December 19, 1951

LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. Abbott:

You could have done that

instead of making a speech.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

The hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue), who is not what we would call the most reticent member of the house and who speaks on many occasions-I am sure if Hansard were referred to it would be found that he talks far oftener than I do-suggests that I refrain from speaking now and study the report. I should like to ask him-

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. Abbott:

Good idea.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

-and other hon. members who are interrupting and 'saying "hear, hear" how long it would take me to read this volume of 872 pages?

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. Abbott:

How fast a reader are you?

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

Was the

committee serious when it sat down to perform its work? Is this report to be consigned to the library, put on a shelf in a dark room and left there to mould for centuries to come, or is it a valuable document that people are supposed to study seriously? Are members of the house supposed to read the evidence taken before one of their committees, or are they supposed to take the recommendation of the committee as presented to the house and have nothing more to say about it? I know what the government's answer is. They say "yes" because the majority of members on all committees are appointed by the government as Liberal representatives. They are Liberals when they sit on those committees, and every committee I have been on has been the same. The majority are Liberals. They bring in a Liberal report and the Liberal government does not even read it. It does not even read the evidence but puts it away and brings in its legislation. That is what is happening with regard to this matter. Is the public getting a square deal with respect to this subject?

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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?

Some hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

I say this subject is one-

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. Abbott:

Next page.

Combines Investigation Act

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

-that might shake the foundations of Canadian society very seriously, like an earthquake.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

It is certainly shaking the foundations of the government.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

I say to the

Minister of Finance, who is smiling now, that he may well find it will have repercussions upon the government. He does not know, and I do not know if he cares, what the effects of this legislation are going to be. I do not see how he can because I do not think he has had enough time to reflect and give proper study and attention to what is going on. I am just as much concerned as any other member of the public about the increase in the cost of living, and I should like to see measures taken by the government to reduce the cost of living. But, sir, I cannot see that they have found the panacea in the legislation they are introducing here.

Mind you, I will confess that when this subject was first mentioned it seemed to me to be a very attractive thing. Often I would see in the shops Forsyth shirts at $5, right across the country. I would ask myself: Why should a manufacturer tell a retailer that he has to sell that shirt for $5? Why does he have to put a label on it before he sells it to the retailer? Why does he not let the retailer sell at his own price? I felt I should be able to go from one shop to another until I found the shirt at a lower price, and buy it at that price. But a little reflection and the arguments of hon. members on this side of the house have shown me clearly that that is not the right attitude to take in regard to this matter. There is a community of interest between the manufacturer and the retailer. They are in the same business of selling shirts. The manufacturer makes the shirt and sells it to the retailer. He is anxious to have the retailer sell as many of those shirts as possible. That is only common sense, is it not?

Every manufacturer wants to see his goods have a good showing. He wants to see them in the shop windows and wants to see them becoming popular. So he takes a pride in his product. The retailer is just as anxious as the manufacturer to sell as many shirts as possible. And those retailers are not like the persons described by the parliamentary assistant, I think it was, when he said they were gouging profits out of the consumer.

The retailer as you know him and as I know him, as hon. members on the other side of the house know him, and as the ministers know him, is an honest man. We take it for granted that men in business are honest. If they are not honest why is not the Minister

Combines Investigation Act of Justice (Mr. Garson) prosecuting them now for being dishonest? Why is this attack made upon the retailer?

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Why does he not prosecute the smugglers?

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

There is a community of interest there. It is a perfectly justifiable position. Many hon. members, especially those coming from the province of Quebec, know that this community of interest between retailers and manufacturers is called a vocational association. It is in vogue in other countries in Europe. It is in vogue in Portugal, especially.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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LIB

Sarto Fournier

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Maisonneuve-Rosemont):

First time I have heard about that.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

Then the hon. member's memory is not so good tonight. There is a community of interest there, and it is perfectly logical. I wish to tell you that this is not a new subject by any means. We are dealing with it as if it were new. It has been in effect in England for forty or fifty years. It has been in effect in the United States for a very long time. Forty-five of the forty-eight states are practising it. The Minister of Justice brought us a statement from the three states who had not been practising these fair trade laws, and I think the parliamentary assistant did the same thing. They held them up as objects to be admired. Why, do you not believe in democracy, the greatest good for the greatest number? Are the three states supposed to be the three wise men of the United States? Are they like the three wise men of the east? No, I think we ought to analyse the statement that forty-five of the forty-eight states in the United States practice these fair trade laws.

What I mean to do is go back a little way in my own experience. I happen to be familiar with the business of a small confectionery store operated by my mother for some years. Other hon. members may recall some of the matters about which I am going to speak. They will remember the five cent chocolate bar, the five cent bottle of pop, the ten cent package of cigarettes. Sales were made at these prices, not as a result of written agreements but by implied agreement between the manufacturers and the retailers to sell at these prices. When, during the first world war, prices of ingredients that went into chocolate bars went up, the manufacturers started to make the bars smaller so that they could still be sold at five cents. Then I remember particularly in connection with the five cent cigar there was an understanding between the manufacturer and the retailer that it would be sold at these special

prices. And I suggest it never occurred to one member in the House of Commons that there was anything wrong in what the retailer was doing.

Where is any wrongdoing being discovered now? I have not heard anyone complaining about this resale price maintenance. I think it is largely a matter of imagination.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

The government's imagination.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

Because of government propaganda people are now imagining that the retailer has been gouging profits out of us, the consumers. It has never occurred, at all. The Minister of Justice informed us in advance that the hon. member for Burin-Burgeo (Mr. Carter) would speak about the experience of Newfoundland. The hon. member for Coast-Capilano (Mr. Sinclair), at page 2151 of Hansard, made reference to the report of the royal commission, when he said:

The second example is right here in Canada.

He was giving an example of the effect of resale price maintenance.

The province of Newfoundland, before union, did not enjoy the blessing of resale price maintenance, but when they came into union they got it.

That was one of the blessings we got as a result of confederation.

And as the Newfoundland co-operative brief pointed out, the prices in every line except cars rose immediately when resale price maintenance was applied to Newfoundland and so they had a royal commission on this matter.

That is an absurdity. The parliamentary assistant does not know what he is speaking about. Let me tell you something about that, because I happen to know about it. The premier of Newfoundland in pre-confederation days told the people of Newfoundland that the cost of living would go down 30 per cent after confederation. But instead of the cost of living going down, the cost of living has gone up. He had to have a commission to find out why it went up.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

They should have paged Doug. Abbott.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO FORBID THE FIXING OF SPECIFIC OR MINIMUM RESALE PRICES
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December 19, 1951