Mr. SEGUIN (Translation):
However, by orders of his leader, he was obliged to state to the few hundred tobacco growers of l'Assomption-Montcalm, that he was sorry to see that they had gone to the expense of coming to Ottawa, under the circumstances, because the government had all its memorandums prepared, and that all agricultural
questions, including tobacco, had been seriously considered and would be presented at the conference in the best possible light to favour the producers of this country. But, sir, what happened? In examining the trade agreements, no change can be found which might lead us to hope that our tobacco exports to the United Kingdom would increase, unless it proved to be in the ordinary course of business transactions and without any effort on the part of the government or without any tariff change to accelerate this movement.
I noted, while listening to the statement of the Prime Minister, that after informing us of the considerable amount of tobacco imported by the United Kingdom and the relatively small amount exported by Canada to that country he concluded that the markets of the United Kingdom would be very advantageous for our tobacco exports. If I refer to the part of his speech dealing with this subject, I find in Hansard, Wednesday, October 12, 1932, the following:
I shall next deal with tobacco again beginning with Canadian production and export figures: United Kingdom imports, 1930,
236,934,505 pounds unmanufactured; Canada's exports to United Kingdom, 1930, 3,976,017 pounds unmanufactured.
And after quoting some other figures, the right hon. Prime Minister so as to emphasize the advantages which would accrue to Canada from the exportation of tobacco, quotes article 7 of the agreements which is as follows:
His Majesty's government in the United Kingdom will invite parliament to pass legislation which will secure for a period of ten years from the date hereof to tobacco, consigned from any part of the British Empire and grown, produced or manufactured in Canada, the existing margin of preference over foreign tobacco, so long, however, as the duty on foreign unmanufactured tobacco does not fall below 2/OJd. per pound, in which event the margin of preference shall be equal to the full duty.
Somewhat amazed at the statement of the right hon. Prime Minister and not trusting my ears, I deemed it best to put the following question to the government on October 24, 1932:
1. What were the existing duties on Canadian tobacco entering the English market previous to the agreements entered into at the last Imperial conference?
2. What are the duties in force as a consequence of the agreements of the last Imperial conference?
3. For what period will the duties fixed by the Imperial conference be in force?
To this the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) replied by first producing the tariff schedule existing on Canadian
tobacco previous to the Imperial conference, that is, which had been in existence for a number of years.
To my second question, he replied that Article 7 of the agreements between the United Kingdom and Canada, signed on August 20, 1932, has made no change, but secures for a period of ten years to Canadian tobacco the margin of preference above indicated for our exports to the United Kingdom.
I have just read Article 7 which refers to an extension of time for a period of ten years of this margin of preference, existing long before. Hence, no change was made to promote our tobacco exports to the United Kingdom, and what is more, according to Article 7, it is agreed that the same rates existing previous to the Imperial conference will now be in force for a period of ten years.
I wonder, sir, what benefit will our good friends the tobacco growers derive from this? And I cannot do otherwise than express my astonishment in hearing last night my hon. friend, the member for South Essex (Mr. Gott) state that he was satisfied and found it possible to congratulate his government, not for having obtained a greater preference on Canadian tobacco, but for having promised to enact the necessary legislation so as to secure for a period of ten years, from the date of the present agreements, to tobacco consigned from any part of the British Empire and grown, produced or manufactured in Canada, the existing margin of preference over foreign tobacco; in other words for having maintained the preference already for a number of years with the results which are known, for another period of ten years. As well state, for having made no change. I can hardly believe that the South Essex tobacco growers will be satisfied with the privileges which are granted to them in the new trade agreements; for my part, I intend to very strongly protest against these business methods of the right hon. Prime Minister and his government, and also for not having heard previously the claims of farmers and tobacco growers, so as to give consideration to their requirements, but especially so as to listen to the important suggestions they wished to make in order to foster the sale of their products.
It seems evident, sir, notwithstanding what the hon. member for South Essex or the hon. Postmaster General may think, that even in two years, the results of the Imperial conference, so far as the tobacco growers are concerned, will hardly be perceptible, and should we put any faith in the stipulations of Article VII of the agreement in connection
with tobacco, we will have to wait ten years to obtain any appreciable results.
I would have liked to refer to some statements that the hon. member for Compton (Mr. Gobeil) made in his speech of October 20 last, but as I do not wish to delay the house,
I shall simply point out to him that since he was given a mandate, as a member, by filling the people with butter since he, like many others, succeeded in entering this house by resorting to the butter question, he has learned how to make comparisons and today he endeavours to exculpate the government for having so shamefully deceived the people, by not giving them the increased prices promised on butter; he establishes by means of statistics that if butter is cheap in Canada, neither is it very dear in England and the United States. He then quotes the following figures, as regards butter prices:
Canada United States England April, 1932. . . 20.06 20.04 19.38May, 1932. . . . 16.81 18.83 17.81August, 1932. . 19.21 20.31 17.81
He proves by these figures that, in August last, butter in Canada sold at l&Vioo cents per pound. I am amazed that he is not shocked, he who hid his face in 1930 because butter sold ait 30 and 32 cents per pound.
I feel certain that the people in Compton will, at the first opportunity, ask the hon. member to render an account of the fallacious pledges which he did not carry out and that his government admits not being able to fulfil even after two years in power.
I shall not add anything further, but before closing my remarks, to make a clean slate with reference to the new trade agreements, which are the results of the Imperial conference, I must state that from my viewpoint these agreements as a whole are of a nature to create numerous obstacles to our trade. They will certainly deprive us of advantages which might crop up to carry on an extensive business with the United States which is our most natural market.
Furthermore, as a result of these agreements, I consider that. Canada has taken a step backward. After the Liberal party won for us the right of negotiating our own trade treaties with other nations, these new treaties tie us down for at least five years and prevent us from negotiating any trade treaty without the goodwill of England.
Again, sir, although being entirely favourable to the provisions of the last agreements where it is proposed to reduce existing duties, like all those which have a tendency, whatsoever, to increase the sale of our Canadian
Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements
products, I am absolutely opposed to that part of the agreements which provides for an increase in customs duties already too high on certain products, and I openly state that I am absolutely opposed to the provisions which deprive Canada of her right, so necessary to her prosperity, to negotiate trade agreements for the disposal of her products abroad.
I am very much in favour of the principle of British preference which forms part of the Liberal party's program since 1897. I am convinced that had the provisions of the budget of May 1, 1930, been carried out, Canadian products would have enjoyed on the English market far greater advantage than those expected from the present agreements.
After having weighed the pro and con, I think it is an urgent duty that I should register my vote against the Prime Minister's proposal to implement the last trade agreements between Canada and the United Kingdom.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM