I believe, Mr. Speaker, that it is a well recognized fact that there is a certain peculiar spirit of generosity which frequently pervades the mind of the victor in the hour of his victory, and I think the hon. members on this side of the House will be generous enough and candid enough to acknowledge the many, grave difficulties which involved their opponents and against which their opponents were compelled to contend, not only in the recent general election, but likewise in the general election of 1896. We will remember that in 1896 our opponents were a government battling against adversity and in 1900 they were an opposition battling against prosperity. While there was a marked similarity in the difficulties of the two situations, there was a marked dissimilarity in the conditions under which they were forced to contend. I am satisfied that neither of these difficult positions-neither that of 1896 nor that of 1900-was the result of deliberate choice, these were rather the result of what I might term the admixture of fault and of misfortune. It was largely fault In 1896, and it was largely misfortune in 1900 which compelled hon. gentlemen opposite to labour under those unfavourable conditions. At this distance of time we have probably grown more candid than we were immediately after the event and I think it will now be readily assented to on all hands, that if the prevailing commercial distress in Canada for two or three years prior to 1896 was not wholly the result, it was very largely the result of the misdirected efforts of the Conservative administration of that day. And though we may not as readily admit it to-day, I believe that in two or three years, when we have grown more candid, we will admit that the very marked prosperity in Canada to-day, if not entirely, is very largely the result of the well-directed efforts of the administration of this day. Of lion, members opposite one might be permitted to say that their difficulty as a government in 1898 was to excuse adversity, while their difficulty as an opposition in 1900 was to explain away prosperity : and in order to achieve this end with as little injury as possible to the credit of the government of 1896 and to allow as little credit as possible to the government of 1900, they boldly proclaimed to the people that these very wide-apart conditions of commerce in this country were not the result of the acts or omission of any government, but were entirely the result of the prevailing trade conditions throughout the world. Their argument in a reduced form was simply this, that depression throughout the world renders Canadian success impossible, and commercial prosperity throughout the world renders depression in this country impossible. Now, Sir, while that argument might be applied to some countries, it is, in my humble opinion in the case of Canada, a thoroughly fallacious and
perhaps pernicious one, and one not likely to inspire any very great confidence in the future of the country.
I do not offer these remarks, Sir, in any spirit of unkind criticism, nor with the idea of exciting discussion upon them; hut I oiler them more as a prelude to a statement which I would now venture to make. Whether it has arisen from the course of hon. gentlemen opposite, whether, perhaps, in some degree it may have arisen from the course of hon. gentlemen on this side of the House during their somewhat prolonged training as an opposition, or whether it arises entirely from other causes, there is in Canada an opinion of some prevalence which I think should be discouraged; that is, that trade conditions in this country are almost entirely dominated or controlled by trade conditions throughout the world-that the world's prosperity is necessary to ensure Canadian success, and that world-wide trade depression will involve this country in calamity as surely as night follows day. Now, Sir, I for one most emphatically dissent from a proposition involving such a wholesale admission that the trade conditions of this country are so entirely dependent upon foreign conditions. While it would be unreasonable to argue that we can pursue the even tenor of our way in peace and plenty, absolutely indifferent to or independent of external conditions, what I do maintain is this, that Canada should be far less dependent upon external conditions than almost any other nation in the world. Be the world's distress as marked as it may be, that is no conclusive reason why with reasonably progressive and able government, Canada should not at all times and under all circumstances enjoy a very fair measure of prosperity, and no period of prolonged or marked distress at all. I do not believe we shall ever go seriously behind the proud record which has been established in the last few years. Certain it is that without the very grossest mismanagement and incapacity, Canada will never be relegated to that humiliating, that melancholy condition through which Canadians made so gallant a struggle for two or three years prior to 1896.
I do not make these remarks in any spirit of idle boasting. I believe the position is well backed up by the facts. I feel that we occupy a position of superior advantage to that of other commercial nations, and superior advantage to that of our chief trade competitor, the United States. Hon. members know far better than I do the facts and reasons that go to prove the truth of this assertion. I can only mention a few of them, and discuss them most superficially.
In the first place, we are a very new and young country. National youth may involve some disabilities; but it has compensating advantages, and Canada's youth is by no
means the least of her advantages. We have an intelligent and educated population, and a population capable of great adaptability ; and that is a great thing in a country offering such a diversity of opportunity as Canada offers.
Then, Sir, a more important reason is that we have untold natural wealth. The natural wealth of this country is its reserve capital, a capital which has hardly yet been drawn upon at all-resources, not piled in impossible situations, not stored under impossible conditions, but for the most part ready for the hand of man. Take not only the fact that we have these resources, but consider the nature of the resources. Look at the natural products of the country, look at all the products of the country, if you will, and what will strike one who examines the trade reports is the very great proportion of our total trade which is made up of that class of commerce which the world deems necessaries, and the relatively small proportion of our trade which is made up of that class of commerce which the world calls luxuries. Older countries claiming greater refinement and larger riches, go into the production of luxuries to a far greater extent than a new country does; and in a moment of world-wide depression that country which produces luxuries is the country first to suffer, while the country which produces the prime necessaries of life, as Canada does in abundance, will be the last country in the world to feel the depression. There will never be a time, Sir, when the people do not want bread, meat, and the other food products which this country offers. There will never be a time when the commercial requirements of the age will not demand iron, steel, timber, fuel and the like articles of prime necessity which Canada can supply in abundance.
Then, Sir, as another reason why we occupy so essentially good a position, consider the natural advantages of the country. Take the great waterways extending from the very heart of the country to the seaboard; improved, it is true, by artificial means involving great expenditure, but now forming a reasonably complete system from the centre of the country to the Atlantic ocean. If there is one thing which the government of the day, and perhaps parliament, may take credit for, it is the manner in which they have viewed the question of transportation in recent years. I do not think anything has been done in recent years that has been more appreciated by the people of Canada than the wise expenditure which has taken place in bettering the transportation facilities of this country. The man who ten years ago would predict that raw fruit grown in Canada would be exhibited in Europe and carry off many of the leading prizes there, would have been looked upon as an idle dreamer: yet. Sir, in this first year of the new century, that is an accomplished fact; and that fact alone
opens up boundless possibilities for the future trade of this country.
These are some of the reasons why I claim that Canada occupies a position of pre-eminent advantage. I know that it may be said that all I have advanced may be advanced equally on behalf of our great trade competitor, the United States. It may be said that they have an intelligent people, great resources and great waterways, that they produce an abundance of the necessaries of life, and still that country does suffer from periods of marked depression- why not Canada ? Well, Sir, while a few years ago that might be an argument, almost a conclusive argument, against us, the relative position has since become changed and no longer can it be seriously advanced. There was, a few years ago, some degree of parallel, but we have reached a point when there is no longer any parallel between the two situations. We have now, I maintain, a position of far greater advantage than that enjoyed by the United States. It took us a long time to recognize that we had such a position and to appreciate it, but now that we have given due recognition to the fact, each succeeding year will magnify that advantage. Just so long as Great Britain continues to be the great commercial centre of the world, just so long as she continues the dominant factor in the money markets of the world, just so long as we find in her one of the great consuming, powers -the great publishing and distributing power in the world's commerce-and just so long as we maintain our present trade relations with the mother land, Canada is bound to enjoy a pre-eminent advantage over her chief trade competitor.
We have always been a part of the British Empire, relatively speaking, for a century and a half at least, we have been a part of that system, but the bond between the mother land and the colony has been, for the greater part, one of sentiment. It was one which afforded us sentimental gratification, it is true. We were delighted that we were British subjects, living under British rule, enjoying British institutions, but beyond that sentimental gratification, tiie bond was a very vague and visionary affair. Well, Mr. Speaker, we still enjoy that sentimental gratification and have increased it a hundredfold, but we have today besides a still stronger bond-the material bond of commercial advantage.
Now, if you will permit me I will for a moment go back a little to advert briefly to what many of us, myself included, looked upon as a sort of crisis in the affairs of this country. I refer to that period of time when the United States adopted towards Canada what many looked upon as a distinctly hostile tariff. I think it was in 1891 that the McKinley tariff was first put in force, and while I have no doubt that there is a uniform opinion in Canada to-day that the ideal trade condition both for
Topic: '23 COMMONS