March 26, 1909 (11th Parliament, 1st Session)

CON

Edward Norman Lewis

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LEWIS.

Then it defines these particular grades. It has been suggested and strongly felt throughout the whole western country that while section 320 simply confines its operations to the Canadian packer, section 321 should also be legally read and interpreted in conjunction with section 320, and therefore, when we come to infringements of this particular section which provides that
No person shall sell, or offer, expose or have in his possession for sale-&c.
I say that it does not apply as stringently as it should to the American competitor in our own market. It has been suggested that section 321 should be amended in some such way as to define how fruit has to be marked so that we can compel the United States competitor to enter our market at least on an even footing with ourselves and not have any advantage. This, of course, may be a question of law, and no doubt the minister has taken advice in regard to it from the Department of Justice. At all events, I would like to suggest that because a great many of our own people believe that it would be in the interest of the industry to alter the Act in that direction.
As this question opens up the whole subject of the kind of competition that we have to face and as I want to particularly and clearly state to the minister and the government our grievances wth regard to this matter, 1 shall take up the attention of the House for a few minutes in defining the position as it is to-day. We recognize, of course, that in building up this great industry in the west we have to face competition. We have to face very strong competition from the United States. There are only two ways in which the government can help those who have embarked a great deal of money, time and energy in this industry; one by means of a protective tariff and the otheT by means of the enforcement of the regulations. Of course, I thoroughly understand that it is not well to touch upon tariff matters now, although I hope upon a future occasion to deal with that question and to present our views to jny hon. friend

the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding). I might mention, however, in passing, that there is one thing that I think operates a little injuriously with regard to our industry and that is that the customs officials interpret the word ' barrel * to mean four boxes. Although a barrel does not hold four boxes we find that the American competitor is only charged ten cents a case, where we think he should be charged more. It is usually reckoned that three boxes, instead of four, are the equivalent of a barrel. At a later time I think I will be able to advance reasons for greater protection being accorded to that one great staple, apples, which will secure for me the sympathy even of our northwest members, who, I know, do not want to increase the price of the articles that they consume there. But, with regard to this phase of the subject that I am dealing with now, that is the question of inspection, I am positive that I can get the sympathetic attention of every hon. member from the prairies because we are simply aiming to give the consumer on the prairies the right to expect that what he pays for he should get. In this connection we, of course, meet our strongest competition in the west from the great states of Washington, Oregon and California, which are building up an enormous industry and building it up under greater^ advantages in some ways-I will not go into that now-than we can expect ourselves. There are two unfair ways in whiqh the product of the American competitor can come into contact with our own products upon the prairies. There are two dangers to meet connected with pests and diseases, and insufficient or poor grading. With regard to the question of the diseases and_ pests connected with fruit, I may say that in our own province the comparative immunity which we enjoy from all the serious pests and diseases which affect horticulture and inevitably affect the reputation of fruit products is simply the result of eternal vigilance along the line of our own provincial legislation. We enforce the most rigid system of inspection against the great states to the south of us which are infested with almost all the diseases and pests known to horticulture. We have something like twenty or thirty provincial inspectors who inspect, but only for diseases and pests. We found-and as this enforces the argument to some extent with regard to the grading of fruit I may mention it-some dealers _ and consumers taking a position of opposition to our method on the ground that it rendered the importation of fruit in large quantities a more difficult matter, hut we have happily found that as year after year has gone by we'have enlisted the sympathy both of the consumers and dealers. The net result has been that we have a fairly clean sample of fruit coming in from the United States,
whereas, before that, British Columbia Was made the dumping ground for Mr. BURRELL.
infected fruit of all kinds. It is quite true that in achieving that end we had to reject, and are even now occasionally rejecting, thousands of consignments of all kinds of fruit, but we felt that we were justified in our position and the result has afforded us the most ample justification. We have come to the stage when we are not only supplying the wants of our own country but when we are exporting to our own northwest provinces and in a few years we will be an immense factor as regards fruit. We enter these markets in western Alberta and eastern Manitoba practically on the same terms as the United States with regard to freights. In the middle of the northwest provinces we have probably better terms than they have.
But what is the position of the United States fruit industry and the United States firms that enter our own markets? We have looked into the matter very carefully and we have found that there are a great many very large American firms that are operating in the United States and that are reaching out to control the great markets of the northwest, of Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and, in short, are endeavouring to practically control our trade. I might give the House some idea of this. I have a letter written to the general manager of the Coldstream ranch at Vernon, one of our biggest fruit growing concerns. This is a reliable and well known gentleman, and he gives us some idea in this letter with regard to what the American firms are doing:
The Rogers Fruit Company of Winnipeg, Pioneer Fruit Company of Brandon, and Stockton & Mallinson of Regina, are practically the one firm; in other words the stock of these concerns is held practically by the same people. They have also houses at Saskatoon and Calgary, and have just opened up at Edmonton. The chief man in connection with these houses is Mr. H. B. Finch, of Grand Forks, North Dakota, who manages a similar group of fruit houses and wholesale groceries in the Dakotas. Their chief representative, however, is Mr. DeCamp, who is the manager of the Winnipeg house, hut looks after their Canadian business generally. This is the combination you referred to in one of your previous letters as handling so much of the Washington fruit.
I took occasion yesterday to interview Mr. DeCamp, with the object of finding through their means a more extended market for the product of the Okanagan and British Columbia orchards. I was somewhat astounded to see the large quantity they had brought in from Washington into the Winnipeg and Brandon markets, of small fruit such as plums, prunes, peaches, cherries, &c. Winnipeg had taken over 150 cars. They had also done an enormous business in Washington apples.
Although we would prefer that the men who handle the fruit in our Canadian Northwest were Canadians, yet we are not simply

complaining that they are Americans or that we have to face this competition. The position is this: These great firms operate on a tremendous scale and they control to a very considerable extent the great fruit centres in Washington and Oregon. This year, in Washington and Oregon they had a very heavy crop and a slack market as the people had not recovered from the financial depression which visited the United States two years ago. Somewhat similar conditions existed in our own country and the American operators naturally reached out to send their surplus to the Canadian market and so control our trade. The Canadian growers were of course vitally affected, and we have some reason to claim that the American fruit did not meet us on even terms in our own market. We have been told that amongst the causes which operate against the purchase of large and increasing quantities of British Columbia fruit is, that the American box weighs heavier than the Canadian box and that the purchaser of American apples gets more for his money. The American box averages from 51 to 53 pounds whereas the British Columbia box only gives 45 pounds. The Canadian Act defines the dimensions of our boxes to be 20 by 10 by 11 inches inside measurement or 2,200 cubic inches. The California box is exactly of the same size, but there are a great many different types of package in the states of Washington and Oregon, some of them being a little smaller than the Canadian box. I am not at all sure whether it would not be a wise provision for the protection of our own industry that when this American fruit is sent into our markets the packages should be made to conform in size to our packages. However that may be, I want to give some facts which I think will enable the House to see that the argument that the American package contains more fruit than does our package cannot be well sustained. Shortly before I came east to attend the session of parliament a carload of Washington apples came to our district and I sent a careful man to weigh these apples by the box and give me the weights. It is of course known to every fruit man that the weight of a box of apples is always variable from the fact that some varieties will weigh heavier than others, and that the method of packing and the size of the apple will cause a difference in the weight. I had about nine varieties of these American apples weighed and it was found that the American boxes ran all the way from 53 pounds (the highest) down to 43 pounds; the large majority of them weighing 45 pounds, 46 pounds, 47 pounds, and 48 pounds. Judging from this there is no good reason for the contention that the American boxes contain a greater weight of fruit than do the Canadian boxes.
Then another reason given why the American apple meets with success in , our market is, that their system of packing is better and that the quality of their apple is superior to the quality of the Canadian apple. Well, I could give the House any quantity of testimony from dealers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, that other things being equal, as far as quality and freedom from disease is concerned they would prefer the British Columbia fruit to that grown in Washington and Oregon. I will admit that there is some excellent packing done by the American growers and handlers of fruit, but at the same time it is not a question of the size of the package or the excellence of the packing, because packing does not mean grading or freedom from disease, and to give the consumer what he has a right to expect we have got to have not only good packing so far as the appearance goes, but we have got to have honest grading and freedom from disease. It is in this that the British Columbia grower is at a grievous disadvantage. We have gone into this question very thoroughly and I would like to quote the opinion of one of out own inspectors who was sent from the Department of Agriculture of British Columbia into the Northwest to make a careful examination into this matter. The letter is written to our chief inspector, and he says:
Waneta, B.O., 21st Dec., 1808. Thomas Cunningham, Esq.,
Provincial Fruit Pest Inspector,
Vancouver, B.C.
Dear sir,-I beg to submit the report of my recent visit to Alberta. There is no provincial law providing for the inspection of imported fruit in Alberta. The province therefore becomes the dumping ground for the culls and diseased fruit from the United Slates and from the eastern provinces of Canada.
Unfortunately the Dominion Fruit Marks Act in so far as Alberta is concerned is almost a dead letter, no effort being made by the resident inspector to enforce the requirements.
In jobbers' warehouses and retail stores throughout the province I found thousands of boxes of apples from the United States and from British Columbia which in no way complied with the requirements of the Fruit Marks Act, and which were distributed and sold without hindrance.
There are large quantities of eastern Canadian apples sold in Alberta, principally from Ontario and a few from Nova Scotia, which seemed to me to be culls and diseased fruit, unsaleable in the east. They were certainly not graded as marked, were full of worms, covered with apple scab, and in many instances with San Jose scale.
Large quantities of apples imported from the ^United States were poorly packed and graded and infested with codling moth, apple scab, bitter rot, and in a few instances with

San Jose scale. I may say that I also found a considerable quantity of apples from the United States splendidly packed and graded and entirely free from disease.
I would like also to quote the opinion of another inspector who went into the districts of Lethbridge and McLeod where he carefully examined the conditions. He says:
Lethbridge.-Here I found a few British Columbia apples of good quality, pack and grade, but the American article predominates; in some cases the packing and grading of the American fruit were excellent, but the fruit diseased, one box apples (Wolfe River), of fine appearance, well packed and graded, placed in a prominent place in the windows of the Hudson Bay store, was covered with spots (bitter rot). Other American apples and pears were of poor quality, and in many cases contained codling moth larva and apple scab in abundance.
The Dominion inspector had been at this place, but had taken no action, only instructed the importers to put their name on the box before sending them out of their warehouse.
Now, although I think we are learning fairly fast how best to pack our fruit, and while a large proportion of it is very well packed, unfortunately there is yet something to be learned. However that may be we have very good reason for the belief that a large proportion of the United States fruit is bad both as to disease and grading, and that owing to the inadequate number of inspectors under the Fruit Marks Act, a great deal of fruit has been sold as No 1 when in reality it was not of that quality, and yet, it came into competition with our really superior fruit, under that brand.
In this connection I might add that the general manager of the Coldstream ranch in Vernon, a very large concern indeed, sent a competent man out to Alberta to get a fair and clear idea of the conditions there, and I would like to read this extract from his letter. I might add that this man was in every respect absolutely reliable. He wrote as follows :
W. Crawley Ricardo, Esq.,
Pres. Coldstream Valley Fruit Packing Co., Ltd.,
Vernon.
Dear sir,-I beg to inform you that I have visited Calgary and (Edmonton and during my visit to both these cities have seen a large amount of American fruit. All this fruit appears to mo to be what would usually be graded as No. 2 and in some cases the writer would certainly not let it leave his packing house as anything but No. 3, if such a grade were packed by us. Though small and in a great many cases very mis-shaped, the colour was good and the pack very excellent-in fact from a casual look at a box of this fruit you could hardly see where one apple ended and another began; besides which, in no case that the writer noticed was an apple packed either Mr. BURRELL.
at the top or bottom of the box which showed any deformity or flaw and it was only by moving one of the sides or taking out several apples that you found these. So far as colour was concerned, some of the Jonathan were excellent, their only fault being size. I am informed that these can be purchased in Washington, Wenatchee or Yakima at sixty to seventy cents there..
This gives a little idea of the state of things, but to make assurance doubly sure -because the point has been raised that very little of this fruit comes in and that in the main we simply have to face first-class fruit- I suggested to the general manager of the Coldstream ranch that he should send one of his good men to the National Apple Show at Spokane, where the leading fruit men in that country exhibit their products, and have him go to these men as if he were a land seeker interested in their valley and find out from them exactly what class of fruit they would ship into Canada. He did so, and these were his instructions:
Mr. Frank Rayburn,
Fruit Foreman, Coldstream Estate Co., Ltd.
Dear sir,-I (shall be much obliged, when you go into Spokane, if you can get me definite information what the Americans are selling Iso. 1 stock for.
By the enclosed letters from Mr. Lanigan, assistant freight traffic manager, Winnipeg, you will see that dealers claim they are getting No. 1 at 65 cents and 73 cents per box f.o.b, Yakima. .
I am anxious to get the following information :-
1. What the Americans are selling their No. 1 for?
2. Where their number ones are going to?
3. What class of fruit they are shipping into our territories; if it is their surplus stock, or their straight No. 1.
When you get this information, please get from the most reliable people that you know.
The answer this man procured was that they were getting for their No. 1 stock, not 65 cents or 70 cents, but $1.50 a case f.o.b.; that this fruit was going to Chicago and New York and Europe, and that they were shipping to our country their second-class and surplus. Mr. Ricardo wrote me as follows:
M. Burrell, Esq.,
Grand Forks, B.C.
Dear Mr. Burrell,-The following information is what I secured through our foreman, who went to Spokane show; he went down to the Hotel Spokane, the headquarters of the Yakima people, as a land seeker, and got the answers to my questions. He told them that he had been through the Northwest Territories and had seen their fruit; they were emphatic that it was their 2nd class stuff and surplus.
Yours sincerely,

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE FRUIT MARKS ACT.
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