« ForrigeFortsett »
own opinions, and not in any way as High Commissioner.—Yours faithfully,
J. A. MACDONALD.
To this I replied as follows:
I send you
9 Victoria Chambers,
Sept. 13, 1889. MY DEAR SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD,—I have been much surprised to learn that my action in regard to Imperial Federation has excited a good deal of dissatisfaction in Quebec. herewith a detailed report of all the proceedings in this connection, and am satisfied that, after reading of what has taken place, you will agree with me that my action has been quite misunderstood by our Quebec friends. You are aware of the fact that, although you and two other members of the Government are on the council of the Imperial Federation League, I have stood somewhat aloof. I have not disguised the opinion that the difficulties in the way of a parliamentary federation were insuperable.
When I proposed that a conference should be invited to consider the practicability of adopting a fiscal policy by which Colonial products would be protected here against those coming from foreign countries, I only propounded a policy which I had avowed as the policy of our party when in opposition, and which you and Sir Leonard Tilley and myself subsequently formulated and submitted to the Colonial Minister. As I said in my speech, I expected it would have the hearty
support of every well-wisher of Canada, involving as it did a policy that would rapidly bring millions of capital and hundreds of thousands of agriculturists to make Canada blossom as a rose. Had I made this proposition on behalf of Canada I would have had some ground for doing so, but I did not. At the special meeting of the council, as you will see by the reference to the appendix in this letter, I said, “I do not in any way represent the Government of Canada, but simply express my own views and opinions with regard to this question.”
Lord Rosebery emphasised that statement by saying at the same meeting : “Sir Charles Tupper expressly disclaims speaking in an official capacity, or as a representative of the Canadian Government." I do not see how I can well do more to counteract the erroneous impression that I spoke in an official capacity, but I will not fail to take any suitable opportunity of relieving you and your colleagues of any share of the responsibility of my utterances. When I made this bold proposal to strengthen the tie that connects Canada with the Crown by taxing corn and cattle from the United States of America and all other foreign countries—for such in effect it was I had little idea that it would be received with such favour here and be so completely misunderstood in Canada. It not only involves no change in the constitution of our country, but substitutes an alternative that ought certainly to commend itself to all who are opposed to such a change.--Yours faithfully,
To this letter Sir John Macdonald replied as follows:
Sept. 28, 1889. MY DEAR TUPPER,—I have your semi-official letter of the 13th inst. With respect to the Imperial Federation matter, you have taken the matter too much au sérieux. I thought it well to write, as Langevin became nervous, not so much by the remarks made in the Opposition papers here as by the quotations from the English Press, which were widely disseminated by the Opposition. These English papers expressly stated that although you declared that you did not speak for the Canadian Government, you would not have spoken unless from instructions. The Quebecers here have got it into their heads that your proposal that a general conference should be held involved the discussion of the expediency of altering the British North America Act. This, though unfounded, caused some alarm. I have read your letter in council, and discussed the whole question, and I think we shall not hear anything more about it.--Yours faithfully,
JOHN A. MACDONALD.
In reply to a deputation of the Imperial Federation League in June, 1891, Lord Salisbury said: “I think we are almost come to the time when schemes should be proposed. You have stated a problem.
I might almost call it an enigma. We are to invite the colonies to share in the responsibilities and privileges of the Empire in such a manner as not to disturb the constitution of this country, or that which is enjoyed by the colonies.
The solution of this problem does not lie on the face of it; it will require the labour of many able brains before a satisfactory solution is arrived at. The matter is one, not for vague and uncommitting sentiment, but for hard thinking and close examination, and for the utmost effort that the highest and strongest intellect of our times can give to a problem in which the Empire is concerned.”
It was in these circumstances that at a large meeting of the Imperial Federation League, held at the Westminster Palace Hotel on June 17, 1891, I made this motion, which was unanimously adopted : “That a certain carefully selected committee be appointed to submit to the council a scheme for the consideration of the organisations of the league throughout the Empire, by which the objects of Imperial Federation may be realised.”
I took up the question of the Belgian and German treaties with my colleagues representing in Britain the various self-governing colonies, and we sent the following communication to the Secretary of State for the Colonies :
“Nov. 20, 1890. MY LORD,–We desire to thank your Lordship for the intimation conveyed us in Mr. Bramston's letter of the roth inst., that the committee appointed to consider the approaching expiry, etc. of various European commercial treaties have expressed their concurrence in the view that the colonies should have the opportunity of stating their views respecting the effect of the various European treaties.
“In accordance with your Lordship’s request we take the opportunity of stating, for the information of the committee, that we are all of the opinion that the treaties with Belgium and Germany of 1862 and 1865 respectively should be terminated as soon as possible, in order that Great Britain may be in the position of being able at any time to make closer commercial arrangements with the colonies, or any of them, without being subject to the restrictions that are contained in those treaties. We venture to think that the importance of the matter is one that cannot be overrated, whether regarded from the Colonial standpoint or from that of Great Britain.
“We consider, also, that the principle should now be formally conceded by Her Majesty's Government—which has been accepted in many cases in recent years—that no commercial treaty should in future be binding upon the colonies without their assent, but that every such treaty should contain a clause enabling the colonies to participate in its provisions, or not, as they may desire.
The movement we thus launched did not obtain its objects until 1897.
In the meantime Colonel Sir Howard Vincent, M.P., had founded the United Empire Trade League in conjunction with the Rt. Hon. James Lowther, M.P., which worked energetically and indefatigably in favour of the development of trade between all parts of the British Empire upon a mutually advantageous basis. In 1889 a conference was held at Ottawa, where representatives from Australia and South Africa met the