No. 12
16th February 1871
My Lord,
I have the honor to forward for Your Lordship's information a copy of correspondence which has passed between Lord Lisgar and myself, partly by telegraph, respecting certain resolutions of the Legislative Council proposingmodificationsManuscript image modifications of the present British Columbian Tariff in lieu of the adoption of the Canadian Schedule of Duties upon the Union of this Colony with the Dominion.
2. By the terms of Union arranged with the Government of Canada it is agreed that the existing Tariff and Excise Duties of British Columbia shall continue in force until the proposedRailwayManuscript image Railway from the Pacific Coast and the system of Railways in Canada shall be connected, unless the Legislature of British Columbia should sooner decide to accept the Tariff and Excise Laws of Canada. If the alternative is strictly limited to this option, the decision of the majority will be in favor of the Canadian Tariff, which on most Articles of general consumption ismuchManuscript image much lower than the scale of duties now collected here. I enclose for Your Lordship's information a Comparative Statement of the two Schedules.
3. A large and influential section of the Community and the Council, however, dread the effect of the Canadian Tariff and Excise Laws upon the Agricultural and Manufacturing interests of theColonyManuscript image Colony. The chief objection to that Tariff is the low scale of duties levied upon Cereals. Flour being admitted at a very low rate of duty it is alleged that the erection of Mills and the establishment and development of an important branch of Industry will be prevented; and that, in the absence of Mills, Wheat will not be grown.
4. The Excise Laws ofCanadaManuscript image Canada will it is feared bear hardly upon the Brewers who are at present exempt from any duty, in which case it is said a smaller quantity of Barley will be grown and thus both Brewers and Farmers would suffer.
5. The great difference in the rates of duty on Spirits in the two Tariffs is one main inducement to the advocates oftheManuscript image the Canadian scale to press for its adoption. It is sought therefore to effect a compromise, by which, certain alterations being made on specified Articles, the remainder of the present British Columbian Tariff may, at all events for the present, be retained, and with it our own Excise Law which only applies to Distilleries.
6. The Council accordinglyproposeManuscript image propose to the Canadian Government that the duty on Spirits shall be reduced to the Canadian rate, viz: Eighty cents, per Gallon; the duty on Flour to seventy-five cents per barrel; (present British Columbia rate One Dollar and Fifty Cents) and the duty on Wheat to Ten cents per bushel, (present British Columbia rate Thirty-five CentsperManuscript image per hundred pounds). And that British Columbia shall enter the Union with her own Tariff so amended. The rates thus proposed are in no case lower than those which would be adopted in the Canadian Tariff so that Canada would suffer no pecuniary loss; and if British Columbia may at all be allowed to retain for a time a scale of duties different fromthatManuscript image that prevailing in the Dominion, I do not see that the changes which are desired are objectionable in principle.
7. Supposing the Canadian Government to assent to this proposal time will not be afforded to make the alteration in the present Session of the Legislature of this Colony, which will be the last before Union;andManuscript image and the Attorney General doubts the competency of that body to make any such alteration after assent to the terms of Union, having reference to the language of the agreement there embodied. But by consent of both parties concerned what is desired may be obtained. And it is submitted that if the Canadian Parliament assent to the proposal and such assent is embodied in their Address to the Queen, reciting the Resolution of the British Columbian Legislature to which assent is given, the arrangement may then be carried into effect by Order of the Queen in Council declaring the Union of this Province with the Dominion.
8. As I have stated in my Despatch to Lord Lisgar, MrTrutchManuscript image Trutch, who has already proceeded on his way to Canada, has been instructed to afford all necessary information to the Canadian Government, and on his arrival in London he will be able to acquaint Your Lordship with the result of the negotiations upon this subject.
9. I have succeeded inseparatingManuscript image separating the acceptance of the terms, from any questions upon this matter. And in the event of the Government of Canada declining to meet the wishes of the Council, they are prepared to enter the Union with our own Tariff as it stands under the Agreement in the terms of the Address.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your most obedient
Humble Servant
A. Musgrave
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Dealtry
Customs Amendment Act.
Mr Holland
See Minutes on Govr Musgrave 3286—this is the despatch he therein refers to with reference to the reserved Act amending this Tariff. See also from Lord Lisgar 1883 Canada.
I conclude nothing can be done till we hear further from Lord Lisgar.
But you will see Columbia is still for Union amended Tariff or no.
CC 11/4
Sir F. Rogers
It would be very unfortunate if any difficultyManuscript image arises, which would tend to delay the confederation of B Columbia with Canada. But I am not sure
Nor I.
that Govr Musgrave's view, as expressed in par 7, is correct. Looking to the words of the 146th section of the B.N. America Act, I think the addresses from B. Columbia & Canada should contain the same terms & conditions.
Would it be worth while to ask the Law Officers whether Mr Musgraves mode of dealing with the difficulty can be legally carried into effect, or whether the addresses must be framed in similar terms? If they answer that the addresses must be the same, we could telegraph, but even then it may be too late for a fresh address to be prepared in B. Columbia.
HTH 12/4
It is of course possible that the question may not arise, as the Canadn Govt may decline to make any change. This indeed seems probable from Lord Lisgar's telegram.
I would do nothing till we hear more. We shall only rather clog the matter by doing So, as it seems to me.
FR 13/4
I agree with Sir F. Rogers.
K Ap: 15/71
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Sir F. Rogers
See minutes on 3466.
Nothing from Lord Lisgar. The Union Order in Council it is intended should pass the Council on Tuesday 16th.
It has a suspending Clause & if to be confirmed would be so by Order in CouncilManuscript image & on Tuesday also.
CC 9 May 71
Sir F. Rogers
My opinion is that this Act should not be specially confirmed, but the point is not free from doubt.
The Act repeals a former Act which imposed an Extra duty on spirits. This duty was imposed for a special purpose & it is stated that there was a Kind of pledge that the duty shd be temporary.
While the duty was in force, B Columbia & Canada come to terms about admission, & one term is "that the existing Customs Tariff & Excise Duties shall continue in force in B Columbia until a certain date unless the legislature of BC should sooner decide to accept the Tariff Laws of Canada." (I enclose draft order.)
Govr Musgrave says (3286) that the LegislatureManuscript image of B Columbia regard this temporary measure as forming no part of the permanent tariff, & as not being included in the Terms of Union.
The Attorney General, however, evidently thinks otherwise & so do I. This exception should have been made with respect to this Duty.
The Canadn Govt have distinctly stated that they consider the terms of Union should be adhered to (3466).
Under these circes, I think this Act—which has a suspending clause—should not be sent to the Legt Council.
HTH 11/5
I entirely agree with Mr Holland.
FR 13/5
I concur.
K May 15/71
See subsequent Minute & drafts on 97/4894 Canada.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Musgrave to Lisgar, Canada, 25 January 1871, telegram asking for assent to alterations to British Columbia tariff laws prior to union.
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Lisgar to Musgrave, 1 February 1871, telegram advising that although British Columbia should adhere to the terms of union, any reasonable modification to the tariff laws would be considered by parliament.
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Musgrave to Lisgar, 10 February 1871, forwarding copy of a resolution of the council on the subject and advising that Trutch, enroute to Ottawa, would provide all necessary information on the subject.
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Resolution of Legislative Council, 9 February 1871, describing the desired changes to the tariff laws.
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Printed comparative of Canadian and British Columbia customs tariffs, as per despatch.