April 21, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)

LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I did not gather,
from the reading of the article by my hon. friend (Mr. Lewis), the authority for the statement that Mr. Larkin had made the remarks attributed to him. I was one of those who had a final conference with Mr. Larkin, the High Commissioner, before he left Canada, and this question of the embargo was discussed. We were both of the same mind as to the nature of the invocation that might be made in the effort to have the embargo removed, and our common view was precisely that of the hon. member f.or Victoria (Mr. Tolmie) namely, that we should certainly persevere in the matter, but, at the same time, use the light pedal. It was our opinion that we should not go out with the club in hand; as was suggested yesterday, there has been too great a use of that weapon in the past in connection with the embargo, with mighty little prospect of success. That is not the way to approach anybody, but particularly the British public, more especially at this critical time when an election is in the offing. We should not put ourselves in the position of trying to embarrass the British authorities by apparently taking sides in an election which is a matter of entirely domestic concern. And in view of that conversation with Hon. Mr. Larkin I feel quite confident, at least until I have information to the contrary before me, that he never did indulge in such representations to the British government as are attributed to him. That is the position I will take until I have further proof to the contrary. I know what Mr. Larkin's views were, I know what mine are, and I know what opinion the leader of this Government (Mr. Mackenzie King) holds on the subject, and I feel quite satisfied that Mr. Larkin did not use the remarks ascribed to him.
With further reference to the question of embargo, I should say that, having very fully discussed yesterday the desirability of taking off an embargo, it is somewhat embarrassing to be asked to-day to put one on, even though one relates to animals and the other to animal product. The question raised by my hon. friend from Laprairie and Napierville (Mr. Lanctot) is, however, a very important one. Apparently in the past he has been able to secure natural fertilizer in the vicinity of Montreal at $13 or $14 per car, for which
he now has to pay $53 or $54* There is one obvious solution to that difficulty, and that is to give about a dollar more than the Americans give, so that the commodity will stay in the vicinity of Montreal. I have no doubt, of course, that the reply will be made that that is more than the business would stand. But, inasmuch as the placing of an embargo on even natural fertilizers would involve a government policy, I am not in a position to enunciate one offhand. I will assure my hon. friend, however, that anything that can be done locally will be done. I think that possibly something might be done in regard to freight rates.
I understand that our railways carry manures, both natural and artificial, on a cheap rate basis, and possibly some representation might be made to the authorities at Montreal towards solving the problem the hon. member has raised. At all events, we will inquire into this matter before taking the more drastic step of invoking the remedy of an embargo. After all-, an embargo is a restraint of trade, and I am sure my hon. friends opposite will sympathise with me when I say that just a little restraint . of trade as possible should be brought into play even for such a worthy purpose as this.

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