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REPORT OF A SPEECH BY SIR CHARLES TUPPER, Delivered
at the First Sitting of the Canadian House of Commons, 1867.
(From the Canadian News, June 11th, 1868.) MR. SPEAKER,-No member of this House can regret more sincerely than myself that my hon. friend who has just sat down occupies a position which prevents his great talents from being made available for the advancement of the common interest of the British North American Provinces now united under one dominion. All who have listened to the eloquent appeal just made to this House must feel how valuable would be the aid which the hon. member could give in promoting the union and consolidation of our common country at this important era in its history. I, sir, have from the first hour of my public life been an ardent advocate of the union of British North America under one government. Whether considered in relation to the position and progress of the whole Confederation or in reference to the Province of Nova Scotia, to which I belong, I have never doubted the advantage of union. Separated as those provinces were, with divers currencies and hostile tariffs, it was impossible that our commerce should ever attain the position that union would open up. The old Province of Canada, notwithstanding its immense territory and great natural resources, could never attain an important position while for five months in the year it was cut off from access to the ocean and compelled to communicate with the parent state through
a foreign country. The Maritime Provinces below, comparatively small and insignificant, could never hope to occupy a position of influence or importance except in connection with their larger sister Canada. The past history of that province has exhibited the most striking evidence on that point.
My hon. friend who has just addressed you denounced on the floor of our own Parliament the Reciprocity Treaty between British America and the United States, on the ground that, while it disposed of our most important commercial interests and ceded away the valuable fisheries of Nova Scotia, the Government of that province had not even the opportunity afforded them of expressing an opinion on a matter so vitally affecting their interests during the negotiation of that treaty. We have seen the credit of our bonds in the London market impaired by a struggle for power in the legislature of Canada, where we had neither voice nor influence. If, therefore, we were in our state of isolation powerless to protect our most material interests, which were disposed of without our being able to offer an opinion thereon, I ask my hon. friend if he does not think it desirable that the views and feelings of our province should be presented in the Parliament of a United British America ?
No man can look at the geographical position of Nova Scotia without feeling that Providence intended that we should form the great highway of communication between not only the sister colonies behind us, but also a large portion of the Western States and the European world. Yet my
hon. friend knows that after he had laboured with great ability for a quarter of a century to accomplish the construction of an Intercolonial Railway, every effort had failed, as it had become perfectly apparent that that great work could only be accomplished by the union of the two Canadas and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick under one Government. Not only has this great boon been secured for our province, but by the construction of the
Western extension, from St. John to Bangor, already in progress, Nova Scotia must soon become the direct line of communication between London and New York.
It is impossible to examine the geological characteristics of Nova Scotia without seeing that Providence has given us all the elements of a great manufacturing industry. To say nothing of our valuable gold mines as a means of attracting population, a great portion of our province is enriched with vast deposits of iron, coal, and limestone, the minerals which have made England the emporium of manufactures for the world. Yet, with all this mineral wealth, it was obvious that without a union which would throw down the barriers to our manufacturing industry and open up commercial interest with our fellow colonists we must be content largely to forgo the great material advantages which nature had bestowed. Union has now given us a population of 4,000,000 instead of 400,000.
My hon. friend has spoken eloquently of the great importance of immigration as the true source of advancement for a country like ours, but it must be apparent to all that United British North America will be in a position to attract population, capital, and skill to a far greater extent than would be possible were we separate and isolated communities.
He has also described in glowing but not extravagant terms the immense value of the fisheries of Nova Scotia, yet I ask him, if United British America is unequal to the task of protecting that valuable public domain, how isolation was likely to accomplish such an object.
As regards the extension of our commerce, it is well known that the ablest politicians in all these colonies exhausted their best efforts in a vain effort to extend commercial intercourse between the different provinces. They failed because free trade involved the principle of union under one Government, which alone could secure a common tariff. If we wish to estimate what free trade with each other will do for us, we have only to look at its effects in