March 8, 1911

?

Arthur Samuel Kendall

Mr. KENDALL.

I want to inquire if the gentleman is accepting this Bill as a substitute for a general tariff revision?

Mr. CLARK, of Missouri. Good heavens, no. (Laughter and applause on the Democrat

side.) I am accepting this for what it is worth, and no more, as a step in the right direction.

Then further on at page 2626:

Reciprocity is a good Democratic doctrine in spots, and until we can get a general Democratic tariff Bill perfected and put upon the statute-books I am going to stand by this treaty.

Further on in the same page:

In levying a tariff I am in favour of putting the highest tariff on the luxuries of life, except in those cases where the luxury is of such a character that it would incite smuggling. I am in favour of putting the lowest tariff, or none at all, on the necessaries of life. (Applause on the Democrat side.) And just exactly in proportion as things become necessary I would take the tariff off them and put them on the free list, or lower the tariff on them to the vanishing point. I do not think anybody can misunderstand that or misconstrue it.

It is perfectly plain, therefore, that the Democratic party in the United States is committed to a lower tariff, and it was most inopportune for this government to have entered into this treaty on the very eve of that change in the American tariff. As things now stand, the Democratic party has a majority in the House of Representatives, and they propose to bring in a tariff Bill, a general tariff Bill, on a lower basis. In those circumstances it seems to me that as this Bill has failed to pass Congress at the session which has just come to a close it would be absolutely inopportune for us to put on our statutes a second standing offer.

I desire now to make a general objection to this system of making tariffs. I am opposed to any system of secret tariffs. I am opposed to any system of making tariffs by convention with another country, which cannot be altered in this parliament. What is the difference in principle? In the one case the government brings down its tariff; it can be amended in parliament, with the consent of the government, when difficulties and injustices are shown to result from it which were not in the minds of those who framed it. But in the other case we must accept or reject the tariff as a whole. It is an ironclad scheme, not susceptible of any alteration. Such a tariff is not consistent with democratic government, and my right hon. friend has always claimed' that he stood for democratic government. Let me give the opinion on the subject of a man of great eminence who was speaking from his experience in South Africa, when he was high commissioner in that country. He was dealing with the conditions which had obtained in South Africa and which led up to the South African union; and he pointed out the difficulties which always surrounded the making of secret tariffs.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York).

What name?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

It is a state paper which Lord Selborne submitted to the Imperial Parliament in 1906. Speaking of the results of the conference in South Africa which had brought about the South African customs tariff, he said:

The proceedings of the conference were private and when it was closed, the strictest secrecy as to the nature of the results produced had still to be observed by some forty persons for several months. The new convention had then to be carried through five different legislatures, and each of these public assemblies were told that they might discuss the details, but they could not be allowed to alter one of them. The convention was cut and dried, and they must each and all take or leave it as a whole.

Compare this procedure with the process by which a customs tariff would be framed in the United Kingdom, if the government had decided to embark on a new fiscal policy. To begin with, it is probable that either the government would appoint a royal commission or parliament itself would appoint a select committee to investigate the question, and the whole proceedings of that body would be open to the public, the evidence placed before it would be the subject of public discussion. When the actual proposals were framed, they would be framed by the government itself, and the greatest attention would of course be paid to the claims of each business and industry and also to the views put forward by the various interests and parts of the country.

Then he goes on to deal with the other side of the case. He said:

A customs tariff, framed as a treaty between independent states, must not only be a compromise, but is likely to be one which its authors know to be in some respects bad in itself.

Further on:

If the conference succeeds in producing a unanimous result, the scheme is taken as a whole, and submitted to the various legislatures of the country, simply for acceptance or for rejection. Whatever may be the constitutional law on the subject, the elected representatives of the people have in practice no power to modify the details because the alteration of one item by one state would, unless agreed to by all the others, render the whole scheme unworkable and be tantamount to rejection by that state. The members of the legislatures know that the scheme must be taken or left as a whole.

Further on:

The details upon which the whole depends and which ought to be settled, and which could be settled by the representatives of the people themselves are taken out of their hands. It is difficult to imagine a less democratic, or indeed-

I invite the special attention of my right hon. friend to these concluding words of Lord Selborne:

It is difficult to imagine a less democratic, or indeed a more dangerously undemocratic method of dealing with one of the most important departments of public business.

Now, some reference has been made by lion, gentlemen opposite to an increase of the British preference. I do not know whether the gentlemen who spoke on that subject were inspired or not. I have expressed my views on this subject eight or nine years ago in this House, and I stand by them to-day. I stand, in the first place, for the empire as against the world, and within the empire I stand, first, for Canada. I believe that a mill or a factory in Canada is worth as much to this great empire as a mill or a factory in Yorkshire or anywhere else in England.

Our transportation lines run from east to west, and we are establishing many others. In connection with what Sir William Van Horne has said in his letter

with regard to Mr. Hill's lines of

railways, reaching up to tap Canadian trade, I would like to point out that he has very much understated the actual conditions. Here is a railway map of the west of Canada from the Great Lakes to the Pacific ocean, and looking over that, I find there are no less than 19 lines, all of them I believe controlled by Mr. Hill. A few of them have entered Canada, and the others, as Sir William Van Home says, are standing there with their noses resting on the Canadian bound-aray line, all ready to tap the traffic of this great western country. Well that was not the object with which we undertook this Canadian confederation, that is not the object for which we have poured out treasures untold in time past, that is not the object the Prime Minister had' in view when he used the words I have quoted at the Imperial Conference of 1907.

We have accomplished a great work in Canada. The project of creating the Canada of to-day was a great, even an audacious one. It has well been said by a great writer of modern times that as providence is on the side of the big battalions, so providence is always on the side of a great idea; and Providence was on the side of the great idea of building up a Canadian confederation on the northern half of this continent. Let us continue the work so well begun. The same writer to whom I have alluded has said that the United States have been fortunate in the possession of a great and constant tradition, compounded of an intense belief in their institutions, in their destiny and in themselves. An equal tradition is the birthright of every Canadian. I realize that Canada has a plain duty and a grave responsibility in one important respect. She ought to be, I trust that she will be, a bond of union and of amity between the empire and the republic. But I Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

believe that this high mission can best be fulfilled when Canadians are inspired by a belief in their institutions, their destiny, their country and themselves as intense as that which pervades the people of the United States. Our strong determination to work out our own destiny with a firm heart by our own efforts and along our own lines, will most surely win the respect of our neighbours who have given ns therein an inspiring example. Let each country adopt towards the other a trade policy as generous as its true interests will permit; but let this be done without entangling engagements or indefinite understandings. No Canadian should be told that although he presents a substantial grievance it is too late to redress it, because a secret and unalterable tariff has been made at Washington. No Canadian should be told that our parliament is not free to redress the grievances of the Canadian people, because its hands have been fettered by an entangling trade alliance. Let our fiscal policy be worked out, not by secret diplomatic tariffs whereof no injustice can be redressed, but by the ordinary parliamentary methods which permit mistakes to be rectified and injustices to be removed. Thus and thus only can we preserve and maintain the true fiscal independence, and autonomy of the Canadian nation.

Now, Sir, I regard these proposals as reversing the policy of the people of Canada for the past thirty years, given by an unmistakably mandate at every election which has taken place during that period. What should be the course of the government at this time? Take the census, give the west its increased representation, then submit this question to the people of Canada and let them decide. We held out to the United States for twenty years a standing offer of reciprocity, and they did not accept it. It will not lessen their respect for us if we permit them 'for a few y-ears to put a standing offer of reciprocity upon their statute-book. We have worn some shoe leather in going to Washington; as I said before, let the Americans wear out some shoe leather in coming to Ottawa. They are submitting these proposals to a new Congress; let us in Canada submit these proposals to a new parliament. I therefore beg to move:

That all the words after the word * that ' in the proposed motion be omitted and the following substituted therefor :

The reciprocal agreement embodied in the resolutions submitted to this House by the Minister of Finance on the 26th day of January last was also submitted on the same day by special message of the President to Congress of the United States of America which was then in session.

That the said session has now expired and Ccngress has failed to approve and carry out the said agreement.

That a considerable length of time must necessarily elapse before the said agreement can be dealt with by Congress at a special session.

That the fiscal changes proposed by the_said agreement are of a far-reaching character and constitute a substantial reversal of the policy which has been approved by the people of Canada.

That in the opinion of this House, the said resolutions should not be proceeded with until the electors shall have had an opportunity of pronouncing upon their merits.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
?

Hon. W.@

Si. FIELDING (Minister lof Finance). It does not seem to me, Mr. Speaker, that the motion which my hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden) has placed in your hands calls for that general discussion of the question upon' which he has entered at considerable length. We have been discussing this agreement day after day, we shall continue to discuss it, we shall continue to discuss it for a sufficient time, I trust, to give the people of this country the fullest possible knowledge of its contents. We are satisfied that there has been a vast amount of misunderstanding-I do not wish to say misrepresentation, it is too harsh a word-there has been a vast amount of misunderstanding as to the contents of this agreement; and we feel that day by day the people are being made acquainted with the facts of the case, and that every day is increasing the number of the supporters of this proposition. We have been proceeding with the discussion of the question in the manner which the hon. leader of the opposition himself desired and suggested. It was his suggestion that we should take up and discuss this matter in Committee of the Whole. We were proceeding, Sir, to debate the question while you were in the chair, but the hon. gentleman asked that you leave the chair in order that we might continue the discussion in Committee of the Whole. It was his proposal, we have assented to it, we have carried on the discussion for over a month, and why my hon. friend should again and again want to break away from that arrangement is difficult to understand, except upon the one theory that the hon. gentleman knows that the country is against him on this question, and it is the desire of some hon. gentlemen on that side to, if possible, dodge a vote on the main question. We want to say in all frankness that we do not sympathize with that object. We, on this side of the House, desire that the discussion shall continue soberly, quietly, regularly, for a sufficient time to have the question thoroughly threshed out. Then, we on this side, who believe in this agreement, want an opportunity to vote for it, and it is our intention that hon. gentlemen opposite shall place themselves on record. The motion that the hon. gentleman has made, I say, does not call for discussion of the whole question, and I am not going 153

into a discussion of the whole question at this stage. Much that my hon. friend has said to-day has already been dealt with effectively by hon. gentlemen on this side of the House, and that portion of it which has not been dealt with, that portion of it which may be deemed to deserve further consideration, will no doubt be dealt with in the usual way at a later stage. Again I say I do not propose to enter into the general discussion of the question to-day at this stage not even to oblige our respected friend, Sir William Van Horne, whose letter was dragged into the debate here in a way that was somewhat remarkable. Sir William Van Horne is a distinguished oiti-zen of our country and we are glad to have his opinion on any other question-on any question. This is not the first time we have had the misfortune to differ from our good friend Sir William Van Horne. There have been occasions when we have been obliged to differ from him in the past; I shall regret if we have to differ from him in future-I suppose it may be unavoidable-but, if this matter shall take such a shape that on the one side we have Sir William Van Horne and various other estimable sirs, and on the other side the toiling masses of the people of Canada, there is no question as to which side the Liberal party is going to be on. As I said. Sir, I think the moment is not opportune, but when you leave the chair, when we take up the consideration of this subject in the way chosen joy my hon. friend the leader of the opposition, and for which he seems to be so frequently sorry, when we get into the ordinary course of debate, I am sure that the whole matter will be threshed out thoroughly. At the present time it seems to me that the only thing to be considered is whether or not we shall proceed with the discussion of this question of vast importance, or whether, as the hon. gentleman suggests, we shall abandon it and throw it overboard. Upon that question there cannot be a doubt as to the wish of the people of Canada, or as to the wish of the members of this House. There was an agreement between the government of the United States and the government of Canada not only as to the details of tariff arrangements, but as to the manner in which this debate, this discussion, this negotiation should be carried on. In the official cony which I hold in my hand of the letters which created the agreement I find, in a letter addressed by my colleague, the Minister of Customs (Mr. Paterson) and myself, to Secretarv Knox, and confirmed by him as a correct statement of the arrangement, the following:

13. It is understood that upon a day and hour to be agreed upon between the two governments, the President of the United States will communicate to Congress the conclusions now reached and recommend the adoption of such legislation as may be necessary on the

part of the United States to give effect to the proposed arrangement.

14. It is understood that simultaneously with the sending of such communication to the United States Congress by the President, the Canadian government will communicate to the parliament of Canada the conclusions now reached, and will thereupon take the necessary steps to procure such legislation as is required to give effect to the proposed arrangement.

The President of the United States has loyally lived up to that agreement. If the government of Canada, or the parliament of Canada which supports this government, should deviate one step from this arrangement it would be a breach of faith which would dishonour the government of Canada-

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh, oh.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

A breach of faith which would dishonour the government of Canada and through the government, the parliament and people of Canada.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

No, no.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

Yes. Whether or not this agreement is a wise one is a proper matter for debate, and the fact that so many hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House have differed from us is the best evidence that there must be a difference of opinion on that. But whatever our views may be with regard to the arrangement itself there should be no difference of opinion as to the obligation which the government of Canada entered into with the government of the United States to conduct this negotiation, to press it forward and to obtain the judgment of the Congress of the United States, and the parliament of Canada upon it.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
CON

George Henry Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COWAN.

Mr. Speaker, does the minister give the House to understand that he and his colleagues entered into an obligation to deny the people a free opportunity of voting upon this question?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

I have read the obligation within the last few minutes, and I will leave my hon. friend with his knowledge of the English language to understand it. I desire to repeat that it would be a gross breach of faith. My hon. friend opposite (Mr. Borden, Halifax) has stated that Congress has declined to pass this agreement. That is not an accurate statement.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I said at the session just terminated.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

The hon. gentleman says at the session which has just terminated.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I said that before. I said there was no action at the session just terminated.

Mr. FIELDING

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

Congress did not decline to pass the arrangement and when my hon. friend says that Congress declined to pass it he is not putting it fairly before the House. Congress has, I say, not declined. The President of the United States has loyally kept faith. The President of the United States sent a message to Congress cordially recommending the measure to the two branches of the National legislature.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

Will my hon. friend permit me to interrupt him for a matter of personal explanation? The words of my motion are;

'That the said session has now expired and Congress lias failed to approve and carry out the said agreement.

That, I say, is absolutely correct.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

I was not referring to the words of the hon. gentleman's motion. I was referring to the wrords of the hon. gentleman's speech. I quote him correctly. I took down his words and he stated that Congress had declined to pass this measure. My hon. friend will see upon reflection that that is not a correct statement of what happened.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

What did happen?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

Does my hon. friend say in view of my correction that he does not understand what happened?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I say in effect that Congress at the last session declined to pass this measure.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

I am not talking about effect. The hon. gentleman's statement is that Congress declined to pass it. I say that the hon. gentleman knows that Congress did not decline to pass it. He knows that the House of Representatives by a substantial majority passed the Bill, he knows that, in regard to the case of the Senate, the Senate did not decline to pass it, he knows that by a system of filibustering, which may exist on that side of the line and which we have known in times past to exist here, what was understood to be the deliberate judgment of the Senate of the United States was frustrated by their not having a vote uuon it at all, and if they had never voted upon it how did they decline to pass it? The readers of the American press, the readers of our Canadian papers which pay any attention to American affairs, know perfectly well that it was generally understood that there was a majority in the Senate in the United States who were ready to pass the Bill but by the filibustering methods of a few senators, some of whom have left the Senate of the United States never to. return, a vote on the ques-* tion was prevented.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-RECIPROCAL TRADE WITH UNITED STATES.
Permalink

March 8, 1911