March 20, 1902

LIB
CON

William Rees Brock

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROCK.

I can take you to twenty or thirty wharfs and other works in different counties that were built just before election, and built not to serve any practical purpose for the people, but to buy votes for the government. And these works not only cost money to construct, but they form a liability, because the revenues from them are not sufficient to pay the expenses of operation. And, yet, when the city of Toronto asked the Minister of Public Works to consider the case they were in, that a little expenditure would make a harbour at that great city, where railroads are centering and commerce is increasing-a harbour that would be a credit and a benefit not to Toronto alone, but to the whole country-the government hesitates about spending even a small sum there. Why ? The hon. minister himself gives the answer in

the question, ' What has Toronto done for me ? ' Unfortunately-unfortunately for the harbour, but fortunately for Toronto and for the country, the city does not return to this House one representative of the same political complexion as the hon. gentlemen on the treasury benches.

Now, what this country wants is what the leader of the Conservative party has stated by this resolution. The country wants a declared policy. I think it is due to the intelligence of this country that a government that has been in power between five or six years, should, by this time, be able to formulate a policy which they would not be afraid to declare. The policy of opportunism is a very poor one. That policy seems to have guided the government up to the present time. They are not at one among themselves. I suppose that that is why we have no declared policy from them. If they attempted to declare a policy that might happen again which the hon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton) mentioned this evening as having happened to the government of Mr. Mackenzie. That government, it appears, made up their minds to a certain policy, but found it was going to be unpopular with the maritime provinces and might put them out of power. And so they let their principles slip and hung on to office for a short time. Therefore, I declare that the advice given by the hon. member for North Norfolk this evening to the present government is good advice. I think that the Prime Minister was taking note of it. A policy such as they have been going to the country with, such as they have maintained in this House, is not a policy that this country could respect. If they favour free trade, let them come out in an open, manly way, and declare for free trade. If they are not free traders, they must be protectionists. The medium course is not an honest course. This country is demanding that our industries should be protected. The Finance Minister says that he will take it into consideration and perhaps some way or other next year he will heal the leak. But, as the hon. member for North Norfolk says, if it is a leak, it should have been healed at once. That would have been the fair, the honest position to take. I alluded more particularly to an industry that I am not only interested in, but well acquainted with, the woollen industry. It is not an insignificant industry, not an industry supported by an unintelligent people. It is an industry that has been fostered in this country in years gone by, an industry that has been prosperous in the past and that could be prosperous to-day, were it not for the policy adopted and the tactics indulged in by the Prime Minister of giving to England a onesided preference-a preference jn this market for them but no preference whatever in their market for us. Immediately after the first 12i per cent had been taken off, then commenced a gradual decrease in the

woollen Industry of this country. The woollen industry of England Is probably one of the greatest Industries of that country. They have absolutely perfect machinery, they have very cheap labour, they have very cheap money, they have the markets of the world open to them. We have not the markets of the world open to us, quite the contrary. A market that we might have had has been closed to us in consequence of the preference which the Prime Minister gave to Great Britain. And remember, Mr. Speaker, that preference is only a sentimental one. Unfortunately it is a sentiment that, though it may have been in favour of Great Britain, in favour of some industries in Great Britain, it was absolutely Injurious to certain industries in this country.

I see occasionally in the papers that certain woollen mills are said to be working full time, some of them night and day. Great comfort is taken by members on the other side of the House with that statement. But I think any woollen manufacturer, or even an ordinary merchant, will know that you can be very busy indeed in losing money. The woollen mills of this country, as a rule, have been losing money, even those that have been working night and day, some of them doing the most business, have been doing it with the greatest loss. That has been caused largely, not so much by the large quantity of woollen goods that they have actually manufactured and sold, but largely through the enormous tons of samples of woollen goods, English and German, that come in here through the Post Office Department, and are scattered broadcast through the country. A gentleman not understanding the business, though he may be very learned in the law, may probably smile at that statement as being an exaggeration. But I know of it practically, and practical men know of it. When our manufacturers get out their samples and call upon the trade of this country to sell them, they are met at once by these samples of English and German goods sent out here, many of them marked at very low figures, and our manufacturers have to make a price to meet goods from a mill which is running on one kind of goods and running all the time, whereas a mill such as that of my hon. friend, Mr. Rosamond, turns out 1,200 or 1,500 different patterns of goods, and of a great many different qualities, and he finds that he cannot meet their prices. Why ? Because our market is a limited market. Nothing was done to help us to a foreign market, therefore we have to content ourselves with the home market. English and German manufacturers sell their surplus stocks in this country, and make Canada a slaughter market. Any gentleman who understands the woollen trade of this country is aware that there are many expert workmen employed in our woollen mills, Mr. BROCK.

such for instance as those employed by the gentleman who sits beside me (Mr. Rosamond). They dread losing these experienced workmen, and they actually keep them at work at a loss rather than have the mills closed and the men scattered.

Now, the Minister of Finance said that we should eat a little less and work a little harder. Well, that is very poor comfort, and I can tell the toon, gentleman that what the hon. member for North Norfolk says is absolutely true. Go where I will through the manufacturing districts of this country, I find there is a demand made for the policy announced in this resolution, that is ample protection. We do not ask ample protection for the woollen trade only, we know that would be futile; but we say that ample protection for the different industries of this country would protect the farmers of this country. The statement that the farmer cannot be protected is unfounded, because he can be protected. The best protection for a farmer in this country is to give him a good home market, and nobody knows that better than the member for Russell. There is not a farmer in his constituency who would not rather sell what he has to sell at home, than to be obliged to send it abroad. It is true, as the hon. gentleman says, that the market prices in this country are made by the prices in England, and we have got to meet those prices if we are to make any sales. Therefore, I say that in protecting the farming industry of this country we are actually protecting our greatest industry. The agricultural industry may not be so aggressive, perhaps, but it is a silent industry that the members of the government should take into their serious consideration. No country can be great if it has nothing to rely upon but its agricultural productions, to export. We would be able to buy nothing from foreign countries, and those countries like England, the United States or Germany, if we have nothing to buy from them, would not be so likely to buy from us.

Now, a great difficulty in connection with protection, as I can quite understand, is the way it is supposed to affect our friends from Manitoba and the North-west When we get a little nearer to the coast that difficulty becomes less. I think I heard an hon. gentleman from British Columbia speak this evening who Is not a protectionist at all, oh, no, but he insists upon getting protection for lumber and for lead. I have no doubt, when once we open the door, we will find that British Columbia wants protection on a great many things. The farmers of the North-west, which is exclusively a farming country, have got to be specially considered.

Now, Sir, there is a way, I think, of meeting the interests of the farmers of the North-west that will amply protect them, and place them in a position to put their grain into the Liverpool market at the same

price, so far as the price is affected by transportation, as grain can be put in there from Minnesota, or Dakota, or Illinois, or any other western state. I contend that is a matter that should be taken hold of vigorously by the Minister of Public Works and the government; they should see that we have a properly developed system of transportation. The great calls that have been made upon the government during the last five years should have induced them ere this to give more attention to that matter than they have done. Of course the Minister of Public Works is very energetic, and suggests a scheme of transportation, but his scheme lacks comprehensiveness. The French River canal which he speaks of building is only sixty-five miles long, and it is really out of the question to talk about spending even the five or six millions which he speaks of, unless you have a more comprehensive scheme showing where you are going to start from and what sea port you are going to make for. If you give such transportation facilities that our farmers in the North-west can place their grain in the English market at a favourable price as compared with grain from the United States, I contend that the people of the North-west are big enough, and strong enough to stand a little duty on some kinds of imported goods. Give them this great boon of cheap transportation, and you will find them ready and willing to support any government that finds it necessary to give protection to manufacturing industries.

There is another thing to which I wish to direct attention in connection with our present rate of duty. This is essentially a slaughter market for certain kinds of goods manufactured in the United States. Those are not such goods as we do not make ourselves, in most cases they are the goods we are making to-day. The statement was made to me the other day that a large quantity of goods were being bought in the New York market, and when the question was asked why they were willing to sell so cheap, the parties stated that the mill had produced 4,800 cases of those goods, and they had 190 cases left. The 4,800 cases had been sold all through the United States in the usual way, that is with a guarantee that in the event of their taking any reduction off the price of any of those goods in the United States, they would give a credit note to their customers. This is continually done. Well, you can understand, it is a mere matter of the rule of three, that if they had gone to work to sell these goods left over, to sell them in their own market at a reduced price, they would have had to give a credit note on 4,800 cases of these goods. They therefore slaughtered them in the Canadian market. They gave us as a reason that there was some cotton print mills in this country that they would like to see closed, and they wished these goods sold

cheaper than they could be made by the mills at Magog. This, as a matter of fact, is a transaction that I will be very happy to bring to the attention of the hon. Minister of Finance in order to show that this country is being made a slaughter market. Of course, the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Hon. Sir Richard Cartwright) says : Oh, our poor farmers are getting the advantage of these bargains, but they get no advantage if two hundred or three hundred people in the vicinity of Sherbrooke and Magog are obliged to go to the United States to get work when the mills are closed down as the Cornwall mills have been closed. It will not benefit the farmers about Cornwall to have the mills there closed, nor will it benefit the farmers of this country. Therefore, I contend that a fair measure of protection, surrounded with proper safeguards and judiciously applied, is an absolute benefit to the farmers of this country and to every other class. In conducting business, business men, in a small, or a large way, have a right to look to the hon. Minister of Finance, to the different departments and to the government, for an example in business methods. At the commencement of my remarks I gave an instance as to how business should be carried on, but, I contend that no merchant, conducting business in this country in bad times and particularly in good times as the hon. Minister of Finance and the government are conducting the financial affairs of this country, could possibly stand for a couple of decades. He would certainly become bankrupt. He would be living at too high a rate. This has brought more people to grief than anything else. Because they happened to have a good year or two they have their expenses up and we heard it said from the other side of the House last night, that once the expenses get up, it is hard to get them down again. If the hon. Minister of Finance had to cut down expenses, where would he begin ? He would find it a difficult problem, a more difficult problem than meeting the manufacturers of this country who are asking for some little assistance at this time.

I had intended to make some remarks based upon some statements made by the hon. member for North Norfolk which were put in the most admirable manner by him. His speech was most moderate considering the aggravation he has had, but, I admit that when he described what a great nation required to be a great nation, that it should have not only agriculture but that it should do its own manufacturing, as far as possible, he rose to a height of statesmanship that I am sorry to say members of the government are not prepared to climb to.

Our attention has been drawn to the enormous amount of money in the savings banks and other monetary institutions of this country and this was given as evidence of great prosperity. But, Sir, I may venture to say that this is also evidence of a con-

siderable amount of want of confidence in the industrial and farming interests of this country. I contend, Sir, that if the farmers were properly encouraged, if the industrial interests were encouraged, a great deal of that money, instead of being left at 24 and 3 per cent and a good deal at nothing at all in the savings banks and other banks, would find investment in trade and commerce, manufactures and agriculture. Nobody would think of leaving his money in a bank at 2J or 3 per cent if he had any confidence that by investing it in the manufactures and other industries of the country, he would be able to get a better return for it. It is simply because people cannot get a better return that it is not so invested, and it is a sad commentary upon the management of public affairs, that so many men who have, by their industry and frugality managed to save some money are obliged to leave it at the small rate of 24 and 3 per cent in the bank. The question was asked across the floor of the House by the hon. member for Russell (Mr. Edwards) of the hon. member for East Grey (Mr. Sproule) why the German workingman had smaller wages than the English workingman. The answer is quite plain. The German workingman will live on a franc a day and live well on a franc a day. The most expensive man on the face of the earth is the English mechanic. He demands more to eat and drink and therefore the mechanic in Germany can afford to take smaller wages and I believe in the end save more money. It is another case such as I have brought to the notice of the hon. Minister of Finance of living beyond your means. The man who lives beyond his means will come to grief, whereas, the man who saves a little even out of his small means is the best off in the long run. Some hon. gentlemen object to reciprocity, but a fair measure of reciprocity that will suit Canada, I am perfectly in favour of. But, such a measure of reciprocity as the United States will give us, hon. gentlemen on the treasury benches know we cannot touch. There is no use theorizing and talking about it and wasting money. The hon. member for North Norfolk, one of the commission, thinks that the right hon. Prime Minister and others should go to Washington again. We know what the return was. We were told this afternoon that the return was a bill for $36,000 and nothing more. I would not like to see another jaunt of that kind, because we know it is going to be useless. The best thing for us to do is to adopt the manly course of taking the matter into our own hands and legislating for this country to suit ourselves, and while suiting ourselves we will endeavour to work in harmony with the rest of the empire and make an international arrangement such as will suit ourselves. Probably some hon. gentlemen will say that England will have none of our protective ideas. England is rapidly Mr. BROCK.

advancing in the direction of protective ideas. Where they were not entertained a few years ago, you find them entertained now by some of the greatest minds in England. The hon. member for Russell said this evening that free trade was getting great headway in the United States. There is no doubt about it. They always had a great number of free traders there. One party is pledged to free trade or to move in that direction. We will get no reciprocity from the United States. There is a feeling of commercial hostility and a little more than commercial hostility, not only in the minds of the Irish residents of the United States, but in the old-fashioned residents of the United States as well. There is not that feeling of cordiality towards Canada that we should expect from the way in which we have treated the people of that country. The United States do not want to do anything to benefit Canada. Therefore, I think we need not waste much time upon any attempt to get reciprocity. I certainly myself felt very favourable towards the trade preference with Great Britain until it commenced to pinch.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
Subtopic:   MINISTER OF TRADE AND COMMERCE.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
Subtopic:   MINISTER OF TRADE AND COMMERCE.
Permalink
CON

William Rees Brock

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROCK.

I suppose that is the way we all feel about these matters. The theory was very beautiful and the idea very grand; the whole thing was very pleasant to observe, but it is like these waters which are sparkling and clear to look on, but bitter when you swallow them. The trade preference with Great Britain, beautiful as it is on the outside, is beginning to pinch us hard, and we would like to get rid of it. However, I believe that to be an impossibility, and injudicious, and unwise at the present time. But I do contend, that the disadvantages should be met by the Finance Minister coming down with an extra measure of protection; a judicious addition to the protection that we now have, so as to bring it up to such a level that we can fairly compete in our own market for our own trade. We certainly cannot expect to compete with England abroad. I think if that were done, the people of this country would be contented. Probably my hon. friend from Russell (Mr. Edwards) would not be contented, but I believe that a great majority of the people of this country would be. At any rate, if the government adopted this suggestion, it would be doing what is fair and right and just, and the government need never be ashamed of having done that.

Mr. RALPH SMITH (Vancouver), moved the adjournment of the debate.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
Subtopic:   MINISTER OF TRADE AND COMMERCE.
Permalink

Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned. On motion of the Prime Minister, the House adjourned at 10.55 p.m.



Friday, March 21, 1902.


March 20, 1902