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

LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

Article No. 8. We did not take any formal legal opinion on the point, but I gave at the time what seemed to be the general impression and what seemed to he the ground we, acting for Canada, should properly take. The question became of interest to Switzerland. Switzerland was a little impatient, hardly willing to wait until the treaty was ratified in due course, and desiring that an interpretation should be given the clause at an early date, made application, through the diplomatic channels, to know the Canadian interpretation. Switzerland is an inland country, ultimately determined to be one of the nations entitled to favoured nation treatment, and she was interested in knowing from what ports she should send her goods, these goods being of the same class as mentioned in the treaty. We did not, at that time, think it was desirable that we should undertake to interpret that in any formal and official way. We thought that if the matter was in doubt it ought to he the subject of negotiation with the French authorities before we should give any final

interpretation. What we understood from the reading of the treaty was that Switzerland might send her goods to Canada by way of England, because England enjoyed the whole preferential tariff. We were asked if we would care to give an expression of opinion. Having first pointed out that *as the treaty had not been completed, was not yet ratified and had not gone into operation, we were indisposed to come to any official determination on that point and lay it before a third party, yet, in answer to the request of the imperial authorities, we stated the view which we had expressed in parliament in answer, if I recollect correctly, to the question of my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk). That interpretation was accepted and approved by the British government with, however, the remark that the point was not free from [DOT]doubt.

Topic:   W. S. FIELDING.
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