- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 14 Feb 1907, p. 206-217
- Cooper, John A., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The brief history of how the speaker became involved and interested in this subject of Imperial postage. Coining the phrase "Trade follows the advertisement, not the flag." Proceeding to prove that this was true. Examining the trade returns showing our relations with Great Britain and our relations with the United States since 1867. Finding that British sales have declined proportionately in this country, and that purchases of goods from the U.S. have steadily increased. U.S. advertisements coming into Canada in comparison with English advertisements. An illustrative incident. The elimination of English advertising and its replacement with U.S. advertising. The disparate cost of sending U.S. periodicals into Canada vs. sending British periodicals. Consequences of this disparity. Some steps that have been taken to change this situation. A petition to the Right Hon. The Postmaster-General of Great Britain, who signed it, and who was in the deputation. Recent developments. A movement for restricting the immense inflow of U.S. periodicals into Canada. Support for reform. Providing the opportunity for Canadian newspapers and periodicals to grow. The issue of taxing knowledge; duty on periodicals. The need for an awakening in this country of sentiment in the mind of our youth that he should know Great Britain.
Words from Mr. E.M. Chadwick, Mr. J.R. Roaf, Mr. J.F. Ellis and Mr. Cooper again.
- Date of Original
- 14 Feb 1907
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Address by Mr. John A. Cooper, B.A., before the Empire Club of Canada, on February 14th, 1907.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,--
I fear that I am very much in a position today of the stale politician who has talked the same old political argument for 10, 15, 20, or 25 years, and has got to the point in his career when he cannot think of a new way of putting the old ideas. I have been looking over my papers since you were good enough to ask me to come and speak to you on this subject, and I find that I have been writing and agitating on this subject for 10 years. I did not know it was quite so long until I got at the records, and, as I say, I have written so much about it, and talked so much about it, that I fear I have lost the power to put it in new form.
The subject was first called definitely to my attention by a newspaper man, who, I believe, had previously been working on a reform in the way of getting cheaper money orders between Great Britain and Canada. After he had got through the agitation on that subject, it struck him that he should take up an agitation in favour of cheaper postage on periodicals and newspapers. I happened to be Secretary of the Canadian Press Association at the time, and he wrote me several long letters on the subject, and finally got me interested. I took up the matter with Mr. F. B. Biggar, of the Canadian Engineer, and we studied it out together, and we found that some people in the Post Office had been studying it about the same time. Then the agitation began through the Canadian Press Association, as well as through the official avenues. At the time Mr. Biggar and I prepared the first paper on the subject, following along the lines laid down by G. H. Hale, of the Orillia Packet, who is the gentleman first referred to, we coined this phrase "Trade follows the advertisement, not the flag." Having coined the phrase we, of course, proceeded to do our best to prove that it was true, and I have thought it over for a great many years, and I am still convinced that if it does not express the exact truth it comes very near to expressing it.
If you will examine the trade returns showing our relations with Great Britain and our relations with the United States since 1867, you will find that British sales in this country have declined proportionately; while they have increased slightly in bulk, they are still proportionately less today to our total purchases than in 1867. On the other hand, the purchases of United States goods by Canada are very much greater today than they ever were before, and they have steadily increased since 1867. This proves in a general way this statement, that trade follows the advertisement rather than the flag. I do not reed to prove this further to you. You are all quite aware that there are more United States advertisements coming into this country than there are English advertisements. I have used one incident several times, but I would like to tell it again. I went up into a small town in Western Ontario one day, and, being short of toothpowder, I went out to buy some. My favourite is an English preparation, and I asked the druggist for some Calvert's tooth powder. "Never heard of Calvert." I might say that I was very much chagrined at this, because he advertised in the Canadian Magazine, with which I was connected! "Well, what have you in the way of tooth powders?" He produced four preparations, all made in the United States, and this, notwithstanding the fact that the duty on tooth powders from Great Britain was less than the duty on tooth powder from the United States. I said to him, "Why do you handle these? What are the merits of the case? Why are these better than the English tooth powders?" He said, "I don't know anything about the-merits of it. We handle these because they are advertised, and the people ask for them." And so you might go on.
I remember when the British journalists were in Canada, I was riding down from the Exhibition with two or three of them. One of them was a noted Radical, who was representing Reynold's newspaper, and who also edited a paper in London called The New Voice. In the carriage was Mr. Neil Munro, the novelist, of the Glasgow Evening News. The Radical got talking about the foolishness of Canada resorting to protection and trying to make her own industries go and make the people pay an excessive price for their goods. I said, "Well, why do you object?" They said, "You should buy British goods." I replied, "Well, as far as I am concerned, you may take off all the tariff on British goods, and you may allow them to come in free, and I do not think you would increase your annual sales 10 per cent."
They asked me why, and I said, "Because your advertisements do not reach the Canadian people. The brands of goods sold by your manufacturers are not known to the Canadian public." And this gentleman, this Radical, said to me, "Well, but you get Pearson's and you get The Strand, don't you?" I said, "Yes, we do; we get them." "Well, you get our advertisements there?" I said, "No, sir." "Oh, what do you mean?" I said, "The American is too sharp for you (excuse me, sir, United Stateser). He takes your Strand and your Pearson's, cuts out your English advertising, and inserts American advertising." I said, "I'll tell you what I'll do. We are going down town, and we should have a bottle of wine to celebrate the occasion, and I'll buy the bottle of wine if you will get off and go through three of the leading book-stores in town, and buy one copy of the English edition of The Strand or Pearson's or one copy containing a regular set of English advertisement." Needless to say, I did not buy the wine.
When I was in England a couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of discussing this matter with C. Arthur Pearson, publisher of Pearson's Magazine, and I said to him, "I understand you are a great disciple of Mr. Chamberlain." Of course, I was away from home, and he did not know what an insignificant individual I was. So I braved it out and proceeded to talk as an important person.. He said, "Yes, I am a great believer in Mr. Chamberlain's policy." "Then," I said, "why have you sold Canada to the- United States?" He looked at me, and, I suppose, wondered whether it was an insane individual from the Colonies who had wandered into Henrietta Street. I said, "You have sold us to the United States; you will not allow us to buy the English edition of Pearson's; you compel us to buy the United States' edition; to buy an edition in which all the chief British articles are eliminated, and in which there are substitute articles particularly interesting to the people of the United States." Mr. Pearson said he would try to rectify it, but he has not done so yet.
There was a time in this country when we did get British periodicals, but that was before the United States' periodicals had come to so great perfection. Because we all must admit, that the United States periodicals are very bright publications, well edited, well produced, well managed and well circulated. There was a time when British periodicals came in here, but when the United States' people found out the great advantage they had in this market, they pursued it pitilessly. They found that their Post Office was charging one cent a pound to send matter into Canada, for which the British Government charged eight cents. They said, "Now, here's a good chance. Here are the Canadian people buying The Strand from England. We will get out an American edition of The Strand, and we can send it, into Canada at seven cents a pound less than the British publisher can send it in." So they got out their American edition and at once corraled the market. That is the great point in the whole question-the United States' periodicals can be sent into this market at one cent a pound, whereas British periodicals can only be sent in at a rate of eight cents a pound, and it is on that problem that we have been carrying on this agitation for about ten years.
It may interest you to note some of the steps that we have taken. I cannot cover them all, but I would like to mention one or two. I find that on the 18th of June, 1901, Mr. Charles Trevelyan, M.P., asked the following question in the British House of Commons: "I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster-General, whether his attention has been drawn to complaints from Canada that British magazines and periodicals mailed to Canada are taxed at the rate of eight cents a pound, while United States periodicals can enter at one cent a pound; and whether, as this rate is driving out British publications by American competition, the Postmaster-General can see his way to reduce the rates now charged?" I need not read you the answer, it was simply to say that they did not see any reason why they should reduce the rate. I would like, however, to read the comment of the Editor of the British Empire Review, at that time: "The foregoing is a typical example of official evasion." I find in the same issue of June, 1901, of the British Empire Review, a question from an article from the Canadian Magazine on the subject. We carried on a newspaper agitation in Great Britain for some time. Most of the material which was collected here was sent to Sir Gilbert Parker, and he had it scattered about among the newspapers, and quotations from Canadian newspapers were disseminated in that way. In the summer of 1904 I prepared a petition. It is a very short one
To the Right Hon. the Postmaster-General of Great Britain. We, the undersigned, would respectfully draw your attention to the unsatisfactory circulation of British weeklies and monthlies in the outlying portions of the Empire, and would urge that the postal rates for this class of matter be reduced from fourpence to one penny per pound, and when sent from the office of publications or from news agencies. The needs of the British Empire demand that the literature of the people shall be British, and cheaper postal rates seem positively necessary to this end. Interchange of opinion is necessary to political unity, and interchange of advertising is one of the great means of promoting inter-imperial trade. We, your petitioners, would humbly urge upon you the importance of this postal reform, in order that Canadians may receive periodical literature at a rate as advantageous as that from foreign countries."
I would like to point out that this petition was signed by the President of the Canadian Press Association; the President of the British Empire League; by the Bishop of Toronto; by Mr. Willison, Editor of the News; Mr. Howell, President of the Canadian Club; Mr. Urquhart, then Mayor of Toronto; Mr. Creelman, President of the Canadian Agricultural College; Mr. McKay, Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia; the Dean of Acadia University, Wolfville; Dr. John Forest, President of Dalhousie University, Halifax; Rev. Father Gaynor, President of the New Brunswick Historical Society; His Grace .the late Archbishop O'Brien, Archbishop of Halifax.; Mr. Longley, Attorney-General of Nova Scotia; Professor John Watson, of Queen's; Senator Templeman; Mr. F. Barlow Cumberland; President Loudon; Hon. G. W. Ross; Mr. John F. Ellis, President of the Board of Trade; Mr. J. M. Clark, President of the Toronto Branch of the British Empire League; and a number of others. On Thursday, March 16, 1905, a deputation waited upon the Postmaster-General of Great Britain, and I have in my hands the official report of that interview. I would like to mention the names of some of those who went to see the Postmaster-General of Great Britain in order to show you the class of people that have taken an interest in this subject in Great Britain.
Sir Gilbert Parker, M.P.; Lord Edmund Talbot, M.P.; Right Hon. Sir W. Hart-Dyke, M.P.; Right Hon. Sir HerbertMaxwell, M.P.; Lord Morpeth, M.P.; Lieut.Gen. Laurie, M.P.; Sir H. Seton-Karr, M.P.; Sir Thomas Wrightson, M.P.; Sir William Holland, M.P.; Right Hon. H. Chaplin, M.P.; Right Hon. Jesse Collings, M.P.; Mr. C. D. Rose, M.P.; Mr. Alfred Emmott, M.P.; Mr. Charles Trevelyan, M.P.; Mr. S. Buxton, M.P.; Mr. W. H. Grenfell, M.P.; Sir H. Kimber, M.P.; Mr. Evelyn Cecil, M.P.; Sir Carne Rasch, M.P.; Mr. Ian Malcohn, M.P.; Mr. E. Goulding, M.P.
This history will give you some idea of the length of time for which the agitation has been going on. I would like to refer to the work of Sir William Mulock. I think that Canada and the Empire owe to him a supreme debt of gratitude for the good work that he has done along this line. He took up the subject very strongly before the Canadian Press Association took it up. He worked at it assiduously and persistently, and he used whatever influence he had in that direction. Of course he was interested both in letter postage and in newspaper postage. In letter postage you all know how he succeeded. So far as magazine and newspaper postage was concerned, he was not successful in getting a reduction made in the British rate; but he did succeed in forcing the hand of the British Government so as to allow him to send Canadian newspapers and Canadian periodicals to Great Britain at the domestic rate; namely, half a cent per pound, or one-sixteenth of that charged for the return trip. That is a great accomplishment, and one which the Canadian people should keep in mind and ever hold to the credit of Sir Wm. Mulock, and, I have no doubt, to the credit of prominent officials who were associated with him in that transaction.
Now, then, we come to recent developments. The Hon. Rodolphe Lemieux, who is now Postmaster-General, has announced that a further reform is about to occur, that postage on British newspapers and periodicals to Canada will be lowered. I am not certain in what way that will come about, nor to what extent it will come about, but I believe that he hopes, as he has expressed it, that the result of whatever changes shall be made, will be an intellectual preference for British periodicals. The "intellectual preference" is his own phrase. But there is need yet for a great deal of agitation along this line. Canada, if she wishes to remain a part of the British Empire, must know a little more about British public affairs. Today, British periodicals and newspapers are practically confined to the newspaper offices, and to two or three of the larger libraries. The public are not reading British literature. They know very little about the British people, British politics, British questions, and about. Imperial questions, and I think there is no greater work that the Empire Club could do than to take up this subject, and see if they could do something to help along a movement whereby British periodicals and British newspapers would move more freely in the homes of our people.
Of course, side by side with this agitation, we have a movement for restricting the immense inflow, shall I say, of United States periodicals into this country. In 1875, Canada made a Postal Convention with the United States, in which we agreed that all postal matter should be exchanged at the border at domestic rates; that there should be no international accounting between the two nations. In other words, we agreed that we would deliver all United States mail matter sent to this country at the domestic rate free of charge to the United States. They agreed, on their part, to deliver all matter sent from Canada to the United States in the same way. Of course, at that time, we had no Canadian Pacific Railway. We had no railway connection with Winnipeg or with British Columbia. Our letters to Manitoba were sent via Chicago, and our letters to British Columbia via San Francisco. At that time it was a good bargain for us. But when we got our own postal connections, we forgot to cancel the agreement we had made with the United States. The consequence is that, for thirty-two years, we have been carrying United States' matter at a very low rate, and we have been carrying probably fifty pounds of mail matter for every pound the United States has carried for us, and I would assume that that would cost this country a very tidy sum annually.
Just whether it would be best for us to cut that arrangement off entirely and come under the International Postal Union, the same as the other countries of the world, I would not like to say, but there is no doubt that the people of this country will support any reasonable reform which the Postmaster-General undertakes to make. It is unreasonable that we should have this country performing a huge and costly task for the United States Post Office. It is only right, if they have thousands and thousands of tons of mail matter delivered in this country, that they should, at least, pay some fair amount for that delivery. We are, of course, interested in it in another way. Canadian newspapers and periodicals want an opportunity to grow. We want to see better periodicals in Canada. We want to see more national periodicals. At the present moment it is practically impossible for a Canadian periodical to exist. One or two have succeeded, but they have succeeded only by adopting methods which no self-respecting journal should be asked to adopt. I say that advisedly, because I think that I know as much about it as any man in the country and I say that with a full knowledge of what it means. There is no prospect of any Canadian periodical succeeding in this country in the present situation, without adopting means to which no self-respecting journalist should be compelled to stoop.
In the first place, paper in Canada is higher than in the United States, and the duty on paper coming into this country averages about 30 percent-25 percent on book papers; 35 percent on coated papers. We will say that the duty is 30 per cent. The Canadian paper manufacturer has not a great demand for book papers,, and he finds it necessary to keep his price pretty well up to the United States' price plus 30 per cent. " hat is very well," you say, "your paper is a little higher, but is there no duty on magazines and newspapers?" Now, the actual situation is frankly this: you can bring in a sheet of paper without any printing on it and they charge you 25 to 35 percent duty. Mr. Munsey or Mr. McClure takes the same sheet of paper, he prints his advertisements on it, he prints on it literature written by people of the United States, he prints engravings made by the engravers of the United States, he prints it on presses made in the United States, he binds it up into the form of a magazine and he sends it in free of duty. That is one of the chief reasons why you cannot have Canadian periodicals under present conditions. The Government says when you ask them, "Well, we cannot put a duty on knowledge." And that is quite true, they cannot put a duty on knowledge. Of course, they put a duty on books-cloth bound books ten percent, and books that are not bound in cloth 20 per cent. But then these little anomalies do not trouble Governments very much.
At the same time there is a great deal to be said in favour of the Government's contention that it is a very difficult matter to tax knowledge. Again, the Minister of Customs will tell you, "I don't want to put a duty on periodicals because I can only collect the duty on those that come in by freight and express. If John Smith subscribes for a United States' magazine and has it sent in by mail, I cannot collect on it, but I can when it is sent in by freight or express." That argument is practically unanswerable, so that I hope none of you will try to start any Canadian periodicals, because I don't want any competition just now. Then, again, the Postmaster-General says (I don't say that the present Postmaster-General will say it, but we will assume that he says): "We don't want to put a duty on what comes in by freight and express, for then they would send everything by post, and we don't want that." It is a great problem and it is one that must be solved. I am not here to ask for any personal sympathy at all. It is a problem which faces Canada. I can look after myself; if you people think the country can stand it, I can stand it. As long as Canada prefers United States' literature to Canadian and British literature, she should have it. I am too much interested in the situation myself to express any decided opinion upon it.
I have tried to go quickly over this broad subject, and give you an idea of the difficulties. If there is any question you would like to ask me, I would be glad to answer it. If there are no questions, I would like to say that I hope you will forget all that I have said about United States' periodicals and postage, and Canadian periodicals, but that you will remember that there needs to be an awakening in this country of sentiment in the mind of our youth, in the mind of the young man, that he should know Great Britain, that he should try to come in touch through British newspapers and periodicals with the great problems which he, as an Imperial Citizen, must at some time or other consider.
Mr. E. M. Chadwick: I think that our press in Canada is not wholly free from blame with regard to some of the points that have been touched upon. A great deal of the cable and telegraphic news is written on this side, and never crosses the Atlantic. It is published by our papers as freely as if it were absolutely genuine. Our papers fail to give us English or British news at first hand. They do sometimes publish communications from correspondents, but when they do, it is generally in the most unattractive form, and I suppose nobody reads it. The whole press in this country seems to be permeated with American ideas to a very large extent; much more than some of us can feel like tolerating. As an example; there is one English magazine published in this town which is one-third thoroughly American, and yet it is supposed to be sold in order to counteract some of the evils that Mr. Cooper has touched upon. For many years I used to get The Strand, in fact, I had it complete for many years from its first publication. I found, however that it was coming here loaded up with American stuff-American stories, description of American towns, etc., and I thought I did not want this. I want the English edition; so, instead of getting it in the usual way, I wrote to London, and, much to my disgust, they sent me out the American edition.
Mr. J. R. Roaf: I think that every man can do something toward bringing about this reform. I think every man here has correspondents on the other side of the Atlantic. I wrote to a friend in England who was interested in this subject, and he answered that he had handed my letter to seven different newspapers, stating that a correspondent had given him this information, and they had published it. You can also send letters to your friends and have them published in England. The necessity of cheaper postage in sending their matter out here is apparent. You business men can point out to the business men there that they can sell their goods here if their advertisements appeared in this country.
Mr. I. F. Ellis: I have listened with pleasure to the address of Mr. Cooper. I had the honour last summer at the Chambers of Commerce Congress to introduce a notice of motion along that line, and we had a very courteous reply from the Postmaster-General, and the question he put to us is a difficult one to be answered. You know in the Old Country they do not have a tariff on imports. They expect to receive their revenue from certain domestic matters. One of their principal sources of revenue is from the Post Office, and he told us distinctly that to adopt our suggestions would mean a decrease in the revenue of the British Post Office of four million pounds. Now gentlemen, that is four times .the revenue which Canada received from her Post Office. These are the difficulties she has. We think it is strange they cannot adopt our suggestion, but they are up against the fact that it would make an enormous reduction in their revenue.
Mr. Cooper: I can deal with that question in a moment. I met with the same answer when I was over there two years ago. I nailed it quickly. In Great Britain they tell you they charge eight cents a pound for delivering periodicals and magazines. I said, "You don't do anything of the kind; you have that rate hung up and there is not a single publisher in Great Britain who uses it. You have, by putting up that rule, made millionaires and peers, because W. H. Smith, who became a peer, earned his money handling newspapers and magazines throughout Great Britain that the British Post Office would not carry. Now," I said, "the rate does not affect your people. They send their stuff by express. Nobody could afford to pay eight cents a pound to carry stuff from London to Liverpool; he sends it by express." There people are all together and can be reached by the book-seller. In this country you can reach them only through the Post Office, because the population is scattered. I said to them: "You do not need to change the domestic rate; change the colonial rate, and you would not lose one hundred thousand pounds a year."