Mr. GUSTAVE BOYER (Vaudreuil-Soulanges) :
(Translation.) Mr. Speaker,
I have listened with much pleasure to the speeches that have been delivered on this question of the country's natural resources. We have heard about coal mines and gold mines, about colonization and fisheries; in a word, about all those things which, if systematically developed, would give birth in Canada to an era of still greater prosperity. But of all those natural resources, one seems to have been forgotten-I mean the most natural of all natural resources, the maple industry from the standpoint of maple sugar and syrup making.
In 1904 I had the pleasure to speak for the first time about this industry which had been neglected and seemed likely to disappear. That first speech had aroused some hilarity in this House. Honourable members did not at that time attach any importance to the serious side of this question; however, the following years awakened public attention and both the Dominion and Provincial Governments-especially that of the province of Quebec-after taking hold of the question, made quite a success of it.
In 1904, the revenue derived from our maple industry hardly amounted to $1,200,000. Last year, it is marvellous, we must acknowledge it with pleasure, the maple products have increased remarkably in quantity and yielded more than nine million dollars. I think that of all the natural resources of this country there are none that pay more than this one, taking into account the short space of time required to produce and its amazingly easy sale.
As I have said, when this question was raised for the first time in this House in 1904, it was not taken in earnest. In the following years I brought up the same question and finally succeeded in getting an amendment to the Food Inspection Act which to a certain extent prevented the adulteration of sugar and syrup.
This amendment was not sufficient yet to give all the required protection to the farmers, to the sugar and syrup producers, but at last in 1913 or 1914 the government of the day thought proper to listen in earnest to the request of the sugar producers of Quebec and Ontario, and they altered to a large measure the amendment to the Food Inspection Act. Since then we have seen all the provinces, encouraged by this protection, give more serious attention to this industry. In the past the farmers produced a pure maple syrup which they would send to the cities, and this the manufacturers would compound with other syrup or sugar, or other ingredients, and out of a gallon of pure syrup they would manufacture ten or fifteen gallons of this spurious article, which they would then sell for the pure product. The name was all that remained of the genuine article. Large quantities were thus made which were sold at the same figure as the pure maple product. With the help of societies established in the province of Quebec, we succeeded in a large measure in stopping this adulteration, I do not say that the present Government have done all in their power to have the law observed, but I must render justice to the late government, especially to the present Postmaster General, who then did his utmost to have the amendment that I had suggested to him, accepted. Now, these city establishments, where pure maple sugar and syrup were turned into compounds, and which were sold for the genuine article have disappeared.
Last year the Montreal Bank of Commerce made a report whereby the value of the total output of this article was stated to be worth nearly a million dollars.
At the present time, I must add, that if that industry was developed on a larger scale, if the farmers would apply themselves to this industry as they do to all the others, they could not even yet with all their united efforts turn out enough maple sugar and syrup to meet the demand. We have an enormous demand from the United States, we also have much demand from European countries where our product has only been known for four or five years. Unfortunately we can not meet all the needs. Yet we have in the province of Quebec and in a part of the province of Ontario, a large number of maple groves which might be worked to advantage. We have in the province of Quebec admirable sugar bushes which might be worked with larger profit; but they are left idle. There are in the country about 55,000 owners of
maple bushes who could carry on this industry, but barely 15,000 do so. Now, when I see that this industry brought last year nine million dollars to the producers, I feel convinced that no industry could pay better than this one, not even excepting dairying, which is nevertheless reputed to be our national industry. And why? Because the maple sugar and syrup crop is gathered in a short time, barely three weeks, during a season when the farmer has almost nothing to do, and from bushes generally growing on rocky land which would otherwise give no return. Even now, many farmers-notwithstanding the possibility of a good yearly return, and attracted by the high prices for wood owing to the dearness of coal, cut down their maple trees for fuel. They thus destroy a capital which could give them a yearly income of much greater value than could the return from the capital represented by their sales of fuel wood if invested at six per cent. They realize at one time more than the sugar and syrup would bring them, but it is once for all, never to be repeated, for what is destroyed is destroyed for ever, and is a dead capital.
This motion gives me the opportunity to call the attention of the House to this eminently national resource, essentially ours. Apart from the Eastern States of the American republic, and some parts of the province of Ontario, nowhere in the world can such a succulent product be found as our maple sugar. Our syrup and our sugar are not known. When they become a thing of ordinary consumption, no one will want to use any other sugar than ours, I mean as a sugar de luxe. That is why the Government should undertake an educational campaign.
Both the Federal and the Provincial Governments have done something for that industry. In the subsidy given to the provinces, the Federal Government has allowed a small amount which the latter are to distribute according to their judgment. The province of Quebec has made the most of this small grant.
I claim that the Dominion Government, while they have done something in the right direction should do more. They should increase the subsidies of the provinces for the encouragement of agriculture.
I believe that the Government should give larger grants and impose more rigorous conditions. The Quebec government have made a good use of what has been given to the province; and I believe the
Dominion Government should be encouraged by the results obtained and might increase the subsidies.
Now, with a view to securing results from the help granted this industry, it would be well to apply the Adulteration Act very vigorously. I know that during the last six years, the enforcing of this Act has been much neglected. During the war, the general food commissioner had called to Ottawa the president and directors of the Pure Maple Sugar Cooperative society and had asked them not to be too exacting, not to require the strict enforcement of the law, for, as he said, sugar war scarce and people had to be rationed; representing to them that it would be better not to make complaints and allow the work of time to better the situation. We were agreeable to this request, but unfortunately as usual tolerance bred license. To-day it has become necessary that the law should be enforced rigorously and that all those who adulterate maple sugar or syrup should be very severely punished. Should the Government be willing to return to the very good practice of treating the offenders with severity, we would have increased production. If the farmers accomplished anything in that in- ' dustry these last year, it was because the prices were very high, and they felt themselves protected. The price for sugar has even been excessive, I admit: sugar has been as high as 35 cents a pound and syrup $3,00 a gallon. This was due to the circumstances, and we understand that this can not continue. The farmers realize thoroughly that they will have to return to more normal prices, and that the industry will not suffer thereby, for the consumer has also to be thought of. The reverse would be detrimental to the producer, for should the prices remain at the high level, consumption would likely decrease considerably, because everybody would not be able to pay such prices. The farmers are very reasonable; they are ready to admit that the prices might come down and yet afford a sufficiently remunerative profit. However, prices must not fall disastrously low, as happened in 1914; for in that case the farmers would give up sugar-making. I believe that if we encourage the farmers, if we show them that we mean to encourage them, they will persevere in this industry, and it will be all benefit for us ali, as a large output will tend to regulate the prices. I deem that the Dominion Government, along with the educational propaganda in favour of agriculture which they
carry on with such good results, should also do their share in this campaign and not leave it all to the provincial authorities. All the provinces have not the same degree of interest in this question. The Federal Government, who know the needs of each province, since they make a constant and thorough study of them, should give the Department of Agriculture all necessary authority for the spreading of knowledge useful to this industry, and to impress the farmers with the idea that instead of being cut down, as they are too extensively now, the maple bushes should be preserved with care. The Conservation Commission aims at reforesting certain parts of the country. It is much easier to preserve our forests than to do any replanting. In certain parts of the country bur beautiful forests are being destroyed without mercy, without judgment, without purpose, I make bold to say. Our maple forests are precious not only from the, viewpoint of what they are worth as timber or fuel, but also from that of the benefit they can annually yield to the gatherer of the sap. They should be husbanded with judgment.
I am very much pleased that this motion should afford me an opportunity of speaking on this question. I have often addressed the House on this matter, and as I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, the first time I did so, it was not without causing some hilarity.
Hon. members were not accustomed to hear about maple syrup and maple sugar, but later on they ascertained that this industry was flourishing in the country. Who would have thought it, Mr. Speaker; a commodity that was yielding only $1,200,000 two decades ago, yielded as much as $9,000,000 last year. The dairy industry, the returns from which amount to millions and millions of dollars does not yield one-tenth of the profits accruing from this industry, if the amount of labour and the season at which the work is done are taken into account.
I think the Government should see to it that this natural resource be taken care of. Our coal measures, our gold mines, our fisheries, all those natural resources must be developed, the future of this country is dependent upon it; however when since creation we have at hand an industry whose development is so easy and which is a gift of God, let us try to get from it all possible returns, not only for ourselves, but for the country as a whole. Having developed that industry upon a large scale,
we shall be able to make the most of the good name of our maple sugar and maple syrup abroad, where it will be said: Here is a product peculiar to Canada. We received lately from France orders for the shipment of tons of maple sugar. From Chicago we were asked for twenty-five thousand pounds of sugar in one pound loaves, for sugar yellow in colour so that they might call it "Golden Sugar." We could not fill those orders. Production is too meagre yet.
At this time, the United States are coming into Beauce to get hundreds of thousands of pounds of sugar and yet I must state that sugar is carelessly manufactured in the county of Beauce. I see that the hon. member from Beauce (Mr. Beland) is here; I am pleased to make these remarks in his presence. There are some parts of the province of Quebec where some splendid sugar is manufactured- sugar of the first quality. In the county of Beauce, there are localities which turn out good sugar, but many places where bad sugar is made in the province of Quebec are to be found in Beauce. We have done our utmost in that direction, however that district is so large and the producers are so numerous that they could not be taught in a few years. With the help of the hon. member from Beauce, of the local newspapers and of the schools which were opened in that district, we are in hopes that the farmers there will eventually occupy a foremost place in that industry. The county of Beauce alone turns out as much maple sugar and maple syrup as all the rest of Quebec and that part of Ontario where there is sugar-making, and the producers of that district will presently be in the forefront of that industry as they are in other farming activities. When we read history, when we learn in what manner our fathers endeavoured to develop that industry, tapping the maple trees with axes and letting the sap flow into wooden buckets we acknowledge their process was a very primitive one. However they have not yet reached that point in Beauce; they collect the maple sap in very small vessels while it would be much advantageous to collect it in larger ones. Yet, I do not wish to speak ill of Beauce whose progressive inhabitants will discard ere long the ways of the past, and I shall proceed with my disquisition. Americans are coming into that county to get a dark sugar we would not place upon our table and we do not like to see manufactured
any longer in the province of Quebec. The association I just mentioned to you is above all an educational association. We advocate betterments which ought to be introduced in the sugar industry. What we succeeded in doing elsewhere for butter and cheese with the result that we now have good butter and good cheese, we would like to do for maple sugar; our desire is that good maple sugar be turned out in every part of the country. Americans are coming into Beauce to get dark sugar for which they pay as high a price as they would pay for good sugar. The sales of these products in that district amounts to seven or eight hundred thousand dollars. That sugar is shipped to the United States where it enters into the manufacture of chocolates and especially into the making of chewing tobacco. Why do they use that dark sugar which has not undergone all the changes which good sugar has to undergo? It is because that sugar, although not in such a condition as to be placed upon our table, still preserves the original taste of the maple, all the relish of the sap. Such is the reason why. But that is only fortuitous and should not be our ultimate aim.
The county of Beauce is one of the most beautiful districts of the province, and it is the duty of its inhabitants, who are in many respects, a very progressive people, not to be content with present satisfactory prices, but to endeavour to improve their products; not only would they get the same fair returns, but they would also add to the good reputation of their province. It is a very large district, containing im-mence forests, and therefore, we would not be justified in charging its people with apathy. There are great handicaps which prevent the proper development of this vast territory and its progress is retarded by the high prices which are being paid by the adjoining country for inferior products.
Our observations, however, do not apply to all producers in the district of Beauce; on the contrary, there are some who could teach a good many things to the other manufacturers of the province.
I trust that my hon. friend from Beauce will take my remarks in good part and that he will communicate them to his constituents in the same spirit as I have given them.
In the county of Vaudreuil, which is very small as compared with the county of Beauce, we have but a few sugar factories. But our products are of the highest order and they always command the maximum prices. Why? It is because our
farmers are using modern and national methods. They are well rewarded and very much encouraged thereby. I have seen in my constituency, maple bushes of only a few acres, to give their owners a profit of six or seven hundred dollars.
I am calling the attention of the House upon this matter and I am sure that the hon. Minister of Agriculture, who is present, will understand what I mean, because he has in the person of his strict and official representative, the Deputy minister a man who knows particularly well the maple sugar industry.
I * was pleased to notice that the Hon. Minister of Justice has listened to my remarks. He belongs to the province of Quebec; he knows what our maple sugar is and I am sure that his thought will not concentrate exclusively on coal or gold resources, which are sometimes very disappointing, and that he will devote a little of his influence to the development of the maple sugar industry.
Topic: A NEW ANGLE TO THE SOCKEYE SALMON HATCHERY QUESTION.