March 19, 1954 (22nd Parliament, 1st Session)


John Horace Dickey (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Defence Production)


Mr. Dickey:

Yes, Mr. Chairman. As I said in the committee last night in answer to a question, there is no item which is under import control now under this subsection. The example I gave, and one that is relevant to the particular discussion we are having now, is sulphur and brimstone which was under import control for the very reasons we have been discussing. The situation of shortage has disappeared at the present time, but it might reappear for reasons quite beyond the control of the government of Canada or anybody in Canada. A similar situation might arise with respect to any one of a number of rather essential imports this country requires, and the Department of Trade and Commerce and the government have come to the conclusion that that is one reason why the existence of a power of this kind is still justified at the present time.
The hon. member referred to the very wide powers, to the existence of the power to create monopolies and to exercise discrimination. I think we will have to admit that in dealing with matters of this kind it is impossible to exclude completely possibilities of that kind. The hon. member referred to the four men in the back room, I think he said, as being able to exercise these powers and suggested that that brought thoughts to mind of the possibility of quite serious difficulties arising. In judging that, I think parliament is justified in looking at how the power has been exercised. I think that is a fair test. I think the hon. member will agree with that. He may argue with some justification that past performance is not a complete guarantee of what will happen in the future, but in coming to a reasonable and logical conclusion on a matter of this kind I do think that parliament and this committee are justified in looking at what the experience has been.
What has been the experience? As has already been pointed out by the hon. member for Assiniboia, the only item now subject to the exercise of these wide and sweeping
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Export and Import Permits Act powers is butter which is under import control by reason of the authority established under section 4 (b) of the Export and Import Permits Act now in force and which I believe is exactly similar in its terms to clause 5 (b) of the bill. It is a control that has been put into force under legislation specifically intended to effect the results that it is thought necessary to achieve, and was not, as I understood the hon. member for Greenwood to imply in his interjection or question, done under some act which was intended for another purpose. I do not think that is correct. It was done under a power that was intended for the specific purpose and to achieve the specific end that is in fact achieved.
The list of items that have from time to time been under import control during the whole existence of the Export and Import Permits Act is as follows: Iron and steel, shearlings-that is, sheepskins-sulphur and brimstone, to which we have already referred, butter, to which reference has already been made, livestock, meat and meat products, and non-ferrous metal scrap, to which reference has also already been made. I think the committee will realize, from a brief description of the circumstances under which these various items came under import control, the basic justification for the existence of powers of this kind which can be exercised when required.
Examples of import control under section 5 (a), which was referred to by the hon. member for Greenwood, are items which are included under international allocation by the international materials conference. An example of them is sulphur and brimstone. In order to carry out our obligations to limit the import of sulphur into this country, and in order to carry out our obligations to direct sulphur into essential industries within Canada, this item was put under import control on May 30, 1951. Immediately sulphur became in easier supply the control was lifted, on October 28, 1953.
Butter and meat products are examples of control under section 5 (b). Butter continues under control as the price is being supported under the Agricultural Prices Support Act. In his remarks a few moments ago the hon. member for Assiniboia indicated the essential nature of a control of that kind in order to make price support effective. Meat and meat products were placed under control on March 3, 1952, during the epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease inasmuch as we were supporting the prices of these products at that time under the Agricultural Prices Support Act as one of the essential means of dealing
Export and Import Permits Act with the very difficult situation that had arisen as a result of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. This control was lifted on February 26, 1953, immediately the foreign markets we had previously enjoyed were again open to our products as a result of the elimination of the danger of contamination or infection of livestock in the United States by foot-and-mouth disease.
Examples of control under section 5 (c) would be-and I say "would be" as that particular section has not been enacted into law before-iron and steel, shearlings and non-ferrous metal scrap. These items were put under control under the present act during a period of world shortage when our principal supplier, the United States, was allocating supplies through the use of their export control mechanism. In order to avoid the imposition of export controls on United States goods moving into Canada, we undertook to control this movement through our own regulations. These items were removed from import control on January 7, 1953, April 4, 1952, and March 19, 1953, respectively. I might point out to the committee that Canada is, I think, the one nation that has not been subject to export controls from the United States. I believe that has been a very important factor in the maintenance of a high level of trade between Canada and the United States. I feel that few things contributed to that as importantly as the power that we had to impose controls ourselves rather than have them impose export controls upon us; that was a very important contributing factor indeed.
The final point made by the hon. member for Greenwood was to ask me whether or not the need for this power has disappeared, and to what extent that meant this power was being retained and re-enacted simply because it is nice to have powers. I can tell him that that is not correct. The limited use of those powers is not properly the test of the need of the powers, but it is a test of the manner in which the powers have been used. It indicates, I think, the restraint and the care that have been brought to the exercise of these powers. It is our firm belief, Mr. Chairman, that these powers should exist.
I feel that the point the hon. member made is more an indication of the reason the committee should re-enact these powers that are necessary with some confidence that the same kind of restraint and care will be taken in their exercise in the future.

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