March 9, 1953 (21st Parliament, 7th Session)


Colin Emerson Bennett


Mr. Bennett:

I have never undertaken during the last five years of flux and change to speak with any degree of absolute certainty about anything connected with trade, for the situation has changed from day to day and from night to night. I can recall an order taken by a firm in Canada to be shipped to the United States; the goods were packed and when they reached Windsor to go across, the rate of duty owing to another classification had been so increased that it made it impossible to ship them without losing thousands of dollars. These things happen from day to day. I can only say that if we have adopted, as apparently we have, the principles laid down in the papers tabled today-
That was the agreement.
-we shall find it to be a very sorry day indeed for this Dominion of Canada. For I assure you, sir, that at any time before October it would have been possible to arrive at that arrangement, but I would not make it. I stand here tonight and say that I condemn it. I believe it to be bad and I am as certain as one can be in this changing world that the agreement which has been consummated will bring disaster to Canada.
That was the Conservative party's view in 1935. The strange thing about it, Mr. Speaker, is that it is still their view after the
The Budget-Mr. Ward five years of the most terrible conditions which this country has ever known and which I hope to God it will never know again. Some time later in the same debate Mr. King, then prime minister, was speaking; and as reported at page 86 he said:
There are only two other subjects to which I will refer before I conclude; they are the two which I imagine are uppermost in the minds of hon. members. The first is the Canada-United States trade agreement. That agreement will come up for very full discussion in the course of another few days. There is at the present time on the order paper a notice of motion which I have given asking the house to approve of the agreement. There will subsequently be introduced bills which will provide the necessary legislation for giving effect to all of its provisions. In due course, therefore, we shall have ample time to discuss the merits of this agreement.
What I wish to touch upon this afternoon is the impression which my right hon. friend sought last night to convey, that this agreement, so far as Canada is concerned, was the result of-
And I would ask hon. members to listen to this.
-hasty and possibly immature action. He resented very strongly the fact that the government should have concluded, in something less than a month after its return to office, an agreement so far-reaching in its nature. He began by referring to the negotiations having extended over a period of weeks. He then reduced the period to days, and finally got down to the point where the agreement had been arrived at in an hour or two. If my right hon. friend had been aware of the facts, he would have known that in those three weeks no government ever worked harder on any measure than did the present administration with respect to this particular agreement.
A little farther down Mr. King went on to say:
If I have been able, in connection with the negotiation of this particular agreement, to play a part that has been helpful, I attribute it above all else to the fact that it was known, when I went to Washington, that for nearly seventeen years I had had the loyal and wholehearted support of the Liberal party-a party which from one end of Canada to the other had advocated a reciprocal agreement with the United States-and that at no time had the leader of any other government in this dominion behind him such a following as I had at the time I began the negotiation of the agreement. In other words, there was a guarantee at once that we were in earnest; that we meant business, and that we were in a position to carry nut effectively what we might undertake to do.
And a little further on Mr. King, speaking of Mr. Bennett, said this:
He knows that since confederation up to 1911 an effort had been made on the part of both political parties to get a reciprocal agreement with the United States. He knows that under one Liberal administration, that of the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, an agreement was negotiated but was defeated by the senate of the United States. He knows also that under another Liberal government, the great administration of the Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, a splendid agreement was negotiated with the United States; and he knows, better than anyone else, that no one in Canada worked harder to defeat that agreement than he himself.

The Budget-Mr. Ward

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