Trade, by which the Laurier government swore as by
an unerring Gospel. They had heard of McKinley
and of Mark Hanna, but who and what were Cobden and
Bright? What relation were Cobden and Bright
to the G. O. P.? The negotiations were a joke
to the United States and a humiliation to Canada.
They were adjourned from Quebec to Washington; and
from Washington, Fielding and Cartwright returned
puzzled and sick at heart. They could obtain
not one single solitary tariff concession. They
found it was not a case of theoretical politics.
It was a case of quid pro quo for a trade. What
had Canada to offer from 1893 to 1900 that the United
States had not within her own borders? Canada
wanted to buy cheaper boots and cheaper implements
and cheaper factory products generally. She wanted
a higher market for her wheat and her meat and her
fish and her crude metals and her lumber. She
would knock off her tariff on American factory products,
if the United States would knock off her tariff against
Canadian farm products. One can scarcely imagine
Republican politicians going to American farmers for
votes on that platform. What had Canada to offer?
She had meat and wheat and fish and timber and crude
metals. Yes; but from 1893 to 1900 Uncle Sam
had more meat and wheat and fish and timber and crude
metals than he could digest industrially himself.
Look at the exact figures of the case! You
could buy pulp timber lands in the Adirondacks at from
fifty cents to four dollars an acre. You could
buy timber limits that were almost limitless in the
northwestern states for a homesteader’s relinquishment
fee. Kansas farmers fed their wheat to hogs because
it did not pay to ship it. Texas steers sold
low as five dollars on the hoof. Crude metals
were such a drug on the market that the coinage of
free silver was suggested as a panacea. Canada
hadn’t anything that the United States wanted
badly enough for any quid pro quo in tariff concessions.
This was the time that Uncle Sam rejected reciprocity.
Fielding, Laurier and Cartwright came home profoundly
disappointed men; and—as stated before—old
Sir John may have turned over in his grave with a
When Sir John had launched the Canadian Pacific Railroad
to link Nova Scotia with British Columbia, when his
government to huge land grants had added cash loans,
when he had offered bonuses for factories and subsidies
for steamships—no one had sent home such
bitter shafts of criticism as these old-guard Liberals
hungry for office. Why give away public lands?
Why push railroads in advance of settlement?
Why build railroads when there were no terminals,
and terminals when there were no steamships?
Why subsidize steamships, when there were no markets?
Was it not more natural to trade with neighbors a handshake
across the way than with strange nations across the
ocean? I have heard these barbed interrogations
launched by Liberals at Conservatives with such bitterness
that the wives of Conservative members would not bow
to the wives of Liberal members met in the corridors