April 19, 1923

WEDNESDAY EVENING SITTINGS


On the Orders of the Day:


LIB

Charles Arthur Gauvreau

Liberal

Mr. GAUVREAU:

Is it the intention of the Prime Minister that the House shall sit on Wednesday evening commencing next week?

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Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY EVENING SITTINGS
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

I think there is a disposition on the part of a number of members of the House to have Wednesday evenings retained for a little time longer. The government had not thought it advisable to sit next Wednesday evening. However, as to the time of resuming the Wednesday evening sittings the government will be pleased to consider the general wishes of the House as they may be represented to us.

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Subtopic:   WEDNESDAY EVENING SITTINGS
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CLOSING OF BRANT HOSPITAL


On the Orders of the Day:


CON

Robert King Anderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ANDERSON:

I would like to

ask the Minister of Soldiers' Civil Reestablishment if the article appearing in the Hamilton press intimating that the Brant military hospital is to be closed in July next is correct?

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Subtopic:   CLOSING OF BRANT HOSPITAL
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LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland (Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment; Minister presiding over the Department of Health)

Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

This question, Mr. Speaker, is now under consideration, but no definite decision has, as yet, been arrived at.

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Subtopic:   CLOSING OF BRANT HOSPITAL
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FRENCH TREATY


The House resumed from Wednesday, April 18, the debate on the motion of Hon. Mr. Fielding for the second reading of Bill No. 23, respecting a certain Convention of Commerce between His Majesty and the French Republic.


LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Hon. W. S. FIELDING (Minister of Finance):

Mr. Speaker, in the few remarks which I made on this motion last evening I pointed out that the only logical conclusion to the criticism offered by my hon. friend from Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) must be, first, that this treaty is a very foolish one, and furthermore, that in view of the inconsiderable volume of trade with France it is not worth our while to make a treaty at all. I think I was not mistaken-

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Subtopic:   FRENCH TREATY
Sub-subtopic:   BILL TO RATIFY-DEBATE ON SECOND READING CONTINUED
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CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN :

May I be allowed to say to the minister that I do not want the impression to go abroad that I am not in favour of a treaty with France. On the contrary, I am in favour of a treaty provided it is a fair one.

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Subtopic:   FRENCH TREATY
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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

The hon. member will have the opportunity of recording his vote against this motion and I hope he will remember that when the division comes. Let me say, though, that if I have the misfortune to run counter to the views of my hon. friend in this matter I can comfort myself with the thought that in endeavouring to make an arrangement for trade relations with France I am'but following the example of the distinguished public men of this country for the last forty years. Though I have, with great reluctance, to differ with my hon. friend from Lincoln, I comfort myself with that thought.

I pointed out last evening the importance of recognizing the difference between the French fiscal policy and the fiscal policy of Canada. My hon. friend again and again

French Treaty

quotes cases in regard to which he says "The duty which France imposes is high and the duty which Canada imposes is low," and on the assumption that that is wrong he denounces the present treaty. Now, it is utterly impossible to conduct treaty negotiations with France upon any such basis. My hon. friend's argument, again and again, is this: He quotes some item in which the duty in France is high and the duty in Canada is moderately low, and he triumphantly asks "Is that a fair treaty?" I want to remind my hon. friend that under the existing condition of affairs he has himself voted for a treaty which controls the present relations between Canada and France, and if he will examine that treaty he will find that there are frequent cases where the duties which we impose in Canada are very much lower than the duties which are imposed on the other side * of the Atlantic. So that this idea of reciprocity in duties which the hon. gentleman had in his mind, and on which he bases much of his argument, is utterly "untenable; it is not tenable as respects our present condition, it cannot be tenable as respects the future.

Let me take one single item, which he mentioned himself in his speech, that of automobiles. Our rates of duty are 22-1- per cent under the preferential tariff, 30 per cent under the intermediate tariff, and 35 per cent under the general tariff. According to my hon. friend's contention that must be the same condition in France. We must have the same rates as in France otherwise he would not support the treaty, otherwise he would say "How can this be a treaty at all when the rates are so unequal?" Surely the rates granted in France were the same, were they not, before my hon. friend consented to vote for that treaty?

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Subtopic:   FRENCH TREATY
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CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN:

I would just point out to the hon. minister that I was not here when the other treaty was made, and following the continuance of that treaty my understanding of the matter was that there was to be a new' convention by wduch some of these anomalies would be corrected.

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Subtopic:   FRENCH TREATY
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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

If the hon. gentleman

says he w'as not present on the occasion referred to I must accept his statement. My impression was that he was here when the new treaty was adopted. I accept my hon. friend's statement. At all events the treaty was made by the government that he supported. Although he may not have voted for that treaty himself the party which he supports made and supported it. But let me give an illustration, and I can give it in a minute.

We admit automobiles into Canada to-day at the rate of 35 per cent, and If a Canadian automobile goes into France the duty is- these duties are specific but by converting this into an ad valorem duty it is approximately ISO per cent. That is the condition existing to-day under an arrangement made by the government of which he was a supporter even if he did not himself vote for it. My. hon. friend surely cannot realize the utter impossibility of doing what he asks us to do and that is ask the French government to fix the same rates as we have in Canada. I could give the same illustration for many other items but that one is sufficient for the purpose.

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Subtopic:   FRENCH TREATY
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CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN:

The minister succeeded

in getting that duty, under this treaty reduced to 45 per cent. Why not have had a little further reduction, if he could accomplish that much.

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Subtopic:   FRENCH TREATY
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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. gentleman is

entitled to put a question, with the consent of the member speaking, but he cannot indulge in discussion.

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Subtopic:   FRENCH TREATY
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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

I do not object to my .

hon. friend's interruption. There are many other cases to which I could apply the same illustration. However, my point is this: The argument advanced by the hon. gentleman, that because the duties imposed in France were higher than the duties we imposed in Canada the treaty is unfair, is utterly unworthy of him and should not have been used. If my hon. friend will apply the same test to other classes of articles to which he referred he will find that the existing order of things is entirely against his own argument.

Now, I do not want to dwell too much on details of that nature. My hon. friend has quoted repeatedly the high duties that are imposed on articles in France and he asks with an air of triumph "Can we expect to do any business under these terms?" Well,

I frankly admit that when we are doing business with any protectionist country the restrictions on trade operate to our disadvantage. I grant at once that we are not likely to do as much business with France under the present treaty, under the existing arrangement, or under the new treaty, as we could if France had a moderate tariff. But is that a reason why we should not endeavour to do what we can. We cannot undertake to change the whole fiscal policy of France; we must do business with France on the basis that she has that protective system, that her duties are high. But surely because we cannot do all

French Treaty

the business with France that we would like is no reason why we should not endeavour to do whatever is possible. What concerns us most is to see that we get the best terms that are offered to others. I suggested that yesterday but I want to repeat it again. I realize that under the high duties of France wre cannot expect to do a very great trade, but certainly we will do less trade if we are placed at a disadvantage as compared with foreign countries. Our great competitor in Europe is, and will naturally be, our neighbour to the south, the American republic, and if we cannot get low duties in France surely it is worth our while to see that nobody else gets any better treatment than we do. That was one of the vital points of our object in going to Europe and that point, as I shall show further on, we have fully accomplished. The United States now has some advantage over us. I will take occasion to refer to that later. Our object in this treaty has been to terminate these disadvantages under which we suffer, to get the best terms that are now available, and to get a guarantee that in the years to come the United States shall get no greater advantages than are given to Canada. Is this not a worthy object?

My hon. friend made a passing allusion to a question of perhaps local importance to him, the duty on wines. He points out that under this treaty we are reducing the duty on wine. That is absolutely correct. We did so before. You could not make a treaty with France unless you were prepared to make some concessions in the matter of wines; but the hon. member talked of the Canadian wines and the duty imposed upon them. That is a different question. I stated in the first stage of the discussion of this measure that the duty set forth in the treaty with France might necessitate some readjustment of other duties, and I still stand by that statement, but we are not called upon to deal with that to-day. We are dealing entirely with the duties imposed on goods from France, and the taxes we shall impose on commodities made in Canada or any goods imported from other countries into Canada is another question, which we are not called upon to deal with at this moment.

My hon. friend for Lincoln said we should have had in a larger degree the French minimum tariff. I agree with him that that was desirable. It would have been a good thing if we could have had the whole minimum tariff and not have had to resort to the schedules at all, but we cannot get that minimum tariff from France. France will not grant the whole minimum tariff to any country. She uses her tariff as the instrument for commercial negotiations. Since we cannot get the whole minimum tariff, what should we do? Should we endeavour to get as much as possible, or should we let the whole matter alone and say that it is not worth trying to get? Our view is to get as much of it as we can, and if we have some articles mentioned in the list that are of no great importance, putting it at the lowest point of argument, what harm can come to any Canadian if we put in some articles which we do not export?

The hon. member spent a great deal of his time in dealing with the character of our exports. He mentions a number of things we do not export. He says there are certain articles which we'export to other countries, which we do not export to France, and why bother with France at all? That is his argument. Well, it might strike most of us to look at it the other way. If there are articles which to-day we are exporting to other countries, there seems to be a fair chance that we might export them to France. That looks logical and reasonable, and we are desirous of the opportunity of exporting them to France. In the second part of my hon. friend's argument he read page after page, for hour after hour, of a long list of items which we do not export. He tells us of some things which he knows about personally. He says "We do not send these "Things to France" and therefore the inference is: Why bother about them at all? According to his argument, the proper preparation for a treaty would have been that we should have looked at the articles that Canada is exporting, and we should have said that if we provided for these, that was all that was necessary. That was not our notion. I am glad to tell my hon. friend that we proceeded along a different line. We thought it would be wise to ascertain by inquiry, not only what we are exporting, but what we might hope to export if the trade came to us. We were making a treaty not for today alone. True it is terminable on short notice, but we hope it will last a long time, and so we are putting in a list of articles which we might possibly export in the future. He speaks of many things with scorn and derision. He spent a large part of his timife mentioning certain articles, and getting the laughter of his friends, and saying "We do not export a dollar's worth of that particular article." I do not think that was a sound argument. It might afford as much amusement to the friends of the hon. member -when I tell him that some of the very articles he spoke of with scorn and derision were put in that list at

French Treaty

the request of the Manufacturers' Association, of which he is a member. My hon. friend was content with a small, narrow vision. If we are not exporting a thing today, we never will export it-that is his method of argument. That does not suit us on this side of the House. If he has the idea that the manufacturers of Canada are standing still and are not expanding, we differ from him. We think the manufactures are expanding to-day. We think they are making many things to-day they did not make before, and there are many things turers are expanding to-day. We think they will make in the near future. At any rate we think we are right in trying to open the doors of the French market to these articles. However, if our anticipations and' expectations are too great in this regard, what harm is done by putting them in the list? Surely it is our duty to provide, not only for the things we are exporting to-day, but for the things we hope to export in the future, having regard to Canada's expanding manufacturing industries.

My hon. friend made merry for a long time when dealing with the articles we were not capable of exporting. I have already stated that some of the things were put in the list at the instance of the great association of which he is a member, but I think I will have to get a little closer to show how rash he is in his efforts to find fault with this bill. I know in his heart he believes in this treaty. He must approve of it in regard to the business with which his own community is connected, but he has allowed himself, for party purposes, I regret to say, to be carried to extremes. He referred to the articles that are mentioned in this long list-this padding as he calls it -and he says " I cannot imagine why on earth bronze powder should be put down in the treaty with France, when we never made the article and have imported it. I have used it in my business for forty years and we have never bought any in this country. Nevertheless, it is put in on this list." That is one of our crimes. We put in this list, as a possible thing which may be made in Canada, the article of bronze powder, and my hon. friend laughs us to scorn because we did so. I will give him an answer to that statement. Here is a telegram, addressed to myself, dated, Montreal, April 19th, which reads:

Eronze powders have been made continuously in Valleyfield since you were there in 1906 on tariff inquiry. Our business increased with France in consequence of French treaty, and since opening office there, exporting 80 per cent of our product to foreign countries and increasing our capacity.

fMr. Fielding.!

That is signed by R. E. Thorne, president of the Canadian Bronze Powder Works, Limited. I think my hon. friend would have been wiser if he had given a more -thoughtful study to these matters before he made the rash statement which he did make. Only one day has elapsed since my hon. friend made his speech and this telegram reached me this morning, but I suppose others who have heard the criticism may be moved to say "We are not accepting his views, but we are going to give a chance to the Canadian manufacturer to make the things which we are not making to-day but which we may make in the near future

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FRENCH TREATY
Sub-subtopic:   BILL TO RATIFY-DEBATE ON SECOND READING CONTINUED
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CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN:

May I ask a question?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FRENCH TREATY
Sub-subtopic:   BILL TO RATIFY-DEBATE ON SECOND READING CONTINUED
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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

Yes.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FRENCH TREATY
Sub-subtopic:   BILL TO RATIFY-DEBATE ON SECOND READING CONTINUED
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April 19, 1923