March 10, 1936 (18th Parliament, 1st Session)


François (Frank) Blais

Independent Liberal

Mr. FRANK BLAIS (Chapleau) (Translation) :

Mr. Speaker, this being my maiden speech in the house, I am pleased to congratulate you on your election to the speakership and also to extend my congratulations to the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) for having proposed your nomination to this office and to the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) for having seconded it.
As the representative of the constituency of Chapleau, I wish to voice my view's on the reciprocity agreement. The county of Chapleau is already a very important one from the standpoint of agriculture and colonization, and I am free to state that, in the near future, it will be, of all the counties in the dominion, the one where agriculture, mining and forestry operations will reach the highest degree of development. No better news could have been conveyed to us than the announcement by the Prime Minister of the signing of this trade agreement with our neighbours to the south.
It was with great pleasure that I read in La Presse, of August 3rd last, that one of the principal features of the Liberal party's program was the negotiation of a reciprocity agreement with the United States at the earliest possible moment, in the event of it obtaining the confidence of the people on the 14th of October. As we hoped, the results w'ere most wonderful. The triumph was without precedent in the history of Canada.
I therefore beg the hon. the Prime Minister and his colleagues to accept the congratulations and thanks of my constituents for the prompt execution of their promise.
I am highly pleased with the reduction of $2 per thousand feet in the duty on Canadian sawn lumber exported to the United States. The production of sawn lumber in my county amounts to about 35,000,000 feet per year, and, thanks to this agreement, we shall be paid S2 more per thousand feet, representing additional receipts of S70.000, which will be highly appreciated by us. The increase of $2 per thousand feet on our sawm lumber enables us to pay to the men in our winter camps S50

Canada-U.S. Trade Agreement
and more per month, including their board; these wages are highly deserved by skilled woodsmen. The reduction in duty will prove generally advantageous to all lumber merchants who avail themselves of its benefits.
On the 5th of February last, at the Mount Royal Hotel in Montreal, a general convention of Canadian and American lumbermen met for the purpose of considering trade conditions and changes likely to occur as a result of the reciprocity agreement which, at the time, had been in force for thirty-five days. We asked a straight question to the American lumber merchants as to how they were affected by the treaty. The reply made by Mr. Kennedy, of New York, shows that the tariff reduction was in our favour. It enables us, he said to offer you $2 more per thousand feet; we are pleased with this lowering of the duty and we trust to be in a position to continue dealing with you.
Mr. Speaker, the general increase of $2 per thousand feet on approximately one billion feet of sawn lumber, which is the yearly cut of Canada, means for us a profit of $20,000,000. This tariff reduction alone, therefore, represents a substantial gain for Canada.
Some hon. members from the prairie provinces inform us that the cattle industry is the one that benefits most by this treaty; of that I am quite pleased. Two reductions alone, on cattle and on sawn lumber, will give us annual profits of over $40,000,000. Although they constitute the most important items, they nevertheless show how valuable to Canada the agreement is, without taking into consideration the numerous other items that will prove beneficial to us.
Some hon. members opposite seem to think that the treaty might have a detrimental effect on the prices of our vegetables, especially carrots, cabbages, etc. I may say that, on the contrary, these products have gone up i cent per pound since the treaty has been in force.
They also speak of imports of American farming implements which are likely to harm our Canadian industries. I do not think that these gentlemen are in earnest. In the manufacture of farm implements Canadian hardwood is used, which is partly imported from Canada and therefore becomes fairly costly in the United States, the freight amounting to $14 per thousand feet, to which is to be added a duty of $2. So, I fail to see how unfair competition can be waged by American factories.
As to our Canadian companies, they are in part, branches of American concerns located here and they know quite well how to look
after their own business in either country. Why then such prohibitive prices in Canada? I consider them unfair and detrimental to the purchasing power of our farmers. I note with a good deal of satisfaction that the government has arranged to investigate the increased prioes of farm implements manufactured by these companies; such an inquiry should produce excellent results and be of a great benefit to our farmers.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the members of this house who, realizing the importance of this agreement, have given it their unreserved support, mindful as they were of the fact that for years past we have suffered great hardships. Had this agreement been approved in 1911, the depression we are now going through would not have been so severe. We suffered from overproduction while having at our very door, a market for our surplus production. We could have benefited by it had we concluded a trade agreement with the United States. No longer shall we have to deplore that grave error. Great advantages have already accrued from this agreement which has been in force only a short time ago. We may then rest assured that within five years this arrangement will prove to be a great boon to our people, while being helpful to our neighbours in the United States.
The right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) should support the measure and thus compensate to a certain extent the harmful effects of his five years of power, during which he sometimes wanted and sometimes did not want a reciprocal trade arrangement. Again, I wish to sincerely thank the right hon. the Prime Minister for the excellent work he has accomplished as well as for the splendid triumph he achieved on the 14th of October last.

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