William Ross MACDONALD

MACDONALD, The Hon. William Ross, P.C., Q.C., LL.D.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Brantford (Ontario)
Birth Date
December 25, 1891
Deceased Date
May 28, 1976
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Ross_Macdonald
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=e8c16189-29ad-469a-9083-524d40cd92d9&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
barrister

Parliamentary Career

October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
LIB
  Brantford City (Ontario)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
LIB
  Brantford City (Ontario)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
LIB
  Brantford City (Ontario)
  • Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons (September 27, 1945 - April 30, 1949)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
LIB
  Brantford (Ontario)
  • Speaker of the House of Commons (September 15, 1949 - June 11, 1953)
  • Leader of the Government in the Senate (January 1, 1953 - June 1, 1957)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 526 of 527)


March 18, 1936

Mr. MACDONALD (Brantford):

For export purposes.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES TRADE AGREEMENT
Full View Permalink

March 18, 1936

Mr. MACDONALD (Brantford):

And imports also. To what countries were we exporting? We were not exporting to the United States; we were exporting to Europe

Canada-U. S. Trade Agreement

and other foreign countries. To-day conditions have changed entirely. We should not compare conditions as they exist to-day with those that existed in 1921 or 1925. We cannot go back to the old horse and buggy days when transportation was so slow and when a blacksmith was situated on every corner. We cannot all be Rip Van Winkles; we must wake up and realize that because of changed economic conditions we must do business on a different basis. From 1921 to 1930 the markets of Europe and other foreign countries were open to Canada, but to-day those markets are practically all closed. During the period from 1921 to 1930 our implement manufacturers were exporting to France, Germany, Russia, Australia and other countries which I could name, but to-day it is practically impossible to ship any implements to those countries.

The agricultural implement manufacturing industry is very important and one which should be preserved for the workingmen of this country, but in preserving this industry we must not act unfairly to any class of people. The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) has shown that to-day prices of farm implements are no higher than they were in 1925. He referred to the great drop which had occurred since 1921 in the price of tractors, but I would direct his attention to the fact that that drop was due to a change in methods of production. I think the minister stated himself that the drop in prices was not due to the tariff. A change occurred in methods of production of tractors just as it did in methods of production of automobiles. Prior to that time automobiles were manufactured by many small companies; the days of mass production had not arrived. The same applied to the manufacture of tractors. When a change in the methods occurred, prices dropped.

My point is that if unemployment is one of Canada's greatest problems, the agricultural implement industry should be preserved to this country on a fair basis. The other day an hon. member opposite referred to conditions which had existed in this industry from 1930 to 1936 because of high tariffs. I do not think anyone should take any credit for the conditions that existed in this industry during that period. That industry had practically closed up, but now the factories are running. If we can supply implements to the fanners at a fair price we shall be acting fairly to the farmer and to the manufacturer; we shall be acting fairly to the investor and to the great mass of working people who earn their living in these factories.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES TRADE AGREEMENT
Full View Permalink

March 16, 1936

Mr. MACDONALD (Brantford):

Mr. Chairman, I do not intend to speak at any great length, but there are one or two matters I should like to bring to the attention of hon. members. It has been said to-day that there was a great increase in the production of farm implements in Canada from 1923 to 1930. I believe there was also a great exportation of farm implements during that period, and

that exportation was going, not to the United States but largely to European countries. Some hon. gentlemen may say: Why not continue to export to European countries? The answer is that European countries have so raised their tariffs that it is impossible to-day for the Canadian manufacturer of farm implements to export to those countries. He has no foreign market to-day; his market is the home market alone.

Considerable mention has been made of the price of farm implements. I would draw attention to the fact that the system in vogue in Canada to-day in the sale of farm implements entails considerable expense. There are many manufacturers who make their goods and then turn them over to sales people throughout the dominion; those sales people pay the manufacturer for the goods, and that is the end of it so far as the manufacturer is concerned. But in the farm implement industry the manufacturer is not only manufacturer but sales agent as well. The farmer pays directly to that manufacturer. The manufacturer makes his implements, and turns them over to some agent, say in western Canada; that agent sells to the farmer, and the farmer then gives a note to the manufacturer. Not only that, but under the laws of our provinces it is necessary for farm implement manufacturers to maintain warehouses and supply parts for every implement they sell over a period of ten years. That is one reason why the farm implement manufacturer is in a different position entirely from that of the manufacturer of practically every other manufactured commodity in this country.

A great deal has been said about high tariffs, but after all, we have in this trade agreement a tariff of 12J per cent on farm implements. Some may consider that a high tariff, but personally I do not consider it so. I consider it a reasonable tariff.

Some hon. members have said that the manufacturers should give a little more consideration to the farmer. Probably it would be well if that worked all round. Probably each of us might well give a little more consideration to the rest of us. I think each one of us thinks too much of his own particular constituency rather than of the interests of the dominion as a whole. We should look at this country as one great dominion, with the interests of one part being the concern of all. In that way only can we advance.

We cannot compare tariffs to-day with tariffs in 1923 because conditions throughout the world have so changed that we are living to-day in an entirely different world so far as economic conditions are concerned. I hope we shall all view tariff questions reasonably

Canada-U. S. Trade Agreement

with a view to getting this country back on its feet, not only getting the farmers back on their feet, not only getting our manufacturers busy in their plants again, not only having capital return to this dominion, but putting workmen back to work and doing all we can for the good of the country as a whole.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES TRADE AGREEMENT
Full View Permalink

March 16, 1936

Mr. MACDONALD (Brantford):

Both

washing machines and motors are manufactured in the constituency which I have the honour to represent. I must say that there are some fears in my constituency concerning washing machines. The reduction has caused some concern, but there is greater ,concern in the possibility of cheap washing machines being dumped into this country from the United States, thereby underselling the Canadian manufacturer. That is the greatest fear. If that were done it would cause a certain amount of unemployment. I trust the government of the day will see to it that these cheap machines are not dumped on the Canadian market at sacrifice prices to undersell the Canadian product. If they are not so dumped I believe the washing machine business may continue, but if the market is flooded with cheap machines from the United States our industry could not stand up against them.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES TRADE AGREEMENT
Full View Permalink

March 2, 1936

Mr. W. R. MACDONALD (Brantford):

Before entering into the debate on this motion, allow me, Mr. Speaker, on this my first opportunity, to congratulate you on the high honour which has been bestowed upon you. If the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) were in his seat I would take this opportunity of felicitating him on the high honour conferred upon him by being elected to the eminent position of Prime Minister of this dominion. I trust some of his colleagues will deliver this message to him. I further congratulate him on the body of men with whom he has surrounded himself and who now form the cabinet of this country. It was said of the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier that he surrounded himself with a cabinet of talents. I hope the present cabinet will prove

12739-44$

to be at least equal to and probably greater than that of the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

As I rise to speak to this motion I do so not for the purpose of defending or condemning the agricultural implement manufacturing companies. I rise because I am honoured to represent that great industrial centre, the city of Brantford, in which are situated two of the largest farm implement manufacturing companies in the dominion. During the days of prosperity under the former Liberal administration there were employed in those factories approximately three thousand men. Unfortunately, during the last few years the number employed has decreased at times to less than eight hundred. Therefore I feel that I would be recreant to my duty if I did not at this time say a word on behalf of that great band of loyal workers who have struggled honestly for years to turn out the implements which reap the crops of this country. We have heard a great deal of the hardships of the farmer, and far be it from me to belittle them. I know the trials and difficulties of the farmers. But I would remind the house that others also 'have suffered trials and difficulties. We have heard that a large percentage of the farmers are in virtual bankruptcy. I would remind hon. members that in Brantford approximately one-quarter of the population was not only in virtual bankruptcy but would have been in actual need had it not been for government assistance. In January, 1935, out of a population of about 30,000 there were on actual relief 7,237 people, or approximately twenty-five per cent. This year I am happy to say that that number has decreased to 5,719, but it is still about twenty per cent.

It has been said that in 1929 there was produced in this country about $40,000,000 worth of farm implements. In 1932 that production decreased to about $5,000,000. In 1926 farm implements amounted to 1 -18 per oent of the total manufactures of this country, while in 1932 farm implements amounted to only 0-32 per cent of the total. I mention these figures so that hon. members will have some idea of the effect that has had on Brantford. It means that the working men of that city have been out of employment; they have had to struggle to maintain their standing in the community. I bring this matter to the attention of the house in order that we may all realize that Canada must be looked upon as one great country. I do not believe in sectionalism; I do not believe in provincialism. We cannot set the east against the west; we cannot set Ontario and Quebec against the maritime and the western provinces. The farmers must not be set against

692 COMMONS

Farm Implements-Mr. Macdonald.

the manufacturers, or manufacturers against working men or working men against farmers. We must regard these problems as our common problems, and as a united people, not as one class only in the nation, try to solve them.

I should like at this time to clear up some misconceptions. Naturally the farmers buy a considerable number of farm implements. I have in my hand a chart which appeared in the Nor'west Farmer, a journal of very high standing published in western Canada. According to this chart, of the total income the farmer receives he spends only three per cent on farm implements and repairs. Not a very large percentage of his income, hon. members will agree. I also notice that he pays eight per cent of his total gross income for interest, and eight per cent for automobiles. The amount he spends on farm implements and repairs is less, I am safe in saying, than he spends on any other class of goods. So it must be agreed that farm implements are not his major expense.

Then, as has been stated by two former speakers, the implement companies have not made money. I am glad that statement has been made, because there is a feeling abroad- I have met with it from time to time in conversing with members of this house and other people throughout the country-that the implement companies have been making a great deal of money. They have not. During the last five years one company not only has not made any profits but has gone behind $20,000,000. The other company in my constituency has lost all the surplus it had and is in debt to a very large amount. With regard to the investors in those companies, very little has been paid to them. One company did pay dividends to its shareholders in 1928, but at the time it commenced to pay those dividends it was sixty per cent in arrears on its preferred stock, which showed that it had not been making much up to that time. That company paid dividends for two years and for two quarters of 1930, but since then no dividends have been paid. I have heard it said that the deficits of those companies are due to a large extent to bad debts. True, there have been many bad debts, and the debtors of course are the farmers of this country. One company informed me that during the last three years their collections were as follows: In 1933 they collected

twelve per cent of their outstanding accounts; in 1934, eighteen per cent and in 1935, sixteen per cent; and it cost them each year to collect those debts fifteen per cent of what

JMr. W. R. Macdonald.]

they collected. So there cannot be much money in that.

I should like to remind hon. members of certain laws in effect in Canada. For instance, when an implement is sold the company may take a lien on it. The farmer does not pay cash.. In the event of non-payment, however, the manufacturer cannot go in and seize the implement, simply because he happens to hold a lien. The law has been changed so that the farm implement manufacturer must go to the commission to obtain its permission to seize the implement. The chances are that the commissioner will say, "Well, let the farmer keep it a little while longer. Let him keep it another year, anyway, and we will see what will happen then."

I would diraw hon. members' attention to the fact that if through no fault of his own a farmer does not pay his debts, or cannot pay them, he has some recourse. He may go to a board which has been set up under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act, and in the event of his owing one of the farm implement companies an amount of, say $800, the chances are that the official on the board will say, "Do not worry about the farm implement company; pay them $200, and call it square." The farm implement company has no recourse. I mention this point to show that the farmer has been receiving some consideration. I do not want to set the farmer against the workingman, but I must remind hon. members that if one of the workers in the factories of Brantford cannot pay his debts he is not protected by a creditors arrangement board. His creditors enter a claim in the courts, and in the event of their obtaining judgment against him they seize all he owns. There is no recourse for the workingman; he has to pay. I sometimes hear it said that the manufacturer wants to beat the farmer, but I do not believe that is right. The manufacturer knows that the farmer is his sole customer.

One of my purposes in rising to-night is to try to instil a better spirit of good will not only between workers and farmers, but among workers, manufacturers and farmers. The statement has been made that prices have increased, and we have been given comparisons between prices of 1911 and those of 1930. I do not intend to meet the argument at length. As a matter of fact I have not a clear recollection of conditions in 1911, but I do know there has been a great change between conditions of those days and those of 1930. Unfortunately the farmer has not benefited to the extent he Should have. I know, however, that the city dweller has to pay more for

Farm Implements-Mr. Macdonald

everything he buys, and that the manufacturer of all lines of articles cannot manufacture as cheaply to-day as he could in 1911.

The hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Johnston) stated, quite correctly, that since the war prices of automobiles have decreased. The statement is made that to-day we can buy a better automobile for less money, and on the face of it that would seem to be a good answer to the question: Why should not farm implements be in the same class? I would like to remind hon. members, however, that the farm implement business has been in existence for generations, whereas the automobile business started during our generation. Mass production has just developed in the automobile industry, but in the implement industry mass production was at its height before the automobile was invented. For these reasons I would say that the two industries are not comparable. However, if hon. members do wish to make a comparison I would suggest the comparison between the tractor and the automobile. I believe such a comparison will show that to-day the tractor costs just about half, or at any rate considerably less than it did in 1918. Prices of tractors have declined, because in 1918 they were not being turned out in such large quantities as they are to-day.

Certain figures were quoted to which, if I have time, I shall direct my attention in a few minutes. It must be remembered, too, that there have been improvements in farm implements, and that to-day there are certain implements a farmer can buy at the decreased or former price, if he is content to take an obsolete implement, or one that is not quite up to date. Prices of the older types of implements remain where they were, but improvements have been made, and if a farmer wishes to obtain the improved article he must pay more for it. I am informed on reliable authority that to-day the farmer wants the best implements he can buy, and that the manufacturers cannot sell the old style machines because the farmer wants up to date machinery. We cannot blame him for that, because we all feel the same way.

It is true that prices have been increased.

I do not deny that between 1911 and 1935 prices were increased, but again I am informed that the implement of to-day is worth considerably more than that of 1911, and if you take into account the repairs which had to be made to the implement of 1911 and compare repair expenditures with what the farmer has to pay to-day, I am advised that the implement sold to-day is a better buy, dollar for dollar, than that of 1911. I would draw the attention of hon. members to the

fact that although prices of implements, generally, have gone up a small amount, prices of spare parts have not increased. Prices of spare parts remain as they were.

I shall not go into all the prices quoted by the hon. member for Lake Centre, but if hon. members followed them they would know that in no instance is the price for 1936 greater than it was in 1930. True, there is a slight increase over 1935, but the 1930 price in practically every case was higher than that of 1936. If you take the 1936 price and compare it with that of 1935 you find that the increase by percentage has not been very great. As a matter of fact if one were to take the trouble to figure it out he would find that it comes to only approximately three per cent, while in some instances there has been no increase. I think hon. members will agree that three per cent is not very great.

I suggest that we are not tackling this problem in the proper manner. Again I wish to express my sympathy for the farmer. There are farmers in my constituency, and I should like to see them buy their implements as cheaply as possible. On the other hand there are thousands of working men in that constituency, and I want to see them employed at fair rates of wages. I do not think the time of hon. members should be spent in costly investigation. Last year the farm implement industry was investigated very thoroughly and carefully by the experts of the price spreads commission. They went into every phase of the industry. Is it the desire of the house that in order to investigate this industry we should again spend thousands of dollars of the public money and also have the implement companies spend thousands of dollars of their money? I do not think we should go about the matter in that way. As the increases have been only three per cent,

I think we should devise ways and means of obtaining for the farmer a better price for his products so that he will have money with which to buy the necessary implements.

It is my intention to support the treaty between the United States and Canada because I feel that it will put more money into the hands of the purchasing public. In conclusion, let me say again that I trust the house will not decide to spend thousands of dollars to investigate this industry, but will devote its attention to getting more money for the products produced by the farmers so that the working men in Brantford may obtain a fair wage for the work they do and implements may be sold to the farmers at a reasonable price.

Farm Implements-Mr. Perley

Topic:   FARM IMPLEMENTS
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO HIGH PRICES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO INCREASES FOR 1936
Full View Permalink