April 30, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)


George Davidson Grant



tection as those industries which at the present moment are chiefly clamouring for such protection. Stripped of all pretense, Sir, the real purpose of protection is to lessen competition and thereby increase prices. I was considerably interested in the very elaborate attempt which one of the hon. gentlemen opposite made-I think it was the hon. member for Halton (Mr. Henderson)- to prove that the price of the farmers' produce will be enhanced by the policy which he advocates. I followed the hon. gentleman very closely, but I must confess that I was totally unable to find that he followed up his argument in that respect to a successful conclusion. True it is that he was somewhat confused by the lead question, which unfortunately for him, was introduced into the debate, and he found the matter which he had in hand almost as heavy to handle as the lead issue, because he dropped it very suddenly after the interpellation of the hon. Minister of Finance.
I do not know of what value are the opinions of newspapers on matters of this kind; but if the farmers of Ontario have an organ which may be regarded as speaking their views on tariff matters, I suppose the ' Weekly Sun,' issued in the city of Toronto, may be so termed. I have here a small clipping from a recent issue of that newspaper with regard to the present agitation for high protection, which reads as follows :
One of the pocket pamphlets sent out by the Canadian Manufacturers' Association as a part of their protection campaign appeals to farmers to support a higher tariff on the sole ground that farmers have done so In the past. It cannot be denied that many farmers in the past have been sufficiently innocent to support a protective tariff in Canada, nor that many of them are still prepared to vote for the protection system. But this merely shows that they are not yet as keenly alive to their own interests as are the protected manufacturers. They have been deluded into playing into the hands of a favoured or privileged class. But they are gcining wisdom quite rapidly.
In this connection, the very absurd argument was advanced that the prices of farm produce would be increased by the adoption of a protective policy. But if increased duties will raise the prices of our farm produce, if increased protection will give our farmers a better return for what they have to sell, then I would ask hon. gentlemen opposite how is it that in the years 1891, 1892 and 1893, when their party was in power, grain and other agricultural products were sold at lower prices than at any other period in the history of this country. Will they . explain how it was that their policy was so utterly ineffectual during those years, not only in raising the prices of farm products but even in obtaining paying prices ?
The question of surpluses is one that seems to vex exceedingly hon. gentlemen opposite just as that same question has for many

years, in the province of Ontario troubled the opposition in the legislative assembly of that province. I am not aware that our hon. friends opjjosite can be accepted as very competent authorities on surpluses. I am not aware that surpluses ever graced their regime to an extent that would entitle them to talk very learnedly on the subject. However, as the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Bell) has described this administration as the great tax gatherer, I would like to know what the result would have been, had the policy which he advocates been in force during the year .1902, for instance. Had the same degree of prosperity obtained- which is not at all likely-there would have been collected in duties or taxes, if you will, some $15,000,000 more than were actually paid into the treasury. If the resolution of his hon. leader (Mr. Borden) means anything, it means that hon. gentlemen opposite, had they been in power, would have extorted, to use a pet phrase of theirs, this much larger sum from the consuming public of this Dominion. My hon. friend from Leeds (Mr. Taylor) was moved almost to tears the other night when he spoke of how this government wrung taxes out of the mass of the people. There was a wail in his voice, there were tears in his tones, which reminded one of the lamentation of Jeremiah. But when we come to compare the speeches of these hon. gentlemen with one another, we find most singular inconsistencies and contradictions in their comments on the budget. The hon. member for Both-well (Mr. Clancy) saw fit to criticise the expenditure of the Post Office Department. Did he criticise that expenditure on the ground that it was unwise ? Not at all, Sir. What he criticised the hon. Postmaster General for was because he did not spend sufficient money last year. He used these words, or words to this effect:
If the hon. minister had generously recognized the increased needs of this country for post office accommodation, his deficit would have been as large as the Conservative deficit was in 1896.
The expenditure of last year, 1902, was $3,8S3,000. If we add to this the $781,000 deficit of 1896, we have a total of $4,664,000, which is an increase of $999,000 over the expenditure of 1896. This would be an expenditure of aver 25 per cent in one department above the actual expenditure.
Now, in order to meet the needs of the country, there should have been an increase of expenditure in one department of 25 per cent, that same remark of the hon. gentleman would apply to all the departments. Twenty-five per cent on our total expenditure would be $12,500,000, or the total expenditure of this country, which the hon. gentleman implies would be warranted by its increased needs, would amount to $62,500,000. The hon. gentleman in fact replies to his own colleague from Leeds (Mr. Taylor), who criticised the expenditure 67*
of the government as injudicious, extravagant and altogether burdensome for the country.
In my opinion, the majority of our people are convinced that a protective tariff would prove wholly inadequate to enhance the prices of our agricultural products. Another objection which, I believe, the people of this country will take to the amendment of the leader of the opposition is that the policy he advocates will increase the cost of the necessaries of life. The hon. member for Halton (Mr. Henderson), argued against the proposition last night. He said that if we would only impose a protective tariff, those whose business was protected would be so patriotic that they would not increase the price of their commodities. Well, Mr. Speaker, human nature is human nature wherever you find it, and in my opinion, if we gave the opportunity, by protection, to raise the prices of manufactured goods, there is not much doubt that an increase in prices would inevitably follow. To show that in expressing this opinion, I am not talking rank heresy, let me quote from the speech of an hon. gentleman, whose authority our hon. friends opposite will not question, especially on fiscal and trade matters. On the 27tii March, 1894, as reported on page 198 of 'Hansard' the Hon. Mr. Foster, the then Minister of Finance, used this language :
Another objection that has been made to the national policy and to the protective principle in it that the cost of many manufactured goods has been enhanced to the consumer on account of the rates imposed. Now, Sir, I grant that argument at once to a certain extent. I say that in the initial years of a national policy with a protective principle in it, it will have the effect of enhancing the cost of goods and that at the first the cost of goods will be very closely up to the measure of the protection which was given.
And he went on to make this remarkable statement, which, I think, fully answers the argument of the hon. member from Halton (Mr. Henderson) :
If it does not have that effect, why should it ever be adopted at all, and what is the good of it ?
That was his opinion on the effect of protection in enhancing the values of the commodities we use. I give the opinion for what it is worth. I am not speaking now to the supporters of the government, but I would ask hon. members opposite whether they do not accept the opinion I have just quoted as a very definite and authoritative one ?
Mr. Speaker, an hon. gentleman who spoke yesterday, whose name I do not know, but whose face is quite familiar to me, because,
I think, I saw him in the northern part of this province some weeks ago, said that the agricultural constitutencies of this province of Ontario would support the protective policy. In proof of this he stated that

these constituencies had returned a majority of those sympathizing with protection and supporting the opposition in this House. Speaking numerically, it is true that the elections of 1900 had this result as regards the province of Ontario. But since the general elections of 1900, there have been appeals to rural constituencies both in Ontario and in other provinces; and I find sitting around me on this side of the House gentlemen elected from rural constituencies since the general election of 1900, and those constituencies, I think, expressed their opinion on this question with no uncertain sound. I think the hon. member for Lisgar (Mr. Stewart) represents a rural constituency and has been elected very recently. So does the hon. member for Argenteuil (Mr. Christie) and the hon. member for Yarmouth (Mr. Law). And, speaking more particularly for the province of Ontario, I think that verdicts have been given on this subject1 by \such rural constituencies as West Durham, West York and Russell. An hon. friend reminds me that I must not omit the signal victories in Terrebonne, Two Mountains and Maskinonge. I believe I am quite within the mark in saying that the rural constituencies of Ontario and of the Dominion are unalterably opposed to the re-enactment of high protection, and 1 believe that they will be strongly re-enforced by their brethren in Manitoba, the North-west and British Columbia. To sum up, I conclude as I began, that it would be entirely a mistaken policy for us, at this moment, when prosperity is high within the Dominion, when our factories are working overtime, when our workmen are getting a better return than they ever did for their labour, when our finances, as disclosed by the annual statement are in such a magnificent position, to change our fiscal policy. And, for this reason I am constrained to vote against the amendment moved by the leader of the opposition. And I have this further reason, that, if this resolution means anything, it stands for an increase of duties all along the line, and for an increase therefore of the burdens the great consuming public-and to that I am opposed.

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