Mr. JAMES SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):
Mr. Speaker, on this occasion I speak more as a British Columbia member than as a member representing berry farmers. I have one small district in my constituency in which strawberries are grown. However this is a matter which affects a very large number of the berry farmers in British Columbia. I share an office with the hon. member for Fraser Valley (Mr. Cruickshank) and since
Strawberries-Prices in British Columbia
last February I have been hearing about berries. Hon. members in the house have heard the hon. member for Fraser Valley repeatedly ask whether a ceiling price would be set on berries.
My first criticism as a British Columbia member is that if a ceiling was to be placed on the price of berries, there is no reason why it should not have been done two months ago. In this instance there is a no D-day, and no element of surprise is necessary. The farmers were entitled to know two months ago what their prices would be. They should have known two months before the ceiling was put on. As my hon. friend has said, they would not have planted strawberries if they had known they were going to be given 12 cents a pint, in view of the fact that last year their basic cost was 12-52 cents. It would appear that when the ceiling price was set, it was not set on last year's price, but rather on prices from 1938 to 1942. It must be remembered that in that period of time the great bulk of berry farmers in British Columbia were Japanese. Japanese produced berries at prices at which no white man could ever attempt to produce them. They worked from dawn to dusk for ten and eleven cents an hour as their basic rate of pay. To-day the berry farmers of British Columbia-when they can get labour- must pay 65 cents an hour.
I do not think the people of British Columbia are objecting to price control, but they are objecting to our farmers being legislated into bankruptcy by the action of the wartime prices and trade board. There was no consultation with any of the berry-growing group in British Columbia. Certainly no British Columbia member was tipped off or asked in advance what he thought of these prices. These men of the prices board sit in their ivory tower down here, suddenly set a price and say, "You can like it or lump it." Well, we are not going to like it or lump it. The only way we can object to the action taken by this board is to move the adjournment of the house to discuss a matter of immediate national importance. This matter is of immediate national importance. We members sitting in this house are able thus to bring before the house particulars of an act committed by this board which is legislating into bankruptcy the strawberry growers of British Columbia.
Subtopic: PRICES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31