June 6th, 1934

Fate of The Maritimes Was Foretold By Joseph Howe

Joseph Howe foresaw the fate that was in store for the Maritime Provinces. He predicted that in confederation the economic life of these provinces would sicken and die. He saw that Central Canada would benefit through the confederation.

Protection for industries means that mines, mills, factories operate full time. It means a full pay envelope – regularly. It means markets for Canadian products in Canada first. It means money flowing freely in circulation.

They omitted to add three words to this which would have made everything clear as a pike-staff. They should have added "in Central Canada."

Joseph Howe, who died broken hearted seeing that the fog was settling down upon the economic life of his native province, pointed out exactly what would happen. The mills, looms and factories of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick would be stilled, their people would become for the most part primary producers, industry would thrive at the centre and drift to ruin at the extremities and today 80 per cent of the manufacturing is centred there.

Hon. Arthur Meighen is quoted as saying that "the tariff has been manipulated undoubtedly to the disadvantage of the Maritimes," but it goes on.

The abrogation of our Reciprocity Treaty with the United States in 1866 was a tragic blow to the Maritimes. This is clearly shown by a comparison of Maritime trade statistics for the year 1865, with similar statistics for 1867, as follows:

  1865 1867
Imports $22,373,332

$14,637,825

Exports 15,823,146 9,743,798
  $39,196,478 $24,381,798

Thus the immediate result of the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States was a reduction of almost 38 per cent in the total trade of the three Maritime Provinces. As already stated there are no statistics covering years subsequent to 1867.

It is also interesting to mention that while the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty resulted so disastrously upon Maritime trade, it had precisely the opposite effect upon the trade of Ontario and Quebec, which as a matter of record, increased by 100 per cent in 1867, and in subsequent years continued to expand remarkably. It is just such a circumstance that drives home the wide and even irreconcilable difference between the economic interests of the Maritimes and those of Central Canada. Thus, a circumstance that reduced Maritime trade by 38 per cent increased the trade of Ontario and Quebec by 100 per cent.

Prior to confederation the Maritimes apparently prospered. Their most important export market was the United States. Great Britain supplied the Maritimes with most of their imports, including industrial products.

The abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States in 1866, was a disastrous circumstance for the Maritimes, while, at the same time, resulting in doubling the business of Ontario and Quebec.

Seeing this situation the Duncan Commission urged the production of statistics to enable the measurement of internal trade as of very greatest importance especially to the Maritimes.

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