When our fathers went to school they learned the three R's; everybody understood what they were, but today we have the three T's-Tories, tariffs and taxes. Wherever you find one you are bound to find a combination of the others.
In replying to the very interesting speech delivered on Friday last by the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Willis), I should like to give to the house this thought in connection with our wheat markets. I shall not pretend to follow him in the very intimate knowledge he displayed of the various grades and sources of this commodity, but it does seem to me to be hard to understand how we are going to get an improved price through the workings of these agreements. Great Britain cannot possibly take more than one-half of our surplus and while we are selling this one-half to the British market our foreign competitors who are kept from that market will form just that much keener competition which will bring about lower prices on the Liverpol market. For years Liverpool has fixed the world price of wheat but if foreign exporters are to be shut out from British ports will this not tend to create a new centre on the continent, say at Roterdam, Amsterdam or perhaps Naples, where the world price of wheat will be fixed? The resultant keener competition will lower the world price which the Canadian producer will have to accept. When we have disposed of one-half of our surplus and go into the world markets with the other half, imagine how welcome we are going to be. We will face the keenest competition and all nations will be forced to accept a lower price because of this competition. The hon. member stated that since this government came into power some fifteen trade
commissioners have been appointed and sent throughout the world to further the sale of wheat. I say to him that it will take more than fifteen trade commissioners to obtain anything like a decent price for the wheat produced in this country.
I have stated that the constituency of West Lambton is partly rural and partly urban, and I should like to give to the house my idea of the effect these agreements will have upon local industries throughout western Ontario from Hamilton in the east to Windsor in the west. In this part of the province there are located a large number of industries which chose this particular section partly because of the cheap power available in the Niagara district and partly because of the possible close relationship not only to parent companies but tc the sources of supply of their raw materials. These industries have been encouraged to locate in this section, not only by municipal councils but by governments. The argument of a staple tariff has been advanced and over a period of years employees have been encouraged to build and own their own homes. There are thousands of men in western Ontario today who are paying on agreements of sale and just waiting until the time when they will be able to secure title to their properties. In most cases these particular industries do not import large quantities of any one class of material, but their combined imports are considerable. What will be the effect of the tariff arrangements upon these various industries?
The first possible effect which I see is that an industry may continue to import its raw material even with the higher tariff. Why do 1 say this? Their importations may be small and it might not be economically sound to import from Great Britain. In many cases their needs cannot be placed upon an annual inventory, they import as they require. Because of the change in the intermediate and general tariffs, there will be an increased cost to the consumer. Hon. gentlemen have stated that there will be a diversion of trade, but my belief is that if there is a diversion it will be to other ports of entry in Canada. Industries will be established at the eastern ports to the detriment not only of the industries in western Ontario but to both the labourer and the consumer.
I should like to deal with a few of the features of the agreement referred to by previous speakers. The general wording of the agreement does not impress me as being the considered draftsmanship of a month's session but rather a hurried putting together of the clauses in the dying days of the conference.
Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements
It is the kind of contract which in the ordinary course of business would lead to lawsuits and the necessity of interpretations by the courts. Already there is a wide divergence of opinion as to the meaning of several of the clauses. Is an agreement subject to a variety of interpretations likely to bring about closer empire relations? Such a contract is what one might expect to find in business, but is it good for members of a family to be bound together by a covenant-in this case a very indefinite covenant?
Are we doing right to bind succeeding governments to terms of three, five or ten years? Time makes for change and I submit that we should be in a position to. take advantage of any changes and to negotiate new agreements if necessary. All we have in this regard is article 23 of the agreement which, in my opinion, holds out nothing but trouble for future governments.
What will be the effect when Great Britain appears before our tariff board? When the bill was introduced we were told that the tariff board would be a partisan body, and I have no doubt that it will. Is it likely to adopt tariff measures out of keeping with the policies of this government? Are the decisions of the board to be subject to change overnight by regulation and order in council as have the measures of tariff passed during the session? If this is to be the case then I submit that the British businessmen appearing before the board will lose confidence in the board. There will be friction with a resultant loss of business both to Great Britain and to Canada.
No attempt is made in this agreement to deal with the evils of dumping duties and fixed rates of exchange. The removal of these powers would go a long way towards stabilizing trade, and yet all we have in the agreement is a promise that as soon as the finances of Canada will permit, something will be done. With declining trade, with declining revenues, all we can look forward to is another gloomy budget to be presented by the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes).
The Prime Minister closed his address with these words:
Wider still and wider Shall our bounds be set God who made thee mighty Make thee mightier yet.
Did the empire become great by building around herself an economic wall? Did the empire become great by forcing tribute from the rest of the world? Has the link which has bound the empire together been created through preferences by tariff? Certainly not.
The bonds which have held us together are the preference which we have in our hearts for the motherland; and though some hon. members may shout disloyalty from the housetops, whether we be representatives of the Conservative, the Liberal, the Progressive or the Labour party in this house, and regardless of what may be said by Mr. Neville Chamberlain, we are all
Children of Britain's island breed,
To whom the Mother in her need Perchance may some day call.
Subtopic: IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE