The National Policy and Uncle Sam’s Chagrin

Movie clip on the National Policy established by John A. Macdonald’s Conservative government in 1879. The purpose of the policy was to provide support for emerging Canadian industry and promote development of the domestic market by imposing protectionist tariffs. The tariffs put U.S. products at a disadvantage in relation to Canadian products. (Time: 3 min 22 s)

At the end of the 1870s, more than 10 years after Confederation (1867), the Canadian economy was stagnant. Political scandal, economic recession – numerous problems plagued the new country. There was no shortage of natural resources, only the means to exploit and thus profit from them. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) had a three-fold vision of what needed to be done: support the establishment of Canadian industries, help create a national market by linking Canada from sea to sea, and start exploiting the immense western territories. Known as the National Policy, it provided a framework for Canadian development over several decades. It also proved a favourite topic of political cartoonists, who depicted the policy as a white elephant, while representing the United States, a major player, as Uncle Sam, draped in the American flag.

At the heart of the National Policy was a series of protectionist measures by which the government raised tariffs for products imported from the U.S. Since Canadian businesses were younger and didn’t have as large a consumer base as their American competitors, they produced less and consequently sold their goods at higher prices than those charged by the Americans. This made Canadians reluctant to “buy Canadian.” But in 1879 the tariffs on American products were raised, making them more expensive than their Canadian counterparts.

By supporting the growth of Canadian businesses, the National Policy promoted job creation. In addition, the increase in tariffs – 75 percent of revenues came from this one source – fattened the federal treasury and helped finance the building of the transcontinental railway. With the railway in place, the country could start bolstering national unity.

The railway also represented a means to open up the West to settlement. Western colonization was the third element that in ensuring the viability of the CPR guaranteed the development of Canadian trade along an east-west axis. For without a means to attract them, most immigrants preferred to settle in the American West, a fact that threatened the development of Western Canada. Nonetheless, Canadians would have to wait until the end of the 19th century and the subsequent economic boom for the National Policy to truly bear fruit.

McCord Museum
c. 1879
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


At the end of the 1870s, more than 10 years after Confederation (1867), the Canadian economy was stagnant. Political scandal, economic recession – numerous problems plagued the new country. There was no shortage of natural resources, only the means to exploit and thus profit from them. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) had a three-fold vision of what needed to be done: support the establishment of Canadian industries, help create a national market by linking Canada from sea to sea, and start exploiting the immense western territories. Known as the National Policy, it provided a framework for Canadian development over several decades. It also proved a favourite topic of political cartoonists, who depicted the policy as a white elephant, while representing the United States, a major player, as Uncle Sam, draped in the American flag.

At the heart of the National Policy was a series of protectionist measures by which the government raised tariffs for products imported from the U.S. Since Canadian businesses were younger and didn’t have as large a consumer base as their American competitors, they produced less and consequently sold their goods at h Read More

At the end of the 1870s, more than 10 years after Confederation (1867), the Canadian economy was stagnant. Political scandal, economic recession – numerous problems plagued the new country. There was no shortage of natural resources, only the means to exploit and thus profit from them. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) had a three-fold vision of what needed to be done: support the establishment of Canadian industries, help create a national market by linking Canada from sea to sea, and start exploiting the immense western territories. Known as the National Policy, it provided a framework for Canadian development over several decades. It also proved a favourite topic of political cartoonists, who depicted the policy as a white elephant, while representing the United States, a major player, as Uncle Sam, draped in the American flag.

At the heart of the National Policy was a series of protectionist measures by which the government raised tariffs for products imported from the U.S. Since Canadian businesses were younger and didn’t have as large a consumer base as their American competitors, they produced less and consequently sold their goods at higher prices than those charged by the Americans. This made Canadians reluctant to “buy Canadian.” But in 1879 the tariffs on American products were raised, making them more expensive than their Canadian counterparts.

By supporting the growth of Canadian businesses, the National Policy promoted job creation. In addition, the increase in tariffs – 75 percent of revenues came from this one source – fattened the federal treasury and helped finance the building of the transcontinental railway. With the railway in place, the country could start bolstering national unity.

The railway also represented a means to open up the West to settlement. Western colonization was the third element that in ensuring the viability of the CPR guaranteed the development of Canadian trade along an east-west axis. For without a means to attract them, most immigrants preferred to settle in the American West, a fact that threatened the development of Western Canada. Nonetheless, Canadians would have to wait until the end of the 19th century and the subsequent economic boom for the National Policy to truly bear fruit.

REFERENCES



Brown, Robert Craig. “National Policy.” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online].
[http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0005632] (Page consulted May 24, 2007).

Brown, Robert Craig. “The Nationalism of the National Policy.” In R. Douglas Francis and Donald B. Smith (eds.), Readings in Canadian History. Post-Confederation. Toronto: Holt, Rinehart and Winston of Canada Ltd, 3rd edition, 1990, p. 36-43.

Finlay, J. L. and D. N. Sprague. “A Tariff and a Railway.” In The Structure of Canadian History. Scarborough, ON: Prentice-Hall, 4th edition, 1993, p. 227-230.

Historical Atlas of Canada. Vol. II : The land transformed, 1800-1891, Montreal: Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1993: territorial expansion, plate 21; railway expansion, plate 27; political life and political parties, plate 28.

Lewis, Thomas H. "The North-West Territories, 1870-1905." Canadian Historical Association, Historical Booklet No. 26, 1973 [online].
[http://www.collectionscanada.ca/cha-shc/002013-119.01-e.php?&booklet_id=H-26&page_sequence_nbr=1&browse=yes&&PHPSESSID=daa80894e2764db363eb1d2e3093bc78] (Page consulted May 24, 2007). 

Masters, D. C. "Reciprocity 1846-1911." Canadian Historical Association, Historical Booklet No. 12, 1973 [online].
[http://www.collectionscanada.ca/002/013/002013-119.01-e.php?&booklet_id=H-12&page_sequence_nbr=1&browse=yes&&PHPSESSID=448d2e0cc4ea40b570d7f4bef821fce3] (Page consulted May 24, 2007).


© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M982.530.5307 : Line 45; or our Wall of China

Cartoon on trade between the United States and Canada before the National Policy was introduced. Thanks to its strong manufacturing base, the United States could sell off its surpluses in Canada at below-cost prices. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

Henri Julien
1876-02-12
M982.530.5307
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Before the adoption of the National Policy in Canada in the second half of the 1870s, American manufacturers were flooding Canadian markets with their products virtually without penalty, a practice known as “dumping” in which companies sell their products in foreign countries at prices lower than those paid in the country of origin.

This cartoon shows Uncle Sam eagerly passing various products into Canada. It denounces the disparity between the tariffs of the two nations, which greatly benefited goods produced in the United States while undermining the competitiveness of Canadian industry.

In response, in 1879 the Conservative government of John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) officially adopted an economic development program known as the National Policy. It aimed to stimulate manufacturing in the new country, largely through protectionist measures that raised tariffs on foreign products in order to encourage Canadians to buy Canadian products.

What
The United States had a large manufacturing sector that could dump surpluses of hardware items, cotton and sugar in Canada at lower than cost price. Canadian industry, Read More

Before the adoption of the National Policy in Canada in the second half of the 1870s, American manufacturers were flooding Canadian markets with their products virtually without penalty, a practice known as “dumping” in which companies sell their products in foreign countries at prices lower than those paid in the country of origin.

This cartoon shows Uncle Sam eagerly passing various products into Canada. It denounces the disparity between the tariffs of the two nations, which greatly benefited goods produced in the United States while undermining the competitiveness of Canadian industry.

In response, in 1879 the Conservative government of John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) officially adopted an economic development program known as the National Policy. It aimed to stimulate manufacturing in the new country, largely through protectionist measures that raised tariffs on foreign products in order to encourage Canadians to buy Canadian products.

What
The United States had a large manufacturing sector that could dump surpluses of hardware items, cotton and sugar in Canada at lower than cost price. Canadian industry, small in comparison, is represented here by typical products such as shoes and maple syrup.

Where
The setting, reminiscent of the Great Wall of China, is the Canada-U.S. border, geographically situated at the 45th parallel, north, in the eastern part of the country.

When
This cartoon from 1876 was published three years before the adoption of the National Policy in March 1879. At the time Canada was led by the Liberals under Alexander MacKenzie (1822-1892), an advocate of free trade.

Who
The character trying to dump a barrel of goods over the border into Canada is the famous Uncle Sam, symbol of the United States. Canada is represented by a typical “habitant” from Quebec, wearing a woven sash (ceinture fléchée).


REFERENCES

Bélanger, Claude. “The National Policy and Canadian Federalism,” Marianopolis College, Studies on the Canadian Constitution and Canadian Federalism [online] [http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/federal/npolicy.htm] (page consulted May 8, 2007).

Brown, Robert Craig. “National Policy,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [on-line] [http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=J1ARTJ0005632] (page consulted May 8, 2007).

Johnson, J. K. and P. B. Waite. “Macdonald, Sir John Alexander,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography Vol. XII. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991, p. 643-666.

Morton, Desmond. A Short History of Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1997, p. 107-121.

“Canada and the World. 1867-1896: Forging a Nation,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada [online] [http://www.international.gc.ca/department/history/canada2-en.asp] (page consulted May 8, 2007).


© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M994X.5.273.154 : The Conservative Position

Cartoon on the position of John A. Macdonald’s Conservative Party in favour of introducing a protectionist trade policy, from 1876. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

John Wilson Bengough
1876-12-02
M994X.5.273.154
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, December 2nd, 1876 : "That the adoption of the Protective Policy was a mere piece of political tactics on the part of the Conservative leader was demonstrated in every move from first to last. He and his chief supporters in Parliament had been throughout their whole public career adherents of the revenue-tariff system equally with their opponents, and it was asking too much of public credulity to require the people to believe that they had been soundly converted to Protectionism in a moment, and that moment just before a general election when there was wide-spread grumbling at the hard times. "1

Well before they assumed power in September 1878, the Conservatives under John A. Macdonald (1815-1891), seen here seated atop the pole of “public opinion,” were lobbying for their National Policy. This economic development program was intended to stimulate Canadian manufacturing through the implementation of high tariffs on goods entering Canada.

However, as this cartoon shows, there were man Read More

Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, December 2nd, 1876 :

  • "That the adoption of the Protective Policy was a mere piece of political tactics on the part of the Conservative leader was demonstrated in every move from first to last. He and his chief supporters in Parliament had been throughout their whole public career adherents of the revenue-tariff system equally with their opponents, and it was asking too much of public credulity to require the people to believe that they had been soundly converted to Protectionism in a moment, and that moment just before a general election when there was wide-spread grumbling at the hard times. "1

Well before they assumed power in September 1878, the Conservatives under John A. Macdonald (1815-1891), seen here seated atop the pole of “public opinion,” were lobbying for their National Policy. This economic development program was intended to stimulate Canadian manufacturing through the implementation of high tariffs on goods entering Canada.

However, as this cartoon shows, there were many critics of the Conservatives’ economic direction and blatant political opportunism. John A. Macdonald had in fact tried to negotiate a free trade agreement with the Americans during the discussions that led to the Treaty of Washington in 1871. But by the Winter session of Parliament in 1877 the Conservatives were openly calling for economic protectionism!
What
Free trade is an economic policy characterized by the absence of customs barriers as a means of promoting trade between nations. In contrast, protectionism is a system by which government intervenes to protect industry, notably by imposing high tariffs.

Where
When this cartoon was published, the Conservatives led by John A. Macdonald were not in power, but rather formed the official opposition in the House of Commons in Ottawa

When
The National Policy became one of the key points in the Conservative platform when the Liberals under Alexander Mackenzie (1822-1892) failed to conclude a new reciprocity agreement with the United States in 1874-1875 and then did not raise Canadian tariffs in the 1876 budget.

Who
John A. Macdonald is known in particular for his role as a Father of Confederation and Canada’s first prime minister, but he also sat as leader of the opposition in Ottawa from 1873 to 1878.

REFERENCES


Bélanger, Claude. “The National Policy and Canadian Federalism,” Marianopolis College, Studies on the Canadian Constitution and Canadian Federalism [online] [http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/federal/npolicy.htm] (page consulted May 8, 2007).

Brown, Robert Craig. “National Policy,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online] [http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=J1ARTJ0005632] (page consulted May 8, 2007).

Johnson, J. K. and P. B. Waite. “Macdonald, Sir John Alexander,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography Vol. XII. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991, p. 643-666.

Morton, Desmond. A Short History of Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1997, p. 107-121.

“Canada and the World. 1867-1896: Forging a Nation,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada [online] [http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/federal/npolicy.htm] (page consulted May 8, 2007).

1 Excerpt from: Bengough, John Wilson. A Caricature History of Canadian Politics: Events from the Union of 1841, as Illustrated by Cartoons from "Grip", and Various Other Sources. Toronto: The Grip Printing and Publishing Co, 1886.
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M994X.5.273.193 : Ancient Troy Tactics

Cartoon on the significance of protectionist promises in the election of John A. Macdonald’s Conservative government in September 1878. Introduced officially in March 1879, the National Policy was a major factor in helping the Conservative government stay in power until 1896. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

John Wilson Bengough
1878-07-06
M994X.5.273.193
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, July 6th, 1878 : "This was still another repetition of the opinion that the Tory Party, in adopting the National Policy, had in view the one grand object of "getting in" to office. The allusion is of course to the familiar classic story of the method adopted by the Greeks to gain admission to Troy." 1

Its promise to raise tariffs and protect Canadian manufacturing helped elect the Conservative Party, led by John A. Macdonald (1815-1891), in 1878.

The National Policy, officially adopted in March 1879 by Macdonald’s government, helped keep the Conservative Party in power until 1896. A program of economic development, the National Policy was intended to stimulate manufacturing in the new federation through protectionist measures. So great was its impact that even Wilfrid Laurier’s Liberals, elected in 1896, were reluctant to abolish it after they took power.

The cartoonist here depicts the National Policy as the Trojan horse that helped the Conservatives win power in Ottawa. Read More

Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, July 6th, 1878 :

  • "This was still another repetition of the opinion that the Tory Party, in adopting the National Policy, had in view the one grand object of "getting in" to office. The allusion is of course to the familiar classic story of the method adopted by the Greeks to gain admission to Troy." 1

Its promise to raise tariffs and protect Canadian manufacturing helped elect the Conservative Party, led by John A. Macdonald (1815-1891), in 1878.

The National Policy, officially adopted in March 1879 by Macdonald’s government, helped keep the Conservative Party in power until 1896. A program of economic development, the National Policy was intended to stimulate manufacturing in the new federation through protectionist measures. So great was its impact that even Wilfrid Laurier’s Liberals, elected in 1896, were reluctant to abolish it after they took power.

The cartoonist here depicts the National Policy as the Trojan horse that helped the Conservatives win power in Ottawa.

What
The National Policy became a central feature of Canadian politics and economics. More than a simple tariff policy, it soon encompassed all sectors of national development, from port facilities to railway construction.

Where
The National Policy was very popular in Ontario and Quebec, where numerous industries benefited directly from it. There was less support for the policy in Western Canada, mostly because farmers there now had to buy Canadian-made farm equipment, at higher cost.

When
The Conservative Party of Canada (later known as the Progressive Conservatives) was founded in 1854 by John A. Macdonald.

Who
Seen inside the belly of the Trojan horse are Prime Minister John A. Macdonald (far left) and some of his ministers such as Sir Charles Tupper (1821-1915; on Macdonald’s right) who would become prime minister in 1896, and Sir David Lewis MacPherson (1818-1896), wearing the long white beard, a senator and influential Cabinet member.

REFERENCES

Bélanger, Claude. “The National Policy and Canadian Federalism,” Marianopolis College, Studies on the Canadian Constitution and Canadian Federalism [online] [http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/federal/npolicy.htm] (page consulted May 8, 2007).

Brown, Robert Craig. “National Policy,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online] [http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=J1ARTJ0005632] (page consulted May 8, 2007).

Johnson, J. K. and P. B. Waite. “Macdonald, Sir John Alexander,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. XII. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991, p. 643-666.
Morton, Desmond. A Short History of Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1997.

“Canada and the World. 1867-1896: Forging a Nation,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada [online] [http://www.international.gc.ca/department/history/canada2-en.asp] (page consulted May 8, 2007).



1 Excerpt from: Bengough, John Wilson. A Caricature History of Canadian Politics: Events from the Union of 1841, as Illustrated by Cartoons from "Grip", and Various Other Sources. Toronto: The Grip Printing and Publishing Co, 1886.
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M994X.5.273.206 : Hurrying Up the Elephant !

Cartoon on the planned introduction of a National Policy, an election promise of John A. Macdonald’s Conservatives in 1878. Critics noted that the government, once elected, seemed in no hurry to bring in the policy. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

John Wilson Bengough
1878-11-30
M994X.5.273.206
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, November 30th, 1878 : "Curiosity was on tiptoe throughout the country during the interim between the election and the introduction of the National Policy. The Reform press aggravated the popular impatience by constant- and not very reasonable- protests against the delay. Indeed, some of the precipitous journalists went so far as to assert that the Government had no intention of inaugurating a new fiscal policy at all. "1

The main plank in the 1878 election campaign of the Conservative Party was a new strategy aimed at protecting Canada’s fledgling manufacturing sector against low-priced foreign products flooding the Canadian market. The Conservative slogan was “Canada for Canadians!”

By stimulating the production of goods in Canadian factories, this strategy was intended to create a strong industrial base so that Canada could to compete with its rivals, create economic prosperity and, ultimately, ensure the survival of the young country. Known as the National Policy, its critics saw it a Read More

Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, November 30th, 1878 :

  • "Curiosity was on tiptoe throughout the country during the interim between the election and the introduction of the National Policy. The Reform press aggravated the popular impatience by constant- and not very reasonable- protests against the delay. Indeed, some of the precipitous journalists went so far as to assert that the Government had no intention of inaugurating a new fiscal policy at all. "1

The main plank in the 1878 election campaign of the Conservative Party was a new strategy aimed at protecting Canada’s fledgling manufacturing sector against low-priced foreign products flooding the Canadian market. The Conservative slogan was “Canada for Canadians!”

By stimulating the production of goods in Canadian factories, this strategy was intended to create a strong industrial base so that Canada could to compete with its rivals, create economic prosperity and, ultimately, ensure the survival of the young country. Known as the National Policy, its critics saw it as a white elephant that the newly elected Conservative government was slow to implement.

As this cartoon shows, the National Policy was indeed a huge undertaking. The drawing also alludes to the support for the policy among Canada’s wealthy industrialists. So advantageous was it to them that they helped the Conservatives stay in power until 1896.

What
The National Policy targeted all of Canadian manufacturing and industry, from sugar refining to the smelting of metals.

Where
Several American companies opened branch plants in Canada in order to avoid paying the duties put in place by the National Policy.

When
This cartoon was published shortly after the election of the Conservatives in September 1878. The National Policy was, however, not officially adopted until March 1879, when Parliament passed the budget.

Who
The National Policy was mainly intended to protect Canada’s economy from the United States. John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) admitted that closer economic ties with the Americans had been devastating to Canada and said that it was time to repay the Americans “in their own coin.”

REFERENCES

Bélanger, Claude. “The National Policy and Canadian Federalism,” Marianopolis College, Studies on the Canadian Constitution and Canadian Federalism [online] [http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/federal/npolicy.htm] (page consulted May 8, 2007).

Brown, Robert Craig. “National Policy,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online] [http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=J1ARTJ0005632] (page consulted May 8, 2007).

Johnson, J. K. and P. B. Waite. “Macdonald, Sir John Alexander,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography Vol. XII. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991, p. 643-666.

Morton, Desmond. A Short History of Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1997.

“Canada and the World. 1867-1896: Forging a Nation,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada [on-line] [http://www.international.gc.ca/department/history/canada2-en.asp] (page consulted May 8, 2007).

1 Excerpt from: Bengough, John Wilson. A Caricature History of Canadian Politics: Events from the Union of 1841, as Illustrated by Cartoons from "Grip", and Various Other Sources. Toronto: The Grip Printing and Publishing Co, 1886.
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M984.306.1351 : Duty to one's country

Cartoon on the 1879 introduction of the National Policy, which imposed customs duties on goods entering Canada from the United States and Great Britain. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

Emma Leff
1879-03-08
M984.306.1351
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


With the adoption of the National Policy by the government of John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) in the late 1870s, Canada embarked on a period of economic protectionism in which the federal government tried to stimulate Canadian manufacturing and encourage consumers to purchase Canadian goods.

The underlying purpose of the policy was to promote the development of Canada as a strong and independent nation. The policy would soon include initiatives intended to support national economic development and the distribution of merchandise, like the construction of railways and canals and the improvement of port facilities, as well as the colonization of the Western provinces.

As this cartoon implies, Canada’s economic partners, Great Britain and the United States, represented here as peddlers, should be required to pay duties on all goods sold in the Canadian market.

What
Tariffs are sums of money collected by a nation on all imported goods. When they are very high, such as those imposed by the National Policy, they constitute economic protectionism. When they are low or non-existent, this is known as free trade.

Read More

With the adoption of the National Policy by the government of John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) in the late 1870s, Canada embarked on a period of economic protectionism in which the federal government tried to stimulate Canadian manufacturing and encourage consumers to purchase Canadian goods.

The underlying purpose of the policy was to promote the development of Canada as a strong and independent nation. The policy would soon include initiatives intended to support national economic development and the distribution of merchandise, like the construction of railways and canals and the improvement of port facilities, as well as the colonization of the Western provinces.

As this cartoon implies, Canada’s economic partners, Great Britain and the United States, represented here as peddlers, should be required to pay duties on all goods sold in the Canadian market.

What
Tariffs are sums of money collected by a nation on all imported goods. When they are very high, such as those imposed by the National Policy, they constitute economic protectionism. When they are low or non-existent, this is known as free trade.

Where
Most foreign products then entering the Canadian market came from the United States, its powerful neighbour to the south, and Great Britain, the colonial power with which Canada still had very close links.

When
This cartoon was published on March 8, 1879, or just eight days before the unveiling of the Conservative budget that officially implemented stiff tariffs on manufactured products imported from outside of Canada.

Who
Government authorities are represented here by Officer Macdonald, a direct reference to Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, the politician responsible for the National Policy. He is being addressed by John Bull and Uncle Sam, symbols of Great Britain and the United States, respectively.

REFERENCES

Bélanger, Claude. “The National Policy and Canadian Federalism,” Marianopolis College, Studies on the Canadian Constitution and Canadian Federalism [online] [http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/federal/npolicy.htm] (page consulted May 8, 2007).

Brown, Robert Craig. “National Policy,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online] [http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=J1ARTJ0005632] (page consulted May, 8 2007).

Johnson, J. K. and P. B. Waite. “Macdonald, Sir John Alexander,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. XII. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991, p. 643-666.
Morton, Desmond. A Short History of Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1997.

“Canada and the World. 1867-1896: Forging a Nation,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada [online] [http://www.international.gc.ca/department/history/canada2-en.asp] (page consulted May 8, 2007).


© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The activity on the learning object The National Policy and Uncle Sam’s Chagrin ties into the Québec Education Program History and Citizenship Education in Secondary 3 (1st year of the 2nd cycle secondary). It is designed to lead students in interpreting the birth of Canadian federation, particularly through concepts of industrialization and the “National Policy.” It also encourages them to reflect on economic changes and political power in today’s world. This activity specifically draws upon vintage cartoons of the 1870s.

The educational aim is “to enable students to exercise critical, ethical and aesthetic judgment with respect to the media,” and in particular to enhance their “awareness of the place and influence of the different media in his/her daily life and in society,” as well as their “understanding of media representations of reality.”

The targeted educational outcomes are:

  • Competency 1: Examines social phenomena from a historical perspective.
  • Competency 2: Interprets social phenomena using the historical method.
  • Competency 3: Constructs his/her consciousness of citizenship through the study of history.
  • Methodology: Interpretation of an iconographic document.
  • Social phenomena: Formation of Canadian federation.
  • Concepts: Industrialization, Free trade, National Policy.
  • Historical knowledge: Economic conditions.  
  • Cross-curricula competency 1: Uses information.
  • Cross-curricula competency 4: Uses creativity.
  • Cross-curricula competency 6: Uses information and communication technologies.

From:
Québec, ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport [MÉLS]. History and Citizenship Education, Quebec Education Program, Secondary Cycle Two, Validation Document, 2005.


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