HC Deb 14 May 1846 vol 86 cc553-76

said: It was, Sir, my intention and wish to have a discussion this evening, on the question of the Canadian Colonies, in the present alarming state of those Colonies. Under any circumstances, considering that the trade of this country with Canada equals three-eighths of the entire trade with America, and considering that the shipping interest engaged in the trade with the North American Colonies equals one-sixth of the whole British shipping engaged in the foreign trade of this country, I think this question is deserving of the attention of this House. Indeed, at any time I should consider that a question which concerns the prosperity of the Canadas was well deserving the attention of this House; but, under present circumstances—seeing that news arrived only yesterday of the rejection by the Legislative Assembly of the commercial policy of Her Majesty's Government, considering the rejection of that policy by the Canada Legislative Assembly, and the conversion of a majority of sixteen which the Canada Government held, into a minority of seven, on a question connected with that before this House—I mean the Corn Importation Bill and the Tariff Bill—I think it would be most desirable that the attention of the House and the attention of the country should be attracted to the situation of Canada, before we proceed to a final decision on the Corn Importation Bill. And though I feel that at this late hour of the night there could be no question of the propriety of bringing forward this subject, yet I should have thought that no apology need be made to this House or the country if I had at an earlier period of the evening interposed this discussion between the House and the farther consideration of the Corn Importation Bill. The position of the Canadas is a matter of such vital importance to the prosperity of this country, that I should not think it too much to propose a call of the House before we finally decided on the Corn Importation Bill. Sir, it is probably known to Members of this House that a despatch was addressed by Mr. Gladstone in the early part of the month of March, to the Governor General of the Canadas, intimating to my Lord Cathcart the nature of the measures that were to be introduced by Her Majesty's Government. It appears by the speech of my Lord Cathcart to the Legislative Assembly of Canada, that he addressed to Mr. Gladstone a remonstrance against the commercial policy proposed to be introduced by Her Majesty's Government. My Lord Cathcart, in the conclusion of his speech to the Legislative Assembly of Canada says— The last intelligence from the mother country indicates a most important change in the commercial policy of the Empire. I had previously taken occasion to press upon Her Majesty's Government a due consideration of the effect that any contemplated alteration might have on the interests of Canada. But until we have a fuller expo- sition of the projected scheme, which a few days will probably bring to us, it would be premature to anticipate that the claims of this province to a just measure of protection had been overlooked. In these and the various other subjects affecting the prosperity of Canada, which may occupy you, I offer my hearty co-operation; and I earnestly trust, under the direction of an all-wise Providence, that we shall be enabled to pursue a course calculated to promote the best interests and to foster the rising growth of this rapidly advancing Colony. From this speech of the Governor General of Canada, it seems that he did address a strong remonstrance to the Government in this country against their commercial policy. So strongly does the Governor General feel on the subject, that while he informs the Legislative Assembly of Canada that he has remonstrated with the Government of this country, he also assures the Assembly that he will co-operate with them in resisting the commercial policy which the Government of this country had proposed for their adoption. This appears to me to be a matter for very grave consideration. Here we have Her Majesty's Representative in the Colonies remonstrating with the Government at home against the policy which they are introducing. But coupled with the speech of my Lord Cathcart, there have been other indications of dissatisfaction on the part of the Colonies with respect to the policy of Her Majesty's Ministers. At a meeting of the Board of Trade, in which the mercantile and agricultural interests were assembled, at Toronto, a few weeks previous to the meeting of the Legislative Assembly, I find strong language was used, as regards the probable consequences of the measure which it was then supposed would be introduced into Parliament by this country. The President of the Board of Trade in Toronto, in speaking of those measures, said— He (Mr. Workman) believed that the mercantile class of Canada were in a very undecided state of mind at the present moment. The proposed measures of Sir Robert Peel, although men of ordinary penetration could not for some time back have failed to foresee their arrival, had taken many of our community by surprise. We were in the same condition as a man suddenly precipitated from a lofty eminence—we were labouring under concussion of the brain. This was the language of the President of the Board of Trade. Serious derangements in our fiscal resources could not fail to result from the operation of Sir R. Peel's new Tariff. Many articles at present imported into this province yield large duties, levied under our imperial customs' law, which were intended to act as protections to British interests. It would be observed that Sir R. Peel proposed to abolish many of these duties at home; and, of course, he would also abolish them in the Colonies, for he would not ask for protective duties in the Colonies after he had repealed them in the mother country. Mr. Workman went on to say, he had been informed that some of our citizens, from whom he had not expected such sentiments, had declared there was nothing left for Canada but annexation:— He implored those gentlemen to be very careful in the promulgation of their opinions or apprehensions. We should not forget that the province owes a debt of three millions sterling. So that we have the authority of Mr. Workman, that frequent discussions had arisen in the Canadas on this subject. He was answered by a Mr. Bolton, who said— He could not but think that the mother country, at any rate, should make us a present of the public works. This would be no more than justice, after having deprived us of the power of obtaining a protective revenue. It will be in the recollection of the House, that large sums of money have been voted by the Parliament of this country for the purpose of promoting commercial communication with Canada, and also for maintaining that protection which the Colonies had been cherishing. It was only in 1843 the Canada Corn Bill was passed, which was held to be a compromise—almost a bargain—with our Canadian Colonies, and on the faith of which considerable outlays of money were made in the Colonies, in the promotion of water communication, and other undertakings of a commercial character. The Canadas were then led to believe that that was a permanent measure; but three years had not elapsed before all the capital which had been vested on the faith of that measure was to be sacrificed by the adoption of a different system of commercial policy. Almost every other speaker used language similar to that of Mr. Workman. The operation of the protection law had been most destructive to the interests of the carrying and milling trades of Canada; and now that the differential duty in our favour in the mother country was about to be removed, we should find that the trade in Western States' produce would leave our waters altogether. He knew not what causes to assign for their prosperity, unless their superior activity and enterprise, and probably their superior institutions. What was the language of the Solicitor General of the Crown—a Gentleman from whom no factious language could be expected? The Solicitor General of the Crown, at the conclusion of his speech, held this remarkable language:— He did hope, however, that the commercial class would maturely weigh all the consequences which must result from the substitution of the United States markets for those of the mother country. It would be impossible but that such a change in our commercial relations would very soon bring about a change in all our other relations. Our interests would cease to be identified with the interests of the parent State: our mental associations would assume new forms; our customs, and laws, ay, and our institutions too, would be assimilated to those of the people with whom we cultivated mercantile relations. There was a time, the hon. Gentleman said, when he believed that patriotism had no connexion with self-interest; but he had lived long enough to change his opinion on that subject; and he did think that loyalty had some relation to pecuniary considerations. If, however, by a course of imperial policy, over which the people of Canada can exert no possible controul, they are forced into a new sphere of social and political attraction, attraction, they are not the culpable party. Here is a distinct intimation to the mother country, that the result of those measures if carried, will be to drive the Colonies to "annexation" with the United States. And when an intimation of this kind comes from a person in the high station of the Solicitor General of the Crown, I think it affords matter for our serious consideration, whether this country would be prepared or not to carry measures that would drive the Canadas into more immediate connexion with the United States—in fact, cause us to lose the Canadas altogether. But now let us turn to the United States, and see what their views and feelings are on this subject. I shall now give you the opinions of the people of the United States, as they may be collected from the Weekly Herald of New York upon the despatch of Mr. Gladstone to the Governor General of Canada. In that despatch Mr. Gladstone remarked, that the Canadas had already such advantages that they would be enabled successfully to compete with the inland navigation of the United States of America, and, therefore, might have nothing to fear from the competition of the United States. The New York Weekly Herald says— The people of Lower Canada take a deep interest in the proposed changes in the Corn Laws of Great Britain, and the correspondence that has taken place between the Governor General of Canada and the Secretary of the British Colonies in relation to the subject. The latest despatches from the Colonial Secretary say that the Canadas will receive some advantages from the Government, placing her products above those of other countries, and some facilities in carrying on a trade in bread-stuffs with the United Kingdom, that will enable her to enter into competition with the Western States. The Secretary considers some of these advantages and facilities are already enjoyed in the number and extent of the public works of Canada, 'the improvement in her internal communications; her more regular and speedy course of trade with Great Britain; her low tariff, so favourable to importation; some advantage on the point of proximity as compared with the Westerly States of the Union; and, lastly, the means of carriage without transshipment by the St. Lawrence, which cannot be had by the Erie Canal. These are the grounds on which Mr. Gladstone expresses his hope that the Canadian Colonies will be able successfully to compete with the United States. But the New York people say— If these are all the advantages Canada enjoys, or is likely to enjoy, in her trade with the mother country, we must confess they are very limited, and of very little value. They are not considered advantages by the people of Canada, and only, in fact, exist in the mind of the Colonial Secretary. We have shown by the publication of a series of tables, that flour produced in Upper Canada can be landed in Liverpool, notwithstanding the existing differential duties, cheaper than it can go by the way of Montreal and Quebec. We have also shown, that under our drawback law, nearly every description of foreign merchandise can be landed at the numerous lake ports in Upper Canada, by the way of New York, cheaper than viâ. Quebec and Montreal; and in the event of the Bill now before Congress, known as the Canadian Export Drawback Bill, passing and becoming a law, nearly every article of export from Upper Canada can be exported by the way of this city cheaper than by the way of the St. Lawrence. The Secretary considers, also, that 'the shipping of British North America has many advantages over that of the United States in the competition for freights, as it is constructed at less expense and navigated with equal efficiency.' This is a mistake fully as unfortunate as the others; and if the people of Lower Canada are to depend upon these advantages, which the British Government appears to attach so much importance to, we fear her foreign trade, particularly with the United Kingdom, will not be much increased or improved by the commercial system of Sir Robert Peel. Those intimately acquainted with the extent of our internal improvements, with the rapid increase realized every year in facilities of communication, and with the steady, although gradual, reduction in the expense of transportation from one extremity of the land to the other, know very well that the internal improvements of Canada cannot now, or ever, compete successfully with those of the United States. The cost of producing grain in this country, and its cost, landed in our seaport markets, is annually becoming less; and we have very little doubt but that, as our territory becomes extended, our population more dense, our currency more valuable and more uniform, both in quality and quantity, and our facilities for cultivation, by improvements in agriculture, greater, we shall be able to compete more successfully with the Canadas in the grain markets of Great Britain, than we do now, notwithstanding the immense advantages the Colonial Secretary imagines the North American provinces possess in a commercial and every other point of view. You have, therefore, the authority of the press and people of New York, that the entire trade of Canada to England will be henceforth by way of New York, and, con- sequently, that our Colonies will lose much of their trade with the mother country. And be it recollected, that if we lose the trade of the Canadas, we lose the whole of the carrying trade with America. By the last returns placed on the Table of this House, it appears that the number of British seamen engaged in the timber trade alone of the Canadas, amounted to 36,000; whilst the trade with the United States of America engaged but one-fourth of the number employed in the carrying trade carried on in British bottoms. The number of British seamen employed in the Canada timber trade, amounted, in the last year, to 36,000, including, of course, double voyages. The seamen engaged in the trade of the United States, also including double voyages, amounted in 1844 to 8,000 or 9,000; so that you have four times the number of British seamen engaged in the Canada trade, that you have in the entire trade with the United States of America: I should have said the trade of the North American Colonies when I said Canada. You have a colonial population of 1,600,000 souls, and in your trade with them you employ four times the number of seamen that you employ in your trade with 20,000,000 of people. With but 1,600,000 colonists, your exports amount to 3,000,000l.; while your exports to the 20,000,000 of inhabitants of the United States, amount only to 7,900,000l. Are you then prepared to sacrifice your colonial trade by the proposed measure? The Weekly Herald then goes on to state— The Secretary considers, also, that 'the shipping of British North America has many advantages over that of the United States in the competition for freights, as it is constructed at less expense and navigated with equal efficiency.' Now, considering that the United States of America reserve to themselves three-fourths of the entire carrying trade with this country, it is difficult to perceive how the shipping interests of our Colonies can have any great advantage over those of the United States in point of economy. But what says the New York Herald to this observation of the Colonial Secretary? They say— This is a mistake fully as unfortunate as the others; and if the people of Lower Canada are to depend upon these advantages, which the British Government appears to attach so much importance to, we fear her foreign trade, particularly with the United Kingdom, will not be much increased or improved by the commercial system of Sir Robert Peel. Those intimately acquainted with the extent of our internal improvements, with the rapid increase realized every year in facilities of communication, and with the steady, though gradual, reduction in the expense of transportation from one extremity of the land to the other, know very well that the internal improvements of Canada cannot now, or ever, compete successfully with those of the United States. The cost of producing grain in this country, and its cost, landed in our seaport markets, is annually becoming less; and we have very little doubt but that, as our territory becomes extended, our population more dense, our currency more valuable and more uniform, both in quality and quantity, and our facilities for cultivation, by improvements in agriculture, greater, we shall be able to compete more successfully with the Canadas in the grain markets of Great Britain, than we do now, notwithstanding the immense advantages the Colonial Secretary imagines the North American provinces possess in a commercial and in every other point of view. Here then you have pretty clearly expressed the opinion by those who are most likely to form an accurate judgment on the question, that the Colonial Secretary has displayed gross ignorance in dealing with the trade of the Colonies. But it is not the single opinion of one newspaper writer in New York. I have before me the opinion of another newspaper writer, also published in New York, the New York Herald, in which that opinion is still more strongly expressed. This article is headed "The affairs of Canada." The writer says— The intelligence from Canada is beginning to be of an extremely interesting character. On the receipt of the news of the proposed Tariff of Sir Robert Peel, considerable dissatisfaction was manifested in Canada. They say, that to abolish the duties on grain produced in the western parts of the United States, must materially affect the commercial interests of Canada, and facilitate its annexation to the United States. The writer adds— It does not require any great sagacity or fore-sightedness to arrive at this conclusion, nor to perceive that it will be the means of hastening the annexation—a measure which time, and the moral effect of our laws and institutions, must finally consummate. But we account for the measure in this way. Peel felt the influence of a powerful pressure at home, which he was forced to go along with, as he could not stem; and hence he determined to carry out his new commercial system, even though it should hasten an event which he must inwardly deplore. Such, then, were the opinions, not only of the greater part of those who had entered into the discussion of these questions in the Canadas, but the generally expressed opinions of the press of the United States—that the necessary consequence of this measure would be, before long, the annexation of the Canadian Colonies to the United States. On a former occasion, I had the honour of bringing this subject before the House; and on that occasion the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Liskeard scouted the idea that the Canadians had any great regard either for the timber question or for the corn question. The hon. and learned Gentleman—who assumed to be the representative of the universal common sense of all mankind—informed the House that he had been in Canada, and that therefore he must know more of the matter than any other person. He assured us that there was no ground for apprehension, because the Western States of Canada were totally unconcerned in the matter. He informed the House that the geographical knowledge of the humble individual who now addresses you was greatly at fault—that I was totally ignorant of the situation of the Western States of Canada—that in point of fact no timber was imported from the western states of Canada; and when it was suggested to him that at all events corn was grown there, the hon. Member promised to answer that argument afterwards, though he forgot to do so. Now with respect to the timber question, I hold in my hand a letter which was addressed, after the discussion, to the editor of the Times by a gentleman engaged in the Canada timber trade. I dare say I know the writer of that letter—it is Mr. Pemberton, the largest timber merchant in the City, and one who is extensively connected with the timber trade of Canada. What is the answer which Mr. Pemberton gives to the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman? He says— The incorrectness of the above assertion will be apparent at once, from the fact that the value of the lumber exported from the St. Lawrence last year was about 800,000l., of which at least three-fourths were the produce of Canada West. Mr. Buller, in proof of the above, quotes a despatch of Lord Sydenham's, dated at Kingston, in which he states 'that not a soul in this town (the capital of Canada West) has any interest in the timber trade.' It is strange, but not the less true, that at the time when Lord Sydenham wrote this despatch, the mayor of that town was a partner in a commercial firm which sent to Quebec annually lumber of the value of 60,000l., the whole of it the growth and produce of Canada West. He goes on to say, that the value of the Canada red pine is superior to that of the Baltic; but, judging from returns furnished to this House, if they be correct, this cannot exactly be the case; for I see by these returns that the price of Memel timber is 2s. 6d. higher than the Canada red pine, the highest price of the one being 4l. 10s., while 4l. 12s. 6d. is the highest price of the other. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman tried to alarm this House, and to frighten elderly gentlemen out of their beds with the fear of bugs, which he adduced as the necessary consequence of using Canadian timber, though there was no sound reason for making these statements. But it does not appear that upon the subject of the timber duties the Canadian colonists are altogether indifferent; for I hold in my hand the petition of the Quebec Board of Trade, which is one of the Papers I now move for, in which they say— That the introduction into the Imperial Parliament of measures, the operation of which will immediately deprive the province of Canada of a great portion, and at no distant period, of all the protection her produce now enjoys in the markets of the United Kingdom, should be received by your petitioners with anxiety and alarm, cannot be a matter of surprise. Convinced as your petitioners are of the desire of Her Majesty's Government to encourage the commerce of the colonial possessions in North America, and promote the welfare of Her Majesty's subjects therein, and convinced also that any legislative measures prejudicial to the North American Colonies must be prejudicial to the shipping and other great interests of Great Britain, they beg respectfully to bring under your consideration certain suggestions which it appears to them would, if carried out, be beneficial to the Colonies and the Parent State, whose interests are inseparable. That the question no doubt will suggest itself to you, whether the natural effect of this seductive law will not gradually, silently, and imperceptibly to themselves, wean the inclinations of the subjects of Great Britain from their true allegiance to the Parent State, and bias their minds in favour of a closer connection with a foreign country through which the transport of their merchandise and produce is encouraged, and a consequent more frequent intercourse with its inhabitants produced. Here, again, is a practical proof that the results of this measure will be to throw the transport trade of the country altogether into the hands of the United States of America. The United States of America are wise enough to see what must be the effect of such a measure; and in order to obtain the carrying trade of the Colonies, they have now passed a drawback bill, by which they give back the full extent of the duties that are levied to all goods that pass through the Erie Canal. That the effect of this measure must be to transfer the carrying trade of Canada to the United States there can be no doubt, for it is clear by the statements here made, that the expense of conveying corn from the Western States of Canada to New York is less by 2s. per quarter than it is in conveying it from the the St. Lawrence to Liverpool. [Mr. ROEBUCK: NO.] The hon. Member says no, but the statement is made by a merchant of the country. He says— Canada requires a protection, as compared with New York, of not less than 4s. to 5s. per quarter. Nine-tenths of the ships go out in ballast, and must be paid on their timber cargoes a freight sufficient for the round of the voyage. The shipowner who is offered freight home, will not take a low freight for corn, if a full one is to be paid for timber. Canada freights cannot be cheapened therefore. You are aware of our high insurances from Canada after September 1. On the same day, in Liverpool, I insured in September last a large amount on flour, from New York, at 1l. per cent., and from Quebec at eight guineas. This is an extreme case, though ten guineas was paid; it was only for November shipments. October was 3l. to 5l. as the month advanced. The direct trade with the United States has this farther advantage, that the communications are open all the year through, while Canada is shut during the whole of the winter; and every one who is acquainted with the shipping interest must be aware that ships which are laid up during the whole of the winter lie under a great disadvantage as compared to those which go to sea all the year round; and when they can make two voyages with freights varying from three to eight guineas, it must be clear to every one, that, exclusive of all other expenses, the shipping interest of Canada labours under a great disadvantage. With respect to timber I ought to observe, that being aware of the pressure upon the Government, and knowing that there was some chance their measures would succeed, the colonists humbly begged that the reduction of the duty on timber might be limited to 5s., leaving them something less than the absolute difference of freight from the Baltic as compared with Canada—the freight from the Baltic having varied in the course of last year from 10s. to 24s. per load, while from Canada the freight was from 37s. to 2l. But there is still another consideration—a great portion of the timber grown in Canada stands upon Crown property, and so the timber yields to the revenue a duty of 4s. 2d. per load. [Mr. ROEBUCK dissented.] The hon. Member shakes his head, but he will find it to be so. Well, then, Her Majesty's Ministers, in introducing their measures to the country, held out to Parliament the inducement, that their adoption would have the effect of encouraging the friends of free trade in the United States, to remove their restrictions on our commerce. Dear as this purchase would be, made at the cost of the loss of the Canadian Colonies, it might have been matter for grave consideration whether, if we could ensure for ever an unrestricted trade with the United States of America—whether the loss of the Canadian Colonies in a mere commercial point of view might not thereby be compensated. But now see what are the prospects of such a removal of restrictions on the part of the United States of America. I find as regards the Tariff, that such an immense appropriation of money is called for to put the country into a state of defence as will use up the surplus three or four times over, and that the present Tariff must necessarily be retained with its protective duties for the amount of revenue it yields to Government. The Tariff, it is stated, will be the last Government measure that will be brought forward, and its fate will much depend upon the measures that have preceded it. I find in a leading article of the Times, a journal which usually advocates the same opinions with Her Majesty's Ministers—I find the following confession in the Times of Monday— Already we understand that his views upon the tariff, which might have given a permanent and pacific lustre to his administration, have been abandoned, or at least postponed, doubtless because they involve sacrifices of revenue which it is absolutely impossible to make. So all hope, for the present at all events—all hope of the reduction of the tariff, and of removing the restrictions on the introduction of manufactures, must be abandoned. Then see the state of our cotton trade with the United States of America, as compared with the trade of the Canadian Colonies. In an able pamphlet on the free-trade policy of this country, lately written by a "Liverpool Merchant," it is stated, that whilst our Canadian Colonies take 37s. of our manufactures per head, the United States take only 7s. 11¼d. per head. But the progress of the cotton trade is too remarkable to be passed over without notice. It appears that the exports of cotton goods and plain calicoes to the British North American Colonies in 1841 was little more than seven millions and some hundred thousand yards, while in 1845 it was eleven million yards, and that the exports of printed cotton, which in 1841 were only ten million yards, in 1845 had increased to thirty millions of yards. The argument, however, is, that if we open the trade with the United States, they will take more of our manufactures; but the experience of the last few years does not give any ground for such expectations. I do not like to weary the House by going much more into those details, which, if time permitted, would enable me most satisfactorily to show the impolicy of the measure introduced by Her Majesty's Gorernment—a measure which must, in the very nature of things, produce the worst consequences to our Canadian Colonies. Were there, I say, time to go into a comparison of the exports and the imports, I could show that at the lowest calculation the imports from the United States into Great Britain exceed the exports from Great Britain to the States by more than 3,000,000l. per annum. In making this calculation, I have adopted the lowest estimate; for while the article of cotton alone is valued at 7¾d. a lb., I have taken the account at little more than half the official value. In estimating the cotton of America, therefore, at half the official value, there is not, I am sure, a Gentleman in this House who would say I have made the estimate too high; yet, taking the great article of cotton from the United States at little more than half the official value stated in the Returns before Parliament, with that great reduction in the calculation it appears there is a balance in favour of the United States of 3,000,000l. What, then, becomes of the argument so often used, that you will encourage and vastly increase the exports of your manufactures to the United States, by promoting a reciprocity of feeling, by an interchange of articles of trade and commerce? Facts are against that view; for it is not their inability which prevents the Americans to trade with us, and to take from us our manufactures, but it is a past of their policy: the policy of the United States of America from its very establishment, from the settlement of its independence, always was to protect its own industry. The language and the conduct of Jefferson, of Washington, of Madison, Jackson, and others, were ever such as to convince every intelligent and impartial man, that their great design was the protection of native industry. I hold in my hand a very remarkable observation, which will show the House what were the feelings of the people of the United States when there was a cry raised on the subject of free trade in the States, and when that cry was raised in order to lower the prices. I take this observation from Papers relative to Tariffs, published in the United States. The question is asked— What harm hath the much-abused tariff of 1824 rendered to any of the people of the United States? Has one barrel of flour, one bushel of corn, one gallon of whiskey, one pound of tobacco or rice, one piece of timber, or ought else that we have for export, not been exported because of it? one pound less of cotton required of the planters, or one less of sugar consumed? Has our tonnage declined, or our seamen been less employed? Has the price of any article been enhanced to the consumer, because of the additional duty laid by the Tariff for the purposes of protection? We say, 'No,' to all these sweeping questions, and to each of the parts of the first, and demand a reason why clamorous denunciations of the Tariff should be indulged as they are. I can also show that the exports in cotton have exceeded, in the year 1827, by an immense extent, the exports of former years; for it appears that the stock of cotton in all the British ports from America was estimated at 278,020 bales, while in 1844 they had increased to 1,246,900, and in 1845 to 1,499,600; thus clearly establishing the firm conviction that the great design of all the leading men in the United States is the protection of their native industry. Washington, in his Message, in the year 1789, recommended this—'Congress have repeatedly,' said he, 'and not without success, directed their attention to the encouragement of manufactures. The object is of too much consequence not to insure a continuance of their efforts in every way that shall appear eligible. Ought our country to remain dependent upon foreign supply, precarious, because liable to be interrupted? If the necessary article should, in this mode, cost more in time of peace, will not the security and independence thence arising form an ample compensation?' In his parting address, in reference to these matters, he says, 'that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favours from another: that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favours from nation to nation; it is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.' These are just sentiments. We also read, as quoted from Mr. Pitken, a great American authority, these words:— In laying duties on imports in July, 1789, Congress, in reference to the preamble of the Act imposing them, declares those to be for the encouragement and protection of manufactures. The First Secretary (Hamilton), whose powerful mind seemed intuitively fully to comprehend every subject to which it bent its force, was the great advocate of American manufactures. In his celebrated report on this subject, presented to the House of Representatives in January, 1791, every argument was urged, and we may truly add, exhausted, in favour of the policy and expediency of protecting and encouraging this branch of domestic economy. The Act of 1789 (July 4) was advocated by Mr. Maddison, and runs thus:—'Whereas it is necessary for the support of the Government, for the discharge of the debts of the United States, and the encouragement and protection of manufactures, that duties be laid on goods and merchandise imported, &c.' In his Message to Congress, 8th of January, 1790, Washington says:—'A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactures as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly for military, supplies. The advancement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, by all proper means, will not, I trust, need recommendation.' Jefferson, in his Message, p. 1403, pursues the same course:— To protect the manufactures adapted to our circumstances are the landmarks by which to guide ourselves in all our proceedings. After the war of 1812, &c., he takes, if possible, higher and stronger ground. In his celebrated letter, dated January 9, 1816, he says— We have experienced, what we did not before believe, that there exists both profligacy and power enough to exclude us from the field of interchange with other nations, that to be independent for the comforts of life we must fabricate them ourselves. We must now place the manufacturer by the side of the agriculturist. The grand inquiry now is, shall we make our own comforts, or go without them, at the will of a foreign Power? He, therefore, who is against domestic manufactures, must be for reducing us either to a dependence upon that nation, or to be clothed in skins, and live like wild beasts in dens and caverns. I am proud to say I am not one of those. Experience has taught me that manufactures are now as necessary to our independence as to our comfort; and if those who quote me as of a different opinion will keep pace with me in purchasing nothing foreign, when an equivalent of domestic fabric can be obtained, without regard to difference of price, it will not be our fault if we do not have a supply at home equal to our demand, and wrest that weapon of distress from the hand which has so long wantonly wielded it. In the papers from which I quoted before, there is this observation as regards the woollen manufactures; it is quoted from the report of the Senate of Pennsylvania; it is:— The low condition of the woollen manufactures in this country at the commencement of the late contest at arms with Great Britain, was shown by the humiliating request preferred by the Secretary of War to Congress, that existing laws might be repealed so far as to allow the importation of 6,000 blankets for the Indian department. We believed then, and believe so still, that this suggestion was made that blankets might be obtained from Great Britain for the preservation of our soldiers when raised and marched to attack the British Colony of Canada. But the law was not repealed; and it will not be regarded as a wild speculation to express an opinion, that we lost more men by the want of woollen clothing and other supplies during the war than by battle and all other fair exposures to danger that attended the military life. I say, when we find this feeling generally pervading all the leading men of the United States—when we find their determination to be, to accept all the favour which we can give them, by the opening of our ports, while there is no disposition on their part to relax their tariff in our avour—is it, I say, under such circumstances, a wise measure to adopt a system which may issue in the risk of our Canadian Colonies? In my opinion, the result of the measure proposed by Her Majesty's Government will tend to alienate the affections of our Canadian Colonies from the mother country, and thus to deprive us of that great source of maritime wealth, and to deprive us of Colonies, the value of which cannot be sufficiently estimated. I thought it right to bring this subject before the House, although I have very much limited my remarks, and which I would not have done could I have introduced the subject at an earlier hour. I beg leave now to move— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty may be pleased to direct that Copies of the Governor General Earl Cathcart's Speech to the Legislative Assembly of the Canadas be laid before this House: Of the Despatch, or Despatches, referred to in the Governor General's Speech as having been, and of any others since addressed to Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, remonstrating against certain presumed changes in the Imperial Commercial Policy, or conveying to Her Majesty's Government information respecting the feelings of Her Majesty's Canadian Subjects in regard to the Commercial changes now under the consideration of the Imperial Legislature: Of any Petition from the Quebec Board of Trade, addressed to Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, in the course of the present year, on the subject of apprehended changes in the Imperial Tariff affecting the produce of the Canadas. To this, the original Motion of which I have given notice, I have added a few words so as to include among the Papers I require any recent information which may have been communicated to Her Majesty's Government, and which may have arisen out of the present state of affairs in our Canadian Colonies.


rose to second the Motion. It could not be expected that at that hour (half-past 12 o'clock) any sufficient or complete answer could be given to the statistical speech of the noble Lord who had just sat down. He thought that, considering the manner in which the noble Lord had addressed the House, and the party opinions he had thought fit to express regarding a large portion of our colonial fellow subjects, it would have been a fairer way of dealing with the House if he had reserved his speech for the Corn Law discussion next day. If he had compressed his two speeches into one, he would have done great benefit to his own speech, and relieved the House of one half of the discussion. In the few remarks which he (Mr. Roebuck) would address to the House, he would confine himself more to an expression of opinion than to argument. He could not help feeling somewhat surprised at the new tone assumed by the noble Lord opposite, and the party he now represented. He (Mr. Roebuck) could recollect the time when in that House the opinions of the Canadian Parliament were not thought of that weight which the noble Lord now thought fit to attach to them. He could recollect the time when there was not a minority of seven against the Government, but, positively, in a House of only eighty-eight persons, eight on the one side and eighty on the other; and yet, nevertheless, the noble Lord and the party acting with him thought fit to put aside the opinions of the people of Canada, to destroy their constitution, and rob them of what they held most dear. He alluded to Lower Canada. There was no consideration paid to their feelings and wishes at that time; and he had to ask the noble Lord how he attached so much importance to the opinions of the people of Canada? The reason was plain. [An Hon. MEMBER: Papineau.] He was speaking of the opinions of the people of Canada—the opinions of eighty representatives on one side against eight on the other—the opinions, the almost universal opinions of the people of Lower Canada. At that time, the noble Lord and those now acting with him disregarded the opinions of the people of that Colony. He recollected that, amongst the opinions of that people, which he was authorized to express to that House, was the opinion of the Lower Canadian Parliament respecting one of the branches of trade to which the noble Lord alluded—he meant the timber trade. He was then authorized to state to the House, and he did state to the House, the opinion of the representatives of the people of Lower Canada, that they had no desire for protective duties for their timber trade; and they prayed the House of Commons at once and entirely to sweep away the differential duties on timber of Europe, and that of the Canadian Colonies. He should like to know where the noble Lord had gathered the opinions of the people of Canada on this question. We had had hardly any news from that country for nearly six weeks; and now we had a small fragment of information, which had been trumpeted forth in the organs of the noble Lord's party, as if something of great importance had occurred. Upon a division taking place on the question of adjournment in the House of Assembly, it appeared that the Government were placed in a minority of seven; and it was suggested by the noble Lord that this was an expression of the opinions of the people of Canada upon the great question of corn. But he might suggest that it was only one of those party steps with which we were not wholly unacquainted. He might suppose a Ministry not altogether in favour with every party in the House—he might suppose a debate taking place; and upon some sort of personal feeling arising on one side or the other, an acute party leader getting up and leading his party to vote in direct opposition to all their former opinions. He could suppose some such thing as that; and, if he was not greatly mistaken, the fact would be found such as he had stated. He knew the reasons and opinions of the greater part of the Members of the House of Representatives; and amongst the many names mentioned in the paper to which the noble Lord alluded, he found the names of many opponents of the Administration of that country. Did the noble Lord not know that the popular Administration was put out of power by means which he was not called upon to characterize; and that the party now in power was not the popular party of the great body of the Canadian people, but the party which represented what were usually called the narrow English interests of the country—the protectionists—the party of which the leader was the Solicitor General; who had discovered that there was no patriotism except what was founded on pecuniary profit, and no loyalty but what was based on self-interest? That very party who had always pretended to such extraordinary loyalty and affection for the mother country, now, when they feared that some measure was to be adopted hurtful to their pecuniary interest, turned round, as he (Mr. Roebuck) had told them they would, and threatened them with annexation to America. It was not the people of Canada, whom they had deprived of all they held dear—it was not the Lower Canadian French population who talked of annexation to America. It was the English, Scotch, and Irish merchants who had embarked their capital in a favoured trade, supported as they believed by protective duties; and who, the moment it was proposed to do justice to the people of the country by the adoption of free trade, threatened this coun- try with republicanism and annexation. And these were the people to whose opinions the noble Lord attached so much weight. But the noble Lord also referred to the opinion of the Governor General, and seemed exceedingly anxious to pay attention to the feelings and wishes of the noble Lord. But he recollected a time when another Governor General also expressed his opinion of the proceedings of that House towards the people of Canada, to which there was less attention paid. He was not prepared to say that Lord Cathcart was in direct opposition to Her Majesty's Government; but how came the noble Lord to assume that Lord Cathcart had expressed such opinions? If Lord Cathcart were acting in opposition to the wishes of the Government here, it was to be inferred that he would not continue in office. He was sure that the people of Canada, if they really had an opportunity of expressing their opinions, would be ready to meet the mother country on fair terms of competition. He would suggest to the noble Lord, and those who supported him, a mode of proceeding which would find favour with the colonists of Canada. Our colonial system, had cramped and crippled the commerce of our Colonies. Foreign nations could not import their produce into Canada, nor receive the produce of Canada in return, in the cheapest and most direct way. He would ask the noble Lord who now sympathized with the feelings of the colonists, whether he were prepared to give a perfect freedom of trade to them? Was the noble Lord prepared to throw over the representatives of the shipping interest who sat behind him, and incited him to speak? Were those who considered themselves the great friends of the shipping interest of this country willing to let foreign nations trade with our Colonies in foreign bottoms? ["No!"] No! Ay, that was the worth of their new sympathy with the colonists. But, throw open the trade, and the colonists would be satisfied. The noble Lord and his friends, however, were not prepared to do that. What was it the noble Lord complained of? Within the last three or four years the Government here had thought fit to pass the measure known as the Canada Corn Bill. Who were the great opponents of that measure at the time it was introduced? Why, the landed interest. There was not a man among them in that House who did not exclaim that that Bill was the first great step towards the destruc- tion of the landed interest. They might now say what they pleased, but they well knew that at the time they were the greatest enemies of that measure. Now, which cry was it the noble Lord and his Friends meant to take up? Was it a cry for that Canadian Corn Bill, or a cry against it? They could not have two cries: at least if they wished to be regarded as being honest in their opposition. But they wanted to have both at once. They went to the hustings and denounced the right hon. Baronet as the great enemy of the landed interest for having introduced that Bill; and now they came and pretended a sympathy for the Canadians, and talked of the great advantage to be derived from the Bill. Now, he did not pretend to know more of this country than the noble Lord. He would allow that the noble Lord, in the course of the three months' attention he had given to the great questions of our policy, might, by the sort of divine instinct or intuition which he was supposed to possess, have been able to obtain information on all sorts of subjects. But as to the particular country of which they were now speaking, he had had special means of obtaining a knowledge, from long habits of intercourse with it, and from having spent there the greater part of his youth; and he would, therefore, make a suggestion to the noble Lord on a subject which seemed to have puzzled him. The noble Lord asserted that our exports to the Canadas amounted to three-eighths of our whole exports to America. It was easily explained why they seemed to bear so large a proportion. The explanation was to be found in the fact, that south of the St. Lawrence there was a nation (not an insignificant one), called the United States, and that the single State of New York touched upon that river. The noble Lord spoke of the trade with Canada as if it were an exclusively colonial trade, while it was well known to all men that the exports to which the noble Lord had referred were not so much exports to, as through, Canada. In fact, they were exports to the United States. The noble Lord argued that we were about to run the risk of losing the trade to Canada: when, in fact, our exports through Canada went to the United States to pay for certain things which we got from them; and whether it were by a direct or an indirect route made but little difference to our manufacturers. The danger apprehended by the noble Lord was a mere chimera of his own brain, and not likely to be of consequence to any proceedings such as those contemplated by Her Majesty's Government. Our trade with British America consisted chiefly of three articles—timber, potash, and corn. What consequences did the noble Lord apprehend would follow from a free trade? Why, that the trade of Canada would be destroyed. And mark what the noble Lord said. He declared that corn would be sent at a less expense from the United States than down the river St. Lawrence; and yet, at the same moment, he talked of the expense of transhipment. Why, did the noble Lord not know that there was, past the rapids of St. Lawrence, a most noble canal, and that a vessel could, by the means of that canal, sail from Liverpool to Toronto? The most expensive part of the transit was by land, and the least expensive was by the St. Lawrence. The noble Lord might depend upon it, that if it was the interest of the merchant to bring his corn down the Erie canal, it would be the interest of this country that he should do so; and he might also be sure that when a merchant consulted his own interest in such matters, he would be consulting the interest of the nation at the same time to which he belonged; and that no legislative means by which a roundabout trade could be accomplished, would do any good to a country which proposed in such a manner to restrict the will of the merchant. The merchant took the path that led to riches, and therefore to the prosperity of the country. He could not conclude without expressing his extreme astonishment at the new class of authorities which the noble Lord had quoted. It was said that adversity brought men acquainted with strange bed-fellows, and he supposed that it was the straits into which the noble Lord's party had fallen, that had led them to take this course; but he certainly never did expect to find the noble Lord, the leader of what was now called the great aristocratic party of this country, quoting the democratic Jefferson, Madison, and Washington as authorities. As the noble Lord had begun to study them, however, he hoped he would go further. If he did, he would find much that would militate against his most cherished opinions, and the noble Lord would be led to conclusions which he would certainly regard as very dangerous, being of a democratic tendency. It was impossible to refrain from expressing astonishment at the new light which had fallen on the noble Lord. Even at that late hour he could not allow the noble Lord's statements to pass without making the few desultory remarks he had offered to the House; but if the noble Lord agreed to postpone the question, he promised the noble Lord an adequate reply.


rose and said, that he did not oppose the Motion, as his right hon. Friend had intimated to the noble Lord ten days ago, that he had no objection to it. His sole reason in rising now, was to add to the list of papers required, and to move for the despatches of the Colonial Secretary in reply to those for which the noble Lord had moved, and which, if produced, would tend to the elucidation of the question. Among them there was a despatch from the Secretary for the Colonies upon the subject of this duty of 3s. a quarter on the wheat imported through Canada from the United States, which would put the House in possession of the sentiments of Her Majesty's Government on that part of the question. As the hon. and learned Member for Bath had observed, we had had no information from Canada for several weeks, and though the mail was arrived, still the Government had as yet received no official information on the subject. The noble Lord commenced his speech by stating, that the question assumed a peculiar degree of importance in consequence of the news published this morning of the signal defeat of the Government in Canada, and the "rejection of Sir Robert Peel's policy" by the Legislative Assembly of Canada; but he would find in the first place, that the question under the consideration of the Legislative Assembly was not connected with the measures proposed by the Government for the adoption of this House; and, if he looked at the evening papers of to-day, he would find that, though the adjournment was carried by a majority of seven, the news from Montreal to the 24th of April, showed that the Assembly had passed the Bill for repealing the duty of 3s. on wheat imported into Canada. Had the question come before the House at an earlier period of the evening, he should have entered into an examination of the statements of the noble Lord; but at this hour of the morning, and as there was no objection to produce the Papers, he would not trespass further on the attention of the House. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving, in addition, for the following— Copy of a Despatch from Mr. Secretary Glad- stone to the Earl Cathcart, dated Downing Street, the 3rd day of March, 1846. Copy or Extract of a Despatch from Mr. Secretary Gladstone to the Earl Catheart, dated Downing Street, the 3rd day of February, 1846, No. 19. Copy of a Despatch from Mr. Secretary Gladstone to the Earl Cathcart, dated Downing Street, the 4th day of May, 1846.


rose to correct some misapprehensions which the hon. Member for Bath had fallen into. The hon. Gentleman forgot that, long before the introduction of the Canada Corn Bill, that Colony had a material advantage over foreign countries in respect to the trade in corn. The hon. Member said, that the Gentlemen sitting around him (Mr. Hinde) were opposed to the relaxation of the duty on Canada corn; whereas the fact was, that they were among its most strenuous supporters. True, some of them opposed the Canada Corn Bill; but that was on the ground that the passing of that measure would open a door to the smuggling of corn into Canada from the United States. He and his Friends were by no means prepared to give the Canadas free trade with all the world; and he would ask Her Majesty's Government if they were prepared to do so? They had a right to know what were the sentiments of the Government with regard to the colonial system and the colonial policy of the country. And he hoped the House would compel the Government to answer this question—"What did they mean to do with the Colonies?" What did they expect to result from their present measures as far as the poor Colonies were concerned? And what did they think would be the value of those Colonies? The hon. Member for Bath said, "It is true our exports to Canada are very large, but Canada is only the means by which we introduce these exports into the United States." He (Mr. Hinde) did not care one farthing what became of our exports, so that we had Canada as the means either of consuming them herself, or of introducing them to the States. But what would become of this trade for our exports, if the measures of the Government had the effect of depriving Canada and ourselves of the means of introducing them into the United States? He begged the House and the Government, therefore, to pause and consider the effect which their measures were likely to have on the Canadas and our Colonies generally. Her Majesty's Government had boasted, and they certainly had some ground for the boast, that they had the support of the shipping interest; but he was much mistaken if the right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Clerk) did not find that those accounts, of which he had spoken, struck dismay into the shipowners of the United Kingdom.

The Motion agreed to, with the addition proposed by Sir G. Clerk.

House adjourned at half-past One o'clock.