Supply-Trade and Commerce
451. Trade commissioner service, including payment of compensation to trade commissioners for damage to and loss of furniture and effects, under regulations approved by the governor in council, $1,963,751.
Have the trade commissioners abroad diplomatic privileges or not? I mention this because it is rather a sore point with some of them. The employees of the department of immigration, who in many cases are doing a great deal of extremely hard work under very difficult circumstances, do not enjoy diplomatic privileges, but some trade commissioners do enjoy diplomatic privileges. One or two suggested to me they wished that they all did have them. Is there any general agreement on this, or is there any general rule about whether they enjoy diplomatic privileges or not?
If a trade commissioner is attached to an embassy he does enjoy diplomatic privileges. If there is no embassy in the country he is serving he does not have diplomatic privileges. Sometimes we try to get external affairs to give him consular status, which carries with it diplomatic privileges, but there are trade commissioners who do not have diplomatic privileges, and there seems to be no way in which diplomatic privileges can be obtained for them.
I must say that the granting of diplomatic privileges to a trade commissioner is of tremendous advantage to him and is of tremendous advantage to the country. If the minister could persuade his colleague, the Secretary of State for External Affairs, to grant diplomatic privileges to these trade commissioners it would be of great advantage to all concerned.
Under the details of the trade commissioner service the figures -are given as to the expenses of each of the various offices. I realize that there are bound to be substantial differences in regard to these offices, but would the minister explain why, for instance, the trade commissioner service at Caracas is $77,877, and the trade commissioner's office at Melbourne is $24,335? I would like to have some indication as to what considerations result in so much larger expenditure in the office at Caracas than in the office at Melbourne. I simply take them as an illustration.
The trade commissioners are paid a basic pay, as though they lived in Ottawa, and there are supplements, depending on the cost of living in the posts to which they are assigned. Caracas has the highest cost of living in the world, as far as I know. It has that record in the trade commissioners' service. On the other hand, the cost of living in Melbourne is probably no higher than the cost of living in Ottawa. It may be a bit, but I would believe that it was not much higher than in Ottawa.
I am taking such places as Wellington and Melbourne as places within the commonwealth where one would think the activities would be important, and then comparing them with such a place as Caracas, and for instance Manila, where the expenditures are $49,542, as compared with $20,466 in Wellington. Are the activities of these offices in the cities in the commonwealth not more important than they are in Manila or Caracas?
Well, the trade commissioners in these areas cover many countries. I suppose the trade commissioner in Caracas covers three or four other countries. He may have a larger office than the office in Melbourne. The office in the Philippines has been newly established and a drive has been made, a very successful drive, to get a share of the Philippine business. We have done big business there. I dare say some extra pressure has been put on that office, and perhaps extra expenses incurred. The very fact that it is set up new may have something to do with it. There are three offices in Australia. The work is divided.
They must be university graduates with some trade experience. Trade commissioners are taken into the service in a junior capacity, and put through a course of training which takes at least a year. The trade commissioner is sent to all parts of Canada. The first requirement is that he must know Canada and Canadian industry thoroughly. Then he is put in a junior position abroad, and gradually given the experience required to foe a trade commissioner.