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- Canada and the States - 60/71 -

that great property? He could not describe it better than in the language of the United States. If the House would refer to the report on the Reciprocity Treaty laid before the House of Representatives at Washington in 1862 by Mr. Ward, they would find a glowing description of the vast extent, the wonderful means of internal navigation, the richness of mineral resources, the bracing healthiness of climate, and the immense extent of fertile soil which British North America contained. The report said:--'The great and practical value of the British North American Provinces and possessions is seldom appreciated. Stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, they contain an area of at least 3,478,380 square miles--more than is owned by the United States, and not much less than the whole of Europe, with its family of nations.' And, again, it said--'The climate and soil of these Provinces and possessions, seemingly less indulgent than those of tropical regions, are precisely those by which the skill, energy, and virtues of the human race are best developed. Nature there demands thought and labour from man as conditions of his existence, and yields abundant rewards to a wise industry.' Indeed, the warmth of language used irresistibly suggested the idea that the people of the United States, with whom the love of territory was a passion, were disposed to cast a covetous eye upon these possessions of old England. Now, knowing something of America, he must express his belief that there was no very imminent danger of war with the United States. The issues of peace and war, however, depended upon the attitude of that House and of the country. Weakness never promoted peace, and an uncertain and half- hearted attitude was provocative of war. This country had, he believed, the desire to preserve its power and influence on the American continent. It was for the good of mankind that the rule of the British Crown and the influence of the wisely-regulated liberty of Britain and of the British Constitution should continue. The way to prevent war was not to talk of severing the connection with Canada or of withdrawing our troops from Canada for fear they should be caught in a net, but to announce boldly but calmly, in language worthy of the traditions of that House, that these vast American possessions are integral parts of the great British Empire, and come weal, come woe, would be defended to the last. If that language were held there would be no war in America. The only danger arose from impressions produced by speeches in that House and elsewhere, leading to the belief that we were indifferent to our duties or our interests on the American Continent; for we had duties as well as interests. Those who thus spoke--humanitarians by profession--could support the continuance of a war which, in his humble opinion, disgraced the civilization of our time; and, while professing to be Liberals, they were ready to thrust out from our Imperial home of liberty the populations of some of our most important possessions to satisfy some imaginary economical theory of saving. They spoke of the Empire as if it were this mere island, and they seemed enchanted with the idea of narrowing our boundaries everywhere. That was not a question of simple arithmetic, it was a question of empire; not a question of a single budget, but a question of the future destiny of our race. These gentlemen seemed to prefer to live in a small country. For his part, he hoped he should all his life live in a great one. No country could be stationary without becoming stagnant, or restrict its natural progress without inviting its decay. It was so in all human affairs; it was so even in ordinary business. Every man of business knew that if his enterprise ceased to grow bigger, it soon began to dwindle down; and so a country must grow greater or else must slide away to weakness, until at last it would be despised. Now the Government proposed to spend 50,000_l_. at Quebec; 50,000_l_., he repeated, was really nothing if it were necessary to carry out the fortification policy at all. He had two objections to make. One was, that Quebec was not the vulnerable point; that point was Montreal. Montreal was the key to Canada. Once holding that key, the enemy would cut Canada in two--would separate Upper and Lower Canada from each other. Yet the Government proposed to leave all that to the unaided resources of Canada--to do nothing, in fact, where, if action were necessary at all, that action was pressing and imperative. He should deplore to see this country commencing and carrying on a competition of expenditure on fortifications with the United States. The results must be, as he warned the House, excessive votes of money, of which this one was only the small beginning, and an entire change in the nature of those relations which had so happily subsisted between the United States and the British North American possessions. Let the House remember the case of France. England and France had for years been running a race of competition of this kind. If France raised a new regiment, or added a new ship of war, or built an ironclad, or erected a fortress, we must do the same. And thus it had been that the forces still remained on a measure of some sort of equality, notwithstanding a vast outlay, which had crippled the resources of both countries, and here at home had delayed fiscal reform and retarded, nay even prevented, the most obvious measures for the elevation and education of our people. Were we to play the same game over again with the States? Now, as regards the great lakes and water ways of America, possessing a coast line of above 3,000 miles, we had since 1817 neutralized these waters as regards armaments. Under that truly blessed arrangement, the sound of a hostile shot, or even of a shot fired for practice, had never been heard now for nearly half a century. Here was a precedent of happy history and worthy of all gratitude and of all imitation. Now, if they were to fortify, let it be done adequately, whatever the cost. That cost would, he repeated, be great and also uncertain. Now he would venture to make a suggestion to the Government. It was to try negociation. Place before the minds of American statesmen the neutralization of the lakes and ask if the frontiers could not be neutralized also. Was it not possible that if Her Majesty's Government took Brother Jonathan in a quiet mood, he might be disposed to save his own pocket and thereby to save ours, and unite with us to set a bright example to surrounding nations? The people of the United States had their faults and we had ours; but they were distinguished by their common sense. No people had more of it. This suggestion would, he thought, come home to it; for they would argue, if we lay out millions so will the British, and, after all, it is merely adding burdens to both and not really strength or dignity to either. Let the Government try. If they failed the trial would have shown them to be just and in the right. If they succeeded how happy would it be for us. Reference had been made by the right hon. gentleman to the fortifications at New York, Boston, and Portland; but no one had mentioned a very strong work within forty miles of Montreal itself. He had seen that work. It was called 'Fort Montgomery,' and there was a railway all the way from it to Montreal. It was now very strong. He believed it had embrasures for some 200 guns. All the time this war had been going on, this work had been going on also. Now this looked like menace. Our Government had been informed about it, but he failed to find that they had made any representation to Washington. Surely they might have said, and would have been justified in saying to a friendly nation--'If you must have 200 guns 40 miles from Montreal, we must have 250 at Montreal; and whatever you do, we must imitate--therefore, why should either of us lay out our money?' But Government had done nothing; and now, before attempting any negociation, they asked the House to agree to make fortifications. He had humbly offered a suggestion to the Government. Let them take one of two decided courses. Let them deal firmly and wisely with the question. Let them state, in no spirit of offence, to the United States that, as Canada was part of the British Empire, we would defend it at all cost; or let them endeavour to induce the Government of Washington to distinguish itself for ever by adopting the alternative--the neutralization of the lakes and the avoidance of hostile fortifications on both sides of the frontier."

The second speech is reported as follows:

"Mr. WATKIN, member for Stockport, said, that he felt concerned to hear the United States so often spoken of in the debate as 'the enemy;' and if he thought that the vote before the committee would in any manner increase international irritation, he should regret his vote in favour of the proposition of the Government. As it was, he felt that he could not quite agree with the policy the vote indicated. That policy was one of armament against an enemy. The proposition, in his opinion, went either too far or not far enough. It did not go far enough to inspire undoubted confidence and to deter attack by providing for absolute defence; and still it went far enough to raise suspicion and to excite or to aggravate a frontier feeling. But he thought that our actual relations with the United States were guiding considerations in reference to the policy of this vote. Government ought, therefore, to tell the House how far they could repeat the peaceful assurances of a former debate. Did the despatches by the mail just arrived tend towards peace or misunderstanding? Was it true, on one side, that formal notice had a few days ago been given to our Government by the United States to terminate the Reciprocity Treaty? and was it true that that notice had been entirely unaccompanied by any overture or suggestion for a re- discussion of the question? On the other and more friendly side, was it true that the vexatious passport system had been abrogated? and, above all, was it also true that the Government of Washington had expressed to Her Majesty's Government their intention to revoke the notice to terminate the arrangement of 1817, and to place gunboats on the great American lakes? If this was true, and if it should also appear that the notice to put an end to the Reciprocity Treaty had either not yet been given or had been accompanied by some friendly declaration of a desire to negociate anew, the House must receive the intelligence with satisfaction; but should it, unfortunately, be the fact that non- intercourse regulations were maintained, that the lakes were to be covered by armaments, and that international trade was to be interfered with, then he thought the House would consider the question as one affecting a hostile neighbour, whose unfriendly designs had to be met by preparation. He hoped, therefore, that the right hon. gentleman would give the House all the information at his command. Had he been in possession of all the facts, he should have been disposed to move as an amendment that it was inexpedient to consider a vote of money for the construction of fortifications adjoining the United States frontier until negociations had been undertaken and had failed, with a view to the suspension of such works under treaty obligation. He was strongly in favour of negociation. There was an example and precedent in the arrangement of 1817 for the neutralization of the lakes. That peaceful compact had endured for fifty years, and had alike saved the expense and obviated the dangers attending rival navies on the great internal waters of America. It was self-evident that we must either fortify efficiently or let it alone. The United States could not fail to see that if they laid out large sums on permanent works of defence, we must do the same; while if we voted money, they must follow us. And thus while both countries made themselves poorer in the process, neither became much stronger, because a sort of equilibrium of forces would after all be maintained. The Government at Washington surely had no present desire to enter upon a race of expenditure for military works on both sides of the frontier. If they had, the sooner we knew it the better, for then the House would only have one course, however they might deplore it, to pursue. But here was a case where the common sense of the American people could, he thought, be appealed to not in vain. Instead of fortifying, let us neutralize the frontier--let us agree to do away with the expenditure. [Mr. BRIGHT: On both sides the frontier?] Yes, on both sides. If the American people were appealed to as the hon. member for Rochdale appealed to the Emperor of the French in favour of the French treaty, he believed that similar earnestness and tact could bring about an arrangement. The Government at Washington would thereby set an example to all countries having long frontier lines, and a precedent would be established of inestimable value to the world. What could be more deplorable than to substitute for neutrality and the operation of the Reciprocity Treaty an armed frontier and practical non-intercourse? He had before stated, from much personal observation on the spot, that border feeling and jealousy had hardly an existence as between the people of our possessions, and of the United States; but so soon as rival fortresses, frowned at each other on both sides of the

Canada and the States - 60/71

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