importance, and this legislation was not before us.
The importance of this legislation, meant as it is, to deal with the unrest in Canada and the high cost of living, cannot be exaggerated. I apprehend 'that the House will agree with me when I say that it is fairly deducible from certain facts that the' Government have no great expectation of good from this legislation. I say that advisedly. If that is their frame of mind, then I fear I have to say that I am in accord with them. I will tell the House why I am in that frame of mind in a minute or two. I say the Government have no great expectations of doing any good with this legislation; that they have no great expectations is deducible from certain facts. What have been the statements of the Government in regard to unrest and the high cost of living repeated in this House again and again during this session? They have been to the effect that these evils are existing all over the world. The Minister of Finance was much more specific when he went before the Cost of Living Committee and said he had no new remedies to propose, that what the people iof Canada must do was to get down to hard work and thrift. Now it did not need a House of Commons or a Government to teach those very ancient moral precepts, and I think it is fairly deducible from that statement from the minister most concerned with these matters that the Government have no very great expectations from their own legislation. Personally I have reasons for not basing my expectations too high. I think my hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) who has introduced this legislation was in the House wim myself twhen the Combines Investigation Act was introduced by the previous government, nine or ten years ago. I very well remember that on that occasion I found it my painful duty to disagree with my leader of that day, and I disagreed with him to the extent of prophesying that that legislation of nine or ten years ago would not be of much use, "describing it as, in my judgment, a Bill to cure an earthquake. How much use it has been will be brought home to the House when they reflect that there has been but one prosecution under the Act. The Act is practically a dead letter on the statute books, but the earthquake has gone on disturbing people, and we have to-day the same troubles in the body politic, aggravated to a tremendous extent, that we had at that time. It seems to me that neither political party in this House has cut to the roots
[Mr. M. Clark. 1
of this matter. We have not got to the root of what is wrong with the people, and my hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) comes now at the end of nine or ten years to administer another pill. Well, I say most wholeheartedly that I hope his pill will be more efficacious than the medicament which was given by Mr. Mackenzie King nine or ten years ago. This is another piece of mimetic legislation. The Board of Commerce is borrowed from the United States. Now as to what good the Board of Commerce is going to do, we can surely derive very important evidence from the United States, and what is that evidence? I am supposing that we are trying to get to the root of the cost of living, and the causes of that cost of living as leading to unrest and discontent among our people. They have had a Board of Commerce in the United States I think for four years-the minister can inform us if I am wrong. What are we told as to the cost of living in the United States? We have been told again and again that there is no difference between the cost of living in the United States and the cost of living in Canada. The statement is not mine; it is the statement of ministers and their supporters who agree with their fiscal policy. Very well; if there has been a Board of Commerce in tlje United States for three or four years, and on the evidence of those who embody that procedure here, nothing has been done to reduce the cost of living in the United States, I think I am justified along the line of fair criticism in saying that my expectations of results from this legislation are not very high. Neither can the Government's expectations be very high in the logical mind of my hon. friend the Acting Minister of Justice.
However, I am not going to oppose this legislation. I should like, however, to say this: I think the Government would have been more logical in their procedure if they had borrow'ed some other things from the United States at the same time they borrowed the Board of Commerce.
I am going to go farther than that. I do not believe the cost of living is as high in the United States as it is in Canaria. All the eyidence I am able to gather from visitors to that country points in the contrary direction and goes to show that the cost of living is higher in Canada than in the United States. But, it is not lower in the United States, in my judgment, because they have a board of commerce there. It is lower because they have very largely, a free trade tariff in the United States. We hear frequently of the United States as
being a great protectionist country. The facts do not hear that out. What 'is the tariff in the United States? I apologize again for referring to this so frequently in this House, but, Mr. Speaker, I must keep on until I make a few converts to my cause. As a matter of fact, Sir, I keep on in response to the most distinguished advice which I have been able to get, that of Mr. Gladstone, who left behind him a book in which he had placed two marks of exclamation opposite a statement which was quoted from O'Connell, that to convince the people of the truth of what you believe you have not only to make statements to them but you have to iterate, and reiterate, those statements. That great Irishman, O'Connell, believed in a doctrine of which Gladstone approved and I trust the House will excuse me for wanting to follow such very good advice before an audience which it has not been easy to convert.
What is the tariff in the United 'States? Since the adoption of the Underwood tariff in 1913 seventy per cent of the goods coming into the United States have come in free of duty. If it is a good thing to imitate the United States, let the Minister of Finance begin at this point-thirty per cent only of the goods coming into the United States are dutiable. Tn 1912 the average tariff rate on dutiable goods in the United States was 40-12. It was a protectionist country. In 1918 the average tariff on dutiable goods was 21 -75-almost exactly the figure which I quoted in my speech in the Budget debate as being the highest duty which Sir Robert Peel allowed to prevail in England at the introduction of his first budget in 1842. What, is the consequence to the American people? The consequence is that for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1918, the Government of the United States collected from 110,000,000 people only the paltry sum of $182,758,988. Our own tariff collections, in this small country of 8,000,000 people, were not so many million dollars short of the total sum collected by the American Government.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I hold that if there has been anything good done by the Wilson Government, there has been this: That the cost of living has been brought down to a lower point in the United States than in this country. I have drawn, attention, to these facts again and again and I shall persist until the last moment that I have the honour of a seat in this House in doing *my duty to Canada-not to any section of Canada. May I, in this connection, call attention to one thing more-still carrying on my analogy between these two great countries? I need not apologize for doing so because ever since I have had a seat in this House I have had my attention directed to the United States, When I have ventured to utter what I believe to be economic truth, I have been told: Look at the great country to the south of us. Well, look at the great country to the south of us; imitate .them with your boards of commerce and your combines investigations, which is mere dust cast into the eyes of the people, mere dust in the balance compared with the really radical reforms to which I have referred. What excuse is there-I shall repeat the question
what excuse is .there for patriotic Canadian statesmen to keep a duty of 35 per cent on the boots and shoes of this country when they are free in the United States? I might extend the list indefinitely. What excuse is .there for the Government of this country keeping a 'considerable duty on cement, an important building material of this country, when it is free in the United States? What excuse is there for keeping a duty on agricultural implements while agricultural implements are free in the United States and at the same time telling your farmers: You have got to produce. Look at the United States, I have been told ! Yes, look and imitate them if you want to do something that is really going to reach the heart of this question. What is the effect of making it 35 per cent more difficult for the workers in our cities and the workers on our farms to keep their feet, and the feet of their wives and children, properly covered? The effect, inevitably, is to drive your inhabitants from Canada across the imaginary line which separates Canada from the United States. This is a serious matter, Mr. Speaker, this is a matter which concerns every one of us and I venture to speak strongly upon it because I feel strongly.
Now I have concluded and I hope I shall not have to trouble the House again this session. I certainly shall not along this line because the opportunity will not be forthcoming. My hon. friend .the Minister of Finance (Sir Thomas White) goes before a committee and tells our people through evidence given before that committee, that they must practise thrift. When the Government commends this doctrine to the citizens of the country the duty is incumbent upon it of setting the example. If the Minister of Finance had been in his seat I would have said to him that in this matter he seems to have exercised very poorly his powers and to have