October 10, 1945

CCF

William Scottie Bryce

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. BRYCE:

Would the hon. member permit a question? Am I to assume from the hon. member's remarks that the Ontario federation of agriculture is against a board of live stock commissioners for Canada?

Topic:   LIVE STOCK
Subtopic:   PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR REGULATION AND CONTROL
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LIB

Robert McCubbin

Liberal

Mr. McCUBBIN:

I never made any such statement. I am speaking only for myself.

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Subtopic:   PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR REGULATION AND CONTROL
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CCF

William Scottie Bryce

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. BRYCE:

The hon. member is speaking only for himself?

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LIB

Robert McCubbin

Liberal

Mr. McCUBBIN:

I am only expressing my own views.

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CCF

William Scottie Bryce

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. BRYCE:

A board of live stock commissioners has been endorsed by four hundred thousand farmers in Canada.

Mr. F. W. TOWNLEY-SMITH (North Battleford): May I say a few words in support of the resolution which has been introduced by my colleague the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Bryce)? I fail to see, if the principle is sound in the case of grain, why it should not also be sound in the live stock industry. WTe have a board of grain commissioners to-day.

At the present time we are short of meat. The reason we are short is that our live stock producers have stopped producing live stock. There are two main reasons for this. One is shortage of help. Incidentally this may concern the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Abbott) more closely than he possibly realizes. The other reason is that the live stock producers feel that they have not been receiving a reasonable return. There is a physical limit to what a man can do. The difficulties of the war have pressed rather heavily upon the older men who have had to feed the live stock. They have not been able to feed the quantity of live stock that they might wish to do. One of the first things that a man lets go of when he feels he is unable to handle the whole situation is what is commonly known as his chores, and on the farm his chores consist principally in the feeding of live stock. Therefore live stock raising suffered immediately the labour shortage became apparent. Of course, if there is not sufficient help to raise live stock the farmer cannot do it. But if he feels that he is not getting a reasonable return he will not do it regardless of the labour situation. I know this is the feeling that obtains to a considerable extent in the west. Rightly or wrongly they feel that their position could be improved very much by the establishment of a board of live stock commissioners.

The farmers have run into all kinds of small difficulties. I do not wish to speak of them in a general way, but I shall touch on one or two. First of all, let me say that my hon. friend to the right could not understand why

there was such a range in the price of dressed hogs, since the price of bacon and the grades are fixed and the animals are on the rail. That is to say, there is no need for allowances in errors of judgment of the buyer when he is buying a live animal; yet we find that there is a range of prices. Last week in Toronto prices ranged from $17 to $17.90 a hundredweight. While $17 is the average price and $17.90 is the range, it would indicate that some of the hogs were sold for even less than $17. That is one thing I, too, do not understand.

In 1936, the west was in difficulties over its shortages of feed and we were compelled to get rid of a lot of our live stock. At that time our live stock was pretty thin. The government of the day guaranteed a price of one cent a pound if we shipped in our live stock and disposed of them. Even at that we received complaints. I approached a drover who was in charge of the handling of a lot of this one cent stock in order to see what the difficulties seemed to be. These are a few of the things he told me. The cattle were taken, incidentally, from my small home town up to Edmonton, a distance of some two hundred miles in a straight line on the railway. The complaints of the farmers at that time were, first, that the cattle were taken straight to the packing plant and not weighed in the stockyards. They were weighed on the packing plant scales. The second complaint was that they were not fed and watered before they were weighed. In one case that he mentioned they were kept in the yards for fifty hours before they were unloaded. He then gave me some of the shrinkages on a two hundred mile rail journey. He had three cows which shrank 760 pounds. He had one bull which shrank 300 pounds; he should have shot him, I imagine. He had another cow which belonged to a neighbour of mine and in which I was particularly interested which shrank from 1,400 pounds to 1,160 pounds, a matter of 240 pounds of shrinkage in this cow.

Another grievance which they feel they have at the present time

and I speak quite feelingly about this because it happened to me-is the range of the different grades. Anyone who is connected with farming knows that the A-pig carcass ranges from 140 to 170 pounds, the B-l from 135 to 175 pounds, the B-2 from 125 to 134 pounds, and the B-3 from 176 to 185 pounds. There have been difficulties and stoppages at various packing plants for various reasons, and the farmer has not always been able to gauge accurately the weight of his live animals. He guesses at it and sometimes he is a good guesser; sometimes he

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is quite a long way out. But in some eases his live animal was just on the edge of being too heavy for a particular grade. With another couple of pounds it would have been too heavy for the particular grade and would have had to go down a grade because it was too heavy. Then his animals were shipped away and, the packing plants not being able to handle them for various reasons, an animal was sometimes kept for a week before it finally got into the packing plants. During that week it was fed, at enormous cost incidentally, and when it did get into the packing plant it had made so many more extra pounds that it was out of the grade. That was one grievance. In my own particular case I had one particular pig which was one pound too heavy and it went down a grade. It was docked fifty cents a hundred pounds because it was one pound too heavy, and incidentally it missed the government premium. I talked this matter over and complained to a man who was familiar with the workings of the packing plant, and he thought it was very funny, because he said that with one quick slice of the knife one pound would be taken off the carcass and it would go up in the grade after it had got out of my hands and when it got into the packer's hands. Therefore, as I have said, we have the feeling that with the appointment of a commission to take charge of all these matters we could iron out many of our difficulties. If there should be a jam in Edmonton, cattle could be sent to Saskatoon, and so on. The commission would keep an eye on all these things and probably we would not be troubled with strikes or threatened strikes at some of the packing plants, as we are at the present time. I consider it highly probable that such a commission would be able to keep all these difficulties under control, and in that way we would have less trouble.

The main point I wish to make is that rightly or wrongly the live stock producers believe they would be better off under a commission. Our ambition at the present time is to get them back into the production of live stock; so let us agree with them for once and grant them this live stock commission.

Topic:   LIVE STOCK
Subtopic:   PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR REGULATION AND CONTROL
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Hon. J. G. GARDINER (Minister of Agriculture) :

Mr. Speaker, I do not know that I should take time to speak to the house on a resolution of this kind. This is supposed to be a day when private members have the time pretty well to themselves. However, in view of the remarks that have been made and the suggestion that the minister should say some-

'Mr. Townley-Smith.]

thing on the matter I have decided to break the general rule and say a few words in regard to this resolution.

As the hon. member for Middlesex West (Mr. McCubbin) has pointed out, this is not a new question in this house. A similar resolution was introduced as far back as 1935, prior to the election of that year, which means that the matter was considered in this house before most of those now here, including myself, were elected. In other words, none of us here to-day can claim credit for having suggested for the first time that a commission of this kind should be appointed. I do not know that a resolution of this kind has ever passed the house on any previous occasion, although I have not checked the records to make certain, but it has been d-iscussed during many sessions since I came here ten years ago, and it was also discussed before that time.

I make that statement in order to point out that the matter has been given a great deal of consideration. I agree with the statement of the hon. member for Humboldt (Mr. Burton) that in order to give consideration to anything you must think; and I am sure a great deal of thinking has been done about this matter. It is not necessary for the House of Commons to ask the government to give thought to it; we have done so already. On many occasions we have discussed it with representatives of farm organizations and members of this house who have brought the matter to our attention; from time to time it has been discussed in council meetings and elsewhere. So that it has been given a great deal of consideration and a great deal of thought.

I wish to speak this afternoon only in order to follow up some of the expressions of opinion that have been given in regard to the matter. It has been suggested that we ought to appoint this commission because away back, I think about 1901, we set up what was known as a board of grain commissioners to deal with the marketing of wheat in western Canada. Everyone who was in the west at that time, as I was, will recall that the situation existing then in relation to wheat was entirely different from the situation existing to-day in connection with the marketing of live stock products. Our grain was graded by elevator and warehouse men out at country points, and we had no redress in connection with that grading. It was because of the manner in which the grading was done and because of the manner in which our grain was handled that we agitated for, and I might even go so far as to say that the western farmers demanded, a board of grain commissioners. Certainly they

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brought their influence to bear upon Ottawa, and finally secured the appointment of that board.

I believe the hon. member for Haldimand (Mr. Senn), who this afternoon referred to the report of the commission on price spreads in 1934 or 1935, will agree when I say that it seemed to be the opinion of most people at that time that the act setting up the board of grain commissioners is ultra vires of this parliament. The question naturally arises, then, as to why this legislation has never been contested. The faot of the matter is that from seventy to eighty per cent of all the wheat grown in the three western provinces is exported, and that only a very small portion of the wheat grown in those provinces is consumed there. We are the most sparsely populated part of the Dominion of Canada; we farm great acreages, and we produce a great many bushels of wheat in comparison with the number of people in that area. So that, since we market such a large percentage of our wheat outside the provinces where it is grown; since that wheat is practically all grown in three provinces, and since at that time all the wheat had to pass through the city of Winnipeg, it was comparatively easy to set up an inspection point at Winnipeg and have all the grain that was going to foreign markets or to the mills in eastern Canada graded at one point by one set of inspectors.

I mention these facts in order to indicate two principal points of difference between dealing with wheat and dealing with live stock products. One is the fact that unlike meat or milk, the greater percentage of the product is not consumed in the province where it is produced but is shipped out and sold somewhere else. The amount of wheat grown in Saskatchewan that is marketed in that province, for example, has practically no bearing at all upon the price which can be obtained for the entire crop grown there. There is not enough consumed in the province to have anything to do with the value of the wheat to the farmer who produces it. The wheat is consumed outside the province.

Topic:   LIVE STOCK
Subtopic:   PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR REGULATION AND CONTROL
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HARKNESS:

Is that not also true of beef, in the western provinces?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I will deal with that in a moment. May I repeat, in order to direct attention to the difference between wheat and cattle which I mentioned a few moments ago, and the importance of which apparently my hon. friend did not realize, that this wheat not only passes out of Saskatchewan; but it passes out of Canada, to be consumed in some other country. I mentioned that fact in order to point out that in dealing with a product

of this kind no one in Canada has any interest in taking that matter to the courts of the country. They do not believe anything could be accomplished by doing so. They believe that to set up a board of grain commissioners in order to look after everything having to do with the transportation and grading of our wheat is the best possible way of handling that wheat, the greater part of which has to be marketed outside Canada. Therefore everyone agrees to let matters stand, and the question has never been taken to the courts. I am not a constitutional lawyer; in fact, I am not a lawyer at all. I have no personal opinion with regard to the matter, and I am only reciting what others have said, who are presumed to know something about it, that if it ever were taken to the courts it would be declared ultra vires, just like much of the other marketing legislation we have attempted to pass, either in this house or in the provincial legislatures.

There is, however, one thing in connection with the question which ought to be repeated-and it was stated a few minutes ago by the hon. member for Haldimand. He said that a commission which previously had investigated the whole matter of the marketing and sale of farm products had said that because milk, which is produced within provincial boundaries, is largely consumed within those boundaries, therefore this parliament had no authority to set up a commission to deal with the marketing of it, in the same sense that the board of grain commissioners would deal with the marketing of wheat.

I submit to the house that if that is true of milk, it is just as true of live stock generally; because while it is true to say that whole milk is for the greater part consumed within a province, when one lives in Montreal he knows that a great part of the milk consumed in that city comes from Ontario, which is just across the river from the city. When one lives in other cities of the dominion one realizes that a similar condition prevails in respect of a city situated across the boundary of a particular province.

On the other hand a considerable part of the milk in Canada or of the butter fat that comes out of milk, is turned into butter. Another considerable part of the milk produced in this country is turned into cheese. Nearly all the cheese, again almost seventy per cent or eighty per cent of it, under normal conditions is exported from the country. On the other hand, butter is all consumed in Canada, but it is not altogether consumed in the province in which it is produced.

The surplus of milk produced in Saskatchewan finds its way to Ontario in the form

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of butter, or to the city of Montreal in the same form. Therefore I would say that perhaps not any greater percentage of the milk production of the provinces is consumed within the boundaries of those provinces than there is of the meat products produced within the boundaries of those provinces.

In other words, while there may be no reason whatsoever for anyone taking any action with respect to legislation which has to do with the marketing of wheat, produced as it is in the three provinces, and selling part of it in some other parts of the world, yet when it comes to dealing with products such as meat products, the situation is not on all fours with that of wheat.

Therefore I would suggest it is not necessarily sound or right to say that because a certain board of grain commissioners has done a good job in relation to wheat, therefore we should have a similar board to handle live stock. Just what does the board of grain commissioners do in its handling of wheat? Well, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the production of wheat. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual marketing of wheat. It has something to do with the placing of cars at local points in order to move grain from those local points to the central elevators. It has something to do with the spotting of cars, and all that kind of thing. It does give some direction to the railway companies as to the moving of the grain. But its main work has to do with grading and the assigning of the grain that comes in from all points in the country to certain graded classifications, in order that it may be properly marketed under the price schedule set up by the board of grain commissioners. They set the margins as between No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. Then, in cooperation with a standards board, they set the ratio as between those top standards and all the other grades of grain, running down to around twenty in number, if my memory is correct.

That is their real job; that is what they do. Then they leave the marketing, including price, either to the wheat board, as it has been done during the period of war, or to the wheat board plus the trade, as it was done before the war, or to the grain exchange and all those associated with it, as it was done before the time we had a wheat board at all. The board of grain commissioners has gone on operating in its own way and doing its own job, without any more interference than is necessary in order to carry out the regulations under which it operates.

One has only to recite the set-up in order to convince the house that is one of the chief reasons why no one has ever contested that legislation. It is legislation which is doing a

job for everyone. It is doing that job efficiently; but it is doing a job quite different from the one suggested to the house by hon. members who this afternoon have supported the appointment of a live stock commission.

What is proposed in the present instance? We are not told, not in the resolution, because apparently someone was sitting in on some of the discussions before the present resolution was drafted, but hon. members have emphasized the fact that they still think in terms of the old resolution. And that old resolution did have in it words which called our attention to the board of grain commissioners. In contrast, this resolution has not.

One of the reasons why it has not is that this matter has been discussed: with farm organizations, and those farm organizations apparently have taken the words out. They did not want them in. They have been convinced by arguments similar to those I have been offering the house this afternoon that the resolution in its original form was not sound. But they are still arguing that they want a commission to. do certain things. They set out what those certain things are.

This takes me back to the beginning of the war. At the beginning of the war farm organizations were not only asking for a commission

or a board, whichever you like to call it-to handle the marketing of live stock, but they were asking that boards be set up provincially to handle marketing within the provinces, much as they have it in British Columbia for the marketing of their farm products, and they asked, other provinces to bring about that condition. Then further, they were asking for legislation to be passed by this federal House of Commons to provide certain powers for marketing of products as between provinces and for export.

We considered those resolutions in, I believe, three different years after I came to the house1; and on the last occasion they were presented to us-I believe that was in 1940- I made a statement to the farm organizations. I am not quite sure of the date but it was some time within the first twelve months of the war.

We were asked1 to appoint boards or to set up legislation which would permit the appointing of boards by the farmers themselves for the handling of their own products. After discussing the matter with the government at that time, I said to those who were making the application that we were of opinion that during the period of war any boards to be set up to handle farm products as between this and other countries, largely because of the conditions existing during the war, would

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of necessity have to be set up by the government. I believe I am speaking correctly when I say that the farm organizations accepted my answer as the necessary action on the part of the government. In any event, during the period of war they did not press the matter; but they have kept reminding us from time to time that they would be pressing the matter when the war was over.

During the war, as has been pointed out by the hon. member for Haldimand, we appointed, first, an agricultural supplies board. Then we set up under that agricultural supplies board a bacon board, which was finally converted into a meat board when it was thought necessary to do so. Then we set up under it a board to deal with dairy products, and we also set up a special products board which dealt with all other farm products which were being sold under agreements during the war. Those boards have handled the marketing of our farm products from that time down to the present, that is, the marketing of those that go outside Canada. Practically all of them were going to Great Britain.

Those boards made arrangements with the authorities who represented the British government. We delivered the products to the British at our ports and the British took them across the seas and distributed them to their own people in their own way. Our job, first, was to get the product produced, which is quite different from the job of the grain com-misioners. In the next instance, our job was to get the product graded up to the quality that we had agreed with the British to deliver. As I say, those products were laid down at our ports where the British could get them and take them to their own people. We have been doing that during the war.

About two years ago it was suggested that we ought to have a food board. I believe that suggestion came from the other side of the house. We said that we did not intend to have a food board of the type suggested, but that we intended to set up in the department under the agricullural supplies board a food board. I went personally to the officers of the farm federation and asked them whether they desired to have membership on the board or whether they desired to have membership on an advisory committee. After discussing the matter in their own executive and with their own people they reported back to me that they preferred to be on the advisory committee.

Therefore we appointed the food board as it is to-day, composed largely of high ranking officials of the Department of Agriculture and

the Department of Fisheries, the two departments concerned with the supplying of food. Then we asked others to name the men they desired to have appointed. The government took the responsibility for the appointments. My hon. friends have suggested that any board or committee that is to be appointed should be non-political. I think they will agree that a board composed of officials appointed by the civil service commission, most of them being appointed during the time our hon. friends opposite were carrying on the government of the country, ought to be a nonpolitical board. It is composed of persons who have been in the civil service for a long time.

Topic:   LIVE STOCK
Subtopic:   PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR REGULATION AND CONTROL
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PC

Mark Cecil Senn

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SENN:

We did not play politics.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

No, but my hon. friend knows os well as I that some of his friends nevertheless got into the civil service. But they are in the civil service and, no matter whether they were appointed under the Bennett government or the Borden government or the Laurier government or the King government, I find that they are giving 100 per cent service to the Canadian people. If they were not, of course I would have tried long ago to see that they were not there. But there they are. That is the best non-political board I know of. It is made up of the most experienced agriculturists of this country. They have been gathered up, first from the farms of Canada, then put into agricultural colleges either by themselves or by their dads where they received the best agricultural education they could get, and next they were sent out to gain experience throughout the dominion. I am quite sure the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bracken), although he is not in the house at the present moment, will agree with me when I say that that is the right way to produce good agriculturists. That is the way he was produced 'himself.

I have the benefit of knowing that he and I were born in the same year. We were both born on farms in the province of Ontario. He went to agricultural college while I went out west. I know that from his experience he has advantages which I do not have. There are officials in my department who have all the advantages that he has, Whether they were appointed under one government or another. I consider them the best authorities on agriculture that we have in the Dominion of Canada. These are the men who constitute the food board.

When it came to appointing the advisory committee, about which the farm federation wanted to have something to say, we suggested that t'he first man appointed ought to

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be the president of that organization. I asked him if he would accept the appointment as chairman of the committee. He consulted with his organization and agreed. Then I asked him to name two other men. I told him he could nominate them, although I was not going to give him the right to appoint them. Then we asked the provincial governments, no matter who they happened to be, to nominate men. As the governments change they would have the right to change their representatives on the committee. We got the other nine men through nomination by the provinces. A considerable number of those men are officers of 'the federation in the provinces, while the others are nearly all deputy ministers.

I do not think any government has changed its representative on this committee. One government which changed during that period -to relieve my hon. friends from Saskatchewan I will say at once that it was not the government of that province-did remove from their employ-or the man removed himself who was their representative on the committee. We have been asked within the last few days to appoint another man. I have written to the president of the farm federation and to those concerned, suggesting that a man be nominated who will be appointed in the same way as the others have been. That is the way the committee is appointed.

I say this in order to indicate that our present set-up in the Department of Agriculture is non-political and has greater possibilities for doing all the things that have been suggested would be done by this board, and doing them better than they could be done by any single board that might be set up according to the suggestion made to this house. If I appear to oppose the suggestion which has been made it is not that I oppose the objective which hon. members have in mind; it is because I believe that provision is made already for doing what they suggest ought to be done in a better way than could be done under any legislation passed by this house, which would set up some other form of board.

If it is the wish of farmers of this country to have boards to handle the marketing of their farm products, then the proper place to have a board to handle the marketing of farm products, say in Ontario, would be at Toronto where most of the farm products not consumed in the rural areas are consumed. In Quebec very much the same thing would be true with regard to Montreal. In British Columbia the same thing would be true with regard to Vancouver, and in Mani-

toba with regard to Winnipeg. Just as milk boards handle the marketing of milk to better advantage, I believe that live stock boards in the provinces could operate to better advantage and could operate constitutionally. If we set up a board here it might immediately be challenged by the interests in those central points where a greater part of the products is consumed.

Topic:   LIVE STOCK
Subtopic:   PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR REGULATION AND CONTROL
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At six o'clock the house adjourned without question put, pursuant to standing order. Thursday, October 11, 1945.


October 10, 1945