A Magnificent Speech by the Hon. Geo. E. Foster in Lansdowne Rink

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A Magnificent Speech by the Hon. Geo. E. Foster in Lansdowne Rink
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A MAGNIFICENT SPEECH. By the Hon. Geo. E. Foster in Lansdowne Rink. The McKinley Bill Has No Terrors for Loyal Canadians, Who Have Been Triumphant to Hostile Legislation in the Past. And Who are Prepared to Seek New Markets Whenever Old Ones are Closed to Them. HON. George E. Footer, who received a most cordial reception, said: Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen— My first duty is to prove that I am not ungrateful. After having been buttered up and buttered over it is my turn now, and I shall commence with my eloquent and happy friend from St John (Mr. Skinner), who paid me, whether he paid the other speakers or not, compliments which were undeserved, and in place of compliment I will give honest truth with reference to him. The city of St. John his sent many representatives to do her will and their part of the work of parliament to Ottawa, but I will say that amongst those whom St. John has sent in the past years that city has sent few who have been more intelligent in their appreciation of the wants of St. John and New Brunswick and yet have wider and more generous sentiments with reference to the whole Dominion and have pursued those with greater persistence than has the gentleman who has paid me kindly compliments in his opening remarks at this meeting. (Applause.) As for my friend, Dr. Weldon, I will say that the people of St. John need not claim him and the people of Halifax will not have him by saying kindly words of him. He belongs to the county of Kings—he is a fellow-citizen with myself and of many I see in the audience tonight, and we do not propose to let it go unnoticed that a man of the splendid ability and equally splendid character of my friend from Albert belongs by nativity and of right to the splendid county of Kings, which I have the honor to represent. (Cheers.) Sir, one thought was borne in upon me as this large audience has been listening with such eagerness to the able, practical and eloquent remarks of the speakers who have preceded me—my mind has gone back to my boyhood days, not long since, and yet all too long, when political discussions were carried on on the platforms of St. John and other cities in this country by men whom we do not find amongst us today. These men were the fathers of our country, THESE WERE GIANTS IN PRACTICAL WISDOM, who have hewed out of the rough this splendid nationality which today enters upon its twenty-second year; with hope of such a glorious future that no McKinley bill or adverse legislation can serve to break. (Great applause.) We honor those men—their memories, if they have gone from us, their presence, if they are still able to remain with us—and if at home and not actively with us, we honor them still for the part they played in laying the founda¬tions of our growing nationality. In the old Roman days to be a Roman noble was to be a man of noble mind. From early years they recorded the deeds of their family, which were handed down from father to son. In a noble family each felt he had placed upon him the noble record of his predecessors, to keep intact and as pure as he received it. So with us who are younger, who may be called to take up the record of our predecessors, and take our part in bearing the labor and heat of the day, may we keep that same purpose; may we keep that same grasp of thought; may we keep that same intelligence; that same pride of country with the honest conscience that has been preeminently the element of the statesmanship of the past, and without which any statesmanship is bound to fail. (Applause.) I know you are all longing to see the last and finest piece of scenery, just as a tourist when near to some Mecca of scenery, expectant to see the grand result, has yet to content himself as he journeys with, here a beautiful piece of scenery and in another place a bit of sublimity that will soothe him as he passes along, but once in a while a hummock will arise before him and retard his view—and here let me say—I am the last hummock (laughter), and not a large one, which keeps you from seeing the final scene in this landscape. (Cheers.) I was in an eastern township not long since where when about to address a meeting the chairman announced me as the finance minister and said that I would deal with figures. I immediately told the people that I had a soul above figures and tonight I say the same. I prefer tonight to draw our attention for a moment to some of the basic principles, if you will allow me to call them such, upon which I believe the liberal conservative party and the policy of the government of today to be founded, and standing upon which it works and asks from this country, as I believe it will receive from this country, a firm support from the unwavering legions so long as it is true to the record of the past. (Applause). Sir, the first great principle upon which the great liberal conservative party in this country planted themselves, was upon the principle of consolidation. Away back in the fifties and along that time men who were far seeing, prescient of the future, saw a long line of disunited provinces, and this great British North America had not within itself the best constituent elements of a nationality which should became formed enduring, progressive and great. They saw that those provinces should become united before such a great nationality be possible. They carried out that principle. Earlier than 1867 they planted themselves upon UPON THAT PRINCIPLE OF CONSOLIDATION and carried out the first step in the progress of that idea. In 1867 consolidation became a realized fact so far, at least, as four of the provinces at first joined together, and which at first constituted the dominion of Canada, were concerned. It is true that they met with opposition in that respect; it is true that they have since met with opposition, and it is true that up to within a late date there have been all along the line men bold enough to declare that confederation was a failure and that we would be far better off if the provinces had remained separate. I think, sir, those who hold today that opinion are few and far between. (Cheers.) Repeal was resuscitated as an incidental scare-crow in the sister province of Nova Scotia, to which my hon. friends belong, but well nigh before it had performed its duty it had frightened those who had resuscitated it. They laid it at rest with all becoming and necessary solemnity, and I think we will hear no more of repeal in this country. (Laughter and applause.) The first principle on which the liberal-conservative party founded and planted themselves and to which they have kept themselves constant, was the principle of consolidation which resulted in the federation of these provinces. Are there other people and parties in this country who can say the same of the flag that they follow? If not then we appeal to the great constituencies of this country for support of the party which had the wisdom to see and the firmness to commence and carry through the principle of consolidation as embalmed in the confederation act. (Cheers.) There was another principle which followed after that almost immediately—the principle of enlargement or extension. Those same fathers of confederation saw out in the Northwest an undiscovered territory, a land from which had been wafted promises of what it contained, as to weary wanderers through the desert came promises from the land that would be the home and that of the children of countless people. OVER ON THE PACIFIC OCEAN was a province, almost as large as Ontario and Quebec together, with its broad waters, its immense and productive fisheries, fertile valleys with wondrous mineral wealth. The principle of consolidation was followed out by these men by enlargement and extension. Today our territory extends from ocean to ocean. Broad and vast it is in extent as it is in its promise, and no student of the past, no participator in the present, and no prophet of the future finds fault with that policy which has constructed this nation. They turn rather from the past and with prophetic eye look out through the eastern gate of this great country of ours, where lies the Newfoundland and feel that all will not be done that is to be done, until it becomes on equitable terms apart and parcel of the great confederation of Canada. Then we shall be from the Atlantic to the Pacific waving as one people the great British flag, and long may it wave, (enthusiastic applause and cheers.) Another principle was the protection of home industries and their development. When after 1866 came the determination of that reciprocity treaty, which we gained with so much trouble, and with the outlay of so much energy, we were face to face with a new order of things. When after George Brown in 1874 failed in his efforts to get the supposed reciprocity treaty that was drafted by him and yet so much in favor of the country to the south of us, then the liberal conservative party said : "Reciprocity we have favored always, reciprocity we favor today, reciprocity has been repeatedly refused to us, therefore we will protect our own country, our own markets and our own manufactures, and we will by a judicious, moderate and reasonable protection build up in our own country our own industries, our own markets and our own people." (Cheers). You may read history from the earliest times down to today, and you will find it true that no country becomes or remains great by following agriculture alone, but that alongside the agricultural development must be the twin industries supporting and being supported by the basic industries of the country. This makes the nation great, gives the people employment and enables them to keep the markets of the country for themselves. (Cheers). SO THE THIRD GREAT PRINCIPLE upon which the liberal conservative party planted itself, was that of reasonable, judicious and moderate protection of its industries, the building up of its industries, retaining the labor of the people within the country-keeping the money of the people largely within the country. (Cheers.) Sir, if there was opposition to that policy then, and it was bitter, and if it was continued for years, and it was continued for years-today there is a triumphant vindication of the success of that policy; first by the action and course of the opposition itself, and second by the determined results. (Renewed applause.) Who can visit our exhibitions, who can go through our country from one end to the other, who can see the very great improvements introduced into our very homes and yet not say that it is the result of that policy? Go down to the bottom of this history and you will find it came from the results of our own energy, our own industry. Look at it in a broad and candid manner and I think it will be admitted that that was the right thing to do; that the right thing was done when the government determined to protect the industries of this country and build up the business of this country. (Applause.) And we had a more remarkable vindication of the policy that was adopted, when Mr. Blake said in his Malvern speech, which was alluded to by my honorable friend here, that Canada had taken a step forward. He challenged them, a challenge which was never accepted by any one of his party, to devise a means by which under the altered conditions of the country the higher protective duties could be done away wm, vested interests be properly cared for and the funds of the country necessary to its support be properly maintained. Sir, that was a great step forward, but it was nothing to the step that had been taken of late. We have seen for some years past the leaders of the liberal party, aided by Mr. Wiman and others on the other side of the line, bowing low on bended knee, and turning their faces to¬ward Washington and crying out: "Oh, Baal, hear us ! Oh, Baal, hear us !" (Applause), and agonizing for the time to come when they should do what—fight and bleed and die under the old flag of free trade with its principles and with its exemplification of the mother country ? Oh, no, but to have them wrapped in the flag of a country with a tariff of 50 per cent, against the rest of the world, and to go to sleep and dream of a prosperous community under the lullaby of the sweet voiced McKinley. (Applause and laughter). That, sir, if another thing was necessary, is a vindication, practical, positive and complete, that the policy of the liberal-conservative party adopted then for the protection of home industries was the proper policy to have been adopted for this country. (Hear, hear.) Sir, another policy which the liberal-conservative party took, AND AGAINST GREAT OPPOSITION, was that of improved means of communication in this country. When this country was confederated its future was before it. But, in 1873 it was completed to its present proportions, its future was yet largely to be brought in, to be waited tor. Our peo¬ple were tilled with confident hope—they cast the horoscope of this country, it was painted in glowing colors, they took that to the hard money cen¬tres of Great Britain, they placed that horoscope before the bankers and money lenders of Great Britain and said: “Here we are in the rough and crude, there is our future as we have painted it, will you lend us money on our forecast?” This was said to the busy bankers, they stopped from their toil, those keen men of finance, and critically considered it. The result was that hundreds of millions of dollars were placed at our disposal. Our future was taken at our forecast and today we have realized because of the spendid faith in our country. Now, sir, in all this what was the opposition of the liberal party, so called ? They fought the Canada Pacific railway scheme from year to year and year after year. Sir, to venture on prophecy is a dangerous business, but there was a gentleman at that time, a man whom I esteem personally, who represented a county up-river, that he does not now rep¬resent (laughter), and he was fond of making prophecies occasionally, and he told me one night in parliament in the course of his speech, that he rather thought he would be perfectly right in saying that after all we had lent and given to the Canada Pacific that in about 20, 10 or 5 years from that time, if I had the choice between the revenues of the Canada Pacific railway and my salary, or indemnity of $1,000 a year, I would stick to my indemnity. I need not tell you I would not stick to it long if I had my choice of the net revenues and the $1,000 that a member earns by the sweat of his brow and the wagging of his tongue in the balls of parliament at Ottawa. (Prolongned laughter and applause.) COMING ON A LITTLE FURTHER, with the idea let us say that these are the four great basic principles of the conservative party; the consolidation of the provin¬ces, the extension and enlargement of our territory, the improvement of our facilities for internal communication and the build¬ing out of these lines into the other fields. What is this great commercial equipment today! Sir we have part of the people’s money into the Canadian Pacific railway $61,000,000, charged to capital; we have put into our Intercolonial railway and its branches $40,000,000, also charged to capital; we have put in other railways in our country $32,000,000, and in other commercial public works two and a half-million dollars, or adding them together about the sum of $138,000,000, charged to capital. We have made these great commercial facilities, and we have been justified by events in doing it. It is a commercial equipment second to none of any place with like population. In the eyes of England that commercial equipment is the backbone of our country. Under present circumstances we can look forward to the future without fear. There are 15,000,000 bushels of wheat to be exported from the northwest this year, bringing into that country a re¬turn of from $12,000,000 to $15,000,000. How was this made possible ? It was be cause we discounted the future of our country, cast its horoscope, borrowed money and put it into public works, opened up that country and gave it a chance for the evolving of the soil into golden crowns of wheat. (Applause.) How is it today, sir? We have tapped that interior country 2,500 miles from the gulf of St. Lawrence. There runs the schooner, barge or steamer through a splendid system of canals with water 14 feet deep nearly at the present time, and in a few months when the work shall have been completed 14 feet down to Montreal and 27 1/2 feet deep in channel from that to Quebec. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? They say you lay on taxes to do that. So we do. But supposing you have fifteen million bushels of wheat in the Northwest, no railway and no canal, how much would that be worth to you, supposing to get it out you had to pay half its value? You would be in a bad condition. But if you have the facilities for carrying it at the very minimum of cost what does it mean ? It means so much more to the producer and so much money more added to the wealth of the people of Canada to buy that which they need from foreign countries. (Prolonged applause.) The very defence of that system of expenditure is that it keeps away the cost of transit both ways by reducing it to a minimum, all of which comes back to the country. And Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Charles Tupper and Sir Leonard Tilley, when we were boys in politics (that was only about eight years ago) introduced a system which was to ex¬pand the net-work of communication in the country; and since that time, and so far as the finances of the country would admit, when the people of any great section of the country undertake to build a railway and put it into shape for traffic the government give them sufficient to put the rails upon the bed and to fit it up finally for the work of carrying traffic. Under that policy our railway system has been extended far and wide, our net work of communication internally has grown, until today we have 13,000 miles of railway in operation, with lessened cost of carrying freight, and consequently greater wealth produced. Last year we had nine and a quarter millions of tons of seagoing vessels entered and cleared from the ports of this country, and when I look through the records I find something that Canada ought to be proud of—that she ranks next to the united kingdom herself of all the British possessions in the entering and possession of ocean tonnage, that she has a million and a little more of registered tonnage, and that she ranks fourth of all the countries in the world in regard to the registered tonnage which she But all that together, our seaports on the Atlantic and Pacific, our great lines of communication, our deepened canals, our fleet of merchant marine, put them all together with the resources of the country, and what a basis we occupy compared with 1866 when the abrogation of the reciprocity treaty threatened us with danger and harm. (Applause.) Let us sink that one fact into our minds. All this has been brought about and developed for this purpose, and it puts us today in a position where we can laugh at our enemies commercially or politically and assures us of a great future for this country of ours. (Prolonged cheering.) THE BUILDING UP of these public works was done in order that facilities for travel and transit, and the development of the industries of the country could be had. Some men tell ns, you can’t fight against nature. The liberals, (so called), tell us we do fight against nature in not obtaining what they call Canada’s natural market. We sometimes do fight success¬fully against nature. I think nature put a very large barrier between the Atlantic and the Pacific when she reared the Rocky Mountains from Calgary to the canons of the Frazer river. But the Dominion of Canada had pluck enough to fight with nature and now her trains run through the rockies with lightning rapidity and with regularity, carrying their heavy freights and produce and their human freight as well. But I want to ask these men if nature is against our trade doctrine. They hold that by nature we should trade with the United States. Look at the conformation of the country. We have crossing the province of British Columbia the Fraser, running how? North and south to carry trade down to the country to the south of us? No, it forces out to the west towards the great continents that are seeking our trade. And the Saskatchewan river, does it run north and south? No! but in a line almost due east and west until it throws itself into the great lakes around Winnipeg, making thousands of miles of river running east to take our rich freights of grain and cattle that are soon to be in that great territory and bring them towards the sea. The great St. Lawrence, with its chain of lakes setting 2,500 miles inland from the gulf, runs how? Down south to carry our products to the country on the southern side of ns? No, but far away east and a little to the north into the gulf and we have built a portion of our great works to act in conjunction with nature. Which way does the Grand Trunk tend? Which way does the Canadian Pacific tend, and all the great roads we have—north and south? No, but east or west! While they intersect with local lines in looking for local business, yet for the great staple currents of trade the routes on this whole continent run towards the east. They face the Atlantic ocean, and they do not stop till they land their rich freights down in the vessel that sits in the water with her head fronted not southward but far out to the old country across the sea. GREAT BRITAIN FOR A TIME flourished under protection, a protection the moat prohibitive any country ever had, but she found in time that the best protection she had was in free trade. She adopts it with that wise, sturdy common sense Englishmen always were noted for, and now she manufactures for the world and gets her food from the world in return. Let me ask your attention, sir, to this. There is that great hive of industry (with the mil¬lions of mouths to feed of its laboring hands), stretching out its hands and desires to this great continent. It asks for our wheat, asks for our butter, asks for our cheese, asks for our horses, asks for our cattle, asks for our barley, and asks for the great staples that we have. Nature against us? Why, God and nature are both for us! (Prolonged cheering and enthusiasm). Yonder is an inexhaustable market—(applause)—here are nature’s great waterways running toward it, and alongside the puny though wise devices of man to help the waterways to carry goods to the ocean and to this great mart where we will find for ages to come a sure and certain market for all the great staples that we produce. (Hear, hear). Do not let us be misled by the thought so often put before us that nature designed us to trade with the country nearest to us. We may depend upon it that nature forces us with its greater weight to trade with the old country more than any other, with the country that gave us birth, with the country that gives us protection; with the country that gives us prestige and the priceless records of the fight for liberty. We would be recreant sons of our sires if we sold for a mess of pottage or gave away our inheritance. (Vociferous cheering and waving of hats by many in the audience.) These, sir, are the broad lines of fact which I desired to lay before you. These are the bases upon which the liberal-conservative party have erected their works. Standing now beside them—looking at the prosperity of Canada of today, built up on these great lines of policy; standing firmly upon these great principles, the liberal-conservative party points to that work and says to the appreciative and intelligent people of Canada, "There are our principles embalmed— there is our work performed, we ask you to look at the principles of those who have opposed them, and we ask you to be true to the principles which have done so much in the past, and which if pursued will do equally as much in the future." (Applause.) Let me remind you of the position in which our opponents would place us for the purpose of getting some¬thing from the United States that there is no reasonable grounds for saying we can ever get. I do not think our course should be one of resorting to retaliation. Whatever else may have underlaid the McKinley bill I do not believe it went on the lines of retaliation for what Canada has done. It rests upon the deeper principles which were spoken of by Sir John Thompson. Do not let us retaliate in return, but if there be adverse legislation in the McKinley bill which puts the work of the people of Canada in jeopardy, and if any interest so affected can be helped by legislation, this government proposes to do it. (Applause.) Let us go no longer sighing for favors from those who will not give them to us, but let us do as we have done in the past on the principles and under the policy I have outlined; pursue an independent course which in the first place finds our country prepared for such a struggle, and in the next place gives us confidence to hope that we will come out unscathed and uninjured from the trial which is said to await us. (Applause.) Let us never talk of that other alternative which now and then has been mentioned in the past, but now we very seldom hear; that NOW THE WHIP HAS BEEN APPLIED and the markets of the south kept away from us, we must throw in our lot with the lot of our neighbors to the south. (A voice, "Never, never," and cheers.) There are not many who argue in that way today, yet the city of St. John gives us an example of one who does. May the intelligent people of St. John pray in their deepest hearts and pray earnestly that a suitable and speedy opportunity may be given them at the polls to scorch with the hot breath of their loyal indignation the treason that would eat the bread and butter of its friends and raise the flan of its enemies. (Cheers and applause). I entertain no personal spite against a man who has any opinion,even one like that, but I will fight as long as there is fight in me and I will endeavor to make other people vote as far as I can, so that there will be taken away from St. John that evil reputation it has of being quoted in the house of its enemies because of the acts of a man who raises in the face of the community the flag of annexation. (Vociferous applause). Sir, I have just really warmed up and could yet speak for a long time. All the thunder is stolen, for as I sat here thinking over the various subject, to be dealt with I first heard Dr. Weldon address you and mentally said. “There is one point gone,” then Mr. Tupper took another and Sir John Thompson took some more. There is a little left yet, but in sympathy for my leader I will not take anymore. (Laughter.) The only thing I will steal—I am an honest man generally (laughter)—is that story of Mr. Tupper's and I will tell it when an occasion presents itself. (Laughter.) It has escaped me to say that in connection with reciprocity certain votes were taken which have escaped notice more than should have been allowed. We have heard of the Aldridge motion—that was simply reciprocity with certain places in the south then there came the Sherman resolution for a committee to see if anything could be done; then there was Hale’s plan, which left it doubtful as to whether Canada could slip in. That was explained away and Sherman did not dare to bring it to a vote. Aldridge’s, which was inimical to us and looked with favor to the Latin races at the south, passed. There was also another one upon which a vote was taken in the senate when Mr. Gray, on the tenth of September, moved a fair and square reciprocity resolution; it was not for reciprocity in natural products alone - which the liberals say we can never get - but it was one almost on the lines of unrestricted reciprocity; it was for all the articles mentioned and any others that could be agreed upon. That was brought to a solemn test in the senate and every republican in the senate voted against it—and yet you have liberal sheets telling us and liberal leaders telling us that we have yet a chance for unrestricted reciprocity by a resolution of the senate of the United States. I thank you for the hearty reception given us and earnest hearing you have given to the few remarks I have made. I am proud of the city of St. John, proud to see such an intelligent audience here to greet our leader and to honor the presence of one whose name will always be held in esteem in the hearts of Canadian people; of one who while he lives among us will have our unstinted meed of praise, and when he dies, as die he must in the course of nature—let it be many years hence—this country will do, as my friend Dr. Weldon has said in. eloquent language, they will go around the market places of this country raising statues to his memory. (Applause, mingled with vociferous cheering, during which the hon. gentleman resumed his seat.)