Mr. Chairman, may I suggest it is not clear that the change is made in the way that will best promote the interests of Canadian industry. I would ask the Minister of Finance whether making it in this form has met with approval, because I understand that there is nothing in the tariff statute of the United States which limits their discretion: they may, if this is reduced to 10 per cent, reduce theirs to 10 per cent, or they may increase it; but when there is a duty outstanding they can exercise their discretion and make their duty exactly equivalent to the Canadian or other foreign duty. All we are suggesting is that this item should take the form of permitting the Minister of Finance, and the government which he represents, in the exercise of their discretion, to reduce the tariff on this
Ways and Means-Customs Tariff
item if there is any satisfactory guarantee or understanding that the United States will reduce their tariff to a corresponding level.
Mr. Chairman, the member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan) has put the matter very succinctly, and I think the minister should give heed to what he has said. We ought not to place the ad valorem duty at so much, no higher and no lower, unless we have an absolute assurance that the United States are going to do the same thing. My information is that it is discretionary in the United States depending on the advice of the tariff. In other words, it is an executive matter, it does not come before congress at all. If they do it, well and good, I would welcome it; but I should not like us to put down our duty to 10 per cent, and the United States do nothing. That would be anothei sacrifice on our part to the United States. And there would be a good deal of opposition in the United States to any reduction in their tariff. I can warn the minister of that right now. The large interests over there will not welcome any reduction of the United States tariff. At the same time, if we can obtain that action by the United States I think we ought to do so. In my opinion the suggestion by the leader of the opposition is one that the minister ought to take into consideration and say now what he will do, rather than call the item "carried." There are members on this side of the house, I would remind him, who know quite as much about the pulp and paper and millboard business as he does.
Mr. Chairman, with regard to the last observation of my hon. friend, I admit at once that there are gentlemen opposite to me who know very much more about the pulp and paper business of Canada than I do. I make no pretence whatever to being an expert in that particular field. The United States have already provided for an ad valorem duty of 10 per cent under their Tariff Act of 1922, paragraph 1302. 1
will read it into the record so hon. gentlemen will know just what position we will be in when this item carries:
Paper hoard, wallboard, and pulpboard, including cardboard and leather board or compress leather, not laminated, glazed, coated, iined, embossed, printed, decorated or ornamented in any manner, nor cut into shapes for boxes or other articles and not specially provided for, 10 per centum ad valorem; pulp-board in rolls for use in the manufacture of wallboard, 5 per centum ad valorem:
My hon. friend will observe this:
Provided, that for the purposes of this act any of the foregoing less than nine onethousandths of an inch in thickness shall be deemed to be paper; sheathing paper, roofing paper, deadening felt, sheathing felt, roofing felt or felt roofing, whether or not saturated or coated, 10 per centum ad valorem. If any country, dependency, province, or other subdivision of government imposes a duty on any article specified in this paragraph, when imported from the United States, in excess of the duty herein provided, there shall be imposed upon such article, when imported either directly or indirectly from such country, dependency, province, or other subdivision of government, a duty equal to that imposed by such country, dependency, province, or other subdivision of government on such article imported from the United States.
That would be very nice for the government, and my hon. friend might like to see the affairs of this country run in that way; but I am not sure that the 245 members of this house are prepared to give the government-even this good government that we have now-power to make tariff changes in order to adjust conditions arising from day to day.
modest on that point. Since I have been a member of this house I can recall legislation that asked for a great deal more power than this proposal would confer on the government; I refer to the dumping provisions that were enacted at the request of the late Minister of Customs. No doubt my hon. friend remembers them very well. I think we ought to be safeguarded in some way, and I put it to the minister that it is his duty to see to it now. Furthermore, I would ask him why this item is limited to pulpboard in rolls. ,1 know that is the common practice but I do suggest that there be no limitation and that paper cut in sheets be in the same category as pulpboard in rolls.
amount of money will this item involve? Surely the minister must have some estimate in this regard or he could not prepare his budget at all. He may not know much about the tariff, as he says, but somebody must have given him an idea as to the probable loss in revenue; otherwise he could not have prepared these financial statements. How much does he estimate this item will represent to the pulp and paper makers? The pulp and paper makers of Canada are, I understand, very efficient gentlemen; why are they not making their own rolls?
As regards the probable loss in revenue, I assure my hon. friend it will be very small. I may not be able to add very much to the subsidies of any of the provinces, but I can tell the hon. gentleman that we shall not lose much revenue.
I am glad that the minister is coming a little closer to the point, A moment ago he was not able to tell us anything about the matter, but now he can go. so far as to say that the loss will not amount to very much. What is his estimate?
If the committee would not consider it impertinent, I could give them a little knowledge of a personal character with respect to this item. Although I am not associated with the industry to any great extent, I have had occasion to study the subject somewhat closely. The truth is that this item does not affect in any way whatever imports into this country. The mills that sell newsprint manufacture their own paper with which to roll up their product, They desire, however, to send their rolls to the United States and there is a duty there of about 25 per cent. In order that they may be able to sell more of this paper in the United States it is necessary that this item should be reduced to 10 per cent if we are to take advantage of the American tariff according to the terms read by the minister. Unless this is done the American duty of 25 per cent will continue on exports to the United States. The question is not what we buy from them; it is a matter of enabling us to send our product to the United States. And to do this we must make the change in our tariff. We must conform to the conditions laid down if we are to secure the benefit of a lower duty on [Mr. Robb.)
the part of the United States. That is the real situation. I would suggest to the minister, however,-because I still think it worthy of consideration-that he add to his item a provision which would ensure our right to maintain the higher duty should the United States not make it perfectly clear that we were entitled to the advantage suggested. I think the minister can provide this safeguard without difficulty. The point made by my hon. friend (Mr. Hanson) is, I think, sound, that the item should not be limited to rolls only, because a large part of the product is now cut in squares so as to be readily available for the purpose of rolling. I make the suggestion from knowledge that came to me under the circumstances I have indicated.
I am very much obliged to the leader of the opposition, as I am sure the committee is. We now begin to realize that this much heralded reduction in the tariff is really of benefit to the manufacturers of pulp and paper in Canada, on the one hand, and to the consumers of the United States, on the other.