Mr. ROCH LANCTOT (Laprairie-Napier-ville):
Mr. Speaker, as a farmer representing one of the foremost farming communities in the province of Quebec, I think I would be neglecting my duty should I not express my own opinion on the motion now before us.
I must first congratulate the honourable member for Moosejaw (Mr. Iinowles) for having presented this motion in amend-
ment whereby the Government is asked to remove the duty on agricultural implements brought into this country. This question does not affect but the West, it affects the whole country, and more especially the province of Quebec because there are at least fifty agricultural counties out of the sixty-five which she numbers. I have the honour to represent one of those counties in the House.
This amendment prays that the duties on farming implements be removed altogether. Is it not a fact that the manufacturers in this country have enjoyed a protective tariff ever since 1878? From that, time the child has grown up, it has reached the age of 36 years, and I think that, at this age, it could be left to depend on its own strength.
I say, that the manufacturers have been protected long enough, and as for the great mass of the people, I believe it is time that they should enjoy, in their turn, the abolition of protection duties, on farming implements first of all. Those manufacturers of farming implements, who dispose of their goods in Europe, selling them 25 or 30 per cent cheaper than here, could, one thinks, stand foreign competition in this country and make a very substantial profit. Why do they sell cheaper outside? Because there is no competition in our country. Such is always the case in every country under a protective system; the consumers have to pay a higher price for the goods, owing to an impassable gate which prevents competition. Such is the system under which we of the farming community are now labouring.
Is it not a fact that, no later than yesterday, the present Goverment has been asked, as was done under the late Administration, to grant a bounty on the steel works of this country? The late Government granted it, but when they were satisfied that this industry had enjoyed such protection long enough, they removed it. We farmers do not feel envious of' the favours granted to other industries. We do not want the Government to give us money with which to buy our implements,* we do not ask for such favours; we only believe it is now time that the protective duties should be removed and that free course should be given to competition. This is only reasonable.
During this debate, as the honourable member for Humboldt (Mr. Neely) was addressing the House, the honourable member for Peterborough (Mr. Burnham) asked him this question: 'What about a revenue tax?' Well, the Government is
going to collect this year, as customs duties, from one hundred and ten to one hundred and twelve million dollars. The removal of the duties on farming implements which we buy would mean but the small sum of $845,300 as a rebate on that revenue and surely this would not be enough to affect the treasury. At all
events, I think there should be some easy means of making compensation for this so-called deficit, for instance, by reducing certain extravagant estimates, by striking off a few estimates from the Militia Department for useless arsenals, some of which are supposed to cost as much as $500,000 or $600,000.
Mr. Speaker, after the budget speech has been delivered I shall submit to the House a few other small details which I would not like to allude to just at present.
I had no intention to take part in this debate, but it being unceasingly repeated in the press that this question is one which interests the western part of this country exclusively, I claim, on the contrary, that it does interest the whole country, the province of Quebec as well as all the'other provinces of Confederation.
Let me add, in concluding these few remarks, that I would be in favour of a general reduction of the duties. I woidd be glad if some honourable member should propose such a measure so that the duties were not higher than ten per cent as a general rule.
The honourable member for Red Deer (Mr. Clark) is accused of being a free trader. Well, I think I belong to his school and that I am a free trader myself to some extent, and I am confident that were there less protection in this country, everybody would feel more contented and more satisfied.
Subtopic: XI, 1914