Hon. J. G. GARDINER (Minister of Agriculture) :
Mr. Speaker, before motions are called I should like to make a statement to the house with regard to a development in connection with food requirements which I think should be made known not only to the house but to the country.
Yesterday, October 3, about noon, I had a phone call from Sir Ben Smith, British Minister. of Food. The telephone call was to acquaint me with the fact that the food position in Great Britain at the present time is more difficult than at any time since the beginning of the war, and making an appeal to us to help in any way that we possibly can in connection with supplying one particular kind of food, namely bacon.
He stated in that telephone conversation that unless something could be done during the next two months it would be necessary in Great Britain to reduce the ration from three ounces to two ounces per week. It will be recalled by hon. members that the ration throughout the greater part of the war stood at four ounces, and during a considerable part of it the amount was higher than that. But toward the end of the war it became necessary to reduce the ration to three ounces. It is now
Bacon-Increased Shipments ______
suggested that unless within the next two months we can do something to assist, it will be necessary to reduce that ration to two ounces. The cause of this, of course, lies in the fact that Great Britain has been doing everything possible to assist in building up the supplies of food on the continent which are necessary to maintain conditions there.
When that appeal was made I directed the meat board to make a study of our position in Canada, and to communicate further with them in connection with the matter. Through the further communications we have thought it wise to suggest to the British government that an attempt will be made in Canada to increase our shipments of bacon to Great Britain over the next two months.
Our present dommitments or allocations require 11,000 tons in October and 11,000 in November. The suggestion is that if we could increase that amount by 3,000 tons in October and 3,000 in November they could continue their three-ounce ration during those two months, and that probably after that they would be able to take care of the situation. We had suggested to them that we would probably find no difficulty in continuing the
11.000 tons for October, and in increasing to
18.000 tons for November. They came back, however, with the suggestion that it would be most difficult for them to carry on throughout November unless we could increase our shipments in October.
So, Mr. Speaker, what I wish to say to the house, and to the people of Canada generally, is that we believe that if we all cooperate we can make these shipments possible. We anticipate no difficulty from the producers, because we are just now entering upon the period of greatest shipments or greatest marketings of farm products, particularly hogs. We believe that while the hog deliveries will be slightly lower than they were a year ago, sufficient hogs will be coming into the market to make these shipments possible. In the next place it will be necessary for us to operate our packing plants to capacity during that period of time; and in the third place it will be necessary to have available the shipping facilities which will take to the point where it is required the fullest amount we can possibly supply to the market. We do not anticipate any difficulty in connection with shipping facilities or with refrigeration. There can be very little difficulty in the matter of getting the facilities necessary in that direction. So we have undertaken to do everything possible to see to it that this bacon is advanced to the British
within the next two months in an increased amount of 6,000 tons over and above what we had previously been expecting to ship.
I am sure that in making this known to the house and to the country I do not need to make any further appeal than the appeal that has been made by the Minister of Food in Great Britain. I believe it is not only in the interests of humanity that we should send forward the product, but it is in our own interests as a country which is going to have products to sell that we should be able to meet this, which may be the last, appeal made to us to do something a little in advance of what we thought we would be able to do in order to bring to a most successful conclusion our activities in connection with the supplying of food to the European continent during and after war. I believe that every effort will be made to see to it that this product is sent forward.