March 10, 1948 (20th Parliament, 4th Session)


William Earl Rowe

Progressive Conservative


And Liberals, like my hon. friend from the province of Quebec, wanted reasonable protection for that province, and the city of Montreal, as many of us did for the industrial sections of Ontario. But the result was that in 1930 the fiscal policy of that party which has been everlasting in its condemnation of any degree of protection was such that a minister of finance, who preceded the one now in office, came in with countervailing duties. He chided us on this side of the house for having a brick-for-brick policy. He said, "We will not call it brick for brick; we will count it a countervailing tariff. If the United States puts on a tariff of ten per cent, we will put on the same tariff here". In other words, we have changed so often in Ottawa that we now leave it to Washington to decide what type of tariff we shall have. It is now said that in order to get more United States dollars and prohibit the importation of United States goods we shall put on a 25 per cent excise tax; we shall provide a long list of goods which will not be allowed into Canada.
I do not intend to go into any legal argument as to the unconstitutional part of it, because I have mentioned before what I
thought of it. This is the first time in my experience of a quarter of a century in this house that I have known of taxes to be imposed over the radio and have them collected long before they were passed by parliament. I listened to the hon. member for Hal ton and, being a farmer, I imagine it was difficult for me to follow him. However, as a farmer I could tell that, while he was trying to give a legal interpretation, it was simply a skilful legal circumvention of the real issue when he was saying that the minister was not in any way bound or was not acting unconstitutionally when he asked parliament for certain rights. Even the minister laughed at that and I am sure that would not need much argument. The people of this country know that this is another example of the usurpation of parliamentary rights such as we have not before experienced in the life of this house, all under the cloak of emergency of war, a war which ended two or three years ago. You will always have emergencies when there is this uncertainty in our fiscal policy which we have experienced in the last few years, especially of late years. The more emergencies we have, the greater the tangle will be.
I am not going to labour it any more than to say I regret that the government now finds itself in an economic tangle. Nobody is just sure how they got into it, and heaven knows nobody knows how they will get out of it.

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