ENGLAND AND THE RECIPROCITY PACT.
IN an editorial article in Current Literature one finds a very comprehensive summing up of the various views which have been expressed on the Reciprocity transactions between this country and the United States. The article quotes the American papers, pro and contra; it quotes the Canadian papers in the same way; but in addition it affords a review of the various opinions which are held by the leading English papers.
Canada, it says, afforded a sensational subject to London dailies when they had officially to announce in one issue, first the late King’s brother, the Duke of Connaught, had accepted the post of Governor-General of the Dominion, and, second, that a reciprocity pact had been concluded between Ottawa and Washington. The last announcement drove the other completely from the London editorial mind. There was an instant clamor in the great conservative and anti-ministerial papers to the effect that the British Empire had loát the greatest of its daughter nations. Had the Canadians drafted and signed the declaration of independence at Ottawa there could scarcely have ensued in such anti-ministerial dailies as the London Mail and the London Post a panic more patriotic. The first despatches from Washington and Ottawa led London to infer that the entire tariff wall from Maine out to Vancouver would be wiped out of existence. Revised summaries of what was in the reciprocity pact encouraged ministerial dailies like the London News and the London Westminster Gazette to affirm that an exchange of food commodities, lumber and raw materials between Canadians and Americans, without a levy at. the customs house, by no means entails such a treat to Britain as the growth of the German navy. “The Canadian people,” to quote the daily last named, “must not be put in a position in which they are asked to sacrifice large material advantages for their attachment to the mother country.” Even the London Times, champion of the policy that would place a tariff wall around the whole British Empire, agreed that “there has probably never been a time when Canada would have rejected such terms as have now been offered.”
When the history of the negotiations between the United States and Canada is written, says the conservative London Mail, it will be seen that the delegates of the Dominion had no choice but to accept the offer of trade reciprocity. “For the first time the United States came to Canada as a suitor prepared to agree to any conditions. In 1866 the United States put an end to the reciprocity treaty which she had made with Canada in 1854, and Canada, with the aid of British capital, started on her career of independent development.” What has happened in the interval to change the attitude of the United States towards reciprocity with her neighbor? “The population of the United States,” replies the London organ of preferential tariff pacts between British colonies and the mother country, “has grown to nearly one hundred millions and the limits of agricultural development under the present system have been reached. The United States has need of wheat to feed its people and of raw material to supply its factories.” This is the governing factor, it concludes, so far as Washington is concerned. “And over the northern, border is a land of plenty.”
All British dailies which uphold the idea of closer union between the component elements of the empire upon which the sun never sets see in reciprocity between Ottawa and Washington a severe reverse to the preferential tariff policy. Gloomy as is the view of the London Mail that of the London Post is, from this standpoint, gloomier still. “Look at it as we will,” to quote the former, “the agreement negotiated between Canada and the United States is a tremendous blow to the cause of imperial unity, and therefore to our Empire.” More pessimistic still is the comment of the other organ of imperialism. The free traders of England, according to the London Post, “have sold the soul of the nation.” The London Telegraph was thrown by the first reports of the pact into a state bordering upon panic. It saw Canada entering the American union through a tariff door. Subsequent reflection and fuller details modified its fears, but it remains pessimistic. In Canada, it tells its
readers, Britain has “always labored under a geographical handicap and we must continue to carry it. Canada is divided only by an imaginary line from another nation of ninety millions.” The inevitable is happening.
Having recovered somewhat from the first alarms into which they were plunged by the prospect of closer union between Canada and the United States, conservative London dailies tend now to find flaws in the bargain the Dominion made. “A remarkable change is evidently taking place in Canadian feeling about the reciprocity agreement with the United States,” to quote the London Times, which does not like the pact at all. Barely six weeks ago, none the less, its Toronto correspondent reported “general interest and much anxiety in Canada as regards the negotiations going on in Washington.” He said then that the Canadian press was either silent or opposed to a reciprocity agreement and that outside the organized farmers it was difficult to find any feeling favorable to a reduction of duties. Shortly afterwards the negotiations terminated with an abruptness that took the London Times by surprise and it confessed the fact editorially. The first assumption in London as well as in Ottawa was that President Taft had been so anxious to get an agreement of some kind that he had accepted a very one-sided measure.
When the terms of the pact projected between the Dominion and ourselves were made known in London and in Ottawa it appeared that the Britons generally had been under some misapprehensions. President Taft, as the London Times had at nrst surmised, was really offering terms so tempting on the face of them that the Canadian Government gave its consent to an agreement of far wider sweep than it had ever contemplated. “When the Canadian public were told that the United aates would remit duties amounting to In c million dollars, while Canada’s remist0 two million nn il j ln he United Stat«S WOUld put on the free list articles to the value of "f1™ Ho,lars’ whila Can?V mill J 'TV,1106dutles uP°n only twenAmó . ; °,lars: and that tha Present Ameiiean duties would remain in force won only time per cent, of importe from Canada, wlnle Canadian duties would
remain in force upon sixty-four per cent. of American articles, the agreement appeared far too favorable for Canada to reject.” There was a general movement of jubilation throughout the Dominion. In no long time rejoicing began to be sickled o’er with a pale cast of thought.
At this moment, if we may accept revised London press comment, based upon direct advices from Toronto and Ottawa, “opinion is rising in unexpected volume and vigor against the reciprocity agreement.” In fact, the Canadian correspondent of the London Times sees reason to think that in the cabinet of Sir Wilfrid Laurier there is uneasiness with regard to “the revolutionary reversal of Canadian policy which the bargain is now seen to involve.” Few things are more deceptive, we are reminded by our British contemporary, than percentages looked at without constant reference to the substantial facts with which they profess to deal. “When the alluring figures come to be checked, it becomes evident that the United States is offering no such generously one-sided arrangement as the percentage method appears to suggest. The favor with which the agreement is regarded in the United States—where no class is at all ready to sacrifice any tariff advantages—would by itself justify a doubt as to the reality of the advantages apparently offered to Canada.” In short, the pactis not to the London Times a move in the direction of free trade at all.
Flatly contradicting this inference in the anti-ministerial London Times, the radical London Chronicle asserts that “the reciprocity agreement between Canada and the United States is the greatest single step towards free trade that has been taken in our generation.” It rejoices at the prospect and it doubts not that ratification in Ottawa and Washington will bf a matter of course when a few modificar tions of detail have been made. “British trade can not possibly suffer. By this we. mean that if under the new arrangementCanada reduces or abolishes the duties on articles of American production, there is reason to look for a corresponding reduction or abolition of duties on competitive articles of British manufacture. Other-; wise Canada would be discriminating, against British and in favor of American
goods, an attitude which would be repugnant to every Canadian statesman.” The impression that the pact between Ottawa and Washington will increase the price of bread in England, propagated by the London Post, is scoffed at by the London . Chronicle. Wheat and corn will be as abundant as ever.
Staggering as is the blow to the unity of the British Empire which a reciprocity pact between Ottawa and Washington embodies to opposition, London dailies like the London Post, Telegraph and Times, Liberal and radical organs such as the London News, Chronicle and Westminster Gazette hail the agreement as a triumph of sound policy. “One might really suppose,” observes the last named Liberal paper, “that there had been some overwhelming national catastrophe altering the position of lakes and mountains and the courses of rivers. The catastrophe, however, which has actually happened has been to a policy which from the beginning set itself against natural facts and inevitable tendencies. It was proposed to base imperial unity on a policy which would have taxed the prime necessaries of life in this country and cut the Canadian trader^off from his nearest and most lucrative market.” In the same spirit the Manchester Guardian, ministerial to the core, predicts that the only opposition in England will emanate from the “rabid protectionists” who want to build a tariff wall around the whole British Empire “against the dictates of geography and common sense.”
In Canada the only discordant note in the chorus of approval of the agreement between Ottawa and Washington seems to the Manchester Guardian to come from the French element, while in the United States the only objections will be those of the farmers. “The proposed reductions are mainly in the duties on food stuffs and raw materials, not on manufactured goods. In other words, in the United States the agreement will effect a reduction of the tariff in favor of the manufacturing interests and against the agricultural, produce and fishing interests.” On this fact the London Telegraph seems to be basing some hope of the rejection of the measure by the United States Senate. Not only •does the Manchester organ of Liberalism •dissent from the inference of the London
organ of conservatism on this point, but it suggests a fresh idea. “In two ways can Canada render greater service to England as a power negotiating separate treaties with the United States than she could as a member of a British Empire Customs Union. She can draw closer the bonds between England and America.” Hence reciprocity is a factor in promoting the world’s peace:
“Very wisely, therefore, Conservative as well as Liberal opinion in England has come round to approval of reciprocity beween Canada and the United States. It does not involve any weakening of the ties between Canada and England. Of course not, as the Governor Generalship of the Duke of Connaught will have many opportunities of proving. The whole policy of Mr. Bryce, the most successful British Ambassador at Washington in our generation, has been—if we may speak of an Ambassador’s policy—directed towards drawing closer the bonds between Canada and the United States. He has been called the first Canadian Ambassador at Washington, and his policy has been in the best interests of Canada. But it has been governed primarily by British interests. Canada, in British world-policy, is a gauge of friendship between England and America. England gains a friend by every act that brings Canada into closer relations with the United States. There is no rivalry between England and the United States for the affections of Canada. She will best serve our policy by broadening the basis of her own prosperity and by a cordial policy of friendship with the United States.”
Already the first effect of the news has been what the pessimistic London Mail styles a shock to the wheat market in Liverpool. Apart from the commercial and economic aspects of fusing the Canadian and American market, it adds, will be the political effect of the new agreement. “The western provinces of Canada will be drawn closer to the United States Looking to the south, across that artificial line which runs for two thousand miles, for their chief market, their sympathies and ties will tend to become American. The process of permeation is at work even now, and it will be greatly reinforced by the new agreement.” Henceforth the west of Canada will turn to Washington rather
than to London. “Britain is losing her hold on Canadian affection.” T-hut is u notion which finds no support in the Canadian press generally, as the Toronto Globe is ut pains to point out. It sees no basis in any development of reciprocity ideas for the dread expressed by the London Mail. “There is not in history,” avers the Canadian organ, “a single illustration of a nation giving up its identity as the result of increasing trade relations with an adjoining people.”
Canadian opinion has been affronted by certain Inndon insinuations that reciprocity with the United States constitutes an impeachment of the Dominion’s loyalty to the British Crown. “If anything could mar the satisfaction of Canadians in the prospect of having a Prince to reign over us,” says the Montreal Witness, in allusion to the appointment of the Duke 01 Connaught as Governor-General, “it is to be found in the nauseating, concerted and unremitting slanders of the chorus of the British protectionist press to the effect that Canada is on the way to forsake the imperial connection and needs the glamor of the blood royal to hold her back. Whether it is a slander or not to say that we are tending to annexation, it is a falsehood for which there is not the vestige of an excuse or a shadow of reason ; if it is fair to hold interested prejudice responsible for the exercise of a faculty which it has not got. But when it comes to saying that we are to be tied to the Empire by the presence of a royal duke, we find it an insult to our national virility.” Wrathful comment to the same purpose finds room in other Dominion dailies when they speak of fidelity to the British connection.
Loyalty to the British throne is not jeopardized by reciprocity with the United States, contends that influential organ of Canadian opinion, the Toronto Globe. The agreement between Canada and the United States for the free interchange of natural products and for reductions of duty on a limited number of articles not imported by Canada in any large measure from Great Britain is impregnable on the material side. That is the point of view emphasized in the numerous editorials adorning the columns of the great ministerial daily. “It is a bargain that no Canadian government could afford to reject. Of the Canadian imports, totalling
altogether over forty millions, on which the duties have been removed or materially reduced, Great Britain sent us laat year a little over six million dollars’ worth and the United States sent us not less than thirty-two million dollars’ worth.. In other words, the agreement affects articles in which already our imports from the United States are in the ratio of five to one as compared with those from Great Britain, despite the fact that the duties on British goods are on an average less than on similar goods from the United States.” Under the new agreement, as the Canar, dian daily explains it, the British preference will be maintained except as regards articles that go upon the free list. British merchants will thus still be in better position to do business than will those of the United States. “How, then, can anyone assert that the agreement affects harmfully the importation of British goods by Canada?” There is not, it replies, the remotest reason for supposing that the chief lines of British exports to Canada will be lessened one dollar’s worth under reciprocity. , -, .
Arguments to the effect that the arrangement will mean a sacrifice of Canada’s fiscal independence are strongly urged by opponents of reciprocity in the Dominion press. “If the reciprocity arrangement goes into force,” says the Montreal Gazette, for instance, “the United States Government will have in its hands means that it may use to enforce more concessions. If, because of the arrangement, an important trade grows up between the two countries, Canada will be dependent to an extent upon what the United States Congress may do and the United States upon what the Canadian Parliament can do. The expression of a desire at Washington to include the products of other industries in the scope of the convention, and a threat that unless the proposition were accepted the present arrangement would be curtailed or stopped, would create in Canada a. loud but perhaps not strong local demand that what was sought should be granted.” If a weak ministry were in power at Ottawa, the chances are, this Canadian daily fears, that the demand would be heeded. “Then where would be Canada’s fiscal independence?” There is, too, a strong disposition on the part of the Liberal Canar dian press, which favors reciprocity, to-
suggest an extension of the British tariff preference as the natural corollary to the new agreement.
Little doubt of the ratification of the agreement has as yet been expressed in the dailies of the Dominion, although pleas for its modification on points of detail are made here and there. As the pact new stands, it seems “too sweeping” to the Winnipeg Free Press, perhaps the most powerful supporter of Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier in western Canadian journalism. The Winnipeg Telegram does not like the prospect at all. “The preference to the British exporter,” it says, “is seriously impaired to the advantage of his American competitor. The country will await Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s explanation of this radical departure from what he represented to be the fundamental principle of the Canadian tariff. Reciprocity within the British Empire has received a substantial setback for the first time in half a century and the spirit of continentalism is embodied in the international compact.” On the other hand, the Winnipeg Tribune insists that “the interests of the people of the West are irrevocably linked with free trade. Universal satisfaction is the' outstanding feature of the removal of the American duties.” Loyalty to the British flag, it adds, remains as ardent as ever.
As one goes from west to east in the Dominion, it is noticeable that enthusiasm for reciprocity is modified by alarm at other possibilities. The French Canadian^ dailies, for instance, do not welcome the idea of closer relations with a land inimical to the denominational school idea. The Montreal Presse wonders if the supremacy of Britain on this continent may not be endangered by closer trade relation between Canada and the United
States. The Guelph Herald reflects the views of many conservative dailies in eastern Canada when it remarks that the pact will make the Dominion “a hewer of wood and a drawer of water” for the American people, although another conservative and anti-ministerial sheet, the Kingston Standard, concedes that the agreement is on the whole “beneficial and satisfactory.” To the conservative London (Ontario) Free Press it seems that Canada “was overwhelmed by the Washington influence.” Liberal dailies in the eastern provinces are, however, disposed to welcome the outlook, the London Advertiser hailing reciprocity as “a triumph for the Canadian farmer.”
Summing up Canada press opinion as a whole, it would seem that newspapers in the Dominion divide on the issue of reciprocity with America along party lines. This is especially true of the dailies in large centres like Toronto and Montreal, although in the latter city French-Can adian views are hostile. Here and there an utterance attracts notice as possessing more than significance. The Ottawa Free Press is a case in point. “Unless the Dominion Parliament,” says this important organ, prone to criticize the ministry, “is prepared immediately to increase the British preferences, the step which Canada is asked to make is a very grave one indeed. Reciprocity with the United States may be an historical policy embraced by all political parties since pre-confederation days; but in the last fifteen years, largely as a result of the unfriendly exclusiveness of the United States, Canada has been making history in another direction of closer and warmer imperial ties of trade as well as of sentiment.” It insists that unless the United States lets down tariff barriers against England, Canada must keep up her tariff barriers against the United States.