March 9, 1953

LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe (Quebec East):

In 1911.

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LIB

James Horace King

Liberal

Mr. Mackenzie King:

-as a young member. Sir Wilfrid Laurier said that he thought my right hon. friend (Mr. Bennett) would live to see the day when he would regret having opposed a reciprocity agreement with the United States.

I could go on and read quite a bit more because there is a lot more here that is pertinent. Mr. Bennett then said:

Oh, no.

He did not regret it. I continue:

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LIB

James Horace King

Liberal

Mr. Mackenzie King:

Oh, yes, he did; he would

regret having done it, and he would come to see the wisdom of an agreement being negotiated with that country. That prophecy came true. It is not like the prophecies of my right hon. friend. He shakes his head and says 'No." Then he explains his whole position, because he now makes it perfectly clear that he never actually intended to try to secure an agreement.

We go a little further and we find that later on when the house was considering the agreement itself Mr. Maybank, who was then a new member in the house, said this, as reported at page 818 of Hansard:

No; we do not have to worry about the balance of trade with any particular country. We all know now; we have learned to our sorrow in the last five years, that we cannot sell if we do not buy, and that people outside cannot sell to us if they will not buy from us. Naturally I shall support this treaty because it is the one bright spot in the fiscal policy panorama of this country for a great many years.

I go on a little further and I find that a vote was taken on the agreement. It will be very interesting to learn how that vote went. I do not suppose it would be permissible to put the names of those who voted against the agreement on the record, but I will read a few of them. Thirty-nine Conservatives voted against the agreement. There was Mr. Barber who was then the member for Fraser Valley; Mr. Beaubier, the member for Brandon; the Right Hon. R. B. Bennett; Mr. Casselman, the whip of the Conservative party; two or three other members from British Columbia; Mr. Graydon; Mr. Perley, the member for Qu'Appelle, and several other members from Ontario and from different parts of the country. Apparently the party voted solidly against that agreement. I thought it was worth while, Mr. Speaker, to put that on the record because we believe that that agreement of 1935 brought more by way of prosperity to Canada than any other single act that could have been committed by any government; but it was followed within a few months by fifteen more trade agreements entered into with different countries by the government of Mackenzie King. Our

prosperity and our economy went up and up. I have some figures here to show-

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

Will the hon. member permit a question at this point? The hon. member began by saying he considered that I had been inaccurate in what I had said the other day, and I gathered that the inaccuracy that he referred to is to be found at the top of page 2346 of Hansard, where I said:

This resulted in a trade agreement made between Canada and the United States in November, 1935, thirteen days after the King government was returned to power. What they really did was to sign on the dotted line the agreement that had been on the point of being signed while Bennett was still in office.

My question is, does the hon. member for Dauphin question the accuracy of that?

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LIB

William John Ward

Liberal

Mr. Ward:

Definitely. I was here; I lived through it.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

Let me pursue my question further. Does he deny that the agreement signed was the agreement which had been under negotiation, or virtually so, at the time the election took place? Does he agree with that? He does not suggest that this was all done in 13 days?

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LIB

William John Ward

Liberal

Mr. Ward:

My hon. friend himself suggests that it was all done in a hurry, and his leader of that day suggested it might have been done in a hurry.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

The hon. member for Dauphin was very fair in his reference to me at the opening. I want to ask this question. I made that statement in good faith. I believe it. Does the hon. member question that simple statement that what they really did was sign on the dotted line the agreement that had been on the point of being signed while Mr. Bennett was still in office? There are other points which arise by reason of what the hon. member for Dauphin has read subsequently, but I am asking whether that statement is true.

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LIB

William John Ward

Liberal

Mr. Ward:

I do not question the integrity of the hon. member for one moment, but I do question definitely his statement. My hon. friend did make the statement-it is all on record here-that there were some few minor changes.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

That is right.

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LIB

William John Ward

Liberal

Mr. Ward:

Could those changes be sufficient to wipe out the whole principle-

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

Well-

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LIB

William John Ward

Liberal

Mr. Ward:

Just a minute-to wipe out the whole principle of the agreement between two countries that brought such prosperity to Canada? Surely Mr. Bennett must have been

sufficient of a realist, if he was sincere in his desire to effect a trade agreement with the United States, to compromise to the point of overlooking these trifling little changes the hon. member speaks of. Why did Mr. Bennett vote as he did after the debate in 1936? Why did he not say the things then my hon. friend is saying now? My purpose in reading the debate of 1936 was to prove to my hon. friend that he was wrong. I do not think he did it deliberately at all, but he is wrong and definitely wrong, or Mr. Bennett would have corrected it at the time.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

If I may

again interject, I come back to my question because I do not think the reasoning of the hon. member for Dauphin is necessarily correct. I have not had the advantage of reading the speech of Mr. Bennett to which he refers, and Mr. Bennett may, by the time he made that speech, have felt that more concessions could have been obtained; but that is irrelevant at the moment.

I am coming back to the one point. Does the hon. member agree that the agreement that had virtually reached the point of signature before the election was the agreement that was signed, with the trifling changes, after the election? That is what I said, and that is the question I am asking the hon. member to answer. He said I was inaccurate. I hope I was not. I certainly tried not to be, and I am asking again: does he deny that the agreement which was signed 13 days after the election was in fact the agreement which had been under negotiation I believe for many weeks if not for many months before the election?

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LIB

William John Ward

Liberal

Mr. Ward:

Mr. Speaker, I should like to answer that partly by asking my hon. friend a question. Where did he get his information?

The Budget-Mr. Ward

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?

Some hon. Members:

Ten o'clock.

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LIB

William John Ward

Liberal

Mr. Ward:

Where did he get his information that led him to the conclusion he came to in the address which he made a week ago Tuesday?

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

It is now ten

o'clock and I shall certainly come back later on the matter, but I think it is a matter of common knowledge. I have not had a chance of reading the debate fully, but I think it is within the common knowledge of everybody that the agreement that was signed was in fact the agreement that was on the point of being signed before the election.

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LIB
LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

It was the agreement Mr. Bennett would not sign; he said so.

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March 9, 1953