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power-Laurier's success was almost immediate. In a comparatively short time his mental equipment for parliamentary life, and its obvious value to the Liberal party at this juncture in its history, were recognised by Mackenzie and his colleagues of the Cabinet. In October 1877, Laurier was appointed Minister of Inland Revenue; and from 1877 until 1918, the last session in which he attended the House, he was a front-bench member. His seat for Drummond and Arthabaska was regarded a safe one at the time when he received his portfolio as minister; otherwise Mackenzie, whose administration was at this time much assailed, might not (to use an Ottawa phrase) hare 'opened the constituency. But the Church had not yet settled its account with Laurier for his contumacy while he was engaged in the practice of the law at Montreal, and while he was editor of a newspaper at Arthabaskaville. It opposed his return; and, when he sought re-election, he was defeated by a majority of forty. This failure, however, involved no break in his parliamentary or ministerial career. A vacancy was created for Quebec East. Laurier was successful there; and he represented this constituency continuously for forty-two years.
It was about this time that Sir John A. Macdonald and his followers of the Conservative Opposition began the agitation for a tariff for the protection of Canadian industry. There had been tariffs for the protection of home industries during the era of the United Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada (1841–1867). The first of these tariffs was enacted in 1858, the second in 1859. There were duties as high as 20 and 25 per cent. in these tarifs; and the duties were imposed avowedly for the protection of manufacturers in Upper and Lower Canada. But between 1866 and 1878 most of these protectionist duties had been eliminated, because the Maritime Provinces were then hostile to protection. During the lifetime of the Parliament of 1874-1878, there were few duties in excess of 174 per cent. Notwithstanding much pressure from the manufacturing interests, the Mackenzie Government, in which Sir Richard Cartwright was Minister of Finance, refused, in the session of 1877, to call upon Parliament to enact any protectionist duties. Mackenzie's refusal to accept the principle of protection, and to embody that principle in the tariff, gave Conservatives an opportunity. Acting in the spirit opportunism, Macdonald promptly committed the C servative party to protection.
Macdonald and the Conservatives thus thrust an issue into Dominion politics, an issue on which the t parties were to be sharply divided for the next eighte or nineteen years. The general election of 1878 W fought on what in Canada for forty years has be known as the National Policy. It was the first electi in Canada, or in the British North-American provinc at which protection was the issue. The Liberals we overwhelmingly defeated. Macdonald again becar Premier; and he held that office until his death in 18
The first National Policy tariff, with protection duties ranging from 25 to 35 per cent., was enacted 1879, a year after the return of the Conservatives power. From that time, the Conservative party had t] unwavering support of all the interests, industrial ai financial, that directly or indirectly derive advantaş from National Policy tariffs. Despite the fact that the were general elections in 1882, 1887, and 1891, the Liber party was continuously in opposition until 1896. In tl Parliament of 1878-1882, the Liberals, then led Mackenzie, numbered only 69, in a House of Commoi containing 206 members. Mackenzie, who among othe distinctions had that of being the only Premier of Canac to decline a knighthood, soon wearied of the uphill tas of leading the Opposition, almost a forlorn hope i those years. He retired in 1882, and was succeeded b Edward Blake, who was leader until after the genera election of 1887. Blake then retired, because of ill-healt At a caucus of the Liberal members, whose number had been increased to 87 at the last election, Laurie was chosen as Blake's successor. He had been electe leader of the French-Canadian group of the Libera party in the House of Commons in the first session o the 1878 Parliament.
It has always been the rule at Ottawa to elect part) leaders in a caucus. In Canada the caucus is older thai Confederation. In the course of a parliamentary session at Ottawa, much business comes before the caucus o each party. The Government unfolds its legislative policy and plans in caucus ; and in caucus the Opposition discusses legislation proposed by the Government, and decides on its policy and House of Commons tactics in respect to such legislation. Each party, when in oppesition, chooses its leader in caucus; and generally it may be said that the caucus is as firmly established and as frequently in service as it is at Washington.
Laurier, on Blake's retirement (1887), was not anxious to change his position as leader of the French-Canadian group for that of leader of the Opposition. He was aware that it was an excessively difficult position for a French-Canadian. He pleaded first the condition of his health, which from the time when he removed from Montreal to Arthabaska had never been robust. Next, he advanced the fact, already well known, that he was not a man of independent means. Finally, he agreed to accept the leadership for a session, pending an improvement in Blake's health. But Blake was not willing to resume the position. In the early days of the session of 1888, Laurier was re-elected by the Liberal caucus; and thereafter his leadership of the party, whether it was in opposition or in power, was unquestioned. There were, moreover, no divisions in the party until the question of Conscription came before Parliament in the
During the long period of eighteen years through which the Liberals were in opposition, only two questions which have any large place in the political history of the Dominion occupied for any considerable time the attention of Parliament. One was the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the policy of the Macdonald Gurernment in regard to that undertaking; the
other was the so-called National Policy, with its tariff protertion to Canadian manufacturers, and after 1883) bounties from the Dominion Treasury in aid of the iron and steel industry in Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario.
At every session from 1878 to 1885 there were long and often acrimonious debates in the House of Commons on the first of these questions. There were Liberals, of whom Cartwright was the most prominent, who were opposed to the Canadian Pacific as planned and supported by the Conservative Government. These Liberals held that a less costly scheme could be devised to fulfil the
session of 1917.
conditions made with British Columbia when that rem and isolated province agreed to come into Confederati It was a conviction with these members of the Ho that the Canadian Pacific Railway could never pa that the Company would become bankrupt; and that Government would be deeply involved in the failure the undertaking. Laurier never seems to have gone far as this in his opposition to the scheme, but he w opposed to the land grants, to the subsidies, and also the section in the Act which exempted the Company 1 many years from taxation of its lands and its railw properties. The railway was, however, made; and success justified the foresight of its promoters.
From 1879 to 1896 the one continuing cause of co tention was the National Policy tariff. The Libera were not free-traders; they always agreed that the must be duties on imports in order to raise revenu What they objected to was the fiscal system establish by Macdonald and the Conservatives in 1879, which w so framed as to afford protection to Canadian industrie Their alternative policy was a fiscal system, with duti on imports devised solely for the raising of revenue, an with no concern on the part of the Government for th interests of Canadian manufacturers. They condemne protection on the ground that it corrupted politic fostered the growth of trusts and combinations t advance prices, increased the cost of living, retarded imm gration, and was responsible for the large and continuin exodus to the United States of native-born Canadian and also of new-comers from the United Kingdom.
At no time during Laurier's career was he regarde as an authority on trade or commerce, or on the detail and operation of tariffs. These were not subjects t which he applied his mind, either when in Opposition o as head of the Government. In Opposition, from 187 to 1896, Cartwright and Mills, who had both beer members of the Mackenzie Administration of 1874-1878 were the foremost authorities on trade, tariffs, bounties and reciprocity. When the Liberals were in power Laurier left the details of tariff and bounty enactments as well as of reciprocity agreements with France and the United States, almost exclusively to his subordinates, H. S. Fielding, Cartwright, and Paterson.
Laurier seldom intervened in debates on tariffs and bounties after the Liberal party, in April 1897, had accepted the National Policy of the Conservatives and, with singular completeness, abandoned or repudiated the fiscal principles advocated by Liberals in Canada from the enactment of the Cayley tariff in 1858 to the Ottawa Conference of 1893 and the general election of 1896. But between 1878 and 1896 he frequently took part in tariff debates in the House, and also made many speeches against the National Policy in the constituencies. In these speeches he invariably confined himself to general principles and broad statements, which, however, made it clear that the principle of protection, and the corruption and exploitation which usually develop when it is embodied in fiscal systems, were to him accursed things. In and out of Parliament, he denounced protection in all its aspects, in terms as vigorous as were ever used by Cobden and Bright, by Peel, Gladstone, Russell, and Grey, by President Cleveland and President Wilson ; or, to come to more recent times, by The GrainGrowers' Guide' of Winnipeg and “The Farmers' Sun' of Toronto, the chief organs of the agrarian movement * of the present day.
At the National Liberal Conference, held at Ottawa, in June 1893, one of the strongest of many speeches against the National Policy was made by Laurier, who as leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons issued the call for the Conference, and presided over its three days' deliberations. The memorable Ottawa programme, modelled to some degree on the Newcastle programme of the Liberal party in England, was framed at this Conference, and was widely promulgated in anticipation of a general election that was expected to come in 1895 but did not come until June 1896. It was
This movement, which in 1920 is represented by an independent group of nine members in the House of Commons at Ottawa, and also by a majority of the members of the Legislature of Ottawa, had its origin as a political movement ten years ago.
It developed as a movement in as distinct from provincial, politics, out of the pronounced and continuing hostility of grain-growers of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, and of farmers in the provinces east of the Great Lakes, to the high protectionist tariffs and the system of lavish bounties to the iron and sieel industry, for which the Liberal Government of 1896–1911 was responsible. Vol. 235.—No. 466.