April 19, 1923

CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN:

Would the hon. minister say, if bronze powder has been exported, why it is left out of both the customs and export returns?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

The export returns have not been prepared by me, but have been prepared by the government which the hon. member supported. If he has any criticism to offer on that score, I would remind him that the last public returns produced were made under the direction of my predecessor, and I am not going to find any fault with them. I suppose they did what they thought to be best. My hon. friend spent so much time in dealing with those goods which are of no importance that he forgot'the larger question which he might have taken up. I will put the question to him. What odds, if all these things which he calls padding are put into the treaty? In this case we show him why, and in many other cases we can show the reason. But suppose he is right, suppose we not only do not export but cannot export, will you tell me what harm comes from putting them in the treaty so that if our manufactures develop we will have the opportunity of exporting them. What harm comes from it?

I want to put a better question that he might have put. He might have asked us why we have not inserted this, that, or the other item in the treaty. If my hon. friend can show that one single item of importance to the export trade of Canada, an item that we are exporting to-day or have a fair chance of exporting, is not covered by this treaty; if he could ask me that question and I was not able to answer it, then I would admit that we were open to criticism. This treaty may err in the matter of covering too much ground; but I state with confidence that there

French Treaty

is not an item that Canada is exporting today or has hope of exporting in the early future, that is not covered by this treaty. If it is covered and if we get the best possible terms as compared with our neighbours in the United States, why should we complain of that?

My hon. friend asked some questions. He said: "We are to hhve no advantages over the present treaty. What have we that we did not have before? We have everything now without the treaty. Why then," he argues, "make a treaty, if things are as they are?" The leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen), in his speech delivered in this city yesterday evening, according to a report in the press, fell into the same fallacy. He said: "Mr. Fielding took over to France a better French treaty than the one he brought back."

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

A better French tariff.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

I beg pardon. A better French tariff. That is to say, better rates as applied to Canadian produce than we have to-day. In a few cases that is correct.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

In virtually all that count.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

My right hon. friend has overlooked a very important thing. He speaks of the tariff that I took over, meaning the present rates. My right hon. friend, like his friend for Lincoln, forgeta that these are dead or under sentence of death, because notice has been given by France that these rates are no longer to apply. He assumes that these rates are going to continue. He should have remembered that the French government long ago gave notice that they were not prepared to continue these rates. They denounced their treaties in all quarters, and they increased their tariffs as it was their right to do. We are, therefore, not justified in making comparisons to-day between the present rates and the rates that are going to be put into effect, except in a distant way. The great question to-day is not a choice between the duties set forth in this treaty and the duties we have to-day; it is a choice between the duties set forth in this treaty and the duties of the French general tariff which are very high duties. If this treaty fails, then we fall under the French general tariff which is a very high one. It is more important to Canada to-day to have this treaty than it is to France. Why? The differences between the French general tariff and the French minimum tariff are very large. The difference between the duties of our intermediate tariff and our general tariff are

small. They run from up to 5 per cent, and in a few cases probably more. If we make no treaty with France to-day, all that happens to France is that she comes under our general tariff, which is a moderate tariff, while we come under their general tariff which is in most cases an exorbitant tariff, in many cases four times as much as the duties under their minimum tariff. Thus the right hon. gentleman will see that it is vastly more important to us to make this treaty with France to-day than it is for France to make it.

The hon. member for Lincoln said that the French minimum tariff gave what he called adequate protection. There is force in that. As a rule it is a higher rate than ours, and if we can not do business under the minimum tariff of France, what chance shall we have of doing business when their general tariff, their maximum tariff, is applied? If this treaty fails to-day, France need not worry much about it, because she would come under our general tariff which is a moderate tariff. My hon. friend for Lincoln would say that it is too low. At all events France would get the benefit of the moderate tariff. But if we do not adopt this treaty to-day, we come under the provisions of the French general tariff which is, in many cases, four times the rate of the minimum tariff.

It is true that our relations with France, are good-

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Before the hon. gentleman leaves that point, has he brought down or submitted to the House a notification, if there is one, from the French government, terminating or expressing an intention to terminate the arrangement that was in effect when he went over?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

The notice to terminate the treaty between France and Canada? I know of the notice to terminate the original treaty that was passed years ago.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I mean the notice to terminate the arrangement in effect when he went over, to succeed the original treaty.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

I do not know if there was any formal notice; but the terms of the treaty set forth that it was only a temporary arrangement and that representatives of the governments were to meet together for the purpose of drawing up a larger and more comprehensive treaty.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It was a status quo with continuance for a certain time. A certain time was to be given in case of a desire to cancel the treaty.

2000 COMMONS

French Treaty

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

The first clause reads:

Pending the conclusion of a new commercial convention, with a view to which negotiations will begin immediately, the French and Canadian governments have agreed to the following provisions.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Is there not a clause providing for cancellation of that?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

The agreement was made by the French government only on condition that it was a temporary agreement, and that both governments were to commence 'negotiations for a broader treaty. Is that not a notice to quit? My right hon. friend knows that the French consul in Montreal applied to his government for a resumption of negotiations; but they were postponed. The agreement itself shows that it was only a temporary thing, and that it was the duty of both governments to enter into negotiations respecting a more comprehensive treaty.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I referred to it in that language myself; but I do not see any reason why Canada should press the temporary part of the clause, especially to get a worse condition of affairs than we have under the present agreement.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

My right hon. friend does not see any reason why Canada should fulfil her obligations to enter into negotiations.

* Mr. MEIGHEN: Certainly.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

I do. I think there is an obligation on the Canadian government to enter into negotiations, although the right hon. gentleman neglected doing so. I do not blame him for that, because he was busy with other things. Although he neglected this, we on our side did not neglect it. 'We felt that that was an obligation which we were called upon to fulfil and we have done so.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I asked the hon. gentleman, I thought in courteous language, if there was not a clause providing for termination of the temporary agreement. Instead of answering me, he entered into a round of something pretty nearly abuse. I will now read the clause, if he will permit me.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Hon. gentlemen do not want to hear this. *

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April 19, 1923