March 1, 1927

LIB-PRO

John Millar

Liberal Progressive

Mr. MILLAR:

May I ask a question?

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

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

If my hon. friend is asking for information, yes. If it is only a catch question, I prefer not.

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

John Millar

Liberal Progressive

Mr. MILLAR:

If the hon. member were

returned to power, would he increase the present tariff?

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

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I cannot answer that

question without first making a full examination of the whole situation.

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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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Anything like an examination of a situation or a considered judgment upon an intricate question always raises a laugh on the other side. I am sorry to say that this government is lacking in many respects. In the first place, it lacks in examination and consideration; in the second place, it lacks in initiation, .and in the third place, it lacks courage. During one of the hectic days of last session, one of those occasions when the Minister of Finance thought his government was in danger, although it actually pulled through, he said while shaking his fist at that corner of the House: You know what it means if you defeat this government; it means "protection and higher and higher and higher protection." I know the Minister of Railways deals in

language of that kind, both in the House and on the platform out west, and I know moreover he uses it simply as a bogey to frighten and to threaten the people of those western provinces. He uses it as the nurse did to the children in the old nursery rhyme, Which says:

The goblins will get you if you don't watch out.

I believe enlightenment will come to those provinces in the near future as to the real attitude of the Conservative party, upon the question of protection. I believe the time will come when they will appreciate and endorse our attitude. We are not selfish in regard to the policy of protection. We do not ask for any "brick for brick" tariff. We do not ask for higher and higher protection as attributed to us by our opponents. We ask merely for a reasonable, adequate tariff measure, and if we get it, we believe it will redound to the advantage of every class and of every part of the Dominion.

I can appreciate just as clearly as can the Minister of Railways that with an agricultural community such as we have in the western provinces, who produce mostly grain and cattle, it is difficult, if not impossible, to confer any direct benefit by a customs tariff. I realize that; it needs no demonstration; but I realize just as fully that it is absolutely necessary to the life of industry in eastern Canada that protection be maintained. Under such circumstances is it beyond the realm of statesmanship to equalize conditions in a country such as this? We have to recognize either now or some day in the future that we have a long straggling country, of great length and narrow breadth. We have many different interests and different communities. Our activities in life are greatly diversified, and some day we shall have to meet upon common ground in order that equal benefit and advantage shall be conferred by this Dominion of Canada upon all sections and classes of the people. The proposal of the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen last fall, when he was leader of the Conservative party met the situation better than any other proposal I have heard. He proposed to meet it on the basis of preferential freight rates.

One thing we must realize is the question of transportation costs in Canada. We cannot settle that question upon the basis of a single rate for all parts of Canada. Such a plan will not work out; it will disrupt this country. We have to recognize the special claims of the maritimes, so well pointed out by Sir Andrew Duncan, in respect of railway

The Budget-Mr. Guthrie

rates, and we on this side of the House are prepared to meet that recommendation.

But we shall have to apply the very same reasoning to the people in other sections of Canada. The raising of grain, the raising of those wonderful crops in the three prairie provinces, is a matter of the greatest interest to the people of Canada; it is a matter of interest to our trade and commerce, it is a matter of great national concern and if the present railway rates bear too heavily upon those basic commodities, then it is in the national interest that relief be given. Such in brief was the doctrine enunciated by the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen, and I am sorry to say that the west did not respond to his proposal. We shall have to come to it in the near future. Will the government initiate some policy of that kind? Is it utterly devoid of any power of initiation? Does it not realize that the question of preferential freight rates has to be settled? We in this country must learn to offset geographical conditions in the matter of freight charges. Already in our railway tariff mileage is disregarded, and we shall likewise have to disregard geography. We have done so in many cases already. We have given special rates over our railways to special industries to enable them to market their goods profitably, and so we shall have to do in regard to the grain and cattle growers of the west, and the time to do it is now, not to wait. We invite the government to make suggestions, and to propound a policy in regard to this great question. Grain and cattle being the staple productions of those three prairie provinces, and being vitally essential to the success and prosperity of the Dominion of Canada, can we not afford to give a preferential rate on the transportation of these products in the general interest of Canada. And I say the same with regard to coal, fish lumber and the like, from the maritime provinces. Already we have established a preferential rate in regard to certain products of British Columbia. Salmon has a preferential rate. Apples from the Okanagan come to the city of Montreal almost as cheaply as apples from the city of Toronto, because of the preferential rate they enjoy. Pulp and newsprint have preferential rates. Why not adopt that principle in regard to grain and in regard to live stock in the west, in regard practically to all the basic productions of this country, which by reason of geographical conditions are now too remote for profitable marketing? That brings me to another point.

It is an odd thing to me that from the city of Calgary to the city of Vancouver, which is so near at hand, only 642 miles distant, the farmers should be called upon to pay a

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


rate of 21 cents for transporting their grain, while all they are charged if they ship it to Fort William is 26 cents. The distance from Calgary to Fort William is 1,251 miles, and the rate is 26 cents; the distance from Calgary to Vancouver is 642 miles, and the rate is 21 cents. Why cannot that rate be placed upon a fair basis in order to give the farmers who ship from Calgary or Edmonton the advantage which should be theirs by reason of their proximity to Vancouver? Why impose upon them a higher rate than is imposed upon the traffic that goes eastward? For my part, I cannot see any reason in it. That is another matter which this government will have to settle, and it should be settled when the question of preferential rates is being settled in this country. I am satisfied it will have to be done at some time in the near future. Then look at the coal problem, so dependent upon that very question. The coal problem has been pressed upon this government for the last five years, session after session, time and time again. The Minister of the Interior (Mr. Stewart) who is in charge of the coal matter is not at present in his seat. It Was said of him in this House by my hon. friend from Fort William (Mr. Manion) the other night that no man could be as honest as the Minister of the Interior looked. I say that no minister should be as dilatory as the Minister of the Interior has been for the last five years in regard to this coal problem. Now he seems to take the ground that the matter cannot be settled at all, that it is economically impossible. Why, Mr. Speaker, if our coal supply was cut off to-morrow by the authorities of the United States, we would settle the coal question in Canada in twenty-four hours. But again, this government lacks initiative. Again, it lacks resolution. Again, it lacks courage. It has failed in every development scheme that it has undertaken. The Peace river scheme is as dead now almost as Julius Caesar. The settlement of the railway rate question has not been advanced since 1925. Immigration and settlement in the west has been a complete failure during the last five years. The question of transporting Alberta and Nova Scotia coal .to central Canada is just where it was five years ago, except for the effort of the Honourable Howard Ferguson, Conservative Premier of Ontario. These great questions all await a solution, and yet all my hon. friend, the Minister of Finance, says in his budget speech in regard to them, is: We must have faith. I will refer him to the Second Epistle of James, to look up a text for him-


EDITION


The Budget-Mr. Guthrie



self: "But wilt thou know, 0 vain man, that faith without works is dead?" This government protests that it has faith, but it does nothing to justify that faith. It has been deplorably lacking in works. We have had no progressive action in the past and we want action in Canada in all these respects. Your financial program has resulted in nothing. Your efforts to reduce taxation have resulted in increasing it. Your efforts to reduce the cost of living have brought the cost of living to the highest peak to-day that we have reached since 1922. Your theory that tinkering and tampering with the tariff would reduce prices is the purest kind of fallacy. Just apply a test now and see what has been accomplished in regard to prices under your tariff tinkering propensities. It has been argued in this House that if you reduce the tariff, you decrease the price to the consumer. A greater fallacy was never uttered. Let me premise my remarks with this statement: The government did not touch the customs tariff on furniture, and the price of furniture in the last six years has been reduced from 25 to 30 per cent. How? The reduction in price has been brought about by internal competition among furniture manufacturers. You allowed the furniture men reasonable protection, and competition among themselves has reduced the price from 25 to 30 per cent below the price of six years ago. This government did not alter the customs tariff on boots and shoes, and the price of boots and shoes to-day is 40 per cent lower than it was six years ago. Internal competition, again, has reduced the price. You did tamper with the woollen schedule, and with baneful results. The duty was 30 per cent net on woollens when you took power and you reduced it to 27J and subsequently cut off another 10 per cent more on the British preference. What happened to the woollens? There was little or no reduction in price. In some cases there was an increase in the price of woollen goods in Canada over six years ago. You took the duty off fertilizers, I think 10 per cent, and the price of fertilizers has been increased appreciably since. Twenty years ago you experimented and took the duty off binder twine and it has been doubled in price ever since. * But the outstanding feature in tariff tinker-ng is your operation in regard to agricultural mplements. That was a major operation on he part of the King government when it took rower in this country. Agricultural implements had a modest protective duty. The duty on binders was 12i per cent, and it was cut down to six per cent by this government. All kinds of special privileges were granted to manufacturers of agricultural implements in regard to free material. Sales taxes were taken off and the like, and the government proclaimed to the farmers of this country that, a reduction in price would follow. The cut was wiped out and every advantage was given them. What was the result? I am speaking according to the book. Take binders and mowers. First I will give the prices of McCormick, Deering and International binders and then I will give the Massey-Harris prices afterwards. A six-foot binder with carrier in the year 1921, the last year of the Meighen government, sold at S235. In 1927, effective now, the price for the same six-foot binder with carrier is $239.


LIB
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

None, none of a major

character. I have this from a reliable authority; the tariff was taken off and free materials given them. The sales tax of five per cent was taken off, and a binder to-day is just four dollars higher than in 1921. Then take a six-foot binder with carrier and a tongue truck. These are the net cash prices. In December 1921 the price was $252. The price to-day is $254, and the country is out the revenue and the workmen have had to leave Canada. The price of a seven-foot binder with carrier and tongue truck in December 1921 was $258, and the price to-day is $260. The price of an eight-foot binder with carrier and tongue truck in December 1921 was $266, and to-day it is $268.50.

Let us try Massey-Harris prices and see how they agree.

Topic:   EDITION
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LIB
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

These prices were all

based on Ontario. In the case of Winnipeg it would be the same price but the freight would have to be added.

Topic:   EDITION
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LIB
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I am quoting from the

retail price lists.

Topic:   EDITION
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LIB
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I do not know whether it is at the factory or at the station, but I am giving enough information to let the House know that prices have not been decreased but have been increased. I have not the 1921 prices for the Massey-Harris, but the 1919 prices. The 1919 price of No. 5 seven-foot binder, three-horse, was $233, truck, $9, sheaf-

The Budget-Mr. Guthrie

carrier, $8, total $250. The cash price to-day of a seven-foot three-horse binder is $260, truck $11, sheaf-carrier $9, total price 8280. The difference between the 1919 price and the price to-day is $30, and in the interval the tariff has been reduced and sales tax cut off, and the market thrown open for the free importation of raw materials. The farmers of Canada are paying an increased price for binders to-day and the treasury has lost all the revenue. Now I go a step further.

Topic:   EDITION
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LIB

Alexander MacGillivray Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG (Saskatoon):

Would my hon. friend be good enough to give the House the cost of binders and mowers and that class of goods immediately prior to the last reduction of taxation?

Topic:   EDITION
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March 1, 1927