PRfNGLE (Cornwall and Stormont). Mr. Speaker, I have listened with a great deal of interest to the debate. What has surprised me has been the variety of opinions expressed by hon. gentlemen on the government side of the House. The hon. gentleman who spoke last night, the hon. member for West Huron (Mr. Holmes), opened his remarks by referring to the inconsistencies that the opposition were led up to. I think it ill-becomes any hon. gentleman on the opposite side of the House to refer to inconsistencies. Their whole record has been a record of inconsistencies. I am not going pver all those old and pretty well threshed out subjects now-commercial union, unrestricted reciprocity, continental free trade, free trade as they have it in Great Britain, and all the other fads and policies which these hon. gentlemen advocated for a period of eighteen years. I say that in so far as this side of the House is concerned there has been no inconsistency. We have been twitted with having the old policy, of some twenty-five years ago. We are proud to stand by the policy which was advocated twenty-five years ago, and we believe it is the policy which is in the best interests of the Dominion of Canada. The hon. member for West Huron spoke in regard to the woollen industry, following the 63i
hon. member for North Lanark (Mr. Rosamond). He stated in regard to that industry that if those engaged in it were not satisfied with a duty of 23 per cent, they should get out of business. He is only reiterating the statements made by members of the government. I say that is not a fair statement, it was not a proper statement, and it is all the more reason why we, on this side of the House, should ask for a declared policy and that the manufacturers should know just what their position is in regard to the tariff. The hon. gentleman went on to say in regard to that industry that he had not as yet had any evidence of the woollen industry being in an unsatisfactory condition. He said that in so far as he could ascertain, the woollen industry was thriving, and that every mill in this country was running on full time. I would like to take him to the town of Cornwall, in the electoral district which I have the honour to represent. I can show him a mill in which there are some $200,000 invested and which is one of the best equipped mills in Canada, but, which, to-day, has closed its doors necessitating the discharge of 170 operators. In regard to these operators, about fifty of them are the heads of families. Each of these families will average about five persons. The closing down of that mill simply means taking the bread out of the months of 350 people in the town of Cornwall. It cannot be said that the people behind this mill had not sufficient capital to run it, and make the running of it profitable. The mill is owned, as you know, by Lord Mount Stephen, a very wealthy man who as quite able to operate the mill, if, under existing conditions, there was any object in operating it. Now, I say that the hon. member for West Huron, before he makes a statement of that sort, should inquire and see just what the condition of the woollen industry is in this country. The hon. member for North Lanark has given some very valuable figures in regard to the increased importation of woollens between 1897 and 1901, and it is quite apparent that it has almost doubled within that period, to the injury of the woollen industry of this country. The hon. member for West Huron also stated that it was in the interests of this country that there should be a reduction in the tariff in regard to other lines of articles which are consumed by the people. He is one of the hon. gentlemen who are evidently in favour of a tariff for revenue, or free trade. He has referred to the policy of the Conservative party, and he says that that policy was an anti-British policy. I will just refer him to the statement made by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Hon. Sir Richard Cartwright) some time ago when he clearly stated that if the policy which he advocated of unrestricted reciprocity discriminated against Great Britain,
he was quite satisfied that it should do so. The hon. gentleman has said :
I believe this country would have been better oft if we never had a national policy.
I shall not go back to the dark days between 1873 and 1878, when owing to the Mackenzie government not meeting the conditions as they arose, Canada was in a most depressed state. We all know that the Conservative tariff, inaugurated in 1879, was really the first Canadian tariff that gave thorough protection to our home industries. We know that the results of that tariff were most satisfactory. Two years after the adoption of protection there was collected $2,900,000 more than was necessary for the expenditure of the country, while prior to that time, year in and year out, there were deficits. The official statistics tell us that within two years after the adoption of protection in 1879, there was an increase of over $20,000,000 in the value of bank stocks; the Canadian labourer got better wages; the Canadian manufacturer made larger profits; the Canadian merchant increased his business, and the Canadian farmer obtained a higher price for his products. It is needless to dwell further on the prosperity which Canada enjoyed as a result of the adoption of the national policy. Any one who looks at the statistics will see the progress which Canada made during the years immediately succeeding 1879.
We have had a good many speeches from hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House, and we have had a good many different theories advanced by them as to our fiscal policy. The hon. gentleman from North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton); the hon. gentleman from Labelle (Mr. Bourassa) and other supporters of the government, made strong protectionist speeches, while the hon. member for Russell (Mr. Edwards) came out as a straight free trader. At all events the hon. member (Mr. Edwards) is consistent, and he holds to his theory of free trade no matter what policy the government he supports may place before the country. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Edwards) told us that the conditions in Canada are very similar to the conditions which exist in the United States. I agree with that statement to the extent that our natural resources are similar to the resources possessed by the United States. But, the hon. gentleman said further on in his speech :
The proposition that you can protect the labouring man is the greatest absurdity that was ever spoken.
I do not agree with that statement. If the hon. gentleman (Mr. Edwards) turns to the statistics, he will find that in every protectionist country the rate of wages has increased, while in the free trade countries the rate of wages has diminished. That would indicate that you can protect the labouring man. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Edwards) also said : ,