April 19, 1923 (14th Parliament, 2nd Session)

LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

I do not object to my .
hon. friend's interruption. There are many other cases to which I could apply the same illustration. However, my point is this: The argument advanced by the hon. gentleman, that because the duties imposed in France were higher than the duties we imposed in Canada the treaty is unfair, is utterly unworthy of him and should not have been used. If my hon. friend will apply the same test to other classes of articles to which he referred he will find that the existing order of things is entirely against his own argument.
Now, I do not want to dwell too much on details of that nature. My hon. friend has quoted repeatedly the high duties that are imposed on articles in France and he asks with an air of triumph "Can we expect to do any business under these terms?" Well,
I frankly admit that when we are doing business with any protectionist country the restrictions on trade operate to our disadvantage. I grant at once that we are not likely to do as much business with France under the present treaty, under the existing arrangement, or under the new treaty, as we could if France had a moderate tariff. But is that a reason why we should not endeavour to do what we can. We cannot undertake to change the whole fiscal policy of France; we must do business with France on the basis that she has that protective system, that her duties are high. But surely because we cannot do all

French Treaty
the business with France that we would like is no reason why we should not endeavour to do whatever is possible. What concerns us most is to see that we get the best terms that are offered to others. I suggested that yesterday but I want to repeat it again. I realize that under the high duties of France wre cannot expect to do a very great trade, but certainly we will do less trade if we are placed at a disadvantage as compared with foreign countries. Our great competitor in Europe is, and will naturally be, our neighbour to the south, the American republic, and if we cannot get low duties in France surely it is worth our while to see that nobody else gets any better treatment than we do. That was one of the vital points of our object in going to Europe and that point, as I shall show further on, we have fully accomplished. The United States now has some advantage over us. I will take occasion to refer to that later. Our object in this treaty has been to terminate these disadvantages under which we suffer, to get the best terms that are now available, and to get a guarantee that in the years to come the United States shall get no greater advantages than are given to Canada. Is this not a worthy object?
My hon. friend made a passing allusion to a question of perhaps local importance to him, the duty on wines. He points out that under this treaty we are reducing the duty on wine. That is absolutely correct. We did so before. You could not make a treaty with France unless you were prepared to make some concessions in the matter of wines; but the hon. member talked of the Canadian wines and the duty imposed upon them. That is a different question. I stated in the first stage of the discussion of this measure that the duty set forth in the treaty with France might necessitate some readjustment of other duties, and I still stand by that statement, but we are not called upon to deal with that to-day. We are dealing entirely with the duties imposed on goods from France, and the taxes we shall impose on commodities made in Canada or any goods imported from other countries into Canada is another question, which we are not called upon to deal with at this moment.
My hon. friend for Lincoln said we should have had in a larger degree the French minimum tariff. I agree with him that that was desirable. It would have been a good thing if we could have had the whole minimum tariff and not have had to resort to the schedules at all, but we cannot get that minimum tariff from France. France will not grant the whole minimum tariff to any country. She uses her tariff as the instrument for commercial negotiations. Since we cannot get the whole minimum tariff, what should we do? Should we endeavour to get as much as possible, or should we let the whole matter alone and say that it is not worth trying to get? Our view is to get as much of it as we can, and if we have some articles mentioned in the list that are of no great importance, putting it at the lowest point of argument, what harm can come to any Canadian if we put in some articles which we do not export?
The hon. member spent a great deal of his time in dealing with the character of our exports. He mentions a number of things we do not export. He says there are certain articles which we'export to other countries, which we do not export to France, and why bother with France at all? That is his argument. Well, it might strike most of us to look at it the other way. If there are articles which to-day we are exporting to other countries, there seems to be a fair chance that we might export them to France. That looks logical and reasonable, and we are desirous of the opportunity of exporting them to France. In the second part of my hon. friend's argument he read page after page, for hour after hour, of a long list of items which we do not export. He tells us of some things which he knows about personally. He says "We do not send these "Things to France" and therefore the inference is: Why bother about them at all? According to his argument, the proper preparation for a treaty would have been that we should have looked at the articles that Canada is exporting, and we should have said that if we provided for these, that was all that was necessary. That was not our notion. I am glad to tell my hon. friend that we proceeded along a different line. We thought it would be wise to ascertain by inquiry, not only what we are exporting, but what we might hope to export if the trade came to us. We were making a treaty not for today alone. True it is terminable on short notice, but we hope it will last a long time, and so we are putting in a list of articles which we might possibly export in the future. He speaks of many things with scorn and derision. He spent a large part of his timife mentioning certain articles, and getting the laughter of his friends, and saying "We do not export a dollar's worth of that particular article." I do not think that was a sound argument. It might afford as much amusement to the friends of the hon. member -when I tell him that some of the very articles he spoke of with scorn and derision were put in that list at
French Treaty

the request of the Manufacturers' Association, of which he is a member. My hon. friend was content with a small, narrow vision. If we are not exporting a thing today, we never will export it-that is his method of argument. That does not suit us on this side of the House. If he has the idea that the manufacturers of Canada are standing still and are not expanding, we differ from him. We think the manufactures are expanding to-day. We think they are making many things to-day they did not make before, and there are many things turers are expanding to-day. We think they will make in the near future. At any rate we think we are right in trying to open the doors of the French market to these articles. However, if our anticipations and' expectations are too great in this regard, what harm is done by putting them in the list? Surely it is our duty to provide, not only for the things we are exporting to-day, but for the things we hope to export in the future, having regard to Canada's expanding manufacturing industries.
My hon. friend made merry for a long time when dealing with the articles we were not capable of exporting. I have already stated that some of the things were put in the list at the instance of the great association of which he is a member, but I think I will have to get a little closer to show how rash he is in his efforts to find fault with this bill. I know in his heart he believes in this treaty. He must approve of it in regard to the business with which his own community is connected, but he has allowed himself, for party purposes, I regret to say, to be carried to extremes. He referred to the articles that are mentioned in this long list-this padding as he calls it -and he says " I cannot imagine why on earth bronze powder should be put down in the treaty with France, when we never made the article and have imported it. I have used it in my business for forty years and we have never bought any in this country. Nevertheless, it is put in on this list." That is one of our crimes. We put in this list, as a possible thing which may be made in Canada, the article of bronze powder, and my hon. friend laughs us to scorn because we did so. I will give him an answer to that statement. Here is a telegram, addressed to myself, dated, Montreal, April 19th, which reads:
Eronze powders have been made continuously in Valleyfield since you were there in 1906 on tariff inquiry. Our business increased with France in consequence of French treaty, and since opening office there, exporting 80 per cent of our product to foreign countries and increasing our capacity.
fMr. Fielding.!
That is signed by R. E. Thorne, president of the Canadian Bronze Powder Works, Limited. I think my hon. friend would have been wiser if he had given a more -thoughtful study to these matters before he made the rash statement which he did make. Only one day has elapsed since my hon. friend made his speech and this telegram reached me this morning, but I suppose others who have heard the criticism may be moved to say "We are not accepting his views, but we are going to give a chance to the Canadian manufacturer to make the things which we are not making to-day but which we may make in the near future

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FRENCH TREATY
Full View