June 26, 1931

LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

I have no idea.

The final feature of the act to which I desire to refer, and which seems to me to be the major defect in the act, is that provision which refers to the tenure of office of the members of the board. Under - the provisions of this bill the government is setting up a board which is to hold office for ten year3. This -board is to advise the present or successive ministers of finance upon the most controversial matter in Canadian politics,- the tariff. This is a matter which will be discussed in election campaigns, in the house, and upon which the governments cf the day will have strong views. If ever it were necessary that a board enjoy the confidence of the administration, it is necessary that a board such as this should enjoy that- confidence. The right hon. Prime Minister spoke the other night about the necessity of the High Commissioner to England enjoying the confidence of the administration and reflecting its spirit and attitude, but there is a thousand times more reason why a board which is to advise upon tariffs should at all times enjoy the confidence of the administration. I do not think any hon. member can doubt that statement. It would be most anomalous if we had a low tariff government being advised by a high tariff board, or a high tariff government being advised by a low tariff board. This is not a new problem, it has been considered in other countries, and it was considered in this country back in 1922 when Sir Thomas White introduced his bill. He provided that the tenure of office should be five years, but when the Senate introduced an amendment that the board hold office during pleasure, he very sensibly and wisely adopted that amendment, realizing no doubt the force of the objections to a long tenure of office of a board which would be advising upon the tariff.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

If this board is to

be a purely fact finding body, would it make any difference?

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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

I am glad my hon. friend

asked that question. I tried to make it clear during the early part of my remarks that this 22110-196

board cannot be a purely fact finding body; it is to be an opinion forming body, whether it says forty per cent or thirty per cent. It should be remembered that this is the first bill in the history of this country under which a body is to be formed to find percentages. This board is to be empowered to fix percentages for the tariff and whether they find forty per cent or twenty per cent depends very largely upon their views and their politics; it certainly depends upon whether they are protectionists or free traders, high protectionists, low protectionists or tariff for revenue men. There cannot be any doubt about that.

Mr. LUCHKO'VICH: Did not the same

thing apply to the former tariff board?

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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

The Prime Minister did

not listen a week to that board; he did not pay any attention to it. He abolished the tariff advisory board.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

That board had no authority to make percentages.

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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

The hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power) points out that that board did not possess anything like the powers which are being conferred upon this board by this legislation.

This matter has been considered by other countries and it is most interesting to see what other countries have done. I do not think the tariff is as controversial an issue in the United States as it is in Canada; it does not bulk so large in the United States as in Canadian politics, but even there, when they put through their tariff commission act it provided that of the six members of the board, three should be Republicans and three Democrats. They provided further that there should be overlapping terms of the six who were appointed; one was appointed for two years, one for four years, one for six years, one for eight years, one for ten years and one for twelve years. That is what they provided for in the United States to meet just such objections as this. I wonder what the Prime Minister would say to a proposal such as this, that we have a board of four or six members, one-half to be nominated by himself and the other half to be nominated by the leader of the opposition. If we were to put such a proposition as tha-t before him, he would say just what he said in regard to the High Commissioner, namely, that he could not have confidence in such a board as that; it did not reflect the mind of the administration. Supposing we went further and proposed that under this act a board be nominated and

Tariff Board-Mr. Ilsley

set up entirely by the leader of the opposition. What would the Prime Minister say to such a proposition as that? His objection to the first proposition would be weak as compared with his objection to the latter. He would regard it as nonsensical that he should call in the leader of the opposition to select a board to advise him on tariff matters. Yet. that is just the situation that will likely arise before many years have elapsed. In other words, we are going to have high tariff men selected by this administration advising a low tariff administration on questions of tariff. This will not work only one way. If in ten years time a Liberal administration is in power and has the selection of this commission, and then if, later, the Conservative party should come into power again, rve shall have a high tariff party and administration being advised in all probability by a low tariff commission. The more one considers the question, the more one realizes how unworkable and anomalous this proposal is. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world that I can find.

I have investigated to find out what has happened in other British dominions, and in three other self-governing British dominions they have tariff boards. In Australia they have a tariff board which was appointed in 1981 and anyone interested in it will find it provided for in act No. 21 of the statutes of Australia for that year. That board is to consist of three persons appointed by the governor general for not less than one year nor for more than five years. They are eligible for reappointment, but appointed for a very short term. In South Africa a board of trade and industries was set up which had the powers of a tariff board. It consists of four members who are to be appointed for terms not exceeding three years. That will be found in act No. 33 of the statutes of South Africa for 1924. Then in the Irish Free State a tariff commission act was passed in 1926. That commission consists of three members who are appointed for two years. Therefore, in the three self-governing British dominions which have tariff boards, they have tied the tenure down to so short a term that the members practically hold office during pleasure. I venture to say that the tariff is not nearly so controversial a matter in any of those British dominions as it is in Canada, yet in this British dominion we propose to set up a longterm tariff board which, in the event of a change of administration, will prove to be utterly unworkable. It is not like other boards such as the board of pension commissioners or others that have been set up for ten years;

.

they are not advising upon controversial matters. They are boards that can function just the same way whether one administration or another is in office. But I do not see how any hon. member can escape the force of that objection to this board.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

It dictates tariff policy.

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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

It dictates tariff policy and taxation to the administration of the day, and to do this it ought to enjoy the confidence of the administration. I mentioned what they did in the United States and in several selfgoverning British dominions to get over the trouble. I might mention what was done in certain foreign countries. They got around or escaped the difficulty by appointing the members of those commissions on the advice of certain independent agencies in the country representing different views and interests. For instance, in the Argentine Republic the commission was created in 1916 and it included representatives from the industrial union, the Argentine Rural Society and the Chamber of Commerce of Buenos Aires. In Spain a permanent commission was appointed composed of representatives of agriculture, industry, labour and the government. The German tariff commission, not a permanent commission, but a very great one which made an investigation into the whole tariff prior to the general revision of 1902, consisted of thirty members, of whom five were appointed upon recommendation of the German Agricultural Association, five upon the recommendation of the German Association of Chambers of Commerce, and five upon the recommendation of the Central Association of German Manufacturers. It would not be so bad if it were proposed to select this tariff board by some such method as that; but if it is to be appointed by the government of the day and is therefore to reflect their views which are at this time most extreme, then it certainly must not be fastened upon succeeding administrations; otherwise it is going to be worse than nothing; its usefulness will disappear entirely. I therefore beg to move, seconded by Mr. Gray:

That this hill he not now read a second time but that it he resolved that any tariff board entrusted with the duties set out in this bill, and more particularly with making inquiry into and reporting on matters pertaining to tariff and taxation, should at all times he such as to enjoy the confidence of the government of the day, and that accordingly the members of such board, unless appointed upon the recommendation of independent agencies representing different views or interests, should hold office only during pleasure.

Tariff Board-Miss Macphail

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PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss AGNES MACPHAIL (Southeast Grey):

The hon. member for Hants-Kings (Mr. Usley) was worried about what would happen if a low tariff government were in power when a high tariff commission was still functioning. I can imagine a low tariff party, but really I have not enough imagination to conceive of a low tariff government. Of course it, would, I grant you, be difficult if such a situation existed. I view rather with alarm the setting up of a board of the character outlined by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett), because it would seem to me it would be just the further entrenching of the protectionist interests. If the members of the board were to be appointed by the present government, all would undoubtedly be protectionists, because the government is quite honestly a protectionist group. When we are told by the Prime Minister that it would be a fact-finding body, I am led to ask: What are facts? How can one' divorce completely opinions, bias, from facts? We hear in the house many statements which the people who make them I am sure consider to be facts; that is the consolation each of us has. But to say that they are facts is quite another thing.

There has been [DOT] a good deal of reference made by the Prime Minister to the tariff board in the United States. I want to quote from a gentleman who was a member of that board for a good while and who resigned from it because he did not believe it was a fact finding body, because he believed that it was a biased board and made recommendations in favour of the protectionist policy. Before doing so possibly I had better say that, after all, when the tariff board has found what it calls facts and has made its recommendations to the government and the government has acted on them and brought down their tariff policy, that tariff policy must in the last analysis be voted on by the parliament of Canada, or rather by the government since the government has a majority in parliament and can put the government's policies through no matter what other parties may think. The board itself, outside of parliament, cannot surely be made responsible for the tariff policy of this country. How much better it would be if we had a parliament that fairly represented the economic interests in this country, deciding upon the tariff policies that would be best for the people in general.

I want to quote from the Literary Digest of March 31, 1928. It reviews the recommendations of the United States tariff board, and quotes statements by Mr. Edward P. Costigan, who was a member of that board, but re-22110-196J

signed. He charged that President Coo'lidge had been reorganizing the commission, contrary to the purpose of the law, by successively appointing protectionist commissioners, and he named Commissioners Marvin, Brossard and Lowell. He said of them:

They stand to-day a united tariff band, steadily pressing for higher tariff rates and against important reductions, reckless on occasions in their treatment of facts and the law.

That is exactly what I would expect, that being 'biased they would be reckless in the treatment of facts against their own particular bias. Mr. Costigan went on to speak of Chairman Marvin in particular. He said that he was a "tireless and fanatical protectionist, known in Washington as a tariff lobbyist for New England protected interests." Out of the thirty-two recommendations the tariff board had made up to that time, the president acted on twenty-three: eighteen being for increases and five for decreases of little importance. He names them. They were decreases on mill-feeds, bob-white quail, paint brush handles, cresylic acid and phenol. Those were all the decreases.

Mr. Costigan further stated that the commission had failed to live up to its obligations to report on the effect of the tariff on the industries and labour of the United States, and that "an open-minded performance of this task by the commission would have disclosed the use of various tariff fallacies to mislead farmers and industrial workers in the United States."

Mr. Costigan goes on to say, and I fully agree with him in this:

As a rule, tariff duties are more advantageous to most branches of manufacture than to most branches of agriculture; that tariff duties are not likely to bestow equal benefits on both; and that, so far as the articles are produced by the great majority of our farmers are concerned, prices are usually determined by market, especially world-market conditions, rather than by tariff barriers.

I feel that that was true before, and that it would be much more true under the new act that the agriculturists of this country, the industrial workers and the general consumers would not have an equal chance before the board. They are not as well organized, for one thing. They do not benefit from protection to anything like the same extent. I think that any thinking person will admit, though not politically perhaps, that protection is of no use to the mixed farmer in Canada, the general farmer who puts his product upon the export market. Protection simply means that he must pay more for the things that he needs, and he is not organized in a way that enables him to make effective

Tariff Board.-Mr. Young

representations before the tariff board. So the tariff board in my opinion would only further entrench the protectionists, if that can be done, and would make conditions for agriculture in Canada more difficult than they are at the moment, and the position of our agriculturists is already painfully difficult. So I am entirely opposed to the setting up of a board of the sort proposed. Whether or not I am in favour of the amendment I am not sure, as I have only heard it read hastily once.

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. E. J. YOUNG (Weyburn):

I am in

hearty agreement, for once, with the Prime Minister, that we should have a tariff board. The making of tariffs in this country has had a somewhat varied history. In the old days we contracted the disease from the Americans. Not knowing much about framing tariff schedules, we simply copied theirs, and after consulting with some Canadian manufacturers as to what modifications should be made in the American schedules to suit their purpose, that became our tariff law. Any changes made from then on for some years were made somewhat in this wise: A manufacturer desiring some change in the tariff would appear before the Minister of Finance. He would lay his case before him, pointing out what he considered to be his needs, and the finance minister, using the best judgment he had, and with what little knowledge he had of that particular industry and of other industries likely to be affected by the change, would make the change if he thought it advisable. That sometimes resulted in tariff changes being made which had the effect of helping one industry and ruining another. After the mischief had been done, the minister would discover that he had raised the duty on one man's finished product and by the same act had increased the price of another man's raw material. An illustration of the blunders that might and did occur under that system of making tariffs came up during the war time, when in order to encourage the farmers of this country to grow more wheat to feed the allied armies and the peoples of Europe it was decided to put farm tractors on the free list. But those who had the framing of the tariff forgot to put the parts of tractors on the free list. At that time we had a tractor manufacturing industry in this country. It had been protected by a certain rate of duty. That duty was removed. Those who were manufacturing these tractors in this country were in the habit of bringing in manufactured parts from the United States and paying the duty. In removing the duty on tractors the government,

as I said, forgot to remove the duty on the parts, with the result that our Canadian manufacturer of tractors found himself in this position: Bringing in tractor parts, he

had to pay a heavy duty, sometimes as high as 37 per cent, but he got no protection on his finished product. On the other hand, a farmer bringing in a tractor or a dealer bringing in a tractor to sell to a farmer could get those parts, built into a finished tractor, free of duty. The result was that the Canadian industry was put out of business.

I think we will all agree that that was not a very wise way of framing tariffs, so the Liberal government in 1926 decided that they would no longer frame tariffs in that way, but that in future any changes in the tariff would be made only after complete investigation by a fact-finding body which would look into the matter from every angle and report what they had found to the government, the government taking responsibility for whatever action it took, based upon the findings of that body. That was a step in the right direction. The board was set up, and though it was generally satisfactory there were a number of members on the government side of the house, mostly western Liberals, who had some doubts how it would work out. They reasoned this way. They said: The

manufacturers and those who are likely to be appearing before this board seeking tariff favours are well organized, they have lots of money and are able to hire the best legal talent to present their case before the board, and they will present a mass of evidence and argument in favour of the thing they want. But who will be there to refute that evidence? Who will be there to speak for the common consumer of this country, the man who is going to have to pay for all tariff increases,-because we must remember that somebody has to pay for them? The man who is going to pay for these increases will not be represented. We considered this matter for a while and at first we thought we should go to the government and ask (hem to appoint some one to appear before the board and represent the consumer. Later we changed our plans on that point. We said, "Any man appointed by the government to represent the consumer before such a board might at some time find himself in the position where he was opposing something that the government wanted to do. He would be susceptible to pressure from the government." We thought that such a condition would never be satisfactory, and we must have a man before that board to represent the common people of Canada, a man who would be abso-

Tariff Board-Mr. Young

lutely independent of the government, because some day he might have to oppose the government. That is the reason the consumers league was organized.

Some hon. MEMBERS'. Oh, oh.

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

For a long time my hon.

friends have been wondering who and what the Consumers League were, and why it existed. That is why we were, and why we are to-day. We were organized to represent the common people of Canada. Ten million Canadians who have nothing to gain from the tariff but who have to pay for the increases granted to manufacturers. We were organized so that we might send a man before the tariff advisory board to represent those ten million people and to bring out the facts as to how any proposed changes in the tariff would affect them. We were most fortunate in our choice of a man, because I believe we secured perhaps the best authority and the most capable man on tariff matters in Canada.

Just to give an idea of the type of man we selected I would refer hon. members to a statement made only yesterday by the Prime Minister. He said that for the last several weeks officials of his department had been busy preparing comparative tables of the new tariff schedules combined with the schedules of last September and those under the Dunning budget, and they had told him it would take weeks and weeks to finish the job. I would like to tell the right hon. gentleman that the representative of the Consumers League has been working on that particular work all alone, and he has almost completed the work and made a running commentary on the whole thing as well. It would seem therefore that the efforts of the officers of the department are not so stupendous after all.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

They have something else to do, as well.

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

Surely they will not set aside the business of parliament to do other work. Surely they will not say to this house, "We cannot do your work, because we have something else to do."

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

From day to day the regular work has to be carried on.

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

Perhaps my right hon. friend should increase his staff; certainly there are plenty of unemployed in the country.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The Civil Service Commission controls that.

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

The proposed tariff board is to be a fact finding body, but in many respects it is not to be the same as the body it is intended to displace, the old tariff board. It seems further that they are to be authorized to hold secret sessions; at least information may be given to them in secret, and any person who dares to reveal any such confidential information will be subjected to very severe penalties. We take the position that any man or body of men who come before the government or before the tariff board asking for tariff increases are asking the people of this country to contribute something towards their support. They are asking permission for their special benefit, to tax the people of this country, and we hold that the people of this country and their representatives in parliament have a right to know in all cases exactly why protection is being asked. A man may come before the board and say, "I need more protection, but I will not tell you why." Or a group of men may come before parliament and say, "We need more protection, but we will not tell you why we need it, we cannot trust you." I would reply to those men, "Since you cannot trust the people, we cannot trust you and we cannot give you the protection you seek." I sat through one of the hearings of the old tariff board when the sugar men were looking for higher duties on their product. The representative of the Consumers League asked the refiners, "What does it cost you to convert raw sugar into refined sugar?" The refiners answered that such information was of a confidential nature and that the Consumers League could not be entrusted with it. The chairman of the board said, "You will not trust the board?" The representative of the sugar interest replied, "Yes, I will trust the chairman of the board, but I will trust neither the public nor Mr. Deachman." Mr. Deachman said: "It does not matter, Mr. Chairman; we can get the information without the assistance of this gentleman, I can figure it out myself." Now under an arrangement such as the one proposed in this bill, if information were refused before the board and somebody did figure it out for himself he would be exposed to a penalty if he revealed such information to the public. I say, Mr. Speaker, that that is a situation which cannot be tolerated.

I think the Prime Minister said that the aim of the bill now before the house is tc equalize the costs of production; that seems to be the essence of the bill. With that in mind I would like to take the concrete case of the ink well I now have before me. We

Tariff Board-Mr. Young

will suppose that this ink well is made in Canada and also a similar one is made in the United States. The board would investigate the cost of making it in both countries and would decide that in order to equalize production costs a duty of 20 per cent would be required because the cost of manufacture is 20 per cent higher in Canada. For that reason they would say, "Well, we will impose a duty of 20 per cent and in that way equalize production costs." Then the American manufacturer of ink wells improves his method of manufacture and to-morrow he is able to reduce his production costs 25 per cent. Under such circumstances what will the tariff board say? It will sit again, investigate the matter further and will find that a duty of 50 per cent is required to equalize production costs. What is the result? This is the result: The tariff board in effect will say to the Canadian manufacturer, "You need not modernize your factory; you need not keep yourself up to date; if your competitors in other countries improve their methods you do not need to improve yours; you may proceed in your old-fashioned way and we will see to it that the Canadian people pay you the old price for your ink wells while the rest of the world can buy them at half the price." Does anybody think it would be possible for any tariff board or any government to keep equalization costs adjusted all the time? The proposal is absurd. One might as well try to elevate and depress the land in unison with the rise and fall of the tide in order that no part of it might at any time be submerged.

I said before that we should have a tariff board, but we should lay down certain guiding principles in the framing and setting up of the board. I have outlined what I consider those principles should be: First, I believe that all hearings should be open to the public. No one has a right to go before a board and ask to be handed money of the people of Canada, and carry on such a transaction behind closed doors. The people have a right to know why changes are made. Every citizen must have the right to appear to plead his case in person, or be represented by somebody else. There must be in connection with the operation of the board, no pomp or circumstance or anything which would tend to over-awe the ordinary citizen who might wish to appear. All evidence should be printed, published and distributed; I regard that as very important. The evidence brought before the board will be acted upon by the government. The government in turn will have to bring such evidence before parliament and all hon. members of parliament will have to sanction or refuse

the proposals. How can we form any sound judgment on those matters unless we have evidence before us. Evidence submitted only in secret to the board might lead them to one conclusion. But the same evidence, if submitted to parliament, might lead us to the very opposite conclusion. I say, therefore, that it is particularly important that the evidence should be printed and distributed.

Last but not least, it is important also, that the members of the board should be removable at will. We do not complain of the fact that the government when assuming office dismissed the old board. The Prime Minister said a few minutes ago that the board should continue after the government had changed hands. May I ask how long the last board continued after the government had changed? We on this side of the house believe in low tariff. We believe in another thing however, the right of the people to rule. We believe that if the people of Canada decide they want low tariff they have the right to low tariff; if on the contrary they decide they want high tariff they have a right to have it. But this legislation that aims to fasten a tariff board on us for ten years is deliberately designed to thwart the will of the people when they want to change their tariff policy. What would have happened if we had had a tariff board prior to the election last year fastened on the country for a term of ten years? Why did the people of Canada last July reject the Liberal government and put a Conservative government in its place? Because they wanted to try higher tariffs. And if we bad had a tariff board appointed for a decade, it would now stand in the way of the government and not permit them to carry out their policy, and in that way it would be thwarting the will of the people. The Prime Minister to-day is setting up a board for the deliberate purpose of thwarting the will of the people, if five years from now the people decide that they have had enough protection and vote the low tariff party into power. I say that is the worst feature of the bill and we must oppose it to the last ditch.

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CON

Richard Langton Baker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BAKER:

The hon. member agrees that the will of the people is paramount and should

be observed?

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LIB
CON

Richard Langton Baker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BAKER:

He says that the will of the people has been expressed for high tariffs?

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June 26, 1931