April 4, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)


Of course they go together; they are inseparable. I can readily understand the argument by which one advances an increase of exports over imports as tending to show that a trade agreement is beneficial. I can readily understand the argument that an increase in imports may be beneficial if we are a creditor country and the imports come from a debtor country. Such an increase would indicate that at least we are getting payment of our debts. But to merely cite increases in exports without relation to the other factors which I have mentioned, is no evidence or proof of benefit to this country.
Had I anticipated speaking on this resolution I would have obtained certain figures to present to the minister. I am confident that if I had got them from the bureau of statistics

Relief and Agricultural Distress
they would have illustrated clearly the fallacy of stating merely an increase in exports as an argument in support of what the minister was saying. I remember in 1933 or 1934 when I spoke during the budget debate I advanced an argument which may not have been accepted by many but which I still think is sound. I took the world trade figures in 1929, and in the year in which I was speaking, and showed that whereas world trade had decreased 68 per cent and that of our great neighbour to the south 65 per cent, nevertheless in Canada, under the policies of protection inaugurated by the Conservative government then in power, our trade had decreased only 60 per cent, and I suggest to my hon. friend that if he would take the percentage of increase in world trade to-day over the world trade when the government of which he is a member came into power, and then compare with that Canada's increase in trade, he would find, I am confident, that these trade agreements to which he pins his hope for solving the unemployment problem in the future have not resulted in the benefits which he would lead us to believe.
Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I hope that when we have the bill before us it will contain some more concrete suggestion for a contribution to the solution of the problem of unemployment in this country than was indicated by the minister this afternoon, and I suggest for his very serious consideration that if he desires to bring about a great increase in the building industry-and I agree with him that a substantial increase in the building industry would make a greater contribution to the solution of unemployment than anything else I can think of at the moment-then this government must lead the way in taking off the home owner and real estate owner some of the burden of taxation which is now imposed upon them.

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