January 26, 1912 (12th Parliament, 1st Session)


William Pugsley



In reply to your cable of the 7th, every effort will be made to facilitate the discussion of this matter with Rose, as I heartily reciprocate your "wish that results satisfactory to our respective governments may be reached.
Nothing .more was done during that year. We find that on the 16th December, 1910; Mr. Ross advised the department tiba-t there had -been no further developments in reference to reciprocal trade between Canada and Australia, 'but stated that he understood it was the intention of the Prime Minister of Australia to discuss the matter with the Prime Minister of Canada when they met at the Colonial Conference in London in the May following. I am not aware whether there was any discussion at the Colonial Conference or not; but we know that no results were attained, for the return which brings the facts down to the 15th of the present month makes reference to the negotiations, but does not state that anything was accomplished. Then the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Foster) '.ikes the matter up, and on the 28th of December last, writes the following letter 'o the Hon Mr. Tudor, Minister of Trade and Commerce for Australia. I think it would be well that the letter of my hon. fiend should be placed cn * Hansard ' as flowing the action taken:
Since 1898 our two countries have been -ndeavouring from to time to time to arrive vt an agreement for better mutual trade re-'ations but so far without success.
In the meantime, Canada has admitted he British Colonies), including the West indies as also the Dominions of South Africa -nd New Zealand, to the advantages of her British preferential reduction over non-pre-'erred countries, and which amounts to *bout 30 per cent, of tlie duty. A return has been accorded by South Africa and New Zealand, and negotiations are now going on 'or preferential return from the West 'ndies, and with fair prospects of success.
It seems to me too bad that with our great sister Dominion in -the Pacific we ave not been long since able to arrange our trade on a preferential basis, and I can as-ure you that Canada is very desirous both on sentimental grounds and for reasons of -mtual advantage, that this anomaly shall be removed as speedily as possible.
We give you already a considerable free 'ist for some of your staple products, although we got no very great return from you :n that respect for any of our great staples. SVe stand ready to give you a substantial preference upon all articles of export in re

:rn for a substantial preference to our ex-*o*rts to your country and a free entrance for some of our natural products.
Proposals have been made to exchange your limited preference for a limited preference of entry into our country, but it scarcely seems adequate that we should proceed on so restricted a basis.

Can we not at least approach the matter with a sincere desire and a determination to come to some fair agreement, and thus hind our two countries closer together on the lines of commercial intercourse and exchange? If your government will make a proposition, I shall be very much pleased to take it up with my colleagues, and to pursue the negotiations with you to a finish, and I do not see why we should not come to conclusions which would be mutually advantageous. Once preferential inducements are added, our steamship communications can be bettered, and by this means our two kindred peoples will become more intimately acquainted with and interested in each other.
If, on the other hand, you wish Canada to make a proposition to you with the assurance that you desire to follow it to a completion, I shall be glad to place a proposal before you for consideration.
May I hope to hear from you in good time? Our Mr. Ross will give you any desired information as to our products, our exports and imports.
I desire to say that in my opinion the action of the Minister of Trade and Commerce in sending this communication to the Australian government is worthy of all commendation; but may I point out what I think is one objection, from the Canadian standpoint, to my hon. friend's letters? 'My hon. friend rather puts it that the improvement of the tariff relations is to precede the establishment of better steamship communication between the two countries. He suggests that if we can get a preferential tariff satisfactory to Canada then the steamship communication might be improved. In my judgment this country should move ahead irrespective of any improvement in tariff relations between Canada and other countries, and wherever there is an opportunity to develop trade, Canada should encourage the establishment of proper steamship communication in order to give facilities for trade. As I said before, high freight rates and inadequate steamship accommodation are just as much a barrier to improved trade between any two countries as the raising or maintaining of a tariff wall. The late government has shown an example which my hon. friend might well imitate. I find that for the encouragement of foreign trade between Canada and other (Countries, including Great Britain anldl tire Dominions beyond the seas, Canada gave, last year, the very large sum of $1,440,000. It seems to me that everyone must recognize that the improved steamship accommodation which has been secured by means of these very handsome subsidies has been a Very great factor in developing the toreign trade of Canada to the enormous proportions which it has now attained, and of which every Canadian is so proud.
But, Sir, in considering whether or not my hon. friend has good ground for hoping that he will be able to accomplish anything
by his negotiations as Minister of Trade and Commerce, I am constrained to say that the past record of the right hon. the leader of the government (Mr. Borden), not only in his actions, but in his speeches, does not give very strong ground for the-hope that my hon. friend will receive encouragement in the work which he has undertaken of endeavouring to improve the trade relations between Canada and these respective countries by diplomatic action. My hon. friend, I know, is ai times enthusiastic in favour of enlarging the foreign trade of Canada. We know that as long ago as 1891, my hon. friend, in a most admirable speech which he made in this House, declared that he and the government of which he was a member were in favour of widening the bounds of commerce on every side amd then, as if some one were aisikiing the question, he said: "With the United States? Yes," but we find, Mr. Speaker, that when the opportunity came for my hon. friend to lend the force of his great power, and his surpassing eloquence towards widening the bounds of commerce with the great republic to the south, after some consideration, when about to plunge into the late political campaign, my hon. friend was one of the very strongest in denouncing the proposal which had been made by the late government to widen the bounds of commerce with the United States. Then I find that no longer ago than the 8th day of December last, my right hon. friend the leader of the government (Mr. Borden), who, when he speaks, must be taken as speaking for the party which he leads, was the guest of the Canadian Society of New York, and made a speech upon that occasion. He, I suppose, felt called upon to give to the people he was addressing some explanation of the action of the party of which he is the leader in turning down or seeking to have turned down the best-I say it advisedly-the best trade arrangement which was ever offered to the people of Canada. He felt called upon to explain the extraordinary course which the Conservative party had pursued with reference to that question. He was addressing a number of intelligent gentlemen who were familiar with the history of the negotiations which had taken place between Canada and the United States for many years past. He was addressing gentlemen who knew that all parties in Canada had been for years endeavouring to obtain better trade relations between these two great countries, and who would naturally be surprised at the action of the Conservative party, and would expect to hear some reason for the extraordinary position which the Conservative party, under the leadership of my right hon. friend, had taken. What was the language of my right hon. friend on that occasion? And remember,

Mr. Speaker, that what 1 propose to read is not apparently a mere newspaper report made upon the spot; the whole report of the speech bears evidence that my right hon. friend had, in accordance with the practice of many eminent statesmen, both in the mother country and in America, furnished typewritten copies of his speech in advance to the newspapers, with the understanding that it was to be printed when it had actually been delivered. I shall quote from the report as published in the St. John ' Standard,' the leading Conservative paper in the province of New Brunswick, although I saw the same report, word for word, in the other Conservative papers in Canada.
The right hon. gentleman said that:
For thirty years and more we have followed certain national ideas and policies which we firmly intend to pursue and continue in the future. We reached the conclusion that the recent proposals were inconsistent with those ideals and policies.
Now, I come to the language to which I invite the attention of my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce. The right hon. gentleman proceeded:
Moreover, we entirely disbelieve in the framing of tariffs by diplomatic methods. That system has been tested between different states under the British flag, notably in South Africa, and the results have been far from satisfactory.
Is my hon. friend aware that the right hon. leader of the government has made that declaration as to what would be the policy of the Conservative party in the future, and as to the principles for which they stand in so far as trade between Canada and other countries is concerned? Remember, the right hon. gentleman was not stating what was and what would be the policy of the Conservative party simply as between Canada and foreign countries, but he was laying down the general principle that, so far as relations between Canada and foreign countries were con-.cerned and so far as relations between Canada and sister colonies of the empire were concerned, he and his party entirely disproved of any attempt to make tariffs as the result of diplomatic action. Yet, my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce is, apparently with a light heart and hopeful spirit, moving ahead just as if his leader had not made that declaration. Would it be unfair for the governments of the British West Indies and the government of Australia, when they read this declaration of the right hon. leader of the government, to have a slight suspicion that my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce was not sincere in these negotiations but was simply playing with the governments of these important British possessions?
It may be that my right hon. friend has been misreported. I will say to you, Mr. Speaker, that when I saw this statement I was surprised at it, but it was explaining the course of the Conservative party in reference to the arrangement with the United States.
The language of my right hon. friend the leader of the government is in harmony with statements whi-ch have been made by members of the Conservative party in this House and throughout the country and, giving to the language of my right hon. friend the meaning which must necessarily be given to the words which he uttered, he appears to have deliberately made the declaration that in so far as Canada is concerned she is going to act independently in her tariff legislation, she is not going to have any negotiations in relation to tariff matters either with foreign countries or British possessions, she is going to act independently in the framing of her own tariff, to enter into no negotiation in future and to leave other countries, foreign as well as British, to do as they please in so far as their tariffs are concerned.
I do not wish to take up any more of the time of the House. I thought it weld to call attention to this statement of my right hon. friend, not, as I have said, a casual statement, but a statement made as embodying the well settled views and policy of the Conservative party in so far as the arrangement of tariffs is concerned. It seems to me that the course of my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce is entirely out of harmony with the statement of his leader. So far as we on this side of the House are concerned, and I am sure in so far as the Liberal party throughout the country is concerned, we believe in doing everything possible to enlarge the bounds of Canadian trade. We believe in giving to our people facilities and encouragement for the exportation of their produce and manufactures to all the countries of the world, whether it is to the United States, whether it is to British possessions, whether it is to France, or to any other country of the world, and we believe there is no more effective way of doing this than in connection with the improvement of transportation, negotiating with the governments of those countries with the view of having improved trade relations with them. That has been the policy of the Liberal party in the past; that will be its policy in the future. It will be satisfactory to me, and, I am sure, it will be satisfactory to the members of this House to learn that the right hon. leader of the government has been misreported by the newspapers of his party, but, as the same verbatim report appeared in different newspapers, I assume that the hon. gentleman was correctly reported and that in that speech he

laid down the policy of the Conservative party, and gave a clear declaration as to what would be its course in the future in so far as tariff relations between Canada and other countries are concerned.

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