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THE POLITICAL PARTIES OF CANADA
The following report of a speech delivered at the United Empire Club on September 21, 1911, embodies my views on the position and progress of Canadian political parties, and incidentally on the progress of the Dominion itself. The Duke of Marlborough, who presided at the meeting, made some interesting personal allusions in his introductory speech. He recalled how, as a boy, he first saw me at the house of his relative, Lord Lansdowne. “I was told when I entered the room that I should see one of the greatest—if not the greatest-of Canadians; and someone whispered, Please remember, the gentleman you will see was born the very year the great Napoleon died.' I confess, sir, that when I, a little boy, saw you, I was deeply impressed by your kindness; I was somewhat awed by your presence, and I marvelled at your versatility. Many years have passed, but I doubt whether our guest has grown any older in spirit, despite the burdens he has carried in the last thirty years."
Incidentally the duke mentioned that his knowledge of Canadian railways was confined to the Grand Trunk, though he spoke with enthusiasm of the “granaries of the Empire” which the Canadian Pacific Railway had brought into being. He
pleasantly recalled my defeat of that “ darling of Radicalism in Nova Scotia," the Hon. Joseph Howe.
“I am almost overwhelmed by the kindness of your reception and the all too flattering references made to myself. Your Grace has spoken of the Hon. Joseph Howe. I almost feel that I owe you an apology for having defeated so distinguished a gentleman—(laughter)—but it is right that I should also tell you that nothing gave me greater pleasure than to be able to promote the entrance of Mr. Howe, my antagonist of earlier days, into the Cabinet of Sir John Macdonald, and on a subsequent occasion to name him for the Governorship of Nova Scotia. (Cheers.) I should, however, explain --in view of what has been said that there is no Tory party in Canada. There is a party of LiberalConservatives, who, while holding the value of Conservative principles, believe that by carrying them out in a broad and liberal spirit, they are best serving the interests of the country.
“Now, it occurs to me that, considering the great interest felt in this country in regard to Canada, I may profitably use the present occasion by giving my views of the relative position of parties in that country. No one, I suppose, could feel greater delight at the great change which has occurred there than myself, because I think I may venture to say that the recent election returned to power that party to which Canada owes its great position to-day. The Confederation of Canada embraced, in the first instance, only the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Upper and Lower Canada. But the Act very wisely provided
means for bringing in the whole of British North America ; and after we had obtained possession, by purchase, of the great Hudson Bay territory, which carried us to the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Sir John Macdonald believed that it was vitally important for the future of Canada that the Province of British Columbia should be included. British Columbia was separated from the rest of Canada by an impassable range of mountains, and the only terms by which we could negotiate with British Columbia was to give it means of access to the rest of Canada. There was not even an Indian trail, and no communication by sea except round the Cape. The only measure by which British Columbia could be secured as a part of the Confederation was by giving it means of communication with ourselves by rail. The result was that the Liberal party raised a hue and cry that we were utterly ruining the country by undertaking an impossible work. Sir John Macdonald was defeated. We went into opposition, and Mr. Mackenzie, the leader of the Liberals, became Prime Minister of Canada. From Confederation right down to 1875 Canada was fairly prosperous, because she had a very low tariff, and the disorganisation of the industries of the United States, owing to the terrible Civil War, gave us most ample protection. But when, happily for them but unhappily for Mr. Mackenzie, the war was concluded and the industries of the United States were reorganised, the effect on Canada of the high protective tariff of the United States was very bad, and her industries were paralysed. Boston and New York became the commercial capitals of Canada. The country was
depopulated, and for five years Mr. Mackenzie carried out a Free Trade policy, five years which were ever to be deplored in our history. In 1878 we went to the country on the policy of protection in favour of Canadian industries, and Sir John Macdonald was brought back to power by one of the most overwhelming majorities which has ever taken place in any country.
“Having thus secured a policy which raised Canadians from being mere hewers of wood and drawers of water, we proceeded with the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. But as late as 1880 Mr. Blake, the leader of the Liberal party, moved a resolution to compel us to suspend operations and not go beyond the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains on the ground that we were sacrificing the rest of the country for 12,000 people in British Columbia. The entire Liberal party voted for that motion. In the following year we were able to arrange with the Canadian Pacific Railway to take over that work, but a combination between the North Pacific Railway of the United States in New York and, I am sorry I must say, the Grand Trunk Railway in Canada, broke down the credit of the company and comparatively paralysed them. It became my duty, as Minister of Railways, to offer a resolution to lend them, in addition to the subsidies which they had had, $30,000,000 at 4 per cent. for four years; and when I did so, Mr. Blake called out, ‘Don't call it a loan-you know you will never see a penny.' That money was returned with the 4 per cent. interest within the four years, and the company completed the contract in five years' less time than