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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Online LibraryJoseph Edmund CollinsLife and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, premier of the Dominion of Canada → online text (page 47 of 57)
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auada, that in order to show to this house and the country that it is
one t e accepted, one is obliged to run the risk of his language

being used be! imissioners to settle the amount of compensation,

as an evidence of the value of the treaty to us. It seems to me that in
looking at the treaty in a commercial point of view, and looking at the

ion whether it is right to accept the articles, we have to con


mainly that interest which is most peculiarly affected. Now, unless I am
greatly misinformed, the fishery interests in Nova Scotia, with one or two

i>tions for local reasons, are altogether in favour of the treaty. (Hear,
hear.) They are anxious to get fret-admission for their iish into the American
market, that they woald view with great sorrow any action of this house
which would exclude them from that market, that they look forward with
increasing confidence to a large development of their trade and of that
in lusti \ ; and I say that that being the case — if it be to the interest
of the fishermen and tor the advantage of that branch of national indus-
try, setting aside p other considerations— we ought not wilfully to injure
that interest. Why, s'r, what is I of the case as it stands ? The

only market for the anadian No. 1 mackerel in the world is the United

I, That ii our only B arket, and we are practically excluded from it
by the present duty. The cortequence of that duty is that our fishermen
are at the mercy of the American fishermen. They are made the hewers
of wood ami tl. 1 of Wkter for the Americans. They are obliged

to sell their fish at the Americans' own price. The American fishermen
purchase their fish at a nominal value, and control the American market.
The great profits of tie trade are handed over to the American fishermen
or American merchants engiged in the trade, and they profit to the loss
of our own industry and our own people. Let any one go down the St.
Lawrence on a summer trip, as many of us do, and call from the deck of
the steamer to a fisherman in his boat, and see for what a nominal price
you can secure the whole of his catch: ind that is from the absence of a
market, and from the fact of the Canadian fishermen being completely
under the control of the foreigner. With the duty off Canadian fish, the
Canadian fisherman may send his fish at the right time, when he can ob-
tain the best price, to the American market, and thus be the means of
opening a profitable trade with the United States in exchange. If, there-
fore, it is for the advantage of the maritime provinces, including that
portion of Quebec which is also largely interested in the fisheries, that
this treaty should be ratified, and that this great market should be opened
to them, on what ground should we deprive them of this right ? Is it not
a selfish argument that the fisheries can be used as a lever in order to gain
reciprocity in flour, wheat and other cereals ? Are you to shut our fisher-
men out of this great market, in order that you may coerce the United
States into giving you an extension of the reciprocal principle ? Why,
Mr. Speaker, if it were a valid argument it would be a selfish one. What
would be said by the people of Ontario if the United States had offered,
for their own purposes, to admit Canadian grains free, and Nova Scotia
had objected, saying: " No, you shall not have that market; you must be


deprived of that market forever, unless we can take in our fish also. You
must lose all that great advantage until we can get a market for our fish."
Apply the argument in this way, and you will see how selfish it is. But
the argument has no foundation, no basis of fact, aud I will show this
house why. In 1854, by a strict and rigid observance of the principle of
exclusion, the American fishermen were driven out of those waters. At
that time the United States were free from debt, and they had a large
capital invested in their fisheries. Our fisheries were then in their infancy.
They were a "feeble" people, just beginning as fishermen, with little
capital and little skill, aud their operations were very restricted. I do
not speak disparagingly, but in comparison with the fishermen of the
United States there was an absence of capital and skill. The United
Stat* . tluy had this capital and skill, and all they

wanted waa our Canadian waters in which to invest that capital and exer-
cise that skill. Bnl how is that altered I Now our fisheries are no lever
by winch to obtain reciprocity in grain. What do the United states care
ur fisheries / The American are opposed to the treaty.

d in the tisheiies are sending petition after petition to the

United States government ai. raying that the treaty may be

They say they do not want to eome into our waters. The
United States government have gone into this treaty with every desire to
all possible 1 I difficulty. Their fishermen complain that

i by it, bat the United States government desire ti> meet
us face to face, hand to hand, head to heart, to have an amicable settle-
ment of disputes. They know that they are not making political friends
tming political strength, because ii i by the fishery

les are against the treaty ; but they desire that the ill-feelings which
arose dm 1 war. and from the Alab mm case should be forgotten.

rows up between the nations, and it can be
no other deairc than to foster and encourage that feeling which dictates
th«- agreeing to these particular articles. If, then, Canada objects to the
I government will simply say : " Well, if you do
not like these arrangements, reject them; and the consequence be on your
own bead if this friendship so fcoepicioosly eommenced is at any time bro-
ken by unhappy collisions in your waters."

It being six o'clock, Mr. Speaker left the chair.


Bn JOBS Macdonald resumed his speech as follows: — T am afraid I

apologise to the house for the uninteresting manner in which I have

laid the subject before the house so far. I was showing, as well as I could,


my opinion, and my reasons for that opinion — that under the circum-
stances, the treaty, although it is not what we desire, and although it is
not what I pressed for. ought to be accepted. J shall not pursue that
branch of the subject to greater length, as during the discussion of the
measure I have no doubt that 1 shall have again an opportunity to re-urge
and further views OB the same subject, as they may occur to me, or
ey may be elicited. I shall, however, call the serious attention of
the house, and especially of those members of the house who have given
attention to the .juestion in dispute, as regards the validity of the several
treaties between the I'm an. I England, to the importance of this

treaty in this respect, that it ietl at iv>t BOW and forever the disputed
.piestioii as to whether the convention of ISIS was not repealed and ob-
literated by t;.- I 1064. This question, Mr. Speaker, is one that
has occupied the attention of the bnited States jurists, and has been the
subject of serious and elaborate discuss; m my point of view, the
pretension of the Tinted States is s, but it has been constantly
pressed — and we know the pertinacity with which such views are pressed
by the United States; we have an example in the oase of the navigation of
the river St. Lawrence, which, while it was discussed from 1S22 to 1828,
and was apparently settled then forever between the two nations, was re-
vived by the president of the United States in his address of 1870, and
the difference between the point of view as pressed in 1828 by the United
States and that pressed in 1870, was shown by the result of the treaty.
Mr. Blake— Hear, hear.

Sir John Mm in up— And, sir, it was of great importance, in my
point of view, that this question which has been so pressed by American
jurists, and considering also the pertinacity with which such views are
urged, should be set at rest forever. The question has been strongly put
in the American Law Review of April, 1871, in an article understood to
have been written by Judge Pomeroy, a jurist of standing in the United
States; and that paper, I believe, expresses the real opinion of the writer,
erroneous though I hold it to be — and his candour is shown by this fact,
as well as from the known standing of the man — that in one portion of the
article he demolishes the claim of the American fishermen to the right to
trade in our waters. He proves in an able argument that the claim of the
American fishermen to enter our harbours for any purpose other than
wood, water and shelter, is without foundation. The view taken by that
writer and others, and among them by a writer whose name I do not
know, but whose papers are very valuable from their ability — they ap-
peared in the New York Nation — is this : the treaty of 1783 was a treaty
of p*ace, a settlement of a boundary, and a division of country between


two nations. The United States contended that that treaty was in force,
and is now in force, as it was a treaty respecting the boundary, and was
not abrogated or affected by the war of 1812. Under the treaty of 1783,
and by the terms of that treaty, the fishermen of the United States had
the unrestrained right to enter irito all our waters up to our shores, and
to every part of British North America. After 1815, England contended
that that permission was abrogated by the war, and wr s not renewed by
the treaty of peace of 1814. The two nations were thus at issue on that
very grave point, and those who look back to the history of that day will
find that the difference 0O that point threatened a renewal of the war, and
it was only settled by the compromise known as the convention of ISIS.
hich the claims ..f the Americans within three miles of our shores
tnoed. The argument if, however, »>f a nature too technical to
be of interest to the house, and n be rery arefullj studied be-

fore it can be understood. I will not, therefore, trouble the house with
thai argument, but I will read one or to ■now the general

statement of the case: *

"Weahall now inquire* otion of 1818 is in existing oom]

and if men under the! iee of

'>, the I'.iiti-h government,
both at home end in the pro Law official inetructiona, and

its .lip 1 that the oonveatioa

a :ill its pcovinofl peatmen! ton should

by its silence have admitted the correctness of thai aantmption, whioh b equally

1 1<> prinoiple and to authority, i« rein:irk;il>l«\ We shall maintain the pen

3 ; is now In full foroej that all lruit..

v have been and that it i* the only source and foundation

.f Am ri. . hto within! i-t.i n territorial waters. Inpnrsning

the discussion we will show, first, that the renunciatory oJeuaei of the convention of

1818 have been removed; and secondly, that article III. of the treaty of 17*:?, thus

left free from the restrictions of the subsequent compact, was not abrogated by the

writer thus conclu.i

. the nature of Ml executed grant.

ma blow righti <>f property, perfect ia their nature, and
as permanent as the dominion ovei aaJ soil. These righti are held by the

of the I'uite.l Btatee, and are to !»• exeroiaed in l'.riti>h territorial waters.
Unaffected by the war of 1812, they still exist in full force and vigour. Under the
ptoviaioni of Uda treaty, American citizens are now entitled to take Bab on -ml i
parts of the coast in. Hand as British fishermen use, ami also on all the

coast", bay- , of all other his liritannie majesty's dominion! in America,


and to dry tad eart fish i!i anv of the unsettled bays, harbour.-* and creeks of Nova
lalea islands ami Labrador.
M 1'he tiual conclusion thv.s r t ;ulin! i^ sustained by principle and l>v authority. We
submit that it should be adopted by the government of the United States, and made
the basis of any further MfotiaAkM with Great Britain**

1 i|iiote this for the purpose of showing that the pretens ; <-n was formally
v jurists of DO mean standing or reputation, and
therefore it is one of the merits of ihe treaty that it forever sets the dis-
pute at rest. The writers on this subject — the very writer? of whom 1
have spoken admit thai under this treaty the claim is gone, because it is a
formal admission by the United States government that, under the con-
vention of 1M- . < n the 8th of Stay, L871, a proprietary right in

these in-shore fisheries; and this was so admitted, after the question had
been raised in the United States, that the ratification of the treaty of
1854 was equal in H to an abrogation of the convention of 1818.

y agree by this treaty to buy their entry into our waters, and this is
ihe strongest possible proof that their argument could be no longer main-
tained. Just as the payment of rent by a tenant is the strongest proof of
his admission of the right of the landlord, so is the agreement to pay to
Canada a fair sum as an equivalent for the use of our fisheries an acknow-
ledgement of the permanent continuance of our right. So much, sir, for
the portion of the treaty wjiich affects the fisheries. I alluded, a few
minutes ago, to the St. Lawrence. The surrender of the free navigation
•of the river St. Lawrence in its natural state was resisted by England
up to 1828. The claim was renewed by the present government of the
United States, and asserted in a message by the president of the United
States. Her majesty's government, in the instructions sent to her com-
missioners, took the power and responsibility in this matter into their
own hands. It was a matter which we would not control Being a
matter of boundary between two nations, affecting a river which forms
a boundary between the limits of a part of the empire and the limits
of the United States, it is solely within the control of her majesty's gov-
ernment; and in the instructions to the plenipotentaries, this language was
used: " Her majesty's government are now willing to grant the free navi-
gation of the St. Lawrence to the citizens of the United States on the same
conditions and tolls as are imposed on British subjects." I need not say,
sir, that, as a matter of sentiment, I regretted this; but it was a matter of
sentiment only. However, there could be no practical good to Canada in
resisting the concession; and there was no possible evil inflicted on Canada
by the concession of the privilege of navigating that small piece of broken
water between St. Regis and Montreal, lu no way could it affect preju-


dicially the interests of Canada, her trade or her commerce. Without the
use of our canals the river was useless. Up to Montreal the St. Lawrence
is open, not only to the vessels of the United States, but to the vessels of
the world. Canada courts the trade and ships of the world, and it would
be most absurd to suppose that the ports of Quebec and Montreal should
be closed to American shipping. No greater evidence short of actual war
can be adduced of unfriendly relations, than the fact of the ports of a country
being closed to the commerce of another. It never entered into the minds
of any that our ports should be closed to the trade of the world in general,
or the United Stetcs In particular, no more than it would enter into the
minds of the English to close the ports of London or Liverpool — those
ports whither the Hags of e\ ery nation are invited and welcomed. (Cheers.)
the source of the St. Lawrence to St. Regis the United States are
part owners of the banks oi tin- river, and by a well known principle of
int. i national law the water flowing between the two banks is common to
both; and not only is that a principle <>f law, but it is a matter of actual

y. The only question, then, was whether, SI the American people
had set their la-arts upon it, and as it could do no harm to Canada or to
England, it would not be well to set this question at rest with the others,
and make the concession. This was the line taken by her majesty's gov-
md which they had a right to take ; and when lOttM one writes
my biography — if I am ever thought worthy of having such an interesting
document | end whin, as a matter of history, the questions con-

nected with this treaty are upheld, it will be found upon this, as well as
upon every other point, I did all I could to protect the rights and claims
of the 1 ii. (Cheers.) Now, sir, with respect to the right itself, I

would call the attention "f the house to the remarks of a distinguished
i ipon the point. 1 have read from tin: work of an Ameri-

can jurist, and 1 will now read some remarks of Mr. 1'hillimore, a standard

ish writer on international law. What I am about to read was writ-
ten under the idea thai Americans were claiming what would be of prac-
tical use to them. He was not aware that the difficulties of navigation
were such that the concession would be of no practical use. He writes
as follows:

rest Britain possessed the northern shores of the lakes, and of the river
in its whole extent to the sea, and also the southern bank of the river from the
latitude forty-tive degrees north to its mouth. The United States possessed
the southern shores of the lakes, and of the St. Lawrence to the point where
their northern boundary touched the river. These two governments were there-
fore placed pretty much in the same attitude towards each other, with respect
to the navigation of the St. Lawrence, as the United States and Spain had


been in with respect to the navigation of the Mississippi, before the acquisitions
of Louisiana and Florida.

11 The argument on the part of the United States was much the same as that
which they had employed w;th respect to the navigation of the Mississippi.
They w fc l fl d to the dispute al>out the opening of the Scheldt, in 1784, and
. ,,nt< ndr.i that, in the case of that river, the tact of the banks having been the
creation of labour Mas a much stronger reason than could be said to

exist in the case of the Mississippi lot closing the mouths of the sea adjoining
! 'utch canal I the Swin, and that this peculiarity probably

caused the in-ertion of the stipulation in the treaty of Westphalia; that the case
of the St. Lawrence differed materially from that of the Scheldt, and fell di-
rectly under the principle of free navigation embodied in the treaty of Vienna
respecting the Rhine, the Neckar, the Mayne, the Moselle, the Meuse and the
1 it But especially it was urged, and with a force 1 Inch it must have
been difficult to parry, that the present claim of the United States with respect
to the navigati I was precisely of the same nature as that

which Great Britain had put forward with respect to the navigation of the
Mississippi, when the mouth and lower shores of that river were in the posses-
sion of another state, and of 1 huh claim Great Britain bad procured the recog-
nition by the treaty of Paris in I

'•The principal argument contained in the reply of Great Britain was, that
the liberty of passage by one nation through the dominions of another was, ac-
cording to the doctrine of the most eminent writers upon international law, a
qualified occasional exception to the paramount rights of property; that it was
what these writers called an imjx>rfect and not & perfect right; that the treaty of
nadid not sanction this notion of a Mfurafrigjkt to a free passage over the
rivers, but, on the contrary, the inference was that, not being a natural right,
it required to be established by a convention; that the right of passage once con-
ceded, must hold good for other purposes besides those of trade in peace — for
hostile purposes in time of war ; that the United States could not consistently
urge their claim on principle without being prepared to apply that principle by
way of reciprocity, in favour of British subjects, to the navigation of the Mis-
sissippi and the Hudson, to which access might be had from Canada by land
carriage or by the canals of New York and Ohio.

"The United States replied, that practically the St. Lawrence was a strait,
and was subject to the same principle of law; and that as straits are accessory
to the seas which they unite, and therefore the right of navigating them is
common to all nations, so the St. Lawrence connects with the ocean those great
inland lakes, on the shores of which the subjects of the United States and Great
Britain both dwell ; and on the same principle, the natural link of the river,
like the natural link of the strait, must be equally available for the purposes of
passage by both. The passage over land, which was always pressing upon the
minds of the writers on international law, is intrinsically different from a pas-


sage over water; in the latter instance no detriment or inconvenience can be sus-
tained by the country to which it belongs. The track of a ship is effaced as soon
as made; the track of an army may leave serious and lasting injury behind.
The United States would not ' shrink ' from the application of the analogy with
respect to the navigation of the Mississippi, and whenever a connection was
effected between it and Upper Canada, similar to that existing between the
United States and the St. Lawrence, the same principle should be applied. It
was, however, to be recollected, that the case of rivers which both rise and
disembogue then thin the limits of the same nation is very distinguish-

able, upon principle, from that ol riven which, having their sources and navi-
gable portions of their streams in sta; iischarge themselves within the
limits of other states below.

"Lastly, the fact that the free navigation of rivers had been made a matter
of com-. ,,ti,ii, did not disprove that this navigation was a matter ol natural right
> its proper position by treaty.
"The result of this controversy has hitherto produced BO effect. Great
Britain has maintain' lusive right. The United States will remain

red from the use of this great highway, and are not permitted to carry
il the produce of the vast and rich I which border on the lakes

t, to the A* an.

'• It seems difficult to deny tl and her refusal upon

law; but it is at least equally difficult to deny, first, that so doing she
exercises harshly an « ily, that her conduct with

I to the na\ igetion afing and discreditable in-

consistency with her mduct with respect to the navigation of the Mississippi.
On the ground that she possessed a small tract or domain in which the Missis-
sippi took its rise, she insisted on her right to navigate the entire volume of its
1 that she possesses both banks of the St. Lawrence where
it disembogues itself into the sea, she denies to the United States the right of
ation, though about one-half of the waters of Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron
superior, and tie Lake Michigan, through which the river Hows,

are the property of the nates.

"An English writer upon international law cannot but express a hope that
this .<umiit>im ju*, which in this case approaches to Utnuna injuria, may be vol-
untarily abandoned by his country. Since the late revolution in the South
American provinces, by which the dominion of Kosas was overthrown, there
appears to be good reason to hope that the states of Paraguay, Bolivia, Buenos
Ayres, and Brazil, will open the river Parena to the navigation of the world."

On reading a report of a speech of my hon. friend the member for
Lambton, oa this subject — a very able and interesting speech, if he will
allow me so to characterize it — I find that, in speaking of the navigation
of Lake Michigan, he stated that that lake was as much a portion of the
St. Lawrence as the river itself. I do not know under what principle my


hon. friend made that statement, but those inland seas are seas, as much
as the Black sea is a sea and not a river. The lake is enclosed on all sides
by United States territory. No portion ftf its shores belongs to Canada,
and England lias no right by international law to claim its navigation.
Sir. she HVtt has claimed it, for if my hon. friend will look into the
matter, he will rind that theet great lakes have ever been treated as in-
land seas, and as far as magnitude is concerned, they are worthy of being
so treated. Although her majesty's commissioners pressed that the navi-
gation of Lake Michigan should be granted as an equivalent for the navi-
gation of the St. Lawrence, the argument could not be based on the same
footing, and we did not and could not pretend to have the same grounds.
It is, however, of little moment whether Canada has a grant by treaty of

Online LibraryJoseph Edmund CollinsLife and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, premier of the Dominion of Canada → online text (page 47 of 57)