Robert James WOOD

WOOD, Robert James

Personal Data

Selkirk (Manitoba)
Birth Date
March 27, 1886
Deceased Date
August 8, 1954

Parliamentary Career

June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  Norquay (Manitoba)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Selkirk (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 5 of 11)

March 6, 1953

Mr. Wood:

You could have gotten them in the United States in 1934; that is what I am pointing out.

Topic:   B, 1953
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March 6, 1953

Mr. R. J. Wood (Norquay):

Mr. Speaker, in taking part in this discussion, first of all I may say that I am very pleased with this budget. It does not show favouritism to any particular group but, at the same time, every taxpayer benefits. It is a summing up and forecast of a business run in a highly efficient manner; and I was not surprised that our Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) was dubbed "the wizard of Ottawa" by New York papers.

The finance minister is the key man in the production of this budget, but every member of the cabinet is responsible to a degree for the successful operation of this business. There is one man in particular to whom I wish to refer tonight, and that is the Minister of Trade and Commerce, Right Hon. C. D. Howe. This man is responsible for our trade policy and is providing the inspiration for our economic development. He has been procuring markets for us which provide employment for everyone across Canada.

Speaking of employment, I saw an article in the Ottawa Citizen of February 26, under the heading "Employment at a high level," which said that in the week ending January 24 there were 4,533,000 persons who worked a full week. I think this is a record of which we should be very proud. Our trade policies are all conducive to increasing our business. This year, through the good efforts of our minister and his staff, a crop of one and a half billion bushels of grain is being satisfactorily marketed. We have a steady outlet for our cattle, and the best market in the world takes care of our surplus stock. This is a stabilized market. Following the outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease in Saskatchewan last fall, this market was closed to our Canadian livestock producers. It was opened again on Monday, March 2, so we now have trade connections with the United States in that line.

We are allowed to ship 400,000 head of cattle, weighing 700 pounds and over, to the United States market each year. In addition to that we are allowed to ship 200,000 head of veal calves, weighing up to 200 pounds each, per year. The duty, which was 3 cents per pound in the early thirties, is now


The Budget-Mr. Wood li cents a pound. Because of these markets, industry in Canada is quite healthy. Overall production has increased year by year, and this continual increase in production is the direct result of the atmosphere created by our government leaders under the guiding hand of our wise and kind Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent). As a result of this favourable atmosphere, people are working harder and producing more year by year. Our country is the envy of all countries throughout the world.

The tariff structure today is only a shadow of what it was under the last Conservative government. I can remember that in the election campaign back in 1929, one Conservative campaigner came into a hall in our district and placed on the table a cream can and a cow-bell. He commenced his speech by ringing the cow-bell; then he would ask the farmers if they were satisfied with the price of 28 cents a pound for butter and 22 cents a dozen for eggs. Of course the farmers were not satisfied, and today the farmers across Canada are not satisfied with the prices they are getting for their products. I do not blame them. It is Liberal policy to always strive to get better prices.

After the Conservatives won the election in 1930, we find that in 1933 and 1934 butter prices dropped to 14 cents a pound and eggs to 7 cents a dozen. The prices of other farm products dropped to rock bottom. I saw carloads and carloads of reasonably good cattle being processed by the packing houses in the city of Winnipeg at a price of half a cent a pound. They were disposing of their surplus stock, and canning it. In 1933 wheat dropped to an all-time Canadian low of 39 cents a bushel f.o.b. Fort William. This happened in spite of the fact that we had all the brokers in the grain exchange in Winnipeg seeking markets, as well as the then leader of the government, the late R. B. Bennett, with his professed blasting formula which failed to get any markets for our wheat.

There are hon. members in this house who will say that conditions were the same all over the world, and that is true. In those days countries were trying to be self-sufficient, just as Canada wished to be self-sufficient. I should like to point out here, however, that two wrongs do not make a right. Certainly our Conservative government, during their term of office, failed to get us any markets. Even when the United States government passed a resolution in 1934 authorizing trade agreements, our Conservative government failed to make an effort to deal with them for some of our surplus goods.

Topic:   B, 1953
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March 6, 1953

Mr. Wood:

Have they not made that payment every year?

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March 6, 1953

Mr. Wood:

As I was saying, three weeks after the election of 1935 our prime minister, the late Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, made a deal with the United States government to take several of our surplus products, including 250,000 head of cattle each year. As a result of that deal our cattle advanced in price 4 or 5 cents a pound right away, and that was in the fall of 1935.

The other afternoon I listened to the hon. member for DufEerin-Simcoe (Mr. Rowe), who I understand was a cabinet minister in the late Bennett government. Today he occupies a seat on the front benches of the Conservative party. I wish to quote one of his statements appearing on page 2474 of

Hansard for February 27, 1953, which reads as follows:

I am getting very tired, and I have been tired for a long time, of this looking to the north and south for agriculture markets.

It is quite evident that the hon. member is expressing the opinion of the Conservative party in the remark I have just quoted. They still do not want to have any truck or trade with the Yankees.

Referring to the Minister of Trade and Commerce, the same hon. member said, as recorded at page 2474 of Hansard for February 27, 1953:

His viewpoint, that we have to look north and south for trade, is just the same as their party's viewpoint was before the turn of the century. His party lost an election in which they wanted commercial union with the United States-

Evidently the hon. member is referring to the election of 1911 in which the United States was offering Canada reciprocal trade. Personally I consider that that election result was one of the worst blows the Dominion of Canada has ever received. It certainly set this country back at least a decade. The hon. member went on, and I quote:

-and they have been looking north and south ever since. This Conservative party sitting to your left, Mr. Speaker . . . has consistently said that we must have markets with Europe, and with other places that need our food.

We agree that we have to have markets in Europe and in Great Britain. That is the policy of our government. I want to point out that today the Department of Trade and Commerce has found markets for our wheat in at least 40 different countries, and for our other products in many countries. When they say we have to look to Europe, certainly we do; but we must not stop there. We have to look to the South American countries and all the other countries of the world for markets; that is the policy of this government.

Mr. Speaker, we were dependent for the sale of our cattle to Great Britain during the last war and up to the fall of 1948. We were obliged to fill bulk beef orders with them, and to do so the price of our cattle in the stockyards at St. Boniface up to August, 1948, was 12 to 13 cents a pound for the best steers. I would ask you to remember, Mr. Speaker, that that was only four years ago, when we were receiving 12 and 13 cents a pound for our best steers. But in the fall of 1948 the United States market was opened to our cattle producers and, as a result, our cattle immediately advanced to 21 cents a pound, and the price kept climbing up until in the winter of 1951-52, it reached 35 cents a pound, which is the highest price at which cattle ever sold in the Dominion of Canada.

Recently we listened to the hon. member for Lambton West (Mr. Murphy) pleading for

The Budget-Mr. Wood the sugar refineries; and on February 27 the hon. member for Middlesex East (Mr. White) made the statement that the Cuban deal had turned towards the United States extra dollars that used to find their way to the British West Indies. This statement does not conform to the facts.

I should like to say to these gentlemen to my left that I consider we should deal with Cuba and take from her a quantity of her sugar. In 1952 we bought from Cuba raw sugar to the value of $11,605,070 and refined sugar to the value of $1,759,413, making a total of sugar purchases of $13,364,483, practically all of which was raw sugar; but last year, 1952-and under this agreement-we sold to Cuba over 10 million bushels of western wheat for which they paid us $18 million; that is, we received for our wheat more than $4J million more than we paid for our sugar. I would suggest that the Conservative party give their trade policies a complete overhaul; and I can assure them that ringing a cow-bell will not help them in the next election in the prairie provinces.

Even although this may be an election year, no one can honestly call this an election budget. No single group benefits to a great extent, yet a move has been made in the right direction. Last year, speaking in the budget debate, I expressed concern at the fact that little had been done with respect to lowering our customs tariffs. The record of the Liberal government, however, in that respect has been very good.

Furthermore, this government is using every effort to bring about freer trade amongst nations of the world. Our government has made trade terms with the United States whereby that country allows us to ship them, from the prairie provinces and other parts of Canada, cattle, sheep, hogs, meats, poultry and other farm products. Recently in a speech delivered by our Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) to a United States audience, he said:

I can assure you that we in Canada wish to see international trade easier both on this continent and throughout the world. We are prepared to do our part to this end and especially to support any move designed to bring about the freest possible exchange of goods. Surely such a policy makes continental common sense.

The tariff structure, in addition to retarding trade, is discriminatory to many sections of our Canadian economy. It is particularly discriminatory toward the consumers and producers of the three prairie provinces. Our tariff structure provides a sheltered market for the manufactured goods produced in central Canada. Tariffs are supposed to protect the markets for Canadian industry, and I


The Budget-Mr. Wood have no fault to find with our tariff structure if it is put to the use for which it was intended; but I certainly have a complaint because of abuses practised by industry in Canada, whereby they take advantage of our tariffs and show no gratitude whatever for the preferred position they enjoy.

Most Canadians would prefer to buy Canadian goods if prices and quality were comparable with similar goods from other countries. But prices seldom are comparable. Besides, tariff walls produce a favourable climate for the operation of combines in Canada. Tariffs are just a handout to industry; and under present-day practices the consumers of Canada are put in a position where they are continually bonusing industry, the bulk of which is in central Canada. I therefore wish at this time to urge our government to set up a committee of this house to investigate these abusive practices by Canadian industry and to report their findings to this government from time to time.

I might say, Mr. Speaker, that in 1936 a committee similar to that which I am advocating was set up to investigate conditions in the Canadian farm implement manufacturing business. After making a thorough investigation into the workings of the farm implement industry, they presented their report to this house in 1937. I have here a summary of the conclusions of that committee. This was copied by my stenographer, on April 7, 1952, from the report which is in the library and which is signed by J. Fred Johnston, the chairman of the committee. I want to read some of the clauses of this report:

In terms of the foregoing the committee has reached the following conclusions and makes the following recommendations:

1. That the prosperity of the farm implement industry is directly dependent on the prosperity of agriculture . . .

4. That the companies engaged in the industry, over the period of their operations as a whole, have made substantial profits on the capital invested in each company.

5. That, if in particular instances this was not so, it was due to reasons other than the price level at which farm implements have been sold in Canada throughout the same period , . .

7. That farmers have a right to expect the price level of farm implements to be based on the most efficient and economical manufacturing and distribution cost ...

16. That it is the opinion of the committee that the cost of cream separators to the consumers should be reduced and with that end in view recommends that this item be placed on the free list.

17. That reduction in the tariff should and does, in the long run, tend to lower the price level to the farmer, depending on the extent of free price competition in the industry.

18. That in the farm implement industry there Is competition in the matter of sales but little effective competition in the matter of prices.

19. That the provisions of the Customs Act and the Customs Tariff Act affecting the importation of farm implements should be clarified and simplified.

20. That regulations of the Department of National Revenue, under the above provisions have resulted in the inequality of treatment of importers of a like class and the whole matter should be the subject of survey by the minister of that department.

21. That these regulations have resulted directly and indirectly in the retention in the United States of profits arising out of the operations in Canada of certain United States companies and that these profits have been subjected to income tax in the United States instead of in Canada . . .

23. That recent reductions in tariff and other trade barriers resulted in the Canadian companies lowering their prices on certain farm implements imported from the United States, but the United States companies manufacturing a full general line in the United States and marketing these in Canada did not lower their prices generally on importations other than those affected by the price reductions of the Canadian companies, indicating the lack of free price competition in the industry . . .

25. That in order to assist the farm implement companies to satisfy the requirements of agriculture In the matter of farm implements in the next few years, the committee is of the opinion that the duty on materials entering into the manufacture of farm implements should be removed or that the farm implement companies should be granted a drawback of any duties paid on materials entering into the manufacture of farm implements.

26. That the last recommendation is made on the assumption that any saving to the companies resulting therefrom should be passed on to the purchaser of farm implements in the retail price . . .

29. That the increases announced by the companies in January 1936, were not justified by an increase in manufacturing or distribution costs or by the financial results of the companies in so far as these were affected by the price level of farm implements.

30. That over the period 1891 to 1936 retail prices of farm implements have been maintained at too high a level as shown by the financial returns to the companies engaged in the industry, during that period.

On motion of Mr. Wood The debate was adjourned.

Topic:   B, 1953
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July 1, 1952

Mr. Wood:

Back to the thirties now.

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