Then what becomes of the minister's statement that the price went up because there was an absolute shortage here? The position which I take in this matter is this: there are two classes of people concerned in the sale of butter-the purchasers, whose representations have a right to be considered, and the consumers, who have an equal claim upon our consideration. That is the principle that should govern us in fixing the tariff, and I maintain that so long as Canada has an exportable surplus of
30.000. 000 pounds of butter that very fact in itself should be an absolute guarantee to the consumers that they would never have to pay more than they should for the article. That is reasonable. At the same time I hold that the producers of this commodity in our own country have the first claim on our own home market. Australia and New Zealand take that view in regard to their own products. They have a high duty on butter, because they have a large exportable surplus, and they have also a considerable tariff on meats. They are one of the largest meat exporting countries in the world, and they say that inasmuch as they have more butter and cheese and meat than they know what to do with, they do not want outsiders to send those commodities into their country. They guarantee to the farmers that only Australian and New Zealand butter, meat, eggs and cheese shall be used on Australian and New Zealand tables. That, I maintain, is the proper attitude for us to take here, especially in view of this fact, which should not be lost sight of, that the dairy interests cannot be considered only in relation to the summer months, but from the standpoint of
the entire year. In the course of the twelve months we have a severe winter during which the cost of production is necessarily high, and the producers of Alberta and other places in Canada where there exists a surplus of butter have a distinct grievance. At the very time in the winter months when the cost of production is at its highest in Canada, they are forced by the Australian treaty to compete with the product imported from that country, which is produced at a time when the cost of production is naturally low.
,It is all very well to theorize on the subject of free trade and other questions of that sort, but we must not lose sight of the practical element. We cannot afford to forget that climatic conditions in this country are different from those that obtain in Australia and New Zealand, and owing to that difference our farmers are compelled to invest large sums of money in specially adapted barns and stables, in silos and other equipment, and to spend a good deal in providing forage and storing it for the winter, keeping their stock during that trying season at a heavy expense. It is therefore unreasonable, it is eminently unjust to expect the farmers in a country like Canada to compete on even terms with Australian and New Zealand butter and similar products by allowing those products to come into this Dominion at a very low rate of duty, or nominally free. That is the position which I take and it is the position taken by dairymen generally throughout the country. I do not believe that there was any shortage of butter such as the minister speaks of. There might be a shortage in this or that locality, but that might happen at any time; but on the whole our trade figures show, as the minister himself has admitted, that Canada did not have a shortage of butter last year. On the contrary we had a large exportable surplus of some 30,000,000 pounds and as the minister says, even more than that. My contention is that we should so arrange the tariff as to guarantee to our Canadian farmers that their produce shall have first place on Canadian tables and not the produce of countries which have a distinct advantage over us by enjoying a milder climate.
There is not much in the moralizing of the hon. member (Mr. Edwards) to which I take exception, but he tried to make my statements appear self-contradictory. I admitted that butter-fat prices dropped in October, not only when the treaty came in but even a little before it did, owing to all the noise that was made by my hon. friends prior to the election. But the prices
went up again before the New Year as soon as it was understood that there was a shortage, and that condition continued until about two weeks ago. That is what I said, and there is nothing contradictory in it. As to our being short of butter, I did not say that; what I said was that we went into the winter with a shortage. It does not matter whether we exported 25,000,000 or 30,000,000 or 100,000,000 pounds of butter; the fact remains that so long as that butter went out of the country during the summer we did not have it in Canada. We could not sell our butter and have it at the same time. We therefore entered upon the winter with a shortage of
12,000,000 pounds as compared with last year, and that is what made butter prices go up. The great tide of Australian and New Zealand butter which had been dammed by the longshoremen's strike naturally flowed, when liberated, into the places where there was the greatest shortage, and one of those places happened to be Canada. Butter made right in this country had gone over to Great Britain, and when the shortage occurred here that butter was shipped back, paying a duty of four cents to enter the country of its origin.
Australian butter could not get to the British market; there was a shortage there which attracted Canadian butter, so that When the winter came we had a shortage as compared with the previous year. We had therefore either to buy butter somewhere or go without it. My hon. friend from Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) apparently would have preferred to have us go without it, and that is a matter of choice.
can argue in a circle about as well as anyone I ever came across. He says there was a shortage here of 12,000,000 pounds, and in a circular letter, written in his own office over his own signature, only a few days ago, he has this to say:
The present agitation originated largely with some dealers and creamery operators who hoped to realize higher prices on the stock of butter which they had on hand and for which the producers had been paid fall prices.
examination of this question a doublebarrelled difficulty. The minister himself says that Australian butter coming in cost the consumers a higher price, and if I understood him correctly I think he said that the fear of this same influx of butter drove down prices in Canada. And if we are to believe the statement that has been made, the producers in the country, or at least a great many of them, went out of business reducing their stocks and herds, so that there was an adverse effect, in consequence, as regards the production of butter in Canada and the necessity for the consumers to pay higher prices. I think it is true that the dealers in butter in this country, sometimes in the summer, when there is usually a large quantity produced from an abundance of grass feed, later on keep up their prices anticipating a higher market. When therefore the treaty went into effect, or was about to go into effect, the dealers in Canada were on the verge of panic, and they sold heavily of their reserve stocks. The minister speaks of Tory propaganda, at the time of. the election, creating a hubbub in the country and frightening the dealers and producers; but there would have been no propaganda had there been no legislation of this kind proposed or any treaty in sight. There are therefore two evils in connection with this matter, one bearing harmfully upon the consumer, and the other affecting the producer.
One word more. I listened attentively to the minister and I heard him say that the price in Canada to-day was ten to eleven cents higher than the export price. Did I understand the minister correctly?