February 14, 1939

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I might go over the entire number. However all I wish to point out is that there were several other hon. members in the cabinet of that day who held much the same view as my hon. friend from St. Lawrence-St. George held then, and holds now, and has always held. I remember that the late Mr. Ryckman was one, and there were several others. I believe I could without much difficulty go over the ministry of the day and point out just how many would be absolutely opposed to any agreement with the United States and how many might be inclined to favour one.

Well, with a ministry divided in that way it is no wonder that the prime minister of the day was unable to enunciate any policy whatever.

Topic:   TRADE AGREEMENTS
Subtopic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES-MOTION FOR APPROVAL SUBJECT TO REQUIRED LEGISLATION
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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Would the right hon. gentleman, after he finishes our side, describe the differences on his own?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

"The differences on his own" are all reconciled, if I may say so. I might point out to the hon. member- well, I cannot say there was not one, although I am not certain at the moment there was, but certainly there was not more than one who did not wholeheartedly support the agreement we made with the United States in 1935. And that statement applies to a parliamentary party larger in numbers than any party which has ever sat in this House of Commons. As far therefore as the unity of the party is com cemed, it has been pretty well illustrated. I believe my hon. friends will find at this time that ninety-nine per cent, if not one hundred per cent-I rather hope for one hundred per cent-of the party in this House of Commons will support the present agreement. I hope I have made myself clear as far as the solidarity of the party is concerned.

What I want however, to point out to my hon. friends opposite is that when it came to negotiating with the United States for a reciprocal trade agreement there was no division in the present Liberal cabinet over the attitude to be taken. We were a solid unit by way of standing together for the terms of the agreement which we were successful in negotiating and securing. The cabinet was as one, and that is why we succeeded where hon. gentlemen failed. As a party, we stood as a united force throughout the campaign in favouring a trade agreement with the United States. We made that profession throughout the campaign and later when a cabinet was formed to carry out the party's policies we who were its members lived up to our professions.

I remember very well that when this correspondence was published in some parts of

Canada-UTrade Agreement

Canada, it was not much referred to by speakers on the government side, although in others attention was drawn to the basis on which the government were negotiating. It was pointed out to the electorate in localities where it was thought the appeal would be effective, what better opportunities there would be to sell cattle in the United States, fish in the United States and lumber in the United States. It was pointed out that as authorized by the tariff act, there could be a reduction of fifty per cent on a specified number of natural products, including lumber, fish, potatoes, milk and cream, live cattle, a number of other agricultural products and several minerals, both metallic and nonmetallic. The communication from which I quote was dated November 14, 1934. The election was not until October 14, 1935, but throughout that year nothing was given to this parliament when it was in session.

Topic:   TRADE AGREEMENTS
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

Would the Prime Minister allow me to ask him a question, just to keep the record clear? Could he give the house the date upon which the president was authorized to negotiate on the terms as agreed to by congress? I think it was in 1934.

Topic:   TRADE AGREEMENTS
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I have just

pointed out that it was on April 29, 1933, that Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Bennett issued a joint statement as follows:

We have agreed to begin a search for means to increase the exchange of commodities between our two countries, and thereby promote not only economic betterment on the north American continent, but also the general improvement of world conditions.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

I am asking for the

date upon which the president received authority from congress to negotiate an agreement similar to the one negotiated in 1935. I believe it was in 1934.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

It was in

1934.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

Yes. In August, I think.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

There was

plenty of time for the government of the day to have made an agreement if they had been united and of that mind and purpose.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

They had it pretty

nearly closed.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I may say in passing that it was stated at a previous session by the former leader of the opposition that this correspondence had been laid on the table of the house before the house adjourned in 1934. I questioned that statement at the

time. I have since asked the clerk of the house if the correspondence was laid on the table and I have been informed that it was not. Certainly I have no recollection of its having been tabled, nor has anyone else. The campaign opened early in July, 1935. Parliament was dissolved on August 14, 1935, but it was not until September 9, 1935, that a press release of the correspondence was sent all over Canada for publication in the newspapers. It had been kept in storage for election purposes almost for a year. That release contained the correspondence which I have been quoting to the house. One letter to Mr. Cordell Hull was dated November 14, 1934; another letter from Mr. Hull was dated December 27, 1934, and the final communication was dated January 4, 1935. As my colleague points out, all that was pursuant to the authority which the president had to seek to negotiate an agreement with this country.

It is important to keep in mind that the entire correspondence was not given to the press until September 9, 1935, though it was all in existence on January 4, 1935. This parliament had no knowledge of it while the house was in session, but it was used throughout the final weeks of the campaign to imply, where it was likely to serve the purpose, that if the Conservative party were returned to power they would be prepared to go ahead with negoti-tions for what was in effect a reciprocity agreement. Others knew what to believe. I think it is perfectly clear that if the Conservative party of the day had been returned to power they would have been just as much divided after they came back as they were before. True to tradition, the protectionist interests of the government would have governed and we would have had no reciprocity agreement whatever.

Topic:   TRADE AGREEMENTS
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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

May I just interject for a moment? So far as I recall, and I think I recall very well, there was no division in the council of Right Hon. Mr. Bennett.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

If there was no division, then it was because it was pretty well understood among themselves that they would not put any agreement into force before the date of the election, and that during the election they would make no promise to do it after.

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LIB

James Houston Spence

Liberal

Mr. SPENCE:

Because they did not like the agreement.

Topic:   TRADE AGREEMENTS
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

They did not like it, but we did. We took it and carried it through. The Tory party of Canada for years has never liked the idea of an agreement

Canada-UJi. Trade Agreement

with the United States. Whenever that party occupies the treasury benches the public may look in vain for anything in the nature of an agreement ever coming into force. That was why with its willingness to negotiate it was possible for the present administration to effect an agreement in such quick order. I remember saying during the campaign that if the Liberal party were returned to power I believed that with the readiness of the United States to negotiate a reciprocal agreement, with what I knew to be the desire of the Liberal party in Canada to negotiate an agreement, we could effect an agreement in three weeks. We effected it inside of three weeks, for the very reason that we liked it. I may say to my hon. friends opposite that the country liked it. The country likes what has been done up to the present, and the country likes what we are doing to-day.

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CON

Ernest Edward Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PERLEY:

Time will tell about that.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Time will tell about it?-no; let me tell about it right away. Hon. gentlemen opposite have been saying much about public opinion and of what the electorate thinks of these trade agreements. Fortunately we have a record of what the electorate thinks. The electorate has had excellent opportunities of considering the trade policies of both political parties over a period of a good many years. The trade agreement between the former Conservative government and Great Britain was affected in 1932. We who were of the opposition of the day took exception to many phases of that agreement on the score that in some particulars it was heading in the wrong direction. One was this. Preferences were not granted in that agreement by lowering the rate effective against the other parts of. the empire which were receiving the preference. They were effected by putting up the rates as against all other countries. That was the great change in the method of granting preferences which came during the time that Mr. Bennett was in office. Our friends opposite talk about their being the ones who instituted preference. What they did was to institute an entirely new plan of raising tariffs under the guise of granting a preference. The preference owes its origin to Sir Wilfrid Laurier's administration in 1896. It was the Liberal administration of that day which was the first to grant to Britain and to other parts of the British empire a certain preference, and it did so by reducing the existing duties on their goods coming into Canada. It was the other administration, that of Mr. Bennett, which subsequently changed that method.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

And got some return. fMr. Mackenzie King.]

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Well, we will see what the public thought of the return they got. I am coming to that now. From the time of the 1932 conference on there was a series of by-elections-quite a number-in this country at which the trade policies of the two parties were discussed, the Conservative party defending its policies with respect to higher tariffs, the Liberal party opposing them and taking the position I have cited here as having been given to this house by myself in a statement in 1933. From the time the conference of 1932 took place until the general elections of 1935 there were altogether seventeen vacancies which should have called for by-elections. As I have just said, in those by-elections which did take place the trade policies of the two parties were very fully discussed. What was the showing as the result of the vacancies and consequent by-elections of that period? As a matter of fact, for some time prior to the general elections of 1935 the Conservative party had given up fighting byelections altogether; they had made up their minds that there was no use in trying to appeal to public opinion any longer on the score of tariffs; for they would be beaten every time. There were seventeen vacancies altogether and they allowed seven of these to remain. But what happened in the by-elections which did take place? There were by-elections in the following constituencies: Huron South; Yamaska; Restigouche-Madawaska; Mackenzie, Saskatchewan; Oxford South; Toronto East; York North; Frontenac-Addington ; Elgin West; Kenora-Rainy River,-in all, ten by-elections. In those ten by-elections the Liberals held the five seats which they had previously had and gained four. The one and only seat which was held by the Conservative party was retained by a minority of votes. That was the position in ten by-elections, nine of them carried by the Liberals on their policies, and the one which was retained by my hon. friends opposite was secured by the hon. member for Toronto East (Mr. Church) in a three cornered contest by a minority of votes.

Topic:   TRADE AGREEMENTS
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

As a result of the depression.

Topic:   TRADE AGREEMENTS
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February 14, 1939