May 15, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


William Daum Euler


Mr. W. D. EULER (North Waterloo) :

question of prohibiting the manufacture of oleomargarine in Canada has been debated

in this House for several sessions. I am of opinion that a good deal of time thas been wasted because of the fact that each succeeding session witnesses a repe-5 p.m. tition of the arguments of the session before; and for that reason 1 rise to-da , more than perhaps from any other motive, to suggest that on this occasion we settle once and for alii the question of whether oleomargarine shall be made and sold in this country. To my mind there are only two real factors governing the case, and they are these: Is oleomargarine a wholesome product, is it a fit food for the people of Canada? That is one consideration. The other: Is oleomargarine sold for what it is, and not represented as being something else? If we can establish that oleomargarine is a wholesome product, and that it is not sold under misrepresentation, then I contend that It is a legitimate article of commerce, and that this Parliament should not interfere with its manufacture and sale under proper safeguards. So far as I have heard, the mover of the resolution has not made out a case showing that oleomargarine is detrimental to the health of the consumer; in fact, I think it is pretty generally admitted that such a claim cannot successfully be made. We have had the testimony of the Dominion Analyst that oleomargarine is a wholesome commodity. Last year, and again to-day, the ex-Minister of Agriculture testified as to that, and I have a very high regard for his opinion. Oleomargarine is made under license, it is manufactured in government inspected institutions, its sale is surrounded by all sorts of safeguards. At the same time I would say this: If the sale of oleomargarine, in so far as misrepresentation is concerned, is not yet sufficiently safeguarded, as my hon. friend from Ccwnox-Alberni (Mr. Neill) would indicate, I would Ibe quite in favour of passing such further restrictions as will ensure that the interests of the people shall be adequately protected. It is not even suggested seriously that oleomargarine is ever sold in Canada for anything other than what it actually is. The1 ex-Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Tolmie) has just exhibited cartons or packages in which the product is sold, and I do not think any one could possibly mistake oleomargarine for anything else. It may be true that in restaurants, and other eating places, oleomargarine is sometimes passed off as butter; but as was stated by a previous speaker, it is doubtful whether misrepresentation and deception obtains to a greater extent in the
sale of this commodity than it does in the sale of many another article which might be named. The only argument against the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine is that its prohibition would be for the protection of the dairy interest. In other words those who favour this resolution want the sale of oleomargarine stopped in order that more butter may be sold, and sold at a higher price. Now, I say, with all deference to the opinion of those who differ from me, that if that is not a Special plea for a particular interest, a plea that should not be countenanced by this parliament, then I would like to be shown a more glaring example. I am very sure that all of us, especially now that the farmers have so many difficulties to contend with, are very anxious that they be permitted to carry on their activities under the most favourable conditions. Personally I sympathize with that view; but surely Parliament is not going to accept the principle that it !is justified in destroying any industry, any legitimate Canadian industry, which permits the great mass of the people of Canada to buy a wholesome article at a lower price than the price of butter, in order to benefit and add to the profit of any other industry. I think that is an absolutely unassailable position to take. This Parliament is not justified in destroying one legitimate industry for the purpose of assisting another legitimate industry, important as the latter may be. If we accepted such a principle, where would it lead us?
I am going to draw a few comparisons. Some may say that they are far-fetched; but I do not think so; I believe they are on all fours with the proposal made to prohibit the manufacture of oleomargarine. For example, if we can wholly prohibit the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine in order to benefit the makers of butter, why should not the man who produces lard, the raiser of hogs, the owner of a packing house, object to the sale of vegetable compounds, oils and products that now enter into cooking and baking in the home? The argument is just as good for the one as for the other. Why should the manufacturer of silk stockings not object to another man being allowed to make cotton stockings, because it hurts his business? If people can afford to buy only cotton stockings why should they not be permitted to do so?

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