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Maritime Rights Movement/Univ Microfilm

Maritime Rights Movement/Univ Microfilm: A Study in Canadian Regionalism

Ernest R. Forbes
Copyright Date: 1979
Pages: 259
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  • Book Info
    Maritime Rights Movement/Univ Microfilm
    Book Description:

    This book provides the first full account of a major social and political movement of the interwar years in Canada: the campaign for "Maritime Rights" which erupted in the Atlantic provinces after World War I. Ernest R. Forbes traces the history of the movement from its origins in the decline in relative status and influence of the Maritimes that accompanied the rise of the West and the growing dominance of the Central Canadian metropolises. Maritimers saw their political influence reduced, the underpinnings of their economy - especially in the critical areas of tariffs, freight rates, and subsidies - whittled away, and Canada defined in terms that seemed to exclude them. Adopting a strategy characteristic of the progressive movements of the period, they attempted through organization and agitation to restore their position. Farmers, fishermen, manufacturers, and organized labour articulated their demands through the provincial press, boards of trade, union locals, educational conferences, and mass delegations to Ottawa. Professor Forbes challenges traditional assumptions in his emphasis upon a vigorous Maritime progressivism that transcended party affiliations. All the political parties tried to use the protest movement, but none had created it, nor had it a specific founder or leader. The agitiation was in fact a spontaneous expression of the economic and social frustrations of the Maritime people. Although their efforts were largely defeated by the conflicting interests of stronger regions, and by the King government's adoitness in defusing protest through a policy of study and delay, the author believes that the aroused Maritimers had succeeded in establishing their difficulties in the public's mind as a national problem.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6071-0
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xi)
  4. [Map] Railways Serving the Maritime Provinces
    (pp. xii-xii)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Division in Diversity
    (pp. 1-12)

    Maritime regionalism or regional consciousness was weak and imperfectly developed at the beginning of the twentieth century. Physically, the three provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, form a natural region with well-defined boundaries isolated by rugged terrain from the population centres of Central Canada and bearing an affinity to the ocean which all but surrounds it. But the identification of the people with the region as a whole was slow to materialize. In fact, the major thrust of historical development for more than three hundred years was directed against the coalescence of the area as a distinct...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Birth of a Region
    (pp. 13-37)

    The drawing together of the various cultural and economic groups in the Maritimes came slowly but steadily in the face of the bitterness and frustration produced by the decline of the region’s influence in the Canadian Dominion. Maritimers united to fight losses in political representation, to increase subsidies, and to defend vital interests in national transportation policy. In each case their efforts brought them into conflict with other regions and this in turn heightened their own regional awareness. The effect of external threats in bridging traditional divisions was enhanced from within as many Maritimers, imbued with the progressive ideology of...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Crosscurrents: The Farmer-Labour Movement
    (pp. 38-53)

    For a brief period in 1919 and 1920 the spectacular protests of farmer and labouring groups obscured the growth of regional consciousness in the Maritimes. Allied with and sometimes dominated by similar groups from outside the region, the local movements appeared as cross currents in the thrust for regional expression. But a closer view suggests that farmers and labourers in the Maritimes realized that they too had a stake in the achievement of regional goals. Their regionalism, conflicting with that of their external allies, partially accounts for the failure of the farmer-labour political movement in the Maritimes, especially at the...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The Impact of Depression
    (pp. 54-72)

    The postwar recession did not cause the Maritime Rights movement but it did profoundly affect its development. The cyclical decline exposed flaws in the Maritime economy which caused it to fall far behind that of the rest of Canada during the 1920s. Fishing, lumbering, mining, agriculture, and manufacturing all entered a period of crisis which left near-destitution in its wake. Indeed, if Maritimers remember the 1930s as the period of their “Great Depression,” it is only because in the earlier decade they were able to mitigate the effects of their industries’ collapse through wholesale emigration.

    The causes of the regional...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE The Campaign Emerges
    (pp. 73-95)

    The first phase of the campaign for Maritime Rights rested upon the optimistic assumption that if Maritimers could submerge their local differences and present a united front to the rest of the Dominion they could force the federal government to concede their demands. They rallied behind a common series of claims, rationalizations, and rhetoric, which their governments and commercial organizations presented to the federal government. When their demands were overlooked by one government, they united to defeat it and elect another which promised to be more responsive to their wishes. But once again their claims, which came into open conflict...

  10. CHAPTER SIX A National Appeal
    (pp. 96-123)

    Disillusioned with the Liberal government as an avenue for the redress of their grievances, the Maritimes appealed their case over the head of Parliament to the people of Canada. Boards of trade, regional clubs, community associations, and even municipal councils mounted delegations, organized speaking tours, circulated pamphlets, published letters in national journals, and canvassed prominent figures throughout the country. The economic diversity of the region gave a variety of emphases to a campaign whose breadth and spontaneity contributed to its confusion in strategy and goals. Nevertheless a common theme, an emphasis on economic nationalism, was predominant in three major wings...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN The Politics of Maritime Rights
    (pp. 124-157)

    The primary criterion by which Maritimers judged political parties in the 1920s was their effectiveness in representing the region’s interests. Unable to persuade their government to fulfil the expectations which they had helped to arouse, the Maritime Liberals found themselves at a hopeless disadvantage in competing for popular support. The Conservatives became the party of Maritime Rights. But they were divided on basic strategy and goals. One faction led by F. B. McCurdy sought regional control of fiscal policy through a political coalition at the provincial level. Another, represented by W. H. Dennis, believed Maritime interests could best be served...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Defusing the Agitation
    (pp. 158-181)

    The Royal Commission on Maritime Claims was the core of the federal government’s program to defuse the Maritime agitation. Its purpose, as outlined by Mackenzie King, was to find “practicable remedies” to Maritime problems and to “focus the discussion into a practicable program.”¹ “Practicable” in this context meant policies which would aid the Maritimes and also be acceptable to the more influential regions or interest groups in the country. Within these limits the commission offered a substantive program for Maritime rehabilitation. Unfortunately for the Maritimes, the King government turned it into a program for political pacification; only gradually would Maritimers...

  13. CHAPTER NINE Raking the Embers
    (pp. 182-192)

    Having broken through the centre of the Maritime agitation with the Duncan Commission and subsequent concessions on freight rates, subsidies, and port development, the federal government followed with “mop up” operations designed to isolate and divert the remnants of popular discontent. In each case the pattern was the same. With expressions of acute concern, the government referred each matter to a group of “experts” for study or decision — to a royal commission, the courts, or some similar body. These in turn raised a complexity of issues difficult for the layman to follow and provided an excuse for further delay. By...

    (pp. 193-194)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 195-228)
    (pp. 229-237)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 238-246)