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The United States and Newfoundland Treaty


[Canadian Annual Review, 1902; for the full citation, see the end of the text]


The Reciprocity arrangement negotiated between Sir Robert Bond and Mr. John Hay, with the good offices of Sir M. H. Herbert, the British Ambassador, included, was signed at Washington by the two latter on November 8th, 1902 . By its terms United States fishing vessels were given the same privileges in the purchase of bait as those of the Island and were allowed to touch, trade and procure supplies in Newfoundland . American agricultural implements and machinery for specified purposes, mining and other machinery, printing presses, paper, types, ink, etc., and salt in bulk were to be admitted free. Certain specified rates of duty were to be charged and not exceeded upon flour, pork, bacon, smoked beef and sausage coming from the United States . In return the following clause was contained in the Treaty:


Codfish, cod oil, seal oil, whale oil, unmanufactured whalebone, sealskins, herrings, salmon, trout, and salmon-trout, lobsters, cod does [sic], tongues and sounds, being the produce of the fisheries carried on by the fishermen of Newfoundland, and ores of metals the product of Newfoundland mines, and slates from the quarries, untrimmed, shall be admitted to the United States free of duty. Also all packages in which the said fish and oils may be exported shall be admitted free of duty. It is understood, however, that the unsalted or fresh codfish are not included in the provisions of this Article.


The Treaty was to operate for five years and further until 12 months' notice of abrogation by either party. The Ottawa Government did not apparently interfere and on one side it was claimed that Canadian interests were not affected, while on the other hand it was stated that the arrangement would indefinitely defer Confederation with Newfoundland and prevent the Island from giving British or Canadian goods any fiscal preference. Mr. P. T. McGrath, in the Halifax Chronicle of December 26th, put the Island case thus: " It has no discriminating action against Canada; it simply enables us to grant the American fishermen the same privileges in our waters which the Canadians enjoy, with this difference, that whereas the Canadians, as fellow-subjects, give no return for the concession, the Americans will have to grant us free entry for our fish to their own markets." Meanwhile, it was pointed out that Canada 's tariff had always been liberal towards Newfoundland and that, in fact, every natural product of the Island was now admitted free.


Interviewed at Sydney , N.S. , on December 21st the Hon. A. B. Morine, Opposition Leader in Newfoundland , spoke as follows: "Personally I was opposed to any arrangement which surrenders the control of our bait and other fish facilities. I think the true policy of the Colony should be to monopolize these for the exten­sion of our own fisheries. I do not, however, believe that the Treaty will meet with the approval of the United States Senate." Meantime, on July 30th, a letter from Sir Wilfrid Laurier had been made public at Ottawa addressed to Mr. F. W. Thompson of the Ogilvie Mills and containing the following assurance:


With reference to the proposed Bond-Hay Treaty, I may tell you that in the event of this Treaty going into operation, no discrimination will be made against Canada, and Canadian products will have from Newfoundland the same treatment as accorded to similar American products. This point is settled. So you can go on with your efforts to take hold of that market, and I am very grateful for what information you have given me.


Opposition at once developed in the New England States and Senator Lodge of Massachusetts soon came out against the terms of the Treaty, as tending to injure American fishermen. Approxi­mately, there were said to be some 31,000 men in those States who would suffer in some degree if Newfoundland fish were allowed free into American markets. Up to the close of the year the Treaty was still "hung up" in the United States Senate.


Source: J. Castell HOPKINS, "The United States and Newfoundland Treaty", in The Canadian Annual Review of Public Affairs, 1902, Toronto, The Annual Review Publishing Company, 1903, 548p., pp. 177-178.



© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College