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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the free navigation of lake Michigan or not, foff the cities of the shores of
that lake would never consent to have tlnir ports closed, and there is no-
fear in the world of our vessels being excluded from those ports. The
Western states, and . those bordering on the great lakes, would

resist this to the death ; and L would like to see a congress that would
venture to close the ports of Lake Michigan to the shipping of England, or
of Canada, or of the world. The small portion of the St. Lawrence which
lies between the two points I have mentioned would be of no use, and
there would be no advantage to be obtained therefrom as a lever to obtain

Mr. Mackenzie— Hear, hear.

Sir John Macdonald— My hon. friend says " hear, hear"; but I will
tell him that the only lever for the obtaining of reciprocity is the sole
control of our canals. So long as we have the control of these canals
we are the masters, and can do just as we please. American vessels on
the down trip can run the rapids, if they get a strong Indian to steer them ;
but they will never come back again unless Canada chooses. (Hear, hear.)
The keel drives through these waters, and then the mark disappears for-
ever, and that vessel will be forever absent from the place that once knew
it, unless by the consent of Canada. Therefore, as I pointed out before
the recess, as we had no lever in our fisheries to get reciprocity, so we had
none in the navigation of the St. Lawrence, in its natural course. The
real substantial means to obtain reciprocal trade with the United States
is in the canals, and is expressly stated in the treaty; and when the treaty,
in clause 27, which relates to the canals, uses the words: "The govern-
ment of her Britannic majesty engages to urge upon the government of
the Dominion of Canada to secure to the citizens of the United States the
use of the Welland, St. Lawrence, and other canals, in the dominion, on
terms of equality," etc., it contains an admission by the United States —


and it is of some advantage to have that admission — that the canals are
our own property, which we can open to the United States as we please.
The reason why this admission is important is this : " Article twenty-six
provides that the navigation of the river St. Lawrence, ascending and de-
scending from the 45th parallel of north latitude, where it ceases to form
the boundary between the two counties, from, to, and into the sea, shall
forever remain free and open for the purposes of commerce to the citizens
of the United States, subject to any laws and regulations of Great Britain
or of the Dominion of Canada not inconsistent with such privileges of free
navigation." There for e, lest it might be argued that as at the time the
maty was made, it was known that for the purpose of ascent the river
could not be ovrro MM in its natural course, the provision granting the
riu r ht of ascent must be held to include the navigation of canals through
which alone the ascent could be made. And so the next clause provides
and specifies that these canals are specially within the control of Canada
and the Canadian government, and prevents any inference being drawn
from the laagnaga ->f the preceding article. I km »w, sir, that there has
of the newspapers a sneer cast upon the latter paragraph of
thai article, which giws the United States the free use of the St. Law-
to that part of the article which gives the Canadians the
free navigation of the rivers Yukon, Porcupine and Stikine.
Mr. M Hear, hear.

•'•UN M \. i n\i.i. My ban. friend again says "hear, hear." 1
hope that he will hear, and perhaps he will heir something he does not
know. (Hear, hear.) 1 may tell my hon. friend that the navigation of
the river Yukon is a growing trade, and that the Americans are now send-
ing vessels, and are fitting out steamers for the navigation of the Yukon.
1 will tell my hon. friend that at this moment Tinted States vessels are
i up that river, and are underselling the Hudson Bay people in their
own country (hear, hear), and it is a matter of the very greatest import-
ance to the westeru o untry that the navigation of these rivers should be
open to the commerce of British subjects, and that access should be had
cans of these rivers; so that there is no necessity at all for the ironi-
cal cheer of my hen. friend. Sir, I am not unaware that under an old
treaty entered into between Russia and England, the former granted to
the latter the free navigation of these streams, and the free navigation of
all the streams in Alaska; but that was a treaty between Russia and Eng-
land, and although it may be argued by England that when the United
States bought that territory from Russia, it took it with all its obligations,
here are two sides to that question. The United States, 1
ure to say, would hang an argument upon it; and I can only tell my


hon. friend that the officers of the United States have exercised authority
in the way of prohibition or obstruction, and have offered the pretext that
the United States now hold that country, and would deal with it as they
chose ; and, therefore, as this was a treaty to settle all old questions and
not to raise new ones, it was well that the free navigation of the rivers I
have mentioned should be settled at once between England rod the United
States, as before it had been between England and Russia. Before leav-
ing the question of the St. Lawrence, 1 will make one remark, and will
then proceed to another topic ; and that is, that the article in question
does not in any way hand over or divide any proprietary rights in the
river St. Lawrence, or give any sovereignty over it, or confer any right
whatever except that oi free navigation. Both banks belong to Canada —
the mroagemtnt, the improvement, all belong to Canada. The only stip-
ulation made in the treaty is that the United States vessels may use the
1 awrence on as free terms as those of Canadian subjects. It is not a
transfer of territorial rights; it is simply a permission to "navigate the
river by American vessels, that navigation shall ever remain free and open
fat the purpose of commerce," — and for the purpose of commerce only —
M to the citizens of the United States, subject to any taxes and regulations
of Great Britain or of the Dominion of Canada, not inconsistent with such
privilege of free navigation." Now, Mr. Speaker, I shall allude to one
subject included in the treaty, which relates to the navigation of our
waters, although it was not contemplated in the instructions given to the
ih commissioners by her majesty's government — in fact, the subject
was scarcely known in England — and that is, what is known as the St.
Clair flats question. It is known that the waters of the river St. Clair
and the waters of lake St. Clair divide the two countries; that the boun-
dary line which divides them is provided by treaty; that the treaty of 1842
provides that all the channels and passages between the islands lying
near the junction of the river St. Clair with the lake shall be equally free
to both nations, so that all those channels were made common to both na-
tions, and are so now. Canada has made appropriations for the purpose
of the improvement of these waters. There were also appropriations made
I forget whether by the United States, the state of Michigan, or by pri-
vate individuals — for the purpose of improving these waters, and the
United States made a canal through the St. Clair flats. The question
then arose whether this canal was within Canadian territory, or within
that of the United States. I have no doubt that the engineering officer
appointed by the United States to choose the site of the canal and to con-
struct it, acted in good faith in choosing the site, believing that it was in


the United States ; and from all I can learn, subsequent observations
proved that to be the case.

Mr. Mai kknzie — Hear, hear.

Sir John Ma. im.nald— My hon. friend says "hear, hear," and I have
no doubt he will give us an argument, and an able one too, as he is quite
competent to do, to show that under the treaty this canal is in Canada.
An argument might be founded in favour of that view from the language
of the report of the international commissioners, appointed to determine
tfea boundary between Uu two countries — that is, if we looked at the lan-
guage alone, and combined with that language the evidence of those ac-
customed of old to navigate those channels. I admit that an argument
might be based on the language of the report, when it speaks of the old
ship channel, and that from the evidence and statements that have been
made as to the position of that channel, might have left it a matter of
doubt whether the canal, or a portion of it, was within the boundary of
( I anaiia. The commissioners not only made their report, but they added
to it a map to which they placed their signatures; and to any one reading
the report with the map, and holding the map as a portion of the report,
the canal will appear to he entirely in the I'nit.'d States. It might, but
for the tn have been unfortunate that it is so, because

:ht perhaps have impeded the navigation of the Hats by Canadian
vessei lestion is whether, under the old treaty, ami the re-

ding to its provision! (which report and map

such treaty >. the canal is within the United
she point was raised that the map was
rt, her majesty's government — I have no doubt
lajesty's legal advisers — said chat it was a point
ijunent, that the two explained and denned the
»f the report; so that her majesty's government
ion so unworthy of being urged as that the
map was not binding a^id obligatory upon them. But, sir, "out of the
nettle, danger, we pluck the flower safely." The house will see by look-
ing at the clause referred to, that it is a matter of no consequence whether
anal is in the United States or Canada; because, for all time to come,
anal is to be used by the people of Canada on equal terms with the
le of the United States. In the speech of my hon. friend, to which I
have referred, he says the canal is only secured to Canada during the ten
years mentioned with reference to the fishery articles of the treaty. I say
it is secured for all time, just as the navigation of the St. Lawrence is
given for all time. The United States have gone to the expense of build-
ing the canal, and now we have the free use of it. If the United States

onl m;

form, in fac

r not.

with t

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have put on a toll there, we pay no greater toll than the United States
citizens; and it is of the first and last advantage to the commerce of both
nations that the deepening of those channels should be gone on with; and
I can tell my hon. friend, moreover, that in this present congress there is
a measure to spend a large additional sum of money on this canal out of
the revenues of the United States, for that object. So much for the St.
Clair tlats. Now, sir, as to some of the advantages to be gained by the
treaty. I would call the attention of the house to the 29th article, which
ensures for the whole time of the existence o! the treaty, for twelve years
at least, the 01 •ntinuaneo of " the bonding system." We know how valu-
able that has been to us, how valuable during the winter months when we
are deprived of the use of our own ■onpoirti in the St. Lawrence. The
fact that the American press has occasionally called for the abolition of
this system, is a proof of the boon which they consider it to be. They
have said, at times, when they thought an unfriendly feeling existed to-
wards them in Canada, that if Canadians would bo so bumptious, they
should be deprived of this system, and allowed to remain cooped np in
their frozen country. If the United States ever conceived the folly of in-
juring their carrying trade by adopting a hostile policy in that respect —
and they have occasionally, as we know, adopted a policy towards us adverse
to their commercial interests— they could do so before this treaty was rati-
fied. They cannot do so now. For twelve years we have a right to the
bonding system from the United States, over all their avenues of trade;
and long before that time expires, I hope we shall have the Canadian
Pacific railway reaching to the Pacific ocean, and with the Intercolonial
railway reaching to Halifax, we shall have an uninterrupted line from one
seaboard to the other. (Cheers. ) This, sir, is one of the substantial ad-
vantages that Canada has obtained by the treaty. Then, sir, the 30th article
conveys a most valuable privilege to the railways of Canada, that are run-
ning from one part of the country to another; and I must take the occa-
sion to say that if this has been pressed upon the consideration of the
American government and the American commissioners at Washington,
much of the merit is due to the hon. member for Lincoln (Mr. Merritt).
He it was who supplied me with the facts; he it was who called attention
to the great wrong to our trade by the act of 1866 ; and, impressed by him
with the great importance of the subject, I was enabled to urge the adop-
tion of this article, and to have it made a portion of the treaty. Now, sir,
that this is of importance, you can see by reading the Buffalo papers.
Some time ago they were crying out that entrance had been made by this
wedge which was to ruin their coasting trade, and that the whole coasting
trade of the lakes was being handed over to Canada. Under this clause,


if we choose to accept it, Canadian vessels can go to Chicago, can take
American produce from American ports, and carry it to Windsor or Col-
lingwood, or the Welland railway. That same American produce can be
sent in bond from those and other points along our railways, giving the
traffic to our vessels by water, and our railways by the land to lake On-
tario, and can then be re-shipped by Canadian vessels to Oswego, Ogdens-
burg, or Rochester, or other American ports; so that this clause gives us,
in some degree, a relaxation of the extreme — almost harsh — exclusive
coasting system of the United States. (Hear, hear.) And I am quite sure
that, in this age of railways, and when the Votes and Proceedings show-
that so many new railway undertaking! are about to start, this will
e a substantial improvement OO the former state of affairs. There is
a provision that, if in the exercise of our discretion we choose to put a
differential scale of tolls on any vessels passing through our canals, and if
New Brunswick should continue her export duties on lumber passing
down the river St. John, the United States may withdraw from this ar-
rangement; so that it will be hereafter, if the treaty be adopted and tl is

mod) I matter for the consideration of the government of Canada in
the tirst place, and of the legislature in the ne\t, to determine whether it
is expedient for them to take advantage of this boon that is. .Here. I to them.
As to the expediency of their doing so, I have DO doubt; and I have no
doubt parliament will eagerly seek to gain and establish those right! for
our ships and our railways. (Hear, hear.) The only other subject of

lar interest to Canada in connection with the treaty — the whole of it

urse is int. :iada as a part of the empire,— but speaking

of Canada as such, and of tin- interest taken in the treaty locally,— the
only other subject is the manner of disponing of the San .luan boundary

ion. That is settled iu a way that DO one cau object to. I do not

know whether many lion, numbers have ever studied that question. It is

a most interesting one, and has long been a cause of controversy between

untries. I am bound to uphold, and I do uphold, the British

the channel which forms the boundary, as the correct one.

i nment were, I believe, as sincerely convinced of

tke j heir own case. Both believed they were in the right, both

firmly grounded in that opinion; and such being the case, there was
■ nly one way out of it, and that was to leave it to be settled by impartial ar-
bitration. I think the house will admit that no more distinguished arbiter
could have been selected than the emperor of Germany. In the examina-
tion and decision of the question he will have the assistance of as able and
eminent jurists as any in the world; for there is nowhere a more distin-
guished body than the jurists of Germany, who are especially familiar


with the principles and practice of international law. Whatever the de-
cision may be, whether for England or against it, yon may be satisfied
that you will get ■ most learned and careful judgment in the matter, to
which we must bow, if it is against us, and to which I am sure the United
States will bow if it is against them. (Hear, hear.) I think, sir, I have
now gone through all the articles of interest connected with Canada. I
shall now allude to one omisssion from it, and then I shall have done, and
that is the omission of allusion to the settlement of the Fenian claims.
That Canada was deeply wronged by those outrages, known as the Fenian
raids, is indisputable. England has admitted it, and we all feel it. We
felt deeply grieved when those raids were committed; and the belief was
general — in which, I must say, I share — that sufficient vigilance and due
diligence were not exercised by tin American government to prevent the
organization within their territory of Lands of armed men, openly hostile
to a peaceful country, and to put an end to incursions by men who carried
war over our border, slew our people, and destroyed our property. It
was, therefore, proper for us to press upon England to seek compensation
at the hands of the American government for these great wrongs. As a
consequence of our position as a colony, we could only do it through Eng-
land, we had no means or authority bo do it directly ourselves, and conse-
quently we urged our case upon the attention of England, and she con-
sented to open negotiations with the United States upon the subject. In
the instructions it is stated that Canada had been invited to send in a
statement of her claims to England, and that she had not done so; and I
dare say it will be charged — indeed, I have seen it stated in some of the
newspapers — that it was an instance of Canadian neglect. Now, it is not
an instance of Canadian neglect, but an instance of Canadian caution.
(Hear, hear.) Canada had a right to press for the payment of those
claims, whatever the amount, for all the money spent to repel those in-
cursions had been taken out of the public treasury of Canada, and had to
be raised by the taxation of the country. Not only had they a right to
press for that amount, but every individual Canadian who suffered in per-
son or property because of those raids, had right to compensation. It
was not for Canada, however, to put a limit to those claims, and to state
what amount of money would be considered as a satisfactory liquidation
of them. It has never been the case when commissions have been ap-
pointed for the settlement of such claims, to hand in those claims in detail
before the sitting of the commission. What Canada pressed for was that
the principle should be established, that the demand should be made by
England upon the United States, that that demand should be acquiesced
in, that the question of damages should be referred to a tribunal like that


now sitting at Washington for the investigation of claims connected with
the civil war in the South, that time should be given within which the
Canadian government as a government, and every individual Canadian
who suffered by those outrages, should have an opportunity of filing their
claims, of putting in an account, and of offering proof to establish their
right to indemnity. The Canadian government carefully avoided, by any
statement of their views, the placing of a limit upon those claims in ad-
vance of examination by such a commission; and I think the house and
country will agree that we acted with due discretion in that respect.
r, hear.) Now one of the protocols will show the result of the de-
mand for indemnity. The demand was made by the British commission-
ers that this question should be discussed and considered by the commis-
sion, but the United States commissioners objected, taking the ground
that the consideration of these claims was not included in the correspon-
« and reference. In doing that, they took the same ground that my
hun. friend, the member for Sherbrooke, with his usual acuteness and
appreciation of the value of language, took when the matter was discussed
in this house before my departure for Washington. He said then, that
he greatly doubted whether, under the correspondence which led to the
appointment of the high oommiad in, it could be held that the Fenian
claims were to be considered; iOd although my hon. friend, the minister
Htia, thought it mighl fairly he held that those claims were included,
I myself ooflld not help 6 •• strength of the argument advanced by

the hon. member for Sherbrooke, and I stated at the time that I thought
there was great weight in the objection which he pointed out. The Amer-
ce >nimis9ioners, aa the event proved, raised that objection, maintaining
that the point was not included in the correspondence in which the sub-
ii were stated; and when it was proposed to them by
I'.ritish, the American commissioners declined to ask their government
for fresh instructions to enlarge the scope of their duty in that respect,
we could not help that. There was the correspondence to speak for
itself, and it was a matter of considerable doubt whether these claims
were included in it. The British ambassador represented that he had
always thought that the correspondence did include them; and he was
struck with surprise — perhaps I ought not to say surprise, for that wa&
not the expression he used, — but he was certainly under the impression
that it had been regarded by all parties that they were covered by the
correspondence. Still, let any one read these letters and he will find it is
very doubtful. As it was doubtful, and the objection was raised on that
ground, the British commissioners had no power to compel the American
commissioners to determine the doubt in their favour, and force these


claims upon their consideration. The consequence was that they were
omitted from the deliberation of the commission. Whose fault was tb >' '
Certainly not ours. It was the fault of her majesty's government, in not
demanding in clear language, in terms which could not be misunderstood,
that the investigation ol these claims should be one of the matters dealt
with by the commission. (Hear, hear.) It was a great disappointment
to my colleagues in Canada that the objection was taken, and that all hope
of getting redress for the injury done by those Fenian raids was destroyed
so far as the commission at Washington was concerned, in consequence of
the defective language of the correspondence, and the defective nature of
the submission to the commissioners. Now, England was responsible for
that error. England had promised to make the demand, and England had
failed to make it. Not only that, but her majesty's government took the
responsibility of withdrawing the claims altogether, and Mr. Gladstone
fully assumed all the responsibility of this step, and relieved the Canadian
government from any share in it, when he stilted openly, in the house of
commons, that the imperial government had seen tit to withdraw the claims,
but that they had done so with great reluctance and sorrow for the manner
in which Canada had been treated. Canada, therefore, had every right
to look to England for that satisfaction which she failed to receive through
the inadequacy of the correspondence to cover the question. England, by
taking the responsibility of declining to push the claims, put herself in the
position of the United States, and we had a fair and reasonable right to
to look to her to assume the responsibility of settling them. She did not
decline that responsibility, and the consequence has been that, although
we failed to obtain redress from the United States for those wrongs, we
have had an opportunity of securing compensation from England which
would not have been offered to us if it had not been for the steps taken
by this government. (Hear, hear.) But, sir, we are told that it is a great
humiliation for Canada to take this money, or rather this money's worth.

Online LibraryJoseph Edmund CollinsLife and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, premier of the Dominion of Canada → online text (page 48 of 57)