The Empire and the century/The Future of Canada

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THE FUTURE OF CANADA

By W. PETERSON


Though the record of the 'Deeds that won the Empire' may now be considered closed, Britain has still a great work in front of her—the work of Imperial organization, consolidation, and, if possible, federation. To ridicule this aspiration, and to pronounce it unrealizable, on the ground that the achievement would be altogether without historic parallel, is a cheap and easy form of selfishness. It betrays the limitation of outlook, the want of imagination, which is one of the main defects, for all its sturdiness, of the Anglo-Saxon character. No doubt there are difficulties to be surmounted, and adverse conditions to be overcome. It may be true that the Empire, as we know it to-day, is 'anomalous' and 'amorphous.' But there are many of us— not unfamiliar with the records of the past, or the circumstances of the present time—who feel confident that, if it were possible to forecast the judgment of history, it would be found to be against a policy of drift, or 'let well alone.'

In the mission of further consolidation we start with one great point in our favour. It is by no means to its disadvantage or discredit that the British Empire is not altogether as other Empires have been. It was by the sword that old Rome, for instance, held what by the sword she had won. To her modern successor and representative has been left the glory of reconciling the two elements, which many of Rome's subjects found incompatible—'Empire' and 'liberty.' A Constitution which secures equal rights for all under the ample folds of the British flag has given a new meaning to the old motto, 'Imperium et Libertas.' Never before in history has the unique spectacle been presented to the world of sovereignty wielded by the parent State on the slender basis of mutual consent. The philosophic spectator of all time and all existence may wonder, perchance, what changes the future has in store for the teeming millions of British India, which is still a dependency in the true sense of the word. Such speculation is equally applicable, on a lower political level, to the native races of South Africa, and even to the negro population of the United States. But if Britain's Imperial temper remains as it has been—and there is little danger of any change—the element of the consent of the governed will never be lost sight of. India is in a state of tutelage, and for the rest the Empire may be aptly described as a system of democratic republics under the gentle sovereignty of the Mother-land. By the admission, even of those who love it least, it has stood in the main for justice and liberty, for honest and efficient administration, for the expansion of freedom of trade, and for a strict and scrupulous impartiality between races and religions. If these had not been its strongest pillars, the loosely-compacted structure which we know to-day would hardly have stood the test of time.


How Canada was obtained.

Whatever may be the ultimate destiny of Canada, she will never have cause to regret that she grew up with the Empire. The story of that growth cannot be told, even in outline, without reference to the history of the two nations whose friendship is to-day one of our greatest Imperial assets—France and the United States. It was her successful termination of the long wars against Napoleon that secured to England her remaining possessions in North America, in spite of the somewhat unfriendly inroad of 1812, made in the name of freedom by the youthful Republic to the South; and the subsequent development of the Dominion is bound up with two factors which past history has rendered essential and indispensable, viz.: First, harmonious cooperation between the two races, which the conquest of Canada left in possession of the soil; and, secondly, ungrudging recognition on the part of the United States that there is ample room on the North American Continent for the evolution of a political ideal, a type of citizenship, and a pattern of civilization, somewhat different from its own.

Space cannot be found here for more than the barest reference to the story of the conquest of Canada, though it is one which is highly gratifying to British pride. At first the greatest gainers by the downfall of New France were our own Colonies in New England. The deliberate attempt to keep these Colonies cooped up along a comparatively narrow seaboard was foiled by Wolfe's capture of Quebec. That heroic achievement, which was only part of a wider struggle in two hemispheres at once, decided the future of the whole Continent of North America. It may be said also to have led up to the American War of Independence. For, if success had not crowned the British arms in the previous struggle, the thirteen Colonies would have had their hands full in keeping the French at bay, and would have had still to rely on British support. Destiny had decreed, however, that New France should survive on the American Continent enshrined mainly in the institutions and traditions of the Canadian Province of Quebec. Everyone is aware how different has been the fate of the region which is known as the State of Louisiana in the American Union.

One of the untoward results of the American Revolution was the dualism which it set up between the new Republic and the British possessions on its northern border. At the time of the conquest, Canada, and what was then known as Acadia, contained only a handful of about 60,000 settlers, and it is the best possible evidence of the essential equity of the new British administration that these French-Canadians resisted every temptation to join hands with the revolting Colonies. As a consequence, Canada came to be something of a thorn in the side of George Washington. Indeed, he prophesied that the country to the north would be a source of trouble to the Union, and might bring it even to the verge of war. Washington's inability to appreciate the point of view of the United Empire Loyalists is, perhaps, the only regrettable feature in the career of one whom many Britons would be glad to claim as one of their national heroes. The persecutions which the United Empire Loyalists had to undergo at the hands of their insurgent fellow-citizens should not be overlooked in the story of the early days of what is now the Canadian Dominion. For conscience' sake they forsook all and fled, making their way mainly into what we now know as Ontario, as well as into Acadia and the Maritime Provinces. These Ontario settlers had the opportunity, however, of adding a glorious page to their country's annals by the resistance they offered to the American invasion of 1812-1815. They were no more numerous then than the French-Canadians had been at the time of the conquest, and yet they succeeded in showing that the war party in the United States, with its raucous cry of 'On to Canada!' had made as great a miscalculation of actual conditions as Carthage, when she fancied that the invading Hannibal would be able to draw away the Italian tribes from their allegiance to Rome. The story of this short war is full of the record of the prowess of Canadians, English, French, Scotch, Irish, and Indian. And as their successes secured the country from further organized attack, the significance of such engagements as those of Queenston Heights and Chrystler's Farm, and Lundy's Lane and Chateauguay, should be correctly appreciated by all who wish to understand the story of our Imperial development, or the strain of heroic character which is leavening the nationality of Canada.

The subsequent history of the country is mainly a record of the steady growth of self-government, interrupted by periods of political strife, and even rebellion, which only resulted in hastening that consolidation in which the country rejoices now as the joint result of Canadian patience and the British instinct of political wisdom. It is no longer with isolated portions of an undefined territory, but with one of the most remarkable federations of modern times, stretching from ocean to ocean in the shape of the Canadian Dominion, that we have to do when we think of 'Canada and her Future.'

What the Empire is doing for Canada.

Amongst the advantages which the Empire confers on Canada, there is the beneficial influence of the Crown, which has meant a good deal in the development of the constitution, both in itself and also in the succession of able and distinguished Governors-General by whom it has been represented in Canada. Another obvious advantage is the security conferred on trade and commerce, and on the national interests of the country generally, by Great Britain's command of the seas. On this subject something will be said later on; meanwhile, the authority may be quoted of a Canadian expert. Major William Wood, of the 8th Royal Rifles, who lately penned the following sentence: 'And so whenever Canadians look outward to those long, open sea-ways, where half their wealth and credit is continually afloat among the great mail-fisted nations of the world, they still may have the satisfaction of knowing that they remain secure under the guardian care of that "British" navy to whose support they have, as yet, given no single item from all their national resources—not a ship, not a dollar, not a man.'

This extract may serve to secure an indulgent hearing for a good deal that has to be entered on the other side of the account. For there are directions in which England could do more for Canada than she is doing at present, partly in regard to feeling and sentiment, partly in more concrete matters. To take the latter first. The recent exposure by Sir George Drummond of certain postal anomalies, and their effects, is not considered in Canada to have been adequately met by Lord Stanley's reply that it would cost too much to remedy them. For example, the postage rate on newspapers, magazines, etc., from Canada to England is only ½ cent per pound, whereas that from England to Canada is no less than 8 cents per pound, and the rate to Canada from the United States is 1 cent per pound. In view of the flooding of the Canadian market by cheap American literature, or English periodicals dressed up with American advertisements, it was quite natural that the Canadian Senate should unanimously affirm the desirability of applying the preferential principle to the postal charges for the conveyance of inter-Imperial mails, and it may be hoped that when the British Post-Office has had a little more time to work out the question of ways and means, something will be done to conciliate Canadian opinion in a matter which bears so powerfully on the spread of Imperial feeling and sentiment. The fact ought not to be overlooked, though it seems so far to have escaped notice, that the Canadian Post-Office has to carry its mail matter on an average some 2,000 miles, as against, at the highest figure, an average of 200 miles in England. Receiving nothing for the delivery of the mails from outside, it therefore performs a more onerous service on every pound of mail matter. Again, more might probably have been done also by the home authorities in times past to direct the stream of emigration from the Old Country to Canada's shores. The consideration that British emigrants to Canada, besides receiving substantial land grants, do not need to make any change of allegiance, hardly seems to have been allowed its full force hitherto. But organized effort is now accomplishing greater results, and the immediate future will show the extent to which the Old Country, as well as Canada, may benefit by the increased prosperity of settlers who do not go outside the limits of the Empire. Again, when Canadians note the violation of the rigid rules of orthodox economics involved in the subsidy recently voted to Atlantic liners to United States ports, they are inclined to argue that not much harm would be done by a further extension of the system to steamship lines that are British owned and that ply within the British Empire, Generous mail subsidies, such as the Annual Reports of the United States Commissioner of Navigation show to be quite common in other countries, would enable Canada to put on a trans-atlantic service equal or superior to that of the United States, and thus secure to her the advantage of her geographical position. Even some economic excesses would be pardoned to the Home Government by way of atonement for the deplorable lack of imagination and foresight shown some forty years ago—as, for example, when British statesmen solemnly bound Great Britain to give Germany equal rights with herself in the Canadian market. That may be mentioned here, because the denunciation of the German treaty stands to England's credit in her more recent dealings with her greatest and most prosperous Colony. Again, it might have been expected, in view of the close relations between the two countries, that British capital would by this time have got over its shyness of sound Canadian investments. Money is needed for the expansion of industry; for the development of agriculture and forest lands; of copper, coal, nickel, and other mines; of fisheries, etc.; and it is a matter of great regret that, when British capital could be judiciously expended, Americans should be getting so firm a hold on the best investments that offer. Nothing need be said here about the possibility that the Old Country may be led in some way to reciprocate the Canadian preference. That would lead us into the heart of the Fiscal Problem, which would demand a paper to itself. Besides, the almost unanimous attitude of Canadians is that this is a question which must be left to Great Britain itself. They are glad that it is leading their kinsfolk at home to take a larger interest in the questions of the Empire and the elements of Imperial well-being and progress.

What is sometimes referred to in Canada as British inertia in the field of action is, however, of little account, after all, alongside of the increased feeling of kindliness and brotherhood which is the fruit of closer relations and better knowledge. Canada is much more to England nowadays than a 'few acres of snow,' a land with an arctic temperature sheeted in perpetual ice! Improved communications and the spread of information are doing their work. Recognition should be made here of the efforts put forth at home by such organizations as the Victoria League, the League of the Empire, and others. Under such influences the type of Briton will soon entirely disappear that goes on stolidly affixing a 2½d. stamp to his letters, with the direction, 'Canada, U.S.A.'!

What Canada is doing for the Empire.

As it is desirable to be quite definite under this head, a series of statements is here made which, it is hoped, will find general acceptance. The important issue of a contribution to Imperial Defence will be dealt with in the concluding section.

1. It may be said, to begin with, that Canada serves the Empire by preserving and continuing the tradition of loyalty, and that her readiness to remain in partnership is an undoubted source of prestige, as well as of military advantage. Especially, in view of her now rapid growth in wealth, population, and national spirit, the Dominion may be said to be adding daily to the resources of the Empire.

2. As an excellent field for emigration, Canada furnishes Great Britain with an outlet for her surplus population. A grant of 160 acres of farm-lands is made by the Colonial Government to bonâ-fide settlers in the North-West. In this way the Dominion plays a special part in providing ground for the expansion of the Empire. For, without any change of allegiance, the British emigrant finds in his new home opportunities of improving his condition which he could never have enjoyed in the land of his birth. The race is renewed by contact with the soil of a new country, and the old land profits by the increased prosperity of its Imperial offshoots.

3. Canada furnishes a field for the investment of British capital, still under the flag.

4. In the militia of the Dominion Canada maintains a force of approximately 40,000 volunteers, of whom about 1,500 are enrolled in permanent corps for instructional purposes. This small permanent force, which is practically composed of regulars, will be increased to 4,000 by the change to be mentioned in the next section. It should also be stated that, through the commissions given every year to the most successful cadets of the Royal Military College at Kingston, Canada has contributed something also to the personnel of the British army. This privilege will, it is understood, be extended in the near future to the Canadian Universities as well.

5. The Dominion Government has arranged to maintain Halifax and Esquimault henceforward at their present standard of equipment, for the use of British ships of war. The equipment includes unlimited steaming coal, and it is understood that the resultant expenditure will be some $2,000,000 in the coming fiscal year.

6. Apart from such undertakings and obligations, the Canadian people showed, by their spontaneous action during the South African War, with all the possibilities for the future which it implied, that they might be counted on in an emergency.

7. At a cost of heavy subsidies, Canada has provided, in the Canadian Pacific Railway, a transcontinental road that will be available, when necessary, for the transport of British troops and munitions to the East. Moreover, in the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific she will have completed before very long a parallel road sufficiently remote from the American frontier to render relatively small the risk of its being cut. And as these roads may become specially valuable in time of war, so also in time of peace they will be increasingly used by travellers from the outskirts of the Empire, who will gladly avail themselves of improved means of intercommunication to travel by an 'all-British route.'

8. In providing five-eighteenths of the cost of the Transpacific cable—a line constructed primarily in the strategic and commercial interests of Great Britain—Canada paid even more than her share. Australia pays six-eighteenths, and New Zealand two-eighteenths.

9. Canada has shown her willingness to strengthen trade relations by granting a rebate of one-third of the Customs duties not only to Great Britain and Ireland, but also to New Zealand, Cape Colony, Natal, the Transvaal, and the Orange River Colony and the West Indies. Under this preference British imports into Canada have greatly increased of recent years, though it must be remembered that other nations have by no means stood still. Perhaps the best way of realizing the extent of the boon would be to inquire where—in the face of their competition—British trade would have been without the preference. It may be stated here that Canadian opinion seems to be almost solid in favour of the expediency of a preferential tariff.

10. Last comes the question of a contribution to Imperial revenues, in return for the services rendered to Canada by the army, the navy, the consular service, and the diplomatic corps. This is not so easy a matter as might appear on the surface. It is generally discussed in connection with the navy only, and here it will be as well to begin with the facts.

The following figures are taken from the Canadian Almanac for 1905 (pp. 133, 134):

Contributions to Naval Defence.

£
India 103,400
Australia 200,000
New Zealand 40,000
Cape Colony 50,000
Natal 35,000
Newfoundland 3,000
Canada Nothing
  Total Colonial contribution   431,400
  Total naval estimates (1904-1905)  £38,300,000


These are the facts. What is the explanation? We may begin by setting aside certain suggested explanations, which mean nothing. The Canadian Government itself did not reap great glory when it sent word to London, before the last Colonial Conference, that its delegates would not be prepared to discuss Imperial Defence, because no one scheme of defence could be devised that would suit the different conditions of the outlying parts of the Empire. Nor will it do to say that the British navy is there, anyway, and that the expenditure on it would not be decreased even if Canada did not exist. Self-respecting Canadians like to pay their way in the world. There was an incident the other day in which a Halifax sealer was roughly handled at Montevideo, and which might have required the help not only of the British Diplomatic Corps, but also of a man-of-war. And not long ago, in one and the same issue of their morning papers, they read an account of a speech in which an Irish member took it upon him to declare in the House of Commons that Canada would never contribute to the navy, while in another column they read that the British Government had despatched a man-of-war to rescue certain Canadian missionaries from a place of danger on the Chinese coast. Moreover, Canada has been making strides in shipping, and is quite in a position to appreciate the fact that the navy is a national insurance, essential to the safety and welfare of the whole Empire.[1]

Again, we may reject as meaningless and insincere the statement that anything Canada could contribute would appear so infinitesimal alongside of the expenditure of the Mother-land that it would be hardly worth while to offer it.

In seeking to discover the real explanation of a phenomenon which certainly attracts attention and excites surprise in England, especially in view of Canada's loud protestations of affectionate loyalty, the following points seem worthy of some consideration:

(a) Notwithstanding the flourishing condition of the country, it contains, as yet, comparatively little realized wealth. It is potentially rich, but borrowed capital figures largely in the existing business situation. Moreover, it has not been accustomed to high taxation, which in new communities tends to check initiative and to retard industrial exploitation.

(b) Nor is it unfair to remind Canada's critics that the Dominion has been doing a great deal for the Empire in helping to build transcontinental railways, and to develop a good canal system. Considering that his ancestors started in the wilderness without capital only about a hundred years ago (with the exception of the Laurentian valley and one or two smaller districts) the average Canadian thinks that they, and he, have done a good deal to improve an important part of the British possessions.[2]

(c) Moreover, it was for long a ruling maxim in the diplomacy of the neighbouring republic that the American continent should keep clear of European complications, and the considerations which prompted this policy have always had great weight also throughout the Dominion. While the general march of events, as well as the contraction of the globe through rapid transit, militates strongly against this view, it is one which many cannot give up without regret.

(d) Then there is the attitude of a large section of the French-Canadians, whose services to the Empire entitle them to the greatest possible consideration. Their loyalty to British rule is cordially acknowledged; it is, in fact, assured by the solid advantages which they enjoy under the Constitution. But it is a loyalty to the status quo—a passive, rather than an active, loyalty. It cannot be wondered at that their training and sympathies have not led them, so far, to feel any great enthusiasm for British political ideals in the wider sense. They cherish local rather than Imperial ideals, and cultivate a national rather than an Imperial patriotism. For

this reason it cannot be said that French-Canadians as a unit would be likely to favour any movement in this direction at present.

(e) Apart from this factor, however, there is a residuum of difficulty which must be attributed to the Canadian feeling of nationhood — the desire to be something more than a 'colony,' a mere appanage of the Imperial system. Lord Dufferin (than whom no Governor-General ever did more for the British connection) became aware of this feeling as soon as he came to Canada, and discussed the subject in a most interesting letter to Lord Carnarvon (vide Sir Alfred Lyall's 'Life,' vol. i., pp. 229-231). The sentiment has no necessary connection with any vague or premature aspirations for 'independence.' It rather amounts to a tacit protest against any action that might tend to stereotype the present status of the Dominion as a protected dependency. From this point of view any taxation for Imperial purposes, however small, could hardly fail to raise the difficult questions of representation and the claim to have a fair share in the determination of Imperial policy. Its advocates would probably argue that it would be better to remain, as it were, in tutelage for a while longer, until the colonial phase of her history could be quite outgrown, and Canada, as a nation, could assume a fuller partnership than is possible at present in the duties and responsibilities of Empire, as well as in its profits and advantages.

Meanwhile, in spite of the fact that Canada has not yet come up to the level of Imperial expectations in this regard, the essential thing is that there never was a time at which the spirit of loyal attachment was deeper or more widely spread. It has shown itself in various ways, and it may be depended on to make itself felt in working out an eventual solution of the problem under consideration.

What Canada is to the Empire.

Thirty years ago Lord Dufferin, speaking, perhaps, to some extent by way of anticipation, said: 'There is not a man in England who does not understand, and to whose imagination it has not been forcibly brought home, that beyond the circuit of the narrow seas which confine this island, are vast territories, inhabited by powerful communities who are actuated by ideas similar to our own, who are proud to own allegiance to the British Crown, whose material resources are greater than those possessed by his own country, and whose ultimate power may perhaps exceed the power of Great Britain.' That is certainly how all Englishmen ought to feel towards their nearest, greatest, most powerful, and most prosperous Colony. And if such language was no more than the facts warranted some thirty years ago, how much more appropriate and forcible must it be held to-day!

It is a charge against Transatlantic habits of thought that too much is apt to be made of mere size; but it will, nevertheless, bear to be stated that the area of the Dominion is thirty-one times that of the United Kingdom, and twice that of Russia in Europe. It embraces 40 per cent. of the entire area of the British Empire.

Throughout this vast territory the outlook is such as to justify the oft-repeated boast that the twentieth century is to be with Canada. Last century was with the United States. And where the United States stood, say, forty years ago, there stands Canada to-day. Indeed, having regard to her splendid resources, to her growing population, to the facilities of transportation by land and sea, and to the increasing pressure on the means of subsistence in European countries, one is justified in considering it possible that within the next half century Canada may even outrival the experience of the United States in the rapidity of her general development. Any reluctance to realize and acknowledge the extent of the present growth of the Dominion—such as is occasionally met with south of the 'line '—should be set down at once as evidence of a wish that she should not falsify prophecy and disturb settled convictions by attaining to such development under her existing political conditions. In the statement that Canada 'would never amount to anything,' the wish has been, as a rule, father to the thought.

No country in the world has shown such increases in its trade and commerce during the past five years in proportion to the population. Within that period the figures for both exports and imports have nearly doubled.

But it is, of course, as the future granary of the Empire that Canada bulks most largely, on the material side, with the people of Great Britain. She has still some 250 million acres of the best agricultural land in the world to be taken up. There is a general consensus of opinion that it would be difficult to exaggerate the future of the Canadian North-West. A recent writer (Mr. A. G. Bradley) speaks of this great region as 'the home of the necessities, not the luxuries, of man; where beef, mutton, and pork, wheat, oats, and the main vegetables can all be produced of the highest quality, and in the greatest abundance; where the Northern races—nay, even Italians and Galicians for that matter—can thrive and flourish in an atmosphere conducive to their native vigour, and even stimulating to it.… There are very few sections of the United States that ever had such a prospect. … The northern limit of the farming belt, and of comfortable human settlement, has been indefinitely extended by a better knowledge of the country. Edmonton, hitherto a sort of northern ultima Thule will become a distributing point for vast regions far to the North and North-West, even to the fertile levels of the Peace River, where wheat is now known to grow as surely and as strongly as in Manitoba itself. Abundant water-power, ample timber, an almost universally flat, fertile, and extremely smooth-lying soil over a region half as big as Europe confronts us here.'

The potentialities of the region here referred to will inevitably remind the reader of Canadian interest in the Fiscal Problem. Whatever may be the issue of the controversy now current, it cannot be doubted that no question could be raised that is better fitted to give the masses of the people an effective training in economic and political problems. It is, in fact, a national and Imperial issue, which ought to be kept outside the range of party politics. Possibly it is not a Christian—for the matter of that, hardly even a Stoic—ideal that nation should be set against nation in the effort to make itself self-supporting. But the driving force of nationality counts for much in the commerce of the modern world, and if Great Britain should be led to depart from the orthodox principles of Free Trade, she will be able to console herself with the reflection that she was not the first. In Canada the prevailing opinion seems to be that there is really no inconsistency—in view of changed conditions—in holding that, while free imports was the true policy for England fifty years ago, something different may be called for to-day. The British working man, on the other hand, both in town and country, is obviously afraid of the dear loaf and of rising prices, which will tend to enrich the landlord and the manufacturer. And it is not easy to see how a country like Canada can reciprocate further than she has already done in advance. The desire of Canadians to manufacture for themselves, and to enjoy complete autonomy in industry and commerce, is undoubtedly a great factor in what has been referred to above as the modern spirit of Canadian nationality. The present attitude of the woollen and cotton manufacturers is enough to show that further tariff concessions are improbable. And any artificial attempt to divert, on a large scale, to Britain the trade which she at present fails to do with the Dominion would, at least as regards some items, involve a breach of the operation of natural economic laws. This is one of the most difficult features of the present situation. Of Canada's imports from the United States, about half consists of non-dutiable articles which could hardly come from elsewhere—certainly not from Britain, no matter how large a preference she might enjoy. But trade begets trade, and an English manufacturer of a certain line of machinery told the writer only the other day that he found it difficult to get orders in the Dominion: in such matters, he said, the Canadians are initiative, and prefer to supply themselves from the United States. There can be no doubt that, in spite of sentiment and adverse tariffs, a natural affinity in matters commercial exists between the two neighbouring peoples. This, however, cannot be held to invalidate the position that, in regard to the Colonies generally, it is the interest and duty of the Mother-land to make every legitimate effort to establish the closest possible commercial union. It stands to reason that the Colonies must increase in population more rapidly than other parts of the world, and the experience of the next twenty-five years is certain to show that it was worth while now to try to make their trade flow in home channels. It is from this point of view that the advocates of tariff reform and revision feel justified in arguing that it should be made an item in a well-considered system of constructive and progressive Imperial statesmanship.

And a closer commercial union—even if secured by treaties made with each of the Colonies separately—could not, after all, be scouted as a 'squalid' basis for the Imperial consolidation which is so much in men's thoughts to-day. In a recent article in the Monthly Review (January, 1905), Mr. Solano ably sustains the thesis that the history of British Imperial Dominion is practically one of the spread of civilization through economic expansion. 'To whatever accident the British owe their descent upon the various continents of the world, this fact is clear—that they have remained established upon them; that they continue, to-day, to spread over the face of them, by the force and virtue of economic activity.' The next chapter in the history of this economic activity, considered as a dynamic force for the spread of civilization, may well be an attempt to consolidate Imperial relations of trade. Certainly in Canada any well-considered policy that will promote commercial and industrial development will be welcomed by the whole body of the people. Reference was made in an earlier part of this paper to the attitude of the French-Canadians to this and other matters. It is fortunate in many ways that the destinies of the Dominion should be wielded at the present time by a French-Canadian Premier. Sir Wilfrid Laurier has spoken in favour of commercial treaties with the Mother-land; he is even on record as prepared to contemplate an evolution in which the federal idea will present itself quite naturally, when 'a Parliament will, perhaps, be created, in which both the Colonies and the Mother Country will be proportionally and equitably represented, and in which common interest will be discussed with full respect to the interest of each.'

It must be admitted, however, that here Sir Wilfrid Laurier has a more difficult part to play, as any active steps towards the realization of such an ideal would not be very acceptable to the general body of his French-Canadian fellow-countrymen. This is a subject which is generally spoken of, as it were, with bated breath. But there seems to be no good reason why the facts should not be stated quietly and dispassionately. They involve no discredit to an important and highly influential section of the Canadian people, whose long residence and varied political fortunes give it a claim to ample consideration in connection with any suggested constitutional change. No one who knows the circumstances of the Dominion would expect from French-Canadians the same interest in the affairs of the British Empire as from their English-speaking fellow-citizens. It is no disparagement to them to say that they do not 'come of the blood.' They are of another stock, and one well qualified to contribute to the common fund elements that might otherwise be lacking—social grace and vivacity, artistic and literary culture, and a spirit of happy contentment that furnishes a pleasing contrast to the rush of life on the American Continent Their position within the Empire is altogether unique, and at the same time profoundly interesting. They own a double allegiance: on the one hand to the British Crown, as the Power which guarantees them the free use and enjoyment of their institutions, their language, and their laws, and, on the other hand, to the traditions of their race, the memories of the country from whence they came, but from which they have long been politically separated, and the associations of a literature which they proudly claim as their part heritage. And behind, or even above, these allegiances is then devotion to the soil of Canada—their native land. To the French-Canadian 'Imperialism' has been made a word of fear, implying military aggression, and the forceful overlordship of subject peoples, instead of a 'business proposition' for cooperation in commerce, defence, and other matters. They are being taught by some of their leading spokesmen to regard a closer union with the Empire as incompatible with nationhood. They are exhorted not to forget that their rights and privileges were secured to them by the 'contract' which was made at the time of the conquest, and expanded afterwards in later instruments such as the Quebec Act and the Act of 1791. The separate school question in the new provinces, which is absorbing at present so much of the time and attention of the Canadian Parliament, is only another chapter in the French-Canadian version of the history of 'State rights.' There was a time when they dreamed of dominating the North-West, and encircling British Ontario by a French nation on both flanks. That dream has passed away, and in the light of the conditions which have replaced it we may feel confident that, no matter what it may it be found politically expedient to legislate at Ottawa, the future of the North- West will inevitably assert itself. Twenty years will be a long enough period to show whether the new provinces will reproduce the conditions which grew up in Eastern Canada, as the result of specific contract, before Confederation, or whether wider national ideals shall prevail, such as encourage Catholics and Protestants alike, on the other side of the line, to use the same schools and Universities. Meanwhile English aloofness and stolidity are almost as much to blame as Church ascendancy for the cultivation of separate interests, and the slowness of the process of national unification. Both sections of the population are aware that the development of their common country, and even the integrity of confederation, depend on their harmonious cooperation. But in many matters they remain apart, and in none more than in regard to current proposals for Imperial consolidation. Mr. Henri Bourassa, for example, is of opinion that while his French-Canadian fellow-citizen has done his full duty to Great Britain, 'by the Empire he does not feel that he has any duty to perform' {Monthly Review^ October, 1902, p. 59). A hostile attack on Australia or New Zealand would not necessarily mean an3rthing to him, unless he happened to be in a mood to allow volunteers to go to the rescue. The programme of La Ligne Nationaliste, as published in the Canadian press, has probably never found its way into the English journals. It would be somewhat disturbing reading for optimists at home. Briefly, Canada is self-contained, and it is the peculiar mission of the French-Canadians—at least, as represented by Mr. Bourassa and La Ligne—to keep her so. Some of them will even discuss the admission of Newfoundland to Confederation from the point of view of its bearing on French-Canadian influence in the Dominion!

These are not the ideals which make for future greatness. At the same time they have to be reckoned with in a spirit of sweet reasonableness and calm expostulation, not of resentful recrimination. They are not in accord with the general trend of political thought at home, as represented by either or the two great parties. 'I believe that if anyone <5an suggest a scheme by which our self-governing Colonies can be brought into closer relationship with the Mother Country, in which they can bear their share of the Imperial defences, and have also a share of consultation in Imperial matters, I believe the Liberal party would heartily welcome the proposal.' These are the words of a leading English statesman, the Right Hon. James Bryce. But the fact has to be faced, that when such proposals come to be made, they will nowhere meet with greater composition than in a large portion of French-Canada. That will be the time of great difficulty so far as regards the application to Canada of the 'Imperial idea.' It will be the time also—if, indeed, that time be not already come—to urge with all due consideration and defence, that the great Dominion which we know to-day, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, is not the little comer which Britain absorbed by right of conquest a century and a half ago. The federation of the Empire, if otherwise desirable and possible, will not be blocked by the spirit of racial or religious sectionalism. And in proportion as Canada can achieve solidarity for herself, and bring about the gradual suppression of such elements, whether French or English, as prevent her harmonious and homogeneous development, in like proportion will she fit herself for taking the part which longs of right to her, the leading part in the working out of a system of Imperial consolidation. She is the first of the 'new nations within the Empire.' Can she wish for a higher or a weightier rôle?


  1. A recent calculation shows that our naval expenditure involves an outlay of £3 2s. 6d. for every ton of mercantile marine. We are spending less for the safeguarding of our mercantile shipping than any other nation except Japan, the figures being: Japan, £2 4s. 4d.; British Empire, £3 2s. 6d.; Germany, £4 18s.; Russia, £18 3s. 10d.; United States, £19 10s. 2d.
  2. This view derives some support from a passage in Burke's speech on "Conciliation with the Colonies": "But to clear up my ideas on this subject—a revenue from America transmitted hither—do not delude themselves—you can never receive it—No, not a shilling. We have experience that from remote countries it is not to be expected. If, when you attempted to extract revenue from Bengal, you were obliged to return in loan what you had taken in imposition, what can you expect from North America? For, certainly, if ever there was a country qualified to produce wealth, it is India; or an institution fit for the transmission, it is the East India Company. America has none of these aptitudes. If America gives you taxable objects, on which you lay your duties here, and gives you, at the same time, a surplus by a foreign sale of her commodities to pay the duties on these objects which you tax at home, she has performed her part to the British revenue. But with regard to her own internal establishments she may, I doubt not she will, contribute in moderation. I say in moderation, for she ought not to be permitted to exhaust herself. She ought to be reserved to a war, the weight of which, with the enemies that we are most likely to have, must be considerable in her quarter of the globe. There she may serve you, and serve you essentially."