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


Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DONALD SUTHERLAND (South Oxford) :

The question of the importation and manufacture of oleomargarine first came up during the early days of the Union government. Previous to that time, we did not have oleomargarine in Canada, and there was a distinct pledge given at that time, when it was admitted owing to war conditions, that when the war terminated and those conditions passed, the act would cease to exist. Since that time, however, it has been extended from year to year, and some have been advocating that it should be made permanent. Among those I believe was the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding). I think his criticism of last year and of two years ago was that the act should not be simply extended for a year, but be made permanent.
I listened with a good deal of interest when I came into the House to-night to the address of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell). I was somewhat in doubt as to just what policy the Government were going to pursue on this question, for they have undoubtedly discussed it, and as I listened to the eloquence with which the Minister of Agriculture dealt with the question I wondered if he was going to live up to the reputation he has been establishing during the last few weeks in Parliament and in the country. After listening to the hon. gentleman who is leading the Government to-night (Mr. Fielding) who, I would imagine, has given us the policy of the Government on this question, I can picture in my mind the Minister of Agriculture turning another sharp cor-

ner just about as quickly as he has turned some others during the past few days.
I do not think that the fate of agriculture or of the dairying industry depends to any great extent upon how this question is determined. We have heard the Minister of Finance refer to oleomargarine as a wholesome article of food, and point out that no one has shown it to be anything else. It is somewhat singular that although we now have a Department of Health connected with the Government, there is not a member of the Government, nor was there of the late government, who could inform this House just what constitutes oleomargarine-not one. I have asked the question repeatedly, and I have been unable to find any one who was able to give us that information. "Oh," they say, "it is manufactured under strict supervision in the abattoirs in this country, and there are a number of veterinary inspectors who are looking after this matter." But what about our Department of Health? Why are they not looking into this article of food for human consumption?
The plea has been made repeatedly in favour of oleomargarine on behalf of the children of the poor in this country. Mr. Speaker, it is on behalf of the children of the poor in this country that I am arguing here to-night against allowing oleomargarine to be imported and disposed of in this country as it has been in the past few years. It is surprising how many people you find who like to get something for nothing. Milk fat differs from all other fats in that it contains certain life-giving substances that are essential for promoting the growth of the young. It appears that an all-wise Creator has placed this substance in the milk fat of all animals, and that it is not to be found anywhere else. Yet some clever people, realizing that this is a food product absolutely essential in promoting the growth of the young, have got the idea that if they can only get some cheaper commodity and be able to dispose of it under the plea that it is a wholesome food and will take the place of butter, they are going to make a whole lot of money out of it. That is about the size and substance of the arguments in favour of oleomargarine.
The Minister of Finance says that every country in the world except Canada permits the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine. I say there is no country in the world that gives these people the same privileges and freedom with regard to the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine that they have in Canada-not one. In France they will not even permit it to be sold at the same shops with dairy products. Yet in this country you find this stuff advertised in all the market reports in the dairy column. Why should that be the case? If it is not a dairy product, why should it be advertised as a dairy product in this country? They say they are going to sell oleomargarine on its merits. Then why should they be so anxious to put it up in pound prints of exactly the same size and shape as butter, and make it look like butter, and churn it in milk to give it a butter flavour? It is also mixed with butter, not only two per cent of butter, but in some cases as high as thirty-three per cent. Why should that be the case if this is a wholesome food? It is because they know it adds to the value of the article. I have spoken consistently against oleomargarine ever since it was permitted to be imported and sold in this country. It was one of the first-born children of the late Minister of Agriculture, the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar). He has upheld the manufacture of oleo in this country; he was responsible for the enactment of regulations such as they have in no other country where this stuff is used. I will quote from these regulations and then ask you whether you think the dairyman has a grievance or not. Here is one example:
No person other than a manufacturer of oleomargarine shall mix oleomargarine and butter.
Why should the packing houses have a special right to mix oleomargarine and butter in this country? The regulations further say:
Oleomargarine shall not be manufactured in Canada in any premises used as, or connected with, a butter factory.
Now the butter manufacturer is subjected to the most stringent regulations not only by the municipal and provincial authorities, but by the federal government, in order to ensure the wholesomeness and the purity of his product and to standardize it. Notwithstanding that, the federal government grants a license to some of these packing companies, who manage to get their ear, permitting them to use highly coloured June butter-as was admitted in sworn testimony given before a committee of this House-to colour the tallow and oil and make it look more like butter. Because we have it on the strength of the sworn evidence of the manager of the Harris


Abattoir in Toronto that unless that was done the stuff would taste like tallow and the people would not buy it. Consequently these packing houses buy highly coloured June butter in order to mix with their product. The privilege was granted as a war measure and there was no complaint heard from the farmers of this country. An Order in Council was passed, under the War Measures Act, commandeering all the butter that was being manufactured in the creameries of this country from September 1, 1918, down to a certain time. Now there were twenty-five million pounds of butter in the cold storage warehouses in Canada at that time and in the hands of the oleomargarine manufacturers there were 3,622,830 pounds. The butter that was being turned out by the dairymen of Canada was commandeered, but the oleomargarine manufacturers and wholesale dealers were left in charge of their supplies.
These are some of the things I have objected to in the past; and when the hon. member for Marquette was Minister of Agriculture I directed his attention to a number of the injustices which I considered the dairymen of this country were suffering.
I have endeavoured to be consistent in this matter although I have had to criticise those with whom I was associated politically, and I intend to be consistent whether what I advocate agrees with the policy of my associates or not. Nor am I taking the stand I do because the county from which I come is interested in this matter to any great extent, because the great majority of the farmers there are purchasing their butter instead of manufacturing it, although the county is one of the most noted dairy sections in the whole Dominion. I ask hon. members whether they consider it is a good thing that an old established industry, like the dairy industry, should be jeopardized to the extent that butter making has often been in the past by reason of legislation enacted by this Parliament. For it must be remembered that the future of western Canada, as well as the East, as the Minister of Agriculture has pointed out, depends wholly upon the live stock industry. We have induced thousands of returned men to settle upon farms; yet in the fact of that certain hon. members would pass legislation to deprive these men of their means of livelihood; because that is exactly what it means.
I did not hear the arguments which were advanced early in the afternoon with

reference to this matter. But I have heard some of the reasons advanced by the manufacturers of oleomargarine for continuing this policy, such as are contained in the circulars which have been diligently sent out by them. They claim to be using Canadian products for the manufacture of oleomargarine, when the fact is they are importing most of their stuff and paying practically no duty on it at all. Let me give you some idea of the quantities brought in for eleven months of the past year; they were all the figures I could obtain at the time I received this information: Lard compound, 335,161 pounds; oleo oils imported -and the manufacturers say " Oh but look at the splendid market afforded here for the oleo oils from our beef cattle"-1,731,-005 pounds; cotton seed oil 348,583 pounds; cocoanut oil 219,132 pounds; peanut oil 125,889 pounds; butter oil-I do not know what that is; I believe it must be something of the kind that the Minister of Agriculture calls renovated butter-823,558 pounds; salt 279,634 pounds; the total of all commodities imported was 3,862,962 pounds.
These went to make up the oleomargarine which was manufactured in this country during eleven months of the past year. A slight duty was paid but 99 per cent of such duty paid during the past year has been returned to the manufacturers. The amount of such drawback allowed to the two manufacturers interested was $388,345.53. The Canadian oleomargarine manufacturers enlarge on the market their industry creates for beef fats, and other articles of the kind, in this country; but when they make such importations, as I have shown from the United States, it puts a different complexion on the matter. Their claim is not well founded. It is a deliberate attempt to introduce a system into Canada that is not in the interest of agriculture because it concedes to these people privileges that those who are engaged in agriculture do not possess.
Furthermore, these manufacturers import articles upon which there is practically no duty. There is a duty of three cents a pound on butter under the British preference and a duty of four cents a pound on butter imported from other countries. During eleven months of the past year we imported butter to the amount of 5,805,422 pounds. Of this quantity 2,036,471 pounds came from the United Kingdom under the British preference. These imports had an advantage over the butter that

came in from the United States of one cent per pound. From Australia we imported 287,724 pounds; from New Zealand 2,148,752 pounds; and from the United States 1,332,210 pounds. These are some of the things that are happening right in our own country. We are appointing trade agents, and doing everything possible to find markets for the products of this country; and yet instead of endeavouring to build up and stimulate some of the industries that are natural to, but are lagging in, Canada we are working vigorously in the opposite direction.
I am not going into these questions in detail to-night because hon. members who were in the last, and the previous parliaments, know what my views are in these respects. I must say, however, I am more than surprised that at this late date, after the extent to which this stuff has been coming into Canada, with all the facilities we have, our Health Departments are not able to give us any information as to the food value of this article. No one will contend that it can take the place of butter or butter fats, notwith-' standing the agitation which is being put on foot and which had its origin in this city of Ottawa about the time that the war was very bad; when conditions apparently justified something being done along that line fats were permitted to be utilized in this way while we had not a sufficient supply of butter. I might read some of the resolutions which have been passed by some associations in this city, although that is something which I do not like to do. I know, however, that the activities which have been shown during the past few months by certain associations throughout this country, have had their origin in this city amongst those who are not so vitally interested in agriculture as many other people in this country are. In 1919, resolutions were passed in this city, and the members of these associations endeavoured to get into touch with the various branches of these associations throughout the country so as to have them write to their member and to the Government advocating that the sale of this stuff should be legalized permanently. Let me read one resolution which was passed in Ottawa. This is taken from the Ottawa Citizen of April 14, 1919:
It was moved by Mrs. Adam Shortt and seconded by Lady Pope,
That whereas fat is an essential food for human beings, and that children deprived of it suffer not only from malnutrition in the
present, but are permanently injured in physique ; and whereas, there is not enough butter in the country to supply everybody if margarine were banished ; and whereas, butter is so high a price that thousands cannot have butter, because of the cost; and whereas, margarine is a butter substitute of equal caloric value with butter; and whereas, margarine has been allowed in the country under the War Measures Act, which comes to an end with the signing of peace ;
Therefore, be it resolved that we women of Ottawa do now appeal to this federal Government now considering child welfare, to permanently legalize margarine in Canada, in order that children may thrive and not decline and that consumers be not deprived of their legitimate right, as in other countries, to have margarine for domestic use.
And so on including arguments which have been advanced in support of oleomargarine.
Is it a wholesome article of food for children? I have in my hand some evidence to the contrary, not furnished by dairymen's associations or any one interested in dairying. Probably this has been referred to by some previous speaker, and, consequently, if I am repeating something which has been said before, it goes only to strengthen previous arguments. This reads:
When oleomargarine was admitted to Canada as a "war measure" (and subsequently continued as packer's and produce dealer's measure) the children of Canada were betrayed to an insidious, relentless enemy. Chief among thoise betrayed were the children of the lower strata, where money to buy genuine butter, might be as scarce as the inclination to spend the extra cent or two a pound for it.
There is plenty of evidence to show how insidious is the enmity of oleomargarine to childhood-how it imperceptibly stunts the growth of the child, and prevents its development, at the same time apparently providing a satisfactory and necessary food element.
The eye is deceived, but not the body. The profits accrue to the packer-manufacturers and the distributors, but a toll of under-nourishment is taken from the children who eat it, in order that these selfish profits might be made.
The city of Rochester recently had a noteworthy experience in connection with the use of butter and oleomargarine in an orphan asylum.
In this asylum the practice has been followed for years of weighing every child at regular intervals. Because of the high prices of butter, the management substituted oleomargarine on January 1, 1917, and supplied it to the children for six months. At the end of this time, results were so unsatisfactory that butter was replaced in the ration. Here are the weights of seven children over four periods of six months each:
The first six months, while butter was fed, these seven children gained 23.75 lbs.
For the next six months, while butter was still being fed, the seven children gained 44.25 lbs.
For the next six months these children were fed oleomargarine in place of butter, the diet being otherwise the same. The result was a loss of 9.5 lbs.

In the next periods, butter was again replaced, with the result that, in the following six months, the children made a gain of 56.87 lbs.
This official report from the city of Rochester is one of the strongest indictments of oleomargarine we have ever seen and it comes, not from the dairy interests, but from a city organization. The class that would stand to gain most from the suppression of oleomargarine would be the growing children.
It is on behalf of the growing children and the working people of this country, the people who are putting their good money into this spurious article, that I am speaking to-night, and not on behalf of the dairymen, because, as time goes on these people will realize that this commodity cannot take the place of butter and people of good judgment and sense will see that their children are supplied with the genuine article. In the meantime, however, is it the duty of the Government to permit this stuff to continue to be sold and not to have it inspected ? I would have thought one of the first steps that the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) would have taken would have been to see that the medical authorities of the Department of Health made a proper analysis of it, so that he might have been in a position tonight to inform this House as to the true food value 'of this commodity. This has not been done, and, consequently, we do not know even yet what the food value of this article is.
I opposed it in the past because of the regulations which were enacted giving these people the freedom which they have. What right have they to purchase butter which has been manufactured under the strict regulations to which I have referred, to take it into a packing house and to mix it up with 'cottonseed oil and other vegetable fats, to churn It with milk, to go to all these pains in order to deceive the consumer and to sell it under butter's trademark, because that is what they are doing when they put it up in a package in imitation of butter? Although the wrapper may indicate that the content is oleomargarine, when it is stripped off the wrapper, when it is cut up into blocks and put on the tables of boarding houses throughout Canada, how are you going to detect it? It is said that you canot detect it from butter; that it is wholesome. It may be wholesome, but we do not know 'how wholesome it is. It is possible a grown up person would not feel the injurious effects of it; but as regards the young and growing child, never yet has anything been discovered that can take the place of the qualities that milk fat contains. People may attempt to imi-
[ Mr. Sutherland. ]
tate, and they may eventually discover something that will take the place of butter; but so far nothing has been discovered that can take the place of milk fat. Consequently you will find that some people will be anxious to put some spurious article on the market, and I contend that the poor of this country, because it is the poor and not the wealthy people who are buying this stuff, have suffered more as the result of this policy and will continue to suffer more than any one else.
No doubt other hon. members desire to speak on this, and I do not wish to take up too much of the time of the House; but I want to re-emphasize the fact that dairying is not such a profitable industry as some people would like us to believe. In Ontario, dairying has been established for many years; in fact, the first cheese factory established in the Dominion of Canada was established in the Constituency which I have the honour to represent. Cheese manufacturing had its headquarters there for many years, and the town which is my home town is possibly better known in the Old Land as a result of the exportation of cheese and dairy products than any other town in the Dominion. I refer to the town of Ingersoll. The late Edwin Caswell, of Ingersoll, was one of the first exporters of cheese in this country.
During the last few years a census has been taken of the farms in the county of Oxford and also of the farms in the county of York by the provincial government with a view to establishing the actual cost of dairy products in this country, and I am going to point out very briefly the result of that census. In the county of Oxford, it was shown that the cost of producing 100 pounds of milk was $2.94, and in the county of York, it was $3.32. The price received in Oxford was $2.81 and in the county of York $2.85; or, taking everything into consideration, there was a loss of 13 cents per 100 pounds in Oxford and 40 cents per 100 pounds in York. These figures were obtained after careful investigation of upwards of 100 farms in each of these counties, an endeavour having been made to find out, by as minute an analysis as possible, what the actual cost of production was and what they were receiving in return. Now, these are some of the things that the dairymen of this country have through experience very well fixed in their minds, and when associations that have nothing to do with agriculture or dairying pass resolutions such as have been passed in this city and elsewhere, beseeching the

Government to see that this article that is manufactured by farmers is allowed to be incorporated with the cheap commodities imported duty free and turned out by these manufacturers and placed on the markets of the country, it is apparent that their chief plea is a fraud from beginning to end and should not be countenanced by any government. So long as I am engaged in any industry I shall feel that I am entitled to the same consideration that is accorded every other industry; and anyone who advocates the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine as at present permitted undoubtedly shows a contempt for dairying and agriculture generally.
I do not think that this commodity should be allowed to be sold in Canada; but certainly if you permit the sale of oleomargarine here the imported article and the commodities which go to make it up should be subject to a customs tariff just the same as other things that are imported. Furthermore, it should be manufactured and placed on the market on its merits. No attempt should be made to deceive the public by mixing it with butter and churning it in milk. I believe there are vegetable oils in the oleomargarine sold in England, which is entirely different from the commodity that is placed on the markets in this country. In some countries they do not allow oleomargarine to be put up in quantities of less than 10 pounds, whereas in Canada we allow them to put it on the market in pound prints identical in shape with dairy ' products.
Now, I have referred to a few of the objections I have to the continuance of the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine. I heartily support the resolution, and I trust that the sale of this article in Canada will be prohibited. If, however, the Government do decide to permit its manufacture and importation, they should impose a tariff upon it like anything else, because it should not receive special privileges over an old-established industry like the butter industry. The fact that oleomargarine may have 25 or 30 per cent, of butter fat incorporated in it, and 15 per cent of milk, is no reason why it should be allowed to compete with genuine butter.
Let us do something at least to show that we are in sympathy with those men who are labouring under great (Difficulties at the present time;-I refer to the returned soldiers who have gone on the land. Many of these men, with the limited experience they had, have been tempted to go into dairying and the live stock industry. And
the country depends more on the butter industry than upon anything else. It is only by the manufacture of butter that we can hope to establish a successful livestock industry in Canada. I heard an hon. member the other night-I think it was my hon. friend from Qu'Appelle (Mr. Millar) -bemoaning in very doleful tones the condition of the farmers in western Canada. He pointed out that the land was becoming impoverished and was producing six bushels per acre less than a few years ago. Well, what can you expect? We listened to the provincial Minister of Agriculture from Saskatchewan, Hon. Mr. Hamilton, the other day, before the committee on agriculture, endeavouring to prove the contention that we should have a wheat board in this country by the fact that the income of the average farmer in the province of Saskatchewan from a 320 acre farm was, I think, about $1,200 less than his expenses. To my amazement, the only two things the farmer had to sell were wheat and oats. It struck me that such a man was not much of a farmer. Any one can go to Saskatchewan and on fertile land grow wheat and oats as long as the land retains its fertility. But there comes a day when it will not be so responsive, and the only method of keeping the soil fertile is by going into the live-stock industry in conjunction with other farming. This has been demonstrated time and again, not only in Canada, but throughout the world. People need not think that they can go on taking from the land forever without putting something back, without exhausting its fertility. This is the chief cause of the trouble to-day. In many of the old provinces much of the land has become impoverished and it is no small task to bring it back to a state where good crops can be grown. I think it will be one of the greatest misfortunes this country has ever experienced if we follow the course advocated and pursued in the past and put all our lands under cultivation, neglecting live stock and dairying. We should develop this industry in conjunction with the cultivation of the soil. To-day it is imperative that we should establish the dairy industry on a sound basis, and we cannot hope to do so if we allow and handicaps to operate it. I therefore support the resolution.

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