March 15, 1950

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

Trying to please the financial critic of the opposition.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

That interjection shows exactly how much the proposals the government is making have sunk into the minds of some of the members. Everybody here knows that this country has been importing from the United States an amount considerably in excess of what we have been exporting; and we know perfectly well that we have to balance that, as the British say they have to balance their situation with us. That is the position that has been taken.

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Surely not!

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Here is the minister of combines in the debate now. This lifting of the restrictions may be convenient, but it is not particularly consistent with the suggestion that we decrease our imports from the United States to a point at which we reach some balance with them, and that we use that amount to buy further exports from the United States.

In case anyone has any doubt about the desirability of this action, may I quote from a statement made by Mr. James S. Duncan, the chairman of the Canadian dollar-sterling trade board, which has received such unqualified expressions of approval from the Minister of Trade and Commerce. This is what he said:

The balance of imports from the United States is so great that only a decrease of fifteen per cent, which would not be serious as far as the United States is concerned, would be equivalent to an increase of imports from the United Kingdom of some ninety-four per cent based on 1949 figures. This would go a very considerable way toward solving the whole problem.

I would ask hon. members to get that statement clearly in mind. Only a decrease of fifteen per cent in the imports from the United States would be equivalent to an increase of ninety-four per cent in imports from the United Kingdom to this country.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

So we should put on more restrictions against the United States.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

The Minister of Trade and Commerce evidently believes that the way to bring that about is to make it easier for the United States to ship in here. That is what he is doing.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

My hon. friend had better get together with the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell).

The Address-Mr. Drew

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

That is exactly what he is doing. May I say this. As to this question of imports from Britain, there are a number of things that the Minister of Trade and Commerce might well observe. I am satisfied that hon. members want to see imports from Britain. They want to see imports from Britain of things that we are now buying to an unnecessarily high degree from the United States; but as a member of this house and as a Canadian I say now-and I know that I do not speak alone in this-I do not care what the situation is, I do not want to see imports from Britain, or from any other country, putting our people on the street; and it is not necessary.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

R. B. Bennett back again.

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PC

William Earl Rowe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rowe:

Too bad it was not.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

No, not R. B. Bennett back again. The present Minister of Trade and Commerce would not really understand the trade concept of the commonwealth that was in the mind of R. B. Bennett then and all through his life.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. Pouliot:

Let the dead bury their dead.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I hope the hon. member is feeling perfectly well.

This trade situation was not something that suddenly emerged after this announcement in the house last December. This trade picture was known last spring, and it was known perfectly to the Minister of Trade and Commerce, and to the Minister of Agriculture, who has told us that he knew two years ago what the attitude of the British government was going to be. He knew perfectly well that there was going to be a determined effort to keep our products out of that market.

But let us take independent views on this. Last spring the London Economist had this to say. I do not think the Minister of Trade and Commerce will question the fact that this is a reputable publication. The London Economist had this to say last spring some time before the election:

To talk to officials or ministers concerned with trade, one would never think that Canada's position was at all precarious. There is a political explanation for this unfounded optimism. The Liberal government goes to the country at the end of June.

But that is a very clear statement of exactly why the people of this country were not told what the trade situation was before June 27 last year. The New York Herald Tribune, another highly reputable publication, had this to say:

The Canadian trade picture is deteriorating so quickly that it is not out of place to suggest that the government sprang the election before the situation became so serious that it could not possibly be returned at the polls. Foreign trade is that important to Canadians and to Canadian politics.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

The Address-Mr. Drew

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

In view of the fact that hon. members on the other side laugh I am going to read it again because it is by an independent publication:

The Canadian trade picture is deteriorating so quickly that it is not out of place to suggest that the government sprang the election before the situation became so serious that it could not possibly be returned at the polls. Foreign trade is that important to Canadians and to Canadian politics.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

Were we returned?

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PC

William Earl Rowe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rowe:

Do you not know?

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?

An hon. Member:

You know.

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LIB

Joseph-Alfred Dion (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

The people know now, to their sorrow.

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March 15, 1950