August 31, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa


Mr. BOURASSA asked :

Did His Excellency the Governor General express the opinion of his advisers, or did he speak on his own personal responsibility, when he addressed the banquet of the Chambers of Commerce of the Empire, at Montreal, on the 20th of this month, and especially when he uttered these words :
' Now, gentlemen, in looking forward to this great coming discussion, there is one point which must appeal pre-eminently to a gathering such as this-the future relations between the motherland and her dependencies-the possibility, and in an imperial sense, the necessity, I say it most strongly, for closer commercial relations in respect to an interchange of trade in preferential conditions between the old country and her possessions beyond the seas- a problem surrounded by difficulties, domestic, imperial and foreign, but on the solution of which I firmly believe the future of our empire depends.
' I have already said we have a great problem before us, the solution of which must depend largely on the researches of experts, and on such well thought out opinions as the delegates of such a congress as is assembled here can give to the public.
* I hope possibly that their discussions may not only have tended to suggest a commercial basis upon which the unity of the empire may rest, but may have impressed upon the public the necessity for some system of common defence to insure its safety from attack.
* No one who has watched the history of the Uuited Kingdom and its possesions for the last few' years, can have failed to note the growth of a great imperial idea, the wish for a closer union between the old country and her dependencies for sentimental reasons, for the sake of trade and prosperity, and for the sake of common defence.
' Gentlemen, it is impossible to foretell the issue of the coming struggle, but in my firm belief we stand very near the parting of the ways. Our opportunity is before us, it may never come again. What is to be our choice- a mighty empire, a brilliant constellation of nations, united in common interests, disseminating throughout the world the spirit of free institutions and liberal ideas; proud of a glorious

history, and confident in the promises of its future-or the gradual estrangement of that empire's component parts, and its ultimate disintegration ?
' This is not the time to sit down and fold one's hands. It is time for those who believe in the future of our empire to speak about it.'

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