- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 12 Jan 1905, p. 117-123
- Denison, Lieut.-Colonel George T., Speaker
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- Item Type
- A few words on Dr. Montague and Mr. Foss and their speeches. Recalling another period of history when Cobden and Bright started the great agitation in England of what might be called their Reciprocity, which they called free trade. Their strategy and what happened in terms of protected trade. The need to stand by Canadian interests and to try to do what the United States have done in the last 30 or 40 years; building up Canada to be as big a country as the U.S. The question of Reciprocity; why it was wanted. Canadian people all united in the idea of standing by Preferential trade, and of linking our trade in no way with the United States. The speaker's belief that the day will come when Canada will be the very heart, the strength, the centre of the British Empire.
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- 12 Jan 1905
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- Full Text
- RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES WITH CANADA AND GREAT BRITAIN.ADDRESS BY LIEUT.-COLONEL GEORGE T. DENISON.
Mr. President and Members of the Empire Club,-
I have very great pleasure once again to have the opportunity of saying a few words to you. I have been very much pleased indeed, and I thank the management of the Club for bringing our friend, Mr. Foss, over here from the United States to tell us his view of this question and to let us know what our friends on the other side are thinking about, and I must say that I am very much pleased with the whole tone of his remarks. All through them was a kindly spirit of friendship to our country that I cannot speak too highly of. I hope that that feeling is reciprocated by us. I hope that in all I may say, in the few remarks that I am about to make, which may seem not altogether to agree with the views of Mr. Foss, that they are not made in any spirit of hostility to the United States, but solely, looking at things from the interest of my own native country, in the interests of this Canada of ours and of the Empire of which it forms a most important part; and not from any spirit of hostility to any other country in the world.
I would like to say one or two words about my friend, Dr. Montague. I am quite sure it has been a great pleasure to you all, as it has been to me, to have heard from him the verbatim report of the speech that he made in the State of Massachusetts a fortnight ago when he, a solitary Canadian, I suppose, at that meeting, got up to speak for Canada among the strangers. His speech has been bold, clear, distinct and filled with Canadian patriotism, and I think we are all under an obligation to him that on that occasion he represented us so clearly and so well. You have been kept very long so I will only say but a few words. My friend Mr. Foss put the case from the United States point of view very clearly and I was very much interested in it because I have not heard that side of it a very great deal.
It carries my mind back through history to another period. If we go back something like fifty or sixty years we go back to the time when Cobden and Bright started the great agitation in England of what you might call their Reciprocity, but they did not put it in that way; they put it as free trade. Certainly that was Reciprocity to every country in the world, nearly, whether they chose to give anything in return or not. Why did Cobden and Bright do that? Simply because before that time there were no great manufacturing nations in the world. England was the manufacturing nation practically for all the world. She had the control of the sea, she had the control of capital, she had the genius, she had the machinery, capital, plant and everything; while the other nations of Europe had all been rent asunder and torn fore and aft with the great Napoleonic Wars and with other wars which had followed them, and they were all broken up into a collection of little states and never did anything to develop their national industries; only carrying on small, little trades amongst them while England carried on trade for almost all the world.
The United States had not yet had an opportunity of developing their manufactures; the war stopped them for a long time. Mr. Cobden in some ways was a 'wise man, and I don't think he was altogether such a fool as he seems to appear, when you come to see how his proposition reads. Now, I myself do not believe that Cobden thought he would be able to get every country in the world to join him in free trade, but Mr. Cobden saw that England had the control and that she had the stock, and if she could only bunco the nations of the earth into the policy of free trade, and if she could make them all believe it was on account of free trade she was making such tremendous progress, she would have maintained the manufacturing markets of the world.
But, gentlemen, what happened? As soon as the war was over in the United States and shortly after the war was over in Germany, those countries began to develop their manufactures; and, gentlemen, they did it by protection, clear protection. Bismarck, a great ruler, a man who united a great empire, forced protection into Germany and made her a great manufacturing country.
Protection has grown also in every country in the world, but in no country to anything like the extent that it has been carried in the United States. I think we gather from Mr. Foss' remarks to-night that in the United States, now, they have got tremendous plant, tremendous capital, tremendous machinery, tremendous organization-everything magnificently organized and developed to carry on trade. She has got things in such a way that it would be almost impossible, if she reduced her duties one-half, that any other countries could very well come in and compete with her. She says, now, we ought to have Reciprocity. Well, from the point of view of the United States I think she is perfectly right.
I think Mr. Foss is doing a patriotic duty for his country in asking of us that we should pull down our tariffs and let their manufacturers come in here. But, gentlemen, I say, speaking as a Canadian, that I would not be doing my duty, I would not be true to my position as a citizen of this great and growing country if I didn't do everything in my power to appeal to my fellow-citizens to stand first by the interests we have got; to stand first by Canadian interests and to try to do what the United States have done in the last thirty or forty years, build up Canada to be as big a country as the United States. Why shouldn't it be? Now, gentlemen, we talk about the question of Reciprocity. I want to say a word or two about that and why we wanted Reciprocity. England established free trade about the year 1846 or 1847, and what happened? We had had a little trifling preference in English markets for our grain before. It didn't amount to much, but it helped us here.
Then we saw we were put on exactly the same basis in the Mother Country that the United States was. Well, with this hundred years start they had over us, with greater population, with greater facilities, they began to draw the whole business of Great Britain, her emigration, her capital, her wealth, her influence, to build up that country. Do you think they built it up themselves? Not at all. It was built up by the number of people that went in there-the millions that went in there with money, followed by millions of capital, most of which went from Great Britain in there; and we were forgotten, ignored, a small country, and very anxious to have Reciprocity with the United States because England at the time had turned her back upon us. That was the reason we wanted it. Then we couldn't get it and we struggled along and we saw hard times, and you may remember, those of you who are old enough, how hard times were in the seventies, and at last it suddenly dawned upon the people of Canada that they should have a national policy, that they should look after the interests of Canada; and the people, led by that Father of Confederation, Sir John A. Macdonald, succeeded, and ever since this country has been progressing.
Every day we are getting stronger and more powerful; every day we are feeling more confidence in ourselves; and as I used to say here fifteen or twenty years ago when they talked about commercial union-gentlemen, we have gone through all the hard times, we have struggled along under every disadvantage, and now the time has come when we are beginning to get on our feet. When we are beginning to be able to walk, I said, are we, the Canadian people, going to be so weak and so poor and so shallow-minded as, right on the very threshold of a glorious career, to sacrifice all our national aspirations and put ourselves in a position to be dependent upon any nation on earth? We began ten years ago to do what? Not to look for Reciprocity any more, but we decided it would be a good thing for us to try to form a sort of commercial union or reciprocity with all the rest of our Empire; to try to build it up, to try to get preferential tariffs, and, gentlemen, it is just lately that we have begun to see that the agitation is spreading in Great Britain; we see that we have got the greatest statesman England has produced for a century, nearly, taking the lead in this movement; going out of office, giving up office and place and going before the people and appealing to them to stand by the Empire, to unite this great Empire together.
Gentlemen, while he himself, as he tells me, does not seem to think he may carry it just at once, yet in two or three years when they can get the air cleared and get a new Government in and have the question fought out on its merits, he and other friends of mine in England, who write to me, tell me that they will be absolutely sure of carrying it in the course of a very few years. If that is the case are we going to stand true, stand firm, stand by the idea of uniting our Empire or not? I am quite satisfied, gentlemen, that we are, more particularly because I am quite satisfied that the movement in favour of Reciprocity with the "United States has become much more interesting to the people of that country since Mr. Chamberlain has come out with this proposition of his.
Now, all I would say is this: The people in this country on both sides of politics-and I am an old Canada First man, belonging to neither party-I say that the people of this country on both sides of politics, and of no politics, are all united in the idea of standing by Preferential trade; and we are all united in the idea, at the present time at any rate, and I hope for all time to come, of linking our trade in no way with the United States so that there shall be an enticement to interfere with us. If they want to cut off any of their duties, in God's name, let them do it, but let us Canadians be free in every little thing we want to do; let us preserve our freedom all the time; we have got such chances before us. I was so pleased to hear Dr. Montague's account of the way he told them what there was in this country. Just think of it, gentlemen, speaking of dominant races Canada extends from the latitude of Rome, on its southerly boundary, to the north pole. Just think of that! Now if you go carefully to Europe and take the latitude of Rome and take all the countries of France, England, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, I ask you where the power and strength and dominance of Europe lies? Is it in the north or is it on the Mediterranean and in the northern part of Africa?
No, gentlemen, with all respect for the United States, and I must say they are a great and wonderful people, with all that they have done, with all the magnificent progress they have made, with all the tremendous development they have shown in almost every walk in life, with all that-and they deserve every credit and I am sure we all admire them for it-still, let us as Canadians never lose hope, let us as Canadians look forward to the time, as Dr. Montague says, when we will have one hundred or one hundred and fifty million people; and then let us look around at each other and see what a fine race of people we will be. Let us have perfect confidence and let that be our ideal, of creating on this Continent a great British country; and if we are united with the Empire just look at the map of the world and see the way the Empire is placed and think of the position of Canada. It is the key-stone of the arch; it is the back-bone of the whole thing. If the Empire is ever united you will find that the trade of that Empire will go backwards and forwards pulsating through Canada. You will see trade passing from east to west over our railroads. We are getting a third trans-continental railroad, we will have four or five more before very long, and all opening up the country. And our roads, remember, are very many, many miles shorter than any roads that go through the southern part of this Continent. I tell you I am quite satisfied you will see this, no, you won't see it, some of you are getting too old; but the day will come when Canada will be the very heart, the strength, the centre of that great Empire. I am quite sure of it, the position on the map shows it.
Now, I will not say anything more this evening. I want once more to say that I hope my friend, Mr., Foss, will not think in anything I have said, in this way, that there is anything more than just a good loyal Canadian feeling from our own standpoint, not anything against the United States. It makes no matter how large or how powerful they may grow. If we get on as friendly as we have it is all right. I think most of the little things that might have made trouble are pretty well settled. The Alaskan Boundary is settled, I don't think very unfairly myself; the other matters have all been settled with reference to territory. We didn't altogether get the best of it in the Maine business; but all these things are done and I see no reason why we cannot live alongside of each other and get along very comfortably, and we will supply them anything they choose to take the duty off; and I am sure our people will be willing to do the same; but in the meantime we must put first and above all the interests of our own country.