June 4, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


George William Kyte



The minister was speaking about sugar and everything else. The minister and his Government, while expressing some desire to appoint a food controller,
TMr. Crothers.]
have to admit this evening that even although a food controller is appointed, he can accomplish nothing. The minister says that the conditions we have in this country to-day are conditions which have inevitably resulted from the war, and that therefore the Government is unable to do anything to relieve the situation. That is not the language of Mr. Hoover, who is the food controller in the United States. Mr. Hoover, in the last four or five weeks has spoken in many places; he has spoken before the legislature at Washington in support of a Bill to enable the United States Government to take control of these food products, and he has pointed out that in nearly every case proof is available that the increased cost of living is due to speculation and to the undue enhancement of the cost of foodstuffs by those who are engaged in - the business of distributing them. In the United States there is, apparently a live Government, and a live minister who has charge of that particular situation. The Minister of Labour did not make any particular reference to the matter of flour. We know that some weeks ago when the question of flour was brought up in this House, the Minister of Labour, with a wave of his hand, endeavoured to assure the country that something was being done because he had sent Mr. O'Connor down to Montreal to make an investigation, but Mr. O'Connor returned, and instead of the price of-flour going down, it went up until the United States Government took action to close the grain exchange in the city of Chicago.
The reflex result of that was that the price of flour was reduced to some extent in Canada. The Minister of Labour will not deny that the price of flour was boosted in Canada on account of the operations on the Grain Exchange at Winnipeg. That grain exchange has been closed, and I believe the Government has made some effort to eliminate the operations of the speculators, and as a consequence the price of flour has been reduced in some slight degree in the last couple of weeks.
The Minister of Labour has referred to the question of coal. The minister cannot have forgotten that the city solicitors of Montreal endeavoured to hold an investigation under. the Order in Council for the purpose of reducing the exorbitant price of coal. They had not proceeded very far when they were faced with the difficulty of being unable to proceed by reason of not being able to prove that a conspiracy existed for the purpose of ejnhancing the price of flour, for in the opinion of the city

solicitors unless a conspiracy were proved nothing could be done under .the Order in Council.
I was rather surprised that the Minister of Labour ventured to produce his Order in Council again this evening. I think it is the third occasion on which he has read it to the House, but in no single instance has he been able to show that anything has resulted by reason of the Order in Council or from any proceeding taken under it. It is just as well that the Government cease talking about a food controller. There is no use in going to the expense of appointing a controller or a commission to control the price of foodstuffs, because we have the statement of the Minister of Labour this evening that no result will follow any activity in that respect, as the cost of everything in Canada is due to war conditions. But there are other countries at war, and the consumers of those countries fare very much better than we do, the consumers of Canada. In the United States the conditions created by the war are no worse than the conditions created by the war in this country, and the moment war was declared by the United States action was taken for the purpose of dealing with the question.
The price of onions had gone up enormously in the United States. It was stated that the price was due to the supply not being equal to the demand, and apologists for those who were responsible for increasing the price of that article came forward, just as the Minister of Labour has done to-night, with every explanation bnt the correct one. But the moment the food controller was invested with authority-
Mr. CROTH'ERS: Will my hon. friend
allow me a question? Has not the hon. member been advocating in this House and outside that we should take action to er able the farmers to sell their products in the United States^ so that they could get a higher price?

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