February 28, 1911 (11th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)



The hon. member for Victoria and Haliburton says ' hear, hear.' I am glad to agree with him, I sat for many years in this House with Sir Charles Tupper, and I recognized him as one of the

greatest statesmen of Canada at that time, a man who took a statesmanlike view of public affairs, a man with' a great gift of expression, a man who could express himself clearly, and I take no shame to myself in acknowledging that 1 cannot express what I desire to place before the House, as well as Sir Charles Tupper has expressed it in the words which I am about to read. These words, I hope, will carry conviction to my hon. friend from Halibur-ton (Mr. Hughes), and other hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House, who, perhaps would not be convinced by any words whicli I might utter:
I have told you what position Canada stood in with regard to the United States of America before the initiation of these proceedings. I have told you that we stood face to face with an enactment which had been put on the statute-book by a unanimous vote of Congress, ratified by the President, providing for non-intercourse between the United States and Canada. I need not tell you that that Kill meant commercial war, that it meant not only the ordinary suspension of friendly feeling and intercourse between two countries, but that it involved much more than that. If that Bill had been brought into operation by the proclamation of the President of the United States, I have no hesitation in saying that we stood in the relation to tbat great country of commercial war, and the line is very narrow which separates a commercial war between two countries from an actual war. Speaking a year ago, I pointed out in my remarks, with a view to prevent the possibility of such an Act going into force, all the advantages that in our present position we could avail ourselves of to protect ourselves against such an unfriendly act on the part of the United States. I said then that it would be a mad Act. I say so now. No man who knows anything of the intimate commercial relations which exist between Canada and the United States could contemplate such an Act going into operation without feeling that it would tear up from the foundation those intimate social and commercial relations which exist between these two countries, which, in friendly commercial rivalry, are making rapid progress which has attracted the attention of the civilized world. It would produce a condition of things the end of which no man could foresee. If that Act had been adopted, we had no means of looking to any increased commercial intercourse between that great country and the Dominion of Canada. Under those circumstances, it behooved the government of Canada to adopt any means in its power to avert such a disaster, which, great as it would have been to Canada, would have been still greater to the United States. But it would be a very poor compensation for the injury which we would sustain, to know that we had a companion in misfortune suffering more than we suffered ourselves.
Those words, with some slight change, according to the circumstances and conditions, might be applied absolutely to the Mr. FISHER.
state of affairs last winter as between the United States and Canada. I venture to think that if the Liberal-Conservative party to-day do not appreciate and understand those words and are not imbued and impressed by them, they have fallen far below the statesmen of the older generation, who led the great Conservative party of that time, and who, I grant fully and freely to-day, did good things and did great things for Canada, according to their lights and 'according to their policy. At the time that Sir Charles Tupper used those words, he was standing at the right hand of Sir [DOT]John Macdonald-Sir John Macdonald, the great flag-waving First Minister of Canada, the man who, all through his career, said that he was a British subject born and that he would die a British subject.

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