- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 18 Feb 1904, p. 74-83
- Birge, Cyrus A., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- This address was delivered from Mss. Previously prepared, and delivered before the Commercial Club, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Speaking from the viewpoint of a loyal Canadian. Canada's history which led up to the federation of what was at one time a series of scattered provinces into one great Dominion, peacefully accomplished. Canada, ready to do her part in making her own history and developing her share of the great North American continent. Canada, working side-by-side with the United States. Honouring the United States and their people. Canada's relations with the Motherland. Finding in the U.S. misapprehension as to the relations that exist between Canada and Great Britain, with instances. Clearing up these errors. Loyal sentiment as the bond that holds Canada to Great Britain. Canada as a free nation. The Preferential Tariff as another feature of Canada's relations with Great Britain. Canada's relations with the United States as most friendly. Our ties of neighbourhood, of mutual interest, of race and kinship. The issue of Annexation. The mistaken notion that there is a strong annexation sentiment in Canada. The issue of Reciprocity with Canada. The lack of a responsive chord in Canada with regard to this issue. The possibility that American have been misled by the utterances of one of Canada's members of Parliament, Mr. John Charlton. Assurances by the speaker that Mr. Charlton does not voice Canadian sentiment on this question. The lack of advantages to Canada under Reciprocity. The U.S. having shown no favours to Canada commercially and Canada owing no favours in return. Advocates of Reciprocity and the speaker's response to them. A denial that the U.S. manufacturers control the Canadian market. Canada no longer desiring Reciprocity with the U.S. Canada's interests as Canada's first consideration, as it must be with the United States. Much that binds us together in the development, each in our own way, of the great heritage that has come to us through our common ancestry. Looking forward to seeing "beyond industrial competitions and preferential tariffs, that harmony which will make us all one under the common liberty and institutions of our race."
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- 18 Feb 1904
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THE RELATIONS OF CANADA, THE MOTHER LAND AND THE UNITED STATES.
Address by Mr. Cyrus A. Birge, ex-President of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, delivered on February 18th, 1904, from Mss. previously prepared, and delivered before the Commercial Club, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
MR. PRESIDENT,--Measured in miles Canada is a subject long and broad, reaching as it does from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from our mutual boundary to the far North. We had at one time a few thousand miles more of territory in what is now known as Maine, Michigan and Alaska, but being a goodnatured and a liberal people we divided up the estate, and still have enough left to require all our energies and ability to develop it.
Before going further let me say that I want to speak to you freely and frankly and from the view-point of a loyal Canadian, and any references that I may make, or any statements to which I may give utterance that may not be in accord with your views, feelings or wishes, will not, I assure you, Sir and Gentlemen, be prompted by any spirit of antagonism to the United States or its people, but will be prompted purely from a desire to give to you some of the facts as to existing conditions in Canada, and to outline to you some of the aims, some of the ambitions, some of the aspirations and intentions of her people.
Of the incidents in Canada's history which led up to the federation of what was at one time a series of scattered provinces into one great Dominion, I need not speak. Suffice it to say that this has been peacefully accomplished and that Canada stands forth today a young and vigorous nation, entering upon her career under favourable auspices, and ready to do her part in making her own history and developing her share of the great North American continent. Side by side with you we will endeavour to make the whole of North America blossom out into the most attractive and favoured portion of God's footstool. That is one of our aims and one of our ambitions.
Like the people of your own country the majority of our people are of Anglo-Saxon descent. Many of them from Britain, our common mother, and many of them from your own land, and surely none the worse for that. A speaker whom I heard recently, stated that the evolution, or development, of men came from contact, and it is true and will apply equally to nations. The civilization of Old England was brought to New England. The early settlers there displayed rare heroism. They soon began to establish new standards which continued to grow and improve until they have developed into the life and energy of a magnificent nation which stands before the world today a splendid monument to the heroism of the Pilgrim Fathers, an example of what energy, industry and perseverance can accomplish, and an illustration of the power of a dominant race to absorb and mould into harmony with your own standards the millions that have gone to you from other lands.
Gentlemen, we honour your nation, we honour your people for what they have accomplished, and what you in the United States have done in this direction we in Canada are doing. In the development of men we have the advantage of the straining of the race from Old England to Canada and from New England to Canada, and from each has come their best, with the result that we in our Northern clime have a people unsurpassed if not unequalled in the world today.
Now, Sir, let me refer to our relations with the Motherland and with the United States. First, as to the Motherland. During my intercourse with some of my friends on this side of the line I have frequently found a very great misapprehension as to the relations that exist between Canada and Great Britain. For instance, the idea prevails that Canadians are not a free people, that they are governed by Great Britain, that Canadian legislation is subject to British control, that Canada has to pay annually to Great Britain a considerable sum as a tax, and that in times of war Canada must furnish her quota of men: Mr. President, these are all errors. Canada's people are as free as any people on earth today. She is free to legislate as she chooses, just as you are. She makes her own Tariff just as you do. She makes her own laws, as free from interference from Great Britain as you are, with the exception, however, of the treatymaking power, which might easily clash with Great Britain's foreign policy; but even now this question is before the Canadian people and may take form that will bring it also within the realm of Canadian power. Canada does not pay one dollar of taxes to Great Britain directly or indirectly, any more than you do. In case of Great Britain being at war Canada is not obliged to supply one man to aid her any more than you are.
Then you ask, " What is the bond that holds Canada to Great Britain?" I answer, "loyal sentiment." Loyal sentiment to Britain's King, not loyalty to the man alone but as being the representative of law, and power, and order. Loyal sentiment towards the British Flag, loyal sentiment towards British institutions and to the grand history of the British race. Canada free? Yes, free as the air we breathe, yet bound by silken ties of sentiment, love, honour and blood, ties which though in appearance weak it takes much to break.
Another feature of our relations with Great Britain, and one which is receiving considerable attention just now, is our Preferential Tariff in favour of that country. Imperialism, or the idea of a Greater Britain, has taken deep root in Canada, and has forced itself upon the minds of British statesmen, until today it is the most prominent feature of British politics. Canada was the first to move in this matter, our Government giving to Britain a Tariff Preference, first of i2'% per cent., then of 25 per cent., and finally this was increased to 33% per cent. This Preference, together with the Conferences of the different Colonial Premiers in London on the subject, has led to Mr. Chamberlain taking up the question of an Imperial Preference within the Empire, which of necessity means some kind of protective Tariff in Great Britain.
Shades of John Bright and Cobden! Think of it, a Tariff on footstuffs in Britain! What it will result in only the future can show, but from conversations with Delegates to the Chamber of Commerce of the Empire, held in Montreal in September last, and from private letters I have received from gentlemen in England in close touch with English politics, I am led to believe that the outlook for the realization of Mr. Chamberlain's plan is strong. At any rate, Canada has done her part in introducing and promoting this great scheme, and it now remains for Great Britain to do hers.
Now, Mr. President, let us turn to our relations with the United States. These, thank heaven, are the most friendly. To you, also, we are bound, not quite in the same way as to our common Motherland, but by ties of neighbourhood, by ties of mutual interest, by ties of race and kinship. Long may these ties bind us together, and long may we continue side by side, you with Old Glory to the front, and we with Canada's flag and the Union Jack to the fore, each in our own way working out the development and destiny of this great North American Continent.
One of the questions as to the relations between our two countries, which has been the subject of considerable discussion on your side of the line, is that of Annexation. I saw recently that one of your Senators, Senator Hale, had taken upon himself the prophetic mantle, and declared that Canada would yet be annexed to the United States. Mr. Chairman, I fear that his inspiration was not good, that his powers of divination were immature, that the mantle that has fallen upon the Hon. Senator is that of a false prophet. There seems to be an idea here that there is a strong annexation sentiment in Canada. Sir, I want to state emphatically that this is not the case. There is no such sentiment existent, not a particle of it. I never knew of but three real annexationists in Canada, and two of these the Lord sent for and the other came back to the United States where he belonged.
But, Sir, there is another question regarding the relations of Canada to the United States that is receiving considerable attention on your side of the line, and that is the much-talked of one, Reciprocity with Canada. I mean much-talked of in the United States, for I want to tell you that the cry fails utterly to find a responsive chord in Canada. It may be that those who are so active in the movement in your country have been misled by the utterances of one of our members of Parliament, Mr. John Charlton, who, by the way, was a former citizen of your country. He has frequently spoken in different parts of the United States on this subject, and quite recently in Boston he advocated it strongly.
It is a hobby of his, but I want to assure you, I want to assure the American people, that Mr. Charlton does not voice Canadian sentiment on this question. Why should we want Reciprocity? We have little or nothing to gain by it and much to lose. Our farmers don't want it as it would not advance their interests. Our merchants don't want it for it would not increase their profits. Our artisans and mechanics don't want it as it would lessen their wages and leave them with less employment. Our manufacturers don't want it as it would open their market for your surplus products and decrease their own output. We have enough of this as it is.
You may say that Canada would have the advantage of the larger market, but we would not. There is such a strong sentiment of loyalty in the United States in favour of United States goods, that Canadians could not sell goods in your market on equal terms with your own producers. I know this from experience, having tried it some years ago with goods made from the same material and on the same machinery, and what was the reply I got to my efforts? " Why should we buy of you? United States goods are good enough for our people, and we could not sell yours except at a lower price. Give us a 10 percent lower price and we will try it." How would you like that for Reciprocity? This reminds me of a story I heard, of a party of journalists from the United States who visited Winnipeg last summer. They were being shown around by a gentleman of my acquaintance who tells the story. It was in the month of July. Passing a house in front of which a lady was working among her flowers, they stopped to admire the roses, then in full bloom, and being invited by her to make a closer inspection they all filed into the grounds and were presented with some of the beautiful blossoms. In returning thanks for this kindness, a gentleman, the Editor of one of the Minneapolis papers, made the following remark, "I believe thoroughly in reciprocity, and would like to do something to show my appreciation of your kindness. We, however, only raise snowballs in our country, but if I ever have the opportunity I shall be most pleased to give you some of them." The lady was evidently equal to the occasion and replied that she had always understood that that illustrated the American idea of reciprocity with Canada, "snowballs for roses."
The United States has shown no favours to Canada commercially and Canada owes no favours in return. What does the United States want of Canada's wheat? Not for consumption, but to sell to our customers. What does the United States want of Canada's manufacturers? Not to replace her own, surely. The United States has a surplus of nearly everything that we have to sell. We are not dazzled with a promise of an opportunity of entering a market of 80,000,000, because these 50,000,000 are producing along the same lines what we produce.
One of your New England men, Mr. Eugene N. Foss, of Boston, said to be a prominent leader in the National Reciprocity League, is very active in promoting the idea and is evidently very sanguine. In discussing it recently in Minneapolis, he is reported to have said: " I have never been so sanguine over the outlook for the realization of Reciprocity with Canada. I think we are within striking distance of the goal. Our manufacturers have been too busy to give much effort or thought to the subject, but from now on, for a period, times will not be so flush. There will be less business and more time for thought. There will be fewer orders and more effort to get them. This will turn attention .to Reciprocity, which promises to open foreign markets. I regard Reciprocity with Canada as the most important field for negotiations. Its realization is essential to the highest prosperity of both countries. It is inevitable."
Very nice! A very desirable consummation from Mr. Foss' standpoint. Mr. Foss is evidently an optimist who looks through the glasses of his own desires and sees only the reflection of those desires and does not seem to remember that it takes two to make a bargain. He does not take Canada into account at all, but assumes that when his Government is ready to offer terms to Canada she will accept them, of course.
He states that American manufacturers are in favour of Reciprocity. I can quite believe it. And Mr. Foss seems to forget that Canada is also a producer of the same class of agricultural products that you produce, and that she is also a producer of a large variety of the goods and products produced in the United States, and that Canadians desire and intend to protect their own products of the farm, forest, and mine, and to build up and maintain their own manufacturing industries.
Another advocate of Reciprocity, from the United States standpoint, is Mr. Campbell Shaw, of the National Committee on Reciprocity with Canada, who recently sent out an open letter to Senator Hoar, of Massachusetts. Mr. Shaw is very anxious that the matter should be pressed before the Presidential election of 1904. He refers to the active campaign of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, of which I had the honour to be President last year, for a higher Protective Tariff, and expresses his fear that if action on the part of the United States is delayed, the sentiment in Canada in favour of Reciprocity with the United States will be thoroughly throttled, and that control of the Canadian market will be lost. He further states that you have been building up Canada at the expense of the United States.
Mr. President, I want to say in reply to Mr. Shaw's statements, first, that the sentiment in favour of Reciprocity with the United States, is already throttled, thoroughly throttled, and has been for some time. Second, that United States manufacturers do not control the Canadian market. Although We are large buyers of goods from them, a large portion of these purchases are of goods that are upon the free list, and the higher tariff which we are seeking will help to correct this. And, third, that as regards his statement that Canada is being built up at the expense of the United States, the facts are just the reverse. Canada through her low Tariff, as compared with that of the United States, has been building up United States industries at the expense of her own.
I quite agree, however, with one of Mr. Shaw's statements when he says that "for many years, Canada sent many of her best men to help build up the United States at her expense. We are returning the favour now and neither Reciprocity nor a higher tariff will stop our overflow into the Northern country." Mr. Shaw is quite correct in these statements, and that is a very good kind of reciprocity, though Mr. Shaw, like Mr. Foss, seems to think that all you have to do is to offer Reciprocity to Canada and that she will jump at it.
But, Mr. Chairman, that is not the case. The time was when we wanted Reciprocity, and wanted it badly, but our overtures were turned down and we were forced to look for other markets. We did so and have found them and they are more profitable to us than yours could be, as we sell to them direct instead of through your people acting as middlemen and taking a profit off the deal. The class of goods which we would export to you are the very goods which you in return would export to our present market. The Reciprocity which we want is a tariff on a level with that of the United States, and which will place both countries on equal terms. We must have a scale of duties that will have the same effect with us as yours has had upon your country. Then, when our Tariffs are on a comparative level, it will be time enough to consider whether Reciprocity in some natural products common to both countries would be mutually advantageous and, if found to be so, then let us have it.
I referred a few moments ago to the utterances of one of our Canadian members of Parliament, who has spoken frequently over here, advocating Reciprocity, and who, speaking in Boston recently, threatened Tariff retaliation if you refused it to him. I say " him," for he is about the only one who wants it. Mr. Chairman, here again Mr. Charlton does not voice Canadian sentiment. We do not propose a higher tariff for retaliation. But in considering the question; Canada's interests must be our first consideration, just as were your interests the first consideration in abrogating the Reciprocity Treaty in 1866, and in framing the McKinley Tariff. In the adoption of a higher tariff by Canada, it will not be a question of fiscal retaliation, but one of national need for the upbuilding and progress of Canada as a nation. You have had the good common sense to build up the industries of your own country, while we have been foolish enough to leave the bars down and buy largely abroad what we could readily have made at home. What we hope to do now is to follow still more closely your example in giving adequate protection to our home industries of all kinds, and to find employment for our young men at home, instead of sending them to you.
Mr. Charlton, I repeat, does not voice the opinion of the Canadian people and, like Mr. Foss and Mr. Shaw, makes a great mistake in supposing that Canada would gladly open her doors for the entrance of United States goods if Reciprocity were offered her. Nor does Mr. Charlton voice the opinion of his chief, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Premier of Canada, who, speaking at the banquet of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, at Montreal, two years ago, referred to the question of Reciprocity as follows: " I remember, and you remember also, that since the abolition of the Reciprocity Treaty in 1866, we have sent delegation after delegation to Washington to obtain Reciprocity. We are not sending any more delegations. But I rather expect, and I would not be surprised if the thing were to take place within a few years, I say I rather expect that there will be delegations coming from Washington to Ottawa for Reciprocity. Having learned the lesson from our friends to the south how to receive such a delegation, we shall receive them in the proper way-with every possible politeness." No, Mr. Chairman, there is no desire for Reciprocity in Canada, nor prospect of Reciprocity with the United States.
But, while I have endeavoured to set forth some facts as they are regarding Canada, while these facts may have dampened some hopes, while there is no hope for annexation, or reciprocity between the two countries, yet there is much to bind us together in the development, each in our own way, of the great heritage that has come to us through our common ancestry. In the elevation of our people; in taking our share in, and in keeping to the front in the progressive march of civilization; in leading in commercial and industrial life; in upholding all that is best in national spirit, freedom and honour, marching on side by side in true national friendship, the two countries shall stand forth as examples of the best civilization the world has produced. In our trade we are competitors, and as such we only prove that we are worthy of each other and of the Anglo-Saxon blood that courses through our veins.
With all the din of competition and industrial warfare, and even through those elements, Great Britain and the United States may yet become more than allies. Who knows but that in coming centuries, they may become one great nation, forming an empire which will undoubtedly, should it ever come to pass, be the greatest which the world could anticipate? Who knows but that in this great consummation Canada shall play an important part? Who knows but that she may be the instrument in the hand of Him who guides the destinies of nations to bring about the greatest of all alliances which the world has ever seen?
And, while the friendship of Great Britain and her sons in the North American hemisphere is the greatest guarantee to peace throughout the world, may we not look forward to see beyond industrial competitions and preferential tariffs, that harmony which will make us all one under the common liberty and institutions of our race. Today we are making history. Let us see to it that our parts are well performed.
Men, my brothers, men, the workers,
Ever reaping something new,
That which they have done but earnest
Of the things which they shall do,
Till the war drum throbs no longer,
And battle flags are furled
In the Parliament of Man,
The Federation of the world.