I will speak louder
presently. We have been accused of selfishness-and speaking of their unselfishness has reminded me of this-and why? Because we object to having to live indefinitely under a policy from which we receive no benefit and for which we have to pay the price. That is why we ape looked upon as being selfish. May I ask those other hon. gentlemen: Is it any more selfish to wish that as we have to stand on our feet, they should have to stand on their feet, than to wish that any particular interest should be bonused in order that it might be able to carry on successfully? I am not accusing them of selfishness; but if there was a question between the selfishness of free and fair trade and the selfishness of those who prefer a protective policy, I think any honest, impartial jury would say that, if there was any choice, those who favoured a protective policy would be a little the more selfish of the two. As I say, however, I do not intend to throw any slurs at any one else; I am simply answering what we consider to be rather an unfair insinuation or assertion against ourselves.
Since I have come here and during this debate, I have been endeavouring, in order to be fair, to imagine myself for a moment in the place of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding). I am quite aware that this is rather a presumptuous flight of imagination; but if we are going to try to get anything at all, we must endeavour to put ourselves into the other fellow's place and to look at things for a little while through his eyes. I considered what I would do, were I by some peculiar freak, placed in a position where I would have to carry a policy into effect and to impose that most unpopular thing, taxation, upon the people. I quite agree with the Minister of Finance that any one who taxes other people is a most unpopular gentleman, and more than that I quite agree that, in the opinion of most people, there is only one fair method of taxation in the world, and that is the method that leaves us alone and makes the other fellow pay it all. This makes me more moderate in my statements. Looking at this matter from the point of view of revenue alone, if I believed that protection was not a right principle, as the present Minister of Finance has stated in his
opinion, and if I were endeavouring to raise revenue and at the same time endeavouring to go against the principle of protection, I would see if I could not balance these two things, and my suggestion would be that instead of a sales tax, an excise duty be placed upon those articles within our country that were protected by too high a tariff. That is not a very popular sentiment; but I believe it is absolutely just. We have heard it stated that, had it not been for the attitude of the United States, in all probability our tariff against the United States would be lower. Thai means that it could be lower without damaging our own interests. If it could be lower and if the present attitude of the United States makes it unprofitable or unwise to lower the tariff, why not, to some extent, do away with some of that protection on the Canadian side by imposing an excise tax and thus take off some of the surplus profits that may accrue? I believe that is sound. Although I am a free trader in principle, I am not one of those who believe that we can step in at a moment's notice and change the fiscal policy of this country right around. I believe, however, that we could make a very material advance in that direction and that we could serve notice upon those interests that are protected at the present time, that they must put their house in order, because, bit by bit, inevitably, just as sure as death and taxation, the tariff is going gradually to come down and they are going to be thrown on their feet to fight out their own salvation.
In connection with that and in connection with another matter, I was very much interested in following the debate regarding depreciated currency in other countries. I am not an expert in depreciated currency, and I am not going to discuss the matter from that aspect. But one thing struck me very forcibly during the debate and during the remarks of some of our speakers to the right, and that was this. According to their statements, manufactures in Germany, which was singled out as the shining example, were apparently able to manufacture and deliver goods at from one-quarter to one-tenth of the cost of manufacture in this country. I cannot quite understand that, when we consider that a large quantity of their raw material must be imported. But if that be a fact, I have this suggestion to throw out to hon. gentlemen to my right, in return for many suggestions that we have received in the past as regards better meth-
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ods of farming, that the Government should send a commission to Germany to find out how they do those things, or that the Government should establish a school of manufacturing in this country and bring over a German professor or two to instruct our manufacturers. If the Germans can produce manufactured articles at so much less than the cost of manufacture in Canada, and live happily, cheaply and apparently comfortably while they are doing that, their methods are well worth studying; some of our manufacturers might well take advice from them, might study their methods, and then they would not need a protective tariff at all. That is only a suggestion, because I always hesitate to advise another man how to conduct his business, although I notice other men are not always so reticent about advising us.
There are two other matters I want to touch on very briefly, not so much in connection with the tariff itself, as in connection with other matters which come up under the budget. In the Speech from the Throne, part of which I admired very much, whatever I may have thought of it since, in referring to agriculture, His Excellency, speaking, I presume, as the mouthpiece of the Government, said that in order to encourage agriculture, they must necessarily proceed along three lines: better marketing facilities; lower transportation costs and lower costs of production. In our opinion, lower costs of production, to a large extent, lie in the hands of the fiscal policy. We may, to some extent, be wrong in that view; but I believe lower costs of production can only be brought about by permitting us to buy our means of production more cheaply. The subject of transportation has been so thoroughly touched upon that I do not intend to go into it at any length at all. I can only say this, that I wish all success to the efforts of the Government in that respect. I believe, not only is their policy sound, but it will eventually prove to be the right policy. I am speaking of the official policy of the Government, that is the policy of absolutely co-ordinating their lines, of cutting out unnecessary competing lines, of cutting down expenditure as far as possible and of making the shortest haul with the heaviest tonnage possible. I think that can be done; and when the time comes-as I trust it will be soon-I hope they will have branch lines built as active feeders so that the products of the West may foe carried to this end of Canada. As the matter
of marketing is one that is of great significance in view of some work that is going on in this House at the present time, we most sincerely hope that when the proper time comes the Government will be prepared to implement that suggestion in the Speech from the Throne and support us in our efforts to bring about a better system of collective marketing.
Now, I think I have covered all I intended to say to-night. I had no intention of speaking for more than twenty minutes, but I shall say a word or two as to the manner in which the budget meets my views, personally, at least. I have said that I believe the government of this country can only be a government of compromise. That is my opinion. But what is compromise? Compromise is a matter of give and take, is it not? It is a matter of one man going part of the way and the other man going the other part to meet him. It is the balance of opinions between two adverse views, meeting on common ground somewhere near the centre. And in that respect I very-much regret to say that the budget does not constitute, to my mind, one of fair compromise; because I believe that it calls upon us who are opposed to the principle of protection to take about ten minutes' walk to meet what has been aptly termed a mere footstep or a shuffle in our direction. I do not feel that that can fairly be called a compromise. I am well aware that what steps have been taken have been taken in the right direction. I am well aware of that. But I do not think for one moment that it can properly be said that these reductions have changed the previous budget from a protectionist budget into one for revenue only. In other respects, I found myself in perfect harmony and agreement with the statement of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding). With his efforts towards reciprocity, I had, and I think we all had, the fullest and most complete sympathy, and I can tell hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House that the one outstanding, saving grace in the history of the Liberal party in the last twenty years, at any rate in my opinion, was the fact that they went down honourably to defeat in what was the greatest move that had been made up to that time towards free trade. During our campaign in the West, where we fought about as hard with the Liberals as we did with Conservatives, and where practically every contest was a three-cornered fight, I was asked what I thought of the Liberal party. That is
The Budget-Mr. Speakman
a hard question to ask me, especially as asked by a Conservative. However, I said that as far as I could judge, taking their past record into account, the only difference between that party and the Conservative party consisted in their stand in the 1911 election; and that, as a matter of fact, the worst thing I had ever heard said against them-and I have heard some mighty hard things-was that they were nearly as bad as the Conservatives.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE OP THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE