Mr. Speaker, I want to say a word now about the problem of trade because it is another problem concerning which the Conservative party has made quite a number of statements and about which there is much to be said by a member from the province of Nova Scotia. We know that the problem of trade has been under discussion in the house not only at this session but at preceding sessions. The most revolutionary statement made on trade, however, was made by the Prime Minister in which he suggested radical surgery and the shift of 15 per cent of Canadian purchases from the United States to the United Kingdom. The only reason I mention this statement is that later in the development of the subject the British chancellor of the exchequer suggested that consideration be given to establishing a free trade area between Canada and the United Kingdom.
The people of the province of Nova Scotia have always been interested in trade and our interest has never reached a concrete realization at any time since prior to confederation. As a matter of fact, the Minister of National Revenue, speaking in Halifax last Saturday, stated that it was the intention of his government to restore the conditions that existed prior to confederation. We know that the economic conditions which accounted for the prosperity of Nova Scotia prior to confederation and, indeed, up to 1878, were based upon free trade. Those of us who study history know as well that it was the members from the maritime provinces, particularly the
The Address-Mr. A. B. Macdonald Liberal members, who prevented the introduction of a national policy of tariff protection until 1878. We know that 1878 signalized the introduction of that tariff policy and the gradual and eventual debilitation of Nova Scotia trade based on worldwide commerce.
We know as well that there was a great effort made in 1911 by Sir Wilfrid Laurier to re-establish a system of free trade between Canada and the United States. That period is still fresh in the minds of Nova Scotians, because again we lost our search for free trade. Today we are still waiting for the present Prime Minister to seize upon the opportunity presented to him by the British chancellor of the exchequer to establish free trade with the United Kingdom for Nova Scotia and all of Canada. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister, speaking in Sydney just before the election, stated that the election of a Progressive Conservative government in Canada would mean a return to those policies which kept the maritimes in the forefront decades ago. Well, if the Prime Minister is really honest and sincere, as I think he is, he will realize that the only way that this condition can be restored is to take a courageous and statesmanlike attitude and really go forward with the British in establishing a system of free trade.
Before I came here, Mr. Speaker, I travelled through my constituency of Inverness-Richmond. In every part of that constituency I saw the lumber industry languishing because the British purchasers did not have the dollars with which to buy the products of Nova Scotia. If we had a system of free trade with Britain, the British manufacturers would be able to earn the dollars in Canada that would enable them to buy the goods of the primary producers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and the provinces on the west coast of Canada. I do not believe this proposal, which means so much to my province, should have been received by the shocked silence of the Minister of Finance, but should have been accepted as a whole-hearted response of the British government to assist the Prime Minister in his efforts not only to raise the standards in Nova Scotia but also to divert 15 per cent of trade from the United States to the United Kingdom.