May 13, 1932 (17th Parliament, 3rd Session)


George Spotton

Conservative (1867-1942)


If I were to choose a text for my few remarks just on one matter alone, it would be the observations made by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) on Tuesday last when he said:
I thought I had made it clear that it is not decided yet whether it would be better to bring a marketing board into being at the present time or whether it would be better to wait, in view of the Imperial conference and the many difficulties with which we will be confronted in forming regulations and making this board effective. I am sure no person in the house appreciates better than the hon. member for Bow River the far-reaching results which will follow the setting up of a new board of this kind. Therefore it is felt, though not definitely decided, that it may be better to appoint men representative of agriculture throughout Canada to make a special study of this question and report before the next session of parliament.
Inasmuch as the Minister of Agriculture is divided between two opinions, I feel it my duty on behalf of the farmers of North Huron
to place on record their views on this matter. What I am saying is in no way a criticism of the Minister of Agriculture who comes from my own county. I was bom a few miles across country from him; that was no fault of his.
I appreciate his work very much; his native county is proud of him and I wish to commend most heartily his having reached the conclusion that a marketing board should be established in Canada. But I respectfully urge that there be no delay in creating that board. If this government has a lifeline to throw out to the farmers in my riding, I beseech that it be thrown out now. I see no reason why a committee or commission should be set up to inquire into a matter for the next few months, then disappear into thin air and a new committee come out and start to grapple anew with this question. During the last few days we have had committees of four, five or six members report to the house. The committee on the civil service, after they had gathered in all the information they could, brought in a report, and whether we agreed with them entirely or not, we adopted it. We took their word for it that they had made a study of the question and knew more about it than we did. The same thing happened in regard to the radio problem-and, for the . moment I am not endorsing the finding. We had a radio committee that studied this question long and earnestly. They brought a report to this house and it was adopted unanimously.
It is an open secret that perhaps forty or more members representing agricultural constituencies have given intensive study to this question of a marketing board and they and all farm organizations from coast to coast, after ten, fifteen and twenty years intensive study, are a unit in asking that a marketing board be established without delay. When we present our views in the matter, why should there be all this hesitation in the House of Commons as to whether the course suggested should be adopted?. I have been wont to condemn the Drury administration for government by commission; I have been accustomed to condemn the King administration for government by commission and I am not going to condone such a policy when we are in office. I just wish to say that every farm organization that I know of from coast to coast, having given this subject more intensive study than I am fitted to do, has stated that it is entirely in favour of a marketing board. I know J. J. Morrison, whom I look upon as the father almost of agriculture in my province, a man whom I have known for over thirty years, and who

when I was trying to be a principal of a school was farming just outside of that little town. I have known him ever since and I may say that he is the one man in Canada that I know who has been big enough to refuse the premiership of the banner province of Canada. When a man is big enough to do that he is big enough to give sitting premiers some advice on agriculture. I speak after many consultations with him. I do not wish to delay the house so I will simply say that the United Farmers, J. J. Morrison, W. A. Amos and Robert J. Scott from my county, who is the president of the United Farmers, and all the farmers' organizations I know of are heartily in favour of a marketing board. I do not like reading newspaper extracts but I shall detain the house by reading this one. The Hon. Manning Doherty, who was Minister of Agriculture for the province of Ontario, and before that professor of agriculture in the college at Guelph, is reported as follows:
Creation of a national farm marketing board, announced by Hon. Robert Weir, federal Minister of Agriculture, has the "enthusiastic" support of Manning Doherty, former Ontario Minister of Agriculture in the Drury government. In a statement to-day Mr. Doherty says:
And he knows as much about agriculture as any corporation lawyer in this house. He says:
This is one of the most important steps that has been taken towards the progress of Canadian agriculture in many years. For at least thirty years it has been my conviction that inefficient marketing methods have handicapped the development of agriculture in Canada. We must adopt a national policy governing the grading of products by the government or some impartial body insisting on standardization and uniformity of quality and regulating shipping to preserve continuity of supply in foreign markets. In addition, there must be a continuous study of the requirements of any market-domestic or foreign-being sought for Canadian products. The government is both justified and has a duty to do something of that sort.
I take it that Mr. Doherty, like the apostle Paul, can speak with assurance, knowing whereof he speaks. I am not going to labour this question. I commend the Minister of Agriculture for being perhaps the first Minister of Agriculture who has looked at the end that is clogged up and is striving to open it and provide a channel through which there can be a flow of good, rich, red blood from Canada across the main. I have farmers in my county to-day who have fine, fat steers fit for export and there is not a drover in all those counties coming around to purchase them. They must be shipped down to the [Mr. Spotton.)
Toronto stockyards. Here, sir, I must be fair. The second year I was in this house I said this about the then government:
The farmer used to be able to take down a carload of hogs to Toronto and to have five packing houses competing for his stock. But under this government the accumulation of capital in the hands of the big interests has resulted in four of these packing houses amalgamating. Now there is practically no competition on the live stock market and the farmer has to sell his hogs and cattle to this combine at their own price.
That is just what has obtained in Toronto. We had the Canadian Packers, Gunns Limited, the Harris Abattoir Company and the William Davies Company amalgamate, four into one, and they are called now the Canada Packers. The farmers throughout the province of Ontario, and I believe justly, feel that if ever there was an octopus, a devil fish with elongated arms squeezing the life out of the farmer in the province of Ontario, it is the Canada Packers of Toronto, and you can write around the head of that devil fish the name of Maclean, if you wish. I am not taking my information from Maclean of Ontario or from Pat Murphy or anybody else in the west; I am taking my information from the people whom I represent, the farmers of North Huron who have confidence enough in me to send me here to present their views on various matters to this chamber. I ask the Minister of Agriculture in all kindness to-day to bring forth this marketing board now. It is as easy to appoint a marketing board to-day as a commission. The men that are good enough to sit on the commission and go around and stay at the best hotels and smoke long cigars and eat three-dollar meals are good enough to work on a marketing board right now, to study the problem and stay around here while the Imperial conference is on, breathing the atmosphere of imperial markets and whatever else is floating in the atmosphere, and * then go to work. It will take a month to select these men if they are men acquainted with farming operations, and I hope that at least one of them will be an honest-to-God farmer, living and toiling on his farm and possessing the farm viewpoint. You know, Mr. Chairman, the other day I heard a member of this house using an argument like this: Smith on this side of the road has twenty fat steers. Jones over there has thirty fat steers. Jones happens to have ten steers that are fit for the export market, and somebody comes along and buys those ten steers from Jones. And then the question was asked, what is he going to do with the other twenty? Shoot them, I suppose. He will just do the same with the

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other twenty as the man on the other side of the road does with his twenty, butcher cattle that are not fit for export, and the fact that these ten export steers have been taken off Jones' hands and sent across the sea gives him 'just so much better a market and better a price for those that remain at home, and it shows the Canada Packers, and this is a great point with me, that there can be a little competition in this country by way of a little flow across the pond. The Canada Packers in this province have the farmer of Ontario at their mercy, and they have crushed him most unmercifully. He simply takes whatever they give him. Imagine putting hogs into Toronto at 3i cents a pound! I say that the farmer has waited patiently, wearily watching for the morning, and I believe that this marketing board will be a lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path, and I want to commend the Minister of Agriculture for his intention to establish such a board. I do not know whether he is receiving the support he should or not. I do not know what might be holding him back. I know not who or what they are, but I say to them on behalf of North Huron: Lay off, and let us have this marketing board, and let the farmers of the province of Ontario know that there is not going to be any dilly-dallying or fiddling while Rome bums.

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