I am glad to approve the
policy that has been adopted by the present Minister of National Revenue of closing the smaller and relatively expensive ports of Canada. We have just been told that the number of customs ports in the United States is very little more than half the number in Canada, notwithstanding the enormously greater business of the neighbouring country. There is also this fact to remember, that in the United States the customs ports are frontier ports, whereas in Canada we have a large number of inland ports.
Neither party can escape responsibility for the condition that has grown up in this country. Local pressure upon members has led to the creation of a large number of small ports throughout Canada. That we know to be a matter of fact. The purpose has been a play to local pride, in a measure, and also to provide positions for political friends as collectors or subcollectors at such small ports, but the expenditure in the aggregate is large. When we are
asked to turn to the revenue side it must be remembered that when you close up a port you do not lose any public revenue; that revenue is collected at some other port. From the standpoint of administration it is obvious that administration of customs laws, the tariff and the regulations will be much more uniform and effectual if the administration is in the hands of trained and experienced officials such as are to be found in the larger ports, and such as, in the very nature of things one cannot have in the smaller ones.
I approve the policy of closing, as speedily as conditions permit, the smaller ports. The revenue will not suffer, nor, I venture to say, will any great inconvenience be occasioned to merchants or, for that matter, to manufacturers in such small towns in which ports may be closed. In the United States they manage to get along very well, apparently, with frontier ports only. In passing goods through the customs apparently there would be no difficulty in having agents in large ports like Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and so on, to conduct the business expeditiously and satisfactorily for the consignees.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE