June 2, 1921

CON
PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

I am scared of my right hon. friend. If I allowed him a moment, he might take half an hour, and I do want to facilitate things so that we may prorogue on Saturday night. I desire to make just a few remarks on the clause. I hope I am not mistaken in thinking that the clause has purely to do with the collection of fees. These fees are to be collected by a Canadian trade commissioner, the British consul, or other duly accredited officer. I am afraid of that phrase "other duly accredited officer". Are officers to be appointed in addition to the two specifically mentioned? I see in that phrase, in the hands of the minister, who seems to be very much enthused over this method of promoting trade, the possibility of an immense increase in the expenses of Government, at a time when, I think, every one in this House agrees that the Government ought to look well into every item of increased expenditure which they sanetion. I see the opening of a door there for more officials for a purpose which I think is a very doubtful one. I agree emphatically with my hon. friend from Halifax (Mr. Maclean) that trade between the United States and this country will be best promoted by the individuals whose business it is to trade; it will be best promoted by the Government if they take down certain obstacles to the trade, Now with regard to this particular pro-

pcsal, my first objection to it is that I fear the door is opened to the appointment of officials who are not needed, who will increase the expenses of the country at this moment and will not give any compensating advantage. I have put that point as clearly as I know how, and I pass on to another.

This is not the time to undertake fresh expenditure unless we know precisely what it is for, and we are sure the Government is going to get the benefit of such expenditure. My right hon. friend, I am certain, will agree with me on the general principle. Now, as to the effect of this method that my right hon. friend is so strong in recommending, I have very clear views. It amounts, as my hon. friend from Shelburne and Queen's (Mr. Fielding) pointed out the last time we were debating it, to an increase of the tariff. I do not care how small the amount involved is; that is what it is. In its practical operation it amounts to an increase of tariff, and in my judgment it will increase the cost of the articles which we import to the consumer of those articles. I could have understood its being strongly recommended by the Minister of Finance, because he thinks we have plenty of trade with the United States. Indeed, if I interpreted his words correctly, he thinks there is rather much coming this way. I could understand him strongly recommending my right hon. friend's proposition; indeed I am not sure that he has not a Mephistophelian purpose in his mind. At the present moment, I believe, he is quietly patting my right hon. friend on the back because he sees he is going to reduce the imports from the United States, while the Minister of Trade and Commerce-poor simple man!-thinks he is going to increase them. That is a point I should like them to settle between themselves. Personally I am with the Minister of Finance upon the subject as to how it would act-I believe its tendency must inevitably be to decrease trade. Then it will increase the price of everything that does carry the certificate. Any obstacle to trade decreases trade. It must do so, it cannot act in any other way. That is all I want to say about this proposition.

I have due regard to the lateness of the session, but I want to agree with my hon. friend from Renfrew (Mr. Pedlow) in the general expression of opinion which he gave, that all these restrictions upon trade are in the long last harmful. They do not promote trade-they decrease it. They do

CMr. M. Clark.]

increase the cost of living-they do work harmfully to the country. That is my opinion. I want to go on record as having offered to my right hon. friend a warning that he is only adding one more restriction to trade when we need to trade. When our trade is falling, in my judgment he is taking steps to make it fall further; and I should not be doing my duty to my own convictions and to the country at this time if I did not point out that it is a bad way to remedy a falling trade to decrease it. It is a bad way to remedy the high cost of living to increase the cost of living. It is because I believe the proposal is helping towards both those steps that I wish my hon. friend from Halifax would stand strongly upon the position that this clause should be withdrawn, and if he proposes an amendment along that line I shall certainly vote for it.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

There is no

necessity for my hon. friend to advise the Minister of Finance and myself to try to get together on the trade question and not to pull in different directions. In order to make that appear to the House, my hon. friend had to commence with a statement that the Minister of Finance was opposed to having more trade in the United States. I have listened carefully to what the Minister of Finance has said, and I have never heard him take that ground. I have heard him state that the disparity of imports and exports between the two countries was a thing to be deplored and a thing to be remedied. My hon. friend the Minister of Finance and myself are at one. I am in favour of more trade between the United States and Canada hut not of an unfair proportionment of that trade. I want to see more imports into the United States from Canada to balance the too large preponderance and the disparity which now exists between exports and imports. Now, as far as our trade is concerned my hon. friend makes an argument upon premises which are not sound, and his premises were not sound when he represented either the Minister of Finance or the Government as being opposed to trade with the United States. We are not opposed to trade with the United States, but we do want to see a larger amount going out from our country to the adjoining republic in order to balance the overlarge amount which shows against us in the trade figures. My hon. friend must take one of two horns of the dilemma in another case. In the first place he must

take back the statement that if we put this into operation we will add immensely to the expenses of the country by the payments to the trade commissioners and agents that are to be employed.

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer):

My hon.

friend must not be unfair. He will see when he reads Hansard that I never used the word " immensely".

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CON
PRO
CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

My hon. friend gave me the impression, and I think he gave the impression to the committee, that he was against this because it would add to our expenditure.

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

It depends

entirely on the number of people employed.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

Exactly, then we are at one on that. He opposed this proposition because it will add largely to the expenses of Canada, and therefore we shall have larger demands upon trie treasury which is not overfull at the present time-I am not mis-stating his position there. Then he goes on to state, alongside of that, what brings him to this conclusion. Well, he cannot have both things; he cannot have his cake and eat it at the same time. If there comes in from the United States of America five hundred, six hundred, or seven hundred millions of imports and we place a fee of $2, or $2.50 on each invoice it will make a sum of money as a fund out of which the expenses of these trade commissioners may be met. He argues on the other side that that will be so much added to what the consumers in this country will have to pay. But my hon. friend cannot argue both ways. Therefore if we put an invoice fee upon the certification, and the exports from the United States are even, or nearly even, with what they are to-day we shall have a fund which will pay these expenses without any draft upon the Canadian treasury. Both those things, I think, are worth considering, but I do not think they sustain the position of my hon. friend.

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L LIB

William Duff

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Can the right hon. gentleman tell us from statistics how many entries passed through the customs house during 1920 bn invoices of over $100? Then on a $2.50 basis we can figure how much revenue we may expect to get on goods imported from the United States.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

We have no

figures of that, but the customs authorities have within the last two months been keeping track of the number of invoices that have come in monthly.

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L LIB
CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

And the number of invoices month by month that are coming in are fairly well proportioned,

I should think, to the number of invoices which would come in under the new scheme. If the United States takes out of Canada so many million dollars worth of goods, and the fees amount on a certain number of invoices to the gross sum of over $400,000, as it did last year, you can pretty accurately estimate that the return invoices on the other list would average about the same in number. So that the investigation which is being carried on by the Customs Department at the present time, bearing in mind the parity of volume of goods which pass between the two countries during the year leads to the conclusion that there will be a gain to us of revenue equivalent to what the United States gains through her consular fees, and that revenue will be quite sufficient to pay all the expenses of our trade commissioners. I have no hesitation in saying that so far as I can see it now there will not be a single dollar of expense to be put upon the Canadian treasury in carrying out this system.

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UNION

John Harold

Unionist

Mr. HAROLD:

Mr. Chairman, this is

one of the most important questions that has come up this session, and I feel that we should give dt thorough discussion. It seems to me that as a method of raising revenue it is the most expensive that was ever devised. We would have to appoint hundreds of men throughout the United States who would have no interest whatever in Canada shipping goods in to that country; the sympathies of many would in all likelihood be more towards encouraging trade from the United States to Canada, because we could not get Canadian citizens to represent us in many of the points in the United States where required.

Now, it seems to me that there might be a way devised of collecting this revenue without so much expense. For instance, a special stamp could be provided by the Government, which a shipper could purchase and keep in his office, so that without paying part to anybody he could put the stamp on his invoice and thus avoid delay in shipping whereas, if the fee is collected by these brokers or others that you might select in the United States, the same as

the United States do in this country, they naturally would retain a very large proportion of that revenue. The United States check up their certified invoices at the point of shipment: our method is to check them at point of destination, and we have a very large number of customs houses scattered throughout the country to protect us in that respect, buit the United States is not so well equipped. Therefore, we might effect a better way of collecting revenue from these shipments than by copying the methods of the United States.

It seems to me that the amount involved in the fee of $2.50 on each shipment is not the important thing to consider. The important factor in my opinion is the way in which this is going to interfere with legitimate business between the two countries and put upon both Canadian and American business men unnecessary restrictions. It would mean delay in shipments. As any one knows who has ever tried to ship goods from this side, the railway people will not accept the shipment until you get the consular certificate. If you wanted a shipment in from the United States by express-and thousands of such shipments come through-it might be delayed some days until they get this certificate signed; whereas if it is just a matter of putting a stamp on, the shipment could go forward without any delay. In my own experience it has been most exasperating to attempt to ship goods into the United States, and it seemed to me that their system was most unsatisfactory. I would consider it a great misfortune if this country should copy it; in fact, I am so convinced of this that I should like to advise, the Government to go very slowly with this legislation, because they might get partially started to find it so annoying that they would have to retrace their steps.

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

Mr. Chairman, perhaps I might be permitted to clear up a point regarding the difference of opinion that arose between my hon. friend and myself. I want to establish my character for accuracy when I quote members of the Government. In the debate to which I referred what the Minister of Finance said was this:

Are we not trading enough with the United States? Our trade with the United States is constantly increasing.

That, I think, justified the statement I made When I referred to an expressed opinion by the Minister of Finance this session, and it justifies my view that he

did not think it necessary to take the steps which my right hon. friend on the other hand contends would increase that trade. I submit again that the difference of opinion between the two ministers is a sufficient reason why this clause should not be pressed. We are dealing with a Government that does not know its own policy. My right hon. friend may laugh, but it is not a thing to laugh at. There should be Cabinet responsibility and coherence on a matter of this grave importance.

The other point made by my right hon. friend I am not sure I understood. He said that I could not eat my cake and have it. That is an old proverb and of course is true. But I like a proverb reduced to a little more practical shape. What did my right hon. friend mean in applying that to my statement that this thing meant expense to the people of this country? It is the people I am concerned about. As I said when discussing this subject previously, the people are my only concern. They supply all the expenses of the Government of this country, and it does not matter if you take the money in the first instance by certificates in the United States, the money that pays for those certificates eventually finds its way on to the cost of the articles to the Canadian consumer, and thus the total cost of the increase of government in that particular falls upon the people of Canada. That is my contention in a sentence, and I do not need to go one step further. There was no want of logic in my position. 1 contend that it is an increase of the expenses of government without a good purpose, and that that increase will come on to the shoulders of the Canadian consumer simply in the way that I have indicated.

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UNION

Francis Ramsey Lalor

Unionist

Mr. LABOR:

There seems to be a great difference of opinion as to the measure which is before the committee, and that difference of opinion does not prevail on only one side of the House; it is very strongly marked, I observe, in the Agrarian group. The two leaders of the Agrarian group, the member for Marquette and the member for Red Deer, should hold a little conference with a view to seeing that their opinions are somewhat alike upon the great trade questions that come before this House. I hold in my hand a copy of Hansard of February 26, 1921, page 285, in which I find an expression of the views of the Agrarian leader, who said-

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

I rise to a point of order, Mr. Chairman, and I must point out to my hon. friend that we are not responsible for the government of the country. There is more freedom of opinion in an opposition than there is in a government. There is no Cabinet coherence required here; we are the freest niggers on the North American continent.

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UNION

Francis Ramsey Lalor

Unionist

Mr. LALOR:

I believe that the member for Red Deer read from Hansard of this session.

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

To correct a positive contradiction on the part of the minister.

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UNION

Francis Ramsey Lalor

Unionist

Mr. LALOR:

I am rising, then, to correct your own impression as to your own party.

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June 2, 1921