The cost of government
should be cut down. The salaries paid to the members of this house do not represent all of the waste. Where economy is needed is in the money spent in the different ridings in playing the patronage game. A post office costing $50,000 is built for a town of seven or eight hundred people. This was done since this government came into power.
I think the dumping duties are absolutely wrong. The government has allowed the United States to dictate the number of commodities upon which dumping duties are to be levied as well as the amount of the duty. Four-fifths of a cent or one-half a cent a pound is not a dumping duty. Even the dumping duties that we imposed in our time did not stop stuff from coming in from the other side. There are some people in this country who will pay any price for a commodity if they want it. The dumping duties should be substantial. Another thing, no importer should know the time the dumping duty is to apply.
I have a recommendation to make which I hope the government will consider. I think this would simplify matters around the customs house. I always like to try to make things easier for the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Ilsley). Instead of having dumping duties on oranges for eight months in a year, have a duty applied for the year round. I suggest a duty of twenty-five cents a box on oranges, grapefruit, pineapples, lemons and other commodities of that kind. This would simplify matters around the customs house. Everybody would have an opportunity to compete with the other man. When it is known that the dumping duty is to be applied at a certain date, an importer with a large amount of money available can buy a greater number of oranges than another importer who has only limited funds upon which to operate. A man may have only $10,000 to $50,000, but most of his operating money will be on his books. You require a considerable amount of money to run a business. The man who can buy only one car of a commodity cannot compete with the man who can buy ten or fifteen cars before the dumping duty goes on. Such a man is able to offer cutthroat competition for the next three or four weeks. That is something for the government to consider.
The seasonal duty on oranges is around seventy-five cents a box, which is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. The duty on grapefruit is one-half cent a pound. Take a ten-car order, which is a fairly small one. The man who can buy before the duty goes on is able to save $345 a car. On a ten-car order that means $3,450. Such a man can sell below another man who is able to order only one car, and still make a big profit. These matters should be arranged so that one individual can compete fairly with another. We should not be playing into the hands of the monopolists and big interests.
It seems to me that we have allowed too many reductions on goods we buy from the United States. I do not think our negotiators had the necessary training. The United States had their specialists from the business and industrial world. They gave us reductions on those commodities which they will never buy, whereas we gave reductions on those commodities that we buy from them all the time. We have been going on reducing everything five per cent, or similar amounts.
I think you will agree with me, Mr. Speaker, that too much raw material is leaving Canada which should be processed at home, thus giving employment to probably thousands of our own people and giving the railroads plenty of business in moving the stuff backwards and forwards at a higher freight rate than that which the railways get for hauling our raw materials to the seaboard, and which is the lowest freight rate in the world. That is common sense, whether you are a free trader or not. The more people you give employment to in this country, the better.
One hon. member suggested during the debate the other day that the government should develop great mines, on the advice of engineers and geologists. I would not approve taking the advice of engineers, much less that of geologists. I have been fooled that way before. But if three or four men of good common sense have a good proposition in a mine and have a hundred thousand dollars or so of their own to put into it, it would not do any harm for the government to stick in another hundred thousand and take the profits, instead of allowing the whole enterprise to become a monopoly and make more millionaires like our good friend Wright who bought out the Globe. But I repeat, I would not take the advice of engineers or geologists.
I received a document to-day from the civil service commission, and it seems to me ridiculous. I gather from it that they want 115 men technically trained for different kinds of positions in chemistry, entomology, economic*,
The Address-Mr. Spence
and so forth. We have had enough economics in this house to do me all my life. I never heard a discussion on economics that I could agree with anyway. I have studied economy in another way altogether, and I never knew anything about economics. Let me cite a few of these positions that are to be filled by the civil service commission. Men are wanted for work along such lines, as botanical surveys, fruit diseases, dairy research, soil research, flycatchers, field husbandry, parasites.
I am one who has imported a great deal of stuff in my lifetime from Holland. I am not doing it very much now because, like everything else, somebody has stolen the business and you cannot get it back. The people of Holland are just as particular that their stuff leaves Holland in good shape as we are to receive it in good shape, and there is very little danger of any plant diseases coming from there. But the entomological branch examines every package that comes out of the box. I have no objection to that because it would be wrong to let any foreign insect that might do a lot of harm get into this country. But I certainly do not see why we need all these men at this particular time. Is business growing? Is our population growing? Is everything so good that we want to spend money? Or is this the pork-barrel? Or are these 115 people to help win the next election? Extravagance of that kind is the worst in the world and should be curtailed.
What I have said about cutting down the membership of the house and of the provincial assemblies I think should be done. Of course, I shall be told that the British North America Act will not allow it; that we can do nothing with the act there. But, Mr. Speaker, rules were made for people who do not understand very much, and we should change them all if they prevent us from doing what should be done.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY