The advocates of high protective tariff would do well to consider the effect of high duty in the case of cement.
In the course of last year about 400,000 barrels of cement passed through Winnipeg, and roughly speaking, about half of this quantity was used in Winnipeg, or for Winnipeg works. In view of the inordinate amount of building in the city and such works as the new bridges and the power plant at Pointe du Bois, which will alone require at least sixty or seventy thousand barrels, it is more than fair to assume that at least the same quantity will be required by Winnipeg ratepayers this year, namely, 200,000 barrels.
How much more will this amount cost this Mr. SPEOULE.
year than last? At the present time contractors in the city are paying $2.40 a barrel for the same grade of cement as they were purchasing as low as $1.80 last year before the merger was formed, which was brought into existence by the high protective tariff- an advance of 60 cents. This means that if this rate is maintained-and there is no reason for supposing anything else-Winnipeg alone will pay $120,000 more for its cement than last year. At the present time the merger is selling cement at from 10 to- 15 cents a barrel less than the price at which it can be brought in from the United States. They have protection of from 51 to 52 cents per barrel, which is prohibitive. A barrel of cement can be sold at the factory anywhere in Ontario, in round figures, at $1 a barrel. The duty is, therefore, over 50 per cent.
If the duty were reduced to 30 * per cent, which is the average charge on manufactured goods, then it would be possible for the consumer of Manitoba to import their cement from the United States, if the Canadian merger did not make a fair price.
I would like to emphasize what I said in an earlier part of the session when I had the assurance of tire Minister of Finance at that time that a Bill was under way which would deal with this matter. It is very important to the western country. I may say that in all our great structures today due perhaps to the increased cost of lumber, we are using cement very largely arid while the ' Tribune ' estimates that 400,000 barrels of cement will pass through Winnipeg this year over different lines, I think it would be safe to say that a far larger quantity of cement will have to pass through Winnipeg to supply the needs of that growing country. I would like to ask the minister in charge of this Bill if he intends to make an investigation and take such proceedings as to cause the meTger to do what is fair with the people in the west. The suggestion of the ' Tribune ' that the protection should be reduced on this article, I think, is a very fair and wise one. I think that when we find that mergers are causing an increase in the cost of commodities which they are producing which is unfair to the consumer, the government should reduce or take off the duty altogether if it is necessary to force the combines to give the people the product, whatever it may be, at reasonable price. There is no doubt about this cement merger being a serious drawback to the west. You could get cement 'at $1.80 last year; now it is $2.40 a barrel. That is brought about, I am satisfied, 'by the merger, and the government ought to take immediate action to protect the consumer in this matter.