May 18, 1926

?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh!

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I confess I experienced some surprise when I read those remarks of my right hon. friend.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh!

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

What are my hon. friends moaning about? I say I did experience some surprise when I read those remarks. I really thought that my right hon. friend, while I have no doubt as to his sincerity in what he is there expressing, would have carefully avoided making that particular remark in Kitchener, that he would have confined such remarks on the British preference possibly to the city of Toronto or some other city in this country.

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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Frontenac):

Did my right hon. friend keep that in mind some years ago when the proposition to build a navy was up?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Yes, he had it in mind. There were a great many remarks attributed to me that were never uttered by me, if my hon. friend will do me justice in the matter.

Now I come to the last quotation, which I am making only for the purpose of illustrating what I have said already. On October 28, at Alexandria, as reported in the Montreal Gazette, my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition said:

The United States tariff on farm products should be met point far point, in the Canadian customs duties.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I say, after all these declarations made through this country, from one end to the other, in the course of a general campaign, appealing to the people of this Dominion to return him to power in order that he might form an administration to put

The Budget-Mr. Mackenzie King

the protective policy into force, it does come indeed as a matter of surprise that when there has been such an opportunity as that presented by the budget now before us to introduce an amendment that would give expression to these views with respect to a protective policy, no amendment of the kind is made by hon. gentlemen opposite. There can be only one explanation, and that is that despite all their professions they are not, as I have said, themselves united on that question.

May I add, further, that the surprise is the greater inasmuch as a direct challenge was made to hon. gentlemen opposite on this very subject in the Speech from the Throne. The hon. member for Inverness (Mr. Macdougall), who was speaking a few moments ago, read a paragraph from the Speech from the Throne which is quoted in the amendment that is before the House. I need scarcely say that hon. gentlemen opposite had the Speech from the Throne before them when they were drafting the amendment. The beginning of the paragraph from which the quotation in question has just been made reads as follows:

My ministers are of the opinion that a general increase in the customs tariff would prove detrimental to the country's continued prosperity and prejudicial to national unity. In their view the incidence of this form of taxation should bear as lightly as possible upon the necessaries of life and on agriculture and other primary industries.

Now, if hon. gentlemen opposite felt that was an expression of view which was not in accord with their own why did they not say so? Why did they not move an amendment challenging a statement of that kind? Very little was said as to this expression of view, however. I can see nothing in criticism of that declaration even in the debate on the Address; I do not know that it has been challenged during the entire debate on the budget. The government stated its position clearly upon the matter without any fear, and hon. gentlemen opposite could readily have stated their own position in as complete a way.

Now may I add this: The action of hon. gentlemen opposite in evading the whole question in their amendment is the more extraordinary and remarkable when one considers their professed solicitude for the manufacturing industries of this country and in particular for the automobile industry. May I point out this fact to those who are manufacturing automobiles, making motor trucks and the like: Hon. gentlemen opposite knew what the resolutions of the Minister of Finance were, and the cut he proposed to make in the duties. They knew of the proposed reduction in the duties when they had their caucus,

and when they were considering this matter. Therefore, had they been really sincere in their professed opposition, they could have brought in an amendment to the budget expressing regret that the [DOT] automobile duties were being reduced to the extent that they were. Did they do that? No, not a word was expressed in that amendment in reference to the customs duties. The amendment brought in related to a matter of procedure. And why was it drawn in that way? It was so drawn in order to avoid giving any expression of opinion on the tariff itself. That is perfectly apparent. Last year when the duty on automobiles was being debated half a dozen or more hon. gentlemen opposite voted in support of a resolution to reduce those duties. Those half dozen, I presume, could hardly have been counted upon to stay with the rest of the party on a motion which dealt with the question of the reduction of duty. I point these matters out in order that the manufacturing interests of the country, and in particular our friends in Oshawa and some other places whom some hon. gentlemen opposite were ready enough to introduce to the government that they might make representations, should understand that hon. gentlemen opposite had it in their power to propose a specific amendment to the budget on the question of the reduction of the duties. But they did not do it. They merely brought in this amendment which deals, as I have already stated, simply with a matter of procedure, and does not touch at all the reduction of duties of which we hear so much.

May I go a step further and say this: I do not believe that hon. gentlemen opposite have been prepared at any time to introduce an amendment to the budget for a. consistently maintained tariff when debate thereon was possible in this House. In the several sessions of the last parliament you have an exact parallel, Mr. Speaker, to the tactics we are now witnessing anew. In the campaign of 1921 the Conservative party, under the able leadership of the right hon. leader of the opposition, told the people over and over again in different parts of the country, that the question of a protective tariff was the all important question. If time permitted I could read dozens of statements, even more emphatic than those I have already read pertaining to the campaign of 1925, advocating an increased protective tariff for Canada as the great necessity of that time. Such was the nature of the announcement made in the campaign. What was done afterwards? In the session of 1922, the first session follow-

The Budget-Mr. Mackenzie King

ing the election, my hon. friend who is leading the opposition this afternoon (Stir Henry Drayton) brought in an amendment to the budget. And what was the nature of that amendment? Another milk and water affair, that was all. It was an amendment that expressed regret that the Liberal party had not carried out all at once all the pledges that it had made at a Liberal convention that had previously been held. That was the substance of it. You could get anyone on either side of the House to vote for an amendment like that; it could not do him any harm or any good in his particular constituency. Hon gentlemen opposite found then, as they have found now, that they could not unite their party on an amendment for a consistently maintained protective tariff to the budget. That is what happened in 1922. What happened in 1923? What action did those gentlemen, who are so fond of having the country and the manufacturers believe that the manufacturers' interests are peculiarly their own, take in 1923? Why, in 1923 the Conservative party never brought in an amendment to the budget at all.

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

They were shut out.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

No, they were not shut out. As the official opposition they had the opportunity and the right to move the first amendment and I can assure my hon. friends, if I had time to turn to the records, that several days elapsed before any amendment was moved. The amendment that was brought forward at last was moved by the leader of the Progressive party, but hon. gentlemen opposite had not the courage to stand up and show where they stood on this great tariff question. They were prepared to let the Progressive party make their statement of tariff policy but although they had the opportunity they were not willing to move an amendment to the budget showing where they stood on the tariff.

I have just spoken of the session of 1923. Now let us take the session of 1924. What did they do at that time? They allowed the opportunity to pass, and again they failed to introduce any amendment. This time an amendment was brought in by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woods-worth), an amendment relating to the cost of living. Hon. gentlemen opposite who profess to be such protagonists for a protectionist tariff policy did not even attempt to bring in an amendment. They left it to the hon. member (Mr. Woodsworth), whom they are particularly fond of denouncing, to

bring in an amendment at that time in connection with the cost of living. The day after the amendment had been introduced, to show the courage of hon. members opposite, some one of their number raised a point of order with respect to it which anyone familiar with parliamentary practice would know that you, Mr. Speaker, could not rule as having been properly raised. While the point of order was under consideration hon. gentlemen opposite came ailong with an amendment declaring that there should be a consistently maintained tariff policy. Hon. gentlemen opposite actually brought in an amendment on the subject of protection but knowing all the time that when the Speaker declared the point of order was not well taken their own amendment would be ruled out and there would then be no chance to discuss it. That is what happened on that occasion. What followed in the session of 1925, just before the general election? There again my hon. friends opposite came along with an amendment. Was it for a consistently maintained protective policy? They could have taken the same amendment that had been ruled out the year before and have presented it. But they did not. My hon. friend the member for West York (Sir Henry Drayton) presented the amendment. It was another milk and water affair. It declared there was still too much in the way of taxation, and expressed regret that the public debt was not a little lower than it was.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Was that a milk and water amendment?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Milk and water,

I should think it was. It was very thin milk and very poor water at that. That was the best amendment hon. gentlemen opposite could move and at the same time .carry with them a united party. I have outlined the position of hon. gentlemen opposite at every session of parliament since 1921. Not once did hon. gentlemen opposite during the course of any debate on the budget bring forward their so-called policy of protection so that at the proper time they might stand and fight for it in the parliament of Canada. They refrained from doing so just as they have refrained during the present session.

To-day we are confronted with the amend-nent before us, on which hon. gentlemen lope to unite their party, and in favour of which they invite the House to vote. The amendment, moved by the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Manion) and seconded by the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens), reads as follows:

The Budget-Mr. Mackenzie King

That all the words after "that" be struck out and the following substituted therefor:

In the late general election campaign assurances were repeatedly given by the Prime Minister and other ministers of the crown that before further tariff changes were made an opportunity would be given industries affected thereby to be heard before an advisory board.

That such assurances were officially incorporated by the government in the Speech from the Throne of the present session in the following words:

"Changes in the tariff should be made only after the fullest examination of their bearing upon both primary and manufacturing industries and that representations requesting increase or decrease of duties should be made the subject of the most careful investigation and report by a body possessing ih# necessary qualification to advise the ministry with respect thereto. A tariff advisory board will accordingly be appointed forthwith."

That such tariff advisory board was accordingly appointed.

And this. House regrets that in the case of drastic changes announced in the budget such assurances have not been fulfilled.

Now, Mr. Speaker, may I say in the first place that the government did give assurance at the last general election that a tariff board would be appointed. It is perfectly true, as the quotation from the Speech from the Throne says, that in the Speech from the Throne it was stated that a tariff advisory board would be appointed, but I need not go further than the amendment itself to prove that the government has carried out its pledge in respect to the appointing of that board. The amendment quotes from the Speech from the Throne the statement that a body possessing the necessary qualifications to advise the ministry with respect to the tariff will be appointed. It says:

A' tariff advisory board will accordingly be appointed forthwith.

Then what is the next line?

That such tariff advisory board was accordingly appointed.

There, Mr. Speaker, is the statement that the government has carried out the broad policy-

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

-carried out the broad policy of appointing a tariff board which it stated to the people of Canada it would carry out. It has appointed a tariff advisory board, and the amendment of my hon. friend states that the government had promised that such a board would be appointed and that such tariff board was accordingly appointed.

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CON

Edmond Baird Ryckman

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RYCKMAN:

Does the government

intend to submit anything at all to the board?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Let my hon. friends be patient. They are beginning to see the force and effect of their amendment. Let

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HOll-221


me make this clear; in all the discussions that took place in the general elections, and in the declaration in the Speech from the Throne, the government was setting out a broad policy, was discussing general policies. If my hon. friends will look at the speeches that were made at the time this declaration of policy was announced they will also find that on each occasion that reference has been made to the tariff advisory board care has been taken to state that the government did not intend, on the subject of tariff matters, to tie the hands of parliament in any particular. I desire to make that perfectly clear. A direct statement was made that in the last analysis the tariff had to be settled on the floor of parliament, and that the government did not intend, by appointing a tariff advisory board to advise the minister to tie the hands of parliament in any way. Having said that much, may I come to the point which I know is in the minds of hon. members opposite. They have overlooked altogether the significance of the broad statement of policy, and they have concentrated their minds on two words in the amendment: That before further tariff changes were made an opportunity would be given industries affected to be heard before an advisory board. They are concentrating their minds on the two words "before further". I challenge hon. gentlemen opposite to find any place where those two words appear in any declaration made by myself on behalf of the government. There was no statement that before this tariff board was appointed no tariff changes would be made in this parliament. When hon. gentlemen opposite are prepared to raise a debate on those two words "before further", while allowing the whole question of the actual tariff changes, which after all is the vital thing, to go by the board, I confess I cannot but feel that they are prepared to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. May I say in perfect frankness to the House that I would have very much preferred, before the changes proposed by the Minister of Finance were made, that the matter should have been referred to the tariff board. That is what I wished and that is what every hon. member of the administration wished might have been done.


CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

We are dealing

with a practical situation, and I hope my hon. friend will allow me to conclude. I say that the government would have preferred to have had the tariff board appointed in time to deal with these matters, if that had been possible.

The Budget-Mr. Mackenzie King

It was no fault of the government that we were unable to get the tariff board consituted sooner than we did.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Hon. members opposite, who know a good deal more about the difficulties the government had in getting a tariff board appointed than some of them would care to confess, know that the government did its utmost to get the tariff board appointed fully a month and a half before it actually was appointed, that we hoped and did our utmost to secure a certain personnel that we believed would commend itself to the House and the country. After very considerable effort, and some reasonable expectation, we were unsuccessful in obtaining the services of a certain gentleman we sought for the position of chairman of the board. We were fortunately able to obtain the services of another gentleman, whose appointment commands public confidence throughout the country, but it was with the greatest difficulty we finally persuaded him to accept the position. Only as a patriotic duty, and with a knowledge of the difficulties confronting the administration, could the Right Hon. Mr. Graham be persuaded to accept the post. The government did its utmost to get the tariff board constituted in time to refer the motor industries customs tariff to that board, but we were unable to get the board constituted in time to permit an investigation before the Minister of Finance brought in the budget. We had then to consider a very practical question, and that was whether we should wait for another year before making any changes in the duties on automobiles and motor trucks, simply because we had been unable to get the tariff board constituted at the time we hoped it would be possible to constitute it.

There is a further point I desire to make perfectly clear. While it is true that, so far as the letter is concerned, we were unable to place before the tariff board for consideration the matter of the present duties, yet so far as the spirit of our pledge is concerned it has been fulfilled to the last degree. The spirit of the pledge respecting the appointment of a tariff advisory board,-and hon. members opposite know it-is that there should be careful investigation concerning the effect of any change in the tariff before it is made. That is the purpose of the advisory board. That has been done with respect to the duties-

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May 18, 1926