Mr. H. J. BARBER (Fraser Valley):
Mr. Speaker, I belong to the long list of newcomers to this House, and I wish to take this opportunity of falling in line with other members in extending to you hearty congratulations on your election to the honourable position which you now occupy.
On my arrival here to take up my parliamentary duties I wag fortunate enough to come in contact with a gentleman who had some forty years' experience of parliamentary life, and he gave me Some excellent advice. As a newcomer he told me for the first session I ought to keep my eyes and ears wide open, be constantly in my seat, and note and study parliamentary procedure; and that if I undertook to say anything I was to be brief and to the point. After listening to the address this afternoon of the hon. member for St. James (Mr. Rinfret), an address which extended over two hours, I imagine other new members share my opinion that the advice " to be brief and to the point " should apply generally.
Unlike many of my hon. friends who are so ready to impress the fact upon us, I am not a farmer, neither am I a lawyer; I am just an ordinary business man, who has lived in an agricultural community for over twenty-five years. And I think any man after that length of residence who does not become interested in the problems of his community can not be termed a very good citizen. As member foi the Fraser Valley district of British Columbia I am proud to say that I represent the richest district in the province and one of the richest agriculturally in the whole Dominion. True, that district, extending over 100 miles from west to east, and 50 or 60 miles from the international boundary line northward, contains also great timber areas and mineral resources, but to-night I intend to confine my remarks to matters agricultural, and in particular to two very important branches of it- the dairy and poultry industries. The men 14011-24
engaged in these industries are all of the highest type of Canadian citizenship, energetic and of good business judgment. Many of them are returned soldiers. They have built up good farms, and some of the finest dairy herds in Canada. Sir, if you or any other member of this House hadl the privilege of visiting the stock show at the Royal Winter Fair at Toronto last month you wouldhave noticed there some dairy stock from British Columbia, and you would also have noticed that the grand championship as well as many other prizes went
to Fraser valley dairy herds. The Dominion experimental farm is located in my riding and has a long line of prize-winning Holsteins. The management of that farm is held in the highest esteem, and the assistance afforded by the institution is appreciated by the local farmers.
It has been said of the dairy industry thatwhile it offers no opportunity for acquiring
great wealth, yet it does open one of the surest and safest roads to a competency that is to be found in the whole realm of agriculture to the man who is willing to stick to it. Dairying is without doubt one of the most important industries of Canada. It has grown rapidly. The total production for the calendar year 1925 is estimated at $300,060,000- almost one-third greater than the mineral production of which we are so proud. The mineral production for 1924 was $209,583,406, this including everything that comes out of the earth-the precious metals, copper, zinc, nickel, coal, and the oil and gas that my friend spoke of. The dairy production amounts to about two-thirds of the value of the great wheat crop, which this year is estimated to be worth $450,000,000. We are pleased to note that with increased production we have an increase in exports of about 20 per cent over the previous year. At the same time we find an increase in imports. We imported: butter, 99,748 pounds; cheese, 10,274,338 pounds, or a combined value of $2,343,482. Add to this fresh milk, $12,453; caseine, $26,222; condensed milk, $27,076, and we have a total of $2,409,235 worth of dairy products imported into Canada during the calendar year 1925. From the way we are starting off this year it is quite apparent, Sir, that the importations will be still greater.
The first effect of the trade agreement entered into by our friends opposite has been felt. As has been drawn to the attention of this House by my right hon. leader (Mr. Meighen), a large shipment of New Zealand butter has already arrived and has resulted in an immediate drop in price of three cents a
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pound. According to the figures supplied to me by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, the total imports of butter last year, as I have already stated, amounted to 99,748 pounds. Before the first ten days of this year had passed1, und'er the new trade agreement with Australia over 600,000 pounds of butter had been imported. I got in touch with the Customs department this afternoon and ascertained that instead of the 480,000 pounds mentioned by my hon. leader, over 600,000 pounds of butter has1 already been unloaded here. According to press reports yesterday, which I have not yet been able to confirm, another shipment of two million pounds is on the way, if indeed it has not already arrived. We must all admit that at times even small imports will demoralize a market in any particular commodity, but with such immense imports as we are having under the Australian treaty our butter market will be absolutely swamped and the dairy industry ruined. The dairymen of Canada fully realized what would happen as soon as they read the text of the treaty. And the hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mir. Motherwell) knew perfectly well what would happen. In confirmation of this I have but to refer to what the hon. member for North Oxford (Mr. Sutherland) quoted to the House the other day from Hansard of 1922, page 808, where we find the Minister of Agriculture stated:
New Zealand, on the other hand, has also a favoured climate and a comparatively short stabling season. It puts its butter right off the grass in British Columbia in competition with our winter-made butter, and we have a hard struggle to compete with it.
The hon. gentleman made this observation in 1922 and put the Australian treaty in force on October 9th, 1925. This butter comes in at one cent a pound with a proposed bonus of six cents a pound. The treaty provides that if Canada undertakes to ship to New Zealand or Australia we must meet the tariff of six cents per pound. Canadian farmers cannot live and compete under this handicap.
Now I wish to refer to the egg situation. If you have been following the daily press you will have noticed that we are having trouble in the poultry industry, and I just wish to say a word or two in regard to that situation. Things are very serious, so serious that I notice in a clipping from a Vancouver paper which reached me yesterday that:
Mr. J. A. McCrae, who runs a poultry farm at Central Park called at The Province office to-day and stated that he knows of three men who are killing off stocks, one of them, he says, having already slaughtered 500 head, another 700 and a third 900. The tragedy of it is that the 'birds have just arrived at their period of peak production when they would have
paid for themselves if the price of eggs had been normal. At the price feed is, however, the loss of keeping them is to great, says, Mr. McCrae: "Feed prices" he says, "run to as high as $68 a ton. Recently I was paying $55 a ton, but the grain was so tough it was almost useless to feed it to the chickens, and I had to get a better grade, which cost $68 a ton. Poultrymen are unable to stand this discrepancy between the 'high price of feed and the low price of eggs," he added.
This is a serious situation, as it applies to British Columbia and to all parts of Canada. The hon. Minister of Agriculture gave the mild weather as the reason for this apparent over-production. No doubt so long as the hon. gentleman occupies his present position the mild weather will continue. I was somewhat amused at that statement. The mention of eggs reminds me of a story of our grand old chieftain, Sir John A. Macdonald. Shortly after an election, when his party had been returned to power, he was visiting in Toronto. A good lady of that city came to him and said: "Sir John, since the Conservative party came into power my hens lay more eggs, bigger eggs, and better eggs than they ever laid before." This was given by Sir John as a joke. The hon. Minister of Agriculture in making his statement the other day was apparently quite serious, but I think it was accepted by the House as a joke. I would rather be inclined to give the government full credit for the condition of the industry to-day, and to give his department some credit for the increase in egg production. I understand that something in the neighbourhood of $5,000,000 is expended by his department on agriculture each year, and no doubt a portion of that amount is used to develop and encourage the poultry industry. The poultry population of Canada has increased 180 per cent during the last twenty-five years, until at the present time it is estimated at nearly 50,000,000. What about the production? During the calendar year 1925 Canada produced 225,000,000 dozen eggs. That seems a large number, but if you figure it out you will find that it is less than one egg per person per day. The Minister of Agriculture says that his department is going to join with other associations throughout Canada in a campaign to encourage the eating of eggs. That is an excellent move, but I think the change in the policy of the government to which I shall refer later would be a great deal better.
W'hat about imports? We imported1 into Canada during the same period from the United States 2,577,400 dozen; from China, 79,174 dozen; from Hong Kong, 51,836 dozen; from Japan, 11,430 dozen; and' a few from
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other countries, making a total of 2,721,606 dozen eggs imported into Canada. That means that every person in Canada must have consumed about ten foreign eggs every month in addition to our own good Canadian eggs. These eggs enter from the United States under a duty of three cents per dozen, and under the Australian treaty they come in free. The United States poultry industry is protected by a tariff of eight cents per dozen, and Australia and New Zealand have a tariff of eighteen cents per dozen against us. On behalf of the poultrymen of my district I urge the government to give us what everyone considers to be the only remedy-equal protection to that afforded the United States poultry industry, by raising the Canadian tariff to eight cents. I would suggest that they put into force, in addition, what we already have in British Columbia, the Egg Marks Act. That act has worked out very satisfactorily in British Columbia. Foreign eggs placed on sale in Vancouver must bear the stamp of the country of origin. American eggs are stamped "U.S.A."; Chinese eggs are stamped "China"; Japanese eggs are stamped "Japan"; and so on. I say this method has produced successful results in British Columbia and 1 would suggest to the Minister of Agriculture that he seriously consider its value. This is the situation as it exists.
A serious condition prevails in the dairying and poultry industries of this country and it is the reason I am on my feet to-night. Petitions have come from all parts of my district; appeals were made in this House last session, I believe, but nothing has been done. I have here the copy of a petition forwarded by one of the farmers' institutes of our province. It says that a copy is to be forwarded to the Minister of Agriculture, and no doubt he has received it. The letter accompanying the petition says:
I am enclosing a copy of resolutions passed at the annual meeting of the Surrey Farmers' Institute held on Tuesday, January 12th, 1926. As you are aware the poultry industry in the province of British Columbia has, during the past few years, developed very rapidly and is probably more attractive in view of the possibility of winter production, so that shipments to the prairie and eastern provinces have been gradually on the increase.
We are, however, faced with what we feel to be very unfair and unjust competition, that from the United States, inasmuch as we are required to pay on eggs exported to that country a duty of 8 cents per dozen but they may be imported into Canada paying thereon only a duty of 3 cents per dozen.
I trust that you will keep the facts herein before you, and should occasion arise endeavour to relieve the situation.
The petition covers what is stated in the letter, and requests some protection for the 14011-24J
industry in the province of British Columbia. Conditions in the dairy and poultry industries are very serious, and no effort has been made to provide relief.
I have been somewhat amused by the attitude of hon. gentlemen to my left. On every occasion they appeal from the standpoint of agriculture. The hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Mullins) the other day applied a term to them which I should not like to apply to the Progressives in this House, for though they may be termed wheat miners, robbers of the soil, or whatever you like to term it, I am sure they have the sympathy of the farmers of our province. The farmers of our province are delighted when they have a good crop, and they sympathize with our Progressive friends when they have a poor one. But we expect from them the same sympathy. We expect them to be interested in other branches of agriculture than the raising of grain. The members of the Progressive party occupy a position of vantage in this House, and are in a position to secure immediately relief for the daily and poultry industries of this Dominion. A few days ago they voted confidence in the government; they are responsible for keeping them in office, and I would suggest that the leader of the Progressive party go to the government and to the Minister of Agriculture and say: "We want you to serve notice immediately of the abrogation of the Australian treaty, which we voted against, and which is ruining the dairy industry of this country." I say also that, though it may be somewhat against their principles, when every man in every district that is engaged in the poultry and dairy industries is demanding the same protection for those industries as similar industries have to the south of the line, the Progressives should be at least fair enough to recommend to the government that they give the Canadian dairy industries this protection.
I feel that I must take a strong stand on the Australian treaty. The people of my constituency demand the immediate abrogation of that treaty, and I think tihis is the feeling in every agricultural district throughout Canada. Some may ask: What about the urban population? I think you will find those people fair when the question is put before them. I do not think they will want to buy butter at three or four cents a pound less when they understand that that would mean the ruination of our dairy industry. The reduction does not apply simply to butter, because, as every one acquainted with the dairy industry knows, the price of milk and all milk products is based on the price of butter fat, and butter
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fat in our province is based on the price of butter at Vancouver. If butter in Vancouver drops five or ten cents a pound, the milk which the farmer sells to the creamery immediately drops in price.
I have said that the people of our district are opposed to the continuance of the Australian treaty. They pronounced on that treaty on the 29th day of October last. Gentlemen opposite had in their ranks in the last parliament a representative from the Fraser Valley. He sat on the other side of the House for four years. He is one of our highly respected farmers. He went through the district before the election and although he had been elected by a substantial majority four years before, on October 29, when the sole issue was protection and the Australian treaty, he was turned down by 1,286 votes.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY