March 18, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)

LIB

Joseph Israël Tarte

Liberal

Hon. Mr. TARTE.

I went on again :
Are the people to depend for all time upon the United States of America, our neighbour ? Our friends on the other side of the line have raised a wall against us, they show no disposition to lower it, and, if I am not mistaken, Sir, I would say that they take us by the throat every time that they can. Now, I want to know why our Canadian custom laws are not to be just as self-protecting as theirs ? I have not been able to see for the life of me, why our laws should not be as protective as those of the United States. We want to advance ; 1 do not care much about words, I care less about theories ; theories and words have given precedence to circumstances, and I say these are circumstances which we have to confront. I say why should the Americans invade our markets ? They would not invade our market if we can sell to the consumer just as cheap as tho American, and I want to know why we cannot. I am not discussing the tariff in detail, I am laying down principles. I say that the first principle for an individual, as for a nation, is to defend himself (hear, hear). In speaking as I do, I knotv I am speaking for the very large majority of the Canadian people. Now, do not believe, gentlemen, that I belong to a government where every one takes the same view. My hon. friend the Minister of Finance has very rightly stated that questions of this kind are generally settled by compromise. I have been brought up a protectionist-in a protectionist school-and I have not renounced my faith (cheers), and I do not mean to renounce it. (reaewed cheering). The Prime Minister is a cabinet maker of the first rank and if I were ever to have a government I would try to have all the shades possible represented. You have no idea what a cabinet meeting is like-people fighting like blazes at times.
Let me say immediately that these last words have been, on several occasions, the subject of observations which have no foundation whatever. For, let me assure the House-and I am speaking in the hearing of my former colleagues-that we never had any such fighting as has been described in the press. I was speaking, of course, in a jocular way when I used those words.
The Prime Minister also made a speech on the same occasion. He made, forsooth, a fighting speech-a fiery speech. He said :
In connection with this, there is another feature which is now taking place. I remember, and you remember also, that since the abolition of the reciprocity treaty in 1866, we have sent delegation after delegation to Washington to obtain reciprocity. We are not sending any more delegations (loud and continued applause). But I rather expect, and I would not be surprised if the thing were to take place, even within a few years. I say, I rather expect .that there will be delegations coming from Washington to Ottawa for reciprocity (wild cheering), having learned the lesson from our friends to the South how to receive such a delegation, we shall receive them in the proper way (cheers), with every possible politeness (laughter).
After the speech from which I have quoted, I remained a member of the administration. After that I made several other speeches on the same line, advocating the revision of the fiscal policy of this country on strong Cana-1 dian, national lines. Time went on. Dele-

gation after delegation came to meet the government in Ottawa. I generally attended when meeting these delegations. On not one occasion was there a request that the tariff be lowered ; far from it ; on every occasion business men, manufacturing associations, farmers, asked for a revision of the tariff in the direction of higher protection. The government were pressed pretty hard. 1 know what was going on just as well as any of my former colleagues know. We were hard pressed. The London conference was on. The session of 1902 was called. The situation, as my right lion, friend has said, was discussed. Of course, none of us is free to say what took place in the council, but I remember very well what took place ; yes, and my former colleagues remember what took place too. The result of our deliberations was the statement made by my hon. friend the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Fielding) in his budget speech. Let me read it at some greater length than my right hon. friend has read it to the House.. The budget speech was delivered on March 17th, during which the Minister of Finance spoke as follows :
We do not propose to make any changes in the tariff this session. X do not for a moment claim that the tariff is perfect. I think that, on the whole, it has proved a very good tariff. Indeed, when we recall the circumstances under which our tariff revision took place, when we remember the very complicated and difficult problem with which we had to deal, we may well congratulate ourselves upon our success in devising a tariff so well adapted to the requirements of the country, a tariff under which Canada has prospered in a greater degree than in any previous period in her history. I have occasionally pointed out the desirability of a reasonable measure of tariff stability. Nothing would be more likely to unsettle business than a practice of introducing frequent tariff changes. Hence, we have resisted applications for many small changes, and we think it well to do so to-day. But I would not have it understood that this view can always be held. As time passes, conditions change in our own country, and it will be well for us to take note of this, so that we may adjust the tariff accordingly. Nor is that the only reason that might require some change. Conditions arise in other countries of which we are obliged to take account. We do not propose that we shall stand still and that this tariff shall remain unchanged; but we think the time is not opportune to make any change at present. There are several reasons which operate in our minds against entering upon a policy of tariff changes to-day. We have just completed the taking of a census, and while some of the results are available, others of much importance have yet to be prepared. Among these are the returns of the operations of our industries. In considering the tariff in relation to the industries of the country, it is desirable that we should have before us, with ample time for consideration, the industrial statistics of the recent census
That session came to a close. My right hon. friend and some of his colleagues went
abroad; I remained in Canada. After having settled the more pressing business of the Department of Public Works, I started on a tour of inspection, and also in search of information concerning the transportation question to which I had given as much time as I was able to do. Naturally I was called upon to answer addresses and make speeches, and I often expressed the opinion, which I had expressed in the House, that the transportation question and the fiscal policy of this country were intimately bound together. Perhaps on this occasion the storm has come from the west. Speaking at Port Arthur I had under my eyes an interview given by Mr. Greenway, former prime minister of Manitoba, in which he advocated a lower tariff. I said to the large audience before me that in my humble opinion Port Arthur and Fort William, and not Duluth, should be the centres of exchange on the great lakes for the trade between the west and the east. It was that way I was led to speak of the fiscal policy of the government. Mr. Speaker, my speeches, most of them at any rate, have been reported, and I invite criticism of my utterances during the absence of my right hon. friend. I state here that I never said in his absence what I did not say when he was here, what I would not have said had he been in this country. I have acted in perfect good faith. I advocated the policy that I had reason to believe, that I still believe, has the policy of this government before the Prime Minister and my colleagues went away. I did not advocate an increase of the tariff all along the line-and I again invite criticism of my utterances-I went on to say that this country should have, must have, a strong Canadian fiscal policy. That was the gist of my utterances, and I never went further. The right hon. gentleman reproaches me in his letter, and in his statement to-day, with having advocated an immediate revision of the tariff. Sir, the true facts of the case are these-I have already referred to them. The statement of the Minister of Finance last year was a formal promise to the country that during the present session of parliament, then the coming session of parliament, a revision of the tariff would take place. I made bold to say that I would be able to find a clear expression to that effect in some of the reported interviews that took place when my hon. friend the Minister of Finance and myself, with others, were present. It was a set-led matter. I take the responsibility of saying here that it was a settled matter that a revision of the tariff should take place this session.
I am prepared to take the responsibility of the mistakes I have made. If I have made mistakes I am prepared to pay the penalty of these mistakes, but, I am not ready to stand without protesting with all my energy and from the bottom of my heart under the

imputation that I have been disloyal to my colleagues. I cannot stand that. Whatever the position of the right hon. Prime Minister may be, and he has achieved a very high position in this country, his words cannot turn into accuracy statements that are not borne out by the facts. During my right hon. friend's absence I advocated for Canada a policy that would give us the Dest available means of transportation and a strong Canadian fiscal policy. I do not regret a word of what I have said. I know that I have acted loyally, I know that I have endeavoured to serve my country and that I have tried to serve my party to the best of my ability. I may have made mistakes, but, am I the only man after all who has talked tariff in the government ? I have advocated a strong Canadian policy on the floor of parliament and outside of it. Other members of the administration have talked fiscal policy. The Minister of the Interior (Hon. Clifford Sifton) also talked about the tariff, and I suppose that those who hold the view I hold are not the only ones to be excommunicated if any are to be excommunicated for discussing this question. The hon. Minister of the Interior, speaking on the 12th December, 1901, only a few days after I had talked in Montreal, spoke as follows : And this is not the only speech he made on the great desirability of having a lower tariff. I do not blame him. He is perfectly entitled to his opinions. I would like to have the same privilege. He was a minister as much as I was. He said
I desire before this representative convention to say a few words to put before you fairly and squarely the position of the government.
The different provinces have different interests and with these presented in parliament, it is impossible to weld them all into legislation.
If we are to have government, harmony and progress we must do in respect to fiscal legislation just what Sir Wilfrid said In regard to race and religion :-
' We must find a common ground upon which to stand.'
If you have followed the discussion in the press, you will know that there is a strong agitation for the purpose of placing a duty on lumber and increasing the duties on agricultural implements and woollen goods.
They say the reason is chat they have not sufficient protection. I say it is not. If they cannot live on a 23 per. cent tariff they had better shut up.
The government had never decided that if the woollen Industry or any other industry In the country could not live on a tariff of twenty-three per cent, they had better be shut np. We had never decided anything of the kind. The government had not pronounced more on the policy of my hon. friend-it had pronounced less, perhaps, because I verily believe it is the intention of the government to raise the duty on woollens. My hon. friend spoke in that way. Well, he has not been excommunicated.
The lumber interests are demanding a tariff of from 20 to 30 per cent.
The lumber representatives come down twice every session to see what influence they can bring to bear to have a duty placed on lumber. Sir Wilfrid sends them to me telling them that I represent the people who do not want a duty on lumber.
The government having arrived at this position on the tariff, the important thing for the people of the west Is to stand firmly at our backs and assist us in preventing any encroachment upon the position we have taken.
' Stability and no change ' is the policy of the government.
We had never decided that we should not have any change, far from It. The Minister of Finance had announced that there would he a revision of the tariff later on.
The Conservatives are in favour of a very decided advance in the duties of important com-;es all along the line.
British preference would be done away with if the Conservative party were returned to power.
Well, Sir, I made those speeches to which my hon. friend has alluded and on which we will have further opportunities to pronounce. On the 4tli of September my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior, the youngest member of the administration, perhaps, not the least influential, hut the youngest member of the administration, gave an interview which was circulated broadcast all over the land in which he took strong ground against any increase in the tariff. It was a signal for personal attacks directed against me in several newspapers of importance. The Manitoba ' Free Press,' which is the personal organ of my hon. friend, the ' Globe,' the Montreal ' Herald ' and other papers attacked me very severely. Knowing well the influences that are behind the scenes in the Liberal party, as I should know them, having been six years amongst them-

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   WILFRID LAURIER.
Full View