May 7, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

My recollection is that the complaint of the leather men was not so much with regard to the duty as to the fact that there was an arrangement to shut out the smaller dealers. They said to the smaller dealers : If you deal entirely with us, you will get favoured terms, but otherwise you will not. That is quite a different condition of things from that which is submitted by the paper people. In the latter case, the reduction or the removal of the duty would provide the remedy, but in the former case it would not.
There are two Acts of parliament dealing with this matter-the Tariff, which deals entirely with the duty, and the Criminal Code. Some years ago an Act was passed, initiated by an hon. gentleman on the other side, who is not now present, in which it was made a misdemeanour for persons to create a combine for the purpose of unduly enhancing prices or restricting production, &c. It was found that the word ' unduly ' made the Act inoperative, and some years later my hon. friend from East Grey (Mr. Sproule), I think it was, introduced an Act to remove the word ' unduly ' and that Act passed. At all events I supported my hon. friend. And if the gentlemen who feel aggrieved by the action of the so-called leather combine think they have a case which constitutes an offence within the meaning of the Act, they are perfectly free to take proceedings under the Criminal Code. But it is not the business of the government to initiate proceedings under that code. Any individual can go before a magistrate and take the necessary proceedings.

Topic:   SUPPLY-VALLEYFIELD RIOTS.
Subtopic:   MACKENZIE KING,
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