March 19, 1931

CON

Henry Alfred Mullins

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MULLINS:

Is not barbed wire

cheaper on the prairies than it used to be?

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LIB-PRO

John Livingstone Brown

Liberal Progressive

Mr. BROWN:

Of course, but we are not

buying it as cheap as I bought it in 1898. It is not a matter of buying barbed wire cheaper than we used to buy it; it is a question of the Minister of National Revenue preventing us from getting the benefit of the reduction to which we are entitled.

The Address-Mr. Reid

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LIB

Cairine Reay Wilson

Liberal

Mr. WILSON:

Had we a tariff on barbed wire in 1898?

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LIB-PRO

John Livingstone Brown

Liberal Progressive

Mr. BROWN:

No.

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. THOMAS REID (New Westminster):

As one of the newly-elected members I am diffident about rising at this time to speak on the address in reply to the speech from the throne. There are, however, some matters to which I should like to direct the attention of the government, matters to which I think they ought to give some heed. One of them, which I believe is about to be mentioned for the first time on the floor of this house, is the question of hospital treatment for those ex-soldiers who are not in receipt of a pension from the government. Personally I should like to have seen some mention made in the address of state health insurance, believing that the time has now come in Canada when some form of state health insurance should be considered, if not inaugurated, on behalf of the great masses of people throughout the country who have not the means with which to meet hospital or doctors' accounts which they or their families must incur in connection with such necessary service, and who in many cases would rather suffer than incur debts they are unable to pay.

Regarding the ex-service men I believe I am safe in saying that in British Columbia to-day, owing to her mild climate, far greater numbers of ex-soldiers are domiciled than were enlisted from the province for war purposes. Many of these ex-service men are to-day suffering from various complaints engendered by way of service, and owing to the fact that their disability did not develop until after the close of the war they are not entitled to free treatment at military hospitals. This situation is adding a considerable burden bo the cities and municipalities for hospitalization purposes, which burden will no doubt increase as the age of the ex-service man advances. The greatest hardship of all is placed on the ex-service man who frequently finds himself in need of hospital attention the cost of which he is unable to meet.

I would urge upon the government to take steps bo provide free hospital treatment for all ex-soldiers who owing to war service have developed some complaint or disability requiring hospital treatment. On account of the lack of free hospital service many of these men have suffered inconvenience and hardship.

In the speech from the throne I note that mention has been made of some change with regard to old age pensions. While agreeing with the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) that

the federal government should assume a greater proportion of the cost of old age pensions, if not the whole of it, I personally should like to see the Dominion government not only assume the whole cost of old age pensions but also reduce the age from seventy years to at least sixty-five. Anyone who is conversant with conditions in the industrial field well knows that under our exacting social and industrial conditions to-day it is well-nigh impossible for the average person to put by a reserve for his old age, and with the labour markets glutted with thousands of young men ready and willing to work if given the opportunity, what chance has the man of even sixty of holding on to his job, let alone procuring one?

I note that the government has introduced a bill amending the Naturalization Act. 1 should like to have seen, if it were possible, some changes made along such lines as would more clearly designate who are Canadians as distinct from British; and I believe that some changes should be made to enable Canadians to register their children born in Canada as Canadians. It seems to me there is something wrong in this country when Canadians are warned, upon registering the birth of a child born in the country, that "Canadian" is no nationality.

Another matter I wish to speak about has reference to the paragraph of the speech which reads:

Pursuant to the fixed policy of my government to combat all influences which are inimical to the social and economic welfare of this Dominion, an order in council has been passed prohibiting the importation of certain commodities into Canada from the Union of Soviet Socialist republics.

I wonder if in regard to the fixed policy of the government to condemn all influences which are inimical to the social and economic welfare of the Dominion, British Columbia is too far away to be regarded as part of the Dominion. In that province, particularly in the lower mainland, we have a social and economic problem almost entirely confined within our own boundary and as to which I should be pleased to see the so-called fixed policy of the government put into effect. I refer to the Asiatic question. If ever there were influences inimical to the economic welfare of any part of Canada it is the enormous growth and influence of the orientals in British Columbia. No race can assimilate except by intermarriage, and intermarriage between whites and Asiatics is usually repugnant to both races. The seriousness of this increase of orientals in the lower Fraser valley can be best described by stating that

The Address-Mr. Reid.

in Richmond, in my constituency, over 40 per cent of the pupils attending the schools are Japanese. In the town of Steveston, where there is a fourteen-room school, ten rooms are used exclusively for Japanese, three rooms are mixed and one room only is all white. Some criticism is due to the government for permitting the immigration of orientals at a time when the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Gordon) was taking steps to close the doors against immigrants from other countries. Surely if any people were to be debarred from Canada it should have been those who will not assimilate and who are accustomed to a much lower standard of living. Even Russians and their children could become good citizens of this country. Personally I should like to see the government close the gates against orientals, say for a period of ten years or until such time as we in British Columbia would no longer have any fear of domination by the Asiatic, as we do at the present time.

Pursuing its fixed policy of combating all influences inimical to the social and economic welfare of this Dominion, the government decided to prohibit the importation of certain commodities from the Union of Soviet Socialistic republics. I am at a loss to know why Russia should be singled out, unless it is that at a distance it seems to be a country where government is by the people and for the people. This seemed to be repugnant to Sir Herbert Holt, whose opinion was made known to Canada before the order in council was passed. It may have been merely a coincidence; the government may have acted without knowing of that opinion, but it seems to me that if they really desired to help the coal industry a tax should have been put upon fuel oil. That action would have been more beneficial to Canada than the prohibition of trade with Russia.

I should like to invite the attention of the government to another matter affecting Canada generally and British Columbia in particular, namely the poultry industry. At the present time there is no shortage of eggs in Canada, nor has there been for some considerable time, in fact fresh eggs are cheaper and have been offered in greater volume during the past year than at any time for some years past. So great has been the production of eggs during the last five or six months that at times there was a glut and it was impossible to find a market. The climate of British Columbia is admirably adapted to the production of eggs, more especially during the winter months. The British Columbia egg is the best in Canada, if not in the whole

world, and last year the constituency which I have the honour to represent produced the world's record white Leghorn, a hen which laid 357 eggs in 365 days. This hen does honour not only to her owners, Mr. and Mi's. W. Whiting of Port Kells, but to Canada as well. During a period of three weeks 70,000 hens were sacrificed in the Fraser valley because eggs were a glut on the market and were selling for as low as 12 cents per dozen, and as a result a number of the poultry owners were forced to get rid of their stock in am endeavour to meet their accounts; in fact many of them were compelled to go out of business.

Considerable help would be afforded to the dairymen and poultrymen of British Columbia if the domestic freight rates were reduced to the export rate. The difference of some $4.20 per ton would be an average saving to the poultryman in British Columbia of $100 to $500 per year, which in many instances would mean the difference between staying on the ranch and leaving it and thus swelling the number of job-seekers in the cities. The great problem facing Canada to-day is to find a market for her surplus products, and how that can be accomplished under the policy of the present government I have yet to learn.

Before closing I should like to make some criticism as to the inquiry conducted by the hon. Minister of Labour (Senator Robertson) into the price of bread. While the minister seems to have secured a lot of data in the way of prices of wheat and so on, apparently no notice has been taken of a most vital point, namely, the high cost of flour in its relation to the price of wheat. A very casual reading of the minister's report would indicate that he has taken great pains to tell us about the price of labour, distribution, cost of ingredients, overhead and so on, but he has given no information as to any inquiry into the question why flour prices should be as high as they are. Judging from the report, one might think that flour was a mere detail in the making of bread, simply one of the minor ingredients such as salt or sugar. The following appears on page 30 of the report:

In the making of bread, flour costs represent only 36 per cent and that flour is becoming less and less important in the modern loaf.

Page 41 of the report reads:

Our records show that in 1929, the mill-controlled bakeries purchased in all well over one million barrels: Moreover, this million-barrel market was held by only four milling companies and represented an eighth of the entire consumption of flour in Canada in 1929.

The Address-Mr. Young

These milling companies are thus provided with an assured outlet for a large portion of their products and consequently should be able to reduce considerably their sales cost. Here is a paragraph I would like to direct to the serious attention of the government. It reads:

One decided advantage to the mills is that there is no competition for this business, price competition, or any other kind.

This gives to these companies a virtual monopoly of flour, the gravest kind of monopoly, affecting as it does the very life of the masses.

I should like to make a comparison between the prices of wheat and flour in Canada and in Australia. I quote the Australian prices because that country has a fairly high standard of living. The ruling selling price of wheat f.o.b. steamer at principal Australian ports was 61 cents for the month of December, 1930; the price of flour f.o.b. steamer at Australian ports per 2,000 pounds was S27.37, which is equivalent to about 1.4 cents per pound of flour. Canadian prices for the same period were: December wheat, fifty-six cents per bushel; December flour, $4.76 per ninety-pound sack, or 2.4 cents per pound of flour. Not only was Australian wheat quoted for sale at five cents a bushel more, but the price of flour offered at Australian ports was sixty-four cents for a forty-nine pound sack as against $1.19 wholesale price in Canada. It is high time that the government should investigate the price of flour in this country and, if necessary, should break up this combine of millers who, I claim, are exploiting the people of Canada to-day in one of the most essential items of our food, namely, flour. To paraphrase the words of Thomas Hood who many years ago wrote a poem entitled The Song of the Shirt:

0 God! that bread should be so dear,

And men and wheat so cheap.

On behalf of the lower mainland of British Columbia an investigation was asked of the Minister of Labour into the prices of all wheat products. The price of bread was secondary. One of the objects in view was the giving of some protection to the independent bakeries and to all other purchasers of flour. The situation is such as to warrant continued government action, the more so in view of a statement I noticed in the Vancouver Province of the tenth of March last to the effect that the four milling companies are about to amalgamate into one large concern.

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. E. J. YOUNG (Weyburn):

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) is not in his seat, because recently he made Some remarks which were directed to me personally, and I wish he were present so that I might direct my observations to him personally. The other day, speaking from his place in the house, he said that I had been going around the Estevan district with a pair of white stockings in my packet. I know he obtained the information from his bosom friend, Doctor Anderson, Premier of Saskatchewan, but the information is not, strictly speaking, accurate. I was not carrying stockings, but for the information of the house and in order to set people's minds right, I will tell the house exactly what happened. It will be recalled that at the special session last fall, the government of which the right hon. gentleman is the head enormously increased duties on many commodities, amongst which were socks, and they did this in such a way that the heaviest burden would fall upon the poor man. Before leaving Ottawa I secured three pairs of socks which I took out to the west to illustrate to the people exactly what the government had done. I had a pair of workingmen's cheap cotton socks, the cheapest I could buy, such a sock as the unemployed would wear-and remember, Mr. Speaker, that this special session was called for the relief of unemployment. I have those socks yet.

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LIB

Joseph Philippe Baby Casgrain

Liberal

Mr. CASGRAIN:

Produce them.

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

I have them in my hand. 1 showed these socks to the people of the Estevan district and I explained that under Liberal rule the duty on these socks was 30 per cent, but that under the present Prime Minister the duty was increased at one stroke to 165 per cent of the value of the article. I had also a pair of cheap children's socks, such as the poor man would buy for his child. I have them in my hand. I showed these socks to the people and I explained that under Liberal rule the duty on these socks was 30 per cent, but that under the present administration the duity was increased at one stroke to 185 per cent of the value of the socks. I had still another pair of socks; they were not cheap socks, they were beautiful socks.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Where are they?

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

They are in my pocket. They are socles such as the Prime Minister himself or his wealthy Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Ryckman) would wear, that

The Address-Mr. Young

anyone would be glad to wear. I have them in my hand. I showed these socks to the people and I explained to them that the duty on these under Liberal rule was 35 per cent, because the Liberals believed that the rich man should pay more than the poor man, but that under the present administration the duty on these socks had been increased to 51 per cent. At a special session of parliament, called to relieve distress, to relieve unemployment, my right hon. friend increases the duty on the sock of the poor man or the unemployed to 165 and 185 per cent, but on his own sock he is satisfied with 51 per cent. The hon. member for Lisgar (Mr. Brown) a little while ago pointed out that certain socks were off the market because of that duty. A friend of mine, belonging to the wool producers of Saskatchewan, went into their office in Regina the other day and asked for a price on four-point Hudson Bay blankets, which are the best blanket you can get. The dealer said: "I can give you at a reasonable price some four-point Hudson Bay blankets that have been carried over from last year." My friend said that he wanted new blankets. The dealer replied: "There is no new stock; we are not handling them any more; with the present tariff we cannot handle them any more." The man said: "Do you mean to tell me I can no longer buy four-point Hudson Bay blankets?" The dealer replied: "On account of the present duties imposed by the present government it is impossible to sell those blankets any more in this country." Because of that duty the people of Canada are to-day compelled to adopt a lower standard of living by buying inferior blankets.

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CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

Does the hon. member not know that most of these Hudson Bay blankets are made in Canada, some in my own town?

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

I am not speaking of where they are made.

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CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

If they are made in Canada, how can there be any duty on them?

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

There is the answer to the government's contention. The blankets are made in Canada and the price has gone up

The Prime Minister also said that he would not listen to any such speeches as I made during the short session. That is very much like a statement he made the other day when Mr. R. J. Deachman, representative of the consumers' league, appeared before a committee of the cabinet at the request of the

Canadian Council of Agriculture to represent the cause of the farmers of this country when the cabinet was considering increasing tariffa What did the Prime Minister say to him? "We do not want any arguments from you." That is what the Prime Minister said to our representative before the cabinet. That is what he is saying to us in the west, and that is what he said in his speech on Tuesday- "We do not want any arguments from you." What was the matter with the speeches 1 made last session? Just let us review for a moment what I said then.

One of the first measures, if not the first measure brought in at that session, was a bill authorizing the government to spend $20,000,000 for the relief of unemployment. As was my duty I arose in my place on that occasion and told the Prime Minister what I thought of his bill. I told him that in my opinion it would not relieve the smallest fraction of unemployment. I tried to explain that the cause of unemployment was that the people had no purchasing power. I tried to explain that before he could spend $20,000,000 or $20 on unemployment, he must first take that money out of the pockets of the people. I tried to explain that if he spent $20,000,000 in one part of the country, creating employment, he would create $20,000,000 worth of unemployment in other parts of the country where he collected that money; for he would by that very act still further reduce their purchasing power. Was I not right?

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

Let us see. The minister's own officers told us at that time that there were two hundred thousand unemployed in Canada. To-day there are three hundred thousand. Has that relieved unemployment? Was I not right?

Further than that, the Prime Minister brought down other measures increasing the tariff enormously, to give employment to Canadian labour and encourage Canadian industry, as he said. Again I tried to explain to him that the cause of the trouble was the lack of purchasing power on the part of the people. I tried to explain to him that in no possible way could he legislate through his tariff to bring about higher prices for the commodities that we had to sell abroad. I tried to explain that the purchasing power of the people could not be restored until a parity was restored, between the prices of the goods we had to sell and the prices of the goods we had to buy, and that the only way in which the purchasing power of the people of this country could be increased was by bringing

The Address-Mr. Young

down the cost of the commodities we had to buy. I pointed out to him that the measures he was then taking to relieve unemployment would have just the opposite effect, that they would keep prices up, and that as a consequence we would have less purchasing power and more unemployment. Was I not right? What has been the result? Let us see what the Prime Minister himself said the other day in regard to the work of the special session:

Where would this country have been had it not been for the session last fall which gave employment to upwards of two hundred thousand people? Study if you will for a moment the figures of industry. In eight months new factories cannot be equipped and built, but they can be commenced, and the numbers that have been commenced in this country during those eight months are more than those during any other similar period in recent years.

I want to deal with that statement. The Montreal Star sent out a man to look over the industrial districts of this country, to find out just what had been effected by these tariff increases, and his observations were published in a series of articles in the Montreal Star, a copy of which has been sent to every member of the house. What did he find? He reported that new industries had been established in this country, because of this tariff, with a capital investment of some S14,000,000. Incidentally he included in that $14,000,000 some $6,000,000 invested in a fertilizer plant at Trail. British Columbia, which plant he forgot to tell us had been established four years ago under the Liberal regime. But we will allow him that $6,000,000. Including that, the most he could find was $14,000,000 of new capital invested in industry, all of which he attributed to the increased tariff. We will be generous; we will double his estimate and make it $28,000,000. Let us say that there was new capital invested to the amount of $28,000,000. Now $28,000,000 in four months is at the rate of $,84,000,000 a year; and the average investment of new capital in Canadian industry during the last seven years of Liberal government was $227,000,000 a year. The Prime Minister said that no such amount of capital as had been invested in this country in industry since the new tariff came into effect had been invested in any other eight months' period in recent years. I dare aver, Mr. Speaker, that we never had in the history of Canada an eight months' period when there was so little new capital invested as during the last eight months.

This same writer in the Montreal Star, Mr. MacLeod, writing of the benefits of this new policy, tells us that it has given employment to two thousand hands. We know from the government's own figures that last fall there were two hundred thousand unemployed, and 22110-101

to-day there are three hundred thousand. Let us strike the balance: Two thousand men

given employment, and one hundred thousand more men thrown out of employment. Was I not right? What does all the benefit of this tariff policy amount to as compared with what it has cost Canada? It is but "A wrecker's handful of coin gleaned from the beach to which he has beguiled an argosy."

The government also told us at tne special session that they had assurances from the manufacturers that if the tariff increases proposed were granted, the manufacturers would not increase their prices. I directed a question to the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Ryckman) at the time, and asked him if any manufacturer had refused to give such an assurance. I did not ask that question just to tease the minister, or to wear out his patience, as the Prime Minister suggested, but because at the time I had information in my possession that certain manufacturers had flatly refused to give any such assurance. Here is an article from the Toronto Mail and Empire, a good Conservative paper. Speaking of the new customs regulation in regard to the valuation of automobiles, in its issue of February 20, 1931, it says:

General Motors, Durant, Willys-Overland Company, Chrysler and other Canadian manufacturers, it is understood, have been urging the change upon the Dominion government ever since the special session of parliament last year, when it was indicated that the government at that time contemplated increasing motor car duties by some 20 per cent. A promise was then sought that the domestic prices would not be increased, but it is understood, Mr. Bennett and his ministers were told flatly and frankly that to raise the rate of duty would be automatically to increase domestic prices to the consumer and cut down consumption, with consequent increase in unemployment.

That put the minister in a quandary. Ho wanted to raise the duties on automobiles. Hti had promised the house and the country that he would first get assurances from the manufacturers that prices would not be increased. When they refused to give any such assurance, the problem that confronted him was: how can I do this thing without it being necessary to extract a promise from the manufacturers? The ingenuity of the customs department came to his rescue. They found a way. Those gentlemen in that feudal castle on the banks of the canal can always find a way. I think the man who designed that castle must have had a rare sense of humour. There it stands on the banks of the canal, on the highway of traffic with its bastions, and battlements, with its

The Address-Mr. Young

towers, its turrets and its portholes with guns at the door and no doubt a dungeon or an oubliette underneath. It reminds one of the robbers' castles on the Rhine that we used to read about as boys, to which all passers by were compelled to draw near and pay toll. Here is bulletin No. 3684, signed by R. W. Breadner:

Order in council P.C. 297, dated the 19th February, 1931, fixes and determines "a rate of discount of 20 per cent W'hich may be applied to the prices of automobiles or other motor vehicles, excepting motorcycles, so published or listed by manufacturers or producers thereof; such published or listed prices, subject to deduction of a discount of 20 per cent, to be deemed and taken to be the fair market vajue of such goods on importation into Canada under the general tariff, and to be the value for duty thereof on such importation into Canada by others than consumers, provided. however, that such fair market value be not less than the price actually paid by the importer to the exporter for the goods, and that for duty purposes on importation of such goods into Canada where the discount allowed in the home market is less than 20 per cent, no greater discount shall be allowed from such published or listed prices than is allowed on sales of such goods in the home market to the consumers thereof."

What does that mean? Perhaps I can best explain it by giving a concrete case. Take a car that retails in the United States for SI ,000. and is not manufactured in Canada. The wholesale price of that car in the United States would be $700. The wholesale price of that car to the importer in Canada would be the same, $700. The duty on that car would be 20 per cent of $700, or S140. The duty-paid value of that car would be $840. Add to that 5 per cent excise tax and one per cent sales tax, which are based on the duty paid value of the car, and which amount to $50.40, and we have on that car a total revenue to the government of $190.40. That brings the price of the car, duty paid at our border, up to $890.40. On top of that the dealer has to pay freight and has to add his commission. Under these new regulations the Department of Customs says the value for duty on that car shall be $800 and not $700. What happens? The value for duty is $800; the rate is 20 per cent. Twenty per cent of $800 is $160. The duty paid value then is $960. I wish the Minister of Customs and National Revenue would listen to my remarks, because I think if he understood what he has done he might be willing to correct his mistake. The duty paid value of that car is $960. Add to that the 5 per cent excise tax, and one per cent sales tax and you have a total revenue to the government on that car of $217.60.

M. LaVERGNE: Why not?

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

There is $217.60. That is

the revenue bo the government on that oar. The Customs department, however, does not dtop there. They say to the man, "What did you pay for this car in the United States?" He replies, "$700." They say, "You should not have paid $700 for that car; you should have paid $800 and because you have dared to buy the car in the United States for $700 when you should have paid $800 we will fine you another $100 in the form of a dumping duty, and that is exactly what is done. My hon. friend may laugh, but that is what his department has done and I have proof of it over the signature of his own commissioner of customs.

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An hon. MEMBER:

What is the effect of it?

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

The effect is this: Before

this regulation became operative the car of which I am speaking was selling at retail in Canada for $1,187. To-day in order to give the dealer the same commission as he got before, the car would have to sell in Canada for $1,347.

Mr. LaVERGNE: What is the commission the dealer receives?

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

You are depriving the dealer of his commission. This regulation was deliberately passed to put both the dealer and the importer of American made oars out of business.

Let us suppose the purpose of this action is accomplished. The dealer is put out of business. In what position then is the citizen of this country who wants to buy that particular car? What will he do? He^will have to go over to the United States and buy that car at the retail price of $1,000. He will have to pay a 20 per cent duty on the $1,000 valuation and on top of that the sales tax and the excise tax which brings the price of the car up to $1,272.

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March 19, 1931