Laurier: A Study in Canadian Politics eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 77 pages of information about Laurier.

THE IMPERIALIST DRIVE

Laurier’s imperial policies were forged in the fire.  He took to London upon the occasion of each conference a fairly just appreciation of what was politically achievable and what was not, and there he was put to the test of refusing to be stampeded into practicable courses.  Professor Skelton records two enlightening conversations with Laurier dealing with the difficulties in which the colonial representatives in attendance at these gatherings found themselves.  Said Sir Wilfrid: 

“One felt the incessant and unrelenting organization of an imperialist campaign.  We were looked upon, not so much as individual men, but abstractly as colonial statesmen, to be impressed and hobbled.  The Englishman is as businesslike in his politics, particularly his external politics, as in business, even if he covers his purposefulness with an air of polite indifference.  Once convinced that the colonies were worth keeping, he bent to the work of drawing them closer within the orbit of London with marvelous skill and persistence.  In this campaign, which no one could appreciate until he had been in the thick of it, social pressure is the subtlest and most effective force.  In 1897 and 1902 it was Mr. Chamberlain’s personal insistence that was strongest, but in 1907 and after, society pressure was the chief force.  It is hard to stand up against the flattery of a gracious duchess.  Weak men’s heads are turned in an evening, and there are few who can resist long.  We were dined and wined by royalty and aristocracy and plutocracy and always the talk was of empire, empire, empire.  I said to Deakin in 1907 that this was one reason why we could not have a parliament or council in London; we can talk cabinet to cabinet, but cannot send Canadians or Australians as permanent residents to London, to debate and act on their own discretion.”

Still more enlightening is this observation: 

“Sir Joseph Ward was given prominence in 1911 through the exigencies of imperialist politics.  At each imperial conference some colonial leader was put forward by the imperialists to champion their cause.  In 1897 it was obvious that they looked to me to act the bell-wether, but I fear they were disappointed.  In 1902 it was Seddon; in 1907, Deakin; in 1911, Ward.  He had not Deakin’s ability or Seddon’s force.  His London friends stuffed him for his conference speeches; he came each day with a carefully typewritten speech, but when once off that, he was at sea.”

What was the intention of this “unrelenting imperialist campaign”?  It took many forms, wore many disguises, but in its secret purposes it was unchangeable and unwearying.  It was a conscious, determined attempt to recover what Disraeli lamented that Great Britain had thrown away.  Twenty years after Disraeli had referred to the colonies as “wretched millstones hung about our neck,” he changed his mind and in 1872 he made an address as to the proper relations between the Mother Land and the colonies which is the very corner-stone of imperialistic doctrine.  His declaration was in these words: 

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
Laurier: A Study in Canadian Politics from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook