« ForrigeFortsett »
The relations between the United States and Canada prior to the negotiations at Washington were greatly strained, as may be gathered from the speech I made in moving the adoption of the treaty in the House of Commons on April 1oth, 1888, which is reprinted at the end of this volume.
MY LATER CAMPAIGNS
IN 1887, while acting as High Commissioner, I was recalled to Canada to take up the post of Minister of Finance, the great feature of my budget being the iron and steel policy, introduced with a view of establishing the industry on a solid basis. It did not succeed just then because the iron and steel industry throughout the world at the time was in a depressed condition. However, I always remained a consistent supporter of that policy, and have lived to see its beneficent effects, as evidenced by the great industries now established at Sydney, Cape Breton, and at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. When my son, Sir Charles Hibbert, visited the “Soo” some years ago, the manager in showing him over the works, remarked, “We owe all this to your father's initiative. He was the real founder of the iron and steel industry.”
I am of opinion that the Conservative Party has not been given its full share of credit for taking the first steps to establish the iron and steel industry in the Dominion. I was the first Minister of Finance to attempt it. Events proved that my legislation was premature, as the price of iron and its products fell nearly fifty per cent. in England during the next few years. But my policy was reintroduced and adopted by the Liberal Govern
ment years afterwards with my hearty support and concurrence.
As far back as 1887 the following letter will show that I was advocating the claims of the industry :
Office of the High Commissioner for Canada,
August 4th, 1887. MY DEAR SIR JOHN,—I duly received your letter of July 18th. I quite agree with you that a great deal was done in the last session to promote the interests of Nova Scotia, but if by agreeing to construct a branch of ten miles of railway we can secure, not only the expenditure of over a million in the development of a great iron industry, but also secure a very valuable traffic for the I.C.R. I think it would be wise to do it. Mr. Bartlett's proposal is one which I am satisfied the G.T.R. or C.P.R., or any other railway would gladly accept; but as it is a purely business proposition the Railway Dept. are well able to estimate its merits. Of course, I am anxious to make Nova Scotia as prosperous as possible, and thus, especially at the time when commercial union with the U.S. is being agitated, remove all cause of discontent with our present condition, but I do not wish to press my views unduly upon my colleagues, especially after the kind consideration that you have all given them.
I am afraid you are giving yourself no rest, and still hope that you will take a run over here, if only for the voyage.
We were fortunate in Digby under the circumstances, and still more so in Renfrew. I took your hint re Courtney, and
will be glad to have him with me on those tough financial questions. I have seen the Spanish Minister and made the postponement of our negotiations all right. I still think you should advertise for a proper Atlantic service, whatever you may ultimately decide upon. The P.M.G. says the tenders were half a million; you say a million and a half.-Yours faithfully,
When leader of the Opposition in 1896, I paid a visit to Sydney, my constituency, the site of a struggling iron industry. A deputation composed of the City Council and Board of Trade waited on me, and asked me to assist them in getting the industry firmly established. In reply I dwelt upon the possibilities of its development, showing that the economic conditions were favourable. Messrs. H. M. Whitney and Graham Fraser, who were interested in the project, informed me that the Government had refused to pay a bounty, and invited me to go to England to raise the capital for the establishment of a large plant. In reply I told them that I had a better plan, and stated that I would interview the Government and pledge the support of the Opposition to any policy it might adopt for the purpose of assisting that industry.
I afterwards visited St. John, formally to open the exhibition, and during my stay there I met the Hon. Mr. Fielding, Minister of Finance, and the Hon. William Patterson, Minister of Customs in the Liberal Government. To them I submitted reasons why the iron and steel industry was deserv
ing of Government aid in the way of bounties, and made a formal offer of the support of the Conservative Opposition to any policy that might be introduced in Parliament. They both agreed to reconsider the question.
Later, when I learned that they had taken favourable action, I remarked, at Ottawa, in the presence of the Hon. Mr. Borden: “I am glad to hear it. I would rather remain in Opposition than be guilty of refusing my support to the bounty system."
When they were boasting what wonders it would accomplish I told them in Parliament that they had taken too much credit to themselves, and reminded them of the Opposition support I had pledged. Fielding
Fielding replied that he had refused aid to the industry, so it remains a question of fact. However, Mr. Graham Fraser later wrote Mr. Whitney, reiterating what both had told me, that the Government had previously refused to grant any aid to the industry.
Well, I plunged into the campaign of 1887 just after the Hon. W. S. Fielding had carried Nova Scotia for Commercial Union, which was then the chief plank of the Liberals. In the face of his victory we not only won fifteen out of twentyone seats in that province, but again obtained a renewal of the confidence of the American people. Fielding's policy, if carried out, would have resulted in the disruption of Confederation.
After the session of 1887-8, in which the Fisheries Treaty was dealt with, I announced my intention of returning to London. Sir John urged me to stay, but I persisted in my refusal, telling