Mr. T. A. THOMPSON (Lanark):
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
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.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM