April 25, 1934

LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

There is to-day no real control in regard to agriculture, and the fact that it is in its present chaotic condition has compelled agriculturists from all parts of the dominion to urge upon this central body, parliament, that something be done to lift them out of the rut in which they now find themselves. If that is not done, may I ask my hon. friends to my immediate right: What is going to be the alternative? Can agriculture continue to exist the way it is being carried on at present? Everybody admits that is almost impossible; therefore there is only one alternative, and that is proper government control and regulation. We have to choose also between government or cabinet and private control as we have it at present, and I will choose government control even though it may delegate some of those powers to a body as yet unnamed. I do not know why my hon. friends to my right are so afraid of a committee or commission that is to be appointed to administer these matters. In fact there is a great deal of confusion of thought in the minds of Liberals on this question; they are confusing the administration of the affairs of the country with the legislative functions of parliament. The party should be able to distinguish between what is legislative and what is administrative. In the administration of such a measure as a

{.Mr. Heaps. 1

marketing act we are compelled to delegate fairly wide powers to a body which has the administration of such legislation under its jurisdiction. We have passed similar laws galore in the house. Even to-day we have handed over to the trustees of the Canadian National Railways enormous powers in connection with the running of the national system. Who objects to that? I remember very well many hon. members on the Liberal side of the house time and time again rising in their places and saying: We are giving and have given to the directors of the national railway system a completely free hand without any interference from the government. Nevertheless the expenditure of that railway is approximately two-thirds of the expenditure of the federal government.

I believe the functions of administration and of legislation should be kept separate. I for one am prepared to entrust to the proper administrative officials of the government power to administer the laws of the country as they should be administered, that is in the most efficient and sympathetic way possible. It is the function of parliament to create the legislative machinery and to see that the laws enacted here are properly carried out by the officials whom we may appoint. Even though we may appoint these boards to function in the way we want, we still do not lose control over them, because each year parliament has a right to inquire into every phase of their activities. May I go further? In every act of parliament that is passed by the house, if we have power to create boards, . we have also power to unmake them, so if they are not functioning as we want them to, parliament has the power in its own hands and the remedy if it desires to exercise it.

Further, may I point to the many boards at present functioning in this country with very wide powers? Let me refer, for example, to the workmen's compensation boards that we have throughout the dominion. Throughout all the years that those workmen's compensation acts have been in effect, has any complaint been made in regard to their administration? There are compulsory features in our workmen's compensation laws. The employer is compelled to insure his employees against accident. Another important feature is the fact that these laws take away from the individual the right of appeal to the courts of the country. Have we ever had any complaint from any source whatsoever about the compulsory features of these laws? Have we ever had any complaint about the fact that the individual is denied the right of appeal to the courts? It is the very reverse;

Marketing Act-Mr. Heaps

experience has taught us that these laws are in the general interests of the community and of those whom they are intended to protect and benefit. We have other forms of restrictive legislation. We have the minimum wage laws under which the state says to the employers of labour: You shall pay to the individual a certain fixed minimum rate of pay. The employer may object and may think he is being deprived of the opportunity of making a free contract with the individual, but under these laws he is compelled to pay to that individual a certain minimum rate of pay. If he does not pay that rate, very often he is brought before the courts and fined. Certain rights are taken away by administrative action; they are taken away not directly by parliament but by the law which has been enacted by parliament, which is administered by certain officials appointed by the government, and which are regarded as in the country's interest.

There are many laws under which the individual is deprived of what he may regard as his own rights. I cannot go on the streets of Ottawa and drive an automobile unless I have a licence. If I have a licence and drive on the streets I may come to an intersection and find a red light against me. Much as I would like to go past that red light, I am regulated and controlled by the municipal laws and I must stop. I must drive on certain sides of the street. If I do not obey these laws then I may be brought into court and fined. Going beyond that, an individual may commit the whole nation to war without the consent of parliament. This is what happened in 1914. While I do not agree with such action, I am pointing out what is an actual fact. A former government broke off trade relations between this and another country either by order in council or by the act of a cabinet minister. I refer to the action taken in 1927 when the government broke off trade relations with Russia. Parliament had nothing to do with that matter. When a budget is introduced into this house it becomes effective the moment it is delivered. Parliament has no say except to criticize what is already an accomplished fact. The administration of our income tax and excise laws put enormous powers into the hands of the administrators, and yet no objection is raised to the power vested in these officials. This parliament could never become an effective machine for administering the laws of the country. This is why we appoint such boards as the railway commission. Who would ever dream of this house creating a freight structure

for the dominion? We have also harbour commissions and many other boards which I would enumerate had I the time.

Objection has been made to the licensing of industries. We do a great deal of licensing at the present time. We grant charters to the banks, to the railways and to the insurance companies. We lease water powers. The amount of licensing done in this country is amazing. Only the other day I received a little manual from the city of Winnipeg which shows the amount of licensing done there. The city of Winnipeg issues 151 different licences to individuals and industries within the city. What applies to the city of Winnipeg applies equally well to practically every other municipality in the dominion. We license abattoirs, hotels, theatres, circuses, taxi drivers and so on.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

And dogs.

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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

Even dogs, as an hon. member remarked. Under this measure industries are to be licensed by federal rather than municipal authority, and we hear a big complaint made in the house that if this is done it will be the end of everything. I claim that so far as the licensing and control features of the present bill are concerned, they are merely an extension of what has been done in the dominion for many years past.

I should like to leave this aspect of the bill and state why I believe this legislation has become necessary. To-day we are living in a completely different era from that of twenty or thirty years ago. Conditions have changed considerably during the past two or three decades. We are now living in an age of contracting capitalism as compared to the age of expanding capitalism in which we lived a few years ago. It has become necessary for governments to recognize the fact that export markets are not what they were years ago. Each country in the world now finds it comparatively easy to produce goods; all nations want to be more or less on an export basis; most nations cannot find export markets and refuse to accept imports. The result is the piling up of tremendous surpluses of commodities in all parts of the world. So far as industrial and commercial activities are concerned, the nations find themselves in a complete state of chaos. In my humble opinion, this has not been brought about by tariffs. If there were no tariffs I believe that we would still be faced with this great glut of commodities. This condition can be cured by increasing the purchasing power of the great masses of the people which in turn will

Marketing Act-Mr. Heaps

have the effect of increasing the consumptive opportunities which are at present denied to them. One of the great problems which governments have to face at the present time is how to deal with this glut. In these days the individual has very little chance against the trusts and the huge combines. I should like to make a short quotation from a very interesting book as follows:

Much of this weakness of liberalism has been due to obsolete historical associations. Liberalism has been too long associated with laissez-faire, a negative and outworn attitude- it must now become positive. The old individualism is meaningless in a world of giant corporations, of ramifying combinations, and of national economic systems. It spells no longer either liberty or strength or social welfare. In practice liberalism has broken away from these old formulas, has in truth helped to demolish them, but in doctrine it has never fully emancipated itself. That is seen, for example, in the history of English Liberalism. English statesmen from the time of Gladstone have been apt to use old slogans for new policies as though the measures of national conservation, insurance and protection, which they introduced, were merely a continuation of the old Factory Acts. When they did not use the language of tradition, like Asquith, they used that of opportunism, like Lloyd George. The Fabians did in the name of socialism what should be done in the name of liberalism. They formulated principles and decisive doctrines and showed their application. On this side of the Atlantic liberalism has been still less expressive. In a period of expanding populations and developing resources, in a period when the law of unearned increment triumphed over the law of diminishing returns, there was no great incentive to such expression. But now the situation has changed and the necessity has arisen; liberalism must rise with it.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

What is the hon.

gentleman reading from?

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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

I will tell you in a moment. It goes on to say:

Those so-called Liberals who refuse to advance one step should go where they belong. They have no business in the Liberal party. They should join their natural associates, the Conservatives.

I have been quoting from a book entitled The Liberal Way, published in September, 1933, and I have been giving the views of Professor Maclver, who is very well known to Liberals of this house-as my hon. friend from Bow River (Mr. Garland) says, one of {heir brain trust.

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

We don't keep a brain trust.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

No, that

is clear.

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PC

Errick French Willis

Progressive Conservative

Mr. WILLIS:

The writer is mistaken m

one detail only.

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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

Let me go further and quote from the same book, The Liberal Way:

A study of the politics of most countries will show one problem at least which they have in common-the effort to relate economic activity to government.

That is the very reverse of what the present Liberal party are doing in this house. The leader of the opposition objects to this bill because, he claims, it will increase the functions of government, and so long as the Liberal party object to increasing the functions of government they must naturally be opposed to any marketing bill, whether it be this or any other. To proceed with the quotation:

We have already acquired a useful perspective in this matter: we need not wait for the historians of the future to tell us that the last generation is marked chiefly by the struggle;- not over yet-between two functions-politics and economics. In the nineteenth century there was little risk of a clash between the two. Politics left economic activity largely in private hands and was concerned with other things. But gradually the state has been forced to turn its attention to the economic field. Economics, in fact, has wooed politics now for decades, endeavouring with difficulty to break down an habitual indifference. Early approaches took place in England when the great program of social legislation was launched before the war. The process has been more than one of "wooing" in other countries. There has been a forced marriage between economics and politics in Russia. In the United States, since the new administration has assumed office, it is clear that a new form of alliance between these two is probable.

How totally different this is from the attitude of the Liberal party towards this bill- and here I have been quoting from the preface to the book, written by the Hon. Vincent Massey. I will let his statement, as it appears in the book, stand side by side with the declaration of the Liberal party in this house. It will have been observed that the final statement of Mr. Vincent Massey has reference to what was happening in the United States and, strange as it may seem, although the opposition to-day claim that they are opposed to increasing the functions of government-that can be found in the remarks of the leader of the opposition- in another booklet published by the Liberal party entitled Industry and Humanity, circulated by the National Liberal Federation of Canada, they are practically taking the whole credit for the N.R.A. in the United States. If the opposition want to take credit for the N.R.A. in the United States I suggest that they read this particular pamphlet-I have not the time now to quote from it- because in that country the functions of state

Marketing Act-Mr. Heaps

are being increased enormously, more than anything that is contained in the legislation introduced by the present government. On the one hand we have the Liberal party saying that they are totally opposed to increasing the functions of the state, while on the other hand they distribute hundreds of thousands of pieces of literature throughout the country, trying to link up the Liberal party here with the N.R.A. in the United States, virtually declaring that the party is the father of what is taking place there. It is difficult to know which of the two to choose.

Perhaps I might say a word with reference to what is taking place in the United States. At times I have expressed a great deal of sympathy with as well as admiration for the way in which the President of the United States is attempting to deal with the problems with which that country is faced. At least he is making an effort to get his country out of the economic chaos in which it finds itself at the present time. I am not however so hopeful of success as perhaps a good many people are, for in the United States they are attempting to carry on two different forms of economic principles within the confines of the country. They are trying to build up a great cooperative system within the competitive system, and sooner or later one must give way to the other; either the cooperative effort must triumph over the competitive or the competitive must triumph over the cooperative. Which will ultimately triumph I am not in a position to say, but it appears to me at present that the old order may prevail in the end over the cooperative efforts that are now being made.

I wanted to have a few words to say with regard to the Liberal amendment which has been submitted as an alternative to the bill now before us. I have had some difficulty in getting at the meaning of the Liberal amendment. Though it has been ruled out of order, I think it is well worth while my quoting a few words of it. My knowledge of the English language may not be as perfect as I should like it to be, and therefore it is difficult for me to interpret the meaning of the amendment, which reads:

This house, while prepared to support legislation for assisting the orderly marketing of natural products, is unalterably opposed to the enactment of any compulsory measure which delegates to unnamed and undetermined individuals, groups or organizations, sweeping powers over the production and trade and commerce of the nation. . . .

I am wondering, if the names of those who

are to have the powers in question were in-74726-161

serted in the bill, whether the Liberal party would support this legislation. Or, on the other hand, am I to infer from this that they are totally opposed to any form of market control or to the compulsory features of the bill? I am inclined to think it was an amendment designed to be capable of interpretation according to the wishes of those who interpreted it. It really had no particular meaning, but was facing both ways. There has been a great deal of talk about the magna charta of almost one thousand years ago, which no doubt in its own time served a very useful purpose. But I think the time has come when there ought to be a new magna charta, not for the barons as of old but for the common people of the Dominion of Canada. That magna charta is long overdue. When we see conditions in this country as they were just a couple of months ago, with about one and a quarter million people on relief; when we find that at the present time there are approximately half a million people out of work, it surely is time we gave to that vast number of our people some real hope that the future is going to be a little brighter than the past has been. To-day there is in this country very little of that economic freedom which my hon. friends to my right say we possess. What economic freedom is there for the mass of the people? Is it the freedom for that half million to go and look for a job which does not exist? Is it the freedom for that one and a quarter million to obtain their daily relief from the public authorities? Is it that freedom which the small storekeeper has, who from month to month can hardly keep his head above water?

I think the time must come when this parliament has got to take cognizance of these conditions. We cannot do anything by adopting that ostrich-like attitude of digging our heads into the sand and attempting not to see what is going on all around us. The whole commercial and industrial life of Canada is in a state of chaos, and if we are going to get out of the chaotic condition in which we find ourselves there is only one body in this dominion that can set about it with any effectiveness. We cannot leave it to private enterprise; if private enterprise could get us out of the present rut it would have done it long ago, because it is not to the advantage of private enterprise to have conditions continue as they are. Therefore there is only one authority capable of doing anything, and that is the state. At lass! the government of this country, representing the whole dominion, have decided to take hold of and control the situation in regard to one very important

2540 COMMONS

Marketing Act-Mr. Heaps

aspect of our national life. They have decided to assume control of and to regulate the marketing of the products of agriculture, of the field and of the forest. Because I believe that the step the government have taken, speaking in a general way, is in the right direction, I intend to vote for this measure. While I intend to vote for it, I am also in favour of submitting the bill to the agriculture committee, where certain features of it may be thoroughly explored, where we may have before us expert opinion, as is not possible before a committee of the whole house. After the bill has received second reading, I hope it may go to that committee for that full and open deliberation which may perhaps lead to improvements in respect to certain details of the measure.

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

When the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Willis) was addressing the house he quoted from a newspaper. I said that in my opinion it was not in accordance with the rules of the house to do so. I have since examined the article he quoted, and I find that he was quite within his rights.

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CON

Ernest Edward Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. E. E. PERLEY (Qu'Appelle):

The natural products marketing bill that we are now considering has been so well received in the country, and particularly in that part of the province of Saskatchewan that I have the honour to serve, that I hardly thought it would be necessary for me to say anything upon the bill at this time. But after listening to some hon. members opposite, particularly those from that province who spoke, labouring long and hard to place a wrong interpretation upon this bill and to show that the people of Saskatchewan are not behind it, I think it necessary for me to say a few words, and to inform the house that the reports I am getting from Saskatchewan-and I am receiving letters daily-are to the effect that it has been very favourably received there.

The hon. member for Souris (Mr. Willis) covered the ground so thoroughly in his review of the events leading up to the framing of this bill and its introduction in the house that it is hardly necessary for me to say anything in that respect. I might just add that all the organizations he quoted,-the pool, the cooperative organizations, and even the grain trade in western Canada,-are favouring and supporting this bill. I have talked with many of the heads and representatives of these organizations and they have so expressed themselves to me.

There are, I think, certain features that we can agree on. From the discussion I think it is quite evident that we agree on the main IMr. Heaps.]

principles of the bill. I think we are agreed that markets for the primary products are what we need, and that such markets shall be stable, orderly and regulated. The bill before the house is designed to secure that, to regulate in an orderly way the flow of primary products into whatever markets we may have, whether domestic or export. So that the main principles of the bill have been agreed upon, I need only deal with the matter in a general way.

The right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) and many of the hon. members behind him, particularly those from the west, in trying to put a wrong interpretation on the bill or speaking with respect to the regulations and the powers that the boards may have, have gone far afield to get an argument. They have been setting up men of straw in order to knock them down. We have heard the criticism that there is restriction. I say that in this bill there is no restriction of production as they have tried to make out. All governments have to pass regulatory acts; many such could be cited. I think the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) cited many acts that this parliament has passed which are regulating acts. Certainly all countries have passed acts for the regulation of trade and commerce. We could even quote the empire agreements passed in this house. Certain regulations were set up with respect to quotas and the marketing of our products, and in regard to imports and exports. Then we have, as already cited in this debate, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and many European countries all putting up tariffs, giving bonuses to their producers, and regulating and assisting their trade. This has not taken place only since 1930, or since this government came into office, but goes back even to 1927, 1925 and 1923, it started under the regime of the late government. The reason why the foreign governments to which I have referred took these steps I am not going to discuss. On hundreds of occasions in this house we have heard the reasons given. I do not care whether it was because of fear or because they wished to become self-sustaining; I do not care who is to blame because these countries took certain steps by way of setting up tariffs and restricting trade. What I am concerned with is the fact that a situation is facing this country and this government with respect to marketing. Everyone knows that to-day it is more difficult to market our primary products than it ever has been, due to the circumstances I have mentioned, and everyone knows that a small percentage of our products regulates

Marketing Act-Mr. Heaps

the price at which the remainder is sold. I think the times warrant a change in our system. The world has changed, particularly with regard to international trade; we have quotas, bonuses, tariffs and so on. We must not sit still and do nothing, as hon. gentlemen opposite did when they were in office; the marketing of our primary products and the protection of our producers in order to see that they get fair prices are problems which must be dealt with.

It has been stated that this act is socialistic or radical in its nature. I do not care what may be said with respect to the act or the party that has introduced it;. I say it is plain that the Conservative party intend to take such action as they think will be of some benefit to the producers of this country. Mass production has brought about many difficulties and is perhaps the greatest single reason for this act, and I think the evidence that has been given before the committee investigating price spreads and mass buying proves conclusively that it is time we took some action. The other day I attended a meeting of that committee and heard evidence to the effect that from three to five per cent of the cattle coming to the Toronto market regulates the price for the remaining ninety-five or ninety-seven per cent. Under this act the board that will be set up will have power to go on that market and take away the surplus and do as they see fit with it. They may dump it into lake Ontario; they may export it at a loss; they may turn it back to the vat and make fertilizer out of it, and the loss will be made good from the consolidated revenue fund of this dominion. Similar evidence has been brought out with regard to our poultry, our fruit and our dairy products. When the minister introduced this bill he told us what happened last fall and winter with regard to dairy products; he stated that a very small percentage of our primary products regulates the price of the remainder of the products which are consumed at home. Under this act that situation can be dealt with.

Now let us consider the bill. In my opinion it has three underlying principles. The first is the power to create boards to regulate and handle the primary products. In other words, in cooperation with the producers these boards will give the producers some say in the selling of their goods and the carrying on of their own business. In the second place the bill provides for the cooperation of provincial authorities or boards with the federal authority or board so that the producer shall not be exploited and prices manipulated to his disad-74726-161J

vantage. In other words, enabling legislation is to be passed by the provinces which will allow these boards to work together so that the producer may not be exploited. In the third place the bill gives power to investigate and regulate, and there is provision that any loss sustained may be made good from the revenues of this country.

The real purpose of the bill, Mr. Speaker, is to make it possible for the primary producers to receive fair remuneration for their products so that they may obtain a decent living and a profit as a result of their labour. In other words it will lay the corner stone of a new foundation for agriculture. Speaking in Regina on October 19, 1930, the hon. member for Melville (Mr. Motherwell) said that a new foundation had to be laid for agriculture if the country was to be saved, and I think this bill is the cornerstone of that foundation. Yesterday the hon. member for Melville quoted a speech which he delivered in this house on May 13, 1932, in which he dealt with the condition of agriculture and said there had to be practically a new start made. In that speech the hon. gentleman advocated something in the nature of this bill, and I want to congratulate the hon. member for the stand he has taken. He has been fair and reasonable on this occasion, and I think perhaps on many other occasions he has tried to be fair when we did not give him credit for it. The hon. member is going to support the second reading of this bill, and the objections he has taken to it are of a minor nature which may be overcome when we are in committee. I commend the hon. gentleman for having taken his stand in opposition to his leader.

It is very amusing, Mr. Speaker, to hear the opposition speak so glibly of wider markets. I make the statement, which I do not think can be challenegd, that no government ever did less to secure new markets or hold existing markets, or to take appropriate steps when they saw markets slipping away-as hon. gentlemen opposite must have seen from 1921 to 1930-than the government headed by the right hon. leader of the opposition, this champion of wider markets. I have before me a list of agricultural products that we export to the United States, which will be found at page 454 of the Commercial Intelligence Journal of March 24 of this year. In the first column are set out forty-three commodities; in the last three columns are shown the tariffs on those commodities entering the United States. In the third to the last column are the rates in the year 1921 on forty-three articles, twenty-five of which were on the free list. In the second

2542 COMMONS

Marketing Act-Mr. Perley (Qu'Appelle)

column to the last we have the rates imposed by the United States in 1930, after nine years of Liberal regime. What do we find? Of the twenty-five articles we find not one article on the free list, and in connection with the other eighteen articles which in 1921 carried minor or small tariffs, the increases are in some cases from 100 per cent to 200 per cent. That is what the Liberal party saw happening to our export trade in primary products during those years.

Last night the hon. member for Vegreville (Mr. Luchkovich) reviewed the results of the Fordney-McCumber tariff of 1923 and the Hawley-Smoot tariff of 1929. What action did the Liberal government take which could be considered retaliatory? They did nothing not even a protest. We have the record of the speech of the right hon. leader of the opposition delivered in 1929, at a time when he was in power, to the effect that he did not propose to take any action for fear of retaliatory action on the part of the United States. I could place on Hansard, further, a list of commodities entering Canada. These figures are very interesting because there are several items in the list showing an increase in the tariffs imposed by the government of that day. If we review the records respecting the percentage of goods entering Canada free of duty we find that to-day we have a greater percentage of goods entering Canada free of duty than we had at any time during the last twenty years.

The opposition opposed the United Kingdom agreements. When the agreements were under discussion the right hon. leader of the opposition said that if returned to power he would repeal the agreements, and would not be bound by them. But the people of Canada know very well what the agreements have meant to them. During the first six months after this house passed the agreements and they became operative, the people were naturally a little leary of them. They had been listening to and reading the arguments presented by the opposition. To-day, however, after more than a year's operation we find that the Canadian people know full well what the agreements mean to them, and that they have meant a great increase in our trade with the United Kingdom.

The leader of the opposition made the statement that the marketing legislation would contract rather than expand trade. He said that was happening to-day. Well, it is but a further illustration of the old saying that there is no one so blind as the man who will not see. That would apply with respect to the right hon. gentleman's statement. I have

in my hand a record of some observations made by hon. members opposite, and particularly by the leader of the opposition, at the time of the debate on the United Kingdom agreements, and I shall refer to one or two of them. The right hon. gentleman declared the imperial treaties to be a tariff wall around the empire, to be a Tory conspiracy and for that reason undeserving of support from anywhere. While the leader of the opposition was taking that stand the hon. member for Melville (Mr. Motherwell), at page 352 of Hansard for 1932-33, declared that the government had swiped the Liberal policy in broad daylight. Although his leader had just said that the trade treaties were a Tory conspiracy, when the vote came the hon. member for Mel-vile voted with his leader. I could refer to other statements made by hon. members opposite in that debate. However, at this time to prove that they were wrong I shall place on record some figures showing the increase in our trade under the agreements during the eleven months between April 1, 1933, and March 1, 1934. In that period, as compared with the same period in the preceding year, our exports to the countries enumerated increased in the following percentages:

Per cent

British Empire countries 21

United Kingdom 20

Australia 54

British South Africa 61

British India 44

At the same time we had a very material increase in our export trade with several foreign countries. In fact, in the month of February last compared with the month of February, 1933, we had an average increase of 51 per cent. Hon. members opposite have offered criticism with regard to our volume of exports and imports, but I am pleased to give further figures showing the import trade for 1933 as compared with the same period in 1934. The increases from the countries indicated are as follows:

Per cent

Foreign countries 41

United States 43

China 31

Japan 39

Germany 51

British Empire 45

United Kingdom 41

British India 114

Australia 182

New Zealand 102

There can be no doubt that the Prime Minister of Canada and his government are endeavouring to solve our problems and to obtain wider markets. They are endeavour-

Marketing Act-Mr. Perley (Qu'Appelle)

ing to see that the primary producers obtain markets for their products. Agriculture is the greatest industry in Canada. It is the one industry which each year produces more new wealth than any other industry. As I have indicated, our government is making an honest effort to do something in that regard. Certainly we are not standing still. I should like hon. members to compare the statement I have just made with the report from the Liberal summer school held last summer at,

I believe, Port Hope. I have before me a record which came through the press indicating that after discussing this problem of wider markets, at a time when the leader of the opposition was present, the summer school admitted that Liberals could suggest no method of improving our market position. When a party gets to that state it no longer deserves the support of its members.

During the last two years we have learned two things in particular: First, we have learned that the world, and particularly the United Kingdom, can consume only certain quantities of our primary products. That quantity is less than it has ever been before. We have also learned the quality of the products they require. May I say that the measure before the house proposes to regulate both as to quantity and quality. Hon. members have pointed out, and the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Willis) made it very clear to-day that under this measure there is no compulsion or no danger of interference with the rights or liberties of producers. Under this measure, when the minister is satisfied that a reasonable majority of producers of any one product have signified their intention of being organized and brought under this measure, the minister may provide for the set-up of a board. I do not think the farmers or other primary producers are worrying very much about parliament taking away any rights or liberties from them when that is done. We must trust our ministers, no matter of what shade of politics they may be. I am sure any minister taken into any government that might be formed in the future would do his best and could be trusted when the situation arose to do the right thing with respect to the primary producers.

As regards wheat, the machinery is practically set up already. We know what has been taking place and wheat may come in under this legislation or it may not. I have no particular reason to believe it will not and I would be satisfied whether it came in or not because I believe it could be properly handled in any event. But the machinery

is set up under the Canada Wheat Board Act that was passed in 1922. The hon. member for Regina (Mr. Turnbull) gave the details with respect to that and he outlined the powers given to the board set up under that act, greater powers than are given by any part of this measure to a board. It is peculiar that at that time the rights of parliament were not considered to be in danger; there was no question about that then, and it was amusing to note the position taken on that occasion that it was all right to do certain things and to give powers to that board without infringing on the rights of parliament. As a matter of fact it was set out in that act that the government might- not by parliament-but by order in council extend the term of that legislation and, as I say, there was no question then about the rights of parliament being in danger.

The hon. member for South Battleford (Mr. Vallance) quoted from a letter which appeared in the Manchester Guardian. As I understand the matter, this article was cut out of that journal and sent to him by the Scottish Cooperative Wholesale Society of Great Britain. It made certain references to the government of Canada and to Mr. McFarland with respect to their operations in supporting the wheat market. No doubt the Scottish Cooperative Wholesale Society would like to get some cheap wheat. I would ask the hon. member whether he thinks the reading of that article at this particular time serves any useful purpose. The hon. member knows the situation as well as any other hon. member and in fact better than most because I believe to some extent he has been taken in the confidence of the government with respect to supporting the wheat market. But it was very inconsistent on his part to bring up that question because we know his record and his action with respect to what happened in the committee when Mr. McFarland appeared before it. We also know what the hon. member stated in the house the evening following Mr. McFarland's appearance before the committee, when my hon. friend practically suggested, as he did in quoting the article, that there was something wrong with the operations as conducted by Mr. McFarland. I say that the hon. member's stand on those two occasions is certainly not consistent.

I should like to quote some figures with regard to the importations of wheat into Great Britain. In p'ebruary last Great Britain imported from all countries 7.566.000 bushels of wheat and from Canada 3,100,000 bushels,

44 COMMONS

Marketing Act-Mr. Perley (Qu'Appelle)

or practically fifty per cent. That shows that we are getting a fair amount of her trade and that Great Britain is dealing fairly with us in that respect.

I note also that the hon. member for Shel-burne-Yarmouth (Mr. Ralston), when speaking the other day on the budget, referred to the wheat business. I think he made a mistake on that occasion; it was not right for him to make the statement he did in the house with respect to the amount involved and so forth for which the government might 'be liable in connection with the wheat transaction, because he was present in the committee when Mr. McFarland gave his evidence and he heard Mr. McFarland state that during the period he had been in charge they had handled one billion bushels of grain and he thought they had made a possible saving to the farmers of 20 cents or at least 10 cents a bushel. What does that mean? If Mr. McFarland has accomplished that they could take all the wheat they are handling at the present time and dump it in the lake and the farmers of western Canada would still be ahead of the game.

With respect to the quotation from the Manchester Guardian made by the hon. member for South Battleford I want to ask just this question: What is the Manchester

Guardian? It is anti-British government; it is certainly anti-Canadian government. One could almost say that it was anti-British. There are in Great Britain a hundred journals that the hon. member can quote in the house if he likes, that will favour and support the action of the British government and that of this government with respect to the wheat business. Why is it that on many occasions we have heard quotations made in the house from the Manchester Guardian when hon. members could find other journals that would say just the opposite? The situation is this: When the hon. member made

his speech and gave that quotation, it could be reported in the Regina Leader or the Winnipeg Free Press, which is certainly antigovernment. That quotation could be cut out and sent to some friend in the old country who could read it on an occasion similar to that which we had the other night, as purporting to speak for the Canadian people and the Canadian government. That is what happened here the other night, but the journal from which the hon. member quoted does not speak for the British people.

The hon. member also cited a case where he might have forty bushels per acre to market. I only hope the hon. member for South Battleford and all the other members

from Saskatchewan who are interested in farming will have forty bushels to the acre. I should be only too pleased if they could have such climatic conditions as would give them forty bushels to the acre. He said: " Suppose of those forty bushels I could sell only seventeen or twenty under the act, what would be the situation?" Let me answer him by asking a question. Which would be the better position-to be able to sell for a reasonable price say 60 to 70 cents per bushel seventeen or twenty bushels of the forty, or to sell the forty bushels at twenty cents a bushel, or practically not be able to sell any at all?-because that is what might happen.

I do not consider, that so far, a sound or reasonable argument has been presented against this bill. It seems to me that the opposition have been sent out to do an unpleasant job, to oppose for the sake of opposition, with instructions to go far afield in securing an argument. The whip has cracked, so to speak, and they are sent out to do this job. The leader of the opposition gave them a good lead when he made his speech during the debate. He employed the Magna Charta and Green's history to show that our constitution and the rights of parliament were in danger. I do not care, nor do the farmers of Canada care very much about the constitution or the rights of parliament, but they are concerned about markets and prices. When the right hon. gentleman advances that argument about the constitution, it is interesting to me to note that not on any occasion have they ever made a suggestion or charge that under any act that has been passed by this parliament has the constitution been affected in any way or have the rights given to this government been abused; the rights of parliament have never been affected. I wonder how much of the time of parliament has been taken up during the last four years and how many pages of Hansard have been covered by the discussion by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) and other hon. members opposite of constitutional matters and the rights of parliament. I am sure the people of Canada would be interested in that information. It is all so much ballyhoo.

What the farmer is worrying about is the prices he will receive for his agricultural products. He wants markets and the chance to make a profit in the sale of his primary products. That is what we propose to give him by this bill. This bill is only another evidence of what this government is trying to do and has always tried to do for the primary pro-

Dominion Companies Act

ducer. I think the best argument in favour of this bill is the fact that opposition members are opposing it. They have opposed every measure which has been brought down in the interests of the primary producer. Another argument in favour of this bill is the fact that it will be of great benefit to the producer.

I suggest to the opposition that they give reasonable support to this bill. The people of Canada are anxious that something should be done in this critical time when the world is faced with the greatest difficulties. Canada is marketing her goods under the greatest difficulties and I know the people would appreciate it if we got behind this bill. I do not believe there is an hon. member opposite who will dare vote against it. I think the people would be glad if we stopped this ballyhoo about constitutional rights and passed the bill, which I propose to support.

On motion of Mr. Casgrain the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   MARKETING ACT
Subtopic:   ORGANIZATION TO IMPROVE METHODS AND PRACTICES IN MARKETING NATURAL PRODUCTS
Permalink

At six o'clock the house adjourned without question put, pursuant to standing order. Thursday, April 26, 1934


April 25, 1934