Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, 30 May 1873, Prince Edward Island Confederation with Canada.


FRIDAY, May 30th.



Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT moved that the House do now resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Ways and Means, and said that it was the intention of the Government to submit a measure to increase the duty on several articles imported into the Island, for the purpose of assimilating our tariff to that of the Dominion. An undue advantage had been taken of our low tariff by certain parties in shipping large quantities of liquors to this Island for the purpose of re-shipping them to the Dominion, duty free, after the first of July next.
MR. LAIRD said that the proposed increase would not be very burdensome upon this Colony, and the Dominion Government had a right to expect us to deal justly and fairly with them in reference to this matter. As Canada has dealt very liberally with us, it was only fair that Rum, &c., should pay as heavy duty here as there, during the month we remain out 236 PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 1873 of the Dominion. It had been stated in some of the Halifax newspapers, that if any Rum were re-shipped to the other Provinces, from this Island, after the union, it would have to pay the difference between their duty and ours. But the proposed arrangement would, in his opinion, be more satisfactory to both parties.
Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT said that if, in addition to the $25,000, we received the difference or increase of duty, the whole would amount to over $100,000, which would make a vast difference for all time to come, as the amount is a large one. All this had been gained by not adopting the course recommended by the Opposition while passing the Revenue Bill, &c. The Government had not made up their minds to go into Confederation, if better Terms had not been secured. After passing the Address to Her Majesty to unite this Colony to the Dominion, the tariff of this Island should not be allowed to remain in such a way as to lessen the revenue of Canada for the remaining month. It was, he believed, the intention of the Dominion Government to protect themselves by compelling all who re-shipped liquors from this Island after the union, to pay the difference between our present duty and theirs. It was a rather difficult matter to make an arrangement that would not injure some individuals, but the equalizing of the duty on certain articles to that of the Dominion, would prevent loss to the Dominion Revenue.
MR. SINCLAIR thought the hon. Leader of the Government had shown good reason why this change in the duties upon certain articles should be made. Merchants were re-shipping boots and shoes to the Dominion, and intended, after the union, to bring them back here duty free. We should, therefore, look after our own interests, while the Dominion looked after its own. In order to do this, it would be necessary to pass a resolution to protect our interests, as they had done in reference to theirs. The Dominion Government was losing its Revenue by the way in which ours at present stood, and it was only fair and just that matters should be put right in order that both parties should be protected. He saw that about forty mowing machines had been re-shipped to the Dominion in order that they might be brought back, after the union, duty free. This should be prevented by some means or other. If the Dominion Parliament were so sensitive to their interests, we should act in a similar manner, and prevent the reshipment of goods, upon which no duty had been paid.
MR. L. H. DAVIES said that when the Revenue Bill was submitted, the same amendment as that now proposed by the hon. Leader of the Government was submitted by the Opposition, but it was voted down by the Government, who informed the House that the Bill would remain as then passed, till the Island entered the Dominion. Merchants, generally, had acted under that impression, and were now importing a large quantity of goods, on the understanding that no amendment would be made in the Revenue Bill till the first of July next. The amendment would have been perfectly fair if made when the Bill was passed ; but under present circumstances, it was unfair to those now importing goods. The gain to the Revenue of this Island, by our not raising the duties equal to those of the Dominion till now, cannot be recognized as a legitimate one.
On motion, the House resolved itself into a Committee of Ways and Means.
MR. A. C. McDONALD in the chair.
Hon. LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT said that the remaks made by the hon. member for New London in 1873 PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 237 reference to the necessity of protecting our own interests, were correct, and to the point. The matter was well worthy of the consideration of the House, but it was not easy to provide the necessary remedy, without injuring somebody's interests. It was to the interests of the Dominion to protect her own manufactures, and she had done so. The article of Sugar, for instance, was one of them. He believed that large quantities of goods had been imported into this Island by speculators, who did not belong to this Island, and if they had to pay the difference of duty when they re-ship to the other Provinces, there will be no money lost by our people. Our Treasury would receive forty cents per gallon of the duties on liquors, and the Dominion would receive the other forty. He would move the following resolution :—
Resolved, that the Act 36th, Vic. Cap. I. entitled " An Act for raising a Revenue, " be amended by increasing the duties impost on Rum, Spirits, Sugar, brown and muscovado, Tobacco, manufactured, and Cigars, as follows :—
The duty on Rum to be 80 cents per gallon. Spirits and strong waters imported into this Island, mixed with any ingredient or ingredients, are, although thereby coming under the denomination of Proprietory Medicines, Tinctures, Essences, Extracts, or any other denominations, shall be nevertheless deemed Spirits, or strong waters, and are subject to duty as such, $1.20 per gallon. Spirits and strong waters, imported into this Island, $1.20 per gallon. Sugar equal to or about No. 9 Dutch, 1 cent per lb., and 25 per cent ad valorem. Sugar below No. 9 Dutch standard 3/4 of a cent per lb., and 25 per cent ad valorem. Tobacco manufactured, 20 cents per lb., and 12 1/2 per cent. ad valorem. Cigars 45 cents per lb.
MR. LAIRD said that the more he considered the course followed by the Opposition when the Revenue Bill was passed, the clearer he saw it to be the correct one. They understood that if we entered Confederation the course they proposed would be fair to the Dominion, and would prevent jobbery in reference to the duties, and at the same time, would be just and fair to our own merchants. If we had remained out of Confederation, we should have required the extra duties for our own purposes. If the last delegation had failed, and Confederation, had not been accepted, the amendment proposed by the Opposition would have been the means of increasing our Revenue during the interval. The Opposition were on the right track, and in the end it would prove to be so. It was now proposed to increase the duties on a few of the principal articles imported. The chief difference in the duty would be on Rum. It seemed that the politicians of Canada were too shrewd to allow their own interests to be endangered by the loss of a portion of their Revenue, and had arranged to demand the extra duty on goods reshipped to the other Provinces after the first of July. He understood there was sufficient liquor in store on this Island for three years' consumption ! Every puncheon not required for present use, would be re-shipped, and drawbacks would be taken out by those speculators in rum. All the duties they would have to pay would be the difference between our present tariff and that of the Dominion. The hon. Leader of the Government had referred to the difficulty of preventing the re-shipment of goods to the Dominion, and the evasion of the payment of the duties upon them. There was but one course to be taken, and that was to repeal the clause in the Revenue Bill permitting drawbacks upon goods. If no drawbacks were allowed till after the union, we should be able to have our Revenue ; but unless this were done, everything im 238 PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 1873 ported from the Dominion would disappear before the first of July.


The Parliamentary Reporter of Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly. Charlottetown: Henry Cooper, 1873. Microfilm copies provided by the Prince Edward Island Libraries and Archives.



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