Parting of the ways : the manufacturers, the liberals, and the 1911 electionPublic Deposited
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The Liberal election victory of 1908 left Canadian manufacturers, particularly those in the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, confident that industrial development would continue under the system of high protective tariffs. Immediately after the election the Association started to lobby for a permanent tariff commission, which they hoped would enshrine high tariffs as a non-partisan national ideal, and to encourage the government to give greater state aid to manufacturing industry in Canada. Their goal was to place Canada at the forefront of the world's industrial nations. However, this "manufacturing strategy" was virtually ignored by the Liberal government which instead seemed to be moving towards the lower tariff policies advocated by the well organized and vociferous farmer movements of western Canada. When, in April 1910, the government announced that trade talks would be held with the United States administration with the object of negotiating lower tariffs between the two countries, the manufacturers were unable to present their opposing viewpoint to either the government or the public. Instead they remained quiet, afraid that any moves they made would increase the popularity of the farmers' policies.By early 1911, when the proposed reciprocity agreement with the United States was announced, prominent members of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association had decided that they must inaugurate a public educational campaign to promote the necessity of protective tariffs and continued industrial development. A new organization, the Canadian Home Market Association was set up to ensure that there would be no public connection made with the Canadian Manufacturers' Association. By March 1911 this new organization was engaged in a propaganda campaign against the reciprocity agreement, the Liberal government and lower tariffs. Although the campaign was directed specifically against the reciprocity agreement, the real aim of the manufacturers was to defeat a government that no longer followed high tariff policies but seemed in fact to be edging towards free trade. This propaganda campaign of the manufacturers had a great influence in the electoral defeat of the Liberals in 1911.
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