Mr. C. N. DORION (Quebec-Montmorency) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, representing a county which comprises a population three quarters of which are farmers, I deem it my duty to briefly comment on this bill No. 51.
The title "The Natural Products Marketing Act" summarizes all its economic purpose.
Ever since the mechanization of industry which gave birth to economic liberalism-the primary cause of the ills from which this modern world suffers, at present-numerous measures have been enacted by various countries; however, such legislation, as a whole, only concerns trade and industry. The present bill under consideration is one of the most progressive measures ever submitted to the parliament of Canada, and that is what gives it such importance, because by this legislation we are resolutely resorting to regulated economy, particularly in connection with natural products.
Since the government introduced this bill, we have read some criticism in the press which sides with the oppsition, especially in the province of Quebec.
The conservative party is charged with having borrowed part of its program from the radical party, the C.C.F. We may reply, as Disraeli once said:
I am a conservative to preserve what is sound; a radical to suppress what is unsound.
Marketing Act-Mr. Dorion
For too long a time-we are aware of this, to-day, more than ever-the state has neglected to carry out one of its primary functions: to regulate the economic activities of the nation, not in the interest or for the benefit of the private individual or group of persons, but in the interest of the collectivity or community.
Up to this day, economic liberalism-which prompted Jean Baptiste Say to state: "Production opens markets to products"-made it a rule to prohibit any interference by the state in the economic field of activities. The rule of supply and demand was the law. Where has this principle in practice for over a century and a half led us? What do we see throughout the world after such a long period of indifference or "laissez faire"? Why has the state so long been reluctant to interfere in order to regulate the prices, salaries and markets? Those are as many questions which we have a right to ask and which the present bill will be a solution for many.
Indeed, it is not sufficient to have discovered new methods of wealth production, the means of specially putting such production in circulation and distributing it must be resorted to. I repeat what I stated a moment ago as regards mechanization of industry and economic liberalism; the first of these two sciences has attained a high degree of development; however, the second through abstention on the part of the state has lamentably dragged behind.
As George Boris wrote in his work intituled: "Probleme de l'or et crise mondiale":
There is no lack of motive power or means to create it. Neither are the building materials wanting; nor are we short of food to feed humanity or fuel to keep the people warm; nor are the textiles or leather wanting to clothe us. Large mills exist, new ones can easily he built and equipped to turn the raw material into articles of consumption. And the hands are also willing, only awaiting the order to start work.
However, the means of distribution and exchange are not in keeping with the methods of production which could probably fill our requirements and wishes. That is the reason why the iron rule remains in force making the poverty of some the ransom for the welfare of others.
The period between 1914 and 1918 should serve as examples to us. It happened that troops were marking time on certain battlefields while others were almost overwhelmed by the enemy. What did those in command do under such circumstances? Did they send back home these unoccupied soldiers? No such blunder was made but there was a new distribution of the various units, troops were massed where the enemy was on the point of breaking through. So must we act in the economic field of activities. The duty
of the state is to regulate the purchasing and marketing of natural products so that those who are short may purchase them from those who already have too much.
Why produce wealth if we do not know how to put it in circulation or distribute it? In fact, are not the two results sought by this bill to circulate and distribute our natural products? Mr. Albert Rioux, president of "l'Union Catholique des cultivateurs de la province de Quebec," doctor of agricultural science, has a deep knowledge of farm problems-not only from a theoretical viewpoint but also as regards the practical side-he is one of the most brilliant Canadian scholars who studied the question, he wrote in the "Devoir" on April 10 and 17, two very interesting articles in connection with the act relating to the Natural Products Marketing Board. It will afford me pleasure, indeed, to see these two articles translated into English for the benefit of our friends who speak the English language and who do not read the "Devoir."
In the first of these articles, after having noted that, from the very outset of the crisis, all industries had taken measures to adapt themselves to the law of supply and demand by reducing their output and exercising a strict control over their members, the author adds:
The farmers carried on their production, they even attempted, in a number of cases, to increase this production so as to compensate themselves for the loses sustained in the drop in prices.
Moreover, agriculture is incapable of quickly adapting its production to the changing conditions of the market. Many factors which influence the agricultural output are uncontrollable by man. Isolated, essentially individualists, farmers cannot organize and easily group themselves to regulate their production and' marketing activities.
Free competitive methods have afforded an opportunity to large corporations to monopolize the distribution of most of the farm products.
Ever since the crisis prevails, we note that, in all countries, the margin, between the prices paid to producers and exacted from the consumers is continuously increasing. The cost of distributing farm products is too greatly increasing. Briefly the situation of farmers demands state intervention.
New conditions are developing, we are rapidly passing from a system of free competition to that of economic control.
Regulated economy, means deliberate control of economic activities not for the benefit of one or groups of private interests but for the benefit of the community.
In the past economy meant that the state was prohibited to interfere in the economic sphere; it trusted to the hazard of indifference or chance to solve social problems; it looked upon as sacred the law of supply and demand, abstained from influencing prices, wages and the market. This free competition
Marketing Act-Mr. Donon
brought on chaos in the distribution of products, the fleecing of producers and consumers by trusts, overproduction and deflation of prices.
Agriculture, the industry of primary importance to society is also the one which has felt the crisis most and is the most helpless to react. Most of the countries have first attacked the wheat problem, the importance of which is foremost. Wheat is the foundation of agriculture; it fixes the prices of the coarse grains and, indirectly, the price of animal products. Even in 1925, Italy levied a tax on imported wheat and inaugurated a vast program known as the "wheat conflict." In Germany the general tariff on imported wheat is almost three times the price it sells on the London or Liverpool market. Great Britain adopted its "Wheat Act" in 1932 so as to give to her producers a sufficient market, at a profitable price. France, Belgium and all the countries of central and eastern Europe developed a vast system of customs tariffs, regulations in the charges for grinding, in the importation quotas, in licences to import or export. These competitive measures against imported products were everywhere accompanied by a program of protection and assistance to national agriculture.
Soon, not only wheat but all other products will come under the control of regulated economy. In England, the Agricultural Marketing Act provides for the organization of producers of certain farm products for the purpose of regulating prices on the market. In the United States a whole chain of legislation embodies all economic activities, "the Agricultural Adjustment Act, Emergency Farm Mortgage Act. Farm Credit Act, Emergency Banking Act, Unemployed Relief Act, National Industrial Recovery Act." The agricultural and industrial program of Roosevelt constitutes the most complete scheme put into practice heretofore. By creating The Natural Products Marketing Board the dominion government boldly takes the path leading to regulated economy.
In the Devoir's issue of April 17, Mr. Rioux adds:
The hon. L. A. Taschereau has just enacted a measure in the legislative assembly intituled "An Act to assist in putting into effect in this province any regulation helping the marketing of the natural products of Canada." The provincial government is therefore authorized to enforce by orders in council the act creating the Dominion Marketing Board. We wish to congratulate the Prime Minister for his diligence in cooperating with the dominion authorities; we hope that, in the administration of this act, the cooperation of Quebec and Ottawa will be perfect.
Mr. Speaker, I think Mr. Rioux was too hasty in congratulating the hon. Prime Minister of Quebec in having the Legislative Assembly adopt an act permitting the enforcement in the province of the Natural Products Marketing Act. If we are to judge from the interview published in " Le Canada " of this date, Mr. Taschereau desires to protest against two measures at present under consideration by the House of Commons. First, Mr. Taschereau referring to the Marketing bill, states:
Ottawa desires to take over the control of our forests, mines, fisheries and natural products.
An hon. MEMBER (Translation): Shame!
Subtopic: ORGANIZATION TO IMPROVE METHODS AND PRACTICES IN MARKETING NATURAL PRODUCTS