« PreviousContinue »
1871 it was decided that the Canadian Pacific Railway should be built for this purpose. Prior to 1871 the Canadian Pacific Railway was being constructed by the Government in sections, on the plan of utilizing water stretches wherever possible. But when, in 1878, the Conservative party obtained power, it was decided to build the road right through, on the principle of section 154 of the consolidation act.
Accordingly in 1881 the Canadian Pacific Railway was started as a transcontinental road, and finished some six or seven years afterward. This was the beginning of the nation which we feel sure Canada is well on her way to become.
When we introduced protection we found that it was just the policy to aid this national aspiration. The Opposition went to the country upon this issue, advocating unrestricted reciprocity, and the country would have none of it, determining that we should go on in our own way.
In 1896 the present Government came into power. What did they do? Did they claim that the national policy was bad for Canada, and that we should not have protection for our own industries ? On the contrary, they began to improve this policy, and in 1897 reappealed the clause relating to reciprocity with the United States. They began the construction of the Canadian Northern Railway, and committed the country to the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars in furthering the principle of section 154 of the consolidation act. On this the whole country was then agreed; there was no dissent to making Canada a nation by having that railway run from east to west, every inch on Canadian soil, and to-day, gentlemen, the purpose and principle remain the same: the trade of Canada must not be deviated to other channels—Canada must not lose the trade which by national right belongs to Canada (Cheers.)
As a member of Sir Wilfrid Laurier's party in 1896, I was proud to hear him state in patriotic language that the policy of his Administration would be this national policy. Reciprocity with the United States had then been repealed. I say, therefore, that the Liberal Government in 1911 is inconsistent in reviving it; it should be considered a dead letter. (Cheers.)
Here the speaker illustrated the antagonism between reciprocity and the national policy by exhibiting a map showing J. J. Hill's railway system.
Do you see all these spurs, these feeders, running up from the main line to the Canadian border? They are all there ready to go over the border, if this agreement goes into force, like a lot of snakes with their mouths open, waiting to devour our trade.
Why do we oppose this agreement-we Liberals, as well as the Conservatives? Because we are Canadians first and party men afterward. (Cheers.] It is not because the price of eggs or butter may be diminished. It is not because some parts of the country and some individuals may make a little money at the expense of other sections and persons, but because the whole principle of confederation is menaced. Our traffic should be with each other, and not with the people to the south of usit should be across the seas to Great Britain and her colonies, if we are to hold our present proud position as the most important link in the world-encircling chain of British federation. (Applause.]
The speaker closed by quoting from speeches in Congress and editorials in newspapers of the United States advocating reciprocity as a step toward the annexation of Canada.
T. Chase Casgrain developed the closing theme of Mr. Lash. One-third of the population of western Canada, he said, was composed of immigrants from the United States. He had heard that in many places there the Stars and Stripes floated in place of the Union Jack; the good old British songs were forbidden in the schools; and the Fourth of July was celebrated in place of the King's birthday. (A voice: Shame!) These influences
! must be counteracted and the national ideal must be preserved.
What will be the result of this new policy inaugurated by Sir Wilfrid Laurier ? We know what we now enjoy. Under the present system Canada has already become the most prosperous country in the world. Why not leave well enough alone? Why take a leap in the dark ?
Our opponents answer that this attitude is that of the Chinese. If to be devoted to the interests of our country is Chinese, if to believe that its welfare is bound up in continuing our historic policy is Chinese, if to be firmly convinced that ours is the most prosperous nation in the world is Chinese, then all that I can say is that I am a Chinese with a pigtail. [Applause.]
Mr. Casgrain went on to make a local point by arguing that reciprocity in national products would be inevitably followed by reciprocity in manufactures to the ruination of rising industrial cities like Montreal. He also appealed to the racial feeling of the French Canadians, who formed a large part of his audience, by pointing them to the results of annexation to the United States which occurred in Louisiana. Let them take a lesson, he said, from the history of this old French province, which had now become Americanized, and where no French people had any rights.
Professor Leacock declared that the Government had acted in autocratic fashion in making the treaty with the United States, and it should be repudiated.
Shall two old gentlemen in a hurry sneak down to fat entertainments at Washington, and come back to us fellow citizens with a paper in their hands, and say: “La chose est faite"—the thing is done? Is this the way our democracy is to be conducted?
The professor then played upon the patriotism of his auditors, opposing to the admitted commercial advantages of the treaty the danger to national integrity lurking therein.
There is no gain in the treaty compared to the sacrifices. Shall the maritime provinces be sold for Boston novelties? We defy the Government to come before the country on this question. The very farmers, the Prince Edward Islanders, who hope to pocket two cents more a bushel for their potatoes by the treaty, would have uneasy consciences over its ratification.
I do not wish to speak any evil of the American Republic. The Americans are a great people, but fifty years ago we settled the question as to what our lot was to be with respect to them. We have decided once and for all that the British flag was good enough for us. [Cheers.]
We took this country when nobody wanted it; when it was quelques arpents de neige. We made it our home, and, now that we have found that it is one of the greatest and noblest heritages, our sturdy American President [Mr. Taft] looks over the wall, hoisted up with the block and tackle of his compatriots, and says: “Lo, there is a fair land,” and, turning back to those who lifted him, remarks: “We have made a mistake; this place is well worth having. Hither to me, my trusts, and let us begin our onslaught upon the Dominion of Canada. Come hither, all ye of the Minneapolis Millers' Association, and my stalwarts of the paper trust, look what lies beyond the wall!”
16 Certain roods of snow.'
And whom have we at Ottawa to look out for our interests ? Come down to us, Mr. Fielding, and tell us how we may sell our potatoes and wheat, and with them the institutions which we so dearly prize.
Mr. Sifton, the last speaker, was greeted with great enthusiasm, and his speech was punctuated with applause and cheering. He said that he and Mr. Lash and other Liberals who opposed reciprocity, were consistent with their party's policy-it was the Laurier Administration that was inconsistent.
The fiscal policy of the Liberal party was partially settled in 1897, when our tariff was fixed substantially as it is now.
In 1898 there was an attempt to secure reciprocal trade relations with the United States. Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his associates spent a considerable time in Washington, but returned without having made any agreement.
In 1900 a general election was held in which the fiscal policy of the government was discussed from one end of Canada to the other, and the Liberal Government was retained in power by large majorities in almost every section of the country.
In 1904 and 1908 the fiscal policy of the Government was again discussed, and was similarly approved.
At no one of these three general elections was there a syllable breathed in favor of reciprocity with the United States by any member or spokesman of the Government.
Mr. Sifton then analyzed the tariff of 1897, and showed that under it the farmers were benefited, their products having risen greatly in price, and their purchases by a little.
So there is no ground for the suggestion that our manufacturing population is exploiting the farming population; on the contrary it appears the farmers are getting the better of it.
The question now is, Was the principle of reciprocity abandoned during all these years from 1897 to the present?
Sir Wilfrid Laurier says in Parliament that it was not abandoned—at least, that he was not conscious that it was abandoned. He says that it was held, not in abandonment, but in abeyance. [Laughter.]
When Mr. Laurier came back from Washington in 1898, after his abortive attempt to secure reciprocity, he gave out the following public statement:
If we know the hearts and minds of our people at present, I think I am not making too wide a statement when I say that the general feeling in Canada is not in favor of reciprocity. There was a time when Canadians would have given many things to obtain the American market. There was a time when the market of the great cities of the Union was the only market we had, but these days are past and over. We are not dependent on the American market now.
The speaker said that Mr. Laurier had repeated the substance of this declaration at various times from 1898 to 1909, giving, in the latter year, as justification for the Government's enormous expenditure on the Grand Trunk Pacific, the absolute necessity of rendering the Canadians independent of the Americans. Mr. Sifton therefore claimed that reciprocity had been definitely abandoned by Mr. Laurier's Administration, and was not “held in abeyance."
He then compared the industrial condition of Canada with that of the United States.
During the last twelve years we have had, with perhaps one exception, no break in our prosperity. There was in 1907 a falling off in our business to a certain extent, but it was not serious enough to be termed hard times.
On the other side of the line they have had at least three serious business depressions in the same period, that in 1907 amounting to a long-continued and widely extended panic, which was followed by great suffering, especially among the poorer classes, who were deprived of opportunities to labor.
The result of our tying ourselves up to the people to the south of us will be that we will go on enjoying our present prosperity until the next panic, when we will have the honor and the pleasure of joining them in their financial embarrassment.