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The 1911 election
A Railway Journey
Summer of 1910, Wilfred Laurier took a railway journey across the prairies (a
whistle-stop tour: you go from whistle-stop to whistle-top)
The trip tells of the changes that happened during the Laurier period
He took a train: the railway had developed a lot to become the spine of a east-west
There are now three intercontinental railways nearing completion
The railway is more than an economic object, its an agent of transportation (an iron
Communities competed to attract railway development to their areas
It is also symbolic of the age people thought of it as an object that transcends
nature; makes time and space smaller
It is a symbol of the best of civilization and technology
By this time the age of the railway is just at the eve of ending
As he travelled west, Laurier saw a region that had been transformed by economic
change, farms, (wheat boom), machinery, markets for agriculture implements, and
timber from B.C.
It had also been transformed by environmental change (invasive species)
Social and cultural change (immigration to the west)’ the west had 1/5 of the
Canadian population
Laurier saw the west in a particular way
He would stop at the railway station, he would stand in the back of a train and give
a speech
At every whistle stop, Laurier heard two things: Dramatic speeches of welcome and
a list of grievances
Topping the list of grievances was the tariff on incoming goods
Farmers were hostile to the tariff because their economic affairs were at stake
Farmers sell their wheat to an international market and do it without the benefit of
the tariff, but they buy their equipment from companies that are protected by the
The national policy doesnt help them as producers and hinders them as consumer
Another reason was tied to a moral economy
The tariff protects a few manufacturers at the expensive of many a policy for
special interest
There is a moral compass argument as well one of the biggest problems with the
tariff was that it hurt rural areas which were after all, the moral compass of the
Reciprocity, 1911
A general lowering of the tariff
There was always two problems with reciprocity
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