Toronto, March 31— Legislature ended at two o’clock Friday morning when the Ferguson 4.4 per cent beer bill was carried on second reading by a vote of 70 to 24, four government member bolting and four Opposition member voting with the administration.
Late at night W. E. Raney, after a three-hour harangue, in which will be attacked as “pseudo scientists” all savants who have declared that 4.4 per cent beer is not intoxicating, moved an amendment: “That the bill be referred back to a sub-committee of the House to be named by the Prime Minister, with instructions to inquire and report to this House whether a liquor of four decimal four per cent alcohol by volume is an intoxicating liquor.”
The amendment was lost on a vote of 74 to 20.
Record of Bolters
Opposition members voting with the Government against the Raney amendment, were Z. Mageau(Lib., Sturgeon Falls), E. Prouix (Lib., Prescott), E. Telier (Lib., North Essex).
No Government members voted for the Raney amendment directly.
Government supporters voting against the bill on the main vote were: A. Sweet, Dundas; J. Belford, R. J. Patterson, S. Victoria and H. A. Acres, Carlton.
Opposition members voting with the government directly for the bill were Prouix, Pinard, Telier (Liberal), and Callon (Labor).
The pairs were: Thompson, Biggs, Armstrong, Carty, and Garden, Bowman.
The all night session was noticeable for the several exchanges between the present and former Attorney-General, when the latter attacked Mr. Nickel’s scientific authorities.
The Government argument was in brief that the new beer is not intoxicating and that by so amending the O. T. A. true temperance issues are being promoted. The opposition argued that the amendment is the first breach in the law, whose widening will later produce a torrent, and that the Conservative party will no longer be able to boast of being the only temperance party in the province. Political consideration, or course, cropped out very frequently during the discussion. and most of the speakers, after their leaders had spoken, showed that they were more interested in their ridings that in either the chemical of gastronomical qualities of the new beer. Thirteen members spoke during the debate.
During the early morning discussion Hon. W. F. Nickle practically announced that the new beer would sell for five cents a glass. “At forty cents a gallon,” he said, “and adding a reasonable Government tax the retailer will still have a profit if one hundred per cent if selling the beer a five cents a glass.”
Mr. Nickel’s Points
The chief points in Mr. Nickel’s speech were that if a law is not provided that has public sentiment behind it, Ontario will no better off than the United States, and he quoted the late Theodore Roosevelt as having said that if a law is not enforceable, the state is approaching a condition of anarchy. He held that the amendments as proposed are required for two reasons, arising from the two types of amendments offered. In the first instance bootleggers in hard liquor are successfully competing against the distilleries because of the exorbitant excise duties and the Federal Government imposes sales tax which upon the province respecting liquors sold in the dispensaries. The bootlegger escape these imposts. It is therefore imperative to check bootlegging activity to have laws which will put a bootlegger in jail for the first offence, as fines are of no avail against a prosperous trader.
In the second place people who will be satisfied with a palatable drink of beer, which is non-intoxicating, will not continue to seek illicit beverages, often poisonous, and more frequently than not, sold in forged bottles with forged labels and capsules.
He declared at various points during his argument that the responsibility for the great and growing bootleg trade in Ontario is primarily owing to Ottawa’s laxity. Ottawa practically legalizes export of liquor to the U.S. for the sake of excise revenue of ten dollars per gallon, and refuses to lower taxation which which makes reduction of dispensary prices prohibitive.
Mr. Nickel also criticizes the Globe and other prohibitionist papers and organizations for being more interested in temperance in their ill advised and often unfounded arguments against the new beer.
He reverted also to the scientific aspects of the intoxicating effects of beer of 4.4 per cent strength and declared that more untruth than truth had been written by opponents of the bill since the announcement made of the bill’s coming in the Speech from the Throne.
The reply of W. E. N. Sinclair was confined to practically one point, that the principle of the O. T. A. is altered by the amendment, that the Attorney General has practically admitted it by the act’s unenforceability as it now stands, and a declaration that the Tory party is no longer entitled to claim it is the one and only temperance party and that the amendments under discussion practically wipe out the whole temperance statute.