The United Kingdom proposal of establishing a free trade area with Canada came as somewhat of a shock, not only to the Canadian people but to the Minister of Finance as well. As a matter of fact I doubt very much if he has as yet completely recovered from that shock. The United Kingdom proposal of course certainly pushed the Prime Minister's rather striking suggestion of diverting 15 per cent of our trade from the United States to the United Kingdom right out of the limelight and perhaps, Mr. Speaker, it is just as well that it is so.
It is also perhaps fortunate that the discussion at Mont Tremblant centred around the United Kingdom proposal rather than around the Canadian proposal because now it gives the Prime Minister the opportunity of deciding exactly how he is going to go about diverting the 15 per cent of trade from the United States to the United Kingdom without becoming dictatorial about it and without having to subsidize either directly or indirectly the importers for the disparity in prices, in standardization differences, in costs of production, etc.
There is also no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that the declaration of Lord Thorneycroft, who himself announced to the Canadian people the United Kingdom proposal of establishing
The Address-Mr. Cardin a free trade area with Canada, profoundly embarrassed our Minister of Finance. As a matter of fact the minister felt he had to give some explanation of his eloquent silence following Lord Thorneycroft's press release and more particularly, I think, after the minister had read some of the comments and opinions of our leading producers and workers. So, rather sheepishly, the minister made a statement which was reported by Mr. Blakely in the Montreal Gazette on October 10. Mr. Blakely refers to his interview with the Minister of Finance on the talks held at Mont Tremblant and the minister is quoted as saying:
In these talks we have, of course, been mindful at all times of the interests of the Canadian producers in the Canadian market ... I think this (free trade) proposal has been somewhat misunderstood in some quarters ... It will thus be seen that the interests of Canadian producers have not been overlooked and we have no intention of doing anything to prejudice the interest of our own Canadian producers and workmen.
I should certainly hope that the Minister of Finance of Canada would not intentionally do anything that might prejudice the interests of the workers and producers of Canada; and what interests could the minister have in mind other than those of the Canadian producers, the Canadian workers and the general Canadian economy? Surely the Minister of Finance would not jeopardize the economy of Canada to save the face of the Conservative party.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY