June 6, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Nothing comparable
with Canada. She has not the variety of natural resources that this country has. Therefore, she does not need to apply her tariff to ensure the development of her natural resources. She only needs to apply it to the protection of those industries of her own that compete with other countries. It is obviously to her advantage to admit to her shores free those raw resources she has not at home. She needs to apply only to a few-but she does not neglect those few-the principle of protection. Take, for example, the clothing that she cheaply produces, ladies' clothing, men's clothing, hats and so forth. On these she applies a duty of 20 per cent. On sugar, one of the greatest of her industries, in which for her population she is one of the foremost producers of the world, she imposes a duty of 20 francs per hundred kilo grams, or 220 pounds, which is a duty very close to 2 cents per pound, higher than the duty we have in Canada.
The range of goods upon which it is to the advantage of Belgium to apply protec-
The Budget-Mr. Meighen

tion is narrow compared with that of this country. The range of goods upon which it is to her advantage to let them in free, because they do not compete seriously with her industries at home, is large, and that accounts for the reduced percentage that the total amount collected bears to the total value of her imports.
In Great Britain, on the other hand-* even before the Safeguarding of Industries law-her average of duties to the whole value of importations was about 8 per cent; so at a time when Great Britain undoubtedly was a free trade country, imposing duties only on goods that did not compete with home production, her average would be four or five or six times the average in Belgium. But Belgium was a protected country because Belgium laid her duties on goods that did compete with home production. There comes the difference between the principle of protection and the principle of no protection.
For this Dominion of ours to abandon that system, applied in careful measure as we have it to-day, would be to invite, in competition with other industrial nations, undoubted disaster. Hon. gentlemen say, "Oh, there is this industry, there is that, where we have conditions in Canada enabling them to compete with the conditions of our chief competitors across the line." Well, it is sometimes easier to make such proposition before one gets all the facts than it is afterward; but assuming it to be true where are we then? You find a competitor over there that has a market closed, or partially closed, by a protective tariff; you find him with an advantage of 110 millions of a market. You find the competitor here with what? You find him with eight and a half or nine millions of a market; and you find him building to a scale to meet the restricted market of his country. Assume even that the other country opens its market; no industry in this country could be sure that such market would remain open for longer than four years. Therefore the manufacturer cannot lay down his plant on a scale to meet the large scale production of his competitor. Therein lies the basis of the protective theory. It is bound up in the very system of nations that we have in this world. When the existing system of nations is abolished, and when markets external to our country are under a common control, then there will be some reason in the theory of free traders.
So, I adhere still to the principle of a moderate protective tariff for our country.

Further: I believe generally in a system of reciprocal trade with countries of the world in which we can expect to find a market-a real market-not a mere intermediate market for our surplus. That applies to almost every country in the world. But Canada is peculiarly situated. Canada is in a position as to which no just comparison with any other country in the world appears. We lie on the North American continent, alongside a nation with a population of 110 millions, undoubtedly the most highly developed industrially of any country in the world. We are virtually their only neighbours in an industrial sense. The weight of their commercial influence is almost overwhelming. They are a nation that produces everything that we produce and, except for one or two things, produces a surplus, and a large surplus, of everything that we produce. Consequently though we may find a market-we do now find a market-there for much that we bring to maturity in this country, such market is of this character: It is intermediate, it only adds to the surplus that that country has of the same products for sale to the outside world. Therefore, the United States becomes a mere intermediary between us and the outside world. My hon. friend opposite shakes his head, but such undoubtedly is the fact. Here in our country, if we permit no considerations of nationhood to exist, or to have weight at all we would have certain portions of Canada trading almost exclusively by the geographically natural route through the United States. There is such trading now, I do not dispute it and there will always be, but I do not think it wise, farsighted policy that the all but universal practice should be for distinct sections of Canada to trade by themselves with those states immediately to the south; such states in turn pressing on their surplus farther towards the seacoast; and those in turn pressing their surplus, so augmented, of the same goods on to the ultimate consumers of Europe and Asia. Would such a condition be for the good of this country? Would it be possible by following that path to build up a nation here? This is the problem that faced the Fathers of Confederation. This is the problem that has faced the statesmen of this country every year since Confederation. This is one of the tendencies that our country must have the virility and the tenacity to overcome if we are to remain a united nation on this North American continent.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Full View