April 19, 1923

LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

I do not object.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I understand the hon. gentleman has allowed the question.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Strange proceeding, I must say. Article 6 reads:

The present arrangement shall remain in force until the conclusion of a new commercial convention, but either of the high contracting parties may denounce it after four months' notice.

I asked if either of them had denounced it or expressed an intention to do so.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

Speaking from memory, I do not think any formal denunciation took place. But I say that we are bound by the first clause of that agreement, which distinctly declared that it was of a temporary character, and being so bound we agreed to enter into negotiations to make a more comprehensive treaty. I know; as a matter of fact, from information given to me that the French consul in Montreal desired to enter into negotiations in the time of the right hon. gentleman's government. I am not complaining that my right hon. friend did not do so. His government were engaged with important matters. But when we came into power and the French consul asked us to resume negotiations, we felt that that was an obligation, and we gave him the assurance that we were ready to fulfil it.

I have pointed out that under the high French tariff, the volume of trade that we can hope to do is not very big. I have frankly said that from the beginning; but that is not a reason why we should not make an effort to do what we can in the matter. Our chief objective in this matter was to get on even terms with our brethren of the American republic. If we could not climb over the French tariff, you may say that they could not. Well, they are very energetic, very enterprising, and their agents are scouring the continent of Europe to-day in an effort to make favourable trade arrangements. My hon. friend for Lincoln said that we already have everything that we shall get under this treaty, and the leader of the Opposition said last night that I took over a better tariff arrangement than I brought back.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. METGHEN:

A French tariff.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

I am glad my right hon. friend does not dispute that.

Mr. MEIGHEN [DOT] But I do. What I said was that the Minister brought back a higher French tariff than existed before.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

Well, the tariff I took over

was a dead one.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Oh, no.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

Oh, yes. It was absolutely dead; sentence of death had been carried out upon it. The only question we have to consider is whether the terms and

French Treaty

conditions of this treaty are better than the general tariff of France under which we shad operate if we do not accept the treaty. Now, the hon. member for Lincoln said, and he repeated it half a dozen times, that we have more to-day than we shall get under this treaty, and he wanted to know of what use the treaty was. "What do we want with it?'' -he said; "we have everything already that we can get under it." Have we? I will give my hon. friend some evidence on this point. I think he had better attend the meetings of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, of which he is a member. He occasionally gives expression to some of its views, but evidently he conveniently forgets many important things that they say. Here is a statement which was made by representatives of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association who waited upon the government of Canada on February 22nd, 1922:

French Treaty

The French government, although not obliged by treaty to do so, has exempted United States goods from increases applicable under the French general tariff, while it continues to apply those increases against Canadian goods.

The result is that on Canadian goods (other than the few lines which, by treaty, are subject to the French minimum tariff rates) France levies double to three times as much duty as she levies on similar goods imported from the United States.

That is the condition to-day, which the hon. member for Lincoln thinks is all right, and he tells us that we are not going to get anything as good as that now.

We placed these facts before the previous government (see appended copy of letter to Minister of Trade and Commerce) but, so far, France has made no change in these arrangements of her tariff.

The following Canadian products, among others, now suffer under this tariff discrimination if shipped to France:-wrought iron, iron bars, steel bars, tubes welded or not, furniture, pianos and organs, phonographs, varnishes, machine tools, locks, many forms of hardware, metallurgical alloys and substances, spirits, valves, brass goods, agricultural implement parts, shafts, screws, bolts, link belting, spark plugs, etc.

Follows a list of details bearing on this representation. The representation then concludes :

We respectfully urge upon your government the necessity of pressing for the immediate removal of said tariff discrimination.

That is what we have done by this treaty. Every item mentioned in this list submitted by that representation of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, and which has been subject to discrimination in the past, is novr placed upon even terms with the same article coming from the United States. That is one of the conditions that will exist under this treaty; and perhaps my hon. friend would like

further information along the same line. Wei!, let me show him how the present condition of affairs, which he says is so satisfactory, applies to one particular industry in this country. Here is a comparative statement showing the difference between the duty levied on parts for agricultural machinery imported from Canada and the same duty on these machinery parts imported from the United States. This is a statement of the

tariff now in force:

U.S.A. Canada

Francs Francs

Binder canvasses 211.20 654 70Canvas straps 312.00 832.00Magnetos 300.00 840.00Ordinary cast iron spares 25.00 80.00Straight solid steel shafts 10 kilos or less 90.00 240.0010 kilos to 100, 72.00 192 00Tubular bored straight shafts, also bent and crankshafts, any description 10 kilos or less 135.00 360.0010 kilos to 100 90.00 240.00Parts composed of two or more metals 1 kilo and under 40.00 100.001 kilo to 10 35.00 87.5010 kilos to 50 30.00 75.0050 kilos to 300 20.00 50.00Screws, bolts and rivets not lathe turned, cotter pins: less than 3 mm 126.00 336.003 to 8 mm 108.00 264.008 to 12 mm 81.00 204.0012 to 18 mm 63.00 168.00Articles in iron or steel Link chain belting 44.20 137.02Seats, Mower tool boxes 46.80 105.08Coil springs 52.00 161.20Spark plugs, each 0.36 0.96Spirit levels 180.00 480.00

That is the present condition as affecting one particular industry in this country, namely, that engaged in the making of agricultural implements. For some years past, under an arrangement which my hon. friend for Lincoln evidently supported and with which he seemed to be so well pleased yesterday, every one of these items has suffered from a heavy discrimination against Canada. Under the present treaty every one of them will go into France on even terms with the United States' product. And that was really the main purpose of the agreement. We knew that France was a high tariff country and that in all probability we should not be able to do a great deal of trade with her. But in view of the representations made to us in regard to the disadvantage under which we were labouring, we considered, in face of the fact that France was a high tariff country, and in the face of our knowledge that the United States was enjoying a great advantage over us, that it was well, in justice to Canada and all interests in this country, that that discrimination

French Treaty

should be removed; and that is one of the features we present to the House in the present treaty. That was the main object we had in negotiating this treaty, and in that we have accomplished all that can be reasonably desired. I think, therefore, that my hon. friend for Lincoln, on reflection, will discover that a good many of these items in this tariff are not padding after all.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON (West York):

Mr. Speaker, what a great pity it is that my hon. friend the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) is not the diplomat and the negotiator that he is the orator and the debator. But after all, is it not a very easy thing to seize upon a little slip here and there and exploit it? Take for example, bronze powders. Apparently the amount of this article exported is so infinitesimal as to make it not worth while devoting a line to it in the customs papers. The minister seizes upon something here and something there of this description and takes the hon. member for Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) to task, the whole offence of that hon. gentleman having consisted in giving the exact facts regarding the different items covered by my hon. friend's treaty. The hon. gentleman for Lincoln did not say that there were no items of any use in the treaty. He said in connection with several items that there was an opportunity for trade. But the hon. member for Lincoln took a position that the Minister of Finance cannot understand.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

Hear, hear.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

He took an honest position against the interests of his own trade because he thought the gen-

4 p.m. eral good of Canada demanded that he should take that position. That is what he did. But I know something of the inception of this matter, and my hon. friend could have gone further. He could have shown that in connection with some of these items, purchased at such great cost to the common people of this country-purchased at the sacrifice of the interests of our agriculturists-he could have shown, I say, other items, especially asked for by the hon. member for Lincoln, which would have tremendously helped him in his business. Is it a very, veiy heinous offence for an hon. member of this House, forgetting his own personal interests and the interests of his association, to say something on behalf of the rest of the people?

Now, let us take the hon. minister's next point, it is that the attitude of the hon. member for Lincoln was that our trade with France being so infinitesimal it was not worth

while trying to develop it. So far as we in this quarter of the House are concerned, we have not taken that attitude. The Minister of Finance is perfectly right-our government wanted a treaty with France, some tariff arrangement that would enable the commerce of both countries, not of one country alone, to be advanced. It is quite true that we always wanted such an arrangement; but it is entirely another thing to say that , we wanted something which involves all that this treaty involves against the interests of Canada. We would like to do everything in our power to help the French republic. I do not know whether the hon. minister is advancing this treaty just on that score alone, or whether he thinks that the benefit the few favoured manufacturers who are helped is the real ground why this treaty is brought down.

I repeat, we would like to help France as much as we possibly can, but we still think that our first duty is to Canada-helping France as much as we can without the direct sacrifice of Canadian interests. That was our attitude then, and it is our attitude to-day.

We find, Mr. Speaker, some extraordinary things growing out of this discussion. Why, we have learned from the mouth of the Minister of Finance that Canada is a low tariff country; that we have no excessive tariffs, simply low tariffs. When m}' hon. friend said that he was. dealing of course with his own tariff, because it has always been continued. And he was telling us the truth about that tariff. For it is a low tariff. It is high in regard to some items, I admit, one or two here and there that might be lowered, but it is a low tariff. It is a great thing to get the truth sometimes. Look at the records of this House and observe how often my hon. friend has moved resolutions demanding the reduction of the tariff which he and his supporters then described as high and extortionate. Why, what was the last election fought on? In some districts it paid my hon. friends opposite to fight it on the ground that our tariff was a high tariff-as high as Haman's gallows. But once anyone takes the trouble to look into our tariff he must admit, if he would be honest about it, that it is dwarfed into pallid insignificance compared with tariffs elsewhere. That is one thing we have learned-ours is a low tariff.

My hon. friend makes a lot out of the treaty of 1921. Well, that was a temporary treaty. It was not a treaty that we took five months to evolve, anyway, nor was it a treaty that we sent emissaries overseas to look after. That treaty negotiation was merely incidental to other work and was the best we could arrange. And certainly it is much bet-

French Treaty

ter than the treaty now before us. My hon. friend says that France wants to have a tariff that will enable her to negotiate proper business transactions. Very well, why should not Canada have a similar tariff? Why should not Canada^ look after herself just as well as France looks after her own interests?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

Why did you not do it?

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

My hon. friend asks: "Why did not we do that?" Of course, that is the cheapest of all kinds of questions. Had we been given an opportunity, had we come back to office, we would have done it.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

Oh, yes.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

My hon. friend says, " Oh, yes." Does he give me no other reason why Canada should not look after her own commercial interests except that we did not do it?

Mr. FIELpiNG: Oh no, I do not give that reason.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Very good.

France is looking after herself, and that is not a crime. But just let us look at the spectacle that is presented to us. Here we have these two gentlemen going over to negotiate a commercial treaty with a view, presumably, of doing something to help Canadian trade; going over to deal with a country which, according to the Minister of Finance, was already committed to high tariffs. Without the slightest preparation, without the slightest thing to help them in . negotiating, they go over, committed by their public utterances here not to any higher tariff to enable Canadian trade to be looked after, but committed to a lower tariff. Then the French ministers, who understand their country's business so well, say to our representatives, " Well, yes, your tariff is coming down instead of going up, but ours is going up, and if you wish to do any business with us you have got to come up so much." And then we are told by the Minister of Finance that it is impossible to do anything. The representatives of France are business men, men looking after the interests of France, and for my hon. friend to tell me that he cannot do anything when France has a very large balance of trade in her favour is equivalent to saying that either the French representatives care not for that balance of trade, or else that he never appreciated the strength of his position. Generally when you have one country with a heavy balance of trade in its favour, and the other therefore with a correspondingly

adverse balance, what is tried to be done is to adjust those balances so that interchange of commerce may be rendered more easy. But what my hon. friend has done is to make very sure that the adverse balance will be greater than it has been in the past. It is perfectly true so far as the particular lines of activity which my hon. friend has referred to are concerned we will sell more of them, but so far as the big, basic exports of this country are concerned, if this tariff has any effect, we are going to sell far less of them. I only know one real argument, that is, if the good of the majority be served here, in favour of this treaty, and that argument is the Liberal platform. I am going to refer to that dishonoured and much abused document again, Mr. Speaker. One solemn resolution read:

Be and it is hereby resolved (1) That the serious nature of the country's financial situation calls for the profoundest consideration of all patriotic citizens, and the exercise of the severest economy by the government.

I am not now pointing out that economy is entirely forgotten and that the only change in the situation is that we are just so much more in debt, but I have to give the House the run of the whole resolution:

(2) That increase of revenue must be sought from an equitable and effective imposition and collection of graduated taxes on business profits and income applicable to all incomes above reasonable exemptions; (3) Taxes on luxuries-

Taxes on luxuries. You know, Mr. Speaker, we are told that there is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that I would point out to my hon. friend, although he had nothing whatever to do with that platform, although he has on the floor of this House discarded it, that there may be something good even in that platform, even in that awful document so inimical to the real fiscal interests of this country. There was, I think, something good in it. I think that taxes on luxuries are right. But this French treaty absolutely forbids them. It is the one argument in its favour. Not only does it forbid it by making its reductions of ten or fifteen per cent off the low intermediate tariff, but it also goes further and provides for specific duties tying the hands of this country. I do not know whether his abhorrence to that platform had anything to do with my hon. friend's treaty or not, but it is really a very apparent argument in favour of the treaty from his standpoint.

My hon. friend opened up the discussion of this treaty I think very fairly. He said in opening that he did not know that it would amount to very much; I think those were hi?

French Treaty

exact words. He did not know if we would do very much business under it; he was not sure. He said at page 464 of Hansard:

France will not make as generous a treaty to-day as she did in 1907.

So we have it from the lips of the real negotiator, because I have no doubt that my hon. friend the Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Mr. Lapointe) had some other business to look after-for example, he was looking after all the cables dealing with that most important question the appointment of his friend Mr. Talbot as a director of the Canadian National Railways, and other large matters of state administration-

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Where did you get that fine piece of information?

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

It was in the

press. Of course, if my friend tells me he had nothing to do with that nomination, why, he knows; I do not.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

The press stated in the month of February that the name of Mr. Talbot came as a surprise.

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April 19, 1923