-because almost my next remark was going to be an expression of some gratitude to the Minister of National Health for having oome into the fruit growing area last year and consulted with the industry, holding conferences at Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon for the purpose, as he said, of informing himself on the subject and being
The Budget-Mr. Stirling
helpful. His visit there was entirely appreciated by the industry, and it was earnestly hoped that a further discussion of these difficulties by him with his colleagues might produce some results.
I referred just now to the visit of the delegation to the prairies. They also received the blessing of the Minister of National Health. He thought it was an excellent thing that we should endeavour to get away from the word "dumping". He thought it was a most satisfactory suggestion that our own growers and producers should go into the prairies and discuss with the farmers' organizations there the difficulties which existed. That delegation went to Winnipeg and the first farmers' organization that they met was the United Farmers of Manitoba-the diminishing remnant of undiluted free trade in the prairies. The delegation listened with considerable interest to speeches on the subject of undiluted free trade, and the United Farmers of Manitoba went so far as to endeavour to convert our producers to a campaign in favour of free trade in this country. Therefore we made little progress, for our representatives were not converted.
They received happier treatment at the hands of the Manitoba Cooperative Poultry Market Association and the Winnipeg District Vegetable Growers' Association. That is not to be wondered at, because both of those associations are suffering to some extent from the same trouble which afflicts us. They also met representatives of the Manitoba wheat pool and were received most courteously. I think it might almost be said that those gentlemen were prepared to adopt a position of friendly neutrality. Before leaving Winnipeg they had an opportunity of meeting men in the board of trade, the United Grain Growers, the Grain Growers Grain Company and the Winnipeg Grain Exchange, with all of whom they discussed the situation. With all of them they were able to an extent to explain differences of opinion and to meet criticism and what were supposed to be helpful suggestions for ameliorating the situation by exposing the difficulties that those suggestions, if carried out, might create.
From there they went on to Saskatchewan, and in Regina they met the representatives of the Saskatchewan wheat pool and the cooperative creameries. They met also the leading men in that province. Coming nearer home, at Calgary they had a most gratifying reception from the board of trade and there again they met men of prominence among the Alberta farmers. The interviews with individuals were of course not public, and it
would not be proper for me to disclose what took place. But I may say that the delegation came back from that visit to the prairies thoroughly pleased with their reception and also surprised that in the three prairie provinces, where free trade is supposed to reign, the proposition which the producers put forward was received with favour in certain places, and at least with interest in others, making them think that possibly the time has come in Canada when there may be a coming together of interests on this matter, when it will no more be necessary for the government of the day to rely too strenuously on utter, out-and-out free trade if they desire to retain power.
It is noticeable in that regard that about the time of the meeting in Vernon, the Winnipeg Free Press published an editorial which contained these two passages. It started by referring to the vigorous demands that are being made by the fruit growers of British Columbia and Ontario for protection against dumping, and ft continues:
The dumping provision is regarded by public opinion as proper; and its enforcement during the summer season against consignments of the United States surplus entered for consumption at less than cost price, would meet with no opposition from the fruit-consuming Canadian public.
It is claimed that the dumping machinery in the Customs Act cannot be made to work in the case of so perishable a commodity as fruit.
It surely ought not, however, to be beyond the capacity of our lawmakers to make provision by which the full advantage of the statutory enactment against dumping should accrue to our fruit growers. Inquiry and experiment along these lines might bring results advantageous to the fruit growers.
Of course the editorial goes on to condemn utterly any widening of protection or misuse of protection, but the very fact that these two sentences appear in an editorial in the Winnipeg Free Press was taken by us to mean that there was a little more kindliness of heart being shown in the prairies to our point of view.
Let me attempt in a very few words to put forward w-hat it is the producer of fruit and vegetables is actually asking for. To begin with, he suggests that we forget the word "dumping." In the second place, he suggests that we shall be protected against the importation of the surplus products of another country. He is ready to admit that the machinery which has been made use of in the past has not always been wisely made use of, but he suggests that it is reasonable for the producer to bring this difficulty before the Dominion government and ask for a
Beauharnois Power Project
solution. In the words of one who years ago was an occupant of the House of Commons press gallery, writing in the Manitoba Free Press:
What the growers and allied interests requested at the recent tariff conference at Vernon was for some fair price-fixing regulation for purposes of importation in glut periods that would prevent glut conditions on Canadian markets, and prevent prices dropping to the point where the producer cannot get his cost of production and a reasonable margin of profit on his operations.
The one and only reason why the Canadian markets were not flooded in this last season by "C" grade apples from the Pacific states was just this: When our peak of production was approaching, we became aware of the fact that it was the intention of the United States to ship in this glut surplus, and it was therefore necessary for our shippers to make up their minds whether they would allow that stuff to come in, or whether they would shave the price, and keep on cutting, until it was inadvisable for the foreign shipper to come in. They decided to shave the price, with the obvious result that on the average, I think I am correct in saying, the apple producer at least in the interior of British Columbia will finish his operations with a debit balance on his books. That, Mr. Speaker, cannot go on indefinitely.
This is the fifth time that I have had the privilege in this house of endeavouring to lay the fruit growers' burdens before the government, and in each one of those years I have pointed out that this industry is sick. It is little better to-day than it was five years ago, and if this condition is allowed to continue much longer, we shall find that whole areas in Canada will go out of the production of fruit. And if that happens, when there is no Canadian fruit to give competition to the fruit of another country, the consumer in Canada will receive fruit from that other country just as it suits those shippers to send them in and at the price that the shippers choose to charge. The consumer in this country will be at their mercy. It is not only the fruit grower himself who will suffer. There is probably some $40,000,000 invested in the fruit and vegetable industry in the valleys surrounding the Okanagan, and besides that, there are all the other walks of life connected with the industry in that neighbourhood. The storekeeper will suffer, and so will the professional man, and if the fruit industry goes down, we shall have that sorry spectacle of another little piece of Canada neglected. It surely does not pass the wit of this government, if they have the will to take up this 78594-521
matter, to solve the problem once for all, for I would once more emphasize that the present condition cannot continue much longer. If we can have the Canadian market, we can satisfy the Canadian consumer, but if in the selling of our produce in the Canadian market we are to be met by the produce of another country, there can be only one result.
On motion of Mr. Fansher (Last Mountain) the debate was adjourned.
On motion of Mr. Robb the house adjourned at 9.45 p.m.
Monday, March 11, 1929
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE