May 15, 1923 (14th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Gawtress Raymond



Let me give hon. members my point of view, and they will see whether that applies to my discussion of it. The tariff is very often discussed merely as a question of political economy, discussed by people who take a theoretical view of things. Most of us are aware that on the basis of mere theory free trade can be argued very successfully, especially upon the presumption that every other country is a free trade country. But as a theory, simply as a theory, it is a dead, cold thing; it is the stillborn child of parents who suffered from academic anaemia. As a theory, free trade is something that never could take its place in the comity of nations to do its part for Canada. When we speak of the free interchange of natural products between Canada and the

The Budget-Mr. Raymond
United States, then we are dealing with something which, if consummated, would somewhat change the aspect of affairs. But we are situated beside a great country, a country of many times our population, with large well organized and well established factories; a country with a high protective tariff against us. What, then, can we hope to do with free trade? We have heard hon. gentlemen opposite tell us that the United States is a free trade country, but when they say that it is evident they have not tried to sell any wheat there; if they had, they would have found a duty of 35 cents a bushel staring them in the face; they have evidently not tried to sell any cattle there. They have not tried to sell woollen garments there, because they would find on woollen goods an absolutely prohibitory duty. And the same applies to cutlery and many other articles. Situated as we are, therefore, we cannot hope to succeed if we have free trade while the United States maintains its present tariff policy.
I do not look upon the tariff purely as a question of political economy that can be argued on a theoretical basis. I regard it from another point of view entirely. It may be a wrong point of view, but I can look back over the history of Canada and I can see that my contention of what the tariff question really involves is amply borne out. As long ago as 1805, 118 years ago, there was a similar discussion going on in Montreal and throughout Canada, which was a small country then. It was considered that the town interests were separated in some way from the country interests, and the question of duties came up. One of the sentiments expressed on the occasion of a great banquet in that time was: "Here is to our agricultural and commercial interests; may they work harmoniously together and both realize their advantages and responsibilities." I think the same sentiment is necessary to-day. But from that time down to the present the tariff question has always been raised in Canada. Some people think it is a new thing, but there have been tariffs practically ever since Canada has been a country. If to cease to have this tariff means-as it does mean-to surrender our market, to give up our commercial weapon of negotiation; if it means to lay our country commercially helpless at the foot of a rival, I say it is contrary, Mr. Speaker, to the spirit and nature of the Canadian people. That is my argument; the tariff is not a question of theory, and it never can be made a question of theory. It is a study in natural psychology. And I would ask you to look at these Canadian people and
see what they are, see where they came from and the spirit of independence that they brought with them. You can go from one end of the country to the other. You can begin with those sturdy men who came from Scotland because they stood by the cause of the Jacobites and would never surrender, and who came over to Nova Scotia and that part of eastern Canada. You can take those people to whom I am, I suppose, by race more nearly related, so I will not say anything about them except that 't is said that the totem of their tribe is the bull dog on the flag and their motto "What we have we'll hold." No surrender has always been their motto. Or you can take those people who inhabit the western part of the country, and you have there a people of a strong, free, independent disposition, whose motto never could be surrender. If you take the people of the old historic province of Quebec why, Sir, the first military governor described them as the best and bravest people in the world-a man of an alien race, a man who belonged to the army that had been successful at the seige, Murray. That was his description of them, and there is nothing in their history from that day to this but carries out his words of that people-the best and bravest people in the world. Now, do you tell me that a people who have that blood of freedom flowing in their veins are going to surrender their market, throw down their boundaries and barriers and lay themselves helpless at the feet of a wealthy rival to the south of us? It is not to be thought of. It puts me in mind of the battle of St. Julien. If you want to see the concentrated essence of the Canadian people I would remind you of the post that was held by a Brantford boy. He got word during the hea' and struggle of that battle when men were falling thickly around him, "Hold the position at any cost"; and he sent back this answer, "We will hold the position till Hell freezes over." I quote that now because it is typical of the spirit of the Canadian people, and come before them in any way you like, bring down your tariff propositions in any way you please, with the duty off this or the duty oft that, but when it is a proposition to throw our markets at the feet of any commercial rival, I tell you what, gentlemen, you will never find it meet the approval of the Canadian people.

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