Yes, on both sides. We are told in the Prime Minister's speech that in the agreements there are some eighty-four reductions in the tariff and one hundred and thirty-nine increases. On the surface that does not look much like a removal of trade barriers. We intend to examine these eighty-four reductions to find out exactly what they amount to. From the study that we have given them so far, we are of the opinion that many of them are merely nominal reductions, and others that appear to be drastic reductions are on articles that will not come in. We intend to examine the increases and to find out what the effect will be on trade.
The government talks about diverting trade that now flows to other parts of the world into empire channels. Well, how can you divert trade? What do you do when you undertake to divert trade? Let us see. A certain country outside the empire is shipping a certain line of goods to Canada. We are not getting these goods within the empire-Why are we not getting them in the empire? For one reason and one reason only, namely, that we can get them cheaper or more satisfactorily from some other source. Now the government undertakes to divert that trade and it says to the people of Canada, "You must not buy these goods where you are now buying them even if you get them cheaper or to better advantage. We will force you to buy them within the empire." How can they do that? Either by making us pay a higher price for the things that are coming from the outside, or by enabling the producers within the empire to reduce their costs of production. Now, nothing in these agreements will assist in the smallest degree in reducing costs of production within the empire. Many things in these agreements will make us pay, and are deliberately designed to make us pay more for goods outside the empire than we could get the same goods for at the present time. What is the result? It simply means placing more barriers in the way of trade. Will this encourage world trade? The Prime Minister, in his speech, said that as a result of these agreements countries outside the empire will
Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements
not be allowed to trade with countries within the empire unless they pay a tribute for so doing. Is that not an added obstacle in the way of trade?
The trouble is that the government went into the conference with an entirely wrong mental attitude. They went in on the assumption that when you buy anything from anyone you are doing yourself an injury, and that when you sell anything to anyone you are doing yourself a benefit and the other party an injury. Surely that benighted attitude is out of date. Surely the government in this enlightened or so-called enlightened twentieth century knows better than to believe that to every transaction in trade there are two parties, winner and loser. Trade is mutual exchange for mutual benefit. As my right hon. leader said the other day, if both parties did not benefit there would be no trade. But the government went into the conference on the assumption that if we allow Britain or any other country to sell anything in this market we are making a sacrifice on the other party's behalf. That attitude was responsible for the wrecking of many trade treaties years ago. Away back in the days of Gladstone, treaties were attempted on that basis and they always failed until Gladstone adopted a new policy. Let us see what he said:
The only reason why we have not made bargains similar to the present in former years was simply because we could not make them. It was not for want of trying. For four or five years this was almost the chief business of one or more departments of the state, and yet no progress could be made. Why? Because we then set out upon a false principle-we argued the matter as if the concession which each party made to the other were not a benefit, but an injury to itself. We have not now proceeded upon that principle. We have never pretended to France that we were going to inflict injury upon ourselves. We have simply offered France our best aid in breaking down ber own vicious prohibitory system. In doing so, we may have given a greater benefit to France than to ourselves. I shall not attempt to measure the comparative good to be reaped as between one side and the other. What we have done is good-nay, doubly good; good for ourselves if France had done nothing at all, doubly good because France had done a great deal.
That was the attitude of Mr. Gladstone towards trade treaties, and that is the proper attitude to be taken today. When the British delegates come here and say they want to supply our people with the things they need and are willing to supply at prices at which we cannot produce them ourselves, they are offering a service, and it is benighted folly on our part to refuse such service. After all, what is production for? It is to supply
the people with the necessities of life, and when the government steps in and says that our people must do without things because someone else wants to supply them, can you imagine a more antiquated policy? Can you imagine the government saying, "we are doing this for the benefit of Canada; we are going to make the people of Canada pay more for their clothing, their boots and shoes, more for their machinery and for everything else they require, in order to enrich them and to bring prosperity to the country." Every time you increase the price of a commodity that comes into this country you decrease by that amount the price of wheat that goes out of the country, as well as the prices of copper, nickel, newsprint, pulpwood and all the things that we export. For exports must be paid for by imports, and when you shut out imports you merely make us take a lower price for our exports.
I have been at a little pains to state in a few plain, simple sentences exactly what the various clauses of the agreement mean as I understand them. Being a plain ordinary man myself, I have tried to put the meaning of these clauses into simple language which the man on the street can understand. In the first place, England agrees not to impose any duty on Canadian poultry and dairy products for three years. Well, she has not been doing so in the past. She says that for the next three years she will not impose any duty on Canadian poultry, butter or dairy products, and in return therefor Canada agrees that if at the end of three years Britain sees fit to impose duties on Canadian dairy products, she, Canada, will not protest. Not a very momentous decision that, is it? If Britain decided that she wanted to protect her farmers, and she thought such a thing could be done by putting a duty on poultry and dairy products, then, had the agreements not been drawn up, we might be able without losing our face to go there and make representations. But according to this agreement nothing of the sort will happen. They will say: "Why, you agreed to this, here it is in black and white; here is your name to it."
Great Britain agrees to impose duties on the following goods from the outside world:
Wheat, in grain Butter Cheese Apples, raw Pears, raw Apples, canned Dried fruits Eggs in shell
Condensed milk, whole, sweet milk Copper.
This section contains the following clause:
-of entry free of duty into the United Kingdom of goods consigned from any part of the British Empire and grown, produced or manufactured in Canada-
In order to obtain free access to the British market goods will have to be grown or produced in Canada and shipped from some port within the empire. I should like to ask the government a question which I hope will be answered before the conclusion of this debate. What will happen to wheat grown in Canada and shipped through American ports? Will [DOT]such wheat be admitted to the British market without payment of the six-cent duty, or will it have to pay? If it has to pay, then it will be a serious matter to the Canadian farmer. I hope the government will give us a definite pronouncement upon this matter before these agreements go through.
Great Britain agrees not to lower the duties on timber, fish, both fresh and canned, asbestos, zinc and lead, but Canada agrees to supply all the United Kingdom's requirements of wheat, copper, zinc and lead at world prices. All through our history our wheat has commanded a premium over world prices upon the British market, but under this agreement what is to happen to that premium? The agreement states that our wheat must be sold on the British market at the same price as the wheat from Europe, South America, Australia or any other country. We are throwing away the opportunity of receiving a premium on our wheat which has always been paid in the past.
At six o'clock the house took recess.
The house resumed at eight o'clock.