Mr. C. B. HEYD (South Brant).
Mr. Speaker, I do not suppose I should add much to the dignity of this discussion, if I were to follow the example which has just been set by my hon. friend (Mr. Bennett) who has just taken his seat. The strength of the blow which the government received in Ontario, or the manner of their victory in Quebec, or anything appertaining to the elections which recently took place, are matters very far removed from the subject of the debate. I am not aware that the fact that there is a summer residence to let in the town of Paris has much to do with the great question now engaging our attention. But I take exception to one statement which the hon. gentleman made, that the British preference was of no use to the people of this country. If it has been of no other use than to reduce the burden of taxation by 25 per cent on all British goods, that in itself would be a justification for the introduction of the preferential tariff. It not only brought about that reduction, but it also reduced the cost price of all goods with which imported British goods come into competition. But I do not desire to enter into that phase of the discussion. I wish to confine myself to the question before the House. I am quite willing to leave the foraging around amongst elections and the history of Canada since confederation to our friends opposite, and try to deal with subjects which are germane to the conditions by which we are surrounded.
I desire, before I address myself to the resolution, to find a little fault with some remarks that fell from the leader of the opposition-not because they were grave in themselves, but because they assume a gravity coming from one who occupies the position he does as one of the leaders in this House. He stated-and he appeared to reproach us for it-that our trade with the United States was assuming larger proportions every day. Now, I do not think there is any reason why he should feel sorrowful because our trade with the United States is growing larger every day. A trade that is growing larger, no matter with whom it is being conducted, results to the benefit of those who engage in it, or they would not continue it for a single day. Our people do not import largely from the United States because they especially like goods from the United States. We buy there, because we can buy there cheaper than we can anywhere else in the world, and cheaper than we can produce the goods for ourselves. The fact that we imported from the United States last year a hundred million dollars worth of goods is not a matter of regret to me, but one of great satisfaction, which would be only enhanced were the amount two hundred million of dollars instead of one hundred million. No trade can be carried on between nations that is not mutually profitable ; and the mere fact that the trade exists between the United States and ourselves is the best evidence that it is profitable, or it would not be continued. I go still further, and say that if we bought from the United States large quantities of goods and they did not buy a single cent's worth from us, there would be no evidence that that trade was not profitable to us ; because it does not matter with whom we do trade, it is always bound to be profitable. Let us take the two items of coal and corn. The United States is the only country in the world where we can buy coal and corn as cheaply as we buy
There is not an English statesman that has given any greater encouragement than that: We may give you free trade, but that is the only basis on which we can even discuss tne matter. Are we prepared to discuss the mutual preference on the basis of free trade? Is there a man on either side of this House who would accept a mutual preference of that kind And is there the faintest possibility of Canada getting a preference of any other kind than one based upon the principles of free trade '! I challenge any lion, gentleman on either side of the House to mention the name of a British statesman who has ever given them the slightest encouragement to believe that they could get it on any other terms. The only man who has said that it was capable of being discussed even on the basis of free trade is Mr. Chamberlain himself. Lord Rosebery is against it. Sir -uiehael Hicks-Beach. the Chancellor of the Exchequer is against it, the president of the board of trade is against it. All the great leaders of public opinion have spoken against this preferential policy; they have said that it would ruin the empire, instead of making it stronger ; they have said it would be a standing menace to the nations of the world and would array against Great Britain and her colonies the powers of the world in a commercially hostile attitude. I can quote the words of Lord Rosebery and of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach and Mr. Ritchie, the president of the board of trade. And 1 will quote his words in order to set my hon. friend from East Toronto (Mr. Kemp) straight. To-day. I asked that lion, gentleman to read all of the address from Mr. D. Ritchie. He did not have it handy apparently or he did not want to read it. I will read it now, in order that the House may understand exactly what Mr. Ritchie did say :
He thought that the strict Manchester school was passing away, and although England would never depart from her free trade policy, she might arrange a closer connection with Greater Britain. How this was to be done he did not indicate.
That is what the hon. gentleman said on that occasion, and what was read to-day. But he said more than that. His language was considered by some who were present to have given encouragement to the idea that a preference would be given to some of the colonies; and, later on, at the same meeting he craved the indulgence of the audience to disabuse their minds of any such idea :
Mr. Ritchie subsequently asked leave to say that he in no way favoured the imposition of duties on any manufactured article imported into this country. It seemed to him impossible to conceive that a 5 per cent duty on our foreign imports would help the colonies, and he strongly supported the fundamental principles of free trade. So that his remarks about a possible plan for a zollverein was. a mere pious wish.
Topic: WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.