March 8, 1911 (11th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)


Sir WILFRID LAURIER (Prime Minister).

Before I address myself directly to the motion of my hon. friend (Mr. Borden, Halifax), I think it would not be amiss if we had a word of discussion upon the assertion which has been made several times in this debate by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax), and repeated, I think, by almost every one on that side who spoke after him to the effect that, in asking parliament to ratify this agreement, we are departing from true constitutional principles. It was stated that we had carried out a new idea, the idea that tariffs could be made in secret and brought before parliament to be ratified or rejected. If there were anything in this statement, you would have to come to the conclusion that this is the first time in any British parliament in which a treaty of commerce was
ever presented for ratification. The treaty of commerce necessarily implies a change in the tariff of the country. Well, is it the first time that such a thing has happened? You have to-day twelve treaties, which have been spoken of in this House, and which are still in force. These at one time or other have been negotiated by Great Britain as this treaty was, and presented to parliament and accepted by parliament.

Subtopic:   P. C. KNOX,
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