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New Biographies

Minor Corrections

Biography of the Day


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

The National Policy

In 1858 the politician Alexander Tilloch GALT introduced a selective protective tariff for industry in the Province of Canada. This measure anticipated the National Policy [see Federal Power and Economic Development] that Sir John A. MACDONALD established during the 1870s. Protectionist trade policies and the Canadian Pacific Railway became the key planks of Macdonald’s election campaign in 1878 [see Origins of the National Policy]. Minister of Finance Samuel Leonard TILLEY was given the responsibility of implementing the National Policy. In a speech on the subject in the House of Commons, he placed particular emphasis on the need for protective tariffs:

“Canada, he said, was being used as a ‘slaughter-market’ by the Americans and he would stop it with both tariffs and countervailing duties. He proposed ‘to select for a higher rate of duty those [items] that are manufactured, in the country, and to leave those that are not made in the country, or likely to be made in the country, – such as printed cottons – at a lower rate of duty.’ The overall rate was raised, but there were specific duties and a lengthy free list. He wanted foreign investment to assist Canadian industry that would hire Canadians and keep them at home. He naturally turned to the Bible: ‘The time has arrived when we are to decide whether we will be simply hewers of wood and drawers of water ... or will rise to the position, which, I believe Providence has destined us to occupy.’”

To learn more about the National Policy, please consult the following biographies.

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