June 10, 1924 (14th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)


Very good. It means something to the farmers of Lambton and Kent to be able to carry on even with such small returns. The continuance of the industry is absolutely vital to the little community centres which I have been describing. The bounty was not removed last year because the principle was wrong, and my right hon. friend Mr. Fielding wanted to swallow himself, for he has never said that the bounty
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principle is wrong. On the contrary, in the very same speech in which he announced the withdrawal of this oil bounty he reaffirmed the principle of bounties by adopting this method to stimulate Reproduction of copper in the West. The people of Lambton and Kent were not getting something which the right hon. gentleman thought they should not get, that was not the trouble at all; he said in effect, "I am afraid for my balances, I am afraid that big discoveries of oil in the North and in the West will create an undue strain on the treasury if the bounty on oil is continued." But the threatened danger has never materialized. Still, these people know they are to be injured because of the prospect of big oil discoveries in other parts of the Dominion. They also know that if we merely adopt the simple provision of limiting the bounty to a small number of barrels per day per well-the suggestion last year was five barrels-the total charge on the treasury per well would only be $2.60. We often hear it said that the farmers never get any benefit from our fiscal policy. Here is a case where they do get a benefit. I do not know what the idea of the government is. Last year there was to be a differential duty put upon sugar beets so that our farmers producing them would not be in as good a position to compete with the producers of raw cane sugar. My right hon. friend realized the mistake he had made and stayed his hand. He has made just exactly the same mistake here. I think if he were to stay his hand here also it would be equally to the purpose. Honestly, what else could he do? His whole reason for proposing the withdrawal of the bounty was these large anticipated oil finds which, as I have shown, have not yet materialized. I am confident that the right hon. gentleman would have stayed his hand in this case were he now at his desk. What did he do in connection with sugar beets? His idea was that having regard to the duties on raw and refined Cuban sugar the sugar beet producers were getting too great protection, and he cut the duty of 48 cents in half. We prevailed upon him to let it stand for a year. He did so because the refining company at Walkerville showed that they had made their contracts with the farmers and would be out the 24 cents if the duty was so reduced. After the right hon. gentleman allowed it to stand, it was pointed out that having done so for the reason stated, it was quite Obvious to everybody that he was taking the money from the farmer and not from the refiner. Thereupon he very properly allowed the duty to stand. I am quite con-
vinced that the same sense of fair play so characteristic of my right hon. friend would influence him to take the same action in this case if he were here to-day.

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