May 8, 1934

LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

Coercion.

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

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

The arguments advanced to-night seem to centre around three main points: first, the question of compulsion; second, the attack upon individual liberty, and, third, the subversive doctrine, according to my hon. friends to my right, of subordinating the general weal to that of individual self interested groups. I believe I am quoting the leader of the opposition fairly correctly.

So far as compulsion is concerned the discussion reminds me of what was said about this bill by an outstanding representative of agriculture. I asked him what he thought of the bill and he said: "Your opinion of the bill will depend entirely upon your appreciation of the conditions which led up to the bill. If you believe that the producers are at the present time receiving a fair deal and a fair price; that they as individuals in this organized country and organized world are able to maintain a decent standard of living and maintain their rights upon a level equal to that of others, then you with some others will believe that this bill is unnecessary. But if you understand the situation and if you realize, as many of us do, that the producer at present and for years past has been selling under compulsion, not compulsion brought into force by his own will or that of other producers, but compulsion imposed upon him by those who now control his marketing, you will approve the bill." I think I am familiar with the situation, and to my mind the choice does not lie between freedom of marketing and compulsion. The choice is as to who shall exert compulsion upon that particular industry, and the producers as a whole, so far as I know them, would regard it as far more beneficial if they by their own cooperative action, by their own majority choice, could supply the degree of compulsion necessary to be exercised, not upon the general public but upon the members of their own particular class of producers-because that is as far as the compulsion goes. They would prefer that to selling as they do to-day, to accepting under compulsion any price offered without the slightest voice as to what they shall receive and, as during past years, to selling at a price

Marketing Act

that does not meet the cost of production, let alone permit them to maintain a decent standard of living. There is the choice.

This is not a free world, nor is there much individual liberty left. Individual liberty! It reminds me of an illustration given in the house a little while ago. Drive on any highway and you may have your choice-or rather, you have not your choice because the majority has ruled. But putting a hypothetical proposition, you might have your choice between majority rule and individual liberty which would disregard all stop and go signs, disregard the rules of the road, disregard all by-laws and claim individual liberty to drive exactly as you like. How long would the liberty of anyone last, and how long could the highways be used? It is only under a certain degree of regulation, of control, of subordination of a recalcitrant minority to a majority, that we can live, do business in this world, carry on civilization at all. This bill proposes that.

As to the subordination of the common weal to self interested groups, it is my profound conviction that the groups referred to in this bill have been subordinated long enough to the general weal and that it is time they took their place on an equality with other organized bodies in this country.

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

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

For the general weal.

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

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

Yes. It is for the general weal that no one class in this country, producers or others, should, through the individual liberty which they are supposed to possess, through their unfettered right of self competition and self destruction, be on a plane far below that occupied by the rest of the people in the dominion. Look where you will and what do you find? You find that this individual liberty is to-day confined, practically speaking, to the one class of producer; that they go out into a business world in which almost every other element is organized; they meet in their daily marketing operations a completely organized trade which deals in their product. Liberty? Liberty to starve! Liberty to cut each others' throats! That sort of liberty should, I believe, be taken away, not by the choice of other people but by the common agreement of the majority of those who are suffering under such conditions. In that way I believe, all being put on an equality, the common weal will be best assured, not by the subordinating of one class of a community to the others as is the case to-day.

Then we are told of the danger of leaving to those self interested groups the right of imposing regulations. I have touched partly on that, but in what degree do those regulations apply? On whom are they imposed? As I read the bill, the regulations are, by the producers themselves in that class of goods, self imposed upon the members of their own society, their own profession or calling, and not upon the general public. Who has the better right? It has been accepted throughout every civlized country that where a minority is recalcitrant, where it disagrees with the majority, where it determines to go its own way no matter at what cost, where it is destroying the prosperity of the majority, that majority has and exercises the right in almost every calling to impose restrictions and control and to force the minority to bow to the will of the majority.

Mention has been made of the cooperatives, and reasons for their failures have been advanced. It has been suggested that they have *failed largely because of lack of leadership. *I have had some association with cooperatives' and to my mind, while that is a weakness, the main rock upon which they have split has been the recalcitrant minority in their own ranks, willing to take advantage of the organization without incurring any responsibility. To my mind any bill which does not give the producers the power and right through [DOT]majority action to control their own minority, to impose upon them restrictions, to force [DOT]them to comply with the regulations passed for the good of that class, is not worth the paper it is written on. That is why the cooperatives are asking for the bill; were they not insisting on some form of compulsion it would not be applied.

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

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

What about section 9 of

the bill?

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

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

Were this a perfect

country and were all classes of producers in a position to organize intelligently and well, in my opinion this measure would not be necessary. But when you look over this country and see in many communities the helpless despairing producers who have ceased to be able to come together and act intelligently for themselves, then the necessity of such a measure at this time is apparent. This clause may have to deal with conditions beyond the control of any group of producers. It may have to deal with interprovincial matters, or with export trade.

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

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

Where is the majority provided for in section 9?

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

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

There is no majority.

That is what I say, that there are parts of

Marketing Act

the producing class so disorganized, so scattered and helpless, as to be unable at the present time to organize and manage their own affairs. To those the state owes the responsibility of doing it for them until they are set upon their feet.

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

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

Could the hon. member suggest one of these industries?

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

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

I think those classes

are well known to every hon. member of this house who is acquainted with the problem of the producers. I am not speaking at length to-night; I am simply stating these principles on the first clause, and I think the truth of what I say will be acknowledged by those familiar with the situation. I may say at once that this bill does not fully satisfy me-

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

Joseph Philippe Baby Casgrain

Liberal

Mr. CASGRAIN:

Why do you vote for

it? What do you want?

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

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

I am going to say

what I believe are the three points that require further clarification and strengthening. First, I am not certain, although I believe it is implied in it, that under the bill as at present drafted the members of any body of producers will have the right to gather together in cooperative pools, pooling profits, proceeds and products, and acting as a cooperative pool has always wished and attempted to act. Second, I believe that these pools when fully organized should have the right and power to set up their selling agency to deal with their own product.

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

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

Regardless of the marketing board?

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

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

Under the direction of the marketing board-"the selling agency authorized by the marketing board shall be that appointed by the producers,'' if you want exact language. Third, I would like to see section 9 or some other section clarified to make it certain that the board itself can establish or itself act as the agency to dispose of the exportable surplus. All these conditions may be involved in the amendments to be brought down, but as I do not know what the amendments are I strongly support and ask the minister to give sympathetic consideration to the suggestion made by the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill), that these amendments be placed on Hansard or in the votes and proceedings as soon as possible in order that all of us who are vitally interested may be able to study, understand and apply them to the conditions and the particular clause that is sought to be amended. I could say more but I think it better to say it as each section of the bill is being considered.

The desire to protect the consumer is not confined to hon. gentlemen on my right, but to my mind there is nothing in this bill which will jeopardize the consumer. The consumer, if I may say so, has exploited the farmer for a long time, in the sense of having been able to buy things for less than they are worth. But it is not the consumer against whom this bill is aimed; it is aimed largely against those who stand between the producer and the consumer. It was stated by some economist in the United States something like a year ago when some provision was suggested for assisting agriculture in that country that anything which would double the price of farm products would benefit some twenty million people there and penalize to an equal degree some eighty to one hundred million people. To my mind that economist betrayed his ignorance of conditions as they affect farm products, because this must be remembered: that no matter whether the price of an article to the producer be high or low, the cost of transportation, of handling, of processing, all the multitudinous costs which come between the producer and the consumer, remain practically the same. You could double the average price received by the average farmer for most of his products and it would not add twenty per cent to the cost to the consumer, and in any case that twenty per cent would be far more than offset by the stimulation given to business by the added purchasing power in the hands of the producers. These are merely arbitrary figures; I do not know that this measure can double prices to farmers, but the suggestion that any increase in price to the farmers is passed on in the same degree and ratio to the consumer is one which will not and cannot stand up under any study of the situation.

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

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret

Liberal

Mr. RINFRET:

There is a point about this bill that gives it a particular character. It has been voted for by a large majority on second reading, but practically every member who spoke in favour of it made it clear that he would not approve the bill on the third reading unless it were considerably improved in committee. Although we have now been in committee on the bill for a couple of days, I notice that no improvement has been suggested from the government side, but on the contrary a determined conviction is manifested to support the bill as it stands both as to principle and as to details.

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

William Gordon Ernst

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ERNST:

We are stall only on the title.

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

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret

Liberal

Mr. RINFRET:

If it is to go on as at present I am very much disquieted. Every hon. member who has stood up on the other

Marketing Act

side has made it clear that in his opinion the bill is all right, and has made no suggestion of any change. I have been in the house for some years, but have never seen a bill receive so large a majority and yet be so hedged about with reservations during the discussion on second reading.

At first sight there is something attractive about the bill, but when one begins to study it he finds himself very much in doubt as to how it will work out in practice. I am afraid that some, like the hon. member for Melville, who voted for the bill on second reading, were unduly optimistic as to its possible effect. I strongly support the stand taken to-night by the hon. member for Melville, that instead of the bill being dealt with in committee of the whole house it should have been sent to the agriculture committee, where it could have been discussed more intimately as to detail, and where witnesses could be brought and experts heard. I am very much afraid that if we keep at it in committee of the whole we are not going to get very far. In fact to be frank I am not too sure that the government are anxious to have this bill adopted at all. I think if they could leave with the country the impression that they had tried to do something wonderful for the farmers and could at the same time save the farmer from the very doubtful advantage of the bill as it is drafted now, the government would have achieved their aim. If instead of protecting the farmer we merely wanted to play politics with this measure, I would advise my friends on this side to let it pass and let the people learn for themselves what is involved in it. I am sure if innumerable small local boards were to be set up in this country to decide what quantity and quality of a product should be marketed and at what price, and if farmers who did not follow the ruling of that board were to be fined or gaoled, the days of this government would be numbered.

The peculiarity about this measure is that at first sight it is very attractive, a fact which I believe explains the large number of votes it received on second reading. But the more you read it and the more you read about it the more you are convinced that it is a pure delusion, and that the putting into operation of an act founded upon this bill as at present drafted would indeed be nefarious for the very people it is supposed to help. As has been properly said, there is no doubt that the whole discussion to-day has centered upon the question whether or not this bill constitutes compulsion or free cooperation.

I think everything can be improved, even a very bad bill brought down by this government; but at the same time the principle of compulsion is so closely linked with practically every section of the bill that we cannot get away from it. We might improve upon it by saying that the poor farmer might be gaoled for two months instead of three, or be subjected to a fine of $100 instead of $200. But we cannot get away from the main principle of the bill as detailed section after section. We cannot forget that this is a bill to institute not only a central board but a large number of small boards throughout the country, and that those boards may force the farmer to market his products in a certain way, whether he likes it or not. If he does not do what he is told he will suffer the penalty.

We heard the argument a moment ago that there is a certain degree of compulsion in everything we do in life. Perhaps there is, but it is a very poor argument to say that because in everything we do we have to be subject to compulsion in certain respects, every compulsory measure must be adopted at once. On the contrary, if in the ordinary acts of life we cannot escape from compulsion, by all means let us try to prevent it where it can be prevented.

Of course I expected, as my right hon. leader expected, that his reference to Magna Charta would not be well received in all quarters. I do not see why it should not have been. The Magna Charta is the well known basis of justice in British countries. But what we do say is that the people who have objected to any reference to Magna Charta have tried to connect this bill either with King Canute or with the cave men of the early days in our history. I submit in all frankness that the Magna Charta, that document which has stretched over many years of history, is more closely connected with this bill than is good old King Canute of legendary days.

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

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

It was a reference to

the opposition and not to the bill.

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

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret

Liberal

Mr. RINFRET:

That only shows that

every speaker has a way of expressing himself which should be respected by listeners who are to become speakers a little later. I submit that unless the government does not wish the bill to pass, which is possible, it is a great mistake to try to put it through the committee of the whole house. My own opinion about the bill is that the only improvement of which it is capable is that it be dropped altogether. But if the government wishes the house to adopt the bill it should do as my optimistic friend from Melville has suggested, namely, send it to the committee on agriculture. There it could be

Marketing Act

discussed in a more intimate way, and possibly experts in the matter could be heard. Some improvements might be made there, but my impression is becoming stronger every moment that this legislation is framed to impress the farmers with the idea that the government is contemplating something wonderful for them, and that the very bad Liberal party does not want them to do it. That is my impression. But once the bill is studied very strong objection can be taken to it by many sections of the country.

I have in my hand a letter addressed to the Prime Minister from the Montreal board of trade. Possibly this document has been read before in the house.

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

An hon. MEMBER:

It was read.

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

May 8, 1934