June 7, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)

LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I do not say it does not. It is a temporary condition though, as I shall try to show to my hon. friend. In the same issue I read an excerpt from a speech by a prominent Belgian statesman. At a banquet of the French Chamber of Commerce in Brussels Monsieur Janson spoke as follows:
We fear to see the era when France still more wrongly inspired, accentuating her policy of protectionism, shall condemn us truly, because, in my opinion, it would be a condemnation, to resort, three years after peace, to a policy of retaliation. If we mean to maintain and increase the sympathy which we have for France, if we mean to keep as much as circumstances permit this military accord created between us, we must develop this sympathy, this agreement, in realizing between us this economic "entente" to which Mr. Houtard alluded. We must say to the Frenchman, because it is the undeniable that every time that between you and us the barrier of protective duties will be raised the necessary wall of defence which we have built on the eastern frontier shall be torn down. On the political ground, as well as the economic ground, it is necessary tlhat France and Belgium should go together.
I have also the issue of May 12, 1922, of The Economic Review, in which it is stated that Holland, Belgium and Sweden were awaiting the results of the Genoa Conference before deciding to protect themselves more substantially against the goods of the other country. Here is what I read there:
The decision of the Government to postpone until after the Genoa Conference consideration of the policy to be pursued in the face of the unfair competition to which the country is exposed as a result of the fall of various exchanges is fully justified, in the opinion of the Rotterdammer, by the attitude adopted by other neutral countries, and it quotes with approval the complaint made by M. Branting that the governments of these countries, notwithstanding a close community of interests, have no concerted policy with regard to the stabilisation of the rates of exchange and the abolition of Customs barriers. In the event of the Genoa Conference proving abortive, Sweden and Belgium, according to the Socialist statesman, will be driven to building up Customs tariffs for their protection against the competition of countries with a depreciated currency, and tihe Rotterdammer fails to see how Holland Will be able to abstain from measures to regulate imports.
Spain has created four different tariffs. Two are applied to the various countries and two other tariffs, with CO per cent more, are applied to the countries which have depreciated currency. Of course, this will not be permanent; I hope it will not be, for I agree with my hon. friend from Brome (Mr. McMaster) that economic and tariff wars always lead to real wars. But, Sir, every fair-minded Canadian will admit that under such circumstances, where free trade countries have to modify their tariff policy, it was our duty to act cautiously and not to enter too deeply on the path which other countries feel compelled to recede from temporarily.
I resent, therefore, the taunt that we have been untrue to the principles of the Liberal party. All the changes that have been made are in a downward direction, while other countries are moving the other way. Any more radical changes at this time would have been unwise, and perhaps dangerous; and we would have been unworthy of the trust conferred upon us had we taken our decision on preconceived notions and ignored the evidence and the facts existing at the time of making the decision. Is that a deviation from the principles enunciated in our programme? I submit that it is not. The various resolutions which have been read during this debate are declaratory of a principle, and by that principle I am willing to stand. The measure of the reform to be accomplished, the extent to which it is possible to accomplish it to-day, the time when it can be accomplished-all these depend on the exigencies of the hour, and no fair-minded man can seriously blame us for taking this view and acting in the way we did. Liberalism means evolution along reasonable and progressive lines. It holds the middle course between changes that would endanger our institutions and obstinate resistance to the spirit of the times. Sir, even the Manitoba Free Press, which is most friendly to my hon. friends of the Progressive party, said in an editorial, I think the day following the budget speech of the Minister of Finance, that nobody

The Budget-Mr. Lapointe
expected that the Government would make so many changes at this session. I believe that this will be the general opinion of the country, and that the budget will be universally accepted as the best that could be devised under the circumstances. As far as I am concerned I have no doubt that the country would vote for the adoption of the budget if it were submitted to it to-day.
The other day the hon. member for Brant (Mr. Good) referred to the supposed failure of the Liberal party to enforce the platform of 1893, and said that it had been called " the great apostasy." Well, my hon. friend was hardly fair. I believe that if there has been a breach of faith it has not been on the side of the Liberal party. The duties were reduced at various times; and when in 1911 the Minister of Finance brought forth his great measure of reform to establish reciprocity of trade in natural products between this country and the United States, who broke faith? My hon. friend (Mr. Fielding) went down to defeat with his party at that time as did also that great veteran of Brant county, the late Hon. William Paterson. I was glad to hear my hon. friend say that he voted for Mr. Paterson on that occasion, but, surely, all those who elected him to this House failed to vote for Mr. Paterson.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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