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


Thomas Alexander Crerar



I have not those figures, but I have the imports of oleomargarine. In 1918, they were 2,262,000 pounds; in 1919, 4,000,000 pounds; in 1920, when we had a big export in butter, a little over 6,000,000 pounds.
There is one other point which I would like to bring to the attention of my hon. friends who support the motion of the hon. member for Comox-Alberni-and I would like the Minister of Agriculture to give some thought to this aspect of the question. If Canada is going to develop a dairy industry, it cannot be developed on the home market alone. No industry in Canada can be developed soundly if it is dependent only upon the home market, and that is one of the reasons, Sir, why

I do not believe in protective tariffs. If, then, we are to build up our dairy industry, we must build up our exports of butter in the face of oleomargarine competition in every country in the world. Do my hon. friends who believe that the Canadian dairymen and butter producers must be protected against oleomargarine competition at home forget that they must face that competition when they get into the outside markets of the world? The whole thing is illogical, absolutely illogical and inconsistent.
I am as great a believer as any one in the possibilities of the development of the dairy industry in Canada. Our country is splendidly located in that respect. It is only a matter of time, and not a very long time, either, when our neighbours to the south of us, the great 'American Republic, will come to Canada for their foodstuffs in increasing measure. I have mentioned it to the House before, but it is a fact worth recalling again, that more than two-thirds of the 106,000,000 people that constitute the United States proper live in incorporated towns and cities, and no part of Canada is better situated to supply the densely populated portion of the United States with dairy products than Ontario and Quebec. As that population grows, as the United States becomes a food-importing country, you will have in that country the greatest and broadest possible market for the dairy products of these provinces. If that market is not sufficient, we are only a few thousand miles from Great Britain, perhaps the greatest single consumer of imported dairy products in the world.
If my hon. friend the Minister of Agriculture and the Government desire to develop this industry, I submit it cannot best be done by preventing the sale and manufacture of a useful food product that can be supplied to some of the people of Canada at a lower price than butter. But they can best do it by promoting sane methods of marketing our agricultural products, and by assisting in the development of refrigerator services in the shipment of those products to the markets of the world. These are means by which the Government can legitimately assist the development of an industry of this kind. The waste that goes on through short-sighted methods of marketing, the loss that occurs through deterioration in quality, particularly of such perishable commodities as butter and cheese, can scarcely be estimated. It was
for that reason that when I was in the Government a few years ago I urged my colleagues to undertake the erection of an up-to-date cold storage warehouse in Montreal in order that there might be provided at that great port the means whereby these perishable products could be kept in condition until they were placed in refrigerated space in ocean vessels and sent in the best possible condition to the markets of Europe. By these means, if we proceed intelligently, we can assist the dairy industry in the greatest possible way -far better and to a far greater extent than we can by attempting to stimulate artificially a market here at home by preventing the importation and sale of oleomargarine.
I am rather at a loss to know what the policy of the Government may be in respect to this matter. If I am to judge by the rather remarkable speech delivered by the Minister of Agriculture this evening, I would not have very much hope that they will follow the path of wisdom in the matter. I trust however, that on a little more reflection my good friend the Minister of Agriculture will see the error of his ways. I wish just to assure the Government that if they bring in legislation at this session of Parliament providing for the importation or manufacture of oleomargarine in Canada, they will have my hearty support in that action.
Now, one thought in respect to the arguments advanced by the hon. member for South Oxford (Mr. Sutherland). I do not know to what extent butter is used in the manufacture of oleomargarine. I do lay this down: that it is the part of wisdom for the Government to see that suitable regulations are enforced for the protection of the public health; to see that only healthful ingredients enter into the manufacture of oleomargarine and that only a pure food product is imported. That is quite properly the function of government. But once you surround the manufacture and importation and sale of this article with proper safeguards, then I submit that the interests of the country will be best served by allowing it to be sold, always as oleomargarine, not as butter- let the people know what they are buying. The business interests of this country will be safeguarded in that way and a sound policy established, and, I trust, permanently followed.
Let me repeat, in closing, that I hope the Government will bring down legislation to make this thing permanent. We

do not want any special privilege to dairymen or to any one else in this country. I have full confidence that the dairymen of Canada can stand up against the competition of oleomargarine; the facts of the last five years prove that beyond any question of doubt. I am against special privilege to dairymen, just as I am against special privileges to manufacturers in the way of tariffs, and for this reason if for no other I will oppose the motion proposed by the hon. member for Comox-Alberni.

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