October 24, 1932

CON

Thomas Alfred Thompson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. A. THOMPSON (Lanark):

The

question before the house, Mr. Speaker, at the present time is whether or not the parliament of Canada will approve of the conclusions which were arrived at by the delegates who were assembled in this city at the Imperial economic conference a short time ago.

I have listened very carefully to the addresses which have been delivered by hon. gentlemen opposite, and I have failed to hear anything from them but condemnation of the agreement. There is scarcely a man among them who has spoken who has found anything commendable in them. The tactics of hon. gentlemen opposite suggested to me that they were playing for some political advantage, and as speaker after speaker on the other side arose and condemned these agreements I read between the lines a fear on their part that some good would come from them and that the Conservative party and the Prime Minister would get the credit. Their tactics, I submit, are not worthy of the traditions of the Liberal party. There has been no crisis in our country's history when the Liberal party did not lay aside their politics and come to their country's assistance. Sir John Macdonald never could have gathered the scattered provinces that now comprise this Dominion and welded them into one harmonious whole had it not been for the assistance that he received from the Liberals of that day. Canada could not have prosecuted the war as she did had it not been for the assistance she received from those Liberals who left their party that they might better serve their country. Contrast such an attitude with the attitude of the opposition at the present time when Canada, in common with every other country of the world, is struggling for her economic existence, striving to extricate herself from the mire of the greatest depression that the world has ever known; and in such a crisis these agreements receive nothing but knock after knock from the Liberal party. It is a glaring case of fiddling while Rome burns.

Great credit is due to the Prime Minister of Canada for having brought the conference to the city of Ottawa, thereby gathering

together here the brightest minds and the best brains of the British Empire in an honest endeavour to unravel the tangled web of economic conditions in which the British Empire in common with the rest of the world is struggling. Probably none of the delegates present at that conference went home feeling that they had got everything that they desired for their own country, and if they had done so, the conference would not have been a success. It was only by every part of the empire making some concession to the rest that it was possible to arrive at any definite agreement.

I listened with keen interest to the speech by the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) when for nearly four houre he laboured in a fruitless effort to discredit the provisions contained in the agreement now before us, and to try to persuade the house and country that the treaties would bring only higher tariffs and special privileges for a favoured few. I was astonished to hear him state that if returned to power he would place the tariffs back to where they were when the Liberals left office, and that he would give a British preference of 50 per cent. I want to say to him that if that policy were carried into effect every textile mill in Canada would be closed, and industry would be crippled. The greatest sufferers would be the farmers.

We are looking for markets, farmers cannot sell their products to their neighbours. Their sales depend upon the purchasing power of men and women engaged in industrial life, and who are non-producers of agricultural products. If a workman in a town or city has steady employment and good wages he creates the very best market the farmer can obtain. Industry and agriculture are not enemies they should not be flying at each other's throats. They are partners in the development of Canada and the success of one means the success of the other; they must stand or fall together.

Much has been said during this debate about high and low tariffs, and hon. members opposite would have us believe that the fiscal policy of this government has had something to do with the low price of commodities. I want to say that tariffs are nothing more or less than instruments in the hands of governments whereby on a basis of equality one country may deal with another. And these tariffs must be changed from time to time as other countries change their tariffs to suit the everchanging conditions of trade. Tariffs must be regulated. We know the United States have raised their tariff to an extent whereby

United Kingdom

Canadian produce is practically shut out. Would any thoughtful man suggest that we should leave our markets open and make ourselves the dumping ground for the surplus products of our neighbours? To a great extent the deliberations during the conference were in the interests of agriculture. We had lost our market in the United States, and were looking to markets within the British Empire.

Tariffs do not interfere with the prices of commodities. A high or a low tariff will not raise or lower the world price. The old law of supply and demand still rules, and so far as agriculture is concerned, stimulated as it has been by excessive war prices and the introduction of more efficient farm machinery, there has been a production which has greatly out-balanced world consumption. I state further that a comparison of prices obtaining in Canada and in other countries would show that we are enjoying prices relatively higher than when hon. members opposite were in power.

Already we have witnessed one result from the Imperial economic conference at Ottawa, namely, the notice of termination by Great Britain of the Anglo-Russian treaty. In that connection I should like to read an article appearing in the Toronto Mail and Empire of May 20:

The opposition argument at Ottawa that Great Britain would never implement the imperial trade agreements by stopping Soviet dumping in the United Kingdom has been promptly answered from Westminster. The British government has given the Soviet Union the necessary six months' notice for the termination of the present Anglo-Russian Trade Treaty. In making this announcement, Mr. J. H. Thomas, Secretary for the dominions, said that continued importation of sweated goods from Russia would violate the United Kingdom's agreements with the dominions to prevent importation from any country that would stultify those agreements.

When questioned by Labour opponents, Mr. Thomas declared no investigation was necessary to convince the government that Soviet goods have been and are being dumped in Great Britain. Mr. Thomas was referring to Article 21 of the Anglo-Canadian agreement, whereby each party to the agreement undertook to prohibit imports from any foreign country where state control of industries and commodity prices resulted in the dumping of goods under cost. The effect of Britain's denunciation of the trade treaty with Russia will be to cut off the importation of large quantities of lumber, fish, grain and other products heretofore sold in Great Britain below cost.

The trade in such commodities will be automatically transferred to Canadian producers and producers in other parts of the empire. Mr. Charles A. Selden, the chief European correspondent of the New York Times, cables his newspaper that the announcement made by

Mr. Thomas in the British House of Commons "signalizes one of the most important victories won by Premier Bennett of Canada."

The condition described in this newspaper article is a direct result of the deliberations of the Imperial economic conference. Millions of dollars worth of goods which have been supplied by Russia to Great Britain at less than cost will now be supplied by Canada and other parts of the empire at a fair market price. Through the provisions of the agreement now under consideration-the farmers of Canada, by having a sheltered market in Great Britain for their wheat, their cheese, their butter and other products, will be greatly benefited. The statement has been made by some hon. members opposite that the farmers are not satisfied with the trade agreements. Speaking in this house the other day the hon. member for West Elgin (Mr. Hepburn) stated there were no more Conservative farmers, intimating that they were dissatisfied with the agreements. I am as closely in touch with the agricultural communities of this district as is any hon. member in the house, and I say that the farmers are not dissatisfied; on the other hand they are well pleased. I state further that I would not be afraid to take this trade agreement in my hand and go before the hard-headed, honest farmers of Lanark county and by an overwhelming majority receive their en-dorsation.

All I have to say in conclusion is that the motherland and the dominions, after deliberation by the ablest men in the Brtish Empire, have arrived at an agreement that has been the dream of the leading statesmen of the empire for a quarter of a century. They have laid the foundation upon which there will be built in the future a noble structure of interimperial trade that will be the admiration of the whole civilized world. I claim: that if I were to vote against these agreements I would not be dealing fairly by my country.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
LIB

Edgar-Rodolphe-Eugène Chevrier

Liberal

Mr. E. R. E. CHEVRIER (Ottawa):

Mr. Speaker, I sincerely trust that the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat will not hold it against me if I do not follow him in the exposition which he has just given as to what he believes should be done for the-purpose of saving Canada from the condition in which it finds itself at present. May T say that the object of the imperial conference held in Ottawa this summer, or what the ordinary man on the street thought its object to be, was to secure wider markets within the empire. With that object I do not think

490 COMMONS

Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements

any one can find fault. Canada being a component part of the empire, there seemed no reason why, particularly in a time of stress like this, the members of the family should not get together, and in closer cooperation -because misery loves company-do what they could to get out of these distressing conditions. But at the same time there does not appear to be any good reason why under such conditions the countries of the empire should entirely cut themselves off from the rest of the world.

But what a sense of deception filled the hearts of the Canadian people when the results of the conference were made known! What have we? These trade agreements for three, five and ten years! What had they for the famished and thirsty people of this country in their present need? They asked bread, the Prime Minister has given them a stone, a monument to his own fruitless endeavour as an imperial bargainer to cure the ills of the Canadian people. Sir, the Prime Minister was bound to the stake of his preelection promises. For two years he had been harrassed and obsessed with these extravagant promises of 1930 to secure wider markets. No wonder that in despair he flung himself into the making of these agreements! But nothing can dispel from the memory of the Canadian people the distressing fears they entertained in the dying days of the conference when they understood it was likely to be a failure. No wonder the Prime Minister finally came out from under the bag of spoils which he has tabled in this honourable house in the agreements now under consideration.

But, sir, for that bag, what price did he pay? Time will prove better than any assertion of mine what advantage he has secured for us and what price we must pay. Presently, we are too near those events to appreciate fully and visualize their significance and effect. But even at this stage we [DOT] can safely say that, proceeding as they do from a "principle not too sound politically-I use that term in its proper sense-and not too sound economically, the Canadian people can expect to derive little good and advantage therefrom. The principles involved are a negation, or complete curtailment of our political liberty, none the less deplorable because self-imposed by a complacent majority.

Many years ago, Sir Wilfrid Laurier described the empire as a galaxy of nations, and until the birth of these trade agreements no better definition could be given. A galaxy of nations! the empire the heavens, the component parts of the empire the stars, each

separate, having its own identity, independent one of the other, travelling in well-ordained channels, but all gravitating around a common centre. Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, all enjoying responsible government, mistresses of their own destinies, jealous of their own rights and privileges, Canada particularly proud of its own modern garb, a la statute de Westminster, but all bound in a common tie.

These political liberties were not acquired without long and weary struggles. They represent the concerted efforts of many generations, and in some instances the price was high. Today, whether we be of Canada or South Africa, we are proud of our status, and we were ready to sit with the other countries at the family table under the eye of the mother country, to enjoy the well-earned fruits of these long labours. No one in those days dared challenge our loyalty to the empire, let no one do so today.

Speaking in this honourable house as one of those whose mother tongue is that of millions of inhabitants of this fair land, as one whose blood is the same as that of those millions, I say that our hearts beat in unison with the hearts of those who wish the empire well; our souls, like the souls of our millions of brothers in this fair land, are filled with the same ardent desire for the empire's maintenance, our hopes and ambitions are no less ardent than the hopes and ambitions of our brothers for a united empire. Those little white crosses side by side in Flander's fields mark the last resting places of thousands of the descendants of those who fought with Wolfe and Montcalm, showing that the bonds of empire in Canada have not weakened. Our loyalty is not less sincere, our prayers and our endeavours for a greater empire are no less earnest than the prayers and hopes of those who propose these agreements now under review.

And we have a perfect right to criticize them, we of the Liberal party who sit on your left, Mr. Speaker, in the light of the principles and doctrines which are our own, and which, let it not be forgotten, are at the foundation of our political and economic liberties today, the principles of a democratic party, of a party that seeks the greatest good for the greatest number, the Liberal party. The Prime Minister has made it clear that these agreements constitute the glorification of protection. He has succeeded in grafting this bud on the old British free trade tree. He is a past master in many arts and sciences,

United Kingdom

but the future will show what kind of botanist or amateur farmer he is. How the old tree will react, it is hard to tell. Will the rugged old British oak just cramp and stifle the bud, or will the old stock, poisoned by the bud's viciousness, suffer, dry up and disintegrate?

I say that we of the Liberal party have a perfect right, nay, an obligation and a duty, closely, very closely to scrutinize these agreements and to say to the Prime Minister, as did the Latins of old:

Timeo danaos et dona ferentee; or, as the famous French fabulist Lafontaine said:

Ce bloc enfarine'ne me dit rien qui vaille.

I said a moment ago that these agreements constituted a curtailment of our political liberties. I am positive that there is not a single British subject in this fair land today who would not strongly support any measure conceived for the purpose of keeping closely knit as they are today the bonds of empire. I am sure that the ten millions of red-blooded Canadians would go any limit to assure the maintenance of empire bonds of the strongest kind. But at the same time I am sure that few, if any, are those supporters and admirers of empire bonds who would sacrifice willingly any of their political liberties to support a scheme of empire trade conceived on such principles as of necessity must undermine the very stability of such bonds.

If we approve of the present scheme we constitute ourselves, all of the component parts of the empire, into a separate unity in the world organization. We build tariff walls around the empire so high that we cannot look over them; so high that no other nation of the world can look over them; we constitute ourselves into some glorified entity, something like a mother bear and her cubs in her winter cache.

By accepting these agreements we decide for three, five or ten years to divest ourselves of our political liberty to frame our fiscal policies as times, conditions and circumstances may warrant. If we accept these agreements, then for three, five or ten years we voluntarily place, our hands in the shackles and our feet in the stocks and lose our economic liberties. For such length of time we shall be debarred from making any bargain with any nation in the world in respect of the same subject, no matter how much more beneficial it may be for us. And is it to be in such abnormal times, when conditions are so upset, when minds are so unsettled, that we shall enter into long term agreements about matters that so vitally affect the political and economic structure of this country? There is all the

difference in the world between the making of these agreements with the empire and the making of separate agreements with separate countries, as was done under the Liberal regime. Here we give away the whole of our economic life. We give the 360 degrees of the circle to its centre. We tie up exclusively with one party all that we have. There is nothing left for us to deal in; there is no other party to deal with. But vicious a principle as that is, it goes further than that.

I cannot too often repeat it: It is the tying-up of Canada, hand and foot, to a system of protection, incompatible with the financial and economic structure of England, incompatible with the financial and economic structure of Canada, and exposing Canada and the empire to retaliatory measures of the worst kind.

The daily bread of a nation is trade, trade and more trade-expansion and more expansion. Restrictions on these desires and wants create resentments and hate, and war is on the threshold. Tariffs are barriers; tariffs are wars that stem the flow of trade and interfere with expansion. Resistance to expansion in the economic world is resented as much by nations as resistance to territorial expansion. These, it may be said, are consequences or events the happening of which is doubtful. But though improbable, they are unfortunately only too possible. History shows that nations' cupidity in the way of more territory, or that nations' thwarted desire for greater trade have been the cause of war.

The life of these agreements is said to be three, five or ten years. But what is our state of health to link us up in such a manner? According to the report of the Department of Trade and Commerce for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1932, we find at page 7 the state of our health. We read that Canada's foreign trade during the year ended March 31, 1932, amounted to $1,166,069,000 compared to $1,723,641,000 in 1931, and $2,393,212,000 in 1930, or a decrease of 32-4 per cent compared with 1931 and a decrease of 51-3 per cent compared with 1930. But that is not all. I find at page 10 also that Canada's domestic exports in 1932 decreased as compared with 1931 by 27-9 per cent. A fine state of health to be in! A fine state of health for Canada to be in to bargain with somebody to the exclusion of all other parties. Our total decrease in trade in 1931-32 as compared with 1930-31 was $551,507,000, and our total decrease in trade with the United Kingdom for the same period was $131,000,000. And are we to be asked to tie up exclusively for three, five

492 COMMONS

Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements

or ten years with that customer, no matter how closely we may be bound by ties of blood and sentiment or anything else? We are being asked to tie up exclusively for three, five or ten years with a client with whom for years we have done the least business. At page 10 of the report I find the following:

In 1932 the United States and the United Kingdom supplied Canada -noth 79-2 per cent of her total imports. The United States since 1882 lias supplied the dominion continuously, year by year, with the largest proportion of its imports, amounting to 60-8 per cent in 1932 compared with 64-5 per cent in 1931.

Page 11 of the report contains the following statement:

The United States has occupied first place in Canadian export trade during the past six years.

I do not contend that we should deal exclusively with the United States but surely a treaty could be arranged with the empire which would not disregard totally some of our best clients.

There are many reasons why I have the greatest reverence and sympathy for dear old England and if the terms made by the Prime Minister are considered mercenary, I have had nothing to do with them. Our imports in 1932 from the United States were 60-8 per cent, while in 1931 they amounted to only 64-5. Our imports from the United Kingdom in 1932 amounted to 18-4 per cent, and in 1931, 16-5 per cent. In those two periods our imports from the United Kingdom were 18-4 per cent and 16-5 per cent respectively, while our imports from the rest of the world amounted to 81-6 per cent and 83-5 per cent. Our exports to the United States in 1932 amounted to 40-8 per cent, to the United Kingdom, 30-2 per cent and to the whole world 69-8 per cent. Page 10 of the report contains the statement that Canada's domestic exports to the United Kingdom in 1932 decreased by 33'1 per cent as compared with 1931. I have no hesitation in saying that the whole plan is economically unsound, both for Canada and for the empire. It is too radical. I am driven more and more to the conclusion with all due respect that it was entered into for the sole purpose of endeavouring to save the Prime Minister's face.

Then we must consider the state of health of the two contracting parties. If the law of eugenics was recognized in contractual law, these agreements would be contra bonos mores. But more than that, in the present state of world affairs, these agreements are unsound and strike at the root of responsible government as heretofore understood in British institutions.

Where do the people and the consumers of Canada, where do the people and the consumers of Great Britain come into these agreements? Where do the parties to these agreements get their authority so to bend the peoples of the empire? By what virtue have they arrogated unto themselves the right to be constituted the guardians, trustees or committees of the peoples of the empire in the matters now under review? Surely the government of Canada cannot claim any mandate from the Canadian people to enter into such conventions. Were these conventions before the people in 1930? Nothing was mentioned although many promises were made by the Prime Minister, all still unfulfilled. If there has ever been a system-I do not think that expression will be considered unparliamentary -whereby power was taken away from the people of Canada, it was that adopted by the Prime Minister during the elections of 1930. I ask hon. members of the government by what mandate of the people do they endeavour to put this matter through the Canadian parliament? The mandate which they obtained in 1930 could not be obtained today. The Canadian people want better proof, as is demonstrated by the fact that the elected member for South Huron (Mr. Golding) has taken his seat in the house. The fact that that hon. member is today a member of this house should be forever in the mind of the Prime Minister to remind him that he and his followers have no mandate to place before the Canadian parliament the conventions presently under review. The government made these matters an issue in the campaign in South Huron and to' my recollection there has never been so clear a signal of defeat as that given by the returns in that election.

The increasingly high walls of protection which have been built and which, because of a complacent majority in this house, will continue to be built by the Prime Minister and his followers bear upon their face that warning, "mene mene tekel upharsin" or the handwriting on the walls, be they so high! There will be a destruction and crumbling down of those walls as soon as the Canadian people again have an opportunity of recording their votes.

The Prime Minister may endeavour to put these matters through our house with all possible haste, the authority in power in Great Britain may want to do the same, but where is the Prime Minister's mandate? He obtained a mandate to end unemployment because of the promises he made that he would do so as soon as he was returned to power; he obtained a mandate to open wide

United Kingdom

the markets of the world, but he never had a mandate to do that which these agreements seek to do. And in England, sir, the party at present in power, so far as I have been able to understand, never had a mandate from the British people to do what they are endeavouring to do. The evidence and proof of this is in the present disaffection in a national government in England constituted for the purpose of saving the dear old motherland, of saving the empire from ruin and destruction, and thereby saving all of its component parts, of which we are one. Thus there is no mandate in Canada, no mandate in England to do the things which are sought to be done in this haste. For what purpose? For that of saving the Prime Minister's face on account of the many promises which he made in 1930 and which were responsible for his coming into power.

I am willing to cross swords with the Solicitor General (Mr. Dupre) if he is ready to do so and I say to him: So far as the capital of this dominion is concerned, I am ready to meet him. I say this to the whole of the party that sits to your left, sir, that I believe the safer path of statesmanship for the building of the commonwealth along enduring lines should surely be, as the Liberal leader has said, to get the verdict of the Canadian people in a general election. And if the Solicitor General will try this in Ottawa, let him name the date.

We believe that through the 1926 conference the empire was moulded into a group of nations of equal status, independent the one from the other, free to determine their own policies, whether political or economic, but always bound by unbreakable bonds of their own making, to an empire which they loved and revered. I had great faith in these perennial reunions of the nations of the empire. I believe it was a marvellous spectacle and example to the world at stated times to see the motherland in conference with her grown-up children, all well able to earn their own livelihood and to take care of themselves, yet mindful always of their family ties and respectful ever of their mother. My confidence and belief in these conferences was increased by the result of the 1926 conference.

The proceedings at the 1930 and 1932 conferences, the nugatory results of the 1930 conference, with its tempestuous atmosphere and the, at most, doubtful results of the 1932 conference with its quasi-mercenary attitude of the fully grown children towards their mother, met by the subtlety, cunning, shrewdness and long experience of the mother in such dealings, have left me rather dubious as to the

wisdom of further conferences if conducted in that manner. My vision of an empire, the one I have often dreamed of in my short years, is the one we presently have or have had since the coming into force of the statute of Westminster, one whose bonds were those of natural love, esteem, affection, respect and trust, the one whose bonds called in 1914 for their defence so many millions from all corners of the earth; and not one,, the bonds of which would be, as under these agreements, covenants imbued only by mercenary sentiments and greed, and of doubtful effect. A thousand times should I prefer weaker links in the present bonds, than bonds of silver or of gold, because the former, though weaker, would, as in the course of human life, give and take, but never break, whilst those bonds which these agreements seek to place about us will gird us for three, five or ten years, and by their very essence may, under some strain, not give, not take, but with a catastrophe at some momentous time, snap, and bring with this consequences too formidable presently to visualize.

I said a moment ago that at this conference the parties had met in an atmosphere different from that of 1926. In 1930 the eldest child was rebuked and went home without his reward. Old Mother England is a dear old mother, but canny and sagacious. She is old in years, but her intellect is keen and bright. Not only has she for many long years dealt with children who had just reached their majority, but she had, long before the birth of those budding statesmen, been trained in the art of diplomacy and of international relationships, and I think it may safely be said that old Mother England was seldom, if ever, known to have come out second best in any matter of trading. Always the other parties went, away, for the time being fully satisfied, only to realize in time that the bargain was not all they had thought it to be for their benefit. No one better than old Mather England can drive an honest, if you will, but a stiff bargain, and I am rather convinced that when our budding statesmen see in time what they have bargained for, they will realize that the eggs were not so fresh and the horse was not so sound. When the proper time comes-and the Solicitor General may call it any time-the people of Canada will proclaim that if the 1930 conference was "humbug," this one was a "gold brick" for Canada.

But the conference was not called solely for the purpose of making trade agreements with dubious results. It was called for the purpose of solving the distressing economic conditions in which Canada and the world now

494 COMMONS

Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements

find themselves, and, so far as Canada is concerned, increased and aggravated by the fiscal policies of the Conservative party now in power. The proof! Since the Prime Minister, doctor of many arts and sciences, has been called to Canada's bedside, Canada's ills and troubles have increased; Canada's pulse, as indicated by the returns of the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) has become more and more feeble; Canada's blood pressure, as revealed by the reluctant statements of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon) has gone away below normal and is still being depressed; Canada's respiration has become more and more feeble, as shown by the bulletins of the Ministers of Air, National Defence and Public Health, and soon Canada will need no pensions, as Canada, if the present regime is continued, will soon be dead.

Canada's public works work no more. In the city of Ottawa most of the people in the Public Works department have been discharged. Canada's natural resources are no longer exploited; the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Murphy) excelled in the art of alchemy, has chloroformed them. The Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Ryckman) has no more revenues because the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes), at the direction of the Prime Minister, has cut off all his imports, by raising tariff walls. The doughty Minister of Railways (Mr. Manion) will soon be without a portfolio; the Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Mr. Duranleau) is up in the air, talking radio with the toreadors. I am reminded of the facetious translation of Virgil:

Pater Eneas sic orsus ab alto

Ainsi le Pere Enee, assis sur un taureau.

The Postmaster General (Mr. Sauve) has but his genial smile to set off against his department's deficits. People can't write; they have no money to pay the stamp tax. The Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie) is busier than ever- the busiest minister in difficult times, the least worked minister in normal times. The Minister of Trade and Commerce, the last hope, the last trench, with a blank cartridge, is endeavouring at the Prime Minister's request, to blast a way into the markets of the world.

And the Solicitor General (Mr. Dupre)! Solicitous of Canada's welfare, he spoke too much and said too little. Again I repeat, let him try the cudgels with my good colleague from the city of Ottawa (Mr. Aheam) and myself.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. gentleman's time has expired.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
LIB

Joseph Raoul Hurtubise

Liberal

Mr. J. R. HURTUBISE (Nipissing):

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with great interest to the speeches that have been delivered since

this debate opened on the motion of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) to have the trade agreement between Canada and the United Kingdom approved. It was my great privilege as one of the members of the house who is among the younger in experience, to hear the recapitulation of the party policies which have been preconised for years and applied: under different parliaments. My right hon. leader (Mr. Mackenzie King) has described in a very clear and concise manner the effects of the new trade agreements on the consumer, on succeeding governments and on our imperial and international relations.

I very deeply resent the remarks of the Prime Minister with reference to the personality of my right hon. leader. During the conference I was following the activities of all those concerned, and particularly those of my leader, and my friends both Conservative and. Liberal have made remarks to me complimenting the Liberal chief upon his noble attitude. I shall not repeat what has been said by my friend from North Timiskaming (Mr. Bradette) as to the gracious message that my leader sent to the Right Hon. Mr. Baldwin and Mrs. Baldwin on their arrival in this country, nor shall I repeat the message that my leader published at the opening of the conference and which was read by my hon. friend the member for Charlcvoix-Saguenay (Mr. Casgrain) today. Let me say that without knowing the purpose of my leader's attitude, in my humble way and in my own corner I was practising the very same thing. I have held twenty-five or thirty meetings throughout my constituency, not for the purpose of talking politics, but to advocate peace, patience, harmony, and respect for established authority. That is why I resent so keenly the remarks which the Prime Minister made.

I have the honour to represent in this house a constituency the main industries of which are lumbering, mining and agriculture, and I cannot let this opportunity pass without expressing my opinion as to how these new trade agreements are going to affect us. The population in my district has quit waiting to see prosperity come around the corner. The program of the short session in 1930, following the promises that were made by the Prime Minister during the election campaign, the upward revisions of the tariff that were made in 1930, 1931 and 1932, and which were supposed to bring higher prices for farm products and an invigorating stimulus to our industries, giving work to thousands of people -all those promises and plans have proved a failure, and today the unemployment figures

United Kingdom

have reached the peak of 750,000. The farmer is bankrupt and our industries are still, whatever hon. gentlemen opposite may-say to the contrary.

Now hon. gentlemen opposite expect us to vote for another upward revision of the tariff. They believe that the people of Canada are going to swallow these new agreements holus-bolus, on the promise of the Prime Minister that in about two years we are going to reap great benefits therefrom. That is impossible. We already know the opinion of South Huron.

First I should like to say a word or two about our pulp and lumber industry. I should like to congratulate the hon. member for East Algoma (Mr. Nicholson) for the deep interest he has shown in the betterment of that particular industry in our district, but I believe that his credulity has led him to spend too much time and energy for nothing. He should have considered first how handicapped we are in the province of Ontario with our high crown and stumpage dues and the scandalous tinkering with timber limits, also the effect of high tariff policies on that particular industry. Let me quote two paragraphs that appeared in our local paper, the Sudbury Star on Saturday last:

Suspension of the embargo on the export of pulpwood from crown lands and other areas under lease from the crown for one year is recommended by the Port Arthur city council.

A resolution will be forwarded to the provincial government. It also asks that mills and contractors be compelled to pay a fair wage to men employed in the woods. A provision that the principle of collective bargaining be recognized in setting wages and working conditions was rejected.

And the following despatch comes from Fort Frances:

Urging the reduction of crown dues on pulp, the Fort Frances Board of Trade this week passed a resolution for presentation to the provincial government. It is said that whether the paper mill here operates this winter or not depends on the dues. The paper company has already contracted for 20,000 -cords of pulp-wood to be purchased from settlers.

What is the use of the hon. member for East Algoma spending so much energy and counting so much on the trade agreements when there is embarrassment in provincial matters?

There has been a gradual decrease in Canadian lumber exports. The following table from the Trade of Canada reports will serve to show in dollars and cents the decrease between the years 1929 and 1932:

Exports to

^ United Exports to

Year Kingdom United States

1929

$8,501,878 $72,312,2711930

8,384.690 70,855,7501931

6,933,294 47,119,3041932

4,673,692 28,427,487

Hon. members will note that there has been a tremendous decrease in our exports of lumber. We must remember that our natural market for lumber and pulp is in the United States. Any action by the Canadian government to antagonize that or any other market will bring disastrous results. By placing an embargo on Russian lumber the government of the United Kingdom will meet with difficulties. By the time these agreements are in force the doors of Russia and other countries will be practically closed against British Empire trade. Only a short time ago the United States placed a duty of $3 per thousand feet against our lumber.

What may we expect from these agreements? I sincerely believe not the slightest benefit will be derived. We must realize that on the one hand the United Kingdom admits our lumber free, whereas on the other hand there is a tariff of from 10 to 20 per cent against foreign countries. In practice we have to compete with other countries, and especially with Finland which enjoys an advantage through exchange conditions. As stated by the hon. member for Shelburne-Yarmouth (Mr. Ralston) at page 392 of Hansard:

Finnish lumber will go into Great Britain for nearly 25 per cent less than our lumber can go in.

The lumbermen in Ontario realize fully the uselessness of the new agreements.

During the conference the hon. member for East Algoma made many statements, and among other things he said that after the conference 10,000 people would have work in the northern bush. At the close of the conference he stated that camps would soon be opened, and that the only thing then to be done was the holding of a conference of lumbermen in Toronto -to put the finishing touches on the arrangements. That meeting was held, but nothing further has been done. I believe the lumbermen in the northern districts have lost confidence in the agreements so far as they apply to the lumbering industry.

I should like now to direct my remarks to the mining industry. We have been told by the Prime Minister of the bargains he has made concerning copper, lead and zinc. The following table will serve to show the duty imposed against foreign countries:

Preferential General Rate Rate

Copper (refined or not, ingots, bars, blocks,

slabs)

Free 2 pence lb.Zinc

Free 10 per cent lb.Bead

Free 10 per cent lb.

As we are producing copper and zinc in great quantities in my constituency I sincerely trust that some benefit may be derived from these agreements. There is considerable

496 COMMONS

Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements

increase in the production of copper in Canada, and incalculable amounts are available. For the past few years, however, there has been a continuous decrease in exports, and I doubt very much whether the new agreements will help.' The following table will serve to show the total value of capper exports from the years 1929 to 1932, and will give a comparison of the exports to the United Kingdom and to the United States:

Total To United To UnitedYear Export Kingdom States1929. .. . . $28,646,684 $1,623,376 $23,829,4521930. .. . . 39,628,652 657,117 35,739,1951931. .. .. 23,483 044 259,587 22.834,7071932. .. . . 19,802,750 3,051,022 14,398,526

We have been told that the duty of four cents per pound imposed by the United States has caused the decrease in copper exports. We must remember however that the decrease began in the year 1930, because we find that while in 1930 the exports were valued at $35,739,195 those cf 1932 were valued at only S14,39S,526. The Ontario Refining Company of Sudbury which at one time employed 3,000 men has been closed since 1930. I conclude therefore that the duty has not been the cause of the decrease.

Under the new agreements products of the mines will be faced with the same difficulties as wheat. They will have to compete with world prices. By the agreement now under consideration we will lose our best customer, namely, the United States. There is no doubt about it; we only have to read and study article 4 of the treaty. It is very plain, Mr. Speaker, that we are going to have to compete with world prices on these products. We have to do so now, and I cannot see how these new agreements are going to benefit us.

Ait six o'clock the house took recess.

After Recess

The house resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
LIB

Joseph Raoul Hurtubise

Liberal

Mr. HURTUBISE:

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
CON

Robert Weir (Minister of Agriculture)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. ROBERT WEIR (Minister of Agriculture) :

Mr. Speaker, it is now over a week

since the debate on these trade agreements commenced and I can assure you that I have given very close attention not only to the speeches made but to the statements and arguments which have been advanced, particularly by hon. gentlemen opposite. I must admit that tonight I find myself in an increasingly awkward position because of the fact that the more one hears from hon. gentlemen opposite the less one knows of what definite plan, policy or opinion they have to offer in connection with these trade agreements now before us.

Commencing with the speech of the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King), practically every argument he advanced was contradicted before he finished his remarks. The only conclusion one can come to is that lacking any definite argument he

498 . COMMONS

Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements

sought >by a multitude of words to cover up that lack. Not only does this inconsistency appear in his remarks, but it is present in the statements of various hon. members opposite. The leader of the opposition stated that this government forced the government of the United Kingdom to change its fiscal policy; the hon. member for St. James (Mr. Rinfret) stated that the government of the United Kingdom forced this government to take the stand which it did take in connection with these agreements. The leader of the opposition stated that the government of the United Kingdom forced Canada to a tariff investigation; in one breath he worried at the increased price to the consumer in the United Kingdom and in the next he complained that the farmers of Canada who were to supply the foodstuffs to the consumers of the United Kingdom would receive no benefit. The leader of the opposition referred to a speech which he delivered at Seaforth during the South Huron election in which he outlined his attitude towards the agriculturists. I have read the press in this connection and the only statement referring to agriculture made by the right hon. gentleman was that he could not express an opinion on these agreements because all he knew was what agriculture obtained from them. If, as he stated there, his great concern was agriculture, surely it was not necessary to delay saying something of approval. He intimated that agriculture at least was receiving something. The right hon. gentleman has stated that he does not believe in bargaining, but rather in negotiation. I have looked up a number of dictionaries and I find that "to negotiate" means "to bargain."

I think the best description that could be given of the right hon. gentleman's attitude towards this whole debate is that it is a matter of words, and very often words of the' same meaning.

In connection with this same inconsistency we have one of the right hon. gentleman's chief lieutenants suggesting to the government that in negotiating the St. Lawrence waterway treaty it would have been well to try to make a deal with the United States for a decrease in the tariff against fish from the mari-times. That is a straight case of bargaining. We have the spectacle of the leader of the official opposition and one of his chief lieutenants taking opposite attitudes in the same debate. The leader of the opposition stated that the Liberals never have advocated protection, yet the hon. member for Ontario (Mr. Moore) has said that he is a protectionist.

Time will not permit my giving more details of this series of contradictions, but

perhaps the best example of all is this: There is sitting in the ranks of the opposition an hon. gentleman who has always stood high in his party, who has always been recognized as one of the most astute politicians in the ranks of the Liberals-I refer to the hon. member for Melville (Mr. Motherwell), my predecessor in office. What has he stated? He accuses the government of "swiping" in broad daylight the policies of his party, yet his leader made the following statement, which appears on page 274 of Hansard:

Mr. Speaker, I say the principle embedded here is wholly indefensible and is undeserving of any support from any part of the British

Empire.

One hon. member accuses us of stealing their policies which, according to the description of his leader, are indefensible and undeserving of any support.

After listening not only to this debate but to the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne I have come to the conclusion that it is eminently fair to say that there is one thought which runs through the speeches of hon. gentlemen opposite, delivered both in and out of this house and appearing in the press, and that is that attempts should have been made to obtain wider markets by the reduction of tariffs. This has been their refrain, both in and out of season. No definite, specific example has been given as to how this will be brought about; just general statements have been made. The climax of all these speeches was,

I think, reached in the remarks of the leader of the opposition when on Monday last he took part in this debate. He worked very cleverly up to this climax; his words were well chosen; he was the actor who was trying to impress not only the members of the house, but also and perhaps more particularly the people in the country, and his climax was reached with almost a look of anguish on his face as he uttered these words: "I feel the dark shadows of the closing gates." The leader of the opposition did not tell us where those gates were situated, but I think, in observing the look of anguish on his face, he was perhaps referring to the dark shadows of those closing gates placed at the exit of the valley of the shadows of humiliation, and he was on the wrong side. If, however, *he had reference to the gates of commerce,

I am free to admit, as I am sure the majority of the people of this country must admit that, no other member of the house can speak with greater authority on the question of the closing of the gates of commerce, because more was done to close the gates of commerce

United Kingdom

against agricultural exports from this country during the tenure of office of hon. gentlemen opposite than in any other similar period in the history of this dominion.

Because this has been their chief argument at all times during the past two years, I intend to take a few minutes to answer that criticism of this government. During the tenure of office of hon. gentlemen opposite the tariff of the United States was increased as follows:

United States Tariff Increases

Wheat-to 42 cents a bushel.

Tighter cattle-to 2J cents per pound. [DOT]

Heavier cattle-to 3 cents per pound.

Sheep over one year-by 50 per cent.

Sheep under one year-by 200 per cent.

Beef-by 300 per cent.

Bacon and hams-to 3J cents per pound.

Butter-to 14 cents per pound.

Cheese-to 7 cents per pound.

Eggs-to 10 cents a dozen.

While this was going on-and I shall go into this in more detail as regards other countries-why did hon. gentlemen opposite, by a lowering of tariffs, not prevent these gates from being closed? We all agree that it seems easier to do some things before -they are done than to cure them after they have been done. It is^no wonder there was the feeling of the dark shadows of closing gates. The result of the tariff that was thus ,put up against our agricultural -products entering the United States was this: during the tenure of office of hon. gentlemen opposite, the export of cattle from Canada to the United States decreased, due -to tariffs being placed against our cattle or, in other words, due to a closing of the gates of commerce, from 250,536 -head to 54,716 head. In connection with eggs there was a similar situation. During their tenure of office the exports of eggs from this country to the United States, after the United States tariff had been raised against our agricultural! products, decreased from 61,051 dozen to 1,489 dozen, in one year.

A similar situation existed with regard to other countries. Time does mot permit our dealing with each agricultural product, but I shall take some of the outstanding ones, especially those with which we have dealt in the trade agreement with the United Kingdom, because it was ne-cessary, those products having been sh-ut out of certain markets before we came into power, for us to make a special effort to secure a wider market somewhere else.

In France, during the tenure of office of hon-. gentlemen opposite the tariff on cheese was raised to $3.56 per hundred pounds and our exports decreased from a very considerable trade to absolutely no shipment at all. This 53719-32J

was a case where the gates were absolutely closed in one country against our agricultural products. The French tariff against our condensed milk was raised to $2.15 per 100 pounds and our exports again decreased from a very considerable trade to nothing whatever. This is another case during the tenure of office of hon. gentlemen opposite who preached so much about getting wider markets by the reduction of tariffs -but who sat in their places doing absolutely nothing while these markets were completely shut against us and the gates closed.

In Germany their tariff against wheat was increased to 78 cents a bushel and on fresh apples to $2.50 per barrel. The result was that our export of fresh apples to Germany was reduced 3200 per cent, or from 32,769 barrels to less than 1,000 barrels. Here again the gate was almost completely closed against this agricultural commodity. The German tariff was raised against our cattle to $2.90 per 100 pounds, the result being that our export decreased from a considerable shipment to none at all after this tariff had been imposed. The German tariff against our oats was increased to $1.30 per 100 pounds, during the tenure of office of hon. gentlemen opposite the result being our export of oats dropped from more than 6,000,000 bushels to 74,000 bushels, or to practically a closed market. The tariff in Germany on our -honey was raised to $7 per 100 pounds and the decline in exports was from 461,028 pounds to 160,696 pounds.

In Italy, during the tenure of office of hon. gentlemen now in opposition the duty on wheat was raised to 86J cents per bushel, the result being that our exports decreased from 12,155,688 -bushels to 5,827,018 bushels, a decrease of 200 per cent or more.

In Belgium the duty against our cheese was raised to 91 -cents per 100 pounds, and our exports decreased from more than 24,000 hundredweight to a little better than 1,000 hundredweight, or decline of 1,500 -per cent. As regards condensed milk their tariff was increased to $1.26 per hundredweight, and our exports decreased from 2,685 hundredweight to nothing, another gate which was completely dosed during the tenure of office of hon. gentlemen opposite. Yet, although they sat still doing nothing during t-hat time, we hear them crying now that they want us to get wider markets by a reduction of tariffs. They had their opportunity.

In Czechoslovakia the duty on wheat flour was raised to $3.90 per barrel and our exports decreased by 250 per cent or more.

This is the picture, in the shortest form that I can put it before the house, of the markets as this government found them whe*

500 COMMONS

Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements

it came into power. A promise that we made during the election, and that has been well kept, was that we would give the markets of Canada to the farmers of Canada. What has taken place in connection with the market in Canada for our agricultural products as a result of a tariff that was placed against other countries shipping their products into Canada, especially countries that had put a prohibitive tariff against our agricultural products? This is the result, as shown in a table of car arrivals of seven commodities on twelve principal markets of Canada. These commodities are apples, celery, grapes, lettuce, onions, pears and plums, and the increased number of domestic carloads of these products sold in Canada was as follows:

Increased number of of carloads shipped to domestic market

Apples 444

Celery 45

Grapes 278

Lettuce

Onions 269

Pears 7

Plums 3

Canned fruits

Onions

Canned vegetables

Barley

Buckwheat

Oats

Peas

Rye

Wheat

Bran, shorts and middlings.. .. Oatmeal and rolled oats Maple sugar to United Kingdom Clover seed to United Kingdom.

Flax seed

Tobacco leaf

The decrease in the number of carloads imported in the same year of these same commodities was as follows:

Decreased number of carloads imported

Apples 40

Celery 405

Grapes 515

Lettuce 442

Onions 294

Pears 100

Plums 38

That is the first outstanding instance of this government's attempt to do something in respect to these particular commodities. We attempted to widen the market for our agricultural products. We started in where we had power to do something, and that was in the markets of our own country.

Not only that, but we find our exports to foreign countries increasing very much in spite of the handicap that we had to work against by foreign markets being shut against our products. I will name some of the most important products in which we have increased our exports:

1929-30 1931-3J

lbs. 4,254,466 7,263,489bush. 26,422 195,813lbs. 17,249,042 22,477,523bush. 14,817,071 24,337,678bush. 186,558 741,041bush. 6,406.181 13,841,300bush. 43,808 66,056bush. 1,526,368 4,359,813bush. 177,006,369 191,315,933cwt. 1,988,356 2,018,332cwt. 407,050 798,840lbs. 13,212 29,284bush. 41,794 97,146bush. 772,831 1,046,474lbs. 6,811,391 8,222,922

That was the second step. We did increase our exports to foreign countries, and in that way also we widened our markets.

But further, hon. gentlemen opposite, and no one will say that they are prepossessed in our favour, in various speeches in this debate have blamed the right hon. leader of this government for having, when in the United Kingdom in 1930, by some magical power that hon. gentlemen opposite think the Prime Minister possesses, forced the fiscal policy of this country on the United Kingdom; at least,

they claim that that was the reason for the increases made in the United Kingdom tariff against farm and other products. If that be true, we are quite willing to admit it because of the results, and this is the third instance in which we have widened our markets for agricultural products. Here are figures comparing our exports to Great Britain before and after the Import Duties Act was passed by the United Kingdom, for the five months ending August, 1931, as compared with the same five months ending August, 1932. The figures speak for themselves:

United Kingdom

Exports to Great Britain

Agricultural and Vegetable Food Products-

Fruit juices and syrups

Bran, shorts and middlings

Flour of wheat

Tobacco, unmanufactured

Animal and animal products-

Cattle, one year old

Poultry, dressed

Bacons, hams, shoulders and sides

Cheese

Fibres and textiles- _

Socks and stockings, all kinds

Raw wool

Wood, wood products and paper-

Wood, unmanufactured

Planks and boards

.. ..Gals Cwt Bbl Lbs... ..Head .. ..Lbs

Cwt

Cwt.

Doz. pairs .. ..Lbs.

M. ft.

Wood pulp

Cwt.

Paperboard, n.o.p

August,

118,839

8,837

851,485

1,404,558

12,413

48,322

21,015

282,061

1,426

455,714

August,

1932.

204,367

456,743

960,627

3,708,562

15,048

216,182

163,437

379,623

8,536

1,002,169

I have a longer list here, but I think I have read sufficient to prove my point. That is the third instance in which this government has got wider markets as a result, as admitted by lion, gentlemen opposite, of the attitude taken and the speeches delivered by the leader of the present government when in the United Kingdom in 1930.

I come now to the items before us in this trade agreement, and I will take them in the order in which they appear in the agreement. The first is wheat. In this connection I think perhaps the speech of the right hon. leader of the opposition will stand as a record from a man who admitted himself that he understands plain English. "If any English is plain surely the wording of this article is, and yet the right hon. leader of the opposition gave it every possible construction that could be given. For the benefit of hon. members I will read what article 4, which deals with first sale of wheat, says:

It is agreed that the duty on either wheat in grain, copper, zinc or lead as provided in this agreement may be removed if at any time empire producers of wheat in grain, copper, zinc and lead respectively are unable or unwilling to offer these commodities on first sale in the United Kingdom at prices not exceeding the world prices and in quantities sufficient to supply the requirements of the United Kingdom consumers.

Nothing could be clearer than that. We produce more wheat than could supply the whole market of the United Kingdom, and we therefore made an agreement that we would sell wheat to the United Kingdom at world prices. There had to be some basis for stating what this world price would be, and it is stated in this article what that basis is. It is the first sale; that is the sale made to the importer of our wheat into the United Kingdom. Otherwise it might be interpreted in

such a way by the miller or the broker purchasing wheat from the importer in the United Kingdom that he, miller or broker, should get his wheat at the world price rather than the importer. Let me now quote the interpretation put upon this by the right hon. leader of the opposition:

She (Canada) has to go first into the British market or lose the benefit, if any, of this preference.

The article does not say that the wheat must first be offered to the United Kingdom; it does not say that they must offer for sale first to the United Kingdom. All it says is that the first sale as I described before is the one that sets the price to the United Kingdom will be o., the basis of the world market price.

Mr. VALLANCE. It is the same thing.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
CON

Robert Weir (Minister of Agriculture)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WEIR (Melfort):

Absolutely different. The right hon. leader of the opposition says that if we wish to sell our wheat to France or Belgium we must first offer it for sale to the United Kingdom. That is not what the agreement means at all.

The next statement of the right hon. leader of the opposition in connection with wheat was this, as reported in Hansard, page 272:

They have to be offered on first sale. As I have said, if there is scarcity in other parts of the world, off goes the duty so far as Great Britain is concerned if any of our wheat producers begin to offer their grain for sale in other countries and are unwilling to offer their first sale in the British market. What is the next condition?

In the first place, the words are Changed around to positions other than those they occupy in article 4. Here the statement is made that we first must offer for sale to the

502 COMMONS

Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements

United Kingdom, and that is not the interpretation properly to be put on this clause. Then the right hon. gentleman states further in Hansard, page 272:

They will find in Europe-

And in this he refers to the people who have wheat for sale.

[DOT]-some other centre which will become the world centre and they will ship their wheat there, with the result that there will be keener competition than ever at this world centre, and the world price of wheat will go down.

That simply means that if the world centre for wheat prices were changed from one country to another the price would be reduced. Surely no serious minded hon. gentleman would suggest that a change in the world centre for the wheat market would have any effect on the price.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

It would.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
CON

Robert Weir (Minister of Agriculture)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WEIR (Melfort):

There is nothing magical about the buying or selling of wheat on the world market. It means simply this, that the only wheat that we or outside exporting countries can sell is the wheat which is consumed by individuals or by live stock or is used for seeding purposes. When a country is buying wheate-and we are assuming that country to be financially sound-it will buy wheat at the level of the world market, wherever that world market or centre is. So that nothing could be more absurd from a business standpoint than the statement made by the right hon. gentleman.

Then let us see what further the right hon. leader of the opposition has to say:

Supposing there is a scarcity in Great Britain-

I ask hon. members to watch this statement:

*-we have immediately to rush our wheat into the British market, but any advantage we might get out of the scarcity in Britain at present will be offset hereafter by the fact that the only price we can obtain for it is the world price if wheat be plentiful elsewhere.

If there is a scarcity of wheat in Great Britain she will buy her wheat at the world price on the world market. The scarcity would not occur over night. If there were no preference the price paid by Great Britain would not be affected. They would still buy their wheat at the world price on the world market. The only possible difference would be this: Here is a country outside the empire, and we are a country inside the empire with a preference of six cents a bushel on wheat. Just to see how it would work, supposing that preference were removed. We are then on an equal footing when there is a scarcity of wheat in Great Britain; would there not be

(Mr. R. Weir.]

greater temptation for strong competition than there would be if the country outside the empire had to meet the advantage enjoyed by Canada of six cents a bushel before it could compete? That country outside the empire would have to absorb the six cents before it could ship wheat to the United Kingdom.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

May I ask a question?

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

Unless the hon. member consents the question cannot be asked.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
CON

Robert Weir (Minister of Agriculture)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WEIR (Melfort):

Let me advise hon. members opposite that if they do not wish to lose the services of their leader, the right hon. leader of the opposition, they should not allow him to expound at greater length on wheat marketing. If they do, the Winnipeg Grain Exchange or some other institution will take him from them.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

I should like to ask-

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
CON

Robert Weir (Minister of Agriculture)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WEIR (Melfort):

The condition of wheat marketing at the present time has probably been brought more forcibly to our attention because of the meetings in western Canada held by heads of pools and provincial governments. I believe they make the request that an international conference should be called with a view to restricting the acreage in the production of wheat. The only thing which could bring them to that conclusion would be the feeling that there is more wheat in the world at the present time than could be sold to countries importing that commodity. I do not say there is more wheat than could be consumed, but they must feel that there is more wheat in the world for sale than there is any hope of selling, especially in view of the present purchasing power in the world, and the increase in production of the majority of importing countries. Therefore they feel there should be a restricted acreage.

The question then on this basis, before wheat growers of various countries and before the people in western Canada who, I think, are best capable of sizing up the situation, is one of choosing between a reduction in acreage to reduce the total yield of wheat, or the survival of the fittest. If it is a matter of a reduction in wheat acreage, I ask what is going to be done with the acres not being used for the production of wheat. That land will have to be used for some other purpose, and that is why during the economic conference we paid particular attention to and laid stress upon the quota in connection with the shipment of bacon to the United Kingdom. We felt that if the farmers were cutting down on the pro-

United, Kingdom

duction of grain and the shipment of wheat they would not let their land lie idle; so far as possible they would devote their energies to the production of some kind of live stock. We felt that the live stock production which they could get into most easily was pigs and sheep. Inasmuch as the sheep market in the United Kingdom can at the present time be supplied by other parts of the empire we felt it was in the interests of Canadian agriculture to offer the greatest opportunity for the development of our pig industry and for the benefit of our pig producers.

Let us deal with the other side of the argument, that the production of wheat must result in a survival of the fittest. Could anything be more advantageous to the wheat farmers of Canada-if indeed it is a case of a survival of the fittest-than that he should be given a specific preference? We must remember that other countries desiring to ship grain to the United Kingdom have to pay a toll of six cents per bushel. That is one of the particular reasons we were anxious to have the preference placed on Canadian wheat. Not only that, but what happened in 1929 and what made it so difficult for Canada to sell her wheat in the market of the United Kingdom is well within the memory of hon. members-especially the Russian and the Argentine competition. This preference and trade treaty will remedy this.

Reverting to bacon, I have some further comments. After reading the article in the agreement concerning bacon, and after reading that the United Kingdom had promised that after she had received her report from the pig commission she would take steps, as early as possible, to raise the price of bacon in the old country by quantitative restrictions, the right hon. leader of the opposition used the expression: "if this means anything." In one breath the right hon. gentleman questions the honour of ministers of the government of the United Kingdom, despite the fact that Right hon. Sir John Gilmour, at that time iMinister of Agriculture and Fisheries, stated that on behalf of the government of the United Kingdom he pledged the United Kingdom government that the report of the pig commission would be submitted as early as possible, and that the steps necessary to restrict the import of bacon into the United Kingdom would be taken as early as possible.

There could be no better assurance than that. If that assurance does not mean anything, if it is not one -worth while, I do not know what assurance could be. Why did we stipulate the quantity of bacon, and name 280,000,000 pounds or 2,500,000 hundredweight,

-a hundredweight being one hundred and twelve pounds? This is the reason: Before and during the conference there was discussed in the old country the possibility not only of putting a restriction upon bacon from foreign countries entering the United Kingdom, but of a bacon and meat restriction frcm the dominions. That is best shown by a reading of the Australian agreement in which there is an agreement to quantitative restrictions on beef, mutton and lamb for 1933. I realize if our farmers are to go into bacon production they must not have a wall held in front of them which would have the effect of allowing them to increase production only to the extent of 50,000,000 or 100,000,000 pounds per year for export. So that they might have some assurance of permanency we were able to get this amount of 280,000,000 pounds. And that does not mean the limit. There is nothing said to prevent their going beyond that amount, until the Bi-itish government acts on the report of the pig commission, but this amount is fixed. In this connection may I point out that the hon. member for Melville, discussing this question the other night, made the statement that this stimulation of bacon production would cause Poland to produce more, Czechoslovakia to produce more, Sweden, Denmark and Russia to produce more, and the result would be to depress the market. But that would not be the case if there was quantitative restriction, because it would be no advantage to them to produce *hogs for the United Kingdom when they are ito be held down to a specified proportion of what the United Kingdom imported.

In that connection the hon. member for Melville criticized me for an increased bacon production policy initiated two years ago. I will repeat, as I have done here on two other occasions, that in that policy I did not advocate greater pig production. I did the opposite.

I did everything I could to emphasize the fact that farmers were going to produce more pigs whether we would or not, on account of the high price of bacon in comparison with the low price of grain. But I felt that if it was inevitable that there would be greater hog production; inexperienced people would not produce the quality necessary for export and therefore there would be a great quantity of hogs that could not be exported, and the piling up of these would depress our market. Our policy made it easier for them to get the right kind of pigs. I did that for this purpose. There are in Ontario, especially in central and western Ontario, people who produce pigs of a bacon quality unsurpassed even in Denmark. Some counties in Ontario produce as high as ninety per cent bacon and select bacon

504 COMMONS

Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements

hogs, and we did not think it fair to them to allow people to go into the increased production of bacon, without or against our advice, producing hogs of a quality that would be detrimental to and would offset the work these people had done in scientific bacon production.

The next item that I will touch upon briefly is apples. We cannot supply the whole market of the United Kingdom with apples, so in relation to that product we have a different basis from either bacon quota or wheat preference. Our preference on apples is 4s. 6d. a hundred, that is roughly $1 to $1.25 a barrel. Our chief competitor in apples in the United Kingdom is the United States, and over half their apples are not of high quality. Anyone who has given this subject any thought will readily see that a specific duty is more effective against the lower grade article than the higher grade article. The result is that, on apples being sold by the United States to the United Kingdom at prices in the neighbourhood of $1.25 to $2 a barrel, this duty will be almost prohibitive; so it is estimated conservatively that it will give us an increased market in the United Kingdom for approximately 500,000 barrels.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member has spoken for forty minutes.

Mr. GEORGE W. McPHEE (Yorkton): Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) has given us the same speech that he delivered in South Huron, and the people of South Huron gave the answer. If the hon. Minister of Agriculture is correct in saying that markets have been increased for the Canadian producer, why is agriculture in Canada in the condition in Which it is to-day? Some time ago the minister recommended a sow policy; now he recommends reduced acreage for wheat.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
CON

Robert Weir (Minister of Agriculture)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WEIR (Melfort):

No.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
LIB

George Washington McPhee

Liberal

Mr. McPHEE:

He did not say it in so many words, but he intimated it. That statement of the minister, Mr. Speaker, is the best answer to his whole argument. If the Canadian producer of wheat is going to get the benefit of six cents a bushel in the United Kingdom market why does the minister recommend that the Canadian farmer cut down the acreage of wheat?

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
CON

Robert Weir (Minister of Agriculture)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WEIR (Melfort):

Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Permalink

October 24, 1932