From the late 1840s to the 1860s, ship production in the Atlantic colonies continued to grow (which met U.S. demand for additional capacity) and wheat exports from Canada West increased. Demand for grain in starving Ireland helped after 1847, as did British military supplies during the Crimean War of 1854-56 and American needs during the Civil War in the early 1860s. Canada tried to negotiate a new reciprocity treaty, but the Americans were forced to impose high tariffs and did not want to get along. Eventually, Canadian Prime Minister John A. Macdonald established a Canadian customs system known as the National Policy. In 1911, a free trade agreement was rejected by voters in the 1911 election.  Newfoundland became a party to the next general agreement with the United States, the Treaty of Washington (1871), in 1873. Under the treaty, some of Newfoundland`s exports were freely entered into the United States in exchange for U.S. access to the inshore fishery. The same conditions applied in Canada.
Both countries received financial compensation from the United States for the difference in value between the concessions granted to the United States and those granted to Canada and Newfoundland. Bond, however, didn`t give up. He became prime minister in 1900 and returned to his goal of negotiating a trade agreement with the United States. The British government rescinded Canadian objections, and Bond was again able to reach a mutual agreement in 1902, this time with John Hay. The problem now was not the Canadian government, but the U.S. Senate and the hostile Massachusetts fishing industry, which campaigned against the ratification of the Bond-Hay Convention. During World War II, the U.S. government negotiated long-term leases for the Territory of Newfoundland for military bases. Many Newfoundlanders believed that the United States would have to pay rent in the form of a trade agreement and that such an agreement would be preferable to Confederation with Canada. An Economic Union party fought on the anti-Confederate side during the referendum campaigns of 1948, generating considerable support. In the end, however, Newfoundlanders decided to join Canada; and as a Canadian province, Newfoundland developed a closer trading relationship with the United States than it had ever experienced in the past, and eventually spoke of “free trade” in the last century. The Liberal Party of Canada has traditionally supported free trade.
 Free trade in natural products was a central theme of the 1911 Canadian general election. The Conservative Party campaigned with anti-American rhetoric, and the Liberals lost the election. The issue of free trade in Canada has not reached this level of national importance for many decades. The treaty`s fishing clauses were repealed by the United States in 1885. The Government of Newfoundland was now interested in independently negotiating a new trade agreement with the United States. Indeed, it was thought that the various disputes between Canada and the United States, in which Newfoundland did not participate, would stand in the way of a joint treaty. The colony therefore asked the British government – which at the time was responsible for foreign relations for all members of the Empire – for permission to open separate talks with the Americans. .Back to Blog