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to govern overmuch, and this theoretical leaning was strengthened by his personal temperament. He had little of Blake's devouring and constructive interest in details. Unfailingly and scrupulously honorable in his own dealings with men and women, he was tolerant of other men's failings where they did not directly affect the state. "I'm a lazy dog," he was accustomed to say to his friends in his later years. The saying did not do justice to the years of unrelenting effort he had given to party and country, but it was true that he was not deeply and vitally interested in more than a few questions, and that in this indifference there was rooted a certain indolence and easy-going trust. He would often defer dealing with a state question or disciplining a colleague, whose public policy or private conduct necessitated a check, until a crisis forced action.
Nor was Laurier hasty or arbitrary in framing policy. In cabinet councils he never dictated. Each minister in turn
would state his point of view on this side and that, while Laurier sat silent or with only a word of inquiry until, when every opinion had been set out, he would sum up the discussion and give his conclusions as to the course to follow. Men criticized him for opportunism, and it is true that he was an opportunist as to means; on principles he would not compromise an inch. Perhaps no more significant judgment has been passed upon his methods than the words uttered in scornful criticism by a Nationalist leader who always refused half-loaves: "He will ask this minister and that his view, and then he gives his own, he never asks what is ideally best, but merely what is the best that will work." But once his opinion was formed, it was not easily shaken. He never came rashly to conclusions, but neither, once decided, would he allow his firmness of action to be hampered by doubts and reconsiderings. Perhaps not more than two or three times in his whole official career did he turn aside from a policy once determined.
The ministry forms only the top layer, more or less thin, of the executive. It is usually the permanent officials who rule. A cabinet may determine broad
lines of policy, or an aggressive minister shake up men and methods in his department; but the easy-going minister comes to restrict his duties to signing what is placed before him, and the hardworking minister is limited by the capacity and willingness of his officials.
When the Liberals took office in 1896, they found a civil service which had long been stagnating and was politically hostile. There were few dismissals, and those only for aggressively open partizanship; but in making new appointments, party patronage continued to be the rule. It was considered by practical politicians that in no other way could the zeal of party workers be kept glowing. If no custom-house job for the man who got out the vote in his district, then no ministry of customs for the man higher up; and what better test of practical executive capacity than success in party organization? Whatever could be said for it, the practice involved endless bombardment of ministers by office-seekers, ceaseless efforts to secure a word from the friend of a friend of the premier, bitter disappointment for the nine who were turned away. Patronage took more time and thought than national policy. Eager job-hunters who had first demanded a seat in the cabinet, and then expressed their willingness to compromise on a senatorship, would come back for a country post-office or a post as clerk of works. Perhaps the touch of good-humored cynicism which marked Laurier's later days came from long contact with office-seekers. It was a Quebec follower who wrote him shortly after the elections of 1896, "If any one had told me when I was fighting the battles of Liberalism in my county, striving without fear of attack or hope of favor to advance the cause of the people, determined that no designing cleric and no corrupt politician would be allowed to shackle our noble country-if any one had told me that six months after you took office, I would still be without a job, I would not have believed him." It was an Ontario seeker who wrote, "To think that after naming my only son William Lyon Mackenzie, I am still denied any post by a government that calls itself Liberal!"
After ten years' experience of the
patronage system, the Laurier government introduced a wide measure of civilservice reform. In 1907 the control of appointments and promotions in the inside, or Ottawa service, was given to an independent commission. The step was not taken without opposition alike from those who urged the need of patronage to oil the party machine and those who feared that competitive examinations would bring in men more qualified for absorbing information than for filling administrative posts. While experience made it plain that there had been good points in the old system, the results on the whole amply justified the change, and led to the extension of the competitive system to the outside service by the Government which followed. On leaving office, the Laurier administration could pride itself upon a service distinctly superior in capacity and initiative to the service it had found on entering.
The outstanding development of the Laurier régime was the reversal of the industrial depression and the spirit of pessimism which had prevailed in the middle nineties. The whole country woke to a new energy and a new prosperity. For the first time it attracted the world's attention, and men and money poured into the new land of promise. Canadians became self-confident and self-reliant to a degree unheard of. Laurier's phrase, worn thin by many quotings, "The nineteenth century was the century of the United States; the twentieth will be the century of Canada," expressed very well the sudden access of heady confidence that marked his countrymen in these years.
It is the way of governments to take credit for all prosperity and to throw the blame for adversity on Providence. The upholders of the Laurier government had to admit that even in this prosperity Providence had collaborated. The world over, with the drift of population cityward and the flooding of new gold, prices of farm and forest products began to rise. The approaching exhaustion of the fertile free lands of the United States gave new value to Canada's acres. Yet these factors alone would not have sufficed. Low prices in earlier years had not prevented a swarm
ing of European immigration to the farms of the United States, while Canada's called in vain; it was to the farms, not to the cities, of the United States that half the Canadians of the exodus had gone in seeking to better their fortunes. Other new lands-Australia, the Argentine, Siberia, the redeemed semi-arid Western plains of the United States had room for millions of settlers. Without vigorous state action, the current of immigrants and capital would not for years have been turned Canadaward.
The first need was for settlers to fill
the vacant spaces. The new Government looked upon themselves primarily as fishers of men. None of their policies was so distinctive and so successful as their immigration policy. Under the vigorous and precedent-scorning direction of Clifford Sifton, himself a Westerner, the opportunities the CanaIdian West held forth to the enterprising and the disinherited were pressed home in every possible source of settlement.
First the Government tapped the reservoirs of central Europe: Doukhobors or Spirit-Wrestlers fleeing from military service in Russia, Ruthenians or Galicians fleeing from poverty in eastern Austria, came to Canada in thousands. They were not wholly a net asset; settling in solid blocks, held apart from the people about them by their clannishness and deep-rooted customs or religious fervor, and, it is only fair to add, by the careless scorn of the majority of the Canadians among whom they found themselves, they were not easily fitted into Canadian ways. Yet they had their own distinct contribution to make, and from the beginning it was to the farm and not to the city they turned.
Of vastly greater importance in itself and for its indirect effects was the inpouring of settlers from the United States which began soon afterward. American farmers, with experience, enterprise, ready capital, were what the West called for, and with the filling up of their own West and the rise of land values to a height which made the establishment of a family more difficult than in the old days, they were ready to listen. Advertisements in thousands of
weekly newspapers, endless booklets, exhibitions at state and county fairs, excursions for farmers' delegates and press representatives, commissions to agents in every likely State, ready assistance in making the trek to the North, brought them in their thousands. In 1897 seven hundred settlers came to Canada from the United States; in 1900, fifteen thousand; in 1911, one hundred thousand.
Still greater in numbers was the British migration. The fact that tens of thousands of American settlers preferred Canada even to their own wondrous land was an argument of telling weight elsewhere. There had always been a fairly large immigration from Great Britain, some ten thousand a year in the nineties, but the United States had secured three or four times as many. Now an active campaign reversed the proportions. From ten thousand in the nineties British immigrants to Canada increased to fifty thousand in 1904, and to a hundred and twenty thousand in 1911.
In the fifteen years from 1896 to 1911 over two million men and women sought homes in Canada. Of these thirtyeight per cent. came from the British Isles (more English and Scotch, and fewer Irish, than of old), twenty-six from continental Europe, and thirtyfour from the United States. Not all stayed, and the migration of Canadians to the South, while slackening, did not wholly cease, though the fact that in the decade from 1901 to 1911 the ratio of increase in population was greater in Canada than in any other country made clear the magnitude of the net gain. Of those who stayed, not all found Canada the land of promise they had hoped, nor did Canada find in them all the stuff of whom good citizens could be made; yet with all shortcomings, the first great task of peopling the vacant spaces was well achieved.
practice of tying up large areas in land grants to railways was brought to an end immediately after the Liberals took office, though the sale of farm lands to colonization companies and of timber limits continued, leading in more than one instance to charges of speculators' gain and politicians' graft. The homesteader, not the railway-builder, dominated the land policy of these years; from eighteen hundred in 1896, homestead entries rose to forty-four thousand in 1911. Throughout the world there was meanwhile much discussion of the trend, assumed inevitable and universal, toward state ownership and state socialism; unregarded, the contrary trend was shown in the passing of vast areas in Canada from state to individual control. In 1906 the homestead entries covered an area equal to Massachusetts and Delaware combined; in 1908 a Wales was given away; in 1909 five Prince Edward Islands; while in 1910 and 1911, between homesteads, preëmptions, and veteran grants, a Belgium, a Holland, a Luxemburg and a Montenegro passed from state to settler.
The land policy did not undergo such great change. The new Government, like the old, continued to grant quarter sections of prairie lands to every homesteader who would fulfil the residence and breaking requirements. Procedure was simplified, fees were lowered, and preëmption privileges extended. The The
The opening of the West required not only a vigorous immigration policy and a liberal land policy; it required an adequate transportation policy. At this stage of development, transportation meant railways. River and canal still played their important part, notably in the transport of bulky freight; the extension of the St. Lawrence canal system, the improvement of the lower St. Lawrence, and the construction of public harbors throughout the dominion were features of the Government's policy. The public highway, again, sorely needed improvement, and with the development of motor transport was about to come into new importance. Yet, after all, the railway and the railway alone could meet the nation's fundamental needs, linking the far distances together. River and canal and road were local and localized; only the railway could be national.
It was in the regulation of railways that the Laurier government scored its most complete success. The attempt to regulate railway service and operation through a committee of the cabinet had proved a failure. In 1903 the Govern
ment established an independent Board of Railway Commissioners, with wide powers. Its freedom from the constitutional restrictions which hampered the Interstate Commerce Commission, the ability of the men who headed it in turn, the absence of legal formalities in the board's procedure, combined to make it the most popular and effective regulating body in any land.
In the planning and building of new roads success came, but not without serious drawbacks. It was a time of great activity in railway construction. In the fifteen years that followed 1896, nearly ten thousand miles were built, with many more thousands under construction. Two great transcontinentals were built, a network of branch lines developed, old roads double-tracked, grades lowered, curves straightened, equipment modernized, great terminals constructed, and steamship and hotel connections formed. In the prairie West the Canadian Northern grew rapidly from small beginnings, staking out the Saskatchewan country the Canadian Pacific had passed by. In the East the old Grand Trunk, burdened by overissue of securities and hampered by the attempt to operate a Canadian road from London, took on a new lease of life with the accession to control of Charles M. Hays and his American methods. The Canadian Pacific, which for some years had marked time, was stimulated by the new rivalry and the new opportunities to assert its old-time primacy.
It is easy to see to-day that when the Grand Trunk and the Canadian Northern, in 1902 and 1903, began to make definite plans for transcontinental expansion to rival the Canadian Pacific, the wisest policy would have been to compel them to join forces. The Canadian Northern had staked out a splendid territory in the prairie West; the Grand Trunk had access to every industrial center in the East. United, it would have been easily possible to construct a joint road north of Lake Superior and through the Rockies, and to build up a strong system capable of holding its own with the Canadian Pacific. It was not so easily seen in 1903, and each road was allowed to go its separate way.
The other great economic issue was the
tariff. For a score of years the fiscal policy of the country had been the chief bone of contention between the two political parties. The National Liberal Convention held in 1893 had denounced protection, called for a revenue tariff and reduction of rates on the necessaries of life, and urged a fair and liberal reciprocity treaty with the United States. In very great degree these promises were carried out. The tariff of 1897 lowered or abolished the duties on an important range of primary products. The preference granted in the same year to British goods, increased by 1900 to an abatement of one third of the regular tariff rates, was designed to lower costs to the Canadian consumer as well as to encourage the British producer. An attempt was made in 1898, through the Joint High Commission, to secure reciprocity with the United States, but the negotiations failed because of dissension on one of the other issues concerned, the Alaska boundary. In the next ten years occasional further reductions were made. But there was no doubt that after half a dozen years of office the freetrade fervor of the Government cooled. The country was prosperous as never before; why make unsettling changes? The protectionist forces were highly organized; the freer trade sentiment diffused and less concerned. The fact that the Conservative opposition was still more protectionist removed any stimulus to further effort. Revision upward in the textile schedules, bounties on iron and steel manufacture, the passing of an anti-dumping measure, evidenced the compromise with protection which the country seemed to demand. Toward the end of the régime freer trade sentiment revived, and it was in an earnest effort to effect a sweeping reciprocity agreement with the United States that the Laurier government went out of office.
The opening of the West brought a new prosperity to the industrial East. Factories multiplied. Banks were opened in every village. The scale and complexity of business grew yearly. Exports doubled and trebled, and imports grew still more rapidly. "Mushroom millionaires, country clubs, city slums, suburban subdivisions, land booms,
grafting aldermen, and all the apparatus of an advanced civilization grew apace." A new spirit of self-confidence and selfreliance became the dominant note alike in private business and in public policy.
National unity was harder to secure than national prosperity. Much was achieved. The new prosperity at home and the new activity abroad made Canadians of every region proud of their name. Railways and increasing intercourse linked them together. Between East and West a certain tendency to cleavage developed. The break in settlement caused by the Laurentian wilderness south of Hudson Bay, the diversity of origin of the settlers in the prairie provinces, the divergence of economic interest between the farming, free-trade West and the industrial, protectionist East prevented complete harmony. Yet still stronger ties held East and West together. Eastern Canadians and their sons filled most of the strategic posts in the West; railways, banks, political parties, and churches were organized on a national basis. Between Quebec and Ontario there was no little friction. Clerical leaders who wanted isolation for their flock, imperialists who emphasized the ties and sentiments the FrenchCanadian could not share, petty politicians who found their opportunity in stirring racial fires, intensified the problems inherent in wide differences of speech and creed.
there was a considerable body of opinion in Canada in favor of political union with the United States. It rapidly died away in face of the hostile tariff attitude of the United States, reviving prosperity at home, and the deep-seated national and imperial consciousness evoked by the danger of annexation. The high-handed action of President Cleveland in the Venezuela dispute killed what was left of annexationist sentiment, and the recoil drove many Canadians into imperialist paths.
Laurier was strongly convinced of the necessity of maintaining good relations with the United States. He considered this imperative not only for the welfare of Canada herself, but in order that Canada might be able to play a part in maintaining the close and friendly relations between the larger English-speaking countries on which rested the hope of the peace of the world. From the first days of assuming office he made it a guiding principle to endeavor to settle every outstanding issue and possible source of friction, and while maintaining Canada's interests and her national self-respect, to lose no opportunity of increasing good-will.
There was no object Wilfrid Laurier had more at heart than lessening this friction and misunderstanding. Day in and day out he preached and practised toleration, urged each to learn the others' ways, emphasized the common Canadianism that transcended provincial limitations. He set his face strongly against the Nationalist movement led by Henri Bourassa, on the ground that it was really provincialism rather than nationalism, and that it aimed at racial and religious isolation. In these tasks he attained a notable measure of sucIt was a task that was never done, and the crowning sorrow of his life was that in the course of the Great War the strain of the conflict and the folly of partizans brought the two provinces again into angry strife.
In the late eighties and early nineties
In the Joint High Commission of 1898 an attempt was made to settle accumulated issues alien labor laws, bonding privileges, pelagic sealing, tariff conflict, the Alaska boundary dispute. A tentative conclusion was reached on the minor issues; despite Senator Fairbanks' preoccupation with Indiana lambs and Nelson Dingley's care for Gloucester's cod, a reciprocity agreement was in sight, but the negotiations finally broke off on the Alaskan issue. The Canadian claims were considered by most Americans to have been trumped up after the discovery of gold in the Yukon; the persistence of the United States in barring Canadians access from the sea to her inland territories was held in Canada to be a dogin-the-manger attitude. Reference after tangled diplomatic controversies to a commission consisting of three Americans and two Canadians and one Englishman, led to the upholding of the United States' contention on most points. There followed a violent outburst of discontent on Canada's part, directed not