Mr. Chairman, when this estimate was considered previously there was such a demand for the floor that I found myself lacking an opportunity to say a few words. This afternoon I find myself in much the same position, so I hasten to take some of the remaining time that I may show which
side I am on with regard to the marketing board proposal. In my view the minister is to be commended for introducing the subject at this time, and for creating so much interest in a problem which has been probably more than any other before the country during the last twelve months. I am afraid however that with such a multitude of advisers too many cooks may help to spoil the broth. As I listened to the number who wanted to get into the minister's band wagon I thought that he would have to have a very commodious vehicle to hold them all. However that is a good omen, and it would seem that he is moving in the right direction.
Whatever may come out of the project I want him to understand that I am sympathetic and friendly towards the step he is advocating, the promotion of an export marketing board. When taking that stand I hope I will not shoo away any hon. members now supporting the suggestion. I know that sometimes there is that danger. The other day as I listened to my friend the minister explain the various pros and cons, and as I heard his statement that the government had not yet decided whether or not they would bring a bill down this year or defer it until later and have the matter placed before the Imperial economic conference, I thought of the difficulties he must have had in bringing the project even to its present stage of development.
It seems to me that at this stage the minister is going through his parliamentary labour pains prior to giving birth to his first export marketing baby. This is always an interesting occasion, and a time when there are usually plenty of medical advisers and nurses around. My fear at this time is that I may add one too many. In spite of that fear however I have no intention of posing as the foster parent, or of showing a desire to adopt the baby. If anything should happen, however,
I should like to be at hand to promote its cause and success in any way within my power.
I believe the project will give a certain amount of encouragement to agriculture and that it is capable of development, but at the same time it is bristling with difficulties of which few people are aware. I will have no complaint if the minister takes lots of time to look before he leaps, so that he may not run into any unnecessary snags. I believe I would be well advised however to leave to him the decision as to whether or not he will bring in a bill this or next session, or go first to the Imperial economic conference and bring in his bill at a later time.
I can see without very much trouble that there is a difference of opinion on his own side of the house as to the better course to follow.
Possibly I would be causing difficulty rather than helping if I were to take a stand on that point. The minister knows my views, and I do not think it is advisable further to proclaim them. After all, whether a bill is brought down this session or after the Imperial economic conference is only a matter of important detail. I would suggest however, no matter what course he pursues, that he lose no time in getting the very best man he can find to send overseas to get in touch with delegates who are likely to come here, a man who will get in touch with the various farm organizations in Scotland, England and Ulster so that they may know what, we in Canada are proposing, and so that they may not come here and find themselves confronted with a proposal of which they do not approve. Let us not forget how we looked upon a similar board when Australia took action. That was under the "Patterson" plan. The dairymen of Canada immediately rose up on their hind legs and asked the government of the day to impose the dumping clause against butter from Australia, and their request was granted. I advise the minister to be very careful, and without any desire to give him too much advice may I say I think the best course to pursue would be to send his best man to sell the idea of a marketing board to our kinsmen across the sea. I would advise that that man return on the same vessel as the delegates coming to Canada. In that way he would have an excellent opportunity to contact with the delegates, and to iron out difficulties before landing on Canadian shores.
I should like to direct a few remarks to a matter with which the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Garland) dealt. There is a very important prerequsite to the marketing board, namely, a commercial channel extending across Canada through which marketing may be carried on. I do not think it is contemplated that the board itself will engage in general merchandizing, though occasionally it may have to do so. If we do not have it now, we should establish a general commercial channel through which our exportable products can be disposed of. We have only one organization of that kind now; that is the cooperative live stock pool which extends from one end of Canada to the other.
May I, without offence, suggest to the minister that he do everything in his power to get the Beef Producers Association of Calgary and the cooperative live stock pool together. Try to get them pulling on the one rope. I do not think the pool could be an entire success without the ranch cattle, which give a peculiar quality to the whole product. I mentioned
this last year in a different spirit probably, as the minister will remember, but I hope it did no harm. I hope the minister himself has become aware of the danger of having two farm bodies competing for the same cattle, the same ocean space and in the same market. I know some of the men connected with the beef producers and others connected with the pool; they are good men, but we w'ant them all to concentrate on one organization without which, in my opinion, the export board cannot operate successfully, but with which there is no reason why the board should not be a magnificent success.
I think I will just leave it at that. I believe the minister knows what I mean when I say it is very important to get started off on the right foot. Have a good cause; start right and, as the old saying goes, well begun is half done. Whether the minister proposes to bring in the bill now or later, my support will be equally hearty for the good of the cause. I think the minister himself, and his colleagues will have to be the judges.
I have great hopes for the minister's improvement, notwithstanding his inexperience; he is developing every day. Of all the ministers of agriculture I think no man started with less experience than the late Sir John Carling, but no man did more for agriculture than was done by that same gentleman. He was responsible for establishing the agricultural college at Guelph when he was provincial minister of agriculture, and he was also responsible for the chain of experimental farms across Canada that has no equal, I believe, in any other part of the world. So I say there is hope for the minister, who started with very little experience and who has been given very little assistance by his colleagues, who know very little about agriculture. The minister has a great responsibility; he is the only one of the sixteen or seventeen ministers who knows anything about agriculture, and I compliment him for having sought assistance elsewhere. Last year he called to his aid three excellent gentlemen, Professor Barton, Doctor Archibald and Mr. Robertson, president of the National Dairy Council, to advise him in connection with dairying matters. If he had searched all over Canada he could not have found three belter men for that purpose, but there was a hitch somewhere. He got the advice, but as I know and as the minister knows there are other things necessary as well. He must be able to put across his proposals in council and to so excite the interest of his colleagues that they will support his recommendations. I do not know what happened, but I do know that
the minister received good advice from the National Dairy Council, and I regret very much that he found it necessary in return to cut off their grant. But we will not open up that somewhat controversial question.
The minister was given certain recommendations last year by the dairy council, and I hope he will not turn them down even yet. I do not think he did turn them down; probably he could not convince his colleagues of the advisability of adopting them. The other ministers did not know whether or not it was good advice, and no one man in a cabinet can put over a big enterprise of this nature without the support of his colleagues. That is some job with this government; I have no doubt about that. That is why the hon. gentleman sought support elsewhere, and that is why he is getting it. I think we have reached a time in our history when agriculture is simply staggering to its fall, and we can afford to ease up a little in our extreme political alignments and work on behalf of agriculture even if we have to work through a Tory government, which is the only avenue available at this time. That is pretty straight talk, but that is the way I feel. I am in opposition now; there are not enough of us here to perform the functions of government. The electors, in their wisdom, elected another government and we have a new minister of agriculture. I have not very long to assist agriculture now, perhaps ten or fifteen years more, and I am prepared to work through this government until the electors provide us with a better avenue. Things arc so bad in connection with agriculture that I believe I would work through Beelzebub himself if necessary, and therefore much more through the minister. Conditions are so distressing on many farms that we cannot afford to quibble as to where the good things may come from at this time.
I would like the minister to consider the advisability of looking on this proposed marketing board as merely an emergency provision. If this alleyway between us were a stream and I wanted to cross to the other side-I do not want to, of course-I would use any old plank at all so long as it permitted me to reach my objective. The same principle applies now. This is the plank by means of which we can reach something better by using our present commercial live stock pool facilities to place our exportable surplus on the markets of the world. That involves a great many things about which few, I fear, have thought much as yet, and I think it well that we should consider some of the difficulties. For instance, let us suppose we want to place bacon
The Royal Assent
on the export market through a marketing board, and we adopt the usual practice of making a levy on the farmers for the purpose of creating a fund. Imagine going to a farmer who gets 2J or 3 cents for his hogs and asking him for say ^ of a cent per pound on the hog he sells. Naturally he will ask what is to be done with the money, and when you tell him it is to go to the packers, because we must work through them if the live stock pool is not available and functioning he will see red at once. Therefore I say it is absolutely necessary to develop the cooperative live stock body that already has a fairly good start, but if it is to be competed with by the beef producers of Calgary-and further friction is developing there -the commercial channel is in danger. So I would invoke my hon. friend to use his good offices to avert this possible danger. I think the minister now has come to the point where he believes it is necessary to try to get these two bodies together at the earliest possible moment, because it depends largely upon them whether we have a marketing board that will function in the way I have mentioned so far as cattle are concerned.
I was going to refer to some of the recommendations of the National Dairy Council. They state that at present large numbers of small, often poorly equipped and unsanitary butter factories cannot help but bring about less effective butter manufacture. Last year I tried to impress that point upon my hon. friend. We have in Canada the most obsolete dairy equipment of any country pretending to be in dairying. Every country with which we compete, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, the Antipodes and so on, is supplied with manufacturing facilities superior to ours as a whole. They serve sometimes the dual purpose of both butter and cheese, and sometimes practically all the purposes of processing milk into various commercial commodities that may be put on the market. It is over sixty years since the foundation of the cheese industry in Canada was laid.