I was optimistic when I had good ground for being so. If I had been Minister of Trade and Commerce during the past three months, I think I would have had an amount in the main estimates for the improvement of the service to the West Indies, and I think that before this, that service would have been improved. There are two ways of improving the trade conditions between Canada and other countries. There are two barriers to trade. One is the tariff. The other is no communication at all or inadequate or expensive communication; and the trade between Canada and the West Indies may be hampered by the nonimprovement of the service as well as by the tariff remaining as it is, and trade relations can, be improved by giving a better steamship service as well as by a reduction of the tariff between the two countries. And I do think that my hon. friend, instead of giving attention simply to the one question of getting improved trade relations so far as the tariff between Canada and the West Indies is concerned, should have devoted his attention earnestly to the improvement of the steamship communication and if possible the reducing of the rates of freight. The commissioners appointed by the Canadian and British and by some of the West Indian governments as well to consider the -question of improved trade relations and better steam communication made a very strong recommendation in favour of an improved steamship service. They recommended that there should be two services between Canada and the Windward Islands -one being a direct service from Halifax all the year round, and the other a service between Montreal and the West Indies but calling at St. John during the summer months, and a direct and exclusive service between St. John and the West Indies during the winter months. I had the opportunity' of conferring with the representatives of the Board of Trade of St. John 63i
to whom was 'entrusted1 the matter of considering the West Indies service, and I had reason to believe that the people of St. John would be entirely satisfied with that. I believe also it will be satisfactory to the people of the province of Quebec, Ontario and the western provinces, because in summer we would have a steamship service starting at Montreal and calling at St. John and in the winter an exclusive and direct service to the port of St. John.
With the very excellent railway accommodation we have now between St. John and the west, it was felt that that service would be very satisfactory to the people of the upper provinces and of western Canada in both summer and winter. Of course, it will cost Canada something more than it is now paying in order to secure this important service. I understand the British government has not expressed its willingness to give the aid that was recommended by the Royal Commission; but it does seem to me that if the government is-as I am glad to believe it to he-desirous of improving the trade relations between Canada and the British West Indies and of enlarging the trade between the two countries, it should not allow $50,000 or even $100,000 to stand in the way of securing frequent, rapid and satisfactory steamship service. Therefore, I hope that when my hon. friend comes to consider what aid he will ask his colleague the Minister of Finance to provide in the supplementary estimates for steamship services, he will not forget to put in an additional amount in order to secure, at as early a day as possible, better communication between Canada and the West Indies. The country will, I am sure, approve of the expenditure, and I have no doubt that the results will justify such action on the part of the government.
I observe that the Minister of Trade and Commerce has laid on the table a report relating to this subject of trade between Canada and the West Indies. That report recites the appointment of the Royal Commission, reports the action which was taken by representatives of the late Canadian government, as well as representatives of the British government and the representatives of the several West Indian islands. In concluding the committee state the willingness of this government to meet the representatives of the several West Indian colonies, at the earliest convenient opportunity, if possible, during the month of March, 1912. That, I presume, will be for the purpose of endeavouring, if possible, to carry into effect the recommendation of the Royal Commissioners. I hope that the result will be, if not a reduction in
tariff between the two countries, at all events, an improvement of the means of communication; for, as I have said, improved communication will probably go as far in improving the trade between the two countries as a reduction in the tariff.
Now, I have observed, from the returns laid upon the table, that my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce <Mr. Foster) is following along the lines laid down by his predecessor in endeavouring to improve the trade relations between Canada and Australia. The returns show that ever since 1900, at all events, the late government has been continually urging, so far as properly could be urged, upon the consideration of the Australian government the desirability of making some preferential trade arrangement between the two countries. So far, their efforts have not been successful. I shall not take up the time of the House by reading the returns, 'but will very briefly state the nature of the last communication on this subject by the late government and will also read the latest communication from the present government. Mr. Ross represents the Canadian government in Australia. I find that on November 7, 1910-just ten years after the late government entered upon negotiations -the Department of Trade and Commerce communicated with Mr. Ross as follows:
Instructed by Minister of Trade and Commerce direct you should inquire Australian government will they make any concession to the Canadian government if the duty is abolished on Australian mutton. Will they make any concession if duty is reduced l') cents? Instruction- to observe -that in either case such action would be opposed here.
And on February 9, 1910, Mr. Ross
In reply to your telegram of the 7th, have had an interview with Minister of Customs. In their opinion, -think it a better course to pursue to exchange present preferential tariff early next session parliament in June without reference to mutton. Better postpone more extended preferential arrangement owing to the political situation. Our private opinion Australian government will not oommi-t themselves definitely oil account of the elections in April.On the 6th August, 1910, the leader of the opposition, then the leader of the government-, cabled Premier Fisher atMelbourne: *
It has long been the wish of the Canadian government to have better trade relations with Australia. Ross, our agent, is authorized to negotiate, and I express hope that results satisfactory to both parties may be reached.
On the 8th August, 1910, Premier Fisher cabled the right hon. gentleman, SirWilfrid Laurier, as follows:
Subtopic: TRADE BETWEEN CANADA AND THE WEST INDIAN ISLANDS AND AUSTRALIA.