March 24, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)


the hands of those very classes. If that power is not entirely in the hands of the farmers, the miners and the fishermen, if they should think, or if they should conceive that their interests, or their welfare, were in danger there can be no question whatever that without the consent of these great classes we could never have any policy of any kind. And you could certainly never have a protective policy in Canada. To make such a statement as that seems to be begging the whole question. If these great producing classes are not to be benefited by protection in the limited form in which we speak of it in this discussion, which means particularly protection to the manufacturers for the purpose of developing the manufacturing industries of the country, if you cannot secure the assent of these great producing classes to the proposition which benefits them by developing the manufacturing interests of the country, thereby adding to the welfare of these great producing classes, if you cannot succeed in doing that, then it would be hopeless and absurd to suggest any policy of protection in any country whatever. But, the view held by every one who is in favour of protection in a proper and limited sense is that while its particular advantages are directed towards the establishment of manufacturers, by the establishment of such manufacturers you add directly to the welfare and revenue of these great producing classes In the country. The system has other advantages as well. You diversify your interests you introduce a great variety of interests, a great variety of employments into the country and you develop a very much more highly organized, progressive and advanced community in that way. That, perhaps, is not a sufficiently practical argument with wrhich to appeal to people who work for their bread, who till the farms, who net our seas, and who mine our minerals. The great argument that has always succeeded in persuading the people to accept protection in the past and it will induce them to accept it in future, if I am not mistaken, is that by developing a manufacturing population in the country they add value to every dollar's worth of the products which they gather from the bountiful hands of nature. How much would be gained by the farmers of the North-west Territories, if, instead of having to send their wheat to the British market, where it competes with wheat grown by the coolie labour of India, they could have that wheat sold in Canada in the form of bread to the men whose wages have risen, as they have in almost every country where manufacturing industries are developed, to the highest possible point V We find that in every country in which manufactures are highly developed that instead of the working classes being depressed or injured, the wage earner is the man who, in the end, has the advantage and that no matter how prices of commodities may

fluctuate in all these countries wages go upwards and upwards steadily and in the end It is the workingman who has the advantage, to whom in all cases is the residuary advantage given. If you can give us a market in Canada as the United States have now furnished, to a great extent, a market in the New England states for a large portion of the wheat produced in the western districts, if you can provide a market in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, in which the wheat of the Northwest Territories would be consumed instead of being exported, can there be any question that you would add many cents a bushel to every bushel of grain that the North-west farmer garners ? There can be no question about it. If you cannot propound such a system of protection in a democratic country like this in which every man has control of his own interests I say it would be futile to suggest such a policy of protection. Instead of the mass of the people being injured by the protective tariff retained in force until 1896, I say that they were benefited by their own act because they maintained it in power. It must be remembered that since 1878, however those other questions and subordinate interests that were presented to the electors might change from time to time, the great and important and over-ruling question in all cases, so far as the government of Sir John Macdonald and his successors was then concerned, was the question of the maintenance of the national policy intact and on that policy upon which he in successive years appealed to the people, in every successive election, until his death, he was sustained by the voice of the people, not by the votes of the cities, at all, but by the support of the agricultural counties, the fishing counties and the mining counties. He did not rely when he was returned to power, as far as the returns go to show, on the votes of the manufacturing classes, but he was returned to power by the unanimous voice of the people of Canada.
In the resolution of the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax), as presented to the House, it is held that there is a certain amount of contradictions. The argument has been put forward by the other side of the House that, whereas, in its first portion it appeals for a system of adequate protection of the industries of Canada and for the maintenance of the Canadian market for Canadian products, that in so far as it later on suggests a preference within the empire there is involved a contradiction. I cannot see that this is a legitimate argument. It might as well be held that during all the years in which the United States has been a highly protective country there has been an inconsistency in that policy in going to South American governments and to a certain extent of listening to the overtures of Canada in the direction of reciprocity. There is no inconsistency to my mind, 54J
in the matter at all. In fact, it would rather appear as if reciprocity were the necessary and natural incident of a protective tariff. Without a protective tariff you could practically get no reciprocity. Lord Salisbury, himself, in speaking of the position of England in dealing with this matter, said that England has nothing to offer, that England has nothing to exchange. England, which is a free trade country has given everything to the countries with which it might enter negotiations and has nothing to offer, whereas, the country which has adopted a protective tariff has something to offer. It has concessions to make. It is entirely within its power to make such a treaty of reciprocity with any other country as would involve a letting down, to a certain extent, of the barriers put up in the way of trade and as would confer a certain amount of advantage on the country with which it was negotiating. I am prepared to recognize that there are very great difficulties in the way of working out a satisfactory preference within the British empire. At the same time it wrould be a very foolish thing on the part of the government of Canada, or the people of Canada, or the parliament of Canada, to, for a moment admit, that such a thing cannot be accomplished. There were in operation a few years ago the Belgian and German treaties; treaties which Canada had for years asked should be denounced; treaties which were discussed at the Inter-colonial conference here; treaties whose denunciation had been pressed upon the Imperial government, and which the Imperial government in the most formal fashion on the report of one of its leading statesmen refused to denounce. Yet, although it seemed, up to the last moment, that the denunciation of these treaties was a concession that would not be made, the time came when by pressure of circumstances it was made. These treaties are now denounced and business is readjusting itself very rapidly and it is very difficult to say that any interest in Canada has suffered in consequence thereof-except that we may perhaps suffer somewhat from the unfriendly attitude of the German government I maintain that in the same way, it is going to be possible for our colonial governments of Australia and Canada, and that government which we may hope to see soon established at the Cape, working in concert with the British government, to devise some method by which there may be a system of preferential trade within the empire. The simplest way in which that could be done is the way which I suppose we would not accept at all; that is, to adopt the suggestion made by one of the British statesmen and enact free trade within the empire. I do not know that his suggestion was exactly that, but it was, I think, that all the colonies should adopt free trade. Of course, in order to do that it would be necessary for

Canada to repudiate that policy which has been maintained by successive governments in this country, not only by the Conservative government but by the Liberal government which succeeded. I should think, that would be entirely out of the question. The great difficulty that lies in the way of accomplishing a preference within the empire, unquestionably must lie in the fact that Great Britain is so confirmed in her belief apparently, that free trade such as she has to-day, is that which best suits her interests; that we can scarcely expect the mother country, with her experience, with the enormous measure of prosperity she has enjoyed under free trade, to abandon that system even if it could be shown that it would very largely be in the interest of her colonies for her to do so. The men who have charge of these matters in England have always treated this question on a business principle. They have balanced the trade which they might hope to develop with the colonies, against that enormous trade which they do with the rest of the world, and so far they always seem to have made up their mind that whatever they might hope to gain from the colonies they would more than lose in some other direction. That is perhaps the proper view for a British statesman to take. I have always been disposed to think, that when we were in this country discussing protection, as we did in 1878; and when the argument was advanced that protection was not a good thing because we should follow the example of the mother country and adopt free trade under which Great Britain has achieved such enormous success; had risen to such a position among the nations of the world, outranking beyond all comparison the others, and being facile princeps in the world from a manufacturing and commercial point of view-it always seemed to me that such an argument as that was absolutely out of the question so far as we were concerned. There was little reason to doubt that a country which had commenced her manufacturing career as a protective country and had with skill, courage, boldness among her seafaring population obtained control of all the seas, had shown that capacity for commerce which was evidenced by the enormous development of her trading companies-for instance the East India Company- I say that it always seemed to me that that country had laid sure and fast the foundation of her industries during a period of protection, and that now was ready to come into the arena armed at all points with success, braced, strengthened and fortified, with capital abundant; It always seemed to me that it was naturally the most obvious thing in the world for Great Britain to invite other countries to come into the free trade arena with her, because there she was a Triton amongst the minnows, without any opponents. There was neither indus-

Full View