Mr. G. C. Nowlan (Annapolis-Kings):
Mr. Speaker, tonight I am not going to presume to assess the results which may or may not have been achieved in the Torquay agreements. We have had many discussions of these trade agreements in the past, as was pointed out this afternoon by the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell), running from Geneva to Annecy and now to Torquay, and we are led to hope that much good will come out of this one. That is something that can be perhaps better determined by the committee to which this matter will be
referred; and certainly we in the house will be in a better position to discuss the question after that committee has performed the functions required of it. However, I do suggest there are one or two questions raised by this report, some of them perhaps of particular interest to the east, to which I should refer tonight.
In connection with these agreements we see that some special arrangements are made with respect to Cuba. We are told that we will purchase some 75,000 tons of sugar annually for the next three years, and it is hoped that as a result we will be able to at least partially regain the position we held at one time in the Cuban market, but which unfortunately we lost. Just what we are going to gain by the concessions given us by Cuba is not clear; that is one of the questions the committee will have to determine. At one time that was a very satisfactory market for our potatoes, and it also took large quantities of fish products from eastern Canada. Then in the late twenties the government of this country negotiated a treaty with the British West Indies, no doubt thinking it was accomplishing a great deal in the development of our trade. I think most Canadians, however, and particularly those in the east will have to admit that as a result of that British West Indies treaty we gained very few benefits, and certainly we lost our markets in Cuba. If by these negotiations at Torquay the government has taken steps to rectify that position it certainly will be an advantage to us.
Then another question is raised. The British West Indies treaty has been in effect since 1927 or 1928. We built a fleet of ships, which we have subsidized. We have spent a great deal of money attempting to develop trade between Canada and the West Indies; but now we see that Mr. Donald Gordon, president of the Canadian National Railways, says that tremendous decisions will have to be made this year. He hopes parliament will provide money to cover the deficit of last year, which I believe was something like $845,000, but he doubts whether further deficits of this size can be covered in this way. More than that, he points out the fact that replacement of ships now in the British West Indian-Canadian service will have to be made if the treaty is to be maintained. Now, sir, there is a serious question.
The second question arising out of this one dealing with Cuba is: having once more sought to regain the Cuban market, are we also going to maintain the developments which we have achieved in the West Indian market? Certainly, there have been some definite advantages gained, particularly to
eastern Canada. One of the questions to which I am sure this house, or at any rate the government, will have to determine before many weeks go by is what will be our position with respect to the British West Indian trade in the future. Are we prepared to make the capital expenditure which will ultimately be necessary if these advantages are to be maintained?
There is one ray of sunshine that some of us may see in Torquay, perhaps a minor one. Those in the east, at least in my constituency, will note with some satisfaction that apparently trade arrangements have been made with western Germany. At one time the German market was of tremendous importance to us in the valley in so far as the shipment of apples was concerned. During the years immediately preceding the last war we shipped large quantities of apples there. Of course, that market has been lost to us. We would be interested, and I know the house will be interested, in determining just what advantages we derive under Torquay from the apparent beginnings which we are making towards the resumption of trade with western Germany. But generally, Mr. Speaker, I think that Torquay leaves one with a great deal of disappointment.
This afternoon the member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) referred to the triangle from Canada to Great Britain to the United States and back, which has developed over a period of many years. It has been of tremendous importance to all of Canada, but particularly to eastern Canada. Sometimes when we talk politically of the imperial preference one gathers the inference that imperial preference was something which developed under the aegis of the late Viscount Bennett. Our friends are sometimes disposed to shrug their shoulders, as if it were something of which they were not too proud. Of course, we know that imperial preference has been written into our tariff laws through generations. The preference was established by a Liberal government back in the days of Mr. Paterson, who was minister of finance. When Mr. Fielding was minister of finance we had the first imperial preference budget. It was written, into our trade throughout the years, but we received no corresponding benefit from Britain, because she was a free trade country. Throughout the years, we did everything to develop that trade, and1 we succeeded in so doing.
Then in the thirties the matter developed still further, but today we have to face the fact, as suggested by the member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Thatcher) a moment ago, that after Torquay it looks as if these conferences have reached the limit of their resources. From reports we have had about Torquay the
United States, quite properly, was insisting on the one hand that imperial preference be reduced or be abolished, while on the other hand you had certain commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and South Africa refusing to compromise or to do anything with respect to these imperial preferences.
Subtopic: TORQUAY NEGOTIATIONS