August 5, 1940 (19th Parliament, 1st Session)


Robert Ryan



Since this house opened on May 16 I have sat very patiently listening to the many speeches made. I wish to congratulate hon. members from western Canada upon the manner in which they uphold the interests of that part of the country. At times it has appeared to me as if some hon. members thought the whole of Canada is at the western extremity of the great lakes and no other part is of any importance. I do not say that in the way of criticism; I want to give credit to those hon. members for blowing the horn of the west. But I should like hon. members to understand that the province of Quebec is an important agricultural province. I am sorry that it was necessary for the government this year to decrease the amount spent by the Department of Agriculture. I do not know whether that decrease affects my province or not, but I know that my province could stand certain subsidies from the government to enable it to develop agriculture.
I have for some years tried to interest this government as well as the provincial government in the establishment of the beet sugar industry in the province of Quebec. Two years ago, after a great deal of work not only by myself but by representatives of western Canada, Ontario and Quebec, the then Minister of Finance submitted the whole matter of the sugar industry to the tariff board. I understand that the tariff board was to bring in its report this year, giving the whole history of the sugar industry, and I am disappointed that that was not done. We must realize that the refining of cane sugar is not an industry, but beet sugar production is an industry. The beet sugar manufacturer takes the beets from the farmer, cuts them up, extracts the sugar and refines it. The cane sugar refiner just takes the raw sugar from other countries and refines it.
In the Montreal Star of to-day I find that in 1939-1 assume it is the calendar year-the production in the sugar refining industry increased considerably; the production of cane sugar increased 86,000,000 pounds to a total of 98/,266,491 pounds, while the beet sugar production increased by 26,306,496 pounds to a total of 169,320,343. Granulated sugar comprised about 85 per cent of the total production. Hon. members will note that the beet sugar increase was about equivalent to the production of one beet sugar mill of 1,200 tons' capacity per day for 100 days, but there was cane sugar refined to an amount [The Chairman.]
tha,t would require three beet sugar factories to produce. I am not criticizing the bringing in of this cane sugar because it is absolutely necessary at the present time to bring it in, but I am in favour of greater development of the beet sugar industry, especially in my province. There are beet sugar factories in Alberta, in Ontario and one in course of construction in Manitoba, and Quebec should be started on the way.
Hon. members may say, why not do it? For the simple reason that there has never been sufficient money in the production of beet sugar to interest outside capital to come in. I would have a difficult time in Montreal getting capital to develop beet sugar production with the two cane sugar refineries there.
There are two ways whereby this government could help to develop the industry. One is by putting a processing tax on all cane sugar refined. That would interest capital in the production of beet sugar in this country. If the government did not want to do that, the other way would be to lend sufficient money at a low rate of interest to build beet sugar factories in locations where they would be a success. I believe the day will come when that will have to be done. I't is ridiculous that the output of cane sugar should be permitted to increase. Only about 15 per cent of the sugar requirements of Canada are produced from beet sugar.
There is a great deal I should like to say regarding the development of the beet sugar industry,^ but it is not my intention to take up the time of this committee at this session because I prefer to see that report of the tariff board submitted to the house, because it will probably contain the same material that I wish to present. I am sure that report is going to be very interesting and that if the house gets that report, something will be done to increase the development of the beet sugar industry in Canada.
I listened to the hon. member for Lethbridge, the hon. member for Medicine Hat and the hon. member for Provencher regarding the development of the beet sugar industry, and I can corroborate every word said by the hon. member for Lethbridge and the hon. member for Medicine Hat, and they did not say half as much as they might have said, but they indicated the importance of this industry. I contend that this country can get out of the hole only by the industrial development of agriculture. I know of several industries that could be established in my province if the capital could be obtained, industries that would use only agricultural raw materials. This is a matter of great importance to the development of

Unemployed, Miners-Nova Scotia
Canada. I shall not take any more time to-night, but I want to be on record concerning this matter. I regret very much that the report of the tariff board was not submitted to the house this session. I hope next session that report will be brought before the house.
I do not want in any way to obstruct the business of the house, but I considered it absolutely necessary to mention this matter. The minister explained the reason why action was not taken; I am sure he regrets as much as I do that the estimates had to be cut down, but this has been found necessary because of the war. Personally I would not consider it necessary. I believe we could spend all the money we must in order to win this war, but I do not think we should reduce expenditures for the development of Canada. However, I do not desire to criticize, and nothing I have said to-night is offered as criticism. I only hope that in the near future something may be done for the industrial development of agriculture.
Progress reported.
On motion of Mr. Crerar the house adjourned at 11.45 p.m.
Tuesday, August 6, 1940

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