April 23, 1914 (12th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Alfred Henry Clarke



I would not like to
send my wheat there for any months in the year; I have very little belief in the project. I know that both parties have supported this project, but I wish to put in a
word for my own party, because when they were in power the case was altogether different. The Liberal party did foolish enough things when in power, but they never were foolish enough to prefer the Hudson Bay road to an assured market of a hundred million people. That market was not open to ns then, and the Hudson Bay road was an alternative to nothing south of the line. But to propose to the farmers of the West that they should wait for this railroad development is a very weak argument-certainly it is utterly unsatisfactory to my mind. I should say that the policy for people who want to do business and develop the country along wise lines is to try that which is at youir hand-try the market to the south and go on with that when you can. get it.
But this whole argument of the Minister of Finance was vitiated, as was that of the Minister of Trade and Commerce this afternoon, by the thought that all this fine dreaming, all this fine political weaving can be reduced to naught by the United States Government. The interruption was perfectly pertinent, I think, of some hon. member on this sido who asked the Minister of Trade and Commerce: What will you do when the duty is taken off wheat by the United States Government? We are absolutely at the mercy of the United States in that matter. They have proven that in the case of cattle. Everything that my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce advanced about the impossibility of trade south of the line was advanced with regard to cattle as well as with regard to wheat two years ago. And everything advanced with regard to cattle has been absolutely falsified by what has happened and the prophecies of hon. gentlemen opposite are discounted to that extent. We on this side of the House have the right to say that our predictions and the position we took two years ago have been absolutely justified; and I believe that if free trade in wheat were given we should be justified in that particular also.
I should like my hon. friend opposite to compare the dignified position which Canada occupied under the reciprocity treaty with that to which the people of Canada have been reduced by the attitude of the present Government. When we arranged reciprocity we made a treaty which was equally honourable to ns and to the United States, a treaty under which we should have

dealt on equal terms. But with a Government supinely holding their hands and incapable of doing anything, the Canadian people are, if you like, dragged into commerce by the scruff of the neck by a foreign Government. I give the people that thought as showing that the policy of the present Government is weakness itself compared with that of theisr predecessor.
There is a great responsibility resting upon my hon. friend yet in this matter, and upon the Government of which he is a member. I wish to impress this upon him. And the responsibility is all the' greater because it has been proven past all doubt by the action of the Conservative Manitoba Legislature that even in Manitoba there is no difference on this subject. I presume that the members of the Manitoba Legislature are aware what is the opinion of the people of that province. Yet my friends opposite come forward as exponents of what they call a national policy and tell the West not to look at things sectionally. What harm can it do the East if we get free trade in wheat? Of all the peculiar arguments I have ever listened to, the argument directed to the idea that you can hurt, for example, the manufacturers of agricultural implements by promoting the prosperity of the farmers is the most peculiar. Did ever any one hear such nonsense talked-you make prosperous farmers and you thereby ruin the manufacturers of agricultural implements. That is the true National Policy-build your farmers, and they will build your railways and youT manufacturers as well.
Now, I do not need to dwell long upon the question of free implements; I will just say that I think the Government have made a great mistake in the way they 'have handled this subject. They are very inconsistent in touching it at all. We heard something from my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce this afternoon about a political policy. I do not think that the Government in taking off a paltry five per cent from the duties on two lines of implements can be said to have acted absolutely free from political considerations. I do not think they believe that this change will affect the prices of implements one jot or tittle. This reduction has been given to save the face of my hon. friend the Solicitor General (Mr. Meighen) and the other Conservative representatives from western Canada-that is the whole object of this paltry reduction. Sound economics following the line of argument of my hon. friend's speech would teach that the only way to be sure
of decreasing the revenue from these articles-and if we are going to economize, we must decrease revenue and take less from the pockets of the people-would be to make the implements free; and the only way you can be sure of reducing the price to the farmer is to make them free, as Mr. Wilson has done in the United States. We are told that this will destroy the industry.
I do not believe it. Did the placing of cream separators on the free list destroy the industry on cream separators? There are splendid and flourishing cream separator manufactories in this country. Why? Because the moment you made these machines free to that extent you helped the dairy industry, and the dairy industry reacts upon the cream separator industry. And there you have exactly the proper method of developing an industry and increasing the prosperity of this country. My hon. friends who are protectionists are continually trying to build the prosperity of the country by poising the cone upon its apex. You must put the cone upon its base, and the apex will stand all right-it requires a juggler to do it the other way, not an economist.
Now, I wish to say something in conclusion about the iron and steel duties. I am bound to admit that while the placing of these duties on iron and steel like the reduction of the implement duties will not have much effect in Western Canada one way or the other, it is a very astute political move. As such it is a strange comment on the term ' national ' as applied to the protectionist policy. It appeals to Nova Scotia and to Ontario, and it has made its appeal in these directions in a way that is interesting to me as a free trader looking on. The very fact that it is an astute political move is the strongest condemnation of it economically; it is an unwise move economically just because it is not a national policy. The hon. Minister of Finance indicated, as have certain other speakers, that the iron and steel industry is next in importance to agriculture in this country. I do not agree with that; transporation, railways, is the next in my opinion. And this is where the mistakes come in of putting these duties upon steel and iron. It is sometimes said that protection is a good policy for a young country. Here is an interesting sidelight upon the study of the problem: the name of John StuaTt Mill was mentioned by the hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Thompson) as giving his authority to that view. Well, I have somewhere a pamphlet containing

several letters from Mr. Mill, in which he expressed the utmost regret that in a moment of inadvertence he had given passing countenance to that opinion. But we do not need to depend upon authority for the settlement of that question; we are a young country; we have common sense, and we can settle it for ourselves. We can settle for ourselves whether the duties on steel and iron are good for a young country. Is there anyone who will get up in this House and deny that transportation to the farms and to the people of this country is next in importance to the basic industry of agriculture? I do not think any western member will. The Government and their supporters admit my views upon this matter; they say: we agree with you that railways are very important; let us promote the building of railways by making iron dear. Is that good logic? Is it common sense? You will promote the building of railroads by making iron cheap; if you put a tariff upon iron you make iron dear, and to that extent you put obstacles in the way of the development of a young country. England could afford tar better than Canada to have a tax upon steel and iron. England has now 20 miles of railway to every 100 square miles of the country; that means that no one in England is, on the average, more than two and a half miles from a railway. England, an old country, could much better afford, from this transportation point of view, to have taxes upon steel [DOT]and iron than we can. But, after all, what is the good of arguing with a Government that talks about building railroads by making iron and steel dear? What is the good of arguing with a Government that gives bounties or imposes duties in favour of the iron and steel industry, and then puts up its Solicitor General to talk for three hours and a half in favour of wooden trestles on railways? The way to promote the iron and steel industry is to use iron and steel, not wooden trestles. If I were the Solicitor General, I would not take a brief for wooden trestles; I would leave a wooden argument like that to wooden heads. The people do not want iron. I do not want any iron; what is the good of mere iron to me? I want nails; I want stoves and I want railways; I do not want iron. But you make all these things that I do want costly by putting duties upon steel rods; you make the things the people actually do want costly, and then you say that protection is a good thing for a young
country. I am a young inhabitant of a young country, and I am reminded by these good things that are said to me of the labourer in the south of England, who, in the anti-corn law days, made the most effective speech ever made against protection. He went on the platform and said: 'Ladies and gentlemen, I he's protected; I he's starvin' and I am agin protection.' The men who make nails are already complaining. This particular industry of iron and steel is a good illustration of all the evils of the protective system. Cheap iron and steel would help the railroads; it would help shipping; it would help the making of cutlery; it would help the making of stoves; it would help the making of agricultural implements and all the things that a young country really wants, but dear iron operates the other way. Who does it help, this iron industry? The millionaires; granted. I mentioned this point before: Mr. Carnegie retired from the steel trust of America recently with a reputed income of $1,000,000 a month. Yes, it makes- the millionaire; it makes them Schwabs and Carnegies-there is no doubt about that. I have tried to show in the sentence I have just uttered that it does not help the consumers, and who are left as a special class- the labourers. The time is coming, and coming rapidly on this continent, when the people are going to see that the workingman is not helped by protection. I think a puncture was put in that bubble this afternoon by my right hon. leader when he analyzed the figures the Minister of Finance gave in regard to that and showed the miserable wages that are being earned on the average by the people engaged in the food industry. This idea of protection helping the workingman, shared by the Minister of Finance, as quoted by my right hon. friend, is an example of the persistence of an unfounded belief. So far as I have been able to examine the question I am unacquainted with a single fact in support of the contention that protection helps the workingman. A11 the facts I have been able to find point the other way. It is an old belief. I think in the very first speech he delivered in the House of Commons in 1841, Mr. Cobden, replying to a statement that free trade in grain meant the reduction of wages, used the following language, the simplicity and completeness of which cannot be improved upon:
We should, by free trade in corn, very much increase our trade. How can this be done, unless by an Increased amount of labour? How can we call into requisition an increased de-

mand for labour without also increasing the rate of wages?
That was the argument put in simple language by one of the greatest men that ever lived, though he never got inside a cabinet -perhaps that was because of his size- and I defy any one to meet that statement. That was a prophecy; how did it work out? Who was right? The fact is that in Britain the actual prices of labour rose after the repeal of the corn laws and the introduction of free trade faster than they ever have done in any civilized country in the world and they have risen until the labourers of Britain are the aristrocrats of European labour; they get higher wages, whether for skilled or for unskilled labour than are paid anywhere else on the continent. At that very time-I come now to another fact in this argument; I hope I am not wearying the House-at that very time Mr. Cobden pointed to the United States, long before there was any protection there, as the El Dorado of the workingman: as the place where the workingman should go to earn larger wages. Now, what facts have we got? That the -wages were miserably poor in Britain under protection and that at the time they were poor in Britain under protection they were high in the United States under free trade. Mr. Carey, who wrote a book called Past, Present and Future, said that one of the reasons given for the introduction of protection in the United States was that it would reduce the wages which were too high. That is to be found on record in that book. Compare that with the condition of wages in the United States to-day. Wages in Britain have gone up; nobody who knows the facts will deny that for a moment. What has happened in the United States? If you read Collier's Weekly of March 9, 1912, referring to the Lawrence strike, you will find that Collier's Weekly tells of the textile workers in Lawrence, Mass., denying themselves the common necessaries of life and taking lodgers into houses already overcrowded by their own families to scrape up money to return to their native land. That is one of the most highly protected industries in the United States-the woollen industry. If I had time I would like to have gone into this question a little more fully. An interesting book has been published-a little book which 1 know and have read- by Professor Nearing, of Pennsylvania University, on wages in the United States. The book has this very great merit for 182
any one who wants to find the truth upon the question, that it is a purely sociological study, and the tariff is never mentioned in it from beginning to end. What are the main findings of that book bearing on the question under discussion? The author sets out by quoting Professor Chapin to the effect that a New York artisan with a wife and three children needs $900 for a living wage for himself and his family. And how far do the United States conditions to-day, after high protection for sixty years, go towards the standard laid down by Professor Chapin? Nearing finds that, taking a line through the Rockies and north of the Mason and Dixon line three-quarters of the adult male workers of the United States of America actually earn less than $600 a year. Nine hundred dollars needed for a man, his wife and three children, three-quarters of the people in the industrial portion of the United States, according to this professor, upon less than $600 a year, or, in other -words, only two-thirds of a decent living wage! And yet the minister indicates his opinion that in Canada protection helps to raise the wages, that it gives a proper standard of living to the workingman. What are the further findings of this book? The author finds that westward the wages rise. We who know anything of Canada know that is absolutely true in Canada. Westward the wages rise. Well, that means that the farther you get from the centers of concentration of highly protected industries, the higher are the wages. These are rather peculiar comments from a United States professor upon the theory that protection raises wages. He finds what we absolutely know in western Canada to-day, that the highest wages are paid in the building trades and that is also true of eastern Canada. Now, protection cannot raise the wages in the building trade because we do not up to now to any extent, import houses. Bricklayers, he finds again, are much more highly paid than brickmakers. You cannot protect bricklayers in their business. You can protect brickmakers by a tariff on bricks, because you can import bricks; but the bricklayers are paid more highly than the brickmakers. We find that the men's unions are weakest where the tariff is highest. That is, the tariff strengthens the employer and -not the employed. These are the main facts of the book as I have collated them.
What about iron and steel? because I want to bring it before this House and the country and Parliament that this ministry

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