April 24, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)

LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. MACLEAN:

The year ended March 31, 1916. I find that in that year free goods were imported to the amount of $254,312,000, and seven and a half per cent on that would yield about $19,000,000, so that it would appear that out of the total revenue of $21,-
814,000 received from this source, $19,000,000 came from free goods and practically nothing came from the imposition of the seven and a half per cent super tax upon imports already dutiable. If that statement be susceptible of any explanation, I have no doubt we shall have it. As a matter of fact, however, I think it was always anticipated by the Minister of Finance that he would get little revenue by reason of the imposition of the seven and a half per cent super tax on dutiable goods, but that he would get a substantial levenue from the imposition of the seven and a half per cent tax on free goods. If it be the case that the imposition of the seven and a half per cent super tax on dutiable goods is yielding little or no revenue, it should be removed, it does not promote trade interests it rather impedes trade. It adds to the cost of articles essential to life to-day, now oppressive in prices, thereby involving a great hardship to the masses of the people.
I submit there should have been some readjustment of the tariff this year, and what more natural than to expect a remission of the surtax of 7i per cent upon the general tariff. Why should it not be removed, in some cases at least? If its imposition was intended virtually to prohibit some classes of imports, which might at present in some cases be desirable, I would not object.. It might be justifiable to continue

the present duties on luxuries. Speaking generally, however, I say that the imposition of the 7| per cent surtax was a mistake in the first place, and I think in justice to the people of this country it should be removed, or modified at least and this would have been a proper time for t'he Minister of Finance to act in that respect.
The Minister of Finance was considering the question of tariffs quite re-5 p.m. cently, from motives of party welfare I have no doubt, and not in the interests of the state, and by subterranean paths rather than by direct routes. I am sure it must have been a veritable Getbsemane for him when the hon. gentleman who now sits at his right hand (Mr. Meighen) returned from the West a few days ago and informed him that he must enter into a reciprocity treaty with the United States. The Government have, in fact, entered into a statutory reciprocity treaty with the United States, terminable at the will of either country, in respect of wheat and flour, which have been so long the subject of discussion in Parliament and the country. If the Government are truthful men, and speak after intelligent consideration of the matters upon which they assume to guide and instruct the public, I suppose now, in view of this arrangement, we must expect Canadian wheat to lose its identity, Canadian east-bound and westbound traffic to be very much injured, if it /does not altogether cease to exist, the flour mills of this country to be ruined and go into the hands of receivers, and this country to become, for a time at least, the back-door of Chicago. Rut if the Government are not true prophets, and the prevailing view in Western Canada is correct, we shall all be benefited temporarily, and later this temporary arrangement will inevitably be made permanent.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Subtopic:   ANNUAL STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF FINANCE.
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