I am not a millenium producer. When we have a per-9 p.m. feet balance, we will all be angels and we will not eat either eggs or beef. What as to the other alternative of which hon. gentlemen opposite spoke so much about two and a half years ago, (but of which we do not hear so much to-day? I have here some words which the present Minister of Trade and Commerce used in a speech he delivered on the subject of reciprocity in this House two or three years ago. He said:
What are the distinctive features of this treaty and how far do they conform to the conditions of reciprocity? Suppose I am a maker of jack-knives of a certain quality and my hon. friend opposite is a maker of jack-knives of the same quality. I could send over to him and buy a dozen jack-knives and he could send over to me and buy a dozen jack-knives, and this might be called trade, but there would be reciprocity about it.
Of course all the gentlemen opposite who were in the House at that time cheered him to the echo. No possibility of reciprocity between the United States and Canada because it would be only an exchange of jack-knives! And then the minister went on to proclaim his alternative :
Two countries that show ideal conditions of reciprocity in trade would be the West India islands and Canada.
That was a very cleverly stated alternative policy on the part of the Minister of Trade and Commerce. In the same speech, using those powers of ridicule which, after all, do not carry a man very far, he gave a wonderful description of how two old fellows went down to Washington-estimable gentlemen but in no way very able- and got closeted with the Government authorities there, and of how they cut the telephone off and drew up the reciprocity agreement; and the minister showed how futile it would all be. But since that time, following out his idea of an alternative, he has been visited in Ottawa by no less than fourteen old or young gentlemen from the West Indies, accompanied by their wives. I do not know whether the telephone was cut off in this case but a treaty was made with the West Indies, and we wasted considerable time last session in the discussion of that treaty and other matters-that is,
the Government and ttieir supporters wasted time by presenting it to us, and they had to introduce the closure to finish up the work of the session. Well now, what about that alternative, the treaty with the West Indies, that ideal place for trade? My hon. friend from Carleton (Mr. Carvell) put a question on the Order Paper the other day asking for the figures of our trade with the West Indies for the last six months of 1912-prior to this wonderful treaty-and for the last six months of 1913, during which the treaty was in operation. The figures showed that where conditions were ideal for trade, and where a treaty had been made by those people who knew so much better how trade should be done than we did, our trade decreased with the West Indies by $600,000. That is the way they have been increasing the trade of the country. During the /Same period the people of this country have increased their trade not by tens but by hundreds of thousands of dollars with the United States, where we could only exchange jack-knives. Of course, we were told there would be danger to the empire in that trade. The real danger to the empire is from people who base the permanence of [DOT]the imperial connection on a wrong foundation, and they are the worst friends of the empire. If trade with the United States means annexation, we are annexed now. The condition of our people does not brook any longer this foolish talk. The people know now that it was foolish talk. Our friends opposite are great admirers of Britain and everything British. How did Britain regard the Wilson-Underwood tariff? In London, within a few weeks of that tariff coming into operation, there vras a meeting of the shareholders of a sugar company with large interests in the West Indies. The shareholders were told by the chairman that the company was going to do ever so much better trade in future because they had now free entry to the markets of the United States for their sugar from the West Indies. And yet gentlemen opposite, who admire everything British, coine here and weave the most ingenious and elaborate arguments to show the folly of trading with the United States, and the danger to the empire that comes from such trade. How would a business firm act in regard to this matter? I venture to think our individual citizens in Canada are as sensible as the individual citizens of the old country, and that, taking every legitimate advantage of the Wilson-Underwood tariff, they are forcing their business in
the United States. But we have got a Government in power-and that is what is the matter with this Government-"who are not up to the average of the individual citizen of this country in commercial intelligence. '
Now faced with these conditions, faced with this condition of trade which barely shows an increase and faced with this commercial depression, what does the Government do in its Budget? It is notable that in the tariff changes which are made the minister refuses free wheat, (does his best by that to limit our export) puts a large line of duties on iron and steel (and does his best to limit our imports) therefore showing that he is a thorough believer in the home market argument although I must do him the credit of saying that he does not use it quite as much as others do.
I want to dwell upon the tariff changes and the arguments of the Minister of Finance for a few minutes, endorsed as they were by the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce. I was rather surprised to find that the somewhat extensive tariff changes were made. Free wheat, of course, my hon. friend was bound to deal with but the other tariff changes were rather a surprise to me for the reason that in the debate on the address my hon. friend had said that to alter the tariff in times like these could have no effect but to dislocate the industries of the country. He said that in the debate on the Address about three months ago, and I was therefore very much surprised when I saw that he had announced tariff changes. As to the dislocation of the industries of the country, with the unemployed that are flooding our towns, with factories closing down and the exodus from our western farms, I think there is considerable dislocation already. It is not causing dislocation of industries that the Government want to look to but the prevention of it; there is already too much dislocation.
Of course, I do not quite agree with him that this is not the time to change the tariff because if we are not to change the tariff when we are depressed the minister would offer a far stronger argument for not changing it when we are prospering. Therefore, as long as he is minister the tariff is eternal; he would never alter the tariff. I am very glad that he changed the frame of mind that he was in because it betokened a departure from financial sanity. Having got over this surprise, I was very much interested again when the minister proceeded to give us a brand new theory of
protection. He said that a protective tariff is a structure fearfully and wonderfully made-I am reading between the lines-and he further said that you have to look at the solidarity of the structure. That was news to my hon. friend the Solicitor General (Mr. Meighen). It surely conflicts with the original theory of protection. What is the original theory of protection? We have heard it again in this debate. It is that you must bolster up infant industry, that you must help infant industry. But according to the new theory, the minister himself contemplates all industries reaching maturity at the same time my hon. friend says that the industrial family are all infants. They grow in beauty side by side and you must not interfere with one of them until they are all matured. That is why you could not interfere with the tariff. Then he goes on and interferes with some of them but interferes with them mostly to put them upwards. He was so insistent upon this new theory that he betook himself to the creation of epigrams. He said, in a previous debate, that free food means free trade. He was replying to some remarks of my own in a particular speech and if I had not already spoken in the debate I should have wanted to ask him why he was so angry with me, or why he chided me so strongly, because I had said that President Wilson had torn protection up by the roots in the United States. They have practically free food in the United States, and if that means free trade it looks as if the minister's new epigram means that we must have free trade at once. According to the minister, this policy in the United States means free trade, and if that be true my hon. friend's epigram means free trade. I offer my very sincere thanks to the minister for his conception. I think I understand what he means. I think he means that once you give free trade along certain lines it will follow in others. I congratulate him upon seeing so clearly.
I cannot congratulate him, however, upon the position he took in his economic work on behalf of Canada. As Great Britain is a free trade country and, according to the minister's epigram, the United States is rapidly becoming a free trade country, he will have to go to Russia and Japan for his economic companions. I do not like to see my hon. friend taking a position like that for the great body of Canadians. Does my hon. friend see what he commits himself to there? Free food, says my hon. friend, means free trade. Well, now, would it be
possible to turn back? Suppose we gave free implements, we could turn back instead of going on. Does not the minister know the position he implies when he says that free implements means free trade? He says that if you give the people of the East and the West a taste of this thing it will prove so nice to them that they will go on and put the whole policy into operation? I do not think he quite saw what he was committing himself to. The Solicitor General did not argue on this theory when he was arguing the question of agricultural implements. He argued the question of agricultural implements in his most able manner absolutely on the merits of agricultural implements, and he proved that there was good ground for a part of the policy embodied in the amendment of my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition.
I wish to offer some more congratulations to my hon. friend the Minister of Finance. I want to congratulate him on the fact that he did alter the tariff and he did it without the help of a tariff commission. Two years ago he indicated to Parliament and to the country that a tariff commission was absolutely necessary to the proper and scientific handling of the tariff. But I think he has, by his recent action,, taken a position in which we can ask him to acknowledge that he owes the Senate thanks for their action upon that particular measure. There would have been an enormous amount of money spent annually by the commission and I think my hon. friend owes the Senate his warmest thanks for their opposition in regard to it, not only because they opposed in a measure the commission, but because of the amendment which they introduced to the Commission Bill. What was their amendment? The-amendment was to the effect that in dealing with the tariff we should look to the-interests of the consumers as well as to-the interests of the producers. I want to-call the attention of the House to the fact that in his tariff changes the minister seems to have been absolutely innocent of the thought that there are either farmers or consumers in this country. The tariff changes, according to hi3 own showing in his Budget speech, have been carried out in the interests of producers of certain commodities. Take free wheat-to whose representations did he give weight and attention? To the millers? I give him credit for the painstaking work that he and his
helpers have dope but when he gave ns the particulars it was apparent that fifty per cent of the case that he presented to us was made up of information relating purely to the people engaged in the agricultural implement industry. Be has examined the hooks of these people; he has examined the condition of these people; he has found out that they are the bankers of the farmers. I wonder if it did not strike the minister that he ought to have examined into the financial condition of the farmers who are in such a condition that the implement makers have to be their bankers. What does that fact mean ? It means that the settlers are tied body and soul to pay not only for the implements but huge interest upon their cost from year to year, and that is one of the causes that has produced the condition of the West to-day. Surely further inquiry should have been made into the financial condition of these farmers.
In regard to the iron duties, the minister also examined into the iron industry. He does not seem to have seen the need of looking at the effect of this change in duty upon any one except those engaged in the industry of steel and iron. Yet my hon. friend pretends that the policy of which he is the exponent is a national policy. It is sectional, nothing but sectional and always sectional. My hon. friend admitted that in the very method by which he put his arguments on agricultural implements before the House. He enumerated every place in Canada where implements were made and, by the witty retort with which he met an interruption of the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Cockshutt), he showed that in his own mind this protection is a local and a sectional thing. He hoped that he would be able to outlive the mistake of having overlooked Brantford in his enumeration.
There is no need, in my judgment, for a long argument upon the question of free wheat. That question was debated and voted upon in this House during the present session; but it is permissible and I think is my duty to look at the arguments by which the minister has satisfied himself that he ought to refuse free wheat. The arguments which have weighed most with him are very peculiar. In the first place he doubted, like my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce, whether the price of wheat would be raised, because he says that the price is fixed at Liverpool. This is quite true in a degree, but not the price to the farmer. It is a truth that has been very well known for a great many years.
Mr. Gladstone put forward that argument in regard to America. He once said:
It has been very well said, and very truly said though it is a smart antithesis-the American agriculturist has got to buy everything that he wants at prices that are fixed in Washington by the legislature of America, but he has got to sell everything at prices which are fixed at Liverpool by the free competition of the world.
That argument is only partially true today, because it was used thirty years ago. The fact to-day is the fact brought out by my right hon. leader this afternoon, namely, that the price which the farmer gets and the price which the consumer pays are both to a large extent fixed by the combines. This consideration explains what, the minister tells us, puzzled the people of Ontario during the last election. What puzzled the people of Ontario in the last election was how you could possibly benefit the producer and the consumer at the same time. It is a fact, capable of absolute proof, that you can do so. In my native county of Northumberland in England, for several harvests past, as soon as the wheat was garnered, the farmers in the northern part of that country received into their hands an average price of 96 cents a bushel for their wheat. That is under freedom of trade. It was proved to-day, not to the satisfaction but to the dissatisfaction of the Minister of Trade and Commerce, that in the same county of England where the farmers are getting into their hands 96 cents a bushel for their wheat as opposed to the bare 65 cents a bushel which the farmers in' southern Alberta and Saskatchewan get, flour containing Manitoba wheat is being sold cheaper than it is sold in Winnipeg. That is the fact. What is the explanation? The explanation is that, when you shut out competition and create combines, these combines give what they like to the producer and take what they like from the consumer. Last night my hon. friend from Haldimand (Mr. Lai or), who almost led one to believe that he is a lineal descendant of the good Samaritan and is spending his time giving away tomatoes these days, denied that there were any combines. Yet in reply to an interruption by my hon. friend from Strathcona (Mr. Douglas) he actually admitted that the farmer in Ontario is getting something like twenty -five and thirty cents a bushel from year to year for his tomatoes and that the consumer is paying some years something like thirty cents for two or three cans. 1 do not know how many cans of canned tomatoes you can get from one bushii oi tom a toes and a barrel of water, but there is a
tremendous spread of profit between the twenty-five or thirty cents that goes to the farmer and the enormous sum that is got out of that barrel of water. That is what is raising the cost of living to the poor people of this country. It is the combines that are doing these things. In a recent debate I advanced the argument to the minister that the high cost of living in this country was due to the tariff and the combines that arose under the tariff, and he replied to me in the course of the same debate that it was not a sound argument that the tariff .is the cause of the high cost of living, because the price has gone up more than the tariff in so many years. It was not quite a fair argument on the part of my hon. friend to deal with only fifty per cent of what I advanced. I never said that the tariff alone was responsible for the high cost of living; I said that the tariff together with the combines was, and I want to give a confirmatory opinion of my own. Mr. Woodrow Wilson said:
It is now no longer arguable that these combinations do not settle what prices shall be paid; settle how much the product shall be, and settle moreover, what shall be the market for labour.
The other argument which seems to have satisfied my hon. friend in refusing free wheat was a more peculiar one. He said, before you try the market to the South, you should wait until you get the Transcontinental railway completed East and West and until you get the Hudson Bay railway completed. Is my hon. friend serious when he asks us to wait until these railways are completed, which will be in the time of our prosperity to which my hon. friend is sending his borrowings? I endorse what my hon. friend from North Oxford (Mr. Nesbitt) said in regard to the Hudson Bay railway. I never said a word in its behalf on any platform in this country, and I myself have very little belief in the clearness of the economic thought of any one who seriously turns aside to avoid a market of 90,000,000 people and goes and builds a railroad where you have to navigate amongst the seals and icebergs in the hope that you will be able to dispose of your wheat.
Subtopic: '2364 COMMONS