March 19, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)


Napoléon Antoine Belcourt



duetion into this House-expressions which might be represented as an approval of it, if divested as it is at present of those features connected with tbe Belgian and German treaties, it was not desirable that he should interpose in the present discussion of the subject; moreover, that bis presence as a peacemaker in the county in which an election is now being run would be of infinite value to this country ; and, in view of that circumstance, and in view of those negotiations and advices, my hon. friend had prepared a discourse marked by those characteristics of mildness, and breathing that spirit of sweet reasonableness with which he so frequently delights this House; containing those very amiable references to his antagonists, those complimentary allusions to tbe lion. Minister of Public Works (Hon. Mr. Tarte), and those pleasant remarks as to the right hon. gentleman who leads this House, so free from anything in the nature of innuendo ; those kindly observations with reference to tbe Minister of Finance; and all suffused iu that tone of Christian charity of which he is so admirable an exponent in this House. These things were not intended for this Chamber at all, but were intended for North Bruce; but, in some way that has not been explained, but probably will be later on, the hon. gentleman's connections failed, and so lie did not get to North Bruce, whether on account of the snowstorm or for other reasons which may be supposed, and he was thrust upon this House, and was obliged to turn on the tap. He had no speech on the budget or on the preferential resolutions ; he had not prepared himself to discuss any of the questions which might legitimately come before the House; and, therefore, he was obliged to give us, very inappropriately, tbe speech which was intended for the electors of North Bruce. That is the only explanation I cau suggest for at least one of the features of the address he has given us-for the fact that in the main he steered entirely clear of the subject under discussion ; and it also illustrates the exceptionable reasonableness and sweetness of tlie discourse he gave us. I rejoice, and this House must rejoice, that we have in the public life of this country a gentleman who brings that tone into our discussions. The hon. member for Bona-venture (Mr. Marcil) desired that this should be a parliament of peacemakers. We have one of those peacemakers present ; we have had from him an illustration and an assurance of what is to come : and I trust the hon. member for Bonaventure will fold the hon. gentleman to his bosom. I must confess. Mr. Speaker, that I am very largely dependent upon tbe assurances which the hon. gentleman has himself given to ns in the course of his speech, for taking that view of his remarks ; otherwise. I would have been inclined to recall n story which was told by the late Wendell Phillips, in

connection with the anti-slavery agitation. Mr. Phillips was under the impression that the southern slaveholders, when crying out against those who were continually disturbing the peace of the country, were themselves the principal disturbers of the country's peace ; and by way of illustrating and clarifying his views, he was fond of telling a story of an old court crier who, when engaged in liis official capacity in one of the courts at Massachusetts, used to fall asleep. When the voices of the counsel who were addressing the court rose to a louder tone than usual, the crier was aroused from his slumbers, and cried out at once, ' Silence iu the court,' and immediately resumed his slumbers. This had occurred a few times, when the judge got tired of this interruption of the proceedings, and burst out in a somewhat indignant way, ' Crier, you are the only one disturbing the court, and if you will only stay asleep, there will be no more disturbance.' Iu the same way, if by some providential means, the hon. member for West York could be put into one of these slumbers which a gentleman down on Sparks street produces, I do think there would not be quite so much discord or trouble, noise, clamour and controversy as there happens to be from time to time in this community.
I endeavoured to follow the hon. gentleman in the course of his remarks last night, and I shall endeavour more or less to-day to follow them, but I am bound to say that his route was altogether too circuitous, it covered too wide a field to allow the possibility of my doing so. The discussion of all, or even one-half, of the topics the hon. gentleman saw fit to introduce in the course of his oration last night would occupy all the time at my disposal, or at the disposal of this House, from now probably until the end of the session, because there has been no subject under discussion in this parliament ever since it opened on the Gtli February last, that my hon. friend did not import into this debate. I shall therefore endeavour, not to follow him all the way round, but to confine myself as much as I possibly can to the subject immediately under discussion. My hon. friend threw absolutely no light on this subject, although he imported a great deal of heat. It was heat without light. It was certainly of no purpose for him to repeat over and over again, as he did, and as he also did last year, the platitude that it would be an excellent thing for us if we could secure free admission to Great Britain of our grain and the imposition of a hostile tariff against the grain of other countries. If we could secure admission for our grain products into the markets of the old country free of duty and have all others excluded or subjected to a discriminating, and if possible prohibitory tariff, that would be a capital thing for us. I am sure it never needed any dis-53 '
cussion or elaboration whatever to make good this contention and when the hon. gentleman repeated that platitude for the twentieth time he did not throw any light whatever on the question which this House is called upon now to consider, under the amendment of the leader of the opposition.
The hon. gentleman was asked how we could get that concession from the mother country-and that was the real point, surely, of any discussion that could be made on the subject. He was asked : How are you
going to secure that concession ? and he answered at once : We can secure it because Mr. Chamberlain said that he was willing we should have it. Then he read-I wonder if the House will believe it without my verifying it-he actually read, in support of his statement, a paragraph from the very speech from which the right hon. leader of the House quoted the other day for the purpose of proving-as he did prove beyond all shadow of doubt-that Mr. Chamberlain had not expressed any such willingness and was entirely convinced of the impossibility of any concession of the kind being given. These were the words which my hon. friend from West York read :
Let the offer

My hon. friend did not tell us what offer it was to which Mr. Chamberlain was referring.
Let the offer, said Mr. Chamberlain, come voluntarily from them, and I believe It will be considered in this country, not in any huckstering spirit, but will be entertained as part of a greater policy intended to unite in the closest bonds of affection and interest all the communities under the British flag and all the subjects of Her Majesty throughout the empire.
Those were Mr. Chamberlain's expressions, but in that very speech my hon. friend will see, if he takes the pains to read it, and I hope he has read it-but, no, I hope he has not, because, if he has, it would be extremely disingenuous conduct on his jiart to read the passage he quoted without reading the passages in which Mr. Chamberlain pointed out the impossibility of our having any such concession made to us under the conditions existing to-day. I shall read Mr. Chamberlain's expressions, which I only repeat because it has become necessary to do so in consequence of the turn the discussion has taken and the contentions made by my hon. friend. Mr. Chamberlain was discussing three possible solutions of the question of preferential trade within the empire.
The first proposition he discussed was that the colonies should abandon their duties, which were all in the nature of protective duties more or less. He said this proposition is not a hopeful one because not one of the colonies is prepared-they are certainly not all prepared-to abandon the tariffs they now have and which involve more or less a protectionist element, more or less an element which can be used, incidentally in

some of them, purposely in others, for the protection of colonial industries. That was a proposition therefore which Mr. Chamberlain felt bound to d smiss from practical consideration. He went on to say :
There is another proposition, and that is that the colonies should keep their tariffs as they are to-day, but that the Imperial government should so arrange its tariff that a duty should be placed on foreign wheat and corn coming into the British islands, while the colonial tariffs remain as they were.
Mr. Chamberlain said no, there is no possibility of that ever being adopted. That is a result to which the workingmen of the mother country could never be induced to submit. And therefore the second proposition was dismissed as impracticable and impossible.
He said, there is a third proposition. That is the proposition of a zollverein not exactly like the German zollverein because that was a zollverein between conterminous countries, but a zollverein, with such modifications as might be capable of application to tbe condition of things in our colonies. He said that is a hopeful proposition, hut it involves the colonies abandoning all their tariff imposts which are of a protectionist character. In other words, the colonies would have to abandon all their tariff im. posts which are unlike those of tbe mother country, that is to say which either, directly and purposely, as is the case in some of the colonies, or incidentally ns is the case in * ours, involve protection to colonial industries.
The right lion, gentleman who leads the House (lit. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) has shown us conclusively that it is absolutely impossible for tbe two parts of tbe resolution of my bon. friend the leader of the opposition to hang together at all, under the doctrine laid down by Mr. Chamberlain. My hon. friend insists that we must have a protective tariff applicable to the industries of this country, and in the same breath he undertakes to say that we may have that which, according to Mr. Chamberlain, is absolutely inconsistent and diametrically opposed to it, namely, a preference in the markets o'f the mother country. The right lion, the First Minister has pointed that out so conclusively and luminously that I am not going to further impose on the patience of the House by discussing a point so absolutely clear and which so entirely disposes of the resolution submitted to us by tbe leader of tbe opposition.
But tbe bon. member for West York retorts: that may be all right from our point of view, but bow is it from your point of view ? You profess that you have not a protectionist tariff, but a free trade tariff, and therefore there is no inconsistency in your going to the mother country and asking that which, it is quite evident, we would be entirely estopped from asking from the Imperial government. Well, now I want Mr. RUSSELL, (Hants).
to know who ever said we bad a free trade policy in this country. I want to know who ever said we had a free trade tariff, if I may use that expression, in this country. I do not think that anybody ever said we bad free trade in this country; I am prepared to say we do not have it.
My bon. friend has discussed this matter as if there were only two kinds of tariff, of fiscal policy, a policy of free trade, and a policy of protection. He certainly is altogether at sea when he makes a suggestion like that. We have not free trade in this country, we have not a free trade policy in this country, nor have we a protectionist policy in this country. We have in this country to-day substantially the policy with which we set out in the year 1807; that is to say, that instead of there being two kinds of fiscal policy as my hon. friend suggests, there are really three kinds, clearly and easily distinguishable. There is first of all-if I may take four or five minutes to explain a matter which is so entirely elementary-there is first of all a protectionist tariff, purposely and ostensibly framed with the object of excluding foreign goods coming from other countries, and which does exclude those products in so far as it successfully operates as a protective tariff. It is levied on goods which can be produced and which are produced in the country, and of a kind that are and can be produced in the country, levied upon them for the purpose of compelling the population to use those articles produced in the country, and for the purpose of excluding those which are produced in the foreign and competing country. That is a protectionist tariff. There is opposed to that what I may properly call a free trade tariff, such a tariff as they have in the old country, a tariff which carefully eliminates any elements of that sort, which is carefully designed for the purpose of ensuring that every penny of taxation that is paid, every penny of money taken out of the pockets of the taxpayers, is taken solely for the purpose of going into the treasury of the country. It is a tariff levied upon things, not which can be produced in the country, but which cannot by any possibility be produced in tbe country ; that I call a free trade tariff, the very opposite of the one I spoke of previously.
Then there is between these two a tariff such as we had in this country in 1867 down to the fiscal revolution of 1878, and which we are endeavouring to work our way back to, and have in a large measure worked our way back to, under tbe reformed tariff introduced by my bon. friend the Minister of Finance, a revenue tariff which is designed to exclude as far as possible the element of protection; because, as Mr. Mackenzie pointed out many years ago, in our tariff there always was an element of incidental protection, and in our tariff today there is an element of incidental

protection. But, as tlie Minister of Customs has often pointed out, that is an incident to the main purpose of the tariff, which is the collection of a revenue, and is not the protection of native industries. Now, then, this is the kind of tariff that we have to-day, and this is the kind of tariff, a revenue tariff with incidental protection, under which Mr. Chamberlain said it would be impossible for us to go to the mother country and ask for anything like a zollverein, or anything like a preference, or anything like such a scheme as is outlined in the resolution of the hon. leader of the opposition. The present tariff does afford incidental protection, that is to say, it does give a certain degree of assistance to native industries, it presents a certain obstacle to the foreign competitor, it does give a certain measure of advantage to the home producer as against the foreign competitor in the same manner as freights, insurances and other charges prevent an obstacle to the foreign competition and an advantage to the native producer. But it has for its chief purpose the collection of a revenue.
As I have said before, Mr. Chamberlain proved it impossible for us to go to the mother country and ask for preferential trade so long as we continue to maintain a tariff like that. We are prepared to stand upon that tariff, we are prepared to adhere to it. Our hon. friends opposite say it is really their own tariff, it is really their own policy, and I suppose therefore that they are also prepared to maintain and adhere to it. We all agree that it is impossible to adopt any other fiscal system or to abandon altogether all duties that could be made operative for the encouragement of native industries, and for that reason, I say again, it is absolutely impossible for my hon. friend to ask that we should accept his resolution, or to ask Mr. Chamberlain or anybody else to give us the benefit of a preferential arrangement in the English market, as matters stand at present. What may happen in the future, what may happen later on under the development of advanced Imperial ideas, what may happen in the course of a number of years, after this matter has been under consideration of the people of England and after it has been under the consideration of the people of Canada, opens up too long a vista, is too far remote for us to consider ; it is too far in the dim and distant future to be a matter of practical politics or command the consideration of practical men in a practical age, and in a businesslike parliament such as 1 understand this to be.
But my hon. friend thinks it is a very easy thing. He can make a budget for the English Chancellor of the Exchequer just as simple as rolling off a log. If you take part of the duty off tea, take a part of the duty which is now paid by the Englishman on his tea, and every penny of which goes 53}
into the treasury of the country, and put it on the competing grain coming in from the United States, you have the whole thing done in a jiffy, no difficulty about it at all. He says that when you do this the workingman of England will have to pay no more than at present, he will be simply paying the same tax as now, and you will have this brought about by one stroke of the pen, by one item in the tariff propositions in the budget speech of an English minister. Very well, just let us analyse that for a moment. Of course if the discrimination against the foreign wheat was great enough, if the tariff charge was high enough to keep it out of the English market altogether, and if we could produce enough colonial cereals to feed the population of the British isles, then it is obvious there would be no tax collected from wheat at all, no tax collected from corn ; no tax collected from grain, and the consequence would be that the English taxpayer, the English workingman would have to make up that deficit by submitting to the imposition of a direct tax. But if it did not do its perfect work, and it would not do it for it could not possibly keep out the foreign grain altogether, not for years at all events, or until we were able entirely to supply the requirements of the country, then until that tariff which my hon, friend is going to give to the British Chancellor, is imposed and does its perfect work, then there will be a certain amount of corn brought into the British islands, there will be a certain amount of corn from Canada. Well, what would be the effect of that ? The price would be raised to the English consumer. Of course that goes without saying ; and my hon. friend agrees that this duty will be paid by the English consumer. He was somewhat in doubt about that, but I think there can be no doubt about it-the duty will be paid by the English consumer. But my hon. friend says that makes no difference, because he will only be paying on his breadstuffs, the same tax that he is now paying upon tea ; that it is only as broad as it is long to him. it will make no difference to him whatever, so long as he is paying the tax. upon what article or product he is paying it. But my hon. friend forgets that apart from the duty, apart from the increment of the price that would have to be added to the foreign corn on account of the duty payable upon it. there would also be the increased price at which he would have to pay for the corn which was produced in this country. I am certain that if he makes that proposition to any intelligent workingman in the old country, he will get his answer straight from the shoulder, so clear that it will be absolutely impossible for him to misunderstand it.
Mr. Chamberlain every time that he has had occasion to discuss this question, and he has discussed it in numerous speeches- I was going to say in innumerable speeches

in the old country, he 'has discussed it in these foreign and colonial speeches that have been quoted in the debate-has presented this difficulty so straight and clear that I cannot understand how it is that my hon. friend, or any other hon. member on his side of the House who has a practical head upon his shoulders and practical sagacity and wisdom, can over and over again present this proposal which has had the bottom knocked out of it so many times. The hon. gentleman compares this case with the case of Australia. He says that the Postmaster General (Hon. Mr. Mulock) is about to go to Australia in a few days and that if he goes there he will find a country that is about to have a protective tariff imposed on it. I believe that it is likely enough that it will have. All the signs go to show that a moderate protective tariff will probably be the fiscal system of the Australian Commonwealth. He says, notwithstanding all that, are you not going to ask for a reciprocal arrangement between this country and the Commonwealth of Australia. I hope we are, and I hope, more or less confidently, that we will be able to obtain it and that by virtue of the arrangement that may be made by this government with the Australian Commonwealth a growing and profitable business may be built up between the Dominion of Canada and that new Commonwealth. My hon. friend says : If this is possible with Australasia, why not with England ? Why not ? Because there is no analogy whatever between the two cases. If Australasia were a country such as England is, a small country in its extent, or relatively so, with an enormous population, with a population of from forty to fifty millions ot' people, absolutely dependent upon their foreign trade, and upon the extent to *which they can push their manufactured products in foreign countries and obtain payment for them ; the foreign trade of which, as Mr. Chamberlain says, is the very breath of its life, and engaged in a life and death struggle with other and competing countries with enormous resources and enormous capital ; the centre of a vast and delicate financial organism which it would be fatal to disturb-if the Australasian Commonwealth presented such conditions as these, then, he would have a similar proposal to deal with to that which he is presenting to the consideration of the House and which we are asked to commend to the consideration of the British minister. The situations are so entirely different, there is such a failure of analogy between the two things that I am amazed-if I may use a word which has gone out of fashion since the leadership of the opposition has been changed-I am surprised, not to say either amazed or astounded, that either the hon. leader of the opposition, or the hon. member for West York, who has held a position in the cabinet, who has held not

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