May 14, 1931

CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

My right hon. friend said, for instance, that our policy virtually shut out trade. He may interpret it in that way if he so chooses, but that is not our view of the situation at all. Then the right hon. gentleman asked for a declaration of the principles of the government in connection with trade. Would not that come more properly from the lips of the Prime Minister when he delivers his budget speech, in the course of the next few days?

It is well known that this party stands for protection, in the generally accepted meaning of that word. It is well known that we stand for the development of Canada industrially and for the utilization of our resources to the greatest possible advantage. These things are well known. The right hon. gentleman and his colleagues have argued this matter with hon. members on this side, to my own knowledge and participation, for at least twenty years. I do not want to say that we never could get together, but generally speaking we have agreed to disagree on our interpretation of what these things mean. But the country has decided that question; we have been placed here for the purpose

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of carrying out the policies which the country understood us to enunciate, and we are trying to carry them out.

My right hon. friend is quite correct in saying that we are anxious to develop trade within the empire. We are bending our efforts in that direction. I may say that we are hoping that the trade arrangement with Australia may be closed in the very near future. Really the cause of the delay has been the disturbed economic and political conditions in that country. These have had nothing to do with us directly, but undoubtedly they have embarrassed the government of Australia somewhat in determining this matter. We hope it may be decided in the near future, and the trade agreement placed before this house for its approval. We hope also to work out a satisfactory agreement with New Zealand, something we never had before. We simply extended to that country by order in council certain relationships which existed with other countries, but we are working on that matter now. The same thing applies to South Africa. We really have expectations of improving trade relations between this Dominion and the rest of the empire, to the advantage of all concerned.

At this time I do not wish to enter into a discussion of the fiscal policy of the country, which comes more properly on the budget debate.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I do not wish to get into a discussion of fiscal policy, but certainly I do think that on an item dealing with trade and commerce and relating to commercial agencies in different parts of the world it is not only appropriate but obviously desirable to attempt to discover how far the fiscal policy of the government is operating either to improve or to injure conditions of trade. My hon. friend has spoken about what the government hope to do with regard to South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. He has said nothing about trade with Great Britain. Within the last couple of days wo have had in this city a trade mission from Great Britain, consisting of three gentlemen who have, been speaking their minds pretty openly with regard to the effect of the government's policy on trade between Canada and Great Britain. My hon. friend will not say that is a subject which we should not discuss at this moment. It bears on this very question of trade.

What is the. fact in regard to the policies of this government and how they operate? Last year, before the Imperial conference, hon. gentlemen opposite virtually wiped out the Brit-

ish preference by increasing the tariff against Great Britain. I do not think they had any mandate from the people to do so. Apparently they took this action on the theory that they were going to make of Canada an economic unit, whether that unit bore relation to foreign countries or to other nations .within the empire. Under that theory they made it as difficult for the most part, for goods to come into Canada from Great Britain, as to come in from other parts of the world. The effect of that action has been materially to reduce the volume of trade between Great Britain and Canada. My hon. friend is now asking us to vote the same amount of money for commercial agencies in Great Britain as was voted under a previous administration, following a different policy. If the government persists in its present attitude towards Britain, and, with respect to goods of a kind manufactured or produced in this country, raises the duties to such an extent as to prohibit all importation of such goods from the mother country, then there is no need of trade representatives there at all, and we might as well decide to give up that trade altogether. We oannot trade without exchange of commodities. That is the point I wish to emphasize now, for it is a very vital one. The Prime Minister has been most explicit in his statements. I know that my hon. friend would prefer to indulge in generalities and to skirt around the outside of the subject. But the Prime Minister has put his intentions in the form of a proposition comprising very distinct and selfevident statements, and each of those statements, it seems to me, must be debated on its merit.

If I am wrong, I wish my hon. friend to correct me. But as I understand it, the policy called' Canada first means " adequate protection". It does not mean having at heart the interests of Canada or anything of that sort. As a slogan it is Canada first, and as an economic or fiscal policy it is a concrete proposal or principle synonomous with a system of adequate protection. Am I wrong in that? My hon. friend does not reply, and I assume his silence signifies assent. Adequate protection, then, is what is intended. The Prime Minister has said, "We will be the judge of what is adequate protection; and we intend, in judging what constitutes adequate protection, that nothing shall come into this country from abroad which can be produced or manufactured in Canada." Again I pause to have my hon. friend correct me if I am wrong. The Prime Minister goes further and says, "We want to trade with other parts of the empire, but we will not begin until we have attained for Canada the ends of adequate protection

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at which we aim; and if other parts of the empire wish to trade with us they must follow our example in the matter of creating protective tariffs. And we will increase by ten per cent, or whatever percentage is necessary, the duties against foreign countries to make it still more difficult for trade to come in from foreign countries; such trade as on a reciprocal basis thus established can flow in from within the empire may come in." That policy means a serious restriction of trade, and the country to-day is beginning to feel the very serious effects of it. It is not only crippling the trade of Canada but is also very vitally affecting the revenues of the country, as the Prime Minister himself, in his capacity of Minister of Finance, will make very apparent when he brings down his budget.

Mr. MoMILLAN (Huron) : This discussion has been very interesting to me and I have been indeed pleased to hear the Minister of Trade and Commerce, who has acquitted himself admirably in his very difficult situation. When he was explaining recently his conception of the trade policy of the present government, I happened to open Hansard of last September and I saw that the Prime Minister told us then very explicitly what the policy of this government was in that respect. He said:

We propose therefore to provide that so far as may be reasonably possible the requirements of the 10,000,000 people living on the northern half of this continent shall be provided by Canadian producers.

There is no equivocation in connection with that policy. Anyone who can read plain English ought to know what it means. It means that he is going to exclude from Canada any goods that we are capable of producing in this country. In other words, they are going to try to sell goods to the world, without buying goods in return. Now, surely it is an economic principle which every reasonable individual should appreciate, that if we are going to sell goods we must be prepared to buy goods in return.

I think the statement which was made by the Prince of Wales at the opening of the exhibition at Buenos Aires was one from which we might learn a lesson. That statement is instructive to people in all sections of the British Empire and throughout the world at large. His Royal Highness said that the real objects of trade, the purpose of trade was the interchange of products. I do not need to tell this house a second time that I do not believe that the representatives of this government met with any degree of success in their mission to the old countiy when

they attended the Imperial conference last fall. It is my candid opinion that the chief reason for their abject failure was that the Prime Minister and his colleagues seemed to have been convinced that we should not import from abroad goods which we can produce at home, and that the very idea of allowing Canadian industry to meet with competition was unacceptable to them. They did not believe that competition should be encouraged.

Now, Mr. Chairman, my experience in life in every particular convinces me that the spirit of competition, the spirit of healthy emulation, is the best thing for any nation or individual, if you wish to bring out the best that is in them. We see, on the other hand, what the policy of the present government is; and that policy being what it is, what is the use of spending 1700,000 on trade missions to other countries? What is the use of such an expenditure when evidently the government does not wish to encourage reciprocal trade?

There is one other matter to which I should like to refer. The Prime Minister and his colleagues went to Great Britain, to attend the Imperial conference. The Minister of Trade and Commerce took a number of wideawake officials with him, and we know they have broken down the entire sales service of the wheat pool. They have thrown the selling of wheat right into the hands of those who for years have been the determined competitors of the pool. If that is the best thing to do in the selling of our wheat, then I fail to see how the wheat pool is going to be able to pursue its business in the future as it has done, in the past. I am not one of those who think that the wheat pool, those who had in hand the sale of our wheat, have never made mistakes. Nevertheless, I do think that the government is mistaken in its attitude. So far as western Canada is concerned, we know what has been the result of the establishment of the wheat pool and the work which they have done in the last few years. We know what was the situation of the grain growers in the west when they were at the mercy of the grain trade, and I cannot see how the action of the government in withdrawing the sales force which we have had, and placing the whole business of the grain trade in the hands of their competitors, will be of any benefit to the wheat pool in the west.

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LIB

Ross Wilfred Gray

Liberal

Mr. GRAY:

Will the minister tell us what has been the decline in the trade of Canada for the month of April 1931, as compared with the month of April 1930?

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

The figures for April are

not yet available.

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LIB

Thomas McMillan

Liberal

Mr. McMILLAN (Huron):

Perhaps the

minister will permit me to give them. The figures for April, in imports, are $51,189,376 for 1931 as against $71,401,839 a year ago. The exports this year were $33,935,075, and last year, S50,744,139. The total trade for April of this year amounted to $85,863,487, and for April of a year ago, $123,910,008, a reduction in one single month amounting to $38,046,521.

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LIB
LIB

Thomas McMillan

Liberal

Mr. McMILLAN (Huron):

For the seven months previous, September, October, November, December, January, February and March, the total reduction in trade, as compared with the same period one year ago, amounted to $396,700,947.

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LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret

Liberal

Mr. RINFRET:

Apparently we have three ministers of trade and commerce, the Prime Minister, the minister whose estimates are now being considered, and the hon. member for South Huron.

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LIB

Wilfred Hanbury

Liberal

Mr. HANBURY:

The Canadian government merchant marine or the Canadian National Steamships have some very fine boats which they use during the summer season. We listened the other day with a great deal of interest to the right hon. member for Argenteuil (Sir George Perley) when he gave the house a description of his trip to South America, and I would suggest to the hon. minister that one of these boats, which are ordinarily tied up during the winter months, should be fitted up as a floating exhibition to visit the countries on the west coast of South America. I am sure many Canadian manufacturers would take advantage of an opportunity to exhibit their goods to probable purchasers in South American countries. During the winter these boats require a certain staff to look after them, and perhaps a small addition to the staff would enable them to be put in service.

I think the minister should consider the exchange of students with South American countries as well as with Japan and China. Much could be done in this way to encourage a feeling which would develop the trade of Canada with those countries.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I will take the first suggestion of my hon. friend into consideration. In regard to the second, I may say that we are working on that matter.

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LIB

Thomas Merritt Cayley

Liberal

Mr. CAYLEY:

I understand that the trade commissioner in Egypt was the only new one appointed during the past year. What is our volume of trade with Egypt, and what are the prospects for increased business?

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

For some three or four years prior to this past year Mr. Lamontagne had been loaned by this government to the Egyptian government as an advisory expert in the preparation of a system of customs, and I can say that they were pleased with the services he rendered. Prior to that he had been located at Brussels, but it was thought advisable to appoint a commissioner in Egypt to look after the possible trade with that country, northern Africa, and the near east as far as Persia and Syria, which would include Palestine. Our trade with Egypt is not very large, amounting to about $145,000. It must be remembered that much of this trade is transhipped at London, and quite frequently the figures are not reflected in the returns. We are endeavouring to correct this discrepancy in our returns so that we will get credit for the imports from the country in which the goods originate and vice versa in connection with exports.

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LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

The

minister made a statement earlier in the evening relative to our trade balance with Great Britain, and mentioned that our favourable trade balance was offset by carrying charges, interest charges and insurance charges.

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CON
LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

Is it to

be the policy of the department to figure invisible balances or just straight commodity or merchandise balances?

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

In making an estimate of trade one must take into account the invisible as well as the visible in the trade balances, that is that deal solely with trade, which will reflect only the trade figures.

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LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

If that

is followed in connection with one country, it should be followed in connection with all others, the United States, for instance.

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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

Has the minister received

any representations with regard to the possibility of increasing our apple trade with Germany?

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

We have perhaps one of

the finest trade commissioners in the service

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in the person of Mr. Wilgress whose headquarters are at Hamburg. In addition, we have Mr. J. Forsyth Smith at London, who is one of the most able agents in his particular line, that of fruit. Unfortunately I have not the information at hand from which I could give my hon. friend a specific answer.

Mr. II.SLEY: Nova Scotia is increasing

her trade in apples with the continent of Europe. Only a few years ago this trade was confined mostly to Great Britain, but during recent years larger quantities are being shipped to continental Europe. The trade commissioners of Canada have done a great deal to push this trade in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and other Scandinavian countries. There is a large potential market in Germany, but it is almost impossible to sell apples in that country because the duty against American apples is only about one half the duty against our apples. During recent years, representing the largest apple growing constituency in eastern Canada. I have received many representations from the fruit growing interests asking that an attempt be made on the part of the Canadian government to better our trade relations with Germany.

Trade treaties have been mentioned this evening, but I am not so much interested in the cancellation or modification of existing treaties as I am in the attempt being made to negotiate new ones. One should be negotiated with Cuba in connection with potatoes, about which a great deal has been said this session, and another one with Germany with a view to facilitating the entry of our apples into that country. I do not know whether the Minister of Trade and Commerce is the minister to whom these representations should be made. Perhaps they should be made to the Minister of Finance, but certainly I wish to impress upon the government as emphatically and earnestly as I can the importance to Nova Scotia and particularly my part of it, of improving our trade relations with Germany.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I shall take note of what my hon. friend says.

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May 14, 1931