Canada History

Canada History   timelines 
AskAHistorian    blog 




Prehistory | 2 Worlds Meet | New France | England Arrives | Clash of Empires | Revolution | British America | Reform/Revolt | Responsible Government | Confederation | Nation Building | Laurier | The Great War | Roaring 20's | Great Depression | WWII | The Peace | Cold War | Trudeau | PC's in Power | Modern Canada

A New Nation | Nova Scotia Balks  | The Northwest Territories | Manitoba & Riel | Federal Provincial Relations | British Columbia | Prince Edward Island | The Washington Treaty | Scandal | Liberal Interlude | The National Policy | The Railroad | Rebellion | Immigration | Transitions

Macdonald had almost been completely ruined by the Pacific Railway scandal and as he spent his years on the opposition bench he planned his come back in magnificent fashion. His vision was branded as the National Policy and in many ways it picked up right where he had left off but in some more important points it abandoned former Conservative policies.

The National Policy started off with two main objectives which were to raise tariffs ad duties for products brought in from the United States and hence strengthen Canadian industries and secondly, to replace that lost trade with east west trade across Canada. Industrially produced items from the east could be sent our west and sold for agricultural products which would flow eastwards and feed Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. The trade items would all be shipped on the new railway which would be built to British Columbia and the northwest would also be populated by tens of thousands of new immigrants from Britain.

The three challenges in the west were to sign land settlement treaties with all of the native people so that the land could then be redistributed among the new settlers,  the railway company and other parties who supported the National Policy, establish the Northwest Mounted Police to regulate the process and over see the peace and build the railway to get the settlers to the west, products flowing and make transportation across the country an all Canadian easy matter.

Macdonald dropped the idea of pursuing a reciprocity treaty with the US, and instead tried to draw Britain into the system as an additional partner with reduced trade restrictions offered to them. The National Policy would therefore have the additional benefit of reducing Canadian dependence upon US economic and political factors and greatly encouraging the growth of Canadian Industries. British Columbia would also be a beneficiary of the National Policy because it's railway link to the east would be built, it could also buy western produce and eastern production goods and sell it's timber, fish and minerals to the rest of Canada.

 On paper and on the campaign trail, Macdonald was a powerhouse, promoting the National Policy as a solution to everything that ailed the country and after 4 years of economic depression, a scarcity of jobs and a general decline in the growth and development of Canada, the electorate were ready for bold new plans and solutions. Macdonald was also very lucky that just as he took power once again, the world wide economy began to pick up and not only economic activity increased but access to capital to undertake the building of the railway from private sources once again was able to be raised.

The National Policy became the standard of Macdonald for the rest of his life and there is no doubt that the growth of Canada and the consolidation of the gains made were remarkable. The west began to fill up, the treaties were signed, the NWMP/RCMP was established and the railroad was competed by 1885.