Mr. GORDON GRAYDON (Peel):
Mr. Speaker, the county of Peel which I have the distinctive honour of representing in this House of Commons is peculiarly interested in the legislation now before the house. This interest is brought about by the many different products produced within the confines and boundaries of that county. May I be permitted at this time to tell hon. members of the house and you, Mr. Speaker, that there is in my riding, among other enterprises, dairy and mixed farming, manufacturing, flower growing and a very extensive fruit and vegetable industry. In my previous address to the house I mentioned the extent of the flower growing industry. We claim that Peel county is the Canadian paradise of beauty. I should like to extend to you, Mr. Speaker, and to every hon. member an invitation to visit Brampton, the beauty spot of North America. We shall not question your brand of politics; if you are a Liberal, you may come; if you are a Conservative, you may come; if you are a member of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation you may come and if you are a Social Crediter you may come. However I would like to give one warning; if purchases are made we will perhaps refuse to accept social credit dividends. In the county of Peel we are used to actual cash.
I should like to refer particularly to the three industries in this riding: Dairj'ing, flower growing and fruit and vegetable growing. Our dairying industry partly supplies the great metropolis of Toronto with its whole milk and we take second place to no qther area in the whole dominion in so far as this particular industry is concerned. As I have stated already, we are the largest producer of cut flowers in the world and our fruit and vegetable industry compares favourably with that industry in any other section of Canada.
The hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) has filled volumes of Hansard, which is read religiously by the people in my riding, directing attention to the municipality of Riviere du Loup in his own riding. I want to serve notice upon him that he should look to his laurels because I intend, if my halting efforts will avail, to supplant that constituency, in so far as the attention of the house is concerned, with the one I represent.
We have heard a great deal of the history of trade negotiations between Canada and the United States. All this is very interesting and enlightening, especially to the new members, but may I suggest that the man on the street, the man who is looking for relief from the effects of the depression, is more inter-
Canada-U. S. Trade Agreement
ested in the present and the future than in the historical facts in connection with these negotiations. I suggest that this Canada-United States trade agreement should be viewed through the clear eyes of two classes of our people, the struggling farmers and the workingmen. Let me say a word with reference to the dairying industry in my riding. Because of a surplus production, because of other factors which perhaps are not relevant to a debate of this kind, in many instances the farmers cannot market their milk in as profitable and orderly a manner as they might desire. What these farmers want among other things is an agreement which will relieve the stress and pressure caused by this milk surplus.
It is true that in the agreement there is a lessening of the restrictions on cream going into the United States market. We are always thankful for small mercies, but I suggest that that does not go very far in the direction of helping the people in the riding I represent. I am hopeful, however, that as regards cattle the provisions of the agreement will afford some relief. I have been told by some of the farmers of Peel county that since the agreement went into effect it has resulted not in raising the price of cattle but rather in depressing it, but I am inclined to think this may be only temporary, and I trust that in the end some measure of real benefit will accrue to these hard-pressed men who deserve some assistance.
In the course of the debate a good deal has been said with regard to the protection of industrialists, the implication being apparently that when you protect an industry you are apt, for some reason or another, to ruin the agricultural population, its activities and endeavours. Speaking for my county, we depend very largely upon the home market. A market within twenty-five or thirty miles and comprising nearly 700,000 people is one which our farmers are anxious to maintain and extend, and I commend this thought to the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Glen), who spoke so eloquently the other evening, and whose facts were so well marshalled. When he speaks about protection to industrialists he should remember that our farmers do not all feel as he does. Indeed, wre regard the protection of industry as a means of protecting and extending our market for our own farm products.
Let me say a few words with regard to the cut flower industry, of which we have heard so much, and of which no doubt hon. members will hear more as time goes on. The flower industry is one that has come in for a good deal of publicity in the house. There
are at present in the town of Brampton about a dozen operators of greenhouses. The largest greenhouse there employs 300 men the year round and there are some others employing altogether a total of nearly 300 more. In other words, about 600 persons are engaged in this industry. Since the initiation of the Canada-United States agreement representations have been made to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) by the largest greenhouse operators in my town, and in addition to these there have been representations, couched in no uncertain terms, by one of the prominent government supporters in Brampton, directed not only to the government itself but to nearly all private members of the house. However I do not wish to speak with reference to this particular aspect of my subject from the standpoint of theoperators especially in the town from which I come; I would rather direct my remarks from the point of view of the 600 working men in whom I am intensely interested and who are anxious that the solvency of these enterprises in our town shall not be endangered. It should be the desire of every member of parliament; it should be and I hope it is the desire of the government to see that the standard of living and the wages of these men engaged in the cut flower industry shall be so raised as to enablethem to live in the way they so richly deserve to do. I suggest therefore that in the legislation now before the house, by virtue of the United States gaining the advantage of the intermediate tariff which allows flowers to
come into Canada free of duty, no appreciable move is being made by the government towards the goal of a higher standard of living for the men engaged in this enterprise.
Perhaps I might be allowed to dwell for a moment on the history of this business. Before 1930 there was a tariff of 17i per cent on flowers coming into Canada from the United States. Early in that year the present Minister of Finance, in his famous budget, raised the tariff to twenty-five per cent; as a matter of fact, at that time by virtue of the countervailing duties which he also employed, the tariff was increased to a maximum of forty per cent. At the same time there was a duty of forty per cent against our flowers entering the United States. At that particular time, as I find by reference to Hansard, the Minister of Finance, in explanation of the increase in the tariff, stated that it was in consequence of a consideration of the matter by the tariff board. The board had considered it and for that reason he desired to increase the duty. When the present leader of the opposition (Mr. MARCH 5, 1936
Canada-U. S. Trade Agreement
Bennett) came into power in 1930 the general tariff item on flowers entering Canada was placed at the forty per cent mark, so that since that time flowers, both those coming from the United States and those going from Canada to that country, have had a duty of forty per cent. However, for some reason the intermediate tariff has been free; and the United States having gained the advantage of the intermediate tariff under this agreement, we find that flowers from that country are coming into Canada free of duty while our flowers are still subject to a forty per cent duty going the other way.
Climatic conditions are very much against greenhouse operators in Canada. For example, in one plant alone in Brampton, in order to overcome climatic conditions an expenditure of S180,000 per annum in coal is necessary to take care of that large area of greenhouse space. If, therefore, there is any adjustment in the tariff we should be entitled to something better than the Americans enjoy with regard to their flowers coming into Canada, instead of having the tariff lower on flowers coming in and higher on those going out. This makes imperative an adjustment in the legislation to be subsequently brought down.
While operators in other centres in the last few years have been experiencing hard times, a number of them having gone into liquidation, operators in the Brampton area have been able to keep going. These are not what might be called fly-by-night concerns, nor are they industries which might be regarded as "children of protection" alone, because as a matter of fact they did not grow up under protection. We are producing in Canada about one million dollars' worth of cut flowers, and that, I submit is something which the government should take into consideration. But what did we find in February of this year? In one of the largest departmental stores in Toronto there were roses-perhaps not as good as ours, because there are no roses as good as those grown in Brampton-selling at twenty cents a dozen, I am told, very many times less than it costs our people to produce them in the town from whence I come. I do not particularly rely on figures, because they may prove almost anything, I believe, but the imports of cut flowers from the United States in January, 1936, as compared with imports of cut flowers in January, 1935, actually showed an upward trend of eighty-five per cent.
I hope always in this house to try to approach these matters as far as possible without partisan bitterness, because it is something w'hich to my mind is inexcusable.
But I cannot emphasize too strongly the imperative need of something being done for these florists when the budget is brought down. If it can be done before that, it will be very greatly appreciated so far as our industry is concerned. When the Minister of Finance is fixing up these items in the budget I suggest that he should not fraternize too closely or take too seriously his friendship with the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Thorson) who sits over there and who delivered the other evening such an inspiring and excellent address, except for one point when he appeared to be a little anxious that the intermediate tariff should not be raised on any items. I have in mind the florist industry, in which I am very much interested, so I suggest that the Minister of Finance see to it that when this item is being discussed the hon. member for Selkirk is somewhere else in the building.
I should like to draw attention to another branch of agriculture in which I am particularly interested and in which many people in Peel are involved, although it is not particularly confined to my riding alone. I refer to the fruit and vegetable business, which has also become a great industry in other parts of the Dominion of Canada. It occupies, however, a prominent and important place in the activities of the people of our county. We have in the county from which I come between eight and nine thousand acres under market gardening and fruit farming cultivation located in an area in the township of Chinguacousy, around the village of Huttons-ville, and also the southerly part of the riding, which contains many market gardeners and fruit growers who are trying to eke out an existence. The whole industry seems to indicate that hard work and uncertain returns are inevitably involved in the business. Last summer, when I was out making a few calls for certain reasons which may be apparent to some members of the house, coming across many of the market gardeners and fruit growers, and seeing the hard work which they had to do, I thought to myself: Why, you are heroes in your fight for economic independence. Coming from a dairy farm as I did, and realizing what a great tie that is to people who have to attend to milking night and morning and be on hand year in and year out, I came to the inescapable conclusion that, after all, the dairying business had only one parallel in so far as hard work is concerned, and that was the fruit and vegetable industry.
So we must remember that in attacking a problem of this kind many factors must be taken into consideration. I do not wish in
Canada-V. S. Trade Agreement
any way to repeat the arguments which were so eloquently put by the hon. member for Yale (Mr. Stirling) the other evening. There are two reasons why I shall not do so. The first is that, as I see it, there has been up to the present time too much repetition of arguments in the House of Commons. The second is that I am afraid, in contrast with the eloquence with which he presented his case, I might be found to be a very poor parliamentarian indeed. However, I should just like to say this much, that in so far as climatic differences are concerned it means that growers of fruit and vegetables in the United States of America have two high class markets and one low or medium class market. The difference in climate, the fact that actually they are able to produce earlier in almost every instance, gives them a high class market in the United States and provides them also with a high class market in Canada if they are allowed to bring their stuff in here and sell it. That means, of course, that special protection is required for this branch of agriculture.
In 1926 the government of the day, under the leadership of Right Hon. Arthur Meighen, brought in legislation which helped the fruit and vegetable growers very materially; it helped them by applying a dumping duty in so far as these perishable commodities were concerned. I will not go into what happened after that; but in 1930 it was necessary that the dumping duties be applied again. From 1930 to 1935, under the government of the present leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett), the fruit and vegetable men, while they complained somewhat because the restrictions were not higher-and perhaps legitimately complained as to that-were reasonably satisfied in so far as the protection they got was concerned. A number of them told me that they believed it was really a Godsend to them that the dumping duty was imposed. The only complaint I received so far as that was concerned was that the growers believed that in some instances it might have been applied a little more strongly and, perhaps, a little earlier.
I had hoped that when the terms of the new agreement were tabled they would disclose that the fruit and vegetable growers would receive that additional protection through the strengthening of the tariff regulations so far as their products are concerned. Broadly speaking, the tariff on fruits coming into this country has been reduced from twenty to fifteen per cent, and on vegetables from thirty to fifteen per cent. However, I may say, in all fairness, that the tariff is not perhaps the most serious matter that has
to be contended with. I am told by one grower, however, that it does and will affect the sale of beets and carrots later on in the year. The tariff reductions would not be so bad if compensating advantages were given under this agreement in so far as dumping duty regulations are concerned. When the government has taken off the dumping duty regulations from some of the fruits and vegetables its hands are tied to some extent in so far as the application of the duties on the balance goes. I am not sufficiently well versed, perhaps, in the details of the industry to say just how far that may go, but certainly much concern is felt among those who are actually and intensely interested in the success of the industry. I should just like to point out and to recommend that in so far as the power is left in their hands, the government shall not only apply the provisions of the anti-dumping legislation severely and restrictively, but shall apply it in time to save the market, which is a seasonal one, for these perishable fruits.
I want to refer particularly to three articles in which I am specially interested. The growers of my constituency produce large quantities of asparagus. I have a letter from one of the large growers in my riding saying that one of the canning companies bought last year a large proportion of the asparagus crop at ten cents. To-day six cents, he says, is the price likely to be paid, because the canning companies are not going to make contracts with the farmers, when they feel that perhaps the supply can be obtained from growers in the United States.
Subtopic: CANADA-UNITED STATES TRADE AGREEMENT PROPOSED APPROVAL SUBJECT TO LEGISLATION MAKING PROVISIONS EFFECTIVE