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


William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)



The answer was to the effect that the words 'a country enjoying the benefits of the preferential tariff'-or the intermediate tariff or the minimum tariff-would mean in each case a country enjoying the full tariff. We gave the interpretation that we thought, from the Canadian point of view at the time, we should uphold, and the imperial authorities concurred in that interpretation, but with the remark that the matter was not free from doubt.
The treaty having been disposed of by the French Senate, it had to go back to the French Chamber of Deputies which had passed the main treaty, but had to deal with the supplementary treaty. Again some difficulty arose with regard to the position of the treaty. Although the Chamber of Deputies had accepted the main treaty, the discussions which had taken place in the Senate had attracted attention. Very influential members of the Senate had taken strong ground against the treaty, and when the supplementary treaty had to come before the Chamber of Deputies considerable opposition was developed there. That opposition was, however, ultimately overcome, and the Chamber of Deputies passed the treaty. So that all that remains is that the parliament of Canada shall give its approval to the supplementary treaty, and then will follow formal ratification.
Linder later negotiations which, in some cases, did not take the form of correspondence, though in some cases they did, our French friends raised the same question that had been raised by Switzerland. We presented the same view that we presented to the parliament of Canada-that shipment of goods by way of a country under the preferential tariff would mean a country Mr. FIELDING.
enjoying the whole preferential tariff, and so with respect to the other tariffs. But the French authorities took a different view. They pointed to provisions in their own customs regulations, founded,_ necessarily, upon the French statutes, showing that they were in the habit of interpreting a substantially similar clause, so that where a third country enjoyed a favourable tariff as respects the particular article to be exported, that covered all the conditions. In other words, they argued that if, for example, France wished to send her products by way of any other country which had the benefit of the Canadian intermediate tariff as respects the particular item referred to, she should be free to do so.

Topic:   W. S. FIELDING.
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