I am in order, Mr. Chairman, in stating the effect of the remaining lines without reading further. The writer, in effect, states that if steps were taken by the Government to economize in expenditure instead of increasing the present heavy taxation they would accomplish better results.
I cannot agr'ee with the hon. member for South Renfrew in saying that this clause is evidence of insanity on the part of the draftsman. I think it is evidence, of which we have many other examples, of great shrewdness in increasing the customs tariff indirectly and under cover. That appears to be the main purpose of the financial legislation which has been brought down this year. We have heard boasts from the Prime Minister of deductions in the tariff and of its being lower than it was under their predecessors, and apparently the Government thoroughly realize that the public will not stand any apparent increase in customs taxation. So they have adopted another plan. I do not know whether I would be in order in using the expression, but it seems to me the plan may be aptly described as that of "sneaking in" legislation which will accomplish the purpose under cover and by way of deceiving the people. This is purely an attempt to make a vast increase in the customs tariff without any appearance of so doing. The hon. member I think for Simcoe referred to the plan adopted in the United States where they allowed ten per cent for profit. Well, is my hon. friend going to bind himself to ten per cent? He can make it 100 per cent or anything he likes; his fancy is what settles everything. It seems to me that my hon. friend the Minister of Customs can teach the Americans something about legislation that will accomplish the purpose of increasing protection without apparently doing so. His own little speech showed plainly what he was after; there was nothing but protection in it; in fact, he did not appear to have any idea in his mind except the most extreme protection. I repeat, the man who drafted that clause was not insane at all, he was a keen man on protection and was determined to get all the protection possible for the industries of Canada without any appearance of doing so.
I am not standing for any policy of absolute free trade at the present time, and have never pretended to. My hon. friend and others have no right to spread abroad in the country, as they are striving to, that we are pretending to be in favour of free trade sometimes and at other times not.
The hon. member has no right whatever to spread that idea abroad. When that question comes up in proper order I shall be as ready as my hon. friend to state my views. He never needs to explain his policy. He wants to have a protective tariff so high that he can drain the last cent that he can possibly get out of the pocket of every Canadian. That is the policy the minister is following now, to put the manufacturers in a position where they can drain the last cent possible from the pockets of the people. It is not insanity at all, it is business keenness in an attempt to help out the manufacturers.
hon. friend is going into a good many side issues. I have never agreed to any tariff which we have had during the last 16 years or the last 30 years. I protested publicly in the country against the tariff which my own party was putting on. I did so, and yet I had to support them, otherwise I would have had to support my hon. friends opposite who shouted all over the country that the Government should be put out of power because the protection was not adequate.
I do not want to delay the committee Mr. Chairman, especially at this hour-and one wonders if prorogation is going to ibe further postponed. I intervene at this moment
to enter another word of protest against the most absurd fiscal proposals that have ever occupied the attention of supposedly intelligent men. This clause taken with the one that follows amounts to prohibitive legislation,-and I content myself with that statement on these clauses at the moment, I do not know where my hon. friend got them. I am sure he is too innocent in the business of legislation to have drawn these out of his own ibrain. I do not know, who put them to him but somebody has put one over him so far as this country is concerned. My object in rising, however, was to express my gratification that we have had an exposition of the effects of this clause from a strong supporter of the Government for many years. My hon. friend from Haldi-mand let us know exactly how this legislation will act
and he knows how it will act. His trouble is cheap foreign goods and he wants them kept out. That is to say, according to the definition of protection made by Mr. Balfour and quoted in the Budget speech by the hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Knox) protection is a device for building up home industries by increasing prices. My hon. friend from Haldimand agrees thoroughly with Mr. Balfour and he has expounded what the effects of this clause will be-if not in those terms, in his own terms. Now, I want to point out to ministers the seriousness of the course upon which they are embarking and the injustice they are committing against certain classes in this country by a clause so expounded by one of their own supporters. It is supposed that 48 per cent of the people of this country are engaged in the pursuit of agriculture, which hon. gentlemen on every side of this House tell us from time to time is the foundation of our prosperity. I want to appeal to ministers; I appeal to my hon. friend the Minister of Agriculture, who has the interests of the farmers at heart: Are agricultural prices increasing at this time? My hon. friend cannot answer that question except in the negative. He knows his subject well and he knows that the farmers in this country are facing prices which are falling almost with the rapidity of the descent of an avalanche. I call the attention of the other Cabinet ministers to the fact and I ask them how they expect the farmers of the country to go o/i building up their industry, which is the foundation of the nation's prosperity, in the face of a clause, which, according to my hon. friend from Haldimand, is framed for the
express purpose of raising the prices of all that the farmer buys. The same argument applies to the great masses of the labouring men of this country, to the great mass of the returned men and the whole mass of the consumers of this country. That is how the clause will operate, according to the exposition of a strong supporter of the Government. It is the rankest and the grossest injustice to the consumers of the country, as the minister will know very well before twelve months are over. It is the rankest national folly, because it is reducing the trade of the country. It is in keeping with the whole of this Government's policy. It is in keeping with the policy which you might expect from a Government one memfier of which says that a special clause in this Act is meant to increase trade while another says he does not want that trade increased. I point these things out once more and enter my emphatic protest against the time of Parliament being wasted in enactments which are diametrically opposed to the country's good and to our people's happiness and prosperity.
I would remind the Minister of Trade and Commerce, who is leading the House, that we are to meet at eleven o'clock to-day. May I suggest that it would be wise if we should report progress and ask leave to sit again?