August 13, 1958

LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Of course everyone is well aware of what the hon. member for Waterloo South has pointed out. Everybody is well aware of the fact that the textile industry in North America, not merely in Canada, has been going through very difficult times. It was for this reason my friend Mr. Harris, when he was minister of finance, made the original reference to the tariff board. I might poitn out to the hon. member for Waterloo South that the tariff board itself admits that this recommendation will do nothing effective to help this industry, but it will have the indirect effect, if it has any effect at all, of increasing costs to consumers and of jeopardizing markets for many of our most important raw materials such as fish and wheat.

Mr. Pallet!: Have you looked at the recent trade figures?

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I listened patiently to the hon. gentleman speak for his constituents, as is his right, and I speak now for mine who will be affected not in one way, if the government carries out this policy, but in two ways. In the first place, like other Canadian consumers they will have to pay more for their woollens, and fishermen are consumers of woollens. They will have to pay more for what they buy, but they will have to go on selling in a market where we can give them no tariff protection, a market which is threatened by this very policy.

That is the point I am trying to make, that by embarking upon this policy, this protectionist policy, this restrictionist policy, this policy calculated to stop imports into Canada, the government is inevitably going to provoke retaliation which is going to affect primary producers who cannot, in the nature of things, be given any kind of special help through the tariff.

It does seem to me that this would be bad enough if it were going to be effective. When the tariff board admits that it is not going to be effective, that it is not really going to accomplish anything, it does seem to me that we are being asked here to do something which will-well, I cannot for the life of me understand why the government is asking us to do it. It may be that they feel

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that by making this gesture at this time they will fob off the pressure on them from certain of their backbenchers; that may be one explanation. The other explanation is that they really believe this is an intelligent, constructive policy calculated to give Canadian self-sufficiency or something approaching self-sufficiency in the woollen industry.

The Minister without Portfolio, the hon. member for Greenwood, speaking in the budget debate described this industry-I thought he was rather shamefaced in doing so-as an indigenous industry. It is rather difficult to think of any industry that is much less indigenous. The raw material comes from abroad; the machinery in the plants come from abroad, and the skills originally came from abroad. It is certainly not by any stretch of the imagination an indigenous industry.

What is being proposed, if it is seriously intended and if the government gets away with it this time, is to provide really high protection and really to make us self-sufficient in woollens at the expense of other Canadians. If that is so I would say we are embarking upon a most dangerous course. We should know now whether we are embarking on that course. It does not matter whether you look at this from the point of view of the generality of Canadian consumers or from the point of view of those particular industries that depend upon markets abroad-the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan are the three principal exporters to us at the present time of woollen goods-it seems to me that this policy is folly. It is contrary to our interests.

I do want to say something too, though very briefly because the Leader of the Opposition has already mentioned this, about the opportuneness of this gesture. If I recall correctly, we listened from about 1950 or 1951 to hon. gentlemen who now occupy the treasury benches talking about a commonwealth economic conference. In season and out of season, every time they could find any excuse under the rules for doing so, they talked about a commonwealth economic conference.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Order.

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PC

Charles Edward Rea (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Deputy Chairman:

I shall have to ask the hon. member not to continue discussing the economic conference.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I am not going to discuss the commonwealth economic conference, because I have always preferred to discuss things that have happened rather than things that have not happened. As I was saying, in season and out of season in this house, hon. gentlemen opposite when they were on this side talked about the way in which the Liberal

administration was discouraging commonwealth trade. They did this at a time when we were doing what?

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PC
LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

We were lending hundreds of millions of dollars to maintain British trade with Canada after the war; removing restrictions one after another every year, and attempting to encourage trade with the United Kingdom in every way. Yet what do we find as the first positive-no, it is not positive; if anything it is more negative-action of this government? The first thing this government does, and they do it on the eve of a commonwealth conference, is to kick the British in the teeth and say we do not want your exports; we only want you to buy from us. We will let you export things to us if we are getting them from some other country.

Now, if it means anything at all that is what this step is calculated to do. It is calculated to reduce what the Leader of the Opposition pointed out was the biggest single British export to Canada, and what is their symbolic export to Canada. It seems to me we are being asked to embark upon a fundamental change in policy. The last time we did this-and this is another reason why I am opposed to it-was in the month of September, 1930. I sat in the gallery up there and watched Mr. Bennett introduce the first big increases in tariffs. We saw what happened. The trade of this country declined until it became a trickle; that is what happened.

In 1935 we embarked upon a different policy, a policy of expanding trade by every possible means. We saw that year after year our trade expanded. It would appear that in this furtive fashion we are going back to that Tory course again that will lead us into the position in which we were in 1933, 1934 and 1935. It seems to me that we in Canada should not take this dangerous turn.

(Translation):

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PC

J.-H.-Théogène Ricard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ricard:

Mr. Chairman, coming as I do from one of the main textile centres in the province of Quebec, St. Hyacinthe, where that industry counts 18 factories, and being myself a textile employee, as I worked in one of the most important plants of St. Hyacinthe, the Goodyear Cotton Co., I cannot refrain from saying a few words on a subject dear to my heart.

I would have liked to speak in English, after seeing the crocodile tears just shed by the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate (Mr. Pickersgill), but, as my notes are written in French and I have only a few minutes at my disposal, I shall express myself in French.

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LIB
PC

J.-H.-Théogène Ricard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ricard:

In fact, he probably speaks better French than the hon. member who just made that interjection.

The textile industry, Mr. Chairman, is one of the most stable in Canada. Employment in the textile industry, which in 1951 gave work to 98,000 people has been reduced to only 81,000 workers in 1956.

You will have noted, Mr. Chairman, that this situation occurred under a Liberal regime and those people are the very ones who today reproach the government with helping out textile workers. Yet, they did nothing at the time to prevent this situation from developing at the expense of the worker.

While in 1930, that industry was supplying 71 per cent of the national consumption, in 1957 it got only 57 per cent of the domestic market, always under a Liberal regime. From 1950 to 1955, still under a Liberal regime, foreign producers were allowed to grab 43 per cent of our national consumption. In 1948, Japan exported 0.4 million dollars' worth of textile products to Canada while in 1954, under a Liberal regime, I repeat, $4 million worth of Japanese textiles were imported into this country. In 1956, Japan exported to Canada 13J million yards of cotton, that is, the equivalent of 5 per cent of the Canadian production. While the Canadian production of textile products slowed down by 19 per cent, the Liberal government allowed foreign producers to export 24 per cent more textile products into Canada. From Italy alone, during the year 1956, again under a Liberal administration, shipments of woollens amounted to 1,720,000 yards, that is an increase of 140 per cent over the preceding years.

Mr. Chairman, the speeches made in this house by some hon. members of the opposition show clearly that the textile industry's business had begun to decline long before the Conservative party came into power. Some time ago, the hon. member for Shefford (Mr. Boivin) said, among other things, that the Canadian production of running shoes, the manufacture of which is based upon textile products, had dropped from 3,127,222 pairs in 1949 to 1,931,178 pairs in 1955, and this was again under a Liberal administration. Again, according to the hon. member for Shefford, during the same period the importation of shoes went up from 2,000 to

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2,200,000 pairs. Mr. Chairman, it is interesting, to see people who did nothing at the time, shed hot tears now over the present fate of textile workers.

I am therefore happy, on behalf of the textile workers of St. Hyacinthe, to thank the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fleming) for his stand in connection with our textile industry. About the consequences of the steps he has taken, I would like to quote an article published in La Presse on July 9, 1958:

A.bout 200 employees of the Penman's mills, at St. Hyacinthe, have been called back to work after many months of forced idleness. Mill manager E. G. James stated at the beginning of the week that production was "almost" back to normal.

In a letter to the member for St. Hyacinthe-Bagot in the House of Commons, Mr. James expressed his satisfaction that the tariff board and the federal government seem concerned with the serious problems of the textile industry. He points out however that the company of which he is the manager at St. Hyacinthe is only indirectly connected with the woollen industry which at the moment is foremost in the minds of our legislators. Mr. James adds that his company is very much interested in the tariffs that will apply to the knitting industry. In conclusion, he conveys his thanks to the federal member for St. Hyacinthe, Mr. Theo Ricard, for his concern over the textile regression and the interest he has shown in ways to protect that basic industry.

Mr. Chairman, the textile industry certainly has not yet solved every problem it has to face, but I trust that the legislation introduced by this government will be such as to give more work to employees of Canadian textile mills.

(Text):

At one o'clock the committee took recess.

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AFTER RECESS The committee resumed at 2.30 p.m.


PC

George Stanley White (Government Whip in the Senate)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. While:

I did not intend to take part in this debate until the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate quoted from the London Free Press. He mentioned an article by Mr. Walter Harvey of the University of Western Ontario, and he tried to leave the impression with this house that the ideas expressed by Mr. Harvey were those of the London Free Press. I should therefore at once point out to him and to the house that Mr. Harvey is a free lance writer and that practically all the articles carried in the London Free Press are preceded by these words:

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the London Free Press.

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The Liberal party, in the speeches of its members today on tariff item 554b dealing with the woollen cloth industry, has demonstrated to Canadians-both industry and labour-that this industry is expendable. This is an industry which ever since confederation has employed a large number of workers in this country. Just to give the house an idea of some of the expressions of opinion voiced by Mr. Walter Harvey, I would like to mention two such expressions of opinion which the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate did not quote. The first of these is as follows:

If the Canadian producers really need a 50 per cent duty, they must be inefficient.

And secondly he has this to say in the London Free Press of July 3 last:

The lower wages paid to workers in Britain, or in Hong Kong for that matter, have nothing to do with the case. The Canadian woollen industry is not in competition for labour with any industry outside Canada. Wages are high in Canada because we have some efficient industries that can pay high wages and meet all comers in the markets of the world.

I should not say that I am amazed because the Liberal party is following the policy it has verbally espoused for many long years. However, when it was in power it did not practise that policy, and in fact gave a great deal of high protection to some industries which did not need it.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Would the hon. member permit a question?

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PC

George Stanley White (Government Whip in the Senate)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. White:

No.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

That is perfectly satisfactory. I always do.

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L L
PC

George Stanley White (Government Whip in the Senate)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. White:

The hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate is at his best when he is interrupting people.

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L L

William Moore Benidickson

Liberal Labour

Mr. Benidickson:

I think he is at his best when he is interrupted.

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PC

George Stanley White (Government Whip in the Senate)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. White:

However, I was just saying, Mr. Chairman, that the Liberal party has indicated to this house that the Canadian woollen cloth industry is expendable. I think it has also failed to realize that in June of 1957 and in March of this year the Canadian people very plainly told the Liberals that they had had enough of this nonsense which had been going on for 22 years and as soon as the Liberals wake up to the voice of the people they will cease saying the things they said this morning about Canadian industry.

I was also interested to hear the views of the C.C.F. party. That party stayed on the fence; it shed crocodile tears for the workers

but indicated it had no interest in the industry. Where does that get us? I think the Canadian people pretty well caught up to the C.C.F. in the last two elections, and I am just waiting to see the results of the next one.

I would also like to say that I am amazed at the opinions expressed by Mr. Walter Harvey, who professes to know so much and yet in some of his writings has revealed how little he knows about the political and economic facts of life in Canada. In this article he has demonstrated a very biased political opinion.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Would the hon. member now permit a question? Did I understand the hon. gentleman to say that the Liberal party had given more protection than was necessary to a number of industries?

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August 13, 1958