The whole Dominion of Canada in a general sense has had what some have called a free trade policy. We had free trade, some people may say, in the lower provinces before confederation, but we had a 15 per cent tariff. Sir John Macdonald was supposed to be, up to a certain point, a free trader, but he had a tariff of 15 and 171 per cent. It is nonsense to talk of the abstract questions of free trade and protection in the face of the record of this country, for there has always been a considerable tariff and there is likely to be for a considerable time to come. I do not know of anybody who has been advocating free trade of late years in the sense that the term is used in this House, unless it be my hon. friend from Pictou (Mr. Bell) whose words were quoted tonight. I did not intend to refer to this, but I do not know of any man in the whole province of Nova Scotia who could be called a radical free trader, unless the speech of my hon. friend (Mr. Bell) is to be taken as a pronouncement of his views on that question.
policy of the government is set forth line upon line, figure upon figure, every item of it, and not one of the hon. gentlemen |o5>
posite has ever dared to put on the paper an item as to what their policy is. Hon. gentlemen opposite indulge in vague and general statements, but they shrink from the announcement of any particular rate of duty to be levied on any particular article. Tiie country knows that such 1ms been their record.
But one is curious to know why this resolution comes here to-night. There was a time, not so long ago either, when the relations on this question ns on other questions, of hon. gentlemen opposite and the member for St. Mary's were not as pleasant and as kindly as they are now, and in these days the hon. gentleman (Hon. Mr. Tarte) was called the master of the administration.
We had a great debate on this question and all these great issues were presented to the House some weeks ago. The leader of the opposition, I have no doubt after full consultation with his friends and associates as lie properly might have, propounded his policy. He prepared a resolution ; he brought it forward here in connection with the budget debate. That was the policy of the opposition then. But the hon. member for St. Mary's comes in and says: Oh, you are all wrong, you don't know how to frame a policy for the opposition ; you have used words and expression# which will not meet the wishes of the people, and you cannot win on a policy like that; but I will teach you a great plan.
The member for St. Mary's said to them : You may bring forward your motion and talk about that, but bye and bye I will come forward and I will teach you what is the true Conservative policy. And so the member for St. Mary's brings forward his motion and the opposition humbly accept it, and the leader of the opposition is going to be a follower of the mover of that motion.