Mr. W. B. NORTHRUP (East Hastings).
Mr. Speaker, I would not have intruded on the time of the House even for a few minutes were it not that I have been very deeply impressed by the vast difference between the speech of the mover of this motion and the utterly meaningless and illusive motion that has occupied the attention of the House this afternoon. If I were as conversant as the hon. gentleman who has just resumed his seat (Mr. Maclean) with the political history of the hon. gentleman who has placed it before the House I might take a different view of the motion from that which I have derived from reading it, but, referring to the motion and confining myself to the subject before the House without wandering over the whole sphere of political economy, I would like to direct the attention of the House to the actual words in the motion which we are asked to adopt. The motion reads :
That this House is of the opinion that Canadian import duties should be arranged upon the principle of reciprocity in trade conditions.
Any person can understand mat. It means that our import duties are to be arranged on the principle of reciprocity ; that is if one country favours us we shall favour that country and if another country taxes our products we shall tax the products of that country. But, the sting of this sentence is in the end.
So far as may be consistent with Canadian interests.
Consistent with Canadian interests. In my humble judgment this is dallying with the intelligence of this House. It is a waste of time for any hon. gentleman to bring before the House a resolution asking us to approve of having duties arranged on the principle of reciprocity in trade conditions in so far as may be consistent with Canadian interests. We might take the scene that was witnessed a short time ago in Montreal at the manufacturer's banquet. We had the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) speaking as an out and out free trader. We had the hon. Minister of Public Works (Mr. Tarte) speaking, as he has always been, a consistent protectionist, and we had the right hon. Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) smiling blandly on both ; yet, all these hon. gentlemen can accept this proposition, and while they would differ entirely as to the working out of the proposition, they could all raise their hands to heaven and sincerely say that they would' subscribe Mr. MACLEAN.
to the principle of reciprocity in trade conditions so far as they were consistent with Canadian interests. When we go on we find that:
A rebate of not less than 40 per cent on the amount of duties imposed should be made upon dutiable imports from nations or countries admitting Canadian natural products into their
market free of duty.
This is a very plain proposition, that if any nation will admit the natural products of Canada into its markets free we will give it a reduction of 40 per cent on manufactured goods. If the manufacturers had no rights in this country, if the desire were to slaughter them and close down their factories, I could understand this proposition but I appeal to any hon. member in this House and even to the hon. member for North Norfolk to say, whether in order to obtain the free introduction of our natural products, or of our agricultural products into the markets of any country we should consent to a reduction of 40 per cent in the duty on manufactured goods is not the height of absurdity. The hon. gentleman goes on to obviate that difficulty by the concluding clause :
And that the scale of Canadian duties should be sufficiently high to avoid inflicting injury upon Canadian interests in cases where a rebate of 40 per cent or more shall be made under the conditions aforesaid.
It may be 40 per cent or 60 per cent or 80 per cent or a hundred fold under this resolution. No matter what reduction you may make Canadian industries are to be protected in the way referred to in this closing part irrespective of protection which these Canadian Industries require. Of that I shall speak presently. You are to have a measure of protection according to the views of the free trader. It is asking for bread and receiving a stone. As far as we know this is the motion made by the hon. member for North Norfolk. Unfortunately that hon. gentleman has expressed himself on the subject of protection and free trade very frequently in this House and it is absolutely necessary to use a glossary to understand what he means by any particular words. In the session of 1876 he addressed the House and no man could have given more thorough going or consistent protectionist utterances than the hon. member for North Norfolk. In 1876 as reported in ' Hansard,' page 312, the hon. gentleman said :
It may be safely assumed that no nation has attained to greatness in commerce or manufactures without having in the course of its history imposed exactions and restrictions. This has been notably the case with Great Britain herself and I think that the assertion of the various industries as necessary to the cultivation of the self defensive power of a nation is incontrovertible
When * industries '
are suited to the land it is the duty of the government to foster them.
These are the protectionist views of the hon. member for North Norfolk in 1876. He went on to say :
I believe that the agricultural interests of the Dominion would be promoted by protection-
Unmistakable words these-
and that the manufacturer, being brought to the door of the farmer, would afford a market for a great many articles of produce that would not be saleable if the market were 3,000 miles away. [DOT]
These were his views in 1870. In 1895 again, the hon. gentleman addressed the House. It is true there was a change in the conditions; in the first instance he being on the government side of the House, and in the second place he being on the opposition side of the House. But when he came to express himself on the subject of protection, he was just as unequivocal, just as clear, and distinct as he had been years before. He spoke of protection to the various industries of the land, and he spoke of protection to the farmers. This is his idea in 1895, and that date you will notice is a great deal less remote than 1873. As reported in ' Hansard,' 1895, page 1189, he said :
I deny in toto that the farmer requires protection or that he has received protection, or that he has anything to thank the government for in connection with its fiscal policy.
At page 1109 he said :
He is in the highest and noblest sense a manufacturer, and he depends not upon man's legislation, but he depends for the outcome of his labour upon the blessings of a kind Providence.
Now, Sir, looking at this resolution framed by the hon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton) and presented to this House by him, asking us to agree that we should adopt the principle of reciprocity so far as may be consistent) with Canadian interests, I must read in with that, the glossary of his language which is given in his speech of 1895, and I find that it means that the farmer does not require protection. Therefore, I know that in his judgment the farmer would be injured by protection. In this speech of 1895, further on he spoke of the manufacturers. He discussed exhaustively the question of protection to the farmers, and then he said :
I proceed next to consider the assertion that our manufacturers depend for prosperity upon protection, and I think that I shall be able to show that protection, even in the case of the manufacturers, has not exerted the beneficial influence which is claimed for it.
Further on in the same debate (pages 1200 and 1201 of ' Hansard ') he spoke of protection to the mining industries, to the lumbering industries and to several other industries. I will not quote the hon. gentleman at length, but he practically mentioned the whole list of Canadian industries and proved
to his own satisfaction conclusively that protection was of no conceivable use to these Canadian industries. Now, then, I am asked, representing a constituency which is not exclusively agricultural but having large manufacturing industries; I am asked to subscribe to this proposition drawn by the member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton), that I should vote for protection so far as may be consistent with Canadian interests-which means in his mind, no protection to the farmer, no protection to the mining industry, no protection to the manufacturer. I venture to say that with that explanation of the true views of the member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton), no hon. gentleman in this House would be justified in supporting such a proposition.
I must confess that I was rather surprised at the view expressed by the hon. member for South Brant (Mr. Heyd) in regard to the speech and motion of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Charlton). Judging from some of the utterances given expression to by the hon. gentleman from South Brant (Mr. Heyd), he so absolutely fails to conceive the faintest idea of the underlying principle on which this motion is based, that he may be excused for almost any statement he would make in this connection. He referred to the woollen industry more than once, and he expressed the opinion that the government that he faithfully supported had not done justice to the woollen industry, and he hoped that ere long they would rectify the injustice they had done and give additional protection to it. I have not the slightest doubt that the hon. member was sincere in what he said. I have not the slightest doubt that he hoped from the bottom of his heart that the government would give protection to the woollen industry. But time passed on; changes came; new conditions arose; two minutes had rolled by into eternity, and the hon. gentleman then informed the House that he was opposed to the granting of protection to any industry which was confined mainly to the manufacture of goods not made from raw material produced in Canada. Yet, we know that the woollen industry imports the greatest part of the wool, the raw material under which the business is carried on. If the hon. gentleman meant what he said-and I assume he did-if he understood what he meant-and I am bound to think he did-then in one breath he said that there should be protection to the woollen industry and in the next breath he said he was opposed to any protection being granted to an industry situated precisely as the woollen industry is. The hon. gentleman from Brant (Mr. Heyd) went on to speak of the sacrifices that had been made on our market by American manufacturers, and he referred to the question of retaliation, as did the mover of the motion. I venture to say that when these hon. gentlemen spoke on the subject of retaliation they displayed a want of acquaintance with the
first principle of the doctrine of protection. One would think that every man in the country knew by this time what the doctrine of protection means, and yet these hon. gentlemen failed to recognize what protection means, or else they wilfully perverted its meaning. Protection means protecting some one from impending ill. It may be that at one time a duty of 25 per cent would be ample protection, and it may be that at another time a duty of 50 per cent would be required. But nobody will dispute that the harder the times the greater the danger of an inflow of goods from foreign countries; the more necessity there is for protection and the greater the protection must be in order to be effectual. Now, Sir, if I went on to discuss the question of free trade and protection 1 would be doing what I promised at the outset not to do. I will content myself by saying that I am unable to support the motion of the hon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton), firstly, because it is so ambiguous that no meaning can be attributed to it, and secondly, because I believe that a motion of this kind, committing the House to the most important question that can come before us, should be so clear-cut, that every voter in the Dominion of Canada might know where his representatives stood on that question. I believe that it will be a happy day for Canada-whichever the party to occupy one position and which ever the party to occupy the other-when the people of this country will be able to go to the polls and intelligently vote for a party, knowing that party has understood the promises it has made and is prepared to carry them out when placed in power.
The MINISTER OF FINANCE (Hon. W.
S. Fielding). I do not imagine from what I have heard from hon. members of both sides of the House, that there is a desire to have a division taken on this interesting and important resolution. In fact, the hon. gentleman who seconded the motion intimated that while he did so he was somewhat in doubt as to whether ultimately it would commend itself to his judgment. I take it that the object was to invite discussion on what is a very important question, and then have the debate on the motion adjourned, if the motion be not withdrawn. However that may be, so far as the government is concerned, I am sure the House will anticipate what I am about to say, namely, that the general practice in matters of this sort is that the government shall declare its intention in connection with the tariff when the budget speech is made, and it is not usually deemed wise to forestall any action in that direction by making announcements in advance. Adopting that view, which has always been adopted by Ministers of Finance in the past, I desire to say that while I agree with somethings that have been said and while I dissent from others, I do not think it would be expedient to enlarge on the subject Mr. NORTHRUP.
now, though. I have no desire now to preclude any gentleman who wishes to address the House. Therefore, I beg, Mr. Speaker, to move the adjournment of the debate.
Subtopic: RECIPROCITY IN TRADE.