune or whatever amusement feature it was would have to be operated directly by the management of the fair. Now, no one can condone the offence of gambling whether it is carried on at a church bazaar, an agricultural fair, or by a private individual. But there is this feature that I wish to point out: Where the gambling system is operated by a private individual it may be crooked; there may be no particular rule in the game. The man operating it is very often a man who comes in from the outside and has no particular standing morally or financially in the community. He is not particularly concerned with anything except getting money, and getting it by any means that he can. Such a man is going to strain a law to the very limit. On the other hand, if it were carried on by a public body or by the management of the agricultural fair, or as we very often see it at a church bazaar -because they indulge in games of chance on such occasions-there is some responsible body back of it, and if there is anything that is obnoxious to public opinion, the people can place the responsibility where it belongs and deal with it accordingly. It seems to me that would be a sufficient safeguard and, perhaps, would leave the matter entirely in the hands of the people of the community. I believe it would, at least partially, meet the approval of those who would otherwise raise objections.

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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

I intend to support the section. My contention is that you cannot make angels by legislation.

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LIB
CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

If you are going to

restrict every means of amusement for the people to-day they will amuse themselves where you will not be able to see them, and the unseen amusement, in my estimation, is the worst kind of amusement.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Not always.

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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

I go to horse races once in a while and bet two dollars. Sometimes I lose, sometimes I win. I do not think I am any worse than anyone else. You find the best people in the-country to-day willing to take a little chance. Life itself is a chance. Every farmer that puts wheat into the ground is gambling.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

An election is a chance.

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CON
CON

William Alves Boys (Whip of the Conservative Party (1867-1942))

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYS:

Sometimes.

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June 12, 1925