May 24, 1932

UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

I object to that statement, Mr. Speaker. I never suggested that this government go and confiscate the property. My hon. friend is drawing upon his imagination too much.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

So far as my imagination extends, if I could reach anywhere near the limits of the mind of the hon. member for Acadia in his discussion of this afternoon, I should abandon my robe and profession as a lawyer for the writing of extravagant poetry or romance.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

It is a great pity the hon. gentleman has not that much imagination.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

Let us stick to the facts. Section 1 of chapter 20 says:

1. The canal now being constructed by the Beauharnois Light, Heat and Power Company, Limited, a body corporate, incorporated under the laws of the province of Quebec, between lake St. Francis and lake St. Louis, on the south side of, or in or along the St. Lawrence river, and the works on land or lands covered with water, excavations, embankments, retaining structures, remedial works, dams, locks and other works appurtenant to said canal, now executed or hereafter to be executed, are hereby declared to be works for the general advantage of Canada.

That simply means that the canal and the approaches to the canal, the walls of the canal and the locks and other works appurtenant thereto, which may be useful for navigation now or in the future, are declared to be within the legislative jurisdiction of the parliament of Canada; but it so far leaves untouched the power house and power works and the 41761-212

hydro-electric installations in the power house and other works. Then to show the meaning clearly, section 2 of chapter 20 says:

The governor in council is hereby authorized from time to time to make any orders, rules or regulations which may be deemed necessary or convenient with respect to any diversion of waters of the St. Lawrence river by said company or appertaining or relating to the protection of the paramount rights and interests of navigation in and through said canal and connecting waters.

So that we have taken authority by order in council to protect our paramount rights in respect of water flowing through the canal or ditch which has been or is being constructed by the Beauharnois Light, Heat and Power Company. But then, in order that it might be made clear that we had no intention to encroach upon the exclusive jurisdiction of the province of Quebec this parliament enacted in section 4:

Nothing in this act contained shall be deemed to affect any right that may be vested in the province of Quebec over or in respect of the use of the waters of the river St. Lawrence for the development of hydro-electric power.

Since the arguments which were included in the factums from which the hon. member quoted so freely this afternoon failed to persuade the Supreme Court of Canada or the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, this constitutional question which has been raised as to legislative jurisdiction is not yet finally and conclusively decided. It can be decided in only one of two ways, either by a final decision of a judicial body, through litigation arising with regard to the subject matter, or by agreement between the dominion and the province with confirmatory legislative and parliamentary enactments.

It so happens that the Prime Minister and my colleagues committed to me, in conjunction with the representatives of the province of Quebec and of the Beauharnois Light, Heat and Power Company, the drafting of the order in council PG. 504, of March 1, 1932, to which reference was made to-day by the hon. member for Acadia. If need be, although forty minutes is not sufficient time in which to enter into so lengthy a discussion, I am prepared to vindicate and support the terms of that order in council as being to my mind perfectly fair and equitable as between the parties, and within the legislative jurisdiction of the parliament of Canada under the terms of the acts to which I have just referred.

Chapter 19 of the acts of last year provided that the Beauharnois Light, Heat and Power Company has the right to utilize 53,072 cubic feet of water by the diversion now being

Beauharnois Power Project

made. That right, whether it was founded upon an invalid or a valid enactment of the province of Quebec, was ratified last year by the unanimous vote of the parliament of Canada. Section 2 of chapter 19 reads:

The Beauharnois Light, Heat and Power Company, Limited, its successors or assigns, in so far as it may be within the competence of parliament, is hereby granted the right to divert from lake St. Francis up to but not exceeding 53,072 cubic second feet of water of the flow of the river St. Lawrence, to be returned to lake St. Louis and to be used for the development of hydro-electric power between the two said points, in such manner, upon such terms and conditions and with such limitations and reservations as may be prescribed by order of the governor in council.

Then section 3 of chapter 19 provides:

The governor in council shall not consent to any further or additional diversion by said company of water of the river St. Lawrence except with the express approval of parliament.

That is what parliament demanded, and what parliament reserved. Therefore I do not think there can be any solid ground for the legal contention that the right to use 53,072 cubic feet of water is not vested in the Beauharnois Light, Heat and Power Company at the present time. The company has that right, in so far as such right could be conferred by the legislature of the province of Quebec. It has that right, in so far as it could be conferred by the parliament of Canada, exercising its proper and recognized legislative jurisdiction.

For the present it seems to me that the one aim and object of this parliament should be to enable these people, who for good or ill have invested some $27,000,000 in the securities issued by the Beauharnois Light, Heat and Power Company, to meet together and take appropriate action so as to place the company in a position whereby its financial stability will be assured, and where it will be enabled to approach the parliament of Canada and, if need be, the legislature of Quebec, for such additional diversions as parliament in its wisdom may be prepared to grant. When those additional diversions are authorized, parliament may, within the limits of that legislation, place any terms and conditions upon the grant that it may see. fit. First, however, we must have a company able to function in a proper and efficient manner. All this government has done is to give the company time, so that it may function, and to that end my personal opinion would be that further judicial investigations are not now opportune.

If the hon. member for Acadia really desires to know the financial structures which

at present exist, he will have no difficulty in obtaining that information. Where the money went is well known. He cannot read the report of the committee upon which he sat without gaining that information, and if he wishes further information I am sure I could give it to him, as a result of my own investigations, so that there will be no necessity for a royal commission in order to elicit the facts.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

Can the minister give

information to the house as to where the $4,000,000 went about which the Prime Minister spoke?

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

Yes, I can, but I did not

wish to be led into discussing that phase of the subject, because there were some of the other tergiversations of the hon. gentleman with which I wished to deal. The amount payable and paid to the Beauharnois Power Syndicate by the Beauharnois Power Corporation Limited, under the agreement dated December 17, 1929, to which the Prime Minister referred, for the purchase of the assets and undertakings of that syndicate, amounted to $4,750,000. By payment of that sum of money the company acquired the property and assets of the syndicate. That property and those assets were acquired by the syndicate's expenditures. for which the Beauharnois Power Corporation Limited received dollar for dollar in value to the amount of $2,500,000. Of the balance. $2,250,000 was used by the syndicate for its own purposes. One of those purposes was to take $1,000,000 in cash and pay for the capital stock of the Beauharnois Power Corporation Limited for which they had subscribed to the extent of 1,000,000 shares of a nominal value of one dollar each. Those, I think, are the facts beyond a doubt. But in the length of time available for a discussion such as this, right on the eve of the prorogation of parliament, one cannot go into all these details, and for the present I ask this house to believe that the Prime Minister and his colleagues have been giving a great deal of anxious thought to devising the ways and means by which this great undertaking, of so much importance, not only to the province of Quebec but to the adjoining province of Ontario, may be brought to fruition on a proper basis, so that it may function for the future to the advantage of Canada as a whole.

Now, in view of these considerations I ask whether this parliament is not prepared to give the government its confidence in working out this veiy grave problem, which is not of our making, which was thrust upon us, but to which we conscientiously and sincerely are

Agricultural Conditions

giving our time and attention in the hope that this great project may not be destroyed, and that the money invested in it by so many of our people throughout the length and breadth of Canada may not be entirely lost.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

Before the hon. Secretary of State sits down may I point out to him that the 84,000,000 I referred to was the sum which the Prime Minister mentioned in his statement to this house on April 18, and is not the 84,750,000 which my good friend the Secretary of State dealt with.

Mr. ARMAND R. LaVERGNE (Mont-magny): It is very seldom, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) and myself agree, we are generally at the antipodes-

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

It is very serious for us to be burglars.

Mr. LaVERGNE: -but I wish to put myself on record as endorsing what has been said by him and by the member for Acadia (Mr. Gardiner). I like doing a little housebreaking for the purpose of preventing the house being burned down by the people who have gone into it. I desire to put the question on a higher plane. I am not so much concerned with those who have lost millions of dollars in this project. It is all very unfortunate, but it is a story we hear very often in these days. I shall not attempt any legal quibbling as to whether the Beauharnois canal or the water-power belongs to the province or to the dominion. I have my own legal opinion; I have not a shadow of doubt that it belongs to the dominion. But that is not the question; it is higher and more important. I think if the common people of Quebec have one opinion on the matter it is that that the St. Lawrence is a national asset which belongs to the confederation of Canada, not to the Beauharnois corporation or the Beau-hamois Light, Heat and Power Company, or some other corporation. This is the last natural resource which is left to the people of Quebec; the others have been sold, given to, or robbed by, the great corporations. I repeat, this is the only natural resource left to the people of the province of Quebec, and in that way to the people of the dominion. Our only hope, our only salvation, is that the federal government will treat this great public work as a public ownership undertaking, so that the people of Quebec and of the dominion shall come into their share. And it is about time they should.

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AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS


Miss AGNES C. MACPHAIL (Southeast Grey): Mr. Speaker, even though the session is in its last hours, we feel we must once again draw the attention of the house and the government to the distressed condition of the agricultural industry. I think it is true that there are still great numbers of people in Canada who do not know how terrible are the conditions under which the farmers of Canada are struggling. It is very easy for those who are living comfortably not to realize the distress of the agriculturist. So I ask the house to bear with me for just a few minutes while once more I outline those conditions. The farmer is bearing much more than his share of the depression. We know that the price he gets for his products has fallen much more than the price of those things which he must buy. The price of what he sells has fallen sixty-four per cent, while the price of what he buys has fallen not quite fourteen per cent. Farmer's debts and interest charges, insurance premiums, and so on, are fixed in terms of dollars. These dollars cannot be secured by him in any way but through the selling of his commodities. In other words he must sell his commodities in order to secure the dollars with which to pay his fixed charges. Therefore when his debts are measured in commodity prices, we find they have doubled and trebled in the last three years. I think every member must conclude that this condition cannot go on, that either the price of the farmer's commodities must be raised to something like the level on which the debts were contracted, or the debt level must be lowered to something like the commodity price level-or a little of both. As it is at the moment, the farmer in every province is on a buyer's strike. True, it is an unorganized strike, but it is none the less effective. He is on a buyer's strike because almost his whole output is needed to meet his fixed charges, and he has no money left with which to buy many things not only that he would like to buy but that he actually needs. The last census showed that forty-seven per cent of our population are on the land. We cannot cripple the buying power of such a large percentage of our people without paralyzing the commercial life of Canada, and adding great numbers to our unemployed. I think the house will agree with me that there will be no return to prosperity in this country until the purchasing power of the farmer has been restored. The agriculturist in Canada faces Agricultural Conditions



peculiarly difficult conditions. He sells at wholesale prices and buys at retail; he sells in a free market and buys in a protected market, and the continued effort of governments to shut out imports certainly tends to .destroy the farmer's markets. He sells as an unorganized individual in a highly organized world, and buys as an individual from organized trade. Then the farmers pay higher interest rates and they have a higher per capita overhead than any other class with an equal net income. For many years, ever since I came to this house until this last year, the farmer's whole problem has ibeen made more complex by our immigration policy. We spent very large sums of money, which finally the farmer had to pay, for the purpose of bringing into this country immigrants who became competitors with our established farmers. Then, added to all these conditions which have prevailed for many years, -the farmers of Canada to-day are finding life almost impossible because of the exchange problem between Great Britain and Canada. Great Britain provides, if not the only market, almost the only one in which the Canadian farmer can sell his surplus products; but when the farmer places his products on the British market and is paid in British currency he loses on exchange. In converting that British currency into Canadian currency, eighteen per cent of the price of his product is lost. The farmer has many other difficulties to face, and they are taking the heart out of him. The result is that the Canadian farmer feels he cannot go on, and those who have not been close to agriculture in the last three or four months can scarcely know how discouraged the farmer in this province is, and I dare say that applies to farmers in every other province. But it is not only in the exchange as between British and Canadian currency that the farmers are faced with difficulty; the fact is that the nations that are our greatest competitors in agricultural products are in a more advantageous position with respect to exchange, and this makes it all the more trying for our farmers. For instance, the Danish farmer, with his money at par with the pound sterling, has, when the British pound is converted into his own currency as much in Danish money as his .products .brought in British currency, whereas we are at a disadvantage to the extent of eighteen per cent. And the Argentine, Australia and New Zealand enjoy an even greater advantage. So that the Canadian farmer simply has not a chance as things are, and we who represent agricultural constituencies, whether we sit in this corner of the house or in either of the two great parties, should not allow this session to close without urging upon the government that steps be taken to ameliorate the condition of the Canadian farmer. From time to time during this and previous sessions almost every phase of agriculture and the difficulties of the people who are engaged in that industry in its various branches have been dealt with by one member or another, and therefore I am not going to take up the time of the house to-night enlarging upon those difficulties. It has often been said in this house that although we in this corner discuss the difficulties of the farmers we do not suggest any remedies. I propose, therefore, to move, seconded by the hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Coote), an amendment which does outline remedies, and in a most respectful and helpful way we offer this government these proposals for what they may be worth. I move: That all the words after the word "that" in the first line be struck out and the following substituted therefor: "this bouse regrets that the government has not made any pronouncement of a policy calculated to meet the depressed conditions of the agricultural industry. Further, this house is of opinion that the government should take into consideration the following suggestions as means calculated to improve the agricultural industry: (a) the national control and regulation of currency and credit; (b) a measure of controlled inflation having for its object increase in commodity prices, and as a first step towards this end bringing our currency to par with the pound sterling; (c) a substantial reduction of farm indebtedness and interest rates; (d) financial assistance in creating processing plants under farmer control; (e) international agreements on tariff matters; (f) the creation of an export marketing board; (g) that farmer cooperative selling organizations be permitted to import goods received in other countries in exchange for Canadian agricultural products without the imposition of customs or dumping duty; (h) relieving the farmer of some of the indirect taxation and substituting heavier direct taxation based on the ability to pay.


IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. A. W. NEILL (Comox-Alberni):

The

matter to which I wish to refer is a little different from the subject matter of the amendment, but it has something in common with it. It is altogether different and rather an anticlimax to the long drawn-out debate on Beauharnois which dealt with great issues involving millions of dollars. The matter with which I intend to deal affects only the poor, ordinary toiling people and the effort they

Agricultural Conditions

have to make to obtain a livelihood for themselves, their wives and children. It has been said by a cynic that the Beauharnois matter is a titanic battle between two groups of financial pirates for the control of a huge money-making power development, but this matter is one which comes home to the poorest people in our land. I would not have spoken to-night had I not received a few hours ago a couple of petitions revealing such serious conditions that I feel compelled to put them before the house. Before doing so perhaps I had better make the situation clear by reading from a brief which I prepared a few weeks ago in connection with this matter. I think this brief will explain the situation and less explanation of the petitions will be required. It is dated Ottawa, May 3, and reads:

Ottawa, Ont.,

May 3, 1932.

E. C. Matthews, Esq., M.P.,

House of Commons,

Ottawa, Ont.

Hear Mr. Matthews:

In accordance with our arrangement yesterday I beg to present to your committee a statement on behalf of the Pacific coast fishermen in connection with the prices of gasoline.

You have had a lot of evidence in connection with the price of gas as used in cars, etc., but I would point out where a car will go twenty-five miles on a gallon of gas, a boat will only go six or seven. Also the use of a car, except in the case of a jitney, is often only a convenience to a man in business, but in the case of the fisherman a boat using gas all the time is absolutely essential in his business.

The fishing of which I am speaking is mostly trolling for what are called spring salmon, and later for cohoes, and some gill netting as well, practically all individual fishermen. The larger boats, owned by canning companies and packers, etc., generally have diesel engines and use a cheaper grade of fuel having a lower duty.

The market for springs caught at this time of the year is practically entirely in the States, and at the present time the market is very limited and the price very low. On fish caught by our fishermen going into Seattle there is a duty of two cents per pound, which did not seem very much when fish was selling at sixteen cents a pound, but it is a very substantial handicap now when fish is bringing five cents and even three cents a pound.

The United States fishermen, fishing in the same grounds as our men, mostly outside the three mile limit, can get their gas in Seattle for less than half what it costs our men. It has been estimated that the cost of gas and oil constitutes from 35 to 70 per cent of the cost of operating. Not only do our boats have tc go out a long distance to the banks, sometimes twenty miles off shore, but the engine has to be operated all the time they are fishing, as the boat has to be kept moving slowly. The United States fisherman sells his fish in Seattle and gets two cents a pound more than our men do for it. and he buys his gas at the reduced price I have mentioned.

I might give a specific instance of what occurred last spring, that is, a year ago. Gas was being sold in Seattle at six cents a gallon, wine measure. Our customs department considered that the proper price was eleven cents, wine measure, and the difference, five cents a gallon, was held to be dumping duty. Therefore, we had a

Cost price of 6 cents

Dumping duty of 5 cents

Making a total cost of 11 cents

which, translated into imperial gallons is 13-2 cents. To this was added the regular duty of 24 cents per gallon, imperial, making 15'7 cents as against 7-2 cents, the latter being the equivalent in imperial gallons of six cents per gallon, wine measure. At the same time the price on our side of the line was around 22 cents. At the present time the spread seems to be even greater.

I would like to quote briefly some telegrams and letters I have received. One telegram

'eadS' 14-15 March, 1932.

"To A. W. Neill, M.P.

Salmon prices Seattle ten cents to-day this means five cents here. Vancouver unable move fish. Unless gas prices dropped considerably the whole west coast fleet must tie up and rely on government for support halibut fleet already quit. Gas selling Seattle waterfront seven cents Canadian fishermen at great disadvantage. Can anything be done situation becoming critical?

A letter reads:

March 15, 1932.

"To A. W. Neill, M.P.,

Ottawa, Ont.

Dear Mr. Neill:

You of course appreciate that in so far as we are concerned we are not very much interested in the price of gas, but being familiar with the situation on the west coast I can readily see that if the government is handling other matters that we are vitally interested in the same as they are handling this gasoline question, then it is just too bad for Canadian industries to ever hope to overcome these obstacles.

I was talking recently to a man very vitally interested in the business and he stated to me that in his opinion it is very likely, within the next thirty days, owing to market conditions, that the entire trolling fleet on the west coast of Vancouver island will have to tie up. I can readily understand this, knowing that alongside of our Canadian boats the American trollers are trolling in the same waters, and whereas the American boats are only paying 6 cents per gallon for their gasoline, the Canadian trollers are paying 24 cents an imperial gallon which is 19 cents an American gallon- or in other words, it is costing them three times as much for their fuel oil cost, which item represents at least 70 per cent of their total cost of operating their boats.

On top of this the Canadian trollers. as you know, are burdened with an additional tax of 2 cents per pound for the fish that is sold in the States, and owing to the limited market in Canada 90 per cent of the spring salmon they catch are sold in the United States. Only a few days ago. I understand, one of Nelson's packers delivered 20,000 pounds of spring salmon in Seattle, on which they only received a net

Agricultural Conditions

return, after paying the tax, of 5 cents and 3 cents per pound, and one of the largest fresh fish houses in Seattle intimated to me a few days ago that it was only a matter of a week or two before there would be an additional cut in prices.

So you can see that the situation for the trailers on the west coast is really serious, unless something is done."

An extract from another letter reads:

March 29, 1932.

"Re the price of gasoline to commercial fishermen in British Columbia to-day.

Our organization of trailers embodying 200 members of white fishermen will in the near future be striving to keep off the bread line; fishing at low prices for their fish and still paying the same price for their gasoline as they did when they were getting 400 per cent more for their fish. This is not logic, it cannot be done; you cannot carry on this way. Our boys are willing to fish for lower prices knowing that world conditions are such that the public cannot be expected to pay a premium on their article alongside the farmer who is getting a low price for his beef, at the same time the government cannot expect this industry to carry on with a burden imposed on them through tariffs or protection to the oil industry of Canada.

If the price of gasoline holds at the present level, our fishermen will be forced to quit and seek unemployment relief. It would be far better for the governnient to pay the fishermen's gasoline bill rather than force them out of business as then they would earn at least part of their keep. The country would be far ahead doing this providing they cannot get the duty down on gasoline so that the fishermen in British Columbia could import their gasoline at a price at half of what the oil companies are charging them in British Columbia to-day. This is not a case of party politics and should be thoroughly gone into by both parties of the house, the outcome of which should be pressed at Ottawa.

Salmon prices for the future are going to be below the present cost of production and the only hope of keeping going is for cheaper operating costs which cannot be done unless you get some quick action. Better this than unemployment."

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

Do I understand the hon. member to say that he is reading from a speech prepared by himself?

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IND
CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

From what document is

the hon. member reading?

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

From a brief on behalf of

the fishermen submitted to the committee investigating the gasoline situation.

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

A brief prepared by the

hon. member?

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I am about to read a petition presented to the Prime Minister. It reads as follows:

To the Right Hon. R. B. Bennett,

Prime Minister of Canada,

Ottawa, Canada.

Dear Sir:-

We, the undersigned fishermen, citizens of British Columbia, do herewith petition the government of Canada to remove the dumping duty imposed on gasoline entering Canada from the United States of America, which is used in the fisheries.

1. That in marketing our trolled caught salmon, we have to export 80 per cent of our catches to the United States of America. Canada is only able to buy 20 per cent. By marketing our fish in United States of America, we have to compete with the United States trailers. This above mentioned dumping duty makes it unfair competition.

2. That the United States trailer has other advantages. We have to. pay 2 cents per pound on our salmon going into U.S.A. We also pay a duty of 2J cents per gallon on gasoline entering Canada from U.S.A. ordinary duty.

3. That the price charged by the oil companies for gasoline on our west coast, and the low price received for our fish makes it impossible for us to operate at a profit. If this dumping duty is not taken off, we will be forced to stop operating, and ask the government for relief.

4. That if the dumping duty on gasoline is removed and we could take advantage of the cheaper fuel, it would help relieve the serious condition existing amongst the fishing fleet on our west coast of Vancouver island.

The point I wish to make on behalf of the fishermen is this, that they are not in the least concerned as to what the oil companies show in connection with profits or losses. The ramifications of the business are so great, it would be quite easy for them, as one government official stated in evidence, to buy from a parent or subsidiary company in the United States, an interlocking concern as we would say, at a price that would show a loss in the Canadian importations. That would be a mere matter of bookkeeping. One of the witnesses who gave evidence before the committee said that prices had been depressed as a result of excessive crude production; or in other words, there had been more gas produced than the consumption demanded. That may be correct, but what has that to do with the starving fishermen on the west coast of Vancouver island? It is simply the same as saying that the production exceeds the demand, a statement which applies equally to the lumbermen, the coal miner, the wheat growers, the fisherman and every other producer of a basic product. None of those industries has come to the government and demanded that we shall make its price such that it can earn even a moderate profit. All have had to take the reduced prices. The producer of one basic commodity, handicapped as he is by his

Agricultural Conditions

miserable price, his low wages, his infrequent employment, has this advantage, small as it may be, that he can buy the other man's stuff also at the low cost. When, however, we come to the oil people, the government says: Thus far shalt thou go and no farther. We say to the fisherman, the coal miner and the wheat grower: You must sell your Stuff in competition with the world, that is below the cost of production; you can buy your wheat, coal and fish at that price; but when you buy oil, we insist that it shall be at such a price as will produce a good profit to the oil company.

The fisherman's contention is that the oil companies have taken advantage of the legislation that was passed in September, 1930, which imposed not only a bigger duty but a dumping duty on gasoline. Any relief that could be obtained in this regard would be of great benefit to the fishermen. It would keep them out of the bread line, from demanding relief from the government, because I suppose a destitute man can demand relief, a miserable dole, a few dollars a month for working at something for which he is unfitted. It would pay even the oil companies if a reduction were made in the price of gasoline, because they would sell more, they would cut down their overhead and so on. They tell us: Our overhead expenses are heavy. I can point out where a considerable saving could be made, and that is if they ended the senseless competition with other companies. You can go into any village and see three or four rival concerns-I am not talking of service stations-with four or five big stationary tanks and the usual tank delivery equipment, where there is room for only one, and of course the consumer has to pay the cost. I want to read just two short petitions that I received a few hours ago. This letter, which is addressed to me is the result of a meeting held at Kyoquot, British Columbia, on the trolling grounds, in Walters cove on May 7, 1932: Dear Sir:

Kindly present this petition to the proper authorities, viz:

Whereas the prices on salmon have now dropped to unheard of low levels, in fact to three cents per pound for No. 1 and one cent for number twos on the fishing grounds, and whereas it is not possible to operate and make our daily bread, selling our production for those prices, and whereas the Dominion government is helping out unemployment by appropriation of funds, therefore we the undersigned fishermen petition the Dominion government to take off the dumping duty and all other duties off gasoline from the United States for use in commercial fishing, as a special measure to give us a chance to make a livelihood and not become a burden to the taxpayer of the country. Gasoline from the United States can be obtained for half price that we are paying here if the duties were removed.

That is signed by some hundreds of men. This is a short one from the Kyoquot Trollers Cooperative Association, which is a veiy fine body, well managed, sensibly organized by the fishermen themselves, with no expensive overhead. Up to date it has been successful, but now it is in trouble. This is a resolution passed at a meeting of the board of directors at Kyoquot, British Columbia, on May 15:

Whereas the depressed condition throughout Canada and the United States have brought food products to the present low level, the market for salmon fresh or cured has suffered more than other products, and

Whereas according to the books of our association the gross earnings per fisherman per week for the last four weeks have dropped to $9.59, and

Whereas there is no other buyer on the west coast of Vancouver island able to pay any better

prices, and

Whereas our association are unable to give financial assistance, the fishermen now find it impossible to continue operating, as the average daily expense per fisherman is $2.50 per day when operating,

Therefore be it resolved that in order to give the fisherman a chance to continue to make a livelihood and be a producer and not become idle and a burden on the government, we respectfully ask the power that may be to use their influence in an endeavour to get all duties and taxes on gasoline used for commercial fishing purposes lifted.

This is a brief note that I have received and I am going to read only one sentence, as follows:

Mr. Neill:

I wish to tell you that all the Canadian trollers on the coast are tied up-

That is a fulfilment of the prophecy I read dated a month or two ago.

-owing to so low a price that they cannot operate without a loss; even some fishermen of Ucluelet going on to relief and these are good fishermen.

Some lion. MEMBERS: Carried.

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

No, it is not carried. We

have done little all day but listen to academic discussions. This is something real and practical, coming home to the flesh and blood of human beings.

While nothing was said in the committee's report about the fishermen's end of the matter, yet I am informed, on authority I know to be sincere and, I trust, well informed, that the big oil company out there, because there is practically only one, has inaugurated an arrangement whereby the fishermen on the Pacific coast can secure a considerable reduction in the price. They propose to put in what I take to be some kind of what is called stepped-up distillate, that is, improved distillate, which they will be able to sell at five cents a gallon less than the present price

Agricultural Conditions

of gasoline and which they guarantee will be absolutely suitable to the fishermen's engines. Further, they propose to give the fishermen a two-cent cut in the price of ordinary gasoline below current prices. If that is so, and if it is continued, it will be satisfactory. It will help the fishermen to help themselves; also it will help the oil companies? of course, by enabling them to sell more; but until I have definite knowledge that this is really in existence and at least some expectation that the arrangement is permanent, I must continue to press for the request of these men, so desperately near destitution, that the duty and dumping duty on gasoline should be removed.

To these men, hoping against hope that something will be done, what a hollow mockery it must be to be told that the committee has decided that the price of gasoline is reasonable 1 I am willing for the moment to grant it is reasonable so far as the Imperial Oil Company is concerned, but I contend that neither we as parliament nor the government are under any obligation to see that the Imperial Oil Company makes either a good or a reasonable or any .profit in these times. In better times that is a matter we should consider, because we want industry stimulated, but in these days we are in a world-slashing competition, where everything is being sold below cost, and each can buy the other's product below cost. That is not desirable, and we would not grudge paying more for the other fellow's commodities so long as he was paying more for ours. But when we have to accept a lower price on our product, we should not have to pay a high price or even a reasonable price to the oil companies. That is where the error comes in. The premises are wrong when we are told that this must be applied only to oil. If for oil, why not for wheat? Let us carry the thing further. Let us be consistent. Either let all buy at low prices or let us have fictitious prices created by law for the benefit of us all. If I had had anything to do with the investigation of gasoline prices I would not have worried about costs at all. I would have said to the oil companies: What are your prices? If you like to give us your costs, well and good. That is a matter of interest, but it does not greatly affect this issue. We want your prices. Then I would have easily checked them up, yes, and checked them up without spending ten thousand dollars. Then I would have taken steps to ascertain what genuine competing companies were prepared to put gasoline down at, not companies ostensibly competing in Canada but actually engaged only in distribution, because it was admitted in the evidence that

one company dominated the prices of them all. Then I would have, gone to some foreign country, if there was no competition in Canada, to Peru, the United States, the West Indies, Roumania, even to Russia if that were necessary, and I would have asked for their prices and I would have got them. Then I would have come back to the big company in Canada and I would have told them that the law of trade is the law of the survival of the fittest. I would have said: These are the competing prices you must meet. We would like to see you get the business at these prices. Meet those prices inside of two weeks, or we shall recommend the government to take the dumping duty off. If that had been done, we would not have the situation we have in Canada to-day.

That, Mr. Speaker, is practically the case for the fishermen. I have put it poorly; I have not had time to do it justice. Their situation is desperate. Are we going to help these men to help themselves, or are we just going to give them this miserable dole, letting their boats deteriorate-and they deteriorate very quickly when tied up-letting their nets deteriorate as they do even more rapidly when not in use; letting their gear go down and letting the morale of the men go down, because a fisherman working with a pick and shovel on the road is like a fish out of water. Better give him a little help and encourage him to go on and let someone else go in the bread line if he has to.

I very much regret to have had to take up time at this late hour, because I know the desire of hon. members to get home, but I felt it was my duty to bring this matter to the attention of this house and of the government. The situation of the fishermen is desperate, and I fear for the future because desperate men will do desperate things. There is the situation, and I put the responsibility up to the government. If the oil companies would help along the lines of the suggestions made to me .it might help, but it is only a supposition. If we cannot get some definite assurance, let us take some steps to reduce the duty and take off the dumping duty and thereby fulfil the promise made to us by the Prime Minister in September, 1930, when he said-I could quote Hansard, I have it here-there will be no increase in prices because of an increase in the tariff. When my hon. friend from Shcl-burne-Yarmouth (Mr. Ralston) and myself pleaded with the government to exempt the fishermen the Prime Minister said that it was unnecessary to talk of such a thing because there was not going to be any increase in prices. Possibly there has not been, but the

Agricultural Conditions

other side of it is that there has been no reduction in prices when there should have been. That possibility was put up to the Prime Minister and he said: If there are substantial reductions in prices elsewhere and none in Canada when there should be, we would consider that a breach of the agreement. I maintain, Mr. Speaker, that it has been abundantly proved that the agreement has been broken, that faith has not been kept, and I say that it is up to the government to live up to the promise made by the Prime Minister on that occasion.

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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. G. G. COOTE (Macleod):

I think

possibly I might make use of some words of the speaker who preceded me (Mr. Neill) when I endeavour to bring this discussion back to the amendment moved by the hon. member for Southeast Grey (Miss Macphail), draw the attention of the house to the condition of agriculture in Canada, and say that some measures must be taken to improve the situation now existing.

Agriculture is Canada's most important industry. Through agriculture forty-seven per cent of our people secure their living. Agriculture gives employment to more Canadians than any other industry, and the condition of agriculture is vitally important to every other industry in Canada and I think to every financial interest and financial institution in Canada.

It might be enlightening to members of the house and possibly to members of the government to give the total value of the agricultural production in Canada last year. In 1931 our agricultural production was valued at nearly one billion dollars less than in 1928. In other words, the value of our agricultural production last year was approximately only forty per cent of its value in 1928. Agriculture in Canada took a drop last year of sixty per cent as compared with 1928. May I quote the figures very briefly?

1926..

1927..

1928..

1931..

Total value of agricultural production in Canada . $1,714,000,000

. 1.825,000,000

. 1.806,000,000

. 880,000,000

I doubt if any other industry could carry on for another year if the value of its production had dropped sixty per cent, and the only reason that agriculture is carrying on to-day is that the farmers are working without wages and in many cases are living on sums earned and saved in previous years. I think, Mr. Speaker, it is evident that something must be done to take care of agriculture. May I quote just one or two paragraphs from Farm and Dairy of April, 1932?

Many people who are making money out of farmers appear not to realize how serious is the situation. When farmers, as thousands of them are doing, find it necessary to give up the use of their automobiles, to disconnect their telephones and to make many other similar economies, it is because they are reaching the limit of their resources. They know that they must save every cent if they are to pull through this time of crisis.

I would like to emphasize the first words of that quotation, "Many people who are making money out of farmers appear not to realize how serious is the situation." I repeat that many other industries in Canada are dependent on the success of agriculture for their success and continuance.

Before I leave this question of the condition of agriculture I would like to quote the actual price of a few of our basic commodities. Ontario farmers at the present time are receiving for their milk which they are sending to the cheese factory, so I was told last week, less than fifty cents per one hundred pounds, which works out at five cents a gallon or 1J cents a quart of milk. That does not pay for the labour involved in taking the milk from the cow. Eggs in Alberta at country points, I am told, bring three cents a dozen. In other words, it takes one dozen eggs to pay for a postage stamp to mail a letter. How can the farmers of Canada continue under those conditions?

I regret very much to have to take up the time of the house at this late stage of the session, but we have been here between three and four months, and nothing that I can think of has been done for agriculture except to reduce the estimates of the Department of Agriculture by about one-third. If anything had been done for agriculture I would not be speaking on this amendment to-night. We have waited to the very last week of the session hoping that the government would do something for agriculture. If agriculture was not in need, I would not be stressing the urgency of the situation at the present time. There is no industry in Canada that has borne the burden and heat of the day to the same degree and so patiently as agriculture. For three years prices of agricultural products have been steadily declining. I notice in the Canadian Countryman, which gives prices of butter in Toronto, that in January, 1930, butter was worth 39 cents per pound and that in February, 1932, it had fallen to 17 cents, in spite of the efforts of the government to assist agriculture. I will admit it is perhaps a little

Agricultural Conditions

difficult for the government to find the necessary measures to assist agriculture. In the amendment there are a number of suggestions. If we may judge from the record of previous governments in Canada with reference to their assistance to agriculture, I have no doubt the program outlined in the amendment will stand for some years before it is completely adopted. I do suggest to the government, however, that they take action on one or two of these matters before the house again assembles.

The vital question to the farmer to-day is that of prices, and the exchange value of his commodities. Before dealing with exchange values, may I say that on an average about thirty-five per cent of the farmer's income must be paid out for debts, interest, taxes, insurance premiums and other payments fixed in terms of dollars. The farmer can pay these liabilities only through the sale of his commodities. When the price he receives from such sales drops to the extent of sixty per cent we will readily understand that he must sell two and one-half times the amount of commodities to pay his debts, interest, taxes, insurance premiums, and so on. I agree with the suggestion made by the Prime Minister some time ago that the people of Canada should hang on to their insurance policies as long as possible, and keep the premiums paid up. But to-day the majority of farmers find it impossible to pay the premiums. There is one thing the government could do for the farmer, and that is to increase farm commodity price levels in Canada. There is a possibility of increasing those price levels.

May I point out that practically all our basic commodities are to-day on an export basis? I refer particularly to wheat, cattle, hogs and dairy products. The export market which fixes prices is in England. The net price at which we sell practically all our wheat-and I am using wheat only as an example-is fixed by the price of that wheat in Liverpool, in English currency, less the carrying charges for taking it over there. That price applies to every bushel of wheat we sell. Therefore the price to the Canadian farmer depends upon the amount of Canadian money we receive for the British pound. Last September we were receiving $4.87.

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May 24, 1932