I wish to ask a question of the government. I notice in the Toronto ' Daily Star ' an item headed:
Message to Canada from United States lost
for ten Days-Tariff Experts at Washington had Trunks packed waiting for Repfy
from Ottawa that never came-Criticism of British Embassy, which mailed Message-Canadian Attache needed.
Another paper contains the following item in reference to this despatch:
Where we Need a Man.
The Toronto ' Star ' prints a despatch from a correspondent in Washington which lets a little light into the darkness of this difficulty which sprang up so suddenly ten days ago over the question of tariff relations between the two countries. It seems that the American authorities, when they entered on then-work, issued a statement of their operations to the representatives of the countries that might be interested. Naturally, the British Embassy was the only place to serve nptifaca-tion respecting Canada. After waiting a while, not getting any answer, the Americans, with that courtesy which is bred of business training and the business man's allowance for unexplainable accidents, inquired again. Then it appeared that, in Mr. Bryce's absence in the West Indies, the best the British Embassy could do was to write over to the foreign office to see whether this was to be handled on the basis of four trips across the Atlantic between letter and answer, or whether it would be all right for Canadians to handle the business themselves. Fortunately, the foreign office very sensibly left it to Canada herself to settle with the States, and this answer came along about the time the Auipri-cans made their second inquiry. This time Canada was notified, but in the circumstances everybody was afraid to move, because on the one side it looked, from the newspapers, as if Canada was expected to dance to the II ash-ington piping, and on the other side as if Mr. Fielding was on his high horse and wouluii t deign to notice the existence of our big neighbour. By dint of applying good humour and common sense the situation has now been straightened out. But-
If Sir Wilfrid Laurier had to make this week the speech he made one day before Christmas, he might not be quite so certain that the presence of a Canadian representative in Washington is wholly unnecessary in face of the efficiency of the British Embassy. It doesn't so much matter what his title might be, or in what order he would walk in to dinner, but if we had had one reasonably intelligent Canadian stationed in Washington this incident need never have occurred. As it is, apparently nothing but the civility of some democratic American officials saved us from having to argue the case with the maximum rates standing against us. The double crossing of the ocean as a route of communication between Washington and Ottawa is a very interesting survival, but really it isn't business, and it had better be eliminated in the interest of economy. I
I also notice in another paper of an earlier date, referring to the Canadian office in Belgium, and the Canadian offices in Australia, and other places, an article. I ask the government if it is not about time that we should have a business agent in Washington, our nearest trade neighbour.