March 25, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Thomas Osborne Davis



paying thirty-five per cent on their raw material while they are only getting twenty-five per cent protection on their manufactured products. Such a case is a very fit subject for revision. Take again the article of oatmeal. The raw material is taxed more than the manufactured product. This year, owing to Providence having given us a great harvest, our people do not require to buy any oats, but sometimes we have to buy them from the United States, and under our tariff our millers are practically prevented from making the manufactured article. A revision is therefore necessary in the item of oats. A revision of the tariff might be made, which would not increase the amount of taxation on the people in any part of the country. Take the article of coal oil. We are paying at present something like five cents a gallon on all the coal oil consumed in this country. As this subject has already been warmly discussed, I do not propose to go into it at any great length now, but when we consider that in order to benefit some 10,000 people, who are directly and indirectly living out of the coal oil industry, the balance of the population of this country, or 5,300,000 people, is taxed at the rate of five cents a gallon, it is evident that there is need here for revision. It is evident that the knife might be applied to this item, and that the taxation taken off coal oil might be added to some other article in order to protect some other industry, requiring more assistance. So long as you do not increase the general amount of taxation which the people have to pay, there is no objection to you re-adjusting the tariff. We do not care if you take the duty off some commodity which our agriculturists and labourers have to use, and add it on to those consumed by the wealthy. If, for instance, you leave the duty as it is on the coarser grades of woollen manufactures made in this country, which are the only ones that our people can manufacture at a profit, and raise the duties on the finer qualities worn by the rich, there would be no objection on the part of the west. But we do not want the duties raised on the ordinary classes of goods we have to use. We are paying our share of taxation and strongly object to paying anything more.
I listened a few nights ago to the speech made by the hon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton). He made two speeches in this House, as he found one was not sufficient to explain why he had gone back on the faith of his fathers and the faith he had professed during the last fifteen years. I remember in days gone by, before I was in active politics, I used to read the speeches of my hon. friend with pleasure. I used to lie in bed reading them ; I was so proud of them I used to repeat his stories too, they were such good stories. When he was discussing the balance of trade the other night and trying to convince the House that it would be a good thing to cut off our nose

to spite our face-or, in other words, because the Americans have a high tariff we should raise our tariff against them in order to get even-I was reminded of a story which he used formerly to tell illustrating that very point. He told us about a farmer, in the old days, when we were selling barley to the United States, who started out with a carload of barley for the American market. At the boundary line he met a gentleman with a lot of gold braid around his hat who asked him where he was going. I am going, replied the farmer, across the line with a carload of barley. You cannot cross with that barley, said the officer, before you give one third of your load as duty. The Canadian farmer protested, but in vain, he had to hand over the one-third and was not very well pleased- He crossed the line and* sold the balance which remained to him in the American market, and with the proceeds he bought some nice American buggies with which he started home. When he came to the line again, he was very pleased to see his own native soil, and the first man he met was a Canadian customs officer, with the badge of office around his hat. The Canadian told this customs officer what awful robbers the Yankees were, how they had mulcted him of one third of his load, and the Canadian officer gave him every sympathy. He said : Yes, that is perfectly
ture, these Yankees are villains, but we will get even with them. I will take half your buggies from you, and in that way we will get square. That is the story which our hon. friend from North Norfolk used to tell with great gusto, but he has lately seen new light. Well, Mr. Speaker, I am not at all interested in the balance of trade as the hon. gentleman puts it. To my mind when people have something to sell, they should sell it in the best market they can find, and when they have something to buy they should buy it where they can get it the cheapest. If they can sell their grain in England at a better price than in Germany, they should do so ; and if they can buy in the United States cheaper than somewhere else, they should give the American market the preference. Surely the hon. member for North Norfolk will not maintain that when we have to get certain raw material from the United States, we ought to impose a duty on that raw material coming into this country, and for the reason forsooth that the Americans charge a high tariff on other commodities which they require from us.
Now, if the hon. gentleman should go before a British audience and discuss this balance of trade question in this way, what would he find ? He would find that the people there would not listen to a doctrine of that kind ; for every person knows that the people of England have to buy raw material from the United States, and, to put on a duty with the idea of getting even with the people of the United States would be
merely to work against their own interest. I was going to say that, though we from the west do not take up a great deal of time in discussing questions in this House, yet I notice that whatever question is discussed, nearly every gentleman who rises to take part in the debate speaks of the great west and of the great future of the west. The west has a great future. When you consider that we have there only four hundred thousand people all told, including the people in the cities and towns and people in every line in business, and that these four hundred thousand people have produced in one year one hundred million bushels of grain and a vast amount of wealth in the shape of cattle, dairy produce and so on, making a total of over $60,000,000, I think, hon. members of this House will agree that we have become a factor in the affairs of this country, and one that must be considered whatever question may be taken up. And, when it comes to the question of taxation, the voice of the west will have to be heard. As I have said, we do not expect anything unreasonable ; we expect to pay our portion of the taxation necessary to meet expenses of the country. We are practically satisfied with the tariff as it is now. But, if it comes to anything like an increase, I am afraid there is apt to he some grumbling in the country west of Lake Superior. I think I could show by figures, if time would permit, that the tariff is a reasonable one and one under which our industries may prosper. But, when the manufacturers, the woollen men, or the leather men, or the machine men, come asking for an increase of duties, they must remember that the people do not feel called upon to submit to taxation for their benefit. The leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax), the other night closed his remarks with a great flourish about wanting a policy of Canada for the Canadians, i agree with the hon. gentleman. The only difference between the leader of the opposition and myself is that he wants a policy for the minority of Canadians, and I want a policy for the majority of Canadians.
This tariff was accepted by the people of the west as a revenue tariff. Hon. gentlemen opposite have changed their position on this tariff question so often, that it is pretty hard to put your finger on them. When the tariff was first brought down they raised a howl and declared that we were going to ruin all the industries of the country. Though we then gave a preference of only 121 per cent to Great Britain, they predicted that the country would go to the dogs under the new tariff. But when, after a year, they found the country prosperous to a degree it had never attained before, when they found that the mills, instead of being closed were running day and night, and the working people, instead of being out of employment, were earning 20 per cent more wages than when the Conservative govern-

ment were in power, they changed their ground and said : Oh, this is the national
policy ; you have only continued the old tariff ; you have done nothing to help the country, but have simply continued our policy. I have already pointed out that Mr. Foster, the Finance Minister of the late government, and the man who, while he sat in this House, spoke for the Conservative party on fiscal matters, tried to prove, not only in this House but through the press that we had only reduced the tariff by the one sixteen-hundredth part of one per cent, and that the preference was a sham because we had first increased the tariff and then taken off a slice-in fact he tried to show that it was the same national policy. But when they found in the election of 1900, that the country took no stock in their cry of stolen clothes, we find them changing their position again, and now the leader of the opposition comes down with a policy of adequate protection to the labour, agriculture products, manufactures and industries of this country. I have already shown that a resolution like that means anything or nothing, as you choose to take it.
As showing how the country has prospered, I think it would be easy to point out in what way practical relief has been given to the people-speaking particularly for the people of the west-under this tariff, thereby causing a prosperity such as has never been known in this country before. This tariff, brought down in 1897, and in operation ever since, has been the means of reducing the taxation upon the people to the extent of 810,000,000. Hon. gentlemen opposite talk about the expenditure, and say that we are spending an awful lot of money. So we are spending an awful lot of money. But if we did not get the money in we could not spend it. In order to make a fair and reasonable comparison between this government and the late government on this point, you must consider not merely the expenditure, but also the revenue in the two regimes. Under this tariff, as I have said, over $10,000,000 have been saved to the people within the last five years. That means that this government, by taking the shackles off trade and allowing goods to come into the country more freely than before, have not merely reduced the taxation of the people by $10,000,000 but have been the means of placing over $50,000,000 a year in the treasury, as against $36,000,000 which was the amount when the hon. gentlemen opposite were in power. If you take the importations of last year, you find that a saving of nearly $4,000,000 was made by the people as compared with what they would have paid under the old tariff. Exclusive of coin and bullion and of Indian corn, which was simply imported and exported, the duty on the total importations last year made an average rate of 16 90 per cent, as against a rate in 1896, which

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