Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

66

a

“British colonial Judge, that for indiscretion and injustice bears the

slightest parallel to that of Mr. Justice Wilson, for commenting on “which this complaint is made." ... Mr. Brown further pleaded “that the article was written under compulsion; that it was absolutely

necessary to meet the bitter attacks on the government, on the

reform party, on public men on the reform side, and on himself, ' by the conservative press, based on the official judgment of a Judge " of the court. He claimed that the ground could hardly be taken that a Judge could do no wrong-that he might say what he pleased of anybody, and if strong remonstrance were made, to summarily fine and imprison the offender without question or appeal. The speech was an able and eloquent one, and practically it justified the whole article.

Chief Justice Harrison decided against Mr. Brown on all the points. Judge Morrison decided, 1st, that the complaint was too late in point of time ; 2nd, that the applicant failed to sustain the constructive contempt; and lastly, that the applicant, having failed to sustain his own complaint, was not entitled, under the colour of such a complaint, to ask the court to punish, at his suggestion, the publisher of the article, upon the ground that it contains a direct contempt of the court itself.

The motion, being supported by one Judge and opposed by another of the two present, fell to the ground. Mr. Brown, hy his boldness and skill, succeeded in what he desired to do at the commencement of the case, to vindicate his right to defend himself against a gross attack made upon him by a Judge in court, where he was not present as a party to a suit or as a witness. In his day Mr. Brown had many a fight for popular rights and justice. In his journal he never hesitated to expose wrong-doing by high or low. In no case did he do such service as when he vigorously opposed and denounced the injustice of a Judge gravely attacking individuals apparently to gratify some personal feeling of hostility or political prejudice.

Mr. Justice Wilson had for years been supported by the Globe in municipal and parliamentary contests ; he had, in fact, been made by the Globe, so far as his public life was concerned, and it is difficult to say what could have led to such an attack on his former patron. It is, however, charitable to suppose that he must have been labouring under some hallucination, and did not see the great wrong he had conimitteil.

CHAPTER XXIII.

MR. BROWN MADE SENATOR. --APPOINTED JOINT PLENIPOTENTIARY TO WASHINGTON.-DECLINES THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNORSHIP OF

ONTARIO, AND THE TITLE OF K. C. M. G.

[ocr errors]

A few weeks after Mr. Mackenzie's accession to office Mr. Brown was offered a seat in the senate, which offer he accepted. He was not anxious to take this position, or to enter at all upon parliamentary life again, but was induced to accept a seat in the body which he did so much to create under the new political system. At that time many of those who had sustained the proposal to have an upper House nominated by the Crown became convinced they had made a mistake. Mr. Brown, however, was firmly convinced still that if a second House existed at all it should not be elective. It was therefore peculiarly fitting that he should accept a nomination as senator. Other events prevented Mr. Brown taking his seat or performing any senatorial duties during the first session. Nothing had been done by the Canadian or British governments with the fishery clauses of the Washington treaty of 1871. Mr. Brown was asked by the government early in February, 1874, to proceed to Washington and ascertain what prospects there were of negotiating a commercial treaty which would also embrace a settlement of the fishery question. Mr. Brown was long and favourably known to prominent public men in the United States. The course he pursued as editor-in-chief of the Globe during the civil war in that country in upholding the national government and the anti-slavery party made him popular wherever his name was known. Mr. Brown from the first, as well as his brother, looked upon the struggle in the United States as one of vast interest to humanity---as involving the general interests of freedom all orer the world. To him it seemed most revolting to see any Britons committing themselves to a support of the south, as that meant building up a slave power. The north might in some respects be wrong, but their cause was the cause of liberty. These views found eloquent advocacy in the columns of the Globe day after day until the battle was over. He was therefore peculiarly well qualified to act in this quasi ambassadorial capacity, apart from his possession of talents and tact to manage such inquiries. He met with a very cordial reception from the l'nited States government and from many public inen, including the lamented President Garfield, then a member of congress. He accord

6

ingly reported to the government at Ottawa that he believed a very general desire existed in that country “for the establishment of better

· commercial relations with Canada.” The government at once determined to ask the Imperial government to accredit Mr. Brown to the Washington government as joint plenipotentiary with the resident minister. This step was taken in connection with the determination of Mr. Mackenzie's alministration to liave all questions of Canadian diplomacy dealt with by Canadians : of course acting under general arrangements with Her Majesty's Imperial government, and subject to their approval. Canada, to be sure, was represented by the presence of one Canadian amongst the six high commissioners who negotiated the treaty of Washington. The humiliating conditions of that treaty to Canada showed only too clearly that the Canadian representative was either utterly powerless to accomplish anything or utterly incompeient to point out the true line which should be adhered to. Some years aiter the negotiation of this treaty a Canadian gentleman was discussing its terms with Mr. Disraeli, then Prime Minister, and remarked to that gentleman, “ I do not know what you think Mr. “ Disraeli, of that treaty, but in Canada it was looked upon as a great “humiliation.” Mr. Disraeli, holding up both hands, replied, “ It was

one of the most shameful things in our history." The Canadian remarked, “ You never attacked it in public in that way, Mr. Disraeli." The response was,

“How could I; Mr. Gladstone put North"cote on the commission." The Tory leader had a just conception of what was wrong in the treaty, but Sir Stafford Northcote's presence on the commission sealed his mouth. Previous blunders of English diplomats respecting the Maine boundary and the North-West boundaries, were of a character which inflicied irreparable injury on British America, and could hardly have occurred if the negotiations had been conducted by an experienced Canadian statesman. So far as the determination of boundaries was concerned, all the mischief was done already that could be done ; but questions respecting navigation, fisheries and commurcial relations might be of vast importance still.

In this case the Imperial government, after a brief delay, assented to the request of the Canadian government, and appointed Mr. Brown joint plenipotentiary with Sir Edward Thornton. On no other terms would the Canadian government or Mr. Brown have entered upon the negotiations.

The negotiations were formally commenced late in the month of March, and terminated about the end of June. During this time Mr. Brown had to maintain a very heavy correspondence with the government at Ottawa, much of it by cipher telegraph. He also placed himself in communication with a large number of the editors of leading newspapers in the United States, anı obtained their co-operation. Excellent articles in favour of greater freedom in commercial intercourse with Canada were pablished in all the large cities in the principal newspapers. The “Memorandum on the Commercial Relations “ Past and Present of the British North American Provinces with the “ United States of America," published by the plenipotentiaries, was the work of Mr. Brown. It contained able summaries of the trade statistics of the two countries bearing on reciprocal trade, the figures of which were extensively published and produced a good effect. To use the official description of this paper by Sir Edward Thornton in his despatch to Lord Derby: “ The greater part of this document is “occupied with the history of the past tifty years of the trade relations “ between Canada and the United States, and shows the advantage “the United States, as well as Canada, would derive from greater

liberality in those relations." A draft treaty was ultimately agreed to by Sir Edward Thornton and Mr. Brown, also by Mr. Fish, on the part of the United States, on June 17th, and submitted by that minister to the United States senate for approval a few days afterwards. That body postponed action until the next session, for the ostensible reason that the time was too short for consideration. The United States government approved of che draft treaty, but did not exercise any of its legitimate intluence in their submission of it to the senate for approval. Apart altogether from the attempt to negotiate a treaty of commerce, Mr. Brown's sojourn in Washington was highly beneficial to Canada. For reasons already stated, he was everywhere popular in the states, while he was equally well known as a devoted British American subject of Her Majesty. His presence helped materially to dissipate the feeling of irritation which existed during and after the war at the (erroneously) supposed sympathy of Canadians with southern rebels, and to produce a more kindly feeling towards Canada than had existed for many years.

Mr. Brown's exposition and defence of the treaty subunitted to the senate of the United States hy Mr. Fish will be found in his speech delivered in the senate on the 5th of March, 1875. (See “ SPEECHES."'; The proposed convention received the assent of the Imperial government, though wholly negotiated under the auspices of the Canadian administration. Its failure necessitated proceeding with the arbitration, provided by the treaty of Washingtou, to :iscertain the value of the Canadian tisheries to citizens of the United States. This was, with much difficulty, reached two years afterwards, when Lord Carnarvon desired to name an English gentleman as commissioner. This Mr. Mackenzie declined to assent to, and he insisted that the Canadian government should nominate the commissioner to be formally appointed by Her Majesty's government, and also control the procedure of the commission. This demand was ultimately concerled. Mr. Brown was offered

but more

the appointment, but declined it for private reasons, principally that he could not devote his whole time to the work so far from home.

Mr. Brown had, at great personal inconvenience, given four months of his time to the work at Washington, without making any charge against the government, or accepting remuneration of any kind, for the vast amount of labour he had undertaken and accomplished. Although Sir Ed. Thornton was joint plenipotentiary with Mr. Brown, the labour of preparing the tables of trade statistics, and placing the information into proper shape for publication, devolved naturally and necessarily on Mr. Brown. A sum of $10,000 was placed in the estimates to meet the necessary expenditure at Washington. Some time afterwards, when an attack was made by the opposition on the government and on Mr. Brown in connection with this vote, it transpired that the whole expenditure had only been $4,000 ; that all payments had been made by Sir Edward Thornton, and that the plenipotentiaries had not received one dollar of it for their own purposes or expenses. Any one who chooses can compare the Washington expenses of 1854 with those of 1874. More work was done in the latter year, influences (a mild term) were brought to bear in the former year.

It is not proposed to discuss here the effect this treaty, if ratitied, would have had on Canadian commerce ; that, of course, would be a matter of opinion. Up to a very recent period it was assumed by all that much benefit would necessarily be derived from participation in the trade of foreign countries. The wonderful development of British trade in consequence of the removal of all shackles on the intercourse with foreign nations, so far as Britain could remove them, and the retrogressive progress of the merchants of the l'nited States, where eiforts had been made for twenty years, by severe customs restrictive laws, to force business into the hands of their own citizens, seemed to be sufficient to satisfy any one of the evil effects of a system of “. pro"tection," so called.

The resurrection in Canada of a system of this nature, which Cobden and Bright buried thirty years before in Britain, was however, as it turned out, imminent. The singular belief in a democratic country that it is desirable to ciiscourage the very existence of foreign trade, in order that the wealth of the nation may be concentrated in the hands of the few at the cost of removing it from the hands of the mass of the people, is a craze which cannot last long. When the country returns to an enlightened commercial policy the efforts of Mr. Brown and the late administration to promote international intercourse between the great nation on our southern border will be better understood and appreciated. Mr. Brown was a tirm advocate of perfect freedom of purchase and sale, as well as of personal movements. He was the firm opponent of attempts to compel the people to purchase from and trade

« PreviousContinue »