October 25, 1932 (17th Parliament, 4th Session)


Alan Webster Neill



Not for two years; and in
any case two blacks do not make a white. Perhaps hon. gentlemen opposite are where they are today partly because the Liberal government neglected the matter to some extent, but not to the extent of two years. If the hon. gentleman cannot raise a better argument than that, he had better change to the other side of the house. We are not talking of the sins of the past; we are talking about the sins of the present administration. The amending of that condition would be of more use than this illusory preference which sounds pretty good but is really of very little value.
The two lines from which the districts that I have indicated in British Columbia hope to derive benefit, are fish and lumber. In both those instances, however, we have been singularly unfortunate. As regards lumber we were led to believe we were to get a preference of 20 per cent. I hold in my hand an editorial from a Conservative paper in British Columbia. I shall not read the whole of it, but this is the sense of it. Premier Tolmie understood that fish and lumber were to get a 20 per cent preference, but when he heard that Britain refused to give more than 10 per cent because Canada held back on textiles, he wired to Ottawa emphatically protesting against two basic industries in the west being sacrificed on account of secondary industries in the east. So much to the credit of Premier Tolmie. In these days he is entitled to all the credit he can get and I give it to him freely and without sarcasm. The preference we get is this: the British government have put a duty of 10, 15 and 20 per cent on lumber imported from foreign countries. The only item that amounts to anything is the first one: planks, deals and flooring, 10 per cent. The other items are small in extent. One article on which we receive no preference

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is lumber for shipbuilding and props. We might have shipped a good deal of lumber for shipbuilding, but we are forbidden to do that. Much has been made by speakers in the house and in particular by the Prime Minister himself of the fact that British Columbia, on account of this 10 per cent preference, would be able to get part or the whole of that business in lumber which is now shipped from the western United States, Oregon and Washington, to the British market. That is true. We have obtained some of it. We have something like 65 per cent of it now, but that is not wholly due to the ten per cent preference-that of course, counts its full weight-but it is also due, to the extent of some 7 per cent, to the incident of the exchange which amounts to about that sum. That exchange is likely to disappear at any time; its operation is uncertain; you cannot calculate on it in building sawmills or anything of that kind, and it is very doubtful whether the ten per cent alone would be of any value if it were not for the addition of the exchange.
There is one thing we do know and are quite sure of, in spite of my hon. friend who has just spoken, and that is that a ten per cent preference will not allow us to compete with Scandinavia. I have an illustration under my hand, but I have not time to quote it all. In working it out I have allowed fairly and justly for the preference on the one hand and the disadvantage of the long haul, which is something like $12 a thousand on the transportation. On the other hand I have put the ten (per cent duty, and I have not forgotten that the ten per cent is paid, not only on the lumber but on transportation too. This leaves an advantage to the British merchant to the extent of $3 a thousand to buy from Scandinavia rather than from British Columbia. The British people will continue to buy from Scandinavia, as they always have, such lines as they furnish, and what is not available there, they will buy from the United States. Of the latter part we will get a portion on account of the ten per cent preference and the exchange situation, but that and that only. We shall not be able to go into competition with the ordinary Scandinavian market in Great Britain.
As regards Russia, the matter depends upon article 21. The British have undoubtedly, as has been made so much of, abrogated the agreement, that is the favoured nation agreement, but that is talked about as if they had imposed an embargo. They have done nothing of the kind. This is an ordinary condition necessary to the readjustment of their arrangement. The very sentence in which they give notice of the abrogation expresses a fervent and no doubt willing and sincere desire to increase their trade with Russia. Under article 21 only one action could be of any good to us in British Columbia, and that would be a complete embargo. There is no suggestion in article 21 that in any way we can get or are entitled to that. It is hardly likely that the British people, needing lumber as they do,, would accept a complete embargo, especially as they find we are engaged sub rosa in dealing with Russia. If you will read article 21, you will see the real meaning of it. Somebody said that he was not able to understand it. It is quite simple. This is what the British say they will do: If, through state action on the-part of any foreign country, there is what, might be called dumping, the British government will take steps to prohibit the entry from such foreign country of such commodities for such time as may be necessary to make effective and to maintain-what? "The preferences hereby granted." What is the preference? It is ten per cent, and that is all in God's world they have to do. They have to maintain the preference of ten per cent. They have not to let our lumber in; they have not to impose an embargo ; all that they have pledged themselves to do is to take such steps as will enable them to maintain a preference of ten per cent, and a preference of ten per cent will never permit us to compete with Russia. That: is the explanation. If it enabled us to do so, we would have to give the government credit for the suggestion. I am willing to go this far: I believe the Prime Minister, tried to have this brought about, but he was attempting an impossibility. We must face the situation. It is a case of trying to make water run up hill. Our natural markets for our British Columbia timber for export, besides Japan and so on, are in the northern United States, Nebraska, the Dakotas and so forth, and the midwestern states. The farmers there want cheap lumber and that is what we have. Anyone can sell No. 1 lumber; it is the second grade we want to get rid of. We have indulged in a tariff war with the United States, but I do not blame the present government for this because it was the United States who started it. Bernard Shaw expressed the opinion that a tariff war of this nature is like a man finding a dead oat in his garden, throwing it into his neighbour's garden, his neighbour throwing it -back, each of them keeping on doing that and getting madder and madder without any specific advantage to either, or even to the cat. Let me give an example of the situation: in British Columbia we make
Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements
a pastry flour which requires a soft wheat. We can get that just a few miles across the border in Washington, but owing to the tariff situation it is more profitable for us to send to Australia for that soft wheat. So it is with lumber. The United States, in the course of this merry game of throwing the cat backward and forward, imposed on our lumber a duty of $4 a thousand. It absolutely killed our trade. In a town near where I live a mill was running, in spite of all the depression, two shifts a day, and they had to shut down absolutely; and there are others in the same position. Now we are going to try to force open a market seven thousand miles away, with a handicap of $12 a thousand on the transportation of lumber, and with a people who really do not want our lumber. What they want is first-class, not second-class lumber; they require lumber cut in a certain way in which we as a rule do not cut it, and which involves our installing expensive machinery which we shall not use part of the time when we are cutting for our own domestic market. But we have to do all these things to try to get our lumber into a market that does not want it. We have lost a market in the northwest United States worth $39,000,000 a year, and in return we hope to capture a share of the lumber shipped from the United States Pacific seaboard to Britain the total value of which does not exceed $4,000,000 annually. In a case like that would it not be better to have a little reciprocity, I might say a little common sense? The American farmer in the northwest wants our lumber, and Canada is the only place where he can handily get his supply. The American timber man wants to ship his hardwood into Ontario. So why not have a little reciprocity and accomplish the two things together? Perhaps after next month it will be easier to have a little reciprocity with our neighbours to the south.
Now I come to fish. We are also unsuccessful about that. The canneries as far back as last April said that they wanted a specific duty, that that was the thing that would suit them best in dealing with competition from Japan. They did not get it; I do not know why. They got a ten per cent duty while they expected a twenty per cent duty. A duty of ten per cent is very small. There is need for a specific duty or a higher ad valorem duty in order that we may meet the unfair competition from Japan and the soviet republic This ten per cent that we have been granted will enable us to compete successfully with the United States in Great Britain because in addition to the ten per cent duty we have

the advantage of the exchange situation. But we cannot compete against Japan, whose yen is very much depreciated at the present time, and article 21 does not apply to that situation at all. Possibly we might get more help than we can get by tinkering with the whole list of tariffs if we put a check on the unscrupulous labelling of salmon tins. Quite recently a large quantity of our third best variety salmon was shipped to Australia and labelled as such, but when it arrived there the labels were taken off and were replaced by others indicating that the salmon was the first variety. That will hurt our trade very much, and that is the fault of the present government. Last year I protested against the regulations that were put in force governing the inspection of salmon. They were a travesty on common sense and exhibited a minimum of efficiency; in fact, no efficiency at all. That led them to label the tins. What they should have done, and they will have to come to this yet, is to provide for the embossing in the tin itself of three words: First, Canada-they have that now; second, the variety-sockeye or chum, etc.; so there can be no deception; third, the grade, whether it is standard or choice. But none of these things can be done under the present foolish regulations. I predict, however, that even this year the regulations will have to be changed. That would help to stop this Jap competition. The ten per cent duty will not help us against the Japs, but it will against the United States.
Here is another little item in British Columbia that could be helped along without applying tariffs at all. The British Columbia fisherman fishes in territorial waters off the coast in competition with the American. He gets halibut and a certain grade of salmon called springs. The best market for both these fish is the United States. There is a duty of two cents a pound against our fish entering the United States, and consequently our fishermen have to take two cents a pound less than the Americans who use our ports. That is rather galling. That also calls for a little reciprocity. The present Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes) when he was Minister of Fisheries took a keen interest in this question and promised to take it up at Washington. Had he retained that portfolio I have no doubt he would have done so, but the fisheries have been placed in the hands of a man who knows as much about fish as we know about who is the vice prime minister of Italy, we will say. Nothing has been done, and I predict that nothing will be done under the present incumbent of the ministry of fisheries. The government have made a treaty with the United

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States with regard to the St. Lawrence, and a very little whisper there-because although it is a big matter to us it is a small matter to the United States-would have arranged for this thing and we would not have needed to worry as much about tariffs and so on.
As regards the treaty as a whole, while it does not look so bad if you look at it from a little distance, when you examine it more closely you find that practically every preference has been cancelled by the exchange situation, with the exception of those items involving competition with the United States, where, owing to their exchange situation with Great Britain being worse than ours, we have the advantage. While the exchange situation cancels any tariff benefits there might otherwise be in this agreement, these benefits are accompanied in almost every instance by increases in the duties on the home market, adding to the already overburdened tax-paying consumer and working man. You can paint a sparrow to look like a canary, but the test is, can it sing? And the test of these tariffs is: Will they accomplish the purpose for which it is alleged they are intended, and if so, when-in one or two or three years? Before the next election, I suppose, would be the hope at any rate. Faith and hope are fine things in a spiritual sense but mighty poor things with which to do trade with the grocer, and a mighty poor explanation to give to your wife and children of why they have little to eat.
Why is the unemployment situation in British Columbia so acute? Because it has been neglected by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon), who I regret is not in his seat. It is almost five months today since parliament prorogued, and we were told the day of prorogation that steps would be taken at once to make agreements with the provinces, that if the cities could not finance their obligations the provinces would have to lend them the money, and when we asked where the provinces would get the money the government told us that they would pay their share and lend the provinces money. Scores of men heard that declaration. The minister told us today that he was in hopes of some arrangement being come to by and by. The local British Columbia papers say that it is hoped to have an arrangement perfected in a few days. But we were told that very same thing four, three, and two months ago. It is true That single men are being taken care of by the government, but married men are not. Many of the smaller cities are bankrupt, and when they go to the provincial government for assistance and say they want a loan according to the terms of the bargain announced in this House of Commons and in Bill No. 72,
the province says: We are waiting to hear from the Dominion government. I do not know what the government is doing, but I hope it will soon get a move on because these men are in desperate circumstances. Action is imperative now-not a year or two from now, not in the far distant future, but now. Let me give an illustration. A few days ago a man in my home town killed his wife and two children and himself, and a charitable cornoner's jury brought in a verdict of temporary insanity. It was not insanity. That man was not insane, he was desperate, with no work and no food, and no hope of work or food. That is what prompted him to take that action. It is to men like this that the government says that they must have faith and hope. "You have to be purified as by fire. We are going to help you," the government says, "with this whole bunch of preferences, 221 of them. If you do not like some particular one of them, there is an awful jumble of them anyhow. We have arranged for you a preference of ten per cent in the wide British market on grindstones." Now the value of grindstones exported from Canada to Great Britain last year was precisely $23. If that is not a consoling fact or a good argument to use with the grocer, try this item: Food, canned clams, preference 10 per cent. The total export of canned clams from Canada to the British market last year was 336 pounds -not tons, not hundredweight, but pounds. This is the sort of tripe that is dished out to these men -who do not know where their next meal is coming from.
Instead, Mr. Speaker, of these dubious tariff helps and these grubby reforms, why does not the government follow the line depicted by the poet who said, "And still the bold brave man is fortunate." Let the Prime Minister be the bold brave man, and he will be fortunate. Let him take his courage in his hands and deflate currency and inflate prices as they have done in Great Britain. Would that not be a step which would give immediate results, which would immediately relieve the situation, which would increase prices and give immediate employment? If it was all right for Great Britain to do it-and it has been a success- and for a number of other nations, it could not be wrong for us. Probably it would add 25 per cent to the price of wheat, and give immediate help to our lumbering, fishing and manufacturing industries. Would that not be better than to drift along as we are doing now? Why wait until the burden on the unemployed and on the taxpayers becomes unbearable?
Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements
I should like to direct a few remarks now to the general principles of the agreement. I particularly object to the clause which binds subsequent parliaments to tariffs high or low, or binds us to anything of that description. If it is right to do that for five or ten years, why not for twenty years? Why not perpetuate parliament? Why not pass a law to the effect that the present government may stay in power until they die of old age or ineptitude? If it is right to do these things, it is right to extend them a little. We can change the laws that have been passed concerning internal matters, but we cannot when they deal with outside nations; we cannot repudiate treaties.
Another vital objection I have is that British tariffs still stand too high. In this connection let me quote the Post, which is by no means an anti-government paper:
In other words have the reductions in British tariff been small and disappointing compared to the increases in the general tariffs on many items?
That is what the Post says,-not lowered, as Mr. Baldwin so eloquently pleaded for. I stated last year, and am so reported in Hansard, that I would be in favour of an empire conference not so much for itself, but because I thought it would lead to a world conference and a world reduction in tariffs, which, by the way, was so strongly recommended by the League of Nations. Last year I pointed out that each nation was simply building higher walls around itself, trying to grab or steal a little from its neighbour, and not increasing the aggregate trade one iota. I predicted then and I predict now that we would have five groups, namely the British Empire, Europe, the United States, South America and the orient each combined together, five groups bucking each other to grab the trade, trying to steal trade from each other, instead of thirty or forty countries doing it as they are doing it today. Already there has been a zollverein started in Europe taking in six or eight prominent nations. We want more, not less trade; we want a policy which will stimulate and not hinder trade.
Now, here is what Mr. Baldwin states:
Let us therefore aim at the lowering rather than the raising of barriers, even if we cannot fully achieve our purpose now, and let us remember that any action we take here is bound to have its reactions elsewhere.
Then, here is what The Economist says:
Where the real failure of Ottawa lies is in the total absence of any vindication of the truth that economic progress is to be sought in the general lowering of tariff values.

Everything which interferes with universal trade is so much to the bad. Then, here is what Lord Hailsham states:
We have made it plain that we regard excessive restrictions on international trade as an international evil and we have made it plain that we in the empire are going to set an example in trading to get rid of that evil.
Something happened in this chamber to prevent his carrying out that most desirable object. What it was is perhaps for some one else to say. Last spring when I went home I was asked my opinion concerning the conference and I stated that an Imperial economic conference would be all right, but that there should be a world conference to deal with the abandonment of reparations, the world wide abolition of tariffs-except in a small way for revenue purposes-and to stabilize monetary world-wide currency. I was pleased to hear the hon. member for North Bruce (Mr. Malcolm) the other day use almost the same words.
Another quotation from a British newspaper states:
But if a tariff ring is to be put around the empire as Mr. Bennett desires, Washington is likely to demand the payment of $50,000,000 of war debt due in December,-which would mean new economies and new taxes.
I believe the world's salvation lies in a world conference. Much of the success of such a conference would depend upon the spirit in which we approached it. Certainly the harmony within the conference would not be helped if the British Empire placed around itself a wall excluding trade from the United States. Nor would it help the harmony of such a gathering to have our Prime Minister boasting that foreign nations will pay tribute to the British empire. I do not like that word "tribute." It reminds me of the days of the Caesars, a time when the historian said, "At that time all the world paid tribute to Caesar." The Prime Minister would need only to get himself a toga, appear seated on his pinnacle of power and say, Caesar-like: "All the foreign nations must pay tribute to us." I hope he will say, "us" and not "me."' But, Mr. Speaker, paying tribute to the Caesars has gone out of date. That may have been done two thousand years ago, but we do not act like that nowadays. That is a very poor motto to inscribe on our portals when friendly nations come hoping to arrange friendly trade agreements.
It is regrettable that the treaties are not open to alteration. In one of Nellie McClung's novels the heroine is a little girl whose father drank himself to death. The publican who was supposed to be responsible

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for the father's downfall later died also. The little girl's brothers and sisters who had been attending Sunday school asked her whether the publican had gone to heaven or to hell. The story relates that the little girl replied, with a fine mixture of truth and charity: "Well, we all hope he has not gone to where we are afraid he has." We will say the same about this treaty. We will all hope it turns out better than we believe it will-but always looking forward to a world conference.
The Imperial economic conference was confined within too narrow limits. That conference was representative of twenty-five per cent of the world's population, and the delegates should have looked forward to a world conference. Early in their deliberations they should have placed themselves on record concerning three basic matters. They should have said they were in favour of the abolition of reparations, world wide low tariffs, and a world wide stabilized monetary system. Then they could have shown their sincerity by following these ideals in their empire conference. Of course it could not have done anything about reparations, but action could have been taken concerning empire low tariffs and empire stabilized currency. Had such action been taken the British Empire would be in a much better position to approach a world conference. As I see them, the three points I have mentioned are the most important matters for consideration in the world to-day. None of them would restrict trade, as these empire tariffs propose to do; on the contrary they would increase trade throughout the world. We would have demonstrated that the age of national selfishness is past and that only by working for the good and prosperity of the world could each nation obtain or achieve for itself the fullest measure of freedom and prosperity.
I have only another minute or two more at my disposal, Mr. Speaker. Let me give an illustration of our economic situation. In the veldt in Africa, a portion of that country which would correspond to our prairies, I have enjoyed a perfectly calm day with brilliant sunshine, not a trace of cloud in the sky, not a breath of air or wind. All of a sudden the leaves of the trees begin to tremble and shake, and still there is no sign of wind or cloud: It is rather a weird thing the first time you see it, but those who realize its significance make an immediate bolt for shelter, because it presages one of those terrible and violent thunderstorms that are common in that part of the country. And, sir, to bring it down as an analogy to the political situation today, when I see good
Anglo-Saxons born in Canada, England, Scotland, with no suggestion at all of foreign origin or point of view-when I hear them frankly expressing communistic ideas, and saying: "I voted Conservative last time, but next time I am going to vote communist," I sometimes wonder if we should not listen to the noise in the tree tops and take steps, quick steps, to do something to help the industrial and unemployment situation lest the whole economic fabric topple about our ears.

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