House of Commons, 14 May 1872, Canadian Confederation with Prince Edward Island

232 COMMONS DEBATES May 14, 1872
[...] from this the member for Durham would see that the exclusion of the Americans was not quite as efficient as we imagined.
Hon. Mr. MACKENZIE asked whether they were within the headlands.
Hon. Mr. TUPPER said he could not speak as to that; but the question was altogether a captious one, for it was well known that the headland limit had not been enforced for years. He maintained that the member for Durham West gave us the whole argument when he spoke of bounties being necessary to enable the Americans to compete with the Canadian fishermen. If however, the hon. member would read the proceedings of Congress, he would find that the question of bounties had been scouted from the very first, and that it was admitted on all hands that a system of bounties was utterly impossible; but further, the highest system of bounty would be $400 to a vessel, while the relief would amount to $1,200; and therefore the bounty could not, under any circumstances, do away with the advantages on the side of Canadian fishermen. He again referred to what he termed the unpatriotic action of members last year.
Hon. Mr. HOLTON thought the hon. gentleman was out of order in reflecting on the action ofthe House.
Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD said it was not out of order, for the action ofthe House was always open to appeal.
Hon. Mr. TUPPER said he was quite satisfied to find the hon. gentleman acknowledge that a reference to his former action was a reflection.
Hon. Mr. HOLTON said, however that might be, the hon. gentleman assumed the responsibility of that action.
Hon. Mr. TUPPER said that was under compulsion. If hon. gentleman would read a statement recently made by the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means of the United States they would see that it would be impracticable for the United States to adopt a policy that would counteract the advantages derived by Canadian fishermen. He would now ask hon. gentlemen to turn their attention to the effect of the Treaty on the shipping interest of the country. The member for Halifax (Mr. Power) had told them that he went to visit a fishery in which he was concerned, when the Treaty of 1884 was in force, and found that, out of the forty or fifty vessels, scarcely one was American; but that on another occasion, after the abrogation of that treaty, among an equal number of vessels, scarcely one was Canadian.
It must be remembered that our marine amounted to a million tons, and the House would see that, whether in connection with the fishery or the ship-building interest, the value of the Treaty could not be over-rated. He would now refer to the state of public opinion in Nova Scotia. When the Treaty first became known the Nova Scotia Government put a very strong resolution in their journals. Since then the Treaty had been promulgated to the world, and had been read by every fisherman in the Province, and now the same House had been in session for over two months, and there had not been one word of disapproval of the Treaty. He believed that the feeling in Nova Scotia was that Parliament could not inflict greater wrong on them, and could not paralyze their industries more than by refusing to ratify the Treaty, which promoted and protected the great national industries without injuring a single interest, or being counterbalanced by a single drawback; and that a refusal would also tend to prevent the obtaining of reciprocity in the future.
He was not so well prepared to speak as to New Brunswick; but the same thing took place there. The New Brunswick Legislature at first strongly opposed the Treaty, but though they had now been six or eight weeks in session, there was not a single hostile resolution on their records. As to Prince Edward Island, the Treaty was as good as accepted.
Hon. Mr. MACKENZIE asked whether they had repealed the former resolutions.
Hon. Mr. TUPPER said he would not detain the House further, and regretted that he had trespassed so long at so late a stage of the discussion; but the question was one in which not only the interests of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and the whole Dominion were concerned, but also the interests of the Empire, and he would not have done justice to himself if he had not given utterance to his views. The hon. gentleman took his seat amid loud cheers.
Mr. JONES (Halifax) said he was obliged to ask the indulgence of the House at this late hour, while he referred to the arguments of the hon. gentleman who had just sat down (Hon. Mr. Tupper). He would say, in the first place, that he desired to approach the consideration of this subject in a manner worthy of its importance. He would further say that he came to the House in full expectation of being able to sustain the Government in the course they had taken in the earlier part of these negotiations, when it was made known through official and semi-official sources what was the course the Government were taking. He shared the views they then expressed, and up to the present time he had seen no reason to change his opinion. The hon. gentleman who had preceded him, as well as others on that side of the House, had sought to convey the impression that the adoption of this Treaty was in the interests of permanently peaceful relations between the United States and the Empire.
He might refer by way of illustration to the celebrated Tichborne trial. The claimant brought witnesses to prove his pretensions; but when he was put in the witness box himself, his case broke down. So it was in the case of the Ministers. When their own statements were placed in evidence against their present arguments, it might be held their case had broken down. The argument that the Treaty was in the interest of May 14, 1872 COMMONS DEBATES 233 peace was contradicted most emphatically by the despatches of the Government. (Hear, hear.) In their minutes of Council of the 28th of July last-and when they penned that they knew the provisions of the treaty just as well as they do now-they knew then as well as now whether it was in the interests of peace, whether it was for the interests of the Dominion, that it should be accepted-yet in that minute they state as a reason why they could not accept the treaty that the principal cause of difference between Canada and the United States had not been removed by the treaty but remained a subject for future anxiety. He answered the hon. gentleman out of their own mouths. The last speaker had referred to the remarks of his colleague from Halifax (Mr. Power) respecting the advantage the treaty would have conferred upon the fishing trade of Nova Scotia had it been in operation last year. He stated that in that case Nova Scotia would have saved between $500,000 and $600,000 on the duties on herrings and mackerel which had been sent to the United States.
He (Mr. Jones) held in his hand the trade and navigation returns for the past year, which he presumed were tolerably accurate. He found from this document that the total amount of pickled fish- herring and mackerel and alewives-sent into the United States last year was 47,000 barrels, which, at $2 a barrel, would be $94,000, instead of $600,000 as claimed by the hon. gentleman opposite. (Hear, hear.)
The hon. President of Council (Hon. Mr. Tupper) also stated that the treaty of 1854 was a great boon. Well, no one denied that; but contrast that treaty with the present treaty. Under the former one, agricultural products, our coal and lumber, were admitted free of duty into the United States. How different was this from the present treaty! The same hon. gentleman stated as one reason why this Treaty must be a good one for us that the American fishermen were opposed to it. The hon. member for Durham West (Hon. Mr. Blake), the other night, speaking on this point had hit the nail on the head. He stated that the reason why American fishermen opposed the Treaty was that Gen. Butler had gone down to Gloucester and harangued them, telling them that now was their time to wrest from Congress what they had long wanted, namely, a system of bounties and the bonding of their supplies. That was the sole course of their outcry against the Treaty, and the Minister of Justice (Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald) knew it very well, and he (Mr. Jones) had grave apprehensions that such a policy would be adopted by Congress. Of course they would not do so while the Treaty was pending but when this Parliament accepted the Treaty then would be their time to grant bounties to their fishermen, and to allow the bonding of their supplies.
The President of the Privy Council (Hon. Mr. Tupper) had contended that the admission of American fishermen into our waters would not destroy the value of our fisheries, but the reports of the Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Hon. Senator Mitchell) had told a different story. He gave the value of the fisheries before and during the Reciprocity Treaty, and showed conclusively that if we had adopted an exclusive policy after the abrogation of the treaty, we would now have had control of the American markets. The House was told that the arbitrators appointed to decide upon the relative value of our fisheries and the American fisheries would pay us what we lost in giving up our fisheries; but the very first question that would have to be decided before they could estimate the relative value was where were they to draw the boundary line of our fisheries, whether from headland to headland, or along the coast? lfthe former, of course our fisheries would be greatly increased in value; but how were the arbitrators to decide? It was, therefore, of the very greatest importance that the High Joint Commissioners should have settled definitely the question of headlands, so that the arbitrators would have had a basis on which to make their valuation.
The hon. gentlemen opposite, particularly the Premier, had stated that the American markets were the only markets we had for our fish. He had not had the pleasure of listening to the speech of his colleague from Halifax (Mr. Power); but he understood that gentleman had given some figures to show that a large portion of our fish was sent to the United States. He was not aware from what source that gentleman drew his information, but he felt it his duty to be as correct as possible and he had taken the trouble to consult the public documents for 1862, 63, 64 under the Reciprocity Treaty, and also after that Treaty in 1869, 70, 71, when the United States imposed duty on our fish. He found that under the Reciprocity Treaty only about 7 per cent more of our fish went to the United States than when the duty was imposed.
The American fishermen stood in a very different position from our fishermen in many respects. 1n the first place they had larger and better vessels, larger outfits, larger capital, and they had in operation a system of mutual insurances. They had the additional advantage of being able to fish all the year round. Our fishermen fished in the early part of the year only; but, after the mackerel fishing was over in the fall, the American fishermen went off to the banks, and caught halibut and other fish, which our fishermen could not do. He would tell the hon. gentleman why. lf he were to send his vessel there he would have to sell his cargo wholesale, and would not be able to pay the expense of taking it to market. But those people had a market at their own doors. The American fishermen thus had the advantage over ours. They were able to earn during the winter season what would pay their expenses all the year round, and that was a very important consideration. The hon. gentleman had referred to the position of the American markets during that time. Within the last two years so great had been the increase of American fishermen, since the war, since they had gone back and engaged in old pursuits, that fish had been cheaper in Boston than Halifax, and there had been large imports from Boston, and the West Indies markets had been trading from Boston instead of Halifax. 1f the hon. gentleman understood the matter as he did he would see those people would come with better appliances 234 COMMONS DEBATES May 14, 1872 and they would compete with us as they had during the last two years in the markets of the West Indies.
If under his views we would gain a trifle in the American market-even supposing such things were correct, which he contended were not-we would more than lose the advantage in our trade with other countries. We had exported last year 163,000 barrels of pickled fish, only 45,000 of which went to the United States; and if American fishermen competed with us they would send their fish to the West Indies and decrease the price more in proportion than what the hon. gentleman claimed we would gain by having their markets.
It was said our fishermen were in favour of the Treaty. He denied it. (Hear, hear.) Many of them were, but he utterly denied that the majority of the people ofNova Scotia favoured it. He did not mean to say that every man who was in favour of it was an annexationist, but he did assert that every man in Nova Scotia who was an annexationist and looked forward to early political connection with the States was in favour of it. (Hear, hear). And they were right enough from their point of view, because they argued, if you give those people the water they will soon own the land. If our fishermen were not so much opposed to the Treaty as he thought they ought to be it was because of the argument of hon. gentlemen opposite, to the effect "in the interest of the empire;" and "England would not protect us;" and "we had better take a loaf than no bread;" and that if they did not accept this emasculated arrangement, which just condemns themselves, the Americans would get the whole-those were the circumstances under which these men were not all satisfied.
But fish was not all Nova Scotia produced. She had great mineral wealth, and her coal interest was of even greater importance than her fisheries, yet this had been entirely overlooked. Those interested in the case said and with very great force, that if the Government had been earnestly desirous of reducing the duty on coal, they would have avoided the seizures which they made during last year. From the moment the schooner Horton was recaptured by the Americans and towed into Gloucester, whatever chance existed for the reduction of the duty on coal and lumber was lost. The hon. gentlemen opposite and the Minister of Justice especially had asked hon. members not to put troublesome questions, not to suggest doubts with reference to the Treaty; yet the hon. member for Peel (Hon. Mr. Cameron) in his brilliant address had left an impression on the House that Americans almost had a right to the Fisheries, because they had enjoyed them for 17 years longer than they had been excluded from them. He (Mr. Jones) took a directly opposite view of the question. His colleague referred last night to one argument in favour of the Treaty, that trade to Cuba would be injured by its annexation to the United States. The hon. gentleman should know that we are obliged to pay a duty on goods exported to that island, double that on the same goods exported to the United States: therefore trade would hardly be injured by the annexation of the island.
The hon. member for Lanark North (Hon. Mr. McDougall) had referred to the fact that Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland had accepted the Treaty; and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia had not apparently been very warmly opposed to it. The hon. gentleman had also sought to create the impression that the Government of New Brunswick were acting in concert with the Clear Grit party when they took the step they did in communicating with the Government of Nova Scotia on the subject. The resolution of the New Brunswick Legislature was passed on the 18th February, while the High Commission was sitting, and when it was thought that the opinion of the Legislature would strengthen the hands of those who had charge of our interests; they accordingly telegraphed to Newfoundland, and as the latter had no interest but the fishing interest to consider, they replied that they were well satisfied to leave the matter to England, for the reason that she had left them to exercise their own discretion and free will on the subject of entering the Confederation or not. That was a very good reason for Newfoundland, because she had been accorded a privilege which had been denied Nova Scotia.
He might here remark, as an instance of the singular inaccuracies and want of information which characterized the whole negotiation, that the important interest of seal fishing had been entirely unprovided for in the Treaty. The Governor of Newfoundland made a communication to Earl Kimberley, enclosing a copy of a minute of the Council of the Local Government on the subject. That minute of the Council was not among the papers submitted to the House. The reply of the Government of Prince Edward Island was worthy of attention, because they occupied a position precisely similar to that of Nova Scotia. The people of Prince Edward Island had valuable fisheries, but they said they were in the hands of the Americans already; and the agricultural product of that Island far exceeded the value of the fisheries.
The people of Prince Edward Island had precisely the same interest in the fisheries as we had, but they were willing for Imperial interests alone to agree to what was asked of them by the Government of England. The people of Prince Edward Island did not adopt the policy of the Canadian Government and say, "Give us so much money for our rights and we will ratify the Treaty." (Applause.) No; they took a higher and more manly and national view of the case; and pursued a course which contrasted most favourably with that pursued by the Canadian Government. (Applause.) The people of Prince Edward Island were not willing to put their loyalty into the English market and have it quoted at any figure. (Hear, hear.) On the contrary, they were willing to make a sacrifice for the Empire, though the Treaty did not give their agricultural interests the market in the United States which they had under the Reciprocity Treaty. A minute of Council, dated July 25, 1871, from the Lieut. Governor of Prince Edward Island to May 14, 1872 COMMONS DEBATES 235 Lord Kimberley, would show the position in which that Island stood, as follows:-"It is stated in the minute that the different Governments and Legislatures of this Colony have always hoped that these fisheries (the fisheries of Prince Edward Island) would have done much to secure the advantages of another Reciprocity Treaty, or of some tariff concessions authorize the free admission into the United States of the products of our agriculturists, who form the majority of our population, and which would have resulted in promoting the prosperity of the Colony; and that, in the opinion of this Council, the inhabitants of Prince Edward Island are now asked to surrender to the citizens of the United States these invaluable fisheries without receiving in return any just or fair equivalent, such as was hoped to be obtained."
The people of New Brunswick from the first had been entirely opposed to the Treaty, and the Legislature of that Province, as well as the Lieut. Governor, had spoken of it in the strongest terms of denunciation. (Hear, hear.) The people of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland did not accept the Treaty in the spirit in which this House was asked to accept it. (Hear, hear.)
Under those circumstances he felt as a representative of Nova Scotia, that, however anxious he might be for the establishment of reciprocal trade relations with the States on fair terms, he was not willing to give the United States everything that we had to offer as an inducement for reciprocity. If we gave them permission to fish in our waters we put them in competition with our own fishermen, and reduced the value of the fish. He stood here not to represent one country or one province, but the whole interests of the Dominion, (Hear, hear) and in that capacity he would feel it his duty to vote against the ratification of the treaty. (Applause.) He denied that this treaty was calculated to settle all disputes between Great Britain and the United States, and he said that, if trouble arose at the present time between England and America, the latter would not ratify the treaty, and if we pressed it we would receive a snubbing for our pains. In the interest of the Dominion, and in the interest of all its products, he considered it would not be for our advantage to ratify the treaty at the present time. (Applause.)
Mr. KILLAM would vote for the fishery clauses of the Treaty; and thought that a majority of the representatives of Nova Scotia would favour its ratification as the best means of securing peace between the two countries.
Hon. Mr. HOLTON moved the adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD would not oppose the motion, coming as it did from so distinguished a member of the House as the hon. member for Châteauguay; but he hoped that the debate, which had now lasted some days, would terminate tomorrow, and wished that it should stand first on the orders of the day.
The House adjourned at 11.50.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1872. Edited by David Farr. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 2007. Original scans accessible at: http://parl.canadiana.ca/.



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