In my forty minutes I
have not time to go into that, but my hon. friend is one who would refuse to raise that butter tariff. At the same time, this government raised the tariff on currants and raisins from a half cent to three cents, in order to protect the growers of Australia.
Now let us look at this industry from another angle. To-day we are assisting other industries throughout this country, so would it not be only fair to assist this industry which is working under altogether different conditions? We should give them at least sufficient protection to meet the difference in the cost of production which is due to
climatic conditions in other countries. Just think what it would mean; under the one cent tariff we imported last year 11,208,819 pounds of butter, or 1,348,167 pounds more than we imported during the previous year. If this butter were produced in Canada it would mean 125,000 more dairy cows with an increased production totalling about 83,500,000; it would mean stabilizing the market and would result in the employment of about 15,000 more people. The home market would be increased and our own good Canadian money would be kept in circulation in this country.
Then there is another important industry to which I wish to refer, and that is the poultry industry. That is a very important branch of agriculture and one which should receive every consideration and assistance at the hands of the government. During the last few years Canadian poultrymen have established world records of performance, and they made an excellent showing at the great poultry congress which was held in this city last year. To-day they are greatly handicapped not only through the lack of protection but also because of the uncertainty which exists under the policy of this government. I have here a wire which was sent to an hon. member of this house under date of February 29, which will illustrate how this uncertainty handicaps our poultry-men. This wire was sent from Duncan, British Columbia, addressed to Mr. C. H. Dickie, M.P.:
We are advised effort being made to reduce tariff on American eggs but have received no definite information. Please investigate and advise us promptly. We are opposed to a reduction.
That is signed by the Cowichan Creamery. The poultrymen to the south of the line have the advantage of climatic conditions, lower feed and labour costs and a tariff which protects them from unfair competition, while a low Canadian tariff permits them to invade our market with their surplus stocks. We imported from the United States last year under the three cent tariff over 3,000,000 dozen eggs in shell. In addition to that we imported 1,691,359 pounds of eggs from the orient and other countries, mostly canned, which would equal about 1,130,000 dozen eggs in shell. This makes a total of 4,248,513 dozen eggs which were pushed on the Canadian market last year to compete with our own good Canadian product. According to the Bureau of Statistics we have a poultry population of over 46,000,000, with a commercial production of about 237,000,000 dozen eggs. Let us consider this industry as we consider the dairying industry; if we produced in Canada, the number of
The Budget-Mr. Barber
eggs imported last year it would mean 850,000 more poultry, and if we allow 1,000 to a farm this would mean 850 additional farms and employment for perhaps 2,000 more people.
Another branch to which I widi to refer is the production of young fruit trees, rose bushes, shrubs, fruits and vegetables which will grow in Canada. I think we will all agree that this is a business which can readily be carried on in this country and which should be encouraged. This is an industry which would add to the future prosperity of this country; we have the climate, the soil, the knowledge and the desire and the government have it within their power to make this business a success. Those engaged in this business have to meet very unfair competition due to large importations from foreign countries. If we consider nursery stock we find that about 75 per cent of the cost of production is labour, and our labour cost is about two and a half times that of our competitors in foreign countries. Here is an industry which might profitably employ hundreds of people if we had sufficient protection to compensate for the difference in labour cost. For instance, 75 per cent of the cost Of growing a rose bush is in the labour; skilled labourers in Holland get from twelve to fifteen cents per hour, while in Canada the same labour is paid from thirty cent to fifty cents per hour, so it is easy to figure out the difference in cost. As a result of this wide difference we imported 1,129,918 rose bushes from Holland in 1926, in addition, shrubs valued at $159,530 and 272,390 fruit trees. These fruit trees came from the United States almost exclusively, and there again we have unfair labour competition. The price of these trees is largely fixed by the cost of negro labour in the south, where living conditions are the very cheapest and where the standards of living are not to be compared with those in Canada.
Last year we imported into this country fresh fruits to the value of $24,685,221, of which about one-fifth could have been produced in Canada. During the same year we imported fresh vegetables to the value of $5,685,221, of which $4,682,259 worth, could have produced in this country. That gives us a total importation of fresh fruits and vegetables valued at about $9,550,000 which can be and are being produced in this country. It is estimated that we have over 90,000 fruit and vegetable farms which produced in Canada last year in a commercial way about $47,718,000 worth of fruit and vegetables. Think of what it would mean to Canada if our imports of these products, corresponding to 20 per cent of our total production, were produced in this country. Suppose the average production per farm is $1,000, which I believe is a high figure, it would mean
9,550 more farms and a considerable increase in employment in Canada.
Last year we imported $857,583 worth of apples. Why should this be necessary? No finer apple is produced than the Canadian apple. Over $500,000 worth of peaches were imported into Canada. Why is this necessary? Where do you get a finer flavoured peach than that of the Niagara peninsula? The only place I know is British Columbia. The same thing applies to pears, of which the imports amounted to $855,274; strawberries, with imports of $668,417; cherries, with imports to the amount of $120,912; and plums of which $475,226 worth were imported.
In vegetables we find the same thing occurring. Large quantities of new potatoes are usually imported early in the spring at a very high price, with the result that the Canadian crop, which is of even higher food value than the imported product cannot be sold or only at a very low figure. This government does not recognize this industry even to the extent of a seasonal tariff. The vegetable and fruit growers express themselves as deeply disappointed that no steps have beeen taken to protect them against the inrush of earlier products from the United States. Many representations were made to the tariff board and the government on behalf of the growers in the maritime provinces, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.
In dealing with the dairy, poultry, fruit and nursery industries I have tried to make it plain that under the present policy these industries are hampered-that in order to ensure their growth and development they must be protected to the extent at least of the difference between Canadian and foreign conditions and especially foreign labour costs. I do not say that protection is a panacea for all our ills, but I am convinced that under reasonable protection it is quite feasible to produce in this country, for domestic consumption, a large amount of the commodities which we now import from foreign lands. I say " reasonable " protection because that is exactly what the Conservative party stands for. This party has been misrepresented throughout this country as a party of high protection, of sky-high protection. We remember the campaign which the Minister of Railways (Mr. Dunning) and his lieutenants carried on through the prairie provinces in the last two elections. "Vote for the Conservative candidate ", he said, " if you want still higher protection and everything that goes with it." The result was that in that campaign he was very successful, but he was not as successful when he crossed the Rocky mountains.
The Budget-Mr. Barber
In connection with the matter of protection I wish to refer to some remarks made by the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Campbell). I do not think that hon. gentleman can be accused of being a protectionist, or of belonging to our party. However, on page 810 of Hansard the 'hon. gentleman is reported as having spoken as follows:
For the five years from 1917 to 1921 inclusive the average rate of duty on dutiable imports was 21.9, while for the five years from 1922 to 1926 inclusive, under this administration, the average rate of duty collected on dutiable imports was 24.06, or a difference under the late Conservative administration of 2.16 lower.
So, according to the hon. member for Mackenzie, our record does not show that we are a high tariff party. Stability is what we need in this country, and under the system we are pursuing to-day we are giving employment to thousands of workers in foreign countries instead of providing work for our own people at a fair wage. Under the present system we are denuding this country of its raw material, and we are driving our own people to other countries. We all admit that immigration is our great problem. Is there any better solution of that problem than to make Canada a better country to live in, create conditions such as will encourage the investment of capital and the development of our natural resources, thus providing more work for our own people and building up a home market for Canadian producers. I say that people do not as a rule leave their homeland simply for a change of air and scenery; they leave in order to better their condition. Make Canada more attractive, make Canada a country that will appeal to these people, and instead of haying to spend millions every year to bring immigrants to this country, we shall have them knocking at our doors clamouring for admittance.
Subtopic: DEBATE ON ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF MINISTER OF FINANCE