May 13, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)

UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Then follows:
Extract of nut galls; Fashion plates,
I went through the entire list, and outside of the three that I have named I admit I found one that I think in this age of decay might fairly be described as a necessary of life, and that was-false teeth.
But the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's said that he had reduced the duty on a certain kind of cloth that the common people wore which he found taxed in every way one could think of. This cloth was subject to a duty of so much a piece, of so much a dozen, and then on that a percentage ad valorem, and he claimed that he had remedied all that and had cut down the duty to a moderate figure 20, 25 or 30 per cent. I went through the whole list to find what in the world he referred to, because I had never heard of the fact before, and the only thing that I can find in this list published by the Liberal party that would answer his description is cotton shirts. Now, what is the history of his treatment of cotton shirts? The only cottoh shirts he touched were those costing more than $3 per dozen. The only duty was $1 a dozen and 25 per cent ad valorem. That, the pamphlet says, made a total of 37 per cent ad valorem, computed on the basis of the 1896 imports. Now then, will the delighted and relieved consumers be ready for announcement of the reduction that he actually made? He reduced the duty from 37 to 35 per cent.
What is the use of talking? The hon. member found a protective tariff in effect, and he kept it in effect-he scarcely changed it at all. Any change he made one could scarcely see with a microscope. When he went out of power the tariff averaged 26.7 per cent, and was in all essentials, except the three I have mentioned-and, as I say, there have been more important reductions since then than there were in the whole fifteen years he was in power-just as he found it. The tariff that he left at that figure in the fiscal year that has just passed averages precisely
21.2 per cent. Now, he says: "The tariff is a tax and you should make it just as light as you can." That is what he says in the tax paragraph of the amendment. Well, if it is a tax you can make it light in proportion to your needs I suppose; that is the only thing that will enable you to do so. What were his needs when he reduced the tariff from 29.9 to 29.2? They were

$37,000,000 or $40,000,000 a year. His needs when he went out of office and was making the tariff 26.7 per cent on dutiable goods were about $120,000,000. The tariff, remember, is a tax, and to-day this country needs, as every hon. gentleman knows, $435,000,000, and we are maintaining the tariff at 21.2 per cent. Yet the hon. gentle man challenges us in this House, and says "the main charge I have against the Government of the day is that the tariff is too high." If that is not his charge, what is it? True he has taken good care not to say it in this amendment, but if that is not his charge will he let us know what it is? If hon. gentlemen want something reduced, why does not their amendment say so? In a word, why does it not state, express and reflect the tariff programme to which they are pledged?
I proceed with this amendment. Here is the third clause :
That such changes should be made toms duties as may be expectedin the-cus-
" Such changes"-did any one notice that the word " reducion " was not there? It was there last year; it was in the Liberal platform, but so great was the strength of hon. gentlemen around him that they succeeded in getting the word " changes " substitued for the word " reduction." I continue the reading of the paragraph:
Such changes should be made in the customs duties as may be expected to reduce the hteh cost of living.
" May be expected to." The hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's may say in his county that the cost of living can be reduced by raising the tariff. Indeed he indicated as much in this House when he spoke of what he had done for the coal and steel of Nova Scotia. Did he not say then that his policy had reduced the price of the product?
other reference to a reduction? Does my hon. friend refer to that part of the clause which says " may be expected to reduce the cost of living"? Well, that is just where the joker comes in. The hon. member took care that he would be able to go to his constituency and preach the very same doctrine as that on which he was elected-the doctrine of protection.
.Mr. RINFRET: How does the right hon. gentleman know? His Government has no candidate there.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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