I have no objection to going into the matter now. As regards the French treaty, for reasons explained, it became necessary to deal with details to a considerable extent, and, therefore, Schedules were attached to the bill. In this case we are relieved of the necessity of dealing with schedules because the Italian fiscal policy permits treatment of the question in a general way. Therefore, all we need to do is to adopt the few clauses in order to establish what we call the most favoured nation treatment.
Some years ago, in 1910, we came to an agreement with Italy, not in the form and shape of a treaty. A good understanding was reached, and for years our commercial relations have been very pleasant, although by the words of the agreement they have been rather limited. We agreed at the time to which I refer that certain mentioned products of Canada should be admitted into Italy under most favoured terms and reciprocally that certain mentioned products of Italy should be admitted into Canada similarly on the most favoured terms. The chief products of Canada, perhaps the products that most concern us were included in that list, and I presume that our Italian friends mentioned the things that most concerned them. The trade that has been carried on between Canada
and Italy lias been, on the whole, of a most satisfactory nature. I suppose the question of imports and exports has been disturbed somewhat by war conditions. The figures as they stand for a few years are as follows:
Year Imports Exports1914
$2,090,000 $ 514,0001918
Evidently 1920 was quite an exceptional year. Thus, as regards comparison, the trade is quite favourable to Canada. The existing arrangement is satisfactory as far as it goes, but it gives us no guarantee as to what may happen with other countries. It will be quite possible, under our present arrangement, for Italy to give more favourable terms to somebody else. Therefore, although no particular case has arisen demanding a treaty and business is satisfactory as far as it goes, we thought it well to guard against any misapprehension of that sort, and so we have agreed as regards, not only the limited list already mentioned in our existing agreement, but the products of Canada and the products of Italy generally, that we shall give and receive the most favoured-nation terms. No details are required. Whatever we grant to any foreign country we must grant to Italy. Whatever Italy grants to any foreign country she must grant to us. That is the whole story of the treaty.
I think, perhaps, we could make greater headway if, instead of discussing the matter now, we were to reserve whatever observations we have until the House is in committee, as long as it is understood that we can raise questions concerning the principles without being debarred from that point.
Motion agreed to and the House went into committee, Mr. Gordon in the chair.
Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Fielding thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 153, respecting a certain trade convention between His Majesty and the King of Italy.
Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.
Hon. W. S. FIELDING (Minister of Finance) moved the second reading of Bill No. 153, respecting a certain trade convention between His Majesty and the King of Italy.
Therefore, under this clause we can properly discuss the whole treaty. I was going to ask my hon. friend whether his view is, as mine is, that the effect of the treaty with France and this treaty with Italy is to extend, for example to Italy, the right of giving more favoured terms to all its border states than it gives to Canada. In the case of Italy, if I am right, that would [DOT]give Italy the right to prefer in her markets. France, Switzerland, Austria and Jugo-Slavia. I do not think there are any more,
I would not like to say that. Canada gives to Italy all that the French treaty gives to France. We discussed that in connection with the French treaty My hon. friend's interpretation of that I admit is possible, but I do not think it is of practical importance. Whatever we give to France we certainly give to Italy. That is plain enough.
member not think the committee ought to know this? The explanation given to us in connection with the French treaty was that while the treaty might well carry that construction, and, indeed, it seems impossible that it could carry any other construction: all that France wanted was to be able to look after reparations and to give more favoured treatment under the reparations clauses. Of course, the obvious answer there was: if that be the fact, if that is all that France wants, why was not the treaty so drawn? The trouble is that we must take the treaty as we have it, and we should understand what we are doing. As drawn, it provides that France can give to her neighbours, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium, more favoured treatment than she may give to Canada. Surely we should know where we are. If my hon. friend is in doubt about it, should not the point be cleared up before we go on? I
thought it was conceded in the discussion of the French treaty that whatever the reasons might have been, whatever the argument of France was, the neighbours of the French republic might be given better treatment than Canada.
Certainly. Then when I came to find out what was given to France I thought my hon. friend acknowledged that under the terms of the treaty the bordering states might receive benefits over and above the benefits guaranteed Canada. If I am wrong my hon. friend will set me right.
that such was a possible interpretation of the treaty. I think the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) called attention earlier to that phase of the question and I said that the treaty was open to that interpretation but that I was satisfied that this was not what the French government had in mind. And that is what I say now.
My hon. friend admits that the treaty is open to this interpretation, and that being the case, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium, for example, are entitled, if France chooses to give it, to more favoured treatment than Canada may receive under the treaty. Following up just exactly what my hon. friend has stated, that Italy is entitled to everything France has got,-the selfsame covenant-it is obvious that Italy may give to France, Switzerland, Austria or Jugo-Slavia a preference in her markets against Canada. Surely that is the case. But if my hon. friend disputes it I suppose we shall have to debate the question. I think, however, it must be apparent that this follows necessarily from what he says.
I am not very much concerned about the neighbouring countries coming into conflict with Canada. I have said that whatever we give to France we give to Italy and all the other favoured nations, but I do not seriously look upon Jugo-Slavia as a competitor of Canada. The main object of the treaty with France.is to see that we get even terms with the United States. I say now that in this case our chief competitor will probably be the United States, and if we get even terms with that country I do not think we need be very much disturbed about all the others.