March 26, 1930 (16th Parliament, 4th Session)


Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

What I meant by saying that few would know the difference was this: It is technical. Those in the trade will understand how difficult it is to distinguish between the two woods. I can say this: After being in the business for many years, for nearly a generation, I am not always able to distinguish the difference myself. In Australian imports it all goes in as Oregon pine.
In 1922, Canada had 36 per cent of the fir timber shipments to Australia. We find that Australia in 1923 imported 237.000,000 feet, and our share of that trade fell off to 33 per cent. Every other foot came from the United States. In 1928, Australia imported 212,000,000 feet, and our share had fallen down to 13 per cent. In 1929, the year just closed, Australia imported 266.000.000 feet, of which Canada supplied only 57,240,000 feet. This is a decrease as compared with the amount we supplied in 1923 of nearly 25 per cent.
Where does all this lumber come from? Of the 266,000,000 feet imported by Australia last year, roughly 210,000,000 feet came from the United States. That seems peculiar, but it is a fact nevertheless. It is partially due to the excessive mail subsidies which the United States is now granting to steamships in an effort to foster its export trade with all parts of the world. That we must have some concession in preference, or in lieu of preference, steamship subsidies to foster our lumber business with Australia, is apparent The government has already made a small beginning by subsidizing a line of steamships to Australia. That is only a beginning. We have to go a very considerable step further, because if we get our share of the Australian lumber market it means that instead of shipping 57,000,000 feet, as we did last year, we should ship 157.000,000 feet. There is no reason why, with a proper treaty with Australia, we should not get practically the entire Douglas fir requirements in that market
What support has the British Columbia lumbermen got to have to get that business? That is an important question, because the business runs into very large figures indeed. If the Canadian mills can get the share of Australia's imports of Douglas fir which we should have, it would alone mean at least a trade of at least $3,000,000 a year with Australia. The assistance to shipping given by the United States, and which has given the United States a dominant place in the Australian market to-day, would probably represent as much as five shillings per thousand feet, based on lumber shipments. But my information, Mr. Speaker, is that with a dollar preference we would have the major portion of the Australian market. There is

Australian Treaty-Mr. McRae
a precedent for this; for twenty years and longer we have had a preference of approximately 50 cents per thousand feet in the South African market with the result that the mills of British Columbia have first call on the business in South Africa; and I want to suggest to the government that in the negotiations with Australia this lumber business should be given special consideration. There are $3,000,000 at stake. Sixty per cen't or more of that money goes to labour, and if we take into account supplies and equipment, 90 per cent of the proceeds from lumber find its way into channels of trade in our own country. I submit that a dollar preference in the Australian market for Canadian lumber as against United States lumber will result in $3,000,000 coming into our pockets, instead of going into the pockets of the Americans.
Now, there is one item that I want particularly to call to the government's attention, because I must say that in this instance, in my humble judgment there has been a very serious neglect of the interests of our country. I refer to the cedar lumber of the Pacific coast. Hon. members will see by referring to the Australian schedule that the redwood lumber of California get the British preferential tariff in the Australian market. That means a concession of fifty cents per thousand feet. I say to the house, and I say it advisedly, that our cedar lumber is superior to California redwood. Redwood is produced in one part of the world only-in northern California. It is an excellent wood, but its durability is not superior to our cedar, and when it comes to tensile strength there is no comparison between the two. In short, the cedar of British Columbia is vastly superior to the redwood of California, and being light in weight it is suitable for identically the same requirements. What I want to point out to the government is that they should see to it that we are not discriminated against in any sister dominion in favour of the United States, especially upon a commodity such as this which is superior to the redwood of that country.

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