March 14, 1930 (16th Parliament, 4th Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)



My hon. friend was mistaken. There is the record at any rate. The point I wish to make clear is that this House of Commons itself was the body which declared that steps should be taken

Export Act-Mr. Mackenzie King
similar to those which we are taking at the present time.
The present government when it came into office appointed a royal commission to continue the work of investigation into the administration of what was then known as the Department of Customs and Excise. This commission was appointed, amongst other things, as the fulfilment of a pledge which was given by myself during the campaign of 1926. The orders in council respecting the appointment of a commission will be found under date of July 20, 1926,-this, the first order, having been passed by hon. gentlemen opposite; the next is dated September 28, 1926. The final order was put through by the present administration on January 14th, 1927, under it three commissioners were appointed to go fully into the various phases of the situation. Let me quote a paragraph from the last order:
that a supplementary commission do issue to the said the Honourable James Thomas Brown, the Honourable William Henry Wright, and the Honourable Ernest Roy, authorizing them, in addition to the powers already conferred, to inquire into and report upon all matters coming under the administration of the Minister of Customs and Excise which affect the public revenue of Canada or relate to the operations of any person or corporation owning, operating or employed in connection with any business carried on under the provisions of the Excise Act or the Customs Act or any regulations made thereunder, or which are incidental or closely related to any of the matters or things hereinbefore or in the said commission mentioned or referred to. and that they be authorized by the said commission to be issued in that behalf to exercise all or any of the powers mentioned in section 11 of the Inquiries Act.
At page 24 of the report of that commission will be found the following recommendation:
We also express our entire concurrence in the recommendation of the special committee of the House of Commons as contained in paragraph 10 of that committee's report. An effective method of carrying out the intent of the treaty referred to would be to prohibit clearances to vessels or vehicles of all kinds carrying a cargo of liquor to the United States, contrary to the laws of that country.
There is more of the authority or "dictation," if there be such, under which the government is moving in this matter-dictation from this House of Commons, dictation from a royal commission appointed by the government itself; in no sense dictation from any authority beyond the country's borders.
There remains only to consider the other arguments, if there be any, which can be urged against a step of this kind. Let me first of all briefly review what has already been referred to. There is the argument that 2419-39i
this is a prohibition measure. I think I have effectively disposed of that argument by making it clear that in no sense does this act restrict or affect in any particular the rights of any individual in Canada to purchase intoxicating beverages.
Then there is the argument that this step is taken at the dictation of the United States.
I have just referred to this and, I hope, satisfactorily disposed of it as well.
Then there is the argument that this will mean loss of revenue. Well, supposing it does? It will mean loss of some revenue. But is there any hon. member of this house who will stand in his place and say that the government ought to raise revenue out of association of its officials with rum runners? Is there any hon. member of this house who will say that we should raise our revenues by the known violation of the laws of another country? I think I need not more than state the position, now that it is known that liquor cannot possibly get into the United States except by the aid of rum runners and smugglers, to assert that there is no desire, so far as the present administration is concerned, and, I believe, so far as the country is concerned, to raise any revenue in that way.
Then we have been toilid that the enforcement of a law of this kind will mean an enormous expenditure. Those who put forward that point of view seek to construe the purpose of the government as a law to enforce the laws of the United States. I have made very clear, I think, that this law is intended solely to control the conduct of our own officials, its provisions once enacted instead of adding to expenditure will do away with a great deal of expense that at the present time the country is being put to in the administration of its excise and customs laws. After this law is 'passed there will be, as respects liquor destined for the United States, no further need for entries with respect to liquor for export from breweries and distilleries, there will be no further necessity of issuing permits, there will be no occasion to have officials at the docks to certify to the liquor that is being cleared and to give clearance to vessels carrying liquor to the United States; all of that and the expense incidental thereto will be done away with. We believe that one of the effects of the measure will undoubtedly be to make it easier for United States officials to enforce their laws; but certainly so far as any expense to Canada is concerned, it will be lessened rather than increased by the enactment of this law.
Then it is said1 that the manufacture and sale of liquor for consumption and export is under our laws a perfectly legitimate business.
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I do not dispute that for one minute. But all domestic business, whether it relates to intoxicating liquors or anything else, is subject to great national considerations that are of paramount concern, and also necessarily subject to great international considerations that in their importance are of world concern. Any business, no matter what it may be, if so conducted that it involves violations of the laws of another country, must to the extent that this may be the case bow to the superior, paramount consideration of the national interest as a whole.
I have already touched on the question of national morality. May I say this further word? Apart from the possible effect upon the morale of our public service, it is a pretty serious thing to contemplate what in the long run, if the present practice is permitted to continue, may be the outcome of allowing this country to be made the base of operations of criminal gangs such as the people engaged in this rum running business comprise. From a small illicit traffic in liquor the business of bootlegging and rum running has come to be one of the most gigantic highly organized criminal businesses of the world to-day. That this country should countenance anything of that kind along its borders, that it should lend assistance through the instrumentalities of government to the people who seek to make money in that way, or to facilitate their activities by actions, however innocent, of its own officials is something too abhorrent to contemplate-I think the mere suggestion brings its own denial. No one who has at heart the well being and the interests of this country could tolerate for one moment or view with any favour a possibility of the kind. A frightful nemesis would certainly await a nation that was indifferent to the moral right or wrong of a situation such as is involved in a procedure of the kind. One of the worst things that could possibly happen to our Dominion is that in any way we as a government or as a people should allow this international smuggling to gain any foothold along our frontier.
May I come now to another argument, and it is one implied in the question which was asked by my hon. friend from Fort William (Mr. Manion). He asked whether Great Britain has prohibited clearances. In answer to that I say, each country like each individual must be the keeper of its own conscience. It is not for us to ask what another country is doing; it is for us to ask ourselves what ought to ibe done by us. And if there be something in the way of example needed it seems to me that the greatest thing this country can do is to offer to the rest of the world the right kind of example.

I said at the outset, Mr. Speaker, that fundamentally, the question we are considering is one of international relations, and it is one which involves important international considerations. As Secretary of State for External Affairs it is my duty to advise my colleagues, and to advise parliament, with respect to any situation of an international character which because of its seriousness I have reason to feel should be brought to the attention of the cabinet and of parliament. It is my duty, further, to direct the attention of the government and of parliament to any dangers that I see in any existing situation. May I say this, that I think the dangers which Lord Curzon foresaw-the danger of possible delicate and difficult situations arising between Britain and the United States over rum running incidents on the Atlantic-are as nothing compared to the delicate and difficult situations that at any moment may arise on our international frontier if this linking of distilleries and rumrunning through the agencies of government is permitted to continue. May I say, Mr. Speaker, that so perilous do I believe the situation to be that I would not longer assume responsibility in the matter of external affairs were I not assured of the support in this parliament of a policy which I believe to be necessary to the avoidance of a condition which might any day prove perilous to this country; or failing the support of this parliament in a matter as grave as this is, the support of the people of Canada. I say, Mr. Speaker, that I regard this matter as one of grave concern to the people of Canada as a whole. I have stated the position to parliament as I see it. It is now for parliament to express its view in regard to the legislation that has been placed before it.
May I add that I have no fear as to what parliament will do in the matter. I venture to say there is not a member of this house if he has regard for the feeling of the constituents he represents, who will rise in his seat and vote against this measure. Hon. members cannot afford to ignore what they know to be the sentiment of the constituencies, and the sentiment of the nation as a whole, in regard to an issue of this character. As members of this parliament we are here as lawmakers, not as law-breakers of our own laws or the laws of any other country.
May I say this final word? We on this continent have in our international relations, worked out something of which we are justly proud, something with which nothing else in the affairs of nations is comparable, namely, a system of international relations between neighbouring nations which is an example to the world in friendliness and good-will. For

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over one hundred years we have lived side by side with the United States, with a frontier extending for four thousand miles from sea to sea and our boast is that during that century and longer not a shot has been fired in international enmity, not a single fortification erected which could mean aught in the nature of a menace to the other country. Are we to let this international frontier, the problems of which are dealt with by the International Joint Commission-a commission that on the one hand is being heralded as an example to the nations of Europe and on the other to the nations of the orient-become a by-word and a hissing, or is it to remain as it is, a monument to civilization itself? That is the question which this parliament is called upon to decide, and I have enough faith in my fellow members of the House of Commons, and above all in my fellow citizens of the Dominion of Canada, to know that when that question is put to them the answer will be that they wish to have done what is fair and decent and right by their neighbour.

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