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Speech before the Senate, August 26, 1896
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Hon. Sir MACKENZIE BOWELL: It has been usual in the past to congratulate the young members of the House of Commons, and also of the Senate, for the able manner with which they present the case on behalf
of the government, in moving and seconding the address in reply to the speech from the Throne. Whether the two hon. gentlemen, the one who has moved, and the one who has seconded the address, can come within that category I am somewhat at a loss to know. The mover is my senior by a great many years in this House. I had the honour of entering Parliament the same year as the seconder did, and consequently we may be classed about in the same category as to age and parliamentary experience. I frankly confess that I listened to the voice of my old House of Commons colleague with a very great deal of pleasure, although we have during the whole period that we have been in the political field of Canada been upon opposite sides -- at least nearly always. I think, however, I may say, and say with very great truth, that upon one occasion at least, his whole mind and his better judgment led him to believe that the late government, of which I had the honour of being the head, was pursuing the correct course, but party exigencies overbalanced his better judgment and led him to cast a vote which, I am quite sure, he has regretted ever since. These are only my inferences, and possibly they may be illfounded. However, it is just as well on occasions of this kind to say what we think. Before referring to the speech from the Throne I desire, Mr. Speaker -- and I take this opportunity of doing it -- to congratulate you upon having been selected by your party to occupy the Chair and on the honourable position which you now fill; although, when your name was first mentioned, I was somewhat inclined to think that a departure from the old practice of alternate English and French Speakers should not be departed from, upon reflection I have come to an altogether different conclusion. I have come to this conclusion, and I believe it to be the safest principle upon which to act, that the party in power, in making its selection for the important position of Speaker of either House of Parliament, should look to the qualification of the person who is to occupy that elevated position rather than to his race or creed. I hope the time is fast approaching in Canada when we shall never hear the question raised of a man's birth, or the creed that he professes. We live in a country and under a constitution in which every man has a right to act as his judgment dictates, or as his education leads him, upon matters of this very important character.
I have lived long enough to come to the conclusion, that if a man believes in one particular principle, or one particular creed and thinks it is the best, it is not for me to interfere with his conscience, nor do I think any one else should interfere with his conscience, or with the course which he may think proper to pursue, so long as he does not attempt to interfere with others. I have lived long enough in Canada, I have been long enough connected with party politics to know that that is not always the case in this country, but I hope that the time will never come again when we shall have placards sent about the country to vote for �Morrison and the Pope� or for �Mowat and the Bible.� Such were the issues we had when I was a much younger man than I am to-day. Those days have passed away, much as we may accuse each other at the present moment of introducing racial and creed questions in the discussions which have taken place in the elections which have just passed. I say that where that has been done, it were much better that it should be left undone, and that we should adopt a policy in the appointment to offices, and in the administration of the affairs of the country, irrespective of a man's race or a man's religion. We live in a country where we can, under the British Crown, enjoy all the rights and privileges of a British subject, and I hope that that may continue for a long time. I must apologize to the hon. seconder of the motion for my limited knowledge of his mother tongue. I understood him to say that he complimented the House on the accession to it of its present leader, who occupies the high and important position of Minister of Justice. I am fully in accord with him in that sentiment, and I hope that all the future appointments to the Senate may be of equally unexceptional character. If so, we shall have very little to complain of on this side of the House, among those who differ from him on political questions. I could not help having brought to my mind, when listening to the hon. gentleman from Halifax, the old story that I once read of a gentleman who having made a very good speech, and being complemented by a friend said: �Ah, you heard me make that speech; well, I wish you had heard me make the one on the other side.� It struck me, if he had only been on this side of the House, and the Conservative government had presented an ad-
dress of the kind we are now considering, what an eloquent oratorical display we should have heard in condemnation. All his latent talent would have belched forth like the eruptions of a volcano.
Hon. Mr. POWER: I did not volcane.
Hon. Sir MACKENZIE BOWELL: No, you are not in a position to volcane, as you say. You, in fact, represent an extinct volcano, with all its lava expended. You have now to do with others do under similar circumstances; draw your teeth a little when you find them becoming irritable. Apart from that, I am sure the gentlemen on both sides of the House, no matter what their political views may be, will agree with the sentiments he uttered in reference to the functions of the Senate; that the Senate is not to be factious in its opposition, or in its treatment of government measures. The hon. gentleman might have referred to two or three occasions in which the Senate asserted its independence, not against the government of the late Hon. Alexander Mackenzie alone; but upon several occasions the House, with its great Conservative majority, rejected important bills that were sent up from the House of Commons, when Sir John Macdonald was leading the government of the country. You have the Short Line Railway Bill in which he took a very deep interest; you have also the consolidation, if my memory serves me, of the Statutes after Confederation. The Senate very properly said "you have sent us a mass of bills to simply accept without having any time at our disposal for their consideration," and consequently the Senate, lead then by a Conservative, I think the late Sir Alexander Campbell, rejected every one of those measures, and compelled the House of Commons at an early period of the session which immediately followed, to re-introduce the bills and send them to the Senate in sufficient time for proper consideration. There are other instances in which the Senate has asserted its independence, and I am quite sure that its composition to-day, though, as my hon. friend says, largely in opposition to the views of the present government, will not, upon any occasion, take a course which might be considered either factious or obstructive. Questions may come before us of a very objectionable character. If they are of such a character that we think they are not in the interests of the country, this House will no doubt reject them in the interests of the country and in accordance with their own conscience. I do not know that I should say anything about the inconvenient season for the meeting of parliament. The reasons given by the hon. mover of the address in reference to the season at which parliament has been called are, I think, unanswerable. I do not know that, under the circumstances, they could have called Parliament together at an earlier period. I have had some little experience of a new government coming into power, and the difficulties that present themselves in preparing to lay before the country all the measures with which they may have to deal, but I must be excused if I take exception to his argument with reference to the issuing of the Governor General's warrants. The hon. gentleman says, and says very truly, that the late government had, upon very many occasions, asked for the Governor General's warrant to the extent of millions, but in making that declaration he gave not a single instance in which these Governor General's warrants were asked for and issued and the money obtained, that was illegal or contrary to the law. That is the whole point. It may be a question of policy as to the expenditure of money, but it is a question of law as to whether a Governor General's warrant should be issued under peculiar circumstances. My hon. friend says he is not much of a lawyer. I am not a lawyer at all. I must take my law, as I have done in the past, from a Minister of Justice. I would like to hear the opinion of the present Minister of Justice on this question of the issuing of Governor General's warrants, and if I can read common, plain English, I cannot come to any other conclusion than that the issue of a Governor General's warrant, even to pay the civil service or any other debt, is directly and diametrically opposed to the provisions of the law which he has quoted. I will read it, not for the information certainly of the Minister of Justice, but in order that I may show the basis upon which I come to that conclusion. In the Consolidated Revenue and Audit Act, subsection (b) of sec. 32, we have the following:
If, when parliament is not in session, any accident happens to any public work or building which requires an immediate outlay for the repair there-of, or any other occasion arises when any expenditure not foreseen or provided for by parliament
is urgently and immediately required for the public good, then, upon the report of the Minister of Finance and Receiver General that there is no parliamentary provision, and of the Minister having charge of the service in question that the necessity is urgent, the Governor in Council may order a special warrant to be prepared, to be signed by the Governor General, for the issue of the amount estimated to be required, which shall be placed by the Minister of Finance and Receiver General to a special account, against which cheques may issue from time to time in the usual form as they are required.
Now, that is the only authority, as far as I know, upon which Governor General's warrants are issued. Was this a case designated in this subsection of the Act from which I have read? Was there anything unforeseen in connection with the payment of the civil servants? Did not the parliament of Canada know -- does not everybody in the country know that the services of the country had to be carried on -- that the money should be provided for the payment of the civil servants in different parts of the whole country; and was it not known also that under certain contracts that had been let and works that were in progress, the money would be required to meet that service? Does any one doubt that position? If so, then he must have a strange mode of arriving at conclusions. The parliament of Canada was in session prior to the 30th of June, the termination of the fiscal year. At that period every one knew that the appropriations would lapse unless they were carried forward in certain cases for public works, under the Audit Act, for a certain length of time. They knew when they refused to pass those estimates that parliament could not, by any possibility, meet to provide the estimates to carry on the ordinary affairs of this country, and the issue of the warrants under such circumstances I hesitate not to think, though not a lawyer, is absolutely illegal, and I would suggest, if the hon. gentlemen would take any advice from me, that they should introduce a bill to indemnify them for what they have done. I do not mean to say that the money should not have been provided for the carrying on of the services of the country, and more particularly under the circumstances; on the contrary, some means should have been devised, but the course pursued by the government of the day in asking the Governor General to sign a warrant which did not come within the meaning of the law, and which was contended by some good lawyers and by laymen who can read the English language, was directly and diametrically opposed to the law. The hon. gentleman referred to the action of the government -- not the last government, but the government which preceded it, because the last session of parliament was held before the new government was formed -- and he read from Todd to prove that the opposition had acted strictly in accordance with constitutional and parliamentary practice; at least, so I understood his argument.
Hon. Mr. POWER: I said that the constitutional practice was not to grant the supplies for the year. I did not deal with the conduct of the opposition, because I am not aware that the government at that time ever asked for supplies.
Hon. Sir MACKENZIE BOWELL: I am rather surprised to hear my hon. friend make that statement. We all know that he watches with peculiar interest every act of his opponents, and his remark, that he is not aware that the government of that day asked parliament to provide for the very contingency which the present government have had to meet by a violation of the law, is a matter of surprise to me. The Hon. Mr. Foster, the late Minister of Finance, not only made the proposition to the leader of the opposition, personally pointing out to him the difficulty which would arise if a partial appropriation was not voted by parliament, but he asked the opposition on the floor of the House of Commons, to vote a sufficient supply in order to carry on the business of this country until the elections could take place and parliament meet to provide the balance. Now, that is precisely what Todd says should be done in his memorandum upon this question. He is so clear and distinct that one cannot misunderstand the language. The government of that day consulted the constitutional authorities as to what their duty was, and the Finance Minister made the proposition to which I have referred to the leader of the then opposition of the House of Commons, and appealed over and over again to that House to cease their obstructive conduct in order that the estimates, or a portion of the estimates, might be passed by the Commons and by the Senate to enable them to carry on the affairs of the country. We all know what the conduct of the opposition was during that
period. We know further that for nearly a week before the parliament was terminated, the government of the day ceased to push the measure, before the House, of remedial legislation, in order to obtain a sufficient supply to carry on the business of the country until the elections were over and parliament met to provide for the balance of the year.
Hon. Sir OLIVER MOWAT: Where shall I find those proceedings ?
Hon. Sir MACKENZIE BOWELL: You will find them in Hansard.
Hon. Sir OLIVER MOWAT: I thought perhaps you could give me a reference.
Hon. Sir MACKENZIE BOWELL: I cannot now give you a reference; but this I can say, being then at the head of the government, I know the instructions to the ministers. My hon.,friend to my right (Mr. Ferguson) sent this note to the Hon. Foster in the House of Commons: "Did you make a proposition to Mr. Laurier on the floor of the Commons last session that supplies for a limited period should be voted, or was such proposition made personally to Mr. Laurier?" His answer is "both." That is, he made the proposition to Mr. Laurier personally, and made it on the floor of the House also, and I have a distinct recollection of the circumstances that took place, because it was an important matter. The difficulties arising out of want of supplies to carry on the affairs of the country after the 1st of July, was discussed a number of times by the council, and when we decided to drop for some days the agitation on the question of remedial legislation, it was for the very purpose of enabling the House of Commons to pass the necessary supplies in order to be enabled to carry on the affairs of the government, and which they positively refused to do. The government was acting precisely in accord with the authority cited by my hon. friend, which is, that:
When parliament is about to be dissolved upon a ministerial crisis, it is obviously improper to call upon the House of Commons to vote either the full amount or all the details of the proposed estimates, and so commit the country to the financial policy of ministers whose fate is about to be determined by a general election. The duty of finally deciding upon these estimates should be reserved for the new House of Commons. Meanwhile the supply of credit should be restricted to such an amount as may be absolutely required for the public service until the re-assembling of parliament, and the votes on account should not be regarded as in any degree pledging the House to an approval of the entire estimates.
Now that is precisely what the late government asked the opposition to do, and what they absolutely refused to do. My hon. friend forgot to read a precedent even for granting the whole of the supplies. Todd says, in the second volume, dealing with the same question, at page 504:
By necessary business is to be understood such measures as are imperatively required for the public service or as may be proceeded upon by common consent, it is inconsistent with all usage and with the spirit of the constitution that a government should be enabled to select the measures which it thinks proper to submit to the consideration of a condemned parliament, or to exercise its own discretion or for party purposes as to what measures it will bring forward or what it will withhold. Upon the same principle it is customary when parliament is about to be dissolved whether upon the occurrence of a ministerial crisis, or for any other reason to restrict the grant of supplies to an amount sufficient to defray the indispensable requirements of the public service until the new parliament can be assembled.
Hon. Mr. POWER: Until the new parliament can be assembled?
Hon. Sir MACKENZIE BOWELL: Yes. That is what we asked and what you refused, and yet you hold us responsible for not having a supply to carry on the affairs of the country after parliament died of a natural death. Under ordinary circumstances, parliament might have been kept in session for two or three months in order to obtain supplies, but the opposition of the day knew that the existence of the parliament ceased upon a certain day in April, and they knew also that if they could, by any mode of obstruction, by any factious opposition known to those who desired to prevent the business of the country being carried on, prolong the session to that date, that they could prevent not only the passage of any measure which the government might desire to place upon the statute-books, but also prevent them from obtaining one single cent to enable them to carry on the affairs of the country. If any party is responsible for the necessity which presents itself to the government to violate the law and ask the Governor General to do that which, under ordinary circumstances, should not have been done (and even under these circumstances it is
questionable whether it should be done) the blame or responsibility, whatever it may be, rests upon the shoulders of the opposition in parliament at that time and not upon the government of that day. Todd says further:
In 1868 however this wholesome constitutional rule was departed from by common consent for reasons of public convenience and the supplies were voted for the whole fiscal year ending 31st March, 1869, although a dissolution of parliament was agreed upon early in June. The prorogation took place on 31st July, the dissolution in November, and the new parliament met on 10th December, 1868.
Now, even if the whole of the estimates which were laid before parliament had been granted, under the peculiar circumstances in which the government of the day and parliament at that time existed, no great wrong would have arisen therefrom, for this reason; if my recollection serves me right -- I am sorry I have not the estimates here at present -- there were no extraordinary sums asked for in connection with any particular work, or the business of the country, other than what was going on under contract. That is my recollection at the present moment, but even when that was refused, then the second proposition was made to which I have referred, and which Todd lays down as the constitutional course to pursue, to ask for a sufficient sum in order to pay the servants of the government and to continue the work which was then under contract. So much for that question of the Governor General's warrants. I should not only be interested, but I am sure this House will be interested, and will listen with a very great deal of attention to the views of the hon. gentleman who now leads the Senate of Canada. We all know that he is an eminent lawyer, that the position he has held at the bar, and as Attorney General in the province of Ontario, for nearly a quarter of a century entitles his opinion to respect upon questions of this kind and all others, and I shall listen with a very great deal of interest to ascertain how the genius of an eminent lawyer can get around the provisions of a statute so plain as this, at least to my mind. My hon. friend also refers to the school question. That is a subject that I think it might be as well not to say much about particularly from his standpoint.
Hon. Mr. POWER: I did not say much about it.
Hon. Sir MACKENZIE BOWELL: I would have no hesitation in entering into a discussion of that question did I deem it at all advisable at the present moment, but when the hon. gentleman says, as his party continually says, that the late government, who had that question under consideration for some six years, never approached in a friendly way the Manitoba government in order to deal with the question in the interests of the minority, he states what the records show to be incorrect. Take every document issued from the Justice Department during that period -- every single despatch and letter that was written to the Manitoba government was couched in the most friendly language, and in language to which no one, having the interests of his country at heart, could object. But, they say, after the last judgment of the Privy Council, the late government issued a mandatory order dictating to the Manitoba government what they should do, and which they termed coercion. Even in connection with that, they were approached in the most friendly manner, and if the opinion of lawyers be of any use to us, or should be a guide to laymen, we had no other course to pursue in order to bring the question within the purview of the Dominion Parliament. I am glad to notice that even the leader of the present government, now Premier, has made the statement in different parts of the country that it is within the power of this parliament to deal with this question, provided the Manitoba government does not come to the rescue and concede the rights to the minority. And he has also stated this, that if they will not do it, he will take the initiative in the House of Commons, and compel them to do it, or in other words coerce them. I deny the correctness of the use of that word �coercion.� No coercion was ever attempted on the part of the government towards the people of Manitoba. It is not coercion to say to a man who has taken rights from you, as an individual or as a community, that he must restore them. I can understand the word �coercion� as meaning something exceedingly offensive, and as applied in the manner it has been applied in connection with the school question it is doubly offensive, because it is not true. Sir, I notice the hon. Secretary of State, I think in a speech made not long ago, told the people in this good city of Ottawa, that the better way
to settle this question would be to let the thing alone for three years, and it would cure itself. We have heard him over and over again in this chamber, from the seat occupied by my hon. friend to my right (Mr. Ferguson) declare that the late government was recreant in its duty, and cowardly in its actions; why? because they did not disallow the Act in the first place.
Hon. Mr. SCOTT: Hear, hear.
Hon. Sir MACKENZIE BOWELL: And in the next breath we heard his leader, and others by, whom he is surrounded, declare that there should be no interference, good, bad or indifferent, with the provincial governments, whether they act within the constitution or not. They can take whichever horn of the dilemma they please at the present moment, and the country will be able to judge of the results. Now, what the terms of the present settlement are, I am not in a position to say. I promise him this, however, that if any measure be introduced, if such be necessary, or any arrangement made between the two governments which will satisfy the people of that province and the minority whose rights I always thought, and still think, were invaded they shall have my most hearty support, and I think when I say that that I can speak for every member on both sides of the House, who differs from the general principles which actuate and guide the present government. What we desire is to have that question removed from the arena of federal politics. When they accuse the old government of having kept that question before the people for special purposes, they are uttering what the records will not establish. If race and religion have been introduced into this question it lies more at the door of those who gained at the last election by that appeal to race and creed than with the old government. It never was a question with me, or those with whom I acted, whether the majority were Roman Catholics or Protestants. I took this ground in the government of which I had the honour of being the head for a short time, and the government of which I was a member under other heads, that certain rights were guaranted [sic] by the constitution to all, whatever their race or creed might be, and that these rights should be respected at all hazards. I am still of that opinion, whether the complaint come from the Protestants of Lower Canada or the French half-breeds of the North-West is a matter of perfect indifference to me -- it is simply a question of the constitution and the maintenance of peace and harmony throughout the country. I observe that the commission, of which my hon. friend opposite was to have been the head, has not yet been appointed to accomplish a settlement of the question. We know how successful he has been in the province of Ontario. We know the agitations which have taken place and the stand which he has taken upon the question of separate schools and the education of the people of Ontario. My hon. friend will give me the credit of having, since I first entered parliament, been outspoken in the declaration of my views, whether they differ from those of my leader or not. I never approved of the policy pursued by some of the Conservative party in Ontario upon this question, nor was Sir William Meredith, now Chief Justice, a party to that movement. I do not approve of it to-day. There is, to my mind, but one safe course to pursue by any man who attempts to govern, or assists in governing this country, and that is to take the constitution as it stands and adhere to it as rigidly as possible, maintaining the rights of all classes of the people, and more particularly all minorities. I ask, are you going to accomplish this great feat of settling the vexed question of the Manitoba schools by an interview with the Attorney General of Manitoba, and by means of that kindly and placid manner in which my hon. friend can deal with all questions of this kind? Let me refer my hon. friend to the speeches of Mr. Sifton, the Attorney General of Manitoba, when he went to enlighten the people of Haldimand on this question. Let us take the utterances of their organs in the North-west Territories, where they make the most solemn declarations that no interference can take place with the school law. Let us take the utterances of some of the hon. gentleman's colleagues -- of Mr. Geoffrion, of Mr. Tarte and others, who have declared that no settlement can possibly take place which would be accepted by the minority, unless it places the schools exclusively under the control of their church. Those gentlemen have gone so far as to declare that the issuing of certificates, and government inspection would be an infringement of their rights. Are they prepared to adhere to that, or are they going to gulp down all their declarations in the
past? Are Mr. Sifton and his colleagues to do precisely the same thing in order to gain a party triumph for the gentlemen who succeeded in the last election? What will it prove to the people of Canada? It will prove to them, and to the whole world, that the opposition in the Dominion parliament and the government of Manitoba were in collusion from the time the agitation began until the present moment, in order to assist in defeating the Conservative party -- that they proposed then to come to some arrangement. If you can conceive of a more iniquitous understanding between parties, I should like my hon. friend the Minister of Justice to explain it to us. I leave that question to him. There are scores of other points in connection with this question to which I might refer, but to which I shall not at the present moment. My hon. friend the mover of the address gave us a long dissertation as to the duties of governments in the arrangement of a tariff. He quoted largely from the utterances of the late Minister of Finance, Mr. Foster. With every word he quoted I am heartily in accord. He pointed out in that speech what had been the experience of every statesman who has ever had anything to do with the forming of a tariff, or the changing of a tariff, or of the commercial policy of a country. Those who have read anything of history and studied anything of constitutional government, and more particularly the effect of protection upon the trade of a country and its development, know well that a young country, or a poor country, adopting protection will, of necessity, as years roll around and as the country becomes more wealthy and its manufacturers become stronger under a protective system and able to stand alone reduce the tariff and sometimes wholly remove it without detriment to existing industries. Why? Because the protection which they had received in the past enabled them to so manage their business as to be able to compete with foreign industries. Whether Canada has arrived at that period in her national life is questionable in my mind, and I think will also be a question in the minds of others. The platform of the Liberal party lays down the principle of a revenue tariff, and the hon. member from Halifax gave us his definition of a revenue tariff. His leader says he is a Liberal of the English school and a free trader pure and simple -- that he is in favour of commercial union or continental free trade, and afterwards unrestricted reciprocity. Which of these views are we to have to-day? If I understand my hon. friend (Mr. Béchard), who spoke in his native tongue, he is in favour of free trade pure and simple. How to reconcile a revenue tariff with the declaration in this address that you are not to interfere with any existing interests is a problem that I think even the wise head of the Minister of Justice will find it difficult to solve. What is it that he can possibly do, under existing circumstances, without interfering with some interest, which would materially lighten the burdens of the people? They have told us that raw material must be free? If my hon. friend will look at the tariff he will find that almost every article that is used in the industries and manufactures of this country that is not produced in the Dominion, is free -- almost every single article that is necessary to carry on successfully any enterprise is on the free list now. But the present Premier asks is iron free? Certainly, not. Are you going to remove the duty from pig iron, which is the basis of all iron industries? And if you do, will you not interfere with some interest? If you take off the duty from raw material you will have to decide what constitutes raw material. The ore is the raw material for the man that makes the pig iron. The pig is the raw material for the man who produces the puddle bar and bar iron. The bar iron is the raw material of the man who makes horseshoes, and the nails and the horseshoe make the raw material of the man who puts the shoe on the horse, so if you are going to carry out your theory of removing the duty from raw materials, you will take it off every article in the country. My hon. friend from Marquette, who is the most ardent free trader we have, will say that everything, is raw material. Did it require three months for the hon. gentleman to come to the conclusion, after the declarations they have made, that it was not necessary to remove the duty on pig iron? We have heard it announced by the hon. gentleman who was the Finance Minister of the former Liberal government, that the sugar interest in this country was legalized robbery. In fact, there is no language which could be taken from an English dictionary that was too strong to denounce the protected industries of the country. Does it require any consideration on the part of the hon. gentle-
men opposite to decide that sugar shall be free, in order that people may get it at a cheaper rate? I do not know that it requires three months for that. I can understand him, if he refers to the duty on pig iron, asking himself how will this affect the bar iron industry, the rolling mills, the manufacture of car wheels, and other iron industries; but if he begins on the basis of a pig iron and makes that free, then let him make all the rest free and he will have a simple tariff. The hon. gentleman from Halifax wants the tariff simplified. I may quote a precedent for simplifying the tariff. When Sir Richard Cartwright was Finance Minister in Mr. Mackenzie's administration, he took no particular pains to readjust the tariff ; he just took the tariff of Sir Francis Hincks as it was, and added 2 ½ per cent to everything on the list, and had it passed by the Parliament of Canada.
Hon. Mr. POWER: The previous one was a simple and reasonable one. That cannot be said of the present tariff.
Hon. Sir MACKENZIE BOWELL: It was not an exclusively revenue tariff at that time, because if the hon. gentleman will study the history of the question he will find that Sir Alexander Galt had imposed a duty on woollens, and particularly blankets, upon the protective principle. Under that protective tariff the blankets and woollen manufactures of this country were established and are in existence to-day. The result of it was that a very few years afterwards the coarser qualities of blankets and woollens used by the lumbermen and the people of this country were as cheap, or cheaper than they could be bought in England.
Hon. Mr. MacINNES (Burlington): Hear, hear.
Hon. Sir MACKENZIE BOWELL: My hon. friend from Burlington has had experience, and he knows that my statement is correct. When I am told that the tariff of Sir Francis Hincks was a simple one, I say it was, but I am speaking of the genius which the Finance Minister in Mr. Mackenzie's administration displayed, and the happy manner in which he solved the tariff problem at that time. The country will be interested in seeing the proposition that is to come before the House. Is it necessary that the present government should have three months to consider whether the iniquitous three cents a pound on the products of the hog should be removed? We are told that it is in the interest of the consumer that that tax should be removed, but what would be the result on agricultural industries? How will it affect the coarser grains ? Will it not be an injury to that class for whom the opposition has expressed so much solicitude during the last twenty years. [sic] For twenty years they have been denouncing this protective tariff as iniquitous and a robbery. Do they want six months more to ascertain how to remove it? I say, adopt the English system at once if you are honest; put the duty on articles that we do not produce in this country, and make the unfortunate farmers, for whom you have been weeping and almost going into mourning, pay more for their sugars and teas, and keep out the raw material altogether, because you cannot adopt a revenue tariff and raise the necessary funds for carrying on the affairs of the country unless you tax every article which is now free under the present tariff. Give us a stamp duty and give us duties upon articles that are now free, and you will accomplish the objects you have in view, but whether that will be acceptable to the country, or whether it will be a relief from taxation for the very class for whom you have been so solicitous for years past, is a question I leave hon. gentlemen opposite to solve. My hon. friend from Halifax called attention to the announcement made by the late Finance Minister in the House in 1893 that the tariff would be considered with a view to reduction before the next meeting of parliament. That is true, and that is one of the errors which we, as a government, made. It did interfere with the trade of the country; but with the present opinion prevailing in this country as to what the hon. gentleman who now controls its destinies will do, there will be a stagnation in business which will prevent the investment of money in many industries. Everything will be cut down, you may depend upon it. I am speakiing from experience, and I acknowledge frankly the error which we made in 1893; but when that announcement was made by the Conservative Finance Minister, it was on this basis, that whatever reduction should take place, the
principle of protection to the industries of this country should be continued and maintained. The declaration made by the hon. gentlemen now in power is, if I understand them, this: that they will remove every vestige of protection -- at least so they have said -- but probably in the future, as in the past, they will act upon the principle of professing one thing in opposition and carrying out another in power, and I am quite satisfied that that will, to a very great extent, be the case. Their numerous promises and declarations of principle, not only in connection with the tariff, but in connection with scores of other things, will be violated. They will find it utterly impossible, in the administration of the affairs of the country, to put their theories into practice, and so it will be with the tariff. If trade does not stagnate and the manufacturers do not keep their manufacturing within the strictest limit of the requirements of the country, I shall be very much mistaken, and I base that opinion upon my knowledge of what transpired in a very much less aggravated degree in the past. With the government, however, must rest the responsibility. I accept the opinion expressed of me by the hon. gentleman from Halifax -- I am now, and always have been since my boyhood, a protectionist. The older I grow the more I am convinced that it is the only policy which can be pursued in any new country that has not attained to a wealthy position, if they expect to prosper and become a wealthy people among the nations of the world. Free trade is an admirable theory -- my hon. friend from Marquette has it to perfection -- but free trade in practice is quite another thing, more particularly when you are shut out from all the other markets of the world. I hope whatever the government may do that they will consider well the responsibility that rests upon them in dealing with the very important question, and if I have sufficient strength, and I am here, they shall have my earnest support, provided their policy is in accordance with what I think it should be. If not, I shall endeavour to put it as right as I possibly can. I have no sympathy with this constant cry of unfriendliness to our neighbours across the line. I look upon such declarations made by hon. gentlemen on that side of the House and by the party with which they are connected -- more particularly the leading one -- not only as being unpatriotic, but as tending to the material and everlasting injury of Canada. Are we to stoop to any foreign power, to go upon our knees and beg like a beggar in the street for concessions, when we know that they have been refused over and over again? Do we not know that the leading statesmen of the United States have told us, time and again, that they will never re-enact the treaty of 1854? Yet the Premier tells us, in an interview with some United States interviewer in Chicago -- the representative of a third class newspaper at that -- that there is no reason why this treaty should not be re-enacted. I go further -- I question whether the interests of the agricultural community of this country would be benefited by the restoration of the tariff as it existed at that day. Circumstances change. Canada is not in the same position that she occupied in 1854, or during the negotiations of Lord Elgin, when the first reciprocity treaty was enacted. We stand in a firmer position to-day as a people, in wealth and industry and in everything that tends to make a people self-reliant, than we did in those days. The United States, it is true, repealed that treaty: what did it do? It created a stagnation in this country for a very short time, but the genius and industry of the people of Canada led them to adopt other means by which to secure a return for their labour that did not exist during the time that that treaty was in force, and the result has been that we have turned our attention to other industries. The market of the United States is no longer of the same importance to the Canadian agriculturist that it was 20 or 30 years ago. We are in a position to stand alone in that respect. Any reciprocity treaty that may be made will have the support of every member of this House, I am sure, provided it is on a square and equitable basis, but I hope that the Canadian people have not so far forgotten their allegiance to the Empire, of which they form an integral part, as to ever consent to the adoption of a treaty which will discriminate against the mother country. Mr. Blaine has told us distinctly, and the leading United States newspapers have declared consistently, that no reciprocity treaty can ever be effected with the United States that does not shut out the manufactures of all other countries; or, as one paper said the other day, "you must have the United States tariff in Canada if
you expect to have the benefit of our market." I am one of those Canadians who have lived in Canada a long time -- perhaps longer than some of those present here to-day who were born in the country. I have watched the progress of Canada and have come to the conclusion that Canadians are not inferior intellectually, industrially, or in perseverance, to any other people in the world, and that while we are prepared to deal fairly and honestly with our neighbours, we never should consent to any arrangement with a foreign country that will not be equitable in its character, or which would prove injurious to the empire of which we form a part. These are my views, and I deprecate in the strongest possible language this constant appeal to the United States, and the declaration that we have been unfriendly to our neighbours. It is not true. There is nothing on record in the statute-book, or in the correspondence between the United States and Canada since confederation that can establish a charge of unfriendliness. Talking about the bonding system, I am surprised that a man, with the genius and eloquence of the premier of this country, should refer to the subject as he has done. We all know that the bonding system is guaranteed by treaty, and that if the United States were to denounce that treaty it would affect them quite as much as it would affect us. We are not so dependent on the United States carrying trade as we were twenty-five or thirty years ago, and as we are deepening our canals and extending our railway system, we are becoming more independent every day. Look at the traffic through the United States of Canadian products, amounting to sixty or seventy million dollars annually. Does any one suppose that our neighbours will denounce a treaty which gives them the benefit of that carrying trade ? The whole thing is so nonsensical that I wonder that the leader of a great party should give utterance to such sentiments. Then there was a remark made about the coasting trade. Everyone knows that we have been trying to induce the United States government to concede the coasting trade to Canada in the inland waters. If you refer back to 1869, the first despatch which I had the honour of drafting and sending to the United States on the trade question, when I was Minister of Customs, laid down the broad principle that if the United States was prepared to repeal its navigation laws, so far as they affected the coasting trade in the inland waters of Canada, although we were only four millions of people as against their sixty millions, we were prepared to meet them on equal terms and fight the battle with them. That proposition was made by me to Mr. Blaine, and he said: "Oh no. Do you propose your scheme for the inland waters and also for the sea?" I replied: "No ; our proposition is for the inland waters only; but if you are willing to negotiate the broader question, we are prepared to discuss that question too. Our statutes give us power to declare the coasting trade free to any nation, and the moment you adopt that course we will follow you to the fullest possible extent. Surely you are not afraid of the four or five millions of people in Canada when you have sixty millions of people in the United States." Mr. Blaine, with that characteristic of all United States citizens -- and I admired him for it -- turned to Mr. Forster and said, "How will that affect the United States?" The conclusion they came to was, as expressed in Mr. Blaine's own language, "Great Britain has the carrying trade of the world now, and we will not permit them to come into our waters." That is the spirit in which, I venture to say, you will be met when you come to ask the United States government for concessions. If you take my advice you will not accede to anything of the kind. If they give you free coasting trade -- wrecking we did concede to them in the interests of humanity, though some of the Liberal party objected because it affected their personal interest -- let us reciprocate, but I hope beyond that the government of Canada will not go. I have to apologize for having spoken at such length, but so many points were raised by the mover of the address, affecting the administration of which I was a leader for a short time, that I deemed it necessary to put in this defence.
Hon. Sir OLIVER MOWAT: moved the adjournment of the debate.
The motion was agreed to.
The Senate then adjourned.
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Source: Canada. Parliament. Senate. Debates of the Senate of the Dominion of Canada. 8th Parliament, 1st Session (August 19, 1896: October 5, 1896). Ottawa: S.E. Dawson, 1896. Pages 10-33.