March 4, 1936 (18th Parliament, 1st Session)


James Gray Turgeon


Mr. J. G. TURGEON (Cariboo):

I could not rise for the first time to address the house without first saying a word to His Honour the Speaker who has been given authority to preside over the destinies of the House of Commons. I would speak in this connection particularly since it has been my privilege to have had his honour's friendship for some years. Naturally my remarks to-day will be in English, not only because ' English is the language of my every-day life and, therefore, of my thoughts, but because essentially it is the language of my constituency and of the province from which I come. At the same time, not merely for the sake of saying a few words in the two official languages but in order that I may pay a tribute to His Honour the Speaker, I crave the indulgence of the house to speak briefly in the language which is particularly his own and that of the province from which he comes, the language which his ancestors and certain of my ancestors brought to this country hundreds of years ago, the language which has given so much to the literature and to the social and political life of Canada and, if I may add a purely personal tone, the language which my own elderly father took with him from the old province of Quebec when as a young man he went to my native province of New Brunswick. It is the language which during the last thirty-five or thirty-six years he has used in this chamber on many occasions.
(Translation): I wish to extend to the hanr-ourable Speaker my sincerest congratulations on the occasion of his election to the exalted and responsible office which he now occupies. I also wish to congratulate the house for having chosen to preside over its deliberations a man whose tact, learning and parliamentary experience assure him of a splendid career in the speaker's chair.
(Text): May I preface my remarks cm. the subject of reciprocity by saying a word or two with reference to the first minister of Canada (Mr. Mackenzie King). Speaking last week on this subject the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett), in his condemnation of the agreement made on behalf of Canada by the Prime Minister, brought before us an image of the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier refusing to accept an offer of reciprocity from the United States because he thought it militated against the interests of Canadian producers and industry. It is true that the name of Laurier is one which may be conjured with in this house and country, but I must say that it is not one the image of which may effectively be brought before us by the very people who

Canada-U. S. Trade Agreement
hounded him throughout his life and eventually sacrificed him because of their pretended patriotism and their grasping greed for political power. It was in connection with this very question of freer trade with the United States that Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1911 met his defeat.
In appreciation of the Prime Minister of to-day may I say that in bringing before Canada an opportunity once more to accept the privileges of a reciprocal agreement with the United States he is treading on hallowed ground, ground hallowed by the sufferings and struggles, and eventually, by the sacrifice of the great past chieftain of the Liberal party, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. On behalf not only of myself but of the people in the great constituency I have the honour and privilege of representing in this chamber I wish to pay the Prime Minister our hearty and cordial respects for what he has done. He has given us an opportunity for a greater degree of material prosperity than we have had in the last five or six years. But by the manner in which he brought about this reciprocal agreement he has done something more than that for the Canadian people. He has restored to people of Canada that confidence, that faith in their fellowmen and that belief in the institutions of government which during the last four or five years they had been losing, but which has now returned.
As I listened to the hon. member for Davenport (Mr. MacNicol) who has just taken his seat, two points were developed with which I think I ought to deal. He said that hon. members ought to accept the statement by the leader of the opposition that he had had an opportunity of making an agreement similar to the one before us, but that in the interests of Canada he refused to make it. I would be more ready to accept that statement if during the election campaign the right hon. gentleman opposite, the then Prime Minister, had made that statement publicly. I come from a district the very development of which demands an agreement of this kind and demands a market for its natural' products. Throughout the riding we were told, from meeting to meeting, that ail we had to do was to wait until election day had passed and Canada would have a reciprocal agreement with the United States.
The other statement made by the hon. member for Davenport to which I shall pay a little attention was that when we talked about the benefits to be received by Canadian producers through the operation of the agreement, we were not taking into consideration the trade they would lose by reason of lack 12739-49J
of ability to deal with the woodsmen of this country. I have before me a communication dealing with this matter which, with permission of the house, I shall read. Before reading it, however, on behalf of myself and the people in that part of northern British Columbia which I represent may I say a word to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) in appreciation of the efforts he has exercised on our behalf not only in connection with negotiating this agreement but in connection with everything else that has come before the government since he entered the cabinet formed by the first minister.
The telegram is adressed to me by the Prince George Spruce Manufacturers Association, a group which the hon. member for Davenport will no doubt admit has something to do with lumber and woodsmen. It is in these words: .
J. G. Turgeon, M.P.,
Ottawa, Ont.
Reciprocity treaty with United States best thing that has happened to northern British Columbia lumber industry in many years. Prior to imposition of American tariff this district shipping eighty per cent to United states operated fifteen sawmills employing at least 2,500 men cutting 120,000,000 feet payroll about $2,000,000. Following imposition tariff this shrunk year by year until only five mills operated employing about 500 men. Fall has seen marked improvement price and shipment volume and definite plans for this year call for operation ten mills with prospects of more and' with greater scale operations for mills which operated last year.
Log scale and employment should be at least double last year's with considerable additional employment in railway and other auxiliary services. Additional employment should take care of most employable relief cases in sawmill area. Possibly best feature of treaty is that it permits shipment to States of low grade lumber for crating, et cetera, which could not be shipped under four dollar tariff, and which was formerly dumped on prairie at ruinously low prices depressing that market. This association has no political bias and is glad to commend any government action which helps our industry. The reciprocity agreement has been definitely helpful.
Prince George Spruce Manufacturers Association.
In addition to the lumber industry in that great portion of northern British Columbia we have that very important cattle industry which permeates every -part of northern British Columbia and finds its way into the great Peace River district, which is partly in Cariboo and partly in Alberta. During the last few years the voice of the Peace River district has made itself heard in this house, on many occasions, always I think complaining of injustices because of action or lack of action by governments in the past. The voice of the Peace River district has been heard all
Canada-V. S. Trade Agreement

over the north American continent, and even across the ocean in Great Britain and part of Europe, crying to the world for settlement of its fertile and productive soil, and I am glad to-day, Mr. Speaker, speaking on behalf of the great cattle raising and agri-* cultural industry of Cariboo, to read in connection with this trade agreement a few telegrams of approval that I have received with respect to the reciprocity treaty now before the house. The first is from Dawson Creek, B.C., signed by W. S. Bullen, president of the Peace River Block Live Stock Breeding and Feeding Association. It says:
Peace River Live Stock Breeding and Feeding Association unanimously approve reciprocity agreement. Same vital to live stock industry of this northern district which is most important source of profit. Will supply outlet for live stock and secure means assisting this country return to prosperity. Dawson Creek centre very heavy shipments hogs and cattle but heavily grained cattle being sold at loss to feeders.
W. S. Bullen, President.
I have another one signed by the board of trade of Fort St. John, which is the centre of all that part of northern British Columbia lying north of the Peace river, and which only awaits action such as this agreement and other action that parliament can take, to bring it to the prosperity that will ultimately come to it. The telegram reads:
At special meeting Fort St. John board of trade the following resolution was unanimously passed, that this board of trade wire J. G. Turgeon, M.P., expressing its support of reciprocity trade treaty in general.
D. P. McKay, Secretary, Fort St. John Board' of Trade.
I have another telegram from Fort St. John, reading as follows:
Peace River Block Farmers endorse reciprocal trade agreement between the United States and Canada.
J. W. Abbott, President,
Peace River Block Farmers Institute.
I do not intend to spend much more time upon this question, because I think these messages, not from individuals, but from reliable associations of producers express better than I can their appreciation and commendation of the action of the right hon. Prime Minister of Canada and his colleagues in negotiating this treaty with the United States. There are, however, one or two observations that I should like to make.
I have heard it said in the house, as have other hon. members-and it is but a repetition of the argument that was so destructive of the reciprocity pact in 1911-that we must be careful forever to maintain our east and west trade channel which has built up this

Canada of ours, and that we must be perpetually upon our guard against even commencing on a north and south trade channel. That is the argument which has been underlying the whole economic policy of Canada practically ever since confederation, or at least since 1878 when the national policy of Sir John A. Macdonald was introduced. All Canada has heard the complaints from British Columbia and Alberta with reference to injustices in the freight rate structure of Canada. Let me ask you this, Mr. Speaker: If there are injustices in our freight rate structure, are not those injustices based upon that very element of our economic policy which says that we must forever maintain our traffic in an east and west channel? But this Canada of ours is a country which extends not only from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but north and south. Many portions of this dominion are but thinly populated, and there has been built up, by a combination of unconscionably high tariffs linked together with that very element of our economic policy which says that we must maintain our trade in a channel running east and west, a concentration of industry at a few points in Ontario and Quebec, with the result that we have that unjust and unholy accumulation of wealth against which the whole country is crying to-day.
We can look for many causes; we can trace many of the steps that have been taken by these few men in Canada who control the accumulated productive wealth of the country, but the most potent cause of all is the undue protection that has been given by high tariffs to our secondary industries, coupled with our freight rate structure and that element of our economic policy which says that forever we must maintain our channel of trade east and west, and that everything that is produced and required in the maritime provinces down by the Atlantic, and everything that is produced and required in the far western provinces, on the prairies and in British Columbia, must find its way to and from those central points where the secondary industries are established' in those central portions of Canada. I am not saying anything against secondary industries, but I believe this Canada of ours was meant by providence for primary production, and that our secondary industries should be built upon the success of our primary industries. But because of that, combination of circumstances to which I have referred, unconscionably high tariffs and the freight rate structure, we have seen our secondary industries prosper out of all proportion to our primary industries. No one objects to our secondary industries

Canada-U. S. Trade Agreement
prospering, but we do object to their prospering through the strangling of our primary producers.
I well remember that immediately following the election of 1911-and in that election campaign we were told that we must maintain our east and west trade channel and must beware of starting traffic north and1 south-at the very first session of parliament the government, supported by the present leader of the opposition, did two things almost by the same instrument. First, they caused the death of a motion that was presented to the House of Commons asking that the congestion of traffic in hauling grain from the prairie provinces to Fort William-it will be remembered there was a serious congestion in the year 1911-12- be relieved by lowering t'he freight rate from the prairies to the Pacific coast. The killing of that motion was followed almost immediately by an announcement by the then Minister of Trade and Commerce, the late Sir George Foster, that he had arranged with the United States Interstate Commerce Commission for a reduction of freight rates on Canadian grain passing over American railroads to American ports for shipment to Great Britain and Europe. That was within three months of the time when the reciprocity agreement negotiated by Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Mr. Fielding in 1911 had been defeated by the same cry that has been raised in the house during this debate, that we must beware of north and south channels of trade.
Let me ask a question with relation to this very cry. Before long the house will be giving consideration to possible means of increasing the tourist traffic; we shall be doing everything within our power to bring tourists from the United States to Canada. The former Minister of Railways, Mr. Manion, has stated that a properly organized tourist traffic would bring into Canada from one to two billions of new money. If every time we think of trading with the United States we are told that we must not have any traffic north and south, how can we encourage tourist traffic? I represent a constituency in the great undeveloped and fertile section of northern British Columbia. If we cannot have a traffic north and south, how can we bring in tourists to that great area? How can we do anything to advance the development of that part of British Columbia if we must always be on our guard against opening up, even to the least degree, channels of traffic running north and south instead of east and west? On behalf of the people of northern British Columbia, and especially those who live in the far reaches of the Peace river, I want to see something done to break the grip of certain interests
in this country. I want to see channels of trade opened up to the north and south. Wealth has been concentrated in the hands of a very few and I want to see something done to break the grip which that concentration of wealth has upon the whole of Canada. I believe the greatest step that could be taken has been taken by this government by the introduction of this reciprocity agreement. I desire to commend the right hon. the Prime Minister and his colleagues upon the action they have taken. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and through you, the house, for the patience and courtesy it has shown me in listening to my first attempt to address it.

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