February 10, 1914

LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. GARVELL:

It is the latter, certainly; I was going to explain that. It is the commercial fertilizer, which sells from $40 to $42 a ton, according to the quality. The commercial fertilizer is composed of slag as a base, and around that or through it and with it are the real fertilizing elements, four parts ammonia, six parts phosphorus and ten parts potash. That is the general formula.

Hon. GEO. E. FOSTER: I would ask the hon. member for Cape Breton whether the product turned out by the Sydney company is simply the slag ground, or is it the slag ground and mixed with the other materials, thus constituting a compound fertilizer?

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LIB

William F. Carroll

Liberal

Mr. CARROLL:

Perhaps the great

majority of the product of the Cross company is the latter.

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

It is merely the slag and the other ingredients are added by other people.

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LIB

William F. Carroll

Liberal

Mr. CARROLL:

The manufacturers of

fertilizers who approached the Government for this duty are manufacturing the slag and add the other ingredients themselves and sell it as a fertilizer.

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

That may be, but there are thousands of tons of fertilizers manufactured in the eastern provinces and the state of Maine and all through the western states made from the slag with the addition of the other fertilizing properties, so that while the Cross Fertilizer Company may manufacture a certain amount of this product into commercial fertilizer, they must sell a much greater proportion of it simply as the ordinary basic slag, they sell it to other fertilizing companies who mix it, and one branch of the argument of the hon. member for Westmorland was whether it was not better for the farmer to mix this himself, to buy his slag, import the nitrate, potash and phosphate, mix it himself and save $15 a ton. But it does not matter who mixes it, the slag itself is the basis and upon this base the Government have placed the duty. By doing so they have made the base cost, we will say 50 or 75 cents a ton more than it ought to and I do not care whether it is mixed by the Cross

Company, or the Windsor Company, or the St. John Company, or by the farmer on his barn floor, it means that it costs the farmer a dollar a ton more than it ought. That is the real question and the onp we ought to decide in this resolution to-night. I think the Minister of Customs ought to go further than this, he ought not only to rescind this regulation but, when the tariff is brought down, he should make fertilizers entirely free. Do not come back and say: You did not admit fertilizers free. I was in the House in 1907 when the Tariff Bill was enacted and privately I tried to make fertilizers free.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

My hon. friends laugh.

Every time anything is*said they make that reply, they say: You did not do it. It is always the tu quoque argument.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER:

I think I have heard that in other years.

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

The fertilizer business in the Maritime provinces was a

10 p.m. mere bagatelle in 1907. Statistics will show that not one-quarter, not one-fifth, not one-tenth, of the fertilizers were consumed m the Maritime provinces in 1907 that are consumed to-day. The imports in the year ending March 31, 1906, of dutiable fertilizers into Canada amounted to only $157,519; whereas during the first six months of the present year we have imported $300,000 worth. This is only a very, very small proportion of the actual amount consumed, as you can see that we are manufacturing at home; it has become a big industry, we are manufacturing from the slag produced at the Sydney Steel Works, and it is being manufactured, as I said, by a number of different companies, by the Cross Company and by the farmers. So in 1907 it was a comparatively unimportant item. There was no discussion in the newspapers about it, it was not considered a matter of any great importance. To-day it is a matter of the first magnitude, it is that without which the farmer in the Maritime provinces cannot produce his potatoes, and I am told in the province of Nova Scotia they can hardly produce their fruit without it. It is a prime necessity and it is just as important that it should be made free of duty as it is that wheat should be admitted free for the benefit of the farmer of the West. It is just as important to the farmer of Carleton county to have free fertilizers as anything T can imagine to-day in the world, and I hope that this discussion will result

in the Minister of Customs not only removing this obnoxious ruling of his Customs Board, but that when the tariff is brought down he will see that fertilizer is put on the free list absolutely. Then the farmers who are compelled to buy this very expensive fertilizer, without which they can hardly farm, will be able to save at least $6 to $7 a ton, which means, in some cases, almost the difference between success and failure in the farming industry of New Brunswick.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN (Halifax):

Mr. Speaker, in the few minutes I shall occupy upon the motion of the hon. member for Westmorland (Mr. Emmerson), I shall not attempt to discuss the effect of the interpretation of the particular item of the customs tariff which is under discussion upon the price of the article and its general effect upon the consumers of fertilizers. That has been very fully and lucidly discussed by the hon. members for Westmorland and Carle-ton, and I could hardly amplify what they have said if I desired. The issue involved m the motion is the interpretation of an item in the customs tariff and whether the decision of the Board of Customs in interpreting the tariff item is correct or not. In my judgment there is no authority in the statute for the ruling made by the minister and by the Board of Customs.

There are two items in the tariff involved in this discussion, namely, item 372, blast furnace slag, which is free, and item 663, which is the item invoked by the Department of Customs to sustain the ruling they have made. Tariff item 663 is as follows:

Fertilizers compounded or manufactured, 10 per cent (under the general tariff).

The question is whether basic or blast furnace slag, which is I think one and the same thing, when imported into Canada in a ground state, enters free of duty or whether it is subject to a duty of 10 per cent under item 663, respecting fertilizers. I would think if we had no other evidence or authority before us than the customs tariff itself, it is quite clear that the position taken by the hon. member for Westmorland is absolutely correct and well founded under a construction of the tariff. Blast furnace slag, as I have already stated, is imported free of duty. This item does not differentiate between slag in the rough state, as it comes from the furnace, and slag ground or reduced to any mesh, and I think it is a fair and logical inference that furnace slag may be imported free of duty whether in a natural or ground state. Looking again at item 663, we find

that ' fertilizers compounded or manufactured ' are subject to a duty of 10 per cent. I cannot understand how the Department of Customs can argue that furnace slag, ground, is a fertilizer. It is admitted by the minister that it is merely an element and not a constituent in a compound, and that it is not a manufactured article; and therefore I say, by reference to these two items, that blast furnace slag, ground, is clearly importable free of duty. This is an important matter for many reasons. The functions of the Customs Department are purely administrative, and ministerial and to some extent judicial. They are certainly not legislative, and it would be an unfortunate thing for this country if, in the establishment of tariffs, the Customs Department were permitted to arrogate to itself legislative powers, and particularly to increase the tariff rate or rates. That is the objection which I think hon. gentlemen on this side rhake against the ruling of the department. I think it was clearly the intention of Parliament-and Parliament alone makes the tariff of this country and not the Customs Department-

* that all the constituents which enter into the manufacture of fertilizers should come into Canada free of duty. If hon. gentlemen would look at item 662, the one just preceding the chief item under consideration they will see that fertilizers-

-unmanufactured, including phosphate rock, kainite or German potash salts and German mineral potash; bone dust, charred bone and bone ash; fish offal or refuse and animal or vegetable manures.

are admitted free, and these articles were deliberately made free of duty by Parliament in order, I assume, 'to furnish to the manufacturers of fertilizers their raw material at the lowest possible price. The following item 663 provides the tariff rate for the manur factured article. Now if it was the policy of Parliament-and it evidently was-to permit of such articles as phosphate rock, German potash salts, bonedust and fish offal to come in free of duty, is it not logical and obvious that it was also the intention of Parliament that furnace slag, ground, Should enter free of duty, because it is one of the constituents in a fertilizing compound. For that reason I say it is obvious-at least it is perfectly clear to me and I think it should be to hon. gentlemen generally- that the ruling of the Department of Customs is in error, and that the objection made by the hon. member for Westmorland is well founded. Further, take the item

of felspar, which is a very important element in the manufacture of fertilizers. It is also upon the free list. Combined with fish offal, it produces one of the richest fertilizer known to the world, and yet our tariff has provided that felspar shall enter free of duty, and there is no distinction whatever in the tariff as to whether felspar be imported in the crude or ground state. I say again, it was clearly the policy of the Government responsible for the preparation of this tariff, and Parliament which enacted it, that the raw elements entering into the manufacture of fertilizing compounds should enter this country free of. duty. The Minister of Customs has invoked in defence of the ruling of his department, a ruling made by the Board of Customs some four years ago in connection with gypsum. I submit that the case is hardly applicable to the one before us for consideration. Under item 292 of the tariff, gypsum in the crude is free, and I would like hon. gentlemen particularly to observe that gypsum in its crude state is designated as being free, and gypsum if not crude is subject to duty. Naturally, the question would arise, when there was an importation of gypsum, whether it was crude or otherwise. In this case the gypsum apparently entered Canada, ground, or manufactured. The gypsum was reduced to a comparatively l3mall size and the question for the Department of Customs to determine was, whether it was gypsum crude, or gypsum manufactured, and I think it is quite clear that the ruling made by the Department of Customs was in error and that the appeal was very properly sustained by the Treasury Board. I submit that there was no warrant or authority under the tariff for the ruling made by the Department of Customs in connection with the matter now before us. I say it is quite clear-and it has been the policy of Parliament-that the constituents entering into the manufacture of fertilizers should be free of duty in order to give to the manufacturers the raw materials entering into the manufacture of fertilizers at lowest possible price. I think it is also quite clear that the motion made by the hon. member for Westmorland is well founded both in fact and law. I think the ruling made by the Department of Customs is absolutely in error, and I hardly think the case is arguable. I think the Minister of Customs should at least concede that the ruling is subject at least to doubt, if not clearly in error.

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LIB

Michael Clark

Liberal

Mr. MICHAEL CLARK:

I was pair&d

with the right hon. the Prime Minister. Had I voted, I would have voted for the amendment.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I was paired with the

hon. Minister of Railways (Mr. Cochrane). Had I voted, I would have voted for the amendment.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON:

I was paired with the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. White). Had I voted, I would have voted for the amendment.

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

I was paired with the

hon. member for York, N.B. (Mr. McLeod). Had I voted, I would have voted for the amendment.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

I was paired with the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux). Had I voted, I would have voted against the amendment.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

I was paired with the

hon. member for Bonaventure (Mr. Marcil).

Had I voted, I would have voted against the amendment.

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LIB

James McCrie Douglas

Liberal

Mr. DOUGLAS:

I was paired with the

hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Burrell). Had I voted, I would have voted for the amendment.

* Mr. NORTHRUP: I was paired with the hon. member for Wright (Mr. Devlin). Had I voted, I would have voted against the amendment.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The ' Hansard ' reporters have been complaining to me that the pairs are not properly taken down on account of the low and indistinct way in which members make the announcement' that they are paired-

Amendment negatived, and main motion agreed to.

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SUPPLY.


The House in Committee of Supply. Department of Labour-Industrial Disputes Investigation Act, $25,000.


February 10, 1914