May 5, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)


James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)



When the proposed legislation was first placed before the house, British Columbia also had legislation which empowered the government there to take such steps as were deemed necessary in the light of the federal proposal. Ontario had similar legislation but none of the other provinces had that type. Alberta was giving consideration to the question and since then they have passed legislation, as a matter of fact in the last two or three weeks. Manitoba has since passed legislation similar to that of British Columbia, and the province of Quebec last week, within the last few days of the session, passed legislation which, though it does not go quite so far as the legislation in some of the other provinces, places the province in a position eventually to deal with the matter. New Brunswick has done something of the same sort. Action was finally taken in four provinces since this legislation was first introduced in the house by way of resolution, and since it has advanced a stage further, representations have been made to us, first by a committee appointed by the conference that
met in Montreal a short time ago and, a few days later, by representatives from both the western and the eastern provinces, asking that we place on the statute book this session such legislation as would enable us to empower the boards to control the export of farm products, to make levies upon producers and in certain areas to enforce upon the minority the wishes of the majority. I suggested to them that we have had no cooperative legislation of any kind since the Natural Products Marketing Act was declared ultra vires, and having had no such legislation I thought it wise at this session to lay down the fundamental basis for the setting up of cooperative organizations that might have the endorsement of parliament.
With all due respect to those who think that the most important thing at the present time is to compel people to enter cooperative organizations, I would point out that before that step was taken in Denmark, to which country we look for many of our illustrations of what cooperatives can do, eighty-five per cent of the people had voluntarily joined these cooperatives. After eighty-five per cent had voluntarily joined them and they had been carrying on for some time successfully the government passed legislation making it possible to force the others who were interfering with the operations of the organization to become part of it. I think that has been pretty much the practice everywhere. Certain provinces in Canada have for a long time been promoting cooperative organizations; Quebec is one, British Columbia another, Alberta another, and Saskatchewan another. Other provinces have in recent years been enlarging upon their activities in that direction. We think it wise to allow this legislation, which has been placed upon the statute books of some provinces only within the last month or two, to operate for at least a year before we give further consideration to the question whether we should embody in our legislation provisions for enforcement of obligation upon a minority.

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