March 21, 1911

FIRST READINGS.


Bill (No. 142) for the relief of Lome Forbes Robertson.-Mr. Rankin. Bill (No. 143) for the relief of Cecil Ernest Freeman.-Mr. Blain. Bill (No. 144) for the relief of Ethel May Hornell.-Mr. McCraney. Bill (No. 147) to amend the Chinese Immigration Act.-Mr. Oliver. Bill (No. 148) respecting the Manitoba Radial Railway Company.-Mr. Molloy. Bill (No. 149) respecting the Hamilton, Waterloo and Guelph Railway Company.- Mr. Harris.


QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE-HON. MACKENZIE KING.

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. MACKENZIE KING (Minister of Labour).

Before the orders of the day are called, I rise to a question of privilege. In the ' Mail and Empire ' of March 15 there is an article under the following heading:

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MINISTER'S DENIAL IS PROVED FALSE.


Mr. King declares Berlin Board of Trade did not denounce reciprocity. Record disproves it. Return in Commons shows that he was informed of board's action. Then appears the following: Special to the r Mail and Empire.' Ottawa, March 14.-Another return of resolutions and correspondence respecting the reciprocity agreement was brought down to parliament to-day by Hon. Mr. Fielding. Among the resolutions opposing the agreement was one passed by the Board of Trade of Berlin, on January 13. It will be remembered that during his speech in condemnation of the government's policy Mr. Lloyd Harris (Brantford) mentioned that the Berlin Board of Trade had adopted such a resolution. He was at once contradicted by Hon Mackenzie King. The file of correspondence brought down today includes the resolution to which Mr. Harris referred. It also includes a telegram from Mr. M. W. A. Lochead, secretary of the Berlin organization, apprising the Minister of Labour of the action of the board and an acknowledgment of its reception sent in reply by Mr. King. The resolution itself reached Ottawa on January 14 and Mr. King wrote to Berlin saying that he had laid it before Sir Wilfrid Laurier and that the premier had promised to give it due consideration. There is such a semblance of truth in that article that I am afraid the public will not be able to discern the amount of error which it really contains. The statement I made to the House when the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Harris) spoke the other evening was entirely and absolutely correct. I refrained from drawing the attention of the House to this article until my hon. friend, who has been absent for the last few days, was in his seat; and as he is in his seat to-day, I now draw the attention of the House to it. When my hon. friend was speaking, he made reference to an article which appeared in the Toronto ' Globe ' and which led him to believe that the Berlin Board of Trade had, a day or two previous, passed a resolution opposing the agreement which is proposed and which is now before us for consideration. The hon. gentleman, along with others in this country, got his information from a report sent out erroneously by the secretary of the Berlin Board of Trade, and which appeared' in several papers, but in particular in the London ' Free Press ', under the following head: The Berlin Board of Trade unanimously oppose pact. Then it goes on : At a recent meeting of the board this resolution was reaffirmed. Referring to a resolution passed while the negotiations were under way, and before the present agreement was made known. This article, which appeared in the London ' Free Press ', was copied into Mr. KING. other newspapers, and also a despatch was sent to the Toronto ' Globe.' It was this despatch which led my hon friend and many others to believe that the Berlin Board of Trade had reaffirmed the resolution they had passed at the beginning of the proceedings; and it was to this alleged reaffirmed resolution, which he supposed to relate to the proposed agreement now under consideration, that my hon. friend referred. My hon. friend is in his seat and acknowledges that in that statement I am quite right. I understood him to refer to the resolution that was supposed to be reaffirmed, but which in fact was never reaffirmed; and it was because I knew he was in error and would not intentionally make an error that I corrected him. The Berlin Board of Trade did in fact pass a resolution when they were afraid that the manufacturers of that town were going to be seriously affected by the reciprocal agreement. That resolution was forwarded to me and I presented it to the right hon. the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister will recall that I spoke of the importance of considering the weight to be attached to an expression of opinion of that kind coming from a manufacturing centre like Berlin.


CON
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. KING.

I have. It is as follows :

That in view of the agitation now being carried on in the United States in favour of a reciprocal trade agreement with Canada, obviously for the purpose of enlarging the markets for the manufacturers in the United States at the expense of Canadian industries and of Canadian workingmen.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear.

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING (reading):

And in view of the present agitation in the prairie provinces for a reduction in the Canadian tariff.

It is hereby resolved that we, the members of the Berlin Board of Trade are very strongly opposed to any reciprocal tariff arrangement between Canada and the United States which would mean the lowering of the present Canadian customs tariff, as we are convinced that any such reduction would be injurious to Canadian interests. That this board is of the opinion that the Canadian tariff must be so framed and maintained as to continue to encourage the investment of capital in Canadian enterprises and to transfer to the workshops of the Dominion the manufacture of many of the goods which are now imported from other countries, and notably from the United States.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear.

Topic:   MINISTER'S DENIAL IS PROVED FALSE.
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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING (reading):

That this board is further of the opinion that while our tariff should be primarily framed for the protection of Canadian manufacturers and other Canadian interests, it should nevertheless continue to give a preference to the mother country and also to any

other part of the British Empire with which reciprocal preferential tariffs can be arranged, and recognizing always that under any conditions such preference should continue to afford adequate tariff protection to all Canadian interests.

That was the resolution passed.

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CON
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. KING.

That resolution was on January 13. I have here an article from one of the Berlin papers which explains what took place on February 24, which was the time at which Mr. Lochead, secretary of the Berlin Board of Trade, sent to the London ' Free Press ' and one or two other papers the statement which led them to believe that the Berlin Board of Trade had reaffirmed the resolution it had passed at an earlier date. I have verified these facts, and they have been given to the public and never questioned, so I will read from this statement:

Unfortunately Secretary Lochead's letter has placed the Berlin Board of Trade in a wholly false light on the question of the tariff agreement, and at the same time has played into the hands of a newspaper that is exploiting the question for political purposes.

In the first place the Berlin Board of Trade did not pass a resolution opposing the tariff agreement. The resolution quoted was passed while negotiations were pending and before any agreement had been reached, and therefore before it was known that the interests' of all Berlin and Waterloo county industries had been carefully protected.

In the second place, the Board of Trade did not reaffirm the resolution passed at the annual meeting in January, as stated by Secretary Lochead in his letter. . . .

According to the minutes there were but six members of the Board of Trade present at the meeting. The motion arose out of a complaint made by several members of the board that proper publicity had not been given to the reciprocity resolutions passed at the annual meeting in January. A motion to reaffirm was, it is true, submitted, but after lengthy debate it was decided that it would be improper for balf a dozen members of the board to undertake to reaffirm on behalf of the whole board a resolution which had been passed at a general meeting at which 150 members were present, and when the members had no information as to the text of the tariff agreement before them. It was also argued that, since by the terms of the agreement, not one Berlin industry could be shown to be prejudicially affected, and that as the purnose of the original resolution was the protection of local interests, to reaffirm the original resolution would be inadvisable. The motion above emoted was then adopted as a comoromise between the contending sections of the Board of Trade council.

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CON
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. KING.

No, it is a news item headed * Board of Trade Council did not reaffirm the reciprocity resolution.'

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CON
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. KING.

The Berlin ' Telegraph,' of February 27 last. So, what I said the other evening in Teply to my hon. friend is absolutely correct, and this item which appears in the Toronto * Mail and Empire,' and which says that my denial proved false is wholly incorrect. I think the facts I have given the House are sufficient to bear me out in my statement.

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LIB

Lloyd Harris

Liberal

Mr. HARRIS.

I accept the explanation given by the Minister of Labour (Mr. King). I made the statement on the floor of the House in perfect good faith, having read in the Toronto ' Globe ' a report to that effect. Since that item appeared, a copy of the Berlin ' Newsdlecord ' has been sent me. That paper gives the date of the passing of the resolution as January 12, and on the 13th the secretary telegraphed to the minister the gist of the resolution asking him to place the contents before the Prime Minister. That was acknowledged. But the end of the paragraph states this:

To make its position stronger, the Board of Trade, since Hon. Mr. Fielding laid the terms of the proposed pact on the table of the House, has ordered copies of the original resolution to be sent to the leading newspapers of Ontario, thus showing that the board considered that it covered the ground'well and was opposed to the pact.

I presume the explanation made by the minister is in connection with this last statement by this newspaper. That was probably at the meeting where the six members were present. However, I am not familiar with the details, and only wish to say that the statement I made on the floor of the House was made in entire good faith.

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PRIVILEGE-MR. CROTHERS AND THE FARMERS' BANK CASE.

March 21, 1911