The Reciprocity Agreement Of 1911

October 12th, 2021 12:59 am

In the 1880s, an important free trade agreement was advocated by Canadian businessmen. Erastus Wiman and Richard Cartwright were among the supporters. It has been called “trade union” or “full reciprocity”. These proposals, however, were rejected during the 1891 Canadian election. This is due to protectionist and pro-British sentiments. In 1897, Liberal Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier declared, “There will be no more pilgrimages to Washington.” In my annual message of December 6, 1910, I stated that the policy of broader and closer trade relations with the Dominion of Canada, initiated by the adaptation of the maximum and minimum provisions of the Customs Act of August 5, 1909, has proved beneficial to both parties and justifies continued efforts to reorganize trade relations between the two countries. I have also informed you that, on my instructions, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has sent two representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs to Ottawa as special commissioners to consult with representatives of the Dominion government, that they have the authority to take steps to develop a mutual trade agreement and that the Ottawa Conferences, thus initiated, had been postponed to resume in Washington. During the Civil War, Britain silently collaborated with the southern states. At the end of the war, politicians in the North were angry with Britain for its support for the South.

They sought to end reciprocity with the British colonies. This, coupled with other treaty deficiencies, led the United States to abrogate the treaty on March 17, 1866. Reciprocity with Canada must necessarily be limited mainly in its impact on the cost of living on food and forest products. The issue of the cost of clothing covered by the textile tax and their raw materials is not part of an agreement with Canada, as it raises relatively few wool sheep and its textile factories are not important. This trade agreement, if concluded, will consolidate the friendly relations with the Dominion, which result from the satisfactory settlement of the controversies that have continued for a century and will promote a sense of well-being among neighbouring peoples. It will expand the market for many U.S. products among the inhabitants of a prosperous neighboring country, with a growing population and growing purchasing power. It will deepen and expand food sources in adjacent areas and facilitate the movement and distribution of these foods. To sign the agreement, Laurier and his supporters negotiated terms that appealed to producers and would attract the slightest criticism from the rest of the population.

The trading exchange has allowed Canadian producers of natural goods to enjoy privileges and approve products manufactured to an acceptable extent. The data annexed to the text of the trade agreement detail the facts, which are presented here briefly and only in outline. They provide comprehensive information on which the recommended legislation can be based. The measures taken under the presented agreement will not affect the revision of our own tariffs on imports from any country that Congress may decide. The friendly sentiments, energetic efforts and largely patriotic views of successive Governments, and in particular those of my immediate predecessor, have resolved all these issues. The most acute concerned the Atlantic fishery and this long-standing controversy was referred to the Hague Tribunal after amicable negotiations. The ruling of this international supreme court was accepted by the citizens of both countries and a satisfactory agreement in The implementation of the ruling completely ended the controversy.. . . .

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