Robert James WOOD

WOOD, Robert James

Personal Data

Selkirk (Manitoba)
Birth Date
March 27, 1886
Deceased Date
August 8, 1954

Parliamentary Career

June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  Norquay (Manitoba)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Selkirk (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 8 of 11)

April 30, 1952

Mr. R. J. Wood (Norquay):

Mr. Speaker, I rise at this time to speak in the budget debate because it gives me an opportunity to deal with a matter with which I have been more or less concerned all through my life. I was born in a rural area in the province of Manitoba where we have no manufacturers. I am going to touch briefly today on the question of tariffs. I am sorry to say that in the budget there is very little reduction in tariffs. There is a small reduction with respect to the importation of glass but apart from that there is practically no reduction in tariffs whatever. Throughout Canadian history it is the Liberal party alone from which relief has been received so far as tariff walls are concerned.

In Manitoba and the other prairie provinces we are primary producers. We produce grain, livestock and poultry, and we catch fish. Farther west there is oil and gas, and in the north there are minerals. Canadian manufacturers are located in what is known as central Canada, an area bordered by the cities of Montreal, Oshawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Windsor, Sarnia, Sudbury and Ottawa. Central Canada is the territory inside that triangle, and it is known as industrial Canada. When I talk about central or industrial Canada that is the locality to which I have reference.

Tariffs were originally set up in the form of a fairly strong wall in 1879 during the days of the Sir John A. Macdonald government. In 1896 under the Tupper government the wall was made larger and more dominant.

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The Budget-Mr. Wood Following the election of 1911, tariffs were made still higher under the late Sir Robert Borden government. Then after the election in 1930 we got the Bennett government, under which we had tariff walls higher than ever before or since in Canadian history. All through the history of Canada our tariff walls were increased during the times the Conservatives were in power. The only time we got any relief was when we had a Liberal government. We were given relief under Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and previous to the election of 1911 he promised that if the Liberals won that election we would have considerable relief through reciprocity. Unfortunately, particularly for western Canada, we lost that election. Under the government of William Lyon Mackenzie King tariffs were lowered on many occasions; and as I said in the beginning, I am rather disappointed that in this budget we were not given more relief from tariffs.

Today we hear from hon. members to the left the same kind of talk we had back in the days of Arthur Meighen and R. B. Bennett. We hear talk of Canada first, and we hear demands for a meeting of the British -ommonwealth of nations. This Canada first talk is not new in this country. Arthur Meighen and his followers were talking about Canada first in this house for five years, from 1921 to 1925. Only one group of people in this country would benefit from Canada first; that is the owners of industry. And as far as I can see, no good would come from a meeting of the British commonwealth of nations. We had two or three meetings of the commonwealth nations shortly after R. B. Bennett's government was elected in 1930, and each meeting resulted in more restrictions upon trade with our neighbours and best customers, the United States.

I remember the conditions that existed under the Bennett government when the highest tariffs in our history were put up. During the campaign we had men come into our halls and schools and ask if we were satisfied with 28 cents a pound for our butter and 22 cents a dozen for our eggs. Not long after that we were getting only 14 cents a pound for butter and 7 cents a dozen for eggs. They asked if we were satisfied with the prices we were getting for grain. After they got into power we could not sell our grain at all. I have in mind a farmer living a little west of Virden in western Manitoba who wanted to get some money to send his children to high school, so he loaded a carload of 1,800 bushels of barley, shipped it to Fort William and waited for the return. His only return was a bill from the railway company for $7.32 still owing for freight on the car. He did not have the $7.32; a farmer could not sell any-


The Budget-Mr. Wood thing for cash under the Bennett government because we had no markets, so he wrote back to the railway company and said he was sorry he did not have any cash, but he had more barley.

I was running a transport from 1933 to 1935 and I know how the market was for cattle and hogs in those days. During 1934 I saw carloads of pretty fair grades of cattle coming to the stockyards at St. Boniface from Saskatchewan and Alberta, and being unloaded and sold for one-half cent per pound. Naturally you will wonder how the farmer could pay the freight. Arrangements were made in those days whereby the railway absorbed one-third of the cost of freight, the farmer absorbed one-third, and the government absorbed the remaining third. In that way they were able to take these surplus cattle off the prairies and sell them for a half cent per pound. That was $5 for a thousand pound animal; that is what pretty fair animals were selling for at the stockyards in those days. Our hogs were selling at $4 a head. When I hear hon. members to the left worrying and accusing our government of doing nothing about markets for our cattle, I think they should clean their own doorstep first.

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April 30, 1952

Mr. Wood:

Yes, of the Young Progressive Conservative Association. As he is one who is in such an important position, I would presume that he is here voicing Conservative policy. He says here-and you will find this at page 491 of Hansard of October 29, 1951:

Again I urge the government to prohibit immediately all meat exports to the United States, so that the price of beef, for instance,-which is a basic food-may return to a level that would be commensurate with the income of the average Canadian, while still enabling western cattle breeders to make a reasonable profit. As long as we export our meat to the United States where salaries are much higher than in Canada,-

You will notice what he says about salaries, namely that they are much higher in the United States than they are in Canada.

-our fellow citizens will have to go without meat . . .

And so on. That is a statement of which I hope our cattle producers throughout the country will take note. As he is the president of the young Conservatives of Canada, I presume that the Conservative party will agree with that statement.

I have here a statement by the hon. member for St. John's West (Mr. Browne) and I was rather surprised at this statement in view of the fact that he represents a new province. Of course, if the country is full of industries I can understand the statement. But if it is not full of industries-and I doubt that it is-then I cannot understand this statement coming from a man who is considered to

hold a fairly high position in that party.

I might say that this statement may be found at page 735 of Hansard of November 5, 1951. As he is there reported, the hon. member said:

I just want to draw to the attention of the house the fact that we import about $1,500 million worth of goods a year from the United States,-

That is all right.

-upon which a large amount of customs duty is paid. I suppose the customs duties collected by the Canadian government must run into an amount of about $250 million.

I would judge that they run into more than that. I would judge that they run to at least $300 million. He continues:

I do not know how much is collected from the United States, but there must be a substantial proportion of that amount. The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance is present in the chamber listening to what is being said. Would he approve such a policy? What would the other countries of the commonwealth say? They would say: What? You are going to make a special

friend of the United States and let their goods in free? What about the rest of the world? The United States is the greatest country in the world at the present time. You are going to help her to oecome greater; you are going to throw your doors open to the United States, and are not going to give us any chance. What about the people in Canada who are working in factories that were built up by this protection? Are we going to throw the doors open to allow foreign goods to come into this country? Such a suggestion is fantastic . . .

Mr. Speaker, I will say that such a suggestion is not fantastic. I would also say, speaking about inflation and the high cost of living, that I believe if the tariffs were lowered by 25 per cent tomorrow we would have a reduction of at least 15 points in our cost of living index inside of ten days.

The automobile industry has become extremely strong in this country. The Ford motor company and the Chrysler corporation have built up a great city in Windsor. Certainly General Motors have built a great city in Oshawa. They all complain of the corporation taxes being too high. Nevertheless, I note that General Motors in Oshawa are extending their plant at a cost of $8 million this year.

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April 30, 1952

Mr. Wood:

They may be losing money, but they are spending $8 million on a new truck plant this year. Studebaker down in Hamilton is not doing too badly either. As I said before, we produce over $1,500 million worth of goods in the western provinces each year. We sell these goods not in Ontario or in Quebec because we have no market there for those goods. We must sell them throughout the world wherever we can find a market.

The Budget-Mr. Wood But when we need to spend our money, Mr. Speaker, and when we need to buy goods that we require, whether it be automobiles, clothing, boots and shoes, furniture or anything else, because of our tariff system we are compelled to funnel all that wealth right down here into the centre of Canada.

I have a reply to a question of the hon. member for Burnaby-Richmond (Mr. Goode) which appeared on the order paper, and in which he asked for the value of the agricultural products of the three prairie provinces. The reply says that in 1950 the three prairie provinces produced $1 billion worth of goods. I also have a statement from the automobile industry showing the number oi cars, trucks and buses produced in Canada, A total of 390,102 cars, trucks and buses wert produced in 1950 at a valuation of $610 million. This reply to the hon. member foi Burnaby-Richmond says that, in Manitoba Saskatchewan and in Alberta 93,763 cars trucks and buses were purchased, which amounts to 24 per cent of the entire production of 1950 at a valuation of $190 million That is 30 per cent of $610 million, the entire cost of these cars, trucks and buses producer in 1950. Therefore when you talk about the wealth that is produced in the west, and wha' becomes of it, just keep in mind that we have to find markets throughout the world but when it comes to spending our money i comes down into the central part of Canada into the cities of Windsor, Oshawa, Toronto and Hamilton, and other cities in this are: that I described when I rose to my feet, am we get nothing in return. We are paying and continually bonusing, the industries dowi here because of the tariff, and we are gettinj nothing in return. I say that it has cos Manitoba producers and my constituents toi much money to belong to confederation.

I have another little quotation that I wisl to bring to the attention of the house. It is ; remark of the leader of the opposition (Mi Drew), which he made on March 18, concern ing corporation taxes. I am going to read thi remark of his because, in my opinion, h probably expresses an opinion here that doe not conform with my interpretation of wha he said. He said, at page 571 of Hansard:

There are different methods of dealing with thos inflationary pressures. There is one way this gov ernment has not attempted, by which it can dea with inflationary pressures better than by any othe method at this moment. That is to stop this ovei taxation. Some $721 million of overtaxation in th first nine months is $721 million taken from th pockets of our people which has added by that muc to their expenditures. Let it not be said that a sut stantial part of this is represented by corporatio taxes. No one knows better than the Minister c Finance that if firms are to stay in business corpora tion taxes are going to be passed on to the consume and they always will. Every hon. member in th


The Budget-Mr. Wood house knows that no other method can be employed under a system which seeks to retain some measure of profit as an alternative to bankruptcy. All this is paid by the people, and has been taken out of their pockets.

It is true that that is being paid by the people. I have no complaint to make about that statement. It is absolutely true. I also see that he is quoted in the Hamilton Spectator as making the same statement in Beamsville. The following appears in that paper:

This year's budget, he said, meant an average of $315 for every man, woman and child in Canada to pay the Canadian government alone, not including provincial or municipal taxes.

The invisible taxes were much greater than the income tax, and corporation tax was "a second hidden sales tax with every cent being paid by the people."

That is true. All these taxes are being paid by the people. I am not taking any objection to that statement. It is true that all taxes come from the pockets of the people, whether they are hidden taxes or otherwise. But if corporation taxes are reduced, it does not follow that we shall be able to buy goods any cheaper. That is the point. It means only that corporation profits will be greater, and the shareholders of the corporations will get bigger dividends. Therefore the people that the leader of the opposition is interested in are the class of people who own the corporations. I am not surprised at this, because the leader of the opposition leads a party that has always been interested in the people who own corporations. It is nothing new.

You often hear, Mr. Speaker, of afterdinner speeches being made in some of these cities along the central line of Canada and the United States, where they rise to emphasize the imaginary line. I want to say that there is nothing imaginary about this line between Canada and the United States. I would say that as far as trade is concerned, the line between Canada and the United States is an iron curtain. It is an iron curtain that was first established under the Sir John A. Macdonald government, and made stronger under the Tupper government, and then still higher under the Arthur Meighen government and by devious ways and means under the R. B. Bennett government it was made still higher. They had such things as British preferential tariff, and then the mostfavoured-nation clause, the general tariff, quotas, administrative orders and everything else. The result is that there is great trouble to get anything out of the United States and into this country. You have to get a permit; then there are quotas, administrative orders, and all the various sections of the tariff. That s what we are up against in this country.

[ now come to item 491 in the budget, which provides for the expenditure of $1,500,000 for

the tourist trade. Personally, I think it is a good thing to encourage tourists to come to Canada and see our lovely country, and try to get them to spend their money here. But I have a statement from the Free Press which says that in 1950 Canadian tourists spent $140 per capita in the United States; whereas the United States tourists spent $10 per capita in Canada. There is nothing whatever surprising about that when you consider the different levels of prices. You know, the people of the United States are not any more foolish than we are. I think they are probably a lot smarter than we are. The people of the United States have their own money; they earn that money. They come to Canada, and they look around for something to buy. When they walk into the stores and shops and find that the level of prices is from 15 per cent to 20 per cent higher than they are in the United States they say: What is the use of buying this stuff here? They go home and they buy what they want at home. Many Americans come to Canada, and they would spend the money they have, but they find nothing to spend it on. The only things they buy in this country are gasoline, food and probably a little English chinaware, and a few trinkets that they take home with them just to show that they were in Canada. They walk into the stores, and they see an ordinary shirt. That shirt would cost them $4.95 in Ottawa, but they can get it for $3.95 in their own city, and they say: What is the use of spending money in this country? They look at a refrigerator which costs $400 in this country, but they can buy it for $265 in any city in the United States. The spread in automobile prices is around $500. Many people say that this spread is taken up in the sales and excise taxes. Do not believe that story. The tax on a Chevrolet car today is approximately $353. There is a federal tax on the same car of $129 in the United States, so that the spread in taxes in the two countries is of the order of about $230. The spread between the Canadian and the United States tax is not of the greatest importance; it is the spread the automobile industry collects in this country that makes the difference.

I should not like to close without mentioning one further matter. The farmers of Ontario and Quebec are in a preferred position. Situated here in the central provinces, they are close to the industrial centres where, if there is any little market at all, it is available to them. I say "any little market at all", because it is not very big. Those of us from the west are not able to sell our goods down here in industrial Canada-and I wish to

emphasize that fact. We have had unfortunate experiences with our fish, because we found we could not sell a box of fish in this part of the country.

i say the farmers of Ontario and Quebec are in a preferred position, because they live close to these large industries. We must keep in mind that for the past number of years the federal treasury has been bonusing the Ontario and Quebec farmers to the extent of $6 per ton on feed for their cattle and hogs. I say that, in the light of that fact, it shows a lack of grace on the part of any citizen of either Ontario or Quebec when he criticizes the payment of $65 million received by the farmers of the west for their grain. That is only pin money when compared with the hundreds of millions of dollars we pour into central Canada in the payment of prices that are too high for the goods we buy. I say that hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured in for that purpose, and that it shows ill grace on the part of any citizen of Ontario and Quebec to mention the payment of $65 million. So far as that is concerned, it is a matter of only two or three cents a bushel; so that if a farmer does sell a thousand bushels it is only a matter of $25. That same farmer will buy a Chevrolet automobile and will have to pay $300 more for it than if he could buy it across the boundary line. So I suggest the citizens of Ontario and Quebec should not make reference to that $65 million any more.

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April 30, 1952

Mr. Wood:

We cannot sell any here, and that is what I want to come to now. We produced over a billion and a half dollars' worth of goods, and when western producers come to sell their goods they cannot sell them in Ontario. We have to sell our goods

The Budget-Mr. Wood throughout the world over the top of tariff barriers. We have been able to sell our cattle in the United States, thanks to the Mackenzie King government. In 1936, through the good offices of the late W. L. Mackenzie King, we were allowed to sell to the United States a total of 250,000 cattle a year, and from that time right up until today our cattle market has been increasing in price. The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has put an end to that, however. If we are to go back and depend on the British market, as we did prior to 1948, our prices are not going to be very good in this country, and I am afraid our production of cattle in this country will go down a great deal also.

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April 30, 1952

Mr. Wood:

I hope so too. I am sure the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail as well would learn a lesson. The general tariff on these goods, Mr. Speaker, is as follows: On stoves, it is 30 per cent; washing machines, 35 per cent; and on toasters, 30 per cent; irons, 271 per cent; mixmasters, 35 per cent, and so on down the line.

Then, we come to shirts. The British preference on shirts made from woven fabrics, wholly of cotton, is 25 per cent. The mostfavoured-nation rate is 25 per cent, and the general tariff rate is 35 per cent plus 4 cents per pound. You will notice that 25 per cent just works out to the difference between the United States price and the Canadian price on those shirts. That is what industry in Canada is doing. They are just calculating the retail value of these goods from the United States, not only for refrigerators, washing machines, automobiles but also shirts that are made in Canada, and then adding on the amount of the tariff; that is what the customers are paying.

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