October 10, 1945

LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I did not say that.

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:

The minister's statement was pretty close to it.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I answered the question, if these men did go on strike what could the government do in order to remove the difficulties that the farmers would have? I said there was not very much that could be done to remove the prejudice if they did go on strike.

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PC

Mark Cecil Senn

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SENN:

The minister said there was nothing he could do. I think there is some-

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thing that could be done even then, but it should be done earlier. According to a statement made recently by the Acting Secretary of State for External Aflairs, Canada is still at war and the War Measures Act is still in effect. It is not altogether the proper thing for the Minister of Labour to state that this is a matter that is up to the province. While the War Measures Act is in effect the federal authority is supreme and has a right to do as it likes in these matters. I urge that the question be dealt with immediately if the producers are to be saved from the consequences which would inevitably follow a strike at this particular time.

I think it is unanimously conceded that the establishment of a board of grain commissioners has been of decided advantage to the people of Canada and to the grain trade, and I think it is equally true that the provincial boards set up to deal with the operations of the fluid milk trade have greatly benefited both the producer and the consumer. I therefore ask the government to take into serious consideration the recommendation made in this motion, and in fact to adopt the motion as a forward step for the benefit of the live stock producer and of agriculture generally.

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

Joseph William Burton

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

Mr. J. W. BURTON (Humboldt):

I wish to say a few words in support of the motion moved by my friend and colleague the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Bryce). In doing so I shall give a number of reasons why I consider it necessary and desirable that the members of this house should pass this resolution. First, I believe' that the request contained in the motion is reasonable. If you will allow me, Mr. Speaker, I will read the motion again, wherein it states that:

. . . the government should take into immediate consideration the advisability of appointing a board of live stock commissioners in Canada, for the purpose of regulating and controlling the assembling, transporting, grading, marketing and exporting of live stock and live stock products.

If we the members of this house consider this motion we shall find that we are asking something very reasonable of the government. All that we are doing is to ask them to give immediate consideration to taking this action. At times I look into the book that some of us occasionally need to refer to, the dictionary, and I find that "consider" means "to think, to think about." I am quite sure that the government will not refuse to think, because we would have reached a very sad state of affairs if the government refused to think. We ask them to think about appointing this board of live stock commissioners, and the terms we suggest to them to follow are also

reasonable-"for the purpose of regulating and controlling the assembling, transporting, grading, marketing and exporting of live stock and live stock products."

The second reason why I am happy to support this motion is that it is necessary in the interests of the live stock industry as a whole.

I am happy that we can bring before the house and ask the government to consider a motion to take action on something that is of concern to such a large number of people, not only as producers and handlers but ultimately as consumers. There are many people concerned with the live stock industry. They are dependent upon it. I should like, therefore, to refer the house to a publication entitled "Live Stock Market Review," published by the authority of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). If I may, I would congratulate the minister and the officials of his department, first of all, on compiling the statistics given and preparing and presenting them to us in the manner in which we have them. I do not know how widespread this publication is in the country but I know that I appreciate receiving it regularly. Page 5 of this booklet indicates that there are live stock yards in Toronto, Montreal West, Montreal East, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina and Vancouver. When I first looked over this list I failed to understand why the maritimes did not have a live stock yard or market. If they have not one I think they should get busy and obtain one. If they have a number of markets I suggest that they get in touch with the minister to see that they are put on the map. I was disappointed to see that such a large section of the dominion, which I know raises considerable live stock, is not included in this list.

We find that spread all the way from Montreal to Vancouver there are these large centres and markets where the live stock that is produced is being handled in one way or another. In that connection I should like to refer to the week ended October 4. In that week 33,727 head of cattle went through the markets I have mentioned. There were 9,912 head of calves, 18,454 hogs, and 21,131 sheep. In addition to that, we have the other situation referred to by the hon. member for Selkirk. He then indicated that a practice has developed whereby the packing houses send their own drovers out into the country to gather up live stock and hogs and ship them direct to the packing plants without putting them through the public markets or the live stock yards.

The department gives us some information on that. Included in this booklet are the

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shipments to plants for the week . ended October 4. It shows that 53,170 cattle were shipped direct to plants whereas there were only 18,454 listed through the stockyards. There were 17,363 calves shipped direct to the plants and only 9,912 to the stockyards. In the same week there were shipped direct to the plants 52,376 sheep. To obtain comparable figures for hog marketing we are asked to turn to the table on page 6. They do not give us the total number of hogs shipped direct to the plants. I think the minister might ask the officials of his department to check into that and see if we cannot get this additional information.

On page 6 to which we are referred we find that hog carcasses graded in the week ended September 29 and also from January 1 to date, 1945. There we find some interesting figures. According to the table, in the week ended September 29, 83,538 hogs were graded. In the same week last year there were graded 112,017. I should like to have the minister and hon. members bear in mind how these figures compare. To date in 1945 there have been graded in these packing plants 4,378,655 carcasses. In the same period last year there were 6,614,226 carcasses graded.

In that connection I might refer the minister to what my colleague, the hon. member for Selkirk and I brought to his attention a number of times during the past year or so. We said that with the policy being fol we were bound to have a reduction in the production of hogs and bacon products. I might say that, speaking in the Saskatchewan legislature before that, I drew it to the attention of the then minister of agriculture of Saskatchewan, who is now chairman of the Canadian meat board, and he along with the federal Minister of Agriculture practicallv laughed at the suggestion that we would have a reduction in the production of hogs. However, the figures show that to-day. That is not the point with which I am concerned to-day, although it is something that we should have been concerned with during the past few years. The point that I am concerned with is to show to hon. members that the live stock business is big business and that it is affecting the lives of a lot of people. We have these markets scattered from Montreal to Vancouver. In addition to that we have eleven stockyards, and the packing plants involved have numerous drovers. Then there are shippers, cooperative concerns, individual shippers and trucking by farmers. I contend, that, with a business of that size spread all over the country, with the interests of so many people involved, and 47696-584

with so many people handling the product, it is in the interest of everyone concerned to have some regulating authority along the lines suggested by the hon. member for Selkirk. I suggest that the resolution, if agreed to, will not deprive anyone of his just dues, but, on the contrary, will be of service and protection to everyone.

I have another reason for supporting the motion. The majority of the people whom I have the honour to represent are greatly concerned about this matter. I believe that there are very few if any constituencies in Saskatchewan where the people as a whole are so dependent on mixed farming, as we call it, as they are in the constituency of Humboldt. In that constituency we have no mines, no timber of marketable size and no industries except perhaps an odd creamery or something of that kind. We have only two towns, which would not be of any great .size as towns are considered in the east, but one is a divisional point for the Canadian National railway and the other is a divisional point for the Canadian Pacific railway. With the exception of the people in those towns practically everyone in the constituency is dependent upon the returns from agriculture for livelihood, most of them directly and the remainder indirectly. Ever since that country was opened up some forty odd years ago we have been carrying on what I have referred to as mixed farming. We did not go into it in a spectacular way; there are few if any herds of prize-winning cattle, but still the people on the land from the early homesteading days have gone into the production of cattle and hogs, and during the years have produced an enormous amount of wealth by way of live stock.

I am sure that all the older members from the west, including the Minister of Agriculture will recall the difficulty we had in persuading the governments of that time that we needed a board of grain commissioners to supervise the handling of the enormous amounts of grain being produced in the prairie provinces. Eventually, after a great deal of work and agitation, that board was appointed. Any person who would suggest now that the board of grain commissioners be done away with and that in regard to grain we go back to conditions similar to those under which live stock products are handled to-day, would meet with a cool reception and would deserve ridicule. In the early days the emphasis was placed upon the production of grain, and finally we obtained the board of grain commissioners. In the intervening years the agricultural picture in western Canada has gradually changed, and more

Live Stock-Control

and more districts have taken up what we have had in the Humboldt district from the very beginning, mixed farming and the production of live stock. As I mentioned previously, we have arrived at the position where the live stock industry has become big business, and I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the members of this house that it is in the interests of the producers, in the interests of those who handle our products, in the interests of those who process our products and in the interests of those who consume our live stock products that we have a board of live stock commissioners.

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

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. A. ROSS (Souris):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to support the resolution moved by the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Bryce) may I say that on various occasions during the last parliament I requested the appointment of a board of live stock commissioners with producer representation. This has been and is a plank in our platform, as was stated this afternoon by my colleague the hon. member for Haldimand (Mr. Senn), who dealt with the findings and recommendations of the commission on price spreads some years ago, which I sigrcs were all to tho good. Ho also dealt fully with the many boards which have been set up during the war years to deal with the production, processing and handling of meat in this country, pointing out that with the elimination of the War Measures Act most of these boards would go out of existence.

The marketing and exporting of live stock and live stock products has been most unsatisfactory even during the last few years. As has been pointed out, in western Canada at any rate in the early twenties we depended upon wheat for our livelihood. In those years I believe some seventy per cent of the income of the western farmer came from the production and sale of wheat. That picture has changed very greatly to-day. In the same area I believe wheat accounts for only about forty per cent of the income of the farmer. Great increases have taken place in both hog and cattle population of Canada from coast to coast, and particularly in the prairie provinces. In 1939 our cattle population was 4,693,500. In 1945, according to a return brought down at the end of September, it was 0,676,400, so that there was an increase of approximately forty-two per cent in the cattle population this year.

As one hon. member said a few moments ago, the production and marketing of live stock in this country has become big business to-day, and many people depend upon it for their livelihood. Previous speakers have pointed out the difficulties which were encoun-

tered a few years ago when we asked for the establishment of a board of grain commissioners, but I am sure everyone will agree that this board is rendering a great service in the various ways it regulates the marketing of grain in Canada. I hold in my hand the report of that board for 1944, setting out on the last page the regulations of the board, under some fifty-nine headings. I do not think I should take time to mention them all, but that should indicate the great service being rendered by this board to the wheat producers of the country.

Now that live stock has become just as important as wheat, in dollars and cents; now that it affects probably as many producers in Canada, if not more, I think we are just as much entitled to a live stock commission. The hon. member for Haldimand pointed out that my leader and this party for years have requested that such a commission be set up. It has been pointed out that the greater percentage of hogs marketed now go direct to abattoirs or packing plants. Not long ago the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) made an appeal in this house for a greatly increased production of bacon for shipment to Britain during the next two months. I fully agree with his appeal, but it seems strange that since that appeal was made the price of pork has gone down in various markets across Canada. I have never been able to understand why these fluctuations should take place. If I might refer again to the way in which our grain is handled, the government are now in a position to tell the producers, usually before seeding time in the spring, what they can expect for their product for the coming year. Under a price ceiling system such as is operating in Canada I have never been able to understand why these fluctuations should take place in connection with live cattle and hogs at marketing centres. Perhaps I might add that these fluctuations have been more varied in respect of cattle than hogs. On several occasions a.t this session I have asked the Minister of Agriculture to try to explain to the producers why the same animal which was running in pasture, on good grass, at the end of June or July, and which has grown and gained in flesh and in condition, should sell six weeks later for a smaller figure per pound. Why should this condition obtain, especially when meat is controlled as it is in Canada? That situation does prevail and has prevailed year in and year out at certain periods of each year. It is one which should not be permitted to continue.

Many other arguments have been advanced this afternoon. While I shall not repeat them, may I say that I concur in them. Cer-

Live Stock-Control

tainly it is my view that a majority of producers in Canada from coast to coast are in favour- and most desirous of setting up a live stock commission such as has been described by the hon. member who moved the resolution. This is something for which, as I have said, I have asked on repeated occasions since 1940.

Without taking further time I make an appeal to the government to take steps toward the setting up of a commission to operate in the interests of live stock producers in Canada as a whole, so as to -assure them of some degree of justice in the marketing and processing of their live stock-operations which have become big business in this country.

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

Robert Fair

Social Credit

Mr. ROBERT FAIR (Battle River):

Mr. Speaker, as another practical farmer and as a member of the committee on agriculture which sat during the last parliament, I wish to add my support to that of hon. members who have already spoken in favour of the resolution moved by the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Bryce). I consider that this matter has been far too long delayed. It has been considered by farmer organizations all across Canada, and on different occasions requests along this line have been made by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

I realize, as do many other hon. members, that since the beginning of the war the live stock industry flourished to a greater extent than it had previously. Even at that, however, far too many abuses still exist, and far too many leakages take place. The result of those leakages is going into the wrong channels.

I believe it is in the interests of the government and of the Canadian people as a whole that the commission be set up, so that the wrongs which still exist can be set right. I do not believe it is necessary to discuss some of the questions which have -been debated this afternoon. Perhaps it is sufficient to say that the members of this group are fully behind the suggestion made by the hon. member for Selkirk, and that we fully endorse it. Therefore we ask the government to give this suggestion immediate consideration, and to have the new commission appointed.

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

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. E. D. FULTON (Kamloops):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to support the suggestion made in the resolution now under discussion that there be set up a board of live stock commissioners to order and regulate marketing of live stock products in this country. It is not my intention to enter into any great detail with respect to that matter, but

there is a related subject to which I should like to give some attention this afternoon, one which has a most definite bearing on the marketing of live stock. I refer to the report of the likelihood of a strike taking place in meat packing plants throughout this country.

On various occasions in the course of this debate it has been said that those engaged in agriculture, and particularly those connected with the production of live stock, are in a better position to-day than they have been for many years. This is perfectly true, and I scarcely think it is necessary to remind hon. members that their present position is in marked contrast with the state of affairs which existed up to the beginning of the war. Therefore any steps that can be taken to prevent a recurrence of pre-war conditions are in my view essential to the welfare of the country.

I should like to refer to certain questions which have been addressed to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) in connection with the threatened strike in the meat packing plants. Two questions which were put to him on Tuesday, October 9, and to which he gave answers, sought to bring forth from him some assurance that a strike would not be allowed to take place in the meat packing plants. The questions were asked in order that the producers of live stock might be assured that their markets would be kept open, and that there would not be that decline in price which is bound to follow from any strike in packing plants.

As reported at page 827 of Hansard for October 9, the Minister of Labour admitted that he did understand the position in the packing plants, and made this statement:

I have received a letter from the secretary of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. Any decision made with respect to the purport of the letter will be made known when the government makes a decision. The answer to the first part of the question is yes.

That is, the minister was aware of the situation.

We are in constant touch with the provincial departments of labour with respect to what some people anticipate will be a dispute or strike in the packing house industry in this, country.

I submit that very little comfort can be found in these words. There is little of the-assurance which the producers of this country-are hoping for, namely that the strike will! not be allowed) to take place, or that if it does take place their position will be safeguarded.

The minister, asked for a further statement, made this reply:

If my honourable and garrulous friend will just give me an opportunity to answer the question which was put by the leader of the opposition-

Live Stock-Control

One would have thought we were to get a reassuring answer, but he went on to say:

I do not think, Mr. Speaker, that I can add much to what I have already said.

I submit, therefore that the live stock producers of Canada have very little justification for thinking that their interests will be protected by responsible ministers of the government.

I should like to give briefly the reason why a strike in packing plants of Canada is a matter of such importance to the producers of live stock. I have a telegram from the British Columbia beef cattle growers' association asking me to take up this matter with the government. I have done so through *questions in the house and private discussion with the Minister of Labour. The purport of the telegram is that the producers of live stock wish to have the assurance that the government is taking all possible steps to avert a strike and to allay producers' fears, in view of the fact that a panic at this time would mean disaster. The seasonal run now on would be aggravated by the efforts of producers to market before the threatened stoppages occur.

If hon. members will cast their minds back to the situation last July they will recall that at that time a strike took place in the meat packing industry of Canada. What I wish to do now is to show why a strike is important and why it is viewed with alarm by producers. I would show, too, the adverse effect on the cattle marketing situation brought about by the strike that took place at that time, and I would point out the adverse effect a repetition of the strike would have to-day. I am reading from the "Live Stock Market Review" published by the Department of Agriculture marketing service for the week ended July 19 of this year. On page one of the "Review," under "Summary," it is stated:

Cattle offerings, as compared with the corresponding week last year, were fairly generous, but the market showed ability to absorb everything on hand. In some instances gains were recorded.

And further down:

Eastern cattle markets. A good clearance of cattle was made at Toronto, with all grades selling firm, and the top' of the market at $13.75 for two loads of prime weighty steers.

By the next week the strike was beginning to make itself felt. Reading from the same report for the week ending July 26, we find under "Summary" the following:

The demand for cattle was adversely affected this week by unsettled labour conditions. In some packing houses in Toronto there was a strike early in the week and the possibility of a similar situation developing at some other packing house centres. The larger buyers were

LMr. Fulton.]

therefore operating sparingly but the small operators, not being directly affected, were active at the somewhat reduced values which resulted from the temporary slowdown in total demand.

And further down:

Eastern cattle markets. Closing prices on cattle at Toronto were about fifty cents lower, with last sales of choice weighty steers at $12.75 and $12.80.

If we take the top price for the previous week of S13.75, it will be seen that in one week the price went down from 95 cents to SI per hundred pounds, not 50 cents. That is the drop in price in one week as the result of the strike.

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

Mr. GARDINER:

Not on the same class of cattle.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

Even taking the statement that they were fifty cents lower, we find on page 5 of the report that cattle marketings at public stockyards during the week were 21,121 head. Taking the average beast as weighing 1,000 pounds, which I think the minister will agree is a fairly good average, at fifty cents per hundred pounds we find the loss on an average beast amounts to $5. If you multiply that by 21,121 you get a total of $105,605, which represents the loss to the producers in one week. The decline in prices to that extent was the direct result of the unsettled labour situation, as stated in the market review, or, in plain words, it was the result of the strike in the packing plants.

I think we can see quite clearly how important this matter of a strike in the packing plants is to the producers of meat. It is of increased importance at this time because of the seasonal run of cattle on the market. This always takes place in October and November when grass on the range is getting short and winter is about to set in. Producers are anxious to market their cattle and take advantage of high prices before feeding difficulties may begin. The result is, again using the department's own figures, that for the week ending September 27, the latest report, sales of cattle at public stockyards were 29,221 head, an increase over the July figure of 8,100 head. That is to say, the seasonal run of marketings at this time is over thirty-five per cent higher than it was in July. With those two facts in mind, that in one week in July the loss to producers was over $105,000 and that in October the marketings were over thirty-five per cent higher than they were in July, I think this house will see how important this question of a strike in the packing plants is to the live stock producers of this country.

In view of this serious situation I directed a question yesterday to the Minister of Agri-

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culture, which I should like to read, along with his answer, as reported on page 827 of Hansard:

With respect to the anticipated strike in the meat packing plants, is the Minister of Agriculture in a position to make a statement which will reassure the producers of meat that their position with respect to marketing will not be prejudiced should there be such a strike?

Hon. J. G. Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture) : Mr. Speaker, I think all that I can say is that if there is a strike in the packing plants the position of the producer will be prejudiced and nothing this government can do will prevent it.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Read it all; read the next part.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

By all means.

Mr. Homuth: Should do, or will do?

Mr. Gardiner: Nothing that they can do will prevent the producers' position from being prejudiced if these men do go out on strike.

I submit that that answer is indicative of the defeatist attitude of this government. I am reminded of a previous occasion when a member on the government side of the house said that after all, private members of parliament could not accomplish very much, and they would soon find that out. We on this side of the house do not share that view. It seems to me that this government is bemused and bewildered by the problems which now face them. If they are going to answer a question in that way, I say to them: If you cannot do anything about it, perhaps you will move out and let somebody in who can.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I did not say that we

could not do anything about it.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

The minister said:

Nothing that they can do will prevent the producers' position from being prejudiced

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

If they do go out on

strike.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

I am going to suggest

something that the Minister of Agriculture can do to prevent the producer's position being prejudiced. There is at this time an embargo on the export of cattle to the United States. It has been suggested by members of this house and by cattle producers' associations that that embargo might be removed. I am going to suggest to the minister that if a strike in the packing plants of this country should take place, he take into consideration the lifting of the embargo on the export of cattle to the United States. The minister may answer that we are attempting to supply a maximum amount of meat to Great Britain and to UNRRA.

Mr. GARDINER; Would the hon. member like my answer?

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

Not yet; wait until I have finished.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

My memory is that

every member on that side of the house voted against the trade treaty which allowed cattle to go into the United States at lower duty.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

I do not know of the

occasion to which the minister is referring.

I am referring to the possibility of a strike in the meat packing plants of this country. I was not here on the occasion to which the minister refers. If the minister will permit me to make the suggestion I want to make to him, I will sit down and he can have the floor to give his answer. If a strike takes place in the packing plants and we do nothing about it I am certain that Great Britain, UNRRA and the devastated countries in Europe will not get our meat. The result will be our producers will be affected and our standard of living will go down. If the embargo on exports of cattle to the United States is lifted, that country, which is also trying to export the maximum amount of meat to the devastated countries, will have our meat and they can export it. If our packing plants cannot handle it, why not make a deal with the United States to have their packing plants handle it until the strike is over in this country? I suggest to the Minister of Labour-

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

Just to carry it through to the logical conclusion, it is the easiest thing in the world to suggest that we do what the hon. member says we should do.

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October 10, 1945