May 13, 1921

L LIB

James Alexander Robb

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

Was this man giving figures for the same make of cream separator in each case?

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Now may I ask the hon. member for Red Deer, which clause is he voting for? Did the hon. member ever hear about encouraging industries by taxing them? The tariff is a mere tax, just for the sake of raising money on account of our financial conditions, but the fiscal policy of the country should be the encouragement of industries. Now if there is any human being that can put those two clauses together and get his mind on the same side of the both of them, supporting them or opposing them, that is, if he is honest with his mind, I would like to see the specimen produced. The amendment goes on:

That the aim of the fiscal policy of Canada should be the encouragement of industries based on the natural resources of the country, the development of which may reasonably be expected to create healthy enterprises giving promise of enduring success.

That is good enough for any party. But if such is the case, how is it that the tariff is a mere tax, to be made as light as possible? Let me go into that for a moment. The aim should be "the encouragement of industries" based on the natural resources of the country. Now what are those industries? The hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's told us; he gave us the key to the whole thing. The industries I would. encourage by a tariff tax, he says, are those, the raw materials of which are in this country. That would be one class, and he mentioned steel; steel was very appropriate, very appropriate indeed. Why, of course, he would protect the steel industry. Such an industry would be one based on our natural resources. But hundreds of industries in this country get the bulk of their raw materials in Canada, and the purpose of a tariff, in so far as its protective effect goes, is to develop the natural resources of a country. He says further that those are based on our natural resources that get their fuel in this country. That is coal. You see where the hon. gentleman comes in. So far as coal and steel are concerned, he can go to Nova Scotia and say: "I stand up for protection to these industries." But he went further than that; he said that if an industry were based on water-power, he would protect it. He says: "If they are using waterpower, why, then, that is a natural resource, and I would 'encourage' that too." And in case he should accidentally leave anything out, and thereby get into trouble anywhere, he included another class. He said: "You may have industries built up only upon the brains of the promotors of such industries"! and he gave us a beautiful illustration. He said there was a man in Scotland, in Glasgow, I think,-

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Dundee.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes, Dundee. He said that, though there were no oranges growing in Scotland, and there was no sugar made there, a certain man had found a way to make marmalade, and having done so had established an industry based on one of the natural resources of the country. And after he got through with that classification he declared: "That is the kind of industry I would encourage"; adding the very comforting assurance that such in-

dustries would not need "very much protection." Now, I should like to know how those words accord with the declaration that a tariff should not he based on the principle of protection. What industry in the world would not come in under the class named by my hon. friend from Shelburne and Queen's (Mr. Fielding) ? And he says that the tariff should be such as to protect these industries! He declares, in one clause, that the tariff should not be based on the principle of protection, and in another clause he says "the encouragement of industry" is just what it ought to be based on. Let me ask my hon. friends opposite a very plain and simple question: Is the tariff in effect in this country to-day based on the principle of protection, or is it not? Now, I should like to get an answer, even a nod, I do not care whether vertical or horizontal. But I cannot get either one. I venture to say that there is not one gentleman opposite who will tell us in this debate whether the present tariff is based on the principle of protection or not. Why, if they say no, the immediate answer is: What then do you want? If they say yes, then the answer is: Why, this is your own tariff. There have been substantial reductions since their day, but the principle of protection is in the tariff now and it must have been there before the reductions were made. The tariff of this country to-day, in every essential feature, save reduction, is the tariff prepared by the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's himself, which he lauded to the skies year after year as complying with every requirement of protection. He tells this House that he has never given adherence to the principle of protection. I tell my hon. friend from Shelburne and Queen's that he has given adherence to that principle in every Budget speech which he delivered during the course of fifteen years in power. He gave adherence to the principle of protection in every Budget he ever brought down, and in every tariff he framed; and not only did he do so, but he admitted the fact in Budget speech after Budget speech, and I have them before me. Let us see how the hon. member did obeisance to the principle of protection. I will take first a speech he made-

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An hon. MEMBER:

What year?

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It does not matter what year; I will read from any speech he desires, delivered by the hon. gentleman during the whole fifteen years. Here is one from the speech of April 16, 1903.

Having said that you can possibly be too protectionist, and that it is possible to go too far, he explained the kind of protection he was opposed to, doing so in such a way that he could go to any city in Canada and stand by selections from his words. He says: The protection that I am opposed to is the kind of policy that would protect the growing of tea in British Columbia or of icicles in the north. Well, what man outside of an asylum would suggest any such thing? No one ever did that I heard , of. We want protection in this country the same as every other country in the world has it to-day, except Great Britain, and Great Britain has been getting there pretty fast, especially in the last week. We do not want anything in the way of insanity in protection. You can be extreme and abuse anything; we all know that. But when one says that he is opposed to such a process, and takes that as an excuse for saying in one paragraph of a heterogeneous amendment that he is opposed to the principle of protection, the thing is too absurd to admit of discussion. The hon. member said, in that speech, that there may be extremes. Undoubtedly. But are there extremes in the present tariff? If so, he is the father of them. He says:

Then there are extremes on the other side. There are people who, relying upon the sound principles of free trade sound enough in their proper place-

He has never yet told us where that "place" is.

[DOT]-are disposed to carry them to a point which takes no account of the conditions. They seem to adopt a theory, and they say: You must carry out that theory regardless of what may be done elsewhere: Fix your own tariff policy, and never mind what is done elsewhere. Well, I am sure we cannot go as far as that. Commercial questions are every day occupying more attention in the field of public affairs. There is great rivalry among the nations; nay, there is commercial war, and in a contest of that character, it is not enough to have a good old theory; you must understand the methods whereby your opponent plays the game, so that you may be able, if necessary, to modify your views.

Does any one suggest that that is not an admission of the protective principle? What in the world does it mean? If other nations put up tariffs and we have to do the same, then is it merely to secure revenue? What difference does it make to us, as regards our revenue, whether they put up their tariffs or not? If they put up their tariffs we have to do the same to protect the industries of this country, for if we did not those countries would have the advantage over us. There is as plain

an admission, in the hon. gentleman's speech, of protection as human lips could utter,-unless perhaps a plainer admission was uttered by the hon. member himself. Later on, he said:

We have endeavoured to give the country a tariff of stability,

Every year it was a question of "stability", as if there was any need of having stable taxes:

-a tariff which, in so far as a. tariff has any relation to prosperity, has been an Important factor in the development of Canada the last few years.

The tariff an important factor in the development of Canada! Is a tax an important factor in a country's development? Why is the tariff an important factor in development if it is not by reason of its protective effect? This speech is an admission of the principle of protection. On June 7, 1904, he said:

This tariff has included a considerable measure of incidental protection,-

As I remarked last year, what in the world is the difference what adjective you ascribe to protection if you have the duty? What in the world is the difference what you call it?

and in that respect it will command the admiration perhaps of some hon. gentlemen opposite who are more anxious for protection than some of us on this side of the House, I think. As to whether or not it is adequate protection-

Just listen to this.

-we have some evidence of a gratifying character that the tariff, without being excessive, is high enough to bring some American industries across the line.

Gratifying? Not sorry as he is now; not holding up his hands in warning to them to stay away if they think they need protection. Gratifying? In those days he endeavoured to bring American industries across the line-

-and a tariff which is able to bring those industries into Canada looks very much like a tariff which affords adequate protection.

It certainly did. Now does the hon. gentleman want to say that it is not an admission of the principle of protection? Everybody knows it is. Everybody knows from the experience of fifteen years that the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's believes in the principle of protection. If he does not believe in it how can any one account for his record during those fifteen years? He then expressed belief in it on platform after platform, and I have given credit to him for adhering to it still, notwithstanding the fact that

he said he and his friends would follow an entirely different principle if returned to power. I have given him credit for it because I say it was far better for his party to break a political pledge, dishonourable though it be, than to bring the industrial fabric of this country into ruin or semiruin. But the hon. gentleman went on:

If my hon. friends opposite wish to see some of the good results-

Good results mind you!

-of the tariff let them go up to the city of Hamilton.

This is very interesting.

-let them go to the city of Hamilton and look at the vast industries which have been established there by American capitalists who have come across the line under the operation of this tariff, and who are now engaged in carrying on very large businesses. Let them go to the city of Toronto and the}' will And similar organizations of American capital starting in the manufacturing business. ,

Starting under the tariff that he put on. How does that compare with my hon. friend's assertion now that if any company thinks it is going to get a tariff in this country to keep it going it had better stay out of Canada?' And yet my hon friend boasted when he was in office that by the tariff he had imposed, which he said was not only a protective tariff, but an adequately protective tariff-he had induced companies to come to Hamilton, Toronto and other places.

So, we are able to say that not only has the tariff been a great revenue tariff, but one which has afforded a reasonable degree of incidental protection and one which has brought about, as far as these industries are concerned, very gratifying results.

Continuing he said:

This Government can be relied upon,-

And it could all right.

-while guarding against monopolies, trusts, and combines to give reasonable aid to the legitimate industries of the country,-

Now, did they give reasonable aid by taxation or by a protective tariff?

-and to adopt a tariff policy, which will not only be a policy for the benefit of the manufacturers-

This is the hon. gentleman who says he has never admitted the protective principle.

*-but a policy which, while giving them all due consideration, will have regard also to the interests of every class and section of the people and of every province in this great Dominion.

I could go further, I could go from speech to speech, but I want particularly

to refer to a speech that the hon. gentleman made when he introduced the increased woollen duties into this country.

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An hon. MEMBER:

What year was that?

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I think that was in 1904. The Finance Minister of that day had said some woollen firms were not well managed. He went on to say that the woollen industry of the country was in a very difficult position, that it was struggling because of the advantages that competitors in other countries had over it. He said he thought something ought to be done to help the woollen manufacturers, otherwise they could not get along. Then he made this statement:

The complaint is made very largely by our, woollen manufacturers and by various public men who sympathize with them that although on the better grades of good3 they can fairly compete with all persons, even the British manufacturer, a very large proportion of the imports of British wollen goods coming into Canada are really shoddy goods of an inferior character, against which we ought to legislate ;- '

Bear that in mind-ought to legislate

-and it is alleged that any Increase which we might make in the woollen duties would have the effect of shutting out, not the purer woollen goods, but the shoddy goods. That is argued with much force, and I am inclined to believe that there is something In it.

That is, of course, very consistent with the idea that a tariff duty is only a tax to get money.

However, we propose to dell with the matter in this way: Our present duty on the class of goods which I may describe as cloths, tweeds, overcoatings, wearing apparel and goods of that character-

These are the goods he increased the tariff on. Now just watch-

*-is 35 per cent, subject to the preference, which brings the duty on British goods down to 23J per cent. We do not propose to increase the general tariff,-

It was 35 per cent.

-but we propose to put a limit on the extent to which the preference shall apply to these goods. We propose to fix a minimum tariff of 30 per cent on this class of goods coming in under the preferential tariff. This change will apply to all woollen goods mentioned in the tariff item 394 with the exception of blankets, flannels, bed conforters, and counLerpanes, which are placed in a group by themselves.

Raising the duty on woollen goods from Great Britain-and in the case of every other country it was 35 per cent-from 23 i to 30 per cent because the woollen industry could not survive unless he did. And still he says now he has never admit-

TMr. Meighen.]

ted the principle of protection. He did the same in the case of twine and cordage, not binder twine-he raised the duties from 168 per cent up to 20 per cent because otherwise the industry could not survive. Now surely I have driven enough extracts home to show that not only in speech but in practice, in' every single budget effort of the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's during the whole fifteen years he was in office he adhered consistently and determinedly to the protective principle. After he went out of office he made the same profession. Why he made it last year. He tells us now that while he would protect existing industries based on the natural resources-as he defined them in his speech -he would say to any industry that was going to start up, "If you are depending on protection, my advice is keep away, I would not have anything to do with you. But as to those that are here I do not object to protecting them because they will not want much protection." Does the House know that last year he stated precisely the opposite? Last year he intimated that as far as a r.ew industry was concerned he would not mind it getting protection at all, but that as regards one that had become an industry of long standing he would not give it any. Where the infant had grown up, he said, and was beating the old man round the House, he would let it take care of itself. He said he never did object to the protection being supplied to infant industries. The hon. gentleman went further and he said this last year:

I do not want to insist that these departures from free trade are absolutely right, but I put them before my friends who are extreme free traders, facts which I believe can be sustained.

He says here this week there are none talking free trade at all, and he seemed about to spring across the table of the House at my throat because I had suggested at Sherbrooke that there really was an issue against free trade in this country. Nobody, he says, is a free trader now.

I believe they justify a departure from free trade principles under certain conditions. If those conditions can be limited, if we can get anybody to start any new industry-

Just listen to this.

-under the circumstances under which these were started,-

That is, the ones he started, as he explained in the previous part of his speech.

-if we can get anybody to start any new industry under the circumstances under which these were started, then I think myself that would justify a departure from the abstract principle of free trade.

So last year he told us that such circumstances would justify a departure. This year he says as to new industries "I will have nothing to do with them, hut I will continue to support those which are already in the country."

Now, the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's tried to make out that because he effected in some microscopic way, to use the language of the hon. member for Red Deer, the' tariff that he found in force in 1897 when he came into power, and reduced the average tariff only from 29.9 to 29.2, or .7 of one per cent, "nevertheless," he says, "the changes were a great relief to the consumers of this country because what we did was this: We lowered on the necessaries of life, the things that the people had to have, and by doing that, although we did not reduce the 5 p.m. general level very much, there was a marked relief to the consumers of Canada." Well, I have a list here of the goods on which he reduced the tariff. This is a sheet from the campaign literature of the Liberal party in 1904, and I want to analyse for a moment the results of these strenuous efforts of the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's to reduce the tariff on the necessaries of life and thereby afford great "relief", as he puts it, to the Canadian people. This pamphlet says:

Here is a list of articles that formerly were subject to duty and that now are free.

Now, will hon. members listen to these "necessaries of life." Mind you, you can always refer to barbed wire, binder twine and cream separators, as the hon. member for Red Deer does, but outside of those three let any hon. member go through this list and see where any duties on the necessaries of life have been cut down. The first is:

Degras oleostearine-

Has any hon. member ever heard of that? The next are:

Florists stock, as follows:-corns, tubers rhi-zones, auracaria, spiroea:

Indian Corn,

Seed beans^from Britain,,

Rape seed-sowing,

Mushroom spawn,

Artificial limbs,

Asphaltum (refined),

Religious tracts,

Clay crucibles,

Cyanogen. [DOT]

And another one, if any hon. member can pronounce it: Q-u-e-b-r-a-c-h.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Sandpaper.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Then follows:

Extract of nut galls; Fashion plates,

I went through the entire list, and outside of the three that I have named I admit I found one that I think in this age of decay might fairly be described as a necessary of life, and that was-false teeth.

But the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's said that he had reduced the duty on a certain kind of cloth that the common people wore which he found taxed in every way one could think of. This cloth was subject to a duty of so much a piece, of so much a dozen, and then on that a percentage ad valorem, and he claimed that he had remedied all that and had cut down the duty to a moderate figure 20, 25 or 30 per cent. I went through the whole list to find what in the world he referred to, because I had never heard of the fact before, and the only thing that I can find in this list published by the Liberal party that would answer his description is cotton shirts. Now, what is the history of his treatment of cotton shirts? The only cottoh shirts he touched were those costing more than $3 per dozen. The only duty was $1 a dozen and 25 per cent ad valorem. That, the pamphlet says, made a total of 37 per cent ad valorem, computed on the basis of the 1896 imports. Now then, will the delighted and relieved consumers be ready for announcement of the reduction that he actually made? He reduced the duty from 37 to 35 per cent.

What is the use of talking? The hon. member found a protective tariff in effect, and he kept it in effect-he scarcely changed it at all. Any change he made one could scarcely see with a microscope. When he went out of power the tariff averaged 26.7 per cent, and was in all essentials, except the three I have mentioned-and, as I say, there have been more important reductions since then than there were in the whole fifteen years he was in power-just as he found it. The tariff that he left at that figure in the fiscal year that has just passed averages precisely

21.2 per cent. Now, he says: "The tariff is a tax and you should make it just as light as you can." That is what he says in the tax paragraph of the amendment. Well, if it is a tax you can make it light in proportion to your needs I suppose; that is the only thing that will enable you to do so. What were his needs when he reduced the tariff from 29.9 to 29.2? They were

$37,000,000 or $40,000,000 a year. His needs when he went out of office and was making the tariff 26.7 per cent on dutiable goods were about $120,000,000. The tariff, remember, is a tax, and to-day this country needs, as every hon. gentleman knows, $435,000,000, and we are maintaining the tariff at 21.2 per cent. Yet the hon. gentle man challenges us in this House, and says "the main charge I have against the Government of the day is that the tariff is too high." If that is not his charge, what is it? True he has taken good care not to say it in this amendment, but if that is not his charge will he let us know what it is? If hon. gentlemen want something reduced, why does not their amendment say so? In a word, why does it not state, express and reflect the tariff programme to which they are pledged?

I proceed with this amendment. Here is the third clause :

That such changes should be made toms duties as may be expectedin the-cus-

" Such changes"-did any one notice that the word " reducion " was not there? It was there last year; it was in the Liberal platform, but so great was the strength of hon. gentlemen around him that they succeeded in getting the word " changes " substitued for the word " reduction." I continue the reading of the paragraph:

Such changes should be made in the customs duties as may be expected to reduce the hteh cost of living.

" May be expected to." The hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's may say in his county that the cost of living can be reduced by raising the tariff. Indeed he indicated as much in this House when he spoke of what he had done for the coal and steel of Nova Scotia. Did he not say then that his policy had reduced the price of the product?

other reference to a reduction? Does my hon. friend refer to that part of the clause which says " may be expected to reduce the cost of living"? Well, that is just where the joker comes in. The hon. member took care that he would be able to go to his constituency and preach the very same doctrine as that on which he was elected-the doctrine of protection.

.Mr. RINFRET: How does the right hon. gentleman know? His Government has no candidate there.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Why, there is no election there, but there is an election in the county of York-Sunbury and the hon. gentleman has no candidate there.

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LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret

Liberal

Mr. RINFRET:

I made no statement about York-Sunbury, and I do not expect my right hon. friend to make any statement about St. James when he does not know anything about it.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Unfortunately, I do

know something about my hon. friend. 1 know the tariff platform upon which he contested his seat. I have read his speeches.

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LIB
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I have read the speeches and I have read some of his newspaper articles.

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LIB
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

On the tariff platform his speeches were very good, because they advocated precisely the tariff platform of this Government. All that is the matter with the hon. gentleman is partisanship; if he could get away from that he would be all right.

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LIB
LIB
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

This clause? Will the hon. gentleman say whether it means " reduction " or "increase"? The hon. gentleman does not answer.

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May 13, 1921