If you listen for a moment you will hear it. The minister is going to class the honest producers of foodstuffs of this country with those who break the laws, such as the criminal code to which he referred to a few moments ago. These people are not criminals, but you are going to make them criminals.
The act is drafted to provide for criminals and criminal offences. Under this bill, not for breaking the criminal code, not for breaking a moral law, not even for breaking a civil law but for going contrary to some regulation of a local board, which may be unknown to the producers, a producer of a food product will have the onus placed on him of defending himself against a charge. Let me say to the Minister of Justice that if he thinks the farmers of the Dominion of Canada-not only the farmers of the province of Quebec-will like this legislation, within the next six weeks or two months he will find out most emphatically, by their ballots, that they are sick of the whole thing.
Every person who fails to comply with any order or determination of the board or of a local board or any regulation of the governor in council shall be guilty of an offence and punishable on summary conviction with a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars and not more than five hundred dollars, or to imprisonment not exceeding three months, or to both fine and imprisonment.
Under the amendments we are considering to-night one of the powers of the local board is that of levying a tax on the producers. If a man fails to pay that tax he can be sent to gaol. We give our city councils power to levy taxes on the people. If the people cannot or do not pay those taxes their property can be seized, but there is no power given the city councils to send them to gaol. Our provincial governments have power to levy taxes. If people fail to pay them or cannot pay them they cannot be sent to gaol. Here, however, we are giving a local board a power which we deny to our municipal or provincial governments, the power to send men to gaol if they do not pay levies.
Mr. W'EIR (Melfort): A levy is a collectable debt; my understanding is that there is no provision for sending a man to gaol in default of payment.
The levy is fixed by the dominion marketing board; it is not a regulation of the local board. Hon. members forget that these provisions are for the use of the producers themselves, so that the will of the majority may be enforced. Here is a very good example: Hon. members on both sides of the house have declared themselves in favour of orderly marketing. To have orderly or controlled marketing there must be some .means of enforcing control, and the purpose of this section is to give this power to the producers themselves if they desire to use it.
I should like to ask the minister a question arising out of the statement he has just made. The dominion export board came into being and received its authority under the Natural Products Marketing Act. I should like to ask the minister if within the last two months a telegram was sent from a certain office under the export board to a .certain man in a certain town in .the province of N-ova Scotia- and I will name the town if the minister desires-stating that if he did not pay the levy on his export apples he would be fined? And did that telegram include a threat as to what would follow after the fine? Would the minister mind answering that question?