September 11, 1950 (21st Parliament, 3rd Session)


Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Smith (Calgary West):

Well, what
about the lawyers? I never knew anybody Who needed a lawyer worse than you do. I continue with the other elements. All of these added together account for the very high cost of living. Let us take the retail merchant. My friends in my own town, and there are lots of them, are not blameless.
Remember this, Mr. Speaker; during the last war we got into the habit of fixing margins of profit on the various articles of food which we were buying. Did somebody say it was in England? It was true in Calgary. The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) has not discovered yet that that place is in Canada, but it is, there is no doubt about that. Then we got into the habit of mark-ups, and those in the wholesale distribution business of foods also got into the same habit. We came to the place where an article sold for one dollar, and then with inflation and one thing and another we will say the mark-up was 10 per cent. Well, when the same article sells for $2 the profit is 20 cents and that is one thing which is wrong. We are dealing with our friends, these merchants who are great friends of our wives, and who do all their business over the telephone. They do not even put the number of pounds of meat on the roast you buy these days. All you get is the price.
The other day I was doing an errand on behalf of the culinary department of my family. I went down to the Hudson's Bay Company and I bought some of these big paper bags. I was commissioned to do it. It was a very rainy day. It was these bags that you put inside your slop pail. They are using fancier names on them today, but when I was a youngster it used to be called a slop pail. Now it is called a garbage can. I priced them at the Hudson's Bay Company store and I bought fifteen of them for 25 cents. They did not last forever. In my house we have three meals a day. As a matter of fact they ran out, and my wife telephoned to our regular grocery man. I was eavesdropping; I was listening, and she wanted some of these bags. He said that he had them and that they were three cents apiece. My wife said, "That seems awfully high." And the reply came back, "Yes, but you know paper has
IMr. Ferried
gone up." As a matter of fact, they phoned back a few minutes later and said that they had made a great mistake.
But all we get out of our merchants these days is that things have gone up, and we all seem to be perfectly satisfied with it. We do not ask why. All we hear is that something has gone up and we say: "Oh, goodness, we are in for it again."
We are dealing with bills having to do with consumer credit, and the other one which under the rules of the house I dare not even mention, I cannot call it by number, but it was that bill in which the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) created more law than Black-stone ever did. There was no doubt about that. I love the newness of it. You like a new article; his ideas were new; but when you try them you will find that perhaps some of the well worn ones are infinitely better than this sharp blade that he put in his idea. You know perfectly well that if you ever cut a piece of soap with it there will be no blade left. That is the kind of law he produced in this house just recently. [DOT]
Coming back once more, sir, to my earlier experience, I am willing to cut down credit. I do not know enough about inflation to understand all the reasons for it; but if people, as the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis) has said, are getting into the clutches of loan sharks, because I think that was the people he was talking about, I agree with him this is good peacetime legislation and it is good wartime legislation. I know a bit about that. I put two of them in jail. I have not seen them recently, and I hope they are there yet, because this business of taking advantage of people with small incomes, with chattel mortgages and every other kind of mortgage that ties them body and soul, with quick remedies against them if they happen to fail, cannot be defended.
I see women coming to the same floor on which my office is with their little pieces of money, their weekly pay in their hands, and being met by these chaps who are so smooth, so genteel, so kindly when they get them to sign on the dotted line. They stand there like Simon Legree and the little woman comes around while her husband is at work. I hate, loathe and despise them just as much as the hon. member does, yet I am not content to have the decent credit people wrongly condemned in this House of Commons.

Full View