November 30, 1909 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)

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Hon. W. S.@

FIELDING moved second reading of Bill (No. 12), respecting a certain supplementary convention between His Majesty and the president of the French Republic. He said: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary approval of a small amendment which the government have agreed to make to the Franco-Canadian Treaty of 1907; an amendment which, from the Canadian point of view, is not of very great importance, though I will not say it is of no importance, but which nevertheless is somewhat important from the point of view of the French authorities, inasmuch as it served to disarm hostility which was manifested in the French Senate towards the approval of the treaty. I do not deem it necessary to discuss the merits of the main treaty. That measure was brought before parliament in the session before last, it was fully considered and fully discussed, and the House, by something approaching a unanimous vote, decided that it should receive approval. In due course that treaty was approved by the Senate of Canada, and an Act of parliament was passed accordingly. The treaty was approved within a reasonably short time by the French Chamber of Deputies, a body which corresponds to our own House of Commons. It then 23
passed to the French Senate, and there considerable opposition arose, particularly from prominent gentlemen identified with the agricultural interest of France. They were very much alarmed by the concessions which were being granted by France to the Canadian farmer-possibly needlessly alarmed, certainly in some respects. At all events, the agricultural interest of France is one of the utmost importance, and any suggestion that the French government were agreeing to measures which would prejudice the agricultural interest found many listeners, and for some considerable time the treaty was delayed in the Senate. The French government were most loyal to the treaty which they themselves had made. By every reasonable effort within their power they were willing to have that treaty approved; but they had to realize the difficulties which were encountered in the French Senate. When I had the opnortunity of discussing the matter with the French authorities in Paris, it was suggested by the French ministers that if we could make material concessions in the agricultural schedule, it would help them very much to obtain the approval of the treaty. I did not feel that I would be justified in consenting to any considerable change. As the negotiations proceeded, it became apparent that the item of cattle was one as respects which our French friends were particularly alarmed. Some paragraphs appeared in the French press about that time to the effect that certain American organizations were about to establish huge slaughter houses at one of the French ports, and it was expected that there would be a large importation of fat cattle ready for the butchers, and this would affect materially the French agricultural interest.
In the discussion, finding that the point was one which was regarded by the opponents of the treaty in the Senate as of the utmost importance, I thought we could find in it a solution of the difficulties between France and Canada in the matter. I found on inquiry that Canada had not been doing any considerable cattle . trade with France, practically none, and that whatever we might hope for the future, it was not likely that we could in the early future send fat cattle to France ready for the butcher. And so, after duq consideration, finding that the concession in regard to that particular class of things, would help to secure the French approval of the treaty, would be very agreeable to the French government, and would disarm to a very large extent, though not wholly, the opposition which had arisen in the French Senate, after communicating with my colleagues, I agreed that to the four items in the treaty which dealt with cattle we should add the qualifying words, ' to the exclusion of fat cattle ready for the butcher.' That is

to say, we still reserve the right to send in under the French treaty cattle which are not ready for the butcher, but which are to be finished in France before they pass to the slaughter house. The concession, as I have said, was one of only moderate importance from the Canadian point of view, but was regarded as a very important one by the French authorities, and was the means of disarming hostility to the treaty and ultimately obtaining the consent to the Senate thereto. We having consented to make this concession, a question arose as to what should bevthe method of determining the line of demarcation between fat cattle, which should be excluded and other cattle, which would be entitled to the privilege of .the treaty. Our French friends proposed that the line of demarcation should be found by indicating what they called a percentage of neat meat, that is to say, the percentage of meat which an animal would produce ready to be placed in the butcher's stall, and excluding hides, horns and the various other elements which hon. gentlemen more familiar with the cattle industry will readily understand. While the proposal was not unreasonable in itself, I felt that it was a method not understood by our Canadian farmers, and that perhaps it would not be the best method of establishing the line of demarcation. Besides there was this further difficulty which arose in our minds, that if we should make a mistake by having a percentage of neat meat established which experience would show was not a correct one, which would be perhaps unfair to Canada, it would nevertheless be so definitely fixed in the treaty that we would have no right to revise it.
-Mr. E. L. BOEDEN. Is this test capable of ascertainment while the animal is alive?
' Mr. FIELDING. Yes. Expert buyers in the French market are accustomed to estimate, from the general appearance of the animal as it passes before them, and I have no doubt with a fair degree of accuracy, what percentage of neat meat that animal will realize. It is done in practice in France; but, as I thought the method was not understood by our Canadian people, and there was a bare possibility that in fixing the percentage at that time an error should be m&de, I thought it well that the percentage should not be definitely fixed in the treaty. And so, I proposed to the French authorities that instead of defining it in the treaty, we should declare in general terms that what was meant was that fat cattle ready for the butcher should be excluded, and that we would leave the interpretation of that to the French government. Necessarily each case would have to be determined promptly. If a shipment of cattle should arrive, it would be neces-Mr. FIELDING.
sary to determine that point at once, and we recognized the right and propriety of the French government deciding that at once, and that their decision should be final. But, we said, if it should appear at any time that the decisions you are giving on that question were unreasonable and unfair and at variance with the spirit of the treaty, then we shall ask the privilege of going over to your French office and making our representations and relying on the French government to correct any error that may be found. The French authorities agreed to accept the amendment in that way, and we were strongly of the opinion that, while we are leaving the matter for the moment absolutely to the judgment of the Department of Agriculture of France, we might rely on the French government receiving our representations and correcting any error that might be found in the conclusions reached. Added to the treaty there will be found an exchange of letters which practically form part of the treaty. I beg to be permitted to read these two, because they contain the whole case on that point. The first is from myself to Mr. Euau, Minister of Agriculture of the French Eepublic.
Paris, February 8, 1909.
Sir,-As a result of the recent negotiations between members of the French government and myself with a view to the recasting of schedule A of the Franco-Canadian Commercial Convention of the 19th September, 1907, by the, exclusion, from the list of the Canadian products enjoying the benefit of the minimum tariff, of animals in fat condition for butchering, I have considered your suggestion to adopt a percentage of neat meat as a line of demarcation between animals to be admitted under the minimum tariff and those three excluded therefrom. I am of opinion that it would not he expedient to include this modus operandi in the convention itself, as it touches only the methods of carrying out what is proposed.
I would prefer that the proposed formula be inscribed in our agreement in general terms indicating our mutual understanding, and I would leave with the French government the duty of giving to this complementary clause a fair and reasonable interpretation by means of customs regulations. We would have no objection whatever to the adoption by the French authorities of the percentage method, should they prefer that method, as it could he changed or modified in case a trial of it were to demonstrate that it did not give satisfaction, and the Canadian government would reserve then to itself the right of making necessary representations to your government.
I am, sir, with the highest regards,
Yours very truly,

Topic:   THE FRANCO-CANADIAN TREATY.
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