January 29, 1948


The house resumed from Wednesday, January 28, consideration of the motion of Mr. J. A. Dion for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, and the amendment thereto of Mr. Bracken, and the amendment to the amendment of Mr. Coldwell.


PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. A. ROSS (Souris):

Mr. Speaker, at adjournment yesterday I was about to discuss the matter of feed grains or coarse grains.

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order.

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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GRAYDON:

Wait until they get the leadership fixed up over there.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Who is in the lead now? I wish to take a moment or two to refer to the feed grain or coarse grain situation in Canada. May I say, that as of October 20, 1947, barley at a given point in Melita netted the producers 80 cents a bushel, less freight, and- handling changes to Fort William; oats netted the producer 54 cents a bushel less these expenses.

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. May I call attention of hon. members 'to the fact that there is too much noise in the house. It is impossible to hear the hon. member who has the floor.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Then there was a subsidy to feeders in other parts of Canada of 25 cents a bushel on barley and free freight from Fort William east and to some points in British Columbia, and 10 cents on oats. At this particular season of the year livestock production was decreasing in Canada. Price ceilings on coarse grain were lifted as of October 21 and embargoes were kept against coarse grains and beef or pork and other products going to the United States and certain other countries. Today barley is approximately $1.15 net to the producer at Melita and oats 75 cents a bushel, and subsidies are off to -the feeders in other parts of Canada.

On January 2 this year the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) announced the meat prices that would prevail on the contract to Britain. I wish to quote them here, along with a comparison of the meat prices then prevailing in the United States. Bacon, No. 1, United Kingdom contract price $36 pet 100

The Address-Mr. J. A. Ross

pounds. The United States price was $66 per 100 pounds. Beef, grade A, $27.50 per 100 pounds United Kingdom and $47 United States. Eggs, 54J cents per dozen United Kingdom and 56 cents per dozen United States. Cheese, 30 cents a pound United Kingdom and 37J United States.

That shows a considerable difference in the then prevailing prices. I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if the conversation on the other side could be subdued a bit.

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

There is some on that side too.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

At this date the people on the prairies and the farmers generally do not need to be told who pays the bill for tariff protection in this country, taking into consideration these price variations. The Manitoba government, in its submission to the Sirois commission in 1937, placed the burden of tariffs on the three prairie provinces at $29,000,000 annually; but tariffs in 1937 would look like free trade beside the present restrictions. And do not forget the loss in the marketing of wheat which I pointed out in my remarks yesterday.

I have before me a report put out by the dominion Department of Agriculture with regard to the 1947 inspected livestock slaughterings, and Manitoba leads in the loss ratios. I wish to quote a few of them. In Manitoba the decrease in slaughterings of cattle in 1947 as compared with 1946 was 33-7 per cent. The decrease for western Canada was 29-6 per cent, for eastern Canada 9-9 per cent, and the average for Canada was a decrease of 22-5 per cent. In hogs, the decrease in Manitoba was 12-7 per cent and in western Canada 12 per cent, while eastern Canada showed an increase.

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. member who has the floor, but I would ask hon. members generally to realize how very disagreeable it must be for one who is trying to be heard, as well as for the Speaker, who is trying to follow the debate, to have so much noise in the chamber. If for some members it is necessary to carry on conversations, there are lobbies on both sides of the chamber expressly for that purpose.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was about to say that hog slaughterings in eastern Canada showed an increase of 20-4 and for all Canada an average increase of 4-4 per cent. There are many other factors that might be taken into account when you realize the manner in which the people got rid of brood sows and young pigs during the crisis last fall.

In the matter of sheep, Manitoba showed a decrease of 32-6 per cent, western Canada 25-7 per cent and eastern Canada 26-3 per cent, the average percentage decrease on all sheep slaughtered in Canada being 25-3. The total decrease for livestock in Manitoba was 23-1 per cent, in western Canada 19-1 per cent, while there was an increase of 4-4 per cent in eastern Canada and a general decrease of 7-8 per cent across Canada. I do not think there can be any doubt that there has been a decrease in the livestock marketings and slaughterings during 1947.

Moreover, when you realize that the implements of production which the farm producer must purchase can be purchased as cheaply in the United States as in Canada, you realize to some extent the embarrassing position in which these producers have been placed by the present administration.

I should like to refer to a story, an exclusive story, by the Minister of Finance in New Liberty of January 31. May I say first of all that I do not believe the Minister of Finance has done himself justice in the manner in which he has written the story. It has to do with the dollar crisis, which is also referred to in the speech from the throne. I am not going to read the whole of the story, but there are some paragraphs that are pertinent to the situation of the agricultural producers of Canada. On page 5 he says:

At the same time, Europe failed to recover as rapidly as had been hoped and was unable to send us either the kind or quantity of goods that we had been expecting to get. This increased still further our requirements from the U.S.

Then he gives examples. Well, a great many people in this country did not expect Europe to get back on its feet very rapidly after the termination of the war. Then there appears a photograph of an agricultural scene, and the minister points out that Canada spends nearly $60,000,000 a year on United States farm machinery. Under the illustration there is a statement that farmers postponed buying during the war; then started to make heavy purchases in 1946. He seems to be surprised about that. I know that some of his colleagues and members on this side pointed out year after year during the war that on the average western farmers had been purchasing around $50,000,000 of farm machinery annually, and when the war came on they had to stop these purchases.

I wish to make this point, and it is something I have emphasized every year since I have been here. The natural market for our export cattle is the United States. If under the then existing legislation the embargo had

The Address-Mr. J. A. Ross

not been on since the year 1942, and if we had been allowed to ship 200,000 head of cattle annually to the other side at the prices being paid, our cattle exports would have taken care of that $60,000,000 of farm machinery brought in from the other side, and they would also have met the dollar crisis. There is no argument about that.

When some people tell you that the best market for our meat is Britain, I would point out that in 1939 we shipped to the United States over 201,000 head of cattle, while we shipped only 4,000 to Britain. I emphasize that point. I know there is a discussion ^ in Canada at the present time about upsetting price ceilings. I am sure briefs must have been submitted to the minister, certainly as far back as two years ago, asking that the beef producers be allowed to ship cattle to the United States and that the difference in prices prevailing in Canada and the United States be pooled for future distribution. Surely that is fair enough to the consumers in. Canada, and that submission has been made on more occasions than one.

On another page of the story by the Minister of Finance there appears the following:

How can bans on the import of such articles as washing machines and refrigerators be justified? By no stretch of the imagination can these be termed luxury goods.

I agree, but when I read in an eastern paper that there is a good deal of credit due to a certain member of this house because he was able to lobby with the department and have this 25 per cent tax taken off sporting goods, it does not add up and make sense. We have had a very fine and efficient rural electrification program in Manitoba during the past year or two and I can assure you that the officials of that hydro set-up and the farmers themselves are greatly disturbed by this austerity plan which was announced in November. Those people have been waiting and hoping for the day when they could install electrical machinery and the frigidaires to which they are entitled. More than that, we all know that we over sold things when our boys were overseas and now that these young men have come home and are desirous of setting up for themselves they cannot get what they need for housekeeping. They have that added burden thrown upon them. I protest against this sort of legislation, which is very unfair and unjust at this time.

Further on the minister makes this statement on page 8 of the article in New Liberty:

All taxes are unpleasant and this one is meant to be. The revenue isn't important; the less raised the better.

I do not know how the taxpayers of Canada can follow that statement, but that is a part of the minister's story in the article I have been discussing. I do not wish to deal further with it at this time but I contend that this austerity program is the result of the government's administration of affairs throughout the war years and since. They are solely to blame for the present state of affairs. It could have been avoided if they had listened to some of the requests from this side of the house and from producer organizations in Canada.

I want to make another reference-

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I am sorry, but I must call to the attention of the hon. member that his time has expired.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

I understood that I had twenty minutes left; and making allowance for my lost time, I have yet ten minutes. May I have two or three minutes to finish?

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

If the hon. member has the unanimous consent of the house.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Go ahead.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

The matter of income tax assessment and amendments to the act are also referred to in the speech from the throne. First of all I want to put a few points on the record and to say that in 1945, which was the last complete year for which we have had the assessments brought up to date, Manitoba farmers paid $1,866,950 on a net farm income of $86,500,000. In the same year Quebec farmers paid $59,913 on a net farm income of $155,900,000. Manitoba farmers have also paid six times as much tax proportionately as Ontario farmers. The income tax branch took on 1,900 new employees during 1947, at a time when the number of taxpayers was decreasing greatly owing to raised exemptions; and the people find it difficult to understand that situation. More than that, we have heard much talk about the fictitious surplus of some $650 million collected from the taxpayers of this country during the nine months of the present year.

You will remember that in the prairie provinces we used to have a tax form which consisted of one sheet. We apparently have two different farm systems in Canada. Since January 1 every farm magazine and newspaper in the prairies has been carrying an advertisement asking all the farmers to go to the post office and procure this new form and the book of instructions. With respect to the book of instructions, I want to compliment

The Address-Mr. J. A. Ross

the department upon getting it out. I think it is most useful. But I wonder what the farmers are going to say when they get hold of one of these forms. They have been going to the post offices in my riding since January 1, and when I left there the latest information I had was that there were none of these forms in the post offices. Since my arrival in Ottawa I have been able to obtain one, but I am told that it is impossible to procure one in the other provinces in Canada. But when 3nou think of the small form which the farmers used to have to fill out, and compare it with this form, consisting of six pages-each one much larger than the little form which they used to have to fill in-with some fifty-four principal questions and many subsidiary ones, and a financial statement of inventory the equal of anything you will fill out at the bank, it seems ridiculous.

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PC

Harold Aberdeen Watson Timmins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. TIMMINS:

And with the black band.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Yes, and with the black band. I think you are going to have some little difficulty with the farmer producers of these prairie provinces. Right here I want to pay respect to the inspectors I have known who have been assessing farm incomes in my province. They are an agreeable and cooperative group of men who have done their best to acquaint farmers with conditions and to assess them fairly. There is no complaint at all about those individuals. But as I say, to me this is a ridiculous form and one that certainly will not be appreciated by the average farmer who has to file a return. I want to make a protest on behalf of those farmers with respect to such a form as this which is supposed to have been simplified. I have never seen anything more complicated in my life. According to the return last year, out of some 108 inspector's assessing farm income, seventy-nine of these were employed in the three prairie provinces, while twenty-nine were employed in the other six provinces of Canada. Naturally the prairie farmers are wondering why there is this great disparity. I think an explanation is owing to the taxpayers of this country with regard to what I have set forth here.

I want to comment on the cost of living, and to say that in my opinion the appointment of a parliamentary committee on price spreads, or the cost of living, as suggested by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) is simply having the government hedge on its responsibility to the public. It is simplv a delaying matter and a hide-out for the government who are responsible for this. I want to assure them that under the wartime prices and trade board the transitional measures act of 1947 gives them all the law that is required

to prosecute any profiteer, and it is their responsibility to do so if they know of any such practice prevailing. In that extension there is included P.C. 8528 passed by this government in 1941, and it certainly provides fines and heavy sentences for undue profiteering. That can be found on page 22; and it is the government's responsibility to implement it. I am sure that nobody in Canada will appreciate the fact that the government now offers to set up a committee which will be a hide-out for them from their responsibilties at least for many months or maybe longer. The people of Canada are entitled to something better than that.

When I commenced my remarks yesterday I stated what in my opinion should be done for many veterans in this country. Since then I received in my mail this morning a copy of the February issue of The Legionary in which the dominion command of the organization finds fault with the ten per cent increase and demands that it should be at least twenty-five per cent. They go back to 1926 which was the last time when amendments were made. Without going into further detail, I want to endorse that statement in The Legionary. It appears on pages 10 and 11. I personally endorse it wholeheartedly. It is the least that they can expect. I should like to read two or three lines from page 23:

... to many disability pensioners, and to all the burnt-out men in receipt of war veterans' allowance, the "cost of living" actually means the cost of keeping alive.

And nothing else. Surely we, the citizens of Canada, owe these men at least that much.

I am wholeheartedly behind that brief.

(Translation):

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IND

Bona Arsenault

Independent

Mr. BONA ARSENAULT (Bonaventure):

Mr. Speaker, on February 6, 1947 I outlined to the house a program for the economic and social reconstruction of the Gaspe peninsula, and of Bonaventure county in particular.

On behalf of my constituents, I explained how government participation in the settlement of our main problems would best ensure the economic stability of Bonaventure county whose best interests are closely allied to those of the whole Gaspe peninsula.

I called the government's attention to the urgency of rebuilding our fishing harbours, repairing our wharves, dredging our seaports, improving our water and railway communications. I also mentioned the utmost necessity of stopping the exodus of our young people by affording them proper opportunities within

The Address-Mr. Arsenault

our own country. To encourage agriculture, I asked the government to establish a dominion experimental farm in Bonaventure county. Finally, I stated that our large and small industries, fishing, farming, logging and mining, should be organized1 in a modern way, as a basis for the economic and social superstructure of our district.

Today, I am happy to state that the present Liberal administration gave us, in so far as it was humanly possible to do so, the co-operation which I requested of the government ever since I first took a seat in the house.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear!

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January 29, 1948