Mr. John A. Fraser (Vancouver South):
Mr. Speaker, on February 9 in this House, as recorded in Hansard at page 2696, I asked the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Horner) certain questions respecting the difficulties faced by Canadian importers of footwear, especially those who are importing products that cannot be obtained in Canada. This is because either the fashion or the price cannot be obtained here and there is not much possibility that Canadian manufacturers can realistically make any attempt to supply
that market. I cited an article from the Vancouver paper the Province dated January 30, 1978 under the heading "B.C, shoe industry gets the boot". I quoted at that time some parts of the article but there are other parts I was unable to quote during the question period and which deserve to be put on the record. I quote:
Another segment of the industry hard hit will be the stores specializing in imports. As it looks now, they'll lose one-third of their business with no respite.
"They'll have to ask Ottawa whether the government thinks they should be allowed to exist," said veteran Vancouver shoe retailer Ernie Freedman. Meanwhile, he, like all retailers, must juggle with the confusion created by the fact orders for spring merchandise, placed last fall before quotas were imposed, may have eaten up the quota of the entire year.
Now, faced with buying for fall, the stores find their imports limited and availability of domestic supplies uncertain.
The fact of the matter is that the majority of people in the retail shoe business are not objecting to some import quotas if the result of those quotas is to protect Canadian industry. The growing suspicion is that the quotas are affecting those products which the Canadian manufacturers cannot supply. The result of this is higher prices. The allegation is that the Canadian manufacturers are increasing their prices on general footwear.
On February 23 I asked the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce a question on a related subject, that of textiles. I asked the minister if he could tell this House whether there was a market building up for the sale and purchase of quotas in textiles. Today I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) the same question, and I also extended it to the problem of shoe quotas. I ask the question over and over again because I am receiving representations that this is exactly what is going on. Since the small operator cannot obtain the quotas he or she need, it is seems to me a travesty that other quotas which obviously are in excess of what is needed are being sold for profit within the domestic Canadian market. I refer specifically to an advertisement which appeared in the Vancouver Sun on February 4, 1978 for jeans. It says:
Jean or Pant Quota
Willing to purchase available quotas for spring and fall 1978.
Any quantity up to 100,000 pairs. Apply in confidence to-
Then it gives a box number. It is time that the government came clean with the House of Commons and with importers as to its motives, especially with respect to textiles or footwear which cannot be obtained in Canada and which the Canadian manufacturer cannot produce.
I have received innumerable complaints. I have received pleas from importers who, without some redress, are going to go broke. I have consistently received complaints that the machinery set up by the government is not competent to deal with the applications and is being handled in such a way that it is not attuned to market problems, especially in British Columbia.
February 27, 1978
I see my time is up and I will conclude on that note.
Subtopic: TRADE-TEXTILES-PURCHASE AND SALE OF IMPORT QUOTAS