Fred Langdon DAVIS

DAVIS, Fred Langdon, Q.C., B.A., LL.B.

Personal Data

Party
Unionist
Constituency
Neepawa (Manitoba)
Birth Date
August 6, 1867
Deceased Date
April 9, 1951
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Langdon_Davis
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=4cd26090-0a3c-45c8-8505-28f4c236f58d&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
lawyer

Parliamentary Career

December 17, 1917 - October 4, 1921
UNION
  Neepawa (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 28)


June 2, 1921

Mr. DAVIS:

I have no hope whatever of convincing such a protectionist as the hon. member for Simcoe North (Mr. Currie), but I think it might shed a little light and, perhaps, give a new point of view if I were to quote from " English Bankers on Trade Restrictions ". This appears in the Economist of the 14th May, and is signed by such economists as Hon. R. H. Brand, Hon. Reginald McKenna, Lord Inchcape and Lord Avebury, and, therefore, should command some respect:

The policy of trying to exclude the productions of other countries, with the well-meant design of encouraging our own, cannot increase the volume of commerce or the total volume of employment here. But it may well compel the consumers, who form the bulk of our population, to submit to privations in the quality or quantity of the goods they buy. The importation of foreign goods does not diminish the activities of our people, because such goods can only be paid for by the produce of British capital and labour. The advocates of a restrictive system are too apt to lose sight of the elementary fact that nations, or rather individual members of nations, buy foreign goods

because they need them, not to benefit others, but to benefit themselves, and pay for them by producing goods which the foreigner in his turn requires.

The greatest disadvantage that this clause has is that trade does not know what it is going to meet. These regulations are changed from time to time; they are uncertain, and with all the uncertainties that there are at present, with changing markets, changes in the direction of trade, changes in the value of money and then changes in the Government regulations on top of that, it leads me to think of what was said by Sir Alfred Mond the other day in discussing the situation, and, indeed, in supporting what was done in the British House when he referred to business as being a Bedlam at present, and further saying that some of its doctors should certainly be put in padded cells. I would commend that to the attention of some of the members of the Cabinet who are at present advising such legislation as this, to restrict and condemn to further difficulties, trade. Lest it should provoke the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Cockshutt) to rise again, who seems to have that exalted notion of a business man, which we have heard him express to-night and which we have seen ad nauseum in trade magazines, I may say that I am a lawyer, but that I tried to understand questions of this sort in some measure and that this question of trade restriction is only bothering and increasing the difficulties of keeping our trade on a fair and sound basis. We all know to-day that we are seeking markets with avidity and anxiety for the produce of our farms. We do not know where we are going to get a market for our wheat the coming year, if we have a large crop. We know that with German exchange as it is to-day, it would cost them $23, $25 or $26 a bushel to buy our wheat. How can we expect to sell them wheat at that price? Owing to the exchange situation in Italy also, our wheat would be at a prohibitive price there. The idea seems to be that these countries are at a very great advantage as compared with us through printing notes, but exactly the opposite is the case, and by this measure we are only adding to the very great difficulties that we are facing at the present time. I can see no defence whatever for this. It is impracticable, as I pointed out in a previous debate, for the minister to determine the actual cost of production in a foreign country or what would be a fair profit upon the goods, and if he does not admit that, we shall have to take it for stubbornness and for his recognition of the

impracticable position in which he is. He can produce no information to support his position. I have two journals before me which have been seeking to get hold of the cost of production of goods in Germany. The Mining Journal has been inquiring into the rates of wages, and the way in which their exchange is changing the cost of goods. I have also before me the London Economist, which has been making an investigation of these matters, and it shows that within the course of a year there has been a change of 400 per cent in the wholesale index price of German goods. How in the face of these facts the minister is going to keep track of the price of goods ordered to-day and coming forward to us six or twelve months from now, I leave it for him to say. I know that it is impracticable. Any man in this House with any practical sense at all knows that it is impossible.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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June 2, 1921

Mr. DAVIS:

the raw material is obtained in their own country. Therefore, we have nothing to fear from them in textiles, because, in the main, as regards the textiles from which they make their goods, they have to get their raw materials from abroad. When the Minister of Finance spoke of the way in which Germany had been cutting the cost in iron, these very words happened to be under my eye. I am quoting now from the Mining Journal of April 2:

The Germans appear to be afraid particularly of competition on the part of the Belgian works whose prices for iron and steel goods are lower than the Germans and they say the Belgians can beat them in price owing to the modernization of the Belgian plants which the Germans carried through when in Belgium, and which are now in a greater state of efficiency than the Rhenish-Westphalian works.

That does not "gibe" at all with what the Finance Minister told us as to the condition. At present, as has been said again and again to-night, trade conditions are so disturbed that you do not know where you are going to get hit next. For instance, the other day on the Pacific coast Chinese pig iron was offered at better prices than those at which the great United States Steel Corporation could produce it. How are you going to meet conditions like that by such, I am tempted to say, a "fool" regulation as is here proposed?

As regards wages, the Minister of finance said that wages were $100 a week ,in those trades in Germany. This is a ^Mining Journal which makes a survey of ,those lines, and it is worth while looking at the range of wages which are given for some twelve or fifteen different classes of .employees in connection with the 'production of metal. Drillers get from 247 ;to 980 marks per week, and this, I should Say, was in February, 1920. Since then conditions have changed adversely to Germany. No country can long, unless it lives within itself, keep its currency abroad at a different value from what its currency is at home. If I take just the instance which I have now given of the fact that when she has to buy abroad, she has to pay more for her goods, that comes back home, and it at once increases the cost of the goods at home. As that currency works back into her system, her whole costs abroad and at home work to one level. I am using Germany, because Germany is the outstanding example of this. God knows that I have no love for Germany, but we are discussing here questions which affect our relations, not with Germany alone, but with the whole world, and

as Germany is the outstanding example, I am taking her case because it best illustrates the problem. Turners are getting from 318 to 993 marks; iron moulders from 308 to 1,117 marks; brass moulders from 403 to 1,050 marks. Let us go to some of the cheaper kinds of labour. Helpers are getting from 205 to 961 marks. Blast furnace and smelter men are getting from 483 to 1,514 marks. The whole list is here if any one wishes to look at it in order to see whether I have made fair quotations from it or not. These are grades of wages which do not bear out at all what the Minister of Finance is saying about wages being very much lower there than they are with us. Indeed, it is quite possible that Germany, during the time when this question of reparations has been outstanding, has taken every advantage she can. That is the way in which she has been working in national affairs. We have suffered from this before, and in all probability she was doing the same at this time. But even Germany, devilish as she may be, is unable to control economic forces once she has set them at work, and' they are working here to a parity. Eventually, the currency which she has sold abroad in the shape of a demand loan will come back into her own circulation and will bring her prices to one level, and in that case, we are going to try to deal with a passing phase of the business. The same thing has been done in slighter measure by Italy; but there again the same forces are at work and will bring things at length to the same position. In consequence, if we want to trade, we must deal fairly with their conditions. There is no use whatever in putting such a difference in the value of their money as we are here trying to do because, in the long run, it can be beaten by buying through other countries, either under free trade or with smaller duties, and, in the end, these conditions will correct themselves.

Furthermore, what is our duty to-day? There are broad views to take upon this question. We stand to-day a favoured people, possibly 9,000,000 people in one of the world's great empty spaces. These people have suffered from the war even more than we did. They are looking for outlets, for better conditions, even as we' are, and yet with our immigration policy we are restricting them; we are denying them admission; we have almost to deny them for the preservation of our own ideals and the Canadian character of this state which we hope to preserve. Yet we

will go abroad and offend these people in every possible way. We will say: "Although we are better placed than you, go to destruction if you will; it is true that we fought with you as brother to brother, but now there is a dollar in sight, that is all we want." The consequence will be this, that we will gain the ill-will of these people. It is not merely for this day that these things count in connection with the policy of nations.

I take it that one of the ways in which we can now assist is out of the abundance of what we have got to endeavour to help them to make their conditions better. In saying that, understand, I am not appealing at all to generosity, I am trying to combat what is narrow-mindedness. It is not that we should part with it because they need it, but because we should take a broad generous view-the view that in the end will work profit to our own pockets in the matter of trade, besides having a valuable effect upon a world that talks a League of Nations but acts like a disunion of nations.

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June 1, 1921

Mr. DAVIS:

Where it is in whole, I would answer the hon. member that then the commission has nothing to do with those positions; but where they are only in part excluded the commission may still have something to say about them.

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June 1, 1921

Mr. DAVIS:

Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that there is an inconsistency in the addition of one part of that clause. It provides, as it is now, that:

-the Commission may, with the approval of the Governor in Council, exclude such position or positions in whole or in part from the operation of the Act,-

That power of exclusion is given to the commission with the concurrence of the Governor in Council. Then the section goes on that the commission may:

-make such regulations as are deemed advisable prescribing how such position or positions are to be dealt with.

Well, if those positions are excluded from the Act what further has the Civil Service Commission to do with them? Should not words be added there that the Governor in Council shall make such regulations? I want to make it clear that

that will be the position, and that these positions being excluded from the Act the commission have nothing more to do with them.

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May 31, 1921

Mr. DAVIS:

I do not believe he has without the support of certain Liberals.

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