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


Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. E. ARMSTRONG (Lambton E.).

In supporting the position taken by the hon. member for Yale-Cariboo (Mr. Burrell) which I am sure the House appreciates. I would urge upon the minister the necessity of appointing more inspectors in the east as well as in the west. We appreciate the extent to which the British Columbia fruit growers have been pushing ahead in the last few years. In 1894 there were in British Columbia only 13,000 acres under fruit while to-day there are over 100,000 acres, and fruit trees were planted at the rate of 1,000,000 per annum in 1907 and 1908.. We must, however, remember | that out of the 21,000,000 fruit trees in Can-

ada in 1906 the province of Ontario had 14,000,000, two-thirds of the total number. To impress on the House the importance of this subject, I shall quote a few statistics furnished by the provincial government of of Ontario with reference to the fruit industry of that province. In 1904, 55,000,000 bushels of apples were grown in Ontario At three bushels to the barrel, that would be about 18,000,000 barrels. Last year, ac cording to the same authorities, only 13,000,000 barrels were produced.
However, my reason for calling the attention of the minister to this matter is that of all the fruit packed for consumption last year, out of possibly five million packages, only 43,000 packages were inspected, and in the year 1906 only 11,000 packages. I know that the number of inspectors has been increased by four. But this is an increase for the whole Dominion.
I took the opportunity to go down to the fruit division to make some inquiries of Mr. McNeill, of that division, and I shall give the House the benefit of some of the facts which I elicited from him. In British Columbia, as the hon. member for Yale-Cariboo (Mr. Burrell) has stated, there is only one inspector, while there are twenty-six provincial inspectors in that province taking care of the fruit which comes in from the United States. There is one inspector for Alberta and Saskatchewan and one for Manitoba. As to Ontario, each inspector is given a district. Mr. McNeill marked off on the map the outlines of the several districts, for each of which there is an inspector. Huron district, for instance, covers part of Lambton, part of Middlesex, Huron and Bruce. This includes the important ports of Goderich and Sarnia. There are probably a hundred points in that district, in addition to these two important ports. I need not go further in order to show the impossibility of one man beginning to look after the fruit in that district. I am satisfied that the minister will see that in order to do justice to this work it will be necessary to have one man who, during the few months of the fall, would be able to give all his time to looking after the exports of fruit from Sarnia and another from Goderich, besides providing for adequate inspection of the rest of this district. The inspector in this Huron district is Mr. Bryan. Then, Mr. Furmigan has the counties of Essex, Kent, Elgin, Norfolk, Haldimand, part of Lambton and part of Middlesex, perhaps, as a whole, the most productive fruit district in the country. Yet, there is only one man to look after that extensive district. I am sure the minister will see that it is practically impossible for one man to begin to cover even a considerable portion of that district. There is another inspector who has his central office in Toronto. The city of Toronto itself must afford work enough
for one man, but this inspector is to cover also the counties of Welland, Lincoln, Wentworth, Brant, Peel, Halton and several others. So, I might go through the list of those who have charge of the different districts in Ontario to show how impossible it is for them to cover even a reasonable proportion of their districts within the time at their disposal in the fall of the year. When the minister looks at this question from the business standpoint, I am sure he will find it necessary to greatly increase the inspectors in these districts. It ought to be possible not only to have these inspectors look after the fruit, but educate, or, at least advise, the packers, and assist them to send out a better class of fruit. I desire to read part of one of many letters that I have^ received from prominent shippers of fruit in different parts of the country. I am sure the minister has received many such communications from prominent shippers of fruit in Ontario and elsewhere, urging the necessity of increasing the number of inspectors. The writer of this letter represents one of the very largest fruit growers' associations in Western Ontario. He says:
Last winter, I visited the Northwestern markets, such as Winnipeg, Brandon, Regina and Calgary. I saw large quantities of fruit, most of it marked No. 1, which we would not pack as No. 2; in fact, most of it was not better than we would use in the evaporater. I do not think I saw one single barrel packed as we would pack it or that was properly marked No. 1. You can easily see that this kind of packing is ruining the market for those who are packing right, causing suspicion to fall on all packers of Ontario apples. I have talked this matter over with nearly all of the reliable fruit shippers and co-operative associations of Ontario and 'find that practically every one of them condemns the present inspection under the Act and desires that we be given district packers who shall be responsible to the government for the reputation of the district assigned to them.
He then goes on to call attention to other matters in relation to the shipping of fruit. But, this subject that is now before us is the one that I ho up the minister will deal with in the near future. The letters that I receive go to show that a large portion of the fruit shipped to the western provinces is very carelessly packed, and that the inspectors are not able to cover a reasonable portion of their several districts. Take the export trade, covering about 1,200,000 barrels, a small proportion of which are examined at the port of Montreal, and, in addition, the enormous number of barrels packed and distributed in the_ different districts of the Northwest and it is clear that it is not fair to place the honest packers, these men who have reputations at stake and who have been^ building rip this business for many yeaTS, in the position in which they are placed as a result of this at-

tempted inspection. These men find that irresponsible packers, small packers who ship out by carload lots, are sending their goods into these different markets in competition with goods that are fairly and hon-estly^ packed. We must take either one position or the other-we must either increase the number of inspectors and compel the bulk of the shippers to live up to the Fruit Marks Act or abandon the Act altogether and allow matters to go back to where they were before, or, if you are going to discriminate in favour of the careless packer, you can depend upon it that you will find plenty of these men who are ready to take advantage of the Act to ship their goods under it. I am aware that the minister will say that he has increased the fine for infringement of the Fruit Marks Act. That is a step in the right direction. But the minister can understand that shippers, who have not a reputation at stake and whose standing is not lowered by being compelled to pay a fine, if there is money enough in it, will pay the fine and continue to do things in direct opposition to the Act. Let me call the attention of the minister to the fact that out of twenty-one inspectors in the whole Dominion there are ten who are almost entirely confined to the city districts, five at the ports of Montreal and Quebec, one at Port Arthur and Fort William, one at Toronto, one at Vancouver, one at Halifax and one at St. John.
I am satisfied that I have given sufficient grounds for urging upon the minister the necessity of investigating this question, and I am sure he will see the wisdom of appointing at once a number of extra inspectors, not only in the western provinces but in the eastern provinces, to compel shippers of fruit to live up to the Fruit Marks Act; otherwise he may depend upon it that the Act is going to do' an injury to the honest packer who is endeavouring to acquire a reputation as a packer of fruit, while the man who is careless in packing, will receive an advantage over him, because he will enjoy the advantage of the reputation secured by the honest packer. I do not need to mention exports to the old country. I know the minister fully appreciates the fact that many shipments which went over last year were far from being up to the standard. His own report states that a number of those shipments were far below the standard; in fact you will find that one of his superintendents of division says that the fruit is not up to the average of the other years. This superintendent also puts in a number of letters from different districts in England showing that the fruit sent over to the old country has not been up to the standard, and if we do not have a better enforcement of the law we cannot expect to hold our present advantage in that market.

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