April 5, 1957

SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES, 1957-58


A message from His Excellency the Governor General transmitting further supplementary estimates (1) for the financial year ending March 31, 1958, was presented by Hon. W. E. Harris (Minister of Finance), read by Mr. Speaker to the house, and referred to the committee of supply.


POTATOES

STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES

LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. W. E. Harris (Minister of Finance):

Mr. Speaker, in my budget speech on March 14 I referred to the tariff on potatoes, and to procedures which the government had initiated under the general agreement on tariffs and trade looking toward an upward adjustment in the present bound rate of duty.

In this connection we have been carrying on negotiations with the United States. I am happy to inform the house that these negotiations have been successfully completed, and that we are now in a position to implement the results. Later, when the Customs Tariff bill is before the house, I shall be moving an amendment as I indicated yesterday I might. This amendment relates to the potato item and I think I should give a brief explanation of the action being taken.

Since 1939 there has been no Canadian duty on table stock potatoes imported from the United States except for a seasonal tariff of 37J cents per hundredweight from June 15 to July 31. These rates were established by the Canada-United States trade agreement of 1938, and they were bound under the general agreement on tariffs and trade. During the same period there has been no Canadian duty on seed potatoes, but imports of seed have been negligible. The effect of the proposed amendment will be to apply, as of midnight tonight, a year-round duty of 37\ cents per hundredweight on all seed and table stock potatoes imported into Canada, except that new potatoes imported during the period from January 1 to June 14 each year will continue to be free.

In reaching a decision on this matter the government took account of the expert testimony and the conclusions available to it through the tariff board hearing on potatoes, and we attempted to weigh the over-all interests of Canadian producers and consumers.

In regard to our producers, we had to take into consideration not only their views expressed to the tariff board but also the fact that in our negotiations with the United States we were informed that, in so far as we found it necessary to increase our tariff applying to United States potatoes, they would consider it necessary to increase their tariff applying to Canadian potatoes. Our growers still attach importance to the maintenance of export outlets in the United States for a substantial volume of Canadian potatoes.

In regard to new potatoes, the tariff board pointed out that these are imported into this country during the spring and early summer months. The board concluded that they "command a premium because they are new; and probably would enter whether or not they faced a customs duty at the border". In such circumstances a tariff on new potatoes would not be of great benefit to Canadian potato producers, and would operate chiefly as a tax on consumers. There was a further point we had in mind during our discussions with the United States; producers in Florida, California and other southern areas attach a high value to their Canadian market for new potatoes.

The trade agreements to which I have referred provided for certain concessions to Canada on potatoes by way of reductions from the United States statutory tariff rate of 75 cents per hundredweight. Under GATT the United States has been obligated to admit at least 3J million bushels at a reduced rate of 37J cents per hundredweight; this has been made up of 1 million bushels of table stock and 2 % million bushels of seed.

Under the new agreement, and as a condition of getting freedom of action to make the tariff changes which I am proposing, the United States is reducing the present tariff quotas by 1 million bushels; 400,000 bushels will be taken off the table stock quota and 600,000 bushels will come off the seed quota. For the current crop year it appears unlikely that we will be able to take full advantage of either the seed or table stock quota.

It was against a background of reduced exports and increased imports, and following urgent representations from Canadian producers and an inquiry by the tariff board, that the government came to the conclusion that the potato situation was a special one which justified special action. Accordingly we took the exceptional course of renegotiating a tariff commitment under the special procedures provided for in article XXVIII of the general

Potatoes-Tariff Changes agreement on tariffs and trade. We took this course so that it would be possible to implement the results of the renegotiation during the current potato marketing season.

Topic:   POTATOES
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES
Permalink
PC

William Earl Rowe

Progressive Conservative

Hon. W. Earl Rowe (Dufferin-Simcoe):

Mr. Speaker, would the minister give consideration to similar tariff adjustments on other vegetables which are coming in from the United States and being dumped here?

Topic:   POTATOES
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES
Permalink
LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Representations were made, Mr. Speaker, within the last three or four months by the Canadian Horticultural Council and the association of vegetable producers, and on the occasion when we were discussing this particular matter with them I suggested that it would be desirable for us to continue our negotiations with respect to potatoes and not to muddy the waters of these negotiations. The representatives who were present at that meeting agreed that this would be the proper course to take. We have now concluded these negotiations so that we will be able, of course, to consider the representations which they make with respect to other vegetables.

Topic:   POTATOES
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES
Permalink
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. E. D. Fulton (Kamloops):

Mr. Speaker, may I ask the minister whether that would include soft fruits covered by the fruitgrowing section of the community.

Topic:   POTATOES
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES
Permalink
LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Yes; they were represented at the meeting I referred to.

Topic:   POTATOES
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES
Permalink
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Will the negotiations include

soft fruits? I am sorry; I did not hear the minister's answer.

Topic:   POTATOES
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES
Permalink
LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I said that the representation included those from the fruit-growing community in Canada; they were part of the group making representations which I have just described.

Topic:   POTATOES
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES
Permalink
PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. A. J. Brooks (Royal):

May I inquire, Mr. Speaker, if the minister can give us any information with regard to new potatoes and other potatoes imported from the United States?

Topic:   POTATOES
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES
Permalink
LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I will do so this afternoon, or whenever we come to the Customs Tariff bill.

Topic:   POTATOES
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES
Permalink
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I do not think the record will clearly show whether or not the question I put to the minister has been answered. My question was, will the negotiations referred to include the question of tariffs on soft fruits? I realize that this group was represented at the meeting with the horticultural council, but it is the negotiations that I am asking about.

Topic:   POTATOES
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES
Permalink
LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

What I said, Mr. Speaker, was that now that these negotiations have been

[Mr. Harris.l

completed satisfactorily we would give consideration to the representations of the Canadian Horticultural Council, including the representations of the vegetable and soft fruit groups, with respect to negotiations on a change in the tariff.

Topic:   POTATOES
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES
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NATIONAL CAPITAL PLAN

MEASURE TO CONSTITUTE NATIONAL CAPITAL COMMISSION

LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister) moved

that the house go into committee at the next sitting to consider the following resolution, which has been recommended to the house by His Excellency:

That it is expedient to introduce a measure respecting the development and improvement of the national capital region and in relation thereto,-

1. To provide for the constitution of a national capital commission and to repeal the Federal District Commission Act;

2. To provide for the objects, purposes and powers of the commission; and

3. To enact such financial provisions as may be necessary to accomplish the purposes of the act.

Topic:   NATIONAL CAPITAL PLAN
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSTITUTE NATIONAL CAPITAL COMMISSION
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Motion agreed to.


EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

April 5, 1957