May 16, 1938

LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

The hon. member for

Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill) is quite correct, Mr. Chairman. The reference to the tariff board of the matter of tariffs on vegetable oils and matters connected therewith was made some time ago. I cannot recollect the date, but in any event it was within the past year Hearings have taken place; submissions have been made, and there has been very considerable argument about the whole matter. Offhand I cannot state the stage of the proceedings at the moment, but a very thorough inquiry is proceeding.

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CON

William Earl Rowe

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROWE (Dufferin-Simcoe):

I realize

that it is difficult to discuss a matter that is now before the tariff board; but on the other hand, as the hon member for Haldimand (Mr. Senn) has stated, the situation warrants further investigation by the department into the effect on our agricultural products of the importation of vegetable oils. I presume if it is impossible to discuss the matter under thP item it may be impossible to discuss it under any other. The government may later consider any recommendations that may be made by the tariff board in regard to the tariff on vegetable oils, but I think if investigation discloses that vegetable oils am replacing animal fats and oils to a considerable extent there may be some other method of assisting and protecting the producers of animal fats in this country. The tariff board is dealing with the tariff phase of the issue; nevertheless I think under this item the government might well institute investigations to ascertain to what extent animal fats and oils are being replaced by the vegetable oils that are shipped into this country. The government should consider that matter very carefully, as a government; and it is the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture to consider the effect on agriculture in this country. I am not so much concerned with the manner in which the government might assist the farmers, whether by implementing any recommendations made by the tariff board or by the imposition of a processing tax, but I do feel that this question deeply affects agriculture, and might well be considered by this economics branch instead of being left entirely to the tariff board as a tariff or fiscal matter.

Personally I think the importation of these vegetable oils affects the very basis of the agricultural industry in this dominion. I know of nothing that promises so adversely to affect Canadian agriculture as the importation of substitutes for animal fats and animal oils. The live stock industry is recognized by all outstanding agriculturists, both in the department and in various parts of the dominion, as one of the most important branches of agriculture. If we are to perpetuate a sound agricultural industry in Canada we must maintain a prosperous live stock industry. I think every farmer within the sound of my voice will agree with that general principle, and that industry is being threatened by the greatly increased importation of vegetable oils and the ever-widening use of these oils as shortening, replacing lard. It is possible that in the not far distant future they may be used in the manufacture of substitutes for butter and other dairy products. When one realizes that to-day we find it necessary to export more than half the lard production in Canada one realizes the effect of these importations on our live stock industry, and there is no doubt that the almost prohibitive tariff against the importation of vegetable oils into the United States has had the effect of increasing the importations into this country. I do not mean to say that the imposition of tariffs is the only method of relieving the situation. While we are speaking about agricultural economics I must observe that I know of no single factor which affects so adversely the agricultural situation throughout Canada as does this great increase in importations of what might be described as a substitute for live stock products. It may be said that these many millions of pounds of imported vegetable oils are inedible. While that may be true it is also true that much of the oil imported as inedible is made edible before it reaches the Canadian market.

I believe the department would do well to consider means of relieving the situation, and as the Minister of Agriculture is the one most responsible to agriculture in Canada I suggest that he recommend to the government effective measures through which this serious situation may be remedied. In making these observations I believe I am not speaking out of turn, although the Minister of Finance has declared that the subject is before the tariff board. It seems to me that some form of taxation would be highly justified, in view of the fact that these importations strike at the very roots of successful agriculture and would have the effect of destroying our live stock industry.

Supply-Agriculture-Economics

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SC

William Hayhurst

Social Credit

Mr. HAYHURST:

I have received about five hundred letters from daily farmers in the northern section of Alberta, and especially from my own constituency, dealing with the problem of the importation of vegetable oil. I have no doubt other hon. members have received similar letters. In order that hon. members may be familiar with the situation I should like to read one letter.

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LIB

Malcolm McLean

Liberal

Mr. McLEAN (Melfort):

Is the hon. member referring to letters or only to circulars which came through the mail?

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SC

William Hayhurst

Social Credit

Mr. HAYHURST:

They are circular statements signed by individual farmers.

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LIB
SC
CON

William Earl Rowe

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROWE (Dufferin-Simcoe):

If they are signed by individual farmers they are letters.

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SC
LIB
SC

William Hayhurst

Social Credit

Mr. HAYHURST:

Signed by individual farmers who object to large importations of vegetable oil.

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LIB
SC

William Hayhurst

Social Credit

Mr. HAYHURST:

Propaganda it may be, from your standpoint; but at the same time the dairy industry in Alberta and in other provinces must be protected. I am not saying it will have to be protected by the imposition of high tariffs upon vegetable oils, but there should be some way of helping the dairy farmers. The letter is as follows:

Dear Sir,-

I note that last year there were over 200,000,000 pounds of vegetable oils imported into Canada, chiefly from tropical countries, practically duty free, and that the quantity of shortening manufactured in Canada, not made from animal fat, has doubled since 1932. I have every reason to believe that the substitution of cheap foreign vegetable oils for Canadian produced animal fats is becoming a serious menace to Canada's 750,000 farmers.

Something must be done about this menace, for we farmers can't compete with the cheap native labour of the tropics. I urge you, therefore, to take such steps as will cause a duty to be placed on these imported vegetable oils as outlined in the application of the National Dairy Council to the tariff board in December, 1936. Successful diversified farming can only be continued through the encouragement of the live stock and dairy industries. As one of your constituents, depending on mixed farming for a living, I urge you to support a reasonable and fair tariff on the importation of these foreign substitutes for Canadian produced animal fats.

[Mr w. E. Rnwo.l

We know that very large areas of Canada are dependent upon the dairy industry. If the industry is not aided by the federal government the substitution of vegetable oils will have serious effects.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

How?

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CON
SC
LIB

Malcolm McLean

Liberal

Mr. McLEAN (Melfort):

You promised fifty-eent butter in 1930 and we got five-cent butter.

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SC

William Hayhurst

Social Credit

Mr. HAYHURST:

If large quantities of vegetable oils are brought into Canada and used as shortening in the baking industry we will lose the local market for products we can produce in great abundance. I would urge the Minister of Agriculture to put his experts on agricultural economic planning to work on the subject. They should see that the dairy industry of Canada is properly protected.

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LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. MAYBANK:

Mr. Chairman, I rise to speak because of the pleas put forward in the last few moments. Although I represent a city constituency, I come from an agricultural province. I believe the city, part of which I represent, knows as well as any city can know the needs and desires of farmers, and recognizes as perhaps no other city does how completely and fully its own prosperity is tied up with the prosperity of the surrounding farming community. I hope that the government will not be influenced by pleas of the sort which have just been made for the imposition of tariffs on these products. I do not know for certain that all the representatives from Manitoba are in agreement with me, but I believe they are. I have spoken with the Manitoba members on the subject and have heard no voice in favour of the tariff now sought. I did not wish the moment to pass without speaking, especially in view of the silence of several representatives from Saskatchewan, which might indicate an acquiescence.

I believe the people in western Canada realize that they cannot at one and the same time ask for a general lowering of tariffs and an increase in the tariff on these particular commodities. Taking it by and large, it will be found that the farming communities will be consistent in the requests they make from time to time. I am well aware a certain campaign has been put on in favour of a tariff increase in this connection, and that some sections of the farming communities may be in favour of it. However it is my belief it will be found that no representative of the great province of Manitoba-and cer-

Supply-Agriculture-Economics

tainly Manitoba is an agricultural province, with many dairy farmers-will be in favour of this particular plea.

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CON

Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SENN:

I have listened with interest and attention to the observations of the hon. member who has just taken his seat (Mr. Maybank). I do not know just what is the attitude of the farming population of Manitoba tow'ard this question, but I venture to say that many of them want something done to curb the importation and sale of vegetable oils which are being used in preference to animal fats produced in our own country. The hon. gentleman has referred to the attitude of agriculture generally regarding the tariff, but he will find that in certain parts of this country the farmers are not asking for lower tariffs. All that they ask is that they be placed in a position of equality with other industries throughout the dominion so far as the tariff is concerned.

The hon. gentleman has referred to the propaganda being carried on, but I know that if conditions were reversed, if other classes of goods were coming in to displace other Canadian products, a more intensive campaign of propaganda would be carried on. 1 have in my hand a clipping containing a statement made by the president of Canada Packers in which he states that if a certain amount of protection were granted to this industry it would mean a third of a cent per pound on every hog slaughtered and a fifth of a cent per pound on, every steer. If hen. members will take the trouble to estimate what that would return to the farmers of Canada they will realize that it would mean from $6,000,000 to S7.500.000 annually. That is a considerable item.

The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Maybank) did not say that he was putting forth an argument on behalf of the consumer. His argument was rather on the ground that they have consistently been asking for freer trade and in this instance they had to be consistent again. It seems to me that his argument is not at all well founded. I did not rise at this time to enter into a discussion of this matter. All I ask the minister to do is to authorize an investigation into the extent to which imported vegetable oils are displacing animal fats produced in Canada. It seems to me that that would come well within this vote. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) has stated that the matter is being inquired into by the tariff board, but I doubt if that investigation would be as thorough as one which could be made by officials of the department

who would go to cities and towns and other parts of the country and make a house to house investigation.

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May 16, 1938