Joseph Edmund Collins.

Life and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, premier of the Dominion of Canada online

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Canada of them ; so that we may rest certain that for all time
:ne England will not, without our consent, make any cession of those
int. -rests. :, to come to tho mode of treating the various

subjects which interest Canada more particularly. I will address myself
to them in dftail; and first, I will consider the question of most importance
to us, the one on which we are now specially legislate, that which

interests Canada as a whole most particularly, and which interests the
time provinces especially — I mean the articles of the treaty with re-
spect to our fishery rights. I would, in the first place, say that the pro-
tocols which accompany the treaty, and which are in the hands of every
her, do not give, chronologically, an every day account of the trans-
ns of the conference. Although as a general rule, I believe the pro-
la of such conferences are kept from day to day, it was thought better
to depart from the rule on this occasion, and to record only the conclu-
arrived at. While the protocols substantially contain the result of
the negotiations ending in the treaty, they must therefore not be looked
upon as chronological dates of the facts and incidents as they occurred.
1 say so, because the protocol which relates more especially to the fisheries
would lead one to suppose that at the first meeting, and without pre-
vious discussion, the British commissioners stated "that they were pre-
pared to discuss the question of the fisheries either in detail or generally,
so as either to enter into an examiration of the respective rights of the


two countries under the treaty of 1818 and the ganeral law of nations, or
to approach at once the settlement of the question on a comprehensive
basis the fact is, that it was found by the British commissioners

when they arrived at Washington, and had had an opportunity of ascer-
taining the fooling that prevailed at that time, not only among the United
:s, but among the public men of the United States
wh.'in they met there, and from their communication with other sources
-of information, that the feeling was universal that all questions should be
.settled beyond the possibility of dispute in the future; and more especially
that, if by any possibility a solution of the difficulty respecting the fisher-
ies could be arrived at, or a satisf letorj arrangement made by which the

:y question could be placed in abeyance as in 1854, it would be to
the advantage of both nations. It must be remembered that the com-
mission sat in 1*71, and that the exclusion of American fishermen from
our waters was enforced and kept up during the whole of 1870, and that
great and loud, though I believe unfounded, complaints had been made
that American fishing vessels had been illegally seized, although they had
not trespassed upon our waters. Persons interested had been using every
effort to arouse and stimulate &e public mind of the United States and
the people of the United States against Canada and the Canadian author-

, and it was felt and expressed that it would be a great bar to the
chance of the treaty being accepted by the United States if one of the
causes of irritation which had been occurring a few months before should
be allowed to remain unsettled. Collisions would occur between American
fishermen claiming certain rights and Canadians resisting those claims,
that thereby feelings would be aroused, and all the good which might be
effected by the treaty would be destroyed by quarrels between man and
man engaged on the fishing grounds. This feeling prevailed, and I, as a
Canadian, knowing that the people of Canada desired, and had always
expressed a wish to enter into, the most cordial reciprocal trade arrange-
ments with the United States, so stated to the British commissioners;
and they had no hesitation, on being invited to do so, in stating that they
would desire by all means to remove every cause of discussion respecting
these fisheries, by the restoration of the old reciprocity treaty of 1854.
An attempt was made in 1865 by the hon. member for Sherbrooke (Sir A.
T. Gait) and Mr. Howland, on behalf of Canada, to renew that treaty,
but it failed, because the circumstances of the United States in 1805 were
very different from what they were in 1854, and it appeared out of the
question and impossible for the United States to agree to a treaty *vith
exactly the same provisions, and of exactly the same nature, as that of
1854 ; so that the British commissioners, believing that a treaty similar to


that of 1854 could not be obtained in words and in detail, thought that it
might be obtained in spirit, and this view was strongly pressed upon the
joint commission. This will appear from the protocol. It *rill also ap-
pear from the protocol that the United States commissioners stated that
a reciprocity treaty was out of the question; that it could not be accepted
without being submitted to both branches of congress; that there was not
the slightest possibility of congress passing such an act; that the agree-
ment by the two governments to a treaty including provisions similar in
spirit to the treaty of IBM would only* insure the rejection of that treaty
by the senate; and, therefore, that some other solution must be found. I
believe that the United States commissioners were candid and were accu-
rate in their view of the situation. I believe that had the treaty contained
all the provision? or the essential provisions of the treaty of 1854, they
would have ensured its rejection by the senate. When I speak of the
conferences that were held on the fisheries, I would state for the informa-
tion of those members of the house who may be unacquainted with the
usage in such matters, that the c -mmissionersdid not act at the discussion
individually. The was composed of two units—the British
commission and the United States commissi, n. [f i question arose in
OO nf cr w eeon which either of the two parties, the British or American
branch, desired I together, t hoy retired, and on their return ex-

pressed their views as a whole, without r ■ the individual opinions

of the commissi, iirra. As an individual member of the British commission.
and on behalf . when it was found that we could not obtain a

renewal - : rocity treaty, I urged up m n.y English colleagues that

the should be allowed io retain the exclusive enjoyment of the

in s!i iio.ild be used to arrive in some way or

r at a settlement of the disputed question in relation to the fisheries,
so to sen!' and question, and the other one in relating to trading

Bj and 1 would have been woll satisfied,
behalf of the Canadian government, if that course had been

ted by the imperial government ; but her majesty's government felt,
and so instructed tin ir commissioners, and it was so felt by the United
>, that the leaving of the chance of collision between
the American fishermen and the Canadian authorities a matter of possi-
bility, would destroy or greatly prejudice the great object of the negotia-
t hat were to restore the amicable relations and the friendly feeling
between the two nations; and therefore her majesty's government pressed
that these question! should be allowed to remain in abeyance, and that
tome other settlement in the way of compensation to Canada should be
formed. The protocol shows, Mr. Speaker, that the United States gov-


eminent, through their commissioners, made a considerable advance, or
at least some advance, in the direction of reciprocity, because they offered
h;m_v for our inshore fisheries, in the first place, the right to fish
IB their waters, whatever that mighl bt wortli; and they offered to admit
Canadian coal, salt, tish, and after L874, lumber, free of duty. They
offered reciprocity in these articles, On behalf of Canada, the British
commissi- that they did not consider that that was a fair e(juiva-

lent. i Hear. h»-ar. } It is not necessary that 1 should enter into all the
discussions and arguments on that point, but it was pointed out by the
lintish commissioners that already a measure had passed one branch of
the legislature of the United States, makiug coal and salt free, and stood
ready to be passed by the other branch, the senate. It was believed at
that time that the American congress, for its own purpose and in the in-
terest of American people, was about to take the duty off these articles,
and, therefore, the commission coiihl not be fairly considered as in any
way granting a compensation, as congress was going to take off the duty
whether there was a treaty or not. Then as regards the duty on lumber,
which was offered to be taken off after 1874, we pointed out that nearly a
third of the whole of the time for which the treaty was proposed to exist
would expire before the duty would be taken off our lumber. The British
commissioners urged that under those circumstances the offer could not
be considered a fair one, and that Canada had a fair right to demand
compensation over and above these proposed reciprocal arrangements.
Now, Mr. Speaker, before that proposition was made, I was in communi-
cation with my colleagues iu the Canadian government, who were exceed-
y anxious that the original object should be carried; that, if we could
not get reciprocity as it was in 1854, we should be allowed to retain our
fisheries, and that the questions in dispute should be settled ; but her
majesty's government taking the strong ground that their acceding to our
wishes would be equivalent to an abandonment of the treaty, the Canadian
government reluctantly said that, from a desire to meet her majesty's
government's views as much as possible, and not to allow it to be felt in
England that from a selfish desire to obtain all we desired, we had frus-
trated the efforts of her majesty's government to secure peace, we con-
sented that this proposition should be made. And, sir, that proposition
was made to the United States. Although I do not know it as a matter
of certainty, I have reason to believe that if it had not been for the action
of this legislature last session, we would now be passing an act for the
purpose of ratifying a treaty ui which coal and salt and lumber from Can-
ada would be received into the United States free of duty. (Hear, hear.)
I have reason to believe that had it not been for the interposition of this


legislature — and I speak now of political friends as well as foes — the terms
which were offered by the United States would have been the compensa-
tion to have been settled by arbitration, and would have constituted a
portion of the treaty, instead of as it is now. (Applause.) I will tell the
house why I say so. The offer was mule early by the United States gov-
ernment. The answer made by the British commissioners was that, under
the circumstances, it was not a fair and adequate compensation for the
privileges that were asked, and the British commissioners, at the sugges-
ti"ii of the Canadian government, referred the question to her majesty's
government, whether they ought not, in addition to this offer of the United
expect a pecuniary compensation — that pecuniary compensation
to be settled in some way or other. That took place on the 25th of March,
1871« ( 'u the 'Stth of March I think the t'mal proposition was made by
the United States government, and on the 22nd March, two days before,
the resolution was carried in this house, by which the duty was taken off
coal and salt and the other articles mentioned. Before that resolution
was carried here, no feeling was expressed against the taking oil' of the
duty on Canadian coal and salt into the Dnited Sflt— , No one raised
any difficulty about it. I am as well satisfied as I I a thing which

I did not iee occur, that the Mdmil ftl and salt into the

ktet would have been placed in the treaty if it had not been for

lotion of this legislature OB the 26th of March. (Hear, hear.) That

was made, and it was r.t England. The government stated

that they quite agreed in the Opinion that, in addition to that offer, there

should be compensation in money; and then, 00 the 17th of April, the

commissioners withdrew their oftVr as they had the right to do

— altogether. And why did they withdraw the oiler altogether ? One of

nversation said to me, "I am quite surprised to

iind the opposition that has ■prang up to the admission of Canadian coal

and salt into our market ; I was unprepared for the feeling that is exhib-

I know right well what the reason was. The monopolizers, having

the control of American coal in Pennsylvania and salt in New York, so

long as the treaty would open to them the market in Canada for their

icts, were quite willing that it should carry, because they would have
the advantage of both markets; but when the duty was taken off in Cana-
da, when you had opened the market to them, when they had the whole
1 of their own market, and free access to ours, whether for coal or
salt, the monopolizers brought down all their energies upon their friends

egress, and through them a pressure on the American government,
for the purpose of preventing the admission of Canadian coal and salt into
the American market, and from that I have no doubt arose the withdrawal


by the American commissioners of their offer. When my hon. friend from
Both well (Mr. Mills) said, last session, "There goes the Canadian national
policy!" he little was aware of the consequences of the reckless course he
had taken. 1 1 IE, hear, and laughter.) Hon. gentlemen may laugh, but
they will tind it no laughing matter. The people of Canada, both east
and west, will hold to strict account t'lose who acted so unpatriotically in
the matter. (Hear, hear.) Under these circumstances, Mr. Speaker, I
felt myself powerless, and when the American commissioners made their
last offer, which is now in the treaty, < tlVring reciprocity in the fisheries —
that Canadians should tish in AmmieftB \\;iurs, ;ii"l thut Amereins should
fish in Canadian waters, and that fish and n*h oil should be reciprocally
free, and that if there should be an arbitration it were found that the
bargain was an unjust one to Canada and that she did not receive sufficient
compensation for her fisheries by that arrangement — I agreed that it should
be remitted to her majesty's government to say what should be done, aa
will be seen by the last sentence of the protocol: l * The subject was fur-
ther discussed in the conferences of April 1-mU and 19th, and the British
commissioners having referred the last proposal to their government, and
received instructions to accept the treaty, articles 18 to 25 were agreed to
at the conference on the 22nd April.'' Thus, then, it occurred that these
articles, from 18 to 25, are a portion of the treaty. One of these articles
reserves for Canada the right of rejection or adoption, and it is for this
parliament now to say whether, under all the circumstances, it shall ratify
or reject them. The papers that have been laid before the house show
what was the opinion of the Canadian government. Under the present
circumstances of that question, the Canadian government believe that it
is for the interest of Canada to accept the treaty— io ratify it by legisla.
tion. (Hear, hear.) They believe it is for the interest of Canada to ac-
cept it ; and they are more inclined to believe it from the fact — which I
must say has surprised me, and surprised my colleagues, and has surprised
the country -that the portion of the treaty which was supposed to be most
unpopular and most prejudicial to the interests of the maritime provinces,
has proved to be the least unpopular. (Hear, hear.) Sir, I could not
have anticipated that the Canadian fishermen, who, to a man, were op-
posed to the treaty, as inflicting on them a wrong, would now be recon-
ciled to it. 1 could not have anticipated that the fishermen of the mari-
time provinces, who at first expressed hostility, would now, with a few
exceptions, be anxious for its adoption. (Hear, hear.) In reviewing
these articles of the treaty, I would call the consideration o£ the house to
the fact that their scope and aim have been greatly misrepresented by that
portion of the Canadian press which is opposed to the present government.


It has been alleged to be an ignominious sale of the property of Canada,
a bartering away of the tertitorial rights of this country for money. Sir,
that allegation could not be more utterly unfounded than it is. (Hear,
hear.) It is no more a transfer and sale of the territorial rights of
Canada than was the treaty of 1854. The very basis of this treaty is reci-
procity. (Hear, hear.) To be sure, it does not go so far and embrace so
many articles as the treaty of 1854. I am sorry for it. I fought hard
that it should be so; but the terms of this treaty are terms of reciprocity,
and the very first clause ought to be sufficient evidence upon that point,
for it declares that Canadians shall have the same right to fish in Ameri-
can waters that Americans will have under the treaty to fish in Canadian
waters. True, it may be said that our fisheries are more valuable than
theirs, but that does not affect the principle. The principle is this — that
we were trying t<> make I reciprocity arrangement, and going as far in the
direction of reciproe sible, endeavouring to carry out a reciprocity

law, although not a reciprocity treaty in form. The principle is the same
in each case, and as regards the treaty that lias been negotiated, it is not

tied to reciprocity in tish. It provides thai the products of the tish-

of the two nations— fish oil as well as fish — shall be interchanged
free. The only symptom of departure from that principle is that if it
were found that Canada had made a l>ad bargain and had not received a fair

•usation for what she gave; if it were found that while there was re-
ciprocity as to the enjoyment of rights and privileges, there was not true
in value, provision was made by which the difference in value
should be ascertained ami paid to this country. (Hear, hear.) Now, if

is anything approaching to the dishonourable and the degrading in
I, I do not know the meaning oi those terms. (Hear, hear.)
may not be one that will meet the acceptance of the coun-
try, but I say that th maun r in which it has been characterized was a
wilful and deliberate use o language which the parties employing it did
not beliere at the time to be accurate, and to which they resorted for po-

1 reasons and in order to create misapprehensions in the country. Sir,
there wrai d - humiliation. Canada would not tolerate an act of humilia-
tion on the part of its government; and England would neither advise nor

it one of her faithful colonies to be degraded and cast down. (Cheers.)
But it is said that the American fisheries are of no value to us. They are
valuable, it is true, but still they have a substantial value for us
in this way — that the exclusion of Canadian fishermen from the American
coast fisheries would have been a great loss to the fishing interests of the
maritime provinces, and I will toll you why. It is quite true that the
mackerel fishery, which is the most valuable fishery on theso coasts, be-


longs to Canada, end that the mackerel of the American coast is far infe-
rior in every respect to the Canadian; but it is also true that in American
waters, the menhadden, the favourite bait to catch the mackerel, is found;
and it is so much the favourite bait, that one fifhing vessel having this
bait on board will draw away a whole school of mackerel in the very face
of vessels having an inferior bail Now, the value of the privilege of en-
tering American waters for catching that bait is very great. If Canadian
fishermen were excluded from American waters by any combination among
American li-hermen, or by any act of congress, they would be deprived of
getting a single ounce of the bait. American tishermen might combine
for that object, or a law might be passed by congress forbidding the ex-
portation of in ; but by the provision made in the treaty, Cana-
dian fishermen are allowed to enter into American waters t » procure the
bait, and the onsequenee of that is that no such combination can exist,
and Canadians can purchase the bait and be able to fish on equal terms
with the Americans. (Hear, hear.) It is thus seen, sir, that this reci-
procity treaty is not a mere matter of sentiment — it is a most valuable
privilege, which is cot to be neglected, or despised, or sneered at. With
respect to the language of these articles, some questions have been raised
and placed on the paper, and I have asked the hon. gentlemen who were
about to put them to postpone doing so; and I now warn hon. members —
and I do it with the most sincere desire to protect and vindicate the inter-
ests of Canada- -if this treaty becomes a treaty, and we ratify the fishery
articles, I warn them not to raise questions which otherwise might not be
raised. I think, Mr. Speaker, there is no greater instance in which a wise
discretion can be used than in not suggesting any doubt. With respect,
however, to the question which was put by the hon. member for the county
of Charlotte— and it is a question which might well be put, and which re-
quires some answer — I would state to that hon. gentleman, and I think he
will be satisfied with the answer, that the treaty of 1871, in the matter his
question refers to, is larger and wider in its provisions in favour of Canada
than was the treaty of 1854, and that under the treaty of 1854 no question
was raised as to the exact locality of the catch, but all fish brought to the
United States market by Canadian vessels were free. I say this advisedly,
and I will discuss it with the hon. gentleman whenever he may choose so
give me the opportunity. The same practice will, I have no doubt, be
continued under the treaty of 1871, unless the people of Canada them-
selves raise the objection. The warning I have just now expressed I am
sure the house will take in the spirit in which it is intended. No hon.
member will, of course, be prevented from exercising his own discretion;
but I felt it my duty to call the attention of the house to the necessity for


great prudence in not raising needless doubts a3 to the terms of the treaty.
It will be remembered that we have not given all our fisheries away The
treaty only applies to the fisheries of the old British American provinces;
and in order that the area should not be widened, it is provided that it
shall only apply to the fisheries of Quebec, Neva Scotia, New Brunswick
and Prince Edward Island; so the treaty does not allow the Ameri-
cans to have access t<. the Pat ; tie coast fisheries, nor yet to the inexhaust-
ible and priceless fisheries of the Hudson Hay. These are great sources
of revenue yet undeveloped, the treaty is ratified they will de-

velop rapidly; and in t is from now, when the two nations sit

down to reconsider the CJIOUmstancoS and readjust the treaty, it will be
found that other and greater wealth will be at the disposal of the Domin-
ion. 1 may he asked though I h SOU that the point has excited
any why were not th > of the lake fisheries laid open

to both nations 1 and in reply in in say that those fisheries wen- exoepted

at my instance. The Canadian fisheries on the north shore of the great

rateable. Bj a jodioions system of pr< and pro

have greatlj ' 'hat so..rce of wealth. It is also known

that from a concurrence of oil buation, the fisheries

on tl. > valuable as ours; audit therefoi

d that if we once allowed the American fishermen to have admission
tors with their various engines of destruction, all the care taken
for many years to cultiv. would be disturbed and

injui i end of .|uarrels and

ii our narrow waters, and no reciprocity ; and, therefore,
that Canada would be much better off by preserving her own inland fish-
eries to herself. BO right to enter the American markets with the
products <>f those fisb was the reason why the lake fisheries
were not included in this arrangement. Now, air, under the present cir-
M of the case, the Oanadian government has decided to press
upon this house the policy of accepting this treaty and ratifying the fish-

articles. I may be liable to the charge of injuring our own case in
discussing the advantages of the arrangements, because every word used
by mo may be quoted and used as evidence against us hereafter. The
state i Ween so thrown broadcast that the arrangement is a bad one

Online LibraryJoseph Edmund CollinsLife and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, premier of the Dominion of Canada → online text (page 46 of 57)