March 26, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa



I would ask permission, Mr. Speaker, to sum up, in a few words, the points I made last night before the adjournment. With regard to the first part of the motion presented by the hon. the leader of the opposition, I said that, in my opinion, the time had passed for discussing in this parliament the respective theories of free trade and protection. The policy of protection, I contended, has been imposed upon us by foreign circumstances. It has not been adopted because of any theory, or because it is peculiar to one party or the other, but because it is the natural policy of Canada. And I maintain that it would be to the advantage of Canada iff representatives of both parties would cease discussing the relative merits of protection and free trade, and recognize the irresistible force of existing conditions. The policy of protection, I have pointed out, was forced upon the Conservative party, just as it has been forced upon the Liberal party; and we should be prepared to admit, what we "all know to be the ease, that so long as outside circumstances do .not change, we will have to continue that fiscal policy, which both sides have practically agreed upon. I therefore do not see any necessity for the motion proposed by the hon. the leader of the opposition. There may be questions of detail to be considered-as, for instance, whether the rates of duty should1 be raised or lowered on certain imports; but in such cases it is the duty of those who want the rates raised, to bring a straight motion asking that the tariff on this or that article should be made higher. But, I do not see any utility whatever in asking the parliament of Canada to declare that a protective policy is necessary in thi^ country, in view of the fact that such a policy has be*n imposed on both parties during the last twenty-four years, irrespective of the personal opinions of any member.
In the second part of my argument I admitted that I voted with the greatest pleasure for the preference to Great Britain when that measure was! introduced by the government, in 1897. But, as time went on

and the results of that preference made themselves felt, I came to the conclusion that instead of its being a measure of freer trade-as no doubt the government meant it to be-it has turned out to be the worst kind of protection, namely, protection to foreign at the expense of home manufactures, and this is a kind of protection that I am not prepared to accept. I further expressed my astonishment at the contradictory position taken by hon. gentlemen opposite. In the first part of their resolution, they say that the principle of protection should be proclaimed once more by this House, and then, in the latter part, they ask this parliament to declare itself in favour of discrimination against Canadian products for the benefit of British and German manufactures.

Full View